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Why India Needs To Stop Looking At The West For Answers On Development

Influential cultural heritage, rich geographical features and respect for all religions are the prominent qualities of India. If you measure the development of India according to global standards, then you will come to the conclusion that India must make drastic improvements.

But what is the meaning of development? Is it the western definition or should India create its own development?

Cultural And Social Development

India has struggled to provide relevant education to everyone who is a part of the Indian society.

The communities and their needs are so diverse that the same kind of education system is not relevant to all. For example, a city dweller working in a multinational corporation (MNC) might have different needs which are fulfilled by the mainstream education system. But what about people like migrant labourers? If there is a lack of education or direction for their children, it would be very counterproductive to the same community.

The dilemma is due to their very specific situation. They might not even find mainstream education relevant to them. It might be better to start with relevant education which can provide the light of knowledge and create a path for employment as soon as possible. That’s what motivated Acharya Chandra Bhushan Tiwari, an education reformer, to leave his government job to educate the poor children of migrating labourers. People like him need no appreciation; they are not only working for the upliftment of the poor but also doing a great favour to the community.

The growth of the country directly or indirectly depends upon the development of people. Gone are the days when people believed that the right to education solely belonged to the rich. Now every person has an equal right to education. Even the government has taken initiatives to light the candles of education in remote areas. The “Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan” is one of most valued initiatives in this direction.

Campaigns such as “Skill India” are aimed at improving one’s skills, unlike mainstream education which relies on examinations but never questions the relevance of education with respect to the ever changing needs for employability.

What Changes Will It Bring To The Society?

Many parts of the country, including cities like Lucknow, are still struggling to find their definition of development.

Relevant education which leads to enlightenment about one’s surroundings, including environment and cultural practices, will pave the path towards sustainable development. Human resource can thus be employed for a longer duration, serving their local communities. They will have a connection with the land and soil, thus helping its development and making it a better and peaceful place to live in. It is our responsibility to support reformers like Chandra Bhushan in their revolution.

Development On The Political Front

Politics weaves through every community. Till now, politics has never been seen as a viable career option, leading to a very opaque system. This leads to corruption at every stage and people building oligarchies with the help of politics. Active collusion with businesses who have their own agendas is very prevalent in the current way of politics.

BallotboxIndia, through its innovative initiative ‘janmela’, is trying to make a dent in the situation. We interviewed some upcoming leaders like Mr Amal Kumar (JDU), Mr Abhinav Mishra (AAP), Mr Harilal Prasad (CPIM) on their ideas for tomorrow and the new India we want to see.

It was heartening to see how the grassroots cadre and local leaders were contributing to the community, not just with their time but their efforts. Many times, their efforts go unnoticed like when they help keep their communities clean, work on proper sewerage, local employment and employee rights and disseminate information on various government schemes. They play a vital role in the community.

BallotboxIndia, through its various initiatives, is assisting such leaders to connect with the right problems which are directly affecting their constituency and developing the right local parameters on what works and what doesn’t.

Wrap Up

India needs a real revolution in its social and political systems. Indians can’t keep following western models since they depend on countries like India to contribute with their natural resources, labour, land and their long term sustainability in terms of water security, pollution and detached human resources. For India to develop in a sustainable format for the long term, the country needs to develop its own models and parameters.

BallotboxIndia is connecting the communities’ socio-political leaders with the problems which are affecting common folks, thereby building a long lasting connection, creating employment opportunities, building the work force of tomorrow, solving problems of local communities while preserving their rich heritage and culture.


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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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