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How Is India Planning To Tackle The Growing Menace Of Climate Change?

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climate-change
Climate change is real. Humans should realize before it’s too late.

Climate change is real. Humans should realize before it’s too late.

The climate is the weather condition prevailing in an area over a long period. The change that occurs in these long term weather conditions is what we call climate change. India is one of the rapidly developing economies of the world, what should be its stance while tackling an issue like the climate change which will possibly deteriorate the conditions of already scarce factories and industries in the country?

Change is the law of nature. These days, everyone wants a change in almost anything. Changes in food habits and living conditions are two of the many changes that a human being desires.

But why is this change in climate terrible? Why do we not want this change to happen?

Let us get back again to the basic definition of this change. Climate is called the weather averaged for an extended period of time (the standard averaging period is 30 years). As such, we, at the least, live in a particular weather condition for 30 years before a change is detected in it.

Almost every organism on this earth is ever-evolving, so are human beings. Our body adapts to such a particular type of environment in general for sustaining lives of ours. So, when a change occurs in the climate, it is not able to adjust well in the same. This gives rise to various anomalies in the proper functioning of our metabolic system, and we fall prey to diseases.

Moreover, 71% of the earth is covered with water, and around 10% of the total landmass is under glaciers. Rapid emissions in the form of nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, and other gases from factories and motorized vehicles are playing a significant role in the increase of greenhouse gases in the environment. This is causing the global temperature to rise, which, as a result, is causing those glaciers to melt. This poses a significant threat of extinction towards the low lying islands, i.e., the likes of Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep archipelago.

Furthermore, changing landscapes, risk towards wildlife, increased risk of drought and floods, intensified storms due to higher ocean temperature, a decline in agricultural productivity are only a few to name.

As A Developing Country, What Role Does India Play To Curb This Menace?

A typical solar power plant.

India has an impressive overall contribution to global carbon emissions. Its cumulative average since the year 1850 is a meagre 2%, which is better than in most developed countries. Despite all these, India is at the frontlines of facing the impacts of climate change. Shifting rainfall patterns, recurring floods, and other disasters hamper our efforts to eradicate other menaces like poverty and hunger.

With limited resources, India is still trying its best to increase energy efficiency across sectors and make greater use of renewable energy. Following are some of the small yet essential steps taken by India:

  1. India’s National Solar Mission is being scaled up five-fold from 20,000 megawatts to 100000 megawatts. This will mean additional investment of 100 billion dollars and savings of about 165 million tonnes of CO2 emissions each year. The recent Rewa Solar Power Plant, which also boasts of generating 750 MW of electricity, is one of the largest solar power plants in Asia. It is expected to decrease India’s CO­­­2 emissions by 1.5 million tonnes annually.
  2. India is releasing 6 billion US dollars in intensive afforestation, which will result in more carbon sinks.
  3. India has allocated about 200 million US dollars for the ‘National Adaptation Fund,’ setting-up of Ultra Mega Solar Projects, Ultra-Modern Super Critical Coal based thermal power tech, and the development of Solar Parks on canals.
  4. India has put in place strict norms for the cement industry. Our Action Plan for cleaning river Ganga will bring multiple benefits. Not only will it help clean the river but also help in revival of river Dolphins found in this holy river.
  5. India has started preparations to develop a National Air Quality index and has launched a National Air quality scheme.

India’s Efforts In Increasing The Use Of Renewable Energy Sources

The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is an alliance of more than 121 countries initiated by India, most of them being sunshine countries. They lie between the tropic of Cancer and tropic of Capricorn, which receives most of the sunlight throughout the year. This alliance is expected to have an enormous positive impact on our conventional energy sources like coal and petroleum by replacing them with renewable energies like Solar energy.

The same was proposed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a speech in November 2015 in London. Ex-French President Hollande and Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated the foundation stone of its headquarters in Haryana at the very beginning of 2016.

The main focus is on solar power utilization. Launching such an alliance in Paris sends out a strong message to global communities about the sincerity of the developing nations towards their concern about climate change. A target of installing 100 GW plants by 2022 and cutting emission by almost 35% is what India pledges as of yet.

With support from France, India has invited nations to facilitate infrastructure for the implementation of solar projects. The alliance will endorse India in achieving its goal of generating 1000 GW of solar energy by 2022. Moreover, this also encourages developing countries to come united and help in development for making solar power equipment within developing countries.

India is also a party to the UN convention to combat desertification, and the Ministry of External Affairs is the coordinating agency of the same in this country. A 20 years comprehensive National Action Plan to combat desertification in the country has been prepared. Some of its objectives are:

  1. A community-based approach to development.
  2. Drought management and mitigation.
  3. Raising awareness etc.

It is highly likely that this program will help reduce and mitigate the problems of desertification in the upcoming years.

The National Action Plan On Climate Change

The government of India has launched eight missions as a part of the National Action Plan on Climate Change in specific areas. This assesses the impact of climate change and actions required to address the same.

  1. National Solar Mission: It aims to promote the development and use of solar energy for power generation and other applications to make solar competitive with fossil-based energy options.
  2. National Mission on sustainable habitat: This plan puts much emphasis on extending the existing Energy Conservation Building code, urban waste management, etc.
  3. National water mission: Water scarcity is a significant problem in developing countries like India. This mission aims to increase water efficiency by up to 20% by adjusting prices and initiating other such measures.
  4. National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem: The Himalayan ranges have played a significant role in maintaining rain tables across India and is also a house to thousands of ecosystems. Moreover, the glaciers in the region are responsible for keeping many of our Rivers flowing. The mission aims to conserve the ecosystems and forest cover in the area.
  5. National Mission for Greener India: One of its goals includes the afforestation of 6 million hectares of degraded forest lands and expanding forest cover from 23% to 33% of India’s territory.
  6. National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture: Ever-increasing population and decreasing agricultural produce impacts adversely the fight against hunger and poverty. This mission will emphasize on developing climate-resilient crops and efficient farming practices.
  7. National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change: To get a better understanding of climate science, impacts, and challenges, this plan envisions a new climate science research fund and increased international collaboration.

India’s Stand On Climate Change Negotiations

India’s stand has always been clear while tackling climate change negotiations. Clean air, energy, and power balanced with optimum growth were India’s priorities in its mission to combat climate change. India believes that the developing countries’ need for inclusive growth, sustainable development, poverty eradication, and energy access to all must be recognized as fundamental to the approach of differentiation.

Moreover, announcements of contributions towards the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and its actual deposit should be ensured by developed countries, which can then further be used for buying patents of environmentally friendly technologies. India grows into a regional power, which can only be accomplished if given sufficient development space to grow its economy and eliminate poverty.

Whatever India has done to date is hugely positive, and more of such steps should be taken in the near future to lead the world by example.

(Images used are for representational purposes only.)

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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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