This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Kritika Nautiyal. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

With Over 1700 Cases In 5 Days, Was It Necessary To Celebrate Kumbh This Year?

More from Kritika Nautiyal

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

“We are our choices.”

― Jean-Paul Sartre

So, are we wise enough to convene a gathering of devotees amidst the pandemic?

Photo: Business Times

Irrespective of all the precautions and measures taken by the government for the Maha Kumbh, nearly 1700 pilgrims, and 2,167 people in Haridwar, have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Dr S.K. Jha, CMO of Haridwar. The health department of the city has conducted over 2, 28,650 tests at the mela site, including antigen, RT-PCR, and TrueNat. But to handle a massive gathering during a pandemic was not an ideal decision.

The CMO itself agreed that tests are being done at Haridwar, Dehradun, Pauri, and Tehri; and the pilgrims are required to show a negative RT-PCR report but to execute all of this on the ground is next to impossible.

The Health Secretary- Amit Negi added that due to the ‘floating population’, it has been difficult for the authorities to conduct the tests. Therefore, he has pleaded with the High Court to curtail the 50,000 RT-PCR Covid test limit per day in Haridwar. But there has been no confirmation from the state to shorten the duration of the holy event in the lieu of rising cases.

After the first wave of the pandemic, we were doing fine and the cases were not surging but we witnessed a rise in the cases in February and we still chose to hold this event. We are the ones who criticized the Tablighi Jamaat last year to conduct a meeting amidst the COVID outbreak. According to a New York Times report, that meeting was the “largest viral vector in Southeast Asia”.

If that meeting of evangelical Muslims was condemned by the government then doesn’t the same rule apply to them? Why don’t they practice what they preach? How will the citizens trust the government with this hypocritical behaviour?

What Are Our Honorable Ministers Saying On The Same?

According to a report from ANI, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat on Tuesday said that the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar should not be compared to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi last year. He even said, “The Markaz attendees were all inside a building and here it is out in the open, near the Ganges. The flow and blessings of ‘Maa Ganga’ will ensure that coronavirus does not spread. The question does not arise of a comparison.”

These are our leaders, whose religious sensibility is way beyond scientific facts and theories. Mr Rawat even added that the Kumbh is being held when we have much more awareness about the virus, in contrast to Nizamuddin Markaz.

But, on a serious note, can we justify the surging cases with the faith in religion? If we had much more awareness about the virus then we should have avoided such mass gatherings. But, did we? No, we did not because ‘Ganga Maa’ will take care of the virus. According to Article 51 A [h], it is the duty of every citizen to ‘develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform’. So, have the ministers forgotten their duties as the citizen of this nation?

Since the outbreak of the virus, we have all been focusing majorly on social distancing. Walking on the same path, why didn’t we call Kumbh off this year? The cases have been ascending since February but our authorities turned a blind eye to it. Now, Haridwar and Dehradun on the verge of becoming virus hot-spots and the states are still not shortening the duration, because obviously, the devotees are waiting for the third ‘Shahi Snaan’, which will be on April 27.

We still don’t have a cure for the virus and the only solution that our authorities have is night curfews and weekend curfews. They could have taken the precautions but they chose the road less travelled by and that is making all the difference for us now.

How do I feel as the local of this state, you ask?

Honestly, it is horrifying to witness thousands of cases around you. One doesn’t feel safe to go out even for the basic amenities because people are so ignorant even about wearing a mask. Haridwar and Dehradun might be the next hot spots, as we have witnessed over 2000 cases in the past 5 days and we are definitely not ready for a total lockdown. The authorities should have thought this through and they should not have held the Mela this year, or maybe only with a reduced capacity.

Now, who will take responsibility for the rising cases and death toll? The government will obviously blame the people for not having followed the guidelines properly but the situation would not have been there in the first place had their decision been rational.

You must be to comment.

More from Kritika Nautiyal

Similar Posts

By Charkha Features

By Siddharth Mohan Roy

By Mariam

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below