What Can We Expect When Parties With Conflicting Ideologies Come Together?

Peshwas Vs Maratha Confederacy: Even 500 Years Later Maharastra Is Still A Feudal State

Conservative vs Liberal vs Progressive, Right-wing vs Left-wing vs Centrist, Capitalist vs Socialist vs Communist; these were ideological categories that meant something to political parties and social intellects. The average voter may never have heard these words, but they instinctively knew which of these ideologies, each of the parties stood for, just like a domestic cat or a wild rabbit knows which wild animal is a predator or prey, even though it may have never seen one before.

Jungle Raj

Taking a page from the animal farm, let me describe whats happening in Maharastra using animals. The feline species of the Lions and the tigers had an alliance for many years as did the canine species of wolves and the foxes.

The lions ruled for many years, but the once fierce and deadly hunters’, overtime grew large and fat. They assume that their roar is enough to scare the other animals of the jungle and stay in power. But after the Maha election, the lions lost ground and now the Tiger wanted to be the leader of the pack. But the lion didn’t want to give up its top position. So the tiger approached the canines. While they were negotiating the terms of not killing each other and surviving in the jungle, (and dividing the helpless fleshy prey among themselves),  one cunning fox approached the lions to support them to form the government. But foxes are cunning. The lions were tricked. The Tiger was sown in as the CM while his tiger clan, wolves and foxes celebrated.

It’s impossible to picture this scene and believe that nothing can go wrong for the next five years. Yes, the liberals are celebrating it as a victory against the BJP but is it?

Political ideology is not jargon for the intellectuals. It’s as real as the words herbivorous, scavengers, carnivores, and omnivores. Ideology determines which income group will benefit the most, who will be taxed the least,  which historic figure will be taught in school; whether Rs 3000 Crore will be used for the “world’s tallest Statue” of Shivaji or will it be used to build the “world’s biggest University” named after Chatrapathi Shivaji, and whether the statue or the university will be operated by the government or a private  corporate.

So What Happens When Parties With Conflicting Ideologies Come Together?

Can you imagine this alliance running a corruption-free government?

In the best-case scenario, one party keeps the other in check, just like CPI/CPM kept the UPA in check when dealing with the anti-socialists USA. The worst-case scenario is that consensus takes a lot of time and nothing gets done. There there is a case, wherein, in order to keep everyone happy, everything gets done but in smaller quantities. For example, Shivaji statue will be built for Rs 1500 and the remaining used for the Shivaji University.

But we don’t live in an ideal situation. The newly formed alliance of tigers, wolves and foxes are hungry and they will grab every prey they find. This government will be far from corruption-free. Can you imagine this alliance running a corruption-free government? They’ve been starved for funds, thanks to the raids on their leaders, and donors. The corporates are either broke, afraid or both. In short, if the voters think they will have a bright future, the sad reality is that they won’t.

The Lie Of 80% Local Reservation

The alliance has promised that they will implement 80% reservation for locals. Assuming that these include private jobs, this policy is not just unconstitutional but detrimental to the economy. The Goa Government tried that three decades ago, but it failed.  A newly formed regional party and some rage entrepreneurs have reignited the ashes in hopes for a few ounces of political mileage.

The fact is that private-sector jobs are demand-driven. If a state cannot provide skilled labour to meet the demands of the company, either they will import labour from other states or move to the state that has the supply. The corollary is that to meet the demand of the workforce, instead of reservation, the government should invest in its training institutions so that they can dynamically and rapidly adapt to meet the demands of the private sector. The 80% local Reservation will do nothing but repel investors and discourage entrepreneurs.

Spending On Welfare Or Infrastructure?

The BJP is the undisputed king of public infrastructure investments; a bankrupt king today but a king nonetheless. The Congress implemented some of the best welfare policies that got millions out of poverty. But we are living in a dystopian world, where populism trumps carefully planned and executed policies. While the BJP went on a hyper development spree, the new alliance is heading towards a hyper welfare spending spree. Look at the common minimum program of the Uddav Thackeray-led alliance for farmers, and point of the one which was not implemented earlier. Then point out the one which didn’t fail or fizzle out.

Farmers

    1. Immediate assistance to farmers who are suffering due to premature rain and floods.
    2. Immediate loan waivers to be granted.
    3. Crop Insurance Scheme to be revised to ensure immediate compensation to farmers who have lost their crops.
    4. Appropriate measures to ensure remunerative prices for farm produce.
    5. Adequate steps to be initiated for the construction of a sustainable water supply system for drought-affected areas.

You won’t find any. These are just stale wine in new bottles.

Conclusion

Maharastra has too many problems and they could not be solved by a Fadnavis, “Peshwa” government or the present “Maratha Confederacy” government. Just like in the past, these empires will collapse under the onslaught of modern East India Companies (Corporate oligarchs who rule from Dalal street).

If Maharastra wants to protect its “Maratha” identity through political rhetoric, then it’s better off tearing the Consitution and splitting from India. If they want to progress, within the ambit of the Consitution of India, without splitting into smaller states, then the State needs urgent reforms in land, education, labour, industry and urban planning. And most importantly,  it needs to decentralise administration and devolve financial and administrative power to the local bodies.

The pertinent question then is, will the tigers, wolves and foxes work together to make the jungle a paradise or will they fight over the dwindling prey in the jungle?

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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 Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’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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