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The Farmers Protest Is Proof, A Movement Carrying The Essence Of Truth Is Never Fragile

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Almost two months have passed by and the solidarity with the farmers has only increased. All of it had begun long before the central government cared to pay heed to the matter. On 26 November last year, the nation got to see a glimpse of what had been happening and is now taking place. Today, ironically on Republic Day, the treatment bring meted out to farmers is appalling with tear gas being used on protesting farmers.

Protests in Punjab strengthened when the government abruptly passed the farm ordinances in the Parliament. Over 2 months of continuous peaceful protests in Punjab and Haryana took place, yet, the Centre paid no attention to the matter. This added to the anger of farmers.

Constitution Day this year looked quite hypocritical. While we were being reminded about the adaption of our constitution and the rights it provides us, Haryana and Punjab borders depicted a tremendously different scenario.

Protesting peacefully is a right provided to us by our constitution. But farmers marching towards Delhi faced police atrocities. And yet they proceeded as they dismantled the obstacles being added on their way. Fighting tear gas shells, water cannons and cemented barricades, they made their way to the borders of Delhi.

Vulnerability is Defeated by Chardi Kala

farmers sleeping
We are oblivious to the fact that lakhs are sleeping under the sky as the chilled wind hugs them.

Protesters are continuing to bear the biting cold while many of us continue to ignore it all. We sleep comfortably under our roofs, ignoring all the prestige we have and still take the food on our plates for granted.

We are unseeing the fact that lakhs are sleeping under the sky as the chilled wind hugs them. Not all of them are youngsters demanding their rights. There are elders worried about losing all they made their whole lives. There is the youth protesting for what it deserves and what it sees being taken away.

The world is watching and, yet, individuals with no proper knowledge on the matter continue to question the little comfort people at the Delhi borders have. At the present day, we’ve become the people of a nation where our rulers are scared of unity. The same unity, while diversity prevailed, our nation once was proud of. But sadly all of that no longer exists. It takes a second for a few sitting in their blankets to call this revolution a fest.

Well, they need to be reminded that it could appear to be a fest to them, but it is no celebration. It is a wake-up call to you, sending out reminders that democracy is dying; the democracy under which the government is supposed to be of the people, for the people and by the people. The same definition we learnt as students is a lie today.

Yet, there are individuals, and to highlight, “literate” individuals trapped in a fairy-lights lit Ferris wheel of lies. If you assume it is about the farmers’ ego, your assumptions are wrong because it is about their lives.

A Broken Democracy

All of this caught the media’s attention and everybody else, but it took no time for some to create false allegations against the agitating farmers. Creating an atmosphere of emotional vulnerability was no great of a task for those who held the intentions of turning the protest into a violent site.

And once again we saw pro-government individuals, even at superior levels, labelling the protestors with their favourite labels. To name a few would be anti-nationals, terrorists, mislead, the opposition-led. Since the protest was primarily led by Punjab, how could some stereotyped minds not bring up the term Khalistani, not giving a thought to the fact that these “anti-nationals” and “terrorists” have been so kind as to feed a whole nation.

Despite all of this continuing on social media, farmers protesting from Punjab and Haryana and various other states have dealt with this while keeping “chardi kala” intact. It takes a balance of anger and calm to keep a protest peaceful, growing into a revolution, no matter how direct or indirect the attacks are.

People at the borders of the capital have got their backs. It is through the details of the efforts each one of them puts in. From serving langar, opening schools at the protest sites for children from slum areas to introducing their own newsletter Trolley Times, they’ve done it all to amplify their voices.

But still, our government acts as if we live in a prosperous dreamland. Not only are they amplifying their voices for their benefit, but also yours, which many have not observed yet.

While we scroll through Instagram and Twitter, seeing trends and exchange radical ideas, why do many choose to be silent? Why do we decide to keep our support unforthcoming when we know it is not about being political or apolitical. Today, it is about the people who feed the world’s second-largest population, no matter how adverse the situation is. Present at the protest sites or not, the articles, photographs and videos through this protest have proved how the youth has started to get back to history to learn the lessons they likely missed.

Through the past, sufficient revolutions have taken place and never has a revolution grown to be fragile. Never has the same been defeated. The one we get to witness today displays the people’s audacity and their resentment with the exploitation of their rights. This escalating revolution that has created history has sent out a message that a movement carrying the essence of truthfulness is never fragile. Revolutions are proof of how authoritarian rules have been dismantled.

How far victory is nobody knows. But what is known through all this is the living fact that the nation we live in today has its democracy in the form of a castle built somewhere in the air. If today it is the farmers’ livelihood, tomorrow it could be yours. Assuming not standing up for the right is a good choice is the biggest folly you could commit today.

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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.

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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
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