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Dubbed As A “Historic Mistake”, Will Iran’s Nuclear Deal Benefit The Indian Economy?

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By Shruti Sonal

Iran has long been an issue of contention in international politics, symbolizing the divide between a “rational and progressive” West and a conservative Middle East guided by religious ideals. To India however, Iran, a country it had shared its border with before independence, remained a key strategic trading partner throughout the tumultuous times.

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Diplomatic Ties And Socio-Cultural Relations

While historic and socio-cultural relations between the two countries go long back in history, diplomatic ties were established on 15th March 1950. Pre-revolution era was marked by several visits by leaders on both sides, under Nehru’s goal of greater Asian unity. In the aftermath of the 1979 revolution, which aimed at getting rid of Pahlavi dynasty and installation of sharia rule under Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran was projected by the West as a propagator of state-sponsored terrorism. However as it joined the NAM in the same year, it remained India’s trusted partner in the region for long, the two sharing a relatively healthy and stable relationship.

Being one of the leading oil importers in the world, India’s energy needs received a blow in the aftermath of sanctions imposed by the UN in 2006 aimed at halting Iran’s nuclear development program, as share of oil imported from Iran fell from 16.4% to 6%. Further hiccups were created as India voted against Iran’s nuclear program on several occasions. Thus, along with the rest of the world, India has been observing the developments of the deal signed between Iran and the P5+1 with watchful eyes. Even as a range of responses came from various countries, responding to the lifting of economic sanctions imposed on Iran in return for systematic nuclear disarmament, India didn’t come out with an explicit statement. MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup “welcomed the successful conclusion of negotiations” while waiting to see the text of the Agreement.

The deal, if successful in crossing the obstacles posed in the US parliament, will have numerous implications on India economically, politically and strategically. Trade and political analysts have welcomed the deal at large, as it will advance our country’s energy interests and also lead to greater regional integration.

What This Means For India Economically

As the sanctions are lifted, Iran is expected to start exporting at its full capacity again. This will lead to an addition in supply and further contribute to the fall in oil prices. Sandeep Jain, Director of India Nivesh Securities, estimated that “in the long-term, crude prices could fall by $5-$15 per barrel.” Companies like ONGC, Aban Offshore and Chennai Petroleum with operations in Iran are set to benefit. Opening up of Iran’s economy will also provide an opportunity for expansion of Indian pharmaceutical and IT industries. However, not all is merry on the economic front. While during the phase of sanctions India paid for the imports in rupees, now it will have to pay in dollars, which will hurt its pockets. Moreover, Iran is now likely to push for the payment of the $6.5 billion owed by India in unpaid bills for oil imports. In the long-term, India, which has for long been exporting automobile components, tools, motors and chemicals to Iran will now face competition from American and Eastern European manufacturers.

Tackling Taliban And Future Political Alliances

Strategically, as India seeks to assume a greater role in the region, Iran remains its best bet as a gateway to South Asia. In the absence of a land route through Pakistan, the development of the long-planned Chabahar port will be key in opening up trade to Central Asia and Afghanistan. Having a trusted partner will help India counter China’s influence in the region.

Politically, the deal will strengthen democratic structures in the Middle East, at a time when it’s plunging into despair. An Iran focusing on disarmament and moving away from a ‘Satanic’ view of the West, will fuel India’s battle against extremism and strengthen its efforts to prevent it from affecting the vast Muslim youth population at home. As Iran and India have both been affected by the rise of Taliban in Afghanistan, greater co-operation will fulfill mutual interests and tone down Pakistan’s dubious influence.

However, it will also test India’s diplomacy as it seeks to maintain cordial relations with two of the most vehement critics of the deal – Israel and Saudi Arabia. The recent government has shown a tilt towards improvement of relations with Israel, taking an anti-Palestine stand in the UN for the first time, even as Prime Minister Modi prepares for his visit there later this year. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, continues to house many Indian workers and is a top source of remittances. Even as the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu termed the deal a “historic mistake” and Saudi Arabia urged strict inspections, and harsh, determined responses in case of violations, it is up to India to rise above sectarian and historical divisions in order to fulfill its national interests.

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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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