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How Asia Stands To Suffer If Trump Is Victorious This November

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By Sehr Taneja:

The American presidential debates have thus far accounted for four and a half hours of insults, interruptions, personal attacks, and frustrated viewers. Yet, amid this overflow of negativity, there was some room to discuss important foreign policy issues and policies.

With the focus on China, Russia, and the Korean peninsula, there is a lot at stake for Asian countries in this presidential election. With the U.S. ‘pivot to Asia‘, the centrality of the continent in both economic and security matters cannot be ignored. Perhaps, it is worth isolating these instances of foreign policy discussions from the broader debate to analyse what they insinuate and how they would impact the various Asian actors. So, then the question is: who would serve Asia’s interests: Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?

The North Korean Challenge

Let’s start with the most daunting threat — the nuclear arsenal of North Korea. The U.S. has over 25,000 troops installed in South Korea to oppose their northern neighbour. Yet, the nuclear menace persists, marked by repeated missile tests and threats from the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un.

Passing the buck to China, GOP candidate Donald Trump said in the first debate, “You look at North Korea, we’re doing nothing there. China should solve that problem for us.” Subtly suggesting that China should invade, Trump said, “China should go into North Korea.”

While his opponent, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton made no comments specific to North Korea in either of the debates, her running mate Tim Kaine passingly suggested that she understands that it is important to work alongside China to mitigate the threat from a power like North Korea.

However, following North Korea’s latest missile test, Clinton announced to the press on September 9 that it was imperative to rethink the nuclear strategy of the U.S. in relation to North Korea. She suggested that the U.S. increase sanctions and push China to understand that this is a matter of grave concern, reported the New York Times.

Interestingly, despite stating that China should take charge of the denuclearisation of North Korea, Trump has previously suggested that U.S. troops should not be responsible in South Korea; instead, he thought it a good idea to allow neighboring nations of South Korea and Japan to build their own nuclear weapons. As paradoxical as it is to nuclearise surrounding countries to denuclearise North Korea, it’s Trump’s take on foreign policy.

Trump’s take may definitely be an invitation to two more countries to join the global nuclear group, however, it underestimates the deplorable outcome that could arise from use (or abuse) of nuclear weapons. So, while South Korea and Japan may be enticed by this idea, for the larger good of Asia, Hillary proposes a more rational, diplomatic solution.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership

On the topic of trade, the trans-pacific partnership is especially important given its impact on the 12 countries involved. It aims to build closer economic ties between members of the trade and affects about 18,000 tariffs, according to BBC.

In the second presidential debate, Trump took a toss at former president Bill Clinton — over his decision to sign the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) — and then followed by saying, “And now she (Hillary Clinton) wants to sign TPP, even though she said now she’s for it. She called it the gold standard.”

While Clinton did not directly address the TPP during the debate, she stated that she holds all trade deals to her test: “Will they create jobs in America? Will they raise incomes in America? And are they good for our national security?” However, at the CNN Democratic debate in October 2015, Clinton clarified that while she had hoped the TPP would be of the ‘gold standard‘, once written up, it did not meet her requirements. She highlighted that she now believes that the deal would need to be strengthened in favor of the U.S. or otherwise abandoned.

As an extension to this, a matter of utmost importance was China’s role in the partnership. Trump articulated that he believes that although China is not part of the deal now, it will find a way in. Both candidates expressed concern over China’s dumping strategy that has impacted jobs and currency value in the U.S., having a negative impact on the U.S. economy.

It then appears that Trumps complete opposition to the TPP is met with Hillary’s attempts to strategically modify the deal. While both would harm Asian interests, given the reduction of tariffs on a series of products the deal provides for, Trump by completing clamping down, is sure to be in the less favored view of Asian countries.

On The Matter Of Russia

With their involvement in the Clinton email controversy and Putin’s announcement of Trump as the “absolute leader in the presidential race,” Russia has a more-than-normal investment in the 2016 presidential elections. The question to consider is Russia’s support for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

Trump took a defensive stance for Russia, highlighting that Russia and Iran are together fighting ISIS. He further pointed out that Russia’s nuclear capabilities are far more developed than those of the Unites States. With Trump’s recent call to Russia to look up and publicly share Clinton’s emails, the topic of Russia is a particularly controversial one.

On the other hand, Clinton emphasised Russia’s airstrikes that are taking down the city of Aleppo. She stressed the need to get leverage over Russia to bring them to the negotiations table and to find a diplomatic way to effectively take down ISIS.

Russia has long been on the opposite side of U.S. and Trump’s proclivity toward Russia is rather new in the political rhetoric of the country. However, it is important to note Russia’s importance in the global arena with its position as a large and powerful nuclear nation.

For Russia, it appears that Trump would be the winning candidate. However, whether or not the rest of Asia stands with Russia on this is questionable.

So, Who Has Impressed Asia?

There are still other matters that are crucial in this dialogue including China’s assertion of power South China Sea and the controversial role of Pakistan as a hub for terrorism. While the question of Pakistan and other South Asian affairs did not come up in the debates, their importance cannot be denied.

A Normura poll has shown that 32 percent of voters believe that Asia will be most affected by a Trump presidency. From this analysis, it appears that with Trump proposing nuclear armament of South Korea and Japan, demanding higher compensation for military support in South Korea and suggesting an abrupt end to the TPP, . However, with Clinton’s more balanced, negotiation-centred strategy for North Korea, the TPP and Russia, most Asian countries would benefit. Nonetheless, Russia is an opposing case of its own. Now, come November, only the people of America can decide whether the results will swing in favor of Russian desires or larger Asian interests.

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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.

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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, 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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