india

arvan's picture

This is a comment on some things in Indian politics and US politics.

I’m not from India nor did I ever vacation there.  I don’t take yoga and I don’t own the Kama Sutra (why bother, when I can download it for free, anyway?)  So, I’m not an expert and I’m probably more wrong than right.  No cookies for pointing that out.  That said, here goes anyway.

Recently - Arundhati Roy agreed to write an introductory essay to “Annihilation of Caste: The Annotated Critical edition by B.R. Ambedkar" which she titled, "The Doctor and the Saint: An introduction”.  Hindu nationalists like the BJP love to get their outrage underpants all bunched up whenever Roy does anything other than keep her mouth shut, basically.  Roy’s introduction to Ambedkar’s work may cause Hindu nationalists like the BJP to be outraged that she dare to say anything that is anti-Hindu (which is basically anything that is not unquestioningly pro-Hindu/BJP). The BJP is for all intents and purposes, India’s GOP.  So, their outrage comes as no surprise for her association with a speech that Ambedkar wrote to challenge progressive Hindus on their own desire to reap the benefits of caste are antithetical to their stated organizational goals and perpetuating the targeted oppression of lower castes.  

Ms. Roy is fairly leftist, challenging empire, corporate-military capitalism, caste and so - she’s an easy and constant target for people born into wealth and status and whose bank accounts seem to do very well when the ultra-nationalist BJP gets their way.  

Jaded's picture

Surges Of Nationalism And Just Where To Stuff Them

The last few days out here have been rather strange. Strange enough that I actually paid attention to what was happening around me instead of just going on under the oblivious haze I call my eyesight. It so seems everyone is very concerned about 'India' these past three weeks -- concerned only in the worst possible of ways -- and more specifically about how is the 'image' of India being represented. This isn't to say there aren't such tower guards employed by the Government to make sure we're represented as a footstool of human civilisation and or as a growing super-power (as per your specifications and the amount of money you can loan us!¹) but rather the whole country now wants to openly engage in this 'patriotism'. For a while I thought it was because of the Gandhi anniversary on the 2nd of this month that has swept the nation into wholesale CountryLove but then I remembered all we do on Gandhi Jayanti is stay at home, drink the stocked up alcohol and try to look interested in the latest GandhiFlick that Bollywood spurned this year. And it turns out the real reason for this mass-ejaculation of patriotism are two entirely different polarised debates.

For the uninitiated, Delhi is the host of this year's Commonwealth Games and garnered a lot of justified negative reputation when ceilings and bridges began to collapse two weeks before the event. Of course the media had a field day supposedly 'exaggerating everything out of proportion' (frankly I don't blame them. I'd take the Government to task every turn I could too) while the politicians in charge started paling and gave out silly and inane replies providing the weekly quota of entertainment. In the light of these events, a lot of people were ashamed to think of what would happen to the image of India now? "THEY WILL ALWAYS SEE US AS A BACKWATER SEWAGE DUMP NOW" has become the chief concern. Not the gang rapes of Dalit women a few kilometers out of the national capital, or the fact that someone set another Dalit woman on fire after raping her but what will people (read: other countries) think of our sanitary practices. We're quite placid about massive groups of Delhi beggars who have been shipped out of the city since the past four months² just so the city can look like poverty never touched it but the fact that international candidates are opting out of the game makes us cringe wholeheartedly, collectively and uniformly. So the poorly constructed stadiums and terrible lodging arrangements are the source of national shame but the thousands displaced by floods last week in Delhi hardly make it to two centimeter notes in the paper. When I raise such questions, often I'm berated for being a 'bad' Indian; for don't you know good Indians don't critique the Government -- especially in events like this one -- but instead make groups to encourage positive environment? I didn't know either till fifteen different people sent me the same e-mail coaxing me to join the group that will magically pump me up with Optimism! and Happy Feelings! about the Commonwealth Games (without any drugs they say!). Which is the exact same time, co-incidentally, I burst a blood-vessel in there somewhere.

arvan's picture

Indian sex workers fight back with karate

Sex workers in India have had enough and are fighting back - literally.  The world's oldest profession is still illegal in many countries.  This leaves sex workers vulneralbe to attack from customers and police. 

There is a vast difference between the lives and daily existences of voluntary sex workers and those that are forced into sex work.  I choose to support the rights of consenting sex workers to make that choice.  I also support the rights of the human beings trapped in sex work to a life of dignity and equality.  I want people trapped in poverty to have other choices besides sex work to begin with and a way out for those seeking it.  Even those inside involuntary sex work deserve health care, freedom from persecution and violence and the protection from police from the crimes committed against them.

Jason Overdorf reports in The Global Post on the change in strategy for sex workers in Chennai, India. 

arvan's picture

After Speaker, now a first woman additional solicitor general

NEW DELHI (Dhananjay Mahapatra, Times of India): The Manmohan Singh government is all set to break another gender barrier that existed in the Supreme Court for nearly six decades.

After choosing Meira Kumar as the first woman Speaker of Lok Sabha, the UPA government has decided to reserve one post of additional solicitor general (ASG) for a senior woman advocate.

The ASGs play an important role in the higher judiciary as they represent the Centre before the Supreme Court and the High Courts in important cases or those involving constitutional questions.

This path-breaking decision will go a long way in initiating a process to reverse the trend of light representation of women in important posts connected to the judiciary, especially the higher tiers. Take for example the number of women judges in the SC, it had just three in the last 60 years — Justices Fatima Beevi, Sujata Manohar and Ruma Pal

Though the think tank in the Congress-led coalition government had little debate in taking this important decision, there appears to be a mad scramble for the remaining posts of ASGs among noted senior advocates, barring a few who are virtually sure of making it.

After getting back with a thumping mandate, the Congress-led government had decided not to continue with its previous term's `ally quota' system for distribution of ASG posts that in 2004 had seen nominees of NCP, DMK and even CPM get into the elite panel.

Having got wind of the decision, the allies started exerting pressure on law minister Veerappa Moily for accommodation of their nominees as ASGs. Adapt at handling such pressures, Moily is running a tight ship giving little away even as he has been holding consultations for finalisation of the list of ASGs.

With the top slots already filled — G E Vahanvati as attorney general and Gopal Subramaniam set to be appointed as solicitor general — the government is not in any undue haste as it has almost three weeks to complete the process of appointment ASGs, for the SC reopens only on July 6 after the summer break.

dhananjay.mahapatra@timesgroup.com

arvan's picture

Demography and sex work characteristics of female sex workers in India

Here is a good, solid report on sex-workers in India.  It can be found online here.  There are many sides to the topic of sex work.  For every sex worker there is a unique story of that life, their sex and their experiences.  This article says more about the economic realities of a woman's value in a society than it does about sex. 

For these women in poverty working in the sex trade, sex itself is not the violation. 

Being dehumanized, brutalized, infected, neglected and reviled because they are women is the great violation.

(Image courtesy of Boston Globe)

Authors: Rakhi Dandona, Lalit Dandona, Anil Kumar, Juan Pablo Gutierrez, Sam McPherson, Fiona Samuels, Stefano M Bertozzi, and the ASCI FPP Study Team

Abstract

Background

The majority of sex work in India is clandestine due to unfavorable legal environment and discrimination against female sex workers (FSWs). We report data on who these women are and when they get involved with sex work that could assist in increasing the reach of HIV prevention activities for them.

Methods

Detailed documentation of demography and various aspects of sex work was done through confidential interviews of 6648 FSWs in 13 districts in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The demography of FSWs was compared with that of women in the general population.

Results

A total of 5010 (75.4%), 1499 (22.5%), and 139 (2.1%) street-, home-, and brothel-based FSWs, respectively, participated. Comparison with women of Andhra Pradesh revealed that the proportion of those aged 20–34 years (75.6%), belonging to scheduled caste (35.3%) and scheduled tribe (10.5%), illiterate (74.7%), and of those separated/divorced (30.7%) was higher among FSWs (p < 0.001). The FSWs engaged in sex work for >5 years were more likely to be non-street-based FSWs, illiterate, living in small urban towns, and to have started sex work between 12–15 years of age. The mean age at starting sex work (21.7 years) and gap between the first vaginal intercourse and the first sexual intercourse in exchange for money (6.6 years) was lower for FSWs in the rural areas as compared with those in large urban areas (23.9 years and 8.8 years, respectively).

Conclusion

These data highlight that women struggling with illiteracy, lower social status, and less economic opportunities are especially vulnerable to being infected by HIV, as sex work may be one of the few options available to them to earn money. Recommendations for actions are made for long-term impact on reducing the numbers of women being infected by HIV in addition to the current HIV prevention efforts in India.
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