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Two Years On, How The Modi Government Is Faring In 5 Key Areas

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By Sumit Kr:

Two years ago, when I was busy preparing for my semester exams, a historic story was being written in the Indian democracy. It was May 16, 2014, when a non-Congress party had achieved absolute majority in the Parliament for the first time in independent India. The people had delivered to Narendra Modi, by giving his party a historic mandate. It became the turn of latter to abide by the promises made by him to the electorate.

Access To LPG

The most popular and socialistic endeavour of this government has been the universalisation of LPG connections. Initiated by the erstwhile UPA government in 2013, the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme has been given more of a push by the incumbent government through the Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar card and mobile popularly called as the ‘JAM’ trinity. It has helped to eliminate the game of middlemen from the subsidy chain. The ‘Give It Up‘ scheme, that aimed to transfer the gas subsidies from the well-off sections of the society to the poor ones became a huge movement with around 1.2 crore people voluntarily giving up their subsidy. The ‘Ujjwala Yojana‘ scheme that seeks to provide 5 crore free LPG connections to the BPL households by 2019, if implemented successfully, will be a great help to the poor who have hitherto suffered the nasty smoke of conventional fuels.


Source: REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash/Files
Source: REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash/Files

There has been a serious thrust on the electrification process especially in the rural areas. The Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Rural Electrification scheme has by time, electrified a number of villages and is a pre-requisite for the Gram Uday Se Bharat Uday Yojana. At the city level, the programme is christened as the Integrated Power Development Scheme. The International Solar Alliance will help in leveraging the solar energy for electricity which will alongside help India to meet its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The new power tariff policy announced in January that seeks to establish micro-grids to provide electricity to unconnected villages is all set to augment the Deen Dayal Rural Electrification programme. The UDAY bond scheme is another step towards the universalisation of electrification which envisages the revival of debt-trapped distribution companies so that they can work with full efficiency.

Economic Policy

The business and entrepreneurship environment has been given a push through full government support as reflected in the recent Ease of Doing Business ranking in which India has laddered up 12 positions from it’s earlier ranking. The e-Biz portal, deregulation, delicensing, abolition of tax-terrorism, the Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code, Mudra Yojana and the Skill India campaign have been the major ingredients which have contributed to providing a conducive environment for the business to operate and work in India. The GST bill,which has recently gotten the nod from Parliament, will help in boosting demand and may spur growth in the economy and employment, though it could also surge inflation for a narrow time period.

The exports have declined continually and despite all the emphasis on the Make In India scheme, it remains a dream that looks like it will take some more time to turn into reality. The NDA government, instead of batting for an increase in the GDP figures, should find ways for generating more employment to harness the demographic dividend. If not, it won’t take time for the demographic dividend to convert into demographic disaster.

Financial Inclusion

Most important of all, the populist endeavours of the government has been the financial inclusion programme. It started with the Jan Dhan Yojana which was aimed towards connecting every household to the formal banking chain who were left out of the banking system even after seven decades of independence. The PM Suraksha Beema Yojana and the PM Jeevan Jyoti Yojana gives life insurance and accident insurance at a lower cost while the Atal Pension Yojana seeks to provide financial support to the elderly. Not to mention, in-principal approval from RBI to 11 payment banks and 10 finance banks tries to fill in the loopholes that arises in the aforementioned financial inclusion programmes.

Foreign Policy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets SAARC leaders
Photo by Yasbant Negi/Getty Images

Albeit his foreign policy, as a whole, has been commendable till date, with a number of energy pacts being signed in the gulf, the defence deal struck with France, the rousing relationship with the business fraternity of the United States, the Iran-India-Afghanistan trilateral pact and so on. Praise apart, the Modi government has thoroughly failed when it comes to foreign policy with our neighbouring countries like Nepal, Pakistan and China. The ‘big-brother muscular’ attitude towards Nepal during it’s constitutional crisis forced them to tilt towards the Chinese. The recent transit pacts signed between China and Nepal further emboldened their relations and on the other side, the cancellation of the Nepalese President’s visit to India and the repatriation of the Nepal ambassador has heightened the rift between India and Nepal. Losing a strategic understanding with Nepal is the worst that can happen to India’s neighbourhood policy.

“Talks and terror can’t go together” used to be the ideal phrase of the BJP when it used to sit on the opposition benches. Suddenly, they belied their ideal phrase as soon as they got the way to the treasury bench. Narendra Modi’s impromptu visit to Pakistan last year could be justified with a number of arguments. But is it not a contradiction of PM Modi’s own approach who had promised us a tough policy on Pakistan stating that terror will be not be tolerated and will be retaliated with stringent options. Instead of cutting relations with Pakistan, Modi chose to allow ISI to visit India to investigate the Patahankot attacks. China has been countering India’s claim to the Nuclear Supplies Group (NSG) and the UN Security Council. If Mr. Modi could reshuffle the approach towards these countries, then his foreign policy could be as good as Nehru’s.

With around 40 percent of the time spent by the NDA government in power, there are mixed feelings among people about the functioning of this government. Some are happy and some are unhappy. It has succeeded on some fronts and failed on some major fronts as well. Overall, the performance has been average with some good moves on the cards.

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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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