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Opinion: BJP’s Winning Agenda In UP Was Ram Mandir, Not Policy

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3D Blueprint of the temple.||Source: Zee5

Major news corporations and broadcasters have begun telecasting representational images of the majestic, magnificient and marvelous Ram Temple ceremony (bhumi poojan) scheduled for August 5 in Ayodhya, detailing the schedule in great variety and length. Focusing on a tall order of important invitees, activists and individuals who played an active role in the temple agitation and movement in impressing upon the social and cultural psychology of the people by drawing them closer to the politically aggressive brand of Hindutva by many of the Sangh affiliates and outfits.

The late 1990s marked the greatest set of violence, unrest and turmoil set against a backdrop of the demolition of Babri Mosque in Ayodhya. Hindutva as an idea and ideology was constructed politically and culturally to popularize, polarize, arouse and mobilize the passions and pride of the people who were made to believe in the sanctity and legend of Rama. Purposed in the brewing sense of antagonism towards the followers of other beliefs and faiths leading to brewing animosity between different groups and communities for assertion, control, hegemony and dominance.

The Muslims were the worst casualities of this polarisation as their lineage and identity came under direct attack, and they continue to suffer from the shock and consequences of the riots that occured in the process of this debate. Policy legislations like CAA, NRC, Article 370, etc. are some of the finest illustrations of the greatest disrepute to their rights and duties as citizens of the world’s largest democratic republic.

Source: The Hindu

I believe that minority communities deserve special safeguards and provisions to preserve, promote and protect their unique and distinctive cultural outlook and orientation as has been their right since our independence. The Hindutvaadis are against these safeguards, believing them to be fostering a special sense of entitlement and privileges remaining completely unfounded  and baseless; if it were so, then the Muslims would have been long empowered socially, economically and politically.

Rather their systematic and structural exclusion and marginalization has seen to be generating keen interest, but efforts have not been attempted to check and correct the glaring gaps by plugging the loopholes. But, for the Right, it offers a medium for boosting and building a political capital of Hindutva identity for ensuring the symbolic representation of numerically smaller caste alliances and groups — an experiment which proved decisive in Modi’s and Adityanath’s run for power.

Attracting and wooing the non-dominant OBC and SC population of Uttar Pradesh simply put forth a reason to vote for the BJP and to desert parties like SP and BSP headed by leaders of the dominant other backward caste and scheduled caste leaders, respectively. It is for this fact that many leaders who earlier were part of SP and BSP began inching closer towards the BJP by being clear on their prospects after the BJP got a thumping mandate in the assembly elections of 2017. Yogi Adityanath became a natural choice for Chief Ministership after getting the go-ahead by Amit Shah, a figure most fundamental in the rank and hierarchy of the Bhartiya Janta Party, immensely benefiting the politics of cultural nationalism, pride and patriotism of the right-wing BJP.

Yogi, who earlier served as the seer of Gorakhdham Temple, did play a prominent role in performing the groundwork for the grand construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya as keeping this objective in mind he was chosen to lead one of most populous state of India. Fervent in his argument of the Hindu pride, sentiment, beliefs and values, endorsing the building of temple in Ayodhya, his focus on policy governance, stability, law and order in the state came as secondary in his list of priorities and commitment. Rather, Adityanath has misplaced his priorities and commitments for none other than a penchant for a Ram Temple in Ayodhya, encouraged by the special bench order of the Supreme Court in November last year under the direction of former Chief Justice of India Shri Ranjan Gogoi.

The Centre quickly announced a trust after the immediate court order clearing the legal hurdle for the temple construction in Ayodhya, but this isn’t it for people electing a government by way of popular mandate. UP, for long, has been grappling with questions of resources and infrastructure through which a individual can make sense of his survival especially in the pressing hour of Corona which has began to spread sporadically in the different cities, districts and towns of the state.

Lockdown has been extended to the containment zones and clusters as weekly lockdowns has also been imposed in the state. But in the absence of basic medical facilities and lack of testing, how do we elaborate the functioning of facilities for the  people?

I still remember how due to medical negligence and lack of oxygen facility more than a hundred children died in a Gorakhpur Hospital as Dr Kafeel Khan (who continues to be in jail) was made the scapegoat as for his identity abhorred by the custodians of Hindutva. In many hospitals across the state, there is hardly any availability of oxygen cylinders and ventilators coupled by the lack of technical know-how and assistance. This sums the plight of those at the receiving end as the administration and the government is highly ignorant and insensitive to the people’s question except for the ones sounding interesting to them.

The three-year-old Yogi government should come to terms with the reality by reinvigorating its strategy and response to the menace rising out of Corona as sincere efforts on the part of the Yogi government should sound foremost than anything.

Ram Mandir will happen in Ayodhya but Adityanath shouldn’t displace his priorities or else Lord Rama won’t bestow his blessings on him. The opinion is yours!

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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.

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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