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Maladies Of The Indian Economy: What Went Wrong And How Can It Be Fixed?

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By Shashank Saurav:

The modern day world economics presents a curious picture. Today, world’s major booming economies are languishing under low industrial productivity as well as under the depleting values of their currencies and high inflation rates. Be it South Africa, India or Brazil. All are now in the same boat battling the waves of economic despair and the inertia of slow growth in the recent financial year.

Indian economy

One wonders as to why such a danger looms so heavily upon all these Developing economies that were recently quite aggressively growing. Have we seen the worst or is it still impending? In India’s case, it is unanimously seen as the repercussion of the magnanimous Government spending that has raised its fiscal deficit to 7% of its GDP from the tolerable 2-3% range. This, coupled with the lack of Foreign Investments funds flowing into the country owing to the distrust caused by the corrupt Govt. policies and scams have thrown the Indian Economy into an abyss of despair and have worn out the shine brand India use to bask in previously. The double digit inflation rate along with the low industrial output has further aggravated its miseries.

So, what are the steps that the Indian economy should take up to enable itself to grow in a similar fashion as it was earlier. Firstly, in my view, Quantitative Easing is very important as this would help it leverage the new rates and the borrowing would become cheaper in India thus giving impetus to the investors. The one step in this direction worth mentioning was the recent MOU signed between India and Japan where they increased the upper limit of credit swapping from 15 Bilion $ to 50 Billion $ between two countries . This would help it to maintain its foreign reserves even in Japanese yen which already is at par with India. Shinzo Abe’s economic policies — also hailed as Abenomics, are worth mentioning in this regard. His second term in office since 2008 has brought in new sense of hope in the dwindling Japanese economy by infusion of fresh policies aimed at solving long term problems of the country. India , Japan and China, all face slow growth and economic challenges. India, however, lacks the prudence of a political class who can gaze future problems and frame policies to tackle long term issues. Populist measures and the subsidies of the Govt. have put increasing pressure on the economy.

For example, the 60,000 crore loan waiver given to the Indian farmers in 2008 wasn’t even accounted for in the budget properly as to where that money will come from. India’s fiscal dislocation is a result of such cathartic steps taken by the Govt. mainly to woo the voters. To add to this, the multi crore scams —the 2Gs , the Commonwealth etc. have further lead to immense loss of public faith and outcry against the rusted system. India was comfortably growing at 8-9% in the year 2008-2010. The fiscal deficit has risen from 2.5% back then to alarming 7% at the present. India’s ex finance minister, Yashwant Sinha had warned that P.Chidambram had overlooked the fiscal issues of the country in his zest to please the masses by introducing such measures. This not only weakened the economy but also set a wrong precedent of defaulting among the farmers. In a recent interview to Mint, SBI’s chief Pratip Chaudhuri candidly mentioned in an interview to a Business daily that since the next elections are deemed to take place in 2014, the farmers have began defaulting since they think that the Govt. will surely issue some waiver to woo them again .

Secondly, the recent Global risk aversion has also demotivated the foreign investors from investing in the developing countries. Global risk aversion has spiked in response to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s announcement of plans to taper Quantitative easing (QE). As the 2008 and 2011 experiences demonstrate, heightened risk aversion among global investors reduces capital flows to emerging markets, even when they are not the source of risk. In such a case, the Indian economists can increase the interest rates such that the FIIs are lured in by higher returns. The recent land reform passed over the hundred year old Land Reform Bill will further even lead to more issues with respect to the acquisition of the land for setting up factories .

The recent effects of the economic tightening of the US reveals the ugly fact that the flow of money in the emerging markets is largely determined by the policies of the Fed Reserve. Among the most vulnerable are Turkey, South Africa, Brazil, India, and Indonesia — a group that Morgan Stanley researchers have dubbed the “Fragile Five.” As I write this article down, the Rupee is recovering and due to the withholding of the Ben Bernake’s tapering of the QE , Sensex has reached its highest peak since Jan 2011 .

It’s high time that Indian political class starts being pragmatic and stops leading us in the Utopian belief that all is well. With an expensive election looming over, chances are rife that the poor and the middle class of our population will have to bear the brunt of these faulty practices. At least, we should have the long term vision for a nation that is poised to become the next ‘Super power’.

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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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