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The Flickering Flame: Some Good News Amid A River Of Bad Ones

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Well, the title of the article is ‘The Flickering Flame’; clearly, the incidents promoted below are an everlasting flame, but we’re also well aware of the stormy crime winds that are making this flame flicker!

But let’s not forget: the oil to the flame is a boundless love of humanity that may disappear in fog but shall never be evicted till the humans are here, thriving. So, this article is just a collection of some small happy incidents, some slightly old (a month or so), and some as recent as a day or two ago. I’ll try my best to put the best of what I came across.

India’s First Water-Plus City

A water-plus city is a city whose dirty water doesn’t go to any river or drain; a city where all public toilets are connected to sewer lines and regularly cleaned; and a city whose 30% sewer water is recycled, treated and reused. And the matter of the fact is that in August, India got its first water plus city — Indore, Madhya Pradesh.

Think about it: an Indian City where there is no such impediment as dirty water! Could we’ve even imagined this beauty in a nation where we constantly struggle to find the clear Ganges that corresponds to its sanctity? It’s a utopia for all of us living outside Indore.

Well, let’s take into account that in order to achieve this aim, certain steps were taken by the citizens themselves at their cost, while the rest were taken care of by a genuinely dedicated administration (wishing for an alike will of the citizens and administration in all the other cities, including the Capital).

The Police Against Cyber Crime

According to another incident from Madhya Pradesh, two Gwalior constables cut a diamond with another diamond through sheer grit and efficiency. Four years ago, they had set up a Whatsapp group for e-companies, fellow officers and others in the Cyber Crime Department all over the nation after succeeding in tracking a cybercriminal and retrieving the lost money from him via an astute use of technology.

When they first set it up, its members barely saw any future of it. However, in August this year, on a day when the world stood terrified of the Afghanistan situation, another success of these two in the Khaki occupied a small column in a national daily, bringing a little smile to my face.

cyber crime bullying

Via this Whatsapp group, on August 16, they succeeded in recovering Rs 75,000 of a man whose granddaughter had come running to the officers, breathless with the worry of losing her granddad’s money that he had saved for his cancer treatment to a cybercrime (claps in happy tears)!

The Hope Bus

And now, hopping to my city, Delhi. Well, again, around a month ago, smiles beautified this six-wheeler as it boarded young and curious minds, eager to renew studies they had almost lost contact with during the lockdown because of poverty and lack of electronic devices/internet.

Gauri, 8, reacts inside a parked bus run by TejasAsia, an NGO using “Hope” buses as mobile classrooms for children living in slums, near the Tughlaqabad fort in New Delhi, India August 9, 2021. Picture taken August 9, 2021. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

From myriad slum areas of Delhi, parents happily dropped their kids to this bus, where they were taught for four hours, given notebooks and later, food as well. And this is from the week when this news surfaced. By now, the kids would’ve learnt so much while roaming around the city! All of it, done by the TejasAsia NGO, whose founder has bigger dreams.

Real-Life ‘Amar-Akbar-Anthony’ Kind Of Re-uniting

Yet again an August news from Hyderabad: Three sisters —14, 12 and five years old — got orphaned after their father’s death three years ago, following which they got separated in different NGOs. While the two elder sisters met soon after, they kept reminding the authorities of their younger sister whom they couldn’t find.

However, the administrative authorities had rescued the youngest one. And when they conducted a science fair for rescued kids this year, just like other events that they used to conduct, the photographs of the same were shared in varied orphanages and NGOs. And that is when the big moment happened. The two elder sisters recognised one little kid in those photos as their own sister whom they had been looking for. And guess what? Their DNA tests matched and the three have been reunited.

Miracle of love, I say!

A Demolition For The Good

And just as the Virgo month began, an order of perfection that was much sought after finally brought the satisfaction of a much-deserved victory to an RWA and its residents of Noida, Sector 93A.

A land that Supertech Limited had bought in the area in 2004 saw the rise of two high-rise towers in 2017, against which the RWA of the area approached the court over the violation of certain measures that limit the wellness of the residents. After three years, the order came for a speedy demolition of towers that were built too close to each other, thus limiting residents’ access to ventilation, air and light. Including allegations against the builders as well as the violation of green cover, the case was probably going on since 2009-10 and has finally bore sweet fruits.

Did A Leader Just Deny Sycophancy?

Nothing big otherwise, but just a ‘wow in surprise’ was my reaction when I got to know that the Tamil Nadu CM denied his party members to unnecessarily sing his praise in the house. He even requested a punishment to those who continued the old habit of flattery despite his instruction.

I mean, okay, there is nothing to celebrate in this case and it might seem suspicious to a few. But if taken on its face value, it seems akin to the attributes of the kind of leaders we’d want — the kind that would give value to the states and the nation like bronze and gold, rather than getting themselves statued out of these.

Became A Commoner To Catch Those Who Troubled The Commoners

I’m proud to say this good news is from New Delhi again. A senior Divisional Commercial Manager, disguised as a common passenger, went around odd places at the New Delhi Railway Station and ended up catching 17 TTEs red-handedly for obliterating their duties and making a menace for travellers who were there to cherish their trip.

He caught some staff members drunk on duty, some without their name tags (making it difficult for passengers to file complaints) and those who took passengers to areas without CCTV coverage to ask for bribes and other despicable favours. Doesn’t it remind you of those episodes from epics where they showed a humble ruler travelling through his region as a subject in the night?

The Forces And The Women

Well, with immense pride over the forces that already broaden our chests with pride, here are two things to further elevate this feeling. The first one is the elating fact that women will now be allowed to take the NDA exam, enter the academy for training and be appointed as commissioned officers. And we will finally see real-life Mardaanis, as the women will show the world India’s nari shakti on the defensive front as well.

Credit: Getty Images

Another beautiful piece of news is about Major Aaina Rana, who recently became the first female officer to take charge of road construction with the BRO in the challenging Himalayan region near the Indo-China border. She has been appointed here after nine years of service, and her smile is enough to reiterate the strength of this nation’s females

Credit: Navbharat Times

Village Library: A Boon For Females

Delhi, yet again to win your dil. In the Karala village of the National Capital Territory, the efforts of the administration, combined with the will and cooperation of residents, recently opened an all women’s library for young girls of the village from underprivileged families. The girls are filled with hope in their eyes and can finally come to the place away from their nagging neighbours and troublesome relatives, and study in silent-soulful rooms for exams such as SSC, UPSC, NEET etc.

They will appreciate the facilities available there that shall now aid them to reach closer to their aims and get their families out of the cobweb of poverty. The DM and her colleagues are working to arrange books for school girls and taking help from NGOs for the same.

Father Offers Free Golgappas On His Daughter’s Birth

A golgappa vendor from Bhopal offered free golgappas to hundreds of people to celebrate and share the happiness of the birth of his daughter. Anchal Gupta, who has been selling golgappas for the past 14 years, said that he wanted to give a message to all those who consider a daughter a burden. When crowds started pouring in for his free snacks, he even urged them to follow Covid protocols, but only few paid heed.

I am sure his daughter shall grow up to be the ideal girl our society need rather than the orthodox kind who has been taught to generations.

Streets Turn Into A Learning Tool In West Bengal’s District

A 34-yr old Bengal teacher Deep Narayan Nayak turned the streets of a tribal village of West Bengal into blackboards. For the past one year, he has been making this attempt to bring learning to the doorstep of his students, who otherwise would’ve lost contact with studies during the lockdown due to the paucity of technology.

And not just him, each of the teachers awarded on the occasion of Teacher’s Day had a tale of their own, a masterpiece of their own, that they painted with the hues of their dedicated service and a heart full of love for their pupils.

  • Additionally, INS-Dhruv, India’s First Nuclear Missile Tracking ship, now with the Indian Navy, is such a matter of pride for our country. Such an instrument was only with the five permanent members of the UNSC, but has been now built by our nation as well. Cheers!
  • The bigger and more celebrated happenings of the Olympic and Paralympic victories, and the record vaccinations of the past few days, too, don’t fail to show us a bright light.

And these are just a few instances that make us hold tight onto our faith in humanity and the innate goodness that humans possess. These were a few from the nation. Mention in the comments section if there are such international incidents please you as well.

And here, I’d like to conclude with a piece that I wrote sometime back, something that reinstalls my bond with ‘hope’.

Hope shall come like shoes of ballet dance. You shall bleed while it takes its time to set in you like the shoes fit onto the dancer’s feet. You’ll require aeons of pain to know what it takes to hold on to it through the thick and thin like the dancers live with ballet shoes, even with bandages. But once it’s ready in you, no step of yours shall remain unescorted by it, akin to how ballet shoes adore the same dancer they once caused wounds. You’ll thrive through the storm in grace with it while the rest would stay stunned by the skill, they didn’t know took tears uncountable, to have come to you.

As a youth, let’s not lose our will to work for the better. After all, our crumbling world needs more of such above-mentioned news.

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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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