Saturday, January 30, 2016

A letter from queer India, supporters and allies

Happenings, Jan '16 (Update 1)
'377 No Going Back' campaign is organizing vigils across the country ahead of February 2, 2016, the day the Honourable Supreme Court of India is likely to hear the curative petition in the matter of Section 377, Indian Penal Code

Dear Reader

A court does not confer Fundamental Rights; it confirms their existence. The right to dignity, liberty and equality is ours, as per the Constitution of India. But a law that is currently in our statute books prevents its citizens, in particular lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender Indians, from realising these rights.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

‘Self-reflection abhi baki hai’

Vartanama, Jan '16
By Pawan Dhall

Media headlines on Rohith Vemula's suicide
Research scholar Rohith Vemula’s death on January 17, 2016 in the wake of the Hyderabad Central University’s unjustified expulsion of Dalit students last year has saddened, shocked and angered people across the globe. It has left many as stymied bystanders who for that fraction of a moment couldn't help marvel at the human capacity to hurt, insult, demean and kill a fellow human. Beyond this reverie though, it must give reason for those engaged in or even remotely interested in socio-political reforms to pause and reflect on their beliefs and strategies. No doubt tremendous efforts and sacrifices have gone into bringing about greater social equity in India not just since independence but even before it. And yet Rohith Vemula’s suicide and the events leading up to it and since then indicate that “Dilli abhi door hai”. Sounds clichéd, but painfully true.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Queer, Dalit and questioning

Insight, Jan '16
By Dhrubo Jyoti

The author at the '14th Kolkata Rainbow
Pride Walk
', December 13, 2015
Photo credit: Pawan Dhall
When Bahujan intellectual Kancha Ilaiah inaugurated the ‘1st Telengana Queer Swabhimana Walk’ last February, little did anyone know that it would spark a deluge of assertion of Dalit identities in queer spaces across the country. The well-known writer’s presence was part of the organiser’s conscious push to reach out to as many struggles and movements across the region – as a result, Dalit and Bahujan contingents marched in the pride walk. Later in July, Dalit feminist author Gogu Shyamala inaugurated Hyderabad’s queer carnival and expressed solidarity with the struggles of LGBTQIA people (an umbrella term for queer communities or people with non-normative genders and sexualities).

Reconnecting – please don’t wait!

My Story, Jan '16
Continuing a series of personal narratives on psychology, people and destiny, Pallav Bonerjee writes about his epiphany of the New Year – the secret to a good life

The New Year did begin with a bang. We had barely recovered from celebratory hangovers and sat down with our new list of resolutions and there was already a parallel list of incrementing stressors, setting in a flavour for the times to come. Delhi’s toxic air was crowned once again as the worst possible in the world. This led to a new ‘odd-even’ formula for taking cars out on the streets for the first 15 days of the month in the entire National Capital Region. This led to many interesting discussions, jokes, fan fare, heated debates and public opinion polls. Eventually, we gave in and settled down.

Salt, pepper and sex – on the table!

Creations, Jan '16
Pawan Dhall in conversation with advocate Kaushik Gupta, 44 and physician Dr. Archan Mukherjee, 33, both photography enthusiasts and creators of Colours of Love in . . . Monochrome, 2016, somewhat plain-sounding but easily the ‘hottest’ calendar in town – displaying it on your table may well call for revisiting and confronting your ideas about gender, sexuality and sexual pleasure

Photographs courtesy: Colours of Love in . . . Monochrome, 2016
Pawan: Before we flip through the calendar, let’s hear something about the creators.

Archan: I’m a photo artist and a doctor (Master of Public Health) and teach in a medical college – I travel between Kolkata and Durgapur for work.

Pawan: How did the combination of doctor and photo artist come about?

Stop passing the buck!

Advice - Disability, Jan '16
Shampa Sengupta argues that both government and civil society are not living up to their commitment towards women with disabilities

Photo credit: Shampa Sengupta
Rarely do we see news or photographs of women with disabilities on the front page of any newspaper. So when Ira Singhal made it to the first page of all the national dailies of India in July last year, it was a matter of great joy. Ira Singhal, who topped the Union Public Service Commission examination and made all of us proud, talked about the hurdles she faced in life. According to some media reports, she maintained that her parents did not bring her up as someone with ‘special’ problems and the difficulties she faced were more on grounds of gender than disability. Since this is her personal experience, we believe in her words. However, the majority of disabled women face multiple levels of discrimination. Sometimes they articulate the discrimination they face; at other times they perhaps don’t even understand the inequity and remain in an unaware stage without striving to change the situation.