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Heres Why The Diesel Price Hike Is Good For The Economy

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By Akshay Rajagopal:

The recent decision by the government to raise the diesel prices every month by 45 paise did not come without widespread condemnation from people around the country. The decision comes at a time when the common man is still struggling to digest the increased petrol prices, inflation in daily needs and consumable commodities, the dreaded price hike and cap on LPG supply. With opposition bashing the government and questioning their motive of helping the economy, many parties have taken a strong antagonistic stand. The production and manufacturing industries are also hostile to this call and the decision might see the railways and other government transport systems bear the brunt. Bank of America- Merrill Lynch claims the partial diesel price hike will inflict a 1.20 per cent burden on the already sticky inflation  that might remain high till the next fiscal year. While all this is giving the government nightmares, the Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily conveyed the government’s stand on going ahead with the “controlled” price hike.
However, there is a section that thinks the hike in diesel prices could not have come at a better time and is a step forward in strengthening the economy. Diesel prices have remained unchanged for the most part in India making it cheaper than in China and even Pakistan. It is important to mention here that in the past 10 years, where the fuel price has doubled in the country the cost of crude oil has grown four folds. The government has tried to keep the prices intact for so long that it has resulted in a shocking Rs 400,000 crore of oil subsidy in the past five years. The real shocker is that the government is staring at a bill of 800,000 crore if the oil prices keep rising at current rate. The economic imbalance, fall of the rupee and widening fiscal gap has only added to the woes. The small hike in price will reportedly not help in bridging the gap between the local and international oil prices but will provide the government with some breathing space and the RBI some legroom in formulating their policies for the next fiscal year. The RBI has long called the government to reduce its fiscal deficit which was putting pressure on the interest rate and locking liquidity. If FICCI is to be believed, the governments decision to deregulate the diesel price will have a marginal effect in increasing the inflation for the next few months but is being justified by the reduction in fiscal deficit that the government is trying to find a solution for. “The spike in inflation (by 6-7 basis points), which is most likely to be observed, would be a short-run phenomenon that would eventually translate into lower fiscal deficit (achieving a target of 5.3 per cent of GDP), thus, opening up the option of reduction in subsidy on LPG and kerosene,” FICCI President Naina Lal Kidwai said. Rating agency Moody’s has also stated the decision to be a welcome relief for the economy and is a step forward in the right direction. While the increase in FDI is seen as a boon for the struggling economy the price hike was an interim relief to the economy and the policy makers as it reduces subsidy of 15,000 crore a year.

Selling shares of state owned companies is the central plank of the policies being constructed to bring the deficit down to a healthy 5.3% of GDP for the financial year end and avoid any credit downgrade from the rating agencies. The news of diesel hike has already started showing improvement in the stock market with shares of oil firms going up by 20 per cent adding 1.1 billion to Oil Indias market value. The decision would help attract more foreign investment when the government decides to sell its shares. New Delhi plans to raise $5.5 billion in current fiscal year by selling its stake. This reduced gap in the fiscal deficit will allow the government in diverting its money in more important sectors like raising the LPG cylinder limit from 6 to 9 seen recently.

Apart from saving the fiscal deficit gap the price rise is also seen as  a savior for the car makers who have seen a drastic plunge in their petrol car sales. Manufacturers of diesel car makers have welcomed the move and state the hike will not have any adverse effect on the car sales. Pawan Goenka, president , Mahindra and Mahindra said the gap between diesel and petrol being narrowed is a positive call and will have no impact in the demand for utility and commercial vehicles.

All in all the decision to de-subsidise the diesel prices is seen as the government waking up from its slumber and finally calling the shots. Its being said the price hike will have a positive long term impact on the economy and will help the people. Although how helpful it is for the middle class and the poor, especially the farmers whose livelihood depends on them is yet to be seen.

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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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