This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by RAAZ DHEERAJ SHARMA✍️. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Interview: “The Young And Capable Force Is Helping The Valley Breath Healthily.”


This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.
The young people are setting examples by initiating creative initiatives to reach out to the people in these tough times.

Suhail Mehraj, a youth activist who represented Kashmir at UN Youth Assembly, is also one of the advisers on the UNDP board. UNDP is also working with different volunteer initiatives for the welfare of the people in Kashmir. He is interacting with a Youth Ki Awaaz user about the pandemic, lockdown, internet, education, and about how Kashmir and Kashmiris is/are fighting against the virus.

Raaz Dheeraj Sharma: People are comparing Kashmir with Kerala and appreciating the way Kashmir is fighting and dealing with the coronavirus. What is the status of the ground?

Suhail Mehraj: I think we need to appreciate the concern that common people are sharing toward this pandemic in Valley. People always expect their governments to bail them out when a disaster hits, to abate its repercussions. But the present pandemic was out of everyone’s imagination.

I heard about some groups staying up for nights, assisting paramedics with essential laboratory support. Meanwhile, a video also surfaced on social media, a youth crying for not having resources to lend any help. It’s our collective success, and we should celebrate that we are a civilization that keeps on dreaming and solidifying although a past of tribulation.

What’s special about this workforce is its giving hope to people other than essential commodities. Here is something the government needs to learn from this workforce, about how to turn people-oriented, by channelizing the various forms of resources to lead a civil revolution in times of scarcity. Most of these initiatives are Youth-led which makes it more special; it creates a greater state of tranquility. Kashmir rather differs from Kerala.

Raaz Dheeraj Sharma: How are people spending their days during lockdown? Is internet working all over Kashmir?

Suhail Mehraj: It’s very unfortunate when the world is turning into a digital community, here, people still can’t find easy excess to the internet. People were expecting  the government to restore the 4G internet as it stands as a big hurdle for everyone to return to their normal business during these though times. Students and entrepreneurs are the two worst-hit sections. Many of the students who returned home from outside, are finding it very arduous with their lives being paused. Indeed, when all you want is to enrol yourself in an online class with your classmates but you can’t, it will be frustrating.  The slow internet is also reducing the speed of authorities operating to combat this virus.

Raaz Dheeraj Sharma: How is the leadership dealing during the lockdown, and whether people can easily approach state machinery during lockdown or not? How is the state machinery implementing lockdown?

Suhail Mehraj: These are very tough times, and un-elected regime makes it more difficult for people to see their choices and opinions out of scene. The bureaucracy is turning avenues of hope for people. The young people in it are setting examples by initiating creative initiatives to reach out to the people in these tough times. Some are unique in itself in the world. This young and capable force is helping the Valley breath healthily.

Although there are very limited channels for people to reach out to machinery, the government needs to find ways to help people reach government channels better. It’s the same as other states; but yes, there might be some issues, but the machinery is trying hard to meet the people’s demands. There is indeed a shortage of doctors and paramedics. People are reporting a lack of facilities in quarantine, but the machinery is quick to respond to people’s grievances.

Raaz Dheeraj Sharma: Kashmir is facing this pandemic after the Central government declared the state as a Union Territory. How is the state governor leading the state during this difficult time?

Suhail Mehraj: Everyone wants to bail out people for all kinds of issues and problems concerning them. I think he’s normal with his efforts. People on the ground like doctors, police, journalists and the administrators are making a difference.

Raaz Dheeraj Sharma: During Lockdown 1.0, the Governor of Union Territory declared financial package and claimed that the same will benefit 35 lakh people working in organized and unorganized sectors. Are the people aware about this, and are they getting benefit from this announcement, or not?

Education in Kashmir
I think the government needs to prioritize education and make it neutral.

Suhail Mehraj: It’s not a concern for the government to tell people what it is doing out of what money. People are never made to learn about the fundings and progress reports.  RTI activists are always trying to clean the dust and colour the background picture.

Raaz Dheeraj Sharma: How is this pandemic affecting labour classes and poor of Kashmir?

Suhail Mehraj: These are very tough times for everyone. But this isn’t for the first time they are observing such circumstances. It’s the workforce of young people collaborating to help the unprivileged section of the society. They have pooled all their resources to meet the daily needs of such people.

Raaz Dheeraj Sharma: People are comparing the lockdown with the curfew in Kashmir. How are the people of Kashmir differentiating between the curfew and lockdown?

Suhail Mehraj: Indeed, we can’t. The lockdown is now turning to its third month; for people in Kashmir, this lockdown isn’t new. But yes, the fear and the nature of the state make it arduous for people to feel it’s a preventive effort by the machinery. Although machinery always looks for better options to achieve people’s good. But there is always a lot scope to reach out to people with a fair approach.

Raaz Dheeraj Sharma: Online classes during lockdown is a new initiative. Are students in Kashmir getting to attend their classes? Do you think online classes would be a better alternative for Kashmir, especially during tough situations and during winters?

Suhail Mehraj: The slow internet is reducing every effort to make online learning a better substitute. I think the government needs to prioritize education and make it neutral.  But unfortunately it isn’t considering the welfare of the students in the Valley. They need to put a student-oriented policy, considering their choices and challenges. The concept of learning has changed over the years. States are reforming their education policy to make it more student-friendly. But quality and approach to education remain the same here.

Raaz Dheeraj Sharma is a YKA user who writes on different issues.

You must be to comment.


Similar Posts

By Priyanshu Ojha

By Inni Chauhan

By Jabir

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