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India Needs To Take A Crucial Decision About The Energy It Consumes

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India’s growing energy demands and dependence on countries in the resource rich Middle East may become a matter of prime concern. With the instability of the Middle East, along with the changes in the global order, the rise of populism and protectionism in many developed countries and the United States pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, the stability of supply looks endangered. This is the prime concern as venturing out into new fields could hamper India’s growing energy demands and risk accelerating the Indian economy.

A large quantity of the energy demand in India is met by the import of fossil fuels. India has had the distinction of being the 4th largest energy consumer and is facing many challenges against its developmental ambitions vis-a-vis the environmental protection effort. At the same time, with a country of over 1.2 billion population, of which many lack access to basic and minimum needs for survival, India is determined to lift many from poverty by accelerating efforts in its national policies without harming the environment. It is imperative at this critical time to find a balanced way out to meet the requirements of its populace and at the same time tend to develop, improve and improvise its existing infrastructure of civil society.

At a time when the impact of climate change is primarily observed with changing weather conditions, rising sea level and the increase in annual mean temperature, creating a brighter, secure and green future and focussing on the energy security of the country should be of prime concern for the policy makers. With increasing use of fossil fuels, air, water, and soil pollution have reached an unprecedented level making policy adoption and adaptation towards clean energy a must. With the creation of the International Solar Alliance during the UN Climate Change Conference – COP 21 in Paris in 2015, India has aimed to boost usage of solar energy, leading the fight against climate change. The joint movement with developing countries is the ultimate quest of bringing a revolution with the potential to change the existing energy scenario in India, for the benefits of the countrymen and showcasing its example to the world.

India’s aim of aligning its development policies with respect to the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals 2030 finely tunes with reality which is evident as time progresses.

Recently, National Geographic commented on the surprising developments which have been taking place in the country’s venture into clean energy renovation stating, “India has brightened dramatically, is not a surprise. The country is home to more than its fair share of people living without electricity, and its Government has been working to change that by establishing a rural electrification program and investing heavily in renewable energy.

A recent report published by the Ministries of Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines and another by the All India Statistics of Indian Power Sector by the Central Electricity Authority, Ministry of Power, of Government of India has highlighted the following significant achievements and initiatives which have been taken:

  1. 13,511 villages electrified out of 18,452 villages as on April 2015.
  2. Record low tariffs solar and wind energy.
  3. In 2016-17, for the first time, the net capacity addition of renewable power exceeded that of conventional power.
  4. The renewable energy sources installed capacity as on 31.03.2014 was 31,692.14 MW and as on 31.03.2017, the power sector has achieved an installed capacity of 57,260.2 MW of renewable energy sources which is a dramatic increase of 80% during the period of 2014-2017.
  5. Adequate power is available to meet the demand of consumers with access to electricity. In 2013 and 2014, the demand-supply gap of Energy and Peak stood at 4.2% and 4.5% respectively. Currently, this has now decreased to 0.7% and 1.6% respectively in 2016 and 2017.

Over the next 20 years, the demand for energy is projected to increase to twice its present quantity and to counter this requirement, the natural resources which the geography of India has in its possession have the potential to change the energy security status of the country. The power produced from conventional sources during the period 2012-17 is 99,209.47 MW against a target of 88,537 MW, an increase of 112%. Though the growth of power generation is a good sign, it isn’t a good sign for the clean energy revolution.

It is heartening to note that simultaneously the production potential of renewables has been increased. Renewables have the ability to meet supply when the peak demand necessitates it. This reform is vital for India’s energy security and both the government and the citizens must play an active role in paving the way for renewables. The important aspects of optimum resource utilisation are its accessibility and affordable prices to the low-income groups. This would play a crucial role in bringing the clean energy revolution with a higher degree of reliability with efficiency, sophisticated hi-tech technologies and low operation and maintenance costs.

To bring on a robust clean energy revolution, the authorities concerned with this important assignment can look upon the less tapped avenues of tidal power, hydropower, biomass and biogas energy and geothermal energy. The channels for clean energy are still in a nascent phase, but it’s growing. If plans and policies are properly executed, then India could certainly lead in bringing a clean energy revolution.

In creating a well-established renewable energy infrastructure, there are many challenges which subject experts must take into notice before strategizing the next step for storing the maximum amount of produced energy. A range of problems has existed, like that of the location of production grids, the transmission of power to household consumption, and a significantly higher degree of costs associated with it. The grids already have a capacity problem and operations make it weak and unstable to carry the optimum capacity of energy. There aren’t sufficient incentives for the production plants to optimally handle the renewable energy. The potential of generating renewables are hindered by social and environmental challenges in most parts of the country where a significant quantity of generation of renewable does exist.

For example, in the state of Assam, one of the major hydroelectric power projects remain stalled due to socio-economic and environmental challenges. Problems exist, but it is our absolute responsibility to adopt efficient energy sources for creating a brighter and greener future.

The inspirational takeaway message is that India currently has the world’s largest renewable energy expansion programme until 2022 and we should expect this to usher in a new era in India. The 21st century is at a critical juncture where the powers of science and technology, has shaped the world to a great extent but at a significant cost. If due care and steps to slow down the pace is not taken, an inevitable crash of human civilisation cannot be avoided. The government, public and private sectors, the civil society, the young generation need to step up and work together. A great responsibility lies on the public avenue to learn the importance of clean energy, be sensitive to environmental issues and switch their living styles.

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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 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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