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By Nithin Sridhar
After successfully trashing the Modi government over Dadri lynching issue, it appears that the media have now found a new scapegoat- Union Minister General VK Singh.
The recent controversy over the remarks made by VK Singh is a case in point. The former General on Thursday tried to drive home a point that the Union government cannot be held accountable for every local or state level issue including those related to law and order. But, if one were to believe the mainstream media, he equated the Dalits with the dogs.
If one were to simply listen to what exactly Singh said one would know that there was neither denigration nor any insult heaped on the Dalit people. Singh explicitly stated that, the local issues should not be connected with the government and that the issue of Dalit killing was being investigated. He added that, just as the government cannot be blamed for a person stoning a dog in the street, every local issue should not be blamed on the government.
But, the mainstream media jumped on the issue immediately and using VK Singh as the scapegoat branded the entire Modi government as being anti-Dalit.
Just a day before this, the media had the Union government as being anti-North Indians. The scapegoat used was another Union Minister Kiran Rijiju. Speaking at a function, Kiran Rijiju quoted a former Lt. Governor of Delhi as saying people in north India enjoy breaking rules. He was clearly making a simple observation regarding the rising condition of law and order and people’s attitude towards the same.
Yet, the media used it to portray the Modi government as being divisive. Commenting on the issue, Arvind Kejriwal tweeted:
Rijiju ji, pl don’t divide Indians into North n south Indians, Hindus n muslims. All Indians r good. It is politics that we need to improve
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) October 22, 2015
And this tweet was quoted extensively by all mainstream media houses to establish how the Union government is dividing the country along regional and religious lines. One is left wondering, how did the issue of Hindu-Muslim divide even come into the picture? Similarly, during the Dadri lynching issue, though the issue was clearly a law and order issue, which is a responsibility of the state government, the media successfully managed to put the spotlight on the central government, thanks to some senseless comments by some BJP leaders themselves. If anything, the BJP leaders can be accused for their foot in the mouth syndrome, despite of knowing how mainstream media are quite vocal about its anti-Modi, anti-BJP, and anti-Union government stand. But, that does not make PM Modi or his government divisive or hostile to certain communities. The media has repeatedly adopted its tactic of first blowing a trivial issue out of proportion and then twisting it to misguide public and portray the Union government as being anti-Dalit, anti-minority, and as against any idea of united, safe, and secure India. Worse still is the narrative that the media is carrying out, especially around sensitive issues like those of Dadri lynching that makes one wonder whether the media is a watchdog of democracy or is it promoting an agenda to bring down the Modi government by causing nationwide unrest? This is not an assessment of just this writer. Hundreds of people across the country have recognized this trend which they have expressed through the hashtag #MediaWantsRiots on Twitter. Madhu Kishwar, an Indian academic and writer expresses similar sentiments in her tweets:
Disgusting how VK Singh’s comments being deliberately distorted by media.Forget dogs, even if a mosquito is killed media puts blame on Modi — Madhu Kishwar (@madhukishwar) October 22, 2015
Becoming increasingly clear that anti Modi opposition is preparing the ground & atmospherics for large scale riots to bring down Modi govt.
— Madhu Kishwar (@madhukishwar) October 22, 2015
Let there be no mistake, the media is not being criticized for its genuine criticism of the working of the government. It is being criticized for ignoring the real issues and giving unnecessary coverage to the trivial one’s with a clear biasness in its commentary. Senior journalist Surajit Dasgupta rightly asks in his tweet:
But, the media continues to ignore all criticisms of biasness against its reportage. The criticizers have been branded as ‘pseudo-patriots’ and ‘bhakts’. It is high time to start asking the difficult questions: Is media really running anti-India agenda? Is the media abetting breaking India forces? If yes, then who is the mastermind behind this anti-government propaganda?
Thankfully, at least one public intellectual has started asking these questions.
Well being of our society seriously endangered by 24×7 news channels.Who’s masterminding these anchors into instigating fasaad over trifles?
— Madhu Kishwar (@madhukishwar) October 22, 2015
"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.