Sunday, April 24, 2016

'Allah megh de . . .'

Vartanama, Apr '16
By Pawan Dhall

April and even the run-up to it has been someone’s handiwork of a scorching earth policy. Even as the unprecedented heat snuffs physical strength and life across India, human-made or human-induced disasters seem to be sapping emotional reservoirs dry.

Greed and callousness led to a murderous flyover collapse in Kolkata on March 31, and was soon followed by social media rants blaming India’s reservation policy for the collapse. If Pee (Shit), a short Tamil film shown at an event ‘In the Name of Caste’ organized by Peoples Film Collective in Kolkata early March, was made compulsory viewing in schools and colleges, there just might be fewer such insensitivities.

In neighbouring Bangladesh, a rainbow pride rally on Bengali New Year on April 14 was cancelled and some of the participants detained by the police. A month or so earlier, Kolkata saw the release of Jenana, a Bengali film that purported to represent the life stories of trans women, but instead reinforced deep-seated social stigma against them.

Even the ongoing Legislative Assembly polls in West Bengal have become an arena of false hopes for trans women in the state. Two individuals from the community projected as candidates by a prominent political party with much fanfare have withdrawn because they felt betrayed, even as a lone trans woman has been appointed to work with Election Commission-appointed polling agents in the Belgachia constituency of Kolkata. One individual from a community estimated to be in tens of thousands and present in every district of the state!

In this parched social landscape, there have been a few welcome drops of relief. Recent films like Aligarh and Kapoor & Sons (Since 1921) provided some respite. More recently, a student from Presidency University, Kolkata decided not to cow down and filed a complaint against a bunch of men who harassed her for “smoking in public wearing half-pants” in a locality of supposedly ‘decent’ people. This issue of Varta too carries similar stories of resilience – see Star Quest interview with artist Anurag Maitrayee – Fighter with a Heart. Or, click on Maid in India to get to know Akka from Chennai!

As for the heat though, nothing short of some merciful rain will do. Of course, we understand that the political gods or the moral guardians of this country can do nothing to convince the mighty El Niño to hasten rainfall. But the least they can do is to not let flyovers fall, and surely they don’t have to prevent people from wearing half-pants or whatever they like to beat the heat – gender no bar!

Pawan Dhall aspires to be a rainbow journalist and believes in taking a stand, even if it’s on the fence – the view is better from there!


  1. Pawanji can u cite some of the occurence or reference of middle east. How they see SRH, women rights etc

    1. Hello Chandan, it's not quite clear why you ask this about West Asia in relation to this article. Could you elaborate a bit please?