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Indian Fashion Industry Must Embrace Safety, Says Suki Dusanj-Lenz at Lakme Fashion Week

 India must first stop using chemicals that are banned in the rest of the world

Indian fashion industry
Sabyasachi Mukherjee's show at Lakme Fashion Week 2011 on day 1. Wikimedia
  • The country’s coordinator for Fashion Revolution India stressed upon the global movement that desires greater transparency, sustainability, and ethics in the fashion industry
  • The movement followed the death of 1,138 workers in Dhaka while making garments in the Rana Plaza factory
  • The aim of Fashion Revolution was to unite the fashion industry and ignite a revolution so that what the world embraces what’s safe, clean and fair 

Mumbai, August 20, 2017: The Indian fashion industry needs to embrace the highest safety standards, says Suki Dusanj-Lenz, country coordinator for Fashion Revolution India.

For this, India must first stop using chemicals that are banned in the rest of the world, she said, talking about a global movement that desires greater transparency, sustainability, and ethics in the fashion industry.

The movement followed the death of 1,138 workers in Dhaka while making garments in the Rana Plaza factory, which collapsed after a structural failure in the building on April 24, 2013. The workers were making garments for the international market.

“The sad thing is the staff was complaining about the building but nobody listened,” she said.

Dusanj-Lenz is an advocate for gender equality, sustainability and champions the need for a fair and transparent fashion industry. She spoke to IANS on the sidelines of Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) Winter/Festive 2017.

“Carry Somers and Orsola De Castro came together and founded the Fashion Revolution, which has spread to 100 countries. We are working towards a safer, fairer, cleaner fashion industry.”

Dusanj-Lenz is also Executive Director at the Swiss-Indian Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director at MARD, a people powered initiative campaigning against discrimination.

Also Read: Eco-friendly Fashion: Should India Contribute on this Booming Global Market?

The aim of Fashion Revolution was to unite the fashion industry and ignite a revolution to radically change the way clothes were sourced, produced and purchased so that what the world wears was made in a safe, clean and fair way.

“We want to empower every spectrum of the supply chain to transform the industry into a more sustainable one.”

Would she like to share about the sustainability issues of the Indian fashion industry?

“There are layers of complexities in the fashion industry but one thing for sure is that India must look to international standards for the safety of the staff?

“There are chemicals that are banned in other parts of the world, yet India still uses them.

“Are our lives any less than those of another country? In Kanpur, the leather making industry is astonishingly hazardous to the staff. Have you watched that movie ‘Erin Brockovich’? Remember that chemical that was banned in the US that is the subject of that movie. Well, the Indian industry still uses it and our staff is exposed to the dangers of such chemicals,” she added.

“Let’s not have the people that make our garments or shoes pay the price for our fashion,” she added.

Talking about sustainable fashion in Indian fashion industry, Dusanj-Lenz said: “On the upside, India also has some incredibly sustainable brands and a massive recyclability culture which we must celebrate and encourage. Sustainable Fashion Day at the LFW brought many of them together.”

She said around 80 per cent of the garment makers in India were women.

“It’s important that we hear their voice and work to campaign for them and not against them. Fashion Revolution wants to educate the consumer about the damage throw away fashion has on our environment.

“We want to inform people about the dark side of polyester and viscose both in a landfill and the chemical process… There is always a price to pay for cheap fashion. Someone somewhere is paying for it,” she added. (IANS)

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India will soon ask Malaysia to extradite Preacher Zakir Naik

India will soon approach Malaysia with a request to extradite hardline Islamic preacher Zakir Naik.

India will Request Malayasia to extradite Zakir Naik
India will Request Malayasia to extradite Zakir Naik. wikimedia commons
  • India will seek the Malaysian government’s help in extraditing televangelist Zakir Naik who faces charges of money laundering and inciting hatred through his sermons broadcast on Peace TV, the foreign ministry said Friday.

Zakir Naik obtained permanent residency in Malaysia 

Officials will approach their Malaysian counterparts with the extradition request sometime within the next two weeks, Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar told a weekly news briefing in New Delhi.

“Any formal request seeking the assistance of a foreign government in cases of extradition requires a completion of the internal legal process involving consultation with other ministries involved in the case,” Kumar said.

“At this stage, we are nearing the completion of this process and as soon as this process is complete we will be making an official request to the Malaysian government in this matter,” Kumar said. “It could be a couple of days or a couple of weeks. But it would be soon and the nature of our request would also be clear.”

Naik fled India a month before terrorist carried out a massacre at a café in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in July 2016. This week, Malaysia’s deputy prime minister said the Islamic preacher legally obtained permanent residency in the country, and that Malaysian authorities would arrest him only if he broke local laws or was found to be involved in terrorist activities.

Naik’s speeches allegedly inspired some of the militants who carried out the siege at the Holey Artisan Bakery café in Dhaka, where 29 people, including 20 hostages and five gunmen, were killed.

In November 2016, the Indian government banned Naik’s Mumbai-based NGO Islamic Research Foundation, which partly funded the Peace TV channel that is banned in India, Bangladesh and several other countries.

Kumar said because the Indian government had knowledge of Naik’s whereabouts, the legal procedures would be tailored to requirements between the two countries in their extradition treaty.

Advocate challenges charges

“Naik is being hounded because he hails from a minority community. The charges that the investigating agencies are trying to frame are all stale and are hardly incriminating,” advocate S. Hariharan told BenarNews in a phone interview from Delhi.

“The charges lack veracity and would not stand scrutiny in the court of law. We will be challenging the extradition and deportation.”

Last week, the Indian government filed a 61-page charge sheet against Naik alleging he was involved in a criminal conspiracy by lauding terrorist organizations. In April, a non-bailable warrant was issued against him in an alleged case of money laundering through his NGO and a shell company.

In Malaysia meanwhile, the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) has urged the government to ignore any request from India to extradite Zakir Naik, Reuters reported.

“For Muslim individuals, even when they won by using arguments and not weapons, like Dr. Zakir Naik, they are considered terrorists because their arguments cannot be countered,” PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang wrote last week in an opinion piece published in Harakah Daily.(BenarNews)

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‘It is time to see the world through a Feminist Gaze’, says Shabana Azmi

Jio MAMI hosted a brunch to discuss and inspire women equality and quality films, which was graced by Manisha Koirala, Shabana Azmi, Kiran Rao, Anupama Chopra, Sayani Gupta, Kriti Sanon, Neha Dhupia and many more

Shabana Azmi
Shabana Azmi. Wikimedia

Mumbai, October 17, 2017: Veteran actress Shabana Azmi on Monday said it is the time people started seeing the world through a “feminine gaze”.

The pro-equality actress was speaking at “#F for Freedom MAMI” segment of Jio MAMI 19th Mumbai Film Festival.

“I am very delighted that MAMI this year is concentrating on making women’s work more visible. I think it is high time that we started to see the world through feminine gaze,” she said.

Jio MAMI hosted a brunch to discuss and inspire women equality and quality films, which was graced by Manisha Koirala, Shabana Azmi, Kiran Rao, Anupama Chopra, Sayani Gupta, Kriti Sanon, Neha Dhupia and many more.

ALSO READ Divya Khosla Kumar wishes to make ‘Women Oriented Films’ now

Manisha Koirala, who has been vocal about gender equality, said she was happy that JIO MAMI is recognizing women’s contribution.

“Tumhari Sulu” actress Neha Dhupia said that things aren’t changing but with a little initiative, things will change in coming times. “Just because there is a women-centric film after 30-40 others release, everyone feels that things are changing but they are not changing just yet.”

Kiran Rao, the lady behind the initiative, expressed that main objective was to inspire women and get them in mainstream cinema, either in front or behind.

“The initiative was started two years ago, to inspire females to be part of the film industry, not just tell their stories. We want females to join film industry as writers, actors, technicians, creative arts and camera persons as this will improve the condition of women,” said Kiran.

Film critic Anupama Chopra said that the issue of equality in the film was not just limited to Bollywood, “it is rampant everywhere”. (IANS)

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Positive Changes In The Modeling Industry

fashion industry has gained immense popularity thereby becoming one of the most influential industries over the years. Pixabay

Ten years ago, could you have imagined seeing a model who wasn’t young and stick-thin on the ramp? It was utterly impossible. However, the course of winds has changed and there is a positive change ushering into the Modeling Industry in terms of inclusivity. Models who were absolutely absent from the ramp until now are now being represented widely and this new kind of representation is being welcomed as a positive development.

With the advent of mass media, the fashion industry has gained immense popularity thereby becoming one of the most influential industries over the years. A problem arising out of the growing stature of the modelling industry is that people all around the world try to emulate the standards of the fashion world. It has the negative consequence of propagating the notion that the people who walk the ramp are “models” for others. They are to be imitated and idolized because they are what the “perfect people” should look like.

This is physically and mentally harmful not only for the people actively working in the Modeling Industry but also for the section of the population who feel the need to be like them in order to be accepted by the society. Apart from facing body image issue, many people have been driven to starvation, anorexia, depression, eating disorders and even suicide because of the need to conform to the image portrayed by mass media.

Much to everyone’s relief, the unpropitious affects of the Modeling Industry have finally been tackled by the government of various countries. One of the most constructive developments took place in France where the government imposed a ban on anorexic models.

France’s ban on anorexic models


    France Bans Anorexic Models./Pixabay


As of now, models in France have to submit a BMI report to prove that they the adequate weight. Another significant headway has been the interdict on retouched photos. The psychological sequel that occurs when you are not happy with the way you look, forcing you to alter your looks digitally to appear “perfect”, has such substantial effects that the ban comes at a benign time to control further damage.

Marisol Touraine, the Minister of Social Affairs and Health in France, told the media, “Exposing young people to normative and unrealistic images of bodies lead to a sense of self-depreciation and poor self-esteem that can impact health-related behavior”.

Experts have called this a right move but a wrong approach. Some people in the Modeling Industry opine that this prohibition will indeed cause an unfairness of a different kind. What’s the possible reason behind such viewpoints? Let’s find it out.

Ban on anorexic models based on BMI not the right way forward?

Claire Mysko, Director of Programs for the US National Disorders Association, told VOA, “Body Mass Index cannot be the measure of one’s health. Just because someone is at a very low BMI doesn’t mean they have an eating disorder, and just because someone is the normal range or even in the high range of BMI doesn’t signify that they don’t have an eating disorder either”.
Albeit the objective behind the ban is being applauded, specialists are worried about how the screening process being embraced to select models, is not a holistic one. They suggested that a proper system that takes into account the attitudes of models toward food, weight and body is necessitated.

Katrina Mason, the policy director at Eating Disorders Coalition in Washington DC posted, “Measuring BMI isn’t necessarily a good factor in determining whether someone is or not having a disordered eating lifestyle I think there are other factors that should potentially be taken into consideration.”

Formed in 2007, the Council of Fashion Designers of American, in its mission statement, took up the concerns of models who are underweight. It mentioned, “Eating disorders are emotional disorders that have psychological, behavioral, social and physical manifestations of which body weight is only one.”

Ramp walk. Pixabay

It’s not just about the models

The prohibition in France Modeling Industry, does not only concern the health of models but also initiates a clampdown in the country where more than 40,000 of its population suffer from anorexia. The ban on retouched photos targets websites which falsely advertise thinness as the ideal notion of beauty thereby facilitating disordered eating.
While anorexia is an issue faced by both men and women, 95% of the patients have been women. As estimated by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), 30 million people in the US out of which 20million are women will struggle with an eating disorder at some point of time in their lives.

An American model cum actress, Lyndsey Scott speaking on the ban initiated by France, commented, “I was an All-American 400m runner at 5-feet-9 and 108 pounds during college. Perfectly healthy, but still way under an 18 BMI. Bodies naturally come in all shapes and sizes. Even people with eating disorders can have a so-called healthy BMI. Perhaps they should have doctors check for signs of anorexia and bulimia instead of making assumptions on weight.”

However, with the new changes being launched in the Modeling Industry, more and more models are flouting the conventional rules and walking the most influential runways of the world.

“Older” models

The 69-year-old model Maye Musk slayed the ramp while walking for concept Korea at New York Fashion Week thereby breaking the conventional notion that beauty is defined by age. She was also featured on the cover of one of the most prestigious magazines in the world-CoverGirl.

When the Senior Vice-President of the magazine-Ukonwa Ojo was questioned about their decision to put Musk as their CoverGirl, he retaliated, “Mate Musk is not only a timeless beauty but a visionary who has always followed her own path, creating new opportunities for so many others who might not meet the industry standard of “model”, but are truly beautiful in every regard. This is exactly what CoverGirl is all about: owning your identity and proudly sharing with the world all the facets that make you, you. She is an affirmation of the power and importance of diversity and inclusivity in the world of beauty.”

Flaunting baby bump on the ramp


Kareena Kapoor Khan flaunting her baby bump on the ramp./Wikimedia Commons


Pregnant celebrities walking the ramp is one of the latest trends. In the Modeling Industry renounced models like Miranda err, Alessandra Ambrosio, Lily Alridge, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Shveta Salve set the ramp on fire while flaunting their baby bumps. A celebration of motherhood and maternity serves as a silver lining in an industry that has conventionally conformed to unreal ideals of beauty.

Models with prosthetic limbs and wheelchairs steal the show at LFW

London-based designers Catherine Teatum and Rob Jones featured amputee models at the Lakme Fashion Week that was held in the last month. We saw the models arriving on the ramp in wheelchairs.

Enrobed in a moss-colored ribbed dress, a model showed her prosthetic leg while another was draped in a blue silk gown. These women were the main focus point of the designer duo’s show titled, “The Body Part Two”.

The fashion industry is finally accepting the fact that age is just a number and that beauty has various parameters for judgment. It is not all about long legs, thigh gaps, cleavage and fair skin anymore. The Modeling Industry has finally initiated a process of inclusion and accommodation of standards which are set by real people for real people.”


-Prepared by Mohima Haque of NewsGram. Twitter: mohimahaque26