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Literary meet of Transgenders

Kolkata Set to Host India's 1st Transgender Poetry Meet, Faces Backlash from Critics


Kolkata: India’s first government-sponsored poetry meet for transgenders–‘Transgender Poets’ Meet’– is set to be held in Kolkata on July 17.

Six transgender poets and writers from West Bengal will be participating in the event, organised by Sahitya Akademi, an organization under the Union Culture Ministry.

Among those who are likely to participate in the meet are Rani Majumder, Aruna Nath, Anjali Mandal, Debdutta Biswas and Debojyoti Bhattacharya.

The idea to hold the event was put forward by Manabi Bandopadhyay, who is a college principal and a trans-woman. “We had organised Nari Chetana (Women Empowerment) Diwas on International Women’s Day. Dr Manabi Bandopadhyay suggested that we should consider organizing exclusive events for transgender writers and poets,” said Mihir Sahu, officer-in-charge, Eastern Region, Sahitya Akademi.Speaking to News18 Manabi Bandopadhyay said, “As a member of the advisory board of the eastern regional centre of Sahitya Akademi, I suggested that such events for transgender persons will help them to showcase their creativity. We are doing this on an experimental basis and I am sure we will get a good response.”

However, transgender activist Ranjita Sinha, who is also a member of the Bengal Transgender Development Board opposed the move and claimed that such events with a handful of transgender people would hardly enable the community establish their dignity in society.

“I was shocked when I came to know about this. I am sorry for my trans-brothers and sisters across Bengal. Since the NALSA verdict, we have failed to ensure basic human rights to the members of my community. Be it medical, employment generation or proper census of my community population, we have failed,” she said.

Sinha said that such literary festivals mocked the transgenders when less than one per cent of them are unable to attain basic education.

She also expressed her displeasure over Manabi leading the event. “I am equally shocked to know that our Vice Chairperson, Manabi, is taking the lead in this event. Is such an event is the current need of trans people? Or is it Roti, Kapda, Makan? In the coming days the starving, deprived, discriminated trans citizens are going to ask for an answer to this question,” said Sinha.

India launches National Digital Library

On 19 June, the Union Human Development Minister, Mr Prakash Javadekar launched the National Digital Library in the country’s capital. The library is a source of millions of academic texts from around the world which will be open to the general public.

According to an official release by the Human Resource Development (HRD), the National Digital Library of India (NDLI) is a project of the Ministry under the National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT). The National Digital Library aims to make digital educational resources available to all Indian citizens to empower, inspire and encourage learning.

The work on developing and implementing the National Digital Library began in 2015; it was built by the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur using technology provided the HRD Ministry. The digital library is just one project under the Digital India plan that was initiated by Indian Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi.

Mr Prakash Javadekar said that the National Digital Library will make learning resources available to users, the library has over 17 million source materials from more than 160 sources, in over 200 languages and according to the press release, around 3 million users are registered on the National Digital Library.

Apart from the website, the Ministry has also made the National Digital Library available on phones through its mobile application; the National Digital Library Mobile App will enable people to access a vast reservoir of digital content from not only the country but across the globe as well. Digital information will be able to reach users even the most remote parts of India.

Mr Prakash Javadekar said that the app, which already has 670,000 downloads, is currently available for both iPhone and Android users; learners can look for particular information using parameters like the subject matter, source, and content type etc. As of now, the app is available in three languages – English, Hindi and Bengali.

The National Digital Library uses a single-window system to increase efficiency through time and cost savings. The platform collects and organises metadata from leading learning institutions in India and from across the globe. It is a digital repository containing textbooks, articles, videos, audiobooks, lectures, simulations, fiction and other kinds of learning media.

According to Mr Prakash Javadekar, the National Digital Library is a round-the-clock knowledge centre that is will be made accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. Anybody can access the digital library anytime and anywhere and will be contributing to the Government’s Read More India (Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat)plan that aims to improve the language and mathematics skills of the youth of the country, primarily.

The National Digital Library initiative will be able to help thousands of students in the country by providing free source material like textbooks and guides that were previously hard to come by, being both expensive and limited. The Minister of Culture, Dr Mahesh Sharma stated that the collaboration between the National Digital Library by Ministry of Human Resource Development and the National Virtual Library of India platform by Ministry of Culture will reach a large number of leaners in India and attract global attention with its progress.

The National Virtual Library of India, which is a part of the National Mission on Libraries of the Ministry of Culture, is also an online library with resources covering a large number of fields, including arts, music, dance, culture, theatre, science, technology, archaeology, literature, e-papers and manuscripts, among others. All of this information has been gathered, collated and presented on a single online platform- the website.

The National Digital Library will change the way education is accessed and presented in India, and through this initiative, every citizen in India will be given the digital tools and resources to empower themselves.

Changing Society – Marijuana for Entertainment now!

Canada has legalized recreational marijuana use after the country’s two legislative chambers approved the Cannabis Act Tuesday, the CBC reports.

The bill will allow Canadian provinces to control and regulate how marijuana can be grown, distributed and sold, and it’s likely that sales will begin by the end of the summer. The Cannabis Act makes Canada the first Group of Seven nation, and the second country in the world (after Uruguay) to legalize marijuana for adults nationally.

The Cannabis Act still needs Royal Assent – the final step the Canadian legislative process – to become law, but that is expected to happen later this week. Built into the bill is an eight-to-12 week buffer period that will allow provinces to prepare for the recreational sale of marijuana. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet will set the official date on which the law will actually go into effect.

Trudeau made legalizing cannabis part of his campaign platform in 2015, and in 2017 he introduced legalization legislation. On Twitter, the Prime Minister marked the passage of the Cannabis Act, writing, “It’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana – and for criminals to reap the profits. Today, we change that. Our plan to legalize and regulate marijuana just passed the Senate.”

The Cannabis Act will make it legal for anyone over 18 to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana, while adults will also be allowed to grow up to four marijuana plants at home. While the bill establishes a national framework for how the cannabis market will operate, each province will be allowed to set their own system of licensing and regulation.

Canada legalized medical marijuana in 2001, though the law required patients to grow their own plants or designate another individual to grow it for them. A 2013 legal challenge broadened the law to create a system of federally licensed producers, but that ruling was itself challenged three years later on the grounds that it unreasonably limited access and increased costs. Though the 2016 ruling didn’t explicitly make dispensaries legal, it encouraged the idea that such a business could operate so long as it was for strictly medical reasons. In the years since, a gray market of sorts sprouted up in various Canadian cities, with many dispensary operators growing increasingly comfortable as legalization approached.