This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Kamal Afroz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

2014: The Year That Changed Indian Media Forever

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A few months back, Indian Army’s highly-decorated veteran and news media’s star defence panellist Major General GD Bakshi(Retd) used the word R****k***a in front of a packed college audience. Last week, he raised the bar and called a co-panellist M****c**d on national television hosted by a female anchor.

Knowing the values and ethos of our great armed forces and its institutions, I am certain that Major General Bakshi must be disappointed in himself more than us. But when a decorated army officer with four decades of experience, both in combat and in strategic planning, starts losing cool on national television, or when a retired Major (Gaurav Arya) starts trolling retired Lieutenant Generals openly on twitter, we know that the slow decay of our society and polity is finally complete.

Last week, GD Bakshi called a co-panellist M****c**d on national television hosted by a female anchor.

The Man Who Made News Interesting And Then Never Knew When To Stop: Arnab Goswami

The question is, how and when did this start. I would say, fourteen years back, in 2006 when The Times Group launched 24-Hour English news channel Times Now and hired a maverick named Arnab Goswami as Editor-in-Chief. The man who single-handedly changed the entire landscape and dynamics of news media in India forever, so much so, that Indian media legacy may well be described as Before Arnab and After Arnab.

Prior to Times Now, the Indian news space was quite boring. Not as monotonous as Doordarshan but there were NDTV and a couple of others. To Arnab’s credit, he made news interesting and he made it interactive by bringing in live debates on split screens with personalities, celebrities and the people whose opinions mattered. This surprised many as it broke away from the good old news monologues and brought wisdom to the people of India who got a chance to listen to different views and opinions.

Times Now and Arnab dominated the news space for some time, but the novelty wore out soon as other news outlets sniffed the potential and soon followed suit, making the competition cut-throat. India kept on adding channels after channels. Channels kept on adding staff and equipment. Equipment quality kept on getting better while the staff quality got worse. Breaking News started coming every minute, even at midnight. Editors, Anchors and Producers became richer. Split screens became smaller to accommodate more guests. And to gather more TRPs, the great Indian TV debate finally turned into a dogfight.

The Year 2010

By then, Arnab had become the undisputed king of English news space. And like all kings, he thought he is invincible so he closed his eyes and started dictating his own terms with no regard for rules and order.

During this time, the infamous Commonwealth Games happened in Delhi. Arnab started digging out ‘scams after scams’, humiliating officers and ministers. In the process, he became investigator, jury and judge and started issuing sermons and punishments every day at 9 PM.

This was also the time when many saner people started getting a headache with noise, shouting and fighting during news debates.

The Year 2014

Though Indian media’s moral decline was already nearing its peak, this was the time when its absolute annihilation happened. News bosses had realized that maintaining TRPs was a tough job, as all news channels had access to the same information.

They needed something else to remain rich and remain powerful. So they changed course and started cosying up with the ruling dispensation, completely compromising the ethics of journalism, which is the fourth pillar of democracy.

For news bosses and anchors, name, fame, money and power followed but India and Indian media changed forever, where there is no space left for coherent dialogue and objective viewpoint; where there is no space for decency and patience; where name-calling and bigotry are the new normal; where using the most disgusting Hindi abuse for a fellow panellist by a decorated army officer on national television has so many takers.

In the process, many things happened. Kejriwal became Chief Minister. Arnab became a billionaire. Party spokespersons with zero administrative experience became Union Ministers. While the common Indian citizen remained as poor, dejected and neglected as ever.

It is high time we stop allowing ourselves to be ‘used’ for the hate-mongering and brainwashing. The satellite cabal can continue paying and inviting Pakistani Generals for TV debates. Our patriotism is not for sale. As for Major General Bakshi, he is our hero and he would do well by sharing his rich experience in auditoriums, not by shrilling on national television.

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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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