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Our History Is That Of The Ruling Class, Not Of The Masses

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What do we think about revolution? Who will lead the revolution? Who will participate in it? Who will be against your revolutionary goal? These are some questions which should be in our discourse, in our day-to-day life. But vast toiling masses are deeply involved and trapped under the ruling class narrative and interpretation of life given to them.

Most people are under the crises of unemployment and hunger, on the brink of extreme poverty and lack of production means. They never think about the cause of their misery, the byproduct of ruling class hegemony on resources. Precisely, they prefer to join the rank of bureaucracy and army because glory and dignity have been attached to it.

What is dignity? This is the first question we need to ask ourselves. Historically, we have been marginalised since time immemorial by this ruling class bureaucracy. Women, Dalit, Tribals — all suppressed under the toe of this oppressive system. Our aspiration of freedom has been suffering under the garb of competition and statist qualification of “eligible” and “non-eligible”.

What do we think about revolution? Revolution is part of society’s development through a radical transformation of its parameters — equality, democracy, freedom. Many of my close colleagues strongly condemn my ideas: “this cannot happen”, “that won’t be happening”. They also accept the reality that this system is oppressive and we cannot breathe in this situation.

Then what’s their problem with joining the revolutionary struggle? Whenever we analyse the situation, we analyse history through the lens of the ruling class narrative, their understanding of history. People also argue that a revolution would be a never-ending process with misery.

We learn about our history from the perspective of the ruling class.

Here we need to change the reading style of history and turn the wheels to the perspective of toiling masses — those who turned the wheel of time through their labour and radical attitude. The State always gives less weightage to the history of resistance, organisation. They do not want people to know about their glorifying history.

In India, we read about Brahmanism, caste and class hegemony in very soft terms, a mechanised way. Let’s explore our history, the history of rebel against atrocities — the pages torn from the books of history. Let’s search, talk to our leaders about the sufferings they have gone through.

Are those summer’s sufferings lost from our sight? Stories of our families have been changed; it covers the real estate heroes. A historically oppressed mother wants to create another oppressor and a fathers aspiration chains us with the idea of social dignity based upon a feudal mindset aspired from a neo-liberal lifestyle.

Just break the ice and start working for democracy. We listen to the chapters of struggle from the boot lickers of neo-liberal culture and seekers of hegemonised power banks. But they never tell the truth.

A woman gets raped and murdered. Without filing an FIR, the police deliver the judgment that it was a suicide. When a journalist wants to cover the case, they are charged under the UAPA and their trial does not start for two years.

On the other side, our honourable supreme court delivers a judgement that justice delayed is justice denied. A movement starts from all corners of the country “to give justice”. A media trial starts from the protector of “democracy”, the fourth pillar.

All those who are against the faulty decision and act of the State are anti-national, pro-Pakistani. After all these tantrums, an economic report publishes that “India will be the fifth-largest economy in the next financial year and our agriculture is the backbone of this development”.

The WTO is open to the idea of Indian agriculture reforms for bringing finance capital, agreeing with the Pradhan Mantri. The farmers across the country opposed this accord as it will destroy our agricultural atmosphere. Water cannon, pellet guns, religious chauvinism, fake UAPA cases are the new normal of the Indian State.

In this harsh situation, the primary task is to establish democracy and democratic aspiration. Without a democratic struggle, there will be no democracy. And the struggle shows the peoples power; they are the key drivers of change.

More than 150 farmers have died while protesting the atrocious farm laws.

Our constitution says that ultimate sovereignty consists of the citizens of India. Every citizen has their importance and a role in making and operating democracy in a progressive and pro-people manner. But when we oppose the idea of development, justice delivery, this State suddenly seizes our sovereign rights from us.

If you are running like a horse in a direction guided by your master, only you can enjoy democracy. From the beginning of the history of sovereignty, Hobbs stated that human rights (the right to life) must be secured by the State. Are we sure that every life is equal in this State?

More than 150 farmers have died while protesting the atrocious farm laws. 13 people were killed at Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu for opposing the Sterlite project. The ultimate sovereignty exists inside the State machinery, not in people. This is the story of every bourgeois nation in the West and every semi-colonial semi-feudal State in the South.

How can the State damage our soul and aspiration of democratic assertion, fighting spirit? On the occasion of the 72nd Republic Day, I will ask some direct question to our youth.

Have you ever wondered why the government is slowly inching towards the informalisation of jobs and promoting armed forces vacancies in India? We need to discuss the State covering up a woman getting raped by goons but parallelly promoting women to join high ranks in the security forces, police.

We need to discuss the class and age of those joining these ranks in the army, armed forces. The India State is playing with our crisis, which has been created by them. The crisis of job, unemployment, separate religious belief, caste, etc.

Indian security forces have a maximum number of recruits from the working-class and peasantry. On the other hand, they are trying to cut labourers’ wages, looting the lands of farmers for industrialists and protecting the industry built on that land. They deploy the CISF and CRPF to control the masses and resistance.

The State reproduces itself from the contradiction of the masses. We are paying through our nose and this leadership always fools us through the agenda of religion, the glory of flag and dress code. But behind this blind glorification, they try to trap our emotions from the band of pride and honour. They offer us rewards for muzzling the voices of the vast masses. And we frame our individual under the frame of a devastating glory.

Our education system, now under the direct control of neoliberal policies, never tries to promote our consciousness to think freely. Our teachers are preaching the history of oppression, resistance of masses in a very low volume and under the State’s narrative. They always promote us to become a doctor, engineer, IAS officer, etc.

We always say that investigative news reporting was the reality of a time which has passed. But we need to condemn the idea of teaching which has lost the idea of introspection, investigation. They are pumping the idea of the State inside our mind. They accept that might is right, but in very regressive terms. They reduce the capability of students and themselves to criticise the system.

Educational institutions are not challenging the dominating idea of the State. “Be with change” is the new normal and the kind of normal being normalised is unquestioned. First and foremost, the reason for no sense of freedom, right, equality, secularism, etc. is that there is no bourgeois revolution happening in India yet.

Institutional worship is the byproduct of feeling intellectually and rationally inferior. Most people think that our rule-makers are much smarter than us, but they do not understand the nature of the State because they are practising democracy every 5 years. They don’t realise that they are active participants of this crippled democracy.

The sense of right and claiming freedom are not the idea of God, but this has been achieved through the struggle of vast toiling masses of their age against the established atrocious system. Without people’s leadership, no democracy can sustain.

The feeling of the strict religious divide has been aggravated in the rule of BJP-RSS.

From the beginning of 1947 and before, the India leadership was tilted towards Brahmanical culture and the marginalisation of Muslims as it was part of congress’ politics. The congress also believed in popular vote bank politics and Muslims were a minority.

But the feeling of the strict religious divide has been aggravated in the rule of BJP-RSS. The Citizenship Amendment Act was one of them. No secular country can give citizenship to people based on religion. It is the basic fundamental of any democratic state that they will not take the side of any religion to select citizens.

But that was not the end, this State played with the number of Muslims in the country, comparing it with Hindus in Pakistan. “You cannot promote their population”. They do not consider demography and economic development relations. The whole poverty crisis is driven by the idea of population fluctuation of Muslims.

“Why are most terrorists Musalman?”. “This religion is Kattar and Jehadi“. These propagandas have been circulated through media, campaigning, legislature and court judgements. Historically, every person can sense the religious divide between the Hindu and Muslim population in India, but this divide is getting aggravated.

The media and the Indian State are on the anchor seats to promote this divide. The history of this land is formally divided based on religion. The evidence of this is our New Education Policy. Direct assistance from the State is being provided to the spreader of hate and mob lynchings. The protector of the fundamental rights is now the direct protector of Hindutva right (Babri mosque case, art 370, etc.).

Here, we need to be organised and read the history of people’s movements. Do not be looped under the syllabus and neo-liberal trap of market ideas. Raise your questions, emancipate yourself from the insecurity built in this system.

It is time to say goodbye to be a believer. This is time to introspect and learn from the masses. Whatever we are reading is happening around us. Let’s see the real contradictions through the lens of the masses, not through the windows of so-called intellectuals. 

Why Is Our History Stained With The Narrative Of The Ruling Classes, And Not Masses?

 

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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.

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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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