Guest post by VIKAS BAJPAI
Mera abai watan, my ancestral home, the place to which I belong, is Lucknow. Lucknow is ‘my city of joy’; and for me Lucknow’s identity derives from ‘old Lucknow.’ The newer part of the city is a creation of barely thirty to thirty-five years and bears little reflection of what Lucknow otherwise stands for.
There can be little conceptualization of Lucknow’s legendary culture, its tehzeeb, without any imagination of ‘old Lucknow’. As an instance of how deeply this tehzeeb had percolated into society, I still recall, on a few occasions that I happened to accompany my maternal uncle to the Raqabganj sabzi mandi, the hawkers would attract buyers for slender and delicate kakdis (skinny cucumbers) with the poetic call – ‘lijiye – lijiye, laila ki ungliyan, majnu ki pasliyan’ (‘Come, get these delicate fingers of Laila, Majnu’s slender ribs’, referring to the legendary star-crossed lovers Laila-Majnu).
Old Lucknow’s lanes and by-lanes, its busy bazaars, the Chowk – famous for chikan embroidery and zari work; Prakash ki kulfi in Aminabad (a popular market in old Lucknow); the early morning doodh malai and jalebi stalls; the horse-driven ikkas and the tangas; the masjids and their aazaans; the Siddhanath Mandir next door to our house; burqa clad women and the Muslim men wearing dupalia topis, headgear sometimes worn by Hindu men too, especially on Holi; Chaar Bagh railway station; Hanuman Inter ‘Kalej’ and ‘Quins Kalej’ (colleges from where my mother and father matriculated respectively; in the Awadh area of Uttar Pradesh ‘college’ would typically be pronounced as ‘kalej’); and of course how can one forget the mangoes – all of these shall forever be etched as a part of my childhood memories.
Regulating the Surrogacy Industry – A Feminist Perspective: Sarojini Nadimpally, Deepa Venktachalam and Sneha Banerjee
Guest Post by SAROJINI NADIMPALLY, DEEPA VENKTACHALAM and SNEHA BANERJEE of SAMA, a resource group for women and health.
The press briefing on commercial surrogacy by Minister of External Affairs Ms Sushma Swaraj, on 24th August 2016, did not come as a surprise to many of us who have been advocating for the rights of surrogate mothers and the regulation of the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) industry. Many of the points mentioned in her speech were already in the Draft Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Regulation) Bill 2014. Since 2015, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had stopped issuing visas to foreigners for commissioning a surrogacy. The Supreme Court of India is currently hearing arguments in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) demanding a prohibition or ban on commercial surrogacy. In a recent hearing, the Supreme Court asked the government to develop the framework for the regulation of the ART and surrogacy industry in India.
The latest regulatory move extends prohibitions in place in the draft ART Bill of 2014, banning commercial surrogacy altogether, and permitting only altruistic surrogacy (without payment), and only for one category of people – heterosexual Indian couples who have been married for five years and do not have any children, specifically excluding NRIs. Only close relatives can be surrogates and there are penalties that are absent in the Draft ART Bill of 2014. The draft ART Regulation Bills (2010, 2014) mentioned marriage as a mandatory clause, with ‘couple’ who could access surrogacy arrangements, defined as a man and woman living in a marital relationship for two years; the current Surrogacy Bill says 5 years.
This approach obviously discriminates against queer couples whose marriage is not legal in India; and as for ‘single’ persons – they are persona non grata. This is highly problematic, moralistic and discriminatory. The briefing was an outpouring of the nation-family-culture rhetoric and patronizing morality. We have not read the current Surrogacy Regulation Bill yet as it is not available in the public domain and hence our concerns are based on the media reports.
We, the undersigned faculty members of JNU, express deep shock and dismay at the news that a complaint of rape has been lodged against a JNU student Anmol Ratan (an activist of a left students organisation but since then expelled from it), by another student of JNU. We express our support and solidarity for the complainant and request the JNU community, the administration, and the GSCASH to ensure that the due process of law is allowed to proceed without any hindrance.
It is of primary importance that the health and safety of the complainant be at the centre of all that the university community and the JNU administration does. This necessitates swift action to ensure that the accused (or those acting on his behalf) do not have any opportunity to intimidate, slander, or harm the complainant or the complainant’s witnesses, tamper with evidence or testimony, or otherwise create a campus environment that indulges in victim blaming or casting aspersions on the motives of the complainant.
We are therefore extremely dismayed to know that more than 48 hours after the complaint has been lodged, the accused has yet to be suspended or declared out of bounds from the university, so that safe conditions of complaint and testimony for the complainant may be maintained. We demand that this be done forthwith. This failure to act has tarnished the image of the JNU administration quite severely.
We also recognize the manner in which over the decades, teachers and students have made JNU a space in which women generally feel safe, and also empowered to report cases of sexual violence when these occur. This atmosphere however, has been caricatured in the recent past by sections of the media and by right-wing individuals as one of irresponsible sexual license, which the JNU administration has done nothing to counter.
We are dismayed also by the instrumental use of this case by some organizations on campus to further their political ambitions.
The JNU administration must undertake to cover all medical and legal costs of the complainant. It must fully cooperate with the investigation. So must all other members of the JNU community, as they are likely to have information relevant to the case and conduct of the accused.
As JNU faculty, we reiterate our commitment to building a campus that is safe, democratic, secular and mindful of the dignity of all sections of our community.
Supriya Varma Read more…
This is a piece that has come out in today’s Hindu
Recent reports about the change in copyright infringement warnings on various websites have triggered anxiety among many Internet users in India. While the government has maintained a list of banned websites for quite some time, the warning that one earlier saw merely mentioned that the website had been blocked under directions from the Department of Telecommunications, while the new message warns against the viewing, downloading, exhibition and duplication of the contents of the URL as being offences which are punishable under Sections 63, 63-A, 65 and 65-A of the Copyright Act. It further states that these provisions prescribe a punishment of up to three years and a fine of up to Rs.3 lakh.
Conflating various provisions
Sec. 63 of the Copyright Act, which deals with the offence of infringement, provides that any person who ‘knowingly’ infringes copyright or abets in the infringement of the same may be punished with imprisonment (minimum of six months and extendable to three years) and fined up to Rs.2 lakh. The new warning seems to have accounted for inflation and arbitrarily extended the fine amount to Rs.3 lakh, but that is only one part of its disingenuity. What the warning does is to conflate all the provisions and flatten them as though they all deal with a singular thing called infringement. Read more…
Why Hindutva Would Not Be The Same Again ?
(Photo Courtesy : newsclick.in)
When I was born I was not a child
I was a dream, a dream of revolt
that my mother, oppressed for thousands of years ,
Still it is untouched in my eyes
Covered with wrinkles of thousand years, her face
her eyes, two lakes overflowing with tears
have watered my body…..
– Sahil Parmar*
Well known Gujarati poet Sahil Parmar’s poem ‘When I Was Born’ perhaps reverberates these days in Gujarat when we are witnessing a Dalit Upsurge- a first of its kind at least in that regions history. It will be a talk of folklore for times to come how flogging of dalits in a village in Saurashtra by Hindutva fanatics suddenly erupted into a mass movement of dalits which could catch imagination of the people cutting across different sections of society. An attempt is being made here to understand the dynamics of the movement and its likely impact on the future trajectory of Hindutva.