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Ride on Renewable Energy, Not Pollutants

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Satvik Shrivastava:

Automobile has been perhaps the greatest invention by man in the last century. It has comforted us to an extent, never imagined before. During the start of the 20th century, automobiles were exclusively an expensive affair, but Henry Ford, the automobile czar, revolutionized this industry. He exploited the urge of the people for the need of an affordable and luxurious mode of transport. His organization, Ford motors is till date a phenomenal success. Following the same ideology adopted by Ford, many new major players such as General Motors and Volkswagen entered this segment. The industry boomed to towering heights and the customer base expanded all over the world. However at the dawn of the century, a major environmental issue cropped up. The issue of global warming, mainly pushed forward by the eminent environmentalists of the 1980’s and the then prime minister of England, Mrs. Margaret Thatcher.

Their protocol was, that Carbon dioxide , a major greenhouse gas was evidently responsible for Global warming , and the automobile industry had a direct link with it. It was indeed, a gigantic contributor.

Ever since the direct link-up with environment issues, several players have entered the industry with promising new ideas which benefit the environment. Reva, an Indian start-up of the 21st century is already a major manufacturer of electric cars. Their vehicles are much smaller in size for compactness on the Indian roads and the core idea is for short distance travelling within a city. The car is equipped with rechargeable batteries and the vehicle gives a fairly decent performance overall. It is still on its way to make a more prominent mark in the sector. The company owners agree that it will take time for the Indian buyers to be accustomed with the idea of electric vehicles. They believe that with the realization of the impact of gas and fuel emissions , the customers can be more familiar and comfortable with this concept and automatically turn to environment friendly vehicles.

With increasing competition from such new start-ups , the dominant players of the market have also come up with various models of their pre-existing cars and other new vehicles which are farther more fuel efficient , with lesser fuel consumption which makes them highly cost efficient and easing their impact on the environment . The government too is doing its bit to the cause by having initiated CNG vehicular transport which has only rare traces of carbon dioxide and sulphur emissions .Metro rail projects have also been signed for several cities including Delhi and Bangalore where the constructions are being carried out in full vigour. These projects would severely emphasize on usage of public transport and unanimously help towards reducing pollution.

In the recent past , the introduction of Tata motors’ Nano , termed as the people’s car , has been highly debated. At a time where there is a major stress on usage of public transports and reduction of fuel emissions, the Nano appears to be turning the table around. Priced at just little over Rs. 1lakh, the vehicle is obviously affordable to the major masses of the country, something precisely the makers aim at. Their direct targeting the lower and middle income classes is set to create havoc. A Vehicle affordable to such huge numbers, would vastly magnify our environment issues alongside creating a menace on the roads. The Nano , predominantly poses an inescapable threat to our already growing global concerns.

Scientists in the western nations and Japan have long been proposing the usage of hybrid fuels. These are mainly water and oxygen based fuels which are highly efficient. They have mainly been derived from the fuels used in space programmes for space shuttles and rockets. The most important factor for stressing on the global usage of such fuels is that the only residue they leave behind after combustion are merely oxygen gas along with traces of water. Major experiments on vehicles are being carried out in the laboratories of major car makers to test the marketability of these fuels. Another such proposition is solar energy based cars . These vehicles are equipped with solar cells which can be charged all throughout the day and the vehicle operates entirely on solar energy. The only limitation is that it can only be successfully used in areas which receive sunlight for most parts of the day.

With such new ventures coming up and the global bend towards alternate fuels, the industry is poised to become a major contributor for a safer and healthier environment whilst meeting its primary aim for an even more effective transportation with the rapid advancement of technology.

image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vscript/3625754702/

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  1. Shruthi Venukumar

    Recently I had a chance to attend a conference on renewable energy sources where prominent Indian & Australian speakers put in their voices and joined forces. A point was made there … that of the concept of electric automobiles being over-rated. These vehicles are recharged using AC mains, in simple terms, electricity. In a country like India, electricity is produced from thermal-power plants which use fossil fuels for operation. Thus, even electric cars in the Indian scenario are not really “green cars” as the source of energy can ultimately be traced back to fossil fuels. Running a battery-operated car has several steps of energy conversions. Thermal (from coal) to electric to chemical (in the battery) to electric again. At every stage, there is some unavoidable loss of energy. The battery is able to tap much less energy than what the coal used to generate it originally had. Whereas in direct use of fossil fuels, energy efficiency is much more. (Also keep in mind the low efficiency of our thermal power plants.)

    In countries where electricity generation is based on solar/nuclear energy etc, electric cars are a brilliant idea. Till India switches over to cleaner electricity production, electric cars should wait.

  2. Satvik Shrivastava

    Yes Shruti but we also need to keep in mind that there is a major shift towards hydel power plants in our country. That is helping, at least in some way to contribute to the growing need of the hour.

  3. Shruthi Venukumar

    You are right. There is a shift towards hydel power plants but not something that I would call a paradigm shift. At present, 75% of electrical energy generation in India is by thermal power plants running almost entirely on fossil fuel. Hydel power plants contribute 21% (& Nuclear power plants pitch in 4%). The percentage is bound to increase gradually, but until then, battery-operated cars may not be as feasible as it is made out to be.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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