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“The Real Struggle Will Be Fought On Roads, Not Through Social Media Trends”

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“Why aren’t we talking about this?! #FarmersProtest.”

This was tweeted by Jamaican pop singer Rihanna in support of ongoing farmers’ protests in India. After that, eminent environment activist, Greta Thunberg tweeted in support of the Delhi border farmer’s struggle. Previously, in 2019, she had addressed Prime Minister Modi directly and said “ “Dear Mr Modi, you need to take action now against the climate crisis, not just talking about it because if you keep going on like this, doing business as usual, and just talking about and bragging about the little victories, you are going to fail. And if you fail, you are going to be seen as one of the worst villains in human history in the future. And you don’t want that.”

These two tweets aggravated the ongoing social media resistance on farmers’ protests. These tweets have attracted the whole world’s interest towards farmers protest and the anti-farmers act. After the tweets, a hyperbolas situation got created on social media through the trending of #IndiaTogether propaganda.

Many big faces of India came in front to save the ‘sovereignty’ of the country. Gaining a country’s sovereignty through hashtags is not a new trend for the Modi government. But here we need to accept and propagate the words and wounds of the masses, the toiling masses of India.

“This is our internal matter and we know how to deal with it” is a new trending sensation by the Indian state through the “4th branch”.

The psychologically trained and anti-people media are constantly propagating the idea of Hindutva nationality and openly supporting Modi’s anti-people neoliberal propaganda of the imperialist nations. Rihanna is one of the active campaigners of “Black Lives Matter” and has been vocal about issues pertaining to racism. She has raised her voice against the military rule of Myanmar. It is like the idea of a feudal family, where the family matter should be dealt with inside the walls of the house.

The same idea has been suppressing women’s identity since time immemorial on the sludge of feudal patriarchy, more precisely, Brahmanical patriarchy. But here we need to condemn the ‘celebrity nationalism’, which has been historically pumping the pseudo nationalist feeling inside Indian people. TRP seekers and comprador capitalists can not lead the people’s consciousness. There is a huge population who watches cricket, watches movies and listens to songs. But they never realize that those people who are thumping their emotions for the sake of the nation as pride are the biggest looters of people’s labour. And one by one, the false chauvinistic aspirations are getting exposed in front of the masses.

Sachin, Kangana and Akshay can not be and should not be the role model of the country’s youth.

We are facing a real-time brutal human right violations all around the country. Indian state builds a concrete wall and nailed surface for those who produce a crop every year for the whole country. Despite 150 farmers losing their lives amid the protest, our prime minister hasn’t said a single word but remains adamant on their fake announcements of doubling farmers’ income. It is very simple to give the title of terrorist to a person and a huge mass movement.

During this protest, journalist Mandeep Punia got arrested and was brutally beaten up by the Delhi police at Singhu Morcha.

In the history of post-1947,  we witnessed a journalist protest for the release of Mandeep Punia. The resistance has created its own kind of consciousness on the different borders. Freelance journalist, revolutionary students, peasants, labourers, are underling the strong resistance culture of the masses. Media like BBC, NDTV who is covering India’s people’s movement in a very progressive manner, turned hostile against the farmers after the state-led violence incitement.

People’s resistance against this kind of brutal violence of state authority, and snatching right of expression of the masses, will give the power to continue their struggle till victory.

In the Paris climate summit, Modi with the support of many imperialist looters of the world started the International Solar Alliance. Through that convention and the forceful binding imposition of WTO, the Indian government took steps backwards and gave free access to the US solar materials in India. Preparation of mass land encroachment was at the peak when prime minister Narendra Modi was delivering a great speech on climate justice.

The raffle cannot feed people, it is farmers who give all their effort to give surplus food production. In the time of neoliberal propaganda of globalization, we have to winnow the real purpose behind this cosmopolitan dream. Globalization is a process through which the global imperial market does not only suppress the indigenous culture but along with it, the trend of centralizing global capital in few hands gains traction.

The trends of: continued extraction of debt servicing payments of the third world; depression of the prices of raw materials exported by the same countries; removal of tariff protection for their vulnerable productive sectors; removal of restraints on foreign direct investment, allowing giant foreign corporations to grab larger sectors of the third world’s economies; removal of restraints on the entry and exit of massive flows of speculative international capital, allowing their movements to dictate economic life; reduction of State spending on productive activity, development and welfare; privatisation of activities, assets and natural resources; sharp increases in the cost of essential services and goods such as electricity, fuel, health care, education, transport, and food (accompanied by the harsher depression of women’s consumption within each family’s declining consumption); withdrawal of subsidised credit earlier directed to starved sectors; dismantling of workers’ security of employment; reduction of the share of wages in the social product; suppression of domestic industry in the third world and closures of manufacturing firms on a massive scale; ruination of independent small industries; ruination of the handicraft/handloom sector; replacement of subsistence crops with cash crops; destruction of food security; removal of ceilings on landholdings; dispossession of tribal lands and the handing over of forests to corporate interests; developing dependence of peasants on the new (and profoundly hazardous) products of biotechnology; dumping of hazardous wastes in, and the shifting of harmful processes to, the third world; use of women as sweated factory labour; growth of prostitution amid large-scale unemployment; invasion of images aimed at making women consumers of the beauty industry; entry of multinational media corporations and their cultural products; and systematic development of islands of consumerism amid a vast sea of poverty.

We need to understand and resist the Brahmanical Hindutva fascist agenda of the state and stand with the people’s struggle. Its time to raise our voice in an organised and structured manner. The real struggle will be fought on roads, fields, and factories, not on a social media hashtag trend.

#Unite Organize Resist

Long Live Revolution, Down With Imperialism

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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 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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