Beauty Pageant for Transgenders – Nitasha Biswas Wins

Nitasha winner of first transgender beauty pageant in India

Miss Transqueen India 2017 a beauty pageant for the transgender community was organized in India’s northern Haryana state on Sunday.



Sixteen participants representing different Indian states walked the ramp during the contest, ‘Miss Transqueen India’. Nitasha Biswas, a 26-year-old postgraduate in Business Management from India’s eastern Kolkata city was crowned the winner.

Loiloi from India’s northeastern Manipur state bagged the first runner-up position and Ragasya from India’s southern Chennai city was crowned the second runner-up. Miss Transsexual Australia International 2017, Laeticia Phylliscia Raveena was also present on the occasion who crowned the winner and the runners-up. Organizer of the contest, Reena Rai said it was important for the people from outside the transgender community to work for the betterment of the third gender without differentiating.

In the first phase of the pageant, 1,500 contestants participated, out of which 16 were selected for the finale in Gurugram. Biswas will now be representing in Miss International Transqueen in Thailand.

The sexual minorities, especially transgender people, who are more visible have been driven to the fringes of the society into begging and prostitution. It was only in April 2014; India’s apex court recognized transgender as a legal third gender and called on the government to ensure equal treatment to them. But abuse and exploitation are widespread. Often thrown out of home by their families, many of 490,000-strong community lack formal education and are denied jobs, and forced into sex work, begging, or dancing at weddings to make ends meet.

Recently, Kochi Metro Rail Ltd became the first government agency in the country to hire 23transgender for various works in the metro system. In the first phase of the pageant, 1,500 contestants participated, out of which 16 were selected for the finale in Gurugram. Biswas will now be representing in Miss International Transqueen in Thailand.

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Chandigarh forms Transgender Board but No Women’s commission, Human Rights Commission or Disability Commission!

Chandigarh has become the first Union territory in India to form a transgender welfare board. UT social welfare department secretary, in a notification issued on August 22, constituted the 14-member body for the purpose of “safeguarding third-gender identity”.

With the step, UT has joined a handful of state governments in India that have formed similar boards. Even as the board has been formed, similar efforts in other parts of country have gone in vain.


According to a notification issued by the UT social welfare department, following are the aims and objectives of the newly formed Chandigarh Transgender Welfare Board:

– Grant legal recognition of “their gender identity, such as male, female or third gender (hijras, eunuchs, binary gender) for pupose of safeguarding their rights

– Take steps to treat transgenders as socially and educationally backward classes of citizens and extend all kinds of reservation in case of admission in educational institutions and for public appointments

– To operate HIV surveillance centres as members of the transgender community are more probe to the virus

– Address problems faced by transgender community, such as fear, shame, gender dysphoria, social pressure, depression, suicidal tendencies, and social stigma


– Take steps to provide medical care to transgenders in hospitals and provide separate public toilets and other facilities


– Form social-welfare schemes for betterment of transgenders


– Provide scholarship/entitlement, fee-waiver, free text books, free hostel accommodation, and other facilities at subsidized rates to students belongings to transgender community


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Women Transforming India – Awarded

Women Transforming India – Awarded

Niti Aayog awarded 12 women to recognise the transformational impact of work undertaken by them across India’s villages, towns and cities.

‘Women Transforming India Awards’ was launched by Niti Aayog last year in partnership with the UN in India and MyGov.

The awards received 3,000 entries from across the country.

The awardees included goat veterinarian Sunita Kamble for creating alternative livelihood opportunities for women, Raji Borthakur for creating a smart glove which can predict epileptic seizures before they occur, Safeena Husain for her work to transform girls’ education in rural areas and Arunima Sinha for being India’s first amputee to climb Mount Everest.

A jury comprising former foreign secretary and ambassador Nirupama Rao, Indian Olympian P T Usha, Wing Commander, Indian Air Force Pooja Thakur, Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya, and UN Resident Coordinator Yuri Afanasiev undertook a rigorous process to shortlist 12 top awardees from awe-inspiring stories of women change-makers across India.


Meet the 12 incredible winners who transformed India


  1. Laxmi Agarwal, Uttar Pradesh

In 2005, a shy 14-year-old Laxmi Agrawal, who nursed dreams of being a singer and participating in reality TV shows, was waylaid by her 32-year-old stalker and his friends. Laxmi rejected his advances and turned down his proposal for days before the man and his friends threw acid on her face to “teach her a lesson”. The stalker felt her fate would be worse than death if he destroyed her face. Laxmi was left to die on a busy road, with cars hitting her unconscious body, till a Good Samaritan helped get her to a hospital.

The following trauma, nightmarish months spent in the hospital and disgusting yet predictable reactions from people, failed to shake Laxmi’s indomitable spirit.

Gradually, she took back control of her life and used her experience to help other survivors like her. She became an activist campaigner for Stop Acid Attacks and also realised her childhood dream of being in front of the camera by becoming a television host. In 2014, she received the International Women of Courage Award by the then US First Lady Michelle Obama. She was also chosen as the NDTV Indian of the year.

  1. Subasini Mistry, Hasnapukur, West Bengal

Subasini lost her husband at a young age due to lack of medical care. But 65-year-old Subasini toiled for two decades to realize her dream of building a hospital for the needy. She prooved the one does not need to be young, rich or educated to be an achiever.

Subasini’s husband, a vegetable vendor, died at a young age because he was too poor to get medical help for a common ailment. Within a month of his death, his illiterate wife and four children were on the streets. Like her late husband, Subasini too started selling vegetables to make ends meet but she vowed that one day she would build a hospital for the poor and needy in the very village her husband breathed his last.

People laughed at her “impossible dream.” But for the next 20 years, she worked as a domestic help, manual labourer and vegetable vendor. She saved most of her earnings for her dream hospital, while spending the rest on raising her four kids. Subasini used her savings of two decades to buy an acre of land in her husband’s native village.

She appealed to the community to help in any way they could and they did. Her son, Ajoy, managed to raise Rs 50,000 from acquaintances, friends and organizations. A one-room clinic came into being, the beginning of the hospital-to-be. Three doctors from adjoining areas were persuaded to attend the sick for free. Patients started streaming in and Subasini became a household name.

In 1995, the foundation stone for the hospital was laid and was open to the public a year later. Today, the 45-bed hospital spreads over three acres and has the best of doctors and medical equipment. Major surgeries for the poor are done for less than Rs. 5000 and minor ailments are treated for under Rs. 10.

  1. Safeena Husain, Mumbai, Maharashtra

Safeena Husain, is the founder and executive director of Educate Girls, a non- profit organization working for girls’ education in some of the most educationally backward districts of India. She has has been involved in development projects across South America, Africa and Asia for the past decade.

A London School of Economics graduate, Safeena has built upon her a cause closest to her heart: ensuring girls have access to quality education and get equal opportunities to better their future. With the help of a local team, she successfully conducted a 500-school pilot in Pali, Rajasthan and established Educate Girls as an NGO in 2007. Educate Girls focuses on community mobilization to increase girls’ enrollment and retention and improving learning outcomes for all children in government schools. The organization works with community-level volunteers in each village called Team Balika, who serve as the champions for the cause. These champions go door-to-door to identify out-of school girls and convince their parents to send them to school, conduct village meetings, work with school management committees to prepare school improvement plans, and facilitate the use of Educate Girls’ creative learning and life skills kits to improve learning quality and create girl leaders.

Educate Girls has evolved into a 12,000+ schools program, with over 1,50,000 girls enrolled in school till date, reaching over 3.8 million total beneficiaries. Her efforts to bridge the gender gap in education in India have been widely recognized. Educate Girls has received the prestigious 2015 Skoll Award, 2014 WISE Award, the 2014 USAID Millennium Alliance Award and the 2014 Stars Impact Award and the India Development Marketplace Award in 2011 from the World Bank. She also received the British Asian Trust’s Special Recognition Award from HRH Prince Charles for outstanding contribution in education. Safeena won the 2016 NDTV-L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth Award in the Education Category.

  1. Arunima Sinha, Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh

From being thrown out of a train, losing her leg and facing an uncertain future to becoming the first female amputee to scale the highest mountain in the world, Arunima Sinha’s awe-inspiring story is one of grit, perseverance and conviction.

Arunima Sinha, 24-year-old national level volleyball and football player, dreamt of joining the Central Industrial Security Force and was on her way to take the examinations, when she was thrown off a train by a group of hoodlums for refusing to part with her gold chain. She lost her left leg, and with it, seemingly, her chance of making a mark in the world of competitive sports. Arunima, however, seemed to draw strength from the incident, and even as she was being treated at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, she resolved to climb the world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest. Fund raising helped procure a prosthetic leg for Arunima to realise her mission.

After being discharged, Arunima enrolled for the basic mountaineering course from the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi, which she excelled at. She then contacted Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to climb Mount Everest, and trained under her at the Uttarkashi camp of the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF) 2012. In 2012, Sinha climbed Island Peak (6,150 metres) in as preparation. On April 1, 2013, two years after her horrific accident, Arunima, along with Susen Mahto, TSAF instructor, started the ascent to Mount Everest. After 52 days of hard climbing, Arunima reached the Everest summit at 10:55 am on 21st May. She has made history by becoming the first female amputee to scale the mighty peak.

Arunima has since received several awards and financial aid for her inspiring achievement. She is donating all the financial aid that she has received to open a free sports academy for poor and differently-abled persons, the Pandit Chandra Shekhar Viklang Khel Academy. In 2015, the braveheart was awarded the fourth highest civilian award of India, the Padma Shri and was also honoured with the Tenzing Norgay Highest Mountaineering Award.

  1. Kamal Kumbhar, Osmanabad, Maharashtra

Daughter of a daily-wage labourer, Kamal walked out of poverty and a failed marriage to set up Kamal Poultry and Ekta Sakhi Producer Company. Her organisation has enabled 3,000 women in the drought-prone region of Osmanabad, Maharashtra to set up small poultry ventures for a premium variety of chicken. This initiative has helped provide an alternative and sustainable source of livelihood to women trapped in poverty like Kamal herself was once. A serial entrepreneur, Kamal today owns six different businesses and is a role model business leader. Kamal was also a winner of the CII Foundation Women Exemplar Award 2017 in the field of micro-enterprise. Kamal has actively mentored more than 5,000 women to set up micro-enterprises.

  1. Jamuna Tudu, Maturkham, Jharkhand

Maturkham’s Lady Tarzan Jamuna Tudu and her band of women activists have managed to conserve 50 hectares of forest land around her village in Jharkhand, taking on the forest mafia with little more than bows and arrows and a whole lot of courage.

For years, the dense Sal forest surrounding Maturkham village in Purbi Singhbhum district of Jharkhand was plundered by the forest mafia for its precious Sal timber and rare fauna. Till, a young woman from Odisha married into a family in the village. Young Jamuna Tudu was incensed to see the mafia chopping down Sal trees. She was even more bewildered by the passive response of the community at their habitat being attacked. Seventeen-year-old Jamuna decided to take matters in her own hands. She mobilized a group of 25 women from the village, armed them with bows and arrows, lathis and spears, and marched into the forest to take on the intruders.

Over 15 years of many fierce encounters with the mafia and relentless sensitization of the community, Jamuna and the Van Suraksha Samiti she formed have succeeded in protecting and conserving 50 hectares of forest land and its flora and fauna. For her courage in the face of odds, the community calls her, Lady Tarzan.

The Van Suraksha Samiti has about 60 active women members, who patrol the jungle in shifts thrice a day, morning, noon and evening. And sometimes even at night when the mafia set fire to the forests in random acts of vandalism and vengeance.

The President of India has awarded her conservation efforts. The Forest Department has ‘adopted’ her village, which has led to Maturkham getting a water connection and a school. In 2013, Jamuna accepted the Godfrey Phillips Bravery Award in the ‘Acts of Social Courage’ category. Maturkham and its nearby areas are deep in the heart of Naxal territory; Jamuna faces a dual challenge running an environment conservation campaign in the volatile region. Today, she runs awareness campaigns through various forest committees in Kolhan division. Around 150 committees formed by Jamuna, comprising more than 6,000 members, have joined her movement to save the forests.

  1. Rajlakshmi Borthakur, Bengaluru

Her young son’s severe epilepsy left Raji Borthakur devastated. His seizures would come suddenly without warning. Living in constant fear, she never knew when the next seizure would strike. And neither did the doctors. Determined to save her child’s life, Raji channelled her inner researcher and innovator. She researched epilepsy obsessively for more than three years and came up with a simple wearable device, a smart glove, that can predict epileptic seizures before they happen. The sensors inside the glove get vital stats from the body and send these to the inbuilt processor. The processor works on the data immediately and sends it wirelessly to patients and caregivers anywhere, thus alerting them to a possible episode of seizure that could prove fatal. Raji’s simple yet ingenious solution to her son’s life-threatening condition has the potential of saving millions of others living with seizures.

  1. Kiran Kanoji, Faridabad

Survivor of a horrific accident, Kiran Kanojia, is a champion blade runner.

On a December day in 2011, Kiran Kanojia, an Infosys employee, boarded the train from Hyderabad on her way home to Faridabad, excited about celebrating her upcoming birthday with her family. Kiran landing a job in Infosys was celebrated as a turning point in her family’s fortunes. She is hazy about what happened next but remembers two boys attempting to snatch her bag and pushing her out of the train. On the eve of her birthday, Kiran lay in a hospital bed catching snatches of conversation about ‘saving the leg’. Life as Kiran knew it would never be the same again. When Kiran returned to Hyderabad six months after the accident and her amputation, she fought to get back control of her life.

The Dakshin Rehabilitation Centre (DRC) helped her do just that. Mohana Gandhi, a consultant from DRC, got her and other amputees to form a running group. Mohana suggested Kiran try the prosthetic leg. When she first wore it, Kiran was unsure it could even support her. Gradually, the blade felt like second skin. In 2014, Kiran attempted the Hyderabad Airtel Marathon and won her first medal. Today, Kiran, 28, is a champion blade runner and is invited to Delhi and Mumbai to run and flag off marathons. Her immediate goal is to participate in the Paralympic Games and make the country proud.

  1. Harshini Kanhekar, Nagpur, Maharashtra

Harshini Kanhekar rewrote the history of National Fire Service College, Nagpur and the country’s fire services to become India’s first woman firefighter. Growing up, Harshini discovered her appetite for adventure after signing up for the National Cadet Corps Air Wing. Her ultimate dream was to don a uniform and serve the country. Fresh from university, Harshini applied to Nagpur’s National Fire Service College (NFSC), an all-male bastion. When she qualified for NFSC, her parents were apprehensive. Harshini, however, was determined to overcome all obstacles. Harshini worked as hard as her male peers to clear the course.

Her drills included working with heavy water hoses and suction hoses. As the first woman ever to take the course, the expectations from her were much higher; she could not afford to make mistakes since her performance would set the benchmark for other young women aspiring to join NFSC. After graduating from NFSC, Harshini joined the fire fighter services at the age of 26. She was selected and designated as a fire engineer at the Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC). Before joining ONGC, Harshini helped douse several big fires in Delhi and Kolkata. Her longest operation was in Delhi when a shoe factory caught fire, and she as part of her team had to fight fire for six hours at a stretch. As part of her service, she has also rescued civilians during floods, building collapses, wildlife attacks, and river swelling.

After joining ONGC in 2006, she was posted at the company’s Mehsana station, where she was in-charge of one of the three fire stations. Owing to her bravery, Harshini was also granted access to offshore rigs recently and is currently the deputy manager, Fire Services.

  1. Shima Modak, Meghalaya

For almost a decade, Shima Modak has been working relentlessly towards the welfare of the deprived and distressed. With little financial assistance, Shima has helped restore dignity to the lives of marginalised women and children. Moved by the plight of the underprivileged, Shima Modak drew funds from her own earnings to start her NGO, SPARK, which helps educate and enable marginalised groups to lead lives of dignity. In 2010, Shima started small educational centres in community spaces to take education to the doorstep of those kids who cannot make it to school. These centres were run with minimum basic facilities and the expenditure incurred was personally borne by Shima. Today, there are five such centres staffed with 16 teachers across Shillong, catering to nearly 450 students, mostly slum kids, ragpickers or domestic workers who have to work to support their family. Basic education (nursery to 10th grade) is provided free to children who could never have dreamt of going to school.
Those who have completed their schooling are then linked to a formal school. Students from these centres have been participating in and winning state and national level sports tournaments. A key achievement has been a group of students who’ve been trained in animation and film-making skills participating in the Chicago Film Festival 2015.

Starting with 73 underprivileged children, the centres run by SPARK have as of date been able to cover more than 3,000. Shima has also been working to counter human trafficking, rescuing and rehabilitating women who are trapped into sex work and domestic labour. Recognising the importance of educating women for the development of society, Shima’s NGO organises evening classes for women in Anjali, Shillong. Awareness and sensitisation programmes and health camps for women are some of the other praiseworthy initiatives undertaken by Shima and her team.

  1. Sunita Kamble, Mhasvad, Maharashtra

Sunita Kamble fought the odds to become the first woman goat veterinarian in her region, working with her team to protect her community’s livestock and create alternative and sustainable livelihood opportunities for women. Sunita Kamble belongs to Mhasvad, a severely drought-affected area in Maharashtra. Livestock farming is the key source of livelihood for the marginalised community in this region. Given the lack of veterinarians in the remote area, the community’s prime assets, their livestock, were highly susceptible to diseases that could prove fatal without timely and appropriate treatment. Ms Kamble, like other rural women in her community, had limited avenues for growth; the thought of helping the community protect and sustain their sole source of livelihood might have seem farfetched to most. However, Sunita was unlike the others.

She persevered in the face of opposition from her family and ridicule from the community to become a doctor. And not just any doctor. Sunita became the first grassroots woman goat veterinarian in the region. Livestock farmers in the Mhasvad region finally had help at hand. Sunita and her team of seven barefoot veterinarians have performed artificial insemination on over 2,000 goats in the area. The idea to artificially inseminate goats was first introduced by a few state governments in order to crossbreed and create a hybrid that can be a good source of milk and mutton. Sunita and her team have also successfully trained over 350 women in the technique, thus creating an alternative and sustainable livelihood option for women-headed households in the area.

From being jeered by the community for her aspirations to being respected as “Doctor madam”, Sunita Kamble has come a long way.

  1. Kanika Tekriwal, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh

A self-made aviation entrepreneur and cancer survivor, Kanika Tekriwal exemplifies the power of positive thinking and strategic risk-taking. Kanika Tekriwal started her journey in the aviation industry at the tender age of 17. She took up a part-time job helping set up the aviation division for real estate powerhouse, Indiabulls. Recognising the potential in the aviation sector early on, Kanika viewed the lack of easy and informed hiring of private aircrafts at the time as a market waiting to be captured. At 21, Kanika was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma.

Looking back, she considers the battle with cancer as a phase in her life which gave her time to think and strategise around her ambition to be a part of the aviation industry. After successfully battling cancer, Kanika went back to the drawing board and launched her company, JetSetGo in 2013. JetSetGo, India’s first marketplace for chartered jets, is an interactive technology-driven platform enabling users to charter aircrafts and helicopters around India. India has about 200 airstrips of which less than half are connected by commercial flights, making the aircraft charter market a viable option for many. Revenues at the Delhi company have grown from $64,200 in fiscal 2015 to $3.2 million in fiscal 2016 to a projected $17 million for the year that ended in March. JetSetGo either manages or has exclusive marketing contracts for 16 aircrafts, making it the largest fleet in India. The company operates four to 20 flights a day. At the age of 28, Kanika has won several accolades—chosen as one of the 100 most inspirational women in the world by BBC, recognised by Forbes Asia as one of the 30 under 30 leading entrepreneurs in Asia, CNN’s 20 under 40, and awarded the National Entrepreneurship award in E-commerce by Government of India. Next on Kanika’s to-do list: creating a global presence for her brand.

The jury to select the winners comprised Nirupama Rao, Former Foreign Secretary and Ambassador, P.T. Usha, Indian Olympian, Pooja Thakur, Wing Commander, Indian Air Force, Dr. Arvind Panagariya, NITI Aayog Vice Chairman, Amitabh Kant, NITI Aayog CEO and Yuri Afanasiev, UN Resident Coordinator.


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Review :- Tikli & Laxmi Bomb Written By Aditya Kripalani

Published January 9, 2016 by priyanikomal

Quote for this Book :- The Only Thing that the society has done for them(sex workers) is to label them as “prohibited”.

My Views :-
In our Country, where every news is made a breaking news, where law & orders are pure myth and scamp are for channel TRP’s than why the dark side of our so called “modern” society has not been exposed yet ??

In this male-chauvinist society where women are forced to become salves of this insane patriarchy, in these ongoing situations this book is a sarcastic slap to all those narrow-minds who think that women aren’t important part of this society.

This book keeps revolving around Tikli & Laxmi and their gang who are sex workers by profession…From Tikli’s sparking & bold trait to Laxmi’s flare-up trait,From Mhatre’s evil aspect to Shinde’s greediness, From Those peanut farts to those non-bearable snores,From Sharanya’s – Tsamchoe’s supportiveness to Mangatram & Manda’s creepiness, From the Revolution to the sacrifices…this is a thought-provoking read.

Wow & Oops Of The Book :-

Language :-It was a commendable attempt on the authors part to experiment three different languages on a same project but somewhere this mixture was a bit clumsy.

Content :- Many have written women-centric books in the past but the thought & aim of this book was quite unique & fresh but somewhere i felt the execution was bit off track as episodes were irrelevantly repeated (Like that farting-snorring one,old monk-peanuts one,existence lines all).

Overall , This book unveils the opaque side of sex workers life thus, raising a series of questions in my mind that is Why these sex workers are criticised and not the people who feast upon them & Why their existence is invisible to our “smart-phonic” society. ??

(Being produced as a film also)


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Who pays for elections? We Share the Brunt! Election Watch NGO Report

The ruling BJP received a whopping Rs 705.81 crore from 2,987 corporate donors between financial years 2012-13 and 2015-16, a report by election watch body Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) revealed today. In all, Rs 956.77 crore was donated by all corporate/business houses to five national parties during that period, the report said. While the BJP was the highest recipient, the Congress was a distant second with Rs 198.16 crore from 167 corporate donors, it added. The Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) received the lowest share of corporate donations at 4 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively, said the report which considered the BJP, Congress, CPM, CPI and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). The Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), though a recognised national party, was not considered for analysis in the report as “the party has declared that it received no voluntary contributions above Rs 20,000 from any donor between FY 2012-13 and FY 2015-16”. The report also disclosed that 1,933 donations through which national parties received Rs 384.04 crore do not have PAN details in the contribution form. Also, the parties have received Rs 355.08 crore from 1,546 donations which do not have address details in the contribution form. Interestingly, 99 per cent of such donations (without PAN and address details) worth Rs 159.59 crore went to the BJP. — IANS In others’ kitty

  • Of Rs 956.77 crore donated by corporate/business houses to five national parties, the Congress stood second with Rs 198.16 crore after the BJP
  • The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) received 17 per cent of the corporate donations
  • The Communist Party of India (CPI) got 4 per cent of the corporate donations pie

Recommendations of ADR

  1. The Supreme Court gave a judgment on 13-09-2013, declaring that no part of a candidate affidavit should be left blank. Similarly, no part of the Form 24A submitted by political parties providing details of donations above Rs 20,000, should be blank.
  2. All donors who have donated a minimum of Rs 20,000 as a single or multiple donations should provide their PAN details.
  3. Date on which the donation was made should be recorded by the party and submitted in Form 24A.
  4. Any party which does not submit its donation statement to the ECI on or before 31st Oct should be heavily penalized and its income should not be tax-exempted.
  5. A total of Rs 159.67 cr was collected by the National Parties from 1062 corporate donors without obtaining their PAN and Address details. Such incomplete contributions reports must be returned to the parties by the ECI, to deter them from providing incomplete information.
  6. Corporates should make details of their political contributions available in public domain through their websites (in annual reports or in a dedicated page) for increasing transparency in political financing.
  7. Annual scrutiny of donations reports of National, Regional and unrecognized parties should be initiated by a dedicated department of the CBDT, to discourage donations from shell companies or illegal entities.

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Disha NGO celebrates I Day with slum children

Disha – The Harbinger of Social Change & Development, an NGO based at Chandigarh celebrated Independence Day with slum children. Disha NGO is running an Empowerment Centre for such children, specially girls, to prepare them for admission to regular schools. Disha persuades the parents of these girls to spare them some time, each day, from looking after younger siblings and household chores – to attend Disha Centre, for all round education.

Disha has already succeeded in admitting several girls to the local school after helping them in preparing documentation like affidavits and Aadhaar, etc

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INTIMACY UNDONE: Marriage, Divorce and Family Law in India.

INTIMACY UNDONE: Marriage, Divorce and Family Law in India by Malavika
Rajkotia. Speaking Tiger Books, Delhi, 2017 – Book Review

MATRIMONIAL litigation has an emotive component where the law is used
as a tool to reach emotional closure, sometimes through fair,
rights-based means and, on many occasions, through the ‘misuse’ of the
process of law. Malavika Rajkotia’s Intimacy Undone: Marriage, Divorce
and Family Law in India captures this hidden emotive side of
matrimonial litigation in India. Matrimonial conflict, she explains,
is much deeper and far more complex than what gets presented in the
lawyers’ brief or the judicial orders. With the object of
foregrounding the hidden aspects of divorce proceedings, she weaves
into the legal narrative her experiences as a woman lawyer in the
gendered courtrooms, anecdotes from personal and professional life and
stories of her clients’ grief, despair and resentment as they struggle
through painful divorce proceedings. The non-linearity of style and
liberal borrowing from the constitutive contexts of law – history,
culture, politics, literature, mythology, popular culture – give the
book a form refreshingly distinct from the standard legal writing
which is catalogued only with hard law, i.e. statutes and cases.

Rajkotia traces the messy history of personal laws in India – how the
shape and content of family law was determined in and through the
colonial encounter as the British interpreted the scriptures and
customs ‘to form a unique amalgam of Indian and English common law.’
Independent India inherited this legacy, and ‘reforms’ in marriage and
divorce related laws were widely imported from the UK, the most
significant of them being the deeply problematic ‘fault theory’ as the
basis for divorce and judicial separation. However, an answer to the
present flaws in the system is not a return to ‘a glorious past’, for
that would be tantamount to a regressive call for a return to the
scripturally sanctioned oppressive notions against women and lower

The book, as it deals with different aspects of matrimonial
litigation, revolves around three concerns: the promise of gender
equality, respect for religious pluralism and an ability of empathic
engagement with the litigants’ rather complex psychic states as they
labour to discover peace through law. She understands that
emancipatory reform of family law is possible only if gender based
inequalities at the heart of institutions of family and marriage are
acknowledged and addressed, when the rhetoric of reform is severed
from the agenda of majoritarian politics that erodes the promise of
cultural pluralism, and when legal practitioners step out of the
‘realm of the rational’ in order to understand the human failings in
intimate relationships.

It has long been established by feminist scholarship that family law
is a gendered realm where the discourse is contingent on the
subjective moralistic values of the lawyers and judges. Rajkotia
candidly accepts that ‘the present legal system is a form of primitive
patriarchy at its worst, and benevolent patriarchal patronage at its
best.’ Therefore, the objective of family law, according to her, ‘is
to dilute the impact of such unfair attitudes, which can and do
translate into illegal acts. ‘Feminism’, she is clear, ‘is an active
movement to arrive at gender equality.’ It is as much for men, as it
is for women: for men, too, carry the burden of masculinity. Advancing
a strong critique of marriage as she writes about love and sex within
matrimony, she discusses various decisions where sexual intimacy was
made the primary focus of the divorce proceedings, exacerbating
women’s vulnerability in marriage: since absence of sex amounts to
cruelty, sex becomes a marital duty and consequently, women may not be
able to plead marital rape as cruelty!

Rajkotia provides insights into how the fault theory of divorce,
designed with the view to preserve the institution of marriage, has
turned matrimony into a ‘holy deadlock’. Easy divorce, it is her
argument, will help the institution of marriage. It is to be noted
that divorce petitions are resisted not merely for financial and
social reasons; anger, resentment and bitterness are often at the root
of resistance to divorce. Offering an important insight into human
emotions, she rightly contends that cruelty emerges from a helpless
desire to control. During the divorce process both sides turn into
‘righteous avenger[s] for their own perception of the suffering they
have borne’: victims turn into aggressors, and former aggressors
suffer the other’s victimhood as an act of aggression.

Discussing the progressive 2005 amendments to the Hindu Succession
Act, Rajkotia argues through various illustrations how the sense of
entitlement of a man to the family property has not diluted despite
this law. Maintenance and alimony also remain fiercely contested
claims in the divorce proceedings. According to Rajkotia, maintenance
and alimony should be decided on the basis of needs, wants and
compensation. Presently, the lifestyle rule only provides for needs.
She makes an argument not only in favour of counting the unpaid work
of women to assess their claims of maintenance from the husband’s
wealth (for ‘the tenure of a marriage is the investment for which it
is reasonable to expect a return’), but also for compensation for the
anguish caused in marriage to either of the spouses. The idea of such
quantification of pain, loss and trauma, however, makes one wonder if
the future of family law can only be imagined through the translation
of emotions into economic justice. It is difficult to reconcile
Rajkotia’s critique of consumerism with her position on lifestyle
based maintenance wants which ‘can include shopping worth lakhs,
luxury travel, membership of exclusive wine and food societies,
personal trainers and expensive diet food.’ Her feminist position
contests those who would view such financial claims as immoral, but
her feminism has no critique of ‘class’ or consumerism of the
neoliberal variety that forms the core of familial relationships,
including matrimony.

There is a lot to be said about children in divorce courts. The
chapter on children is particularly striking as it creates a much more
complex image of a child than the dominant view, according to which a
child is an innocent being whose welfare is to be decided by
all-knowing adults: parents, counsellors, lawyers, judges. While
dealing with children, it is important to take note of their complex
subjectivity, their different sense of time, their vulnerability as
much as the deception and manipulation they learn from the surrounding
environment. Unfortunately, the custody courts are yet another arena
for parents to fight to claim their exclusive control of the child.
Rajkotia quite rightly contends that the word ‘custody’ (which implies
exclusive ownership of the child by one parent) should be substituted
by ‘co-parenting’. It is not only the adversarial legal process that
deals with children in an instrumental fashion, but parents themselves
reduce their children to ‘divisible assets’ or worse, tools to take
revenge. However, to realize the principle of the ‘best interest of
the child’, the courts need to evolve innovative processes and
adjudicative techniques such that the voice of the child is not
smothered in the cacophonic legalese and warring parents. This can
happen only if the court is singularly guided by the welfare of the
child, rather than equal rights of the parents.

She builds an argument for right to privacy (of adult members of the
family) within the family and also during the divorce proceedings. A
2015 decision of the Delhi High Court decision lays down important
guidelines to ensure privacy and confidentiality in matrimonial
matters so that the dignity of the persons involved is protected. On
the misuse of gender specific laws, her position is categorical and
clear: the benefits of women-enabling legislations outweigh the ‘pain’
of misuse and, therefore, these laws should be retained. The abuse of
law by women, viz. the retributive justice that they seek by pushing
for penal provisions against the family-in-law needs to be situated
within the pent up anger and disappointment, as much as the social
rebuke of failing to ‘adjust’ in marriage. The desire for payback is
often rooted in grief and suffering – the way to deal with it is not
to remove the women-enabling laws, but to work towards repairing the
social rubric which produces such damaged psyches.

Further, there is also misuse of the laws by men in the family
proceedings who manipulate the legal system to force their wives into
submission. She points out that intelligent and honest investigation
can filter false complaints by both men and women. Making an important
clarification about ‘false’ accusations, she states that rejection of
some evidence by court does not necessarily mean that it was a false
case. It may be that the evidence did not meet the high standard of
proof that is needed in a criminal trial. But the same evidence may
pass the lower standard of proof in civil cases.

On the issue of the Uniform Civil Code, she takes the view that
reforms, including reforms towards gender equality should emanate from
the community, including the women of that community. Moreover, UCC
does not make it incumbent only on the minorities to introduce
reforms; the Hindu majority also needs to answer whether it is ready
for a UCC where marital rape would no longer be protected under the
guise of a sacrament, where kanyadaan which is at the root of dowry
will be given up, where Hindu women will not be cast into
stereotypical roles of devoted sacrificing wives and mothers and the
caste system and Brahmanical patriarchy will be rejected.
Understanding the politics of UCC, she remarks that a push towards UCC
may prove counter-productive as it may impel the minorities to adopt
outmoded identities and customary practices as a defence mechanism.

However, in her analysis one finds an uncritical acceptance of the
court evolved ‘essential practices’ doctrine which she believes
maintains a fair balance between religion and illegal practices. The
Supreme Court, according to her, can drive reform in the domain of
family law; it can ‘cajole and convince all religions’ and ‘try to
convince upper caste Hindus that the caste system is not a part of
Hindu religion.’ With the memory of the aftermath of Shah Bano still
alive, such faith in the Supreme Court appears unrealistic and almost
naïve. In fact, it undercuts her own critique of the top-down
structure of reform where people are not participants but objects of
social change.

Rajkotia illustrates that the expectations from law to do justice in
family law are fraught with many unanswered issues since there are
dangers in expecting the law to adjudicate on moral and emotional
aspects of marital relationships. What would be ‘justice’ in a
situation when a fatigued and exhausted person seeks divorce from a
mentally ill spouse? Would ethics of care in such a situation
transform into a legal obligation to stay in the marriage? The book
pushes the reader to think about these questions without offering easy
or quick solutions. This makes it a welcome addition to the scarce
critical literature on family law in India. However, Rajkotia’s
politics largely remains confined within the liberal frame. Her
uncritical endorsement of the Verma Committee report, half-baked
critique of consumerism and the blind spot of ‘class’ in her version
of feminism run the danger of slipping into a privileged, neoliberal
subject position, thereby circumscribing the project of reimagining
the domain of family law.

Latika Vashist

Indian Law Institute, Delhi

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No Dearth Of Talent In Bihar: Super 30 Founder Anand Kumar

No Dearth Of Talent In Bihar: Super 30 Founder Anand Kumar


Moscow:  There was no dearth of talent in Bihar but students in the state needed proper encouragement and guidance to come out of the shackles of poverty, according to the Super 30 founder and mathematician Anand Kumar. He was speaking in the Russian capital Moscow today at a function organised by the ‘Overseas Bihar Association’ (OBA), a non-commercial socio-cultural organisation of Indians in Russia, in association with the support of Embassy of India, Moscow, a statement from Super 30 said.

Kumar was felicitated for his contribution to the education of the poor students and ushering in a silent revolution through his Super 30.

“In Bihar, there is abundance of talent. The students are hard working. All they need is proper encouragement and guidance to come out of the shackles of poverty, Many students today have succeeded to bring about generational change,” he added.

Anand runs Super 30 programme for talented students from the underprivileged sections of the society and provides them free of cost mentoring at his home, where the students from different backgrounds live and eat under one roof. So far, over 400 students mostly from underprivileged sections of the society have made it to the IIT.

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Bardoli Welfare Society Organising Women for Income Generation

Located in katni, Madhya Pradesh, Bardoli welfare society, an Ngo under the leadership of Sh R.L Choudhary, is organising the rural women in different villages under the savatri bai program. The ngo is arranging for the capacity building and still development of women in various vocations, to generate supplementary income for the rural families. The ngo is creating a network of self help groups in and around katni


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All Womens’ Bank – An NGO start up at jhunjhunu

Within less than a year of starting production, Anandi — a sanitary pad brand – has become a household name among women of Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan.

A worker engaged in making sanitary pads at a all-woman unit in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan.

What do you do when banks reject your application for loan?

Set up your own bank, like a group of women in Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu did. And out of the novel idea was born a manufacturing unit for sanitary pads, bringing a hygienic practice among thousands of women in the district.

Within less than a year of starting production, Anandi — the sanitary pad brand – has become a household name among women of Jhunjhunu.

Much cheaper than the branded ones, the Anandi pads are also said to be as good in quality.

The product is manufactured by a group of ten village women in the district, and nearly 1000 pads are sold every day through a network of about 5000 women health and anganwadi workers.

Umed Bhalothia, the supervisor of the pad making unit, said the group of women were steeled by constant rejection by banks.

One of the women who went to banks, she said they wanted the money to set up small units of dairy, papad, spices, etc.

“The bankers would rebuke us and say, ‘Koi kaam nahin hai kya, roz aake baith jaate ho? Jao, parso aana’ (Don’t you have any work to do? You come and camp here every day. Go, come the day after tomorrow),” Bhalothia replied.

It was in 2014, she added, an official of the government’s women empowerment department (WED) suggested setting up their own bank.

The first collection in the bank, known as Amrita Multipurpose Primary Cooperative Society, was a modest sum of Rs 1,100. Today, the bank has Rs 4.56 crore in its coffers while another Rs 3.8 crore has been loaned to its women members, according to Viplav Neola, assistant director, WED.

The cooperative bank, which has some 15,000 women as members, gives loans to women at an interest rate of 8.25% and also provides insurance schemes to its customers.

It was in mid-2016 that the idea for the sanitary pad making unit was floated, again by the WED official, to provide employment to women as well as generate some profits. He, along with a few women visited places in Rajasthan, and also travelled to Mumbai , to learn about the pad making process, says Bhalothia.

The unit was established in Jhunjhunu by the end of 2016 at a cost of about Rs 22 lakh. It had two big machines to seal and deliver the finish product, while other smaller machines to grind the wood pulp, iron the mash, and one to gum the product.

The land and building was provided by the WED while a subsidy of Rs 6 lakh was given by the district industrial centre. Two experts from Mumbai trained the women in the process.

“We first put the wood pulp into the grinding machine which churns out a cotton-like substance. We pick up 44 gm of that for a pad, iron it and put it in the machine which delivers the pad. After gumming, the pad is ready for use and we put it in the steriliser,” Bhalothia said, explaining the process.

The pads are wrapped into packets of eight pieces each and given to women for selling at Rs 25 a packet. The saleswomen and health and anganwadi workers of the district sell it for Rs 28, making a profit of Rs 3 per piece, Bhalothia added.

A branded packet of six pads costs anything between Rs 40 to Rs 60.

The WED official said the 10 women who make the pads get Rs 150 as daily wage. The unit makes a profit of about 50 paise per pad, after deducting the raw material, operational and employee costs, and the daily profit comes to about Rs 500 which goes to the society.

In another six months, the unit will be switching to another kind of wood pulp that will make the pad biodegradable, Neola added.

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