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Proving Nehru’s Guilt: Taking A Plunge In Bad Faith

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India Cuts Its Nose To Spite The Face

While there has been much discourse on Modi government’s motives behind abrogation Article 370, many seem to miss the point. Much has been said about BJP delivering on its manifesto and of religious revenge politics. While BJP and its predecessor Bharatiya Jana Sangh have long complained of Article 370, the underlying agenda has always been to prove Jawaharlal Nehru wrong!

Nehru, Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Bombay, 1946. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Among several Indians, NRIs and overseas citizens, I notice a sense of deprival. To be sure, most of these people have had privileged lives. Yet, they claim that they have been handicapped because of Congress’ policies. It is claimed that India could have been a superpower if someone else became the first Prime Minister instead of Jawaharlal Nehru. The rise of BJP to power reflects the extent to which the Sangh Parivar had convinced the nation of the supposed blunders of Nehru.

Nehru (and V.K. Krishna Menon for that matter) is denied credit for his contributions to great institutions like ISRO and DRDO. From time to time, BJP tweaks an institution such as the erstwhile Planning Commission and claims to have destroyed Nehru’s evil designs. These actions reinforce their base that India is being liberated from chains of bondage and that the country is becoming a superpower.

Kashmir Fiasco

What was done to Kashmir on August 5, 2019, was one of those tweaks. Contrary to the bragging from the comfort of New Delhi, annexing PoK and Aksai Chin is pie in the sky. Abrogation of Article 370 and converting the state into union territories was an administrative task within the powers of the Indian Parliament where BJP has the majority. BJP has since been chest-thumping to have corrected Nehru’s historic blunder and integrated Kashmir with India for the first time in 72 years.  The beginning and end of this exercise was to cast Jawaharlal Nehru as a villain. The government did not think about this issue any further.

When came under intense criticism, BJP has been going on back-foot turning their argument upside down. They then innocently claim to be just following the rules, that Article 370 was never meant to be permanent, and that whatever they did was not at all out of the ordinary!

After a month of curfew and detentions with no end in sight, it is now obvious that the government is clueless. Parallels are drawn to this government’s earlier initiatives like Demonetization and GST.  Some legal experts opine that while Article 35A has been voided, Article 370 is still alive. We will know for sure when the Supreme Court deliberates.

On the one hand, the government has been arguing on the international forum that whatever happened was an internal matter. But their simultaneous rhetoric that Kashmir became an integral part of India only after August 5, 2019, undermines that argument, casting doubts that the matter may not really be internal.

Historically speaking, BJP has always been telling Indians that Kashmir has been an international matter (as opposed to internal matter) since Nehru approached the UN and that India is on the hook for Plebiscite. BJP has now begun to speak simultaneously from the other side of the mouth, claiming that Plebiscite is not necessary. If Plebiscite was never held and did not need to be held, why is that an issue after 72 years? With this kind of deceptive logic and self-contradicting arguments, it will be incredible to blame international media or Pakistan for the trouble in Kashmir.

Mohammad bin Tughlaq

History tells us that Mohammad bin Tughlaq was a visionary far ahead of his times but incompetent in execution. While his shifting capital to Daulatabad is perceived as insanity, one must note that more than three-and-half centuries later Auragazeb Alamgir had shifted the capital to the same Daulatabad for same reasons. Tughlaq is said to be the first in human history to realize the need for common currency within a country. During the course of establishing such common currency in 1330, he purged (demonetized) all the gold and silver coins plunging the nation into financial crisis.

The BJP government lacks the vision of Mohammad bin Tughlaq while motivated only by their obsession to prove Nehru wrong. As with Tughlaq, BJP is willing to make poor decisions and disrupt the lives of the people. In their obsession to claim victory over Nehru’s legacy, the government has plunged the nation into a crisis which can never be recovered from.

Lately, some patriots have been telling us how peaceful Kashmir was in 1969, which incidentally was five years after Nehru’s death and 19 years after the incorporation of Article 370 in the constitution. Why were these patriots quiet until now while Nehru was blamed for terrorism and fundamentalism in Kashmir? I believe they were enjoying Nehru being insulted, and by their selective silence, they helped build the false narrative, which in turn plunged the country into the crisis.

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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.

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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.

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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