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Gadgets Make Us Lose Track Of Reality And It’s Time We Unplugged

Have you ever thought of going without your cell-phone for a day? If you haven’t, think of it now, and I’m sure most of you will be overcome by a sense of panic. Now let us expand our horizon a tad bit more and think of a day without gadgets. It feels like the world would come crashing down on you, doesn’t it? How would you manage to get any of your work done?

This small exercise makes it evident that a gadget-free life is not just hard to comprehend but also impossible to achieve, so much so, that they could be added to the list of basic amenities for survival. We might go a day without food, but an hour without having a check at mobile notifications is rare. From the buzz of the phone that wakes us up in the morning to listening to songs on our iPods while we sleep, gadgets rule our lifestyle.

One might argue that they have made our lives so much easier, brought us closer, bridged all gaps and enhanced human communication and comfort beyond imagination. But have we ever tried to see the other side of the coin, the side that paints a rather gloomy picture of the influence of gadgets on our lifestyle and relations?

Studies have revealed that almost 4.7 billion people own a cell-phone, 3 billion out of which use it to access the internet. The average smartphone user spends 1.8 hours on the internet every day. The average consumer checks his or her smartphone 46 times a day, and in the US, people do this a collective 8 billion times every 24 hours. More than 50% of people begin using their smartphones immediately after they wake up. With smartphone usage reaching its zenith, have we, the users, really become smart? Sadly, I think not.

With solutions to almost every problem that mankind could be expected to be faced with, available a click away, thinking through situations, analysing the obstacles and using logic and common sense to deal with them, has taken a backseat. How big or small the question might be, googling it right away is the first answer we come up with.

Social media apps have now become verbs. A whopping 2.8 billion people reached out and made connections using their mobile devices in 2015. Talking to strangers on social media platforms is commonplace, and it definitely has brought us all closer as a human race, at the same time taking us away from the real relations. Our lives are centred around virtual realities, with people we know nothing about, influencing our moods and behaviour.


A staggering 1.8 billion pictures are uploaded on Facebook every day, which amounts to about a sixth of the world population. Our activities are based on how we want our social profile to look like and not the other way round. There is an unsaid competition and pressure to get enough likes and comments, to stand out in the race of hashtag activism. Not being able to do that results in emotional turmoil and strife. In a nutshell, we have become the projected image of ourselves on social media platforms which makes us victims of an identity crisis.

Voicing our opinions has become synonymous with updating our status or tweeting. People are labelled as sexist, racist, anti-national, blasphemous, etc based on the posts they make and sites they follow. Choosing not to have an opinion about something is termed ignorance. The private space that every human is entitled to is lost amidst the social media hullabaloo.

Excessive gadget usage has brought about a transformation in language. An alphabet soup of acronyms, abbreviations, and neologisms has grown up around technologically mediated communication to help us be understood. With LOL celebrating its 25th birthday a few years ago and words like selfie, hashtag, and tweet becoming an integral part of everyday communication, language is constantly being updated and subverted. A troll is no longer just a character from Norse folklore, but someone who makes offensive or provocative comments online; a sock puppet is no longer solely a puppet made from an old sock, but a self-serving fake online persona; and astroturfing is no longer simply laying a plastic lawn but also a fake online grass-roots movement.

Communication has for sure become quicker, easier and precise, but the nuances of conversing have been lost in the process. Texting has replaced talking in person and emoticons have taken the place of emotions. Wouldn’t it just be better to have hands to hold rather than keys to click?

Excessive usage of gadgets makes us lose track of our surroundings. The number of accidents due to texting and driving is way higher than drinking and driving in the US. The effects are not only mental; there are serious physical impacts too. Overusage of laptops and phones cause eye problems, tennis elbow, backache, headache, hearing impairment and might even increase risk during pregnancy. The ionising radiations emitted by these gadgets are cancerous. They’ve made us couch potatoes and obesity, hypertension and stress are now more common than they ever were.

We made machines to make our lives simpler and more comfortable, but as it turns out, they’ve made us lose touch with the real pleasures of life itself. They should’ve been operated by us, instead, we are being enslaved by them. The only way out is to plug out for at least an hour a day. Look around, and you’ll find pleasures outside the screens you’re so hooked to. Live outside the web of signals, wires, pixels and bits. Get yourself charged up and go unplugged.

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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.

Read more about the campaign here.

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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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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