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Explained: How The Left-Right Political Spectrum Does And Doesn’t Affect Indian Politics

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We regularly come in contact with terms like political left and right, some of us might have tried to search it in a dictionary or might have googled but even then, many of us would have ended up in confusion or with a very unclear idea of the whole scenario.

As we are Indians and we are almost always surrounded by urban pundits, it is highly possible that one of them might have told you that Congress is left and BJP is right. But in reality, the concept of left and right is vastly different from this. The concept is actually about the ideology that a particular political entity employs.

The whole concept traces its origin to the French National Assembly (aka France’s parliament) which was formed for the first time after the French Revolution. Those who were supporters of the Royals, sat on the right side of the parliament and those who were supporters of democracy sat on the left side of it.

With time, this concept developed and not only France but the left-right spectrum became visible in the whole world. In British parliament, the then-opposition was seated in the left side and hence left also came to be associated with opposition and right with the working government. From there, the concept of ‘troubling left’ came forward.

Today, the left is associated with ideas such as “freedom, equality, fraternity, rights, progress, reform and internationalism” while the right with notions of “authority, hierarchy, order, duty, tradition, reaction, capitalism and nationalism.”

Moreover, communists, socialists, democrats, etc. form the modern left and fascists, neoconservatives and imperialists, etc. constitute the right. But with time, a new power centre has developed apart from the right and left, which was called the centre.

The result for the General Election held in 1996 in India. Green dots represent the United Front, blue dots the Congress alliance and orange the BJP alliance. Dots in grey represent other parties. (Photo: Wikipedia)

The centre was actually a mid-way in the politics. It was made up of the pros of the right and the left and at the time it was free from the cons of the both the concepts. Here, the concepts like liberalism, regionalism and feminism shouldn’t be mixed with the right-left spectrum because both the left and the right at some point of time have been associated with these terms.

Coming back to the Indian scenario, it is somewhat hard to associate any party in India with hard left or the hard right ideologue (except for the CPI and CPI-M that are hard left parties). In our country, most of the parties are centralist and some others don’t even identify themselves with any wing (making them somewhat centralist). But, even after being centralist most of the parties are tilted somewhat towards the right or left. The grand old party belongs to the central left while the present ruling party is a central right party.

Why is it so difficult to observe the spectrum in India? The problem in our homeland is that, no party sticks properly to one policy but keeps on changing or mixing contrasting policies.

For example, as the BJP is central right, it shouldn’t have allowed any social welfare scheme to foster but such a thing didn’t happen and in the same way, the Congress didn’t starve the capitalist class under their regime. Hence, a rough balance is always maintained between the two sides.

In fact, it is probable that the reluctance of the the rightist in our country to employ leftist policies and vice versa has led us to develop through decades, the way we have.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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