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Why Is The Mainstream Media Ignoring The Ongoing Economic Crisis?

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Today, I am writing about the events that have occurred over the past few days or rather; I would say years. At present, it is no secret that political parties in India are more inclined towards their marketing than working for the interests of the citizens. If we look at the case of the incumbent party in power, the BJP, as per information available in public domain, of all the money spent on marketing—especially social media marketing by political parties—almost 50% money was spent for candidates belonging to BJP, followed by regional parties and Congress.

Even if we look into the mainstream media channels like ZEE news or any other news channels in India, we will observe that these news channels always seem to propagate or project a positive image of BJP and will not cover any negative news regarding them. This kind of attitude of the media channels generally shows that it has been likely paid or sponsored by political parties, which creates a bias.

It is a fact that to win elections; political parties have to project whatever work they have done and do their best to ensure they win the elections. Although ideally, this should not be the case, now it has turned into a reality we have to accept. The problem arises when only ‘marketing’ of a political party becomes the basis on which they win elections, and ignore the parameters which actually matter.

For the past few days, the only thing that I have seen, especially in the news regarding the achievement of the incumbent government is Kashmir. The incumbent government’s stance on the issue is definitely a strong action which was required, but again, I hope it is successful and will not end up like demonetization. At the same time, it is also true that when it comes to the economic performance of this government, it is not quite satisfactory.

It looks like the reality will not change anytime soon. Image via Getty

Although during the term of the incumbent government, there have been a few positive signs in the Indian economy such as: India’s improvement in ease of doing business ranking in which India jumped 23 places and got the 77th rank, the introduction of Make in India program through which the government intended to encourage the manufacturing unit of the country, the GST to bring a uniform tax system for the whole country, it was during this government that FDI (Foreign Direct investment) was at an all-time high, which proved that even foreign companies are banking on potential India has to offer, and also NEIDS, which is North East Industrial Development Scheme, a government objective to bring development and employment in Northeast regions. But at the same time, it is this government under which the Indian economy has suffered tremendously.

Decisions like demonetization have hampered the GDP growth. Although this decision was taken to bring into account the black money holders, as per the RBI report, 99% of the money was deposited back—which means that the main objective was not fulfilled. The only positive thing that maybe this action led to was increased tax compliance, but then the most crucial problem is the rising unemployment. The report from CMIE (Centre of Monitoring Indian Economy) states that nearly 1.5 million people lost their jobs between January and April 2017, even the State of Working India report states “unemployment levels have been steadily rising, and after several years of staying around 2-3% the headline rate of unemployment reached 5% in 2015, and youth unemployment reached 16%. This rate of unemployment is the highest seen in India in at least the last 20 years”. 

The problem does not end here; another problem the economy is facing is the declining value of Indian Rupee along with the NPAs (Non-Performing Assets) in the banking system. According to RBI, the gross NPAs in Indian public sector banks are valued at ₹4,00,000 crore compromising 90% of the total NPA in India. Under the incumbent government, NPAs have risen by ₹6.2 lakh crore between March 2015 and March 2018, as per the Parliamentary Committee.

Whatever economic problems are mentioned here cannot be ignored, but still, many media houses refrain from reporting such problems. There can be many reasons for this, but it seems like now the incumbent government has come to its senses that they cannot afford to ignore these problems and they cannot sustain on media marketing forever. Maybe, for this reason, Nirmala Sitharaman, who is the present Finance Minister of India, presented the programs with the objective to tackle the economic problems India is facing.

Only time will tell whether these programs will fulfil their objectives or not, but ideally, it should be the media that should report such problems to the public—so that the people are aware of how the government is tackling them. But the unfortunate reality is that the media houses need money to run their operations, hence, the sources from which they receive finances have the power to influence their reporting, and it looks like those sources have vested interests with the incumbent government.

It looks like the reality will not change anytime soon. I cannot tell about the long term, but my only concern is that the people stop voting candidates just based on their marketing, and instead vote them for the actual work they do. And as far as incumbent government is concerned, it is crucial for them to focus on the economy—because if we keep on focusing on Kashmir and ignore our economy, then the day is not far that our condition will be similar to that of Pakistan’s. They are a living example of what the country has to go through if they prioritise other agendas than the economy.

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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, 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.

Bidisha was selected in’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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