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‘Jhola Leke Chal Pade’: Modi Has Once Again Abandoned Those He Claims To Fight For

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This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

“Arey hum toh fakeer aadmi hain, jhola leke chal padenge ji… Ye fakeeri h jisne mujhe gareebon ke lie ladne ki takat di hai.” – PM Modi in a rally in 2016.

Cut to another term as Prime Minister; the fakeer initially abandoned his countrymen as the first wave of Covid-19 hit the country in March 2020. The gareeb (poor) he had vowed to fight for were left stranded at bus and railway stations as a countrywide lockdown was suddenly imposed. With no food, jobs or homes, the gareeb in this country bore the brunt of Modi’s policies.

Migrant workers carrying their belongings walk along a
Migrant workers carrying their belongings along a railway track returning to their home during the extended nationwide lockdown in 2020. (Photo by Amarjeet Kumar Singh/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

They were forced to walk home as they were denied transportation facilities. When the government finally did arrange transportation, the same people who had lost their jobs and were surviving on the little savings they had were told to pay for the bus and railway tickets. The government later admitted to not having any data on the migrants who had died during the lockdown. Hence, no compensations were given to the families.

Over the course of 2020, as the pandemic subsided and the lockdown was slowly lifted, the gareeb left their home again in search of livelihood. In a bid to make the country “industry-friendly”, a majority of labour codes were suspended in BJP ruled states (UP, MP and Gujarat). By imposing higher taxes on essential commodities like petrol and diesel, the gareeb bore the brunt of the pandemic’s losses.

Instead of strengthening the country’s healthcare infrastructure, Modi used the time for his own PR project. While some states were facing a shortage of vaccines, it was reported that 60 million doses had been exported as of March 2021. But all of these doses were procured through the PM Cares Fund (₹1486 crores) and exported under the governments “Vaccine Maitri” initiative.

Amit Shah and the Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Harsh Vardhan, had promised that vaccinations would be free of cost. But going to rallies in states that were scheduled to have elections, BJP leaders promised free vaccines if voted to power. And now, with the Serum Institute of India charging ₹400 per dose to States and ₹600 per dose to private hospitals, it’s clear that the vaccine is not going to be free.

In fact, if people do end up paying ₹600 for a dose, it will be the highest rate paid by citizens anywhere in the world.

Recently, Assam Health Minister Himanta Sarma said that there was no need to wear masks. With political leaders being allowed to flout Covid-19 protocols in states set for elections, the government set a precedent for the impending disaster. The Centre also participated in the plans to organise the Kumbh Mela. It was only cut short after thousands tested positive.

With the second wave of Covid-19, another lockdown is imminent, and migrants are again forced to go back home. India recorded 3,46,786 case on 23 April, 2021, and the 7-day-average stands at 2,97,696.

States that have been hard hit by the second wave are struggling. With the increasing number of Covid-19 cases, states have reported a shortage of hospital beds and oxygen supply. People have been forced to use unconventional methods (social media) to ask for help.

Corona Virus Outbreak In India
A view of a crematorium ground where mass cremation of victims who died due to COVID-19 in New Delhi on April 22, 2021. (Photo by Mayank Makhija/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The 7-day-average of those who’ve died of Covid-19 stands at 1,985. But organisations and individuals have alleged that the numbers are far higher. Space is running out at cemeteries and crematoriums are having to turn people away. All of this while Modi is twiddling his thumbs and bragging about the size of the crowd at his rally.

Two days back, Modi’s right-hand man Amit Shah held three rallies in West Bengal a day after the state recorded 10,784 Covid-19 cases. While further rallies have been cancelled in the state, Modi and other BJP leaders will hold virtual rallies as the country gasps for air.

The Centre has also started sabotaging non-BJP ruled states and is playing politics by reportedly hoarding Remdesivir in Maharashtra at a time when ordinary citizens are begging for supplies on Twitter and Instagram.

Addressing the nation on 20 April, Modi seemed to place the blame on the general public. Ignoring his own culpability, he asked citizens to stay home. And in the process, once again, with no social security measures for the poor, he has forgotten about those he claims to fight for.

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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)’.

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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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