This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Simran Pavecha. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Dear Professor, All I Ever Wanted Was To Learn

More from Simran Pavecha

To the professor I never had,

I am a common college-going undergraduate law student. Five years ago, I took admission into a not-so-great private university; times were difficult, but hope came easy. I paid the hefty college fees, my parents saw me off at the university gates, and there I was, standing outside the classroom on the first day.

The first class was supposed to be of political science – I was over the moon, I love political science, you see; we were to study ‘State’ that day. I was prepared to have my mind blown, be informed of the nuances of powerplay of state, government and power; be introduced to diverse political thinkers, basically, have my first great class. It never happened. I waited for the entire day, spread over different lectures of law and humanities subjects, but it never happened.

It has been five years, it still hasn’t happened. What instead has happened is that I have learnt to give in. I have learnt to stop demanding. I have started compromising. And I’m not okay with it.

It hit me and so, I thought of what went wrong in the past five years and why it shouldn’t have.

You Should’ve Taught Us To Defy Mediocrity, But You Encouraged It

Every time you taught me from one random book in class, asked me to make a random assignment by reading one book, you judged me by my marks in exams, you shush-ed me while discussing contradictory opinions with my classmates (because it’s a class, don’t talk!), you encouraged it.

Are you aware that every time you asked me to obey convention, you neglected your responsibility? Instead of telling me that there’s no box at all, you put me in the same box so I fit the mould. Instead of telling me (at least trying) there’s no race, you, by your teaching methods, led me to believe there was in fact one; and, made me a part of it.

When my university was feeding me the narrative of ‘high placement and package,’ why did you not alert me that it was a sham?

Let me tell you, professor, it led me nowhere. It led me to the abyss of unhealthy competition, zilch productivity, low-self esteem, and non-existing individuality. Why didn’t you tell me to hone my individuality, professor? I didn’t want it to learn the hard way, but you left me with no choice.

Make Hay While The Sun Shines

These five years were all I had. We have an overwhelming lack of resources spanning across universities in this country. Who would know better than you that there’s also a dearth of faculty, a massive one; you are asked to trade your free lectures for classes all the time because, hey, classes need to be ‘engaged.’ You know all about the path of mediocrity we are treading on. Then, why did you not ask us to do something for ourselves? Why did you not tell us about the numerous books we could read outside of college, reach out to the authors, engage in discussions and critique of the text, and why it was all so important; the relevance of networking outside college, and the like?

I had to manage to create such an environment on my own, one which would help me thrive in the domains I love. And it was not a smooth processor, dear Professor. I had to battle numerous devils – my incredibly hurt self-esteem when I’d see others being provided with resources to do well; lack of absolute guidance; hours and hours of surfing the internet and talking to hundreds of people to figure out 5 brilliant web sources; it took me a lot. All of this when you could have helped me.

Why didn’t you tell me the essence of reading, of knowing? Why didn’t you tell me that there’s nothing more powerful than an informed mind? If only you had cared.

Being Political Is “Cool”

This bit is cruelly unacceptable. Do you know I have been called ‘uncool’ numerous times just because I have an opinion on what the Prime Minister of this country says? I mean, why did they teach us Civics and 4 books of Political Science in higher secondary at all, if I had to keep mum all this while! That is preposterous – what am I to do with all the knowledge? Why am I only taught to answer (in exams) and not to question?

Everyone is affiliated to an ideology – be it extreme left, centre left, right-wing, you know the drill. What is an ideology even? How ‘you’ see your country to be function, how much power do you want the government and yourself to hold in it – so how, in Prime Minister’s name, can someone be ‘apolitical’? ‘Personal is political’ is a reality. Especially in these autocratic and absolute times, it was on you to make your students, that form the youth of this country, aware of it. You failed, and I’m sorry for you.

And So Is Being A Feminist

I am disappointed in you that all those times a woman raised her voice against an authority, we had to talk in hushed voices discussing whether she was right or she was doing it for the ‘buzz?’ Why was I not taught that it’s important to #BelieveHer? And, when I was called out and mansplained for being a ‘feminist,’ because I didn’t fit the cut! Cut? Who made this cut? Their convenience?

Yes, we learn things outside, as we must, but the classroom, is literally for that – learning. You should’ve taught them right – you should have told them to own it, take responsibility, recognize the mental, physical and emotional violence patriarchy has inflicted and address it, but none of it happened. And I lose everyday, trying to still, after all these years, plead my case. I’m stuck at the pleading, I don’t know when the reform will even initiate. I’m exhausted, and this is on you as well. You failed me again and I’m sorry for you.

Scenes from a student protest. (Photo: Subin Dennis/Facebook)

Don’t Let Anyone Stifle (Y)our Dissent

We are living in times where students are jailed if one voices an opinion opposed to power; students resort to suicide because the evils of caste discrimination have pervaded our safe spaces – our classrooms. Whatever happened to our Constitutional Law lectures where, even if it was to finish the syllabus, we learnt about Article 19 (1) (a) and the value of dissent in a democracy, painstakingly emphasized by the highest court of land, time and again? Teach us all to dissent, because collective action has the potential to stand the test of power and fear. I’m going to let it rest there.

Take a Stance, At Every Chance

Have an opinion, and an informed one at that. Think. Talk. Discuss. Think again. Act. Repeat. Let’s not let Descartes and his “I think, therefore I am” go to waste, now? You should have taught us Article 14 and feminism are the same damn thing. Being ‘political’ is a thing of pride and duty towards the country, because with every right I demand from this country, I have a correlative duty towards it. And, what secularism and pluralism truly mean, and the spirit that the Constitution of our country embodies. You should have taught me to stand up for my friends who practice a religion not of the liking of this country’s rulers. You should have taught us to recognize my privilege and use it effectively to voice the struggles of the suppressed – by caste, religion, race and gender. You should have taught us how bias would destroy the sanctity of the ethos of this country, and hence how necessary it is to be unbiased.

It was on you to educate and warn us about this, it was on you to impart this knowledge. You failed miserably this time. Is it even forgivable?

Don’t call it utopia, it’s not. I staunchly refuse to accept it. Even if I were to accept it, I thought classrooms were the only place with possibility and potential for utopias to come true?

You gave me so much more to unlearn when I already had a lot of unlearning to do.

Education is a social issue as much as it is a social need. It is all encompassing. Being at the helm of affairs in the classroom comes with its set of responsibilities. You should’ve understood the sanctity of your profession and the massive responsibilities it entails. Rethink your classroom tactics.

I’m going to be on the other side of the table, in the classroom, some day. This is also a letter I’m also writing to myself, I hope this serves as a befitting reminder. And, as for you: maybe the next batch of students will not have to write this letter? I fervently hope so.

Featured image for representative purpose only.
Featured image source: Arijit Sen/Hindustan Times via Getty Images.
You must be to comment.

More from Simran Pavecha

Similar Posts

By Simran Pavecha



    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        Wondering what to write about?

        Here are some topics to get you started

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        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.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        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.

        Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below