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Poem: What Is Patriotism In India Today?

Delhi for majesty,

Mumbai for urbanity,

Kashmir for fruit puddings,

Chennai for cooking,

Kolkata for reading,

Punjab for farming,

Uttar Pradesh for musical bands,

Rajasthan for sand,

Madhya Pradesh for mines,

Himachal Pradesh for pines,

Gujarat for potters,

Vishakapatnam for water.

This is our mighty India,

With beautiful greenery

And enjoyable scenery.

The Oxford dictionary defines patriotism as ‘love of your country and willingness to defend it’. But I think this explanation is not enough for the youth of today. Patriotism to today’s youth means the idea of equality. How can you love the country if the country doesn’t love you? How can you defend it if the system doesn’t defend you? National integration implies the unification of the diverse populace of the country. India is a secular country of rich cultural heritage with diverse races, religions, languages, castes, customs, and traditions. Even though a sprint of unity got India its freedom from British rule, still, a major challenge to unify the subcontinent was faced soon after independence. National integration remains a crucial issue in India even though India can boast of a civilization that is 5000 years old.

True, some of the divisive factors may be inherent in the history, geography, and culture of India, but there have been forces that accentuate these factors. Differentiation and discrimination based on sex is one such example. Religious fundamentalism is another one. Some people hold an exclusive view of religion which drives them into a sectarian frenzy that does not admit any tolerance of other faiths. Topics such as sex education and a positive change in peoples’ psychology can play a vital role in strengthening emotional integration by broadening the outlook, fostering a feeling of oneness, nationalism, and tolerance so that people rise above the narrow group interests and strive for the national good.

Representational Image. Every patriotic Indian speaks out against discrimination against the girl child.

We need a mighty India where there wouldn’t be a thing like the 7 pm deadline when walking on a lonely street would no longer be unsafe, when a thousand eyes don’t stare at you as you walk by when working hard wouldn’t be overshadowed by the fear of unlucky destiny, when traveling alone would not be dangerous, when the only reason to be on the news would be something worthy and not filthy when the only reason citizens would come together would be an occasion to celebrate when talking to anyone will not make people judge you when women will only be respected and not scorned when I would know that my country is truly free. My India! Arise! Awake! I am waiting for thee.

Apart from the crimes against women another important issue is the killing of the girl child. People have to believe that:

The past has gone

The practice is over

Now every girl has the right,

To get a year older.

Fighting against all the odds and ends,

She leads a tough life.

Went to school,

To succeed in life.

She has the right,

To get her demand heard.

Screaming in her quiet rage,

Inside the society’s cage.

Allowed to be learned,

Not anymore she is a nerd.

Let the girls live.

Stop them from being killed.

Don’t think she is any less,

For this is our request.

There is nothing,

She can’t do it.

For she is so brave,

Lays on her the world’s fate.

See who the laurels are bringing,

It’s the girl who is shining.

It’s either Chanu’s Silver or Sindhu’s Bronze,

Both of them deserve resounding applause.

This is how the girls will show patriotism if they are supported by the country and its people.

Even though the government has taken various steps such as setting up of National Integration council, laws to deal with crimes against women; but civil society and its institutions such as The People’s Integration Council have a key role to play. The only religion for the government should be economic growth, equality, justice, and human development. If the citizens continue to discriminate against each other on any basis, it will only get further divided. People need to understand that a Hindu can practice Islam and a Muslim can go to a Gurudwara if they want to. They shouldn’t be judged by society and if they are then they will lose confidence in the practice of patriotism as India has been running on the principle of ‘By the people, for the people, of the people.’ The person getting discriminated against will always end up losing trust and faith in their own country.

Another major way of discrimination is racism because according to our society dark skin is not good enough. From a very young age, youth is told to slap their faces with fairness creams. Every face wash is a slap in the face because we have a skin tone ugly which seems. People scan through the magazines for humans who looked like them with deeper hues, flat noses, and thin hair. They had a voice but they muted their sound, all just because of society and its thinking. We should acknowledge our differences because nobody is saying we aren’t different. Everyone’s hair, skin color, values, etc are different and it’s okay to talk about that. If we just accept the fact that we are different and acknowledge why we are different instead of pretending that nobody is different and still secretly thinking we are different, we might finally be on the same page and be less different. All such forces of disintegration are ugly heads of the dragon and pose a serious challenge to India’s unity and the mentality of the youth who are the future of holding this country together, who will truly be ready to defend India and its citizens.

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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.

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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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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.

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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
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