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Opinion: From Twitter To Road Blocks, Is India Crossing Into Dictatorship?

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India witnessed another attack on freedom of speech when several Twitter accounts which include those belonging to Kisan Ekta Morcha and the Caravan are now blocked in India after the Union government sent a legal notice to Twitter.

The Twitter accounts that have been obstructed include Kisan Ekta Morcha, The Caravan India, Manik Goyal, Tractor2twitr, jatt_junction and more. It appears Twitter has gotten a legal notification to hinder a few Twitter accounts having a place with farmers associations, activists, and media bunches that were tweeting on composers’ fights against the homestead bill.

As per India Today, government authorities said that Twitter had been approached to hinder more than 250 records or tweets that were utilizing a particular hashtag. The MEITY (IT Ministry) has impeded around 250 Tweets and Twitter accounts that were utilizing the #ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide hashtag and making counterfeit, intimidatory, and provocative Tweets on Saturday, January 30, authorities said. India Today learns, there are around 120 records and 230 tweets. Sources said that the public authority hailed these tweets and records to forestall the heightening of peace gave the on-going farmer agitation.

Indian Farmers have been protesting since three controversial farm bills were passed without much debate in Parliament. President of India Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent for the bills despite intensifying protests across the nation by farmers and opposition political parties.

Earlier, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting announced that they are going to censor the OTT content which is apparently below the belt or in simple words the sexual content.

A gazette notification signed by the President of India, the central government has brought digital audio-visual content, including films and web shows, news and current affairs on online platforms under the ambit of the ministry of information and broadcasting.

Now, the question arises: is Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party-led government wanting to control the country from every aspect? Is India heading towards dictatorship? Well, from attacking Bollywood actors for baseless reasons, the arrest of journalists, and filing FIR against those who oppose the government seems that we will enter into dictatorship very soon. The point of dissent is ending in the largest democracy in the world.

Freedom of expression is restricted to only one section of the public which is those who contribute to the current narrative of the government.

Last year, the protest against CAA- NRC, revocation of article 370 or 14(a) (without taking people in Kashmir in favour), and connectivity shutdown in Kashmir are some of the examples. The whole nation is filled with rage against the few policies of the government. It seems like the Modi-led government is in no mood to back off on these issues. It seems like the government is not considering public opinion anymore.

Nowadays, how it works is that if you speak against the government policies, you get a tag of anti-national or Pakistani either by supporters of BJP or members of the government as well.

From Democracy To Dictatorship

The basic difference between a democracy and a dictatorship comes down to means and ends. Democracy is about means, not ends. If we all agreed on the ends (such as should we make Hindi compulsory throughout the nation?), there’d be no need for democracy.

But of course, we don’t agree, which is why we resolve our differences through a common process. The process includes a Constitution, a system of government based on the rule of law, and an independent judiciary.

A dictatorship, by contrast, is only about ending. Those ends are the goals of the dictator- at a minimum, accumulating and preserving personal power. To achieve those ends, a dictator will use any means necessary.

The Fourth Pillar Of ‘Democracy’

Now, a lot of people may be thinking: what media is doing in all this? Well, a section of the media, especially electronic media, becomes participants in politics rather than observers and reporters. There is a shift in the views of media personalities. The media has allowed itself to be pushed down this slippery slope. There are many issues when we see a sense of deep joy and comfort with the ruling government. The question everyone but the ruling regime.

Media or Journalism is called the fourth pillar of democracy. The entire audience depends on the media for all the happenings of nations. But interestingly, today, there is a deep desire, even among the moderate sections of the media, to make their peace with the powerful people by terming it as a “balanced” act.

Hence, no one is talking about other important matters and they get ignored because of influential persons. Recently, the electronic media ran clips of farmers fighting with police personnel but didn’t show the section of protesters who were conducting peaceful agitation.

From calling them Khalistani to Chinese influenced or Pakistani, they have done it all and it seems that this pattern is not going to change anytime soon. Last year’s Maharashtra’s political conflict is another example, taking the power in a state at midnight questions the intentions of the government but also somehow disrespect the national constitution. The nationwide protest against the CAA, NRC, and NPR shows the anger of the public towards the union government.

Modi’s norm-breaking is unsettling, to be sure, but the more fundamental offence is that he continuously sacrifices means to build party power.

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  1. mrin pk

    It isn’t JUST unsettling, it’s downright terrifying, because this is a clear and sure indicator that this country is headed towards being Modi’s dictatorship!
    The congress party of india is undoubtedly corrupt to the very core, but despite all the awful things that they’ve happily done to this country, in nearly 60 years of dynastic rule they haven’t yet attempted to make this country into their own little dictatorship.
    Modi is proving that he’s always had dictator dreams. He’s doing all the things that Hitler once did, and is rising to power and nurturing his insane cult fan following the same way that Hitler did- by focussing on differences between castes and religions that never mattered that much to the people before he came to power, by drawing lines between different groups of people, by creating prison camps for muslim people who cant prove that they were born in India…

    And despite the horrific way in which he and his messed up government did the de-monetisation and the atrocious lockdowns that killed so many people because it was so badly planned, the general public isn’t protesting all that and demanding that Modi the dictator step down from his post as the PM of this country, a post he is found to be most unworthy of.

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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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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.”

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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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