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If you are looking to welcome the festive season with a dash of reading, six upcoming Indian authors could be interesting additions to your bookshelf.
‘The King of the Sea’ by Nandam Gautam
A metaphysical novel paired with two companion music albums, Nandan Gautam’s ‘The King of the Sea’ transports you into a new dimension, where reality lies suspended between the past and the future. The memoir and the thrilling sea epic, weave in and out, diving into the deepest layers of the subconscious with startling honesty and gut-wrenching emotionality, offering a wealth of insights into personal growth, self-revelation, and ultimately, love. Both albums ‘The King of the Sea’ and ‘The Divine Flaw’ are available to the reader via an exclusive web link provided in the book. The music features award-winning musicians, who helped to make this a uniquely immersive and expansive experience.
‘Apophis’ by Raj Anand
Raj Anand’s ‘Apophis: Into The Folds of Darkness’ is a beautiful blend of science fiction and philosophy. The story unfolds as a dark monstrous apparition – Apophis – feverishly races past the expanse of the Milky Way galaxy and bolts to the edge of the solar system. Recklessly accelerating, this sinister twin-headed asteroid continues its inebriated journey to soon rain resolute chaos upon Earth. Five ancient philosophers reincarnated nine years ago in different cities across the planet – New York, Hong Kong, New Delhi, Azores Islands in Portugal, and Buyukada Island in Turkey, discover amongst haunting memories of their phantasmal past lives, that it is their destiny to save humanity from the evil forces unleashed by the Skyllats from across the galaxy. And now, these nine-year-old sentient beings must rely on their shared, ancient wisdom to prepare humanity for the imminent war across the galaxy.
‘The Rape Trial’ by Bidisha Ghosal
Bidisha Ghosal’s ‘The Rape Trial’ is a work of fiction on the stark truths of our society. It begins with the revelation that, many years ago, Rahul Satyabhagi had indeed raped Avni Rambha. Rahul has long been acquitted and Avni had left the country for her peace of mind. Now, it looks like he’s about to get away with it again. What do you do when the rapist is someone you know? What do you do when he has been found innocent in the eyes of the law? Three friends Rhea, Hitachi, and Amruta find themselves struggling to answer these questions together. Nearly a decade has passed since Rahul Satyabhagi, heir to the mega Satyabhagi business empire, had raped Avni Rambha, bested her in court, and gone on to become a men’s rights activist, and the whos-who of Badrid Bay had breathed a sigh of relief that the sordid mess was over. But now a sting operation proves what many, the three friends included, had suspected all along – he’d been lying.
‘Pi Agency’ by Neelabh Pratap Singh
Neelabh Pratap Singh’s crime thriller ‘PI Agency’ is the story of a private investigator, Rashmi Purohit, a failed CBI aspirant who struggles to run her own private detective agency, PI Agency, out of her claustrophobic basement. When a wealthy businessman with a troubled drug-addicted son arrives at her doorstep, a cash-strapped Rashmi Purohit and her band of amateurs grab the opportunity.
Little do they know that the enemy they are up against doesn’t just operate in the shady ghettos of the capital but also in the darkest recesses of the virtual world. What seems like a perfect case may destroy her agency and her life in more ways than possible.
Want to read more in Hindi? Checkout: ‘जिंदगी फाउंडेशन’ की मदद से गरीब छात्रों ने पास की नीट परीक्षा
‘Medical Astrology’ by Dr. Deepak Singla
Dr. Deepak Singla’s ‘Medical Astrology’ is a practical guide book for timely preparation for a healthy and happy life, free from sorrow and suffering caused by disease or accidents. The ancient science of Vedic astrology is focused in this guide on the physical and mental health-related wisdom. Effective remedies are also given. The book talks about how planets play a role to indicate a specific disease. This allows individuals to monitor actions to keep away a particular ailment. The author has also mentioned the mantras and tips to ward off or keep away the disease.
‘Few Shades of Love’ by Kamal Panda
Kamal Panda’s ‘Few Shades of Love’ is a book with a tale of love where Manas, a populist youth leader, when denied his love decides to take revenge on the tyrant village head, and Anaya, a graduate student waited for her lost love with hope and faith, while on the other hand, Krishanv, a teenage lover dares to fall in love again. To love and to be loved, is it that complicated? The writer has woven the ‘Shades of Love’ to narrate three love stories in this book. (IANS)
"In India, to be born as a man is a crime, to question a woman is an atrocious crime, and this all because of those women who keep suppressing men in the name of feminism."
Feminism, a worldwide movement that started to establish, define and defend equal rights for women in all sections- economically, politically, and socially. India, being a patriarchal society gives a gender advantage to the men in the society thus, Indian feminists sought to fight against the culture-specific issue for women in India. Feminism itself is nothing but a simple movement that pursues equal rights for women (including transwomen) and against misogyny both external and internal. It states nowhere that women should get more wages than men, that women deserve more respect than men, that's pseudo-feminism.
Pseudo feminists state that women deserve more respect and rights, any other gender deserves no respect. They feel that women should be the ones ruling the world and at higher positions. When feminism takes a turn for extremities it becomes pseudo-feminism and people who label themselves as feminists will bash anyone who speaks against even the wrongdoings of a woman. They'll bash women who're wife and sisters for not speaking up and support any women criticizing political leaders even if it's completely irrational. This is where hypocrisy and pseudo-feminism merge with each other.
They take advantage of the rights given to women to protect themselves to threaten other genders. The rights given to women are supposed to make them feel reassured that they can reach out to the judiciary if their rights are being hampered not to threaten to make the victim sound like the culprit.
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Indian Feminist Movement has made significant progress however, even in the modern world women are still unsafe and are discriminated against when it comes to getting a job, land ownership, and access to education. While filling the official papers it is still asked "Wife of /Daughter of:….."
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family. Such injustices make feminism such an important movement, gender equality is worth fighting for to create a safe environment for women. Feminists over the years have been criticized for focusing on the rights of privileged women and not giving equal representation to poorer and lower caste women, which has led to separate caste-specific feminist organizations and movements.
Some notable milestones in the Feminist Movement
- Raja Ram Mohan Roy campaigned against Sati Pratha (practice in which a widow sacrificed herself by sitting atop her deceased husband's funeral pyre) and child marriage
- Savitribai Phule started the first school for girls at Bhidewada in Pune city in 1848.
- In 1972, SEWA, the biggest trade union for women was set up by Ela Bhatt for women working in the informal sector.
- The Chipko Movement was launched and led by women in 1973.
- #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and abuse was started in 2006 and revived in the year 2015.
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family.Unsplash
Feminism is often misunderstood as pseudo-feminism and hence, becomes the target for public hatred and is accused of wronging other genders under the façade of feminism. It is misunderstood by Indians as female domination instead of gender equality. Indian society and Indian feminists believe that only men are perpetrators of a heinous crime like rape and they refuse to even recognize the men who say they were raped and it's the toxic masculinity in the society that believes how can a woman rape a man? Reality is different from what we believe, women can be the perpetrator too, women threaten to file a case of domestic violence, or sexual assault against innocent people just to fulfill their ego.
Thankfully feminism and pseudo feminism are two separate concepts and feminism is just about equality and not judgment. Indian society and feminists actually need to understand the difference between the two and stop tarnishing the Feminist Movement as a whole.
Keywords: Feminism, World, India, Pseudo-Feminism, Gender
Kerala is a land of many good things. It has an abundance of nature, culture, art, and food. It is also a place of legend and myth, and is known for its popular folklore, the legend of Yakshi. This is not a popular tale outside the state, but it is common knowledge for travellers, especially those who fare through forests at night.
The legend of the yakshi is believed to be India's equivalent of the Romanian Dracula, except of course, the Yakshi is a female. Many Malayalis believe that the Yakshi wears a white saree and had long hair. She has a particular fragrance, which is believed to be the fragrance of the Indian devil-tree flowers. She seduces travellers with her beauty, and kills them brutally.
Yakshi idol in Veroor, Sri Dharamashastha temple Image source: wikimedia commons
The Yakshi is believed to live in a palm tree which can appear like a palace. Victims are taken here before they are killed. Travellers on highways are often advised not to stop near heavily forested areas, or speak to anyone who closely resembles a Yakshi. Some believe she can change form, while other hold to the belief that she doesn't. after securing her victim, the only trace left behind is body parts like hair, nails, and teeth.
They say, like other ghosts, a Yakshi's feet will not touch the ground. This is something to look out for. Mysterious deaths have been reported across the rural areas in Kerala, and all these have been attributed to the legend.
Keywords: Legends, Yakshi, Urban legend, Ghost, Kerala, Myth, Vampire
The LGBTQ+ acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and others. In India LGBTQ+ community also include a specific social group, part religious cult, and part caste: the Hijras. They are culturally defined either as "neither men nor women" or as men who become women by adopting women's dress and behavior. Section 377 of the India Penal code that criminalized all sexual acts "against the order of nature" i.e. engaging in oral sex or anal sex along with other homosexual activities were against the law, ripping homosexual people off of their basic human rights. Thus, the Indian Supreme Court ruled a portion of Section 377 unconstitutional on 6th September 2018.
But the question is, "was India always against homosexuality"? Has the concept of homosexuality being unnatural existed forever? No, in Indian history and Hinduism homosexuality has never been an offense, in fact in several instances it has been depicted how people embraced their identity, be it sexual identity or gender identity. Section 377 was brought to India by the British in 1862, while India was colonized. Even after the Independence, it was only in 2018 that the Supreme Court ruled it as irrational and illogical.
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Homosexuality in Ancient India
When Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality in India, there was an uproar about it being a western ideology and liberalism. But in reality, homosexuality has existed since the time of the Vedas. The Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association (GALVA) researched and discovered that it was around 3102 B.C. (during the Vedic Age) that homosexuality or non-normative sexual identity was recognized as "Tritiya Prakriti", or the third nature. Ancient India not only made mentions of homosexuality but accepted it as well.
Hinduism is the most vastly followed religion in India. Hinduism does not explicitly mention homosexuality however it does contain a homosexual theme and characters in its text. There have been various instances in our scriptures and texts that have introduced us to LGBT+ characters such as the androgynous form of Shiva and Parvati Ardhanariswara meaning "the half-female lord". One of the most popular and ancient texts on sexuality, eroticism, and emotional fulfillment of life, "Kamasutra" has a complete chapter dedicated to homosexuality and homosexual sex. Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities.
Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities. Facebook
Our Mughals were Queer
Mughals are often seen under the light of cruelty, rigid ethics, nobility, and polygamy. Simultaneously, Mughals are also the ones credited for the emergence of Sufism, abolished jizya tax, love beyond religion, classes, and gender.
In the Baburnama written in memoirs of our very first Mughal ruler Muhammad Babur, several instances documented Babur's infatuation and affection towards a teenage boy named Baburi. We also have multiple Persian couplets as evidence of Babur's affection for Baburi. Mughals engaged in homosexuality and pederasty, and they believed that later was a form of "pure love".
But as time passed homosexuality was suppressed more and more though people practiced it in secret if revealed they were punished. According to the Fatwa-e-Alamgiri Sharia-based text of the Mughal Empire, there is a common set of punishments for homosexuality, which could include 50 lashes for a slave, 100 for a free infidel, or death by stoning for a Muslim.
British Raj and Independence of India
In 1862, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalized homosexual sex came into force. Even after Independence in 1947, the section remained a part of the Indian Constitution. There were protests all over the country to give people of the LGBT+ community basic human rights but it was not until 2018 that The Supreme Court of India ruled the portion of Section 377 has unconstitutional and struck it off. One judge said the landmark decision would "pave the way for a better future.". With Section 377 gone are LGBT+ people allowed to fall in love freely? No, people are still afraid to love because of the stigma in our society when it comes to homosexuality; they are seen as lesser humans.
ALSO READ: Significant Support for Rights for LGBTQ+
Although the Supreme Court has decriminalized homosexual activities, same-sex marriage remains illegal in the country. Homophobia is still prevalent in India, and homosexual children would rather commit suicide than come out to society with their true identity, that's how harsh of a world we live in. Lacking support from family, society, or police, many gay rape victims do not report the crimes. In 1977, writer and Indian mathematician Shakuntla Devi published "The World of Homosexuals". It was the first study in the Indian context; the book contains interviews with homosexual men set in the years of Emergency. She wrote, "rather than pretending that homosexuals don't exist it is time we face the facts squarely in the eye and find room for homosexual people." We've had small victories in our fight against homophobia and getting LGBT+ community the rights they deserve as humans, but we still have a long and exhausting fight ahead of us.