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9

It is sad that this explanation is necessary, but with AAP vounteers cannibalizing the credibility of their own women leaders to somehow prove them not required in the cabinet, this post becomes necessary.

To a bunch of people conditioned to respond to any issue of identity with assumptions of special favors and handouts, it may come as a surprise that when you speak of the top of an organization (which a government is), it is more about responsible team selection than favors.

A diverse city needs diverse perspectives to understand thoroughly. There is a HUMAN aspect, not just "competence" at churning out and implementing ideas. A person who has an experience of being a religious minority is more likely to spot potential problems that could impact religious minorities because life has given them that lens. A person who is from a caste that has known being treated as inferior is likely to have more practical suggestions to empowerment than someone who has not suffered disempowerment and approaches it as a conceptual problem - albeit with phenomenal "merit".

[tweetthis twitter_handles="@vidyut, @_aamjanata"]Differing perspectives on a team are an asset, not a handout or reservation.[/tweetthis]

Similarly a woman is likely to have instinctive feel if something would or would not suit a woman's realities than a man. It is no coincidence that all those jokes about men not understanding their wives and all the complaints of insensitivity from men happen. Men and women see the world with different perspectives. What can seem normal to a man can be a problem to women and vice versa. Not having a woman on board opens up potential for costly mistakes too, since humans doing the delivering don't matter so much as efficiency in delivering.

Does this mean that you can cover the whole diversity of Delhi with six people? Of course not. But is it necessary to at least attempt to cover large chunks broadly? Damn right it is. If a chunk of 46% is not represented, the decision making body is POORER QUALITY because the risk of their decisions being potentially not efficient goes up.

Also the arguments that women would prefer to be chosen for merit rather than gender - or vice versa - that women should not be chosen for gender are both irrelevant.

Should a single woman have preference over a man because of her gender? No. Should a team with no women on it go out of its way to choose one? Yes. Is it insulting to that woman to be chosen because of her gender? I don't think so.

[tweetthis twitter_handles="@vidyut, @_aamjanata"]When men will "deliver" promises on women's rights and women are "incompetent" what does it mean?[/tweetthis]

If I were part of a team that had to send six participants to do a physical task - the nature of which we didn't know. And the leader chose participants for various qualities like say.... speed, strength, heavy weight, light weight, tall and short. I may be a superb strategist or I may not be as "efficient" as others on the team or I would never want to get a job for my short height - but if I bring in a quality the team needs, should I do it? Damn right. It is responsibility. It would be absurd to call this a handout.

The cabinet is a team setting out to rule Delhi. No one has an idea of what competencies the team was chosen for, so I would not comment. But if 46% of the "challenge conditions" will think in a certain manner people on my team don't, would I choose someone who thought like them? Damn right I would. It would be a competence, not handout. Not tokenism, not symbolism. It would be the right thing to do, because when facing unknown challenges, that person would have familiarity with something the others don't. Would it matter whether that person wanted to be selected for her being a woman? If I were a leader? No. It would be her responsibility to put her ego aside and be there because she was a woman and the team needed a woman because 46% of the target citizens were women.

This isn't a handout. This is responsible team choosing. If the cabinet is indeed chosen for merit, then the parameters are incorrectly set if they leave such a large target group unrepresented. Apart from this being unfair to the women of Delhi, it makes for a poorer quality cabinet.

'Look at "XYZ woman politician" women shouldn't be on cabinet'

It is not just absurd logic (there are bad male politicians too. Keep the cabinet empty) it is extremely insulting to the women MLAs as well as AAP by implying that AAP women are no better than those you hold in contempt. It basically exposes your misogyny - to put it mildly - apart from making you sound insane.

Can you cover every minority? Why not Sikh, Christian, OBCs, tribals and my dabbawala?

Ideally, you would have all represented, but it may not be possible in such a small cabinet. You could exaggerate it to ridiculous levels, but if you are aiming to understand instead of just trivialize an issue as important as this, it is possible to understand. The attempt must be to have perspectives that can at least understand some of the disadvantage, if not completely. Any minority person is more likely to understand issues of religious sensitivity. Any lower caste person is likely to be aware of hierarchies better than someone who has never been seen as socially inferior for fact of birth. Similarly, there are a thousand different ways women think, but a woman is still more likely to understand them than a man. Failing a woman, a member of the LGBT community could be included (if the women really were so terrible and you hid it during the campaign) - another example of not "reserving for women" but still achieving a perspective on gender bias related disadvantages.

One counter question for you. How are you certain that the six cabinet members selected are not handouts? Are handouts given only to women?

 

My rift with what passes off for the voice of Indian feminists in public space grows. This time, over reckless grandstanding with LGBT rights.

It has come to my attention that India's feminists have made LGBT rights an election issue. It is unclear how many of these feminists belong to the LGBT community (I don't either) and what gives them the right to decide such things for others when they insist in women having their own voice.

Indian feminists increasingly appear to be bloated on their own sense of self importance bestowed by a media happy to trigger thoughts of violence against women for TRPs under the guise of condemning it. Not unlike the mandatory rape scene of a certain class of films from when I used to watch films (long ago).

The idea of LGBT rights as an election issue is not just reckless, it is engineered to harm LGBT rights.

India is the country where you have all major religions of the country - normally squabbling till your teeth ache - standing shoulder to shoulder to prevent LGBT rights, a right wing that is potentially on the verge of taking control of the country and the idea seems to be to point out to the homophobic majority who the people are who will make their every homophobic paranoia come true if elected. And then they vote for the country they want. Try getting a vote for your right to wear what you want in Saudi Arabia. Or heck India will do. If others should't have the right to decide your dress, who died and made you God that you grant others the right to decide whether LGBT should have rights or not? Why not let Khaps decide your rights then?

Some religious zealot doing this, I can understand. The right to decide by mob whether an individual has rights. Feminists engineering this with pride? Have all the brains gone on collective vacation?

How many rights are going to be sacrificed by air heads greedy for the next grand stand in media? Media is patriarchy, because it is driven by TRP and male controlled corporates and politicians. Instead of some slim young professional "people like us" handpicked individual case with a story that sells, bring up marital rape, domestic violence, tribal women instead of only Soni Sori, a 42 year old mother of five from some slum raped and watch your halo wilt and TRPs drop and you find the earth under your feet. That is where the women of India are.

The LGBT community is somewhere below that in public perception. They are not even understood as persons deserving of rights, let alone persons whose rights should be legalized. Unlike half of society being women, they are tiny numbers scattered all over the country. Not even concentrated in one constituency. What bright idea was it to make their rights open to debate and the subject of a standoff. What gives any idiot the right to make someone's fundamental right the subject of debate?

What is the consequence if Modi wins and LGBT rights are thrown in the dustbin and the clear verdict is people would have voted if they wanted such things in society? More talk shows? What should the community do? Who is to prevent enforcement of section 377 claiming mandate of the people?

Votes should be for people's needs, not their right to impose their prejudices on others or grant rights, as though an LGBT person's right to have sex with who they like is a concession given to them by the heterosexual majority. A democratic government must govern to make the people thrive, but must also govern for reform - whether voters like it or not. You get your jobs and decreased inflation and whatever shit, and you shut up and obey a law that says people who are not you have rights too. Just like you. Not up for vote. Country belongs to all and all have freedom to be and thrive in it. You can't protect minorities by throwing them at the mercy of a majority that actively persecutes them.

Which is what you do, when you make LGBT rights a matter people can vote for or against.

Idiot bubblegum feminists.

9

The transgendered community is a world of its own, intersecting with the "normal" in a garish parody of revulsion and macabre fascination that leaves no room for them to be anything other than objects to project society's prejudices on.

Who in India hasn't encountered these clapping, lewd "female" looking presumably males? Indian hijras are a right menace in most public areas, traffic signals, parks, even homes, if they catch wind of celebrations happening. What is this scene really? Who are these people?

Obviously, they are men, dressed as women, but what is behind that obvious first experience?

Eunuchs have traditionally been guardians of harems, in the times of kings, as I recall from some ancient books. So they seem to have existed for a long time. Many people believe blessings and curses from castrated hijras to be particularly potent, so that gives them a chance to make a living out on the streets in a glorified form of begging, peddling their good wishes and threatening with curses to get money from people passing. Others get together as a group with musical instruments and fancy clothes and perform song and dance routines at weddings and other auspicious occasions and earn slightly better. Still others work as prostitutes.

Until I had the fortune to meet some really interesting people among them, I really hadn't spared them a thought beyond fury if they tried to get pushy with me. Then I met Geeta, and recently, Anjali and Sunita. I came to know the people behind these threatening personalities. They work toward bringing reform in the lives of the transgender community, as they like to refer to themselves with respect.

I learned about the difficulties their lives are faced with all the time. Particularly touching was once, when Noorie said that when in a rickshaw with a girl she preferred to be dropped home first, as if she got molested, no one would come to her help, and even the cops might molest her for complaining.

Another was when Sowmya spoke of the love she has for her sister and family that she is unable to express and be close with them, because society drives prejudices in the way. Aarti remembers being harassed even as a child, for being "delicate". Stories pour out of shattered hearts when they find someone who cares. As though the telling and being heard itself allows them to be human in that moment. Horrifying tales of abuse, exploitation, betrayal, abandonment... are the norm. I have yet to meet one who wasn't traumatized. Who bore the weight of being herself like an extra limb inserting itself between her and the world.

This seems to be a common factor. Some times in their teenage years, they discovered that they weren't really interested in girls as much as in boys, and identified with women better than with men. Acting on these impulses, and even becoming aware of them, intensified them, and they soon started seeming obviously "different". Soon, there remained little choice but to leave their homes and join trans-gender communities and be among people like them, because others rarely would accept them.

In rare cases, their genitals are not "properly male" and in others, pursuing a profession like prostitution makes them undesirable. They are then castrated in some "home treatment" fashion, rarely in a hygienic manner, or with the benefit of anesthetic. The idea is to look as female as they can. Not all hijaras are castrated, though many are. This also creates other hormonal imbalances that they need medical help with. Few doctors are willing to entertain them.

Transgenders face a whole load of problems in their lives - from practical respect and acceptance problems, to finding accommodation and occupations beyond begging and prostitution. In a world where forms give you options of male and female, they have no box to tick. Ration cards and passports are problems. Claiming justice is a problem. Self-esteem and assertiveness is a problem for all their loud body language. Health care and AIDS is a huge problem. The bottom line is money and survival.

A touching look at the legal, social and religious aspects of being a hijra can be cound in this article

If we want less of "these hijras" harrassing us on the streets, we also need to be willing to be ok with them in other areas when they are working honestly. Who cares if a web designer is male or female or transgender? Or someone working in an office, or a reception person, or a tailor? It is silly inhibitions and a fear of the unknown that keeps us from even sparing them a second glance. We keep our distance with our contempt and hide our fear behind our aloof masks.

Some interesting means of employment and income are slowly creeping into public consciousness. Films employ transgenders to do their usual lewd routines, which earns them decent money, but is hated by many as an insensitive showcase of their plight, and reinforcing their image in the mainstream society as not particularly appealing individuals. Using their song and dance routines to collect over due taxes from defaulters follows the same lines, but firmly projects them as people working on the side of "the good" and seems to be getting interesting results as seen here.

Still, it is occupation rooted in the revulsion society feels for them. Most people pay to be rid of them. The insult is soul searing. For the sole crime of being different. Depression and addictions as escape are common. As are clients who may love them for years but never walk down a street with them, let alone marry.

What we all are - humans is wrapped in so many layers of prejudice and bigotry that there is no awareness of them as people with lives and feelings. There is a need to see them for who they are, to employ and engage them for their skills and qualities rather than perversion. Perhaps, once we are able to see them as constructive workers, we might be able to offer them work beyond embarrassing people into paying money.

Luckily, there are organizations working with them. Some have even been started by educated transgender professionals to reach out to others like them. I suggest that we as people make that special effort not to cringe and turn away, but to deal with them as normally as we can, and see if we really like or dislike them, like we do with any other person. Not all of them are charming, and not all of them are bad. Can we look at the people more than their appearances?

*names changed to respect privacy

Edit: As routine maintenance of this site, I sometimes check to see what people are searching for, when they land up here. Many visitors from Europe land up here searching for conditions of this community, or information on what they are. The most popular search from India is "photo boy castrated India". I find it sad that the leading interest in them is still morbid sexual curiosity. Very few searches from India actually have words that are asking about the people very few Indians really know. It is a long and uphill struggle.