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Opinion: “Ideology As Vicious As Hindutva Needs An Equally Potent Ideological Nemesis”

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The formative years of the ‘idea of India’ are understood to be the era of the anti-colonial struggle. The ideologies that guided the fight for independence were adopted by the Indian constitution. But this ‘idea of India’ is in its sickbed for some years now. The sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic credentials of India are now in tatters. In 2014, the NDA with BJP rose as the single largest party, followed by a second term. The believers of the Fuehrer principle stood in awe as its former pracharak more or less single-handedly took them to previously unattained heights.

Dividing the country into communal lines have always been on the agenda of the current regime.

The RSS’s earliest patrons, B.S Moonje, P.S. Sahasrabudhe, and V.D. Savarkar, by their admission, had been impressed by the works of Mussolini and Hitler and wanted to emulate their examples. The groundwork for this ambitious project had already been laid at the time. Mahasabha spokesmen have openly lauded the Nazi project of ‘holding crusades against the enemies of Aryan culture’ and have made known their aspiration to establish a similar regime in India. A similar concept of tiered citizenship as exemplified by the Chaturvarnya system in Manusmriti, which legitimizes Brahmin-Savarna hegemony forms one of the core principles of Hindutva, the concept that guides the RSS.

The RSS had begun as a cult of Maharashtrian Brahmins in pre-independence Nagpur (which was first Mitra Mela and later became Abhinav Bharat). Hence, despite the socio-political situations that necessitated the inclusion of ‘Avarnas’ in its folds, the Sangh has held fast to its Brahminical credentials. This, along with the destruction of innocent human lives for the achievement of an objective (of establishing a Hindu Rashtra), justifies the parallels drawn between European Fascists and the Sangh Parivar.

Activists have attributed the global rise of right-wing extremism to the fast depleting levels of natural resources. In the event of such a calamity, Arundathi Roy, in a recent article published by the Caravan Magazine explains, equitable distribution of resources would no longer remain a viable option. This is where the social hierarchy the Sangh Parivar hopes to achieve becomes relevant.

The Grand Plan And Small Steps

1. Reconstitution and Infiltration

Infiltration and reconstitution of institutions of secular and scientific thought formed one of the foremost steps in furthering their Hindutva agenda. One of the first victims of saffronisation was the Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR), where a proponent of their ideology, Yellapragada Sudarshan Rao was installed as the head, despite his limited qualifications for the post. The trend caught on until every other institute bore the Sangh insignia.

The intelligentsia whom they branded ‘Urban Naxals’, ‘Tukde Tukde Gang’ and ‘anti-nationals’ have borne the brunt of the Hindutva hate politics. Apart from following a colonial-era sedition law, the government has enacted newer legislations such as UAPA to deal with dissent. Along with this, there has also been a visible drive to popularise rightist intellectuals and encourage research in those disciplines to ideologically destroy rational thought.

2. Changes in bureaucracy to suit Government wants

Most organs of the government have been reshuffled to suit the government’s preference and to keep dissent at bay. Appointments, promotions, demotions, transfers, forced resignations and sometimes even assassinations have had to be committed to help proliferate the social order they envisage. Cases of officers Sanjeev Bhatt and Hemant Karkare can only be understood from this perspective.

3. Infiltration of Judicial system

The judicial system in the country has also been encroached upon reducing it to a mere titular body doing the government’s biddings. The Nanavati Commission exonerated the PM and the Home Minister in the 2002 Gujarat riots, the Ayodhya Bench ruled in favor of the Hindu parties, Triple Talaq was given the go-ahead signal, the Internet ban in Jammu and Kashmir was only condemned orally and no urgent steps were taken to revoke it, and the list goes on. The judiciary has time and again proven its loyalty to the ruling regime.

4. The othering of Muslims and Bahujans

Another visible trend that characterized the social landscape was the evident othering of Muslims and the Bahujans at large. Legislations that reeked of a strong sense of Islamophobia were passed off as benevolent gestures. Mob lynchings and floggings that were followed by denial to accept it as a hate crime has to be seen as an extension of the pogroms initiated by this outfit in Godhra, Una, Ayodhya, Kashmir, etc.

The sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic credentials of India are now in tatters.

The Hindutva overlords have not only denied to condemn these crimes but have added to the misery by glorifying its perpetrators by garlanding, holding processions by using national symbols such as the national flag. The idea is that any act one commits bearing the tricolor is patriotic! The farcicality of this comes to light when protesters demanding for the upholding of constitutional values gets termed ‘anti-national‘.

Instigation of violence through incendiary remarks and sloganeering with little historical basis during election speeches have gone a long way in demonizing Muslims. Recorded history is being attempted to be modified to create false narratives depicting Muslims as alien enemies and bloodlust conquerers.

Creating mob frenzy has always been the BJP’s modus operandi, the Rath Yatra debacle that concluded with the demolition of Babri Masjid is a case in point. Speaking of Babri, the infamous slogan goes “Ayodhya toh Jhanki hai, Kashi, Mathura Baki Hai”, it’s difficult to imagine a more incendiary slogan. This is a frequently followed script where the attention is deviated from real issues by instigating the lowered castes and classes to an endless fight against imagined demons.

5. Undermining federalism and idiotization of its people

The most evident breach of Indian federalism by the Union government came with the abrogation of Article 370, followed by the J&K’s bifurcation. Other than this highly debated breach, all through its time in office, the BJP government at the centre has shown the littlest regard for state government autonomy. The PM deciding to hold a pro-CAA march in Bengal despite the state government’s opposition, refusal to provide flood relief for Kerala because of its obvious dissatisfaction with the Kerala government, for being torchbearers of the fight against fascism are some of the most recent examples.

All through the anti-CAA and NRC protests, the government maintained that the CAA would be implemented despite the uproars.

The centre’s brazen neglect of federalism was well evident in all state elections since they assumed office, be it the Karnataka elections, the recently-concluded Maharashtra elections, the centre shamelessly supported horse-trading. Recruitment of party veterans as governors to support the centre’s cause in all controversial issues can be seen as another instance of the centre’s unwarranted intervention in affairs of the states. Unnecessary interventions in private affairs of the state in an obvious attempt to undermine federalism fall well with the agenda of One Nation, One Rule.

All through the anti-CAA and NRC protests, the government maintained that the CAA would be implemented despite the uproars. A democratically elected government cannot show such nonchalance unless it is bound by ideology to idiotize its people.

These are some of the most evident steps taken by the government to achieve its objectives. A lot more discreet businesses have happened in the dark that seriously threatened to imperil the idea of India in the popular imagination. Dividing the country into communal lines have always been on the agenda of the current regime. It is high time we recognize the signs and organize ourselves to fight the battle of ideas for ideology as vicious as Hindutva needs an equally potent ideological nemesis.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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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