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Governance Of Changing Numbers: The Politics Of Youth

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The youth of today is the flag bearer of a colorful tomorrow. They are full of energy and life. They are hardworking, serene but notorious, arduous, ambitious, and enthusiastic. If their raw power, energy, and mind are trained correctly, they can articulate wonders both locally and nationally. Simply said, they can be the makers and sculptures of a bright tomorrow if they as individuals are given proper direction and guidance. Channelizing their energy properly renders canny and lucrative results.

Representational Image

India’s youth will be paving the way forward for the country and its success.

According to research conducted in 2015 based on the global demographics, the researcher talks about the youth and workforce with the future of various countries. In his conclusion, he talks of his work in which he mentions and gives an idea of the change in a demographic dividend turning into a demographic disaster if not blessed with grace and due attention. According to this research in India, 65% of Indians came under the age of 35 years and more than half of the population was under 25 years of age.

India’s Youthfulness

There were roughly 226 million Indians poised to be pushed into the workforce in the next 5-10 years and lie between the age of 10-19 years. The pandemic compounded by uncanny governance laid waste to the above Nostradamus turning the situation more stray and vile. If we had gone by the research the average age of various countries in 2015 were –

  • Japan was 47 years
  • China was past 40 years
  • The USA was 40 years
  • Europe was 46 years and,
  • India was 28 years.

India was hemmed with the youngest workforce which was vibrant, dynamic, productive, and lucrative which could have performed wonders just like China had been performing in the past few decades. While the world was aging, India was and is still young today.

Based on the study above and referring to the analysis compounded with various other factors China recently announced a new policy called the ‘three child policy.’ China today deeply grapples with both aging and deeply gender imbalanced population and demographers. According to the census released on May 11 in China, 12 million births have been recorded which have been the lowest since 1961. The census said, there were 264 million people in the 60 and above age group which is up by 5.44% since 2010 and accounts for 18.70% of the population.

Coercive Child Policies

After the one-child policy, the fertility rate in China fell from 2.75 in 1979 to 1.69 in 2018. The three child policy is a result of the acknowledged and unintended consequences of deeply intrusive family planning which goes back to the time of Mao before 1979 where a campaign called ‘later, longer and fewer’ was established which followed the policy and principle to have more children which could be used to build a workforce. China today faces a problem which India might face in the next few decades.

According to another study conducted in India, it was said that the proposed two-child policy of India, or as we better know it by the slogan ‘Bacchae do hi ache (two children are ideal)’ will eventually reach its zenith and start with its downfall and it was calculated that going by the current statistics and figures, by 2100 the workforce, youth and the average age of the country will fall and shrink to unprecedented levels significantly. Geopolitically India had and still has an edge over China for the next few decades to achieve what China has achieved over the past few decades and replace China to become the new importance in the Asian geopolitics.

The Role Of The Government

But for China auguring a change in policy doesn’t enshrine a bright and developed future. There are instances where the demographic dividend has turned out to be a demographic disaster. If their energy and mind are not trained, channelized, and pursued positively then they can fall prey to terrorism and crime which not only adds to the woes of a country but also reduces the countries competence and its global and domestic positioning and standing.

By increasing the number of children, the government is loaded with additional responsibilities to frame and administer policies for their welfare and growth. The government to administer good governance needs to deliver education, employment, and ensure equity and equality towards welfare. It further needs to ensure that the healthcare and its supporting infrastructure is expanded and upgraded to new levels branded with flexible and modernized laws.

When today we live in a complex world that is tailored by conflictual interests and hegemonizing ideas, optimizing the future to be wonderful becomes futile when and if various other factors and responsibilities are not disposed of towards the achievement and successful triumph of the de facto goal. The modus operandi should be based on a people-centric approach rather than a self-centered and government-centric approach while focusing on the nuclei of the idea. If all the different pieces of the puzzle are in front of the eyes while completing the puzzle then the various facets and possibility of the idea don’t lie in oblivion.

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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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