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Interview With Parin Kalra, President, Rotaract, North Delhi

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By Sakshi Sachdeva:

On Sunday early morning, I was amazed to see some youngsters planting saplings along the road side. After talking to them I was really impressed and so I decided to take an interview. Following is the conversation between me and a member of the Rotaract Club – Parin Kalra.

Parin Kalra is working as an Actuarial Analyst with Mercer India Private Limited. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Hans Raj College, Delhi University. He actively participates in Rotary Club’s activities and holds a position of President for Rotaract Club, North Delhi. He has worked on numerous projects, which include traffic controlling, tree plantation and he has also supported an NGO which works with autistic patients.

1. Tell me about Rotaract Club and when you became a part of it?

Rotaract is an international youth body that undertakes the process of creating the responsible citizens of the world to bring about that positive change. The organization is made of young adults in the age category of 18 through 30 years. Rotaract is part of the Rotary International family. It’s a parallel world from those who believe they can make a difference. The purpose of Rotaract is to empower young men and women with an opportunity to enhance knowledge and skills that will assist them in their self development, to address the physical and social needs of their communities, and to promote harmonious relations amongst all people worldwide through commonly shared emotions of friendship and service. I became a member of the club in 2009.

2. What kind of work do you do as a Rotractrian?

We work on three types of projects round the year:

  • Professional Development
  • Leadership Development
  • Service Projects

We Rotaractian’s best-known motto is “Service above Self”, and its secondary motto is “We profit most who serve best”.

3. Why did you choose to become a member of this club?

I think I was drawn into social service while I was studying at Delhi University where I get an opportunity to know more about this organization. I like this whole idea of “Service above Self”, it not only made me responsible citizen also helped me in developing an approach to solve a problem from many angles and does not see the solution as lying just within the person. Sometimes I have to change the environment to solve a problem or sometimes I have to raise awareness of problems that an organization can create for individuals. This helped me in developing leadership skills in me.

4. Do you enjoy your job? Why or why not?

It is a difficult question. The job I do involves working with society, people, families who are going through a difficult period in their lives. So it’s hard to say that I enjoy it. However, I find it rewarding if I can make a positive difference in the life of a single child. I will feel happy and satisfied if I am able to bring some difference.

5. What is the current project that you are working on?

We are currently supporting Delhi government’s mass plantation drive initiated by our Chief Minister Sheila Dixit. We have planted saplings along the ring road in North Campus.

6. Great job Parin. I am really impressed by your work. As you must be aware that currently our government is planning to mine coal in the last remaining forests of central and eastern India. What can an individual, according to you, do to save a forest?

Well, you can spread awareness about the issue. Talk to the media, raise your voice. Write to your MP or MLA. Watch out for your own carbon footprint. You can join any organization supporting the cause.

Spread awareness using social media network. We all can contribute a bit to save it.

7. India is a growing nation, we need energy to grow. If we will not be supporting the government view then how do you think we would be able to meet our needs?

Well there are many ways to fulfill your needs. The most obvious is the Efficiency. We need to get efficient in the way we get the energy from coal and also get efficient in the way we use that energy.

Also, we can switch to renewable energy. We need to have renewable energy at much larger scale. We can switch to solar energy, wind energy or biomass fuel. Use energy judiciously. Act like a responsible citizen. And do save environment for future generation.

8. Where would you like to see this club and what are your future plans?

Well, I would like to include more people and grow the club in number. Also, at the same time I would like to ensure the quality of the services. I hope that youth will derive their untapped energy to serve the society. In future, I would like to work on more valuable and effective projects.

We wish Parin and Rotaract all the best.

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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.

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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.

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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