Tag: freedom

Supreme Court’s judgment on adultery – Choosing individuality over commitment

Hon’ble Supreme Court of India repealed the Section 497 (adultery law) of IPC. The bench of judges declared that it is not a criminal offense if a partner commits adultery but is a private affair. However, the matter is highly contested. Besides the argument of criminalization, the question arises about who should decide whether it is a criminal offense or private matter. Since we live in a society and make common laws to govern ourselves, I think it is the people themselves and the representatives of people who get to decide on such matters. As Justice Katju (ex-SC judge) observed that the legislature should decide whether it is a crime, not the Supreme Court. Supreme Court may check the validity of it or decide the law as wise or unwise. I think the SC can also check the constitutionality of the law. Too much of judicial activism is not good for a democracy either. The legislature should decide with much debate and discourse whether it is a crime keeping in mind the interest of the society. Simply saying it as a private matter does not reflect its implication on the society. Is the Indian public ready to address the matter of marriage and adultery in private in a constructive manner? They claim, it liberalizes women. But how? Where the majority of women are not economically empowered enough to divorce their adulterous partner, how will they deal with it privately? They will silently tolerate their partner’s behavior and live miserable lives. Men will justify adultery. Moreover, in a society like ours when men find their partners with other men they will take law into their own hands. It does not address the issue. Instead of making the law equal for both men and women, it has been scraped (It still remains a question though).

Besides the law and decriminalization, I have an issue with the way the Hon’ble judges have described the matter. They seem to be somewhat normalizing adultery in the society and to an extent glorifying it in the name of ‘sexual autonomy’. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud backed the sexual autonomy of women within marriage. He said, “Partners in marriage should have respect for each other’s sexual autonomy”. It suggests that he outrightly refusing to accept the exclusiveness of sex within a marriage. If a partner needs ‘sexual autonomy’ to have sex outside the marriage then why marry at first place? Why get into a committed relationship? It is a straight reproval of the institution of marriage and its sanctity.

The judges said “A woman has sexual autonomy within marriage. Marriage does not mean ceding autonomy of one to the other. Ability to make sexual choices is essential to human liberty. Even within private zones, an individual should be allowed her choice”.

In the name of Autonomy, choosing individuality over commitment is no way forward. I am against the law that is bias towards one gender but the way the Hon’ble judges are speaking about the issue is not going to help Indian society that celebrates family values and individual virtues. Commitment is important for a healthy family and healthy families are prerequisites for a healthy society. Where will the world head without virtues like commitment, love, integrity and honesty?  Freedom without obligations is not possible where more than two individuals have to live since one person’s exercise of absolute freedom will stand in the ways of the other. In the name of freedom and liberty, can we do anything we want to? Is not restraint better than just doing whatever your instinct tells you to do? Imagine if everyone keeps doing whatever they want to do in the name of individual autonomy.

The feminist propaganda of ‘my body my choice’ ‘my life my choice’ will take us nowhere. There is a reason why human beings live in a society. Everything is ‘my’, ‘mine’, ‘me’, ‘I’ is the reason for many troubles. Don’t we have responsibility and commitment towards our spouse, parents, family and the community we live in? Is everything about ourselves? My life my choice? What about your choices that stand in the ways of others to exercise theirs’? Hon’ble Justice Mishra said “Husband is not the master,” but can’t the husband or the wife expect fidelity from each other? Can’t parents expect their children to take care of them? Can’t society expect us to act responsibly? My life my choice? Where it ends? Where is the boundary? Are we going to remove all the fences/boundaries in the name of individual liberty?

“Whenever you remove any fence, always pause long enough to ask yourself, ‘Why was it put there in the first place?” G.K. Chesterton

I am woman

I am a woman, stubborn and strong willed
But also a girl, longing to be held
My dad’s lil girl
But also a Manager
I talk a lot
But love the silence
I can’t read maps
But love to travel
I dread growing old
But love my freedom
My tears may flow freely
But my strength is hidden deeply
I may hate for a moment
But I love for a lifetime
I am may be a huge cliché

But am still rare and special.

From Bondage to Freedom

Freedom is the real nature of human beings.

We are called to be free and live up to our highest potentials.

But there can be many things that enslave us and limit us. But we have the choice to put aside everything that is limiting or enslaving us and be free.

We can definitely do it through the power of God, who said “I will set you free” (Exodus- 6:6).

Now we must break every chain of limitations and walk towards freedom.

And in the process of walking from bondage to freedom, we can live fully every day.

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People with Disabilities in India: Hopelessness and Hope

Today International day for People with Disabilities is being observed around the world.

Here in India, we also have various events to commemorate the day like every other year but PWDs continue to live in extreme poverty, facing different types of discrimination, poor quality of life and hopelessness.

PWDs in villages are still being mocked and are identified by their impairments. Disability is largely considered a consequence of one’s past life sins or karma instead of being a physical condition and disease. Widespread awareness is still lacking among people who are both educated and denied education.

PWDs are often looked down upon or looked at in a manner that makes them feel worthless. Even when we show compassion and kindness, it is more out of pity rather than the actual intention of helping the person grow. Our behavior is attached with stigma and discrimination and our use of words affects their self-esteem, confidence and faith in themselves. Some even don’t dare to attend public functions in fear of being rejected, mocked or looked down upon or considered as helpless creatures. Many are confined to their homes all their lives.

Although, disability is often a low priority for the government, in the recent years there have been many initiatives taken. In 2013, while I was working in Jharkhand, it was the first year the District Administration was observing Disability Day. This is almost 20 years after IDPWD was declared globally and more than 15 years after the PWD Act 1995 was passed. It is tragic that such a global event had been ignored for so long while there also seems to be a glimmer of hope as the District Disability Rehabilitation Centre was started on that day as well.  There are various rights for PWDs outlined in the Act and there are various social welfare schemes initiated by the government but they hardly promote empowerment, wellbeing, and freedom. At the ground level, the initiatives by the government are limited to disability pension of Rs 600/- p/m. In addition to the fact that the amount barely provides for basic needs, it is very irregular. Pensions are received once in 6 months or sometimes once a year. Even when they receive the amount, it is used to meet family expenditures making it close to impossible to have a decent quality of life dependent on the pension.

A few other initiatives by the government include the provision of assistive devices like wheelchairs and tricycles for PWDs (but not all) with restricted movements. These events are rare and when these equipments are given, they are of very poor quality and often do not last long. When a few PWDs actually utilize them, their movements are still restricted as the rural infrastructure such as roads, houses, toilets are inaccessible.

Apart from this, in order to avail any government benefits, PWDs are required to have disability certificates. Unfortunately, by 2012 when my colleagues in EHA had started working in the area in Jharkhand, very few had disability certificates in the region. Around 80 – 90 percent of PWDs were not registered or given certificates. The certification is a lengthy process which requires multiple visits to the district headquarters. It is both time consuming and a financial burden. Caregivers or family members who are dependent on daily wages find it especially difficult to get the work done. Even this disability certification process is not exempt from corruption. People with lesser impairments sometimes pay and get higher than 40% percentage of disability in order to access government schemes easily. On the other hand, there have been instances where people could not pay and have got lower percentages of Disability during certification.

As stated above, there are many challenges and barriers to a better quality of life such as social, financial, institutional and infrastructural.

There are hardly any government initiatives that focus on capacity building, skill development, education and empowerment of PWDs. Skill development programs which are functioning are more of a hype rather than doing any sustainable good.

It is 26 years since the first human development report was published by UN based on the capability approach. The government should focus more on building capacities, providing opportunities and an environment to utilize their skills, disable friendly technologies and accessible markets. Moreover, to create a community and society which is open, educated enough and inclusive in order to provide an enriching environment which is necessary for better quality of life.

However, it is not all hopeless. In the recent years, many Non-Governmental photo1729Organizations have come up to work in this area of disability, focusing on the right based and empowerment approach. In rural areas a few well informed NGOs are trying to strengthen the rural institutions and helping in forming disability people groups in order to work for their rights. The Government is also increasingly coming up with policies but the implementation is still dependent upon the mercies of the officials.

Hope is raising, change is happening but the question is can we be satisfied with this? Satisfied by the disguised notion that things are changing? If we are satisfied with the way things are changing, we are doing injustice by denying their rights. We need to be impatient, because the way things are changing, by the time we ensure an equal society and wellbeing for all, millions of lives would have been lost without education, quality of life, wellbeing, freedom and even without having to dream.

As the popular quote from Nehru’s speech on the eve of India’s Independence goes, “At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom”. I wonder we are still waiting for that stroke which will bring with it life and freedom to other relevant aspects of our lives.

Let’s observe the International Day for People with Disabilities as a reminder that a lot is still to be done much more than what we have achieved so far.

Love

Abinash

P.S. Contributed by Rachel

The faultless, the nationalist and the holier-than-thou.

Recently, I read in the social media about an Indian couple who beat up a wheelchair user in a theater for not standing during the national anthem in Goa. How sickening is this?

This is not an isolated incident in the country. These incidents, however, may not be called a trend, but has been increasingly reported in the last 10 years and very much in the media since past couple of years. It may be because these incidents have increased in past years or the media cover of these types of cases have increased. No matter whether it has increased or has been constant in the past 70 years of freedom, it definitely does not seem healthy for a free society.

People are openly beaten up or even lynched for eating certain kind of meat (beef). Couples are trashed in public parks for being together. Night parties have been attacked by a group of people who claim to be the makers of a better society (what an irony?). Some are even beaten up for not chanting ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ (Hail mother India)  as few believe it is the way to prove patriotism. A few media channels have promoted themselves from being neutral reporters to the judges of highest courts (of their own standards) by making judgments and declaring people guilty and even pointing out the anti-nationals.

 Poor people are beaten up for transporting cattle in the name of stopping the slaughter and are seized unlawfully, but later the cattle is sold by the same people for profit. This is one of the few businesses which includes no hard work but returns both fame and money.

The driver of a bigger vehicle would most probably be beaten up by passersby if he hits a smaller vehicle on the road even if it is not his fault. Tragically enough, people are more bothered to beat up the driver than to call an ambulance or take the victim to a hospital.

People from Bihar and UP have been trashed in their own country (in Mumbai) because some believe that they have the highest form of lawless behavior in the country. One must find out how lawful it is to beat somebody up unlawfully. In my opinion, it is nothing less than the Nazis who believed that Jews were the destroyers of the civilizations, however, they never realized that they themselves were the uncivilized and the real destroyers of civilization.

Everyone thinks they are better than the other person. Self-righteous people of every religion portray others as inferior all the time. Self-declared patriots threaten others’ right to celebrate patriotism in their own ways. Many of us do not miss any opportunity to point fingers at a person with a fault and sometimes, even without any fault, people beat up others just because they can.

Every time I hear about such incidents, one thing that comes to my mind is the incident where a woman was brought to Jesus convicted of adultery by the preachers of the laws and some self-righteous people. They asked Jesus whether the woman should be stoned, as the laws says an adulterous woman must be stoned to death. I admire what Jesus replied to this. He said “If anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her”. Hearing the reply, all of them who accused the woman left the place one after another and as the verse emphasizes ‘the older ones first’. 😉 John – 8: 3-10.

In the same way, are we all not guilty of any sin? Are we not humans who commit mistakes in our daily lives? In other words, when Men visit brothels, it is gratifying their sexual needs but women in the brothels are called whores and secluded from the society in a way that jeopardizes their health and well-being. In addition to this, rapists and people indulging in violence against women in their homes are teaching how women should dress and when they should go out, under the banner of culture, tradition and religion.

If we take a moment and look within and be empathetic before we judge and disgrace others for their mistakes or raise our fingers, the world would be a much better place.

Let the law of the state, which is intended to maintain order in the society take its course. Why are we becoming so judgemental and self-righteous and taking law into our own hands?

Let he who is free of sin throw the first stone…

Finally, one thing I have observed in my life is that the higher the level of hypocrisy in a person the more judgmental she/he tends to be and more the finger pointing. I may be wrong in my observations, scientific study needed. LOL.

“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye”. Jesus in Matthew 7:5

Thanks

God bless