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On Rhea, Fake News And Propaganda: The Missing Morality Of Indian Media

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Television is considered to be the mirror of the nation because of the events it broadcasts throughout the country. What we expect is to see the news but what we see now is completely horrendous and puts a question on the ethics and morality of the media. The fourth pillar of democracy is losing its essence day by day. The time through which we are going and what is coming in the future is the worst. Any report found to be inaccurate or dehumanizing an individual should be taken down.

In today’s time, the majority looks happy in finding solace in someone else’s suffering.

Communication is derived from a Latin word communis which means commonness. A way of feeling liberated and united. However, hypocrisy was noticed in the society where preaching mental health was a work of just a few days on the demise of a very talented actor and then later on humiliating, degrading and questioning the image of all the people the actor was associated made the nation hungry for literally tearing apart someone’s soul and pulling down her/him to such a level that it’ll be beyond recovery.

Problematic Indian Media
Representational image.

The way the media is after another actor Rhea Chakraborty should make us question our moral grounds as to who gave us the right to question the very character of a suspect and defame her publicly, release personal chats on the internet and debate about her on national television just to humiliate her more and more.

Our country that has a beautifully drafted constitution with laws, ethics, principles and morality has forgotten everything about how to let the court handle the legal matter, about how not to violate an individual’s personal space and, most importantly, respect everyone.

There are a lot of important matters in front of us such as our decreasing GDP (Gross Domestic Product), the number of people who lost their jobs, the worst that the migrant workers had to go through, police brutality, students being forced to give entrance during this pandemic, a truth that we have taken over Brazil’s place and stand to be the second most badly affected nation in the world.

However, nobody seems to be giving much importance to all these situations because a nation that once looked united and took pride in its diversity has turned into a society of hatred, violence and oppression.

Journalists who were supposed to question the government on their actions, policies and decisions don’t seem to care enough about it now. Journalists who were supposed to guard public interest and talk about the problems of citizens in front of the ruling regime seem to be more interested in delivering the fake and distorted information as a duty to worsen the integrity and peace in the nation.

The society today is being moulded into a bunch of hypocrites who preached about mental health but did not seem to give much importance to the mental health of the migrant workers, students and women going through worse during the pandemic. 

The PM CARES Fund was created on March 28, 2020, for donations regarding the coronavirus outbreak but the entire country still doesn’t know the total amount that was donated. The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) for the unorganized sector workers was set up in 2010-11 with an allocation of ₹1,000 crores but due to lack of proper implementation of this quasi-government agency the workers have to face the worst repercussions and literally beg for basic livelihood such as food, water and clothing that should’ve been the government’s duty. 

We have become so ignorant and cold that the privilege we have doesn’t seem to work proportionally to the problems faced by the same people who have once in our lifetime helped us and have been there for us.

The IQ of this country is drowning day by day because a handful of people are questioning the government and there is no hope from media houses who seem to be busy promoting propaganda.

Our EQ could have saved a few people around us during this pandemic but due to the lack of it, the moral grounds we were supposed to be a part of seem to have gone far away.

Do we have the right to ignore what the media is showing and that we don’t want to see? We don’t want to see the same news, literally the entire day, about someone who hasn’t been even charged yet under any grounds? Yes, we do.

By using social media platforms sensibly and using the right to dissent, every individual can call out the media houses who have stuck themselves over humiliating famous personalities but have not asked a single question to the authorities who are supposed to be accountable to the people over the failure of running a nation.

Freedom to be able to express your views shouldn’t be a burden for you but rather an encouragement to prove your loyalty and integrity to every single person in society. Dignity is essential to human life as food, water and oxygen. 

To cancel out the political culture of stupidity and propaganda hyped in the society, one needs to read and educate themselves with correct facts. Looking out for platforms that speak the truth is not tough, instead, it has become easier to type something in the search for better understanding and look at reliable sources such as BBC, Al Jazeera, The Wire, The Telegraph and so on. One is just supposed to push themselves to seek truth and act upon it accordingly.

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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, 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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