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Madhya Pradesh: The Floor Test Of Democracy In India

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The volatile situation in Madhya Pradesh (MP) has ended now with the downfall of the Congress government. But, the prevailing situation from the last few days in MP is a challenge for democracy. Democracy, in its most common understanding, is a rule of the people, by the people, and for the people. Nevertheless, the current situation cannot be termed ideal in a democracy.

People of Madhya Pradesh participated and voted for a stable government after a long rule from BJP. But, being unaware about such trajectory, they have been cheated—as no politician cared to ask what the people of Madhya Pradesh actually expect.

Rather than talking about my position, it would be better to look at the people’s point of view on such a political development. During my visit to Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh in June 2018, the poor condition of roads in Gwalior compelled me to observe and analyse the development scenario in one of the old BIMARU states.

Shivraj Singh Chauhan

Booking an Ola cab, I moved  to do my personal work. The vulnerable condition of roads provoked me to discuss development and the politics in Gwalior. I asked the cab driver why there was no development? Why were the roads in such a poor condition? Had chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan not done anything for this region? The cab driver replied that no one had done anything for this region whether it is Shivraj Singh Chauhan or anyone.

I sensed the plight of common people in this conversation. As the election was approaching in MP, I asked the cab driver who, according to him, had the possibility of winning the election, Congress or BJP? Without much enthusiasm, he replied that both are the two sides of the same coin, and he gave the example of Jyotiraditya Scindia. He mentioned that earlier the Scindias were the part of BJP, then they moved to Congress and still some of the family members of the Scindia family, such as Vasundhra Raje Scindia, are a part of BJP. Therefore, there is no difference between BJP and Congress.

While our political system is now one where democracy has become the new form of governance, the older feudal faces are still alive in a new avatar. Otherwise, we wouldn’t see a lavish palace alongside the poor condition of roads at the same time.

Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia (Photo by Mujeeb Faruqui/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The people of Madhya Pradesh rejected Jyotiraditya Scindia in Lok Sabha elections, and later, due to his mass reach, he ensured victory in the legislative elections. While looking into this, one must look at the history of Scindias after independence and their political affiliation.

Scindias were the rulers of Gwalior till independence, and after independence, Maharaja Jivajirao Scindia became the state head after the accession of Gwalior into the Union of India. Earlier, Rajmata Vijaya Raje Scindia contested and won the election from Congress, but, she later joined BJP. Madhavrao Scindia, son of Rajmata Scindia, contested from Jansangh; however, he later joined Congress. His son Jyotiraditya was the member of the Congress party from 2001 till 2020.

Unsatisfied by his role and regular negligence, first while deciding the chief ministerial candidate  and later, while deciding the party president in Madhya Pradesh, Jyotiraditya Scindia, resigned, and later, joined Bhartiya Janta Party. Rajmata Vijaya Raje Scindia’s daughter Vasundhara Raje Scindia and Yashodhara Rahe Scindia, contested and represent their constituencies from Bhartiya Janta Party too.

This current change is the change of the party, not of the leadership. These leaders, who boast about representing the people, don’t care about their choices. It has been repeated again and again in other states such as Karnataka, Uttarakhand, and the North Eastern States.

In such a major development, it is required to look for an alternative to this ‘Aaya Ram Gaya Ram’ politics. The personal experiences from the field depict the dilemma of the people, too, who have no alternative, apart from the BJP and Congress. And politicians from both of the parties are equally aware of this complication. Although Bhartiya Janta Party has won the floor test in MP, Indian democracy has silenced itself to catch the voice of the ballot.

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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, 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.

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