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“Congress Is Now Paying The Cost Of Nehru’s Cosmopolitan Outlook”

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Jawaharlal Nehru, the name which quite often echoes in the Parliament, even more than the days when he was alive. He remains in the mainstream politics, sometimes for the autonomy that he enjoyed as the first Prime Minister of Independent India, while also for making some of the most challenging decisions in the history of India.

Reasons are many, but the intention is just politics, for doing so. However, it is good to raise questions on the previous policies and questions but it’s important to make sure that it is with a guided aim because a misguided faith will only lead to misconceptions. Not only among the political parties but masses too.

It becomes imperative on us, at least those who have read Nehru and understood his cosmopolitan character to some extent, to make necessary corrections in opinions being formed against him. The debate is a part of policy reforms, be it in the House or on news channels. Yet there is no denying that the same should not hijack the narrative, thereby leading to the erroneous public image of reputed leaders like Nehru.

Representational image.

Every other day, we can see many prominent faces making absurd claims, questioning the why and how of his character, both as a person and an Independent Indian leader. This does not bother us much until the time it remains in the domestic sphere, but when it enters the international sphere, it starts making trouble for us, as Indians.

Nehru was an open-minded personality who had an insatiable appetite for improvements, both at national and international levels. His notions of prospect were quite much influenced by modernism and scientific temperament, which are must-haves for a leader today also. His vision encompassed taking India to greater heights, right after the painstaking departure of British colonialists.

The current turmoil within the Congress party is not just about choosing the party chief. There’s more to it. If you look at the bigger picture, the Congress party is now paying the cost of Nehru’s cosmopolitan outlook. Nehru is currently being embroiled into numerous controversies for absolutely insane reasons. The whole narrative has been hijacked to show him in a bad light, an ultra-modernist, someone who didn’t even have the manners of a so-called true nationalist.

Nehru’s Cosmopolitanism Costed Dear To Congress

In a democracy, Opposition plays an equally important role. But the way Congress has been left in the lurch is not only to do with mere politics. It’s more than that. The whole social media campaign was designed to malign the party and its leaders. Not only this, but the earlier works and achievements of Congress were also declared either for the family’s gains or of no use to the nation. The Gandhi family was deliberately made a laughing stock for others to troll over social media.

The credit for it partly goes to the family’s impotence to deal with it and partly to the well-organized propaganda. Be it any organization, company, or a political party, innovation is a must. Evolution is not only limited to the nascent stages of coming into being but an ongoing process. This is the reason why despite having the best talent and edified minds, Congress is dud now. It appears dormant owing to the lack of its grasp of the situation.

Despite being the Grand Old Party of India, Indian National Congress fails to deliver even the role of Opposition in today’s times. But what does this portend for the party? If you try to read between the lines, you will realize that more than their political impotence, it is the animosity against Gandhis and especially Nehru which goes on. The masses were targeted with negative misinformation, using the echo chambers exclusively built for this purpose.

Before I conclude this writing, I must say that we all should never forget our freedom fighters and political leaders’ contributions. Because of their sacrifices and decisions, we are called a great nation and recognized as the world’s largest democracy.

It is an honour for us to be Indians and must remain so, forever.

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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 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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