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After Losing Batchmates To Road Accidents, These IITians Are Making Indian Roads Safer

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By Amar Srivastava:

“I want to live”, he said while lying paralysed on the road with three of his friends. The constant feeling of helplessness told him that everything was going to get over.

It was a bright sunny day, by the time it ended, few IIT Delhi students had lost their lives in a gruesome road accident. They were travelling to Jaisalmer to celebrate the beginning of their new lives. Nobody knew that a beautiful day would end up in such a scary incident.

Within a few weeks only, three other students from IIT Delhi died in a motorcycle crash. They had just been placed in reputed firms and had a promising life ahead. And there they went, singeing in flames, bruised, dead leaving no trace at all.

Going through these tough times, we were constantly struck by many unanswered questions that they left behind. We wondered – could we have saved the lives of our friends? Why are road safety and traffic management such neglected issues in India?

As we started reading up on road accidents, we found that one person is killed every four minutes on roads and the number of deaths due to road accidents are higher than any other major illnesses like cancer, etc. in the world.

When a person has a disease, he can at least try to get cured, but death through accidents is a case in which there’s no alarm. It’s just because of our impatient attitude and negligence.

The society is dependent on us, the youth. We are the present of the nation. If we don’t take the responsibility of preventing this ‘disease’, then who will?

These and many such troubling questions led us to start the Indian Road Safety Campaign, initially under the aegis of the NSS (National Social Service), IIT Delhi – and now an NGO in its own right.

After having lost our friends and acquaintances to such painful accidents, our sole aim is to make our roads safer and more accessible, and also to mitigate and prevent any such ghastly road accidents from occurring in the future.

We as a youth-lead campaign, want to target all the youth and children to join us and work for the betterment of the society. We believe that people of our age are the harbingers of change, and we’ll help them in their journey of bringing about change.

With a vision to reduce road accidents by half by 2025, we are trying to spread awareness. Being students one of the premier technical institutes we are also researching on technical advancements that can be made in road safety related equipment.

There are different domains through which we strive hard to achieve our vision:

Technical Internships: We are running a large number of projects for developing tools, and researching on various aspects related to road-safety in collaboration with various IIT’s and leading research labs across India. We develop software and projects, and brain-storm over ideas to solve the problems we’re facing.

Policy Internships: We send the youth out onto various locations across India and work on road-related issues in particular localities and try to solve it by collaborating with the government.

IRSC College Chapters: We collaborate with different colleges from all over the India. There are various activities like series of lectures and discussions on the various topics related to road safety, workshops on the role of first responders, Nukkad Natak and various other informative ways through which spread awareness amongst students. We already have 15+ student chapters in various such educational institutions like SRCC, DTU, BITS Pilani etc.

Competitions: We also organise various competitions regularly to spread awareness among the youth about road-related issues by igniting the competitive spirit in them which helps us in achieving high impact in short duration.

Field Visits/Workshops: A large number of practical demonstration sessions and workshops are organised in association with various hospitals to educate about skills such as the role of first responders in case of accidents.

School Visits:We visit different and celebrate “Road Safety Day” in different schools. We organise drawing and essay writing competitions, discussions on various aspects of road safety. These children also often motivate their parents to follow road safety regulations.

While working on the same we have been able to achieve changes at various places such as cities like Samaypur Badli (Delhi), Tonk (Rajasthan), Gangapur city (Rajasthan) etc.

Just because of all the efforts our interns put in, problems in these cities were solved. But we believe this is just the beginning, and we need to make all cities in India free of such problems.

“Life doesn’t have Reset button. Drive safe and be patient.”

To know more, visit our Facebook Page.

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Image source: Jack Zalium/Flickr, IRSC Facebook Page
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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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