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The Second Wave Of Covid Has Broken Our Hearts But Opened Our Eyes

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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.

‘Doobte ko tinke ka sahaara’ is a popular Hindi saying that holds true in present times. Social media stories, SOS calls and tweets for help stand on the same line as this saying. Today, citizens are playing on the front foot, while governments are on the back foot. Well, that’s not by choice, but this is the only possible solution to save our loved ones, howsoever primitive it may sound.

India didn’t appear so united to me before this. I think it is a New India that we are seeing today. Sadly, we have lost so many Indians to realise that we can be this united too. Covid took them away or politics did or greed did, but let’s put it — Covid is the main culprit here. April 2021 turned out to be even more disastrous than the whole 2020 put together. I don’t have facts to back this opinion, but it’s our everyday reality that presses me to believe this way. In 2020, we were still seeing the uprising of the news on farm laws to digress Covid headlines. Right now, all of our anger, grief and energy is scripted towards why this had to happen.

Such questions are pouring like tsunami on social media. And so are the answers, debates and a military of the ruling party’s bhakts marching to celebrate the Supreme Leader even as India collapses to the virus. But there is a segment of the Bhakt crowd that has itself been on the receiving end of the virus. It appears to be numb, failed by their Messiah when they see their family members becoming another number on the Aarogya Setu mobile app. Would they still sing songs for the Bearded Man who was excited to see the biggest crowd in his Bengal rallies even when the virus was taking over the rest of the country by a storm?

“Hypocricy ki bhi koi seema hoti hai, bhai,” said a saint once who couldn’t himself live up to his statement months later. Indian PM Narendra Modi is the living example of another Hindi saying: “Andho me kaana Raaja.” As his umpteen supporters are blind, even his lack of foresight makes him a hero. The visionless PM is still celebrated by his supporters because even in their clueless minds, the PM can never be wrong. He uses religion to brainwash people. To him, votes are more important than the lives of voters.

His recent action and statement stand testimony of the same. So, which is the bigger virus? Lol. The ‘Indian virus’ has already emerged for countries including Britain and Canada as they put a ban on Indian flights and travellers for now. Years ago, the US had also banned a saint, but destiny saw him getting invitation to travel to the same country as he became a Supreme Leader. On the other hand, in a matter of few months, the Chinese virus has a new makeover. It has travelled far and wide and decided to settle in India for the finale round because the Indian PM was giving it tough competition.

Now, as Twitter is removing tweets that hold Modi accountable for the fiasco, it feels difficult to write against him. This is the same PM who said that criticism is the soul of a democracy. He just realised now that he wasn’t talking about India, because India isn’t a democracy anymore. A US-based organisation called India a ‘partly-free‘ country while a Swedish institute called India an ‘Electoral autocracy’ (Bengal, vote do…). I am just referring to those accusations. Now, the government must deal with them before they come to me. I’m playing safe here.

Another facet of this collapse is the sympathy the country has received. Pakistan — whom the Godi media abused openly and showed as a threat in every Prime Time news programme — sent prayers and offered to help fight the Covid tsunami in India by sending 50 ambulances and support staff. This is from a Pakistani NGO named Edhi Foundation.

Now, would our Prime-Time shows run by Godi-Media Anchors highlight the Twitter trends #PakistanStandsWithIndia? Everyone knows the answer. It simply doesn’t go with their narrative-based shows, and they don’t get paid for spreading harmony and peace. National security is important for every country, but the act of brainwashing in the name of security must be stopped by the media. Else, the fourth pillar of democracy would also be called out soon by international organisations and that would be a collective shame for the entire country.

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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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