This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Akshay S. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

72 Years A Republic, But This Community Hasn’t Gotten A Share Of ‘Vikas’

More from Akshay S

TW: Caste-based violence

Democracy, socialism, secularism, social justice: Our Constitution is decorated with ‘big’ words. As of today, we Indians have supposedly spent 72 years on the path laid down by this Constitution. But a significant section of our Indian society has been left behind in this journey. Who is this section that is ‘behind’ us? There is no need to search far.

A groom was beaten up just because he rode a horse, a pregnant woman was killed because she has touched someone’s water pot, a 22-year-old boy lost his life because he wasn’t provided with safety equipment while cleaning a deep sewer, a 21-year-old boy was killed for eating in front of ‘upper-caste’ men, and this list doesn’t end here. All these people belong to a section that has been left behind: India’s Dalit communities.

Representational image.

We’ve been witness, and continue to witness, such cases that happen all across India. If our Constitution talks of ‘social justice’ and ‘equality’, why did all these instances even happen? Why are people from certain communities forced to live a life in conditions that we cannot even imagine? I feel there have been mistakes, some short-comings, that we didn’t acknowledge, as a society, and by the subsequent governments that have been running the country. But, tell me, which government has come to power in this country that actually believed “Yes, we have made a mistake, we could have done better“? I leave the answer to you.

The reasons for injustice and ‘backwardness’ in our country, I feel, can be narrowed down to economic and social factors. The caste system stands at the top among social causes, a system that is still a dominant part of our country, a country that we have started calling ‘New India‘. If the status quo issues could chang just by coming up with slogans, it would have changed in the past itself when Indira Gandhi had given the Garibi Hatao slogan. Only a few years ago someone gave the Achhe Din aane wale hai slogan. Everyone knows how many “Achhe Din have come. This happens because we are addicted to slogans and drama. But, when hungry, you seek bread, not slogans.

‘Republic’ is a good word, isn’t it? It is supposed to mean a system created by people, for people, so that society can progress. We have ‘progressed’, but the rate of progress isn’t the same. Today, the top 10% of so-called upper-caste families in India own 60% of the wealth. In this situation, how do our leaders talk about equality, prosperity, and social justice?

Perhaps they live in a New India, an India where the caste system has ended, an India where no one’s caste is seen while voting in elections, an India where people are not intimidated after being told their religion is in ‘danger‘. Maybe in their India, the Prime Minister of the country does not identify the people by their clothes, maybe it is an India where the political opponents are not called “anti-national”, such an India where writers and poets are not put into jails. Maybe they live in an India where no one has to enter a sewer to clean it, where neither one has to beg nor be killed in the name of God. But, how many of you really think that our India is like this?

Created by Akshay S

Do you believe 'caste' is the thing of past ?

The question is, can we millennials truly free our India from casteism? Will casteism be eradicated just by ‘removing’ reservation or just by renaming old policies, or even just launching new policies? I don’t think I can answer this alone. We all have to find the answer to this, together. But there are some things that we can all do easily. We should not elect a politician who seeks votes in the name of religion and caste. Rather, we should choose someone who talks about social justice, electricity, water, health, education, and climate change. We cannot treat the disease without diagnosing it.

We have to acknowledge that casteism exists and that it is making our country hollow. Until we accept this, we can never truly eradicate casteism.

Be it the education system, media, politics or bureaucracy, even the criminal justice system, there is no place where discrimination is not carried out in the name of caste. I can cite data from various organisations, including the government itself, which proves that there are very few people from the Bahujan communities who have a place in the decision-making roles. Don’t you think that’s injustice? If your answer is yes, then do not sit silent just by showing sympathy to the Bahujan communities. You will have to raise voice against casteism with the Bahujans because this is your fight as well.

caste politics
Representational image.

Did our freedom fighters fight the British just for power? They fought because they wanted us to make our own decisions. People who are puppets of the powerful cronies can never build a new India. I know the caste system is very powerful, and it can’t be destroyed overnight. But, if we do not even start to oppose this, then the casteist structure will only become stronger and will push the Dalits of India into the same deep moat from which they are trying to get out.

Note: The author is part of the current batch of the Jaati Nahi, Adhikaar Writer’s Training Program. Head here to know more about the program and to apply for an upcoming batch!

This post is part of theJaati Nahi, Adhikaar Writers' Training Program, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz with National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights & Safai Karamchari Andolan, to demand implementation of scholarships in higher education for SC/ST students, and to end the practice of manual scavenging. Click here to find out more and apply.

You must be to comment.

More from Akshay S

Similar Posts

By IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

By Ritwik Trivedi

By Suranya

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below