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Five Ways In Which Amish’s ‘Scion Of Ikshvaku’ Makes You Rethink Politics Of The Ramayana

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The story starts from a battle between Dashrath and Ravan in which, unexpectedly for the former, the latter triumphs. The day on which Dashrath loses a battle for the first time in his lifetime, Ram is born. Therefore, Ram is considered inauspicious because he represented the dent in the invincibility of the grandson of Raghu.

The story moves as the four brothers move to Gurukul and learn their lessons from Guru Vashishtha. The contradiction between Ram and Bharat start to emerge from the debates and discussions in the Gurukul itself. While Ram believes in unerring and obstinate execution of law, Bharat believes in freedom and leniency. Ram and Bharat disagree on the ways to govern and run administration. This leads for once for Shatrughan to remark that, “Ram Bhaiya is too much idealist, while Bharat Bhaiya is practical and real.”

Ram’s obsession or rather obduracy towards the law has been the central theme of the book. On at least five occasions, I remember Ram following the law even though following it will harm him one way or another.

One, when he is made chief of the police force, he indicts a kin of the army chief in a corruption case. This, while the fact that the entire nobility despised Ram because his birth remarked on the loss of his father in battle, there were only few who were sympathetic to Ram and among those was the army chief in question.

When Kaushalya tries to exhort Ram to understand palace politics and let the indicted man go free, he does not budge at his stance. He says instead, “The rule is one and is equally applicable to everyone.”

Second, when Ram’s sister-like companion Roshni is gang-raped and brutally murdered by a group of men, the prime convict turns out to be juvenile. And so, while the rest are executed, the main mastermind behind the gruesome event escapes death and ends up in jail as punishment. While Ram is deeply disturbed by the death of Roshni, who he swore to protect, he does not alter the law in order to avenge her or satisfy his anger.

Third, when Ram lands up in Mithila for the Swayamwara ceremony of Sita and she shows him the bow that was going to be the central point of the ceremony and asks him to prepare beforehand, Ram promptly refuses. Because, the law forbade anyone from having access to the challenge of the Swayamwara before the day of the event. Even though Ram was mesmerized by the instincts of Sita and wanted to marry her, he could not and did not violate the law.

The fourth instance is when the Asurastra is fired against the army of Lanka that waged a war on Mithila (because Ravan’s ego was hurt in the Swayamvara). The law of Lord Rudra forbid anyone from using the Asurastra, and if anyone did use it, he would suffer fourteen years in banishment. Ram willingly and voluntarily suffers the fourteen years in exile by asking his father to impose the punishment on him, instead of Dashrath taking it upon himself.

Five, when Sita, Lakshman, Ram, Jatayu and fifteen soldiers of the Malaputra tribe were residing in the jungle and Shurpanakha and Vibhishan come to them to seek refuge. Even though the two were rebels and represented Lanka, Ram chose to admit the two in his fold. He follows the doctrine of Atithi Devo Bhava, that your guest is equivalent to god and must be treated and respected in the same manner.

The best part of the book is the narration, which is smooth and sailable. The book deals with the contradictions between the values and Bharat and Ram and yet, the force that binds them together. In the current political context where ideological differences end up in grotesque murder and mud-slinging, there is something that one could learn from Ram and Bharat’s story.

Despite ideological differences, they not only respect but love each other.

There is more in the book to be read than just Ram and his family. This book deals with law, politics, culture, religion, relationships, and much more.

At last, I would like to quote a line from the book – what Ram says when Bharat asks about the kind of woman he would like to be with. Ram responds, “A girl that would compel me to bow my head in her admiration.”

Image source: Amish Tripathi/Facebook.
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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.

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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.

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 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.”

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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, 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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