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The Anti-CAA Movements Show That India Is A ‘People’s Democracy’

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With the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in the Rajya Sabha on December 11, the nationwide demonstrations caught international attention. With the formation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), it has only further intensified.

The brutal abuses committed by the Delhi Police on the students of Jamia Millia Islamia somehow gave strong ground support for the disapproval. From official activities, to lawyers and journalists to human rights defends criticized it with the mass. The USCIRF criticized the decision of the Government. Japanese foreign minister and two Bangladeshi ministers have called off their diplomatic visits to India, and many more to count under the ambit of this democratic protest.

The BJP Government ascertained its ideological strikes by passing this contentious and discriminatory Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, now an Act.

The contents of the Act desecrates the purity of Indian homogeneity, marking again a ‘dark age’. The range of destructive ideological strikes can be viewed as a fraud of a secular spectacle, including the Triple Talaq, Article 370, Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid and now the CAA.

The purpose of this act is to grant citizenship by a religious criterion which draws a parallel between the Reich Citizenship Law of 1935 by the Nazis, and foretells the ensuing result of Spain after the ousting of Muslims.

It also resembled the metaphor of a narrow-minded religiously devout boatman sheltering all people from a flood except Muslims.

The completion of the Indian constitution took much enough time to assess and fathom all sorts of people; their identity, religion, culture and heritage, so that the diversity of Indian can be measured in a strong unity. But, with an unwanted amendment, the power excluded all.

That’s why the bill, presented by the Home Minister Amit Shah, prompted anger from different regions, for different reasons. Muslims have been worked up against the religious basis criterion of citizenship, the Assamese came out with ‘Assam is for Assamese’, Tamil Nadu opposed for a different reason, Jamia Milia students at first, and other universities later, then descended on the field with a dissent of freedom and expression.

In this way, all of India, with all sorts of people crossing all barriers of faith, caste, and religion broke out in the movement to “Save Constitution.”

The act is said to deliver minority communities, i.e. non-Muslim of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the citizenship certificates easily, with a settlement of five years at a welcoming pretence for their salvation from persecution. The NRC exercise in Assam excluded more than 19 lakh people from the register of citizenship. These people peddled door-to-door in a sheer attempt to prove wanted documents dating before 1971.

After they failed in doing that, now, they would have to reestablish the documents of early December 31, 2014, and can be forced migration from the mentioned countries. Meanwhile, Muslims have no alternative. What exhaustion they must feel in proving their citizenship!

A protester holds a placard during a demonstration against India’s new citizenship law in Mumbai on December 27, 2019. – Mobile internet was cut on December 27 in parts of India’s most populous state and thousands of riot police were deployed as authorities readied for fresh protests over a citizenship law seen as anti-Muslim. (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE / AFP) (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images)

After that, when reports said that the minorities, including Muslims and Dalits, in India have been severely tortured, in contrast with the mentioned countries, then the Indian government behaved corresponding to that autocracy. Is that Indian secularism?

When the CAB was passed in Rajya Sabha, the CAA threatened the existence of Muslims in India. They have been sobbing with dead hearts in silence and voicing for their rights in appearance. What can they show for their citizenship to the descendants of ‘loyalists of the English government?’ The graveyard of their ancestors is the ardent proof of their nationality.

It hasn’t been perceived that the claim and intention of some power-holding BJP leaders would come in true actions in this short span with a legal way. Prompting the agenda of ‘Hindu supremacy’, heritage names were corrupted, some historical characters were blamed, and even posts relating to people and culture was occupied by hard Hindutva ideologues.

Film industrial board is an explicitly vivid example. Since 2014, the art films persuaded denigration and defamation of a specific community. ‘Ultra-nationalism’ was manifestly fanned with a directory of violence.  This hurts and damages the essence and sense of secularism. But, the democracy exists still now; the agitation is spearheaded because of that attrition without a nationwide leader. Every land and state of the nation has possessed that democracy and will step ahead relentlessly to preserve it and taste its fruits.

The controversial CAB was passed in an atmosphere of electoral colours. At the moment, oppositions would dig out into the issue and the electoral campaign would be grounded easily. The responsible ruling party can simply sneak more complex issues like economic slowdown, because when the INR had to be devalued, prices of daily commodities like onion touched the sky.

Perceiving this, the Modi and his polity-mate  No fear, the democracy lives still now; hailing from a tribal community, Hemant Soren stood up as outdoer of BJP in the state. The NRC exercise only in Assam cost ₹16 crore without an accurate result. How then the government can’t falter in ‘lie’ of ‘no discussion’ with the lowest GST rate in the past 35 years?

Further, the slogan of Azadi would have sent shivers through their want for their own Rashtra. Indian secularism will live long until the power of democracy prevails. No corruption, no compromise with it can be contented. It’s the people democracy; people will judge, justify and preserve it.

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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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