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Disagreements do not degenerate into disputes. Differences are the signs of mutual understanding and mature relationship. The meaningful and informal dialogues are the means to engage in pathfinding. That is the mantra which seems to have inspired the practice of informal summits nurtured by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping for more than five years now. It represents the legacy of ancient civilisations from where both leaders come. The latest summit is taking place in India in the ancient port city of Mamallapuram, also called as Mahabalipuram.
The timing of the summit could not have been more appropriate. The second mega mandate given to Modi by 1.35 billion people of India in 2019 for the next five years and near-unanimous approval in 2018 by nearly 3,000 political members in National People’s Congress (NPC) representing 1.42 billion people of China in favour of President Xi’s continued presidentship beyond 2023, are the historical milestones in the political history of the world. The two leaders of giant economies, China ranking the second and India seventh, are sending the message to the world that bilateralism is not necessarily opposed to multilateralism.
The healthy shades of the bilateral dialogues have power to foster multilateral diplomacy on the strengths of the political leaderships and people’s mandate. As stated by Otto von Bismarck, the first German Chancellor, “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable – the art of the next best.” That was in the end of 19th century.
The globalised world is drenched with terror wars, trade battles, and territorial disputes. Prospect and promise of better days seem to be illusive and distant. Shades of hopelessness are so evident in dealing with formidable
challenges of climate change and inequality, that the world is about to resign to fatalism. Here comes the duo, Prime Minister Modi and President Xi, with the ‘next best hope’. Coming from civilizations that are known to be more than 5,000 years old, both have propounded total respect for nature. Modi had stated that “exploitation of nature is not acceptable to us”. Xi Jinping was equally emphatic in calling for “ecological civilisation reforms” to account for the environmental repercussions on China’s development. That stands out considering that the developed countries, who are deep into the mindless consumerism and shameless materialism, are entangled in the environmental and social crisis that seems to be unbeatable.
Now both Modi and Xi are perched for disruptive diplomacy of the 21st century in terms of the informal summit. Stringent anti-corruption policy with exemplary personal characters of self-less leadership are the strengths of the duo that heralds the new era of hope to achieve socialism with equality as the most fundamental feature of development. Their informal meetings since 2014 have propelled the promise of disruptive diplomacy to address the defining challenges of our times including climate change and terrorism.
The world has witnessed disruptive diplomacy since the Cold War. In 1971, the so-called ‘ping-pong-diplomacy’ triggered by table tennis players from USA was seized by Chairman Mao and Henry Kissinger who transformed the relations between China and USA. The subsequent ‘shuttle-diplomacy’ initiated by the same untiring Kissinger opened up a new vista for the final Palestine-Israel peace deal. The ‘Olympic diplomacy’ that kicked off in 2018 with the joint participation in the winter Olympic games by two Koreas in one peninsula opened the path of dialogue across the 38th parallel. The world also witnessed, again in 2018, another scene of witty and comic diplomacy, which the media called ‘dandruff diplomacy’ that clearly amplified the body language of US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron while dealing with the strong disagreement on climate change.
The words ‘Let us make Planet great again’ of President Macron, reverberated globally. Trump jokingly brushed aside a piece of dandruff on Macron’s suit in front of reporters. It showed Trump’s appreciation of Macron’s steadfast and positive criticism and probably willingness to listen – a definite disruption in Trumpian tactics. The latest ‘cross border diplomacy’ of South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s over the 38th parallel between two Koreas has given hopes of reducing tensions.
Now comes ‘chai diplomacy’ between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi. It started with chat on a jhoola (Indian name for a swing) on the banks of the Sabaramati river in September 2014 where Mahatma Gandhi lived. It was followed by an informal summit in Wuhan on the banks of the Yangtze river in April 2018 and now the third informal summit is expected to be in Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram), a south Indian ancient port city that depicts historical Buddhism connection between India and China. It was from here that the Pallava kings traded with China in the 6th century. The Buddhist monk Bodhidharma, who was a Pallava prince, travelled to China. The Chinese traveller Xuanzang visited Kanchipuram during Pallava rule and praised their benign rule. Both Modi and Xi have shown the creative backdrops in selecting the places for the informal summits.
More than the backdrops, the frontal edifice of informal summits is carved with the two principles. First ‘let-us-attempt-problem-solving-together’ approach. Second, one-to-one communication on the issues that are embarrassing to debate in the full view of the headline seeking media. The chessboard in front of the two leaders is full of web of pawns and rooks. Hedging one against other is complex. Border defence, trade-deficit and tariffs, neighbours’ interests, Belt and Road initiative, climate change, terrorism. The list of challenges is long, their interlinkages are complex. But opportunities that are in front of the two leaders are catalytic and they could trigger multilateral summits and global transformation.
Both leaders strongly believe in the reforms in response to the changing world. Continuation of “comprehensive deepening of reforms” as stated in the outcome document of NPC, China is the starting point for Xi. Both leaders have demonstrated the speed and rigor in implementation of reforms, by Modi in the last four months of his new Government and by Xi since NPC in 2018. For Xi, “people are the masters of the country”, for Modi the “Prime Minister is the servant of the people’.
‘Improving people’s livelihood and well-being is the primary goal of development’ as stated by Xi, whereas Modi has stated the similar concept by coining the slogan of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’. ‘Eco-civilization for the shared future’ is Xi’s thoughts that are now getting mainstreamed in China. And Modi is known globally for spreading ‘Indian culture that cares for nature’. Xi has expressed to achieve ‘common destiny of the peaceful international environment between Chinese people and other people around the world’, as scripted in the outcome-document of NPC of China. Modi has expressed the similar goal through a message of ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam’ to the UN General Assembly. Both strongly believe in the potential of strong institutions like Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), deployment of renewable energy, decarbonization of the economy and lifting millions of poor out of poverty to the road of prosperity.
Surely, like earlier summits, there may not be an official communique, but the world would be watching closely the two Asian giants with 40 per cent of the people on the planet. The centre of gravity of global stewardship has certainly shifted to the East. The world will be witnessing a formal transformation through informal dialogue. (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.