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  • Third World Aspirations

    A few months ago, in a retrograde move, the Supreme court of India countermanded the 2009 Delhi High Court verdict that had decriminalized gay sex. Apart from eliciting the warranted indignation among the seething LGBT activists who didn't anticipated such a verdict, the decision has brought huge ignominy to the nation, with the western media being particularly trenchant about it.

    It's a decision that enthrones the blinkered approach of the Victorian times (reinstating a 153-year-old law under British rule) and belabors the human rights, liberal values and freedom. The Supreme Court is known for passing prudent and liberal judgments, however, the verdict reveals the deep-rooted conservative traits among the judicial class and lawmakers of the country.

    The verdict will have some serious consequences, particularly public health issues, like fight against AIDS. Moreover, it would further stigmatized the already persecuted section of the society. It's rather tragic for a nation who claims to protect and respect the religious minorities on one side, but criminalizes and degrades the sexual minorities on the other.



  • A Tumultuous Beginning

    Every Country has its own unique way of hospitality. Six Gruelling exams just after two months of arrival in a foreign country; isn't what one will call 'A warm welcome'! Upon realizing this no-nonsense approach of the Dutch, it's time to reflect a little on my experience as an international student here in TU Delft in the first 2 months.

    Plenty of changes have taken place in these two months: I remember on my first day sitting on top of the library, gazing at the mammoth clock which had arranged itself at half past 8 in the evening and suddenly I realized, that the sun hadn't yet set! And now, if one peeps out of the window even at 5 pm, one is greeted by the beautiful yellowish lights, whose source isn't the Sun! These two phenomena, I have never experienced in my home country.

    Another interesting aspect that I have noticed (at least for this part of the country!) is that one is never alone or completely isolated. I often visit the countryside and never once I felt alone. People, roads and houses are always just a few meters away. Nothing such as 'a lonesome place' exists here! However, by far the coolest experience yet, was the end of daylight saving! Who says one can't travel back in time?

    All was not well in the beginning. After the high of the introduction programme, I was surrounded by an air of melancholy. I felt quite lonely and a bit disillusioned, didn't talk to my classmates. Moreover, homesickness only exacerbated these feelings. The lanes beside the canals evoked romance, but the lanes, for this despondent boy, led to nowhere, I felt quite lost. In such a time, I found solace in cooking & exploring nearby places. I guess, everyone has one way or another to escape or eventually finds one. These feelings, as expected, have been ameliorated over the time, the horizon is much clearer now.

    I feel indebted to a few people here. On the first day of my arrival, an emotional boy went to the housing affairs desk to register a complaint with a little hope of help. The person in charge felt the pain vicariously and went out of his way and made sure that I felt comfortable. I didn't expect such genuine help. My academic counsellor was also much concerned about my well-being. Therefore, not wrong to say- Warm people with even warmer hearts, furthermore, an excellent cycling culture. However, how can anyone wind-up one's experience without any whining? Inclement Weather: Why doesn't the sun always shine? Who doesn't have a sweet tooth? But where have all the spices gone? I miss the strong sunshine and spices here. Nonetheless, no genuine issues and no complaints at all regarding teaching, exams and grades.

    I am to enter the next quarter shortly, and winter is also about to fall. So, looking forward to the coming cold season with warm hopes!



  • Drone: Unmanned War Criminal

    Amnesty International, a leading human rights group, last year strongly denounced the U.S. drone strikes and indicted U.S. officials for war crimes in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen. However, all the criticism has fallen on deaf ears and the U.S. has continued these brassy drone attacks unabated. And now these harbingers of death are hovering over the skies of Yemen.

    In the latest drone strikes in Yemen at least 55 people were killed, including three civilians. Others are suspected Al-Qaeda militants. Another attack in the same region in December last year killed 15 wedding guests, but the U.S. has refused to take the onus and repudiated any accusation of war crime. So far, over 70 civilians have been killed in these brazen attacks.

    Consequently, the perpetual killing of innocent citizens has only generated new adherents and partisans of various militant groups, which is contrary to US's own objective. Furthermore, the terrorists often use civilians as a shield, they are the real losers in this conflict. The US's obdurate policy of using drone warfare over political engagement is, therefore, only exacerbating the already wobbly political scenario of Yemen.



  • Questionable Clemency

    The Tamil Nadu's government decision to release the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case has caused much brouhaha. The sudden felt commiseration by the TN government is being imputed to upcoming elections rather than a humanitarianism reason as purported by the state government.

    Jayalalitha, the Chief Minister of TN, remitted the death penalty sentences. The Indian government originally sentenced 26 suspected to death, 19 of them were later exonerated. Mr. Gandhi's son, Rahul, was filled with indignation at the decision. He said that prime minister's killers being released after serving a smidgen of punishment is a real shame for the nation.

    Admit all this clamor the consequential issue of capital punishment and the political involvement in it has again been cast aside.



  • Not so tolerant

    One thing that is often imputed to Hinduism is its tolerance. It's nothing but paradoxical that any heresy is met with a diatribe and fulmination. The latest to experience this aberrance is Wendy Doniger, author of the book The Hindus: An Alternative History. The publisher of the book, Penguin India, has been forced to withdraw and destroy all the existing copies of the book after objections were raised from a conservative Hindu group.

    The group filled a lawsuit against the author and the publisher on account of book's description of sacred mythological texts as 'fictional' and called it profane which has hurt feeling of millions of Hindus.

    The publisher decision to withdraw has been reproached by writers and intellectuals in India and seen as a virulent attack on freedom of thought and expression. Salman Rushdie and Joseph Lelyveld in the past have been silenced by religious and political bigots.

    Such incidents not only bring ignominy but raise another significant question: Is the nation falling into totalitarianism? and are the people oblivious to it?



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