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Demonetisation Had Its Flaws, But Modinomics Is Taking India To New Places

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This November, Moody’s upgraded India’s sovereign bond rating after a long 13 years. It cited the reform measures that have been taken and the reforms that are in the pipeline. It praised initiatives like demonetization and G.S.T and asked the government to continue with its reform ideas.

The rise in credit rating comes at a time when the World Bank, in its recently released Index of the Ease of Doing Business, laddered up India’s ranking by 30 points, testifying to the fundamental changes that the Indian Economy is witnessing. The economy is a highly complicated issue. The more you understand it, the more complicated it gets. There is no doubt that disagreements and dissent have grown regarding the position of the Indian economy, in a general debatable perception, but one thing that holds together all this talk is the idea of reforms.

Demonetization, one could argue, was an absolute failure. Loss of jobs, reverse migration, a decrease in demand, lump in growth, massive inconvenience, and other tangible and intangible damages to the economy, could be the arguments coming from the pessimist side. Transfer of money from the rich to the poor, the increase in the base of taxation, the closure of shell companies that were running illegally and being used to hoard loads of black money, cleansing of the parallel cash economy, junking of the duplicate currency, massive surrender of Naxalites at the end of last year, increase in cashless transaction, or at least, a rise in awareness and knowledge about cashless transactions could be the counterarguments that could be put forth by the optimist side. The plan and motive were good, but the implementation was shoddy, could be the argument from the neutral side. The decision was objective but the effects or the intent will always be subjective, depending upon the perception of an individual. But, the fact remains that from a macroeconomic point of view, demonetization was lauded by many, including (albeit cautiously) Richard Thaler, the Nobel laureate in Economics. Moody’s also mentioned the act of demonetization as a reformative move.

Non-Performing Assets (NPA), the menace of the Indian banking system (which I often call the Economic Ebola, as it is spreading its wings and ruining economics just like what Ebola does to a human body), have been on a continuous rise, plaguing the balance sheets of banks. NPA cuts down the profit of banks, reduces their ability to lend, creates a slowdown in the economy, downgrades the shares of banks, and make it difficult for the corporate sector to take loans. To fight this, there have been three gradual and serious attempts, which, in the medium run, could fetch huge dividends in the form of resolution of the stressed assets.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, that fixes a time frame for the resolution of assets, is one of the most important reforms that was needed. As the Economic Survey 2015-2016 pointed out about the Chakravyuh in the corporate sector – where entering the arena was easy, but exiting was difficult – the I&B code offers a solution. It fixes the time limit, and calls for recruitment of special appointees known as Insolvency and Bankruptcy professionals, to aid the process of resolution. The board is still at a nascent stage and its success would purely depend on the resolution of assets in the given time, as mandated by the act. If successful, it could be a path-breaking economic reform, akin to the vaccination that cures Ebola.

The government has recently announced the recapitalization of the banks to the tune of ₹2.11 lakh crores. This will do two things in parallel: boost growth, and allow banks to take large haircuts to deal with the NPA mess. The good thing is that most of the money that would be infused will come through the recapitalization bonds, that will not put pressure on the fiscal target of the government.

The inflation is in control. Forex reserves have crossed the $400 billion mark. The share market has set a record this year by touching an all-time high of 31,000. The fiscal deficit is in control and in target and the infrastructure allocation is up to the mark. The improved credit rating is important for India as it could translate into cheap and easy loans to the country, as we need more and more resources for all sort of things. A good ranking in the Ease of Doing Business Index will ensure a greater flow of technology and investment in India, and will aid growth and employment.

Modinomics, despite some glitches, has performed well, and one hopes that the reforms undertaken by PM Modi continue so that a prosperous, better, inclusive and robust economy can be built.


A version of this post was originally published on the author’s blog.

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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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