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Opinion : Democracy Is Perhaps Obsolete

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For years, I have been told to appreciate and glorify democracy. It is a popular opinion that democracy is our generation’s (although Greeks and Romans had achieved it already) greatest achievement and therefore, like most people, I bleated the same. The praises of democracy engulfed me and engulfed my thoughts. Anyway, according to me, democracy is an old system for regulating a society which failed to evolve with the evolution of society in the past few years. Democracy has made some questionable allowances which, instead of holding society together, have broken it.

It Allows Us All To Be Selfish

Look around. Everyone around seems to have their “own” demands from the Gov’t. Only a few seem to think about agendas that would benefit all of the society in general. Some people want subsidies. Some people want tax reforms so that they can save more money. Some people want reservations. While some other demand privileges. And all of them have demands that would definitely benefit them and others with similar demands. But, is a society a niche group of people or all the people together, co-operating and co-existing?

We all vote for a representative who represents “us” and our particular group. This representative of the particular group, then goes on to be the representative of the society in general. Democracy has fueled our self centred nature. We compete with other groups in pushing forward our demands to the Gov’t, which then fulfils those demands even though it barely leads to equally helping all the people in the society.

Democracy- A Rule Of The Majority

 

Democracy is said to be – of the people, for the people and by the people. And yet, democracy is “of the majority, for the majority and by the majority” in reality. The minorities will have to make do with the benevolence of the majority if any.

Law Cannot Rise Above Popular Opinion

Indeed, it cannot. If popularity of opinions or the majority made the opinions right, there would never be any need for any opinion to change. If the majority think it is alright to oppress, it will be okay to oppress. If the majority chooses monarchy, democracy will make way for monarchy.

Acharya Vinoba Bhave had explained how –

“Whether in India or in any other country, if the people are taught to depend on Gov’t for everything, then whatever the nature of the Gov’t, the situation is politically dangerous. In its political evolution the human race has rejected monarchy because under monarchy the people become dependent, although they may feel happy in the reign of a benevolent monarch. We should have sense enough to understand that if the people become as much dependent under the Prime Minister in a democracy as in monarchy, there is not much to choose between the two under any circumstance. This is a dangerous state of affairs and calls for a serious consideration from all those who believe in democracy.”

Democracy – Protection Of The Minorities

On the other hand, does democracy protect minorities from oppression? It perhaps does. It also gives such powers to minorities which enables them to have advantages over the rest of the society. The bully becomes the bullied. The bullied becomes the bully. It goes on and on and on.

Would you give an irresponsible person the power to make decisions and rule? Democracy assumes that all the citizens of the nation are responsible and will use the power they hold for the benefit of the society and nation as a whole. Citizens are humans and most of them prioritize themselves over the society.

Perhaps democracy would be a tremendous success in an educated society where people will know the right from the wrong. They will hold themselves accountable to all the others in the society and not just to their families or community. In such a society, there is a possibility that someone will represent humanity and society as a whole and will strive for the progress and development of all the people in the society and not just of the majority who sometimes barely make up the 50.1% of the population.

While the Gov’t focuses on the demands of a few communities who threaten to break havoc otherwise, the general causes such as education, health etc. that benefit all are often neglected or forgotten.

Democracy Has Divided Us More Than Ever

If it weren’t so, how is it that every politician has a group he/ she addresses to, promising advantages to them if they vote for their political party? Only a few politicians have ideas to reform society. Rest of them are simply trying to rule over the people who shall let these politicians be their king or queen. We live in the age of kingdoms with no geographical boundaries. But nonetheless, even if in our heads, these kingdoms exist.

I come across feminists, transgender activists, environmentalists etc. Although, they are doing a great job trying to reform our society, they only try to protect and promote the interests of their community. There is no harm in that except for the fact that the moment you separate yourself explicitly from society, society starts falling apart. There is no harm in protecting a group of people. It just would be better if every human had the same basic rights and we could progress towards a society where all these diverse groups and communities will co-exist in harmony with each other. There won’t be protests or fights. It will not be “Communities” vs “Society”. There is no harm in identifying oneself with a community but there is some harm in not identifying oneself as a part of the society.

I have heard of kingdoms that flourished. I have yet to come across a nation that truly flourished under Democracy. That doesn’t mean that we must go back to the time of Kings. Democracy is certainly a point in our progression and has done a lot of good for our society but, we will have to move forward.

Our society has evolved. With such evolution, a new system is required. A tree is often recognized by its fruits. Democracy has stopped yielding sweeter fruits at this point. Democracy seems to have outrun its use. It is time that we contemplate about the kind of society we want and approach this accordingly.

 Gov’t is an agreement between you and myself. You and myself are often wrong. 

You and me, who form democracy are often selfish, biased, misled. We are humans and we err! Sadly, I must admit I have no solution to this. Forgive my opinions if they have offended. They are opinions and can be changed for the better. They assuredly stem from a sincere concern for the welfare of society.

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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.

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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.

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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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