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Lucknow Undergoing Makeover — Are Basic Issues Being Neglected? [City of Nawabs Now City Of Stones]

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By Amrita Kohli:

Once the city of Nawabs, now one of stone, Lucknow is presently under a major make over. How good is this transformation? Let’s decide for ourselves.

The city is practically covered in Kota stone which is being used in enormous quantities to construct smaraks (monuments), parks and just one too many impractical constructions taking over precious road space. Towering dome-like creations have engulfed the city and even more are under construction. Unnecessary expenditure has already taken place and it’s not stopping any time soon by the looks of it. It all came into conspicuous attention when the road leading up to the airport came under the scanner. The path was compact and not very well lit, with a stream on one side and small woodland on the other. Next thing the city dwellers know, the forest was stripped down to its last tree trunk and a rather large collection of workers began the tedious task of making the road broader. In the other part of the town a colossal monument was seen taking shape. It marked the beginning of many more to come and brought into focus the soon-to-be-famous Kota stone used for its creation. Once the Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar Smarak was completed, construction work spread across the city like wild fire (one that was intentional). The route to the airport came back into the spotlight and trucks loaded with more Kota stone, bulldozers and concrete mixers suddenly took the area by storm, constructing and de-constructing ruthlessly that, which should have been left alone. Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar Maidan came into existence; its requirement is left to be articulated. Currently, the same area is being further adorned with fountains on enormous foundations creating traffic disturbances along with devastating air and noise pollution. Accidents have increased manifold due to these “architectural” creations, which to be frank are not even pleasing to the eyes.

Time has certainly elapsed but the work hasn’t stopped; nor has the requirement of crores of rupees for all that is still left to be done. One, or the other road is almost always blocked, the dividers are never just right because they are done, undone and done again and again. Grills are reinforced on the road edges only to be removed and put back in. The roads are graveled over and over and more of such unfathomable work goes on relentlessly.

The city went into bitter resentment when houses and shops around the area mentioned, were bulldozered down to the ground, one most have not recovered from. Yes, certain areas of the city are cleaner and the roads are wider and smoother but expanses of land used up for parks with stone carved elephants and statues could have been used productively. The area could have been utilized for the plantation of trees or housing allotments for the underprivileged.

Also, no one can disagree that a certain populace of workers has benefited with employment opportunities but again, at the cost of what? Most of those workers are now suffering from various diseases due to the inhalation of stone dust. Lack of first-aid and improper on-site facilities like drinking water, have also accounted for several grievances among the labor force. Many are also seen sprawled on the pavements late at night for what can easily be judged as a lack of shelter, a prime necessity. Now while the city is enveloped in posters and statues of our beloved Chief Minister (and her purse) waving and smiling down at her followers (in name) one cannot help but wonder if this metamorphosis will ever stop. The inhabitants of the city are tired of the incessant construction work, cannot be escaped. What, they ask is the need for such indiscriminate waste of essential resources collected from taxes they pay after much hard-work?

The need of the hour is to cut back on inconsequential work and plan out what really needs to be done for the greater good (and no, beautifying the city does not come under greater good, nor does creating extra memorials). Those who have been rendered homeless need shelter and possible employment, electricity used to sparkle up the city should only be used for lighting purposes (there is no need for the city to be viewable from space), areas which are overly crowed and dirty need particular attention, special care has to be taken to prevent crime, creation of more statues, parks, gardens, fountains, and/or any massive proportions has to stopped and resources need to allocated beneficially and should be accounted for. The city requires the above and more for the moment and we hope only the city and not those in charge are cast in stone.

The writer is Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.

Image: [The La Martiniere school and college]

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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.

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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.

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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
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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