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What Makes Independence Day Special?

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Years ago, we had our tryst with destiny and now the time has come for us to revive our pledge. Our first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s words “At the midnight hours, when the world sleeps, India will wake up to life and freedom”, continue to fill our hearts with a great sense of pride. Now, we have a history of the grandeur of India’s freedom struggle.

India is ready to celebrate its 72nd Independence Day with great pomp and show, in all its glory. Every Indian heart is filled with the spirit of patriotism and unity. It is the time to celebrate freedom fighters, who made this country and its citizens breathe freely from the dominant British rule.

History of Independence Day

The Indian freedom struggle was a mass movement of it’s integrated, diverse class of society which was subject to constant ideological change. Indians pledged to free themselves from the plateau of the British Raj, left them with no choice but to leave India. But was it as easy as it s? The answer is no. The British Parliament was handed over to Lord Mountbatten on 30 June 1948, with an order to hand over the power to India. Given the impatience amongst Indians, Mountbatten realised that waiting till the specified date for the transfer of power will be a risk and the transfer took place earlier in August 1947 instead.

Celebrating this big day is essential to keep our minds and spirits saturated with feelings of self-respect and patriotism. We must not forget to appreciate the brave freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives during the freedom struggle to make India an independent country.

The British Independence Act, was passed on 18 July 1947, in the British House of Commons. On August 15, 1947, the Indian became an independent country, which marked this day as an important one in Indian history. However, the British did not accept their defeat and leave the power easily. They were inhuman enough to divide the country and leave it in chaos created by bloodshed and riots. Mountbatten justified this by saying, “Wherever the colonial rule has ended, there is bloodshed. It is the price you pay.”

For the celebration of the 72nd Independence Day, the rehearsals were in complete swing on August 13, at the historic Red Fort in New Delhi. School children were seen practicing, dressed in tricolor for the ceremony. The Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force team also participated in the dress Rehearsal and practiced their march.

Every year, Independence Day is celebrated with great joy at the Red Fort in New Delhi. The Indian Prime Minister gives a remarkable speech on this auspicious occasion, addressing the nation and its citizens. People from all over India participate in the event. Celebrating Independence Day is just confined to the national capital, but is celebrated in other Indian cities similarly.

Delhi Police has included an All-women Special Weapons and Strategy (SWAT) team to deal with potential terrorist threats. Women’s Commandos will be deployed in the premises of the Women’s Gate and the Red Fort during the celebration of Independence Day.The National Cadet Corps (NCC) team, also did a full dress rehearsal at the Motilal Nehru Police Stadium in Bhopal.

The personnel of the Women’s Commando Force (WCF), also participated in the rehearsal in St. George’s Fort on August 13. Strict security measures were adopted during the dress rehearsal at Red Fort. A bomb disposal squad was present in the Red Fort to take care of security. For security reasons, no parking facilities will be available on the premises of Metro stations on August 15.

What is so special about the 72nd Independence Day?

This year, India has successfully become the sixth largest economy in the world which has led to social and economic development in the country. One good news is for the beneficiaries of the Jan Dhan Yojana, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going to announce a new welfare schemes of free contingency insurance of  One Lac rupees.Reports show that Narendra Modi can make an announcement regarding the increase in the amount of Atal Pension Scheme from ₹5000 to ₹1o,ooo per month.

The Uttar Pradesh government has imposed a full ban on the manufacture and use of plastic and thermocol items from July 15 this year. It has promised to prohibit the use of plastic in all its forms since Independence Day. This government’s efforts are indeed laudable because protecting the environment and preserving natural resources is a priority for them.

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

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’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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