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What Is Leadership? [ETHICS, GOVERNANCE AND BUSINESS]

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By Sharanarthy Jaswanth:

When I asked a question “what is leadership?” to a class of 38, I got 3 answers, which were totally different from each other. Then I should not be surprised of what Mr. Warren Bennis, leadership expert said, he is aware of at least 860 definitions of leadership. So leadership is all about the perception that each one has. According to me, leadership is all about POSITIVE ACTION THROUGH POSITIVE ATTITUDE. Now it does not take a genius to recognize what leadership crisis is about. It is a collapse of positive action OR positive attitude. Is India in a leadership crisis? I would be criticized when some one hears this question. As everyone is aware that India is rapidly developing to become the 2nd largest economy sooner than later. But my answer will be a strong YES. Strange? Do read on to understand where India is headed.

Government, Sports, Spiritual Institutions, Educational Institutions, Corporate firms…name any in India…all shaken with scandals. The monetary situation in our country is so weak that the fiscal deficit is pegging at 6% summing up to 3.5 lakh cr of deficit (Rediff business, March 02 2010). The food inflation which directly affects common people like you and me is at 12.92 (data released on July 1 2010). The recent hike in the fuel prices will only add to the soaring inflation rate. If a leader wants a separate state then start a hunger strike, act of democracy. Although huge amount is spent on education, the literacy levels of our country look dismal. The Bhopal tragedy hearing left all Indians thwarted; proving India to be No Action Talk Only country, NATO country. The above substantiations are just examples from recent past which clearly shows the LEADERSHIP CRISIS in India.

This article has 3 different stories explaining how the government, sports and business is need of leaders of Governance, Ethics, innovation. This will lead the country in transforming itself from where it is now.

Leadership in Ethics:

Sports In 2010, IPL became the only sporting event to be screened on You Tube. Its brand value was estimated to be 18,000 cr the same year. According to global sports salaries review, IPL is the second highest-paid league, based on first-team salaries on a pro rata basis, second only to the NBA. It is estimated that the average salary of an IPL player over a year would be £2.5 million. The same brand which made every Indian proud, can also make us feel ashamed one fine day. IPL became a cocktail of sports, politics, glamour, money, business. Now BCCI & IPL famous brands of India are in need of complete refurbishment, leaving a strong trail of unethical leadership. Is India in search of ETHICAL LEADERS?

Leadership in Governance:

FDI handling While the economy shifts from west to east, there are a number of companies who are wishing to set up their business in India presuming strong growth in future. The question is how ready is the Indian government to handle large monetary inflows. For instance 5 yrs before POSCO steel major Korean steel player signed a deal with the centre to set up a steel plant of capacity of 12 mtpa with a monetary inflow of 50,000 cr making it the largest FDI in India so far. The technology they wish to bring is very apt to our country, which utilizes Iron ore fines rather than lump & it is a CDM which attracts carbon credits. Moreover the project will create 50,000 direct & indirect employments with large share in indirect employment. Even after 5 complete years there is no progress in the project, as they are yet to break ground. They are still in the process of acquiring the land for the project. So this clearly shows the dismal state of our policy of handling FDI. Is India in search of LEADERS IN GOVERNANCE?

Leadership in Business:

Innovation The International Innovative Index is a global index, measuring the level of innovation of a country. India ranks 56th position out of 130 countries (Livemint March 04, 2010). This is because India spends less than 1% of its GDP on research & development. So is the case with business houses, their spending on research & development is very low when compared with their international counterparts. This also clearly pitches that how the corporate world has failed in engaging the employee with the business as people are the source of innovation. In India we can easily count the firms which are innovative, e.g. 3M India, for their product like Scotch Brite. TATA motors for their products like Ace, Nano. Are businesses in India need of LEADERS IN INNOVATION?

Yes, India is in need of leaders who can transform. Needless to say India is growing rapidly but the basic question is how sustainable is the development? To have a sustainable development we need to have good leaders who envision a better tomorrow in all terms of the nation. Needless to say if such a leadership crisis pertains throughout our development, India is sure to have its own Lehman brothers in the near future.

Sharanarthy Jaswanth is a student of the Business Leadership Program from School of Inspired Leadership at www.soilindia.net

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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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