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The Number Of Politicians With Criminal Cases Has Increased In India

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Election times are one of the most unstable times in India. Today, we can easily observe the hegemony of candidates with criminal backgrounds in our elections and the phenomena of criminalisation of Indian politics. As election dates approach, the ruthlessness and desperation to get into power by hook or crook is followed blindly.

Uma Bharti
Uma Bharti has been accused of rioting, attempt to murder, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, among other things.

Ironically, in India, the festival of democracy gets celebrated with hatred and violence at its back. We are used to vote-bank politics, illogical hatred speeches and campaigns with social media trends as its frontier soldiers. India is the largest democracy globally, but it has shown itself as one of the largest democracies with a huge number of criminals as their representatives. These criminals are hollowing up our nation.

The person we are electing to make laws is the same person who is a criminal before the law. But as citizens, we can’t free ourselves from the blame of voting for those criminals in the elections. The first retrospective question every citizen should ask themselves is, why am I choosing this candidate?

I am sure most readers will get vague answers like, “I think he is more popular and going to win”, or get influenced by media or people, which can be fake. But ideally, shouldn’t it be about who is working for our genuine issues and what the candidate’s plan of action is on important concerns? What is their background and education qualification? How have they served us in the last elections?.

We take our majority of voting decisions by getting influenced rather than getting informed. Almost every criminal background candidate influences the particular region because of their money, power and hegemony, not because they serve the people. Criminals get votes out of fear they have instilled in the people. Political parties are giving them tickets to get a winning seat. Their candidate’s winnability is more important than serving the constituency.

Statistics show that the percentage of candidates with criminal cases in the 2009 election was 15%, which increased to 17% in 2014, but it exacerbated to 19% in the 2019 Loksabha elections in India, as reported by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR). The dark picture comes out with the data that says 13% of the candidates were accused of grave crimes like murder, rape and heinous crimes against women.

Let’s look at the data of MPs in our parliament. In 2009, Loksabha consisted of 30% of MPs who had criminal cases against them. This percentage sore up to 34% in the 2014 elections and reached an alarming level of 43% in 2019.

sadhvi pragya thakur
Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur is one of the key accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case.

The seriousness of the matter can be understood with the data that 29% of MPs in 2019 Loksabha have declared grave crimes. The Indian constitution declares the people of India as the ultimate sovereign, but these statistics reported by ADR say otherwise.

Criminal candidates are just the face of criminalisation in Indian politics, but deep down, it’s a large nexus of police, money, corrupt bureaucracy, casteism, religion and the drawbacks of functioning in the election commission.

The NN Vohra committee’s report on the criminalisation of politics discussed how criminal gangs flourish under the care and protection of politicians. Many times the candidates themselves are the gang leaders. This protection is paid back to them during elections through capital investment in election spending and voter support.

The supreme court bench of Justice RF Nariman and Justice Ravindra Bhatt on 13 February 2020 cracked down on this alarming increase of sitting MPs and MLAs with criminal backgrounds. According to the order, political parties have to publish all their candidate’s details regarding criminal cases pending on them not only on a local and a national newspaper but also on their social media handles and party websites.

The parties have to give detailed reasoning of why they chose such candidates with criminal records instead of others. They compelled the political parties to answer the question of why they are giving tickets to such candidates. If the political parties fail to adhere to the SC’s orders, then the EC will report it to the SC, and the party president will be charged with contempt of court under articles 129 and 142.

When the apex court is compelling political parties to show some ethics by refusing tickets to tainted candidates, it is high time. But as voters, we should also show the audacity to make informed voting choices to prevent criminals from winning elections.

If there is no better option, it is better to go for NOTA than choosing them. These termites are eating up democracy and giving protection to many evils like corruption, casteism, regionalism, etc. To all the voters who will vote in the next elections, make sure you are not facilitating the path of any criminal to the temples of democracy.

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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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