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The Rajasthan Fiasco Presents A Question: What Role Should The Governor Play?

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The political churning in Rajasthan has presented us with the occasion and opportunity to debate upon the role and powers of the governor. The office of the governor has widely been misused by vested interests to topple and dislodge the democratically elected people’s government if there is any difference in political beliefs, ethics, values, and ideologies.

In Rajasthan, despite the assertion made by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot of having the numbers to run the government the governor, Kalraj Mishra looks in no mood to heed to the advice of the ministers of the state government. I am made to understand that the ongoing feud between Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot has almost derailed the process of governance and policy legislation leaving the people in chaos and crisis especially when the numbers of Corona are at a peak in the state.

Kalraj Mishra, Governor of Rajasthan.

The much-hyped Bhilwara model which made headlines earlier is hardly finding any mentions in any of the television debates and primetime except for the coverage of the subsequent desert desertions and drama fuelled by the open rebellion and revolt of Sachin Pilot against the central leadership of the party.

If his ire was directed towards the Gandhis, then why Pilot seems to be after the Gehlot government in which for around one and a half years he served as the Deputy Chief Minister of the state along with the charge of Congress Party President. If he had the support of say around twenty MLAs than certainly, he should have waited for an audience with the central leadership of the Congress in clarifying his point against Gehlot if there was any.

Contrarily challenging the notice served by the Rajasthan assembly speaker CP Joshi in the Rajasthan High Court asking for why action should not be initiated against Pilot and his flock for toeing the party line and discipline as the use of the term ‘Whip’ did add to a lot of conflict and contradiction.

This was understood by Pilot group camping in Manesar as a step towards their disqualification from the state assembly as they were forced to take it up in the high court which sort of gave interim relief to Pilot for now after Pilot made the Central government a party in the case. The matter is expected to be heard in the Supreme Court on Monday shedding a light on the roles and powers of the Governor in such a matter whereby the authority of the house speaker has been made redundant and defunct.

If the judiciary were to question the credentials of the speaker than it would have been legitimate to enquire the grounds on which a speaker made any decision but didn’t in the first place except for a show-cause notice to the rebel MLAs. Also, the discretionary powers of the speaker allow him to arrive at such decisions in consonance with the interests of the assembly legislators the Court can only correct the order of the speaker when it in direct conflict with the constitutional provisions.

In March 2016, the Uttrakhand High court ruled in favour of Harish Rawat, former Chief Minister Uttrakhand by asking for the disqualified MLAs to take the floor test to prove the majority for running the Congress-led government in the state.

I remember how enthusiastic and energetic Shivraj Singh Chauhan became after Jyotiraditya Scindia walked in with twenty-two Congress MLAs in the BJP earlier this year as the former didn’t bother at all to ask and enquire for the opinion and suggestion of the Madhya Pradesh governor. Rules are different in principle and practice.

The media has forgotten what happened in Maharashtra late last November when the governor secretly made Devendra Fadnavis the Chief Minister. The office and institution of the governor were duly undermined, neglected, compromised, and looked upon as serving the larger political aspirations and interests of the party in power. It has happened earlier and will continue to if we are unable to put an end to the patronage system of Indian politics. This has dealt a severe blow to the autonomy and independence of the constitutionally and democratically defined institutions guided by a brute majority of the present dispensation at the centre simmering a perpetual crisis of ensuring accountability and maintaining credibility.

Presenting a discord and disenchantment with the democratic held belief and consensus of the people, the Rajasthan fiasco offers us the choice and chance to perform what is right as per the letter and spirit of the constitution.

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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 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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