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2020 Olympics Gave India Positives But Our Sportspersons Need More Support

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Recently, the Tokyo Olympics 2020 concluded after it was delayed for a year due to COVID. In a country where cricket has almost a billion followers, it was good to see that people were watching sports that are hardly heard of — fencing, equestrian, golf — which had thousands of Indians watching if not millions in the early morning and praying for the victory of Indian contingent of 119 players, the largest ever sent to any Olympics.

India’s Performance In The Olympics

The players performed up to national expectations with seven medals consisting of one gold, two silver, and four bronze. Tokyo 2020 had many significant events. Neeraj Chopra represented India in javelin throw and won the gold medal in his very first Olympics. Not only that, he becomes the first athlete to win a gold medal in track and field.

Neeraj Chopra won the gold medal in Javelin Throw.

Then come to our men and women hockey teams. While the men won the bronze medal after 41 years. The last medal won by India was in the 1980 Olympics. With this medal, India has the highest number of medals won by any country in hockey with the number standing at 12.

While our women missed out on a medal, they earned the respect of the country with their courage and dedication. They defeated three-time champion Australia in the quarter-final with a score of 1-0 and then gave great Britain a tough fight for the bronze medal. You should keep in mind that the women’s team was playing only their third Olympics; the first in 1980, then 2016, and now 2020.

While they did not manage to win any match in 2016, from that point to giving the nation hope for a medal is an extraordinary feat. For me personally, the Olympics gave me the chance to learn the rules and develop an interest in sports such as discus throw, golf, and tennis.

What India Needs To Do

However, India has much to do in sports as compared to countries like China that has an exceptional record in badminton, table tennis, and swimming. They achieved it by investing heavily in human resources and technology.

Recently I came across an article that mentioned how China was using ballistic missile tech to train swimmers to reduce drag while swimming and teach them the most optimized body shape they can use to swim faster and for long distances.

China and other advanced nations like the U.S.A. and Great Britain also use this tech. It may also help as it is an open secret that the sports budget is not very big in India as compared to other countries. By using data science, we can better know what an athlete needs precisely and we will be using our resources better.

If you analyze, you will get to know China takes part in those sports majorly that suits its ethnicity and body type. The competitor of Mirabai Chanu, Hou Zinzi is not very tall and with all the physics behind they can use this to their advantage to lift massive weights. However, India has also this advantage, Mirabai Chanu is around 5 ft tall and capable enough to do the same feat. She carried 116 kg and narrowly missed the 119 kg from lifting. The same goes for table tennis and badminton.

So India should go on the talent hunt. Maybe increasing the medals require harnessing the natural ability and enhancing it with all the science? Also, GOI should focus on bringing sports to the community level as we have seen cricket is being played in every part of the country, be it Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar, UP, Assam, Kerala, Gujarat, or any other state and the same goes for the wrestling in Punjab and Haryana.

By bringing the sports to the community level, talent will automatically start coming up. Probably, that’s why wrestling contingent was majorly from Haryana. Be it Vinesh Phogat, Deepak Punia, the silver medalist Ravi Kumar, and Bronze medalist Bajrang Punia, they are all from Haryana.

In the end, we should be hopeful and pray for a much-improved performance in the 2024 Paris Olympics. If everything went according to plan and cricket becomes an Olympic sport, there may be a medal there also with our current team.

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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.

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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.

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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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

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