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Is India facing moral or an economic crisis?

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“India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother
of history, the grandmother of legend and the great grandmother of tradition”

                                                                    – Mark Twain

 

India as a society has undergone massive transformation in the past few decades. A nation which was predicted to fall apart by political scientists after its independence has now established itself as a global power. As a nation which gave world Gita, Veda and Buddha to world, a civilization which gave asylum to the persecuted sects anywhere in the world and a nation which rose from the crumbles of colonization India’s morality can never decline. When it comes to the economic parameters India is the third largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP) and fifth in terms of normative GDP. Even though India’s fundamentals are strong in a globalized economy the domestic economy is interlinked to the global market and hence the international factors play its part to determine the condition of economy, which for the time being has slowed down. It is very much part of the recurring cycle of expansion, peak, contraction and trough. Since the government at the centre is intervening at necessary juncture to boost the economy, the speculation of an economic crisis rather remains politically motivated.

How can India’s morality be evaluated? Morality is itself a relative concept with people inferring diverse opinion on the very same incident. Hence, I prefer to gauge the constitutional morality on the nation and its public. The foundation of Indian republic was done on the ideas of Secularism, Fraternity, Liberty and Democracy. India is the only nation in the region that hasn’t undergone a military coup and has never persecuted its minorities. India has a firm judiciary to monitor the activities of the state and its adherence to the constitution. The spirit of democracy had been reflective in the elections and a smooth transfer of power was always ensured by the ruling setup. India has been performing phenomenally well in ensuring female representation in all the spheres. Initiatives like Swatch Bharat and Namami Gange were launched for realising the Gandhian aim of cleanliness and environmentalism.

 

At the same time it is sure that with globalisation an exchange of culture has also taken place. Western cultural has somewhat become a monolithic universal identity.  Fancy for westernisation is a reality with today’s youth which infiltrates the notion of materialism to their minds. Spiritual decline is the obvious result of the process. This happens at a time when many in the western nations have developed interest in Indian traditions and family values. The Indian culture has always incorporated multiple cultures due to which the idea of a moral decline remains just in theory and it never declines as such.

 

As economist Gurucharan Das said “India grows at night while the government sleeps”, with or without the state’s interference India’s economic growth is promising. It is a fact that India’s economy has come down to 4.5% and industrial production data also shows lesser demand but there is a possibility of recession at the global level. Even during the recession of 2008 India largely remained unaffected. Multiple levels of much needed reform were carried out during NDA 1 including demonetisation and Goods and Service Tax. Demonetisation and the subsequent digitalisation have resulted in waging war against the parallel economy which aids terrorism and other anti-India activities. With a single stoke the entire counterfeit currency was flushed out of the system. GST simplified the tax regime and the data shows increase in revenue for the government after its implementation. Any such big bang reforms will take time to adjust with the system and hence a slowdown was impending.

Due to the global trade war between China and USA and the fluctuating price of crude oil the rupee and the currencies of other growing economies depreciated further. Even then the government has been able to prevent price rise of essential commodities and hence inflation. Their fiscal deficit targets are genuine and are reasonably taken care of. Reserve bank has maintained a decent amount of foreign reserve to absorb a sudden shock in the economy. Public Sector Banks having larger non-performing assets have initiated procedures against defaulters and reducing their NPAs by attaching their property. Central government has been trying to disinvestment its share in multiple public sector undertakings to raise its public spending caliber. There has been no allegation of any corruption against the present government and hence investor sentiments are building up slowly but steadily.

 

NDA 2 started their innings by targeting to reach the nation’s economy to $5 trillion by 2024 while the current size of economy is $2.9 trillion. The target seems to be ambiguous but a necessity. With 65% of the total population under the age of 35 it is important for India to use this demographic dividend rather than making it a demographic disaster. As an outcome of NDA’s Make in India initiative many of the manufacturers have established their bases in India and India is even producing defense equipment domestically.  There are many economists who question the qualification of GDP data to analyse an economy. There was even a research paper published by Arvind Subramanian in which he stated that India’s growth rate was always inflated by 2.5 points, a claim that Prime Minister’s office rejected immediately. Since the data is released by the government(s) themselves the authenticity cannot be proved by an independent agency.

 

Overall India’s economic outlook is bullish and also Foreign Direct Investment is coming at a good rate since India has done exceptionally well in the Ease of Doing Business Index. India has a huge advantage of a stable government unlike the UPA era. India’s biggest strength is its Diaspora flourishing in all major economies. In the era of multi-polar diplomacy trade play a key role. Many of the economists and Indian industrialists have made it clear that the economic slowdown is a temporary phenomenon and India’s growth story will be back on track in a year or two. Hence there is no possibility of an economic crisis for the time being. Indian philosophy and the ‘spiritual being’ are revered throughout the world. Our civilizational commitment towards non-violence and dharma is well known. India’s medieval history is marked by successive invasions aimed at plundering and uprooting of culture. Invasionalists were triumphant in looting our resources but culture couldn’t be conquered. Any form of moral decline is not possible for that civilisation which braved sword. As it is said in Mahabharata, “Dharmo Rakshathi Rakshitha” (Dharma will protect the one who protects Dharma) reminds us of close knitting of Indian lives with the conceot of Dharma which works an invisible hand which controls the social life of Indians. Hence it could be concluded that India is not facing either economic or moral crisis.

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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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