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“India’s Culture Has Always Been Non-Violent But Indians Have Drifted Away From That”

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India has always been known for the approach of non-violence during the freedom struggle, led by none other than Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi, alias Mahatma Gandhi.

The Father of the Nation, MK Gandhi, who is fondly known as Bapu, was a Lawyer, who became the torchbearer of India’s freedom fight, through the path of ‘Ahimsa’ (non-violence). His ideology was that India would achieve independence from the erstwhile rule of the British, but without harming any life, whatsoever.

India has always been known for the approach of non-violence during the freedom struggle, led by none other than Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi, alias Mahatma Gandhi.

It is true, that eventually India was freed from the shackles of imperialism, with the sacrifices and contributions of many prominent leaders; namely Subash Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, Ballab Bhai Patel and many more, who believed that only non-violence would not suffice the cause, and hence, if needed, bloodshed would take place.

We cannot deny that it was ultimately the peaceful mass movements, like non-cooperation, Satyagraha, and civil disobedience that captured the world’s attention. 30th January 2020, is the 78th death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. In 1948, he was shot dead by Nathuram Godse, who was also a participant of India’s freedom struggle.

After seven long decades of his death, have we Indians still kept his dream of a violence-free India alive? The fact is India’s culture has always been non-violent but Indians have drifted away from that.

On the diplomatic front, India has frequently promoted non-violence at the United Nations, and India often advocates peaceful means to solve disputes around the world. Also, from my understanding, India has not initiated any wars, even in a tense neighbourhood, and in the face of some serious provocation, it has tried to solve issues with a series of discussions.

Historically, as well, India has never sought to invade other territories in order to expand outwards, despite bearing the brunt of massive invasions, throughout the course of history across centuries.

For years, we have seen violence being practised, in homes and university campuses. Whether it is murder conspiracies, incidents of violence against women and children or brutal assaults on students and protesters; everywhere, we can see, how violence is deep-rooted in our society.

Road Rage

Violence is also commonly used to settle differences and fights, which usually break out between various groups of people, on petty issues, that sometimes lead to serious consequences and loss of lives.

If there is a road accident and the pedestrians get hit, sometimes mobs carry out rampant vandalisation, vehicles are set on fire and the driver is also beaten brutally. In such incidents, nobody cares to find out whose fault it actually was or nobody has the patience to wait for justice.

Violence Against Medical Professionals

In the past few years, another category of violence has surfaced in India – attacks on doctors and medical professionals. Mostly, it happens when a patient dies in the hospital, and the doctors and hospital staff are subjected to brutal assaults. The IMA has reported that more than 75 % of doctors in India have faced violence, in either verbal or physical forms, at some point in their careers. There have been many protests and strikes, in order to curb the same, however, not much has improved.

Violence Against Women and Children

Women and children are often at the receiving end of violence too. For years, there have been cases of domestic and sexual violence against women. After the infamous case of Nirbhaya’s gang rape and murder in 2012, the rape laws were amended, to be more stringent, but surprisingly, this could not deter further crimes.

Other instances of violence against women include honour killings and human trafficking, that is also on the rise. As per CRY (Child Rights & you), there has been a whopping increase in the numbers of incidents of violence against children from 2006 (approx 19000) to 2016 ( approx 100000) which is deeply alarming. How are we sustaining in a society that has the instinct to harm the timidest group of individuals?!

Violence Against Students And Dissenters

Police attacking anti-CAA protestors.

Then, there are the much-publicised instances of violence against students and those who question the policies of the government, including journalists and activists. One of the scariest examples was the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was shot dead in 2017, for being a staunch critique of right-winged extremists.

I am not going to repeat what has happened at AMU, Jamia or JNU in the past three months. Why is this country unable to maintain peace and security within its own borders? And who should be blamed? The law? the government? Or maybe the security bodies? To honest, it’s we, the people, who should be blamed! Laws are not merely meant to punish miscreants, laws are made to be followed.

Rules are made to be questioned at certain points and those who are vulnerable are meant to be protected and not perpetrated. But we have taken the wrong path. We have forgotten that when our heroes spoke about violence, it was never against the people of this country.

It will be very preachy to say, ‘let’s once put an end to it’. But we have to make things better. If not for us, then for the future generation. For all of them who we care for. For us and for our beautiful country.

Let’s at least try to fulfil a part of the dream that Mahatma Gandhi had for Independent India. “Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.”- Mahatma Gandhi

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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