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Religious Temples Will Not Bring ‘Acche Din’, Temples Of Education And Research Will

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The nationwide pandemonium created by the COVID-19 pandemic is the most discussed agenda. Mango people like us have suffered a lot, there has been reporting on pay-cuts, job losses, uncertainty about the future, and volatility in the healthcare infrastructure. COVID-19 cases have achieved peak and we have to appreciate that not just the Govt. but common mass are also to be blamed for this.

At many locations (especially the densely populated and semi-urban ones), the local populace is not abiding by the safety and hygiene protocols. However, this does not undermine the fact that during March and April, governments (both states and central) could have taken initiatives to strengthen the healthcare infrastructure and could have brought in new initiatives at community and ULB levels to fight this adverse situation.

Respected Union Home Minister along with another Union Minister and one think tank of the ruling party is admitted at Medanta Gurgaon, a quite reputed and expensive private hospital after being tested COVID positive. Can we conclude that after more than 70 years of our independence that we have failed miserably to set up at least one such government hospital which is equally good as that of a private hospital, where our leaders can safely get admitted? Probably the conclusion is simple – our health infrastructure needs serious improvement.

It seems that the government was busy preparing for the Bhoomi Pujan of much sought after Ram Mandir, also known as ‘Symbolic Secularism’, in our country. Food for thought – if we have to pick during this uncertain time only one among the below mentioned, what would that one thing be?

(i) economic stability,
(ii) sustainable growth agenda in primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors,
(iii) resolving the issue of unemployment, and
(iv) building temples

We are a diverse country and yes, we do need more religious places to offer our prayers to the almighty. However, during this torrid time, channelizing the funds raised for constructing the temple to fulfil the needs of the needy would probably make more sense. What about using this fund and the total development cost of this temple, which should be collected within the next one to two years, to help the distressed population in the recent Bihar and Assam floods and extending help to the unfortunate family members of the deceased passengers of that ill-fated Air India flight.

With my limited knowledge about different religions, I have understood that only through serving and worshipping human beings, we can achieve proximity to the omniscient; and we can achieve the tranquillity. Since long, religion has been aptly used as a weapon to satiate political propaganda and to serve hidden objectives of a selected few. We get quite apprehensive when we are in close contact with someone belonging to the other religion and also our national leaders use this difference as the medium to garner public sentiment. History has set the precedence of communal riots, favouritism, and yes it is such a topic that can turn our beloved nation upside down.

Amidst all of these discussions, I would like to bring out an interesting topic of discussion – What about developing more temples? Don’t we need more?

The answer is yes, we do need it. My definition of such temples is location agnostic and aims at solving the actual and core problems of human beings rather than demarcating us by a politically incorrect terminology named ‘religion’. Education, healthcare, accommodation, food, transport, and hygiene are the only few requirements that we need to sustain. A country of more than 130 crore population capable of achieving the impossible, what stops us from building more schools, colleges, research laboratories, hospitals, diagnostic clinics, mass housing, warehouse, multimodal transport connectivity, sanitation facilities?

Again, the pertinent point is to effectively improve our socio-economic condition, the idea is not just to develop more such infrastructure but to focus on a holistic aspect to maintain these facilities, policy advocacy to foster a more robust and amiable ecosystem for the common mass, purely focusing on measures to ascertain basic needs of people below the poverty line, and our fellow countrymen residing in the rural and remotest parts of the country who are deprived of the basic amenities.

Dear reader, don’t you think we need more laboratories like DRDO, ISRO, and IISC, don’t we need more educational institutes of national importance like IITs, IIMs, NITs, and IIITs, don’t we need more innovation and research activities, don’t we need more start-ups and technology-oriented initiatives. Yes, we do.

If we foresee ourselves to emerge as the next economic superpower, we have to focus only on building and managing multiple such temples effectively. India is a land of infinite potential and we Indians are extremely talented. Our unity in diversity is the key enabler that binds all of us together. My purpose of writing this piece is to air my simple thought of keeping religion at the backseat and focusing on developing a robust infrastructure which takes into cognizance a holistic development in social, economic, environmental, academic, healthcare, transport, food, accommodation, and in hygiene aspects – yes, that’s the way to achieve ‘achhe din’!

(Views are personal; the thumbnail image is prepared based on web resources and the author does not have any copyright on it)
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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.

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.

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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.

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)’.

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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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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