Putting the Sab on Sabarimala has virtually turned out to be the Kerala Temple’s lesson on inclusion. Riding over a deep-seated prejudice towards the women devotees the judgement may not have probably won over minds but it has given it an upstart.
Women devotees between 10 & 50 years of age were barred from entering the sanctum sanctorum of specific Ayyappa temples as the deity was a celibate. Women were required to carry age-proof documents for the same.
A 4:1 verdict was pronounced by the apex court in favour of women.
Ironically the lone judge who voiced a contrary opinion was a woman herself. Justice Indu Malhotra felt that the court should avoid interference in the absence of an aggrieved person from that section or religion who could have taken the trek to Sabarimala as a petitioner.
Justice Malhotra also opined that the deity was protected by Article 25 of the Constitution, that could have a bearing on the beliefs and practices of a religion. However, Lord Ayyappa has manifested in the form of a Naishtik Brahamachari in over 1000 temples where such restriction does not prevail.
The Pandalam Palace expressed apprehensions over the verdict. The Managing Committee Chairman P. Ramavarma Raja observed that it is likely to create controversies and problems across the society. The Sabarimala Melshanti has accepted the court verdict albeit disappointedly.
India Today columnist Angirasa Shresta argues that the temples should then not insist on the removal of footwear also prior to the entry for the same amounts to discrimination and is not followed in a church as well.
Justice Fali Nariman, A. M. Khanwilkar, D. Y. Chandrachud and the CJI Dipak Mishra were extremely vocal against the motion and sought immediate revival of gender parity. “To treat women as children of lesser God is to blink at constitutional morality,” said Justice Chandrachud. “Social exclusion of women on grounds of mensuration is untouchability and is anathema to the constitution,” said CJI Dipak Mishra.
Sadly enough, the women folk who form the cornerstone of this movement, for whom the huge battle is being relentlessly fought through the corridors of the judiciary has embarked on a #Ready to Wait campaign, preferring to wait until the age of 50 for “darshan”. The bulk of the Indian women are extremely God-fearing and hence have an unfailing faith in Ayyappan much more than the judiciary to meet their wants and desires.
Justice Malhotra was relatively correct about the need of petitioners for this case to take it to its logical conclusion. If the bulk of the women devotees are not inclined and prefer to wait, till the time they reach the age to climb the Sabarimala, so be it!!
The apex court, although well within its right to pronounce the verdict, the Ayyappa pilgrimage may yet be a manly affair with a meagre share of the usual elderly women in the group.
It would be quite a while before the younger generation of women would delve into Sabarimala cavalcade to experience the thrill along with spirituality and contentment!!
This could be a few generations away though!!!
The #MeToo storm: Adding a new perspective into the minds of the women
#Metoo is unequivocally the most cogent tool for women empowerment, a potent platform to voice their thoughts and apprehensions, to have far-reaching effects initially when indulged by known faces and names and with the media carrying it to higher penetrative levels. With the advent of social media, the reach may quadruple, but the trustworthiness may not last until a while!!
Women may finally find their bearings through some sound bytes wherein they can give vent to their pent-up emotions of hurt, disgrace, anguish and distrust uninterruptedly!! It could further usher in an era of gender equality through mutual respect and sustenance.
#Metoo has definitely, done wonders to the spirit of the woman as they join the chorus with a measure of ease and composure. Many of them had marooned their careers, apprehending trouble elsewhere as well, while the rest chose to remain tight lipped and diplomatically evade the issue. Needless to add that many of them found their career in dire straits!!
Tanushree Dutta can be credited to take lead in the initiative with her verbal assault on Nana Patekar in 2008. The time here had its imprint on the women as Nana had a gala period rejoicing. Tanushree had to abandon films and choose a discrete career in the US, after she drew a lot of flak from his paltry patrons in Mumbai. In the meanwhile, she was waiting for her to be vindicated for ten long years!!
Sandhya Menon, writer and journalist of the Times of India, was sexually assaulted by K. R. Sreenivas, resident editor of TOI, while Gautam Adhikari, of DNA, allegedly forced a kiss on her lips for dropping her home. The effrontery of such men as promiscuous as the above warrants stern action. While Gautam has been sacked from office, Sreenivas was asked to go on leave!!
Bharati Shukla & Reema Sanyal had tweeted about Siddharth Bhatia, founding editor of “The Wire”, who had a previous stint in DNA. It was about his weakness to bed young female colleagues, Bhatia also used to lick his lower lip, seeing the bra straps of young women in office!!
Stand-up comedian Utsav Chakraborthy of AIB is known for his fetish behaviour of sending pictures of his genitals to females without their consent. Gurusimran Khambha of the AIB is also involved in sexual escapades as per reports received. Tanmay Bhat the founder of AIB has been asked to step away until further notice.
Vikas Bahl, the co-founder of Phantom films may be credited with creative films, however, the same cannot be said about his conduct with his colleagues, particularly young females!! After baring his lewd behavioural pattern he was ousted from various projects.
The “sanskaari” man Alok Nath was apparently exposed by film maker and writer Vinta Nanda in a detailed interview. She alleged that she was raped by him after a couple of drinks inside the car.
The deluge of stories has just taken off and we are liable to observe many titans in the fray. The tales would be audacious and utterly rude. It is still a man’s world and the power resides with them. It is hence very important to exercise prudence and refrain from taking undue advantage of the same.
#Metoo certainly adds a new perspective into the mind of the women thereby compelling her to seek new avenues to meet her needs both personal and professional, in case the existing venue falls short of the same.
It would give her the liberty of speaking up loud and clear against any venture that fails to conform to her value system that she has set for herself!!
One more step to a tolerant society: India rejects Section 377
A landmark judgement that celebrated the constitutional morality holding it taller and more sovereign than the majoritarian preference, found expression in the corridors of the judiciary!!
Modelled on the Buggery Act of 1533 and adopted as Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, this law was introduced in 1861 during the British colonial rule. The intent was to chastise/criminalize sexual activities that violated the order of nature.
The apex court struck down the tyranny of Section 377 as irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary while making it clear that it would still apply to “unnatural” sexual acts such as “bestiality”. Justice Indu Malhotra felt that we owe an apology to the LGBT community for their untold sufferings and suppression of legitimate freedom guaranteed by the constitution.
We join the group of 30 odd nation that has decriminalized gay sex and has even further recognized same-sex marriage as well.
Gays / Lesbians can never be considered a sexual disorder, it is a matter of preference / orientation. They find love only in the presence of their partners as much as we find in our soul mate!! The community suffers a deep sense of anguish and a feeling of extensive loss when their preferences are not met. Social ostracization adds up to their angst that leads to suicides!!
Our constitution is extremely transformative and reparative, we need the right leadership for the metamorphosis. The laws need to be acceptable even to a miniscule minority without it infringing into their fundamental rights.
A further upsurge would be acceptance of gay marriages and court sanction for the adoption of children. To be fair to the LGBT we need to hasten this as well.
In a nation where even an inter-caste or inter-religion marriage is considered taboo, where the nod of the elders is considered paramount, where terms like love jihad are in vogue, where the moral police dictate social conduct, marriage between the same sex will tend to have an aversion of a very high order!!
When vote banks tend to prevail in the country the ideology gets considerably diluted. The judicial system is under extreme duress and could succumb to intense pressure. Religious and cultural beliefs take precedence over logic, reason and rational behaviour.
It is time for the constitutional morality to ride over majoritarian morality!!
Kerala floods-The aftermath
The Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) was formed as stipulated in the NDMA Act of 2005. It was constituted with the CM as Chairman and Revenue Minister as the Vice-Chairman along with a State Executive Committee. As is customary the board conducted its traditional array of activities that included various competitions like Quiz, Essay, Painting, a mock drill was held, women self-help groups were initiated, and international seminars were organized.
Disaster struck thirteen years down the line with intense ferocity and viciousness in the form of menacing floods that brought with it immense devastation to human life and property. Kerala was under siege with people taking elevated positions to escape drowning, the levels of water gained heinous proportions which severely restricted mobility!!
God’s own country cried aloud for His mercy!!
As the floodgates of heaven were thrown open, the sluice gates of the earthly dams were also raised to release the dam waters. The brutal force of the combined flow had its toll on the flora and fauna of the green land including the habitants!!
7000 houses were gutted, another 50,000 damaged, 80000 kms of roadways were washed away as the men, women and children struggled to stay afloat!! Population to the strength of lakhs took refuge in camps organized at comparatively dry areas which provided them food and a roof above their heads.
The use of technology hugely benefited both the survivors and the salvation army as well. Smartphones wherever permissible were used to convey danger or get information across to a large demographic.
Person finder tool by Google helped track almost 22,100 people. Kozhikode based Qkopy played a critical role in getting information out of people stranded in various locations.
Kerala rescue.in, the website was extensively used to coordinate relief efforts, they relied heavily on “Slack”. The CEO of Slack, Stewart Butterfield was kind enough to give the rescuers a free upgrade of the software. Several tech giants like Microsoft, Uber and Google extended their support to the victims in every conceivable way possible.
Remote sensing, GIS, satellite imagery is increasingly being used the world over to assess post-disaster scenario, gauge the level of damage and provide information to relevant circles. A set of remote sensing satellites and radar satellites have been clicking high-resolution images of the areas worst affected by the floods and the same has been conveyed to the relief centres and men at the helm for assistance.
The Army played a pivotal role in the rescue and resurrection operations. They saved around 23,213 lives as per the defence ministry report. 2000 people were provided medical aid, connectivity was restored at more than 45 locations. 22 landslides were cleared and 15 temporary bridges were constructed to facilitate easy movement.
The life saving techniques were unique to say the least. Choppers were pressed into service for airlifting people including a pregnant woman going through labour pains. The army personal confirmed that the lady successfully delivered the baby as well.
A flying ICU was made operational for diseased men with heart and other ailments. The ICU was stuffed with the state of the art gadgets inclusive of the ECG to detect and render quality aid to the sick.
The district collectors in the state especially central Kerala who faced the brunt of the floods have been highly proactive, accessible to the citizen and led from the front. T. V. Anupama, the district collector of Thrissur has been regularly posting updates round the clock on the official Facebook page to address issues related to the flood victims.
Food safety commissioner M.G. Rajamanikyam and Sub-Collector N. S. K. Umesh were seen unloading rice bags at the Wayanad Collectorate and others like RajGopal Sunkara a young Sub-Collector of Padmanapuram district waded through deep water to guide rescue operations. Hari Kishore a former Collector of Pathanamthitta was sent as a special officer to assist the relatively new district Collector P. B. Nooh. This was an example of innovative thinking!!!
The Khalsa Aid International, a UK based philanthropic group reached the state to help victims. Their group volunteers from the Indian wing reached Kochi and have set up a Langar to feed 3000 people daily!!
Help arrived voluntarily without having to seek for the same!!!
The floods indeed left a stockpile of destruction and devastation which will haunt the people of Kerala for the many years to come!! Keralites finally began to feel the ill-effects of a severe cash crunch required to rebuild their homes from scratch. The Government had to plan reconstruction of the public assets like roads, hospitals, schools and bridges for which resources and adequate funds were essential. While the lower class could claim compensation from the Government, the middle class were the most affected of the lot for the compensation sought would be inadequate to rebuild their shattered lives!!
Traders and owners of micro, small and medium enterprises could be appeased by considering the GST returns filed by them as the base to work out the losses incurred. It eventually appears to be the only occasion when honesty gets rewarded!!
Three lac farmers suffered heavy losses to crops spread over 56,439 hectares of land!! The losses are pegged at 21,345 Crores!! Added to the losses incurred by the impact on one’s livelihood, incomes and human development has also to be factored in during the times to come.
In more than two weeks Kerala’s flood relief collection touched 713.9 Cr. With the film fraternity contributing their mite towards flood relief with the likes of Mammooty, Mohanlal, Kamal Hasan doling out a generous amount of 25 Lacs, AMMA 10 lacs, Shahrukh Khan 21Lacs, and Amitabh Bachchan 51lacs, several others were equally benevolent like the Sun TV donating 1Cr, the MD of Lulu, Mr. Yusuf Ali 5 Cr, Attorney General Venugopal 1 Cr, Varun Gandhi 2 Lacs etc. Notable contribution came from a Kerala Pastor from Pathanamthitta district who offered 25 cents of his land to bury the dead!!! Very touching indeed!!!
The contribution from the states were indeed heart-warming. Delhi 10Cr, Bihar 10Cr, Odisha 10Cr, AP 10 Cr, Puducherry 1 Cr, Jharkhand 5 Cr, Maharashtra 20 Cr, Gujarat 10 Cr, Punjab 10 Cr, Telangana 25 Cr, WB 10 Cr, Chhattisgarh 3 Cr, Uttarakhand 5 Cr, MP 10 Cr, Karnataka 10 Cr, Manipur 2 Cr, Tripura 1 Cr.
While the social media was relentlessly proactive with succour and support to brethren in disaster a sadistic section of the same indulged in trading of blames!! While the CPI-led Government was severely criticized for turning a blind eye to the dangers sensed by the environmentalists at a time when they were traumatised with the gravity of the floods, various theories pertaining to Kerala’s liking for beef and its move to permit women to the Ayyappa shrine did the rounds on a frequent basis.
Kerala was designated as a land of atheist and hence was not worthy of donations from temples!!
Anti-communist floated a lot of videos in the social media forbidding people to donate money to Keralites as most of them are wealthy and could reject the money and goods sent to them.
The Central government has announced pittance as an aid to Kerala. A 600 Cr flood relief assistance will considerably fall short of its requirement when compared to the enormous contribution Kerala makes to the national exchequer! Floods are not that occurs frequently in Kerala despite the heavy rainfall and when the same happens once in a hundred years it needs to be attended with dignity and earnest!!
Ironically Kerala comprises of 28000 temples yet it is believed to be a land of atheist. However, divinity is all-encompassing and transcends beyond faith and beliefs.
I would like to believe that…….!!!
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