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AAP’s Agneepariksha is Our Agneepariksha

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It was 2011. Under the leadership of a frail old man, the citizens of India rose up and questioned the massive loot of public resources by the government of the day. That movement later transitioned into a political party, which won an unprecedented mandate of 67 out of 70 seats in Delhi. The Aam Aadmi Party was voted to power as a challenge to the status quo of old politics. In the three years of its governance, AAP is facing the same harassment that a normal citizen faces on the ground.

The AAP government has delivered across the board. Establishing world-class public schools and college infrastructure along with strict control of fees charged by private schools, mohalla clinics for free healthcare, water and sewer pipelines being laid across Delhi, slashing of electricity and water rates, increased minimum wages and giving the highest compensation for agricultural lands – these are just a few in a long list. The AAP-ruled Delhi government has proved to the Indian public that if you vote for the people with the right intent, public welfare is not hard to achieve.

The AAP government in Delhi has given a massive boost to government schools and healthcare infrastructure in the state. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

All the above goals were achieved by the AAP government, despite being restricted on every step of the way. However, the harassment the Delhi government is currently facing is akin to the harassment faced by India’s masses whenever they dare to deal with the government. The Narendra Modi-led central government has tried to hamper the progress of Delhi, every step of the way.

The trouble began almost immediately after the AAP government took oath. At first, the central  government took away their right to transfer and post public officials, thereby bringing the executive directly under its control. Next, the Anti-Corruption Bureau was snatched away from the anti-corruption government.

Under AAP’s control, the ACB had proactively arrested and taken action against corrupt officials. It awas also empowered by the Delhi High Court to take punitive actions against corrupt Delhi Police officers. Once the Narendra Modi government took over the ACB along with the paramilitary force, it has become yet another institution (under the central government) to be used for the political oppression of the Opposition.

The Lieutenant Governor’s office is being used by the Modi government to hamper Delhi’s progress. (Image source: YouTube)

The constitutional office of the Lieutenant Governor has been blatantly used for restricting the functioning of the Delhi government. From withholding approvals or refusals to almost every file sent to the LG’s office to using the investigation agencies to register false cases against AAP MLAs, the central government has used the LG’s office to run a parallel government to undermine the work done for the people of Delhi.

AAP has proved that it is possible to use public money for the public good. The lessons must especially be taken to heart by the other metropolitan cities of India. Mumbai, despite being the financial capital of India, ends up getting flooded every monsoon. The lakes in Bangalore are catching on fire. If the situation in our most prominent cities is so pathetic, imagine how the other Indian cities and towns are dealing with the menace of crumbling public infrastructure!

AAP was supposed to be a movement by the people of India to reclaim the Indian political space and use public money for improving the life of the public. Rather than being just another political party, it aimed to send a challenge to the people in power to stop filling up their coffers. They used the hard-earned money of the people (paid as taxes) to raise the quality of the citizens’ lives. This message has been heard loud and clear by those in power, as is evident by the replication of AAP’s flagship initiatives like mohalla clinics in states like Telangana and Karnataka.

For the citizens of India, the AAP-led Delhi government offers a vision for the future. AAP has proven that the only thing required for improving the life of the public is voting for people with good intent. It is now up to the people of Delhi to recognise who is working for them – and who’s using every means possible to derail Delhi’s unfathomable public-oriented development. Are we, as taxpayers, okay with our hard-earned money being vacuumed into private stashes? Or are we ready to stand and demand our right of a better India as envisioned by our founding fathers? This is as much our agneepariksha (trial by fire) as it is of the Arvind Kejriwal-led government to stand up for what is right.

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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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