Let’s Take A Look At Some Oddballs The Govt. Threw At Our Campuses This Year, Shall We?

2018 has had a weird quotient when it comes to a lot of programmes, measures and revision in schemes that the State and Central governments have incorporated. For one, this year has been the ‘woke’ year in Indian campuses as students have protested tooth and nail to demand the freedom and justice they are entitled to.

On the other hand, this year has also had numerous instances with a shock value – some that have either made us go “That’s…weird,” and some that have left us dumbfounded by their sheer senselessness.

Let’s Take Away Their Fundamental Right to Freedom, Because Why Not!

The right to protest is a guaranteed Fundamental Right under Article 19 of the Constitution of India. But, some universities have proved otherwise.

In the aftermath of a series of protests and demonstrations spanning over the last few years, IIT BHU sent a notice banning protests to curb the rising ‘indiscipline’ on account of such protests. The administration banned “gherao, camping inside the premises/houses of teachers/officers, use of derogatory slogans, abuses, propaganda” and warned the students of disciplinary action in case of a breach.

In yet another move, IIT BHU had debarred students from continuing in the university and asked them to take transfers, as a result of their protests against an incident of harassment.

In a similar move, Government Degree College in Baramulla, Kashmir, passed a code of conduct banning unlawful assembly and sloganeering, mobile phones, bluetooth devices, and headphones. Taking this a step further, they ‘strictly advised’ boys and girls to not be found in an ‘objectionable position,’ specifying their individual resting areas.

In August, DU had cancelled the magazine launch of DYouth during an event titled Dialogue on Freedom of Expression, after allowing it initially, as per reports. But, the students released it anyway.

Also, We Need More Money From Them!

We were already battling a cut in the budget for education this year.

Now, citing inadequacy of funds, a lot of government schemes and waivers have been revoked this year, thereby hampering the right of marginalised communities students and others in accessing their right to be educated.

TISS changed its policy asking students from the SC/ST/OBC community to bear their own dining and hostel expenses.

In an engineering college in Chennai, students were not allowed to enter the exam hall because of non-payment of fees. Interestingly, the onus was on the state government of Tamil Nadu to pay the fees to the college, but they didn’t release funds stating that the central government had failed to release its own share of grants to the states for these scholarships.

Earlier this year, BITS Pilani had seen a fee hike. IGNOU had introduced a fee hike in its programmes too.

Hey, Let’s Just Redo Everything!

The government is going crazy. It’s changing criterion regarding the appointment of professors, and its bid to restructure the education system justify my seemingly far fetched statement.

Their changing stance about the appointment of professors is an indicator of massive instability in the system. Initially, National Eligibility Test (NET) was enough to hold the post, but now, holding a PhD degree has been made compulsory, again, for appointment to the post of an assistant professor in Indian universities. API (Academic Performance Index) was also scrapped to introduce a “new simplified teacher evaluation grading system.”

The 60 year old UGC was scrapped, to be replaced by a new body called the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI), with more powers. While academicians are touting it to be a move increasing political intervention, some are calling it a step towards privatisation of education.

Whoever Said Evaluating Exams Is Our Responsibility!

Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Avadh University, a university in Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh saw a staggering 80% fail percentage in the B.Sc results in June. And, they tried to evade the repercussions by misleading the media in this press release. The reason for the mammoth fail percentage was attributed to unwarranted strictness, incorrect checking and failure to provide teachers. Furthermore, as per the university revaluation criteria, ₹350 is the initial amount required to get a copy of your answer sheet, and a heavy amount of ₹3000 is to be paid for revaluation, thereafter.

Let’s Tell The Teachers To Behave Better, Then We Can Control The Students!

The past six months have been about the administration coming up with new measures intended to police JNU faculty. Earlier this year JNU had decided to make attendance mandatory for students; a few months back, they made attendance compulsory for teachers.

Only recently, JNU did it again and implemented a code of conduct for teachers (without consulting them) with regard to their participation in any political matter or work related strikes and also, their right to publish anything without permission from the government. The JNU Teachers Association strongly condemned this action calling it authoritative.

There was also news doing rounds that DU would be brought under the ambit of ESMA (Essential Services Maintenance Act), which would make it illegal for teachers to protest.

Caste Doesn’t Exist In Indian Society Anymore!

At the Central University of Kerala, the Head of Department of English and Comparative Literature, Prasad Pannian was immediately suspended from his post for taking to Facebook and calling out the university’s ‘arbitrariness’ in its decision to arrest a Dalit student for a minor act (breaking the glass of a fire alarm). This happened “as no one has the right to criticise the collective decision of the university.”

In yet another incident, The Standing Committee on Academic Matters of the University of Delhi proposed to curb the study of three books by Dalit activist Kancha Ilaiah. The basis for the proposal was that these texts were “too radical” and “threatened the existence of Hinduism.” The committee also demanded that the term Dalit be abandoned within the university’s academic discourse.

What Do You Know About Eminent Institutes?

The granting of Institute of Eminence (IoE) tag to the forthcoming Jio Institute sparked major controversies, when those funds could have been used to better the state of the existing universities grappling with sourcing the most minimal facilities.

This step by the MHRD elicited a lot of comments from the academic fraternity in disagreement of the same.

So What? Your Job As A Student Is To Study Only!

The HRD Ministry, in August, had announced that JEE (Main) and NEET, would be conducted online twice a year, by the newly formed National Testing Agency (NTA). But, it again reversed the decision with NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) now being conducted only once a year, stating that the earlier decision was made “without formal consultation.”

Every Student Should Know Three Shlokas By Heart! It Will Help You Live A Better Life!

Maharashtra’s Education minister Vinod Tawde spoke about distributing The Bhagavad Gita in colleges, calling it a “non-religious” text and a “way of life.” He blamed the media for branding this distribution of Gita as communal. Criticizing the opposition’s attempt to call it “saffronisation of the education system,” he said that Gita is “philosophical and scientific in nature.”

In July this year, the office of the Joint Director, Higher Education for Mumbai region had issued a letter asking NAAC A and A+ ranked colleges in the city to collect the copies of the Gita from its office. Though, the letter was silent about the organization that provided these copies.

These instances only tell a tale of misplaced priorities and attention. Here’s to a less chaotic, more sensible scheme of developments in 2019 that genuinely aim at making lives on campuses better and vibrant.

Featured image for representative purpose only.
Featured image source: Ravi Choudhary for Hindustan Times via Getty; Garry Knight/Flickr; General Press/Flickr.
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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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