Leprosy surges in India

Leprosy it seems is making a come back at least in some parts of India.

Leprosy may have left the public discourse but it is still prevalent in India: in six months from April to September 2016, 79,000 leprosy cases were detected, according toNational Health Profile, 2017.

Leprosy is a slow progressive disease that damages the skin and the nervous system.Caused due to infection by Mycobacterium leprae, it leads to skin lesions, disfigurement and loss of sensation in limbs

Uttar Pradesh had the most number of cases (13,423) but it was the union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli that has the highest prevalence of 7.93 per 10,000, which means nearly 8 people in 10,000 have leprosy.

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Alienation in Kashmir at an all time high ?

Tbe recent by polls in Kashmir saw only around 7% of people exercising their franchise. Fear of violence, boycott call by militants and more importantly resentment against state and central governments played a part.

For last one year or so the local population is becoming increasingly alienated from Indian mainstream.

One shocking image underlined this change. It showed a Kashmiri man tied down to the front of a vehicle of security forces. He was supposed to have been used as a human shield to escape attack by locals with stones.

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Freethinkers Meet – Dare to think

Excitement is rising among Freethinkers of Kerala, India as the two day event that brings together the humanist Freethinkers of the state for an intellectual feast is fast approaching.

Organised under the aegis  of “Freethinkers” Facebook group and Kerala Freethinkers Forum the Freethinkers meet 2017  is scheduled for April 22 and 23 at Vyloppilli Samskrithi Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram.

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Islamists kill ex Muslim in Southern India

Farooq was an Iron scrap dealer living in the South Indian city of Coimbatore. He was an outspoken ex Muslim atheist who regularly used to criticise all religions including Islam on Facebook and Whatsapp. He was an active member of an outfit called Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhakam, a break away group of Dravidar Kazhakam.

Not able to answer his criticisms, Islamists decided to punish him as per their holy book.

Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment,                     Quran 5 : 33

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Custom Cuts – Explaining and exploring feminism

One evening, illustrator and graphic designer Pia Alize Hazarika got into an argument with a  woman. “She called me a bad feminist. It was because I didn’t align my views with hers. It sat a bit weirdly with me,” recalls Hazarika, founder of Delhi’s Pig Studio.

Instead of ranting about it online, she decided to channel her rage creatively, doing what she does best: draw a comic. “It would
show where I stand and what my beliefs are, and serve as a tool to show people that there’s a spectrum under which their views can fall; not everything is black and white,” she says.

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New study throws light on female genital cutting in India

Female genital cutting (FGC) or mutilation is a regressive cultural practice found mostly among Muslims living in Africa and Arab countries and also in Indonesia. Though Indian subcontinent has a huge Muslim population it is believed that  FGC is very rare  among Muslims in South Asia.

Still one sect of Muslims were known to be following this, the Dawoodi Boharas.

The Dawoodi Bohras are a sub-sect of Ismaili Shia Islam, who trace their roots back to the Fatimid dynasty of Yemen in the 11th century. The Dawoodi Bohras believe that the religious or spiritual leader of the community is the Da’i al-Mutlaq, referred to with the title of ‘Syedna’. The post originated in Yemen but moved to Gujarat, India, in the 1500s. Today, the Dawoodi Bohras are predominantly a Gujarati-speaking business community with their own distinct culture and a population estimated to be between one and two million. The majority of Dawoodi Bohras reside in India and Pakistan, but over the last few decades there has been a significant migration of Dawoodi Bohras to the Middle East, East Africa, Europe, North America, Australia, and other parts of Asia. The administrative headquarters of the Dawoodi Bohras as well as the office of the current (53rd) Da’i are in Mumbai, India.

Dawoodi Bohras are the most well-known Muslim community in India to practice FGC, known as ‘khatna’ or ‘khafd’ in the community – a ritual that many Islamic scholars around the world do not endorse. In most instances, the process involves the removal of a pinch of skin from the clitoral hood at the age of seven, or between the ages of six and twelve. While the Quran, Islam’s holy book, does not sanction FGC, the Daim al-Islam, a religious text followed by this community, does endorses the practice. It is likely that the practice came down to the Dawoodi Bohras from Yemen, where Dawoodi Bohras trace their roots and where FGC is widely practiced in several provinces.

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The Indian demonetisation fiasco

More than a month ago, on November 8th, in a nationally televised speech, Indian Prime Minister Modi announced that from that midnight onwards 85% of value of cash in circulation in India will become invalid. The two higher denomination currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 which were withdrawn from circulation formed the bulk of cash in use. Government gave time till December 30 to exchange or deposit old invalid notes, but put heavy restriction on the amount of withdrawal of new notes from Banks.

The stated reason for such a drastic move was to curb black money, eliminate counterfeit notes and to reduce terrorism.  Looking back after a month it seems the move failed in all counts while putting ordinary people, especially the poor to severe hardships. Moreover it opened new avenues of corruption with involvement of bank and income tax officials.

Most economists were very critical of the move. Here are some excerpts of the criticisms.

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