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When Was The Last Time You Asked Yourself ‘What Is The Meaning Of My Life?’

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We live in an era of competition. Not just in the form of a competitive market economy, but even in the smallest aspects of life. As humans grow rapidly in terms of science and technology, are we forgetting the meaning and essence of life itself? If so, what is the essence of life? Let us try to answer these puzzles by exploring the current happenings around us, and compare them with our idea of life itself.

Life = Career/Money?

There is absolutely no denying the fact that money and a source of earning is essential for any human being, but the question I would like to raise is quite different. Is the whole point of your college life and everything you do for the purpose of filling up your CV? Has the whole idea of education shrunk into securing a ticket at an multinational company? Now, this is not applicable to everyone, but the truth is you come across many people who believe in the above. The important question I would raise here is beyond criticising the attitude of few people, but questioning the directions of a section of people and the reason forcing them to do so. I would go to the extent of calling it an extension of the age-old attitude judging students based on the streams they choose in school—science, commerce, or humanities. I am not denying the huge importance of job-oriented courses, or professional education, but I want to make it clear that an arts education is equally, or, at times, even more important. As they say, the three levels of understanding go from ‘knowledge’ to ‘opinion’ to ‘critique’.

Coming back to the issue of a certain over-importance given to CVs and placements, it is a flawed idea, because at the end of the day long term success belongs to the better developed ‘human being’, and not to a ‘human machine’ with a CV longer than the Ganges!

Ask yourself, “What is the essence of my life?”

The Magic Of Life, And Our Forgotten Responsibility

Today, as you read through this article in a world of comforts, there are people who don’t get a day’s meal. Now, the sudden rebuttal to this comes in the form of few questions such as “What can I do?” or “How am I responsible?”. This is when it is important to remind the privileged few about their forgotten responsibility. The Mahatma once said that poverty is the worst form of violence, so isn’t it everyone’s moral responsibility to end it? Firstly, let’s try answering this question from a purely materialistic and non-religious, non-spiritual manner. Every child born in this world has an equal right to live. But this is hampered by the income disparities existing in our society, because of complex historic reasons. So, from a pure humanistic and moral view point, each one of us have a responsibility to make sure that we become part of a historic correction process. For the ones who believe in a supreme power, whatever name you may like to call it, you must take each privilege in your life as a tool of empowerment given by that supreme power to empower your fellow human beings.

Life is like a magical scroll unfolding in front of our eyes, but think about the ones who can’t enjoy its intellectual gifts because of empty stomachs! Make it a point to commit yourself to any cause you feel close to; make it a point to use your skills for the good of society, and, trust me, the sense of fulfillment from that shall be greater than the oceans of happiness you get from buying the most expensive of products!

Nature: The Forgotten Mother

From philosophy to philosophy, from place to place, from eternity, man has searched for God! Obviously I don’t have an answer to the question about where to find God, but I can tell you with the greatest conviction that if there is an expression of God, it is the Nature that surrounds us!

Our lives—every form of life—exists as a part and parcel of the life-force called Nature. Since when did our lives become separated from Nature? Why is it that the conservation of nature is a ‘separate discussion’ when we ourselves are a part of it? We have forgotten Mother Nature, and, worse, we have started to take her for granted! From the smallest plant to the richest human being, we are all part of the beautiful song composed by Nature known as Life!

Striking The Right Balance

The word that has become alien to many in today’s popular narrative is “balance”. Sadly almost all our popular narratives are filled with two opposing ideas, without the need for striking the necessary balance.

The million dollar question is can two separated narratives be done together? The answer is YES! The idea put into your head by society is this: in order to be successful, you have work 24×7. This is nothing but non-sense. Similarly, that one friend who says life is all about partying and chilling is absolute nonsense too. Now the challenge is in balancing both. Look at the most successful people in each field and you’ll see they have mastered the art of balance.

There are no hard and fast rules in life, it all depends on you! There are people who work an hour and still succeed and there are people who may work 24×7 and fail.

Don’t blindly swallow what society throws at you. Analyse your situation and take a stand! Build the life you wish to have! You are at your best when you are yourself!

A Need For Being Human Beyond Everything!

“Who are you?”

“Name”

“Place of birth”

“Religion”

“Language”

Etc., etc., etc.

“What were you really born as beyond all these categories?”

“Human!”

The above is the most important understanding required for all human beings! At the end of the day we are all humans beyond all our differences, and this needs to be kept in mind always! No division is more important than the ideology of ‘being human’. (Not the brand :P). This is a subtle message, but the single most important one I have to give!

In the lap of Mother Nature,

beyond the tall mountains,

as the ocean waves kiss the sand,

mighty winds sing the song of life,

may the narrative of love rise,

above the narrative of hatred,

remembering the essence of life,

may the ideology of love triumph!

You may agree or disagree with the viewpoints expressed above, but be a seeker, and don’t have judgments. Be open to new ideas, keep exploring life, and as long as you do so, you shall never forget the essence of life!

Created by Sreesreshta Nair

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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.

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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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