My Journey At Anant Fellowship Gave Me Valuable Life Lessons

We started a new journey; Vijay Chahriyar from IIT Delhi is teaching us human-centred design. Till now it has turned out to be the most productive course for me – as he connected us to people who are working for the grassroots. It’s usually a late realisation in everybody’s life; we keep reading stuff in our rooms, and we tend to evade human interactions or take people and environment around us for granted.

We try to limit ourselves inside closed spaces. We read articles or books, but instead what one should do is to engage in lively conversations with people out there in the real world. I mean, most of us happily read about endemic of a leper in and around our social spaces in books and research papers, and we keep ignoring the colony living nearby where there might be real humans suffering from this deadly disease.

We, humans, are walking books; our interactions are as rich as scholarly papers.

Our professor took an alternate road to teaching.

The historical, institutional, deeply wired dominating pedagogic methods demand a lot of physical hard work from us. We qualify as good students if we produce lots of assignments in the form of oppressive outputs like PPTs and academic papers. He gave us freedom; freedom to learn or grasp things like the way we wanted. He even went on to say that we can produce our final assignments in the form of street show, a Qawali, or any other possible output. We were also shown a Canadian short film with the title: The Necktie.

The protagonist was completely lost in the world of responsibilities, job and performance. He had a monotonous, programmatic lifestyle whereby he had to reach his office strictly on the time, sit on the desk for hours and then again walk to his home. He had a passion yet his mindset didn’t allow him to pursue that. He wanted to be an accordion player and eventually, he mustered courage and followed his passion.

All our life we tend to work on the dreams or desires of people who don’t understand us, who just want material output from of us, or to put it politely, who expect us to be independent and self-sufficient. Their intention may be to help us or make us independent, but as it turns out we lose ourselves in picking their aspirations as our life projects.

Not only do we suffer entire life, but we destroy our identity.

Vijay sir, unlike other instructors, gave fewer PPTs. He thinks this method constitutes the most oppressive form of pedagogy. As a matter of coincidence, I have been reading Pedagogy of Oppressed, which basically has this underpinning thought that our educational setup had rendered the whole population of students to mere passive recipients of knowledge. A species which is asked to remain shut until the PPT is finished. To include my experience: it is highly cumbersome to remain utterly fixed to a lecture when PPT is used as a method of instruction. Student fakes seriousness masquerades attentiveness to appease teacher, a knowledge seeker does that to maybe get good grades, but it never helps the root cause of that PPT being there in the first place, and that is to enlighten, to add value.

All said we were, after three days, introduced to the world of PPTs again. This time it was full of philosophical, intellectually enriching stuff. There were only four slides, and it was about how to go about various incidents that happen in our lives.

The mantra reads EASE, whereby ‘E’ stood for enjoying the process, ‘A was about to accept what is currently unpleasant, ‘S’ meant to sip the inner silence, and ‘E’ meant to evolve to integration at the level of being.

This article was first published on Anant National University Blog

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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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