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Through A One-Of-A-Kind Mission, India Now Has A View In Space Only 4 Other Countries Have

By Parveen Kaswan:

It is believed that astronomy is as old as human presence. All through history man has been constantly inquisitive about space and far-off stars. The creation of the telescope supported him enormously, which is an instrument that aids in the perception of far-off objects. Distinctive kinds of the telescope were utilized in relying upon the part of electromagnetic range needed to see Radio, X-ray, Infrared, Visible light etc.

Space Earth WP
Image source: WordPress

On 12th October 2015, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) tweeted a mesmerising image of Crab Nebula which is one of the brightest hard X-ray sources in the sky. The tweet marked a new scientific achievement; India is now just the fourth nation to have this sort of lookout in orbit. Space-based observatories are similar to a major telescope fitted on a satellite rotating around the earth in a settled orbit, and making observations in the unfathomable universe. Our own ASTROSAT, which India launched on 28th September is gazing the far off stars. According to ISRO, now “Astrosat would be looking at some of the black hole sources/candidates like GRS 1915+105, Cygnus X-1, Cygnus X-3 during the month of November.”

It is a well-known fact that earth is surrounded by a layer of atmosphere and this layer can possibly square X-Ray, Infrared and Ultraviolet beams. It can likewise distort/twist Microwaves and Visible light which has an immediate effect on the picture quality of ground-based telescopes. In spite of the fact that some of these issues can be rectified by setting observatories on higher elevations, furthermore utilising technological advances like adaptive optics, but they still have their limits. Additionally even space-based radio and visible light telescopes are complementary in nature to their earth based counterparts. As a space-based telescope won’t be affected by climatic twists furthermore by simulated or artificial lights, it will give us sharp pictures of space and remote cosmic systems.

Crab Nabula image
Image source: Parveen Kaswan

Though they have their particular problems, confronted by any earth circling a satellite, these sort of observatories at some point need essential rectification additionally which is very much a mind-boggling mission. And they have their own particular mission period if the refuelling part is not a part of the project.

Hubble telescope, the space observatory named after astronomer Edwin Hubble, is the best case which was operationalised in 1990 and now gives high-resolution pictures of outer space and galaxies. Its observation has also helped in unravelling the riddles of the universe and determining the rate of expansion after the Big Bang.

Indian ASTROSAT dispatch was initially planned in 2005, and then in 2010, lastly it was activated in 2015. The reason for delay was mainly technical in nature. The considerable thing about this venture is that its very participatory in nature as nearly 10 noteworthy research institutions including ISRO, TIFR, BARC, Raman Research Institute, Canadian Space Agency and so forth are a part of it. The objective includes “to measure the magnetic fields of neutron stars and understand high energy processes that occur in binary and extragalactic systems.”

The observatory is now rotating in an equatorial near earth, in a 650 km orbit with five instruments on board, covering Visible, near Ultraviolet, far Ultraviolet, soft X-ray and hard X-ray regions of electromagnetic spectrum. According to ISRO, it will study ‘astrophysical objects ranging from the nearby solar system objects to distant stars, to objects at cosmological distances; timing studies of variables ranging from pulsations of the hot white dwarfs to active galactic nuclei with time scales ranging from milliseconds to few hours to days.’

After some exceptionally successful ‘Technology Demonstrator’ missions like MOM and Chandrayaan, it is time that we pay attention to some scientific activities too. Astrosat mission gives an adequate extension to India for presenting itself as a major contender for the space market pie, which is worth 400 billion dollars. ‘Indian Remote Sensing’ system is today the world’s largest constellation of satellites in civilian use which is also a good source of income for ISRO. Its application is used in the socio-economic development of the country, from agriculture to town planning and from geology to marine fisheries.

Such feats are required to tap into Asian and African space markets by providing cost effective and reliable services. It is high time that India should also look beyond the horizon, deep into space, and Astrosat is a right step in the right direction.

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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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