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Leveling Of Indo-Pak Ties- Peace Management [Part 2]

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By Anannya Roy Chowdhury:

Back at the PM’s residence; the apprécier d’un coup d’Å“il (Précis) of the meeting:

There were many things that apart from the obvious sweet n’ sour relation that the countries share, came up substantially. Even before the private visit was planned, Zardari faced a lot of disdain by the Pakistani opposition and general public. Right after coming to power in 2008, after having defeated the hugely popular Ex-military head, Mr. Pervez Musharraf, Zardari had to deal with a tumultuous political scenario. As quoted time and again by analysts, Singh and Zardari met in India at a time when both were at the crossroads of their political careers and were allegedly accused by the public in their respective countries.

In the light of such shaky happenings, this visit remained in the hot zone of all media coverage not only in India and Pakistan but became front page news for the entire world. Terrorism, which is ironically a strong connecting link between India, Pakistan and western world powers such the United States, was thought to be the main topic of discussion that flowed between Singh and Zardari. However, seeing the dwindling diplomacies it was decided for the good of the nations that any curt comments on the Hafiz Md. Saeed issue or the Kashmir dispute would not be made by India or Pakistan respectively.

Bites from the main course:

The main agendas of the one-on-one meeting that took place without any note-takers covered all important topics of concern for the two countries without any baiting comments or big media hush-hush situations.

Some of the key points that were addressed are as below:

1. Topic one on the list was the possible visit by PM Singh that would concrete in the growing political dialogue and peace-ties between the nations. At the end of the meeting, as declared by Mathai, it was let out that in the coming November, there are high chances of the Pakistani entourage. Later in the press conference Dr. Singh also mentioned his likings to visit his ancestral home in Gah in the Chakwal district.

2. Topic two that was talked on and found a satisfactory solution was that of the Sir Creek Maritime boundary dispute that was long struck in the pipe!

3. It was also proposed by the heads that political prisoners from both sides would be released and the volume of army troops in the Siachen region would be reduced. This was important from the point that a day before this tour, hundreds of Pakistani troops got caught in an unfortunate avalanche that took place. India has offered to help promisingly in the rescue mission.

4. To strengthen the otherwise insignificant economic bonds, plans to open more traditional trade routes and the liberalization on the Visa policies of the nations has also been on the papers.

To father…to son!

The star studded visit by the father-son duo was in the limelight for more than one reason. Along with the much awaited conversation that worked as an ice-breaker for the otherwise tense Indo-Pak relations after the Mumbai 26/11 attacks, it also marked the beginning of a stream of political happenings between the next generations of leaders. On the list of invitees to the luncheon was the dynamic and equally debated youth leader Rahul Gandhi who was expected to build confidence with Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. The latter was hailed in high spirits by the entire nation and even by the highly sceptic South Block for the truckloads of charm he possessed which was a direct inheritance from the family of Bhutto’s with the likings of mother Benazir and grand-dad, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

@BBhuttoZardari tweets about his stay in India:

The 24 year old PPP chairman, an Oxford Graduate and the absolute charmer in the delegates, Bilawal made sure that he tweeted away his presence in India. This was a big lead on to suggest that western technology was one important bridge between youngsters in all nations. Some of the most ReTweeted messages by Bilawal were:

“AOA India Peace be with you. I have just landed in Delhi. 1st ever visit. So spiritual and peaceful.”
– “Prez n I enjoyed Lunch with Rahul Gandhi and PM Singh. Lovely meal. Much to learn from each other.”
– “Just visited Ajmer”

These were the three most important tweets during his 6 hour stay in the country that let the world know about what the young chap felt. Just as Father Zardari was hailed for his superior extravagance (at least by some people), son Zardari showed the world what it was to be a responsible politician and an informed youth!

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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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