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Is The BJP Government Nothing But A Propaganda Machine?

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Bharatiya Janta Party, the largest party in terms of membership is proving to be the best washing machine. It doesn’t only wash the image but also the sins committed by corrupt and criminal leaders – shouldn’t it be called the best washing machine?

BJP boasts about its various steps towards social measures and development but a closer look raises suspicion whether it is development or only failed promises?

It is a matter of fact that in most of the states in India, caste plays an important role. But it seems that BJP has given it a new feature, the Hindu-Muslim feeling with an added spice of controversies on sensitive issues. BJP has a long list of failed schemes, like the Ujjwala scheme, Ayushman Bharat, Namami Gange plan, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, MSP to farmers and smart cities, etc.

People are so involved in religious controversies that no one can see that India is not only facing job cut, low GDP, inflation, mob lynching, and hate politics but India’s influence has also deteriorated diplomatically in Asia, despite PM Modi’s continuous tours.

Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives have snubbed India many times on those issues on which they never confronted India earlier. Nobody wants to see what image India has in the international media but they are more interested in fake news of a political party’s IT cell.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee leading a rally protesting the CAA in Kolkata.

Why has BJP gained the tag of a washing machine? Because of its modus operandi, the moment someone with any sort of criminal or corruption charges joins BJP, they are considered a saint. BJP talks about connecting with the common man, but the disinterest of BJP in providing minimum support price to farmers properly is very apparent. The government has not done anything concrete to stop farmer suicides and widespread poverty.

Amit Shah talks about no VIP culture by their politicians and no use of beacon lights by any of their leaders but it seems paradoxical when he travels with a cavalcade of 50 cars with all the traffic blocked for him. In that case, what’s the difference the absence of light can make?

The price rise has broken the backbone of the middle class, it doesn’t stop with 2-3 items but the list is very long and something is added to it daily, the latest being the price of milk which has increased ₹2-3 per litre. Whether it is the Delhi Metro or the Indian Railways, prices have surged without any improvement of service. In railways, a ‘dynamic fare’ on trains like Shatabdi and Rajdhani is levied on the ground. Whoever is traveling on this train can afford it. But is it justifiable that a taxpayer has to pay extra just because they are choosing a better train without any extra services?

Many times, common people also use such trains because of a shortage of berths in other trains. Many times, we can see that price of these train tickets is more than flight tickets on the same route.

The use of foul language and fights below the belt are common for BJP leaders because of their illiteracy or arrogance. Leaders like Hema Malini, Sunny Deol, Manoj Tiwari and Ravi Kishan who don’t have any grassroot level experience in politics hold good positions in the BJP and their knowledge about their constituency and national policies has been exposed many times. In a recent report, it came to light that the BJP politicians have the most cases for the crime against women but they talk about moral policing and the Romeo squad!

If we go on fighting like this over politically motivated communal issues, then the day is not far when again people will ask for division or reservation for a particular religion on the first-class coach of a train and again, a Gandhi will be required to eliminate this just like he did it in South Africa.

Mob lynching and moral policing is a new law and order issue which needs to be stopped by bringing stronger laws, but the irony is that the Saffron Party is not doing anything to stop it.

Draconian laws are being used against those who oppose regressive politics. It seems that many times communal or patriotic issues are being created out of the blue just to deviate people from the real issues of jobs, a sinking economy, women safety, and law and order. If people engage in such propaganda, then election agendas will also be based on such fake issues and no one will ask questions on real issues.

But, in reality, what matters are basic issues related to daily life. In a country where a farmer has to resort to suicide because of poverty, a discussion on bullet trains seems very cruel. In India, crores of people sleep hungry and in the winter, many die because of no shelter. In that country, when the PM changes his suit 5 times a day, it looks very odd.

Students from Jadavpur University expressing their solidarity with the students at JMI and AMU, who were subject to police brutality.

The government has launched many schemes which look interesting and successful, but the truth is harsh. The cut in the education budget and continuous crimes against women makes the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao scheme exist only on papers. The Namami Gange project and Smart City schemes look stagnant, and the Ayushman Bharat health scheme is very limited.

No doubt the centre has controlled the media very smartly. Most media houses have become the mouthpiece of BJP because of many reasons, such as the influence of I&B ministry, fear of coercive action and need of advertisement by media houses. The weakening of institutions is known to all, the use of Enforcement Directorate, CBI and income tax to control voices is now a common game. Whatever the government wants to do, it does by parliamentary amendments and ordinances and misuses agencies to counter the voices of all those who oppose it.

Not to forget how the BJP legalised foreign funding when the rules were creating obstacles. The recent issue of Professor Firoz Khan at BHU who has had to offer his resignation from the Sanskrit faculty because of his religion, shows the cultivation of hate among people and students. Earlier, Dr Kafil Khan’s victimisation and his case also make this issue very clear. Mob lynching and cow vigilantes are a blot on our society where women, farmers and the poor are under continuous threat.

A fresh case of the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) looks a part of this political game only where non-Muslim refugees are welcomed to get citizenship and become voters and hence change the voter equation in many states. Also, it forces us to think: has the government brought this amendment to save non-Muslims and non-Muslim refugees from the NRC? A nationwide protest is going on against CAA, however, any violent protest can’t be accepted and there is always a legal way to handle any situation in our country. People should take legal recourse or can peacefully protest if they have any grievance but an attack on police officials is not only illegal but also immoral. Also, harm to public or private property is simply unacceptable.

Having said that, it is also important that the government should not treat the protesters and students like criminals. The recent way of handling the student protesters of AMU, Jamia, JNU, even Delhi University, as well as students of West Bengal is a bad example of how to treat the youth of a country. Whether it is Jadavpur or JNU, if you treat your youth like criminals and slap cases of sedition, then it will affect the young generation of our country only! Shutting down the city, banning the internet or lathi charging can not stop the people from raising their voice against illegality.

In Assam, Manipur and other states, even in Patna, the way the police manhandled the protesters is simply unacceptable. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, it is not like that the mouthpiece of the right-wing has the sole right to freedom of expression, and everyone in opposition must remain silent in the name of reasonable restriction, because under reasonable restriction, people have reasonable right to speak.

It’s time that the centre remembers its promise to establish courts for speedy trials, women’s security, jobs, inflation control, a stronger currency and pollution control. And it’s high time that people rise above petty politics, understand government-sponsored agendas and talk about the basic needs of livelihood.

Also, we need to understand the thin line of difference between patriotism and government-sponsored patriotism, because the common mass of our country is very patriotic and secular which believes in democracy. We know the importance of nationalism and freedom because of our history. The way we achieved our freedom and its relevance in history is testament that we know the power of non-violent protest and appreciate the habit of asking questions. The people need to have a good memory of every political party’s agenda, because short memories will always affect them badly.

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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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