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I Am An Ambedkarite And A Libertarian And I Do Not Owe Anything To Your Opinion

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A movement’s strength is sustainable and popular when it is filled with the culture of diversity too. Because movement does not consist of only ideas and advocacy. It consists of the very basic pillar: People. What is the value of any movement, without people?

Representational image.

When I am using the term ‘people’ here, I am referring to the aggregation of individuals with similar thoughts, contexts and motives. Even if there are dissidents in this movement, revolution is surely inevitable. And without revolution, there’s no social scope of evolution! There have been many movements that came up and went aloof, depending on the nature of ideas, tolerance of views, projection of thoughts, monetary subsistence, social acceptance, etc. since nothing stays static in the system. No movement, irrespective of our views, is a waste unless it calls for physical violence and violation of basic human rights/liberties.

Gone are the days when people would be taken for granted. Take a quick look at any part of political history, you will find authoritarians have a tough time with their own people. Although authoritarians have been replaced with a new authoritarian, the rat cycle of fascism does not seem to end because humans are here to stay.

Contextually, libertarians’ paradise Somalia had been an anarcho-capitalist society for 10 years after the break-up of the Soviet Union but later on, Somalians found the new government eventually. Freedom can be paradoxical too, due to its inherent properties and intrinsic limitations. Yes, it’s beautiful to know that in this span of 10 years, the ‘free market’ in Somalia could manage to look after people’s needs. Yumi Kim and Robert Murphy have factually written the same.

Libertarianism, ideologically, is a vast maxim and consists of many schools of thoughts, like Buddhism. There are multiple sects that differ on vital economic questions like wages, property rights, environmental protection, affirmative action, gender equity, queer, abortion, etc. To equate it with only one particular spectrum would weaken the movement, ideology and participation. Thus, it makes sense to observe the diversity and mobilize as per the standpoint experiences, plight and cognitive acceptance.

Contextually, there are libertarians who believe in the minimization of statism in India but on the other hand, support CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act). Now, verily, CAA is another Orwellian statism against citizens and others which does not come at the cost of “minimum government and maximum governance”.

Then, there are libertarians like me who do not belong to the General or OBC category. And, unfortunately, I do not see more SC/STs in the libertarianism movement in India. For libertarianism to succeed, it has to be diverse like communists (although politburo members on top seats are not dalits or shudras). This equation is vital here; the reason is that representation matters. It’s the representation that tells us about diversity and tolerance, otherwise, everyone knows how the Zoroastrianism movement is religiously failing today.

Human nature has always been an output of spontaneous order and chaos, like this whole universe, and thus it is quite incoherent to scientifically assume that human nature is driven by the instincts of monotonous characteristics.

The current epoch of Hindutva, no doubt, has altered the social consciousness of many people, including families, friends, relatives, colleagues, etc. The majority of them seem to be quite angry at dissidents, heretical thoughts, etc. Libertarians too joined this bandwagon effect.

Before 2014, with Mithun Dutta, a staunch Libertarian, I was able to set up the Libertarian community on Facebook and elsewhere. We educated people, especially my students, with learnings of Austrian economics (the major pillar of libertarian school of thoughts), blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies, etc. Libertarians hailed us then. A few years ago, I was featured in the mainstream (TV) media and also in a newspaper for doing graffiti #TaxationIsTheft on the public walls.

A few years ago, I was featured in a newspaper for doing graffiti #TaxationIsTheft on the public walls. Image provided by the author.

I have been interviewed and podcasted by few American libertarians for their YT channels and other platforms, and it went well. Libertarians loved it. When I was a Hindu, I authored ‘Vedic Anarchism’, libertarians almost had an orgasm. When I was featured in a Polish conference, a few years ago, on the ideas of liberty, libertarians loved it. But as soon as I turned out to be an anti-Hindutva critic and later since I have expressed my decision to accept my original religion; Buddhism, as Dr Ambedkar would call it, the libertarian clan has come hard on me.

For I am being certified “I am not a true libertarian” and this and that. Well, I can’t help if my litmus test just introduced the distinction between libertarians and lolbertarians. No sort of any libertarian came to support me when BJP’s IT cell came down on me on Facebook which ultimately led me to deactivate the account. Now, when I am identifying myself as an Ambedkarite Libertarian on Twitter, I am being judged as if my identity is not eligible in this savarna libertarianism movement.

Protest By Dalit Outfit Bhim Army
when I am identifying myself as an Ambedkarite Libertarian on Twitter, I am being judged as if my identity is not eligible in this savarna libertarianism movement. Representatoinal image.

I know libertarians’ disagreement or hate for Dr Ambedkar comes not only from his socialistic views but also from his anti-Hinduism views. But what made Dr Ambedkar anti-Hinduism, if he was not belonging to an untouchable caste?

The same libertarians do not mind highlighting his book “Pakistan or Partition” when it comes to their political convenience. Is there any universal policy that an Ambedkarite can’t be a Libertarian?

If some libertarians are OK with their mild support for Hindutva (enabler of casteism), then I am OK to identify myself as an Ambedkarite (annihilator of casteism) and a Libertarian too.

Contemporarily, without moving an inch on the ground, the libertarian movement has almost become quite elitist, urbanite and SFL-type conference movement. The podcasts, non-vernacular communication, cute coffee-meetings and social action deficiency will not advance the cause of libertarianism movement, in general. The burden of onus is on the savarna libertarians to think beyond their keyboards and benevolently incorporate Dr Ambedkar’s philosophy i.e. ‘educate, organise, agitate’ to bring about revolutionary changes in the cultural sphere of community of communities.
A very inherent problem with the current libertarianism movement is that it is quite arrogant and imaginative in its own way. Merely altering the logical fallacies of twitteraitis would not help the movement alone. There’s a dire need to inject intersectional and interdisciplinary approaches in the policies, social activities and narratives regarding libertarianism because misesian approach alone would not work in sync with ‘Indian’ realities, followed by the sensitization of listeners’ emotions as not everyone is intellectually rational.

I know Ambedkarism and Libertarianism would not run parallel but Ambedkar had some libertarian views too as he was a product of his time. I do not think that Ambedkar was just a personality. The icon is an ideology too, for it helps us introspect upon the status of casteism and social osmosis in Indian communities.

It’s the 21st century and NCRB data (2019) continues to point how India is unsafe for Dalit and tribal girls. Nevertheless, endogamy does not go beyond 5% on the census (2011) amidst 130 crores of population.

I am an Ambedkarite Libertarian because I believe in the ideas of liberty and social democracy too, or else are these savarna libertarians in the position to produce any alternatives to the representation of the avarnas like me?

The libertarians often tell me that casteism is to do with freedom of association but do they even know that Dalits are killed for sitting on a chair, flaunting moustache, drinking water from a public tank, etc.

What happened to their “non-aggression principle” now? Casteism in itself, existentially, represents a hierarchical violent format infringing on the liberties and lives and also basic decency of people in the lower strata. If casteism can determine my ‘jati‘ and ‘varna‘, then I have every right to identify myself as an Ambedkarite Libertarian to smash the oldest “social statism” in today’s time because I own myself and do not owe anything to your opinion.

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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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