Tuesday November 21, 2017

Taxing Menstruation? GST Denies Sanitary Napkins as Essential Commodity

GST has definitely marked a cornerstone in the Indian economy, however, it has failed to recognise the basic need of a woman

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GST
Most store owners in this market say they are unprepared for the switch to the Goods and Services Tax that will unify India into a single market because they do not have computers or internet connections. VOA

– By Naina Mishra

July 3, 2017: The revised GST rate list has yet again proved to be patricentric and ignored the natural process that leads to motherhood – “Menstruation”. With levying 12% tax on sanitary napkins, it evinced that menstrual hygiene of the 355 million women is still not the concern of the policymakers. What’s intimidating is the depiction of an Indian Woman in the society. Exemption of kumkum, sindoor, bindis, alta and bangles from tax exemplifies a picture of the ideal Indian woman as a visibly married Hindu woman in India.

In India, Menstrual hygiene still remains to be the most challenging developmental issues today. Regarded as a deep taboo, menstruation is a crafted illusion of myths and misinformation and thus inherently judged as shameful, gross and weird. Women and girls often times lack access to hygienic sanitary materials necessary for good menstrual hygiene. It is estimated that over 20 percent of girls drop out of school completely after reaching puberty.

Indirect taxation is classified into essential and luxury goods, and labeling sanitary pads as the luxury item, not admitting its essential attribute in myriads of women’s life is another critique of the revised GST rate list. The arguments on taxing sanitary pads keep on mounting that the product was not inborn or domesticated in India. Cotton rags conversely can be used as an alternative if used with discretion and washed properly. However, such basis cannot deny the access to basic menstrual sanitation facility to the women.

ALSO READ: Hindu Temple Kamakhya questions the Dominant Religious Legacies against Menstrual Blood

A study by AC Nielsen titled, “sanitary Protection reveals only 12 % of India’s 355 million women use sanitary napkins. Over 88% of women resort to unsafe alternatives like un-sanitized cloth, ashes and husk sand. Incidents of Reproductive Tract Infection (RTI) are 70% more prevalent among these women. The biggest challenge to using a Sanitary Napkins in India is the affordability owing to which 88% of women use old fabric, rags or sand to manage their menstrual flow.

Lately, Delhi Commission of Women Chairperson Swati Maliwal wrote to the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley: “The better half of our population has been bestowed with the gift of motherhood and in this process, all females from the tender age of 10-12 years till 45-50 years face monthly menstruation. Since menstruation is a natural phenomenon, hygiene, and proper health during this period is a natural fundamental right of each female citizen of this country. However, sanitary napkins which are critical for the health and hygiene of millions of women are presently taxed.”

Not only this, there have been similar attempts in the past by Sushmita Dev, Member of Parliament, who launched a petition to  Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for removal of tax on sanitary napkins.

Sushmita Dev with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley concerning petition

The highlights of the petition were affordability, accessibility, and availability of sanitary napkins to the Indian women. The petition deemed the tax unfair because of the underlying fact –  women being taxed 12 months a year, for about 39 years on a process they have no control over. The petition gained three lakh supporters in its due course.

The petition was also signed by Maneka Gandhi, Union Minister for Women and Child Development.

Maneka Gandhi supporting the Tax free wings petition

She stated, “I strongly believe a tax exemption for sanitary pads will also bolster the Honourable Prime Minister’s “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” and “Swachh Bharat” initiatives. This will also encourage more girls to continue their school education and more women to participate in the workforce.”


– by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter: @Nainamishr94

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Bollywood Deewane : 5 Most Anticipated Bollywood Films of 2018

Are you a Bollywood lover? Then plan your year keeping these 5 most anticipated Bollywood films of 2018 in mind!

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5 most anticipated Bollywood films of 2018
Are you a Bollywood fanatic? Then we are sure you can wait for these movies to hit the theatres near you! Instagram

Mumbai, October 10, 2017: Where fates change every Friday, some films catch more than just attention. These are movies that you already know will make it large, even before they hit the silver screens on a scheduled Friday.

Are you a Bollywood lover? Then plan your year keeping these 5 most anticipated Bollywood films of 2018 in mind!

Make sure you don’t miss the first-day first show because we know we won’t!

 1. Chanda Mama Door Ke

After hitting the ground to play captain cool Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Sushant Singh Rajput is training hard to ‘fly high’ in a future project. For the same, the actor flew all the way to US Space and Rocket Center in Alabama, the NASA facility. But wait, what are we talking about?

India’s first space movie.

Yes, you read that right. Our very own Hindi film industry is ready to experiment with science fiction with Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan’s Chanda Mama Door Ke. The film will feature Sushant, R Madhavan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui in titular roles, who have already begun preparing for their parts as astronauts.

The film is believed to trace and celebrate the journey of the Indian space programme, putting together an authentic space odyssey and culminating with India’s first astronaut’s landing on the moon.

Rajput, who received a brief training in the technicalities of flying in a space shuttle simulator and docking the shuttle to the ISS at Alabama, has been the first Bollywood actor to train at NASA. According to reports, even Madhavan will soon undergo a similar training for his role. These details make the film one of the 5 most anticipated Bollywood films of 2018!

The film, set for release on January 26, 2018, is believed to be India’s first realistic sci-fi film and has already created ripples in the audience’s minds. Let us see how all the Indian ‘Interstellar’ fans react to our very own production.

 2. Pari

From the first looks that have been revealed, Pari seems to be everything you will not expect it to be. Anushka Sharma can be seen in a tattered, bruised look with blue eyes and a piercing gaze.

Anushka Sharma’s third production and a love story, Pari also stars Bengali actor Parambrata Chatterjee.

5 most anticipated Bollywood films of 2018
Pari is being co-produced by Anushka Sharma

“Pari’ is a fantastic story. It promises an intriguing and engaging cinematic experience for the audience”, Prernaa Arora of KriArj Entertainment, the co-producers of the film, had shared in a previous interview.

Not much has been revealed about the film as of now, other than Anushka’s look that is going to haunt you for a long time. We think the silence around the film is doing great for the project, keeping people guessing and adding on to the eerie factor.

The film has been scheduled for a nationwide release on February 9, 2018.

  3. Sanjay Dutt Biopic

Sanju Baba’s biopic featuring Ranbir Kapoor is undoubtedly the most anticipated movies of 2018. Directed by Rajkumar Hirani, the film will depict the journey of Bollywood’s most loved Munna in a way like never before.

A star kid, a heartthrob, a drug addict and then his conviction for his illegal possession of arms – Sanjay Dutt’s life has been no less than a Bollywood masala film. Now the story is all set to make it to the big screen and fans can’t wait!

The film also stars Paresh Rawal, Manisha Koirala (who will be playing Dutt’s parents), Dia Mirza (believed to be playing the role of his wife Maanyata) and Tabu in lead roles.

According to the rumors doing the rounds, the film is allegedly titled ‘Sanju’, which has been Sanjay Dutt’s nickname for quite a while now, with all his friends, family and fans alike addressing him like that.

The film is set to release on March 30, 2018.

 

4. Padman

After popularizing the need to build toilets and maintaining healthy sanitation habits, Akshay Kumar has another motive in life. In his next film, he touches an extremely sensitive topic- menstruation.

Was that an amused eyebrow raise I saw?

5 most anticipated Bollywood films of 2018
Akshay Kumar in and as the Padman. Instagram

In Padman, Akshay plays the role of a Tamil Nadu based social activist, Arunachalam Muruganantham, the magician who turned around the face of menstrual hygiene in rural India by devising a low-cost sanitary napkin machine.

Directed by R Balki of Paa-fame, the film also stars Sonam Kapoor and Radhika Apte.

Padman will hit theatres on April 13, 2018.

 5. Kedarnath

“Ours is a love story, parts of which have been shot in the temple where Shiv and Parvati met – the Triyuginarayan Temple” said Arjun Kapoor in a previous interview to a leading portal.

The first released motion poster of the film carries the tagline ‘Love is a pilgrimage’. A simple love story between a tourist and a travel guide. Wait, that can’t be all there is to the story?

Well, we don’t know for now. But from the looks of it, and the buzz that the film has already created, it seems like the production is going to win hearts big time.

And did we tell you about Sara Ali Khan’s enchanting look in the film? Bollywood Nawab Saif Ali Khan’s little daughter with his first wife actress Amrita Singh marks her debut opposite Sushant Singh Rajput in Kedarnath.

Kedarnath is scheduled to release in June 2018.

– prepared by Soha Kala of NewsGram. Twitter : SohaKala

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70 Years of Independence But No Right to Live With Dignity for Women: National Commission for Women Data

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Right to live with dignity
Indian students shout slogans as they hold placards demanding stringent punishment for rapists during a protest in New Delhi, India, April, 23, 2013. VOA
Oct 3, 2017: India completes 70 years of Independence, yet women of the country fight for their ‘right to live with dignity’. Our women are still not free from the clutches of societal customs. According to the media reports (2016-17), the National Commission for Women (NCW) received maximum complaints under this category, ahead of rape or molestation.
The NCW is a statutory body appointed to safeguard women’s rights. The highest number of complaints registered by NCW were 4,373 under the ‘right to live with dignity,’ followed by dowry harassment (1,752), disrespecting the modesty of a woman (946) and violence against women (943), reported IndiaTimes.
“The NCW is founded upon the recognition that in a patriarchal society, women face a far greater degree of vulnerability and, hence, any effort to reform any law cannot go against this well-evidenced fact and reality and now argue that men are equally if not more vulnerable than women,” All India Progressive Women’s Association secretary Kavita Krishnan said, reported PTI.
Many a times police personals ask women inappropriate and insensitive questions during investigations. It is startling to see that NCW department has registered 3,963 complaints of police apathy, which also top the cases of molestation or dowry.
Often women are compelled to marry against their choice. Indian women grapple with the right to choice in marriage and forceful arranged marriages that dominate consensual marriages in the Indian society. NCW received 337 complaints about women wanting the right to choose their own spouses.

In the famous conflict between Maneka Gandhi and Union of India, she challenged her impounded passport in the apex court. Maneka was issued a passport on 1976, and within a week, the same was impounded because of the public interest. A writ petition was filed with the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court of India gave a new light to Article 21 (III) by demonstrating that the right to live is not merely a physical right but encompasses the right to live with dignity as well.
As per the Article 21 of Indian Constitution:
No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law.

Prepared by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter @Nainamishr94

 

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Delhi University hostels bar Girls from stepping out on Holi

DU's International Student House for Women (ISHW) has stated that they came to this decision considering "the best interest of residents"

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Girls hostel (representative image),, Wikimedia

New Delhi, March 12, 2017:  Two hostels for girls under Delhi University have barred the boarders from going out on Holi, drawing sharp and immediate reactions from students who termed this step as “arbitrary”.

DU’s International Student House for Women (ISHW) has stated that they came to this decision considering “the best interest of residents”.

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According to the ISHW notice, “Residents and female guests will not be allowed to leave or enter the premises from 9 PM on March 12 till 6 PM on March 13. No late night permission will be granted on March 12 and those desirous of playing Holi should go outside the residential block within the hostel premises.”

According to PTI reports, a similar notice has been issued by Meghdoot Hostel, informing its residents that “the main gate will remain closed from 6 AM to 5.30 PM on March 13”. The inmates have also been barred from consuming “any narcotic drugs in form of thandai” and has also advised the students not to return to the hostel late in the evening of March 12.

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According to the statement of Pinjra Tod, a group of students who have been rallying against discriminatory rules for girls in university hostels, “The rise in sexual violence and harassment that women experience on the streets around Holi is barely addressed and instead once again, women are locked up for their own safety and arbitrary restrictions are imposed on their mobility.”

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Last week the group had protested outside the office of the Women and Child Development Ministry because of their objection to the statement by its minister Maneka Gandhi advocating curfew for the school and college students living in hostels-both boys and girls- to keep them away from their “own hormonal outbursts”.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang