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Evolution Of Internet In India: The Indispensable Visage Of Media

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By Bharathi Murali:

Internet is one component which has recently become the key ingredient of quick and rapid lifestyle. Be it for communication or explorations, connecting with people or for official purposes, ‘internet’ has become the central-hub for all.

There is a funny quote that says ‘Anything not in Google does not exist’. This essentially states that internet has everything and anything that a man needs virtually. Narrowing down the broad view and classification of internet, it’s intervention into education, corporate sector, military, fashion, entertainment, communication and travel, so on, Internet, has become the ‘sixth element’ of life!

Cutting the long story short, settling upon the topic ‘India and the Internet’, many changes of events are being envisaged and experienced. Indian system of governing is a marshy affair, eliminating that complicated segment of discussion, let us look at the changes internet (the most powerful branch of media) has created in our peninsula.

  • It is 2011, walking back the time by sixteen years, it is 1995. The year internet was introduced in India by VSNL. In the mid 1995 with the use of dial-up service this god-gifted facility was born in six major cities of the country.
  • The ‘Cybercafe’ fashion. This reminds of a movie in which the two find their love through chat-rooms at a cyber-café, located at Mumbai. Rediff.com was launched in this year, and the country also saw its first cyber-café at Mumbai hotel. In that period, it was a costly affair and was limited to few. The riches, the heavy-pocketed college guys and girls had enjoyed this facility. The literature showed later on, how they made use of it!
  • Here comes the innovation, ICICI Bank launched the first ever ‘online banking site’ in the year 1997. Thank the masters of the past who merged the system of banking on the wire, if you feel lucky when recharging your phone balance through the sites, paying your school or college fees online without standing in the long lines at the fee-counter, if you are able to transfer cash from account to account without travelling to the banks personally.
  • This year also saw a major, poster face of Indian Internet, Sabeer Bhatia, the creator of ‘Hotmail’.
  • We have now come three years ahead since internet was introduced to India, now it is 1998. VSNL dies, its monopoly fades in air and the ISP policy is introduced. ISP- Internet Service Provider was introduced and curtailed the monopoly played by VSNL, in this lucrative sector. ‘Sify’ became the first ISP of India.
  • The villains of the cyber-space- The Hackers. The first ever major case of hacking was reported in this year, when teenagers hacked the data of the BARC.
  • Cyber-café began mushrooming throughout the nation, making the facility open to all.
  • The penultimate year of the second millennium, the year that kicked-off the ‘dotcom’ services.
  • With a prefix ‘e’ everything became online on the dotcoms!
  • The first ‘Hindi’ portal was born, Webdunia!
  • We are in Y2K now. The Indian version of E-Bay was launched, ‘Bazzee.com’. Thanks to the genesis of sites like ‘yahoo.co.in’ and ‘.in’ where the foreign portals set up spots in India, giving us a unique ID.
  • When there is a place to write, there are always journalists present out there. ‘Online journalism’ was born. Cheers to ITC for making this available to the rural-India, The Bharat. Launch of e-Choupal was initiated this year. Travel online! The Indian Railways launches the portal, ‘irctc.com’ where train tickets can be booked online.
  • The cyber-crime police station was started at the Garden City because in the advent of this year, 2001, the first major cyber-crime was reported in which the ‘go2nextjob.com’ site was hacked.
  • Skipping 2002, as it was majorly with budding dotcom sites and brokerage portals, here we leap to 2003, AirDeccan started the facility of making the air tickets’ booking available on the wire.
  • As how Microsoft took over India’s ‘Hotmail’, in the parallel fashion, EBay took over the online-shopping sites fearing their potency in the tear 2004.
  • 2005, the year of exponential Growth! Indians became the 4% of the total world’s net users, with more than ten million users trading online, from one café at Mumbai, it became two million times, in the year 2005. 5300 kiosks were opened in the rural India to aid the farmers and to educate them with the rational developments happening around, by ITC’ e-Choupal.

Pausing at the year 2005, it is simple to look forward into the years of 2006-till date. All the chief facilities were introduced in the early period of internet-evolution, whatever that happened later on was just an emulation of the earlier innovations.

When media was merely confined to magazines, papers, journals, television, radio; internet was a mammoth step taken by the elites.

Kudos to the makers of the Cyber-World!

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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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