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‘For The Longest Time, CBI Has Been A Puppet In The Hands Of The Central Government’

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It’s a public secret that India’s civil administration is neck deep in mire. But the spectacular way in which it has unravelled within the CBI, the premier investigating agency of the country has been truly bewildering. For the longest time, CBI has been a puppet in the hands of the central government, their tool of intimidation to silence political opposition. But the current series of events could just be what the ‘caged parrot’ needs to fly.

There are plenty of damning questions to be asked about the unceremonious removal of Alok Verma as CBI chief. When he was appointed by the collegium of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Prime Minister and the opposition leader together, then how can another body like the CVC, even though it has administrative rights over the CBI, take such a drastic measure? Why wasn’t it referred to the collegium? What was the reason for such haste that an important decision like this had to be made at midnight? Why was Alok Verma’s entire team asked to stay away from the office?

When someone (Rakesh Asthana) is inducted into CBI by the CVC in spite of the CBI chief’s opposition, what can the CBI chief do? If he has a valid reason against the appointment could he not complain against it somewhere? When he is the boss, doesn’t he have the right to decide who works with him? How can an investigating agency work independently when it is under the control of the government which itself is not an independent body?

Elected representatives belong to different political parties and political parties have their own agenda and connections which they would never want to be investigated. The government can never be trusted to initiate an investigation against its party and people – no matter how strong the charges against them are. If the CBI is an investigating body, then the next steps after investigation are filing cases, prosecution and possible punishment. So when there is this direct connection between the CBI and the judiciary why are the CBI and all other investigating bodies that investigate issues within the country not under the judiciary? Why hasn’t the judiciary taken the initiative to bring all of them under its control?

There is a subtle game that is being played out with the removal of Alok Verma. He has simply been forced to go on leave. CVC is aware that they do not have the authority to oust him from his position as the CBI chief. They are also fully aware that Verma can and will challenge this in Supreme Court. They also know that they do not have the authority to appoint a new CBI chief. Then why this laborious exercise?

There are parties with vested interests that do not want Verma to continue doing what he has been doing, and the objective is clearly to recover and possibly destroy all or some specific work that Verma and his team have been doing. The case details that Verma has lodged at the Supreme Court is pointing towards the Prime Minister’s office. Social media is abuzz with the rumour that Verma had initiated the investigation into the Rafale deal and had even asked for documents from the defence ministry.

Verma’s tenure is about to end in January 2019. Going to the judiciary will keep him locked up in the case, and by the time he gets a favourable verdict, his tenure will have ended. Meanwhile, the interim CBI chief has initiated an investigation against Asthana, the poster boy of the PM’s office. If the interim chief gives him a clean chit, it will open the door for his appointment as the new CBI chief in January.

If the rumours about whatever has transpired within the CBI are true, then it is the biggest incriminating evidence against the entire government in the Rafale deal. Then the government will have no credibility left to continue in office. What social media is wondering now is, where are the opposition parties and why they have not taken to the streets yet. Their silence is proof of the fact that none of the political parties wants CBI or any investigating agency to have wings to fly. The entire system is corrupt, and CBI could be having incriminating evidence against all of them.

The democratic machinery of the country has been slowly dying over the years and the incidents in the last two days clearly show it is in its final throes of death. An electoral exercise in 2019 is insensible and completely futile. There are no political parties with enough credibility to govern the country. The civil administration and the political system needs complete cleansing and overhaul which is possible only when the President and the judiciary join hands and bring investigating agencies under their watch. I believe what the country desperately needs now is a five year President’s rule and not another election.

I sincerely hope the Supreme Court takes cognisance of this and save the country and people from further deterioration of the federal structure and the abuse of the Constitution and democracy to the point of no return.

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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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