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Opinion: “The Weaponization Of Nationalism And Religion Has Hampered Development”

The pen is one of the most powerful things. Most people have only heard and many understand. But do you also know that the pen is also one of the weakest things? If yes, then this article is for you, but if no, then this article is surely for you.

The weakest point of the pen is that it can’t differentiate between right or wrong. It writes both in the same manner, shows with the same responsibility and the same power. The information circulates through many ways, but two are main but complicated and full of dilemma.

India Man Whisper
The original information silently disappears from circulating versions and only opinions and beliefs are left.

One is in the original form and another is in a similar form, which looks like the original but factually a piece of different information created by someone who read the original or has heard from someone else. This continues; one tells another and another one tells someone else. As one can’t remember everything, the forgotten portion gets filled with the individual’s opinions and beliefs.

As time passes, the original information silently disappears from circulating versions and only opinions and beliefs are left. As much old, the information becomes that much powerful; that much dangerous. Now the moss of news channels cover the whole surface of the lake of circulation and prevents the sunlight of information from reaching the zombie fishes like us.

The concept of both nationalism and religion has also gone through that same process of information circulation. And now, the name of nationalism and religion has become the most powerful weapons of humans against humans. As full of opinions and beliefs and loss of original meaning, this creates a dilemma.

Due to lack of information, people blindly respect anything in the name of nationalism and religion but never check the information because they think questioning would be disrespectful.

So, lots of people together make groups on the names of Gods, religion and nation but never care about any of these. For example, as in the Hindu religion, a Cow is believed to be the mother or God, but now is remembered mainly when a Muslim is connected and then a human is brutally killed by a mob.

But why do we forget that mother when she eats plastic bags due to hunger and dies of stomach blockage? Our God never taught us violence. And our Constitution never told us to forget about laws and do whatever we think is right without any proof on the spot. Shouldn’t this be considered the real disrespect of nation and religion?

Politicians use the most dangerous weapons, incorrect forms of nationalism and religion.

The reality in the current situation is that anything can happen in the name of religion and nationalism. Due to the lack of information and knowledge, these people do whatever politicians point at violently. Then the group of locusts in the form of humans storms the streets of riots and destroys the crops of humanity.

Factually, making schools/colleges, hospitals, and providing employment take a lot of money, hard work, honesty, and brain usage. So, the ruling governments try to find the easiest way in which none of the above things needs to be done and people think that something has been done for them, their nation and religion. In this situation, politicians use the most dangerous weapons, incorrect forms of nationalism and religion.

And then, parties and politicians become famous for doing famous things for the nation and people, and media channels are also told to help people think so. They become famous because the usage of these weapons mainly results in communal riots, killing and discrimination.

We look upward with sharp eyes to find development but always forget where it was at the last time. We must know the basic criteria for development required are education, health status and employment as the country’s income. Many teachers are required in schools for teaching, police are required for public safety and lawyers/judges are required as lots of cases are pending for decades.

But still, employment is the lowest, GDP is low. So, where is development happening? If development isn’t happening, then what is happening?

This is a very planned trap by politicians through media for us. So, analyse the information carefully on your “own”, otherwise don’t make a conclusion or opinion because it can be very dangerous for the future. I, an 11-grade student, assume the reader is smart enough, just like humans, to complete this responsibility.

Featured image is for representational purposes only.
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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.

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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.

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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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