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Why Isn’t India’s Prime Minister Held Accountable For The Rise In Hate Crimes?

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I am really frustrated with people constantly saying that we cannot blame the PM for each and every hate crime that takes place in the country. My question is, what is a people’s leader? Elected or otherwise, what is the ruling leader of any country deemed responsible for?

To cut this short – I believe that a country’s leader is equally responsible for the social and moral degradation of a nation, as much as he is responsible for its economic progress. It confounds me how people can continue supporting the BJP, and talk about how much good they can do for our country, yet simultaneously argue that crimes are not under the party’s purview!

In any economic policy, growth is a subject of citizens participating actively in its implementation. But first, we create policies benefiting only a small percentage of our society. Then we expect that entire percentage to support the policy implementation. But why should individuals support a distant governing body, when they don’t agree with them on the fundamental aspects of how other human beings should be treated? This is like harassing a classmate for the whole year and then expecting them to vote for you like the class monitor. Therefore, I believe, it is absolutely rational if people don’t want to support your party politics on account of the ethical and moral degradation they see in society.

Whether that degradation is even real is the next point of contention. There is a remarkable increase in hate crimes in India. Most of them are brutal in nature. The intentions of the perpetrators cannot be justified under any circumstances. In my opinion, there is obviously a certain type of hate which seems to be motivated by the current political scenario. That correlation is absolutely correct considering BJP’s manifesto and public statements have very clearly indicated exclusion of Muslims and Catholics from the national citizen registry. Even if we don’t take actual crimes into account, the amount of bile we all are seeing within our circles, on our personal social media, is shocking.

The next argument is always that crimes motivated by casteism and religious differences are not new in India. And also that the increase in their reporting is a result of liberal bias in media houses. Which I will momentarily agree with and then ask you – so you don’t want better? Who is then responsible for improving the social security of these innocent people who are equal citizens of our country? If the state of affairs in 2019 compares to the 80s, what is this development you’ve been boasting about?

There are a few people who clap back saying liberals don’t question crimes against the right wing supporters, like the recent murder of Smriti Irani’s aide. First of all, no, our empathy is not selective. So please stop imagining it. Secondly, when a state Chief Minister gets personally involved in a criminal investigation, does it matter if it has public support? The support is not needed, hence it doesn’t exist. But there is no excuse for any violence, politically motivated or not.

All crimes are criminal, but only the current government seems to not know this. From my observation, there has been no active reform of the Indian Police. It continues to be severely corrupt and dominated by local political bullies. In so many cases, people need to resort to pleading to get public support through media, sometimes to even file an FIR. Investigations are horribly botched and unjust. There are several programs run internationally in other countries, to improve law and order in society. We love to compare the sizes of our roads, but not on social reform. Please point to me which of these programs are being currently funded by the ruling government? Our government gives more importance to spending money on running marketing campaigns for initiatives like “Swatchh Bharat”.

The CBI has become a parody of a crime-solving agency. The Indian high courts are giving out judgements which are explicitly biased. The panchayats seem to have become a gunda raj in some places and non-existent in others. A Supreme Court judge has been accused of sexual harassment, which he himself is responsible to adjudge? All of this is an indication of our country’s moral degradation and corruption. All of this is the responsibility of the country’s leader.

I find it hilarious that people argue that things can’t be improved by a single party in one term and then talk about how they love that movie ‘Nayak’. They argue that these things are much bigger than one government – but only when they argue for the party they support. They’ll bring up all these crimes from the past to show negligence by a previous government.

They claim its all orchestrated by the Opposition. My point is if the Opposition was so coordinated, they would’ve orchestrated themselves an election win. They claim it’s only the uneducated, unaware Indians who are doing all this. If your idea of patriotism is distancing yourself from a huge section of society which is underprivileged, who are you calling Anti-National? Our country’s entire labour force is on the backs of these marginalised people. The army that we’re suddenly so patriotic about, is built on the backs of these people.

What is a people’s leader? Abraham Lincoln faced assassination for abolishing slavery. He wanted to remove the most dehumanising practice in his country to uplift the democracy. Can you imagine what that country would be if not for his leadership? If not for the contribution of the African slaves, what would that country be? If you can attribute any economic success to a single politician, you need to attribute the state of social condition to that politician too.

If not through action, through words there can be support. But not a single statement of strong condemnation has come from the PM’s office throughout the last term. And no, I’m not talking about these vague statements saying, “we’re all for inclusion” which are low key threats for minorities to assimilate or else face consequences. It’s not that our PM is not capable of strong statements. Isn’t that why he got elected (which I keep being reminded) by more than 50% of the country?

Dear voters, please ask again what you want from a leader and who you think actually does the work. It’s not very difficult to understand, please stop being selectively dense.

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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.

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.

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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.

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