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Indian Roads, Traffic Problems And The Common Man

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India is a country with the second largest road network in the world. Out of the total stretch of 5.4 million km of road network, almost 97,991 km is covered by national highways.

It is already a huge challenge for the Indian government to provide world-class roads, due to the sheer magnitude. To add to it, India has to spend almost around ₹20,000 to ₹30,000 crore on the maintenance of roads every year. The reason behind this is the increase in the private vehicle ownership and the overburdening of roads in all major cities of the country.

For an average Indian youth owning a two-wheeler, driving on any of the major Indian cities, is equivalent to waging a daily war. The everyday struggle and effort of dodging traffic, pollution and rash drivers is the biggest cause of chronic stress and many physiological problems. On an average, a person spends anywhere between 30 minutes to two hours of their day driving. Which means, in a year, it is almost 360 hours. Imagine the kind of stress and unnecessary burden the person is putting on their body. In a country already full of numerous lifestyle-related diseases, the driving and traffic problems is an unnecessary addition.

If India has to maintain its growth, it will require around 15,000 km of new expressways in the coming 10-12 years. The National Highway Authority of India, along with the local corporations, have to work really hard to achieve this target. But this might not be possible if the citizens of the country continue to abuse the roads and traffic rules across the nation. The government mechanism, as well as the citizens, need to work in tandem, if India wants to see any improvement in traffic and eventually in the lives of the citizens.

Below are some of the major traffic problems India is facing today along with some of the possible solutions.

Corruption And Malpractices

As mentioned earlier, India is the second largest network of roads in the world, covering around 5.4 million kms. Out of it, 26,51,00 are covered by state and national highways. The national highways authority of India (NHAI), is the autonomous agency of the Indian government responsible for maintenance and the expansion of the highways. However, it is alleged to be full of corruption and malpractices when it comes to the construction of roads.

Fraudulent contracts and agreements are said to be made with some favoured contractors. Many times, the contractors are allegedly thought to be using bad quality materials, old technologies and outdated specifications for the building of roads.

The Biggest Mode Of Transport In India – Roads

Even after 70 years of Indian independence, almost 90% of the passenger and industrial transport is carried out through roads. India has yet not been able to tap into the potential for railway and air transport, due to which there exists a huge pressure on the Indian roads.

In such situations, it becomes difficult to maintain the quality of roads, because most of the roads are overburdened and extremely busy throughout the year. To add to it, India has a varied topography across the country, and the variations in weather and climate make it extremely tough to control the quality of roads.

Bad Public Transport

Most of the Indian cities still have poor public transport systems. Except for Mumbai and Delhi, which are relatively better, the majority of Indian citizens depend on their private vehicles for daily transport.

Even in Mumbai and Delhi, increasing population density puts a big pressure on already existing public transport infrastructure, affecting its quality. People prefer their own transport rather than the inconvenience of public buses or rails.

Bad Road Quality Due To Overloading

Urban roads are extremely congested due to heavy traffic caused by private vehicles. This over-usage rapidly degrades the quality of roads, and most of the expenditure meant for expansion of roads is spent on the maintenance. It’s a vicious circle where bad roads cause traffic problems, and the traffic does not allow scope for the development of new roads.

Air And Sound Pollution In Cities

The magnitude of traffic not only creates congestion problems, but also give rise to a lot of other issues. Air pollution and sound pollution are two major issues that are rising to alarming proportions in the recent years.

The recent Delhi pollution should be taken up as a big eye opener for the entire country. It not only affects people who are actually driving but also people who are staying indoors. These issues are creating huge problems for senior citizens and children.

Solutions

Recently, the odd-even scheme devised by the Delhi CM created a lot of buzz, but did not seem enough, unless it is supported by other grass root level measures. Some of the solutions which can be used are given below.

There are many innovative and interesting solutions suggested by experts, environmentalist and architects. Some of them have also been implemented. But any solution is expected to be successfully implemented, it will definitely require effort and planning on a huge scale. This is especially for when we are coming up with plans which can reach the entire country. Corruption will have to be curbed, and it will be extremely vital that the raw material is of the highest quality are used for the longevity and strength of the roads.
  • Road pricing system – people should be charged based on the length of the road and the duration for which they use the road. This will be difficult to implement and will require huge technological investment to become possible.
  • Improvement in public transport and additional schemes like BRT. The Bus Rapid Transport is implemented in some cities like Pune, and it can be very helpful if implemented correctly.
  • People should try and use carpooling and bike pooling as much as possible. Use of bicycles for smaller distances also improves individual health along with reducing pollution and road congestion.
  • Strict and stringent measures against traffic violators. A regulation in the traffic rules and fines levied for breaking them.
  • Metro can play a huge role in improving the traffic issues to a great extent. If Nagpur metro becomes successful, it will pave the way for implementation in other cities as well which can be very beneficial.
  • Increase in the use of CNG and electrical vehicles and providing relief to those who use the same.
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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.

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.

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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 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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