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Ravish Kumar’s Act Of Speaking The Truth

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Ravish Kumar has won the Ramon Magsaysay Award 2019 in the category of Journalism, Literature, and the Creative Communication Arts, before him one of India’s most respected voice in journalism Mr Palagummi Sainath, had received the same prize in 2007 for his extraordinary reporting on poverty and rural life. The citation said Sainath was being recognized for his “passionate commitment as a journalist to restore the rural poor to India’s national consciousness”.

The Ramon Magsaysay Award is Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

The Ramon Magsaysay Award is Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize. The citation for Ravish Kumar explained his work as “harnessing journalism to give voice to the voiceless” and his “unfaltering commitment to professional, ethical journalism of the highest standards”. Ravish began his work in NDTV-India in 1996. As per the report, he was initially engaged in the low profile work, but with his dedication, passion, and consistency for real reporting, he achieved independent promotion in the NDTV, where he could produce useful reports with his creativity and imagination. Today, he has created his own space for stories in the Television media, and in spite of all difficulties, Ravish has established himself as a credible option in Hindi journalism.

Ravish Kumar, experimented with a new format in the history of Indian TV news called “Ravish ki report”. In his show, he broke the norms of studio room news and went on the field/ground to better understand the issues of the common public and speak to them. His courage to bring news and investigate the matters is unbelievable, especially in the age where everyone is fine with imposing self-censorship.

He faces many difficulties in doing his job as a journalist, threatened/harassed by internet trolls and hate mongers. Even the BJP leaders boycott his program. But such situations do not discourage him; he has discovered new ways to report on the TV screen. He has raised pertinent issues of the common people on the National Television. He has started unique series such as the Job series, Railways series, University series etc., and his work has helped people get justice in this democracy.

In the Job series, he spoke to many students who have cleared competitive exams, but due to the callousness of the government policies, nothing happened for months or even years in many cases. After his program, those youths raised their voice, and most of them got a response from the respective departments. Similarly, in a different series, he raised the issue of the timings of the running trains; after that, one can see the change in those regions.

Ravish’s understanding of caste, gender and communalism are different from the other mainstream Hindi journalists. He understands and recognizes the importance of the Indian constitution and its provisions which ensure justice for the marginalized sections of the society. He has been a staunch supporter of inclusion or inclusive policies based on gender, caste or religion. Once, he said, the way we have communalized our society through different kinds of nationalism, it will only harm the majority community in the long run.

Largely, the situation of free speech is grim. In South Asia, freedom of the press is under the attack. In the 2019 World Press Freedom Index, India is ranked 140 out of 180 countries in the world. Our neighbouring country doesn’t set a good example either, Bangladesh is ranked 150. An award-winning senior photojournalist Shahidul Alam was arrested there for reporting on a students’ protest. He was released from prison after more than 100 days. In Bangladesh, many bloggers are being killed or intimidated for writing on religious issues.

The situation is even more perturbing for regional reporters residing outside the metropolitan world of India. This is really scary for the ones who work in those circumstances without any security. During my field visit to remote locations of India, I got the chance to interact with press reporters at the district or block level. They were paid meagre salaries, and their income was based on the number of incidents they managed to report.

In these adverse circumstances, Ravish has created new ways of taking a stand and giving voice to the pressing issues of the country. This is the job supposed to be done by all media personnel. Since most of the journalists today have chosen the easy way out, Ravish Kumar’s efforts make him special. I hope young journalists will learn from the path he has chosen and do honest and consistent work, which is necessary for democracy.

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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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