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“Dissent, Unity, Integrity Are Basic Features Of The Indian Constitution”

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It is also a matter for consideration whether making a change in a basic feature of the Constitution can be regarded merely as an amendment or would it be, in effect, rewriting a part of the Constitution…?”  – Justice J.R Mudholkar

India is going to celebrate its 71st year of being a republic. Successively, the country has been honouring the day for seventy years. This is the day of public governance. In all these years, the country is celebrating the moment with pride of its republic and secular democracy. The ecstatic spirit of every citizen synthesized and shared to each other with the oath of consistency for the heart-cost constitution excelling the world accord. The air conjured up its speed with the unfurling tri-colour national flag. National anthem blended with the beats of the heart. This year is to experience such a mirthful moment with the further fortification of the constitution as the ‘save the constitution’ has been booming since late months.

The gravity of ‘save the constitution’ is not being weak and blunt. It’s the sense of preserving the constitution – the fundament law of people. It’s the angry voice against the provocation of its basic constitutional structures.  Its makers framed it as adaptable and amendable at the prospect of running the nation with present-day pace (Article 768). Under the ambit of this provision, its ‘basic structure’ can’t be violated. The apolitical verdict of the Supreme Court prevails over the overwhelming approval of political motions in the parliament. That’s the basic feature of the Indian Constitution that the guaranteed fundamental rights of the citizens can’t be replaced either by the central or the state power. It’s a kind of flexibility and rigidity. When India gained sovereignty from the shackles of British imperialism and enacted its own Constitution, citizens came first. Therefore, the country will not call for any other era of tyranny by conferring her ‘general will’ to a special sort of elites. Till that time, the infrastructural features of the country laid out in the constitutional values will remain immortal.

Representational image.

There is no defined content for the basic structure of the constitution. Views have been exchanged in different observations with the relevance to issue and time by different justices. The basic framework of the constitution, at a standstill, can be marked as encompassing timely necessities, contents and objectives of the preamble and fundamental values. In the same section republic government, independent judiciary, federal and secular implementation of the constitution is more-like to count.  However, it is of enough importance as deserves precedence over parliamentary supremacy. The parliament enjoys limited power of amending it as the parliament itself is the fruit of the constitution. Its provocation is alleged as unconstitutional or invalid. The apex court only is considered as an interpreter of the basic structure.

Since recent history, there are several cases depicting a conflict between the court and parliament. It started from the famous Fundamental Rights Case (1973) where the limited power of parliament was ascertained as unlimited for amending the basic constitutional features. The dissent gave birth to the basic structure doctrine.

Abrogation of the basic constitutional structure begets the atmosphere of Indian polity and heritage. Consequently, the unity of citizens experiences a harsh threat that had been restored in secularism by the Himalayan effort of Constituent Assembly and Drafting Committee of Dr B.R. Ambedkar in spite of different castes, religions and languages in the country. That’s why the unity and integrity of the nation are also considered as a basic feature of the Indian constitution. The late chaos of protests across the country for the safeguard of its Single Citizenship feature mostly spearheaded by literate sects including lawmakers is, somehow, against a case of such discriminatory and divisive power play.

            The constitution of India is accredited as the world bulkiest and longest written constitution as it is the supreme law of all people from the vast diversity of faith, ritual, culture and language in India. Thus India becomes the largest democratic country in the earth. This is not a granted fame. Rather, it’s the identity of India and its heritage which is still preserved in the shield of the Indian constitution. Every civilian body of the country is responsible to defend this popularity of pure heritage.  Any short jab can harm and damage it. They should stand proclaiming ‘We, the people of India…’ and imparting the spirit of consistency for the heart-cost constitution.

Government is by the people and for the people. People’s will is the general will of the nation. The value of Satyagrah is one of the principal lessons of Mahatma Gandhi – father of the nation. Silencing before asatya is the ethical and moral sin of all Indian nationals. In this count, recent agitations ranging from CAA, against Love Jihad and Farmers’ protests are not merely disagreement; rather these are voices for the sake of the country. Changes are not denied; however ensuing consequences are alarmed and fore-focused. Policies, in regard to changing circumstances, is to be modified but, in a thoughtful and productive way that a group or a community is not effected with disadvantages because of some ‘mistakes’.  Then the crowd-puller call of ‘for all’ becomes in the true sense. Yet, the general will is not considered and everything is passed and allowed. Then it becomes ‘rewriting’ the constitution; not safeguarding.

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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, 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.

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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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