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Climate Change And Its Relevance To Indian Subcontinent

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By Pallavi Devpriya Chauhan:

The blunt truth about the politics of climate change is that no country will want to sacrifice its economy in order to meet this challenge, but all economies know that the only sensible long term way of developing is to do it on a sustainable basis.

In the recently concluded UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP-16) at Cancun, banners of civil society groups hopefully and expectantly urged “Cancun Can.” And it did; at the end of two weeks of exhausting discussions and negotiations, the world has taken a small but sure step towards a meaningful set of global agreements on climate change. While countries did not agree on a set of final agreements, a set of draft texts was agreed upon as a basis for further discussion. This is a huge step forward, as, for the first time; it breaks the deadlock on key issues such as a “shared vision” for global emissions in the long term, a green climate fund, a framework for technology cooperation, transparency of emission reduction pledges, and deforestation emissions.

Even more important than the text was the buoyant and constructive spirit shared by all countries at Cancun. The conference concluded with a palpable sense of achievement and optimism. Every participating nation felt that while concessions were made by all sides, something positive was achieved. This showed the zeal of various countries working together for a constructive development. Here, by constructive I mean a sustainable development which lasts longer and does not cause harm to the general environment.

Don’t let the cold winter this year blindside you to a contrary phenomenon that is creeping up upon us. Recently I read a meteorological report where they had clearly mentioned that the temperatures are going to soar higher than what the country has recorded in the past 130 years. The monsoon too is going to change; it will rain as much, perhaps higher, but in a short span of time giving rise to extreme floods and crop failure.

Indians should be highly concerned about the climate change since this phenomenon might have substantial adverse impacts on them. Not all possible consequences of climate change are yet fully understood, but the three main “categories” of impact are those on agriculture, sea level rise leading to submerging of coastal areas, as well as frequency of extreme events. All these pose serious threats to India.

The average annual temperatures across the country could rise by 2 degree Celsius by the middle of the century and 3.5 degrees by its end. Scientist on the basis of some mathematical formulae that were used in tandem to predict the temperature rise suggested a model that predicts a rise of 6 degrees by the end of the century.

If the greenhouse gas emissions are not controlled it will create a havoc and may even lead to temperatures as high as 60 degrees in the coming years which might lead to higher heat wave deaths, apart from impacting crops.

India is not subject to any binding emission reduction targets until the year 2012.

In spite of this guarded stand, India has ‘declared’ that even as it pursues its social and development objectives, it will not allow its per capita emissions to exceed those of developed countries. The 11th 5-year plan does make headway in reducing energy intensity per unit of GHG by 20 percent while boosting cleaner and renewable energy.

In June 2008, the Prime Minister released the much awaited National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC). The NAPCC outlines a strategy by which India will adapt to climate change, while maintaining a high growth rate, protecting poor and vulnerable sections of society and achieving national growth objectives. It focuses on eight areas intended to deliver maximal benefits to development and climate change (mitigation and adaptation). However, detailed action plans for each mission, and any clear targets are missing from the report.

Although the action plan may be a missed opportunity for leadership on climate change, the good news is that change is coming. Realizing that the market is changing, and not to be left behind in the global race, Indian businesses are beginning to take on climate change as a business issue.

What we need now is for the Government of India to capitalize on India’s position as a developing giant, take the lead and engage with governments of the world and the private sector for a low-carbon future.


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  1. Soumit Saha27

    Yo’ve presented a positive picture that came out of Cancun , but on the contrary , developed countries are just not budging on their stand to have binding emission cuts , That itself is a rip-off towards countries like ours i feel..

  2. Swati

    This presents a beautiful picture as to what we are heading to.. But hardly does anyone do anything worthwhile for improving this speedy progress to doom… Most importantly, the so-called super power of the globe is estimated to be the greatest contributor to the rise in global warming…. So that should be the agenda in the next meeting….

  3. Shreya Ramachandran

    It is true that countries do not expend significant economic effort towards combatting the effects of climate change. However, such effort is not only advisable but also increasingly required. While in the era of ‘Social Marketing’, it is becoming a trend for organisations to advertise themselves as being ecologically friendly, the time has gone beyond talking to doing.
    The Prime Minister’s 2008 NAPCC proposal is a step forward, as you have rightly put it, but it is not a be-all and end-all in terms of India’s environmental responsibility. Every legislative body – right down to municipal corporations – needs to adopt enviromental protection measures, and I feel that it is important for basic citizen consciousness to be inculcated. How many times have we seen people spitting, urinating and littering on the roads of India but remained impassive? These small things need to change. So does the Western trend of using gas-guzzling SUVs for everyday transportation. Things like these need to be addressed simultaneously as we try and effect national-level climate change control measures.

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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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