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Opinion: The Congress Has Betrayed Nehru, Scripting Its Own Downfall

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Congress MP Jairam Ramesh has opined that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) should instead be called the BJN (Blame Just Nehru).  Following his logic, the Congress should also change its name to NFS (Nehru For Sale).

Ramesh himself argued that Nehru became incompetent after 1958 and destroyed India by a single act of appointing VK Krishna Menon as the Defense Minister, who in turn committed another single act of appointing BM Kaul as the Commander of IV Corps. For Ramesh, who is too eager to sell out Nehru to turn around and accuse the BJP of “blaming just Nehru”, is like the pot calling the kettle black.

As I speculated in an earlier article, the Congress signed a deal with the devil (LK Advani) when the BJP was respectful of Indira Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. In exchange, the Congress allowed the BJP to use Nehru as a punching bag. This arrangement served both the parties till 2014.

The new breed of the BJP, however, discarded the old arrangement, while the chickens have come home to the Congress to roost.  The new BJP, under the leadership of Modi-Shah, is not shy of attacking Sonia Gandhi and undermining Indira Gandhi, something that the Congress is now unable digest.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh

Distortion Of History Is A Double-Edged Sword

Instead of defending Nehru against the malicious attacks of the BJP and other fake-historians, the Congress found it safe to join the lynch-mob instead. Congress leaders including Ramesh and Pranab Mukherjee spread false narratives of Nehru either as spineless or to have become old and useless.

The Congress’ strategy has been to portray Indira Gandhi as aggressive and competent, which only becomes credible if Nehru is deemed incompetent. This strategy indeed benefited the Congress in the short run, since many Indians had fond memories Indira’s reign and sympathy for her violent death.

Some fake-historians claim to despise the BJP and pretend to help the Congress by encouraging to dump the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, thus purging themselves of Nehru’s sins. They indulge in the relentless campaigning of misinformation by patronising Nehru.

Others bully the Congress to work hard, hold internal elections and build its cadre. But as long as Indians are led to believe that Nehru had destroyed India, while the BJP offers hope for redemption, as false it might be, the Congress party will keep sinking. Dumping the Nehru-Gandhi narrative is the only way to hasten the process.

The Congress’ Betrayal Of VK Krishna Menon

Of all the incompetent and corrupt ministers who ran the Congress governments during 55 years of their rule, Congress leaders like Natwar Singh, Ramesh and MS Aiyar want us to believe that VK Krishna Menon was the only bad apple. They do this knowing well that it will reflect on Nehru himself.

Contrary to the misinformation spread by the Congress party, VK Krishna Menon is the greatest defense minister India ever had. His only mistake was to be born a South Indian. Neither was Menon responsible for the conflict in 1962 nor was BM Kaul the cause of the so-called defeat. The outcome would not be different regardless of who the corps commander was instead of Kaul or how much more equipment the Indian Army had possessed.

Kaul had to take charge because Lt. Gen. Umrao Singh (33 Corps) was frightened by the enemy. He rebelled and refused to fight at a time when China had intruded India’ territory. The alternative to sending Kaul was to let China take whatever territory it wanted. So, blaming Nehru, Menon or Kaul is not just ignorance but betrayal, immoral and poor taste.

Nehru.

Congress Lost Its Way

While declaring Nehru an incompetent old man who could not silence the combative Parliament to make peace with China, Ramesh cried foul when the Modi government bulldozed the farm laws from the Parliament. Based on Ramesh’s own arguments against Nehru, Modiji should be hailed as a great leader who is undeterred by counter opinion. While the likes of Ramesh claim bravado in criticising Nehru, it is in fact a cheap shot.

These days, it doesn’t require courage to sling filth at Nehru.  It never required courage to criticise Krishna Menon either. Those who claim to be brave and objective should criticise Sardar Patel or Subhas Chandra Bose and face the wrath of the BJP trolls. The Congress party of today is not only ideologically bankrupt, but intellectually incapable of comprehending their own leaders like Nehru. Bullied by the BJP, fake-historians and fake-sympathisers, the Congress has been drifting whichever way the wind blows.

The misinformation spread against Nehru and Menon by Congress leaders like Ramesh, Singh, Mukherjee and Aiyar has been undermining  the Congress party itself. So, why does the Congress, which is run by Nehru’s namesake family, allow and even reward such self-destruction?  If they knew any better, the party would not be in the pitiful state it is in today.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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