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The Second Wave Of Covid Has Exposed The Reality Of Indian Politics

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India gasps for oxygen. But how did we come here? What can we do next?

The country is in the grip of a terrible second wave of Covid. Hospitals are choc-a-bloc with patients and some of them are running with just hours of oxygen supply. Patients are dying due to a lack of oxygen, something that is considered a basic requirement for every hospital. Many await beds and simply lay down on the floor. This brings us face-to-face with the terrible reality of Indian politics.

For decades, political parties have come and gone with empty promises, while critical sectors of society such as healthcare received peanuts. Better healthcare is essential to the nation-building process, yet, we seem to be content with the status-quo.

The cost that our nation is paying due to the negligence of basic necessities is there for all of us to see. We have only focused on creating buildings, buying equipment and appointing staff, but we have not invested in inculcating the right values and concerns.

Too many lives are being lost everyday for us to just sit back. The apathy of the ‘powers that be’ is evident from our lack of preparation. Image Credit: Pexels

We still travel in dirty trains with cockroaches roaming around, our hospitals are overcrowded with multiple patients on rusty beds, our roads are cratered, bridges are crumbling, but India is shining on paper. While common man worries for life-sustenance, leaders are busy making a name for themselves.

Having said that, we cannot lay all the blame on our leaders. We the citizens, also have to take our share of the blame. We have for too long accepted corruption and exploitation as a way of life, we have turned a blind eye on too many occasions and now we see the results of our own corruption and hand in the decay of our great nation. We have allowed ourselves to be hijacked by the narratives preached to us by the left, right and centre.

We all are accustomed to corruption and, in one way or the other, we have experienced corruption or exploitation of some kind. Many of us may have been perpetrators as well. Thus, it’s not surprising to hear stories of hoarding of critical supplies in this hour of need. After all, we don’t trust our system, rather, we expect it to be corrupt. Mind you, this system includes you and me.

We have grown up hearing “white lies” and excuses at home. When we went to school, we saw that cheating earns us more marks, we saw cops taking bribes at traffic stops and politicians from corridors of power eat up taxpayers’ money in various scams. All this seems to have drilled in us the pervasive reality of corruption and we have accepted it as a trait. No more.

Too many lives are being lost everyday for us to just sit back. The apathy of the ‘powers that be’ is evident from our lack of preparation. I cannot believe that in today’s world of computerised-simulations, our government authorities didn’t know about the scale of preparation required. Lest, advisors themselves compromised by telling convenient lies. I do not have the facts but these are the questions we need to ask, and I’m sure the sick and suffering are already asking. Alas, we already know the answer: they don’t really care about us!

In one of the classic texts on nation building, we find Moses instructing the Israelites, who are about to enter the promised land after generations of slavery. We find the text in Deuteronomy 16:18-20, which says:

“Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the Lord your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly. Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the innocent. Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

lady justice

We can clearly see the emphasis on Justice and the connection of integrity of character to Justice. The text reminds people that corruption affects the wise and the innocent, and twists the truth into a set of self-serving narratives. Friends, if we want to see India as described in the Preamble, then we need to pursue Justice and weed out corruption, otherwise what we are seeing today will keep happening.

Therefore, my appeal to my fellow Indians is to learn from this experience and pledge ourselves into becoming a nation without exploitation and corruption. We cannot wait for politicians to start this, it has to start from us. Each of us has to have a zero-tolerance policy against corruption, exploitation and other evils that plague our country. We have to pursue justice with the same ferocity with which we expect it from others. Only then will we see a nation where every citizen’s head is held high.

Let’s not wait for another wave. Kudos to everyone who is going out of their way to make a difference. You provide hope to the hurting and belief that we shall overcome.

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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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