Does The Indian Govt Have International Support For Its Decision On Article 370?

Soft power as coined by Joseph Nye, in the late 1980s, refers to the capability of a country to ‘manufacture consent’ for policies in its favour without the use of aggressive tactics; for instance, factors such as culture, diaspora, religion, and even minute factors such as food, films, songs etc. can also play a huge role.

In the case of India, take account of its Bollywood influence in Nepal, Myanmar, Gulf nations, and on the Indian diaspora in the USA and UK. Also, the far-stretched reaches of religions originating from the Indian Subcontinent, such as Sikhism, Buddhism, and Hinduism, which, in my opinion, influence foreign policy of the nation. Because, when struck with situations of international concern, these factors play might play a role in attracting international opinion in the country’s favour.

After the NDA won in 2014 and  Narendra Modi took charge, we saw an incredible rise in the pace of foreign visits by the Prime Minister. As of April 2019, the Prime Minister had made 92 foreign trips, visiting 57 countries.

The Prime Minister invited a lot of criticism along the way from opposing parties but was also able to bring in a lot of foreign support. Keeping the numbers aside, what the Prime Minister allegedly wanted, was to advertise India as a strong economic, political and social region and to project a positive image of India in foreign minds.

Still, the failing policy of “Make In India” raises questions on what the Prime Minister was able to achieve through all these visits. However, according to me, what the Prime Minister was clearly able to achieve was a large consent of the Indian diaspora.

The NDA government is seen to have a keen interest in the diaspora as an important factor in its foreign policy. Also, the Prime Minister’s inclination towards topics of international terrorism, environmental issues and his various tactics of self-imaging have made him a popular figure on the international stage.

All these factors have resulted in India having positive relations with many nations such as Israel, Japan, and Russia; they have even brought a reversal to USA policy on India. This also helped India to direct international attention towards Pakistan funded terrorism, which has reduced Pakistan’s legitimacy on the international arena.

Earlier this month, with the movement of approximately 30,000 military troops into the Kashmir region, request to tourists from the J&K region to return, and the stopping of Amarnath Yatra, many critics were able to ascertain what the government was up to.

Several factors aided the government in scrapping Article 370: their election manifesto promise to remove article 370, raising public support in favour of the NDA, having a majority in both houses of the Parliament, and Presidential rule in J&K. These tactics allowed them to move forward with little opposition.

On an international platform, India has seen no hard oppositions on its decision by the UN, as the UN states this is an issue of bilateral agenda under the “Shimla Agreement”.

Also, in line with this, the UN President’s spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said that this is a bilateral issue and the UN won’t mediate. Similar to this, after the closed UNSC meeting mediated by China, both the countries were asked to exercise ‘restraint’ and solve the issue bilaterally, but no hard-line decision in favour of Pakistan was seen.

The MEA addressed the P5 nations on its step. Russia has backed India’s step by stating that it was India’s ‘internal’ issue and also asked both the countries to maintain order in the region. Also, EU nations describe it as a bilateral issue and did not want to internationalise it. Even for China, the abrogation of Article 370 deems a problem in the area of Aksai Chin, which among other parts of Doklam, Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh, have been issues of disputed territories of China.

UK has shown a branched response, with Conservative Party MP Bob Blackman stating this is ‘strictly’ a ‘bilateral issue’ and also a group of British Muslim MPs from the Opposition Labour Party asking Johnson to ‘strongly condemn’ India’s decision. But seeing the internal turmoil in the UK regarding ‘Brexit’ issue, it is hard to judge if the UK wants to make this issue international. And as for USA, the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs of the US State Department tweeted that India had not discussed on abrogation of article 370 with them, and also statements by the External Affairs Ministry after Trump’s call for peace ‘mediation’ gives a hint that the USA wants no part in the issue.

Pakistan has been frequently trying to gain international support for its cause but has been unsuccessful. And seeing the current flow of the situation, it seems that it would be impossible for Pakistan to achieve so, and an important factor for that is India’s soft power. The international support India was able to churn up for its decision shows how important a country’s image plays out in such scenarios. And as the biggest economy in South Asia, with substantial growth in Soft Power politics by India, it is not hard to imagine why India has been able to do so.

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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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