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Why I Believe ABVP’s DUSU Win Is An Indication Of BJP’s Victory In 2019

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On Thursday, September 13, the DUSU election results were declared. As expected the EVM became a topic of controversy again. Defamation has become an intrinsic trait in all political elections; whether it’s a local body, state election or the student elections. The losing party always ends up blaming one thing which is incapable of defending itself- the electronic voting machine.

Delhi University, is the most popular university in India. With over three lakh students enrolled in different courses, DU is among the largest universities in the country. Delhi University policies strictly prohibit discrimination of any kind, hence, the student applications are invited from all over the world. This diversity among students symbolises the inclusivity of DU. From social to political and from political to economic, various students of distinct backgrounds get enrolled in the university each year. A blend of such varied orientations makes this university the Holy Grail of education.

University students had been aspiring for their representatives to win, after the two weeks of continuous and intensive electoral process. Along with DUSU, about 63 other colleges chose their representatives during this process. More than one lakh students used the EVM for the first time, and this process provided them with an experience of how a democracy works and how exercising democratic rights is crucial for a country’s progress. With this year’s voter turnout of 44.5%, the voter participation has increased by 2%. It is safe to say that the students were keen on exercising their democratic duty after carefully considering their representatives.

The affiliated political parties of these student groups claim to not indulge in DUSU elections directly, but it is evident throughout the elections that the senior leaders of the political parties like BJP and Congress, do participate by providing all sorts of resources to help their student wings and affiliated organizations. Influential attorneys of the RSS and Congress, often represent ABVP and NSUI, respectively in the legal matters as well. Every now and then, these elections become a source of competition for the national parties as well. Thus, emphasizing the relevance of DUSU elections in mainstream politics. You can also see the pictures of the winning candidates in newspapers, visiting their political/ideological mentors to seek their blessings.

This university has inculcated leadership skills to the members of almost all political parties. The leaders of DU, now represent all mainstream political parties including BJP, Congress, AAP etc. Whether it was the senior leaders such as Arun Jaitley, Vijay Goyal, Ajay Makan, or the new leaders such as Alka Lamba, Tarun Kumar, Sushmita Dev, Anil Chaudhary, Anil Jha, Arvinder Singh Lovely, all were significantly active in their university days. Some participated as candidates in DUSU elections and some were involved in non-candidate participation.

DU has been conducting the student union elections for years now and it has always reflected the mood of the nation. These elections give enough insight to political pundits for considering the polls as a pre-study for state and general elections. The students of DU are the residents and non-political representatives of various states and communities, their mood, therefore, reflects the nations’ mood. Because of these exceptional reasons, DUSU elections’ significance cannot be neglected.

DU Elections are considered a predictor of the election pattern for national elections. Although conducted annually the winning patterns of DUSU have usually indicated the winning patterns in central elections. If we closely analyse the chart above, initially the Congress-backed NSUI has a clean sweep in DUSU elections. In the subsequent general elections, BJP was defeated, and Congress was able to make a come back in the centre with the help of other political parties. Again in 2008, the voting percentage increased, and NSUI won 3 out of 4 seats.

Similarly, in the 2009 general election, Congress was successful in maintaining their winning streak. From 2010 onwards ABVP’s presence in DUSU elections increased, and they won 3 out of 4 seats in 2013. Simultaneously, in the general elections of 2014, BJP became the ruling party with a majority in the centre. In 2017, we observed the patterned rivalry between ABVP and NSUI. As a result, we observed that the Congress managed to give an intense fight in 2017 DUSU elections.

The increase in this year’s voter turnout is an interesting aspect. It shows that students’ interest in politics has increased and they are ready to play an active role in student politics just before the general elections. Although these events could be pure coincidences but is this not exactly how the statistical researches operate? Numbers never lie, and the same numbers have displayed a correlation between DUSU and the central elections. The importance of elections can’t be undermined and by considering an election not worth voting is a disgrace to the society. The patterns above describe how the elections of the largest university in the country are associated with the central elections. In the year 2014, while the central elections had a voter turnout of 66.8% (highest in the recorded history), DUSU elections also reflected a turnout of 44.4% which was also comparatively higher.

This year, DUSU elections polled 44.5 % vote and ABVP managed to win three top seats out of the four. Everyone knows that ABVP belongs to the same ideological family as BJP. The result of this election also exemplifies how the RSS and its political associates have managed to fathom the pulse of the youth and the public better than any political organizations. The General elections of 2019 are approaching, and DUSU elections which always decode the election conundrum may just become a cause of distress for the Congress.

DUSU elections have become an important spectacle for political parties. Last year, after NSUI won two seats in DUSU elections, the Congress claimed that youth has rejected Modi and now they are leaning towards Rahul Gandhi. But, the 2018 elections have turned the tables around. There is no doubt that the BJP and ABVP, have proved the impact of DUSU elections wrong after the decimal performance last year. However, by blaming the EVM machine, the opposing parties just reflected crude sportsmen spirit. But the data on this election and earlier elections is before us and tell us a story which the political parties cite when they win.

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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.”

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.

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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 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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