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Opinion: No, Virat Kohli Is Not Anti-National For Taking A Paternity Leave

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Virat Kohli was granted paternity leave by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). He is all set to miss the remaining test series. Yes, Virat Kohli will go back to India for the birth of his first child. Yes, Virat will lose 26 points in Test Rankings. So, did he commit a crime? Is he anti-national?

Well, according to some people or experts he is. Don’t forget he was on ‘National Duty.’ Here is how people criticized Virat on social media:

Ms Dhoni was captaining India in a World Cup when his daughter was born. He was asked by a reporter whether he missed being in India during his daughter’s birth, to which he replied: “As of now, I am on national duties so I think everything else can wait. The World Cup is a very important campaign.” There is no point comparing Virat’s scenario with Dhoni. The world cup is a more significant or important campaign than a test series.

Let us get this straight; at the end of the day, Virat Kohli is just another sportsperson. He has every right to take paternity leave. That does not make him anti-national. India does not have any provisions of paternity leave to entitle any benefit to the fathers. Government employees are entitled to 15 days of paternity leave, whereas paternity leave for private-sector employees depends on their employers. Like all employees or people, sportspeople can be fathers and mothers and they deserve equal treatment.

Recently, Kane Williamson took paternity leave and he missed out on the last test against West Indies and 1st T20I against Pakistan. Nobody said a word. In July 2020, England captain Joe Root took paternity leave for the birth of his second child. He missed the first test against West Indies. Rohit Sharma, Joe Denly, and Kane Richardson all took paternity leaves. Nobody said a word.

Whether it is memes or random tweets by fans, people always find a way to criticize him and attack him personally. Former Indian cricketer Dilip Doshi and legendary batsman Sunil Gavaskar also commented about Virat’s paternity leave.

“To me, captaining India would be the prime-most thing on my mind. It’s a sinking ship. This is the time when they need their captain the most. If you leave at this time, you are leaving the side to your deputy with a lot of questions unanswered. I only hope and pray that the team shows enough character to come out of this,” Dilip Doshi said on a Facebook Live session on Sportskeeda.

“I know this is a modern phenomenon that people believe that they ought to be by the side of their family and spouses when they deliver a child. But when you are on a national duty… If I put myself in his shoes, I wouldn’t have gone. For me, national duty comes before everything else,” he further added.

Virat Kohli was granted paternity leave by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). People are criticising him on social media.

Well, captaining India is and will be a prime-most thing for any player. Virat Kohli is arguably one of the best batsmen in the world right now. I agree India might be incapacitated without Virat. But Virat has a life outside cricket and some people need to understand that. National duty comes first but not at the cost of your family. We should rather focus on the current squad and how we will play Australia. Because as far as I know, we have ten other players. And the only unanswered question is; who will replace Kohli in the playing XI?

“Another player who will wonder about the rules, but, of course, can’t make any noise about it as he is a newcomer. It is from T. Natarajan. The left-arm yorker specialist who made an impressive debut in the T20 and had Hardik Pandya gallantly offering to share the man of the T20 series prize with him had become a father for the first time even as the IPL playoffs were going on,” Sunil Gavaskar wrote in his column for Sportstar

“He was taken to Australia directly from UAE and then looking at his brilliant performances, he was asked to stay on for the Test series but not as a part of the team but as a net bowler. Imagine that. A match-winner, albeit in another format, being asked to be a net bowler. He will thus return home only after the series ends in the third week of January and get to see his daughter for the first time then. And there is the captain going back after the first Test for the birth of his first child. That’s Indian cricket,” Gavaskar added further.

Well, it is up to an individual. Initially, Varun Chakravarthy was selected for the tour. Later he got injured and Natarajan replaced him. The final call is taken by the player. If management offered Natarajan to stay as a net bowler, he could have said no to the management. Natarajan decided to stay as a net bowler, not management. Hardik Pandya went to see his child after the white ball series. That was Hardik Pandya’s choice. Not management’s. I guess it is high time we should stop criticizing management for everything. Ashwin and Natarajan can come up and say if they are having problems with the management.

Virat Kohli on taking paternity leave: “I wanted to be back home in time to be with my wife for the birth of my first child.”

Virat Kohli did not want to miss the birth of his child. Thus, he went to India. Not to forget, Initially, Virat Kohli was supposed to play three tests at first. But due to quarantine restrictions, he had to leave after the first test.

Virat has achieved many milestones in his career. He led India to a World Cup Semi-Final; Champions Trophy Final. Under his captaincy, India became the Number 1 test team. India won their first test series in Australia under Virat’s captaincy. Virat has always stood up and fought for his country in every way possible.

Milestones would come and go, records will be broken, and history will be re-written. But you would not see your child’s birth again. Maybe it is time for him to enjoy this part of his life as well for a while.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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
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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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