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Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Death Signifies The End Of An Era

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The nation has paid its tribute to Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his death. Thousands of people mourned the loss as one of the BJP’s popular statesman, and leaders was rested with full state honours. The government has declared a state of mourning for seven days, and the national flag across the country will be flown on semi-mast for seven days.

International Media Coverage of Vajpayee’s Demise


CNN highlighted that the leader didn’t succumb to international pressure. “Facing heavy criticism at home and abroad over India’s nuclear ambitions, Vajpayee defied the threat of economic sanctions, telling parliament that “we have never made a decision after coming under international pressure and we will never do so in the future,” the obituary read.

New York Times

In an obituary named ‘Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Former Prime Minister of India, dies at 93’, The New York Times described Vajpayee as a strong politician. “Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who as India’s Prime Minister from 1998 to 2004 stunned the world by ending a decades-old moratorium on nuclear weapons tests but nevertheless managed to ease tensions with Pakistan and build closer ties to the United States, died on Thursday in New Delhi. He was 93.”

Washington Post

The Washington Post was told in his obituary entitled ‘Atal Bihari Vajpayee’, a Prime Minister who made India a nuclear power, died on 93. The article credited Vajpayee for establishing a nuclear weapon state but also elaborated on how India’s decision to test nuclear weapons impacted its relations with the United States.


Pakistan’s media outlet The Dawn put an obituary named ‘Vajpayee, Favouring Peace With Pakistan’, where it was said that Vajpayee was praised in Pakistan as an ‘honest peacekeeper’.

Atal Bihari and United Nation General assembly speech

The first Foreign Minister, who gave a speech in Hindi at the United Nations General Assembly, Atal Bihari Vajpayee effectively lifted India’s stand on important issues such as nuclear disarmament, state-sponsored terrorism, and improvement in the world in general.

“I am a newcomer to the United Nations, but India is not, having been associated actively with the Organisation from its very inception.

As one who has been a parliamentarian in my own country for two decades and more, I feel a special sense of exhilaration in attending this assembly of nations for the first time,” he said in his historic address.

Vajpayee visited United Nations Headquarters to give speeches on seven occasions at the General Assembly from 1977 to 2003 in his role as Foreign Minister and Prime Minister. Known for his great explanation skills, Vajpayee addressed the UNGA 32nd session in 1977 under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister Morarji Desai under the Janata Party government.

Born on December 25, 1924, in Gwalior, to a humble school teacher in Madhya Pradesh, Vajpayee entered politics in 1942 during the Quit India Movement. He graduated in Political Science from Victoria College in Gwalior. It is said that Vajpayee, who was also fluent in English, was the force behind raising Hindi on the international stage by giving every UN speech in Hindi.

He touched the theme of the Non-Coalition Movement and said that India “stands firmly for peace, non-alignment, and friendship with all countries.” Vajpayee said, “Vashudhaiva Kutumbakam’s vision – the world is a family – an old one. We believe in the concept of the world as a family in India.” In his speech, he said that India is hoping to strengthen relations with Pakistan to not only ensure lasting peace but also to promote beneficial bilateral cooperation. This was the first time that an Indian leader had given a speech in Hindi in the UNGA because other Indian leaders had opted to speak only in English.

In 1978, Vajpayee again visited the UNGA as External Affairs Minister and raised the issue of nuclear disarmament.

“There is no let-up in the arms race either quantitatively or qualitatively. Disarmament is still a distant goal, and the probability of a nuclear war looms over us like a menacing shadow.

“India believes that partial measures such as the creation of zones free of nuclear weapons comprising the nuclear ‘have-nots’ are not likely to generate any genuine feeling of security unless there is, at the same time, significant progress towards nuclear disarmament,” he said.

In 1998, Vajpayee came to give a speech as Prime Minister in the UNGA and then met with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in New York.“India has shown that democracy can take root in a developing country… I believe the Indian experience will prove that democracy can provide a stable, long-term basis for development in developing societies, this is the path that India has chosen, and I stand in front of the Assembly today, as this new symbol of the resurrection,” he added.

In 2000, Vajpayee appeared once again in UNGA to address the United Nations Millennium Summit. They talked about the threat of terrorism, nuclear war and nuclear programs of India.“The threat of atomic war is a serious threat to global peace and security in the new era, whose arrival has been marked by this Summit,” Vajpayee said, “India was forced to develop these weapons in 1998 because the major nuclear weapons states refused to accept the almost universal demand of disarmament. Besides, the spread of nuclear weapons in our neighbourhood made us particularly vulnerable.”

He returned in 2001 to address the 56th session of the UNGA and talked about the policy of sponsoring terrorism by some states because a session was being organized in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.“We know from our bitter experience in India that terrorists develop a global network driven by religious extremism, whose operations are supported by drug smuggling, money laundering, and weapon smuggling. Some states adhere to the policy of sponsoring and sheltering them, and terrorists can only be considered through the coordinated efforts of the international community.”

In 2002, Vajpayee again raised the issue of state-sponsored terrorism and nuclear blackmail in South Asia in his address in the 57th session of the UNGA.“In our South Asian region, in the last few months, Atomic Blackmail has emerged as a new arrow in the State-sponsored terrorism quiver.” He warned, “There were dark threats that India could incite a nuclear war to prevent cross-border terrorism.”

Vajpayee’s last address at the UPA came in 2003 when he criticized the world body in the 58th session, “The United Nations has not always been successful in stopping or resolving conflicts” and referring to Iraq’s example he said that “we need to introspect on some assumptions made in the years related to the will and reach of the United Nations.”

“We felt that the United Nations does not have magical powers to solve every crisis in all parts of the world or to change the inspiration of the leaders and communities around the world,” Vajpayee said that with the sense of realism. It is necessary to recognize clearly what the United Nations can achieve, and in order to play an optimum role in today’s world, changes in form and function are required. Ten times Lok Sabha member, Vajpayee announced his retirement from politics in 2005. He passed away in New Delhi on August 16. May his soul rest in peace.

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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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