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Why Technological Advancement And Innovation Is No Rocket Science For India: India@75

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By Sumedha Bharpilania:

I would never call myself a patriot, for I am far from being one and absolutely do not see myself as someone who can embrace martyrdom with open arms. I however, have always been proud of the fact that I am an Indian. My sceptical acquaintances often question my love, for they believe that there is not much that India has to offer and that my pride is not justified. But none of this deters me from feeling a little happier, every time our country celebrates its Independence. I also presume that I do not fall into the category of people who are ‘technologically challenged’; technology on the contrary, has always intrigued me. I therefore die a little, every time a Japan, a United States and a South Korea walks away with the crown of the most technologically advanced country in the world. ”Where is it that my country falls short?”, I question. And I realize that I, myself have the answer to the same.

The fact that India is highly dependent on other countries as far is technology is concerned, is disheartening. Employment of technology in the fields of agriculture, energy resources, healthcare and even education, in order to cater to our teeming population, is vital. We have the numbers but we need to work on the quality. We have the potential, but application is the need of the hour. We have the brains and we have the funds but the rampant corruption, lack of literacy and the faulty system is what hinders growth. Why else do you think that the most intelligent minds go on to serve countries like the United States and help them prosper, instead of doing something for the nation they owe their identities to? I personally see India as an affluent power, which is capable of funding researches which provide an incentive for people to become scientists and analysts. I see India as a country which is at par with the superpowers in research and development, because we are nothing but adept at the same. I think India is more than prepared to employ technology to combat social issues, when the grassroots levels of society can benefit from, say, social media to voice their opinions.

When India celebrates its 75th year of Independence, nothing will make me happier than watching my fellow Indians take pride in the fact that they own mobile phones, tablets, laptops and music players that are manufactured by Indian brands. I would love to see an iBall compete with a Bose (the founder of which happens to be of Indian origin), a Micromax selling more phones than a Samsung, an Indian website competing with the likes of Mashable and discussing social media the way it has never been presented before. I would like to see innovations akin to the Akash Tablet selling like hot cakes in the global market, making life difficult for a certain giant called Apple with the nth version of its iPad.

The year 2022 would give me a reason to celebrate if I get to witness great minds who can be compared to the likes of APJ Abdul Kalam, AJC Bose, CV Raman, Homi J Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai. When young Indians would not need a Mark Zuckerberg, a Steve Jobs or a Bill Gates for inspiration. When they would be citing a familiar, Indian name when asked about the person who motivated them to innovate and contribute to the field of technology. However, I personally see all of these happening only when we bring about a massive change in our education system, because with the current one, real talent will never flourish.

I would be more than happy when ten years down the line, India would shine in reality, every household would have electricity, internet connectivity would not be a far-fetched aspiration for an average Indian (the aam aadmi), when villagers in the remotest of villages would have access to television and mobile phones, when the term ‘digital divide‘ would cease to exist. When nuclear technology will really aid India in attaining prosperity and advancement in space research will leave us well-equipped to escalate to the heights of  National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

We never cease to talk about how important it is to bring about a change in our society, but then, we need to be the change. Volunteers have only inspired people to act, because one good deed sets an example for thousands to follow suit. It is all about devoting some of our precious time in order to secure a better future for ourselves. It is all about giving, at the end of the day and it sure is no rocket science.

Over the period of next one week, Youth Ki Awaaz wants to feature your remarks, comments and opinions about how volunteering can create a better India in 2022. Our editors are already contributing. Your thoughts will be compiled for consideration for India’s National Volunteering Policy Framework. Tell us your thoughts on the need for volunteerism by visiting our submissions page. Stay tuned!

You must be to comment.
  1. Mahesha Hiremath

    Any rational person would prefer dedicated work to ferocious oath. History has proved time and again that India has the ability to digest whatever it receives from other countries or invasion and produce something of its own.
    Okay, now to your specific question- volunteers can visit villages, and help to bridge digital divide which would be a great help. There is so much volunteers can do, but frankly I didn’t clearly understand what is expected here.

  2. Ridhi Murari

    India has significantly improved on the technological front over the years and volunteers can help of course but the context isn’t clear.

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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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