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    Dated : Friday, January 04, 2013

Hands rise, sparks fly: The many facets of India's one billion rising campaign

Pamela Philipose

It was the night of March 29, 1978. A young woman in Hyderabad, Rameeza Bee, was subjected to rape by three policemen and her husband beaten to death for resisting them. Public outrage and frenzy brought the city to a halt the following day.

Rameeza Bee is just one more name in the long, never-ending roll call of survivors of violence against women in India. That egregious assault on her is only one among countless others – many of them unaccounted, unacknowledged, unpunished – that women in the country have fought against.

Violence has, in fact, been a major trope in women’s activism in the country and today, almost 25 years after that Hyderabad episode, that same battle is still on. The intervening years may have seen the passage of progressive laws and the building of movements against such crimes, but it is also true that the violence itself has taken on newer forms and has been manifesting itself in ever more numerous corners of the country. Just one figure captures this reality. Going by the National Crime Records Bureau figures, incidents of rape in India have risen by 873 per cent between 1953 and 2011.

Over the last few months, the One Billion Rising (OBR) campaign has revisited the theme of violence against women in locations all over India, ranging from Madurai to Delhi and Mumbai to Bhubaneswar, and has done this in ways that reflect the creativity and energy of young activists and the steadfast commitment of an older generation of feminists.

The campaign began with a global call from American playwright and activist, Eve Ensler, to people around the world – men and children included - to root out violence against women and join in a global day of action on February 14, 2013. Over 5,000 groups in 161 countries supported the idea, whether they were resisting mining in the Philippines or female genital mutilation in Kenya; whether they were supporting survivors of acid attacks in Bangladesh or demanding new legislation on women’s rights in the UK.

Kamla Bhasin, whose organisation, Sangat, is the South Asian coordinator for the OBR campaign, argues that global campaigns are important because they infuse energy into national movements. “I always feel that normally when I am working, I am like a drop of water. But once I am part of a global campaign, I suddenly feel like an ocean. Let’s spread the idea, stand up together against violence, using all the imaginative and cultural resources at our command,” she says. 

Interestingly, even groups that have voiced reservations about foreign campaigns have come around to this view. As Gargi Chakravartty, working president of the National Federation of Indian Women, the women’s wing of the Communist Party of India, puts it, “It’s high time that women, irrespective of their affiliations, come together and rally around the central issues of the day. The OBR campaign is one such process, whether you call it a celebration or a struggle!”

There is widespread recognition that attacks and assaults on women, whether within the home or in the public space, are embedded in existing social structures. While Chakravartty argues that poverty itself amounts to structural violence, Vimal Thorat, convenor of the All India Dalit Mahila Manch, believes that campaigns like OBR should also recognize the violence perpetrated by the caste system. Elaborates Thorat, “Take the Mirchpur case in Haryana, where a 70-year-old dalit man and his physically challenged daughter were set ablaze in 2010. It had all begun when a dog belonging to a dalit family was beaten. When the family remonstrated, the local Jat community retaliated by setting the entire dalit basti on fire. That is the kind of violence we face in India today and women invariably are the soft targets.”

Women being soft targets was chillingly demonstrated in an incident that took place on July 9, 2012, when a young teenager emerging from a local pub was set upon by a mob of young men on the streets of Guwahati, Assam. Monisha Behal, chairperson of North East Network, looks back on that incident, “For us women of the Northeast, who have been working on issues of violence against women for decades now, what happened to that young girl was deeply disturbing because it demonstrated that women in Assam do not have any space in public life. That’s why we need to come together to say, ‘Enough!’” 

‘Enough!’ - That is also a message that Bawri Devi, an activist with Action India in the resettlement Delhi colony of Jahangirpuri, would like to convey. “I am a poor woman who migrated to Delhi from Rajasthan. We were finally resettled in this colony on the margins of Delhi. Every street here has a story of violence against women. Today, this violence is taking on so many different forms and we will have to fight it in different ways as well if it has to end.”

Rashmi Singh, executive director of the Government of India’s National Mission for Women, is heartened by the effort that has gone into the OBR mobilisation. “This is about bringing different stake-holders together in a spirit of oneness, and I believe for this you also need to bring the government into the picture, because government officials should realise that violence against women is an extremely important subject of governance.”

What is singular about the OBR campaign is the energy it unleashed, a tribute particularly to the young people who have signed on. They have choreographed dances, composed slogans, struck drums, made short films, and used the internet space in creative and impactful ways.

At one point during the Delhi launch of the OBR campaign on a late November evening, noted classical and folk singer, Vidya Shah, broke into a song that had everybody in a large auditorium throw up their hands in dance. In that instant the struggle against violence had become a celebration of the will to fight it.

Anne Stenhammer, UN Women’s Regional Programme Director, believes that tough campaigns of this kind need an enjoyment quotient built into them. “At one point I was in Kosovo during the war. One of the insights I had gained then was this: Because the struggle to rebuild a war-shattered region is, by its very nature, a long-term one, it is important for those involved in that re-building process to enjoy life, re-charge themselves. That’s why the fun element of the OBR campaign is very, very important.”

With its slogan, ‘Strike, Dance, Rise’, when the body itself becomes a medium of resistance, the OBR campaign is as much about building bridges and friendships as it is about a creating a common future free of the threat of violence against women.

(Women’s Feature Service)


Tips to heal from winter beauty blunders

As the days start getting chilly and winters knock hard on our doors, many of us go lazy and get reluctant to follow our daily grooming habits. But, the worst happens when we start opting for wrong beauty practices in this season that eventually causes dry and dull skin, chapped lips, cracked feet and many more. Here are a few tips to help you keep your skin soft and supple this winter.

Extreme hot shower baths

Chilly weather outside tempts you to turn your morning shower for at least 20-25 minutes. Though, hot shower pleases your soul, it creates havoc on your skin. Hot water causes blood vessels under the skin to stretch which results in loss of moisture. Besides, hot water also takes out the natural oil from the body leaving it dry. So, turn down the heat as much as you can or bathe with Luke warm water if you cannot tolerate cold water. Also, after shower, gently pat your skin dry and apply a thick moisturizer for deeper hydration.

Applying foundation on a flaky skin

Piling up foundation on a dry skin will invite more trouble, no matter how good it looks. In order to keep the skin smooth, exfoliate regularly with a scrub containing gentle beads and add a hydrating lotions or rich night creams. Exfoliation helps in regenerating the lower layers of the skin and keeps it hydrated.

Neglecting your hands and feet

Neglecting your hands and feet will make them look more chapped and cracked. Don’t forget to wear gloves and cotton socks to keep them protected from dry winters. Use mild, creamy soap and wash your hands/feet with lukewarm water and milk, as it would help in removing the dead skin. Also, go for manicure and pedicure to pamper your feet every six week.

Using wrong lip balm

There’s no doubt that your lips get most chapped in winters. Avoid using petroleum jelly based products and those flavored, colored lip balms, as they create an artificial layer and prevent the skin from producing natural lipids that keep the lips hydrated. Also, avoid licking your lips as it causes them to dry further.

Opting dark lipstick shades

Applying dark lipstick shades isn’t mandatory in winters. Trendy and new bright lip colours happen to look great even in winters as long as you choose a complete and correct formula. For medium to dark skin, go for red or coral shades. If you have fair skin, go for colors like red-blue or hot-pink hue shades.

Wrong soap based cleansers

Using harsh soap will leave your skin dry and patchy. In winters, when there is not enough moisture in the air, it’s essential to use a non-foaming cleanser like natural PH based handmade soap.

Not applying water-proof make up

Most of us relate water-proof make up with summers only. But when it’s windy outside, regular eye makeup can end up running down your cheeks. So, better switch to water-proof mascara/eyeliner and use a cream shadow topped with a powder of the same color. (Agencies)


Is 2013 going to be lucky for you?

As we step into the New Year, different zodiacs will experience different transitions due to planetary changes. Here’s what’s in store for you!

As the year 2012 passes by, we are observing the onset of 2013. For 2013, the nine planets would be transiting different houses and likewise delivering different results. The transit of planets in different houses in 2013 would mark the beginning or continuation of particular events in a native’s life. Different zodiacs have the same planets in different houses. A benefic planet in one ascendant may turn in to a malefic planet in a different zodiac. Let us try to analyze the movement of planets in different houses with respect to different zodiacs in 2013.


Natives born under Aries ascendant may experience improvement in their professional life as well as a rise in their incomes in 2013. However, there is a need to maintain a check on overall behavior while dealing with family members and people on the professional front. Precision needs to be maintained while dealing with spouse.


Natives born under Taurus ascendant may experience victory over enemies and may develop an inclination for research related activities. Those seeking a new job may be rewarded with a job. A long distance pilgrimage is on the cards. 2013 should be a lucky year for Taurus born natives.


Gemini born natives have to control their speech to gain good results in 2013. Try to maintain a harmonious relationship with family members. The second half of 2013 is likely to bring more happiness in terms of domestic happiness. Some auspicious event is likely to happen in the family. Those seeking alliances for marriage are likely to get married in 2013.


Cancer born natives are likely to experience gains from their efforts till mid-2012. Enemies won’t be able to harm you and stability would be experienced in professional life. Keep a watch on mother’s health during 2013. Those looking for a suitable match for marriage are likely to find the right match during 2013. Overall, 2013 promises domestic happiness and professional stability.


Leo born natives have to work extra hard to gain good results. Good results are promised only by way of self-efforts. Keep a check on your children’s health. Family, profession and income related matters are likely to gain importance. A pending loan is likely to get paid off in 2013. Post May 2013 is a good time for seeking alliances for marriage.


Virgo born natives are likely to be very lucky in their efforts in 2013. Communication will be the key to success for such natives. Discord in family related matters is on the cards. Younger brothers/sisters are likely to benefit in 2013. Post June 2013, things would improve drastically on account of family matters and profession. Those who are involved in academics are likely to benefit from their efforts.


Libra natives would experience lethargic tendencies in 2013. Professional life would improve in terms of stability. The year should be good on account of domestic happiness. Inclination towards spiritualism and charity is on the cards. Don’t be hesitant to spend on charity or religious deeds. Try to avoid the negative tendencies of your spouse.


Scorpio natives would experience a pleasant change in their rigid thinking pattern. There would be new/improved sources of income. The natives would experience fresh energy to accept new endeavors. The enemies would not be able to cause any harm. However, the natives should keep a check on their health in 2013.


Sagittarius natives would have self and family matters as their top most priority. Younger brothers and sisters would gain importance. Emotional and financial support from elder brothers and sisters is expected Things are likely to improve on professional front. You are likely to get rewarded for your efforts. New sources of income would emerge. Involvement in charity and related matters is also on the cards.


Capricorn natives would be gaining tremendous confidence on all grounds. 2013 would be an auspicious and gain providing year. Happiness would be experienced in domestic as well as professional affairs. The natives would be full of energy and would take rest only upon completion of tasks. The natives would undertake new projects and would be rewarded for their successful efforts.


Aquarius native’s life would be revolving around family affairs in 2013. Professional affairs are likely to deliver results. Those expecting a promotion would be blessed with a promotion. Stability in income is also on the cards. Enemies would keep at bay. Keep a check on your health. Religious activities can gain prominence.


Pisces natives can expect getting themselves tied up in the nuptial knot this year. A long distance pilgrimage can be expected. Some unique talents are likely to emerge from the native’s efforts. The natives can expect some disturbance on professional front. A displacement in current job location can happen. Check your words before you speak them. Try to seek your elder’s advice before making final decision about any subject or situation. (Agencies)


Removal of Vastu Doshas (defects)

As you already welcome the New Year, give your home and lifestyle a fresh start by removing Vaastu doshas. Some of the remedial measures, which may be implemented to remove Vastu Doshas are as follows:

1) Perform Ganesh pooja, Navagrah Shanti, and pooja of Vastu Purush before formally entering the premises of your home or office.

2) Perform the Navachandi Yagya, Shantipath and Agnihotra Yagya to get rid of Vastu Doshas.

3) Take a Vastu Purush idol, a Nag (snake) made of silver, a copper wire, a pearl and powla, wrap all these items in a red cloth along with red soil and keep it in the Eastern part of the house.

4) Wrap some red sand, cashew nuts and powla in a red cloth, and keep this in the Western portion of your house on a Tuesday, and worship it with incense for establishing a peaceful atmosphere in your premises. If certain old buildings need to be demolished, taking the permission of the Vastu Purush by performing the prayer prescribed in the Vastu Shastra is imperative.                                                

5) After demolishing a structure and during reconstruction, make sure certain old items like the main door or gate of the compound, any old earthen pot or certain kinds of old furniture should not be reused.

6) It is important to worship the doorstep everyday, where you stick the symbol of a Swastik, a design of earthenware pot, or Shubh-Labh, etc., with rice and kumkum. Also, while entering the house, do not let your feet touch the doorstep.

7) Rakhshoghna Sukta jaap, Hom and anusthan need to be performed on a regular basis for purifying the home atmosphere.

8) “Om Namo Bhagvati Vastu Devtay Namah” is a very efficacious mantra for Vastu remedies. Reciting it 12,500 times – beginning on a Tuesday – minimum 108 times everyday till it has been recited 12,500 times would be very helpful. At the end of the anusthan, perform the Dasamsa Hom.

9) Worshipping the Vastu Purush on a regular basis is important for maintaining harmony in the home.

10) Certain problems can be caused if the South-West corner of the home is cut or not properly shaped, and to nullify its adverse effect you have to perform Pitru Shanti, Pindadan, Nagabali, Narayan Bali, etc.

11) Performing Rudri every Monday and every Amavasya day may be useful in maintaining a peaceful atmosphere at home.

12) Keeping a photo or idol of Lord Ganpati in the house can bring peace and prosperity.

13) It is absolutely essential, from a Vastu point of view, to have a pooja room in the house.

14) The Griha Pravesh, or house warming ceremony, must not be performed without first performing the Navagraha Shanti pooja.

15) A house which has been lying vacant for some years should be occupied only after doing Vastu Shanti. After doing Vastu Shanti, do not let the house remain empty for more than 3 months.

16) If you have an underground cellar, make sure never to leave it empty.

17) Even the room which is in the South-West portion of the house must never be empty.

18) For maintaining peace and harmony in the house, light a lamp every evening near the drinking water pot in your home.

19) Perform the Griha Shanti pooja every year to nullify the effects of the sinful things we do, knowingly or unknowingly, in our life. (Agencies)

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A risk-free life is far from being a healthy life.
— Deepak Chopra
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