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When Will The Bihar Government Get Its Act Together To Help People?

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Nitish’s journey with the NDA led BJP began in 2005 when they both came together to oust Lalu Prasad Yadav and free the state from misgovernance, misrule, incompetency and inefficiency. Earlier he served as Railway minister in the Vajpayee cabinet, later taking on the mettle to shape and secure the fate and future of the people of Bihar. Under Sushil Kumar Modi, he found an able partner for implementing and executing social welfare schemes for ameliorating the lives and livelihood of the destitute and vulnerable. That also explained the ascendancy of Nitish Kumar to the Chief Ministership not once or twice but thrice.

Sushil Modi with Nitish Kumar

As for his unfounded alliance with Lalu’s RJD, it was premised on safeguarding his political objectives and interests as Narendra Modi was seen as a competitor to the former’s clout and dominance in the state. I remember how Nitish reacted to Narendra Modi’s DNA barb by playing a card stoking the passions and pride of the state’s people as Modi’s statement was taken as humiliating for the scores of the state people vastly spread in different states across the country.

But some of the policy decisions of the Nitish government have come for questioning like his alliance partners who believe in passing the bucks commenting on the credentials of Lalu Yadav or sometimes on Ashok Gehlot running and managing the affairs of Rajasthan.

Sushil Modi, one of the loud motor mouths and second in command of the hierarchy in Nitish’s cabinet, has been taking the lead whenever it comes to maintaining and managing the news and headlines, recently for blaming the tenure of Lalu Prasad Yadav for Bihar’s decline and deplorability in infrastructure, investment and innovations affecting each and every segment of the population.

But if we were to ask where was their alliance government, then how will he respond? I want to ask Modi junior about their strategy and response to the spread of Covid-19 in the state? Considering the prevalent rise of the virus and lack of any coping mechanism, how are they planning to contain and combat the virus infection when almost all the healthcare facility centres and hospitals are said to be running short of essential resources and manpower required to handle such a pressing and grim situation?

At Patna Medical College Hospital, the situation has become worrisome due to the lack of availability of medical supplies and facilities in the absence of proper testing and isolation of the patients resulting in the loss of the precious human lives. In many parts of the state, the lockdown has been put in place but without any avail as without a proper approach and action, I don’t think any significant outcome can ever be achieved. It requires planning, teamwork, coordination, collaboration and cooperation among different agencies and actors.

This has so far been unachievable as every year, millions of people lose their lives in the floods; evident in the monumental mismanagement by the apparatus and agencies of the government. They woke up to help at the last minute when Chamki fever started spreading in several pockets of North Bihar last year. It was the individuals and members of the civil society groups who came forward for the rescue of the affected children.

The point is, why has our state government and administration become so inept, lax, irresponsible in handling and dealing with the gravity of the situation? Why it is that the arithmetic of their alliance electorally matters more to them in a crisis? Also, they might not want to postpone or extend the assembly elections scheduled for later this year giving any thought to the suggestions and advice of the opposition leaders, leave aside being sincere on reaching out to the fulfilment of people’s objectives and aspirations.

Otherwise, Mr Sushil Modi would have refrained from speaking his mind on the conduct of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot with the governor Shri Kalraj Mishra for proving majority at the floor of Rajasthan assembly or else Mr Gehlot can dial Mr Sushil Modi if need be.

I would like to only say that for Mr Sushil Modi, it will be good if he could perform and present in his capacity of a Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar towards the flood and corona affected victims in his state by ensuring the availability of supplies and resources in whichever he could along with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Direct your authorities and agencies to take stock of the preparations. At least, please stop playing Sachin Pilot by bringing in Gehlot in your habitual political commentaries, Mr Modi!

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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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