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A Few Essentials of Rural Development

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Praveen Kumar:

Rural India is the future. From Government to the multinationals like Uniliver, rural India is the target. The untapped market for multinationals and the vote bank for the Government, both lies nowhere but in the remote places of this country. Advancing technology is one tool that can bridge the gap between the Urban India and the Rural India. More than 60 % of India’s population lives in the rural region. And to empower India, this 60% needs empowerment.

The prime stigma for India to worry is its poverty and illiteracy. Poverty never dies, illiterates does not find means to survive. If a farmer in a remote village has an acre of land, 6 people of that family depend on that one acre land for their daily bread. 3 people are enough to cultivate the land efficiently, but because of no other work, the remaining three also stay back. This is called Disguised Unemployment. And probably the answer to our question lies here. We need to fight disguised unemployment.

Facts tell us that not more than 30% of India’s land is good for cultivation. But 60% of the population is in to agriculture. That means, there are more people at work for lesser a job. Logically, we cannot expect a crop which will exceed what a 30% of India’s land can grow. What we need is technology. Technology to better the agricultural practices. We need to shift more people to the Industries. At the end of the day, land will remain the same. Size of cultivating land will be same, but industries can expand. The call for Industrialization is thus derived from this theory.

Lack of science and technology (S&T), education and research amenities is the origin of rural backwardness resulting in villages being treated as ‘colonies’ for urban goods. Although tremendous strides have been made in S&T in post-independence India, development is mainly focused on creating big S&T institutions and upgrading S&T infrastructure in major cities (‘big science’, macro-S&T). Rural India, which still accounts for 70% of the nation’s population, has been grossly ignored.

There is an urgent need to implement the notion of ‘small science’ (micro-S&T) tailored for the rural sector to make villagers self-reliant. A beginning could be made by aggressively promoting outreach programmes in modern science education and research for young village students. Also, steps should be taken to establish a number of modest Rural Institute of Science Education and Research (sort of mini-IISER) spread all over the country with the ultimate goal of ‘science for all’. In the present setting, competition between rural and urban youth is uneven and unjust. It is time we provide villagers a level playing field and take them on board as equal partners. This is the only way to prevent emergence of two sub-nations ‘Bharat’ and ‘India’.

The problem

Need for Rural Technology brings out major deficiencies we have in terms of Infrastructure, Electricity, Drinking water, health care and Sanitation. These problems and more seek immediate attention. Ministry of Rural Development has to act and act faster to resolve the problems. Backing the small scale industries through Rural Entrepreneurship and job creation is one of the effective ways of adhering to the problem.

Information Technology

Infomation and communication technology sector have already begun the work. The mobile revolution has created a buzz in the rural markets. Farmers are provided special customized messaging services ensuring them about weather conditions and other farming tips. Mobile updates are sent to them about the market prices of the commodities and other agricultural crops. It is a surprising fact that most of the Value added services like Dial for FM, Dial for a Song are majorly used by the rural pool.

Rural Education

Dropouts from primary schools have increased in recent years. This is an unstoppable phenomenon that has been seen over time. The dropouts need to be restricted. Besides regular schools, Government should open Skill Centres where people with less interest in studies build upon their skills and talents. Govt can take help from the Polytechnic colleges to lauch certificate vocational courses for people from remote places. ITI course is still there but it has become obsolete. There is no way an industry would appreciate a person who comes up with old techniques.

Agricultural Technology

Israel is a land of desert, but stil they grow much better crops than India. Their agricultural techniques are world famous. India needs that kind of technology or better. Farmers have to equip themselves with technology to produce better results. Government needs to educate farmers on the latest techniques of water usage in low water areas. The agricultural ministry has to take steps to empower the farmers with better faming techniques.

A developing country cannot turn out to be developed without the development of its rural base. Rural regions are still deprived of electricity and basic necessities. Poverty in rural areas has resulted in suicides of a large number of farmers. Modern technology has not touched the lives of people even after sixty years of independence. Therefore, the rural problems are manifold in nature but the solutions are very less. Technological advancements together with increase in literacy in rural areas can possibly be the best tool to fight the prevailing problems.

The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz and also an MBA student at IIFT.

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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, 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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