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I Think Congress Should Lose The 2019 Elections For Its Own Good

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There is no doubt about the fact that India is the biggest functional democracy, but it is also a fact that it is rated as a flawed democracy and there are better and functional democracies in the world. The democracy index compiled by a UK based company Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) places India at 42nd rank with a score of 7.23.

The Index also gives five different categories on which the ranking is based. These days, I see a lot of debates and talks which insinuate that civil liberties are under threat. But, the Index says otherwise. For India, the bigger problem is the prevailing political culture. The score awarded to political culture is 5.63 against 7.35 for civil liberties. Political culture in India has been repulsive to the extent that a majority of people would try to stay away from politicians and politics.

An underdeveloped political culture is leading to an environment where any and every event that occurs irrespective of it being positive or negative, constructive or destructive becomes highly political. The inability of asking the correct questions and asking questions only for the sake of asking questions is, to a great extent, a reason for this uncultured political culture in India. I know, there are a lot of things about Indian politics that I don’t know or am ignorant about. Everyone does not need to know everything about the political system but there is a question of paramount importance, which I along with every voter should know the answer to before participating in an election. If we do not know the answer to this one question, we would not be able to do justice with our right to vote.

As a voter, I have different matrices and indexes to gauge or measure the incumbent government’s performance. By looking at those, I could decide if they should get another chance or not. But how do I gauge or measure the opposition party’s performance? How do I decide if the opposition party or parties have done a good enough job or will do a better job if given a chance to form the government? The official opposition’s main role is to question the government and hold them accountable for their deeds in front of the public. Are protests and violence across the country a measure of the opposition’s performance? If they are, aren’t they pulling the nation down? Please go through an article posted by me a few weeks ago. 

There are a lot of political parties, and they have to keep themselves alive in the voters’ mind. How do they do it? One of the easiest or rather the quickest ways is to muster up a news, news that gets them the centre stage. Indian political history is full of instances which would simply corroborate this.

I do not intend to lengthen the article by quoting the instances, but I could describe the simplest template that is being used to generate political centre stage out of non-political mishaps. Let’s say a crime occurs (could be rape or murder, etc.). The normal events following such an action should be: an attempt to keep the victim alive if possible at all and imprisoning the culprit – that is it, nothing more and nothing less. But this would not make any news, would it? Add a few “necessary” details like the complete names of both the victim and the culprit and now it opens a window to create something bigger than the crime itself. There are on average tens of thousands of people raped or murdered every year in India. How many make a news headline? How much effort would it take to find a couple of murders/rapes with the culprit being from the upper caste and the victim from the lower caste or culprit and victims from two different religions? I don’t think it would take much effort. But somebody would be able to get the required attention.

This is also a reason as to why people always fall prey to the caste/religion politics as they have no other way of deciding who to go with. Does this mean there can be no constructive way of measuring the performance? Certainly not, there are ways by which a political party could showcase its performance. One of the ways could be showcasing the model of their governance in states which they were in power. The Gujarat model, for instance, proved successful in the last election. A second way that I could think of, is showcasing the performance in the parliament sessions. For instance, if the GST bill was dreadful according to the opposition parties, how come it got a go-ahead by them in Rajya Sabha? The party could have boasted about the way they opposed it in Parliament, or the important changes they made in their election campaign. Instead of opposing it at the place where it should and could have been opposed, creating a hostile environment seemed a better approach. Further, the parties not in the ruling coalition could pitch for any idea for improvement and beat their chests when the government does not take that into consideration, the person who pitches the idea could showcase it during the elections. There could be many more, but the bottom line is: it takes a greater amount of time, effort and patience to create something and political parties are not just ready for that kind of commitment.

I also think that India as a democracy is still not as matured as it should be and we have been improving with the passing years and decades. Although it could be well argued that the pace at which it is improving is good enough. The place for the official opposition was vacant for almost three decades after independence. In the year 1991, for the first time, a non-congress party (BJP) became the official opposition. It would not be incorrect to say that since there was no serious opposition, parties did not know how to behave in opposition. Decades after decades, the same old ways were followed.

After staying in opposition for quite a few terms, one party came up with a constructive way to showcase their credibility and the voters accepted it without an itch. Congress has so far not given any such indications and is sticking to the age-old tried and tested phenomenon of divide and rule. To be able to pursue a positive approach towards making news and showcasing their worthiness, they will have to let go of their old tactics. If the current politics that they are demonstrating is all, I would wish they lose 2019 so that they wake up from their deep sleep.

Please go through another article posted by me a few weeks ago – why the Congress should lose the 2019 elections for its own good. Sooner or later, they would find a new and a better way. Although the sooner they do, the better it is for them and for us.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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, 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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