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Why Is The Centre Dragging Its Feet On Conducting A Caste Census

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JDU MPs led by JD(U) national president and leader of parliamentary party in Lok Sabha Rajiv Ranjan alias Lalan Singh on Monday met Home Minister Amit Shah and demanded a caste-based census in the country. In this regard, a signed memorandum of 16 JDU MPs was also handed over to the Home Minister. He said that by conducting caste census, the central government would also be facilitated in making policy.

JDU MPs had sought time to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this regard, but news came from there to meet the Home Minister and submit a memorandum. JD(U) MPs led by Lalan Singh, who went to meet the Home Minister, included Chandeshwar Chandravanshi, Ramnath Thakur, Santosh Kushwaha, Sunil Kumar Pintu, Alok Kumar Suman, Kavita Singh, Kaushalendra Kumar, Dinesh Chandra Yadav, Dular Chandra Goswami, Dileshwar Kamat, Vijay Kumar etc.

After the meeting, Lalan Singh told that Home Minister Shah agreed with their arguments but also spoke of some counter-points that needed to be addressed. JDU MPs confirmed that they were ready for discussion whenever called upon to do so.

Until the actual number of backward classes is not known, then even schemes for their benefit could not be made. Representational image.

JDU MPs have said in the memorandum submitted to the Home Minister that in the monsoon session of Parliament, it was told by the Central Government that the 2021 census will not be caste based. They said that this information was disappointing and that they were all shocked and saddened by this information, because the central government is known for the welfare of the backward and downtrodden.

Further, they stated that today, most of the people of the country support the caste based census. Until the actual number of backward classes is not known, then even schemes for their benefit could not be made. Apart from SCs and STs, there are other weaker sections whose actual number will be known only after caste based census.

Only then will it help in making programs for the upliftment of all classes. It has also been mentioned in the memorandum to send a unanimous resolution passed twice by the Bihar Legislature to the Central Government.

After meeting the Home Minister, JDU National President Lalan Singh told the media that caste-based census has been their demand since the beginning. The resolution passed unanimously by the Bihar Legislature twice in the year 2019 and 2020 was sent to the Central Government. Parties like RJD, JDU, BJP which have been involved in this said that the decision had to be taken by the Central Government and JDU has conveyed its demands.

Lalan Singh said that caste based census has been done once in 1931, after which it has not been conducted since. Now, if the different claims of the castes regarding their numbers are taken into account, then the population of India would work out to be three times as opposed to the recorded one.

Therefore caste census is necessary for real time information as well. In response to a question, Lalan Singh said that he does not know what the leaders of BJP are saying today but the BJP also lent its support to the resolutions passed by the Bihar Legislature regarding the caste census twice.

Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Yadav has said that RJD will stage a sit-in at all the district headquarters of the state on August 7, 2021 on the occasion of Mandal Diwas demanding to conduct the caste census, filling up lakhs of backlog vacancies from the reserved quota and implementing all the remaining recommendations of the Mandal Commission.

Tejashwi Yadav has also tagged the letter of the party’s state general secretary Alok Mehta with this tweet, which has been sent to all the district units. It has been said in the letter that on 7 August 1990, the Janata Dal government in the country under the leadership of the then Prime Minister VP Singh implemented the recommendations of the Mandal Commission.

The massive support, efforts and contribution of RJD National President Lalu Prasad paved the way for the “Bahujan Samaj” of the country to join the mainstream. Mr Mehta has written that on the call of Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Yadav and on the instructions of the party’s state president Jagdanand Singh, it has been decided to demonstrate and submit a memorandum at all the district headquarters on 7th August.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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