This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Sunil Kumar. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

“To Love Can Be Truly Devastating In Modern-day India”

More from Sunil Kumar

Not without reason, Shakespeare had observed, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depths and breadth and height my soul can reach when feeling out of sight for the ends of being and ideal grace.”

The very mention of ‘love’ as a human feeling elicits honey-dipped exhibition of emotions. Blame it on dopamine. Deep sighs, croons, gasps and whistles are regular and spontaneous public responses to this still-unfolding mystery called ‘LOVE’. Still unfolding. How? Well, love beckons the mellow, soft and balming concoction of conversations towards itself. It has a great ‘pull’ effect on the masses if approached intelligently. Love has been referred to as an unarming weapon.

In the annals of ‘love’ expression, words struggle and compete with one another to register and announce the arrival of that penultimate expression of exhilaration and liberation. Love liberates. Love emancipates. One may discover love in strangest of places. Unexpected places. One may experience love or discover emotions akin to the feeling of love in simple details of life.

One may reflect upon it while traveling to work, attending to routine errands, during a sojourn, on an unplanned road trip, just by watching the sun go down or even by caressing a canine or a toddler and in some instances by lending a helping hand to the needy. In the manner it plays out, love often ventures beyond the binary expressions and maybe multihued transcending distinctions of sex, caste, class or ethnicity.

Universality Of Love

Love hides in its bosom an array of emotive pivots like care, affection, melancholy and even nostalgia in some cases. Love is there in the realization of the here and now; it is also there in the vision of future and lurks in the yet unknown recesses of the human mind and perhaps, in the netherworld if at all, it exists. Scholars and life gurus vouch for life, turning the power of love. Great civilizations and nations have flourished by accepting and promoting feelings of love as a political creed either openly or covertly.

The experiment with ‘Dhamma’ of emperor Ashoka is rooted in the idea of love guiding the destiny of human beings. To take another example,’Love thy Neighbour as Thyself” is a time tested Christian commandment which has successfully inspired leaders and legal systems like the Common Law System of British Commonwealth. Love dissolves negativity. Love conquers everything. So the proverbial adage goes. But still hate, enmity, disaffection, and isolationist tendencies rule the roost in the 21st century.

The Tilting Scale

Love demands material pleasures in the contemporary. It seeks epiphany in the transient. It indulges in the showbiz. It bedazzles the digital realm, where emoticons have replaced the physical dimension of love. It blinds the unconcerned. It ekes out a living through ‘commodification’ of erstwhile genuine demonstration of emotions.

Love in present-day India is also fast trundling into the morass of ‘gentrification’. According to the Oxford English Dictionaries, gentrification is ‘the process by which an urban area is rendered middle-class’. Sociologist Ruth Glass coined the term in the 1960s, describing how ‘all or most of the original working-class occupiers are displaced, and the whole social character of the district is changed.

Reality television, blind dates, glitz, glamour, and chutzpah of the market-driven society blacks out the gentle and tender expressions. The whole idea of ‘love’ is commercialized, and it almost smacks down the love expressions of the less endowed members of society in terms of ownership of material means and resources. Conformism to silvery notions of love may not work in every scenario.

This naked consumerist trend sits oddly with the fear and disagreement among youngsters when it comes to striking a love relationship with a member of the opposite sex who belongs to a different caste and class hierarchy. It comes as no surprise then, young and daring lovers face a relentless onslaught of caste and class diatribes. Law whimpers. Good samaritans are crushed.

Self-proclaimed guardians of societal virtues brutally outlaw interfaith coupling. To love can be truly devastating in modern-day India. Nothing is more revolting for many than an inter-caste marriage between a Dalit (person belonging to erstwhile lower caste) and a person from the so-called upper echelons of the societal pecking order. This scenario makes love a complex phenomenon and not without risks in contemporary India.

Law is yet to categorize crimes arising out of such events. Official report (NCRB) on crime data leaves out lynchings and honor killings. Crime is bracketed under broad categories of murder, rape and like. Murders of RTI activists, whistleblowers, and inter-caste love couples are not separately classified in official data reports.

This practice, therefore, doesn’t help us much in devising any policy to deal with such cases. In many cases, it has been observed that the male person in a ‘love relationship’ often faces charges of either rape or sexual harassment under the penal law filed by the police at the behest of kith and kin of the embroiled girl.

In such cases, prosecution floats a common argument that ‘the girl is a minor and seeks punishment for the errand boy’. However, it is only recently that the courts have started to recognize the fact that a teenage girl may follow the young male partner on her own accord out of love and may be able to make decisions for herself even if she falls short of the age of majority, i.e., eighteen years of age. Honor crimes claim both the girl and the boy in a love relationship as victims.

In such a scenario, time looks on with hope towards the liberated and courageous few who would perhaps take up cudgels to speak. To pursue the creed of love and to rekindle the spirit of fraternity ensconced in that purest notion with which all of us relate in our common dwelling. Yes. It is LOVE, after all. Love finds its way. Love travels. Well beyond the mountains and the horizon. It is expected to prevail. Needless, to emphasize that love can be expressed in a thousand ways.

Not without reason, Shakespeare had observed, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depths and breadth and height my soul can reach when feeling out of sight for the ends of being and ideal grace.” (William Shakespeare, Sonnet 43).

You must be to comment.

More from Sunil Kumar

Similar Posts

By AsfreeasJafri

By Kanika Bhatia

By Rachana Priyadarshini

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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

Bidisha was selected in’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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below