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Who Did It: God Or Science?

Boom!

The bang was big, time was unknown and something came out. It was nothing before but something just apparated. Thin air started materializing, or was there any air at all? It started expanding as water splattered on the floor, silently, enormously, like a huge something. Who did it?

I am an Indian. Born and brought up in a Hindu family and what is the most interesting thing about Hindus is that they have answers. ‘Who did it?’ was the question, right? Well, Hindus have an answer. What we see in front of our eyes is done indirectly and what goes beyond our funny little silly yet pretentiously mystical brain is done directly, by the one we localize to areas best suited to our activities and freedom – God.

This enormously long line looks like I am a staunch supporter of ‘God Delusion’, well I’m not, none at all. I am just an ordinary boy, standing by the side of the giant’s foot, trying to look further, upon whose shoulder once Sir Isaac Newton stood and did that. I like to call myself a science geek (just to sound cool, of course) and it would be a disgrace to my pretentious demeanour if I do not expand on Sir Isaac Newton or on science.

Representational image.

Sir Newton, now lies in peace, in Westminster Abbey, London and is in great company with Darwin in the next house and Hawking in the other. If the afterlife is a thing, I wonder what these people discuss looking at our plight. Not the poverty or the pandemic, these by God’s grace shall pass. But the stuff that concerns us the most.

A girl, 14 or 15, goes into hiding with people she did not quite fraternize with, for two long years. It is said that at the end of a dark gloomy tunnel is an open-end, to light, to warmth and hope. But this girl got trapped on her way, boulders shackled her, crumbled her and she went to rest in Alexander’s blossom. Why did it happen? Let us try to build our answer.

Religion seeded the tree of hatred which bore the fruit of holocaust. Millions were killed, butchered like anything. Jews, hapless, helpless, hopeless, lynched, writhed, puked blood and yet believed in their god, that he would save them from their miseries. The god messiah though did not come. He was quiet, sat in his heavily embellished heaven, did not move an inch to help and yet stole all the credit for the Jews who survived, at last, thanked him.

The Holy Bible says – ‘Not a leaf falls without God’s will’, so what should this episode be characterized as? A conspiracy? That God made it so happen that in his name millions be mercilessly slaughtered, that they begged, beseeched, implored to him to come and save, that those who survived, at last, thanked him and his following ever increased.

I am not an atheist; I am a believer. I believe in questioning. I believe in scrutinizing. And I believe in God, not the one they made but the one who made us.

Hawking’s idea is the best I have come across so far. Remember the Big Bang? Nature did that. The expansion? Nature did that. Every microbe formed, leaf grew and fell, animals came, we came not because of god’s grace but because nature did that. Nature is god. No god was ever too small to be confined in a small temple. Neither is he too weak to seek justice from us. I am proud of the god who made us, not the one which was manufactured by us. But interestingly, the latter is more famous.

Imagine the strength the real god had, for he did a thermo-nuclear explosion unimaginable in physical terms, made such an enormous universe out of nothing and maintains its existence till date. Our earth is just a speck in comparison to this cosmos and we are small pathetic creatures wandering about around the clock, being hardly significant to the enormity of this universe. We would die tomorrow and not a second will halt to bid adieu yet we are self-proclaimed conquers of this cosmos to whom the great god would come to ask for help.

In reality, we are nature’s own creation which turned against it. We abandoned our mother, abused her, made another god and started marketing it. We are salesmen. We have an extraordinary gifted power of selling and we’ve our set of vices to sell the god. We exaggerated and personified statues and turned an ignorant eye towards nature. We assaulted it, insulted it, and when it struck an ambush back at us, we retreated to the god we made, we purposefully made use of our creation to bring home the bacon even in times like these. Indeed, we’re the best creation.

Religion was invented, it did not come from the heavens, it was invented by the most brilliant brains of that era. It was invented to lay out a code of conduct for humans. I am not questioning the genuinety of religious texts but I am questioning the interpretation of the same. Did Lord Rama exist? I don’t know. I am too small to answer that but his principles should exist. Nobody saw Christ’s crucifixion but we believe it.

We believe that the Neelkanth drank that for us, we believe that Kali killed him for us, we believe that Guru Nanak transformed into petals for us so that we live peacefully. So that we understand the power of harmony, the ultimate might of unity which coronated us as the ruler of this world. But what have we done? What kind of place have we turned our Earth into? Remember the line ‘we don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children’. But what have we done? We have labelled it as our own estate. We have killed the other inhabitants; we have tainted the skies and contaminated the lands. We have besmirched the name of the human race and our pace is unmatched.

We have deliberately ignored the teachings of our holy texts. But let me recapitulate them. Shiva is incomplete without Shakti; Yen is nothing without Yang. Similarly, there is no left without the right. Our journey should not be from the extreme right to the extreme left. Our destination should be somewhere in between and that is where our power lies. The power to grow unanimously. We need to acknowledge this power and the responsibilities which come along. We need to question our deeds, introspect our existence and shape our tomorrow.

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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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