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Jamia Secured The Top Spot In Rankings, Would You Still Call Us Anti-National?

“Why should anybody be surprised that Jamia stands number one? Jamia has always been in first 10 anyways. Its 100 years old university and its foundations have been laid by Mahatma Gandhi. Our heritage is of immense national pride. We never invited Muslim league to the campus. Mohammad Ali Jinnah never came to the campus”, said Najeeb Jung, former VC of Jamia Milia Islamia.

The Ministry of education recently released the rank list of the central universities on August 13, 2020, Jamia bagged the top spot amongst all the 40 central universities. Jamia Millia Islamia was ranked as one of the top 10 universities in the country by the Human Resource Development Ministry National institutional ranking framework (NIRF). In this month, JMI was in the headlines when 30 students from the university coaching academy cleared the extremely demanding UPSC exam.

Despite the world of academic excellence accolades and national recognition, the students of JMI university are living in fear, anxiety and trauma.

Students of Jamia protesting against the CAA-NRC Amendment.

The root for all this was the agitation and the protest against the new discriminatory act passed by the government of India, the Citizenship Amendment Act. When the bill was passed on December 12 in the upper house, students of Jamia, along with alumni association of Jamia (AAJMI) and Jamia teachers association (JTA), organized a protest near gate no. 7 but later they were lathi-charged and tear gas shells were thrown on protestors.

Many were detained and brutally injured. The motto of the JMI students was to protest peacefully. Followed by that horrific incident, another terrific incident took place on December 15, ‘The Bloody Sunday‘, and the world knows the rest. That incident still haunts the students. The aftermath of that brutality was so horrific that it has left marks on students’ memories. Till date, students are suffering from trauma and fear.

“I can’t sleep at night. My knees and backache so hard that sometimes I cry and scream.”

“Whenever I remember that incident, my body shivers, at nights, I dream about Jamia ..that policeman’s face comes to my mind .. Imam sahib face when the policemen beat him. I feel cold. That accident would scare me every day and night. My Jamia was turned into a battleground.”

Some of the students told me this not wanting to reveal their identities. Jamia Millia Islamia is among the oldest universities in India. Iti is observing its 100th year of establishment this year. Once when Jamia ran out of funds, Mahatma Gandhi said, “I would roam across the country with a cup in my hands to collect the money but won’t let this institution shut.” Since then Jamia never looked back. It gave India some of its finest actors, sportsmen, journalists, politicians, scientists, architects, artists and engineers.

In recent years, one of Jamia’s students got placed in Google. Jamia is way ahead in its infrastructure, laboratories and the classroom teachings. The point system of ranking is based on the quality of infrastructure. The students of Jamia believe that there is nothing wrong in protesting against the policies of the government. Once a judge said that, “dissent is the safety valve of democracy. If you don’t allow the safety valve, the pressure cooker will burst”.

It’s not pride that makes us protest, in fact, it is a matter of pride that every Jamian thinks of our nation first. We think what’s good for India and what will harm it. Yes, ideologies might differ, but we understand the art of critical thinking. Opposing government policies doesn’t make anyone an ‘anti-national’, the tag that has been associated with Jamia for the past few months. We love our country first. India is and would be our first priority at any cost, and that’s why we take pride in being the leading university of India.

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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.

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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.

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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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