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Archives for : July2017

MCD teaches a cow-concerned citizen e-cow-nomics

MCD: (To remove a dead cow) you need to get a ‘No Objection Certificate’ from the local Gau Rakshak Dal leader, duly attested by the panchayat head or district magistrate as well as the local police chief

Phone rings.
MCD: Haallo?
Ram: Haan hello, there is a dead cow lying outside our house — can you please come and remove it?
MCD: Are you sure it’s a cow?
Ram: What?
MCD: Are you sure it’s a cow – not a horse, or goat?
Ram: Well, looks like a cow, has two horns, an udder…
MCD: Forget all that. Does it have a Cowdhaar bar code on its ear?
Ram: A what?
MCD: A Cowdhaar bar code. Just as your Aadhaar card has biometric information, every registered cow is now required to have a bar code attached to its ear that contains all relevant details.
Ram: ‘Wait, let me check — no I can’t see any bar code.
MCD: An unregistered cow — that’s going to be a problem.
Ram: Is there something I can do — I don’t want it lying outside the house?
MCD: You need to get a ‘No Objection Certificate’ from the local Gau Rakshak Dal leader, duly attested by the panchayat head or district magistrate as well as the local police chief.
Ram: Why do I need that?
MCD: You don’t, Sahib, but I do. See, if I take away a cow that does not have a valid Cowdhaar code, then someone later can claim it was taken illegally. And the Gau Rakshaks will not spare me.
Ram: I don’t even know there was a local Gau Rakshak dal — how do I get hold of them?
MCD: Dial 1800 Gau Mata — they will assist you.
Ram: Okay, then you will come to pick up the cow?
MCD: Sure, as long as you have the death certificate.
Ram: For a cow? Who will give me a death certificate from a cow?
MCD: Any licensed Gau-ne-cow-logist, with a Hindu priest as a witness.
Ram: What’s a Gau-ne-cow-logist?
MCD: A doctor who specialises in bovine medicine — it’s the latest field of study in our medical schools. With over 180 million potential patients, whose lives are all very valuable to society, there is a lot of money to be made!
Ram: Ok, so NoC, followed by death certificate — then you pick up the cow?
MCD: We need a release form from the district animal welfare unit — basically that the cow is not someone else’s property and that you have the right to ask me to take it away.
Ram: But it’s dead!!
MCD: And that makes it even more important — if it were a live cow, would you even be calling me?
Ram: No, but this is ridiculous — how long will it take to get the release form?
MCD: It depends, some animal welfare officers require you to place the ad for 14 days, others for an entire month.
Ram: An ad??? What kind of ad?
MCD: Basically like a missing person’s ad — you place it in two local papers, one English and one vernacular — asking if anyone has claim to the cow. Take a picture of the cow and submit it along with any identification marks.
Ram: But in 14 days, the carcass would rot completely — what’s the point of your coming then?
MCD: The point is that we need to follow the rules and regulations so that everyone’s interest is protected — especially that of the cow!
Ram: This is ludicrous. You know what, I’m just going to get a few people and pick it up myself and move it.
MCD: I would strongly advise you against doing that.
Ram: Why — who’s going to stop me?
MCD: Your local Gau Rakshak Dal, for one — all calls to this number are being recorded. So the fact that you have a dead cow at your house is already known to the various authorities, and they will expect you to contact them for the relevant forms. And fees.
Ram: Fees?
MCD: Of course — do you think the NoC, death certificate etc. come for free? It will cost you Rs.5000-25,000 rupees by the time you’re done.
Ram: That’s extortion!
MCD: No, just the new e-cow-nomics!

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My Young Neighbour is OK With Junaid’s Killing. What Do I Tell Him?

  • In the Name of Junaid?

    Sandhya Gokhale

    “Fear of intrusion by the Other is what drives our individual and collective life, politics, our reactions to the acts of terror…”


    Image Courtesy: Sandhya Gokhale


    “Why are you mourning Junaid’s death?” the boy next door was asking me.

    Was he asking for an explanation of my act of mourning or a narration of Junaid’s death? I was perplexed.  Assuming it was the latter I directed his eyes to a headline in the newspaper. “Oh that recent train killing?” The ease in his tone was chilling. “I’m sure those brothers must have done something wrong. ungali ki hogi, to hum chup baithe kya? Unko lagta hai saari duniya mein aatankwad phaila rahe hain to Bharat me bhi kar payenge. Hum gaumata ka dudh peete hein, yahaan khaate nahi usko… mundi neeche kar hi chalnaa hoga yahaan  rahana hai toh!

    I was speechless with this onslaught of words. Each sentence was loaded with prejudice, and hatred, endorsing the stark divide between “him” as a gaumata-ka-dudh peeta beta and “them”’ as the Pakis / the terrorists / the beef eaters. His phallic words spread a wide fault-line on the other side of which I saw him closing his house door behind him.

    In a fraction of a second, all my fond memories of him flashed before me – him crawling through the corridor between our two houses… feeding him when his hand was in a plaster… giving him my heartfelt blessings before his exams… gifting him Thoreau’s Life Without Principle just last year on his 21st birthday.

    The next second my mind went blank. I felt numb. How was I so completely oblivious to this aspect of his being? Had he been harboring this venom all through our interactions and never spelt it out? Had he grown up conditioned to think these thoughts or was he converted at some stage? Has his world been so monochromatic? Why didn’t he share all these thoughts with me? Probably he never gathered the courage to… But then, why did he spell it out now? Was he suddenly feeling empowered to face me? I heard Freud’s murmur in my ears, “a neighbour is a traumatic intruder.”

    When I was young, I was told that the perpetrators of heinous acts were evil people and even embracing such thoughts was monstrous. But this boy is not an archetypal monster. The attackers of Junaid were not monsters either; they were just ordinary train passengers like him and me. What is entrenched in us as humans – the violence or being away from it? It was a moment of revelation for me when I realised that he was who I was not… or maybe he is who he is because of me who he is not!

    This incident reminded me of a famous anecdote. A German officer visited Picasso in his Paris studio during the Second World War. There he saw Guernica. Shocked with that chaotic modernist painting, he asked, “Did you do this?” Promptly Picasso replied, “No, you did this!” Today, the dichotomy between the ruling majority and the ruled minority is facing this unary: ‘p and not p’. But are these two worlds based on empirically verified numerical truths or merely perceived truths? The underlying thread that actually binds this divide has always been one of violence. The violence implicit in the classical binary of the oppressed and the oppressors based on the combinations of caste, power, wealth, gender etc., operates vertically. There is an inherent or adopted hierarchy which dominates and gears the violent motions. But in the present scenario, the motion is horizontal, and horizontally manifesting the cultural violence. My neighbour and I too are the participants of this violent frenzy – he as a participant or “who he is” with his set of thoughts, and I as a bystander or a protester standing in negation of “who he is not”.

    Why is everyone feeling so restless? What has gone wrong? Why are we feeling as if one is trapped in the eye of a storm? History has recorded enormous wars, ethnic cleansing of millions between 9th and 7th centuries B.C., the Nazi Holocaust’s annihilation of six million Jews, gypsies and homosexuals, the Turkish massacre of Armenians, the Pol Pot killings, the genocide in Rwanda and former Yugoslavia, the bloodbath in the Arab world, the riots during the Partition of India, and many more such examples of insanity. Now when the destruction of Khajuraho is an immediate and present danger, the painful fate of Bamiyan Buddha has hit us hard. Now that the present phenomenon of mass frenzy is at our doorstep, the outburst of my neighbour can well be contextualised in the frameworks articulated by Zizek and Galtung.

    In his book Violence: Six Sideways Reflections, Slavoj Zizek has elaborated a politics of fear in relation to his concept of the “Neighbour” – that is to say “fear of neighbour is the ultimate cause of violence”.  The neighbour is accepted and accommodated only so far as the “Other” does not intrude upon, and remains at a nuisance-free distance. Fear of intrusion by the Other is what drives our individual and collective life, politics, our reactions to the acts of terror, and our responses to the Other. In this sense the Other is, in actuality, ones enemy. Our lack of respect for the Other, particularly the vulnerable Other, leads our blindness to contradictions in justifying our heinous, torturous acts even when it abrogates the ethics which the communities abide by for centuries.

    Zizek further articulated the difference between subjective, objective and symbolic violence. Subjective violence describes physical acts of violence: lynching, shootings, riots, wars. Objective violence is systemic violence that creates the conditions for the manifestation of subjective violence. Objective violence describes the inherent violence of a system, not only the threat of physical violence but also “the more subtle forms of coercion that sustain relations of domination and exploitation”. We assess an act of violence, against a presupposed standard of what the “normal” non-violent situation is. Symbolic violence camouflages the systemic violence through language; it masks its own trace, maintaining an implicit presence of the objective violence while engineering the social reality. In fact, Social Media is a form of symbolic violence that creates, structures and regulates the collective discourse. Language, through certain coined terms like “presstitutes”, “deshdrohi”, “anti-national”, “traitor”, “boat people” or, “refugees”, by itself creates an atmosphere of unrest and symbolic violence. Such terms define and alienate the Other while drawing the entire ambience of persons who are dissenting with the popular ideology, or are keeping independent minds or are running away from their country seeking asylum in another country and who are intruders or trespassers. Such terms place the so-labelled subjects in a political sphere and outside of the cultural domain stripping them of any sympathy, civilian protection or dignity. This in turn provides the necessary justification to be violent towards them. This symbolic violence of condemnation or the objective violence of authoritarian control thus perpetrate the systemic violence which in turn circulate the air of symbolic and subjective violence.

    The pathology of violence has also been dissected by Johan Galtung (a Norwegian peace theorist) in terms of direct, cultural and structural violence. By “structural violence” he meant a situation “when human beings are being influenced so that their actual somatic and mental realisations are below their potential realisations i.e., the systematic constraint on human potential due to economic and political structures.” By “cultural violence” he implied those aspects of culture, the symbolic sphere of our existence reflected through religion and ideology, language and art that can be used to justify or legitimise direct or structural violence. Military parades, large cut-outs of the Leader, inflammatory speeches, labels or symbols like cows, flags, national anthems are all forms of cultural violence which makes use of violence look or feel right or even legitimises that use, or at least help perceive it as “not wrong”. Galtung further analyses, “One way cultural violence works is by changing the moral color of an act from red / wrong to green / right or at least to yellow / acceptable. Another way is by making reality opaque so that we do not see the violent act or fact or at least not as violent. These ways impend consciousness formation and mobilisation, two conditions for effective struggle against exploitation. Penetration, implanting the top dog inside the underdog so to speak, combined with segmentation, giving the underdog only a very partial view of what goes on, will do the first job. Marginalisation, keeping the underdogs on the outside, combined with fragmentation, keeping the underdogs away from each other, will do the second job.”

    While explaining the impact of all three forms of violence on the social reality, Galtung has used an apt analogy of an earthquake.  Direct violence is a visible event like the earthquake, structural violence is an invisible process like the movement of tectonic plates, and cultural violence is an invariant like the fault line.

    Every time my handsome cat Schrodinger urinates in his litter box, the sand gets clumped into hard blocks which I can easily scoop out in order to ensure a hygienic environment. The venom spat out by my boy next door forced me to place those violent clumps into a proper perspective. I have realised that this process of cleansing is not going to be easy. The toxin is pervasive. It cannot be scooped out. This cumulative scourge in the form of violence and the willful blindness of the majority has set the fault line wide and deep. I cannot assess at this point what is more perilous – the ideological normalisation of violence or the marginal outcry against it?

    The boy has already closed his door behind himself. What shall I do? Shall I find him through the void stretched all along the corridor that once connected him with me? Or shall I just turn the knob, walk in and close my door as well? What shall I do in the name of Junaid?

    Sandhya Gokhale is a lawyer and a filmmaker.

    This article was originally published on Indian Cultural Forum.

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Ballabhgarh lynching: Man who allegedly stabbed Junaid held in Maharashtra

NEW DELHI: The Haryana police on Saturday afternoon arrested the man, who allegedly stabbed 17-year-old Junaid Khan on a local train near Ballabhgarh a few days before Eid, in Maharashtra’s Dhule district.

The accused, Naresh (28), a daily wager, used to travel to Delhi in search of work. Police said he had been hiding in the Sakri locality in Dhule district, 156km from Nashik, for the past two weeks. “The Haryana police had strong information about the accused living at his relative’s house in Sakri. They came, picked up the accused and took him with them,” said M Ram Kumar, Dhule SP.

Junaid’s murder on June 22 had triggered a nationwide outrage. Police claim Naresh has confessed to killing the teenager. “We are yet to recover the murder weapon. The accused was produced in a court in Dhule and is being brought to Faridabad for further interrogation,” said S P (Haryana GRP) Kamaldeep Goel.

The accused told police that he was a resident of Faridabad. He used to work as a security guard but lost the job after some time. He was looking for work and would come to Delhi on a daily basis. He was a regular commuter of the local train on which he had an argument with Junaid and his brothers, Haseem and Shaqir.

However, Haseem told police even after the matter was resolved, Naresh and three others followed them to the next compartment and heaped communal slurs on them.

Junaid and his brothers as well as the accused boarded the train at Ballabgarh station. It was Haseem who identified Naresh and helped cops prepare his sketch. One of the three youths was identified as a factory worker in Asaoti. He had heard Haseem mention Asaoti while speaking over phone and had called his friends to the station to assist him. He took advantage of the commotion when Junaid was being taken out of the train by his brothers and fled on a bike.

CCTV footage recovered from Asaoti showed Naresh sitting pillion with two others on a motorcycle. Cops are scanning the records of the local transport authority and showrooms. About 1,000 bikes are on police radar. Efforts are on to track the three youths.

Meanwhile, the four accused arrested earlier in connection with the murder, were remanded in a two-day police custody. Police may take a ride on the fifth coach of train number 64904—from Okhla to Asaoti—to reconstruct the sequence of events.

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एक सदी पहले मशाल की तरह जलने वाली रुक़ैया

रुक़ैयाइमेज कॉपीरइटNASIRUDDIN

… हम सुनते हैं कि धरती से ग़ुलामी का निज़ाम ख़त्म हो गया है लेकिन क्या हमारी ग़ुलामी ख़त्म हो गई है? नहीं न. तो हम दासी क्यों हैं?

… हम समाज का आधा हिस्‍सा हैं, हमारे गिरे-पड़े रहने से समाज त‍रक़्क़ी कैसे करेगा?

… हमारी अवनति के लिए कौन दोषी है?

ये सवाल आज की कोई स्‍त्री नहीं पूछ रही है. ये तो लगभग 115 साल पहले एक स्‍त्री द्वारा पूछे गए सवाल हैं. हालांकि, अगर 21वीं सदी में यह सवाल मौज़ूँ लग रहे हैं तो इसका मतलब है कि 20वीं सदी के मुक़ाबले स्‍त्री की हालत में बड़ा इंक़लाबी बदलाव नहीं आया है.

बंगाल में रुक़ैया ने महिला शिक्षा की तस्वीर सुधारने के लिए जो किया वो मिसाल है

ख़ास तौर पर सामाजिक और घर के घेरे में उनकी हैसियत, एक सीमा से आगे नहीं बढ़ पाई है. उस स्‍त्री ने उस वक्‍त पूछा था, ‘बीसवीं शताब्‍दी के, इस तहज़ीबयाफ्ता समाज में हमारी हैसियत, क्‍या है’. यह सवाल तो आज की लड़की भी बड़ी आसानी से पूछ सकती है. है न!

हम सब की पुरखिन

हम जिस स्‍त्री की बात यहां कर रहे हैं, उनका नाम रुक़ैया है. वैसे, क्‍या हम उनके बारे में जानते हैं? जानते हैं, तो क्‍या? हिन्‍दी पट्टी में तो नहीं, लेकिन इस पार और उस पार के बंगाल में रुक़ैया एक मक़बूल नाम हैं.

रुक़ैया बेग़म की मूर्तिइमेज कॉपीरइटNASIRUDDIN
Image captionबांग्लादेश के रंगपुरा ज़िला में रुक़ैया की मूर्ति स्थापित है

बेहतरीन इंसान, लड़कियों/स्त्रियों की प्रेरणा, अदब की दुनिया में अलग पहचान बनाने वाली, स्‍त्री के हक़ में आवाज़ उठाने वाली, मुसलमान लड़कियों की तालीम के लिए अपना तन-मन-धन लगा देने वाली, महिलाओं को एकजुट कर संगठन बनाने वाली, समाज सुधार के लिए जि़ंदगी देने वाली … रुक़ैया की पहचान इन सब शक्‍लों में है.


रुक़ैया की पैदाइश सन 1880 में उत्‍तरी बंगाल में रंगपुर ज़िला के पैराबंद इलाके में हुई थी. उनके पिता ज़हीरुद्दीन मोहम्‍मद अबू अली होसेन साबेर इलाके के जमींदार थे. उनकी मां का नाम राहेतुन्निसा साबेरा चौधरानी था. यह इलाका भले ही अब बांग्‍लादेश में चला गया हो लेकिन रुक़ैया तो हम सब की पुरखिन हैं.

भाई ने बहन को छिप-छिप कर पढ़ाया

रुक़ैया जब पैदा हुईं तो बंगाल के मुसलमान मर्दों के बीच स्‍कूली पढ़ाई शुरू हो गई थी. मगर तालीम की रोशनी घर के घेरे में बंद स्त्रियों तक नहीं पहुंची थी. बंगाल के अमीर मुसलमान घरों में स्त्रियों को सिर्फ़ मज़हबी तालीम दी जाती थी.

इस तालीम का दायरा भी क़ुरान तक सिमटा था. बहुत हुआ, तो कुछ घरों में उर्दू पढ़ना सिखा दिया जाता था. लिखना नहीं. बांग्‍ला या अंग्रेजी की पढ़ाई का तो सवाल ही नहीं था.

रुक़ैयाइमेज कॉपीरइटNASIRUDDIN
Image captionरुक़ैया कr ख़ानदानी हवेली के अब खण्‍डहर ही बचे हैं. यही कहीं किसी कोने में रुक़ैया को उसके बड़े भाई सबकी नजरों से छिपा कर पढ़ाया करते थे.

रुक़ैया के दो भाई कोलकाता में पढ़ाई कर रहे थे. बड़ी बहन को भी पढ़ने का शौक़ था. बड़े भाई ने रुक़ैया को घर के बड़ों से छिप-छिप कर अंग्रेजी, बांग्‍ला और उर्दू पढ़ाई.

रुक़ैया लिखती हैं, ‘बालिका विद्यालय या स्‍कूल-कॉलेज के अंदर मैंने कभी प्रवेश नहीं किया. केवल बड़े भाई के ज़बरदस्‍त प्‍यार और मेहरबानी की वजह से मैं लिखना पढ़ना सीख पाई.’

पढ़ाई की वजह से इनका काफ़ी मज़ाक उड़ाया गया. ताने दिए गए. मगर न तो वे और न ही उनके भाई पीछे हटे. इसलिए रुक़ैया अपने इल्‍मी और‍ दिमाग़ी वजूद के लिए बार-बार बड़े भाई को याद करती हैं.

सख़ावत हुसैन का साथ

रुक़ैया का मिज़ाज और उसका रुझान बड़े भाई समझ रहे थे. उन्‍हें उसके लिए ऐसे साथी की तलाश थी, जो रुक़ैया को घेरे में क़ैद करके न रख दे. उसकी सोच पर पर्दा न डाले.

सख़ावत मेमोरियल स्कूलइमेज कॉपीरइटNASIRUDDIN
Image captionरुक़ैया द्वारा 1911 में कायम सख़ावत मेमोरियल गर्ल्‍स स्‍कूल कोलकाता में आज भी चल रहा है.

उन्‍हें अंग्रेज़ सरकार में अफ़सर सख़ावत हुसैन मिले. वे रुक़ैया से उम्र में काफी बड़े थे. लेकिन भाई को लगा कि रुक़ैया के लिए यह इंसान बेहतर साथी साबित होगा. सख़ावत हुसैन, बिहार के भागलपुर के रहने वाले थे. वे पढ़े-लिखे, ज़हीन और तरक़्क़ीपसंद इंसान थे.

सन 1898 में रुक़ैया और सखावत हुसैन की शादी हो गई. दोनों का साथ लगभग 14 साल का है. सखावत हुसैन की मौत 1909 में होती है. उनकी मौत तक रुक़ैया का ज्‍यादातर वक़्त भागलपुर में ही गुज़रा. यही वह दौर है, जब रुक़ैया लिखना शुरू करती हैं और ख़ूब लिखती हैं.

मर्दाना निज़ाम पर सवाल

जब स्त्रियां पढ़ती हैं, सोचती हैं और लिखने लगती हैं तो वे उन बातों पर भी सवाल उठाने से क़तई गुरेज़ नहीं करतीं, जिनकी बुनियाद पर गैरबराबरियों से भरा मर्दाना निज़ाम टिका है.

रुक़ैया भी 22-23 साल की होते-होते अपने लिखे से समाज से सवाल-जवाब करने लगी. उनके लिखे पर लोगों की नज़र ठहरने लगी … और देखते-देखते बांग्‍ला अदब की दुनिया में जाना-माना नाम हो गईं.

वे अब रुक़ैया सख़ावत हुसैन या आरएस होसैन थीं. उनकी एकदम शुरुआत की एक मशहूर रचना है- ‘स्‍त्रीजातिर अबोनीति’ यानी स्‍त्री जाति की अवनति.

ऊपर के सवाल इसी रचना से हैं. इस रचना के ज़रिए वे अपनी जाति यानी स्त्रियों से मुख़ातिब हैं. वे स्त्रियों की ख़राब और गिरी हुई सामाजिक हालत की वजह तलाशने की कोशिश करती हैं. उन्‍हें अपनी हालत पर सोचने के लिए उकसाती हैं.

स्‍त्री क्‍यों गुलाम हुई

कोलकाता का स्कूलइमेज कॉपीरइटNASIRUDDIN
Image captionरुक़ैया द्वारा 1911 में कायम सख़ावत मेमोरियल गर्ल्‍स स्‍कूल कोलकाता में आज भी चल रहा है. इसकी गिनती लड़कियों के अच्‍छे स्‍कूलों में होती है.

वह लिखती हैं, ‘सुविधा-सहूलियत, न मिलने की वजह से, स्त्री जाति दुनिया में सभी तरह के काम से दूर होने लगीं. और इन लोगों को, इस तरह ना़क़ाबिल और बेकार देखकर, पुरुष जाति ने धीरे-धीरे, इनकी मदद करनी शुरू कर दी.

‘जैसे-जैसे, मर्दों की तऱफ से, जितनी ज़्यादा मदद मिलने लगी, वैसे-वैसे, स्त्री जाति, ज़्यादातर बेकार होने लगी. हमारी ख़ुद्दारी भी ख़त्म हो गई. हमें भी दान ग्रहण करने में किसी तरह की लाज-शर्म का अहसास नहीं होता. इस तरह हम अपने आलसीपन के ग़ुलाम हो गए. ‘

‘मगर असलियत में हम मर्दों के ग़ुलाम हो गए. और हम ज़माने से मर्दों की ग़ुलामी और फरमाबरदारी करते-करते अब ग़ुलामी के आदी हो चुके हैं…’ रुक़ैया स्त्रियों की गिरी हुई हालत और उनकी ग़ुलाम स्थिति की वजह तलाशती हैं.’

बंगाल के इलाके की मुस्लिम स्त्रियों के लिए रुक़ैया राममोहन राय और विद्यासागर से कम नहीं हैं.

आज भले ही यह सब हमें नया न लगता हो पर सौ साल पहले ऐसा सोचना वाकई अनूठी चीज़ थी. ध्‍यान रहे, गैरबराबरी बताने के लिए उस वक्‍त जेण्‍डर जैसा लफ़्ज़ या विचार वजूद में नहीं आया था.

जहाँ पुरुष, मर्दाना के अंदर पर्दे में

रुक़ैया की एक मशहूर कहानी है- सुलतानाज़ ड्रीम यानी सुलताना का ख्‍़वाब. यह अंग्रेज़ी में लिखी गई थी. इसलिए बांग्‍ला पट्टी से बाहर, रु़क़ैया इसी रचना की वजह से जानी गईं. रुक़ैया ने बाद में ख़ुद ही इसका बांग्‍ला में थोड़े-बहुत संशोधन के साथ तर्जुमा किया.

यह एक ऐसे लोक की कथा कहती है, जो हमारे जैसा नहीं है. यहां ज़नाना नहीं, बल्कि मर्दाना है. यानी मर्द घर के घेरे में पर्दे के अंदर रहते हैं. इस देश की कमान स्‍त्री के हाथ में है. यहां लड़कियों की अलग यूनि‍वर्सिटी हैं. स्त्रियों ने सूरज की ता़कत का इस्तेमाल करना सीख लिया है.

रुक़ैया का स्कूलइमेज कॉपीरइटNASIRUDDIN
Image caption1932 तक यह स्कूल रुक़ैया हुसैन की निगरानी में चला है. हालांकि यहां रुक़ैया की कोई भी चीज़ नहीं मिलती है.

वे बादलों से अपने हिसाब से पानी लेती हैं. वे हथियार जमा नहीं करती हैं. पर्यावरण का ख़्याल रखती हैं. आने जाने के लिए हवाई साधन का इस्तेमाल करती हैं. और तो और यहां मौत की सज़ा भी नहीं दी जाती है.

यह कहानी कई चीजों का अद्भुत संगम है. यह विज्ञान कथा है. स्त्री विमर्श की दस्तावेज़ है. नारीवादी कल्पनालोक की कथा है. सबसे बढ़कर यह एक अहिंसक, क़ुदरत से जीवंत रिश्‍ता बनाकर रखने वाले समाज का अक्‍स है.

ध्‍यान रहे, यह कहानी 1905 में मद्रास (चेन्नई) से निकलने वाली इंडियन लेडीज़ मैग्जि़न में छपी थी. हालांकि यह कथा, महिलाओं की जि़ंदगी की जिस ह़की़कत से निकली है, वह अब भी बदस्तूर दिखती है.

रुक़ैया ने एक उपन्‍यास भी लिखा था-पद्मराग. इसमें अलग-अलग मज़हब और इलाके की समाज और परिवार से परेशानहाल बेसहारा महिलाएं, एक साथ, एक नई दुनिया बसाने की कोशिश करती हैं. वे अपने पांव पर खड़ी हैं. ख्‍याल से भी आजाद हैं. एक कल्‍पनालोक से अपने लोक में ही हक़ीक़त में स्त्रियों के नजरिए से यह एक दुनिया बसाने की कोशिश है.

लड़कियों की तालीम के वास्‍ते जिंदगी होम कर दी

लेकिन रुक़ैया की जिंदगी का बड़ा हिस्‍सा मुसलमान लड़कियों के वास्‍ते स्‍कूल कायम करने में गुज़रा. सन 1909 में सखावत हुसैन की मौत के बाद उनकी ख्‍़वाहिश के मुताबिक रुक़ैया ने सबसे पहले भागलपुर में लड़कियों के एक स्‍कूल की नींव डाली. वहां उन्‍हें काफी परेशानी का सामना करना पड़ा. वे एक साल बाद कलकत्‍ता आ गईं.

कलकत्‍ता (अब कोलकाता) में 1911 में फिर से स्‍कूल शुरू किया. सख़ावत मेमोरियल गर्ल्‍स स्‍कूल, सौ साल बाद आज भी कोलकाता में चलता है. वहां रुक़ैया से जुड़ी कोई भी चीज़ नहीं बची है. हालांकि स्‍कूल के शताब्‍दी साल के बहाने लोगों को रुक़ैया की याद आई और उनकी चर्चा भी शुरू हुई.

रुक़ैया का पहला स्कूलइमेज कॉपीरइटNASIRUDDIN
Image captionकोलकाता के इसी किराए के मकान में 1911 में दो कमरों में रुक़ैया ने आठ लड़कियों के साथ स्‍कूल की शुरुआत की थी

इस स्‍कूल को क़ायम करने और चलाने में रुक़ैया का लिखना लगभग बंद हो गया. समाज ने भी उनको कम परेशानी नहीं दी. लड़कियों को पढ़ने भेजने के लिए मुसलमानों को तैयार करने में उन्‍हें काफी मशक्‍कत करनी पड़ी. मगर उनकी मेहनत रंग लाई और देखते ही देखते मुसलमानों में पढ़ी-लिखी लड़कियों की कतार बन गई.

हालांकि, अपने काम और जद्दोजेहद के बारे में रुक़ैया लिखती हैं, ‘मैं जब कर्शियांग और मधुपुर घूमने गई तो वहाँ से ख़ूबसूरत पत्थर जमा कर लाई, जब उड़ीसा और मद्रास के सागर तट पर घूमने गई तो अलग-अलग रंग और आकार के शंख-सीप जमा कर ले आई. अब जि़ंदगी के 25 साल समाजी ख़िदमत में लगाते हुए कठमुल्लाओं की गालियाँ और लानत-मलामत इकट्ठा (जमा) कर रही हूँ. ”

हज़रत राबिया बसरी ने कहा है, ‘या अल्लाह! अगर मैं दोज़ख़ के डर से इबादत करती हूँ तो मुझे दोज़ख़ में ही डाल देना. और अगर बहिश्त यानी जन्नत की उम्मीद में इबादत करूँ तो मेरे लिए बहिश्त हराम हो.’

रुक़ैया ने इसी का हवाला देते हुए कहा कि अल्लाह के फ़ज़ल से अपनी समाजी ख़िदमत के बारे में मैं भी यहाँ यही बात कहने की हिम्मत कर रही हूँ.

रुक़ैया भी 22-23 साल की होते-होते अपने लिखे से समाज से सवाल-जवाब करने लगी.

मुसलमान के बीच न कोई राम मोहन राय था, न ईश्वरचंद विद्यासागर. उस समाज में रुक़ैया एक मशाल की तरह जलीं. इसीलिए बंगाल के इलाके की मुसलमान स्त्रियों के लिए वे राममोहन राय और विद्यासागर से कम नहीं हैं.

स्‍त्री विरासत भी

52 साल की उम्र में 9 दिसम्‍बर 1932 के दिन रुक़ैया का इंतक़ाल हो गया. मगर आखिरी सांस तक उनकी जिंदगी स्त्रियों को ही समर्पित रही. बांग्‍लादेश ने रुक़ैया को काफी इज्‍जत बख्‍शी है. 9 दिसम्‍बर का दिन रुकैया दिवस के रूप में मनाया जाता है.

रंगपुरइमेज कॉपीरइटNASIRUDDIN
Image captionबांग्लादेश के रंगपुर में उनके नाम पर यूनिवर्सिटी है. यहां की पढ़ने वाली हिन्‍दू-मुसलमान सभी लड़कियां कहती हैं, वे न होतीं तो हम न होते.

इस पार भी कोशिश शुरू हुई है. मगर रुक़ैया को जो जगह बांग्ला और बंगाल से बाहर मिलनी चाहिए थी, वह अब तक नहीं मिली है. इसकी दो अहम वजह हो सकती हैं. एक रुक़ैया की ज़बान. आम तौर पर हम बांग्‍ला या उर्दू या किसी दूसरी भारतीय ज़बान में लिखनेवाली लेखिकाओं को नहीं जानते या उनकी क़ाबिलियत को वैसे रेखांकित नहीं करते हैं, जैसा किसी अंग्रेजी में लिखने वाली को.

हम मुसलमान स्‍त्री आवाज़ को भी कम पहचानते हैं. दूसरा, अब भी हम स्‍त्री विरासत, को दिमाग़ी विरासत कम ही मानते हैं. यही नहीं, स्‍त्री विरासत के बारे में बताया भी कम ही जाता है. लेकिन रुक़ैया हम सबकी पुरखिन हैं.

यह बात आज बहुत मज़बूती से कहने की और उनके लफ़्ज़ बार-बार दोहराने की ज़रूरत है-

‘पुरुषों के बराबर आने के लिए हमें जो करना होगा, वह सभी काम करेंगे. अगर अपने पैरों पर खड़े होने के लिए, आज़ाद होने के लिए हमें अलग से जीविका अर्जन करना पड़े, तो यह भी करेंगे. अगर ज़रूरी हुआ तो हम लेडी किरानी से लेकर लेडी मजिस्ट्रेट, लेडी बैरिस्टर, लेडी जज- सब बनेंगे.

हम अपनी ज़िंदगी बसर करने के लिए काम क्यों न करें?

रुक़ैयाइमेज कॉपीरइटNASIRUDDIN

क्या हमारे पास हाथ नहीं है, पाँव नहीं है, बुद्धि नहीं है? हममें किस चीज़ की कमी है?

एक बात तो तय है कि हमारी सृष्टि बेकार पड़ी गुडि़या की तरह जीने के लिए नहीं हुई है.’

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Jamshedpur women wash feet of Jharkhand CM on Guru Mahotsav #WTFnews

Women, in the event held on ‘Guru Mahotsav’ at Jamshedpur’s Brahma Lok Dham, washed the CM’s feet with water and rose petals, as he stood on a giant plate. Das was the chief guest at the event.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Published:July 9, 2017 5:21 pm

Raghubar Das, Raghubar Das feet washed, Raghubar Das video, Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, Guru Mahotsav, india news



Women wash feet of Jharkhand CM Raghubar Das on a ‘Guru Mahotsav’ event held at Jamshedpur’s Brahma Lok Dham. (Source: Video grab)

In a video that went viral, women in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand were seen washing the feet of state Chief Minister Raghubar Das, at an event on the occasion of Guru Purnima on Friday. Women, in the event held on ‘Guru Mahotsav’ at Jamshedpur’s Brahma Lok Dham, washed the CM’s feet with water and rose petals, as he stood on a giant plate. Das was the chief guest at the event.

According to a report by Times Now, several activists were outraged at this and protested against the VIP treatment towards the CM. The activists said the ‘VVIP mindset was exposed’ and criticised the state’s defence that it was an old ritual, according to the report.

As per a report by, in the event, CM Das promised to provide health insurance worth Rs 2 lakh to the poor. He also announced health insurance plan in the state. The CM  said that his government will start an entrepreneurship board for promoting women entrepreneurs in the state of Jharkhand. Both these schemes mainly focus on the rural areas in the state.


Guru Purnima is marked on the full-moon day of the Hindu month Ashadha and is celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Buddhists to honour one’s ‘gurus’ or teachers who guide us through our lives towards the path of enlightenment. The day falls in between June-July.

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He Was Harassed for Wearing a Turban. Then He Built a Global Fashion Brand to Show the World What Sikh Pride Means

Harinder Singh’s cheeky clothing is making waves in India — and far beyond — by putting a hip new spin on his ancient and often misunderstood culture.

Harinder Singh will never forget his trip to Italy in 2002. Singh, then 33, and his wife, Kirandeep Kaur, 29, were eating ice cream as they explored the sights and sounds of Florence. The streets were crowded, a blur of people and textures and smells. At first glance, the couple blended in with the other tourists of the city: two people in love, eager to travel the world and appreciate a new culture. Then they heard the students’ jeers: “Bin Laden! Bin Laden!”

The group of around sixty school children were pointing at Singh, a white turban wrapped delicately around his head.

“Oh my God,” Singh said to his wife in shock. But instead of walking away, the couple approached the children. Singh told them that they were from India and practiced a religion called Sikhism.

“Me and my wife started talking about our first guru, the revolution, our faith, we touched on Punjabi music and they knew Punjabi music so we got a lead there,” Singh says with a laugh. “That very moment was an exam for us. We decided we should do something about our identity since there’s no awareness.”

Immediately after their visit, on the seven-and-a-half hour flight from Italy to India, Singh began the initial sketches for what he describes as the first Indian clothing brand dedicated solely to Sikhism and Punjabi culture. Fifteen years later, that concept – called 1469, in honor of the birth year of the first Sikh guru, Nanak Dev – has expanded into a million-dollar company with international reach. They have five stores in New Delhi and in Punjab, an Indian state bordering on Pakistan that is the heart of the Sikh community.

Almost 58 percent of the population of Punjab is made up of Sikhs, but in Delhi, Sikhs constitute less than four percent of the total population.

Standing in their 1469 shop in Delhi, the couple talk about the idea behind their business. “People in Delhi feel that if I speak Punjabi, I am backwards and not modern enough,” says Kaur, dressed in a light green sari, gold bracelets dangling off her arms. “To keep in touch with your roots, you need to know your mother tongue. I feel we are losing the pride.”

Artwork on the walls inside the shop. (Photo by Ana Singh)

Scarves and saris in turquoise, pink and yellow hues line the walls of the shop, located in Delhi’s Janpath Market, one of the city’s best-known shopping areas. Tables are scattered with metallic jewelry and small sculptures, patterned bags and calligraphy accessories. Upstairs, the walls are filled with various t-shirts, many of which display Punjabi phrases, musical instruments and Sikh symbols.

Mayur Sharma, a frequent 1469 customer and host of the Indian travel show “Highway on My Plate,” says his favorite products are the t-shirts, especially the ones with the phrases “Pure Panjabi” and “Trust me I’m Pendu,” – the word pendumeaning “villager” in Punjabi. Sharma came across the company a decade ago and, since then, has pretty much only worn their t-shirts, even on his television show.

“I admire Harinder and Kirandeep’s passion for the arts, culture and history of our beautiful state,” he says. “You can feel the love in everything they put out.”

T-shirts with the phrase, “Jab we met,” referring to the Indian film directed by Imtiaz Ali about a Punjabi girl who meets a Mumbai businessman on an overnight train to Delhi. (Photo courtesy of

Punjabi culture is one of the oldest in India; the region has a rich legacy of poetry, music, food and art – in addition to being the birthplace of Sikhism. The Punjab was unified under the Sikh Empire in the nineteenth century, until the British annexed the region in 1849 after the Anglo-Sikh wars, administering the region as a province of its Indian empire until Partition in 1947, when the independent states of India and Pakistan were established. Punjab was divided, with Hindus and Sikhs fleeing to India while Muslims moved to Pakistan.

Clothing for sale in the shop. (Photo by Nicole Einbinder)

Kaur described the partition of 1947 as a shattering experience for the Punjab, creating social, religious and regional divides. She feels Punjabi art and culture took the biggest blow. Today, their brand aims to reinvigorate that rich culture.

Singh, dressed in a bright, turquoise turban and black v-neck with the word fateh – or “victory” in Hindi – emphasized 1469 is not a religious brand because he doesn’t believe in selling religion.

“Sikhism is a big part of it and we ourselves are Sikhs,” he says, “but, it’s a regional place because our artists are Muslim also, the music comes from Punjab, which is partly in Pakistan, and so are the handicrafts.”

Harinder Singh (Photo by Ana Singh)

Sharma says he is Punjabi, but not Sikh. He describes Singh’s passion for the culture as inspiring.

Singh’s clothing didn’t always center on Punjabi culture. He got his start in the world of fashion after graduating from the University of Delhi in 1988. He says he noticed that most t-shirts sold in India came from abroad – Thailand, Hong Kong, South Korea – and were of dubious quality.

“I took an oath to myself to make a nice t-shirt for my country,” Singh says.

Models pose wearing 1469 t-shirts. (Photo courtesy 1469, via Facebook)

A year later, Singh started his own clothing company, Uni Style Image. He claims it is one of the first t-shirt companies in India’s history, and over the years partnered with major clothing labels across the world. In 2002, after over a decade with the company, grueling hours and time spent away from his wife and three children, Singh decided to leave to pursue other endeavors.

At the time, he had no idea he would eventually return to the fashion world as a pioneer of a wholly new concept centered on Sikhism and Punjab. But Singh also asserts he wouldn’t have it any other way. He describes being born into a Sikh family as a blessing.

“Our religion is so beautiful, so transparent, so clear,” he says. “It’s musical, it’s simple, it’s modern and it’s very lightweight.”

Singh observes that while 60 percent of their merchandise is sold to Sikhs and those within the diaspora Punjabi community, around 40 percent of customers practice other faiths. The brand is especially popular in Japan, where many customers buy the t-shirts online and in bulk, according to Kaur.

Going forward, Singh and Kaur hope to continue educating people, especially youth, about their heritage and faith. Kaur says they are working to bolster their online presence and plan to open new stores domestically, in the cities of Mumbai and Bangalore, as well as abroad in Canada.

“The best part about Sikhism is,” Kaur says, “it doesn’t tell you that you write this or read it and then become Sikh. It’s about the way you live.”

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Are We Getting Closer to Using Intellectual Property Safeguards to Improve Public Health?

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Ellen ‘t Hoen Private Patents and Public HealthChanging Intellectual Property Rules for Access to MedicinesAMBDiemenThe Netherlands20I6181 pp., €45.00paperISBN: 97890 79700 851
  • Phyllis Freeman
Freeman, P. J Public Health Pol (2017) 38: 290. doi:10.1057/s41271-016-0063-7

This book is a gift for all who may have tried — and come away unsatisfied or simply avoided the daunting chore — of learning the intellectual property aspects of why the world is stuck with more than a few painful public health incongruities: (1) prices so high that huge populations in need never get the benefit of vaccines and drugs readily available to many in more affluent countries; (2) products that align poorly with long anticipated needs of sizeable populations worldwide (a recent example is the need for more antibiotics to replace those where pathogens have acquired resistance); and (3) delays in assuring that new science and technology are put to work creating affordable products practical for use in environments less privileged than North America or Europe, and in neglected populations. (For therapeutics ‘neglected’ includes all of the world’s children, as most medicines have been studied only in adults.)

‘t Hoen structures her book around questions to which she has devoted her career. Are public health approaches to medicines patents developed in response to the HIV/AIDS crisis exclusive to HIV — or can they be applied more broadly? This question was central. In several organizations (as, for example, policy and advocacy director at the Médecins sans Frontières’ campaign for the access to essential medicines and as the first executive director of the Medicines Patent Pool, co-founded by UNITAID) she created the institutional role in which she worked to expand access to HIV/AIDS therapeutics. Now she is looking to do the same for other products, especially those that the World Health Organization (WHO) has already categorized as “essential medicines”I—or may in the future.

‘t Hoen’s analysis unfolds like a fugue—with reinforcement of the main messages through purposeful repetition of essential points. She helps readers follow the many strands of her argument and the complex dynamics of trade, intellectual property, and public health. She reaches back to the 1950s to introduce forces that shaped relations among governments, the pharmaceutical industry, trade agreements (and their enforcement), international organizations (World Trade Organization (WTO), World Intellectual Property Association (WIPO), and the WHO, and now the Office of the United Nations Secretary General, and the world’s people. She shows how a once more promising set of international trade rules emerged as pressure grew to impose international patent regimes into lower income countries. More recently, after formation of the (1995) World Trade Organization Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS), this progress has been eclipsed by regional trade agreements; they encroach on the space ostensibly left open to guard health from trade overreach. A timeline of all key events, in the introduction, eases readers into the history and themes in the chapters ahead.

Notable gains for improving health from the 1990s created a certain buoyancy among advocates — for assuring new and new combinations of HIV/AIDS drugs that would reach populations in lower income settings. Progress came through battles over affordability of brand name, patented HIV drugs, over generic alternatives, and over combining drugs for practicality of use where medical care is rudimentary or stressed beyond capacity. But for other diseases, including therapeutics for cancer, hepatitis C, and tuberculosis, expectations for public health success is muted. A seemingly impenetrable wall of high prices and aggressive self-protection by the pharmaceutical industry takes many forms, including lawsuits against generic approaches in India and elsewhere.

Despite her long history of confronting the industry in words (publications and many other forms) and deeds, ‘t Hoen’s book is not a rant. Her prose glides along above the name-calling fray with confident elegance while she builds credibility and momentum. She has assembled extensive documentation of the mismatch between the international intellectual property system we have and a different sort she believes the world needs. She lays out evidence to support many points that advocates and media coverage often just assert. For example, she describes the evolution of prices for first-line HIV drugs combined in different therapeutic regimes; tracks instances of governments’ use of compulsory licenses as the trade rules evolved. (This enabled them to make use of industry know-how while getting around industry’s practice of setting prices beyond the means of public health purchasing), and tracks governments’ use of medicines’ patents. She also produces estimates of the minimum costs of production and prices of Hepatitis C medicines (listing all of her sources), compares prices of the cancer drug glivec from branded sources versus the Indian generic, and catalogs patent disputes in India involving cancer drugs. She accumulated many other tools that readers will find in text boxes, figures, tables, and the like, including case studies of elements of ‘the problem’ as manifest in different parts of the world (for example, Ecuador, South Korea, Zimbabwe).

Having laid out several decades of her learning about how the current means of incentivizing R&D leave public health problems without resolution, problems that disproportionately affect those in developing countries, those suffering from rare diseases, and from bacterial infections that no longer respond to antibiotics — she moves on: What do we do now?

She argues for ‘delinking’ investment in R&D from the price of the product and for finding new ways to share the burden of development costs internationally. What is the status of this approach? So far WTO, WIPO, and WHO are studying ‘delinking,’ and ‘t Hoen and colleagues are debating all aspects vociferously — among themselves and with all the players.

‘t Hoen’s topic is one that has fascinated me for decades. In the early 1980s, General Philip K. Russell (now retired, then Major General in the U.S. Army Medical Corps at Fort Detrick) introduced me to these issues around the edges of meetings on vaccine development at WHO headquarters in Geneva.

More soldiers die in every war from disease than from war making—so preparations to protect and treat diseases is a very big business for the military. General Russell brought the US military’s public health approach to a council of civilian vaccine researchers at WHO where they strategized how to strengthen and continue to expand… the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI). At that time I had just shifted from working for the United States (US) Congress on an investigation subcommittee concerned with basic science and the future of biotechnology to an academic sabbatical at the US Institute of Medicine to pursue strategies for how to use new science and biotechnology to accelerate development of vaccines for the developing world. The General decided it was worth trying to educate me about how the science and business of vaccines worked—and did not work—for improving the health of populations. He was interested in how far the US Congress might take the military’s experience into the realm of civilian public health, domestically and especially internationally.

Back in Washington, he and his military scientist colleagues laid out the playbook for how the US military had made huge gains getting new vaccines and drugs developed, manufactured, and into use during World War II. The War Department (renamed Department of Defense in 1949) had engaged expertise from industry, academia, and government to cooperate, putting aside many barriers created by conventional secrecies—and to work at unprecedented speed. The General elaborated how the military continued to hold powers to commandeer cooperation from industry under special circumstances. The military perspective on new vaccine development for civilians exposed us (Anthony Robbins, then professional staff member for health at the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the US Congress, and me) to policy considerations for every step from basic research and product development through pilot manufacturing and scale up, regulation, distribution, and monitoring and surveillance of health outcomes to feed into the next generation of research. Intellectual property already played an important role in this saga, international trade agreements did not — yet. This experience instilled in me a certain optimism about finding ways to open the pharmaceutical lock on vaccine R&D and its proceeds.

We carried these lessons — largely from the era predating the HIV/AIDS breakthroughs—into a variety of arenas for public debate, policy, and lawmaking—with only modest success. In the 1980s Robbins and I packaged and tossed our military public health-inspired insights back and forth between our two institutions — the Institute of Medicine/National Academy of Sciences and the Committee on Energy and Commerce in the US House of Representatives like a football—in hopes of advancing public policy for the country and for the developing world. With Roy Widdus (a colleague at the US Institute of Medicine), Sam Their (then President of the Institute of Medicine at the National Academies) and Chairman John Dingell of the Energy and Commerce Committee, we organized a meeting to comprehensively review the state of vaccine development and health—that might form the basis for new policy and legislation.2,3 This venture went only a small way toward fulfilling our hopes for cooperation among researchers, public health entities, industry, other health sector institutions and professionals, and all other critical players in the US and abroad (especially those involved with United Nations efforts to immunize all of the world’s children against more diseases). If nothing else we learned how very daunting is the challenge that ‘t Hoen and colleagues have assumed.

I can appreciate the complexity of challenges that ‘t Hoen’s has taken on as her own, and the importance of laying out the issues that, more than any other, may deter potential activists from — activism. The intellectual property and trade issues are foreign to most public health activists. Their complexity discourages potential allies. That may have been unavoidable before this book, but need not continue to be so.

Readers will come away with a new sense of the terrain and of obstacles to overcome if we are to enter a new era where intellectual property can contribute to the greatest gains in health for the greatest number of the world’s inhabitants, current and future.

By way of disclosure, it came as no surprise that I would find ‘t Hoen’s analysis to be masterful and especially reader friendly. We at the Journal of Public Health Policy have previously published several slices of her analyses in this domain456 — and wooed her onto the JPHPEditorial Board.

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Why is the government threatened by women’s studies centres in Indian universities?

 We need women’s studies to not just survive but to thrive in our universities, because, despite its problems, it reminds us that gender is not something we are but something we do

Women’s Studies was introduced into the National Policy of Education in 1986. The XII Plan records that the University Grants Commission (UGC) has supported Women’s Studies in universities and colleges since the VII Plan period

Women’s Studies is an interdisciplinary field that grew out of the feminist movement. In India, WS is often seen to be linked to the publication of Towards Equality: A Report on the Status of Women in India in 1974 which brought out the low social status of women in the country. In response, the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) initiated a programme in WS in 1976. Predating this, the Research Centre for Women’s Studies (RCWS) was started in 1974 at the SNDT Women’s University in Mumbai. Alongside, in 1981, a Conference on WS was convened in Bombay at the RCWS which resulted in the creation of the Indian Association for Women’s Studies (IAWS) a national forum of individuals engaged in research and activism related to gender.

Women’s Studies was introduced into the National Policy of Education in 1986. The XII Plan records that the University Grants Commission (UGC) has supported Women’s Studies in universities and colleges since the VII Plan period. It also notes that the XI Plan sought to upgrade these into teaching and research departments. Currently, there are 159 Women’s Studies Centres in universities and colleges in India and some outside universities supported by the ICSSR. The XII Plan sought to enhance and expand the Women’s Studies Centres.

Like other such disciplines that grew out of a radical politics, Women’s Studies too, embodies the contradictions inherent when the ideas of an intensely political movement are sought to be institutionalised within a university. There are many critiques, not just in India but also elsewhere, of the ways in which Women’s Studies has quickly acquired a canon and its high priestesses. The presence of such signs of institutionalisation are also ironically the markers of a thriving academic discipline – positions under the UCG plans, demands for publication, and rising numbers of MA and PhD graduates in the discipline. Such institutionalisation notwithstanding, work in women’s studies continues to challenge the status quo and not just in relation to gender and patriarchy.

The discipline itself is self-critical. In 2006, S Anandhi and Padmini Swaminathan examined WS courses in universities in Tamil Nadu and argued that many of these courses were not seen as too political and often regarded as soft options. In keeping with this assumption, Women’s Studies in many universities often ends up getting students who do not get admission into core disciplines. However, as Nithila Kanagasabai points out in an unpublished Women’s Studies MPhil dissertation in 2016, which examines two such courses in two universities in Tamil Nadu, students of Women’s Studies in these universities are not just transformed by the subject but might in turn be seen as transforming Women’s Studies as feminist scholars who are organically located.

In March, this year, there was a scare when the UGC was unable to confirm until the very last minute whether funding committed to Women’s Study Centres under the XII plan would continue after the plan period ended. This threatened the positions of those faculty and staff appointed under the XII Plan. Eventually, the UGC has granted only a one-year extension to the faculty and staff under the XII plan positions so these remain precarious. The delay in extension was misreported by some publications as the imminent closure of women’s studies centres in some universities. This is far from reality. While funding cuts governed by a neo-liberal view of education are hitting all universities and certainly women’s studies will be affected as well, it is not so easy to shut down decades of work and politics.

There is no denying that the presence of Women’s Study Centres and the concomitant enshrining of feminism within the university – for when you have a Women’s Study centre in your university you must be a signatory to the politics of feminism in some form, even if it is a liberal version – it makes political right wing ideologues very nervous. For feminism in any shape or form is an anathema to them.

In 2003, the NDA government sought to rename Women’s Studies Centres in various universities as Women and Family Studies Centres as part of the Tenth Plan. This clearly was no innocuous move as Women’s Studies scholarship incorporates a stringent critique of patriarchal gender relations in the family. The change in nomenclature would have signified a shift in focus and was clearly an attempt to subvert feminist agendas.

Feminism challenges many assumptions that right wing ideologues hold dear: the gendered division of labour, the hierarchy between women and men, indeed the gender binary itself. If feminism via its Women’s Studies centres suggests to us that all who appear as men are not necessarily men and all those who were assigned sex female at birth might not want to live as women then anything is possible. This is deeply threatening to the present government.

This is precisely why we need women’s studies to not just survive but to thrive in our universities, because despite its problems it reminds us that gender is not something we are but something we do.

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RTI activist’s murder: Gujarat HC orders retrial, warns hostile witnesses

Jethva was murdered on July 20, 2010 outside the Gujarat High Court. Initially, the case was investigated by the Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch which chargesheeted six persons.

RTI activist’s murder, gujarat RTI activist’s murder, Gujarat High Court on Amit Jethva murder,  Amit Jethva murder convicts, indian express news

Gujarat High Court ordered fresh trial in the murder of RTI activist Amit Jethva in which former BJP MP from Junagadh, Dinu Bogha Solanki, is a key accused. 

Slamming the “brazen high-handedness of the accused… the menace of witnesses turning hostile” and acknowledging that it had “lost confidence in the present presiding officer”, the Gujarat High Court Thursday ordered fresh trial in the murder of RTI activist Amit Jethva in which former BJP MP from Junagadh, Dinu Bogha Solanki, is a key accused. Justice J B Pardiwala directed that the case be transferred to a new judge for day-to-day trial — a special CBI judge had concluded the trial and an order was awaited. Alleging threats to witnesses and underlining that 105 of the 195 witnesses had turned hostile, Amit Jethva’s father Bhikhabhai approached the High Court, seeking fresh trial.

Jethva was murdered on July 20, 2010 outside the Gujarat High Court. Initially, the case was investigated by the Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch which chargesheeted six persons — Shiva Solanki, nephew of Dinu Solanki, Shailesh Pandya, Bahadursinh Vadher, Panchan G Desai, Sanjay Chauhan and Udaji Thakore.

Dinu Solanki was given a clean chit by the Crime Branch and Bhikhabhai moved the High Court which ordered a CBI probe into the role of Solanki. The CBI chargesheeted Solanki, saying he was the main conspirator. The CBI alleged that Solanki got Jethva killed since he was uncovering illegal mining activities, including in the Gir forests. In his order Thursday, Justice Pardiwala said: “It is the brazen high-handedness of the accused persons which warrants fresh trial… I have reached the conclusion, without any hesitation, that retrial is the only solution to prevent miscarriage of justice. If ultimately retrial is to be ordered, the same should be conducted by any other presiding officer because this court has lost confidence in the present presiding officer.”

He refrained from making observations against CBI judge Dinesh L Patel, in whose court the trial concluded, saying, “My observation would have only brought a bad name to this institution. For me, the image and prestige of this institution and the judiciary as a whole is supreme. It is said that the life of law is justice and it is for the judge to breathe life into law. Men of character inspired by high ideals are needed to infuse life and spirit in the skeleton of law. Let the High Court on its administrative side look into the matter.” The court rejected the arguments of the accused that retrial of a case before pronouncement of judgment is not maintainable and also that the petitioner has an opportunity to appeal in the High Court in case of acquittal.

In the order, Justice Pardiwala said: “Criminal appeals, be it one of conviction or acquittal, takes years before the same is disposed of finally. The passage of time itself would prove detrimental to the interest of justice.” Whatever may the result of the retrial, he said, the “court should not shut its eyes and raise hands in helplessness saying what can be done. Witnesses should also be made to realise that they can’t take things lightly… (they) owe a great responsibility when they are appearing before the court to depose in a trial where the persons are charged with the serious offence of murder. If such will be attitude of the courts, the judiciary will be reduced to mere laughing stock.”

“Time is ripe for the courts to take some positive action. Sections 195 and 340 of CrPC could hardly be termed as effective measures to combat the menace of witnesses turning hostile.” “When material eyewitness, one after the other, start resiling from their statements made before police, this must obviously excite suspicion in the mind of the trial judge to probe further and question the witness (even if the prosecutor doesn’t do so),” Justice Pardiwala said, noting that “the need of the hour is robust judging”.

RTI activist’s murder: Gujarat HC orders retrial, warns hostile witnesses

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In riot-hit Basirhat, Muslims pool money to help Hindu neighbours

Muslims in this patch of North 24-Parganas on the Bangladesh border, where tensions erupted at the beginning of the week after a teen’s objectionable post on social media, are pooling money to help Hindu neighbours rebuild their gutted shops and businesses.

Basirhat communal riot, Basirhat incident, North 24 Paergana communal clash, West bengal, Mamata Banerjee, indian express, India news, latest newsA burnt vehicle seen at a road after a communal riot at Baduria in North 24 Pargana district of West Bengal on Wednesday. PTI Photo

At the heavily guarded Trimohini crossing in Basirhat, a small crowd has gathered around Md Noor Islam Gaji and Ajay Pal. They are standing outside Pal’s ransacked paan bidi shop — one of many in the area that were vandalised and looted during Tuesday’s communal violence. Gaji and several other Muslim men are talking to Pal, urging him to reopen his shop, pressing him to accept Rs 2,000 from them to get started again.

Muslims in this patch of North 24-Parganas on the Bangladesh border, where tensions erupted at the beginning of the week after a teen’s objectionable post on social media, are pooling money to help Hindu neighbours rebuild their gutted shops and businesses. Nearly a hundred shops and homes were vandalised in Basirhat.

“Even after the demolition of the Babri mosque, our town remained peaceful. What happened since Tuesday was not right. Some outsiders and some of our local boys are to blame. But now we are pooling money for our Hindu neighbours. We want them to forget the losses and start afresh,” Gaji, a local businessman, said.

“I lost goods worth over Rs 15,000 when hundreds of people came and ransacked my shop on Tuesday. They took away everything. I do not know why. My neighbours and Muslim friends are now offering me money to restart my business. I will take a decision soon,” said Pal.

Like him, Ruma De, who owns the next shop, too, has been offered Rs 2,000 for a start. Similar initiatives have been taken by Muslim residents of Masjidpara, Bhyabla, Chapapara and other areas of Basirhat. “We are all linked in one way or another. I have Hindu friends whom I have known from childhood, and business associates who are Hindu. We have told them that we will do our best to help them start their businesses, and even repair their damaged homes,” said Ershad Ali Gazi of Masjidpara.

It was because of Ershad that his childhood friend Binay Pal and his family escaped the mob that rampaged through the neighbourhood on Tuesday night. “Everyone told me to leave my home and flee to save myself. Hundreds of people were swarming the street in front of my house. I called up Ershad, who told me to stay put and rushed to my house. He stayed with us and ensured that we were safe,” said Binay, who has a wife and two children. His pharmacy downstairs was, however, ransacked.

“It is not a hollow promise. We have told local shopowners that we will give as much as it takes, Rs 2 lakh or Rs 5 lakh. We will help you, whether by pooling money or by collecting subscriptions to cover your losses. Whatever has happened has happened, do not worry anymore, or have any hard feelings. The tradition of Basirhat has been tarnished. This has never happened before,” said Ershad.

Continuing latent tension, shut businesses, schools and colleges, and a heavy presence of police and security forces notwithstanding, Basirhat and Baduria have been calm since Thursday. Two peace meetings have been held in Basirhat, at which leaders of both communities and police were present.

“It was decided that Hindu-Muslim joint groups will keep vigil at night not only in neighbourhoods, but also at religious places. Outsiders will not be allowed in the area. Outsiders of both communities played a key role in the riots,” said Babu Gaji, councillor of ward number 14 in Basirhat.

Both Hindus and Muslims have accused police of not taking action as the tension spread and violence began.
“We called police when hundreds tried to attack our neighbourhood, but they did not come. We were forced to defend ourselves. Our women came out in thousands and thwarted the mob. Police later lobbed teargas shells at us,” said Shyamal Biswas of Mandirpara. Haji Muhammed Ali Gaji said, “My medicine shop was set on fire. All the papers which were kept in the shop for GST were damaged. Even cash in the shop was partially burnt.”

In riot-hit Basirhat, Muslims pool money to help Hindu neighbours

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