Opinion: How Delhi Today Is Turning Into Bihar Of The 1990s

As a child, I went to a village school where students from different castes, creed and religions would be seated and taught together under the same roof without any discrimination. In class six, my first English teacher, Md Ali, popularly known as Maulavi Saheb, came to teach us. He was from the Muslim community.

In class 12, the teacher who had provided me with tuition and guidance in spoken English was none but Professor Ahmed. He steered me through the ocean of the English language in such a way that I developed my linguistic abilities to the extent of being able to share it with others.

Later on, in 1993, I laid the foundation of British Lingua, from where more than two lakh students have graduated with a fair degree in English communication skills, which has opened a window to the world, as English is said to be a passport to success in today’s job market and career growth.

“Fifteen years of the Lalu-Rabri-Lalu misrule is quite infamous across India. The police were handicapped, judiciary was almost mute, and Suo Motu was a rare phrase. “

British Lingua, with an intake of trainers and trainees from all sections of the society, irrespective of their religious faith or political affiliation, has been engaging in providing the skill for the past three decades, to the youths, whom the country hinges on.

The immediate neighbour at my workplace is a Muslim fellow. The landlord I have worked with is also Muslim. We have no issues and hold no grudges against each other. They have their religious freedom, I have mine. We are not supposed to mix our religious sentiments with our work. We co-work happily with the mission of taking the English skill to Indian youth irrespective of their tenets, ideology, political affiliations, and religious faiths.

Sadly, I get reminded of the early 1990s when former Chief Minister of Bihar Lalu Prasad Yadav, who is currently languishing in a jail in Jharkhand, began committing atrocities on people, delivering hate speeches. One of his provocative slogans was “Bhura Baal Saaf Karo”, meaning to finish Bhumihar, Brahmins and Rajputs, known as the upper caste of the culturally-diverse society in the country.

My body begins to shiver at the very thought of how Lalu Yadav instigated the mob that targeted, persecuted and tortured the ‘Bhura’ as part of polarisation for his MY (Muslim and Yadav) formula. It was all for his vote bank and sadistic pleasure. A section of media began eulogising Lalu for his ‘social engineering’, rather than castigating him for his caste politics.

Fifteen years of the Lalu-Rabri-Lalu misrule is quite infamous across India. Lakhs of state citizens migrated from Bihar to save their lives and earn a livelihood. The police were made handicapped, the judiciary was almost mute, Suo Motu was a rare phrase, and there was a situation of ‘Who will bell the cat’. No FIR was registered against the political masters for their hate and inflammatory speeches against the so-called upper castes. However, his government got toppled only in 2005, and a new government came into power. But who succeeded him? The formula of divide and rule continues.

The metropolitan city Delhi houses people from different walks of life – be it any caste, creed and religion – drawing them from all over India. But the politicians of the day seem to be hell-bent about making it a living hell.

The ‘Divide and rule’ politics has again come into play after the British rule, though it has been over seven decades since India got freedom in 1947. The heart of the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi must be bleeding at the sight of the recent spate of mayhem in Delhi, where more than 46 innocent citizens have lost their lives, and 150 odd are injured and battling for their lives in hospitals for no fault of theirs.

Human life in Delhi has become so cheap. For a few bucks of Indian currency, one can be made to sit in for a protest and beeline for party politics. Another fringe group is radicalised and mobilised to combat as if they were the sworn enemies. Further, they are misled to commit crimes of arsons, loots, firings and killings! Where the hell is the country heading now?

Whether it is the AAP-turned-BJP leader Kapil Mishra, millionaire AAP Councillor Tahir Hussein, or lawyer-turned-politician Waris Pathan and others, all have galvanised gullible people into taking the law into their own hands, butchering people and setting their houses on fire for in Noetheast Delhi for no fault of theirs.

In filmy style, Kejriwal pops up in the assembly and seeks to know how it happened, giving an impression that he knew nothing as to how it stemmed out. “

Who cares? Law and order is the state subject issue. Maintaining peace and social harmony is the government’s duty to ensure.

However, in a filmy style, the Chief Minister of the Capital simply pops up in the assembly and seeks to know how it happened, giving an impression that he knew nothing as to how it stemmed out. He looked to be more in the Opposition rather than a part of the government.

What happened in those days in the Capital is a shame on humanity, a blot on Indian democracy that can’t be washed away. However, corrective and preventive measures must be taken. Accountability has to be fixed, whether it is failure of the state administration or central machinery, or if it is the handiwork of a handful of political goons. Probity in the probe has to be crystal clear.

Those who are weakening the social fabric of the country need to be curbed, controlled and taught a lesson. Justice must be delivered in a time-bound manner. If there is a timeline and deadline for paying taxes and salaries to those engaged in work, why can’t there be a dateline for delivery of justice in the country?

The law of the land must be a deterrent for everybody, signifying the legal dictum “be you never so high the law is above you.” Currently, what is happening is ‘little thieves are hanged, but great ones escape’.  The public psychosis is that there is ‘one law for the rich and another for the poor’. If Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he is committed to the philosophy of justice for all, he must ensure it across the length and breadth of the country.

Else, you never know, one of us could be a victim tomorrow. Campaigns need to be launched throughout the country for social harmony, and education should be imparted for developing bond among people.

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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.

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.

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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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