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Decoding The Mahatma’s Legacy: Why Is Gandhi Still The Godfather Of All Brands?

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While reading an article titled “Mahatma Gandhi Is Still The Father Of All Brands In India”, my curiosity started to increase beyond the scope of the content covered in the article. It intrigued me enough to dig deep and research about the foundations that made Gandhi a world-renowned brand, far surpassing the boundaries of India.

A simple man with a stick in his hand achieved so many great things in one lifetime – from being a leader of the Indian Independence movement to becoming a mascot of non-violence worldwide, inspiring millions of people including famous leaders like Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr., creating a place in world history for himself. His striking ability of holding the baton of non-violence and consistently promoting it with his actions reserved a place in the hearts of people, making him seem larger than life.

Have you ever wondered what gave him so much strength and what made him unique and famous?

Mahatma Gandhi

One of his key virtues was his simplistic lifestyle. He established a sense of renounce-hood around himself, which helped him connect to masses as most of the Indians at the time were struggling from poverty because of broken economy and British dominance. This simplistic lifestyle manifested in his various day-to-day actions and rituals, which included spinning the wheel for creating cotton thread while also earning him his livelihood. He understood the power of local economy and found innovative ways to strengthen the financial plight of Indian masses by promoting the production of Khadi clothes (made from Indian cotton) for increasing self-employment and for achieving that, he started the Khadi movement, which was aimed at boycotting the sale of foreign clothes and encouraging the sale of domestically woven clothes. He tirelessly worked towards bringing the masses together, whether be it ‘Dandi March’ or Civil Disobedience movement (all were his brainchild).

Adding to his lifestyle, his physical appearance also was the talk of the town. Walking with a stick, wearing spectacles, a pair of leather slippers and only a single loincloth (dhoti) wrapped around the body, earned him the title of half-naked fakir, which made him stand out from the rest, enhancing his public image; and people adored him for that.

Born in a wealthy family, Gandhi was one of the few Indians who got a chance to study Law in England. Talking about his prior life: he was nothing like what he became in his later years. Ignorant to realities, Gandhi thought studying Law would award him equal status to Britishers, only to get disappointed after being thrown out of the train in Durban for being a second-class citizen. As famously said, this incident shook Gandhi to the core, introducing him to the plight of millions of Indians facing the cruel British dominance in South Africa. His efforts to combine Indians and leading the South African Independence movement brought him to the forefront of International media, making him the poster boy of freedom struggle against the British Empire.

Politics came naturally to Gandhi. Being a student of law and having spent time in England, he was at par with the British in understanding their manipulative political gimmicks and divide and rule policies. With already acquired fame from South African movement making him an acceptable and proven for leadership, Gandhi soon rose to power in India. Support from industrialists like Birla, Tata, etc. made it easy for him to hold massive public meetings, bringing together millions of Indians.

In a country which had only seen violence as a way of protest, introducing the era of non-violence with protest methods like ‘Satya Graha’, ‘Hunger Strike’, ‘Civil Disobedience’, along with providing leadership, Gandhi gave people alternatives to the existing violent protest methods. He smartly played with the British as they couldn’t retaliate to non-violent public and had to incarcerate the protesters, which won’t hold even as it puts the burden on the government only (which was the sole idea). Also, the fact remains that there were not enough cells to fit millions of protesters in jails. The public saw the effectiveness of Gandhi’s leadership and started to respect his methods and soon started joining his protests and marches wholeheartedly with pride and faith. This eventually brought the British Empire to its knees in 1947, when India gained Independence.

Gandhi’s brand, with time, has grown tremendously, transcending the boundaries of 183 countries. The fact that he was probably one of the few figures that were able to unite millions of people and led protests on non-violent principles effectively captures the essence of his personality and brings out the uniqueness of his character. His minimalistic lifestyle and idealistic approach towards seeking truth and finding ways to put human suffering to an end put him on par with the likes of Buddha. As told by Raghavan Iyer in his book ‘Mahatma Gandhi and Buddha’s Path to Enlightenment’, Gandhi surpassed the realm of mortals and earned himself the title of ‘Father of All Brands’.

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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.

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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.

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Find out more about the campaign here.

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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
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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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