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A Bleak Future Looms On The Dark Horizon: North Korea’s Impending Nuclear Test

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By Pradyut Hande:

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has gradually become the international community’s Pariah for multiple reasons over the years. In its well chronicled endeavour at pursuing its own interests, North Korea’s reigning elite have seen their country being relegated to the status of a “rogue state”. The single minded dedication with which it continues to pursue its enhanced militarisation and “nuclearisation” agenda at the cost of – one, justifiably incurring the wrath of the global community and – two, its own socio-economic, political and civic progression; especially relative to that of the entire region – hasn’t done its cause any good. The fact that it continues to stand steadfast in its desire to embrace an overtly bellicose, pugnacious, irreverent and insular approach; despite its plummeting international standing; is a matter of grave concern.

nuclear test

At a time when it is already being subjected to sanctions by the UN, in response to launching long-range rockets, North Korea has clearly announced its intentions of carrying out its third nuclear test in the near future. Its first two major tests were conducted underground in 2006 and 2009; actions that were widely condemned. In an overt act of incontrovertible defiance, they have also declared that their long-range rockets are designed to not only carry “peaceful satellites” but also warheads capable of striking the USA; “the sworn enemy of the Korean people”. This has once again drawn sharp criticism from the UN and the international community at large.

The UN is of the strong opinion that imposing stricter sanctions on the State will “concretely impede the development of North Korea’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) programme“. Consequently, it has already passed a resolution that imposes new sanctions on a few reputed North Korean companies, its space agency and a bank. However, the UN doesn’t appear to realise that these sanctions haven’t exactly deterred North Korea from pursuing their agenda; both overt and covert. The sheer “blanket belligerence” and “blinkered irresponsibility” with which it continues to flout international conventions, violate UN warnings and ignore global calls for accountability is tragic. Diplomacy is clearly not their forte. However, one would have thought that with the advent of time; a marginally progressive, collaborative and tolerant mindset may have evolved within the Country’s leadership. That is certainly wishful thinking at this point in time. The DPRK may officially have a new, youthful Leader in Kim Jong-Un, but even a marginal alteration in ideology is far from forthcoming. The UN ought to realise that wide ranging sanctions are unlikely to compel them to shed their garb of defiance and recalcitrance.

At the other end of the spectrum, North Korea, for once, ought to soften its confrontational and antagonistic stance. Developing a powerful nuclear deterrent against the USA and its other “enemies” is one thing. But to dedicate such massive monetary and non-monetary resources towards accomplishing a single objective is inimical to its long term interests. They must realise that their present “developmental trajectory” is not only alienating North Korea from the World, but also its very own people; innocent victims of a stunted ideology, gross economic mismanagement, social oppression and disastrous policy formulation. Striving for self-sufficiency is indeed a noble pursuit. However, in an increasingly integrated global atmosphere, North Korea would be better served if it gradually opened its doors to foreign collaboration at multiple levels. Sustained dialogue with ample elbow room for a compromise is the need of the hour. Phased international scrutiny of its nuclear arsenal and plans would also assuage growing global concern to some extent. However, that is a plausible avenue that can be ventured down only when a sufficient level of multi-lateral engagement has been undertaken.

The Korean War may have ended in 1953, but clearly the Country is in no mood to let bygones be bygones. “Settling accounts with the US needs to be done force, not with words.” said North Korea’s National Defence Commission; indicative of the roiling angst that they continue to harbour against the USA and its allies. Their latest announcement, reaffirming their belief in their nuclear programme does not augur well for any of the stakeholders involved. At a time when the clarion call for nuclear disarmament has been sounded across the globe, “rogue states” such as the DPRK and Iran, continue to rub the international community the wrong way with their respective attempts at “nuclearisation”.

The USA’s fragile relationship with North Korea has always been one akin to a tight rope walk. The abject failure of a majority of the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) undertaken by various administrations over the years has been a cause for concern. North Korea’s reluctance to cede any strategic or ideological ground during the same period has not facilitated the solution developing process. Deferring a purported nuclear test in the coming future and adopting a markedly more receptive approach ought to go some way in aiding the de-escalation of the mounting cross-regional tension.

The next few months promise to be critical to the volatile future of the Korean Peninsula.

About the author: The Writer is a Business student with a degree from NMIMS, Mumbai. He is presently working as a Senior Executive with a leading Public Relations firm in Mumbai. Through his writing; he attempts to address myriad issues of both domestic and global consequence, ranging from Business and Economics to Geopolitics…from Sports to Arts and Culture. He has over 200 publications to his credit in some of the leading national dailies and weekly magazines across the country. He is also a keen debater, munner, quizzer, painter and amateur freestyle rapper. His other interests include Sports, Music, Reading, Travelling and Social Entrepreneurship. For his latest postings, follow his blog . To read his other posts, click here. 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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