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August 15, 2016:
This day, in 1947, marked the birth of a democratic and free nation. The historic day for Indians who were liberated from the clutches of 200-year-old British Raj. Today, India celebrates its 70th Independence Day amid monsoon showers, Olympic fever and Kashmir unrest. Even amid such tension, the patriotic fervour and zeal of celebrating independence day among Indians have not lost its way!
Instead of peace, communal violence rules two nations. The Partition of Hindustan into two nations- India and Pakistan were the outcome of pure communal politics, and the atmosphere of tension between the two is evident even today. A report suggests that more than 15 million people migrated from across the borders, and communal riots made it the biggest and the most torturous human resettlement ever.
The love-hate relationship between India and Pakistan ever since has taken an ugly and bitter turn with the increase of terrorism, the emergence of ISIS and Taliban, and Love Jihad.
It is for the first time that the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi has gone vocal about the terrorism spread by the neighbouring state and has promised to the fellow Indians that he won’t take the issue of India’s security lightly— be it the face of terrorism or the Kashmir narrative. With numerous preventive measures and some multi-national alliances with other countries— especially with Barack Obama and his government, PM Modi has been taking huge steps towards eradicating violence.
I. United we stand: PM Modi began the quest for a united battle against terrorism at the East Asia Summit, Kuala Lumpur in 2015. There needs to be a global solution to combat violence of any sort, especially terrorism and therefore this year, Modi has gone vocal about the international terrorism being spread by the neighbouring country.
II. Combating ISIS: The ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ is not only limited to cleaning all garbage from the country but ironically plans to clean all terrorism and let peace prevail around. Due to UPA’s reluctance, following are the ISI agents who were arrested or executed:
a) Traitors named Irshad Ansari, son Asfaq and brother-in-law Mohammad Jahan were ISI agents arrested from Bengal, who had alleged connections with Trinamool Congress.
b) Confidential information of the Indian Army had been sent to Pakistan by ISI agent Mohammad Kalam. He stayed in Bareilly since 2014 and was regularly paid ₹ 50,000 by ISI.
c) Ranjit, a former IAF officer, was accused and arrested for providing Pakistani intelligence ISI with vital information.
d) BSF officer Abdul Rasheed was arrested along with an ISI agent for cross-border transmission of confidential information.
3. “When terrorism is on the rise across the world and when we are encircled by terrorism sponsored by the neighbouring country, we will have to be united in this fight. The government expects constructive support from all opposition parties on this.” says Modi on the issue of the Kashmir turmoil. In an all-party press conference speech in J&K on August 12, Modi has spoken on a zero-tolerance proposal on terrorism and Pakistan— that all consecutive violent terrorist activities in the Kashmir Valley are sponsored and ignited by cross-border enmity. Addressing the unrest in Jammu & Kashmir is the urgent need, but not at the cost of the nation’s integrity, says the Indian Prime Minister. The Central government has forwarded an amount of ₹ 80,000 crores to the state government for the re-development of Jammu & Kashmir. Also, in an attempt to increase employment in the Valley, a huge recruitment drive is also planned to be conducted by the Central Government.
In a reaction to Modi’s speech on PoK (Pak occupied Kashmir) and Balochistan’s issues, the Indian Diaspora now feels a ‘sense of belongingness’ says external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.
IV. Peace in Nagaland: India is finding difficulties with Hindus (and especially Dalits) converting to Islam and walking the path of terrorism. In an attempt to achieve peace, Modi govt. signed the historic peace treaty with Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland in order to maintain normalcy in north-east India.
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Terrorism is an alarming concern for the entire world, but India as a developing nation is ready to fight with all these issues and rise above them. Nearly 70 years after gaining independence, India has been prospering at high paces. Let us read some of the greatest achievements of India since its independence:
i. Right to Vote: India as the largest democracy has given rights to every adult to vote, and this was implemented from the first day of gaining independence. In the United States, this right was given nearly after 150 years of independence.
ii. Combining the Union: Independence brought partition but also the merging of all princely states into the Union of India, 560 to be precise. All of the acquisition was done without any bloodshed.
iii. Multi-lingual state: India has over 29 active languages and 1,650 dialects, making it the only country with the maximum number of languages spoken. Whereas in comparison, Canada has only English and French since the 1960s.
iv. Empowering Goddesses: Ever since 1947, women have begun to be given equal rights and opportunities to grow and sustain themselves. India is the largest in number to ha e women elected in politics, especially as panchayats in villages. It is also the first country to appoint a woman (Pratibha Patil, the 12th President of India) as the head of State. Considering the state of affairs, Sucheta Kriplani was the very first woman chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in 1963. Following four states have women chief ministers:
a) West Bengal- Mamata Banerjee
b) Rajasthan- Vasundhara Raje
c) Tamil Nadu- J Jayalalitha
d) Gujarat- Anandiben Patel
v. Labour-free childhood: In an attempt to develop socio-economic scenarios in India, literacy has been highly focused on. From merely 12% in 1947 to 74.04% in 2011, the literacy rate in India has increased at a whopping pace.
Mid-day meals are an additional attempt towards achieving the goal which serves 120 million school children, making it the world’s biggest school lunch programme.
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vi. Freedom from Polio: India got Polio affectation rate down to zero since the last polio case was reported in January 2011, in West Bengal. After 20 years of battling the disease nationally, WHO has declared India as a polio-free nation.
vii. Green Revolution of the 1960s: India, before the revolution, suffered from food scarcity and began importing food and grains from foreign. Frequent famines like the Bengal famine of 1943 and others could not be sufficed by the agricultural production in the nation itself. The idea of Green Revolution eradicated this issue by increasing agriculture in Punjab and Haryana by using insecticides, pesticides, improving agricultural infrastructure and bringing land reforms.
viii. Proud Indians: The list is endless and the Nobel Prize recipients and holders like Rabindranath Tagore, Mother Teresa, Dr. Hargobind Khorana, economist Amartya Sen, Indian origin novelist VS Naipaul are the ones, that Indians know by heart but this year in 2016, Kailash Satyarthi’s name has also been added to the pages of history for his incredible work to end child slavery and protect child rights. He is the fifth Nobel Prize winner for India and the second Indian winner of the Nobel Peace Prize after Mother Teresa.
ix. Non-Alignment: This was a major step taken to prevent World War- III. The world was split up in binaries of US and the Soviet Union, where India chose to be non-aligned in the Cold War.
x. Indian Diaspora: Indians constitute the world’s second largest Diaspora community across the world, with more than 20 million. They majorly reside in the United States, UAE, Canada and UK, contributing greatly to each country’s economic and socio-cultural stability.
xi. The United Nations and India: India has played a crucial role in supporting the objectives of U.N.O like the fight against apartheid and disintegrating colonisation. Various eminent personalities have also held positions in the United Nations, like Mrs. Vijaylakshmi Pandit who was the General Assembly’s President at United Nations.
India is, and will always remain the biggest democracy and is one of the most flourishing nations— rich in culture and heritage, knowledge and intelligence, with the world’s strongest army and even stronger citizens.
Happy Independence Day to all!
– prepared by Chetna Karnani at NewsGram. Twitter: @karnani_chetna
"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.