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5 Things India Should Do To Become A Superpower By 2030

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India is expected to become one of the most powerful countries in the time to come. There is a lot of discussion and excitement around it; there’s even a Wikipedia page dedicated to it. However, in a majority of these discussions, the term superpower is used in the context of economic growth, monetary and tax policies, military buildup, the young workforce, energy and geopolitical relations.

However, the truth is that the only way India can become a superpower is by rethinking its definition of ‘superpower’ itself. Here are five ways India can become a superpower by 2030:

Redefine “Development”

Originally defined as a state of growth or advancement, this word has been used as the biggest excuse to exploit not just nature and its resources, but also human beings. Development, usually spoken about in the context of infrastructure, industries, and modern facilities, has been forced on people and their surrounding areas at the cost of the livelihood, health and rights of the very people who are claimed to be the beneficiaries.

The first example that I can think of when it comes to this ‘forced development’ is Jadugoda, a village which has been suffering from radiation poisoning due to the uranium mine set up by the government in the 1960s. Another example is the forceful eviction of over 1 lakh people for the Smart Cities Project.

While setting up smart cities, industries, mines and power plants may be essential for the growth of the economy – and to provide seamless access to facilities to the ever growing population of India, the human and environmental cost of this development needs to be considered before making decisions. India ranked 133 out of 188 on the Human Development Index last year. “Who is the development for and is it sustainable and ethical?” is an important question that the country needs to ask itself.

Ensure Implementation Of Laws And Acts

India’s government has been fighting a losing battle when it comes to implementing and enforcing the laws that they create. Legislation alone is never enough to reduce crime or stop it from recurring. Laws pertaining to violence against women, reducing environmental degradation, forest rights, land rights, farmers rights, etc. still face problems when it comes to actually going through with them.

Apart from understanding the difference between making promises and carrying them out, not just during elections but also otherwise, India needs to realise that a ‘welfare state’ ensures that its claims and legislation convert to action and implementation. According to the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index, Netherlands ranks #1 globally when it comes to effective and timely enforcement of laws, whilst India ranks #66 out of 113 nations.

Acknowledge Freedom Of Expression

A superpower’s ‘superpower’ is that it doesn’t limit or hinder its citizens’ expressions in any way – be it through mediums of expression like film, art, literature or through mediums of communication like the internet and media. A country that wants to be among the greatest countries in the world shouldn’t censor social media posts or launch a full-throttle campaign against a movie while placing a bounty on the lead actress’s nose.

Free speech is a characteristic of a country that is confident and convinced of its place in the world. It is a mark of people who are not radical, but sensible. It is also the strength of people who realise that dividing ourselves against each other without acknowledging the shortcomings is unrealistic and dysfunctional. Instead of criminalising people or launching a vendetta against and arresting them for presenting an opinion different from their own, accepting criticism and listening to feedback can actually lead to constructive changes, aiding the nation’s progress.

Practice Equality

India is the fourth worst country in the world when it comes to religious intolerance. Be it the state or the people themselves, recognising equality in diversity is vital to ensure peace between people of different castes, religions, gender, communities, etc. A lot of riots and unrest are caused due to people being divided into the ‘exploiters’ and the ‘exploited’. A country cannot progress if its own people are divided and fighting each other, instead of going against the already-existing evils like illiteracy, poverty, environmental destruction, etc.

Irrespective of gender, caste, sexual orientation, economic background, religion, nationality, regionality, etc, all citizens’ rights need to be respected and discrimination on the basis of such factors should be discouraged. Addressing each cause with empathy and understanding, not bearing any ulterior motives and not dismissing any section’s plight is an almost impossible but a humane way to solve problems. Only when the focus shifts from working against one another to working for something bigger, will India develop – on all fronts.

Prioritise Basic Necessities Of Its Citizens

Addressing the fundamental needs of the citizens is indispensable if a country is to succeed. Since economic growth and development seems to be the prime focus of this nation, it is imperative to understand that the country develops only with the help of its workforce. The people who bring about development deserve easy access to education, livelihood, water, food, medical facilities, electricity, etc.

Prioritising the well-being of people also necessitates the reduction of corruption and sensitisation about privilege. The deep divide between the privileged and underprivileged is not something that will aid success.

Embrace Science And Facts

Although denial seems to be the most popular strategy for dealing with problems, one cannot deal with scientific facts the same way. From the denial of the reproductive abilities of peacocks to the assumption that Darwin’s theory of evolution is wrong to Modi’s strange statements about climate change to claiming that chowmein leads to hormonal imbalance, which apparently evokes an urge to indulge in acts such as rape and sex – India is full of denial and shifting blame on to others. Using ancient manuscripts and mythological stories to deal with 21st-century problems is not exactly a progressive ideology.

Acknowledging the lack of awareness (regarding science and major issues like environmental degradation and global warming) and working towards increasing it is a better strategy than refuting the mere possibility of India being wrong in one of its stances due to its rich heritage and culture.

Conclusion

If India really wants to become a superpower, it can do so only by understanding and enforcing points such as the ones mentioned above. Recalibration of priorities and putting people’s welfare ahead of capitalistic gains will go a long way in creating a sustainable and steady superpower out of India, rather than a short-lived one.

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  1. Roshan Jha

    The article is very crisp & to the point. It speaks a lot about the ground reality, which needs to be fixed before it gets too late. Well done, Isha! ?

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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.

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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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