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Is The Ruling Class Using Media To Manipulate Our Youth?

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Media, as a prime tool of value production machinery, has aimed to captivate the consumer class with its notion of how a society should work. The media conglomerates have become the gatekeepers of the socio-cultural beliefs, ideologies and values that one should perceive from the broad exposure to the media content. Media as a reflection of the society is expected to disseminate information and make people aware of the happenings around them, nationally and internationally. But with time, it has focused on shaping the ideologies and acting as an opinion maker of the mass. In a democratic society, the youth plays a crucial role in a nation’s future. Thus, it should be our prime concern to understand what the media produces and how it affects the youth.

As the cultivation theory of media explains, repeated exposure to violence may create a stereotype in the viewers’ mind and result in its acceptance among the masses. It also influences the audience to perceive content stereotypically under some pre-defined structures of socio-cultural practices such as racism, classism, casteism and the violence perpetuated due to such differences. In my opinion, the media acts as a manipulation machine of the ruling class to convince/influence the masses.

Media And Violence

In 1933, media was used as a master key in Nazi Germany to spread the notion of “one nation, one state, one leader” and injecting into the German masses the idea that “Jews are our misfortune!” – to trigger the sense of enmity among them. For a long-time, media has been used as a tool to spread violence for some propagandist reason of the authoritarian class. In our country, the corporate owned media has been used to propagate the idea of ‘Hindutva’ in the name of ‘nationalism’. This has fuelled inter-religious and inter-caste chaos resulting in severe riots on several occasions. In each case, media platforms (traditional or new media) have played a crucial role in influencing public opinion.

Video games, web series, movies or even cartoons meant for our entertainment, sometimes have content which may include murder, killing the opponents, physical attack on others, molestation, sense of superiority using deadly weapons and so on. All this content needs to be handled responsibly and sensitively as it impacts the consumers’ mind especially the youth who encompass a large proportion of the users/audiences. Blue whale game introduced in 2016, which claimed the lives of innocent teenagers in our country is one such example where we failed to keep a check on the type of content young people access. Harmful media content also has the potential to make young people more aggressive and hostile.

‘Sanskari’ as a keyword for the parameters to be a ‘good’ human being or in some cases ‘a good woman in our country, has been repeatedly taught to the masses, or the youth in particular through the media portrayals in TV serials, films and advertisements. This has burdened us to behave and react in a certain ‘acceptable’ manner. The way media portrays gender is biased, stereotypical and patriarchal. Ranging from defining the beauty standards – making ‘dark thick hair’, ‘flawless white skin’, ‘slim and sleek body’ as the parameters for it, to equating masculinity with muscles, or a ‘thick beard’, media has fed the masses a contrived perception of what an ideal male or female body should look like. They have made people a victim of capitalism by convincing them to buy the products which will help them to be readily accepted and appreciated in society. With such ideologies, the young generation that fails to live up to these standards have often suffered from an inferiority complex affecting their personality and level of confidence. It further creates a social inhibition among the youth.

Transformation Of Social-Being To Social-Media Being

Due to the compulsion created by social media, our young generation is always in a rush to keep everyone updated about their life on the virtual platform forgetting to give time or importance to the people in their real life. It seems as if a race for seeking attention and a fear of missing out is acting simultaneously to keep them hooked on this virtual reality. Acceptance has been equated to the number of likes and comments a person gets, and a failure to obtain a good number often makes them depressed or anxious. Hence, social media takes control of their lives completely.


In the 21st century, with the growth of technology, media has become more advanced and reached the masses to a greater extent. There’s no doubt that the media plays a crucial role in our society being the fourth pillar of democracy and their unbiased stance is extremely essential, but with time, media has digressed from its objective and in turn has become a value production machinery to shape up the society with a dominating capitalist and patriarchal spectacle. Hence, the youth has become the most critical target audiences – since they are the torchbearers of our future. Thus, it’s our responsibility to have a better understanding of media and use it smartly to avoid being easy targets for them.

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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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