In a big blow to gay rights in India, the Supreme Court upheld a law criminalizing homosexual sex on Wednesday, setting aside a landmark Delhi high court decision in 2009 which had overturned the colonial-era ban.A two-judge bench ruled that the courts should not intervene and that it was up to Parliament to legislate on the issue. “It is up to Parliament to legislate on this issue,” justice G.S. Singhvi, the head of the two-member bench, said in the ruling.The high court ruling was strongly opposed by religious groups, particularly leaders of India’s Muslim and Christian communities, who argued that all homosexual acts were unnatural.
Asaram Bapu Septuagenarian spiritual leader, who, having been accused of sexually assaulting a teenaged girl, indirectly bequeathed to the media the phrase “potency test”. The term confused journalists at first, but only until many realised that they had been administering potency tests upon themselves for decades already.
Davuluri, Nina The winner of the Miss America 2014 title, and thereafter the subject of a Times of India front-page story made up almost entirely of mean tweets about her. “Bigotry and bias kept popping up on social media for hours after the event,” TOI’s US correspondent Chidanand Rajghatta wrote, possibly having committed the mistake many of us journalists make, in staying on Twitter so long past deadline that we must somehow make Twitter the story.
NaMo The media’s favourite abbreviation for Narendra Modi. Not to be confused with Nano, an earlier phenomenon from Gujarat that also claimed to be a saviour of the masses, promised to make India competitive again, and is still not street legal in the United States.
Waar A Pakistani film released in September and rumoured to have been financed partly by the military. The producers, the Pakistani novelist Ali Sethi wrote in a lacerating Friday Times review, “want us to believe that yoga-practicing, slow-dancing Hindus (and not jihad-preaching Arabs and Libyans and Egyptians, to say nothing of our military’s homegrown ‘strategic assets’) are masterminding the suicide bombings and mass killings in Pakistan”. Waar broke the first-day box office record in Pakistan, earning 11.4 million rupees upon release. But for an anti-India film, Waar may still do India a spot of good. After watching a pirated copy of the movie, Ram Gopal Varma tweeted: “i just want to leave direction nd [sic] go to Pakistan to assist its director Bilal Lashari.”
I want Ram Gopal Varma to “leave direction” too though I am not sadistic enough to wish his movies on Pakistan.
Related to South Asia, Izabella Kaminska on Afghanistan:
Being a bit young and foolhardy at the time, I created an opportunity for myself to visit Kabul independently as a freelancer. I wanted to see for myself the emergence of a new economy. How a country where central banking and government didn’t exist worked. My piece was on the rise of the Afghani economy after “liberation”, and the players involved: looking at the investors, the operatives and the hierarchies which were evolving. I remember haggling for goods with dollars rather than afghan money, noting the clear preference for dollars and the irony given the disdain for America more generally. But I was also shocked and surprised by the variety and availability of goods everywhere around me. This was not like Poland in the communist era. I remember seeing a yellow ferrari come flashing by me in the middle of town. I also remember being shocked (at the time this was not a well known story) by the sophistication and extent of the private security market deployed on the ground. Also the quality of our meals, the fresh towels, the internet.
If you go to cross the street, cars actually will stop for you.
It’s a lovely country to visit. It is exotic, quite safe (these days), and it’s much cleaner than I had been expecting….
The place feels like an odd mix of Thailand and, of all places, Curacao. The old capital, Kandy, is vaguely reminiscent of Nara, Japan in its overall presentation and its feel of Buddhist classicism.
Interior design seems to be their area of greatest accomplishment. The relevant sites are numerous but spread out.
The literacy rate is about 92%. A visit to Sri Lanka will increase your opinion of “water transport” theories of high social indicators.
“I feel proud of the fact that those very things India was once criticised for, like population growth, etc., is now looked upon by developed nations for great consumer consumption. It goes well. I hate India being called a developing nation. I want it to be known as a developed nation…”
I hate it too. I think India should be called a “grossly under-developed” nation. This is one of the reasons I hate PC propaganda terms like “developing”-since the latter just makes elites feel good about themselves (“we are getting there..”) when that is just BS (no, even in 2030 when hopefully everyone in India can crap in private it isn’t still “developed”). In South Asia, India is clearly the worst off. Also notice other BS tropes percolating into elite circles- overpopulation is still very very bad as it always has been and always will be. Such stuff can do real damage if not called out immediately.
Related to the relentless “India Shining” “Muslim-baiting” spin by the so-called “nationalists” in India, here are some highly informative links by Riaz Haq:
IN November 1945 one of the top Congress leaders inaugurated on Marine Drive in Mumbai, just next to the Chowpati Beach, the Pransukhlal Mafatlal Hindu Swimming Pool. It was, and still is, exclusively for the use of Hindus. Its doors remain shut, even in 2013, for Muslims and other communities. No prizes for guessing who that top leader was. There was one and only one top Congress leader who would have done the deed, namely, Vallabhbhai Patel. For long a plaque on the frontage of the premises boldly proclaimed his achievement.
Its implications were lost on none. The astute advocate of the two-nation theory, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, was quick to seize on it. In a statement issued on November 18, 1945, from New Delhi, in a rejoinder to Patel’s speech at the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) session, Jinnah said, “As to his other slogans that Hindus and Muslims are brothers and one nation, the less Sardar Patel talks about it [the] better. It does not come with any grace from his mouth, at any rate. For did not Mr Vallabhbhai Patel perform the opening ceremony of swimming bath in Bombay meant exclusively for Hindus? Has he forgotten that some young men demonstrated protesting against his participation in the opening ceremony of the swimming bath which excluded the Muslim brethren even sharing the sea-water” (The Nation’s Voice, Volume IV, Waheed Ahmad ed., 1947, 3/3).
Neither Jawaharlal Nehru nor C. Rajagopalachari (Rajaji) would have stooped to this. Nehru had good reason to write in his Autobiography: “Many a Congressman was a communalist under his national cloak” (page 136).
Patel is best judged by the cabal which idolises him today. L.K. Advani: At Ayodhya on November, 19, 1990: “Henceforth, only those who fight for Hindu interests would rule India.” October 2, 1990: “Secular policy is putting unreasonable restrictions on Hindu aspirations.” To the BBC: “It would not be wrong to call the BJP a Hindu party” (Organiser, August 5, 1989; emphasis added, throughout). On October 17, 1989, The Times of India editorially censured him: “Mr Advani while holding forth on ‘Bharat Mata’, now goes so far as to deny that Mahatma Gandhi was the Father of the Nation” (for details vide the writer’s book The RSS and the BJP, LeftWord, Chapter 4, “The RSS and Gandhi”). The BJP’s affection for Gandhi is a recent and calculated development.
What could be said to be the first act of terrorism in independent India?
Everybody would agree that killing of Mahatma Gandhi by a Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse constitutes the first terrorist act in independent India. Godse, a Maharashtrian Brahmin, hailing from Pune was associated with Hindu Mahasabha at the time of Mahatma’s assassination and had his initial forays in the world of politics with the RSS. During his tour of the area Hedgewar, the first supremo of RSS, use to be accompanied by Nathuram , the future assassin of Gandhi. Godse had in fact joined the RSS in 1930, winning prominence as a speaker and organiser.
If somebody poses before you another simple query relating to similar episodes in the sixty plus year trajectory of independent India – then what would be your response. Perhaps you would like to add the death of Indira Gandhi – killed by her Sikh bodyguards , killing of Rajeev Gandhi – who fell to a suicide attack by a Tamil Hindu woman, or for that matter demolition of the 500 year old Babri mosque by the marauders of the RSS-VHP-BJP-Shiv Sena. If one follows the debate further you would like to underline the 1984 riots ( actually genocide of Sikhs mainly perpetrated by Hindu lumpen elements instigated by the then ruling Congress Party with due connivance of Hindutva brigade), emergence of Khalistani terrorists movement or the eight year old Gujarat genocide executed with military precision allegedly by the RSS and its affiliated organisations led by one of those Hindu Hriday Samrats.
Compare all these major episodes in the history of Independent india – which encompassed many a terrorist acts within them - with the mental image which conjures up in your mind or which finds prominence in the media when one listens to any terrorist act in any part of the country. Does it have any resemblance with the image of a member of the majority community or one of those minority communities ? You would agree that the mental image/projected image has features specific to one of the religious minorities in our country. If in the late eighties or early nineties it would have been the image of a turbaned Sikh, the end of first decade of the 21st century has found its replacement with a bearded Muslim.
Question naturally arises why is it that despite their participation in many a gruesome incidents, the role played by them in instigating riots (as noted by many a commissions of enquiry) or there [their]admission before camera about the planning which went in making a genocide happen (courtesy Tehelka sting operation or the interview given by Keka Shastri to rediff.com) the Hindu fanatic has not become a part of our social common sense. Why when someone called Sadhvi Pragya or Major Purohit or Dayanand Pandey or for that matter Swami Aseemanand are found to be engaged in conspiring and executing terrorist acts and police decipher their certain involvement in similar sinister operations earlier as well, we are ready to call them ‘exception’ and when a completely innocent Muslim youth is arrested by the police, the media is ready to paint him the real mastermind of few terrorist acts. Why the slogan coined by one of the majoritarian formations ‘All Muslims are not terrorists but all terrorists are Muslim’ does not receive broadest possible condemnation which it deserves.
The Cabinet on Wednesday decided to set up a permanent commission on forward classes to identify the problems of economically backward persons among forward communities and recommend welfare measures.
A sitting or retired judge of the Supreme Court of India or a High Court will be appointed chairman of the Kerala State Forward Classes Commission. Secretary (General Administration) will be its ex officio Member Secretary. Two persons from the forward communities conversant in matters connected with forward classes will be appointed members of the commission.
An official release said about 26 per cent of the people in the State belonging to the forward classes were not covered under the reservation policies or programmes of the government. Owing to historical and social reasons, a good percentage of these communities were economically backward. This limited the scope for education and employment of the youth in those communities. Members of these communities also found it difficult to earn a livelihood or use opportunities because of other social, historical, and cultural factors. The commission would be able to address these issues, the release added.
Which other states are most likely to follow suit? Tamil Nadu? Mayawati pushing for quotas for Brahmins in UP?
An internal analysis in the Planning Commission shows that India can eliminate the poverty gap by spending just a fraction of its annual anti-poverty budget instead of inaugurating new anti-poverty schemes. The cost of pushing all households above the poverty line would have been Rs. 55,744 crore [~$8.9 Billion] during 2011-12 if cash transfers were used instead of anti-poverty schemes.
In 2011-12, the year for which the latest NSSO Consumption Expenditure Survey data is available, the UPA government had spent Rs 72,822.07 crore [~$11.6 Billion] on food subsidy. The expenditure in the same year on the UPA’s seven flagship schemes was Rs 1,09,379 crore [~$17.5 Billion].
“The analysis shows our anti-poverty programmes are so leaky and inefficient that even after spending crores year after year, millions of Indians remain below the poverty line,” a highly placed official, associated with the analysis, told The Hindu .
“The government might as well lift everybody above the poverty line by simply giving them cash.”
Poverty gap is the amount of cash given to a household to lift it above the poverty line. It is the difference in the level of consumption of the households below the poverty line and those on the line.
I am being very polite.
And here is the latest from Tambrahm Rage (funny only if you know a lot of South Indian Hindu memes):
The August edition of Yathra- a travel magazine in Malayalam was exclusively devoted to the district of Malappuram in North Kerala. The subsequent September edition had a “Part-2″ section on Malappuram featuring numerous beautiful historic mosques in the district (unfortunately only one of those photos is available online which I have pasted below). By sheer coincidence I found out that Ajay Sekher had documented many of them with added notes on their importance and the Buddhist influences on them. It is amazing that he did this and shared it with all of us but I have to say that their pictures in the magazine were much more pretty. For example, I found the Tottunkal Pally [Mosque] in Ponnani exquisitely beautiful but it didn’t come out very well at all in Ajay’s blog. And there aren’t any other online sources either unless the magazine decides to upload their pictures in the future.
In Kerala both the Islamic and Christian places of worship are called the same- “Pally” which was also the name for Buddhist viharas (or probably all places of worship) in the pre-Hindu era. While Muslims and Christians in Kerala retained this bit of cultural legacy from antiquity, the Hindus lost it with the decline of Buddhism (Hindu temples are called “Ambalam” or the sanskrit “Kshetram” in Malayalam).
It is at Ponnani Madrasa that the famous historian (and author of what has been described as the first ever historic book on Kerala- Tuhafat Ul Mujahideen) Zainudden Makhdoom lived and taught.