Here’s What The Derailment Of India’s Economy Has To Do With The Youth

Heading up to a small shopkeeper in a district in Uttar Pradesh, when asked about sales, he sighs and laments in grief and states that as far as his eyes can see the road, there are no customers.

“I have been working on and regularly speaking on measures we have been taking in matters of economy,”
These were the mouth shutting replies given by our finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman when condemned by politicians and public on matters of the economic slump in our country. No matter how bold one could be in this grave issue which not only is affecting our country’s development but also posing a huge threat to the lower middle classes which form a huge chunk of our Indian population.

Though Subramaniam’s mocking statement about 5% to the media provides comic relief but the situation of our economy is not as stable as it’s being made to seem. Reports claim that the GDP growth rate of the economy has slipped to 5% in the first quarter of FY20, the lowest in over six years.

This is an indication of tougher times ahead. Be it the recent collapse of the automobile sector or the rising number of non-performing assets (NPAs), sluggish consumer demand or failing manufacturing sector; all have a hand in this deceleration of growth rate.

Any fall in consumption expenditure, as and when it happens, would escalate the crisis even more. If consumption spending falls, then output and employment levels also fall since consumption expenditure directly impacts the other two. As a consequence, the economy would stagnate, and prices deflate.

Lower prices, if unable to recover the costs, would halt the operations of any firm and would initiate the layoff process. This, in turn, reduces earnings further. Hence, this vicious cycle keeps on repeating itself until the economy slips into a deeper state of shock.

One of the major blows which has added insult to the defeat of our present government is the enormous slump in our automobile and aviation sector. According to an article in the Business Standard, muted household spending as reflected in metrics such as falling car sales have resulted in a pile up of unsold inventories and rising unused capacities in factory plants mirror slackening demand and feeble investment.

Automobile showrooms have not been reporting brisk activity, implying lower spending ability and flat income growth. Automotive hubs such as Manesar, Pimpri-Chinchwad and Chennai are experiencing a lot of pain.

Tractor and motorcycle sales – indicators of rural demand – continued to contract. As per the data released by the industry body SIAM, vehicle sales across categories fell to 18.25 lakh units in July, down from over 22.45 lakh units a year earlier. Previously, the biggest slump of 21.81% was seen in December 2000. The decline in July was led by the passenger vehicles segment, which saw sales plunge almost 31% to a little over 2,00,000 units.

Photo: Dhiraj Singh/ Bloomberg.

“The slowdown seems deepening… low consumer sentiments with dim demand outlook over the next two quarters remain a cause of concern for the industry,” said Saket Mehra, Partner, Grant Thornton India.

Readers aren’t unaware of the infamous Jet Airways issue which clearly was a signal for all of us of an economic crunch that was at bay. But sadly, even the people entitled to look into such matters have turned a deaf ear and are constantly making floaty statements like “everything is alright.”

The Economic Times says that as of August 2018, there were 570 aircrafts flying in the Indian skies and as of August 2019, there are 600 aircrafts still. This is despite 110 Jet Airways planes being grounded. Aviation secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola said, “We have resilience in the aviation sector even after Jet Airways went down. There was 5-6 per cent capacity growth in the sector. Fares are coming down now because competition has picked up. Festive season is coming up and we will see more participation in the next few months.”

Unemployment is an issue of great concern in recent times, as according to official reports, a 66.8% crunch in employment in the manufacturing sector has caused a huge chunk of youth population to sit back and sigh. Anti-dumping duties are levied to provide a level playing field to local industry by guarding against cheap below-cost imports.

The young generation of our country who is striving to get access to the means of their livelihood, the so called “youth oriented” government of our country is not failing to give blunt excuses to our Indian citizens.

The reports also state that no strict action has been taken by the Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties Committee though they have expressed a huge shock on the 2 lakh job loss due to the same.

Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh put the blame on demonetisation and GST for the current economic slowdown and said, “The withdrawal of 86 per cent of currency plus GST, because it has been put on practice in haste, there are lots of glitches which are now coming out. These are bound to affect the GDP growth adversely.” He further said that the informal and small scale sectors were badly hit by the demonetisation.

Though the tall claims of the government which implied that GST and demonetisation would be instrumental in economic growth are posing to be completely opposite of its promises. According to Indiatimes, owing to the cancellation of a huge chunk of Indian currency, as a result, manufacturing growth slowed to 1.2% in the June quarter from 5.3% in the preceding quarter while mining activity contracted by 0.7%.

However, construction activity revived marginally from the negative print (-3.7%) in the March quarter to 2% in the June quarter, signs that the impact of demonetisation is receding.

Another significant indicator of the economic ebb is the withdrawal of the foreign investment. The annual growth in gross FDI and FDI equity inflows has fallen into single digits since 2016-17 with the latter registering a negative growth in 2018-19. Another key trend is seen in the repatriation and reinvested earnings (earnings that are ploughed back into the Indian economy). Both show negative trends, indicating more capital is flowing out, diluting the FDI’s potential benefit to the Indian economy.

Overall it’s quite evident that amidst the hype created around the claim made by prime minister Narendra Modi of driving the Indian economy to 8% actually looks like a mirage in a no man’s land. Grave economic consequences await us in the near future which will be directly or indirectly affecting our livelihood in particular and our countrywide development at large.

No matter how sugar coated false promises are made by our legislators, the fact which is inevitable is the GDP slump will severely put dire obstacles in arenas of future foreign investment projects, in showcasing Indian economy as a serious competitor in the field of industrialization et al.

Cutting down of nearly 50% of the current production in the span of about 8 months insinuate that human resource management is at a serious fault which can lead to situations of brain drain and even withdrawal of current investments.

This is the point wherein we as citizens should rise and put up questions to the authorities who are apparently doing nothing and sitting in the veil of false hopes. We, as young India, who are trying to make our spot permanent amidst the economic giants of the world, should be standing up in solidarity and seek answers to these questions.

Featured image for representative purpose only.
Featured image source: Rafael Matsunaga/Wikimedia Commons; Ahmad Masood/Reuters.
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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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