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“Freedom Is No Sheer Winning Over The Oppressor, But From Secessionist Thoughts”

“My dear Gandhiji, in Punjab we have 55 thousand soldiers and large-scale rioting on our hands. In Bengal, our forces consist of one man, and there is no rioting. As a serving officer, as well as an administrator, may I be allowed to pay my tribute to the one-man Boundary force”– Lord Mountbatten, on August 26, 1947.

Instilled in our thoughts, what is the real vision of independence. When the long-suppressed soul of a nation found utterance, Gandhi, a little long in the tooth to meander in the streets of Bengal for a calm, was evidence that freedom is no sheer winning over the oppressor but from secessionist thoughts. Of what he called ignorance is that plague which subjugated us from inside for long. Mahatma found courage from that faith he carried throughout that struggle.

“Satyagrah” is based upon Satya, which is impregnable but yet delicate. It needs cutting edge competence to handle. That’s why unarguably, only dexterous can handle that. Communalism was never the disease, but the lack of spirit of inquiry was. Rumours prevail when we drop the eyelashes of faith on the vision of truth. When we deliver on the commands of belief and take it as gospel, we then turn back on actuality. When we doubt our sight and senses, embark upon digging for reasons, it is then we dodge ignorance. 

Gandhi’s experiments with truth taught him to doubt those fraudulent senses and gave him a curiosity to search. And he learned to reach freedom with every possible search. A free mind like that of atypical Gandhi cannot be vanquished.

August 15 wasn’t cherished by Gandhi, as he remarked, “I cannot rejoice on August 15. I do not want to deceive you. But at the same time, I shall not ask you not to rejoice. Unfortunately, the kind of freedom we have got today contains also the seeds of future conflict between India and Pakistan. How can we, therefore, light the lamps?” The long run of pacification by Gandhi was not successful in the first instance, but the Satyagrahi persevered. He returned with triumph, conforming his thumb-rule yet again.

How could Gandhi see that scope of peace? He could see the lump of ignorance in people coiled in violence. Now the only plan was to persuade them to see the truth behind the scheme of partition — the scheme of dissection and abomination in the social order.

We are rolling in a channel of lots of information and any word on the street is believed to be true. With curtailing our sense of doubt, we fall prey to those rumours and hidden vested interest which Gandhi negated and showed his strength. Media today gives us first the startling, then sensational, then appalling and lastly scandalous particulars to be followed by our ignorant masses.

Energy and thoughts are served in a way, never seen before. If we are thriving for a prejudiced and phoney information system, we still are colonised by masters possessing the routes of our thoughts. Suspicion and curiosity are tools coming to play when we are guided by information coated with contingent interest. Holding firmly to the truth, without any fear, is what freedom is.

If still we can close eyes and fight for creed and culture, then the “tryst with destiny” can anytime be questioned. Is that what we pledged for? Can these corporate forums show us the truth? Do they provide us with that margin of doubt? A fortune teller cannot sit in a news studio and guide my thoughts, provoke me and channelise my energy. Pledge with Gandhi that if there will be a Noakhali, then we will use the talisman which you gave us. 

Nehru was puzzled when the Mahatma withdrew the civil disobedience movement at its height after the Chauri Chaura incident. But Gandhi knew violence is the weapon of weak. Weak cannot achieve and enjoy robust goals like freedom. So, learn about truth, strength and satyagraha and the tool is a curiosity with a pinch of doubt. Only then, we can enjoy liberation and deliver justice to the following generations.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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.

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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.

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