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So Many Degrees, So Few Jobs

More from India Development Review (IDR)

By Amy Yang, Punit Gupta, Rupa Bohra

By now, it is common knowledge that India’s nationwide lockdown has disrupted businesses across all sectors. We, at TechnoServe, expect that states will enforce partial lockdowns to contain the re-emergence of community infection at different points of time. This ‘start-stop’ system in the Indian economy will continue until the pandemic is contained through mass vaccination or improved disease preparedness and response. The need for an interim start-stop economy will prevail for 18-24 months, and is expected to result in an economic slowdown through 2020-22.1

Graduates—who have historically struggled in India’s job market—will face heightened challenges during this period. Based on our projections, additional incumbent graduates will be subject to unexpected terminations or pay freezes, while those entering the workforce between 2020 and 2022 will see fewer job opportunities. However, before we dive into the details of COVID-19’s expected impact on graduates, it is important to understand the dynamics of India’s job market before the onset of COVID-19.

Representational image.

A Snapshot Of Graduate Employment Pre-COVID-19

As of January 2020, we estimate that there are 120 million individuals with graduate degrees or above in India. Around 74 million of these graduates are employed, with approximately 40% in the formal sector and 60% in the informal sector. The government, private sector, and the education sector are the largest formal sector employers, with roughly 11 million, 10 million, and eight million graduates, respectively. Within the private sector, the largest employers are financial services and information technology-enabled services, which are estimated to have approximately three million and two million graduates each.

Although the total number of graduates has grown in recent years, higher education has not guaranteed better employment outcomes. In fact, in 2019, graduates faced an unemployment rate of 17%, which is more than double the national average. The situation is worse for female graduates, who faced a 35% unemployment rate between May and August 2019.

The high unemployment rates reveal a core mismatch between college training and skills sought by employers. Graduates often lack requisite hard and soft skills required in the workplace due to poor education standards, coursework that focuses too heavily on theoretical subjects, and limited internship opportunities. This mismatch has become more pronounced in recent years, as businesses rapidly shift towards digital solutions. Graduates without 21st-century skills, such as digital literacy, find it increasingly hard to secure a job.

Representational image.

These employment challenges are amplified among certain groups:

  • Women, who make up roughly 42% of graduates, face unemployment and workforce dropout rates that are twice as high as that of their male counterparts. Socio-cultural barriers remain a predominant driver of gendered employment outcomes, as women graduates are often expected to be homemakers in spite of their educational qualifications.
  • Rural graduates, who make up approximately 33% of the pool of incumbent graduates, face unemployment and workforce dropout rates that are 1.5 to 2 times higher than that of their urban counterparts. Rural-urban disparities stem in part from limited graduate-level jobs outside of major cities.
  • Graduates from marginalised backgrounds struggle to secure formal sector jobs. Those from poorer families face greater socio-cultural barriers at school, which hinder academic and post-graduation outcomes. For example, these students often have fewer relatable mentors, limited networks into formal sector careers, and face greater pressure to follow their family trades. Moreover, they may lack access to infrastructure, such as smartphones, laptops, or high-speed internet, which are required to build 21st-century skills.

Graduates across all of these groups will grow over the next few years. As of 2018, there were 37.4 million students enrolled in graduate programs and beyond. From this figure, we estimate that 7.5 to 8 million new graduates will be added to the workforce annually between 2020 and 2022.2 Of these new graduates, approximately 48% will be female and 60% will be from rural institutions.3

shadow of a person with a graduate cap-employment in india
Graduates—who have historically struggled in India’s job market—will face heightened challenges during this period. Picture courtesy: Pixabay

The Impact Of COVID-19 On Graduate Employment

The COVID-19-induced economic downturn will further hurt employment prospects for both incumbent and new graduates. To identify appropriate interventions, we conducted three-year projections to assess COVID-19’s impact on graduate employability.

Graduates completing their degrees between 2020 and 2022 are expected to see 3.1 million fewer job openings as they enter the workforce.

These forecasts were constructed using a combination of graduate employment data, historical benchmarks, first-hand interviews, and analyst reports on COVID-19’s expected impact across industries and sub-sectors. The forecasts provide directional insight into the magnitude of employment loss, as well as the groups of graduates who are most vulnerable to COVID-19-induced job reductions.

Overall, we project that up to 4.4 million incumbent graduates will lose their jobs in 2020, with only 50% re-hired by 2022. Moreover, graduates completing their degrees between 2020 and 2022 are expected to see 3.1 million fewer job openings as they enter the workforce.

  • Impact on incumbent graduates: Projected job losses will be split equally between the informal sector and the formal sector. Within the formal sector, private sector jobs are expected to drive the majority of losses (1.2 million), with the most layoffs in financial services (0.4 million) and manufacturing (0.2 million). Although industries such as hospitality and tourism are anticipated to experience the greatest percentage increase in layoffs (up to 40%), the disproportionate impact on financial services and manufacturing is driven by the high absolute employment of graduates in these fields.
  • Impact on new graduates from the classes of 2020-2022: Projected job reductions will be most severe for the class graduating in 2020, which is expected to face 1.5 million fewer job openings due to COVID-19. Across all three cohorts, job reductions are expected to be split between the informal sector (1.2 million) and the formal sector (1.9 million). In the formal sector, private sector jobs are projected to drive the majority of job reductions (0.8 million), with the greatest number of job reductions in financial services and IT / ITeS.

On aggregate, graduates in medium or small businesses are projected to experience greater job reductions (1.1 million by the end of 2022) versus those in large businesses (0.9 million). This is driven by the lower capacity of smaller organisations to maintain steady payroll during the economic crisis. From a geographic perspective, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu are expected to drive 35% of the job reductions country-wide, as these are the key states where graduates work.

Graduates in medium or small businesses are projected to experience greater job reductions versus those in large businesses.”

Additionally, male graduates are projected to see more than twice as many job eliminations as female graduates in absolute terms, due to the higher baseline count and the higher pre-COVID-19 employment rates of male graduates. Female graduates, however, will continue to face greater overall unemployment and workforce dropout rates.

Overall, we expect COVID-19 to heighten the importance of 21st-century skills, as digital literacy and higher-order communications skills become critical to support work-from-home models that are necessary under India’s start-stop economy.

How Can We Mitigate Job Reductions For Graduates?

We recommend a series of short-term and long-term interventions to mitigate COVID-19’s immediate impact on graduate employment and improve the job-readiness of students in the long run. These interventions require close collaboration with a variety of stakeholders, including the government, corporate recruiters, and development organisations working in skill development and employability.

In general, we suggest targeting the interventions below towards vulnerable groups. This includes the intersection of graduates who face greater overall employment challenges i.e., women graduates, rural graduates, graduates from marginalised backgrounds, and incumbent and new graduates who are projected to see higher levels of COVID-19-induced job reductions.

Short-term interventions to alleviate COVID-19 impact
  • For the government: Central and state governments can drive businesses to hire and retain fresh graduates by introducing multi-year tax rebates, testing and scaling up free/low-cost public data access services (such as Wi-Fi hotspots and kiosks), and other incentives.
  • For corporate recruiters: Corporate recruiters can develop their talent pools by providing remote internship opportunities for fresh graduates. It might also be worthwhile to target graduates based closer to their office locations—since restrictions on mobility and migration are expected to continue in the two-year term—and provide support by way of transport, technology, and salary advances to their graduate hire.
  • For development organisations working in skill development and employability: Given the constraints on conducting on-site skills trainings, skilling projects should consider shifting to online skills trainings, adapting their curriculums to the needs of online and digital mediums, and equipping graduates to participate effectively in online workplaces.
Representational image.
Long-term interventions to prepare graduates for a 21st-century workforce
  • For governments: Central and state government responses to the challenges of youth employability in a post-COVID-19 era must be coordinated, demand-driven, and scalable. In the spirit of its Digital India programme, the government can secure employment opportunities for the country’s incumbent and upcoming graduates, by strengthening the digital and online infrastructure of colleges and local skilling institutes, and by developing low-cost e-learning and mobile technology solutions.
  • For corporate recruiters: Corporate recruiters stand to gain from adapting their hiring and operating systems to the challenges and opportunities of remote work. They will need to transition employee hiring, on-boarding, and trainings to online platforms, in order to ensure the seamless integration of new recruits to their organisations. Given the increased burden of care as a result of COVID-19, corporates would also do well to provide increased flexibility to employees, by way of flexible work schedules, extended work-from-home privileges, and so on.
  • For development organisations working in skill development and employability: As workplaces go online, development organisations must recognise the increased importance of digital, advanced communications, and other 21st century skills in making graduates job-ready, and address these needs in their skills and employability curricula, assessments, and modes of instruction.

Footnotes:

  1. For more details on TechnoServe’s analysis of the likely scenario in India as a result of COVID-19, refer here.
  2. Based on TechnoServe’s graduate employability model. Sources: AISHE 2018-2019 Report by Ministry of Human Resource Development; 2011 Census; The India Employment Report by the IMA; CMIE
  3. The percentage of graduates from rural institutions (60%) is higher than the number of graduates living and working rurally (33%), as there are a significant number of rural universities, but post-graduation, graduates tend to move to cities in search of employment.

This article was originally published in India Development Review

About the authors: 

Amy Yang is a fellow at TechnoServe India. Prior to joining TechnoServe, she worked as a senior consultant at Oliver Wyman’s New York Office, and has experience leading the firm’s charity auction initiatives that generated more than USD 200,000 annually for underserved families in New York City. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College, USA.

Punit Gupta currently serves as the country director at TechnoServe India, where he provides strategic programme design guidance. He has more than 20 years of experience in leadership roles in the development and private sectors in India, Europe, and the US. Previously, Punit served as CEO of Intel Capital-funded ESPL Media, led private equity investments at Sabre Capital, and managed several strategy projects for large global corporations while at McKinsey & Company. Punit has an MBA from INSEAD, France.

Rupa Bohra is a senior practice lead at TechnoServe, where she leads TechnoServe India’s skill development and youth employability practice. Rupa has more than 19 years of experience across the financial services, technology, banking, and development sectors, and has managed multi-locations across India and the Asia-Pacific region. Prior to TechnoServe, Rupa headed corporate partnerships at Magic Bus India Foundation. She has also held leadership positions at organisations such as JP Morgan and Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, among others.

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  1. R Thomas

    Hope this gets published. Sorry if this message is long which discusses on Couple of Basics including Education and also if it is wrong to say that India including Kerala or even Gujarat has a Long Way to go. Kerala, yes, has done well with Literacy, Health and Couple More Areas But where are the Industries as well as Jobs especially when Organizations like KSEB as well as from Other Indian Regions do badly where there are Frequent Power Cuts? Hardly Any which is why Kerala’s Unemployment is High where People have to go Outside the State or even Outside the Country like Other Indians to Find Jobs (There are many reasons too for Indians going abroad which includes Better Opportunities for Higher Education, Jobs, Higher Wages and Salaries and so on including Love).

    Reality is KERALA MODEL is 0 and GUJARAT MODEL too is 0 as Gujarat too Fails with Basics of Health, Education, etc though Industry wise, Gujarat maybe doing ok. Kerala’s Main Source of Income (along with Tourism and Agriculture) has been Remittances which now faces Challenges. That’s been Busted as Kerala like the rest of India has been developing in a Haphazard/Chaotic Manner. Many have put their Eggs into Gold and Properties instead of Developing the State like Singapore (Singapore yes is small but let’s take South Korea another Asian Nation that has become Developed without Much Resources and which has High Population Density like Japan – both those nations used Competitive Advantages more than Resources where Singaporean Expats went abroad for working, brought the skills back home and developed their Nation). Gujarat too got busted with the Basics like Health, Education, etc.

    (Also, no denying the fact about Indian Subcontinent including Pakistan and Bangladesh being Invaded and Colonised but so, did South Indian Kingdoms to Sri Lanka, South East Asia including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and so on while North Indian Kingdoms went up to Central Asia – Invasions and Looting though yes, when Britain came to India, they didn’t want to own India like they did with America OR like Portuguese, Spain, Dutch, French wanted to own with Asian Regions as by then, CAPITALISM came up. Also, what about the Corruption and Scandals by Indians, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis from their own Nations? (There’s even a Wikipedia Page, let alone Books and Articles even under Google showing List of Scandals in India since 1947 though could go further back too)) (Worst Scenario – India sits on the WORLD’S BIGGEST ADVANTAGE of World’s Largest Cultural Diversity and yet fight like Small Kids on the Basis of RELIGION, REGION, POLITICS, LINGUISTICS/LANGUAGE, etc instead of using these to its strength as a United Country. Take Architecture of Residences, Churches, Temples, Mosques, etc – What do you get? BEAUTIFUL DESIGNS and more including FUSIONS (Inside too awesome including the MURALS). So what if many aren’t Originally from India? Are many things Originally from India within India OR for that matter within other Nations too? ALL NATIONS including INDIA GOT THINGS whether Customs, Architecture, Food, Clothing and so on from Each Other. CHINA KNOCKED ITS MULTICULTURAL SCENARIO while SOUTH AMERICAN REGIONS became UNITED with MULTICULTURALISM though like China, India and many others, they too face challenges even though CHILE became a HIGH INCOME NATION. Don’t say USA and UK are the World’s Best Developed Nations when these 2 especially USA is amongst the Developed World’s Leaders for Most Number of Challenges, just like, India is amongst the Developing World’s Leaders for Most Number of Challenges).

    Now, coming back, I agree India has done well with FEW AREAS or even ORGANIZATIONS like RELIANCE even with chaos though instead of India trying to compete with the Rest of the World for A Lot of Things for Now, INDIA just needs to Focus on Fixing Basics 1st which Kerala has done a bit and then can move along, which Kerala has to do (Literacy by the way is not enough for Skills especially in 21st Century where 1 needs Integrated Education and Skills as well as In-depth Research in Integrated Areas of Humanities including Arts and Social Sciences along with Formal Sciences, Natural Sciences and Professional Areas – for SURVIVAL in ANY AREA). If we take China, Taiwan, South Korea, Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore and so on – all these Nations went ahead of India in the Last 40 to 60 Years where they focused on BASICS 1st of Health, Education and so on – HUMAN DEVELOPMENT before they shifted more to MANUFACTURING, SERVICES, etc.

    Take a look at Electricity. India still has Power Cuts. Electricity was the Basics of Late 19th and Early 20th Century which was part of Industrial Revolution 2 and started in 1870s. It’s needed for All Sectors whether EDUCATION, MANUFACTURING, HEALTH, etc and is 1 of the FOUNDATION for 21st Century Technologies where the 100 DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGIES of 21st CENTURY were put up as a PERIODIC TABLE in 2018 (Can Google it – Periodic Table of Disruptive Technologies).
    The Other FOUNDATION for these 21st Century Technologies where 16 Already Exist and another 33 comes in by 2030 is the TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE which started in the 1760s via Industrial Revolution 1. Awesome to have Metros, Improving Railways and Roadways BUT where are the Footpaths, Bicycle Lanes? The BASIC MODES OF TRANSPORTATION are Walking from Point A to Point B, Cycling from Point A to Point B, Jogging, etc (Take a look at Amsterdam that is part of Netherlands which has more Bicycles than Humans. Netherlands is 1 of the World’s Top Nations for HUMAN DEVELOPMENT and ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT).

    Luckily, India did well with the beginning part of the 3rd Industrial Revolution though Cloud Computing Stage of Industrial Revolution 3, India faces challenges as APPS or SaaS haven’t been enough since PaaS or PLATFORMS took over from early 2000s which includes Facebook by 2005-2006. Take a look at your Smartphones or Tablets – those APP STORES are PLATFORMS where TECHNICAL or ANALYTICAL SKILLS AREN’T ENOUGH as need RELATIONSHIP BUILDING and CREATIVE SKILLS to get 3rd Party Apps on to the Platforms and these come from NOT JUST NATURAL SCIENCE and FORMAL SCIENCE areas but also from HUMANITIES including ARTS and SOCIAL SCIENCES where learn about Psychology, Cross Cultural Management, Neuroscience, Philosophical Thinking etc for Creativity and Relationship Building. Now, if 1 looks at WEBSITES via DESKTOPS and LAPTOPS, many of them are PaaS or Platforms. For example, look at Facebook on Desktop or Laptop BUT NOT VIA Smartphone or Tablet as 1 would be able to see that besides the 3rd Party Game Apps that Facebook has, it also has Productive Apps like Inoreader, Stitcher Radio, etc – apps which 1 can use right within Facebook. In fact, 10 years back, Facebook is the platform that Microsoft replied to Google Docs via Docs app where 1 could create Office Documents including PDFs right within Facebook. Now, the Integration has been less but still quite bit there with Facebook – due to Walled Garden or Closed Ecosystem. Facebook isn’t the Only PaaS or Platform under Laptops or Desktops as Most Websites Today are PaaS or PLATFORMS. Couple of Others are Slack, Salesforce, Amazon AWS, Hootsuite, MS Azure, Google and so many more.

    Another BASIC that needs Improvement but which is Slowly Getting Done which KSEB, Other Governmental Organisations got to get involved like Globally via Utility Bills and which will Hopefully change loads is the ENVIRONMENTAL CLEANLINESS (Look under Google Images for Example on Electricity or Utility Bills from Australia and other Nations where will get how much Electricity Usage is there for each Household with Graphs as well as on the Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Each Household via Electricity via Graphs – LONG WAY FOR KSEB as well as REST OF INDIAN GOVERNMENT ORGANISATIONS to go with UTILITY BILLS) – CLEANLINESS HELPS LOADS WITH TOURISM especially when INDIA has LOADS TO SHOW. PLASTICS has been least of India’s Problems when GARBAGE that’s more than PLASTICS has been all over India’s Land and Water, which again has started after UNLOCK HAPPENED where Yamuna River and Other Areas have become DIRTY (Improving that as well as Safety too, India could challenge THAILAND that Leads India Every Year for TOURISM NUMBERS and is ranked amongst the World’s and Asia’s Best for TOURISM due to BOTH Cultural and Natural Beauty. Philippines too has done well even though its Cultural History got knocked by Spain more than by USA and Japan where the Spanish landed there before the Mughals landed in India – RANKED HIGH WITH ITS BEACHES Globally as well as in Few More Areas though Thailand does best in South East Asia for Tourism).

    In addition, I will add these which are reasons why another BASIC, the Indian Education System including the Higher Education System have a long way to go to be the best even within Asia (The World’s Best Education Systems anyway are South Korea, Singapore, Japan, HK while Finland, Canada, Estonia are also there where as, the Indian one has challenges though when it comes to Higher Education, USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Singapore, China including HK, Japan, Germany, etc are all there where Citations or Research Papers – Quality and Quantity – USA vs China for the Lead though Few Other Nations are there too for it):
    In 21st Century via Online Education whether Primary, Secondary or Higher Education, Many Nations AREN’T READY for Most of the Population while other Nations including India, there are many other issues TOO including the Rich vs Rest Scenario, IN-DEPTH GLOBAL Research including Quality being behind (which isn’t just from WESTERN PERSPECTIVE), Infrastructure including ELECTRICITY Issues, etc.

    Anyway, as an introduction, I am a person who started my Education with the Western one before landing with the Indian Educational System of Kerala State Board, ICSE, CBSE and Bangalore University (Christ College and now Christ deemed to be University) before landing back to the Western one including the University of Sydney (Also, studied at 2 Other Australian Universities).

    Coming back to India, there’s been a lot of the Spoon-feeding from Parents and Teachers to the Kids, Rote Learning System, focusing on 1 book or so for each subject including at Higher Education till at least 10 Years Back. In Developed Countries whether Western or Asian, right from the time Kids are Toddlers, Observational/Research side is put into them. For example, in Finland, kids are allowed to play where they are encouraged to Observe their Surroundings. This Observational/Research skills by having more CURIOSITY including finding things out ONLINE is encouraged more as they grow up in Developed Countries of West which Singapore, South Korea, Japan and others have got on too. Those kids are then encouraged to share that Knowledge in Class via Discussions starting from Primary Education which goes on to Higher Education. So, having just 1 Textbook isn’t Enough as Kids are encouraged to read from Academic Literature (Academic Journal Articles), Books, News Articles or Trends related to Topics studying etc-IN-DEPTH GLOBAL RESEARCH which isn’t just from WESTERN PERSPECTIVE. That’s where Online helps. Plus, Students are tested on Problem Solving, Collaborative sides, etc using VARK Learning. ALL NEEDS ELECTRICITY STILL for it to happen in EDUCATIONAL SECTOR TOO.

    Also, reading in Physical World is different from Online 1 where ELECTRICITY IS NEEDED. Online World,1 would do SKIMMING of article 1st and relate keywords, main topic side and important content to other Articles, books, videos, etc where 1 would then read and watch the full book, article, video, etc. Physical 1, 1 would just read the full book and they may not read other Books or Articles or watch videos that are related to it.

    Writing for the Web: Creating Compelling Web Content Using Words, Pictures and Sound is a Good Book to show how Digital differs from Physical including how to get the Attention side when Digital is DISTRACTIVE (Kindle without the Internet OR Distraction-Free Features on a Laptop including Disabling Notifications while Reading or Typing on a Laptop or Desktop helps). In fact, Technology used with EDUCATION SECTOR too has gone over to AR/MR/VR, AI, etc.

    Additionally, if going to say what kind of skills or education kids need in age of AI and Mass Automation – it has been discussed over the years – STEM went on to STEAM where A is for Arts connected to Humanities and Social Sciences (Now, it’s STREAM Skills and NOT JUST STEAM Skills).

    What the experts have written in their books is Nothing New. Automation DIDN’T START in the last 20 odd years. It started 1000s of Years Back. Agricultural Revolution too had Automation getting involved where YOUR TRACTORS for example, has had part of AUTOMATION Involved which knocked out the Manual Side. Skill sets have changed over the Millenniums, Centuries and Humans have Adapted.

    This time, SAME HAPPENS as Humans Got to Adapt Again. Technical and Analytical Skills ALONE won’t be useful even for SURVIVAL in 21st Century and weren’t enough even to do well before 21st Century.

    INDIA once upon a time was also good with INTEGRATED EDUCATION where Skills didn’t come from Just Natural Sciences BUT also from Social Sciences and Humanities including ARTS (Philosophical Thinking, Psychology, Engineering, Architecture and Design and so on – Rabindranath Tagore, Akbar, Abhinavagupta are few of India’s greatest POLYMATHs).

    After Independence, it got changed due to Indian Circumstances BUT when India was doing ok from around 2000, things should have changed where Infrastructure SHOULD HAVE BEEN FIXED, INTEGRATED EDUCATION should have gone long way forward though GOOD THING is LATTER is taking place in INDIA too like what has happened abroad in MANY NATIONS. My sister, for example, when she studied at a US Top 20 University, WUSTL, though her Major was Finance, she was Encouraged to take subjects from Arts and Science Schools and not just from the Business School. Even ones, that do just Finance or Accounting or MIS Majors within Business School are taught Basic Strategic Management Theories within those subjects like Porter’s 5 Forces, Gap Analysis, Competitive Advantage, Blue vs Red Ocean Strategy, Differentiation Strategy, etc which helps to understand Business area better even in the real world as Accounting and Finance too are linked to Strategic Management – like what is taught at University of Sydney, a World’s Top 50 to 60 University.

    Finally, coming back to India’s case, Electric Power Infrastructure with Frequent Power Cuts as well as Power Fluctuations, Per Capita Income or rather Affordability (High Levels of Income and Wealth Inequality), Internet Speeds and Prices are few of the Issues for Online 21st Century Education along with Communicative side where it is easier to understand in local Languages in general. Online and Integrated Education with Global In-depth Research being sort of new in India will take time but Basics of Curiosity including via Encouragement of Researching and Finding Out on Own, Quality Learning via Collaborative Discussions and more, Communication need to be there no matter the medium if STUDENTS NEED TO LEARN.

    So, India, whether Kerala or Gujarat or whichever state or territory, has Some Way to go if want to catch up with the Best Globally (Not Just in Asia) where it is BETTER TO GO FOR BLUE OCEAN STRATEGY OF DISRUPTIVE INNOVATIONS than RED OCEAN STRATEGY OF COMPETITION.

    Kind Regards,

    Lover of India too
    ———————————————————————————————

    PS I’m interested in seeing INDIA improving and growing. Reality is INDIA including KERALA, GUJARAT, etc have a LONG WAY to go within 21st Century as CAN’T COMPARE the Country even to ASIA’s or WORLD’S BEST which isn’t USA or UK in any case – for HUMAN and ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT as NORDIC MODEL along with Netherlands, Switzerland and few others have done well on Most Human Development Rankings and Economic Development Rankings Globally including Infrastructure, Education, Innovation, etc. Though, what I would like to see, is, INDIA grow with the BIGGEST ADVANTAGE of CULTURAL DIVERSITY as a UNITED COUNTRY (I love the Diverse and Mixed Architecture, Food, Customs, Engineering, Art and so on of India as well as from Other Nations. Love to see it all including for Future Generations instead of Being Knocked where these would help India Grow whether for Creativity, Disruptive Innovations and so on via BLUE OCEAN STRATEGY instead of RED OCEAN STRATEGY of Competition).

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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.

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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.

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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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