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Claim, Counterclaims And Class Politics: When Is Bihar Going To Change How It Votes?

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I am to understand that except for the RJD, none of the political parties are bothered to highlight the issues and affairs of the masses, as if mocking Nitish Kumar for his alleged misrule and misgovernance will be enough to get them votes. Agreed, that there is a palpable discontent against Nitish Kumar at the grassroots, but that doesn’t mean people will singularly buy any argument pointed towards bringing a change for the better.

Young turks Tejashwi Yadav and Chirag Paswan carry with them a lot of enthusiasm to inspire and excite the minds and hearts of the younger population. But will this be more than sufficient in spirit and substance, or will it necessarily impact the youth turning out to vote? If we were to go by the numbers in their public meetings and rallies well, we also have Pushpam Priya Chaudhary of the Plurals Party with her Cambridge return. She would, in all her command and capacity, want to bring back the lost glory of the state.

A positive response from the people in her constituency of Jamui is making her feel optimistic about her prospect. As for our mainstream political parties, claims and counterclaims made ought to be balanced by strategies and blueprints. I believe the youth of our state is excelling in this fine art with a rewarding distinction. It’s time for leaders of the socialist era to take a backseat and encourage this constituency to come forward and offer us an visible alternative.

Our state has predominantly been a casteist society and has always upheld the social and political arithmetic of community- and caste-based alliances. Political agendas have never persuaded to ideate on the themes of infrastructure, health, living and livelihood. They are always secondary to the rank and power of the politicians. I am afraid as we can’t afford to pass the blame and bucks if we are choosing lawmakers for whom these matters cease to exist.

Nitish hasn’t done much as for his unexplained creases on the forehead.

As for their sense of opinion and conduct of the electorate, Nitish Kumar is the perfect illustration of someone who continues to rake up his report card and cut to size the anti-incumbency associated with 15 years of his tenure as chief minister and leader of the state. He has played his politics around social welfarism and imagined identities of caste, community, class and gender when it comes to Bihar’s unequal access to material goods and resources to people of different stratas and segments. Nitish has justified his decisions and legislations passionately with pride. Not once did he make efforts to strengthen the state’s physical infrastructure, which in turn, would have benefitted the state population.

And why would he, if it were not in consonance with the ideological imagination of social welfare politics being tilted towards appeasing and not uplifting the not-so-called entitled castes? We had EBCs and Mahadalits curated by Nitish babu as exclusive vote banks claiming their share of ownership in Nitish’s political method of development and empowerment. Except for translating their votes into seats, Nitish hasn’t done much as for his unexplained creases on the forehead.

Tejashwi came in for direct attack by Nitish Kumar when the former began to question his claims and counterclaims as Bihar’s Chief Minister. Tejashwi was name-called by the CM as this didn’t deter him for indulging in the fulfillment of his objectives. Creating 10 lakh jobs for the youth of the state will be impossible if we were to go by the theories of the JDU and BJP, except for their huge budget and their claim of providing 19 lakh jobs to Bihar’s youth, if it were to come true.

One is not sure how it might come true as it would require a big budget. Moreover, bringing the BJP to power will attract a free corona vaccine for the people of our state. People willingly and wisely are looking up to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcement at a press conferences in Patna on October 22. Oh, they forgot to ask Tejashwi about his opinion on whether the free vaccine would come handy to the generation for employment opportunities in the state.

In a few hours now, polling for the first phase will kickstart in Bihar. It’s up to the people now to make their call regarding the claims and counterclaims made in this electoral season. Entertain and enjoy yourself by becoming an involved participant wanting to throw surprises, isn’t 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.

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 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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