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AAP Govt’s Free Coaching To Students From EWS: A New Governance?

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Who are the beneficiaries of politics? Who are the beneficiaries of governance? While the answer to the first question could be subjective, the answer to the second question is very precise because governance is to serve the people.

Every day with the news-clutter of communalism, economic slowdown, national security issues. The narrative of governance in India is changing. Amid this clutter, the definition of the welfare state has sunk, and the shift of narrative of governance has become the usual.

AAP’s ‘Jai Bhim Mukhyamantri Pratibha Vikas Yojana’ has already proved to be beneficial, and with time, the number of beneficiaries will increase. Image via Getty

However, amid all this clutter the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government has come up with a new scheme of giving free coaching for the competitive examinations to the economically disadvantaged children of the state. The scheme is known as “Jai Bhim Mukhyamantri Pratibha Vikas Yojana”. The scheme which earlier covered only students from the SC and ST communities of Delhi has now been extended for the OBC community and others too.

The Delhi Cabinet on Tuesday decided to include students from the OBC community and those from unreserved sections in its “Jai Bheem Mukhyamantri Yojana”, and enhance financial assistance from ₹40,000 to one lakh for coaching for various competitive exams. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that earlier, the scheme was only for students from the OBC community under which financial assistance of up to ₹40,000 would be provided.

 A Tailor’s Son Cracked IIT

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal launched the scheme in December 2017. Under this scheme, the Delhi government decided to fund 75% of the coaching cost for students from the SC community for the competitive examinations through known and established institutions. It started with nearly 100 students thereafter the number increased with time.

According to media reports, “Of the 107 students who got free coaching for engineering and medical entrance exams under the “Jai Bhim Mukhyemantri Pratibha Vikas Yojana”, 13 have been declared successful in the JEE Main and 22 in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET). Four students have already secured admissions to leading technical institutions such as IIT Delhi, Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology, National Institute of Technology Delhi and IIT BHU.”

After taking the free coaching 16-year-old Vijay Kumar, who is a son of a tailor, cracked the IIT in his first attempt. “Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has said a free coaching scheme under his government has given a tailor’s son the same opportunity as his son and both of them will now study at IIT, the premier engineering institute of the country,” observed a report published in the Hindustan Times.

A Daily Wage Earner’s Daughter Cracked NEET

Among many other beneficiaries of the scheme like Vijay, another one was the 19-year-old daughter of a daily wage earner, Shashi.

A report in the New Indian Express noted, “A 19-year-old daughter of a daily wager, who earns barely enough to make ends meet, has secured admission to the prestigious Lady Hardinge Medical College after clearing NEET and thanked a Delhi government scheme for underprivileged students for her success. Shashi is the fifth student and the first girl who has successfully secured admission to college after availing benefits under the “Jai Bhim Mukhyamantri Pratibha Vikas Yojana”, aimed at providing free coaching to needy students from Scheduled Castes and low-income groups.”

Pre-poll SOP Vs Good Governance

Delhi’s Vidhan Sabha election is around the corner and expected to take place in February next year. The announcement by the Delhi government got criticized by the oppositions claiming that this is nothing but a pre-poll politics to get votes.

However, reality looks like a bit different. In the year 2016, the Central Government came up with a similar scheme for students from the SC community. According to the reports, the Centre urged every state government to implement the scheme. However, reportedly, no such implementation has taken place. The Centre’s scheme did not include the students from EWS or those from the OBC community, but it was only restricted to students from the SC and ST community.

The fundamental goal of governance in India should be the empowerment of the marginalized people; thereafter, it becomes the duty of every government to bring schemes for the benefit of the people. In today’s context, as politics has become ruthlessly communal and polarized, the propaganda machinery always takes a stand that the welfare schemes have a political motive.

It is beyond any question that every government in India has a political agenda because democracy allows the political parties to fight the election, win and to form a government. There could not be any apolitical government scheme. However, it is for the people to see if the schemes are to empower them or are just in papers.

The said scheme of the AAP government has already proved the benefits, and with time, the number of beneficiaries will increase. If all the beneficiaries of the scheme are children from low-income families, then the politics should not take the central stage, but the welfare needs to get applauded.

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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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