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AAP’s Work Is Commendable But I Feel Their Poll Anthem Is Making A Grave Mistake

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I always praise good work done by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi during its tenure. I used to wish that Indian leaders had talked about schools, education, health, etc. to build India’s human capital instead of indulging in communal and blame game politics. I always wished that politicians were freed from corruption and embraced transparency in political funding. But, all of these wishes seemed to be true when AAP rose in 2014.

I always looked at AAP as a hope for the future of Indian politics. I always considered AAP as a different one from mainstream parties which had its genesis from a movement led by Anna Hazare. It may not be the best party but is a far better alternative than others.

Yesterday, AAP has launched its poll song sung by Vishal Dadlani for upcoming Delhi election in February 2020. It shows the commendable work done by AAP government in Delhi.

What I noticed after listening to the song is worrisome for me. Just read some lines from the song given below:

“Chala re chala fir Arvind dekho
Dilli ke haq ladkar lene ko
Roka toh dekho laakh duniya ne
Banda taiyar ni rukne ko

Hai beta Dilli ka ek vo
Aam se bhi aam admi jo

Sacha irada dridh nischay
Government jo janta ki hai
Auraton ki suvidha suraksha ki
Sochta ek banda hi hai

Toh saari Dilli bole
Dil se lage raho lage raho Kejriwal
Toh saari Dilli bolo dil se
Jame raho jame raho Kejriwal”

“Here goes Arvind, one more time, 
To fight for the city of Delhi,
You can try to stop him,
But his determination will trump you.

He’s a son of Delhi, 
As common as every other Delhiite

Honest intentions and an immovable will, 
And a government of the people;
That women’s safety and security is important, 
Is part of his agenda only.

Delhi chants
Keep going, Kejriwal,
From their hearts they say,
Onward, Kejriwal!”

Look at the highlighted words in the song and watch the video. The whole video song revolves only around Arvind Kejriwal. I am surprised that video has not even spoken “AAP” word once, the party which the people are going to vote for. The video shows only Kejriwal’s face and has not highlighted even a single leader of AAP other than him. Even the title of the song is “Lage Rho Kejriwal” (Keep going, Kejriwal) instead of being named something related to the AAP. The song talks only about one man.

I know every party has a ‘face of change’ in its campaign. Every party has a popular leader which symbolises it. But the extent up to which this song portrays AAP as one-man army is magnificent.

Indian political parties have always depended on a single charismatic leader.  For example, The Congress in India is known by the Gandhis’ name, the BSP is known by Mayawati, the SP is known to be led by the Yadav family. Such tendency leads to a centralisation in decision making and threatens inner-party democracy. Such parties become hollow from inside and are always prone to degradation and the Congress is the best example of this.

AAP has always been alleged as a party of a single leader in the past. Many leaders like Yogendra Yadav who contributed in rising of AAP had left the party due to this. But, I don’t want AAP to face such vulnerabilities in the future because it is a hope for many people like me. I don’t want AAP to be known by only a family or leader in future.

I wish India gets at least one political party that is strong at its foundation and cares for constitutional principles of secularism, democracy, etc. I wish AAP becomes a role model for its counterparts and forces them to tread on the politics of development.

It is necessary for the party leadership to check such centralising tendencies and ensure that AAP becomes the face of people instead of a single leader becoming the face of AAP.

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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.

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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.”

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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 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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