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From Indira Gandhi To Modi, How International Politics Have Driven Policies At Home

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India and its position at international level is the result of several developments that took place since 1951. Let us, in brief, see each of these developments decade wise.

1.Period 1951-1960

This decade marked the beginning of the first five-year plan which reflected the Nehru’s. These ideologies were based on socialism taken from USSR making a friendly relation with them. The major focus of this era was to restructure the economy, to increase industrialisation, development of dams and canals for irrigation, etc. All these were done with the support from foreign grants.

2.Period 1961-1970

This decade was the combination of both development and destruction. India faced two major wars in 1962 and 1965 leading to the creation of enemies surrounding the borders. Relations with the US also worsened during this period. During this period, India lost Nehru, and there was a change in the country’s leadership. Indira Gandhi succeeded Lal Bahadur Shastri and changed the Nehruvian ideologies. The decade witnessed some other significant development like green revolution, nationalisation of banks, and devaluation of money to bring the economy back on track after the wars. During this period, the cold war between the US and USSR intensidfied due to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Furthermore, the United Nations declared this decade as the first developmental decade followed with the formation of UNCDF, UNIDO, OPEC, UNCTAD whose major focus was to increase trade and industrialisation worldwide by supporting least developing countries.

3.Period 1971-1980

In 1971-72, once again India went to war with Pakistan. India supported the formation of Bangladesh( earlier known as East Pakistan). The decade was also seen as the darkest times in democracy after then PM Indira Gandhi declared an emergency in 1975. During this period, all the civil rights were suspended, and Sanjay Gandhi’s controversial family planning project was forced upon people. However, there are more positives associated with the emergency period. The Indian economy saw growth after years of slowdown, and the inflation was significantly reduced. However, the negatives cannot be ignored which includes unrest in the country in the form of strikes and labour conflicts. At the same time, several events were happening at the international level which included advancement in technology.

4.Period 1981-1990

The 1980s saw several communal violences across the country. Along with this, the government established a dedicated bank, NABARD, to extend micro-financing to rural India. The Election Commission of India commissioned EVM machines during this period. It was first used in Kerala in 1982. During this decade, institutions such as UNDP, WHO, IMF and World Bank focused on promoting social, economic, energy and trade-related development.

5.Period 1991-2000

This decade marked the IT revolution in the country. India also witnessed communal violence and terrorist attack like the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992 followed by 1993 serial bomb blasts in Bombay.
This decade is also known as a liberalisation period where the government liberalised, privatised, and globalised Indian economy to battle Balance of Payment (BOP) crisis. Due to thse reforms, the license raj (started in 1947) came to an end.

However, this didn’t come without a price. The funds received by IMF was with certain terms and conditions. USA being the major stakeholder in IMF forced India to support them in Gulf war. Later in this period, there was one of the famous scams in Indian history named as Harshad Mehta scam that involved then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao. Consequently, Security Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to avoid such scams in future and regulate the stock market.

6.Period 2001-2010

It was during this period that India started to focus significantly on human development. Several social schemes such as MNREGA, RTI, RTE, etc. were launched during this decade. This was due to the formation of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) from the UN making India follow a similar framework to be in the race with other countries.

7.Period 2010-2017

This period was more of a trade-off between economic and political development. The Congress government lost to BJP with a huge margin, marking the rise of India’s current PM Narendra Modi.

The second term of UPA government faced allegations of numerous scams like Coalgate and Commonwealth scam, to name a few. The BJP promised to reverse the situation and provide corruption-free governance. Hence, the new government BJP (Bhartiya Janta Party) came to power whose major focus is to have social development from the people’s finances. After taking charge of the office, the new government started regulating the institutions and their roles. In a more refined way, BJP is more of a watchdog rather than an administrator, keeping an eye on each individuals income, spending, and other activities.

Thus, it can be said that whatever policies and actions that Indian institutions took since 1951 was directly or indirectly influenced by international institutions and their strategies.

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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.

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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.”

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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, 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.

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