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India’s High Growth Rate Is Leaving Behind A Large Part Of Its Population

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Most discussions on India concentrate solely on its economic growth. However, if only this mattered, India would seem set to be a prosperous nation. But India’s growth story is not equal across geographies. Large swathes of the population have been left out of its skewed growth. Achieving prosperity for a broader set of people, the middle-class and the poor would need India’s economic story to be equitable and not just about high-growth.

Uncontrolled Urban Migration And Its Ramifications

Economic distress is a prime reason for migration from small towns and rural hinterlands to large cities. This leads to the creation of unplanned urban clusters. Data reveals how the 2001-2016 CAGR is higher in most cities than the 1991-2016 CAGR. So, migration has intensified in the last 15 years. This rapid increase in migration has also made these cities vulnerable to crime. The widening socio-economic imbalance between the haves and have-nots, coupled with the growing pressure on infrastructure and amenities along with the growing culture of instant consumer gratification, is causing crime.

The International Conference on Gender Equality’s Status of Women in India report showed how rapes in India have doubled from 2001 to 2014. National Crime Records Bureau data showed Delhi and Pune amongst the most rape-prone cities. Anecdotal evidence shows the culprits in few cases were migrants. Unfortunately, that builds a bias against all. In any case, there is also no guarantee that migrating gives them productive employment for the 365 days in a year.

Image Credit: Kalpak Pathak/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Tackling Sluggish Growth Of Tax Revenue

Sluggish taxes pose a formidable challenge since more public investment is needed to push growth, given that private investment has not moved in recent years. RBI’s data of gross fixed capital formation to GDP shows a dip from 34% in 2011 to 30% in 2014. So how does the government address the risk of sluggish income tax revenue? While economic growth made people more prosperous than the earlier generations, the question is for how many? If a larger group of people are becoming net poorer due to sluggish income growth, will they yield more tax?

One solution may be to create a wealth tax or inheritance tax to tax the rich, who are becoming more concentrated each year. Credit Suisse data shows the richest 1% Indians owned 58.4% of the country’s wealth in 2016, up from 36.8% in 2000. The rich often use creative accounting to evade income tax and get away due to their clout. But unless such sensitive issues are tackled by a strong government, the country’s development may suffer due to sluggish tax revenue from a broader base of its population each year.

Generational Variations And Growing Financial Dependencies

Census data shows the proportion of married people increased from 44% in 1981 to 47% in 2011, a 30-year period signifying a generational change. But, more couples are delaying bearing children, as the ratio of children aged 0-4 years dropped from 13% to 9% in the same period. This is because the costs of education and healthcare have also increased over the last decade. So, the number of working couples has proliferated as the income of a single-earner is insufficient now.

Financial dependencies of elder generations, who lived and worked before this economic growth of post-1991, may delay that decision further. Given that Indian couples have fewer children now, they cannot depend on their children as their parents did on them. In this society in transition, either the economic growth story is equitable for a broader set of the current generation, or else it better be stronger for the next generation so they can support the current generation. There have been talks of increasing the retirement age in certain jobs; that may be one way to stretch the productive years. But it is critical more people from this generation can make more savings.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, the Modi government has taken initiatives to ensure more Indians participate in the economy. This includes skill-training, gold loans for small businesses, start-up funding, financial inclusion, rural investments and the ‘Make in India’ initiative. But the conversion has to materialise into a large scale as ‘better-paying’ jobs across ‘all the regions’. This may sound like the basics of public policy, but maybe that is what the need of the hour is.

This article was originally published here.

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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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