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Globalization Chucking Out Sovereignty Ideals?

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By Abhirup Bhunia:

Is the demise of sovereignty at the heart of globalization? It is an old question-mark newly positioned. Political scientists have run over the argument time and again but like all other debates which are characteristically long-drawn-out, this one hasn’t died out either — indeed in light of the recent global confabs, the argument has been revived. Two of the most popular international deliberations on entirely dissimilar issues coming about concurrently (the world economy slump and Af-Pak) have, however, drawn out one similar contention — does the doctrine of globalization embark on where principles of sovereignty have ceased to exist?

It has been in the vital interests of the international community that nations in the past have shown prudent readiness in relinquishing some or most of their much cherished sovereignty to the world bodies. But in wake of recent global events, fears of having made too much of globalization have cropped up. Yet there are incidents which point to the contrary. The American war in Afghanistan that resulted in petering out of the Taliban, to whom the Americans now mull talking to, has thrown light on the necessity of having an internationalized outlook to contend with large-scale troubles. Terrorism, some say, has integrated and brought together the world community since almost every nation sees benefit in the extinction of terrorist outfits. Having said that, in any case, even terrorism has in place, a highly globalized system — the global jihadi network.

With the full-blown concept of globalization having suffused all corners of the world, nations have coped with increasing demands to have their sovereignty curtailed. International law has been in place since ages, but the mere disrespect meted out to it is proof of its powerlessness. Political scholars have argued that such a supervising law, not only came in way of sovereign laws of the land, but has also shown utter ineptitude in stopping, or at least effectively dealing with, wars. But the model of having an ingrained system of laws governing the behavior of states, towards each other and in connection with international proceedings, has been kept alive by way of international institutions, most importantly the United Nations. Today the United Nations can impose sanctions on Iran, enforce similar interdicts on North Korea, urge Pakistan and India to sign the NPT/CTBT, and so on, owing to the increasing willingness of the nations to cede sovereignty to a body that will oversee nations’ performances. At present, the clout exercised by the Group of Twenty, the United Nations Security Council, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization and the rest is unmatched and the nations have prepared themselves to face up to newness instead of trumpeting sovereignty, which is, by all means, judging by the current temperament, a worn-out theory.

With the stringency of borders fading away and the nations opening up to each other; with tariffs being lowered and trade being facilitated, nations have rightly come to believe that no strategy can be formulated and no effect expected to roll up, in isolation today, not the least policies related to economy. The economic failure of a nation-state automatically endangers others, not only in immediate neighborhood, but elsewhere too in the long run, unless outstandingly wise monetary policies are adopted. With the foundation of capital accounts by means of which finances flows across borders with graceful ease, the dependency of a nation’s growth on foreign investments, and finally, the waning away of borders thanks to the advancement in technology-aided international transportation, the fate of the countries’ economic boom and bust have become interwoven. When the term ‘international price’ (which is decided by global markets) is conveniently used by policymakers as the rationale for skyrocketing prices of foodstuff, petroleum and the likes, in third world countries, there is little scope of disbelief that internationalization of economics, finances and banking have put classical or even contemporary definitions of sovereignty out of place.

The foundation of, by nations and their affiliations to, local or regional bodies meant to work together in the interests of peace and stability of the region are not only answers to the inevitability of the globalization model, but also promoters of the latter. While the SAARC’s and the BRIC’s may be the talking point given the shift of focus on emerging economies, the precedent was set by European Union. The EU and its unified monetary policy, which is overseen by the European Central Bank, maintains a common currency while minimizing a nation’s own way of handling a crisis. Then again, each time a nation-state suffers a sovereign debt, like Greece has in recent times, it jeopardizes its associates under the union that comprises independent nations. With trade barriers lifted and accordingly free trade pacts signed at ostentatious ceremonies, economic impacts have been spreading like adamantly endemic viruses. Not to mention, the phenomena of smuggling and trafficking that come through as part and parcel of globalization.

At the same time military deals like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the erstwhile Warsaw pact and now an abstract called ‘counter-terrorism’ which is signed almost between every two nations when their heads meet, tightens up on the nation’s sovereign decision-making authority with regards to armed forces.

Today, the human rights group can charge an island — a sovereign land — with war crimes and demand action; today the multinational corporations who have an eye on worldwide profits can spell doom for a country in terms of employment and creation of jobs by their own policies which they lay down only with the purpose of facilitating maximum turnovers with the least pecuniary input (no wonder outsourcing does become a national issue and a poll decider); today the world can come together and corner a country for its alleged misbehavior and for sinking neighboring warships; today a nation can be pushed to the wall for supposedly having planned to build up clandestine nuclear armory and so forth. Among other questions that have been raised, the one that’s predominant is whether globalization at all does common good? Or does it add to the good in better times only to fall apart altogether in bad times? Is it a tool to show solidarity against common adversaries or one to corner a country? Is it the means by which cohesive policies are framed to cope with troubles or a device that vows to pull down the entire humankind thanks to its team spirit?

While answers can only be awaited, one is almost sure the time-honored sovereignty theories once designed by classical social scientists seem to be in high need to be rooted out even from history books given the pace of internationalization and the challenges to sovereign principles posed by it coupled with the ones that are posed by MNC’s and TNC’s, which are the treasured epitomes of the ever-expanding trend called globalization.

The author is Special correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz. Contact him at abhirup.b1@gmail.com or follow him @abhirup1

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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.

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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.

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.

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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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