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Incongruities in Indian constitution – A Summation

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Muhammad Ali Jinnah got what he wanted for Indian Musalmans though, in time, their Quranic zeal turned Pakistan into a Rogue State. What of India, the product of irony of a partition in that while some Musalmans walked away with one-fourth of its land, others stayed back to nurse their separatist dogma in its truncated bosom?

While the Hindu nationalists lamented about the loss of their ancient land, the Musalman intellectuals were alarmed at their reduced numbers vis-à-vis the Hindus. Even as the Golwalkars articulated the Hindu frustration in shrill tones, Maulana Azads voiced the Muslim apprehensions in secular tunes. Whatever, as Pakistan became an Islamic State for the Musalmans, India remained a habitat of varied interest groups, the Musalmans included! While the Indian political classes were beset with a sense of loss that partition brought in its wake, the Hindu intellectuals were upset by the age-old caste guilt that the reform movement occasioned in their collective consciousness.

Babasaheb Piloted The Trajectory Of The Constitution

It was in such a setting that India ventured to formulate a constitution for itself, of course, piloted by Babasaheb Ambedkar, the intellectual giant from the depressed classes. Yet the end product, touted as the bulkiest of the written constitutions in the comity of nations, turned out to be an exercise in selective amnesia.

“WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, reads the preamble of the Constitution of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:

JUSTICE, social, economic, and political;

LIBERTY of status, expression, belief, faith, and worship;

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;

And to promote among all

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;

IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.”

The constitution was enacted in November 1949

None can fault the lofty ideals of this August document but for the politicization of the testament itself, i.e. by the induction of socialism into it. Strange it may seem, won’t the socialistic slant negate the economic justice that it seeks to provide? After all, socialism, as per the COD, is a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the community as a whole should own and control the means of production, distribution, and exchange. How could there be economic justice for an individual enterprising Indian then?

PV Narasimha Rao : Accidental PM Or Reformist?

However, mercifully, in the end, PV Narasimha Rao, the Accidental Prime Minister, aided by Dr Manmohan Singh, his hand-picked Finance Minister, managed to extricate India from the Nehruvian socialist grip to leave his lasting legacy as the ‘Architect of Economic Reforms’. But that was not before socialism wrecked Indian industry, stunted its enterprise, and ruined its economy so much so that, for servicing its national debt, the country had to pledge its gold for some sterling pounds.

But before that, as if the religious leeway provided by Ambedkar & Co. to the Musalmans and the Christians to upset the demography of India’s diminished geography, Indira Gandhi, during her infamous emergency, unconstitutionally amended the constitution to further stymie the Hindu majority though with the laudable ‘Statement of Objects and Reasons appended to the Constitution (Forty-fourth Amendment) Bill, 1976 (Bill No. 91 of 1976)’ that was enacted as The Constitution Forty-second Amendment Act, 1976, which avers that –

“A Constitution to be living must be growing. If the impediments to the growth of the Constitution are not removed, the Constitution will suffer virtual atrophy. The question of amending the Constitution for removing the difficulties which have arisen in achieving the objective of a socio-economic revolution, which would end poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity, has been engaging the active attention of Government and the public for some years now.”

Be that as it may, without specifying “the difficulties which have arisen in achieving the objective of socio-economic revolution” in the said bill it was stated that –

“It is, therefore, proposed to amend the Constitution to spell out expressly the high ideals of socialism, secularism and the integrity of the nation, …” based on which the Constitution (Forty-fourth Amendment) Act, 1976 had sought to remodel India as “Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic.”

Whatever, as neither the said bill nor the specified act defined what constitutes a secular republic; we may turn to the COD that defines the hallowed but much-abused word thus:

concerned with the affairs of this world; not spiritual or sacred.
(of education etc.) not concerned with religion or religious belief
a. not ecclesiastical or monastic.
(of clergy) not bound by a religious rule.

Hence, with regard to the above –

Is not the spirit of our secular republic against the State subsidy of the Haj (which the Supreme Court had to order to be given up in a phased manner) as that amounts to its showing concern with the spiritual matters of the Muslims?

Is not the penchant of the Musalmans for the madrasa education for their children that stresses upon Islamic separatist dogma against the spirit of our secular republic?

Is not the assertion of the mullahs that they are bound by the sharia, the rule book of Islam, tantamount to the negation of the secular ethos of our remodelled republic?

The Right To Freedom Of Religion: What It Means In A Land Of Religious Diversity

Be that as it may, in spite of Indira’s unholy amendment, as the Indian constitution remained a holy cow, Narasimha Rao had to let it go, besides, he happened to be a congressman and had to run a minority government at that.

Nevertheless, the article of the ‘Original’ Indian Constitution with regard to “Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion” exhorts thus:

Subject to public order, morality, and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise, and propagate religion.

Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any existing law or prevent the State from making any law-

(a) regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice;

(b) providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus.”

Agreed, the right of the citizen for the profession and practice of one’s religion is unexceptionable for it constitutes the birthright. But, why should an ordinary Indian citizen be concerned about the propagation of his faith for the constitution to grant it to him? Besides, where does the right of an Indian citizen for the propagation of his faith leave his fellow citizen’s cultural need for preservation of his own order, sanãtana dharma in the case of the Hindus? After all, the right of propagation is but the right to spread one’s religion, and one cannot do that without coming into direct conflict with another’s religious faith or dharma, as the case may be, can any?

It’s thus, as one citizen’s right to propagate his faith vitiates the right of another to profess and practice his religion, India’s Constitution by granting the right for the propagation of one’s religion per se, willy-nilly takes away another’s implied right for the preservation of his own faith. Besides, to what avail is the right to propagate one’s religion for the citizen rather than to fuel the zeal of the religious zealots for converting?

And what about the ‘FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation that the constitution provides for! What of the individual dignity of those Hindus whom the evangelists try to lure into the Christian fold, for them to embrace the Son of an alien God! Thus, is not the creed of the Church to propagate its faith that causes the poor of the land to lose their dignity is at odds with our constitutional spirit itself? Besides, as the raison d’être of religious propagation is conversion, wouldn’t that individual right prove inimical to the unity and integrity of the Nation?

Hinduism And Judaism Are The World’s Oldest Surviving Religions

However, going by the hell raised by the missionaries, the mullahs, their political cohorts, and the co-opted media, at any move by the State to disfavour fraudulent conversions, the popular belief is that the right for propagation is without any constitutional or moral strings attached to it! Only when the clamour for the future partitions of India on religious lines picks up, would a Western historian be able to spot the constitutional blind spots that gave rise to the development! Yes, it needs Western intellectuals even to see it all in the hindsight even, for India’s left-leaning political analysts and Islamapologist liberals are notoriously blind to the realities of Indian life and times.

Whatever, what’s the rationale of religious propagation based on which the framers of the constitution granted that to its citizens? Though Hinduism and Judaism, the world’s oldest surviving religions, are content with their constituencies, it is Christianity and Islam, the new brands in the religious marketplace that hanker for conversions, of course, having come into being through propagation.

Indeed, their religious spread worldwide is owing to their creed as enshrined in their Scriptures per se. If not all, most Christian missionaries and every Musalman mullah entertain the dream of seeing the world turn all Christian or all Islamic as the case may be; after all, that’s what their scriptures ordain and their religious creed obliges them to do so, and in the Indian context one has to contend with the jihadi penchant to transform Hindustan into Ghazwa-e-Hind.

It thus defies logic as to how our constitution-makers, who went about the exercise in the immediate wake of the country’s partition on religious lines, thought it fit to endorse the propagation of one’s faith, read the Christian and the Islamic, in the Hindu midst! Well, it’s the illusionism of Gandhi that became the idealism of the Congress which influenced the Constituent Assembly of just-partitioned India. And that shows.

How strange then, that the constitution exhibits a singular lack of application of mind of its framers to secure India’s integrity as a constituent country for all times to come. Sadly this, the wise-heads of that time, not to speak of the foresight, lacked the hindsight even. God forbid, they seemed to have unwittingly laid the seeds of a future partition of the Hindustan, whose wings Jinnah had already truncated. But, would this religious ‘constitutional’ error ever be erased from our statute before history gets repeated! Doubtful though.

Dalit Emancipation Lies In Bringing About Hindu Reformation From Within

If all this were Ambedkar’s idea of a religious safety valve for the disenchanted Dalits, the then Harijans, yet it would be a betrayal of India’s cause. However, the true Dalit emancipation lies in bringing about the Hindu reformation from within and not in their opting out of the faith, and surely that wouldn’t have been beyond Ambedkar’s robust intellectual grasp. More significant is his own understanding of the Islamic credo that he articulated thus:

Hinduism is said to divide people and in contrast, Islam is said to bind people together. This is only a half-truth. For Islam divides as inexorably as it binds. Islam is a close corporation and the distinction that it makes between Muslims and non-Muslims is a very real, very positive, and very alienating distinction. The brotherhood of Islam is not the universal brotherhood of man. It is the brotherhood of Muslims for Muslims only. There is a fraternity, but its benefit is confined to those within that corporation. For those who are outside the corporation, there is nothing but contempt and enmity. The second defect of Islam is that it is a system of social self-government and is incompatible with local self-government because the allegiance of a Muslim does not rest on his domicile in the country which is his but on the faith to which he belongs. To the Muslim ‘ibi bene ibi patria’ (where you feel good, there is your home) is unthinkable. Wherever there is the rule of Islam, there is his own country. In other words, Islam can never allow a true Muslim to adopt India as his motherland and regard a Hindu as his kith and kin. That is probably the reason why Maulana Mahomed Ali, a great Indian but a true Muslim, preferred to be buried in Jerusalem rather than in India.”

Thus, he would not have been oblivious to the inimical consequences of affording a free religious leash to the moulvis to lead the Musalmans on a separatist course in the partitioned Hindu majority India, but yet that’s what precisely he did! Surely, one can understand Babasaheb’s hurt that made him vow not to die a Hindu, and, indeed, he did keep his word by embracing Buddhism before his death, but whether he wished the comeuppance of the Hindus at the hands of the Musalmans, one might never know.

Now, over to the “Freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in certain educational institutions” that the constitution stipulates.

(1) No religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of State funds.

(2) Nothing in clause (1) shall apply to an educational institution which is administered by the State but has been established under any endowment or trust which requires that religious instruction shall be imparted in such institution.

(3) No person attending any educational institution recognized by the State or receiving aid out of State funds shall be required to take part in any religious instruction that may be imparted in such institution or to attend any religious worship that may be conducted in such institution or in any premises attached thereto unless such person or, if such person is a minor, his guardian has given his consent thereto.”

A Secular State Should Ideally Keep Itself Away From Religious Instruction

The sum and substance of the freedom of religious instruction are that the State, in true secular spirit, is expected to keep itself away from it (religious instruction) in the physical sense, and no more. However, the catch here is that religious education is fine so long as the government does not fund it for that allows the State to retain its secular pretense by keeping itself overtly out of religion.

Even otherwise, one would expect the constitutional makers to address the content of the religious education to serve the needs of the communities concerned, without compromising the general public order and good, but they failed ‘India that is Bharat’ in that respect as well.

Well, every community needs some amongst them to undergo religious education to meet its spiritual and social needs in accordance with the tenets of its faith and feelings. That should at once be the scope as well as the limitation of religious education, isn’t it? So as to cater to these legitimate needs of a given religious group, the required religious education with or without the government funding forms a fundamental communal right of the members of that group.

Right, but what if in the name of freedom of religious instruction, the dogmas of such faiths, given to deride the religious beliefs of fellow citizens, are sought to be inculcated in an unwieldy number of members of that community? Won’t such a move hamper the secular character of the country besides inculcating religious bigotry in the mind-set of any given community?

Obviously, the framers of the constitution, but for Ambedkar, arguably Islamic naive, couldn’t delve deep enough into the vexatious subject of religious intolerance of the practicing faiths in the country. What is worse, this supposed constitutional religious goodness came in handy for the ugly politician to turn it into an exploitative mask for the minorities’ votes in the election seasons.

It is one thing to espouse the cause of the minorities and another to abet the bigotry of the Musalmans and the prejudices of the Christians. Sadly, for the minorities, more so for the Musalmans our politicians tend to be on the right side of their wrong issues to the benefit of none, save themselves.

Yet, it has become fashionable in the Indian politico-social discourse to juxtapose secularism and communalism that is with a matching ignorance about the latter for communalism is “a principle of political organization based on federated communes.”

No wonder that even seventy-one years after its independence, as India is still groping for its political direction in ideological darkness, thanks to the Semitic promiscuity that the Indian constitution grants, for the human rights activists, the Musalmans and the Xians holding on to their scriptural dogmas is kosher, but the right of the Hindus to articulate their religious sentiments or cultural concerns, and/or both is sheer religious intolerance, and that’s perplexing.

In the light of the above may be seen the hollowness of the fundamental duties Indira’s infamous amendment imposes upon the citizens that are rarely if ever, fulfilled by the rulers themselves.

While it is incumbent upon the citizenry “to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women” –

– the political ethos has been to cynically reap electoral dividends by exacerbating social dissensions based on region, religion, caste et al.

While it is the fundamental right of the citizen “to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform” –
a) The State had failed its Hindus to rein in the caste panchayats that tend to lynch the inter-caste couples and
b) The politicians, who treat the Musalmans as a vote-bank had neither encouraged them to inculcate the spirit of inquiry nor provided them an environment conducive for reform.

Whatever, owing to the vacuity of verbiage in the over the 100k word-long Indian Constitution, a rabid Islamic obscurantist and a dyed-in-the-wool Hindu nationalist have been able to pin their juxtaposing positions, with equal aplomb, and that’s ironical.

However, while the Hindu secular habit of left-lib brainwash would like to equivocate the Jai Sriram chants with the Musalman rant of Allah Hu Akbar, one needs to understand the latter in the context of azan (call to prayer) the muezzins’ five-time a day call to the faithful for Islamic prayers, which reads thus:

“Allah is the Greatest,

I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah,

I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah,

Come to Prayer,

Come to success.

Allah is the Greatest

There is none worthy of worship except Allah.”

It is thus, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs et al of India, and of the world, have to endure the azan, blaring from the loudspeakers of their neighborhood mosques five times daily, which, besides offending their own belief-system is bound to hurt their religious sentiments. But no one is seemingly caring, not even the evolved Christian West.

That is not all, wonder how the inimical quranic tirades of the Musalmans against kafirs in mosques, madrasas, and mohallas reconcile with their fundamental duties as Indian citizens that are stipulated in the Indian Constitution, as under, is anybody’s guess.

“PART IVA, 51A. It shall be the duty of every citizen of India

(e) to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic, and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women.”

Also, the Christian proselytizers as Indian citizenry fare no better in their constitutional compliance for besides branding Hindus as heathens, they label their deities as false.

Needless to say, the copy (from other constitutions) and paste (in the Indian Constitution) work of the so-called framers of our constitution, comprising of the Semitic-naïve caste Hindus and a well-informed, though embittered Dalit, as argued above, needs a pragmatic overhaul, for which the level of Hindu awareness about the Abrahamic outrage against their sanātana dharma has to raise to self-respecting heights of Himalayan proportions, hopefully.

So, it is time for WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, over seventy years after our fathers, or be it, grandfathers, had adopted the constitution, to factor the new realities into a more equitable document? After all, isn’t the level playing field the theme song of the modern world order? And the Hindu emotional grievance is that they are denied just that in the religious plane in the country that their forbears made their own before all others.

[This is part of the author’s Puppets of Faith: Theory of Strife (A Critical Appraisal of Islamic Faith, Indian Polity ‘n More) that’s in the public domain as a free ebook]

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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.

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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)’.

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.

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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.”

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.

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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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