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3 Necessary Steps To Development While The ‘Roving Bandits’ Plunder Rural Sindh

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By Dr. Manzoor Isran:

Sindh is a province that is characterized by soaring rural-urban economic divide. Urban Sindh is more developed economically than its rural counterpart. It has strong industrial base, better infrastructure, thriving service sector and advanced health and education facilities. On the contrary, rural Sindh seems to be in the throes of poverty, unemployment and backwardness where people find it difficult to have quality education, healthcare, infrastructure and the economy producing jobs for educated youth. Graduates being produced by the universities are running from pillar to the post for jobs. This phenomenon has given rise to crimes – kidnapping and other unlawful activities, pushing Sindh further into the state of economic backwardness

sindh child labour

The poverty and underdevelopment are invariably attributed to weak rural industry. According to SDPC report 2012-13, the contribution of rural industry in Sindh is at 23pc against the contribution of Pukhtunkhwa at 74, Balochistan at 50pc and Punjab at 50pc. It speaks volumes about the poor health of rural industry, which is attributed to a number of reasons, ranging from lack of skilled labor, lack of investment, lack of technology and weak entrepreneur class. And whatever entrepreneur class Sindh had left for India in the wake of partition in 1947. It created vacuum expected to be filled by the entrepreneur class that migrated from India, especially from Gujarat but it did not happen and the business houses that migrated from India settled in urban areas with no interaction and no interest to help develop rural economy by investing in it. General Ayub who ruled Pakistan for almost one decade adopted industrial and agricultural policies but those policies did not benefit rural Sindh. Zia damaged Sindh economy the most and its embryonic entrepreneur class that emerged as a result of ZAB’s economic policies designed to remove the economic imbalances between rural and urban Sindh. It was during Zia’s time that the kidnapping for ransom of Sindhi entrepreneurs started as a part of his vengeance against rural Sindh that was the hub of MRD movement in 1983 against his dictatorial rule. Musharraf too did little for the development of rural economy of Sindh as he focused on urban Sindh and provided massive funds for the development of Karachi as he was more interested to win over the support of the urban population. Politicians too share the blame for keeping Sindh underdeveloped as they work like Mancur Olson’s ‘Roving Bandits’ plundering rural development funds and spending somewhere else. This has deprived rural Sindh of its vital development resources and has created new level of deprivation and desolation.

This deprivation and desolation has very well been highlighted by UNDP report 2012 on Sindh. The report says that rural Sindh has 30 percent poverty whereas Karachi has 13 percent. The report also highlights the dismal plight of health, education and gender inequalities. The visible economic imbalances between rural and urban economic life won’t disappear automatically, it requires active government interventions in favor of rural poor to be provided with equal opportunity; access to quality education, health, land and jobs so that rural Sindh can be brought at par with urban Sindh. The development of rural Sindh needs massive effort on the part of Sindh government to chalk out the development plan on the basis of empirical analysis to develop effective policy and planning and set targets to bridge rural-urban economic divide. In this regard, following steps are suggested.

First, development of the rural areas is the first and foremost duty of the govt and should be given top priority by using all the available resource. It has to invest in infrastructure, health, education, skill development, agriculture and should take efforts to promote agro industry and establish linkages between urban and rural economies as both are dependent on each other.

Second, if government cannot invest due to financial problems and lack of governance capacity, it has to invite private sector to invest and establish industries such as textile, cement, livestock, poultry, dairy, and fisheries. But keeping in view the law and order situation, it is unlikely that private investors will invest. In this scenario, the government of Sindh has to take measures to improve the law and order situation and give assurance to investors that Sindh is a safe place for investors. In this regard, Sindh Board of Investment should hold a conference, involving local administration, MNAs and MPAs, to discuss the issues faced by investors.

The third option is that the government should promote local entrepreneurship by offering microcredit to potential local entrepreneurs. The era of managerial economy is over and now we are living in the era of entrepreneurial economy. It is more productive and produces more jobs. There are many business schools and colleges producing hundreds of MBA graduates who the government can motivate to start their own businesses. It needs sustained campaign and continuous effort. Recently SZABIST students conducted study on the women entrepreneurs in Larkana district. The study found that women are quite ambitious to enter into the market activity provided that the government provides them with facilities such as training, credit and technology.

Pakistan People’s Party has been ruling Sindh since the last six years. Sindh happens to be its strong hold and it has been continuously elected to power but PPP need to pay enough attention to the development of rural Sindh in order to bring it at par with their urban counterparts so that rural folks can realize the aspirations of a better economic life for better and brighter future.

The writer is teaching at SZABIST, Karachi Campus.

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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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