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Emergency India Of 1975 And ‘Partly-Free’ India Of 2021: What’s The Difference?

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Note: This article is in no way a criticism of the NDA government. The author holds greatest regard for the Hon’ble post of PMO and greatly cherishes all democratic ideals and rights (including the freedom of speech and expression) that the Indian government and our Constitution has graciously bestowed upon all citizens. The only source of this article is the Freedom House report itself and the CBSE Class 12 Political Science textbook. 

A report published online by reputed organisation Freedom House has taken the country by storm as India was awarded a mere 67/100 on the democratic scoreboard of the Freedom In The World publication, dubbing our great nation and the largest democracy on the planet as only ‘partly-free’. This document has already been labelled misleading as the Centre, through the Ministry of Internet and Broadcasting, clarified that the report highlighted incorrect and fabricated lies and while no one is in any position to challenge this stance of the ruling government (the people in power have made sure of that), this does seem erringly close to the Congress-led Emergency of 1975.

Both eras had strong and charismatic leadership spearheaded by Ms Indira Gandhi and Shri Narendra Modi ji respectively. While the Gandhi administration censored the media, the surplus majority coalition did no such thing. Instead, it chose to add select topics such as recent developments of the BJP politics and NITI Aayog along with omitting concepts such as anti-Muslim riots and Indira Gandhi’s assassination, self propaganda in school textbooks that the Election Commission pretends to be in denial of.

The government today doesn’t hesitate to arrest comedians, climate change activists and “corrupt” journalists who speak ill of the Centre just as the Congress-led government then didn’t hesitate to arrest 676 opposition leaders. Students at that time protested bravely on the streets under the banner of Bihar and Gujarat movements of 1974 and students today continue to protest through social media and memes that are frankly more of a shining light on the broken education system and not the youth itself.

There has been no change in the police force and other institutional administrations as they were politically inclined then and are politically inclined even now, blindly marching for those in power. Accidental custodial deaths happened then and they continue to happen now. Women were forcefully sterilised then and Muslim women have “miscarriages” in police custody now.

Many prime decisions were taken by those who held no official position, including the likes of Sanjay Gandhi, indicating a corrupt regime. The BJP, on the other hand, has no corrupt ministers, only those accused of sexual assault and inciting the anti-Muslim Gujarat riots. Do take note that these BJP ministers were cleared of all charges by a fair and just judicial Bench, which is almost as fair and just as the one which, in 1976, declared that in an Emergency, the government could take away citizens’ rights to life and liberty, a judgement that virtually closed the doors of judiciary for the citizens.

The doors of judiciary are closed in 2021 also, but that’s because of the Covid-19 crisis, and not because a certain court verdict in 2019 in favour of the ruling majority led to the citizens losing faith in the apex court. On the positive side, both the governments, despite being on polar opposite sides of history, introduced pro-poor schemes such as Indira Gandhi’s 20-point programme and Modi’s Ayushman Bharat and Ujjwala Yojana policies. Citizens today are much more aware of their rights and continue to challenge ludicrous notions such as same-sex marriages being against the Indian culture, which it most definitely isn’t. All consensual marriages should be declared valid and marital rape a criminal act.

All in all, while there are many similarities between the two regimes, only one of them can put the author of this publication in prison, while the other can’t. This is why — besides other reasons such as the abolition of Article 370 and the government’s new stance on nuclear policy —I agree that the BJP is the right choice for Indian democracy in 2021.

This is my opinion on this issue and the fact that I’m perpetually scared of posting anything anti-Modi and ending up in jail like Disha Ravi or facing an IT raid like Taapsee Pannu’s has in no way made any real change.

For those who liked my article, please stay tuned for more such pieces. Others who are BJP bhakts, please keep your opinions to yourself. I’ve no interest in negative feedback and much rather prefer positive praise.

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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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