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“Pax Indica” Vs “Pax Vulgus”

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Tracing a challenge which is new in its form and may hollow India’s claim for Global leadership.

Daughters were gang-raped in front of their fathers and then had their heads bashed in. Their fathers were doused with petrol and set on fire. The property was looted. Their bussiness were destroyed and police stood by and did nothing”. -Hindustan times, March 21,2002

The said barbarism committed by an incited mob not only challenging social order but also forcing to investigate the causes incorporated inside. The incident is just one among many to see where world’s biggest Democracy is moving.

The twentieth century mass movements-Nazism, Fascism, had led to wars, genocides and tyrannies in an attempt to create so called “perfect nation” i.e a land of their kind by using state powers (military and economic) and obviously communal efforts. The leaders in these movements were able to organize people for a cause which, they thought, was for country’s interest. Racial supremacy, ultra-nationalism etc. Were the grounds for provocation which were quite effective although, but left them nowhere.

Ridiculously and very interestingly history tells that the Germans and Italians already have used the word “holy war” when the word “Jihad” was not born even, it came a century later. Recalling Hitler “the Jewish capiatalist world will not survive the twentieth century” and other similar anti-semitic provocations had not only influenced the pan-Germany movements but many big personalities of the century. Martin Luther king jr. admitted, in his celebrated work ‘letter from Birmingham jail’, that never forget, everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.

Almost a century later similar kind of lines heard in 2014, when a right wing extremist,RSS office-bearer, Rajeshwar singh, raised the war cry “the Muslims and Christians dont have any right to stay here, so they would either be converted into Hinduism or forced to run away from here”.

What makes these Rabble-rousers for such fiery assertions. Travelling the past makes it clear – who hanged Jesus on the cross?, who forced Socrates for Hemlock?, who hanged Saddam Hussain?, who killed Gaddafi? These incidents were mind game of few scheming opportunists, they succeed in organising the innocent but ignorant crowd for organized crimes. Their own wills always have overshadowed nation building, national integration and national interest. Whereas the mob had to wait forever for the return gift and never got the share in fruit.

Wondering that the emergence of cultural nationalist in Germany, revolutionaries of Russia, chauvinists in Italy and anarchic terrorists in France and Spain are brainchild of very cunning messianic individuals whom the crowd always have admired.

But what’s happening in India is a caricature of mechanised and unrealistic aggrandisement of patriotism. Which never been a subject during our great freedom struggle when the essence of nationalism was at its zenith. Another interesting thing done in last few decades by some ‘religious extremists’, was to mislead socially and economically deprived masses and ‘youth in leisure’. They have been mobilised and used at many occasions. Ultimately, lobbyism came into picture.

In seventy years of independence no institution emerged out as influential as lobbyism is today. ‘Mob justice’ is a big challenge not only for common masses but even for ‘honourable judiciary’. It would be no wrong to say that India nowadays witnessing the era of “Pax Vulgus” (peace under the terms and conditions of mob). In nineteenth century when Britain was a global hegemonic power and since no power was there to challenge it, this period came to known as “Pax Britannica” i.e peace under Britain’s terms. Then came the century of USA.When many European powers ruined themselves in world wars, US emerged out as global leader as it was architect of some glorious institutions like World Bank, IMF and United Nations. This period dedicating US called “Pax Americana” i.e peace under terms of America.

India is dreaming about “Pax Indica”(peace under India’s terms) which would be a ‘dream comes true’ moment if India somehow able to get this achievement. But this dream seems to be in suspicion. India’s integrity is under severe threat with the rise of regional Demagogues. They are succeeding in misleading the masses and dividing the societies by several gimmicks like-religious sentiments, sham patriotism etc. Unfortunately country’s most productive age group i.e youth are being trapped. How an enemy can be defeated when you are weak from inside?

Needless to ask, why ‘youth’ are being trapped. Unemployment and job crisis has become a nightmare. Especially for the government which came in power promising ‘two crore’ job creation annually. The ongoing Railway recruitment clears our vision where 2,37,000,00 applicants are struggling for just 1,27,000 posts. In such pathetic environment many are being used by political parties and other religious organisations for ‘online abuse’. They are being paid,although very low, to abuse those disagreed people whom they never met even.

In this entire argy-bargy, many are being corrupted by frequently spreading the phobia of nationalism. Which after India’s independence disillusioned and has became ever distorted terminology. The touchstone has been changed completely, now your love for the country will depend upon your hate for the other country. In 2010 the west gifted “neo-nationalism” to the world. With many positions it also holds right-wing populism, opposition to immigration, opposition to Islam and Muslims. The ongoing lynching of Muslims by right-wing extremists is ramification of this new version of nationalism.

It is a harsh but true assessment. Early this year, during the release of the film Padmavat (originally Padmavati) many regional groups were busy giving life threat to actors and director even after supreme court’s approval for release of the film. How can we forget last year’s incident when a Hindu group unfurled saffron flag in Udaipur court premises and beaten the police. They were supporting Shambu Lal Regar, who was charged for burning alive a west Bengal labourer Mohammed Afrazul on a live camera.

These are few amongst many frequently occuring incidents. This is the time when law and order maintaning institutions should rethink about their strategies. They should see the issue differently which is very new in its form and thus the maneuvers dealing it should also be upgraded one. No doubt, “Pax Indica” would be achieved because India’s land is very fertile, it has produced great personalities and statesmen. The need is to become strong internally to rule the world and that could be achieved through internal harmony and national integration otherwise we along with our big dreams are moving towards a big predicament.

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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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