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Will India Make It To The United Nation’s Elite Clout?

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By Maithili Parikh:

This summer, after much chaos and failed attempts, I finally managed to squeeze in on an oddly timed United Nations Headquarters Visitor’s Tour in New York. I set high standards for the tour as I had heard good reviews of it. The tour turned out to be more enriching than what I expected it to be. The overwhelming sense of awe of its assembly rooms, intricate décor and attention to detail and the mere thought of the power that a single room of the building relinquished over the world filled me with a sense of euphoria. However, along with this sense of wonder, I left the international territory of the United Nations Headquarters with a recurring thought: Why was India not a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, despite being elected as a non-permanent member 7 times? When will she be represented in the inner circle of chairs, which are reserved for the permanent members of the UNSC in the assembly room I had seen minutes ago?

Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

In recent times with the ushering in of India’s new government, Prime Minister Modi has been gregariously travelling the globe to make strategic contacts that would shape Indian foreign policy. With his extraordinary press play, live wire personality, efficacious oratory skills, whether while addressing packed stadiums in the United States of America or articulating India’s external policies at UN Summits, has been drawing all sorts of attention, good and bad.

While most of the areas have found little tangible result, the area of foreign policy has been an exception. The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has made a statement to the Russian media that since Africa, Asia and Latin America are under-represented at the UNSC, Russia supports Brazil and India’s application to be included among the ranks of its permanent members. He further stated that the developing countries required fair representation. While the Russians seem to be warming up to this idea, the other permanent members of the UNSC too seem keen for India to join their ranks.

Official records of the United States of America too suggest a dual stand; while the official statement of the White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest states that President Obama would support India’s inclusion, a leaked report suggests that Prime Ministerial candidate Hillary Clinton ridicules such a prospect. Visibly, the only permanent member that has been ambiguous and non-committal to this prospect has been China, possibly due to their close ties with India’s neighbour, Pakistan. Since reform of the Security Council can only be undertaken once the entire body of permanent members votes in the affirmative along with 2/3 of its non-permanent members, the road seems rather uphill at least until China decides to support India. Leading the non-permanent members opposing India’s permanent membership, is India’s nuclear arms rival, Pakistan and an interest group called the ‘United for Consensus’ or colloquially ‘The Coffee Club‘. Pakistan is bound to raise the apprehension of regional imbalance, drawing special attention to the ongoing Kashmir conflict between the two countries, which could definitely impede India’s campaign.

Determined in the face of challenges, India’s case for permanent membership seems to be strengthening every year. One of the foremost is that the membership of the UNSC today does not reflect the geo-political realities and the development of the multi-polar world order majorly due to the role of countries such as Brazil and India. India ranks amongst the world’s largest UN Peacekeeping Operations contributors, with nearly 180,000 troops serving in 44 missions. She definitely makes a compelling case for herself on the topic of population; currently India boasts of a population of 1.28 billion and reckons to be the most populous country by the year 2022. By denying India permanent membership, the UNSC is virtually acquiescing to having a large chunk of the world population remain unrepresented. Incidentally, India is also the second largest growing economy in the world, possibly making it an excellent hub for foreign investments and growth, especially in light of the economic breakdown in traditionally booming economies such as China and the United States of America. Above all, the most cogent argument in India’s case is the liberalism, democratic principles and secularism it boasts of, overlapping with the UN core principles.

An obscure barrier to India’s permanent membership is also the stiff competition it faces from Japan, Brazil and Germany, all of which enjoy a greater economic size and per capita income. India’s meager financial contributions to the United Nations Peacekeeping Operation could also work against her pitch as a permanent member. The difficulty lies in India’s conspicuously dismal numbers of per capital income, despite its seemingly progressing economy.

In light the arduousness of the task, the United States’ multiplicity, Pakistan’s enmity and China’s hostility, will India make it to the elite clout? Time will tell, but if Prime Minister Modi manages to pull this off, I will definitely take to yoga and so should you!

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  1. B

    It is men who die due to draconian laws, men work the most dangerous jobs, men die on jobs daily, men die in wars, men die due to false cases of dowry, men make the majority of homeless, men are swindled out of life savings in alimony, men are thrust in the army, men die earlier than women, lifeboats are reserved for women, seats on buses are reserved for women, seats in colleges are reserved for women, metros have compartments reserved for women, special quotas in parliament for women, companies have seats reserved for women, men are ripped of their hard earned income in child support, men suffer from biased family courts, men suffer from domestic violence but the law turns a blind eye, men suffer from sexism, media only covers women’s issues, men suffer from joblessness, men are obliged to earn for women, men suffer from misandry, men have to pay lacs for girls jewellery during marriage, brothers spend a lifetime earning to get sisters married, boys are beaten in schools but girls get away with warnings, boys work all the menial jobs – labourers, cleaners, servants, drivers, construction workers, in lock factories, as mechanics, in restaurants, as street-vendors, at tea stalls, as electricians, plumbers, carpenters, woodcutters, rickshaw pullers, etc.

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    vbhtj

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)’.

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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.”

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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.

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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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