This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Ritika Passi. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Here”s How India Can Be The Voice Of Reason Regarding The Arctic Gold Rush

More from Ritika Passi

By Ritika Passi:

In May this year, India, along with China, Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Italy, was inducted as a permanent observer in the Arctic Council. This marks the first time the group of eight circumpolar nations (US, Canada, Russia, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland), which coordinates policy on the region, has accepted observers from Asia. Not only is this an indication of New Delhi’s growing international presence and proactive discussion regarding a region quickly gaining eminence as part of the ‘New Great Game’, it also represents a real opportunity for India to keep on the table the critical image of the Arctic as a region increasingly threatened by climate change with local and global repercussions.

arctic

On one hand, the warming of the Arctic is creating opportunities in terms of resources and routes. Rising temperatures and the ensuing melting of the Greenland ice sheet means access to new transportation lanes that could transform the map of global shipping. One estimate concludes a minimum 25% reduction in distance between East Asia and Europe: lower transit costs could mean an increase in trade volumes and affect growth and development. The same shrinkage of sea ice has engendered the ‘Arctic Gold Rush’, as hydrocarbon and mineral exploration becomes easier. An estimated 30% of the world’s undiscovered gas and 13% of the world’s oil reserves lie beneath the Arctic seabed. Given that India imports 80% of its energy needs, becoming part of the Arctic inner circle means a first step in securing a likely eventual source of energy.

Even as the focus of the Arctic Council shifts towards the strategic and economic potential of the Arctic region, the initial mandate cannot be swept under the carpet: addressing environmental concerns and issues faced by the indigenous populations in the region. The Arctic is warming up at a rate almost double the global average. Last year, the summer sea ice melted to an unprecedented extent. There are adverse local effects to consider — a permanent loss of summer sea cover could lead to the extinction of polar bears by the end of the century; the disappearance of important fisheries and disturbance of marine biodiversity; increased danger of forest fires and storms affecting coastal populations. Global repercussions too are being set into motion — acceleration of climate change, as the Arctic loses its ability to reflect as much heat back into space and methane is released from warmer waters; an increase in sea levels, which threatens coastal nations like India; a change in global weather patterns and air currents.

As India becomes personally vested in the region, given nascent research efforts such as exploring the relationship between the Arctic climate and the Indian monsoons, New Delhi can build upon its stated scientific interests — as opposed to decidedly commercial ones — to become a part of cutting edge research on the changing Arctic climate. Its plans to invest a further $15 million in the coming five years on its Arctic scientific research station Himadri and station a permanent scientific group are thus a step in the right direction. This is particularly important seeing an increasingly invasive exploration of the Arctic, without adequate remedial measures to limit blowback to the environment, could aggravate climate change in the region and beyond. A voice of caution and prudence, something New Delhi usually exhibits in spades in international dialogues, in the opening up of the Arctic would not be amiss. Sharing of expertise on preserving biodiversity, containing maritime pollution, preserving fish stocks would benefit India on its own home turf as well.

Shyam Saran, former Foreign Secretary and India’s Special Envoy and Chief Negotiator on Climate Change cautions said, “If we keep silent and look away because of the prospect of sharing in this unseemly Gold Rush, India’s credentials as a responsible member of the international community and as a champion of the principle of equitable burden-sharing and inter-generational equity, would become deeply suspect.” This may indeed be a chance for India to rise to the occasion, cement its position as a responsible nation while engaging proactively in climate change dialogue (and quell criticism for not doing enough on this count). More importantly, it is an opportunity for India, in the capacity a permanent observer position affords New Delhi, to advocate a ‘global commons’ approach to the Arctic to ensure inclusiveness in a region of global import. This may be the clearest way in which to aim for prosperity and security.

Photo Credit: Wen Nag (aliasgrace) via Compfight cc

You must be to comment.
  1. Krishna Prasanth

    Lets hope all of this comes true. But how much leverage does India have to prevent developed nations from engaging in mad race for oil, fueled by powerful oil corp-lobbies is a concern. But if India can find support from other nations which are sane enough, then nothing could be better. We can only hope that the government acts proactively in this respect and prevents the world from falling into a deeper environmental crisis.

More from Ritika Passi

Similar Posts

By Ananya Upadhyaya

By Prakash Rai

By Shalini Sai

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below