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The Key To Lowering The Death Rate On Our Roads: Better Governance And Being Good Citizens

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Safer Roads for YouEditor’s Note: This post is a part of #SaferRoadsForYou, a campaign by Safer Roads for Gurugram and Youth Ki Awaaz to understand the behaviour of road users and advocate for the importance of road safety. Join this conversation and tell us about your experience on Indian roads here.

About 400 lives are lost everyday in road ‘accidents’ in India. That’s more than 150,000 people in a year. Such figures should not qualify to be accidents, rather they should be called murders. The causes working behind these fatalities are numerous and these can be prevented at many stages. But, the collective ignorance by citizens as well as the government has made road safety issues one of the most prominent causes of death in India.

According to a report, 1214 road crashes occur everyday in India and two-wheelers are responsible for 25% of such crash-related deaths. Poor quality of roads,traffic jams, road rage, under-age driving, driving under the influence of alcohol are some of the prime issues which make it important to reflect upon the current situation.

A perilous way to cross the road, but normal for too many pedestrians.

The victims of such accidents are mostly vulnerable road users – motorcyclists, pedestrians and cyclists. Inadequate knowledge about road safety rules, the tendency to disobey traffic signals, etc. indicate the lack of awareness among citizens. The psychology of a Indian road user also functions very differently altogether.

While driving on the road, people do not care about pedestrians. Similarly, people driving heavy vehicles have no respect for cars, bikes, scooties plying on the road. There is always a need seen among these road users to rush, overspeed and overtake.

On one hand, we have road safety rules and on the other, there are road ethics to be considered as well. But, for us everything is like a child’s toy: the road, the vehicle, our own safety and even someone else’s life.

Imagine 400 deaths happening everyday due to a plane crash. Would we consider the situation as casually as we consider deaths on the road? In terms of ranking, cities like Delhi, Chennai, Jaipur, Bengaluru, Mumbai account for highest road deaths respectively. Speeding, drunk-driving, reckless driving, not wearing helmets are some of the main causes of accidents in these cities. On top of it, under-age driving is a major issue.

According to a Times of India report, six out of ten Indians never go through a driving license test to obtain the document! The same is being done to obtain drivers licenses for heavy transporting vehicles like trucks and lorries.

Traffic circles around potholes during the rains. (Photo by Parveen Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Rapid motorisation, inadequate infrastructure and ineffective legislation and enforcement altogether contribute to road accident fatalities. However, road planning and design in India mostly fails to take into consideration the needs of these users. Provisions for pedestrians either do not exist and even if they do, they are not up to the mark and often unsafe. While two-wheelers make up approximately 76% of urban traffic, no effort is made to segregate these from bigger vehicles.

Some of our roads are delicate enough to create potholes that could gulp down entire cars. Corrupted engineering of roads is so normal in India that potholed roads in rural and urban areas do not frighten the users anymore, rather they have evolved with adaptive skills for being able to jump, slide and dive while they drive.

To combat the existing problems we face while being on the road in India, these are a few suggestions:

1. Starting from building the roads to using the roads, everything must be carefully designed and implemented. The construction companies who tend to build poor quality roads in order to pocket a large chunk of government money can be easily identified and held responsible. No negligence in construction of road construction should be acceptable.

2. Not just quality, but innovative ideas should also be adopted in order to make these roads user-friendly. We don’t need just a paved pathway but a wisely engineered road network which accommodates pedestrians, cyclists, bikers, heavy vehicle drivers and everyone (except animals) in a smart way.

3. The license for driving should not be considered as a joke. Proper and mandatory tests are not a choice but a necessity. Vehicles in the hands of under-aged youth can be fatal. Parents need to act strict enough and not hand over vehicles to kids who don’t hold licenses.

4. Traffic police should debar themselves from accepting bribes from culprits. Strict punishment for disobeying traffic rules and proper education of such can prevent road deaths to a significant extent.

The road to a developed country shall remain unpaved until we invest in every aspect of nation building. Roads are one such thing. It’s time that both the government and citizens are held equally accountable.

Featured image for representative purpose only.
Featured image source: Biswarup Ganguly/Wikimedia Commons.
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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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