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Opinion: How The State Has Neglected ‘WE, The People Of India’ Time And Again

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Significance Of ‘Constitutional Ideals’ In India

Without securing to Indian citizens the ideals enumerated in the preamble to Indian constitution such as “JUSTICE, LIBERTY, EQUALITY and FRATERNITY”, the legislature’s attempt to derive legislative power from the constitution and the implementation of such power by the executive are no less than a fraud committed with “WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA”. The arrangement of words in the preamble makes the above proposition clear.

The “enactment” of the constitution is preceded by words like “resolved” and “secure”. So, the ultimate object of each provision of Indian constitution seems to secure to Indian citizens: justice, liberty, equality and fraternity and to assure the dignity of individual and unity and integrity of the nation. Every Act, rule, law and by-laws made by parliament or any state legislature should be heading towards constituting India into a “SOCIALIST, SECULAR, DEMOCRATIC”.

The significance of these ideals can be understood by analyzing the earliest draft of preamble with the present one.

The preamble.

In the earliest draft, the preamble was something formal and read: “We, the people of India, seeking to promote the common good, do hereby, through our chosen representative, enact, adopt and give to ourselves this constitution”. (Shiva Rao’s Framing of India’s constitution-A study- p.127).

It seems that the framers’ colonial experience and the partition of British India into India and Pakistan, played a vital role in the modification of the earliest draft of the preamble. They witnessed the erosion of ideals like ‘fraternity’ during partition. So, they changed the preamble. One of the crucial points which is to be observed from the transition of the preamble is that the constitution would end up as non-living black letter without preamble.

The preamble makes the constitution a living document. The government derives legislative power from the constitution after making a promise enshrined in the preamble as constitutional ideals. The government’s duty is to fulfil these promises after assuming power. If the government deviates from fulfilling these promises, then it would “morally” lose its authority given by “We, The people”.

Representational image.

Locating ‘Constitutional Ideals’ In Legislative Intent And Executive Action Of State

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 amended the Citizenship Act, 1956 by which religion was made a criterion for acquiring citizenship for the first time after enactment of the constitution. The Muslim refugees were not included in the list of those community which would acquire citizenship. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 would hardly go successfully through the parameters of constitutional ideals enshrined in the preamble if it is evaluated in the light of preamble of the constitution of India.

The CAA is not consistent with the communal harmony of the Indian society. Muslim community felt betrayal by the enactment of the CAA, 2019.

The constitutional ideals such as fraternity were kept at bay while implementing such an act which does not take in to account the community to which the constitution of India does not segregate from others. The legislative intent of the legislature drafting such as a bill forgot to read the constitution of India in harmony with Preamble.

The farmers’ agitation across India against new farm laws which introduces contract farming and other provisions which affect farmers interest is to be looked through constitutional ideals when one seeks to check its constitutionality. Although, it is settled by the apex court that when there is a question of the constitutionality of any law, one has to incline towards holding it as constitutional.

However, the problem arises is not of its test of constitutionality but legislative intent. The legislature hardly acknowledges the fact that many farmers in India don’t own a big piece of land which produces many tones of crops. Many farmers own small piece of land and they produce for their family, not for selling. So, these farmers are not going to trade their produce into other states for money. The idea of contract farming, prima facie, has an implicit error which would serve no better purpose than to reduce the price of crops. The preamble carries a constitutional ideal like socialist which the state is required to uphold through its policy and law.

The U.P. government in last year published the name of the protesters in the newspaper and it took to seize their property for causing destruction to public properties.

A protest is not a crime but it is a Gandhian virtue.

The whole freedom movement against the British East India company was carried by protesting by Gandhi and other freedom fighters. The UP government seems to forget the Indian national movement. The trinity of the ideals: equality, liberty and fraternity were the result of the French revolution in which there were many protests against the monarch by the people.

The idea of protest rests at the heart of ideal trinity: equality, liberty and fraternity.

The framers consciously added the trinity to keep reminding to “WE, The People” across the ages that the people should not sacrifice their ideal trinity. The U.P. Government breached many times its constitutional promises made to the people. The protesters’ right to privacy was breached which is part of the right to life and liberty.

Featured image is for representational purposes only.
Featured image source: INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images)
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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.

Read more about the campaign here.

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.

Read more about the campaign here.

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.

Bidisha was selected in’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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