This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Maitrika Kumari Rathore. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The Indian Language Is Politicised And So Is Instagram

Dear reader,

I’m assuming you can read this. If you can, then you were probably educated in an ‘English-medium’ school on the Indian subcontinent. Most likely, you live in a big city. It’s probable that you are not part of a village ecosystem. I’m sure you are careful about the news you consume and the people you believe. But is the news true? And what does that even mean?

Last winter as protests erupted through the country, I was in a taxi in Dehradun, which only became capital recently and grew as a centre for political agitation. Our cab was halted by a procession consisting of at least a hundred young men (there weren’t any women) holding flags of a certain party and shouting slogans. The taxi driver made a wise remark.

He said, “These people are given money, enough for a meal, to walk down the road and shout slogans for one party. Tomorrow these same folks will be paid by another party to walk down the same streets and rally for the cause, instead of against it”.

Representational image.

Obvious. These parties are like that. These politicians are corrupt. And other such thoughts begin to arise. Before I can think more, the cab moves and I’m thinking of food. 

Stories started popping up on Instagram asking everyone to raise their voices. I didn’t. I don’t think I have the power to affect change in government policy. Just being realistic. I don’t think screaming, shouting and flailing my arms for issues that the ‘centre’ deems important will make anyone’s life easier. I’m still a political body and a historical body. I’m not an earning member of society, I don’t have children and I have very little knowledge.

I have issues of my own and the work that I want to do will probably take a few years, a few decades and if I’m lucky, I’ll achieve some good in this lifetime. The news cycle has changed. We know what’s happening every second every hour whether it is a child dancing in Texas or the opinions of a textile producer in Chittagong. And the Instagram culture is part of the 24×7 news production factory.

Does social media affect social change? Is the media biased? Yes, I think the media is biased, in favour of quick fixes and witty remarks. And I’m in the favour of time. When elections are near, the news channels and Instagram feeds start featuring political candidates, their stories, their promises and their quirks. Someone is feeding the poor, someone is meditating on a mountain.

But I’ve noticed a strange trend: Hindi news channels (I don’t watch regional news in any other language) have a different narrative of support than English news channels. It is not so much about which party they support but about what they say. The moral consciousness, the flavour of language, the viewers consuming the different languages, the people employed for different media channels and newspapers all mix together to make a distinct discourse.

Language in India is not just a medium of communication, it is a manner of life and the etiquette considered proper, it distinguishes class and culture and training. English language education in my personal experience educates you and feeds you terms of freedom, secularism, the individual and of course Shakespeare. Other Hindustani tongues have stories underpinned by a completely different philosophy and a different belief in the individual’s place in society.

There is more than the politics of translation. There is a politics of bodies, who speaks what language and how. This reflects our knowledge about international politics as well. I’m sure you know how. 

Who is representing the media? Which history does it reflect? Who consumes this knowledge and for what purpose? Is the media serving as the fourth pillar of our hefty democracy? What is the history of our political lingo? Where do you come from? How do you wish politics changed? How do you engage in civil society? Are you serving your purpose with intention? Are you happy?

These are all political queries and we don’t have to have answers. It’s enough to just ponder upon them. The media shouldn’t assume they have answers. Maybe we need to revise the role of the media. Maybe we need to just talk to more people who think differently from us and build a stronger civil society that thinks critically and not just in one language (or just on social media). 

You must be to comment.

More from Maitrika Kumari Rathore

Similar Posts

By niraj chandra

By Mister August

By Tapesh Upadhyay

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below