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The Social Psychology of ‘Modi Syndrome’

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is just not a politician, he is more than that. He is an idea that most Indians were subconsciously waiting to transform into a reality; a thought that is not metaphorical, and a consciousness that is amalgamated with unaccountable aggression, anger, and apathy.

If you look around, what do you see?  In a span of five years, India as a society has witnessed a vociferous and unapologetic jingoism, upper-caste fascism, and unfettered perilous politics, Orwellianism of data and privacy, jobless growth, anti-beef pogrom and post-truth narratives on media.

One cannot blame and bash PM Modi totally. He is just acting as a medium for many of us to unleash our inherent egotism and oppressive attitude. As a community, while building the so-called modern civilization of tall buildings and cities, we are unknowingly failing the socialization processes. The ‘agents of socialization’ have compromised with irrational thinking, and adjusted to cognitive tools with incoherent thoughts; as such it is anyway a post-truth era and an epoch of anger, materialism and confirmation bias.

PM Modi is just delivering to his audience, what we had been knowingly or unknowingly feeding each other till date. Most of his toadies see their reflection in his personality, mindset, and speeches. If you try to make them  ‘think’ by putting forth a rational perspective, they will bash you for triggering their matrix of fake consciousness and clutches of fake news.

Ignorance is not a ‘demonetized’ bliss, in today’s fake-news ecosystem. Read Alt-News co-founder Pratik Sinha’s interview to unearth the grand circus of Modi’s media policy.

Ahead of Election 2019, BJP becomes the number one advertiser on TV. Is it ‘anti-national’ to term it as a propaganda exercise? Picture credit: The Economic Times, Nov’ 2018

A survey report, in the month of October 2017, by the PEW Institute, revealed that the majority of Indians prefers autocracy and military dictatorship. “In India, where the economy has grown on average by 6.9% since 2012, 85% (of people) trust their national government,” Pew Research said in a report based on its survey on governance. According to this survey, more than one-fourth of Indians (27%) want a “strong leader”. These numerical conclusions summarize the growth of ‘Modi syndrome’ in India and hint at the context of this article.

The Modi syndrome is being systematically injected into the social system of India, thoroughly equipping a new environment (New India) in a way that people would automatically pay blind obeisance to the authorities and their political statism, by letting the people assimilate a new culture without direct acceptance, otherwise dissents would anyway experience the heat for not adjusting. A few weeks back, in this context, a young BJP candidate Tejasvi Surya in his speech made it succinct, “if you are not with Modi, you are with anti-India forces”. Such immersion of ‘Dunning-Kruger effect’ is the latest evaporation of a perilous trend, which is for sure to get the constitutional, post-2019 election.

It is not a conspiracy anymore to comprehend that ‘Modi syndrome’ is a new normal. The gradual development of Modi syndrome, since May 2014, has made India collapse on her ‘freedom of speech’ global index rank (published in the year 2018) from 136th to 138th, just one rank above the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (which stands at 139th).

On the other side of the world, do you recollect the apathetic nature of his crowd and toadies shoutingMari nakho, mari nakho (kill him, kill him)‘ at an election rally in his Gujarat state, in the year 2007, when Modi was assuring his citizens that Sohrabuddin Sheikh ‘got what he deserved’? I guess, No.

In today’s political climate, his assurance has received an extendable warm welcome in our society which is eventually normalizing Modi syndrome. Titles like “Urban Naxal“, statements like “go to Pakistan“, premises like “If you are not with Modi, you are anti-national”, whatabouteries like “what did Nehru do?” etc are just the advanced stages of ‘Mari nakho, mari nakho’ school of thought intended to mechanically hijack the cognition of mass audience from discovering the truth and intellectualism.

The citizens who do not experience these online statements/certificates are brutally suffering from ‘Modi syndrome’ and far luckier to have their free speech not spiralled down to the culture of silence and suppression. For which, a renowned journalist Gauri Lankesh paid a heavy price.

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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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