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7 Things That Will Tell You What’s Happening In Lakshadweep

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Amidst a raging pandemic, medical essential shortage, the central government has not stepped back at its job in the quest for power. There are things that they are silently taking under their control, while the rest of India fights the bigger battles. What better time to do this than a pandemic?

While the citizens of India are busy fighting the pandemic, trying to protect their own, the Central government is hoping this quest for power will go unnoticed.

In the past few days’ hashtag #savelakshadweep is doing rounds, particularly from the celebrities and ministers from the South. Here is all you need to know about it:

Lakshwadeep’s Administrative Control

Lakshadweep is a Union Territory that comes under the direct control of the Central Government through an administrator. Usually, administrators are Civil Service officers, but that rule obviously becomes an exception for the central government now. 

Who Is Praful Khoda Patel?

The administrator of Lakshadweep is Mr Praful Khoda Patel, who took charge in December 2020. Who is he?

    1.  He was the home minister during Mr Narendra Modi’s tenure as CM in Gujarat
    2.  He’s a close aide to Mr Amit Shah, India’s Home Minister.
    3.  He was also named (with others) in Independent MP Mohan Delkar’s 15-page suicide note of an independent MP from Dadra and Nagar Haveli 

 What Is Praful Patel Doing/ Has Done?

    1. He changed Covid-19 protocols which resulted in a surge of cases. The islands did not have any cases in the whole of 2020. One month after he took control, he changed the rules of compulsory quarantine; there are 2000 active cases and 24 deaths right now.
    2. He passed arbitrary and authoritative regulations like Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation 2021 (LDAR) and the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities (PASA)
    3. He has also approved a draft panchayat notification where a member with more than 2 children is disqualified from holding posts. (Clause 14 (n))
    4. He also decided on the food that the islanders should consume by removing non-vegetarian food items from the school menus. It makes things tricky given the fact that it’s an island, and they survive on seafood.
    5. He imposed a Beef and Cow slaughter ban with a penalty of 10 years, even extending to a life sentence and a fine of Rs. 5 Lakh. Violation of the beef ban can lead to a jail term of a minimum of 7 years. It’s important to keep in mind that the population is 97% Muslim, largely dependant on tourists and the administrator decides what food can be served.  
    6. The high percentage of land ownership by both women and Scheduled Tribes are under threat with The Lakshadweep Town and Country Planning Regulation, 2021.

 Why Are LDAR And PASA Problematic?

    1. LDAR allows the administrator to remove or relocate islanders from their property for “development activity”.Development includes; “carrying out of the building, engineering, mining, quarrying or other operations in, on, over or under land, the cutting of a hill or any portion thereof or the making of any material change in any building or land or in the use of any building or land and includes sub-division of any land”. This obviously allows for arbitrary control of land, in the name of development. It’s important to keep in mind that the Lakshadweep Archipelago is very susceptible to climate changes and the island is slowly deteriorating and further development can destroy the island. More about the deteriorating impacts of Climate change UNDP article.
    2. Under PASA, a person can be detained without giving him a reason or a public disclosure up to a period of 1 year. Last I remembered, it was compulsory to disclose charges if you are arrested. (Section 50(1) CrPC and Article 22(1) Constitution of India.  

What Does Lakshadweep Stand To Lose?

Lakshadweep is a 97% Muslim population, with no legislative assembly, known to have the lowest crime rate in the country and a group of 36 islands (32 sq. km) which has so far been protected by the indigenous. These draft regulations, backed by the administrator who has history and support from the Centre, are aimed to rewrite all that the island protected. 

One Kerala MP from CPI(M) wrote to President Kovind to call back Mr Praful Patel as the administrative officer of Lakshadweep. In a strongly worded letter, MP Elamaram Kareem has criticised Patel’s orders on changing the covid-19 SOPs, which led to the surge of cases, and all other ‘anti-people’ orders which have led to the loss of livelihoods and has not made any consideration to protect the ‘traditional life and cultural diversity of the people of Lakshadweep’.

A Call For Withdrawal Of Provisions

Several petitions have been addressed to the Administrator by the islanders demanding that these provisions be withdrawn. It says that “provision for the orderly and progressive development of land in both urban and rural areas and to preserve and improve the amenities thereof; for the grant of permission to develop land and for other powers of control over the use of land; to confer additional powers in respect of the acquisition and development of land for planning, and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid”.


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What Is Social Media’s Response To This?

Several actors from the Malayalam film industry also took to social media to raise their support for the people of Lakshadweep, including Actor-Director Geetu Mohandas, Actor Prithiviraj Sukumaran, Sunny Wayne, Rima Kalingal and more. Footballer CK Vineeth also took to social media speaking against the reforms. 

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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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