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Why Is India Blocking Every Climate Agreement And Why Are We Not Talking About It More?

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By Mayank Jain:

India is no longer a minor player in the international events and conferences. The country is home to a major chunk of the population on the planet and it wields immense power as well as responsibility in every international forum no matter how torn apart our internal conditions are.

This responsibility and good faith put upon India by western countries as well as our neighbours have been going in vain lately as India has made every attempt in recent times to thwart international climate change agreements and this has become a cause of widespread anger and resentment in the developed and ‘developing’ countries alike.

pollution

Climate change is something we just don’t care about in our daily lives as the elite Indian population is more worried about cheaper electricity instead of carbon emissions. On the other hand of the spectrum are the illiterate, suppressed and rural farmers and workers who toil day in and day out to fetch bread for their families and they couldn’t be less worried about something as trivial as greenhouse gases or chlorofluorocarbons.

The Montreal Protocol of 1980s saved the precious Ozone layer when the countries agreed to phase out use of CFCs from refrigeration and air conditioners but the manufacturers instead replaced it with hydro fluorocarbons which stimulate greenhouse effect. The Bangkok summit occurred last month when the participating countries gathered to update the Montreal Protocol but despite supporting the move for a long time, India surprised everyone by blocking out negotiations from happening.

pollution1

This is not the only case in point as there have been several instances in the past three-four months where we have not only thwarted important agreements but also failed to take responsibility of stopping the climate change by curbing our emissions. In the Warsaw summit sponsored by the UN, India managed to block progress on the negotiations for HFC reductions. While the Indian media is flaunting it as a victory, it is actually a spiteful attempt by the country with second largest population in the world to escape conventions and promote reckless behaviour.

India is highly dependent on Coal and other polluting resources for its energy needs and this adds to the case of curbing emissions by hook or by crook to make sure it doesn’t find itself in problems later on. The problem doesn’t end here as India also diluted an important international agreement that was destined to reduce mercury pollution which is mostly created from coal fired plants in the country.

However poor and hungry our population maybe but this still makes no valid argument to flout international conventions against pollution and emissions and carry out whatever we want to in the name of being a ‘developing’ country. The lines between ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ countries are fast blurring and the western countries are owning up to the responsibility of stopping the climate change and it’s high time India keeps aside its dirty politics games and does it too.

The point to be highlighted here is not how India is preventing these agreements from happening but the sad reality that most of us aren’t even aware of such things because media is conveniently ignoring it in their race for the TRPs sky rocketing during election season. The political parties on the other hand don’t want to get into muddy waters by talking about environment at such crucial times and signing these agreements will mean foreign helping hands will be needed to push the innovation and the whole nationalist agenda will go down the drain.

Dialogues, debates and brainstorming by the experts are needed on such issues of importance as the Paris Climate Conference of 2015 is staring us in the eye and we need to get our act together and start leading by the example.

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  1. Mr. Fool

    Amid all this protestation by India, claiming to represent the interests of ‘developing nations’, India is losing out on a GOLDEN opportunity to develop economically and socially in a more sustainable manner, keeping in view it’s ever increasing population and depleting natural resources. India should not use it’s ‘developing’ tag like a pitiable beggar, but rather assess it’s own condition and arrive at meaningful ways of growth while it is not yet ‘fully grown’ into unsustainable ways like the west. Many western countries have realised the folly of their ways and have started taking remedial steps.
    As always, in this case too, we will continue to ‘develop’ in this manner until a critical (widespread environmental damage) juncture is reached. At that moment, we will scamper here and there and look towards the WEST for technologies and other solutions to mitigate heavy damage already dealt by then. The WEST, having far advanced technologies, regulatory mechanisms, and better population and natural resource management, would have conquered many of these challenges and would enforce heavy CARBON DEBT on countries like India for being a heavily polluting, unsustainable economy.
    A FOOL’s PARADISE, my friend… that is where we live!
    Just hope that voices like yours are heard in time.

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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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