This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Madhavi Jain. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The Art Of Being Woke: An Attempt By The New Indian Millennial

They talk George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” to discuss labour rights and quote Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Feminist Ted Talks. They discuss “To Sir With Love” and its central theme of racial issues in a city school while rooting for more representation of people of colour in mainstream media. They chat, drink, argue and deliberate. Progressive and strong-willed, proudly carrying around tags of “you’re highly opinionated”. Quick to call out sexism and problematic behaviour – the Indian millennial is not what it used to be on most days.

This woke Indian millennial of today’s day and age might have adopted the universal messages of social justice that erupted as a by-product of a series of political campaigns for reforms that took place worldwide, like the Feminist Movement or the Anti-Racist Movement, but – this same woke Indian millennial, as for now, is far out of touch and out of sight of the extremities of social injustice that plagues every nook and cranny of this vast country called India.

Years and years of unprecedented systematic conditioning and subconscious prejudices passed on from one generation to the other has instilled acute senses of casteist and classist undertones to the ways in which this new woke Indian millennial speaks, perceives, eats, reads and believes. More often than not, becoming a woke Indian millennial (and I do speak from personal experience here) also has to do with the fact that they come from an immensely elevated ground of privilege, with its edges fenced with elitism.

If and once, they recognise the grossly inadequate and unjust society that they are a part of – they do not fail to call out the sexist and patriarchal concepts that surround them, even though they are the ones spearheading the class hierarchy. However, what they do fail to do is, look down on the pedestal that they stand on and realise that a lot of their own behaviour and words on a day to day basis, drip in decanters of “us versus them” behaviour and comes from the caste and class discrimination that India has been subject to over hundreds of years. Us vs Them because they perceive themselves to be part of the norm and the less fortunate as deviations of it.

So, even though the woke Indian millennial is well accustomed to the universal equation of building social capital by being an intersectional feminist and avoiding instances of cultural appropriation on their part – they have yet to stop teasing their peers and acquaintances by using “Bihari” as an insult. The woke Indian millennial is yet to stop grooving to jazz numbers played by a band called “Bhangijumping” in an affluent South Delhi Jazz Club or frequent a certain high-spirited club in Pune that is well known to be run by sexual offenders.

The woke Indian millennial is yet to realise that the factual inconsistencies, grammatical errors, awkward “faux pas” they pick up in the things around it and tries to, so vehemently, correct – is only possible because their privilege allows them to do so. It is also highly disturbing, how much time and energy the woke Indian millennial (myself included) spends in trying to correct people on spellings and punctuations, and the general use of language in casual conversation, online or otherwise – a practice you could only undertake if you’ve tasted the perks of elitism and believe that by somehow demeaning the linguistic capabilities of your peers, you one-up them.

The point is, this activism of the woke Indian millennial may be complacent and pleasing to the eyes and ears of those at the receiving end of their Twitter accounts, at first. However, the activism is far from being anything but truly intersectional, especially when it is looked through the Indian societal kaleidoscope.  

The air-conditioned schools and college classrooms that these woke Indian millennials sit in and use as conference halls to discuss and support internationally acclaimed social justice movements are often times built on the blood, sweat and tears of those at the lowest rung of the hierarchy. The “invisible” masses who remain so, to the eyes of the persuasive few. The persuasive few, who are #NotInMyName activists by the day, and snap at their domestic help for taking ‘x’ number of leaves by the night.

So, no matter how “woke” this new Indian millennial is in its speech and thought on social media on issues of equality, liberty and justice of the world – unless and until it recognises the recurringly gross class and caste disparity that occurs time and again in the affluent circles around them on an everyday basis, the activism remains perfunctory and shall remain so, for as long as it takes for the millennial to be truly “woke!” 

You must be to comment.
  1. Siddharth Jain

    Very well written madhavi! Keep it up.

More from Madhavi Jain

Similar Posts

By Vanshika Gadekar

By Yusuf Abidin

By Ranjeet Menon

    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        Wondering what to write about?

        Here are some topics to get you started

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        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.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        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.

        Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below