A Foetus is not a Person by Caroline Lund

Abortion in India is legal only up to twenty weeks of pregnancy under specific conditions and situations which are broadly defined as:

  • the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury of physical or mental health, or
  • there is a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.

(via Wikipedia)

Recently, the Supreme Court permitted a rape survivor to terminate her pregnancy at 24 weeks, which is beyond the permissible 20 weeks limit prescribed under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.

Abortion is a topic that is not as hot a debate in India, as it has been in the US. The basic difference being that in the US, the fight for abortion rights is at the point of consent of a woman of not having a baby. While in India, the legalities in abortion are focused on severe health risks for the woman or the baby, and that if the woman is a rape survivor where abortion is legally permissible before 15 weeks. There are obvious risks in the process of abortion due to sex-determination. But the point of consent of a woman is always missing.  Continue reading “A Foetus is not a Person by Caroline Lund”

Dear Nahid Afrin, Here’s a Short History of Fatwas on Indians to Cheer You Up

Nahid Afrin, a 16-year-old girl from Assam, who received fame through her singing talent displayed in Indian idol, has a Fatwa issued on her name by some Muslim clerics. This fatwa bans her from performing at any public entertainment event. She has come out boldly against the move saying ‘Singing isn’t anti-Islam’ and has confirmed that she will never stop singing. She has also been supported by the CM of the state.

Nahid Afrin Receives Fatwa

Feeling like an elder sister in this scenario, I thought to compile a list of Fatwas for the unstoppable you, Nahid.

What is a Fatwa?

It is a religious ruling passed by a qualified jurist or a mufti against someone who goes against the Islamic principles. A fatwa cannot create a judicial havoc, though. It gets dangerous when a fatwa states that a person may be killed if it is not followed.  Continue reading “Dear Nahid Afrin, Here’s a Short History of Fatwas on Indians to Cheer You Up”

Caging of Kankaria: The End of an Era of Free Public Spaces

Caging of Kankaria: The End of an Era of Free Public Spaces

Having lived 25 years of my life in Ahmedabad (which is like all my life), especially close to Kankaria– the circular man-made lake- the heart of the East Ahmedabad- I have some fond memories of my childhood attached to the place. The loveliest part of evenings would be going to Kankaria with Papa, Mumma and Uncle, Aunty and Bhaiya. It was so full of life, I loved hopping around being looked at by different sorts of people.

There would be ice-cream shops, balloonwaala, horse rides, small merry-go-round (movable, managed by poor men), men moving with delicious snacks like bhutta-chana zor garam-mamra-sev puri, kulfi and the gola-waalas (I was not allowed to have gola until like college) these were the regulars.

Amongst the more aspirational (costly) ones were places like Bal Vatika (Fun Park for children with some rides, funny mirrors,etc), Aquarium and Nagina Vaadi (a small, linear island at one end of the Kankaria circle- but so small that it could be hardly 600 mtrs of a straight walk). Kankaria was our marine drive. Towards the end, I would cringe when they’d say, ‘Okay, let’s go home now?’

Interestingly, the same Kankaria would turn to be an absolutely different flavour in the morning. People with serious faces, walking like it was a part of their job, some coming just for fun, young men (including my father) touring the Gymkhana- doing some serious exercise- and then have a long (boring) chat over chai ki kitley nearby. This is how I can relate now when I see kids getting cranky around their parents talking infinitely over chai.

The morning Kankaria was not as much fun (from a child’s view) because of the compulsory exercise and running routine but still free, open, huge trees, natural breeze, lots of birds chirping (sometimes so loud that your voice could drown within it), noticing infinite kinds of people who had come to walk or the ones on the road already going to their offices- all strata, all colours, all shapes and sizes!

When Kankaria got Revamped

In 2008, Kankaria was revamped. I was still in school (12th grade) yet I was filled with the excitement of progress and the development it was going to bring. Your part of the city was being beautified; it felt special. When it was opened out to public, something about it was under-whelming. It was concrete, clean, organised (benches, lamp posts, trees at equal distances), people cleaning every now and then (especially in the morning), the fun park was the same, the nagina vadi was the same… What was different?

The cage, sorry, I mean the gates.

kankaria ahmedabad
Everything Beautiful Will Get Caged

Continue reading “Caging of Kankaria: The End of an Era of Free Public Spaces”

Serendipity: Even the Earliest Traces of English Literature Had Strong Female Characters

Why reading is blissful is because it has the ability to transport you from one place to another, one time to another. If you had money, you could travel wherever you want. But how would you travel through time? With books, nothing is impossible. Time travel is a reality. That’s what struck me when I saw this book called ‘The Short History of English Literature’ by Ifor Evans at an invaluable second-hand bookshop/circulating library in Mahim, Mumbai- The Victoria Book Centre (since 1948).

Judith poem

Do you know what was the first piece of English Literature?

In the Anglo-Saxon period, the story of ‘Beowulf’ was brought to England and interestingly it was not English, it was about Scandinavians, dated 700 A.D. (OLD!). Only three hundred years later, about the year 1000, the manuscript was written down. What happened to it in the next seven hundred years is unknown. But it reappeared in 1706 at a library. It can be said that the manuscript had magically managed to save itself from getting destroyed in a fire during the same period. Interestingly, the author of Beowulf remains unknown.

 

Judith (Poem)

The story of Judith is the most exciting narrative of Anglo-Saxon poetry, and why not! It tells a fictionized story of how an ordinary woman named Judith kills a tyrant Holofernes, whose terror knows no bounds. Its dramatic quality and its sense of genuine human characterization set it apart from all the works in the same age. It was found in the same manuscript with Beowulf. Judith was written byÆlfric of Eynsham.

judith

Continue reading “Serendipity: Even the Earliest Traces of English Literature Had Strong Female Characters”

Ambedkar’s Message to Women Needs To Be Revisited Now

History always has something to learn from. For India, BR Ambedkar is that gold mine, which never disappoints. A man who wanted no fame or bhakts, whose life motto was to just get people, to think clearly. He is a man who must be re-read for his scientific temperament, knowledge and fierceness but unfortunately, he has been slowly going extinct from our textbooks. Also what is unfortunate is that the vices that he had pointed out in his time, are still relevant. If you thought of him just as the ‘Father of Indian Constitution’, read the below text to visualise this fierce feminist in him, each and every word as if gold plated.

Ambedkar’s Message to Women

From Bhalchandra Mungekar’s ‘The Essential Ambedkar’

Continue reading “Ambedkar’s Message to Women Needs To Be Revisited Now”

Are Hindus Hobbesian?

I came across an interesting concept called ‘Hobbesian’.  It is an interesting looking word, where you are bound to mistake for the first few times. Thought it was interesting to share.

Are Hindus Hobbesian? Hobbesian is a situation in which you believe the world is against you and you are out there alone. Ours is the only religion in the world which doesn’t have temples with congregational space, which means one on one versus a large group of people. Our religion tells us that our individual relation with God is the most important, which encourages activities like Yagna- which basically transcends to offering something to God in exchange for something having taken away from somebody else. This also encourages those merciless queues/crowd/mob (including stampede at times) that we have in our temples to have our 2 second moment with the God’s idol and whisper a prayer to them. Hindus are perhaps Hobbesians. This also explains our behaviour in traffic. Our billionaires don’t really want to give their wealth away. It is not the society that we seek our mutual benefit from, it is our own luck, our own faith and our vertical relationship with God, as opposed to our horizontal relationship with the man (the mankind) and different people in the society. Continue reading “Are Hindus Hobbesian?”

“The Hindus: An Alternative History”- Parts I Loved

the-hindus-an-alternative-history1

Beyond all the controversies that have erupted recently, which by the way, is also the reason I started reading it. The Hindus- An alternative history is to be read in a certain way to understand that it is a sheer work of brilliance. I personally feel that (and no guarantees when I say ‘I feel’:P) the best way to read a non-fiction-history-heavy book is to check the Table of Contents  first and start reading the topic that interests you the most. I started with chapter 23: The Hindu Americans and eventually kept reading until I was hungry and started feeling dizzy. After dinner, I continued again!

Wendy Doniger, this brilliant woman, has made a smart compilation of her research and opinions on India with some really sharp observations on India and Indians. It’s just sad that we can’t accept that the fact that a foreignor understands us, our culture and it’s contradictions probably better than us. Some brilliant moments I had were when:

  1. She talks about how Hindus call the cow as their ‘mother’ and are against eating it. Wendy correctly points out that the utmost level of respect doesn’t lie in not just eating the cow! It’s sad when you see the cows in even the big cities, been left on the roads eating all sorts of crap!
  2. She talks about how Hindus feel bathing in a holy river, washes away all our sins and will get us ‘moksha’, while the river itself must’ve wanted moksha after being continued to be grossly polluter over years. That some of the women in the country won’t want moksha. They are just worried about what they are currently living into!

  3. She has commented on Ramayana and Mahabharata and called them a work of fiction. Continue reading ““The Hindus: An Alternative History”- Parts I Loved”