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There Are Many Ways For The Govt To Revive Bihar, But Are They Willing?

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In the year of 2020, everything came to a halt amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Every kind of activity was stopped and everyone was watching their favourite series, episodes and the shows that went off air. Many people, for the first time, watched classic DD shows including the Ramayana and my personal favourite, Chankaya. But in the year 2020, the term of the Bihar assembly was nearing its end and it was a major task for the commission to conduct any election of this massive size in the second most populous state. And after election, the BJP and JDU alliance won with close margin.

However, these elections showed many different perspective that I would like to draw your attention towards:

1. Employment Opportunities

During the elections, Tejaswi promised in his manifesto one million government jobs, which was actually the main highlight of his party’s whole manifesto. Experts believe that this was the main promise that actually increased his chances of winning. This promise also brought them close to actually winning the election. However, it don’t matter how much lucrative it sounds. Creating one million jobs out of thin air is not possible, or economically feasible to offer such a large number of government jobs, as this would sound like bringing everything under the government’s control.

Also, it is a fact that many people have migrated to other parts of the country for jobs or better living opportunities. This is a once-in-a-lifetime promise that was made. Till now, everyone had only heard people from Bihar and UP taking up jobs of a state’s local people. So, why not start industries in Bihar itself?

It is true that the exporting industry is situated in western states, namely Maharashtra and Gujarat. Everyone is aware that the IT and cyber world is the most profitable and successful industry in recent times in India. Also, there is immense opportunity for tourism in Bihar with places such as Nalanda, Bodh Gaya and many more that deserve to be visited and help in the state’s tourism sector growth. The state government must also bring a brand ambassador, a mainstream Bollywood personality such as Amitabh Bachchan, who is the star campaigner for Gujarat tourism. So, I would like to see some of these specialised centres in the technological field coming up.

2. Education

Education is the second most important thing that has to be modernised. The quality of education in Bihar has to be brought to the national level as people migrating outside the state for quality education is the second major reason for the migration of youth. The standard of education in Bihar is like an open secret. Everyone knows it, but seldom does anyone talk about it. And if the government improves the quality of education, the Bihar youth will remain in the state and help make the state prosperous, as the people of Bihar have a reputation of being hard working.

3. Medical Infrastructure

Bihar’s medical infrastructure is a total mess and this is not only me who has felt this. Many Bihar governments and media outlets have shown that there are plenty of vacancies for doctors, nurses and primary health centres. And how bad is it that you can understand it by the fact that when coronavirus was on the rise in country, the number of cases reported by Bihar were less in comparison to cases reported by Delhi. There could be only two reasons for this — either Bihar has better health infrastructure than Delhi or it can’t test so much patients. I leave it up to you to decide which one it is. But having good health infrastructure become critical if you have a population of 13 crore.

4. Cultural Heritage And Its Promotion

Manoj Bajpai

Honestly speaking, the films and songs released by the Bhojpuri film industry are the full of vulgarity and sheer nuisance. They tarnish the image of the state and its people. Last time, when did you hear about any Bhojpuri film or star making fame at the national level like other state’s films such as Jallikattu of the Malayalam film industry, Hellaro of the Gujarati film industry or Sairat of the Marathi film industry. All these films are absolute gems and show the talent and culture of their state. The same can be said for Bihar as Manoj Bajpai and Pankaj Tripathi hail from Bihar and have showcased their acting talent in the Hindi film industry.

But according to my knowledge, these actors haven’t appeared in any Bhojpuri or Maithali films, which are scheduled languages according to Indian Constitution. There is an absence or lack of attention to Bihar-based authors and writers in literature, but some writers such as Devaki Nandan Khatri, who wrote the novels Chandrakanta and Chandrakanta Santati at the beginning of the 20th century are worth reading and are jewels to read. I believe that the state government should promote the translation of original works from Bihar into other regional languages as well as English also to increase the reach of these books.

So, these are the major issue I think the government should work. The tourism opportunity in Bihar is immense. As Ram Mandir is being built in Ayodhya, and everyone knows that Sita Mata was born in Sitamarhi, Bihar, if the state governments of UP and Bihar develop a corridor, connecting these two sites, then it could be a win-win situation for both.

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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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