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Are We Waiting For A Big Disaster To Wake Up The Rail Authorities In India?

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Only a few days ago, the Kalinga Utkal Express derailed at Khatauli killed over 23 people and injured over 80. The incident’s intensity and lack of respect towards human life and property surprised everyone.

We pitied, sympathised over the victims’ pain and shared our condolences for the huge loss. But the loss occurred in the wee hours of the day and the fact is that we can’t bring back the smiles of the victims and survivors as an ordinary night, turned into a nightmare for some.

Although the government has compensated the victims’ family with ₹3.5 lakh for the family of those killed, ₹50,000 for those seriously injured and ₹25,000 for people with minor injuries. But is money enough to soothe their pain? Furthermore, only a handful of the people have been registered and the overall number of those killed and injured is yet to be analysed.

Moreover, the irony of our society is in the age of reasoning. Highly intellectual sections of the society try to give vague explanations for a simple question-Who was responsible for the mishap? The blame game seems to be never-ending.

The Utkal tragedy isn’t the only derailment, these incidents are not new to India. Various deadly incidents have taken place in the last decade and still, these common issues have no solution. They seem to be entangled in the cobweb of bureaucracy and elaborated explanations of political parties.

The Numbers Show Us How Deadly The Indian Railway System Is

2007: Two bombs exploded around midnight on the Ssamjhauta express from India to Pakistan, twice-weekly train service connecting Delhi, India, and Lahore, Pakistan, killing at least 68 passengers and injuring 12.

2008: Two coaches of the Gautami Express were gutted in a massive fire in Warangal district in the wee hours of August 1, 2008. The train was travelling from Secunderabad to Kakinada. The fire allegedly caused by an electrical short-circuit and killed at least 32 passengers, injuring 40.

 2009: 14 coaches of the Coromandel Express derailed in Orissa, 120km north of Bhubaneswar killing at least 16 people and leaving 161 injured.

2010: The Gyaneshwari Express train derailed in May 2010 where 148 people died.

2011: Kalka Mail derailed near Fatehpur, Uttar Pradesh, killing 60 people and injuring more than 150.

2012: A coach of the New Delhi-Chennai Tamil Nadu Express caught fire near Nellore in Andhra Pradesh on June 30,2012. 35 passengers were burnt to death and at least 25 injured.

2013: A fire broke out on the Bangalore-Nanded Express train in Anantpur district of Andhra Pradesh in an AC 3-tier coach. 54 passengers were expected to be on board in the B1 coach which was completely gutted in the fire. 26 people were killed.

2014:  The Diva Junction-Sawantwadi passenger train derailed between Nagothane and Roha stations in Maharashtra’s Raigad district on May 4, 2014. At least 20 people were killed and about 100 injured

2015: The Dehradun-Varanasi Janata Express derailed near Bachhrawan in Uttar Pradesh killing 38 and injuring 150 

2016: 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna Express train derailed in Kanpur Dehat district of Uttar Pradesh As many as 142 people were killed and more than 200 injured

 2017: Seven coaches and the engine of Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Express derailed in Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh. killing 32

I have mentioned only ‘major’ incidents here. There have been more than four fatal train accidents taking place every year either because of carelessness or adoption of shortcuts and non-observance of safety and guidelines.

The latest one which has been added to the long list of derailments is the Kaifiyat express which left more than 70 people injured in the accident, resulting in an independent decision of the railway minister Suresh Prabhu’s resignation from his post.

  

 But will this resignation repair the loss which has been made? Who should be held responsible for such an incident? More importantly, bounded by government’s laws and regulations, as a common citizen we can do nothing but share our grief while we still count the rising numbers of the dead. May be we are waiting some more deadly to happen!

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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.

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        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)’.

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        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
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        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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