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A Lot Is Happening In India, But We Have A Silent Prime Minister. ‘Acche Din’ Much?

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TW: Rape, Sexual Violence

I am writing this as a concerned citizen. A concerned Indian. It is important for me to put this out there because we live in an age when concerns are disregarded as political/ideological bias. In the past, there were issues which weren’t right or left issues, bhakt or ‘commie’ issue, these issues and concerns were universal because they were real. This isn’t the case anymore. It’s sad. This is my India now.

Hathras rape. Imagine our naivety in thinking things would change after the Nirbhaya rape incident almost a decade ago. They did not! After a 19-year-old Dalit girl was allegedly brutally gang-raped and murdered (can’t imagine having to use the word ‘allegedly’), the government seems to go out of their way to hide everything. Media was banned, the family members were threatened, the opposition was muzzled and the worst yet, a late-night burial was given to the girl by the police without the family members or their consent.

Protest at Harvard University against the Hathras rape. Photo: @scribe_it/ Twitter

Can we even begin to imagine the pain the family would have gone through? The frightening part is that the mainstream media or “modia” that boasts of high TRPs ignored the issue and worse, sometimes gave cover to the actions of the UP government and police. They have lost all journalistic ethics or principles, yet as they scream on the top of their voices, they have the highest TRP. We are to blame because we have chosen wrong, we are encouraging wrong and we are becoming more wrong. Introspect. This is not a political issue. We should all stand together against the government (whoever), this is one of us, this is our country. Stand up.

The economy has crashed, unemployment has skyrocketed, hunger and poverty are rampant. Yet where is the accountability? What did the government do? Bring in legislation that hurt the only industry that showed some hope in this gloomy time, agriculture. If you didn’t know, I wouldn’t fault you, as it is another issue the “modia” refused to cover till they had no option. Why can’t the government bring in a simple amendment to guarantee MSP? Simple protection for the poor farmer in front of the mighty corporates, a guarantee that the government has their back and is not only for the rich?

The government brought legislation that hurt the only industry that showed some hope in this gloomy time, agriculture/ Image source: Twitter

We are going through a pandemic and here our numbers are high too, only second to the USA in the number of cases and among the top three in terms of deaths. The government has kept silent, it isn’t even an issue. The Modi government openly said in the parliament, that they don’t have statistics on the number of migrants who died during the exodus. Were they were forced to take after the sudden call of a national lockdown? Who should know? What happened to the government machinery?

The government has no record of how many doctors have died fighting Covid-19. These are the same heroes people were asked to applaud by the Supreme leader. Apart from the theatrics and Modi’s personal PR stunts, does anyone really care about us (being a doctor myself)?

The media, the fourth estate, should be asking our leaders and government these questions. It isn’t because it is busy turning the unfortunate suicide of an actor into the biggest conspiracy the world has ever seen. In a case, as of today, the premier medical institute of the country has concluded suicide, the CBI has found nothing to prove otherwise and the NCB has been reprimanded by the court for suggesting a nexus between an actress and the drug cartel without any proof. That is where we are. Remember these people aren’t fools. They are in the middle of the biggest hoodwink there could be. So we are distracted and don’t ask the real questions to the government.

In the face of all this, we have a silent prime-minister. Oh wait, isn’t this the reason we voted out the last one?

Maybe we have to wait for the Bihar elections campaigning to start to be fooled by his highness again. Maybe the pressure of an election campaign will make the almighty come down and be accountable to us, the commoners.

These are my questions, these should be our questions. I am frustrated, not at the problems, but at our inaction, at our indifference, at our apathy. We have to rise. We are alone now, fending for our self.  It’s now or never. We have to stand up, stand up and fight for what is our right for our India.

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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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