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How Do We Regenerate Politics In Our Country?

What is the first thing that flashes in your mind when you encounter the word “politics”? Politics can be anywhere, in a private firm and even in an interschool competition (some people will agree with me). Here I am emphasising a landmass highlighted with the so-called boundaries.

Did not get it? Politics in a sovereign state. Is there politics in an autocracy, a dictator led state or in a monarch? Obviously, no. Just try to recall the notes of your civics book from class 6–8. The merits and demerits of which form of government we had (pros and cons of the Indian education system is another issue).

BJP Demonstrate In Kolkata
Representative Image. (Photo by Debajyoti Chakraborty/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Yes, you got it right. Here I would specifically be discussing the politics in the world’s greatest democracy, India. The complexity of the word can be predominantly expressed when you think about the moment when anybody asks you to define it. So, it’s better not to mingle our nose into the geopolitics for the time.

And let us introspect the political games, the political opinions, perspective of people towards politicians and what strives ahead for us to mend the broken system.

The damage is already done. And now is the time to restore it. Do you know how? Because we have the youth power. We need to ensure the purpose of the political system, which should thereby be implemented.

This article isn’t about the system and its rules. But to rip off the root cause of the problems that it had created. Continuously, we keep saying that politics has ruined the country. And we’re already aware of what we actually refer to.

Politics isn’t dirty; politicians are. The morality of our politicians has degraded over the years to such a level that the word “politician” itself is seen as a negative remark, as something unacceptable. And it is the pretext of all the self-declared good people to stay away from dirty politics.

Over the decades, the creed of politicians has multiplied more than the population growth rate. These politicians have not only spoiled the governing process but have percolated into different streams of life. This is the reason why every problem in India can be traced to the political nexus, be it corruption, illegal trade, price rise, social and economic problems, poverty, and thus, the list is unending. 

Occasionally, we have heard people calling their leaders underqualified. Have you heard that CM referring to “angrez” ruling over for 200 years as Americans instead of Britishers? Have you heard people saying that politicians are just a face and all the work or the ideas about welfare are given by the chief advisor?

Have you heard people calling their MLA’s once as goons? Have you seen parties giving tickets to actors and actresses without knowing about the three organs of the state to gain votes by their popularity? Have you heard people being criticised over their statement regarding the rape cases that women should be prohibited from using mobile phones to not indulge as victims?

These become tea time gossips or whenever there is mob lynching, this becomes a subject to be discussed for a day or two and then forgotten.

Do you know why? Because we people are resistant to come out of our comfort zone. We expect fortune to be brought up by any readymade leader. Without having any knowledge who would make it readymade.

The blame game is not famous between the political parties. But I think it has created its place in us as well. I am not a saint either. It is the mentality that I grew with the repeated hooliganism.

We fear. We are afraid. We desire to bring change. And we end up playing this game. Since childhood, we had known “Unity is Strength”. But have we really applied it anywhere instead of cheering for your favourite team or even playing for it? The footprint of every step may be small, but with consistent steps forward, we can bring a big change.

protest
Representative Image.

So it is high time not only to discuss the futuristic plans or the outcome that they can bring but to be the first in the way to the development.

A lot of motivation. A lot of moral values. So, to be said that it’s better to be done than to be preached. The problems with the politicians and even of us has been discussed. Now, what do I propose? I demand those who preach to be the leaders must be taught the definition of leaders to begin with. It truly has some deep meaning. Morality does create some impact on us.

There are various examinations like GATE, UPSC, CDS, AFCAT, SSC, CGL, IBPS PO, etc.m to become something. And even it requires the eligibility criteria to be fulfilled. So, I demand the minimum qualification for a politician. The one who can run the government, to decide for the country’s welfare, to ensure the well being of its citizens.

So, as to test the person who comes into this field with this expected mindset, if anybody really wants to serve the nation, then an examination should not harm. If the same person is serving as a defence minister and as well a health minister, then think of the compatibility with the areas regarding which they make the decisions.

An examination will assure the citizens of their leaders’ educational background.

I agree, even an IAS officer being a politician cannot guarantee the well-being of a nation. What if he also turns out to be corrupt? Corruption becomes another issue.

So, it is time that moral values are inculcated within a soul and practised too because we are humans first than any other character. It may sound cliché and not applicable in governing the nation, but we assume it is impossible without even trying the available possibilities.

Isn’t it the leader of our dreams who knows what needs to be done and at the same time devoid of materialistic sentiments? It is the people’s varied perspectives that they see in their ideal leader.

We study the subjects in the school, even if we aren’t interested in them. Then, why not a separate subject for this? We may forget what we had studied in class 6 or 8. In my view, this subject will create a deeper impact on the students. For the practicals of some subjects, we require varied instruments, so we remain backwards to gain the practical knowledge till class 10.

This subject can be practised anywhere, anytime and must be practised every time because it is high time for us to create leaders (who fit in the description) rather than followers. 

Conclusively, if we aren’t satisfied with the present scenario, the current leaders, then complaining about it isn’t the solution. We need to draft an idea that will be effective in the long run. After drafting it, consultation is part of democracy.

Quoting “Iss desh ka toh kuch nahi ho sakta” may bring you temporary relief, but if you really have that burning sensation in you, then do care about what you do, rather than what you say. Our country demands the ideal leaders by changing the definition of the word “ideal”.

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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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