Of Cabbages and Kings

September 30, 2008

Nun raped in front of a police outpost

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Chinmayi @ 7:45 am

It frightens me to think that there are so many people that would do this and so many people (including policemen) that would watch and refuse to raise a finger to stop it. Article in the Hindu.

Details over here.


The nun tells the press how the criminal justice system refused to respond.


September 26, 2008

Judging 377

Most progressive countries in the world have reached a stage where they have formalised gay unions and given homosexual couples most of the rights that heterosexual couples get from marriage.

In India, we are far far behind. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code has long been used to arrest and harass homosexuals. The words used in Section 377 are:


Section 377. Unnatural offences

Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.
Explanation. -Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section.

It is odd. If you just read the text of section 377, you may not find anything amiss. “Against the order of nature’ could mean anything – it would depend on what you construe as the order of nature. So to me for instance, intercourse between consenting homosexual couples would be entirely within the order of nature (as opposed to marital rape which is not recognised as rape in the eyes of Indian law).  However, as all lawyers and many other know, statutes are rarely restricted to their actual text and they come with all the baggage heaped onto them from years of interpretation by the judiciary. And the Indian Judiciary has managed to stuff anal, oral and thigh sex into its definition of acts against the order of nature.*

In 2001, the Naz Foundation filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court challenging the constitutional validity of secton 377 as it currently stands, and asking that the section be read so as not to prohibit homosexual relationships. The case has come up for hearing recently. The home ministry is insisting that one of major reasons against decriminalising homosexuality is that such a move would lead a rise in HIV and AIDS cases. This is a pretty funny sort of stand to take, especially given that the health ministry is in favour of decriminalisation for the same reason – it would reduce vulnerability to HIV and AIDS

Fortunately, the judges seem to be responding well to the arguments raised by the Naz Foundation in the petition. Perhaps the High Court will have the good sense to do something about this utterly ridiculous law after all…let us keep our fingers crossed.

Aside: Those interested in how irresponsible the media can get might get some pleasure out of comparing the CNN-IBN report of today’s hearing with Siddharth Narrain excellent piece (in the Indian Express)

* The Supreme Court seems to have defined intercourse in the order of nature as vaginal sex and nothing else. I’m going to have to check up on this but assuming that this is so, all non vaginal sex is currently criminal and punishable under law! So there you go, all you heterosexual followers of Vatsayana.

September 23, 2008

Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time

Filed under: I saw this — Tags: , , , — Chinmayi @ 9:17 pm

I saw this painting by Bronzino today. It is only when I look at the print here and recall standing and gazing at the actual painting that I realise how vast a difference there is between copies and the real work. 

This painting tells a fascinating story. Read about it here and here.

September 21, 2008

A long way from home

Filed under: Personal — Chinmayi @ 9:54 pm

I’ve moved to another city. This one’s the farthest I’ve ever been from home, and the longest continuous stretch for which I have been away. 

There’s plenty of moving and unpacking to be done. And once it’s over, I will be back.

September 18, 2008

Media: the elitist watchdog?

Filed under: Across the Universe, Random musing — Tags: , , , , — Chinmayi @ 8:29 pm

24 hour news channels are the next big thing in India. They might have been a little more interesting if they attempted to report all that there was to report in a day (surely in a country where several rapes and several murders are committed in a day, not to mention all the bribing there is plenty of material to fill a day’s programme) instead of running the same ten minutes of commentary on the same issue again and again and again.

When Aarushi Talwar was found murdered in her room at her upmarket urban residence, the media broadcast little other news for about two months. A google search with just the term ‘Aarushi’ results in a long catalogue of newspaper reports about her

Another child, known only as ‘the deaf and dumb girl’ was raped by policemen a little over a month back. We have heard practically nothing about it.

There are over 15,000 (reported) incidents of rape in a year and around six thousand (reported) dowry deaths in this country. But most of these are brushed aside very quickly especially if the victim is a dis-empowered person. Sometimes the powerful lend their voices to the powerless and someone like Mathura becomes a little more visible. But for a large part, most of the victims that should share the media attention devoted to Aarushi are ignored and left to fend for their powerless selves.

September 16, 2008

Françoise Demulder

Filed under: Across the Universe — Tags: , — Chinmayi @ 7:20 am

Françoise Demulde, a war photographer, was the first to win World Press Photo of the Year Award. This is the picture that she won it for. She died of heart attack recently. Read about her here.

September 13, 2008

Bomb blasts in Delhi

Filed under: Across the Universe — Tags: , , — Chinmayi @ 8:48 pm

Five bombs have gone off in Delhi, on Saturday evening in crowded places. A bomb was found in a popular children’s park, and fortunately was defused before it could do any harm. 

An email claiming responsibility for the violence was apparently been sent by a fundamentalist group twenty minutes after the attack. The email will probably lend a communal colour to the attack. As they react, people may forget that the bombs were at crowded places where people from any community might have been present and that the target was not any specific group but innocent civilians in general. 

I hope that this will not translate into retaliation and escalating violence or into unnecessarily repressive legal measures. And I hope that this senseless killing stops some time soon.

Terrorism 101

Filed under: Across the Universe, Random musing — Tags: , , , — Chinmayi @ 7:20 am

Amateur terrorists have little to fear in India. There may be plenty of tricks that they know nothing about but law enforcement agencies and the media will spare no efforts in helping them all they need to be trained professionals. 

Take the recent bomb blats in India. It has occurred to the Indian Intelligence bureau that the blasts, and all future terrorism might become very easy to pull off if the perpatrators take to using chinese mobile phone (which are apparently impossible to identify and track since they do not have IMEI numbers). Now most people might be selfish and keep that kind of information to themselves until they had figured out how to get around the problem. But not us Indians. We like to keep our terrorists well aware of all the new tools that are available to them. So we make the information public, and just to ensure that the updates do not escape their notice, we broadcast all of this repeatedly on national television. Now there’s generosity for you.

September 12, 2008

Testing Morality

Filed under: Across the Universe — Tags: , , — Chinmayi @ 8:52 pm

Did you ever wonder what different people’s moral values are based upon? As compared to yours?

Interesting bunch of online tests here.

What makes people vote Republican

Filed under: Across the Universe — Chinmayi @ 7:16 pm

is a very interesting study of the difference in what is perceived as moral between Democrats and Republicans, which can be applied to the differences between conservative and liberal thinkers everywhere.

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