A Journalist burnt alive, is there any freedom of expression in Uttar Pradesh?

What could be worse punishment for writing against a minister in Uttar Pradesh? Must not be anything because constitution of India gives us freedom of speech and expression but Uttar Pradesh Minister of Dairy Development Mr. Rammutri Verma hated it so much that he ordered the local police to set Mr. Jagendra Singh, a journalist from Saharanpur, on fire and kill him only because he wrote against him on his personal facebook page. Policing, bad governance and vandalism of ministers and ruling party members is nothing new for Uttar Pradesh but situation becomes worse as soon as Samajwadi Party comes in power. The whole party is full of bullshit, the only thing they do is caste and religion based politics to stay in power somehow.

The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh Mr. Akhilesh Yadav distributes free laptops but his own website is still under construction even after his three years in office. His father and chairperson of Samajwadi Party Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav claims that women are super safe under his party’s rule but when asked about rapes he says that “boys are boys and they make mistakes sometimes” . These are the people who are ruling the state so I never hope for anything else from them but situation seems really horrible when we hear about incidents like Mr. Singh’s murder and it becomes more horrible when such criminals are not even arrested. What was his fault? Media was pressurizing the Samajwadi Party to take action against the minister but they wanted to prove it as a suicide whereas Mr. Singh’s statement was recorded on camera while he was dying in this hospital. Here is his statement-

He clearly says in the video that Police came and they first started to beat him asking why does he write against the Minister Verma and finally burnt him up. Even after this statement the Samajwadi Party never admitted that their Minister and Police was involved in this murder. In fact his son also explained the whole thing on TV, his son also said that now he was getting threats from the Minister, they were also offering him money but the administration did not take any action against Minister Verma, they did not even register any Police complaint against him. Finally they just suspended two Policemen and that’s all. I know that people of Uttar Pradesh have made a huge mistake by choosing such criminals to run the state but I do have a hope that they will take revenge of all the sins Samajwadis have been doing in 2017 when we have our next elections. Jai Hind.

Blogging

I started to blog about six years ago and I have always enjoyed it so much. In fact blogging changed my whole life: it improved my writing, my thinking, increased my social networking and got me a lot of attention. In the beginning I was just writing about anything, even my guests staying at my guesthouse but later I took it more seriously and I started writing about social issues, tourism, corruption, politics etc. But now I have been going through really strange situation ever since my blog has gotten good ranking on google. I never paid any money or put any extra efforts to get good ranking on google, it all happened automatically and I was always so happy and proud of my blog.

But ever since I have been getting good ranking on my blog, I have also started to get threats from different people who are upset with my writings. It was the first time last year when I had to remove one of the posts I wrote about a very famous TV show filming in Varanasi. I just wrote about my views on how they contacted me first, wanted to offer me the assignment but when I asked my salary they said that they did not have a fancy budget to pay my salary. Later I introduced one of my friends to the team and he agreed on working with them. When the crew arrived in Varanasi, I was surprised to see how big budget they had. And finally the producer asked my friend to get him some empty receipts so that he can fill some crazy amount and get money for it.

It was a very strange experience for me because I had already worked with so many TV channels from all over the world and none of them ever asked for such thing. I finally wrote about it and it became a serious problem for me because the producer sitting in Mumbai office found my post way before the show was ever on TV. The crew started calling me several times a day and threatened me by saying that they know so many people in Varanasi, they will go to the court against me etc… Finally under pressure of the crew and my friend who worked with them, I had to remove that post and it was a very upsetting moment for me. It took me more than a few weeks to recover from that incident.

Anyways, something similar again happened with me last week. I wrote a post about a guesthouse in Varanasi based in my person experience about how stupid the guesthouse staff and owner were in dealing with their guests. Actually one of my groups was staying at this guesthouse in the year 2011 and I got a call from the guesthouse owner the same day the group arrived saying that I should tell my group that I can’t provide any services to my group. I was surprised to hear it and I asked him if he was sure what he was talking about and he said that if I provide any boat, taxi or tours to my guests then they would kick the group out of their hotel. The owner also suggested me some stupid excuses like I can tell my guests that I don’t know anything about Varanasi.

Anyways, I informed my group about it and they also talked with the hotel owner, they had a little fight but later everything was fixed. But the guesthouse owner had threatened me by saying that I am new in the industry, I don’t know the rules, I should not try to be so smart and he will see me. I decided to write about it on my blog and same thing happened what had happened with that TV group. They started calling me, sending me emails and such things. Finally I got a call last week from a dude in my neighborhood who asked me to remove that post. I thought a lot about whether I should remove that post or not and decided to ask the group what they thought. I was surprised to see that the same group was going to stay at that same guesthouse in their next trip to India.

They said that it is convenient for them to stay at the same place because it is the closest guesthouse to the building where they have all of their business in Varanasi. I was kind of upset after hearing this but thought what can I do if even the group is not supporting me. So finally I removed that post also. All these removal of my posts and similar incidences all across India have raised a serious question about whether I should still write about corruption or not. Recently a writer was arrested and sent to jail because he made a comment on Facebook about some politician. Where is the freedom of expression and freedom of speech? At a moment I had thought to take help of Police but later realized that Police is definitely more corrupt than any the camera crew or the guesthouse owner.

I don’t know if I will ever write about corruption issues on my city level because I feel threatened by these local mafias. I have a family and I need to think about them as well. And in any case I never feel like having enough time to become part of bullshit politics. Peace.

Rapes and women rights in India

Woman rights have always been a very issue in India ever since it was affected by invaders. And now the situation has become worse. If we look at India before invaders came, we see that India was a very liberal society with woman and men both having equal rights. But as soon as invaders came, they changed Indian society completely. They implemented so many rules to keep women behind curtain which kind of separated them from the society and caused serious discrimination against them and now these practices have become part of life in India. I travel a lot across India and as a person interested in human behavior, I try never to miss any opportunity of talking with people, doesn’t matter what subject.
Every once in a while I encounter in such conversations where people are talking about girls and just listening to them gives me a sense about how do they see woman, even who are their family. People react in seriously strange way when talking about woman. Three of my friends have daughters and I still remember that when I spoke to them first time after their baby was born, all of them told me somehow the same thing that were happy EVEN if the baby was a girl. I mean if someone becomes a parent then naturally they are happy and there is no need of mentioning whether they got a girl or boy. I could easily see that they were so happy, just as any new parent, but at the same time they were depressed also. There was definitely something missing out of their happiness.

The compliments of others who came to visit the baby at the hospitals were also very strange. They would come and ask if it was a male or female baby and as soon as they heard that it was a female baby, they would go like : Oh, but its not a problem, now the world has changed and girls are also doing so many nice things. These kind of compliments easily showed that the people already had an idea in their mind that the parents were not so happy. Noticing such behavior raise serious question of gender issues in India. We heard about Damini rape case in December last year and I noticed how big news it had become. Everyone was talking about it, people were protesting on the streets, media had nothing else to talk about other than this rape case, our politicians got a news subject to talk about : the party in power was promising some serious step and the opposition party also got an issue to make the other party look down.

I was wondering why everyone was so serious about this particular case when such things have been happening and will happen, because I don’t have any hope from the government at all and police is cent-percent corrupt, in future as well??? What about other Daminis who were also raped and murdered in the past? There has not been a single day ever since Damini was raped when some other girl was not raped in such or worse condition somewhere in India, including several in Delhi itself. It is my daily routine to read newspaper as soon as I wake up and I never find my newspaper not talking about some rape case somewhere in India. Reports are same more or less everyday that a girl was raped and thrown somewhere in either half naked or fully nude condition:  when family went to the police asking them to register a complaint police did not register the complaint: but when media got involved, police registered the complaint: ministers also promised something etc.

I have read several articles saying police itself raped someone inside the police station. I also read an article about a 40 years old woman who was raped by 3 men. When she went to the police station, the Police did not register her complain. When media heard about the issue and contacted to the SSP (Senior Superintendent of Police), the SSP himself said on camera that this woman was lying. She was too old get raped. In fact he asked media why someone would rape her if she is already over 40??? I was like what the hell is this? We all know it very well that it is very complicated for a person to get their complain registered and police does it all the time because once they register the complain they have to solve it also and Police never have time to solve any problem, they are always busy either relaxing, making fake reports, taking bribe or planning to torture someone without any reason but having such kind of excuse from a very responsible and senior police officer??? Later the SSP was suspended but I know that he will be back soon.

Last year an IAS officer tried to rape a 16 year old girl on a running train. Under pressure of other people traveling on the train, police had to register a complain but the very next day media reported that several ministers and other big officers either went to the police station or made a phone call asking police to take the complain back. But since the issue had already been noticed by media, police could not do anything and case was still going on. Finally last week I read another article in the news paper saying that the District Magistrate case was closed in the lack of evidence. The District Magistrate never spent a night in the prison and the case was also finalized only within a few months otherwise India has got most number of legal cases pending in the whole world and usually it takes years for a case to get finalized.

Another horrible case, I would say the worse one is of Sonali Mukharjee, a girl from Dhanbad, Jharkhand (Previously was part of Bihar state). Three boys from her neighborhood attacked her with acid while she was sleeping on her roof top in 2003 and the boys who attacked her are out of prison having fun or planning to attack another Sonali and no one talks about her. The only mistake Sonali did that she refused love proposal of a boy and that’s all. He attacked her with his two other friends and threw acid on her face. Sonali’s story is that she belonged to a poor family. Her father was a security guard at some residential building which means not more than Rs. 5-6000 of income per month. Her mother was a house wife and she had a younger sister as well.

Sonali was so smart in studies that her school had given her life-long scholarship, she was so popular in her school and her parents were so proud their daughter. She was also a National Cadet Corps cadet. In 2003, almost one and half months prior to the incident, three alleged assailants – Tapas Mitra, and his two friends Sanjay Paswan and Bhrahmadev Hajra – told her that she was a Ghamandi (arrogant) person and they would teach her a lesson. Her father later complained to the families of the three men. On 22 April, when she was asleep on the roof of her house, she was attacked with acid and left with a burnt face and other severe injuries. Her sister was also injured in the incident. She was studying sociology honours in a Dhanbad women’s college and also juggling a job with a private firm when the horrific incident occurred.

Miss Mukherjee and her family were then forced to abandon their home in Dhanbad, and her mother slipped into depression. Her father Chandi Das Mukherjee said, ‘We appealed in the high court… Nothing happened. They were sent to jail but were released soon after… Now they are busy enjoying their lives.”The law against acid attackers needs to be made tougher. Otherwise we will have many more Sonalis. Police sources said that the victim and her family members are afraid since two of her attackers, Tapas Mitra and Sanjay Paswan, were released on bail six years ago. The third accused Brahmadev Hajra was let off as he was a juvenile at the time of crime. She also pleaded with the Indian authorities to help her find justice, or else allow her to die.

A report about Sonali asking for either justice or mercy killing:

Sonali appealing people to help her by signing a petition

After all these things Sonali never got justice and the criminals are enjoying their lives, maybe planning to attack another Sonali. I just don’t understand all these craziness and in fact it is increasing. More and more girls are raped everyday and different people have different opinion about it. I have talked with several people on this issue and most of them, over 90%, blame girl’s dressing and modern life style. Many people also blame poverty, illiteracy and even Internet. Neither of these sound genuine cause to me. If its girls dressing or modern life style which motivates people to rape them then what about that 5 years old girl who was raped brutally in Delhi and so many like her are raped every day in our society. We heard about her only because media paid attention otherwise I can guarantee that so many other kids are raped everyday but we never hear about them.

I have also heard of so many cases which took place in rich and highly educated families which clearly shows that this problem is not limited amongst poor or illiterate class. I went through a very interesting conversation about Damini rape case in January when I was traveling on a train from Pune to Varanasi. I was in non AC sleeper class which is mostly used by lower middle class families. All of the people around me where from Bihar who were working in Pune and now going back home on vacations. I heard them talking about how do they find people living in Pune so different than the people living in Bihar. They were saying that all of the young people of Pune waste their whole time with their partners because the parents have got a lot of money and kids don’t care about their future at all.

They were also saying that they see young couples kissing in public spaces or showing other form of PDAs which cause frustration amongst the people like themselves who come from other cities or states where they never see such thing happening. They said that Damini was also raped because of such reason. The people who raped her came from Bihar, and as per the people sitting on the train, it was not their fault that they raped Damini but it was Damini’s fault that she was out with her friends in midnight watching a movie. They were saying that the people who move to big cities to work always leave their wives back at home. And if they see such activities like kissing or something else then they also feel like having sex and since their wives are home, either they have quit their job to go back home or find someone in city where they are at that moment.

And definitely nobody would quit the job, instead rape someone in the city. It was a horrible communication but at the same time it showed the mind set of such people. PDAs is serious issue in India. I know that everyone wants to do it but they don’t because of the local culture. But its becoming more and more common which means more and more people are upset with it. I have heard several incidents when a couple was beaten only because they were found kissing. There is a park very close to my place and it has become kind of love nest amongst young people of my city. I know so many people living around the park area who say that every evening they hide somewhere behind the trees trying to find a couple kissing or doing something else and if anyone is found then they either throw stones at them or just jump in between and say that they also want to kiss the girl or just chase them away and later disturb the girl.

I have noticed if people find a couple kissing then they thinking that the girl wants to be kissed, just by anyone and hence they also deserve a kiss. I used to go sit behind the park every night with my friends, have some beer and enjoy the quietness. I noticed certain people who would come every day with a flash light and try to look everyone sitting here and there. It was a very strange thing to see same people every day and once I asked my friends from that neighborhood about those people and they said that these people basically try to find couples kissing or having sex. And if any couple is found doing anything other than talking then problem for them. These people threaten the couples and in some cases beat the boy, kick him out and then have sex with the girl. I have talked with so many people about what do they think about a couple kissing in a park or just at any other public space and most of them have really strange ideas.

I was once talking with one of my friends, who is my age and is a software engineer and he said that if a couple is beaten because they were found kissing in public then there is nothing wrong with it. He thinks that public places are open for all aged people and kissing is something very very sexual and private. In fact he  asked me how would I react if I see a couple kissing in a park where I am present with my family. I don’t know what would I do, most probably just not pay attention to them and let them enjoy their private moment. I have no idea what is the reason behind all these problems but rapes have made the situation worse and it seems like its not going to change soon. But if I have to make a guess about my society, I would say it’s the Police, government of India, late and corrupt judiciary, some cultural problems and regular sick mind which is causing all these problems.

Police is 100% corrupt and they never want to register complaints because if they register a case then it becomes their responsibility to clear it and in any case any Indian police officer can be bought by offering some money. Corruption in police has caused serious problems in India. I feel like Police is somehow responsible for all of the problems we have in India. Late judiciary is also a very big problem in India which basically somehow motivates people to do crime. People know that if the go to a court then it will take 30-40 years for so called judgment to come. And in any case there is always a way : after district court, its high court : after high court, its supreme court : after supreme court, it’s the parliament and after parliament it’s the president where one can appeal. I know several people who were able to get the hearing delayed just by offering a few hundred rupees as a bribe.

Government also makes so many promises but never does anything. All of the political parties do politics in the name of caste, religion and region. They have nothing to do with development, education or any other issue that we are facing. I think that governments can do anything if they are committed to make a change but they don’t have any interest in such issues. Nature is dying, crime has increased, poverty is increasing, inflation is on top, scams are the biggest in the world…but government has no time to think about these serious issues. They are always busy in talking bullshit and doing scams.  India has so many problems coming from its culture. For an example, the problem of hierarchy on the basis of somebody’s caste or wealth. People evaluate themselves by their caste and literally talk about it in their regular conversations.

I know many people who belong to Kshatriya caste and they always say that they have politics in their blood, they are always the best fighters because they belong to Kashtriya caste…although they are really stupid. The male dominant culture in India is also causing such problem like discrimination and violence against women. I find present India really weird because woman power is worshiped by worshiping Goddesses when they are dead statues but real woman are raped so brutally that it becomes an International news. India, particularly Hindus, have a great concept of respecting woman. In fact the term used for women is Shakti which means power but I don’t know where all these concepts are lost? Female infanticide, depressed woman, violence and discrimination… after looking at the present condition of woman in India, it doesn’t seem like there is any concept of worshiping Goddesses or respecting Goddess power at all.

I am upset, India is upset, Mother India is crying and we need to change the situation. Lets pray that India gets its glory again and we become a really great nation where there is no discrimination against anyone….

A painting at Assi ghat

A painting at Assi ghat

Public Display of Affection in Europe and India

a young couple walking in Budapest

Public display of affection is something not seen at all in India. Actually its very strange here. The people who love each other are not supposed to show any physical intimacy in public whereas regular friends can hug each other, hold hands and sometimes kiss on cheeks. Holding hands and hugging is the most common act of physical intimacy seen in India amongst same sex person but it doesn’t mean that they are homosexuals. Its again very strange that homosexuals never want to hold hands, hug or kiss each other in public because homosexuality is very very hidden and homosexual people don’t want to express their sexuality. I have met so many Europeans and Americans who always thought that same sex people holdings hand of each other are homosexual because this is how it works in their world.

a middle aged couple in Vienna

Usually friends do such things and there is no idea making love behind it. If people see a couple kissing or hugging they want to watch it. Holding hands is kind of becoming common and is not kind of issue anymore in big Indian cities. Anyways, I have also grown up in the same culture where I never saw any act of physical intimacy in public. My city gets a lot of western people from all over the world who some time kiss and hug in public so at least people in my city have an idea about it. Every once in a while we see some crazy drunk westerner making love on the street. Making love doesn’t mean having sex but finding a westerner kissing or hugging is not something unknown to the people of Varanasi. Doesn’t matter whether they have seen it or not but they are very well aware of this culture.

an old couple in Vienna

I think that having sex or watching people having sex has always been one of the biggest attractions amongst us humans in our whole history. But the world has changed a lot within past a few decades. There are several countries and cultures where sex is discussed, is opened (doesn’t mean in public: in fact there are places where people can go in groups and have sex but is usually a group activity rather than a public activity), people have a choice and it is seen in a very different way than the it is seen in my culture and country. This idea of watching people making love or just seeing them in their undergarments is very exciting for Indians because we just don’t see such thing happening. And whenever we see someone in such condition, most of the time they are western people.

an old couple in Vienna

I am very well aware that a lot of people go to places like Goa in India just to watch western woman in bikinis. In fact, when I went to Goa first time in my life it was also to watch western girls in bikinis and find cheap alcohol. To be honest most of the woman I saw in Goa were old with ugly bodies:) Still when I see someone kissing on the street my eyes like to stop and watch it. But I usually try to avoid it because I don’t like to disturb people but my mind still talks with me about that picture while I am trying not to watch them. I think situation should be the same with most of the Indians, even the ones who try not to watch people kissing or making love. And I don’t really mind it because we just don’t see such thing happening and foreigners should also learn about these cultural issues before coming here and try to respect and be respected. But at the same time we can’t blame foreigners either because it is very important part of their culture.

a newly married couple in Buda

Anyways, I got to travel to Europe (Hungary, Austria and Slovakia) , in fact anywhere out of India for first time in my life a few weeks ago. Everything was different than what I was used to hence everything was a shock, in fact very interesting shock. I don’t want to discuss about all those things in this post but I would like to discuss the idea of the importance of physical intimacy and public display of affection. I had started seeing couples kissing, holding hands, sitting on the lap, caressing, nestling… as soon as I crossed the immigration area at Delhi airport. The most interesting thing was that very good percentage of Indians were also involved in such act who usually never do such thing in public.

a young couple in Vienna

It seemed like they had planned to do it as soon as they leave India but could not wait for the flight to land:) haha. Maybe they had not planned it together with their partners but they had planned it with themselves for sure. Experience make us feel comfortable and I could easily see that Indians were not comfortable doing what they wanted to and looked completely inexperienced. hahaha. I am sure that they did not want to do sex in public but they just did not know what they were doing. They didn’t seem comfortable even in touching each other but they were trying their best. I am not making fun of those people I saw at the airport but It was really funny and interesting both for a person like me to see them. Because I just don’t see such thing happening in my society by the locals and they had changed their as soon as they crossed immigration area at the airport.

even statues were making love

When I arrived in Europe I saw people kissing and hugging just everywhere even inside a church. They were very comfortable with it and it seemed like it was just not an issue at all. I saw people kissing in the train, at the crossings, shopping malls, restaurants, zoo…just everywhere. It seems like kissing is as important as meat to Europeans. I saw all aged people, literally as young as 14 years old kissing in public. Kissing seems very important to Europeans. Once I saw a young shop keeper smooching her boyfriend in front of the customer and the customer waiting for them to finish.

couples at Szimplakart pub in Budapest

I was very well aware about this culture in Europe years before I went there but I was still surprised when I saw it first and my first few days were shocking for me in terms of seeing people making love on the street. I think I had stopped noticing or watching it after a week or so but it was something which won’t go out of my mind soon. In fact once I was discussing this issue with my host Attila and told him about how I saw Indians involved in physical intimation in public at Delhi airport or in Hungary or other European countries I visited and Attila was so surprised and he asked me why Indians don’t do such things in India also if they like to do it.

men and women dancing together at a cultural event in Kesthai, Budapest

Attila had already spent more than an year and half living in India and he was very well aware of what I was talking about. I did not know how to make him understand but his question was very genuine that why don’t we do it if we like to do it? I knew the answer but it was hard for an European mind to understand. Sex is very very hidden in India, even talking about it with parents and unknown people is something which just doesn’t happen. Everyone does sex but they don’t want to talk about it. I have met so many people, to be honest all of the people all I meet, who find such sexual acts like cunnilingus and several other sex positions very exciting but they never want to admit that they do it with their partners and always relate with something coming from the western world which is very dirty, disgusting and unnatural. haha

temple art in Khajuraho, India

I am sure that everyone does it but they just don’t admit, even when they are talking with their friends. It is again very interesting for me to see why people relate such sexual acts with western world when all of them are mentioned in Kamasutra or if they are present on the temples of Khajuraho and several others all over India. I think we were practicing all of those acts way before western people started talking about it, at least it was very open part of the society thousands of years before the first sex museum was opened in the world or anyone ever tried to document sex in this whole world. Anyways, my issue is about present India so I should about present.

A young couple in Bratislava, Slovakia

I just mean to say that sex is a very very hidden act in India which is one of the reason why we don’t see public display of affection in India. The second biggest reason behind this issue is the safety of woman in India, woman rights issues and in fact safety of couples also who dare to show physical intimacy in public. It was hard for Attila to understand why someone could be upset by watching others kissing but I understand it very well. Anyways, Attila only seemed upset and I could not satisfy him with my answers. The world knows how Shiv Sena was targeting people celebrating Valentines Day in India. If we try to learn how they were protesting against the festival then we can see that they were not actually looking for people celebrating the festival but mostly they were targeting the couples.

In fact kissing is seen as a form of greeting also in western culture. Men are kissing each other in a wedding part for greeting.

They wanted to beat the couples who were found together watching cinema, hanging around in the park or other public places. So it clearly means that they were protesting against the people and not the festival itself. And I know it very well that the all the people who were protesting against the festival either had a partner whom they went out with to celebrate festival the same day or definitely they wanted to have someone. And I personally know so many people from my own city, who were part of the Shiv Sena and were targeting people celebrating the festival, now are either married with the someone whom they loved or they have girlfriend.

a view of Rajdari waterfall from Devdari

Only after a week after I returned from Europe I went to visit a water fall 50 KMs from Varanasi called Raj Dari. This water fall is a very famous picnic spot for people living in Varanasi and nearby districts and hundreds of people visit the fall on Sundays during rainy season. I was there to find rock paintings and to watch people. The whole region of Chandauli district has several sites with ancient rock paintings and tree fossils which are said to be around 1400 million years old. While I was looking for ancient rock paintings I heard a group of people shouting which made me look at them

Couples bathing together in public is no problem in Europe

It was a group of like 15-20 men, all different aged, mostly young who were taking a bath. A young girl who was wearing Punjabi suit was also taking a bath hardly 20 meters away from them. She was with her boy friend and wearing Punjabi suit mean her whole body was covered with cloth. That group of 15 men was taunting at her. They were calling her with the name black panty. And they were doing it repeatedly in front of hundreds of other people who were there. They were taunting such things like- call us also, we are also very good…

usual scene at bathing places in Europe

The couple was doing nothing other than taking a bath, even they were not kissing or doing anything which can be considered as a sexual act. Her dress was also not different than bathing dress of woman in India. I am 100% sure that it happened with her only because she was with her boyfriend. Most probably such thing would have not happened with her if she was with her parents. It happens with woman even when they are with their families as well but it is more likely to face such situation when they are with their boyfriends. The girl was so nervous and uncomfortable with the situation that she came out of the water and walked away from there.

Even when she was walking away another group also joined and they all started taunting at her with vulgar languages. I know that such things are less likely to happen in big cities and one of the biggest reason behind why such happened is because those people were locals and there was no security at all. But the question that raised in my mind was-

  • Does a girl need security if she wants to take a bath at a water fall?
  • Are couples not allowed to be together?
  • What do such people think about the the couples who kiss or hug, do the think that the girl wants to be kissed and hugged by just anyone on the street or do they think that she is a slut?
  • What about freedom to express your feelings?
  • What about constitution of India which allows us to choose our life partner?
  • What about constitution of us human beings which allows us to live and let others live?

a couple in Bratislava, Slovakia

There are thousands of questions but its very sad that because of such practices we just don’t have any answer for them. The bitter truth is that if we try to study the mentality of such people then we find out that if they see a girl doing anything which can be considers a sexual act, even kissing or hugging, the girl is immediately thought to be a slut who is wanting such thing to be done with herself by just anyone. In small Indian cities and villages If a girl is found in relationship with anyone boy then people talk about it and now the whole neighborhood wants to try that girl out.

I don’t know what is right or wrong but it was really upsetting for me to see how that girl was being taunted and abused only because she was with her boyfriend. The radical and nationalist groups in India relate such things with something coming from the western world and we should not allow such things because it is against Indian culture. But I think we as a human have a human culture before we get into any particular country’s culture. Love, hate, emotions, feelings are natural human behavior and it just can’t be stopped. And in any case if something hurts us then we should try to control ourselves first and then think about others.

I still don’t know whether my Indian system is better than what I saw in Europe or not but one thing is very sure that woman are living in very tough condition in India. If we just look at this data it can easily tell the story about woman in India. But one thing I would like say for sure that whatever I saw in Europe looked really lovely and I saw Indians also enjoying it in Europe and missing in their own country. Jai Hind. I got a funny picture online which shows the difference I am trying to talk about-

caste discrimination in India

Castism is a really huge issue in India and people have crazy ideas about it. Its really sad the way we forgot real castism and now discriminate against people on the basis on their caste. In the ancient time the caste was decided by somebody’s profession and not by the caste of their parents but at present the caste is decided by their parent’s caste. I had always thought that such practices are not very strong in Indian cities amongst educated people anymore but yesterday something happened with me which made think twice about it and made me realize that the people who discriminate against others on the basis of their caste are everywhere in India.

Yesterday my uncle, who is a professor, from Andaman and Nicobar Islands was visiting me yesterday. He first went to his village and hired a taxi to come to Varanasi. The driver of the taxi was also from his village and knew him very well. I was supposed to arrange dinner and accommodation for them at my home.  After giving a room to my uncle I was going to give another room to the driver but my uncle said that the driver won’t sleep on the bed and he would sleep on the floor. I asked him why and he said because he belonged to a lower caste called Pasi.

I was to shocked to hear these words from a professor. I told him that I had no problem with him sleeping on a bed in my home and he said that he won’t allow him to do so and all this conversation was going on in front of the driver. I was really ashamed to hear this and when I looked at the driver, he was also looking down with his head down. I did not want to see this happen and I told my uncle to let him sleep in a room on bed but my uncle just did not want this to happen. He asked me to provide a mat to the driver on the roof so that he could sleep there.

Summers are terribly hot and humid in Varanasi and I knew it very well that its not comfortable at all to sleep on the roof if the weather is not good. I was feeling so bad for the driver but I just could not do anything. Finally I had to provide a mat to him on the rooftop. Now it was the food time. I took food for the driver and was going to give it to him on the roof and then again my uncle appeared and asked me to change dishes. He meant to say that I should not give him the food in the dishes we use in everyday life. This was just too much but again I could not do anything.

I again told him it was no problem for me if a person belonging to a schedule caste eats in my dishes but he said that if I do such thing then he won’t eat at home as this process would make my home impure. I think it was biggest surprise for me within past a few years to hear such wordings from a well-educated person. He asked me to take a plastic plate and serve the food in it. I took a plastic plate but I did not have a plastic bowl hence I again used the steel bowl what we use at home and he did not even want this. Finally I had to arrange a clay pot to serve food. I was so angry that I did not even want to see my uncle or listen to him hence I had to do it.

I felt really bad after seeing what happened with the driver and was wondering how my society could change if such evils like my uncle are still there in the society? A well-educated person doing such thing, unbelievable. Politicians are also taking full advantage of this system by introducing new reservations everyday and not talking about ending them at all.  India talks about becoming a world power, IT hub, super strong country but if we don’t even respect our own people, our own society then how can we can even talk about development? Is money the only happiness? Happiness and equal rights don’t mean anything? Is India really changing? Are we really developing and becoming a super power or happy country? After going through this incident I can easily say, “NO”.

 

 

the food in a plastic plate with clay bowl and plastic glass

Mumbai Gay Pride 2011

rainbow flag at the parade

Mumbai, the place of most happening Gay events in India hosted its gay pride march on 29th of January and I went to attend it. The parade was organized by Humsafar Trust which is the biggest organization working on LGBT rights in Maharastra. They used to celebrate the pride on 16th of August every year but this year date was changed because of hot weather conditions in Mumbai in the month of August. They used to celebrate pride on the 16th because they believe that India got independence on the 15th of August 1947 but the gay community in India never got independence hence they started celebrating pride on the next day of independence day.

Celina Jaitely at the parade

I had already been to the Mumbai pride parade in 2009 so I also felt that it was good decision to change the date. Anyways, the parade started from the same place where it started last year- Azad Maidan and ended at Girgaum Chowpatty. It was like 5-6 Kms walk. At least a few hundred people had already gathered before I arrived at Azad Maidan and they had speeches going on. Only after a few minutes Celina Jaitely, a very famous Bollywood actress, arrived which brought extra energy amongst the participants. Celina has always been interested in LGBT issues and has been supporting the NGOs working on it. Once she admitted that her ex-boyfriend was a homosexual. She is one of the biggest names working on LGBT issues in India. I have seen her several interviews on TV and newspapers where she talks about equal rights for LGBT community.  I had seen her in 2009 parade as well. It is nice that such celebrities participate in the pride event.

Azaad Bazaar

After a speech from Celina and other social activists the parade finally started. I saw something new this year that Humsafar Trust opened India’s first LGBT friendly store in Mumbai and they were advertising it in the parade. The shop is called Azaad Bazaar means independent store in Hindi. The liked the idea of having a special place for LGBT community because there is huge discrimination against them in India, they are made fun of. They do not feel comfortable just everywhere. And if there are such places like Azaad Bazaar then the LGBT community people could go shopping freely and meet up. In fact such places could bring change into the society because they are 365 days an year advertisement place. They are visible places and if straight community people see it then at least they would talk about it for sure and I always believe that communication can solve a lot of problems.

the parade

The parade started with at least 1500 people but soon it turned into a happy parade event of at least 2500-3000 people. The entire road was full of participants dancing and cheering up. There were people from many different places, even foreign countries.This year parade was also mix of tradition and modern culture. I got to see the most modern looking people in whole India and at the same time there were so many groups who had dressed very traditionally and were performing traditional dances and were singing traditional songs.

Laxmi Narayan Tripathi

I had once asked an officer at the Humsafar Trust about why there were so many people dressed very traditionally and he said that it is done intentionally so that Mumbai pride parade doesn’t become completely western and it is always easier to get acceptance if local culture in involved in it. And since India has the oldest gay culture in the whole world, it is always nice to mix the gay events with traditions and culture. I loved this idea. Anyways, the parade was full of joy, happiness and freedom. I saw less people wearing masks this year which clearly means that the LGBT community in Mumbai is becoming open and is fighting for their rights. Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a famous Hijra social activist, also joined the parade. She is just awesome. I have already met her several times, interviewed her and I like her a lot. I think she is the most famous Hijra in the whole world.

God loves everyone

I was noticing a person for a while but did not know who he was. He was dressed like a king and I had seen him in 2009 parade also. I asked a friend and he said that he belonged to a royal family from Gujrat and was an open gay. His name was Manvendra Singh Gohil. After he revealed his homosexuality, there was some tension in the royal family and he finally started working with LGBT community in India. He started his work first with the LGBT community in Gujrat. He has in fact announced that he would adopt a child. It was nice to see big names coming out in the society and accepting their sexuality and demanding for equal rights. It was especially nice of Mr. Gohil because he comes from a royal family in India and royal families are very important for the society. If they make any changes then the society accepts it easily the same way change in the caste system along with a lot of other changes were accepted without any question.

support

I also noticed more family support this year. I saw a few people with writings like I am proud of my gay son or grand son. I saw a writing saying proud of my gay brother. I am sure that the people who are proud of their gay family members are not even one percent in number but I see the change, more and more people are accepting LGBT community. The parade finally ended at the Girgaum Chowpaty with a few speeches from social activists demanding for equal rights for LGBT community. India has already legalized gay sex practices and now they are demanding for legalizing gay marriages and equal rights. I am not sure if the situation is going to change soon. Doesn’t matter whether government allows gay marriages or not or whether they promise equal rights or not but society is not going to change soon. I have not personally seen any change in the ideas for LGBT community amongst the people of India.

great

But the good thing is that at least people have started talking about it. I see more open gay couples in the society which is a clear indication of change. But I think LGBT community is also a little bit responsible for discrimination amongst them. Sometimes they do strange things like I saw a couple of people opening their pants and showing their genitalia to the people. They were kissing each other on the main road which is not seen in India. I am not against the idea of kissing each other but I believe that if such thing is not practiced in India openly on the road then they should also not do this.

society

They won’t become part of the mainstream society until they start acting like mainstream. I believe that human feeling is same doesn’t matter whether they are gay or straight but there are some social rules and everyone should follow it. Anyways, it was good to attend the parade learn more about the community. I plan to attend the parade next year as well with a better camera. I could not make videos or interview people this year but next year I will definitely come up with more digital records of the event.

Happy Ending of the Parade

Please click here for more pictures of the pride parade-

Delhi Gay Pride 2010

Delhi pride

Delhi celebrated its Gay pride parade this year on 28th of November and I again went to attend it. They used to organize it in the month of June until last year but this year the date was changed because Delhi gets horribly hot during the month of June. I also feel that it was a nice decision. This year was important for me as it was Delhi’s first biggest gay event after decriminalization of section 377and I wanted to see the reaction of people. This year I went to the parade with my friend Babu. Later Ravikant also joined me who was me in Delhi for some personal business.

participants

I had already been to so many gay parades taking place in India hence nothing was surprising for me but Babu and Ravi were just shocked. They had no idea of what was going on. Anyways, the parade started from Barakhambha road and ended at Jantar Mantar which was around 2 hours of walk. When I arrived at Barakhambha, there were already a few hundred people. A lot of them were dressing up, a few people were distributing masks, pamphlets and candies. I have noticed one thing that Delhi pride has always a good number of Hijras.

demands

The parade seemed way bigger than the last year and it was more diverse as well. There were all kinds of people- families, Hijras, LGBT community people, students, straights… The parade started with dancing, music, slogans… and very soon hundreds of more people joined in. The paraded was guarded with hundreds of police who would sometimes stop the traffic as well so that the parade could pass easily.  The parade lasted for about three hours and it was just like any other gay pride parade in India which was a blender of modernity and tradition. A few groups were dressed traditionally and a few people looked very very modern. The parade had a huge support of students. There were a lot of young people in the parade.

love

The parade finally arrived at its destination- Jantar Mantar where they had a few speeches of social workers, organizers and participants. A huge organization called NAPM also joined the parade this year and they announced that they are also with the LGBT community in India and would fight for them. NAPM is a huge organization working of several different issues all over India and if they also support LGBT community activity then I am sure it could bring a huge change in the society. I have been working with one of the state conveyors of NAPM in UP named Nandlal Master for a long time so it was good to see that NAPM also got involved. It was a good news because I have already been planning to organize a gay pride parade in Varanasi and if NAPM supports it then it could be a big help for me.

support

All the speeches happened and people talked about different issues but mostly people talked about how they are discriminated in the society. A few people came on the state with masks over their face but after arriving on the stage, they took off their mask and said that they were feeling so confident after attending the parade and now did not want to hide their identity and sexuality anymore. Finally they had a candle lighting program which ended the parade for this year. I was told that there would a party after the parade and I was so excited for it. I had already attended a few post parade parties and I really loved them. Somebody told me that since the number of participants increased in the parade, they have organized parties at several different places. Some of them were paid and some were free.

definitely

I asked about it to a few people and they gave me several different addresses which means this year the parade was bigger and they needed more than one place to host the party. I went back home, got ready and left again for the party. I went to a club near to Qutubminar. But after arriving there we realized that only those people were allowed who had some kind of SMS on their mobile sent by the organizing committee. I told the security guard that I came all the way from Varanasi and I had already talked with the organizers and I was actually invited to attend the party but still they were not allowing me. The system was completely different last time when I attend the parade. Last year anyone was allowed to attend the party and there was no restriction at all.

family

It was very disturbing and frustrating. Finally I met one of the organizers on the street near the club and I asked him to me. He called someone who was inside the club to pick me up. This guy showed up at the entrance and brought me in. The club was fantastic and they had a party on the rooftop with music, drinks and food. Everything was super expensive. They were serving a small bottle of beer for Rs. 600 which is usually available in the market for Rs. 50. One small shot of cheapest whiskey they had costed Rs. 600. Anyways, I bought a few drinks and was basically enjoying the party. My friends also enjoyed the party a lot. I could easily see how shocked they were but at the same time it was a interesting time for them, especially for Ravikant.

participants

Suddenly police showed up and asked the DJ to stop the music. Actually its not allowed to play loud music after 10 PM at public places anywhere in India. The organizers tried to settle the police but these guys did not want to hear anything. Finally party was stopped and we were asked to move out of the club immediately. I was kind of disappointed because post pride parties are different than regular parties, are so much fun and I enjoy them a lot but this time I could not.  But I do not regret at all, I was happy that at least I got to attend the parade. It was a nice experience and I got to learn a lot. Hope to attend Delhi pride again next year.

Please click here for more pictures of the pride parade-

untouchables in India

Casteism has always been a big issue in India. It was started with the idea of organizing the society and was very successful and nice but people changed this system as per their need and benefit. The real casteism worked this way: caste of a person was decided by his profession and not by the parents caste but now it is decided by what caste parents come from. In the past everybody was free to change their caste only by changing their profession but now it is just not possible at all. Once you are born Bramhin, you stay Bramhin forever.

This system was that all the castes had their work like Kshtriyas were the warriors or king, Bramhins were the learned people who studied religion and teach it to others and Vaishyas were the business class people… but this system changed completely with the first kingdom in India. Actually as per the real casteism the king was supposed to be only and only from the Kshtriya caste or the Kshatriya were the only one who could become a king.  I like this system and I don’t think there was anything bad about it but our kings and higher caste people made it really worse.

The kings were worried that if their sons would not be interested in becoming a soldier and started to learn religion then the society would not accept them as their king because if they would study religion then they would become Bramhin hence they changed the system and said that the caste of a person would be decided by their parents caste and not by their profession means son of a Kshtriys would stay Kshtriya forever which meant no threat of loosing the power for them.

I am also born Bramhin but my profession is entirely different and I should not be treated as a Bramhin in the society but people treat me as a Bramhin all the time. It doesn’t offends me, in fact I enjoy it because there are a lot of benefits of belonging to a higher caste in India. But when I think of those people who come from lower caste, it really offends me and I don’t like it at all. There are so many people who are born in a lower caste family but have changed their life completely by getting education or having a job but people still treat them as a lower caste person.

Actually there is no problem with rich people who come from lower caste. If they have money then they are treated as a king. And at least nobody can say anything bad about their in front of themselves. All the problems are with poor people, all the rules are made for them. The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh is the best example. She is a Dalit woman and Dalits are still considered as untouchables in most part of India but no problem for her. She is one of the most powerful woman of India and many big people touch her feet. She rules India.

There are also so many misconceptions about Dalits and untouchables. In fact, nobody is untouchable all the time and everybody becomes untouchable some times by doing certain things. I have worked with so many untouchable caste people and believe me they are in terrible condition. Usually they stay together in a group and are not allowed to use common services for common people like common hand pumps, wells and ponds etc… sometimes they are not allowed even in the schools. There are so many beautiful laws to protect them and to provide them equal rights, in fact, extra rights but it is not practiced in reality and they have problems all over India.

There is a Hindu caste called Doam and their traditional job is help people cremating the dead bodies. I worked with them three years ago and learnt a lot about them. These people are seriously discriminated against in the society. It is really tough for them to get admission in the school or get mixed in the society. They are also considered untouchable. Nobody takes anything touched by them. Working with them raised a lot of questions to me and I decided to learn about it. I did some research and found that there is conecpt of unaccountability in Hindusim but it nowhere close to the concept we have now at present.

In reality anyone can become untouchable by doing certain things like by participating in a funeral and then they can become touchable again by taking a bath and that’s all. But since the Domes work at cremation place they are considered untouchable all the time which is just not right. By rule, they should be considered untouchable only during the time they work at cremation place but once they are done from their work and take a bath they become touchable again and should be treated as any other person in the society.

Whenever anyone participates in any funeral, they take a bath in the river before entering in their home. Nobody shakes hands with them or touches them because they are untouchable that time. I have also become untouchable so many times. I don’t understand why people don’t understand it or question it that how come a domes are untouchable all the time. I read an article yesterday (24/09/10) in a news paper called Amar Ujala about a dog who was declared untouchable by his owner only because he ate a Roti given by a woman who was a Dalit.

Actually what happened is that the dog owner was a Yadav means Vaishya. His dog was just outside the home when a Dalit woman offered him a roti. The owner saw this  and became angry on the woman only because she offered her roti to the dog. He declared that his dog was untouchable. A meeting was called by the Panchayat where they decided that the dog was really untouchable after eating the roti of a Dalit woman and they decided that the woman has to keep the dog from now and pay Rs. 15,000 as penalty to the dog owner.

How come this poor woman could afford Rs. 15,000 penalty, I don’t know what to say about it. This is really crazy and cruel. The most shocking thing about this issue was that this decision was given by the Panchayat which is a government body and has a lot of legal and social powers. How come they can make such decisions? These crazy people did not even think about Lord Ram’s life when he ate leftover food given by Sabri who belonged to an untouchable caste or allowed a Mallah (boat rower caste) to touch his feet.They should have thought about it if they make the decisions based on religious rules.

Finally the woman went to the police station and instead of taking any action against the Panchayat and that crazy dog owner, the police officers asked that woman why did she feed the dog. They did not register her complaint.Then she went to the DIG and same response there also, her complaint was not registered. Finally she went to the DSP SC (schedule caste)/ST (schedule tribe) and only then her complain was registered and I have heard that investigation is going on now. I am cent percent sure that they would not take any action either against the dog owner or the Panchayat.

Maybe they would just end this matter by creating pressure on the woman or by doing something. And I know that they will even these small steps only because media is involved now otherwise they would have just kicked this woman out of the DIG office as well. Such incidents always questions me if I am part of the same 21st century India we proudly talk about? Is it the same India which is becoming one of the super powers of world? Is it the same India which is the fastest growing economy of the world? Is the same India of the Lord Rama who ate leftover food of Sabri?

Times of India also reported this news.

Scanned article of Amar Ujala Hindi newspaper. 24/09/10

Poem about Indian Court system

All of the Indians always talk about our lazy and corrupt court system and I am also one of them and definitely hate getting involved with any kind of court activity. In fact India has most number of legal cases pending in the whole world which is over 30 million and the average time to clear one case in an Indian court is about 15 years.

Anyways, my friend Ravi who recently completed his law degree and is now a registered lawyer sent me a poetry about Indian courts. This whole poem talks about what happens in our court and says that do anything, just anything but never go to the court. I also think it is true. This poem was written by Mr. Kailash Gautam from Allahabad. My friend Ravi, who is a lawyer by profession, also believes in this poem:).

भले डांट घर में तू बीबी की खाना, भले जैसे -तैसे गिरस्ती चलाना
भले जा के जंगल में धूनी रमाना,मगर मेरे बेटे कचहरी न जाना
कचहरी न जाना- कचहरी न जाना.
कचहरी हमारी तुम्हारी नहीं है,कहीं से कोई रिश्तेदारी नहीं है
अहलमद से भी कोरी यारी नहीं है, तिवारी था पहले तिवारी नहीं है
कचहरी की महिमा निराली है बेटे, कचहरी वकीलों की थाली है बेटे
पुलिस के लिए छोटी साली है बेटे, यहाँ पैरवी अब दलाली है बेटे
कचहरी ही गुंडों की खेती है बेटे, यही जिन्दगी उनको देती है बेटे
खुले आम कातिल यहाँ घूमते हैं, सिपाही दरोगा चरण चुमतें है
कचहरी में सच की बड़ी दुर्दशा है, भला आदमी किस तरह से फंसा है
यहाँ झूठ की ही कमाई है बेटे, यहाँ झूठ का रेट हाई है बेटे
कचहरी का मारा कचहरी में भागे, कचहरी में सोये कचहरी में जागे
मर जी रहा है गवाही में ऐसे, है तांबे का हंडा सुराही में जैसे
लगाते-बुझाते सिखाते मिलेंगे, हथेली पे सरसों उगाते मिलेंगे
कचहरी तो बेवा का तन देखती है, कहाँ से खुलेगा बटन देखती है
कचहरी शरीफों की खातिर नहीं है, उसी की कसम लो जो हाज़िर नहीं है
है बासी मुहं घर से बुलाती कचहरी, बुलाकर के दिन भर रुलाती कचहरी
मुकदमें की फाइल दबाती कचहरी, हमेशा नया गुल खिलाती कचहरी
कचहरी का पानी जहर से भरा है, कचहरी के नल पर मुवक्किल मरा है
मुकदमा बहुत पैसा खाता है बेटे, मेरे जैसा कैसे निभाता है बेटे
दलालों नें घेरा सुझाया -बुझाया, वकीलों नें हाकिम से सटकर दिखाया
धनुष हो गया हूँ मैं टूटा नहीं हूँ, मैं मुट्ठी हूँ केवल अंगूंठा नहीं हूँ
नहीं कर सका मैं मुकदमें का सौदा, जहाँ था करौदा वहीं है करौदा
कचहरी का पानी कचहरी का दाना, तुम्हे लग न जाये तू बचना बचाना
भले और कोई मुसीबत बुलाना, कचहरी की नौबत कभी घर न लाना
कभी भूल कर भी न आँखें उठाना, न आँखें उठाना न गर्दन फसाना
जहाँ पांडवों को नरक है कचहरी, वहीं कौरवों को सरग है कचहरी ||