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What The Govt Needs To Do To Save The Indian Economy From Crashing Like China’s

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By Sreekanth Narayan:

The People’s Bank of China (PBC) recently devalued Yuan to as low as 4% against the dollar, creating a ruckus in the global financial markets. Other eastern countries such as Vietnam have followed suit by devaluing their currency, as China accounts for a significant portion of their exports. Stock markets crashed world over, from the west to the east, as investors started pulling out of equities, shifting to safe havens like bonds and gold.

stock market economy

 

China, which accounts for 15% of the world economy, has been slowing down over the last three years and the government has been unable to boost domestic consumption. The Shanghai Composite Index has fallen 22% in the last four trading sessions causing world-wide panic, and gains worth $8 trillion have been erased from the global markets. The Chinese government is aggressively pursuing devaluation, rate cuts and tactics like allowing the $548 billion pension funds to invest in stocks to prop up the markets, albeit unsuccessfully. The media is also silent on the recent crash and all these incidents convey a single message – China is no more the growth story it once was. Debt fuelled spending has put the country in an irreparable state and short term recovery looks uncertain.

Ever since the market crash, intellectuals have been debating over whether this is a ‘Déjà vu’ of the 1997 Asian financial crisis. While that might certainly be an overstatement, one thing is aptly clear – the Indian economy is very much safeguarded by strong macroeconomic factors. With commodity prices falling and the RBI sitting atop a huge pile of Forex reserves of $355 billion, there is very less probability of a downturn in India. Volatility in the Bombay Stock Exchange Sensex, including the biggest fall of 5.94% on August 24th, is primarily due to over exposure of the markets to hot money from the Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs). Retail investors and Domestic Institutional Investors (DIIs) are only a small part of the Indian stock markets. This dollar outflow has made the rupee fall to its lowest level since August 2013.

Both the Government and Raghuram Rajan, the RBI governor, have not intervened yet to pull the rupee back to 63-64 levels, which indicate confidence. Or does it? Is the government afraid that investors who are already vexed due to the retrospective Minimum Alternate Tax and the inability to push reforms in the Parliament, especially the GST (Goods and Services Tax) and Land Acquisition Bills, would further turn away from the Indian stock markets? Making press releases to merely calm the investors would not put the markets back on track. The disinvestment of 10% stake in Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) saw very less participation from retail investors. 90% of the stake was bought by LIC. And the IPOs such as Navkar Corp which are currently going on are oversubscribed by a mere 0.36 times, even on the final day. This shows how panicky the investors are at the moment.

So the main question is this – what could be done to cheer the investors? There is a widespread clamour for a rate cut of 50 bps or rather the investors are demanding a ‘Rajan Put’, a phrase coined after Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the federal reserve, kept cutting rates aggressively during 1997-2003, which in fact was responsible for creating various bubbles such as the dotcom bubble and the housing price bubble. The problem with the rate cut is that, though it might cheer the investors temporarily, the effects will not be felt immediately. The previous 75 bps rate cut has not fully translated to lower lending rates by the banks. The US 10-year treasury yields are at a 4 month low, and though the chances of a sudden Fed rate hike is currently off the table, it cannot be totally discarded from the picture. One has to appreciate Rajan for being very conservative vis-à-vis rate cuts. Though the inflation declined to 3.78% in July, the meteorological departments have been predicting a 10% monsoon deficit. Any further rate cuts should account for prospective rate hikes by the Fed this year and the volatility in food prices.

The onus lies on the government to usher in reforms. The three main areas of contention are land acquisition, GST and labour laws. With the monsoon session being totally unproductive, the NDA government is vouching for a special session to be held in September to pass these bills. An opposition that is hell bent on blocking all major reforms puts the burden of resolving the deadlock on the government, and it has to the handled in a well thought-out manner. Joint sessions are probably be only way these amendments could be passed, as the NDA government lacks a majority in the upper house. With the Bihar elections lurking around the corner, how the opposition could be handled to push these bills would be a real acid test for the government.

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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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