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How The Government Put The Onus On The Citizens In Our Fight Against COVID

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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.

Disclaimer: Sensing the gravity of the situation and the dangerously ill environment we are in, both in terms of health and governance, I would like to tread a careful path while expressing my views today as I fear putting them forward for they would apparently “offend” some sections of society which can also lead to “arrest” for celebrating my right to freedom of speech. Posing questions to the government today is deemed as spreading propaganda and ‘trying to spoil the atmosphere by spreading rumours, fear and negativity.

With the country witnessing another wave of infections and localised lockdowns, access to basic healthcare and even salon services has become a tedious task. In this mushkil ki ghadi, our PM Sahab too has decided to adorn a new lockdown look with his trendy beard.

Modi
Representative Image.

He has also started a new viral millennial lingo, Atmanirbhar Bharat, which in the past few weeks has guided the country well enough to not depend on anyone, not even on the government, to fulfil its needs. To become truly Atmanirbhar, we’ve taken certain steps in the right direction.

The Cycle of Life and Death

Khaki shorts sorority says, “This is a cycle of life and death… this cannot scare us.” 

“Positivity unlimited” has become the mantra to keep ourselves afloat in these trying times to overcome difficulties simply by ignoring the horrific sights of people struggling to save their closed ones on the streets, lining up for oxygen cylinders, bodies floating in the “holiest river” and grounds burning day and night to bid adieu to those we’ve lost.

Self Service

The government was absolutely ready to face any adverse situation, but citizens did not read the instruction manual of Atma Nirbharta properly. It was clearly mentioned that patients were required to bring their own charpai, mattress, food and medicines accompanied with oxygen cylinders to get the treatment. 

On the other hand, the authority was fully equipped with hospital fire accidents, saline water in injections instead of medicine, a minimum workforce and fully inadequate hospitals.

Medicines Prescribed

Today, even the great magician Houdini would be amazed to see how the most needed medicines are in no time vanishing into thin air. It seems that today God is truly helping only those who are helping themselves by looting the masses through their flourishing business of selling fake medicines, fake tears and fake promises of governance and acche din.

Our Experts

We have a set of very trained personnel in our administration. They’ve gone through the rigorous training of rhetoric, blame-game and expertise in exaggerated traditional knowledge. After sensing Aries and Jupiter’s position, the expert opinion was to prepone the “super spreader” event. 

Another, with her vast experience in “Cow Science”, has defeated Corona not by putting on a mask but by drinking the urine of “holy cow”. Without any synthetic products, with only herbs, India’s PT master gave the world’s first Anti-Covid drug — Coronil. Only haters and ignorant people, like scientists and factual data, were giving warnings of a fast-approaching second wave.

Image

Big B’s famous dialogue on “Parampara, Prathistha aur Anushasan” has become an important pillar for our foreign policy also. Our “visionary leaders”, through their acts of philanthropy, have tried to uphold the spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam by addressing the “image problem” and negligently putting aside the real problem of a crumbling health infrastructure and supply chain disruptions.

Enclosed Funding

During the last wave, most of us contributed a significant amount of our savings to the call for funds by our supreme leader. And these large sums of money without anyone to ask about its whereabouts proved to be of great help as it taught us the difference between working and non-working ventilators sent by the government. Is this really how PM Cares?

We are Scared of Numbers

The rote learning based education system largely stresses on satisfying the condition of “hence proved” either by hook or by crook. We’re seeing the same happening today while recording fresh cases and death rates. We invented zero and so we are at liberty to put it or remove it while recording data whenever we want to so that the final figures are not too horrifying (but are definitely misleading).

In this, all of us have also collectively, very smoothly, steered the nation into a deadly second wave of the pandemic by declaring victory much before the war ended. Flouting all safety measures, we all listened to our mann ki baat by attending weddings, election rallies and Kumbh Mela celebrations exhibiting that awareness and action often lie at opposing ends. 

There is no point in crying over the spilled milk now, as good days definitely await us while we wait to get an OTP for vaccination.

The onus is now upon us, as individuals, to contribute to breaking the chain of Covid-19 infections because the governments have failed to understand and predict human behaviour as they vehemently conduct meetings and address crowds without masks. The “credit” has been bagged; the “crisis” is now ours to solve.

Uncle Ben said rightly to Peter Parker that, “With great powers come great responsibilities.” The leaders of today are very busy efficiently discharging their political duties by solving problems such as ramping up production of (not vaccines, if you thought so) the Central Vista project by hastily razing off buildings and rebuilding them again on the pretext of “lives and livelihoods” lost by millions of Indians who have been pushed into clutches of poverty. 

For them, it is khela shesh, but the virus is still here, now along with its “fungal” friends and “variant” relatives, loudly roaring for yet another khela hobe

We all know that this is not ending anytime soon and with the increase in every inch of beard hair on our chappan inch chested PM, our tales of being Atmanirbhar will reach their zenith. The question is: how well are we braced for the next wave?

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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 Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’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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