Saturday, December 19, 2009

Indira, a biography...Book Review

The author Pupul Jayakar, a close friend and confidant of Indira Gandhi. She traces the history of the Nehru family right from the Mughal times, where an ancestor of theNehru family occupied a position in the court of the Mughal Emperor, FarrukhSiyar. The book deals with the journey of the ancestors of the Nehru family fromthe Kashmir valley to the court of the Emperor in Delhi and to their finalsettlement in Allahabad.

Indira was born on 19th November 1917 in Allahabad, India, to Jawaharlal and Kamala Nehru.

Book is clearly segregated in parts, first 1919-1934 where Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister and Indira’s father constantly advised her to mould her future through the answers to the questions which have been put up by the circumstances. Book gives you an insight about Indira’s unpleasant childhood as she was frequently a victim of sardonic laughter by her aunt, VijyaLakshmi Pandit. Indira’s encounter with freedom movement came at an early age of 4 when her father and grandfather were jailed for the first time.

1935-1945, this was the period when she suffered a personal loss in form of her mother Kamala’s demise by tuberculosis. Indira grew as a solemn, introvert and precocious child.

1946-1966, India’s independence with the ascension of Indira as a fierce and modern leader. Meanwhile, she took the audacious step to marry Feroz Gandhi who was not only a parsi but his ideologies was completely different as of her. Year 1966, also witnessed the oath of Indira as the first lady Prime Minister of India.

Indira’s political career climbed all heights; however emergency calamity, cases of corruption and nepotism always surrounded her. Lady as fierce as Indira seemed precarious in her decision at times because of her overwhelming love towards her son, Sanjay. Nevertheless, nationalization of banks, initiation of Green revolution and Lenin Peace Prize are some of the timeline achievements.

One thing in which book lack behind is the critical judgments, it may be because of the close intimacy shared by Pupul and Indira.

Lastly, book acts as a huge source of inspiration for women who aspire in participating in political activities and believe in bringing out change in the system.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Gay Rights..

Last night, I watched ‘Milk’ a movie on gay rights and could not help myself pondering over the subject. We can not deny that Homosexuals have been a part of our society since long.

Religion has played a significant role in shaping Indian customs and traditions. While homosexuality has not been explicitly mentioned in the religious texts central to Hinduism, the largest religion in India. Some interpretations have been viewed as condemning homosexuality. However there have been arguments that homosexuality was both prevalent and accepted in ancient Hindu society.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community have been striving for an equal status; several marches in cities like Delhi, Bangalore, Pondicherry and Orissa have shown their presence in abundance but nothing substantial was done legally until July 2009.
Section 377 of Indian Penal Code formed in 1861 was restructured and redefined, as it pertains to consensual sex among people above the age of 18, in violation of important parts of India’s Constitution. “Consensual sex amongst adults is legal, which includes even gay sex and sex among the same sexes”, this was the verdict.

A wave of joy and victory among the perceived “deviant” group with equal intensity of opposition and venomous from religious groups all over the country was evident.

In spite of this, some questions are still unanswered, such as “Will this law stand good for long, or the Supreme Court may review it under the light of vehement opposition?”
“Will it change the perception in the mind, as it has always been considered as taboo”?

Legalizing is just a baby step to the long road; gigantic stigma attached to it has yet not allowed many homosexuals to get rid off their disguised and double lives. In rural areas, it is considered as an evil disease and people are treated for it.

Need of the hour is to educate people and raise public awareness with the support of Government. It’s just a step to change the attitude of others towards LGBT. They all over the world deserved to be treated with dignity and humility.

Let’s take a step for an egalitarian culture!

PS: With all due respect to the ‘Gays and Lesbians’ community, I would like to state that am straight and have no inclinations of any kind towards them.