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Archives for : April2018

Rajasthan-Vasectomy done for a Bachelor with the promise of a mobile phone #WTFnews

 bachelor was tricked into getting a vasectomy by the local nurse and an accompaniment. On 6th April he was taken to the Sterilisation Camp by the nurse and he was promised 6000 rupees in cash and a mobile phone in return for the operation. He claims that he told the surgeon about his marital status but they paid no attention to him and performed the operation.
He has been given a cheque of 3000 rupees which he cannot deposit as he does not have a bank account. His brother has complained against the hospital staff for wrongfully doing the operation.
MOIC Dr Sitaram Meena has said that he does not have information on the matter and will investigate as it is not possible that a bachelor will be operated upon by his staff.
बारां जिले में जनसंख्या नियंत्रण के नाम पर टारगेट पूरा करने के चक्कर में एक अविवाहित युवक को पैसे का लालच देकर उसकी नसबंदी कर दी गई. मामला सामने आने पर चिकित्सा विभाग में हड़कंप मच गया है. पीड़ित युवक बारां शहर के तलाबपाड़ा क्षेत्र का अशफाक मोहम्मद है. उसकी चिकित्सा विभाग की ओर से परिवार नियोजन के तहत अंता कस्बे में 6 अप्रैल को आयोजित पुरुष नसबंदी शिविर में नसबंदी कर दी गई.

बकौल अशफाक चिकित्सा विभाग की एक नर्स और अन्य कर्मचारी उसे 6 हजार की नगदी और एक मोबाइल देने के बहाने अंता ले गए. वहां पर उसकी नसबंदी कर दी. अशफाक का कहना है कि उसने उनको अविवाहित होने के बारे में बताया भी था, लेकिन चिकित्साकर्मियों ने अनसुना कर दिया.

अशफाक ने बताया कि वह अनपढ़ है. उसे 3 हजार रुपए का चैक दिया, लेकिन उसका बैंक में खाता ही नहीं है. बाद में उसने पूरे घटनाक्रम की जानकारी परिजनों को दी. पीड़ित के भाई ने भी चिकित्साकर्मियों पर धोखे से नसबंदी करने का आरोप लगाया है.

 à¤®à¥‹à¤¬à¤¾à¤‡à¤² का लालच देकर बैचलर की कर दी नसबंदी

उपमुख्य चिकित्सा एवं स्वास्थ्य अधिकारी डा. सीताराम मीणा का कहना कि उन्हें इस मामले की कोई जानकारी नहीं है. ऐसा हो नहीं सकता की अविवाहित युवक की नसबंदी कर दी हो. मीणा का कहना कि मामले की जांच करवाता हूं.

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Amid Rape Anger, BJP’s Unnao Lawmaker Sakshi Maharaj Launches Nightclub

Sakshi Maharaj represents Unnao, where a BJP legislator has been charged with raping a 15-year-old girl.


  1. He says he was tricked into believing he was launching restaurant
  2. He represents Unnao, where a BJP legislator was charged with raping minor
  3. The 62-year-old is known for his medieval-era views and comments
Amid Rape Anger, BJP's Unnao Lawmaker Sakshi Maharaj Launches Nightclub

Sakshi Maharaj, 62, says he had been tricked into believing he was inaugurating a restaurant.


BJP parliamentarian Sakshi Maharaj, known for his controversial comments, is at odds to explain how he ended up launching a nightclub in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday. The saffron-robed religious leader-turned-politician was seen at the inauguration of a club called “Let’s meet” in Lucknow.

Stunned by the outrage over his appearance, Sakshi Maharaj, 62, says he had been tricked into believing he was inaugurating a restaurant. He says he has also complained to the BJP state president against a party leader who he said had egged him on to take up the invite.

The owner of the club also now claims the invites mistakenly referred to the restaurant cum lounge as “nightclub”.

sakshi maharaj nightclub inauguration ndtv

The owner of “Let’s meet” claims the invites mistakenly referred to the restaurant cum lunge as “nightclub”.

For Sakshi Maharaj, known for his medieval-era views and comments, the embarrassment couldn’t have come at a worse time. He represents Unnao, where a BJP legislator has been charged with raping a 15-year-old girl. On social media, it was pointed out that he had not met the rape survivor yet.


Months ago, Sakshi Maharaj had blamed rapes on girls and boys holding hands and engaging in “vulgar behavior in public”.

sakshi maharaj nightclub launch ndtv

Sakshi Maharaj was seen at the inauguration of a club called “Let’s meet” in Lucknow.

Among the “quotable” gems credited to him was this: “When these couples ride a motorcycle, they hug each other as if they both will eat each other.”

He had also supported Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the Dera Sacha Sauda chief accused of raping two disciples when he made this comment: “One woman has alleged rape against the Dera chief, but crores of devotees believe he is God. Who would you believe?”

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Tracing an 8-year-old’s 467-km journey to undergo spinal surgery in Maharashtra

Six months ago, an 8-year-old girl fell off a tree in Maharashtra’s Nandurbar and broke her back. It took 20 days and 467 km for her to get help. It took a month more for her to find herself back in a hospital. The Sunday Express meets Ravita Valvi.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala |

As the cot’s ropes bite into her infected back, Ravita breaks down. (Express photo/Prashant Nadkar)As the cot’s ropes bite into her infected back, Ravita breaks down. (Express photo/Prashant Nadkar)

Nobody in Khadkya village, nestled amid scraggly hillsides in Maharashtra’s Nandurbar district, had ever seen a wheelchair. So, early in February, when a new steel chair was carried on piggyback 2 km uphill into the mud-and-brick home of the Valvis, the tribal village gathered to welcome it. The wheelchair now lies unused, a sari wrung and placed on it to dry. A few feet away, eight-year-old Ravita Valvi is motionless on a charpoy, the slightest movement leaving her wracked in pain. The dry hillslopes and the deep green shrubbery of Nandurbar, a tribal-dominated district in north Maharashtra, offer a picturesque view, but in Ravita’s line of sight is only a slice of sky seen through a tiny window.

Rendered a paraplegic after a fall from a tree last September, Ravita returned home in early February after three months in a Mumbai hospital. She had to undertake a 467-km journey to undergo spinal surgery, a journey that was a grim reminder of the health infrastructure in the tribal district.

On February 25, after a month at home, Ravita was once again trussed up in a sari tied to a pole and rushed first to the rural hospital and then to Nandurbar Civil Hospital, 90 km from home, the infection on her frail back requiring treatment in isolation. She may never walk or go back to school, despite laws protecting children with disabilities. And the Valvis are finding out that a new battle has just begun.

It is a hot, dry day in the hills, quite unlike the humid afternoon of September 29 when Ravita fell off that tree branch. Holi has just passed; a difficult Holi for her. Her mother explains that it was her favourite festival. “She would dance to the sounds of the dhol.”

The wheelchair lies abandoned as it is of no use in the hilly village and Ravita is in too much pain to sit up. (Express photo/Prashant Nadkar)The wheelchair lies abandoned as it is of no use in the hilly village and Ravita is in too much pain to sit up. (Express photo/Prashant Nadkar)On a charpoy under a thin blanket — one of three cots shared by the family — Ravita lies in a chequered shirt.
The family did not expect her health to deteriorate so fast after she was discharged from the Mumbai hospital on February 3 night. They came back home in a sleeper bus till Nandurbar, buying tickets for three for a little over Rs 1,000, using money saved from donations. From Nandurbar, they took a private vehicle to their village in Dhadgaon. Along with them they had the wheelchair, donated by an NGO, and five days’ worth of painkillers given by the hospital.

Back home, they ran out of the painkillers soon, and struggled to raise money to buy them again. Once the bed sores started, they just bought some talcum powder from the local shop. It was also evident, soon after they reached Khadkya, that the wheelchair was going to be of little use in the hilly village.

Ravita with her mother at Dhadgaon Rural Hospital. (Express photo/Prashant Nadkar)Ravita with her mother at Dhadgaon Rural Hospital. (Express photo/Prashant Nadkar)For the first three days, parents Shanti and Rajya remember, Ravita smiled and spoke to visitors. On a special request, just once, her father put her on the wheelchair and pushed her around inside their hut.

“The infection started after three days. Since then, she has not been able to get up,” village sarpanch Genubai Valvi says. The charpoy ropes bite into her skin. A bed-ridden patient needs to be turned around frequently to avoid bed sores, and the Valvis barely have a grip on how to care for her. In addition, Rajya, 55, has been busy on his farm to make up for the three months they were in Mumbai. Together the family, including Ravita’s nine siblings, all elder to her, survives on the 7-10 quintals of jowar they grow in a year. The surplus, if any, is sold.

Ravita’s eldest brother, 32, lives nearby with his family. Her eldest sister, 30, is married. The others, who are a few years older than Ravita, irregularly go to the zilla parishad school in Khadkya that she too attended before the accident. As Shanti, 50, applies talcum powder to the sores on Ravita’s hip, the little girl screams, tears pouring down. She smiles sparingly only when the village children gather around her. But they soon run away to play, and Ravita falls back into a silence that is growing longer.

“There has never been a paralysed person in this village. They do not know what to do,” villager Or Singh says.

Ravita with her parents in a Mumbai hospital in February. (Express photo/Prashant Nadkar)Ravita with her parents in a Mumbai hospital in February. (Express photo/Prashant Nadkar)Ravita’s day begins at 4 am. Rajya takes her to the field and waits until she relieves herself in the open. Shanti then flexes her limbs, mimicking what doctors did as part of physiotherapy in Mumbai. Breakfast is a tiny portion of roti and sabzi from last night’s meal. Once every few days, they drag her charpoy out of the hut into the grounds and pour water on her. That is how she bathes.

There is no urinary bag. “When she wets her clothes, we change them if there are fresh clothes,” Shanti says. Ravita has three pairs of clothes that fit her, but mostly she wears her father’s shirt now, hanging loose.

Maharashtra, Nandurbar district, Khadkya, spinal surgery, Ravita Valvi, King Edward Memorial hospital, children with disabilities, indian express


Her health being delicate, she remains the focus of the household. Her siblings, who lived with their uncle when the parents were away, now fetch water and carry hay, quietly helping in the daily chores.

In Mumbai, Ravita had developed a taste for chips and chocolates. When Rajya has money, he walks 4 km to a grocery shop to buy some. Only for her; he cannot afford to buy chocolates for all the children.

Doctors at Mumbai’s GT Hospital had counselled the parents on physiotherapy and medical care that Ravita would need all her life. Shanti tries to follow the routine — attempting stretching and bending Ravita’s arms and legs for 15 minutes three times a day to improve joint control. Though physiotherapists in Mumbai would also make Ravita sit on the bed, Shanti doesn’t dare, afraid the child will cry in pain.

The 50-year-old is herself wiry and anaemic. Her thin limbs working gingerly on Ravita’s frail form, she sighs, in the little bit of Hindi she picked up during her time in Mumbai, “Shaadi-beedi to ab kaun karega isse (Who will marry her now)?”

It’s unlikely Ravita, who is in Class 5, would be able to study further either — something she hoped to do. Teacher Abhay Saraf at the zilla parishad school says, “She requires a special teacher. We can’t accommodate her in our class.”

There are 40 students enrolled till Class 5 at the school. Not many in Khadkya go to Dhadgaon village to study further.

According to Anjlee Agarwal of Samarthyam, an organisation that works with disabled children through the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, a block resource officer must provide “mandatory accessibility in school to disabled students” and connect such children with a rehabilitation officer. “But in tribal areas there is zero accessibility or physical infrastructure for the disabled.”

Besides, Nandurbar’s two posts, for primary and secondary education officer, remain vacant. Rahul Chowdhary, who holds additional charge of education officer, says, “Under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, we have to get those who have dropped out of school back. We will have to see how we can bring Ravita to school every day.”

Rajya asks that too. Pointing out that it would mean a daily trek over 2 km to the school, with Ravita in a pole-sari stretcher, he says, “When will I work?”

At any mention of the fall, Ravita buries her head in her arms. But every child in Khadkya can recount what happened. Ravita had returned from school, and then sprinted off with friends to an adjacent hill to play. “She loves to play langdi, kho-kho and goli (marbles),” her mother Shanti says, sticking to present tense.

That afternoon, she effortlessly climbed higher than the other children up a tree, when a branch snapped. It was a straight drop and she landed on her back. The children remember her wail as she tried to get up and failed, repeatedly. They ran to get Rajya from his farm in the nearby hill.

“I carried her home,” he says.

When Ravita failed to stand up the next day, the Valvis grew concerned. There was jowar and rice at home, but no money.

Rajya left his other children with his brother in the hut opposite theirs. Shanti took out her pink sari — one of her two —folded it lengthwise and tied its ends to a bamboo stick. Together, they loaded Ravita into the makeshift stretcher and gingerly went down the treacherous hill.

The nearest health sub-centre is 2 km away, but it hasn’t functioned since it was constructed in 2012, and is used by farmers to store hay. Villager Sitaram Valvi says officials told them Rs 10 lakh was spent on the centre. “But no doctor or nurse ever came.”

Ravita leaves home (in the background) trussed in a sari tied to a pole, on way to Dhadgaon Rural Hospital. (Express photo/Prashant Nadkar)Ravita leaves home (in the background) trussed in a sari tied to a pole, on way to Dhadgaon Rural Hospital. (Express photo/Prashant Nadkar)District Health Officer Dr Nitin Bodke insists, “Additional funds to repair the sub-centre have been approved. The work will be carried out this year.”

There are 290 such sub-centres across Nandurbar; NGO Narmada Bachao Andolan says only 50 per cent are functional. In these sub-centres, 200 out of 534 posts for auxiliary nurse midwives and 75 of 223 posts for multi-purpose health workers remain vacant. Maharashtra health officials point to a freeze on recruiting more ANMs.
Officials refuse to talk about this, but admit no change has happened since Ravita’s case hit headlines.

Walking past the closed sub-centre on September 30, the parents trudged 4 km to a nearby road, from where they took a lift to the rural hospital in Dhadgaon, 12 km away. “Here there is no mobile network. We tried calling the toll-free number for emergency ambulance, but could not connect,” says Kisan Valvi, the son of Khadkya’s sarpanch.

That journey took all morning, but the parents were not worried. They expected Ravita to recover at the Dhadgaon Rural Hospital and thought they would return home in a few days.

Maharashtra, Nandurbar district, Khadkya, spinal surgery, Ravita Valvi, King Edward Memorial hospital, children with disabilities, indian express

But the eight-year-old couldn’t be diagnosed at the hospital as it has no X-ray facility. For the 30-bed Dhadgaon Rural Hospital, that gets patients from the nearby 90 tribal villages in the hills, there are only two MBBS doctors, both posted as part of a compulsory one-year bond service. Of four sanctioned posts, that of the medical superintendent is vacant. No paediatrician or orthopaedic doctor is posted.

According to District Collector Mallinath Kalshetty, “attempt to recruit more doctors is underway”. “Very few doctors are willing to work in tribal areas,” he says.

By the time Ravita had reached Dhadgaon, her back was swollen. Doctors gave painkillers, dressed the wound, and referred her to Nandurbar Civil Hospital — the same place she finds herself again now. There, she was diagnosed with a vertebral fracture in L1 (lumbar), and a D12 compression. “The cord in the spinal bone was crushed, leading to paralysis,” says the hospital’s orthopaedic specialist, Dr Sanjay Gavit.

The 200-bed hospital is the largest government hospital in Nandurbar. Its 30 doctors cater to the entire district’s population for deliveries, Caesarean sections, minor surgeries, and basic orthopaedic treatment.

Ravita remained in the civil hospital for a week, administered essentially primary treatment for pain, and dressing. Gavit told the family what she needed was further diagnostic tests and probably a surgery, and hence a super-specialty hospital.

While a proposal to start a medical college in Nandurbar was approved under the Congress-NCP government four years ago, the project never took off. In June 2017, the BJP-led government assured that academic sessions would begin in Nandurbar’s medical college from 2018-19, but not even a foundation stone has been laid yet. On paper, only an agreement exists between the Health and Medical Education departments.

Says Maharashtra Medical Education Secretary Sanjay Deshmukh, “A Medical Council of India approval is pending (for the college). We need to comply with certain infrastructure requirements.”

In addition, no government hospital in all of Nandurbar has an MRI or CT scan facility, the two tests required to assess Ravita’s condition. Dr Raghunath Bhoe, Nandurbar district civil surgeon, says, “It was advised therefore that Ravita go to Surat or Mumbai for further treatment.”

Surat is 175 km away; Mumbai 360 km.

So, Rajya and Shanti decided to approach a private hospital in Shahada, 36 km away. But there too, no specialisation for spinal injury was available. “Doctors advised us to visit Dhule Civil Hospital,” Rajya says. The couple took a private vehicle to Dhule, 86 km away. “I still do not know who all helped raise the money,” Rajya says.

But in Dhule, the civil hospital too said they offered no specialisation for a spinal cord transection.

By now, it was mid-October. Ravita, a chirpy girl who would hardly ever sit still, had been lying supine now for nearly three weeks. A doctor at the Dhule Hospital gave the Valvi couple Rs 2,000 and arranged for an ambulance to Mumbai’s King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital.

Rajya and Shanti smile as they recount what happened next. “The ambulance driver stopped mid-way and asked us for money. I gave him Rs 800,” Rajya says.

At 6 am on October 17, the driver dropped them off at the main gates of the mammoth KEM Hospital. It was the Valvis’ first time in Mumbai, their first time in any big city. They realised that the Bhili dialect they spoke was barely understood by anyone.

“At first, we did not understand it was a hospital,” Shanti says. They kept asking for directions, running from one department to another. “The doctors could not understand what we were saying. And it was crowded, they shouted at us to get out of their way.”

By night, the Valvis found themselves on the footpath outside the municipal hospital. By 3 am, they resolved to return to Nandurbar. They drew out their bamboo pole and the sari, put Ravita in it, and set off. Records with KEM Hospital show they were advised admission in Ward 29, but they left.

The couple next asked dozens of people for directions to the highway to Nandurbar. “Nobody could understand us.”
By dawn, they had walked 10 km — in the opposite direction. Arriving at the Gateway of India, they saw the Arabian Sea, and assumed it was the Narmada, the river they saw in Nandurbar. “We thought our village was on the other side of the water,” Shanti says. They had never seen the sea, but even they could tell that today, the “river” was going to be difficult to cross.

It was sheer fortune that the policewoman who spotted the two with a girl on their shoulders was a Nandurbar native. Constable Ravita Gavit, 29, attached with the Azad Maidan Police station, recalls, “Ravita’s clothes were soiled and stinking. They had not bathed for days.” She took them to St George Hospital, where they were made to wait hours before finally being referred to the government-run Gokuldas Tejpal (GT) Hospital. It is in GT Hospital that Ravita would spend the next three months.

“When she came to us, she was severely malnourished. The spinal nerve damage was a month old,” says Dr Dhiraj Sonawane, orthopaedic surgeon at GT Hospital. “Such paraplegia is difficult to treat,” says Dr Swapnil Keny, head of the orthopaedic unit at GT Hospital. Ravita’s urine, stool sensations were no longer in her control.

The hospital first improved her nutrition. In November, they conducted a spine surgery, but counselled the parents on the poor chances of Ravita leading a normal life. A Nandurbar nurse was posted in the paediatric ward to help communicate. “But we were never sure if the parents understood what we told them,” nurse Nirmal Valvi says.

Over three months, Ravita underwent rehabilitation and physiotherapy to try and sit up or lie down on her own. She also did exercises to help keep her upper body strong.

Rajya and Shanti struggled too. Things that were free in Nandurbar cost money in Mumbai, whether it was defecating in the open, washing clothes, or even just sitting down. “I stopped bathing after a few days. I stopped entering the hospital ward fearing I’ll be asked to leave,” he says. The couple would wash Ravita’s clothes and fold them while still wet — other patients complained if they hung out wet clothes in the ward.

ON FEBRUARY 18, when Ravita had to be taken to hospital again as her sores became worse, an ambulance was arranged at the foot of the hill atop which she lives. But she was carried down to it again in a sari tied to a pole. At the Dhadgaon Rural Hospital, Ravita broke down in pain as a doctor and three nurses cleaned her sores.

Given the deep sores, Dr Indrasingh Pavara recommended that she be kept in isolation to control infection, and referred her to Nandurbar Civil Hospital. “We cannot manage it in this hospital,” he says.

At the Dhadgaon Rural Hospital, District Collector Mallinath Kalshetty assured the family full help. “We’ll send her to Mumbai if required,” he told The Sunday Express. But Rajya isn’t too keen. “She will never walk. Will travelling again be of any use?” A month later, Ravita continues to be in the intensive care unit of Nandurbar Civil Hospital. Shanti stays by her side and Rajya shuttles up and down.

Meanwhile, Civil Surgeon Dr Raghunath Bhoe has purchased a water-bed for Ravita, to prevent bed sores. Her parents haven’t figured out how to use it or place it on a charpoy. Khadkya’s villagers will now see a water-bed for the first time.

Tracing an 8-year-old’s 467-km journey to undergo spinal surgery in Maharashtra

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Menstrual Pads Can’t Fix Prejudice

CreditNa Kim

The period is finally having its moment.

In the last decade, the difficulties women and girls across the globe face during menstruation have inspired a raft of grass-roots campaigns. “Period poverty” activists seek to make menstrual products more affordable and available. International agencies like Plan InternationalWater AidU.N. Women and Unicef are supporting menstrual hygiene programs in dozens of countries. Access to safe, accessible bathrooms and materials to manage menstruation is now recognized as a human rights issue that involves many other areas of development, like clean water, education and gender equality.

These shifts are certainly heartening. For centuries, around the world, menstruation has been treated as a source of shame, rather than as a normal, healthy part of women’s lives. Initiatives to “make menstruation matter” are both welcome and overdue.

Why, then, after years studying these efforts, do I feel ambivalent? Because too many of them have opted to focus on providing women with new products, failing to substantively fight the core problem surrounding menstruation: cultural stigma.

Consider the humble piece of cloth. Many Westerners are horrified to learn that repurposed cloth is commonly used by women in poor countries to manage their periods. Yet cloth is absorbent, readily available, cheap and sustainable. Folded or cut to size, changed as necessary and properly washed and dried, it can be sanitary and effective.

Still, many programs are hustling to replace this traditional method with commercial products. In addition to the nongovernmental organizations that make products their priority, start-ups are seeding microbusinesses in which, say, Rwandan, Indian and Ugandan women make and sell pads. Such an approach falls under the category of a “technological fix”: a seemingly simple solution to what is, in reality, a complex problem.

Such interventions can be helpful, and in some circumstances even necessary, but they fail to address the root issues. No menstrual product is effective for a schoolgirl who lacks access to a clean, secure toilet, as is the case in many poor countries. Stigma about menstruation often undermines proper use, and a woman’s fear of inadvertently revealing she is menstruating remains a distraction and a burden.

These fears and stigmas are prevalent in the rich world, too. As the historian Joan Jacobs Brumberg has shown, in the United States at the turn of the century, menstruation became increasingly medicalized: Doctors, who were mostly men, and increasingly viewed as experts, coached mothers to socialize their daughters to keep tidy and discreet. Menarche, the first menstrual period, was effectively reduced from a sign of womanhood to a “hygienic crisis.”

Even now, American girls are socialized to see menstruation, and more generally, their bodies, as problems to be solved through use of the “right” products. Today, we are exporting this view around the world.

The outsize attention paid to products reduces menstruation to a hygiene issue when it should be much more. The monthly shedding of the uterine lining is part of a cycle that lasts, on average, for 40 years. It is a vital marker of health and a pivotal developmental milestone for half the world’s population.

Menarche should be a prime opportunity to begin a girl’s lifelong authentic engagement with her body. Instead, we hand her a pad and teach her to put it up her sleeve when she goes to the bathroom.

Many of the people doing work on menstrual health initiatives know that distributing products is not a silver bullet. Indeed, some pair distribution with education. A few also push for infrastructure improvements and policy change. But as people working in the field have told me, the reality is that providing pads is easier than trying to change ingrained cultural habits. It’s also readily measurable: It’s easy to note the number of pads that have been handed out in a month. It’s much harder to provide similar metrics for improved knowledge and education levels.

We must resist the well-meaning impulse to improve the lives of menstruating girls through consumption. The greater need is for people to understand that periods aren’t something shameful and best kept hidden. When menstruation is treated as normal, it becomes more than a nuisance, a punch line or a weapon wielded to keep women in their place.

Our aim must be to transform the revulsion into respect, to shift from “eww” to “oh.” We need to redirect resources toward promoting innovative, inclusive and culturally sensitive community-based education about the menstrual cycle. And the audience must be not only girls, but also everyone surrounding them — boys, parents, teachers, religious leaders and health professionals.

To be clear, I am not denying that women need something to bleed on. Of course we do. Nor I am suggesting that women should be denied access to new methods of handling menstruation better suited to their needs.

But menstrual activism won’t be meaningful if it is reduced to Western-style “better living through more consumption.” After all, periods remain taboo in high-income countries where commercial products have been the norm for decades. Challenging the social stigma and disgust directed at the female body must be our main mission — in the developing world and everywhere else.

If this moment is going to grow into a movement, it must do more than move products. It must move minds.

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49 retired IFS, IAS IPS officers write a hard hitting letter to the PM Modi

“Dear Mr PM You More Than Any One Else Has to Be Held Responsible For This Terrifying State of Affairs”

 Honourable Prime Minister,

We are a group of retired civil servants who came together last year to express our concern at the decline in the secular, democratic, and liberal values enshrined in our constitution. We did so to join other voices of protest against the frightening climate of hate, fear and viciousness that the ruling establishment had insidiously induced. We spoke then as we do now: as citizens who have no affiliations with any political party nor adherence to any political ideology other than the values enshrined in our Constitution.

We had hoped that as someone sworn to upholding the Constitution, the Government that you head and the party to which you belong would wake up to this alarming decline, take the lead in stemming the rot and reassure everyone, especially the minorities and vulnerable sections of society that they need not fear for their life and liberty. This hope has been destroyed. Instead, the unspeakable horror of the Kathua and the Unnao incidents shows that the Government has failed in performing the most basic of the responsibilities given to it by the people. We, in turn, have failed as a nation which took pride in its ethical, spiritual and cultural heritage and as a society which treasured its civilisational values of tolerance, compassion and fellow feeling. By giving sustenance to the brutality of one human being against another in the name of Hindus we have failed as human beings.

The bestiality and the barbarity involved in the rape and murder of an eight year old child shows the depths of depravity that we have sunk into. In post-Independence India, this is our darkest hour and we find the response of our Government, the leaders of our political parties inadequate and feeble. At this juncture, we see no light at the end of the tunnel and we hang our heads in shame. Our sense of shame is all the more acute because our younger colleagues who are still in service, especially those working in the districts and are required by law to care for and protect the weak and the vulnerable, also seem to have failed in their duty.

Prime Minister, we write to you not just to express our collective sense of shame and not just to give voice to our anguish or lament and mourn the death of our civilisational values – but to express our rage. Rage over the agenda of division and hate your party and its innumerable, often untraceable offshoots that spring up from time to time, have insidiously introduced into the grammar of our politics,our social and cultural life and even our daily discourse. It is that which provides the social sanction and legitimacy for the incidents in Kathua and Unnao.

In Kathua in Jammu, it is the culture of majoritarian belligerence and aggression promoted by the Sangh Parivar which emboldened rabid communal elements to pursue their perverse agenda. They knew that their behaviour would be endorsed by the politically powerful and those who have made their careers by polarising Hindus and Muslims across a sectarian divide. In Unnao in UP it is the reliance on the worst kinds of patriarchal feudal Mafia Dons to capture votes and political power that gives such persons the freedom to rape and murder and extort as a way of asserting their own personal power. But even more reprehensible than such abuse of power, it is the response of the State Government in hounding the victim of rape and her family instead of the alleged perpetrator that shows how perverted governance practices have become. That the Government of UP finally acted only when it was compelled to do so by the High Court, shows its hypocrisy and the half-heartedness of its intent.

In both cases, Prime Minister, it is your party which is in power. Given your supremacy within the party and the centralised control you and your Party President exercise, you more than anyone else have to be held responsible for this terrifying state of affairs. Instead of owning up and making reparations however, you had until yesterday chosen to remain silent, breaking your silence only when public outrage both in India and internationally reached a point when you could no longer ignore it.

And even then, while you have condemned the act and expressed a sense of shame, you have not condemned the communal pathology behind the act nor shown the resolve to change the social, political and administrative conditions under which such communal hate is bred. We have had enough of these belated remonstrations and promises to bring justice when the communal cauldron is forever kept boiling by forces nested within the Sangh Parivar.

Prime Minister , these two incidents are not just ordinary crimes where, with the passage of time, the wounds inflicted on our social fabric, on our body politic and the moral fibre of our society will heal and it will soon be business as usual. This is a moment of existential crisis, a turning point – the way the Government responds now will determine whether we as a nation and as a republic have the capacity to overcome the crisis of constitutional values, of governance and the ethical order within which we function.

And to this end we call upon you to do the following:

● Reach out to the families of the victims in Unnao and Kathua and seek their forgiveness on behalf of all of us.

● Fast-track the prosecution of the perpetrators in the Kathua case and request for a Court directed SIT in the Unnao case, without further ado

● In the memory of these innocent children and all other victims of hate crime, renew a pledge to offer special protection to Muslims, to Dalits, to members of other minority communities, to women and children so that they need not fear for their life and liberty and any threat to these will be extinguished with the full force of State authority.

● Take steps to remove from Government anyone who has been associated with hate crimes and hate speeches.

● Call for an All Party Meeting to deliberate on ways in which the phenomenon of hate crime can be tackled socially, politically and administratively.

It is possible that even this may be too little too late but it will restore some sense of order and give hope that the free fall into anarchy can be arrested. We live in hope.


1.SP Ambrose, IAS (Retd). Former Additional Secretary, Ministry of Shipping and Transport, GoI
2. Vappala Balachandran, IPS (Retd). Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
3. Chandrashekhar Balakrishnan. IAS (Retd). Former Secretary, Ministry of Coal, GoI
4. Pradip Bhattacharya, IAS (Retd). Former Additional Chief Secretary, Development & Planning and Administrative Training Institute, Govt. of West Bengal
5. Meeran C Borwankar, IPS (Retd). Former DGP, Bureau of Police Research and Development, GoI
6. Sundar Burra, IAS (Retd). Former Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
7. Javid Chowdhury, IAS (Retd). Former Health Secretary, GoI
8. Anna Dani, IAS (Retd). Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
9. Surjit K. Das. IAS (Retd). Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Uttarakhand
10. Vibha Puri Das. IAS (Retd) Former Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, GoI
11. Nareshwar Dayal. IFS (Retd). Former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs and High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
12. Keshav Desiraju, IAS (Retd). Former Health Secretary, GoI
13. M.G. Devasahayam, IAS (Retd). Former Secretary, Govt. of Haryana
14. Sushil Dubey, IFS (Retd). Former Ambassador to Sweden
15. K.P. Fabian, IFS (Retd). Former Ambassador to Italy
16. Meena Gupta, IAS (Retd). Former Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, GoI
17. Ravi Vira Gupta, IAS (Retd). Former Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India
18. Wajahat Habibullah, IAS (Retd). Former Secretary, GoI and Chief Information Commissioner
19. Sajjad Hassan, IAS (Retd). Former Commissioner (Planning), Govt. of Manipur
20. M.A. Ibrahimi, IAS (Retd). Former Chief Secretary (rank) Bihar
21. Ajai Kumar, Indian Forest Service (Retd). Former Director, Ministry of Agriculture, GoI
22. Arun Kumar, IAS (Retd). Former Chairman, National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority, GoI
23. Harsh Mander, IAS (Retd). Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
24. Aditi Mehta, IAS (Retd). Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan
25. Sunil Mitra, IAS (Retd). Former Secretary, Ministry of Finance, GoI
26. Sobha Nambisan, IAS (Retd). Former Principal Secretary (Planning), Govt. of Karnataka
27. Amitabha Pande, IAS (Retd). Former Secretary, Inter-State Council, GoI
28. Niranjan Pant,IA&AS (Retd). Former Deputy Comptroller & Auditor General of India
29. P. R. Parthasarathy, IPS (Retd). Former Director, Anti-Corruption Bureau, Govt. of Maharashtra
30. Alok Perti, IAS (Retd) Former Secretary, Ministry of Coal, GoI
31. N.K. Raghupathy, IAS (Retd). Former Chairman, Staff Selection Commission, GoI
32. M.Y. Rao, IAS (Retd).
33. Sujatha Rao, IAS (Retd). Former Secretary, Ministry of Health, GoI
34. Julio Ribeiro, IPS (Retd). Former Adviser to Governor of Punjab & Ambassador to Romania
35. Aruna Roy, IAS (Resigned)
36. Manabendra N. Roy, IAS (Retd). Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
37. Umrao Salodia, IAS (Retd). Former Chairman, Rajasthan Road Transport Corporation, Govt. of Rajasthan
38. Deepak Sanan, IAS (Retd). Former Principal Adviser (AR) to Chief Minister, Govt. of Himachal Pradesh
39. E. A.S. Sarma, IAS (Retd). Former Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, GoI
40. N.C. Saxena, IAS (Retd). Former Secretary, Planning Commission, GoI
41. Ardhendu Sen, IAS (Retd). Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
42. Abhijit Sengupta, IAS (Retd). Secretary, Ministry of Culture, GoI
43. Aftab Seth, IFS (Retd). Former Ambassador to Japan
44. Navrekha Sharma, IFS (Retd). Former Ambassador to Indonesia
45. Harmander Singh, IAS (Retd). Former Director General, ESI Corporation, GoI
46. Jawhar Sircar, IAS (Retd). Former Secretary, Ministry of Culture, GoI, & CEO, Prasar Bharati
47. K.S. Subramanian, IPS (Retd). Former Director General, State Institute of Public Administration & Rural Development, Govt. of Tripura
48. Geetha Thoopal, IRAS (Retd). Former General Manager, Metro Railway, Kolkata
49. Ramani Venkatesan, IAS (Retd).Former Director General, YASHADA, Govt. Of Maharashtra

(Cover Photograph: Protests #JusticeforAsifa in Lucknow. Photograph Mehru Jaffer)

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Withdraw FIR against journalist/cartoonist Swathi Vadlamudi




On Saturday, the Hindu Sangathan in Hyderabad filed a police complaint against the maker of the cartoon – journalist Swathi Vadlamudi, as well as another journalist who had earlier shared the cartoon, for “hurting the sentiments of Hindus”.

Meanwhile, Swathi, who shared her cartoon on Facebook on April 11, has been at the receiving end of plenty of online abuse. And the irony is that the people slamming the cartoon took the same abusive and misogynistic tones that the cartoon was pointing out.

“I have been making cartoons for a long time now and have made them on controversial issues earlier as well. But it never invited this kind of backlash,” a bewildered Swathi tells TNM.

Since this particular cartoon though, her social media, including WhatsApp, has been flooded with all kinds of abuse. “Most of it is extremely misogynistic and aimed at silencing me,” she observes.

One person for instance, insinuated that Swathi would meet the same fate as journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was shot dead outside her residence in Bengaluru in September, 2017. Another accused her of taking money from the Muslim community for writing anti-saffron posts and being part of the terrorist outfit ISIS.

She was even threatened with a Charlie Hebdo style attack – the French weekly magazine’s Paris office was attacked by two armed men in January 2015 after they published a satirical cartoon on Prophet Mohammed. The shooting killed 12 people and injured several others.

There were many, of course, who simply resorted to slut shaming her.


On April 13, Swathi responded to the people abusing her online. Read her Facebook post here:

These were the abusive/hate/threatening/menacing/sickening/patronising comments and messages I have received on FB for…

Posted by Swathi Vadlamudi on Friday, April 13, 2018

Following this too, Swathi’s Facebook inbox continued to be inundated with messages calling her a “coward” for not quietly taking the “backlash” for posting the cartoon.

Swathi admits that all of this, the death threats especially, have indeed frightened her. “I’m an earning member of my family. They are also worried about me,” she says.

However, she makes it clear that she won’t stop making cartoons. “I don’t think I’d be doing right by myself if I stopped. Besides, this is just reflective of the political climate in the country right now. And it’s at times like these that it’s most important to continue resisting,” Swathi says.

The Network of Women in the Media, India (NWMI), a forum for women media professionals across the country, strongly condemns the filing of an FIR against journalist and cartoonist Swathi Vadlamudi. The FIR, filed on 14 April at Saidabad police station in Hyderabad, under Section 295 (a) of the IPC (“deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage reli­gious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or reli­gious beliefs”), was filed by Hindu Sanghatan, an off-shoot group of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, an ultra-Hindu right group.

The cartoon in question, published on Swathi’s social media pages (Twitter and Facebook) on 10 and 11 April, depicts the mythical Hindu gods, Ram and Sita, on the issue of abduction and violence against women in India. The message in the cartoon does not in any way insult Sita or Ram; instead it poses a question to the public.

Besides the legal case, since 10 April Swathi has been on the receiving end of online abuse by Hindutva groups, where some users have threatened that she will meet the same fate as Gauri Lankesh and the murdered cartoonists of the Charlie Hebdo magazine in France. The Hindu Sanghatan has also slapped charges against Times Now Chennai Deputy Editor Shabbir Ahmed who merely shared her cartoon on his Twitter profile. Another cartoonist, Satish Acharya, is also being targeted with abuse and even death threats.

At a time when there is widespread outrage regarding violence against women in India, Swathi’s cartoons highlighted how unsafe India has become for women. The cartoon, which has so far been shared over 8000 times on Facebook, besides receiving several thousand ‘likes,’ has clearly touched a chord among the Indian public which in the recent past has seen abductions, brutal gang-rapes and murders of women and children in different parts of the country, from Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir to Unnao in Uttar Pradesh, Surat in Gujarat and elsewhere.

Cartoons are among the oldest forms of expression and have been an integral part of the news media all over the world. Cartoons hold a mirror to the current world in a particularly effective manner that goes beyond what is captured by words (spoken or written), photographs or videos. In a vibrant democracy such an art and the artists who create it should be encouraged to thrive instead of being stifled by hate groups.

The NWMI demands that the Hyderabad police immediately drop all charges against Swathi Vadlamudi, Shabbir and anyone else against whom cases are filed in this context. They must also initiate prompt action against those abusing and threatening Swathi Vadlamudi, Shabbir Ahmed, Satish Acharya and any others in connection with this matter.

Law enforcers must not yield to bullying tactics by majoritarian groups that endanger free speech in the country by taking their claims of “hurt religious sentiments” and “offence” at face value. They need to act to safeguard Constitutionally protected free expression and to adopt a zero tolerance approach to death threats.

The Editors’ Guild of India and Press Council of India must take suo moto notice of such legal and other attacks on media professionals, including and especially women (who are often targeted in particular, gender-related ways), and come out strongly in their support and defence.

April 16, 2018

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International Media On The Kathua Rape: ‘A Crisis for Modi’

Several publications linked the rise of religious violence to the rise of the BJP and PM Modi

 NEW DELHI: The rape and murder of an eight year old tribal girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua has sparked a major political controversy in India, with the Bharatiya Janata Party in the spotlight as its members were part of processions called in support of the rapists. The processions featured the Indian tricolour and were called by a group known as the Hindu Ekta Manch. The chargesheet states that the girl, Asifa, belonging to the minority Bakerwal community, was gangraped in a temple for days.

While the news has jolted India — albeit several months too late as Asifa’s mangled body was first discovered in January — the world too is watching in horror. The international media has not minced words in reporting the story, and several publications have gone on the link the rise of religious-motivated violence in India the advent of the BJP and specifically, Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Associated Press coverage centres on the religious politics surrounding the Kathua rape. “Thousands of members of a radical Hindu group with links to the ruling party have marched to demand the release of the six men accused in the repeated rape and killing of the girl inside a Hindu temple. Hundreds of Hindu lawyers have protested that the men, two of them police officers, are innocent… There have always been differences between India’s Muslim minority and Hindu majority in this constitutionally secular nation of 1.3 billion. Violence has flared sporadically over the decades since India gained freedom from Britain in 1947, sparking bloody religious riots as the subcontinent was partitioned to create largely Hindu India and largely Muslim Pakistan,” the article states.

“For the most part, though, day-to-day interactions between Hindus and Muslim have been largely peaceful. But that polite distance has widened into a schism since 2014, when the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, was swept into power in a decisive election victory. India’s religious minorities, especially the Muslims who form 13 percent of the population, have felt increasingly isolated since then, as attacks by Hindu extremist groups have risen,” the AP article says.

“Police say the attack on Asifa was rooted in religious politics, with a group of local men planning to scare away the Bakarwals by simply kidnapping a girl. But once they had Asifa, that plan was quickly forgotten. Forensic reports say she had been drugged with anti-anxiety medication, repeatedly raped, burned, bludgeoned with a rock and strangled. Eventually, her corpse was thrown into the forest where it was found a week later,” it notes.

The New York Times article, A Young Girl’s Rape in India Becomes a Crisis for Modi, points to religious divisions in the country. “In January, when the crime occurred, the girl’s death barely registered beyond local news reports. But the case roared back to life this week after a mob of lawyers surrounded a courthouse and tried to block police officers from filing charges (the police eventually filed the charge sheet at a judge’s house). Some of the lawyers were aligned with Mr. Modi’s nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, known as the B.J.P… India’s ruling party seems to have failed to learn the painful political lessons from the 2012 rape. At the time, the Indian National Congress, now the leading opposition party, was in power, and it was severely criticized for its slow and tone-deaf reaction.Those same criticisms are now being leveled against Mr. Modi and his party.”

“This latest rape case is rapidly becoming another low point between India’s Hindus and Muslims; politicians have often stirred the two communities against each other, with fatal consequences. The victim was Muslim, all eight men arrested were Hindus and some of the investigators are Muslim. On the other side of the gulf, Muslims generally distrust the governing party and its Hindu nationalist philosophy,” notes the NYT article.

The article also refers to the Unnao rape, saying, “And this is not the only big rape case the governing party has to deal with right now. A powerful governing-party lawmaker in the Uttar Pradesh State Assembly has been accused of raping a teenage girl and then conspiring with his brother to help kill the girl’s father after the family complained.”

Why did India wake up so late to a child rape and murder?” asks the headline in the BBC. “In this instance, one could possibly cite “religious honour” as another reason for why most national media avoided reporting on the crime. The support shown to the accused by Hindu right wing-groups – and two ministers from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – has shocked many,” the article explains.

The Guardian has covered the Kathua story with an article headlined, “Muslim rape-murder case in India disrupted by Hindu groups.” “The killing of eight year-old Asifa Bano, details of which were released on Wednesday, and ongoing efforts by Hindu groups to disrupt the police investigation have sickened many Indians and deepened concerns about a growing sense of impunity among religious nationalists,” it says.

“Police allege the crime was intricately planned by Sanji Ram, the temple custodian, who they say agreed to pay local officers 500,000 rupees (£5,400) to create false evidence that would lead investigators away from him and his men. Ram had been a staunch opponent of the settlement of the Muslim tribe, known as the Bakarwals, in the area, and saw Bano as a soft target in a plot to frighten the group into leaving, police said,” the article states.

“The prime minister, Narendra Modi, a staunch Hindu nationalist, is yet to comment on the case or the involvement of his party’s ministers and officials in protests in support of some of the accused men. On Thursday he and other senior BJP officials were holding a daylong fast in protest at obstruction by the opposition in the Indian parliament,” the article states. PM Modi spoke on the rape after the article was published, but critics have found his response to be a case of too little too late.

“Violence between Muslims and Hindus, and between Hindu castes, has been commonplace in the seven decades since Indian independence. Modi’s critics say his rise to power has emboldened extremists who share his Hindu nationalist ideology. In December, a Rajasthan man ranted about Hindu nationalist causes as he filmed himself killing a Muslim migrant labourer using a pickaxe. Last month a Hindu religious procession in Jodhpur city included a float that appeared to honour the killer,” the Guardian article states.

The Kathua rape has prompted a response from the United Nations, as secretary general Antonio Guterres termed the gangrape and murder a “horrific” incident and asked Indian authorities to ensure that the guilty are brought to justice.

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To make their voices heard, Dalits need to protest 365 days a year

Unless the constituency demands their fair share and refuses to bow down, the State order is going patronise a stepfatherly treatment to the Dalits


Members of various student organisations express solidarity with the Dalit Student Rohith Vemula. Unless Dalits move away from the personality of victimhood and assert a responsive strategy, their life will be doomed to failure and untimely death.
Members of various student organisations express solidarity with the Dalit Student Rohith Vemula. Unless Dalits move away from the personality of victimhood and assert a responsive strategy, their life will be doomed to failure and untimely death. (Hindustan Times)



There is a growing crisis of faith among Dalits regarding their rights in a country marked by social, juridical, economic, and political injustices. It is in this light that we must debate the raison d’être of Dalit domicile in a country under a Brahmin-Baniya supremacy. Every action of the caste society against Dalits brings their very their existence into question. This is manifested through the restriction of Dalits from ownership of land, industries and resources. Repeated ostracisation, mass violence, lynching, and intimidation are inflicted on Dalit minds and bodies to remind them of their non-belonging in India’s caste society.

The nation as an abstract consciousness is used by the ruling castes to deny all opportunities to the Dalits. Nationalism is used as an ambush strategy to hit the Dalits hard. There is a physical and institutional marginalisation of the Dalits. Cancelling of scholarships, incremental increases in fees to prevent Dalits from entering the citadels of educational institutes, non-fulfilment of reservation policies and overlooking the sub-component plan in the Budget presents to us a dismal picture for Dalits.

The current situation in India is oppressive and unbearable for the Dalit constituency. Social media is toxic and is reflective of an Indian society addicted to the ugly messages on Twitter feeds. Every Dalit, tribal and minority assertion is taken as an affront. Trolls are the new lynch mobs on social media.

The landownership for the community is the lowest in the country. Only 9.23% land is owned by Dalits, according to the NSSO Household Ownership and Operational Holdings in India. Dalits have to become much more fierce in their demand for land. Since they don’t own land, they have no place to call their own. Because of this caste India becomes a confused space to articulate genuine critical conversations around Dalit existence.

Dalits needs to amplify the voices of reparation that remain unpaid. The radical demands which stir a practical output would put the oppressor in defensive mode. Unless the Dalit constituency demands its fair share and refuses to bow down, the State order is going continue with its stepmotherly treatment towards the Dalits. The issues of class, gender, religion, sexuality, colonialism and xenophobia have to go along with the contestations of caste violence.

The Dalits need to devise new strategies and move out of their imposed caste margins. Otherwise, their struggle will remain confined to fighting the caste order embedded in the caste system by further pushing themselves into deep-caste caves.

Dalits need to take the situation into their own hands. They need to form local groups to defend their rights and push for justice. Such groups could be legally-educated and politically-informed. Youth cadre need to push for solid unification and raise the issue of dignity in rural-urban geographies.

An action needs to be responded to with an action. The courts time and again have shown to the Dalit community that they are the victims and will continue to do so as long as the Brahminical structures are in operation. Unless Dalits move away from the personality of victimhood and formulate a responsive strategy, their lives will be doomed to failure. They need to revisit their tendency of begging for justice.

Dalits need to protest 365 days a year in the neo-liberal Brahminical state. In the sagacious words of Malcolm X, “Let the black man speak his mind so that the white man really knows how he feels… Once you put the facts on the table, it’s possible to arrive at a solution.” The Dalits need to record their dissent and disapproval without which their democratic existence will cease to be.

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