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Thanos In ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Is Unlike Any Villain You Will Ever See

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Writing about a genocide-craving, fictional Titan is not a writing exercise best suited for me, but there is a certain dynamic to this theory behind his madness that interested me beyond the fanfare.

The mad Titan, Thanos, first appeared in the early 70s in the Marvel comic books. His beginning was an apocalyptic event in the universe which would span across the decades to come, crumbling the universe and re-setting it as the years went by. Thanos was created by Mike Friedrich and Jim Starlin – and Starlin has openly admitted that the character was heavily inspired by one of the characters developed by Jack Kirby called Darkseid. Both DC and Marvel have been mutually inclusive with regard to being inspired from each other.

Many fictional superpowered characters have sprung out of the pages of their comics, but none of them, in my opinion, holds such an interesting ‘cosmic dynamic’ as Thanos or his DC counterpart, Darkseid. Both of them are otherworldly beings who visualise ‘beauty’ in chaos, and ‘balance’ in setting the Doomsday Clock.

With the release of “Avengers: Infinity War”, Thanos has received a proper live-action debut where the focus is on him instead of the heroes. Capes and spandexes were shown the bench in this installment, where the lion’s share of the narrative is attributed to how Thanos finds beauty in the equilibrium amidst the chaos. The depiction of Thanos deserves a solid salute – they (the Marvel Cinematic Universe) presented the character and his vision through a few scenes that described the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of his actions commendably. The character is portrayed as a survivor of a fallen world, marred by the burden of ‘too many mouths to feed’. Thanos, while describing his past history, positions himself as a prophet whose mission is to establish balance in the universe.

The Obsession With Genocide And Equilibrium

They say obsessing about anything turns the host bitter and can even derail them. In Thanos’s case, though, his obsession with equilibrium made him channel his energy towards conquering the cosmos. When we are given a glimpse of his past, it portrays why he is not just a run-of-the-mill super-villain. There is a method to his madness, a tenderness to his rough exterior and a moment of hesitation in his tyranny.

Thanos is obsessed with re-establishing equilibrium in the cosmos – a flashback to Gamora’s past shows how he taught her young self to concentrate on nothing but balancing the 2-headed dagger. Thanos is brutal, but not without a few trinkets of sympathy revolving around him.

Thanos presents a thought-provoking question that has always plagued people over the ages – how to establish the balance between finite resources and an ever-expanding population? People who found the easy route to this answer this question are regarded today as dictators and genocidal maniacs. One could see a reflection of Thanos in dreaded figures like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, especially with regard to how obsessed they were with establishing a mechanism of controlled order through genocidal chaos.

Finite Resources Vs An Ever-Growing Population

Let’s go back to this question of finite resources versus ever-expanding consumerism. How do we tackle this problem? Is it through collective will or by practising a poignant skill? It is something that lies on the border line between ethics and conflict.

Taking this question away from the fictional world, we can see how scary the proposition of wiping out half the population really is. The measure used by Thanos was a powerful snap that was not biased in favour of the rich or the poor. The bottom-line was the act of cleansing, irrespective of people’s ethnicities. A level of perfection is to be visualised in this method. But it’s horrifying all the same, as probably none of us would like to end up dead alongside half of the population

Conclusion

What really attracted me to this movie (apart from the presence of Robert Downey Jr, of whom I am a big fan) was how interesting the motive of Thanos was woven into the movie. Thanos originally does it in the comics to please his crush, Mistress Death herself. But the MCU has indulged in a plot which, in my opinion, is much more profound than the original premise.

I have often wondered what I would have done if I had the choice of choosing balance over the over-grown populace – and frankly, I have wished for balance quite often. Plentiful resources, a day when we do not have to fight over each other for sustenance – and I feel the balance is tipping. A gauntlet would be much more resourceful in the present day, but what if I am a part of that unfortunate half that gets erased? A trade-off is never pretty and we don’t trade lives (as Captain America says in the movie) – and maybe, that’s why life has always found a way to establish beauty in imbalance.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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