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The Four Abysmal Years Of ‘Make In India’

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In a democratic, liberal, and rationalist country like ours, we have no right to criticise or question those in power. Our right to freedom and speech weighs in at zero—it has no value. If you want to express your views, you’re simply painted as an anti-national; if you dare to stand against and ask uncomfortable questions to those in power you are mocked, abused virtually on social media platforms, factually harassed or killed. These kinds of issues have become a common setback for our society. Consequently, people who know how to see the unspoken truth are baffled. Why aren’t we allowed to question something which does not fit our idea of how things should be?

Consider this. It has been four years of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’, but we are unable to find a single significant development. Development is an encompassing term which has different meanings to different people, be it Adani or a farmer.

After beginning the year 2019, why not go down the memory lane and look at some of the grave and complex issues which are at a risk of being glossed over in the din, but definitely need to be noticed.

1: The Rafale Deal

The controversial Rafale deal in which the current government has spent ₹58,000 crore for the aircraft, is a puzzle yet to be solved. Given that Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is a government-led company, why wasn’t the deal given to our own, and very capable, company instead of a loss-making company like Reliance Industries Limited? How could the PM unilaterally sign the deal with France without keeping his cabinet in the loop, including the then defence minister Manohar Parrikar? Several other apprehensions were raised against the deal but the answer to them also remains vague.

After the Supreme Court passed its judgement against interfering in the cost dealings of Rafale, the Congress party is seeking a Comptroller and Auditor General report. The cherry on the top is that HAL now faces a severe cash crunch as the Indian Air Force delays payment.

2: Crackdown On Activists

Those who have served humanity and fought for the rights of the underprivileged are shunned and arrested on the basis of fake accusations. For example, the people who were involved in the Bhima Koregaon violence issue. Five civil rights activists were forcibly put on remand and house arrest on the baseless accusation of being Naxalites. Also, they were accused of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). How can one destroy the life of a person who loves to serve humanity? We have an increasing majority of cowards sitting in power, instigating violence. Its simple—shoot those who complain.

3: Sabarimala

A place of worship becomes an ‘adda’ of dirty politics, such as the recent controversy around the Sabarimala temple which created a lot of havoc in the country. Now the question arises that if a historic judgment passed by the Supreme Court, why are women still not allowed to enter the Sabarimala temple? And why is the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government allowing the majority of thugs in Kerala to create a ruckus at this pious place of worship. Amidst all the chaos, two women under the age of 50 dared to enter the temple in the wee hours of the morning. The duo were forcibly taken back by the police and ‘purification rites’ were performed at the temple.

4: Sohrabuddin Sheikh Fake Encounter

The purported fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his suspected lieutenant Tulsiram Prajapati, and the murder of Sheikh’s wife Kauser Bi is a politically motivated case in which all the 22 accused persons were acquitted by the court.

Who killed Sohrabuddin? And how can all 22 accused be hostile all at once? Why is the Central Bureau of Investigation more concerned in establishing a particular pre-conceived and pre-mediated theory? The conspiracy has too many unconnected dots, with politically powerful bureaucrats and politicians involved in it. How can one hope that justice will prevail?

5: Violence Against Women

The Muzzafarpur shelter home incident remains one of the most colossal controversies of the year. Let me remind you that 34 girls were sexually abused, harassed, and raped in that shelter home. In the era of ‘Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao’, candle marches, public strikes, and long speeches on women’s empowerment, it all seems useless when we can’t protect the rights of little girls who are the future of this cruel and inhuman world! Rape culture in India has become so prominent that predators have no fear or shame, and it’s mainly because we have normalised this. Because “India hai, yahan sab chalta hai”.

6: Demonetisation

It is not a failure, it is a scam. Why does no one talk about Demonetisation? Why don’t the news channels have healthy debates on how many suffered due to demonetisation? Why doesn’t Modi ji talk about demonetisation in his rallies? A lot of people have lost their lives and hardly any of us know about this. To talk data, according to Forbes, 100 people have died as a result of Demonetisation. An old man died due to heart attack while standing in the queue of a bank. Well, who cares about those 100 people and their families living under dire conditions? The government has more to deal with!

7: The Youth Unemployment Crisis

Unemployment is one of the biggest issues India is facing right now. Has unemployment increased under the BJP’s rule after they promised to create 2 crore jobs annually? Demonetisation alone has destroyed so many medium and small businesses. 1.2 crore graduates enter the job market every year but remain unemployed. Where will 1.2 crore youth go? Should they sell samosas or pakoras or simply become hawkers, vendors, beggars or criminals? Why hasn’t this question been asked? Also, women need jobs to stabilise themselves, not just hand-outs like sanitary napkins and cooking gas. It is jobs that will ultimately save their future and make them independent.

How many of us have tried to know why the government isn’t taking reasonable steps to eradicate unemployment and help the future of our country to grow? Look around and you’ll find a number of unemployed youth squandering away their precious time.

8: The Murder Of Rationality

It has become so easy to kill the voices of the people nowadays. The unprecedented removal of journalists Punya Prasoon Bajpai and Abhisar Sharma proves that India’s democracy and freedom for speech is a big loophole. The heinous assassinations of Gauri Lankesh, rationalist M. M. Kalburgi, and Narendra Dhabolkar remains unsolved. India has become a fascist country where the government wants to have a hold on people’s ideology, opinions, and, more importantly, on what they speak about.

More recently, the sort of narratives political parties bring in have made the majority of us politically vicious and morally reckless. It’s a shame because we as democratic individuals cannot be an opinionated crowd questioning what is wrong. It’s simple. This paralysing system has deprived us of our rights and responsibilities.

With the rise of the saffron tide of Hindu nationalism we routinely witness the an increase in dangerous activities. Extremist groups, mob violence, temple politics, provocative statements and speeches by politicians instigating violence and chaos among civilians, cow terrorism, the game of calling one anti-national, harassment and abuse of women, violence through fake news, communal polarisation, giving more importance to the death of a cow than of a policeman, and the act of being victimhood in the post modern era of Indian politics. Things have become horrendous and don’t seem like they will fade away any time soon.

Thus, democracy has become a joke in modern India and we think we’re changing into a more cultured, rational, plural and liberal India. How ironic!

Featured Image Source: Burhaan Kinu/Hindustan Times via Getty Images.
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  1. Manish Kumar

    How are any of these points even related to ‘Make in India’?

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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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