India’s New Laws Hurt Women Most of All

India’s New Laws Hurt Women Most of All

On the evening of Dec. 16, 2019, a group of conservative, middle-aged Muslim women in hijabs and burqas began a peaceful sit-in at Shaheen Bagh—a Muslim-majority, working-class neighborhood in South Delhi—blocking a major road that connects the Indian capital to its suburbs. A few days earlier, on Dec. 12, the Indian government had passed a law that fast-tracked citizenship for non-Muslim refugees from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan who moved to India before 2015.

Bookkeeper of nature’s services

Bookkeeper of nature’s services

Two little words sum up the philosophy of environment economist Pavan Sukhdev. Value nature, says this year’s winner of the prestigious Tyler Prize, often described as the “Nobel Prize for Environment”, which was announced today. The former banker’s environmental activism has been marked by transformative ideas combining economics, policy and a personal passion for sustainable development to make people, businesses and governments understand the worth of nature.

‘Nobel for environment’: India’s Pavan Sukhdev wins Tyler Prize

‘Nobel for environment’: India’s Pavan Sukhdev wins Tyler Prize

Since 2008, Indian banker-turned-environmentalist Pavan Sukhdev has been warning the world about the kind of climate catastrophe currently unfolding in countries such as Brazil and Australia. On Monday, Sukhdev, 59, was awarded this year’s Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, often called the “Nobel prize for environment“, for “revolutionising how decision-makers would come to view the natural world”.

Sadaf Jafar, a woman who would not be silenced

Sadaf Jafar, a woman who would not be silenced

Is it because Jafar’s voice had constantly rang out from Lucknow, sometimes reaching thousands through her Facebook videos, resisting divisive politics, injustices, even arbitrary arrests? Jafar has been a vocal critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP CM Yogi Adityanath’s Hindutva politics, much before she aligned herself with the Congress.

MJ Akbar-Priya Ramani defamation case: Defense counsel team’s conduct at recent hearing proves women battle patriarchy in courtrooms too

MJ Akbar-Priya Ramani defamation case: Defense counsel team’s conduct at recent hearing proves women battle patriarchy in courtrooms too

When Ghazala Wahab was testifying against MJ Akbar in court, there was reportedly a snigger from the defense counsel’s bench. Wahab’s mocking at the hands of Luthra’s team was widely reported in the media. The reports that emerged are examples of descriptive, who-said-what journalism.

Mr Narendra Modi, Where Is Najeeb?

Mr Narendra Modi, Where Is Najeeb?

It’s been four years since a young, underprivileged Muslim student disappeared from a residential university in India, reportedly after a squabble with some right-wing students. His story had faded from public memory. We don’t talk about Najeeb Ahmed anymore. But the fresh state-sponsored crackdown on Indian universities and police brutality on student protests over the past few days is reason enough for us to start asking about Najeeb again.

Activist Deepak Kabir’s wife says he was arrested for asking about missing protesters, claims he is paying price for confronting injustice

Anti-CAA protests: Activist Deepak Kabir’s wife says he was arrested for asking about missing protesters, claims he is paying price for confronting injustice – Firstpost

Deepak Kabir was reportedly assaulted by half a dozen police officers who hit him with batons and rifle butts for trying to speak up for the arrested protesters. The 48-year-old had reached the Hazratganj Police station in Lucknow at 10 am on 20 December to find out about Jafar and other missing protesters. However, the police detained him and allegedly assaulted him.

Not Modi’s India Anymore

Not Modi’s India Anymore

By Nilanjana — 6 January 2020Ongoing countrywide protests are rooted in a battle for India’s secular values, argues Nilanjana Bhowmick. Demonstrators attend a protest against a new citizenship law, outside the Jamia Millia Islamia university in New Delhi, India, January 1, 2020. REUTERS/Anushree FadnavisA 31-year-old Muslim woman, Bijoli Bano ekes out a living as a domestic worker in the satellite town of Noida in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, while her husband works as a driver.

The invisible green warriors

View From India (New Internationalist Magazine)

Nilanjana Bhowmick heralds India’s most overshadowed environmentalists: waste-pickersRag pickers collect recyclable material at a garbage dump in New Delhi November 19, 2014. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood Old Indian homes from the country’s colonial past – often raved about in style glossies – usually have elegant, long, spiralling iron stairs at the back. These were meant for the sweepers or the waste pickers, mostly from the lower castes (the dalits or so-called ‘untouchables’), to use to collect waste.


How women in India demanded—and are getting—safer streets

India’s urban women have long risked harm just by walking down the street. Now there are signs of progress, in burgeoning programs to make spaces safer and increase penalties for assailants. This feature explores the steps taken by local Indian women to lessen horrific crimes and keep them safe.


(This appears in The November issue of Nat Geo Magazine, which kicks off the magazine’s yearlong celebration of women who fearlessly push boundaries and inspire the next generation of changemakers. This is the first ever issue written and photographed exclusively by women)

What’s Next for Indians Living Under Modi?

Modi’s individual popularity had seen a surge despite declining support for his lawmakers and policies. His ‘earthliness’, a carefully crafted image that contrasts with the elite, English-speaking opposition in the centre-left Congress Party, continued to make him a favourite of the aspiring middle classes, who identify with his rags-to-riches story to the extent that it managed to overshadow glaring unemployment figures (the highest in 45 years) and a spiralling farming crisis, which brought thousands of farmers onto the streets in protest last year.


#MeToo in India: Speaking up against non-sexual harassment should be the next logical step for the movement

My mother, one of India’s first women cops, often tells me, “You are lucky. Things were harder when we were young.”

I am not sure if I am lucky at all. At best, I find myself hanging in the middle of nowhere. My mother’s generation at least had the hope of a change. And I am supposed to be the change. But am I?

So much has changed in India since my mother stepped out to work. But two things have remained unchanged — women’s lives and empowerment, and how the men control it.

In her time, it was controlled by her male relatives. In my time, it’s controlled by random males. 


The Poet Has Left the Room

Bhattacharya’s most iconic poem, written in Bengali, “This Valley of Death is Not Mine,” is a chilling reminder of the way cycles of democracy, interspersed with periods of absolute fascism, both feed off each other. He knew fascism would raise its ugly head in his country again. He was absolutely certain. The poem—written in early 1990s— reverberates with echoes of this new India. No other poem has been or would be able to capture the helplessness and anger of seeing our country slip into the hands of traders of hate.


School Has Been a Right for Girls in India Since 2009. So Why Aren’t They Going?

“My brother and sister are very small. My grandmother is old and ill. If I don’t help my mother, she will not be able to manage especially during harvest season when she goes to the fields at 4 am to help my father,” Neha tells me.

It will be a decade in August since the Indian Parliament passed the Act. In 2010, when the act was implemented, TIME asked: “School is a Right, But Will Indian Girls Be Able to Go?” The skepticism was hidden in the question. The skepticism is now a fact, backed by statistics.


Lok Sabha polls: Patriarchy shrouds women’s vote in Bundelkhand as men go all out to ensure status quo

The unpaved road leads to a haphazard colony of mostly makeshift and a few pucca houses in Mauranipur, in Jhansi district in Uttar Pradesh’s Bundelkhand region. The lanes are narrow, the sewers are blocked with fallen leaves and sludgy water. Cows masticate nonchalantly on a sliver of ground visible from between two houses.

The daughters-in-law of Mishraji, the owner of a mom-and-pop store, are slaving over a mud oven, getting dinner ready, rolling out perfect round rotis and roasting them directly over the coal fire. Sangeeta and Bipan wipe off beads of sweat from their faces with the ends of their saris. The heat of the burning coals had hiked the temperature in the courtyard in the centre of their home. Sangeeta’s little daughter wanders in, smiling shyly at me.

“Do you go to school?” I ask her. “No,” she sulks.


In Uttar Pradesh’s Jhansi, toilets built under Swachh Bharat Mission exist only on paper, open defecation continues

I stood there struggling to make myself fit in the tin-box. The two feet by feet (barely), windowless container was one of the over 90 million toilets India claims to have built under Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the past five years. In trying to figure out how to negotiate my limbs, the curious journey through winding, steep stairs to the rooftop toilet and the subsequent 10-minute struggle to lock the rusty, clanging door was forgotten. The pan of the squat toilet was tiny, fit for a child. It was not meant for the long legs of an adult. The toilet is sparkling new. It was installed two years ago. It’s sparkling because the household doesn’t use it.


When viral hashtags promote religious extremism

In our hyper-connected world, hashtags are often a state of mind. A recent popular hashtag campaign made it clear to me that polarization and the religious divide are firmly entrenched in India. On 17 July, #TalkToAMuslim trended at #1 on Twitter. Over 500 Twitterati picked it up, followed by hundreds of thousands of ‘impressions’. Of late, there have been several such successful hashtag campaigns here, including the #NotInMyName protests against the lynching of Muslims in the country, and the global #MeToo campaign against the sexual harassment and assault of women. They helped raise social awareness, created a momentum of protest. I participated in them, too. So why did #TalkToAMuslim make me uncomfortable?


Militant Hinduism and the Reincarnation of Hanuman

Last Sunday, I was stuck in traffic on my way to Noida’s Sector 18. Craning my neck, I saw a sea of saffron ahead of me – men in saffron kurtas and turbans, on motorbikes, carrying swords, tridents and knives. They chanted ‘Jai Shri Ram’, ‘Jai Hanuman’ and ‘Hindustan Humara Hai’.

My taxi driver, a young man named Mustafa, said it was a procession by the Bajrang Dal to celebrate Hanuman Jayanti.

“But Hanuman Jayanti was yesterday?” I asked. Today was Easter.

“It doesn’t matter. They can do what they want, whenever they want. Look at those police officers,” he said. “They are standing there laughing with them. They are providing them security, not us.”


Modi’s Party Stokes Anti-Muslim Violence In India, Report Says

A joint report by two rights groups accuses Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its active promotion of Hindu nationalism for the spike in communal violence in India since it came to power in 2014.

According to official statistics, India witnessed more than 700 outbreaks of communal violence last year that killed 86 and injured 2,321 people. The actual number, however, could be higher as many cases go unreported, adds the report by the Mumbai-based Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS) and the UK-based Minority Rights Group International (MRG).

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As India’s Muslims are lynched, Modi keeps silent

On June 23, three days before India celebrated Eid, 15-year-old Junaid Khan was stabbed to death by a group of men aboard a train. He was going home to Khandawli, a village in the north Indian state of Haryana, after shopping for new clothes in New Delhi, accompanied by his brother and a couple of friends. The mob mocked their skullcaps and taunted them for eating beef, before stabbing them.

Eid was somber in Khandawli on Monday, as it was across the country. In a national first, scores of Muslims across the country offered their Eid prayers while wearing a black band, a symbol of protest against the killing of the teen as well as growing atrocities against Muslims in the country, which have been increasing since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office three  years ago.

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India’s feminists need to address why so many Indian women are killing themselves

While women across the Western world were waking up to the momentous Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21, women in India were already taking to the streets in more than 22 cities and towns across the country. Both marches were essentially feminist protests against misogyny, fueled by the organizing power of social media. The Indian march, with the hashtag #IWillGoOut, was prompted by reports of the mass molestation of womenin the southern Indian state of Bangalore on New Year’s Eve. In response, the organizers wished to take on “this … misogynistic culture of questioning women’s right to be in the public sphere.” The march was billed as the start of a discourse on “how women must bear the burden of several socio-cultural expectations in order to be deserving of “safety” — wear a dupatta, cover the cleavage, sit with legs crossed, don’t talk loudly, get home before dark.” But in a country of around 586 million women, only thousands turned out for the women’s march, as opposed to the half a million who turned out in the United States, whose female population stands at a little over 162 million.

I may know why the turnout was low. READ MORE