‘It took an event as traumatic as the Emergency of 1975 to polarise Indian society and make all of us take a stand on which political side we stood. I chose to oppose the Emergency and worked with many others who resisted the suspension of all civil and political rights’
Indira Jaising lives in Mumbai and Delhi and is Director of the Lawyers’ Collective (Women’s Rights Initiative), an NGO engaged in providing legal aid services and conducting research and advocacy on women’s human rights. She was the first woman to be designated as Senior Counsel in the High Court of Bombay in 1985 and is currently the first, and only, woman to be appointed Additional Solicitor General of India. Her election to the Committee for the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), on which she currently serves, has given her international experience in the field of women’s rights and enriched her advocacy. In this excerpt, Jaising recalls the influences that went to shape her as a legal professional.
I have often been asked the question how did you become what you are, how did you excel in a male-dominated profession, how did you come to work on socio-legal issues? I don’t know, perhaps there are no real answers to these questions, or perhaps all answers are rationalisations of one’s past. Or maybe some memory of displacement has always been with me and it propelled me into the fascinating world of activism in law.
My family is from Sindh, and they migrated to India at or about the time of Partition in 1947. I still have memories of my grandparents’ house in Pakistan and think of it as the home of my childhood. The horrors of Partition have escaped my memory, but the longing for my ancestral home has not. I sometimes wonder whether this longing is just another form of escapism or a symptom of a real connection with my past. Years later I visited Pakistan, a step which I alone in my family took – the older members of my family had no desire to do so – and remember the wonder that I felt when I heard people in government offices, the visa officer, the police house officer speak to each other, and to me, in Sindhi. For the first time I realised that the language into which I was born was actually spoken by a majority community in some part of the world. In India, from childhood, I was aware of the fact that in a country divided into linguistic states, the language I spoke at home had no state. It made me feel stateless. This feeling has been with me since my days at school, and I tend to think that in some ways it has given me a certain rootless freedom – of mobility and identity, an identity which I created for myself. I know that generations that came after me in my own family do not feel the same way, nor do they have the same memories. Perhaps I carry the legacy of midnight’s children. For the rest, my childhood was uneventful, born as I was into a family of businessmen accustomed to travelling from the port of Karachi to the port of Bombay.
Like all girl children in Sindhi families I was expected to marry early in life, procreate and settle down. I did neither. (I married much later in life, after I felt I had acquired a certain level of independence and autonomy in my career.) No sooner did my parents try to marry me off, than the question of dowry arose. I distinctly remember my proposed in-laws negotiating dowry with my parents. I was horrified. We lived in a joint family, and I had seen my cousins getting married with negotiated dowries and the consequent disputes in the respective families. The institution of dowry was entrenched in the Sindhi community, nobody questioned it. My parents thought it was natural, and even said so to me as justification for negotiating. So widespread was the evil in Sindh that it had its own Anti-Dowry Act long before our act of 1961. The community seemed to have carried its most backward traditions into India after Partition, but I knew that this was not the life for me.
My refusal to be bartered away in marriage gave me a sense of self-worth. The life option of an early marriage and childbearing having been ruled out, a career was what I wanted, the ability to work and earn my own living. I pursued that option and chose to study law. Not having any lawyers in the family once again gave me the freedom and ability to invent myself. I do believe that I owe a large part of my ‘success’ to the fact that I had no one in the family who practiced law, and so I could choose my own role models. But I found none. Again, I had to invent my own, which I proceeded to do. Having lived in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries as we have done, I have seen three generations of families of lawyers, from father to son to grandson – but never mother to daughter (or father to daughter) to grandmother. I have seen the transformation of law from being a profession to becoming a family business; what is more, I have seen members of the same family become judges, fathers to sons. It is almost as if I have seen the office of a judge become a hereditary one! I used to wonder how, in a democracy, such a phenomenon could exist. My good fortune (again related to the fact that I had no lawyers in my family) allowed me to escape that trap and look at the situation objectively and critically.
When I entered the profession it has a sense of stability about it. It looked for no change. Inherited legal practices from the British colonial regime seemed to be the only way to do law. The entire process of development in the legal profession was one which excelled in perfecting the tools, techniques and procedures left by the British. The prime purpose of the Advocates Act, for example, was to create one category of lawyers, doing away with all other types of indigenous practitioners. Unthinkingly, we accepted the oneness of the profession, without pausing to wonder whether it could serve the needs of the vast majority of people in the country in that static form. Those were days when the courts, particularly high courts and the Supreme Court, were unaware of their constitutional function and saw the judiciary as nothing more than a forum for resolving disputes. Those who were, chose to throw their weight behind a dying feudal order, striking down land reform legislation. Human rights did not figure in the debates or judgements of that era.
I struggled to find ways and means to make my work relevant, not only for myself but also for others. Fortunately, I was exposed to activist ways of achieving social goals, through a fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in London, where I met several people who were engaged with law in a mission that was larger than them. This was in the mid-Sixties, a time of intense activism around the world.
It took an event as traumatic as the Emergency of 1975 to polarise Indian society and make all of us take a stand on which political side we stood. I chose to oppose the Emergency and worked with many others who resisted the suspension of all civil and political rights. This represented a turning point in my life and, I think, in the life of the judiciary as well. (Women’s Feature Service)
Frequencies that touch lives: India's growing community radio stations
‘India today has 135 community radio stations and another 300 are in the process of being set up. The government is giving a major push to this medium by holding workshops across the country, offering content sharing platforms, making it economically viable for those running such stations and also linking up with them via Facebook’
Gurgaon Ki Awaaz, Lalit Lokvani, Chanderi ki Awaaz India’s community radio stations are reaching out to touch lives and livelihoods in little hamlets and towns across the country with useful nuggets of information spiced up with local folk music and radio plays.
India today has 135 community radio stations and another 300 are in the process of being set up. The government is giving a major push to this medium by holding workshops across the country, offering content sharing platforms, making it economically viable for those running such stations and also linking up with them via Facebook.
“Community radio station (CRS) is a medium that has potential to bring a silent revolution as it is connected to the daily lives of people,” Supriya Sahu, joint secretary in the ministry of information and broadcasting, said, “It is not a one way communication like television and radio where others tell and people have to listen. In this people participate, which is important in a democracy like ours,” she said.
“In a country like India there should be thousands of CRS,” said Sahu.
Gurgaon Ki Awaaz, on 107.8 MHz and run by a civil society-led community, caters to around 1.5 million listeners in villages in and around Gurgaon on the outskirts of Delhi. The station, which broadcasts in Hindi and Haryanvi, is very popular, says its director, Arti Jaiman.
Among community radio stations, southern India has the largest spread, led by Tamil Nadu with 22 stations. In comparison there are fewer stations in the Northeast and states like Odisha, where the government wants more stations to be set up, said Sahu.
The government has set up content sharing platform for community radio stations. “Like a station in Awadhi or Haryanvi may have very good programmes which could inspire other stations which could adapt through a content sharing platform,” said Sahu. The platform, Ek Duniya Anek Awaaz (One World Many Voices) has been set up by the ministry in partnership with NGO One World South Asia.
According to Sahu, any non-profit organisation can apply to set up a CRS. “It can be a society or trust, an NGO, an educational institution or Krishi Vigyan Kendra,” said the official.
It costs Rs 15 lakh-20 lakh (about 30,000 USD) to set up a station. Under the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17), financial support will be given to eligible organizations that have been granted licenses to run CRS, said Sahu. The ministry has also sent a Rs 170 crore (Rs 1700 million) proposal to the Planning Commission for supporting the community radio movement in the country.
In order to help the CRS’ become financially sustainable, the ministry has begun empanelling them with the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP), which would fetch them advertisements. Thirteen CRS have been empanelled so far and the others are keen to be empanelled, Sahu added.
Jaiman of Gurgaon ki Awaaz said her station was not empanelled though it had sent its papers last year and again this year. “We have taken help of a facilitation centre set up by the ministry,” Jaiman said.
The community radio stations air informative programmes laced with dollops of folk songs and humour.
“They are basically entertaining; most stations have entertainment as the base of operations, but not filmy songs. Gurgaon ki Awaaz has an excellent range of Haryanvi raginis. Not just locals and labourers, but also people working in offices call up with requests,” according to Sahu.
Community radio stations are monitored for their content. The CRS’ have to follow the programme and advertisement code under the Cable TV (Networks) Regulation Act. They have to maintain a log of 90-days-programmes at any given point of time in the form of a CD, which the ministry can call for whenever it wants, said Sahu.
Whenever the ministry gets a complaint, it can ask the Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Ltd. (BECIL) a PSU under the ministry, to monitor the station for misuse.
Jaiman said the ministry has been supportive, especially with its move to rollback licensing fees, but no order has been issued on the rollback so far.
She said the mobile revolution had bolstered the number of listeners. “Now villagers and migrants workers are listening to our programme on their mobiles, and all are connected to the voice of the community.”
However, Jaiman maintains that the telecom minstry needs to be more proactive, show commitment in CRS and invest in the social initiative. (IANS)
Games : Heroes of Ruin
While there is certainly no shortage of Action RPG’s, akin to Diablo, available on handhelds they all seem very cookie cutter, and missing some important features that would otherwise make the game feel complete. Enter Heroes of Ruin, a dungeon crawling, Action RPG that can also be closely compared to Blizzard’s juggernaut. While it still is rather cookie cutter, it also features some of the most robust online modes for a handheld. However, Heroes of Ruin isn’t the most complete package.
You’ll spend your time around the city of Nexus, where you’ll be tasked with awakening Ataraxis, who just so happens to be the founder of Nexus. With Nexus acting as your primary quest hub, you’ll be tasked with the usual, kill a bunch of monsters, collect a bunch of items, you know, the works.
You have a choice of four different classes to pick from; The Vindicator being the Paladin of the group, Gunslinger who is your obvious Ranger class, Savage who is the main warrior class, and Alchitect who excels in magic. From then on, it’s pretty much a standard hack and slash affair that is actually quite fun.
One of the most surprising aspects come up even before you make your first step as your newly created character. The game right away suggests hopping online and starting your adventure with three other people. That was definitely a pleasant surprise and not something you see on a handheld often. It actually worked quite well.
That isn’t even the best part. Your friends who are on your 3DS friend list can be tagged as part of your alliance, which add a whole new layer of gameplay to the game. While questing alongside an alliance member, you’ll be able to level up your relationship and gain certain buffs and effects. Some of these are truly fantastic and make questing with people that you know extremely worth it.
Heroes of Ruin does some other things right too though. For instance any loot that you pick up and don’t need, you can instantly sell, no matter if you’re deep in a dungeon. This quick sell system allows you to keep questing, without much downtime. Side Quest aficionados will be happy to know that there are lots to lose track of time with.
Now on to the downsides. Each Hero can specialize in three different Ability Trees, though they aren’t really trees, but more so sequential unlocks. After learning an ability you can then map three of them to your face buttons to unleash them on hordes of monsters. The problem here is that since the game is so easy, you’ll find that your standard attack gets most of the work done, which is truly a shame since some of the skills are actually pretty awesome, they’re just not necessary.
The menu system is tedious too. Not just because it somewhat slow to load, but you have to navigate a bunch of submenus just to get where you want to go. Scrolling through all your new gear is extremely tedious, and at this point.
While Heroes of Ruin definitely has some of the best online play capabilities of any 3DS game that I’ve previously got my hands on, it doesn’t share the same amount of polish in the graphics department. Seeing your characters close up, you really see how little detail was put into them. On one hand, it’s understandable, something had to be sacrificed in order to make the online play so fluid, but this is just an eyesore. The environments are somewhat of a mixed bag. Some of them look really good, while others have muddled textures, making them stick out like a sore thumb from their surroundings.
The game also shines when played in 3D, because the depth of field effect actually works quite well in isometric games like this. The problem is the slowdown. As soon as you flick that 3D slider, you’re going to see a noticeable dip in frames per second.
Heroes of Ruin is simply a little rough around the edges. While one part of it is truly great (fun hacking and slashing and impressive online play) the rest suffers from not enough polish. If you can get over the somewhat bad presentation, and not turning up that 3D slider, you will find that Heroes of Ruin can be quite enjoyable, especially when played with others online.
GAME RATING: 7.0
Beauty Tips : Tips to remove odor
1. Wheat grass effectively helps to reduce body odor. It is the chlorophyll, which is responsible for flushing out the chemicals emitting body odor.
2. When body odor is due to sweating, use of antibacterial soaps helps to remove the body odor.
3. Apply baking soda to the arm pits and feet, it reduces the body odor by absorbing the sweat, it is also a mild anti bacterial remedy.
4. Wear cotton clothes and socks, it allow free movement of air and dries perspiration quickly.
5. Instead of using a deodorant, apply alcohol or white vinegar in your arm pits.
6. If the body odor is due to any medicines, you have to talk to your doctor regarding it.
7. Tomato juice is an excellent home remedy for body odor removal. Pour 2 cups of tomato juice in bath water and soak your body in the bath water. After 10 minutes take a fresh water bath.
Book: Chennaivaasi, Author: TS Tirumurti, Publishers: Harper Collins, Pages 268, Price: Rs 299
This is a beautiful and engrossing love story. Chennai comes alive in the emotive saga of a Tam Bram family torn apart by the youngest son’s love for a blonde Jewish girl he meets in the US and who he wants to marry. His conservative parents are shocked; however Ravi is adamant. It is either Deborah or the family.
His father, who in his younger days made love to a white woman, now wallows in Tam Bram pride and dumps him. The mother visits Ravi and his girlfriend, who are staying separately, and is struck by her beauty. “She looked almost like a Punjabi girl, she thought, but fairer. Such lovely blonde hair. If only she were an Iyer girl.”
Just when Ravi wonders why he returned to Chennai with Deborah, help is on hand in the form of Kamala, his Appa’s younger sister who is very affectionate to the Jewish-American woman. Deborah quietly takes to Tamil culture and Chennai, even the language. She and Ravi work in the same company, live together (raising many eyebrows), but don’t marry.
The mother pleads with Ravi to let go of Deborah, and then pursues the same line with the girl, but fails to break their love bond. Her heart broken, Amma dies in sleep, just a day after reading her own fate in the Naadi palm leaves.
Months roll by. Life changes dramatically for everyone one day when Appa, who refused to let Ravi and Deborah wed, lands up at their house, begging to be taken in because his first two sons have gone wayward and are now interested only in the family property, not his welfare.
What happens from then on is a fascinating story set in the heart of Chennai and encompassing a variety of other characters too: Chinnamma, a Dalit woman who works for Ravi and Deborah, slum lord-cum-gangster-cum-Brahmin baiter Marimuthu, lawyer Vaidyanathan, financier Karim Bala... Each character is full of life, not to forget the sex-starved Bala and Diana in the US.
Chennaivaasi is also a commentary on Tam Bram (Tamil Brahmin) values and the joint family system. It takes you around Chennai like a tour guide! Indian Foreign Service officer Tirumurti’s second work of fiction is a pleasurable read. I wish it had a glossary of Tamil words for non-Tamils.