This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Ausaf Momin. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

This Generation Doesn’t Need Cigarettes To Die Slowly, Delhi’s Air Does The Job

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Editor's note:This post is a part of #PollutionKeSolution, a contest launched by Youth Ki Awaaz on World Environment Day to find innovative and unique solutions to curb air pollution. 10 entries for the contest were shortlisted basis the number of views and upvotes they received, and 3 winners were selected by an expert panel! Check out the entries here!

On the 5th of June every year, we flood our social media stories and timelines with suggestions and concerns for our polluted environment. The validity of our concerns and stories are pretty much the same and they usually don’t last beyond 24 hours.

What happens the next day? We go back to our same routine and do absolutely nothing, barring a few instances where we whine about the pollution and direct our tirade towards the government for their inaction and apathy about it all.

India has been synonymous with pollution and this isn’t a foreign stereotype, but a parallel invented and perpetuated by us who term clean and hygienic places as ‘India lagega hi nahi’ (It won’t look like India).

As a result of the “efforts” of some people, coupled with a lack of active intervention by the government towards growing air pollution, Indian cities have catapulted themselves towards the “prestigious” position among the most polluted cities of the world. This is according to a recent study by AirVisual and Greenpeace, which showed a staggering 7 out of 10 of the most polluted cities of the world are in India.

Thankfully, this generation doesn’t need cigarettes to die slowly, Delhi’s flawless air does the job in even less time.

Pollution is so severe that it warrants an absolute emergency mode response from the government, media and people alike.

But, Dhoni’s controversial gloves are given prime time debating slots. TRP hungry media ignores these burning issues which are slowly killing thousands of lives, instead focuses on juvenile and irrelevant issues.

The general public has so far shown minuscule interest in this important issue, largely due to their ignorance and lack of technical knowledge about it. The government ignores it because it sees less scope of doing mass politics with these issues.

Interestingly, when India surpassed China’s record in building the highest statues, China was busy building the world’s largest air purifier in Xian, which measured 100 metres in height.

Clearly, India has set its priorities right.

This national crisis is a national emergency and it deserves to be treated like one. The cost of overlooking this crisis will be paramount. It requires urgent attention from every nook and corner of society. People, media and government have to come together in tackling this imminent disaster.

We all have grown up writing long essays on how to tackle air pollution, so as to spare you from the same typical format, I propose a three-way approach to effectively tackle this.

1. ‘Uth Ja Government’ (Wake up Government)

• Improve industrial and vehicular emission standards
• Regular dust control
• Strict compliance of environmental legislation
• Denial of industrial setups near populated areas
• Energy efficiency standards for industries.
• Research and large scale production and distribution of economical air purifiers

2. ‘Sabka Saath, Sabko Nishwas’ (Collective responsibility of government, media and people)

• Shifting towards public transport
• Adopting cleaner fuels
• Solid waste management
• The devotion of considerable airtime of media channels for educating people about this impending crisis and guiding them in tackling it.
• Debates and discussions about this during prime time debates.
• Strict enforcement of bans on open burning of household waste, agricultural wastes, etc and social awareness among people about ills of it.

3. ‘Tu Tera Dekh’ (Individual responsibility)

• Adopting cleaner fuels for cooking and heating.
• Shifting towards eco-friendly vehicles and public transport.
• Buying air purifiers for homes.
• Spreading awareness about air pollution.
• Keeping car, boat, and other engines properly tuned.

These are a few steps towards ensuring a cleaner future. It’s about time, we stop preaching and start working. Let’s get out of our comfort zones and work for a cleaner environment by doing our bit.
This world doesn’t need armchair activists, it needs doers and changemakers.
Let’s change this environment and breathe freely.
#BolDaala

This post was awarded a second place in the first ever Youth Ki Awaaz #BolDaal contest, #PollutionKeSolution. With 500+ views and 170+ upvotes, it was shortlisted in the top 10 entries received, and then selected by an expert panel as the first runner up. Congratulations, Ausaf Momin on championing the change with your Awaaz!

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  1. Aniruddh Shrivastava

    I really liked stairical tone of the article.

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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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