Despite All Violence, I Believe JNU’s Resolve Will Remain Unshaken

Just as a wave of unrest hits the Jawaharlal Nehru University, ‘the JNU crisis’ becomes one of the most talked about topics in the nation. A problem for the nation, by the nation and to the nation. Every office, street corner, adda corner, colleges and stations has this discussion as prime past time.

“Is she Ayushi or Aishe? She can act well, isn’t it ? Have they come here to study or do politics? All bakwaas, no Taxpayers money is wasted on these tukde-tukde gangs. Have they got azadi or not?” Many questions and similar statements straight out of various news rooms are placed before common people for the second time.

Luckily, news channels ask these questions to viewers but common people pose these questions to listeners, serious listeners. Sudangshu Trivedi, Sanjay Singh and Randeep Singh Surjewala kind of response comes out. In this verbal duel, three teams emerge – for, against and “time will tell.”

JNUSU President Aishe Ghosh addresses the media, a few days after the attack.

JNU, no doubt, has kept its flag flying high with two current Union ministers under the Modi Government and a Nobel laureate as alumni. The best part of it is that it is primarily meant for Masters, MPhil and PhD programmes through its schools. The catchment area is whole of country and after tough entrance exam, cheap (heavily subsidised) and proper education is bestowed.

The sure shot success factor keeps the aspirants trying hard. Other universities do the opposite, limit catchment area to few districts by imposing same university quota, keeping the date of entrance exam, result publication and admission date with relevant papers so  that many miss the opportunity of getting admitted. They also do everything under the sun to have a system so as to distribute the marks of qualifying exam and entrance exam to create hindrances to outsiders.

Their universities always have students union of locals only, with an eye for the state’s political situation and career in state politics. JNUSU had Bengali, Bihari ,UP wallahs, Punjabi, Kashmiri or Andrite people as office bearers. This kind of mix has brought cross ventilation and cross fertilisation of ideas, forming a vibrant and open society that emphasises on JNU’s true spirit.

There are hard fought battles in all universities in every academic year. State universities mostly follow state governments and union consists of state students’ unions, be it West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, UP or Haryana, but JNU has its agenda set in different mode by students.

This is the bone of contention for political parties which want its ideologies to flourish and have a say on university matters through students. Prakash Javadekar has rightly said that dhakka-mukki (synonymous with shoulder pushes in football) is part and parcel of students politics.

Colleges fight with colleges, hostels with hostels, and even groups with groups during college fests. Life goes on, academics move on, examinations are held as usual, admission are time bound.

But, the JNU problem started with a fee hike and registration, which shifted to an ideological fight between groups. Now, it is showing the  VC the exit door, who actually mishandled his responsibilities during his initial maun vrat period, which eventually led to man handling.

Different aspects of this crisis has popped up in the form of:

(1) Media houses want to keep it live with updates , linking this issue with CAB, CAA, Jamia, and other universities.

(2) The Delhi Police trying to hush up the matter, seeing less and showing less, discerning the short term memory of Indians.

(3) Stalwarts of mainstream political parties giving view points to stay in close confines of its political masters.

(4) Celebrity Deepika Padukone quite knowingly stirring the hornet’s nest and witnessing a splashing chhapaak.”

“Time is a great healer,” they say. JNU is indeed our pride and we hope its keeps producing gems for the society, regardless of what goes on.

Featured image for representative purpose only.
Featured image source: Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images.
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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 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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