Monday, 21 August 2017

The difference between ‘a’ washing machine and a ‘great’ washing machine

The right machine can save water, power consumption, time, energy and your clothes from damage.

In 2010, Hans Rosling, a Swedish statistician, convinced a room full of people that the washing machine was the greatest invention of the industrial revolution. In the TED talk delivered by him, he illuminates how the washing machine freed women from doing hours of labour intensive laundry, giving them the time to read books and eventually join the labour force. Rosling’s argument rings true even today as it is difficult to deny the significance of the washing machine in our everyday lives.

For many households, buying a washing machine is a sizable investment. Oddly, buyers underestimate the importance of the decision-making process while buying one and don’t research the purchase as much as they would for a television or refrigerator. Most buyers limit their buying criteria to type, size and price of the washing machine.

Visible technological advancements can be seen all around us, making it fair to expect a lot more from household appliances, especially washing machines. Here are a few features to expect and look out for before investing in a washing machine:

Cover your basics
Do you wash your towels every day? How frequently do you do your laundry? Are you okay with a bit of manual intervention during the wash cycle? These questions will help filter the basic type of washing machine you need. The semi-automatics require manual intervention to move clothes from the washing tub to the drying tub and are priced lower than a fully-automatic. A fully-automatic comes in two types: front load and top load. Front loading machines use less water by rotating the inner drum and using gravity to move the clothes through water.

Size matters
The size or the capacity of the machine is directly proportional to the consumption of electricity. The right machine capacity depends on the daily requirement of the household. For instance, for couples or individuals, a 6kg capacity would be adequate whereas a family of four might need an 8 kg or bigger capacity for their laundry needs. This is an important factor to consider since the wrong decision can consume an unnecessary amount of electricity.

Machine intelligence that helps save time
In situations when time works against you and your laundry, features of a well-designed washing machine can come to rescue. There are programmes for urgent laundry needs that provide clean laundry in a super quick 15 to 30 minutes’ cycle; a time delay feature that can assist you to start the laundry at a desired time etc. Many of these features dispel the notion that longer wash cycles mean cleaner clothes. In fact, some washing machines come with pre-activated wash cycles that offer shortest wash cycles across all programmes without compromising on cleanliness.

The green quotient
Despite the conveniences washing machines offer, many of them also consume a substantial amount of electricity and water. By paying close attention to performance features, it’s possible to find washing machines that use less water and energy. For example, there are machines which can adjust the levels of water used based on the size of the load. The reduced water usage, in turn, helps reduce the usage of electricity. Further, machines that promise a silent, no-vibration wash don’t just reduce noise – they are also more efficient as they are designed to work with less friction, thus reducing the energy consumed.

Customisable washing modes
Crushed dresses, out-of-shape shirts and shrunken sweaters are stuff of laundry nightmares. Most of us would rather take out the time to hand wash our expensive items of clothing rather than trusting the washing machine. To get the dirt out of clothes, washing machines use speed to first agitate the clothes and spin the water out of them, a process that takes a toll on the fabric. Fortunately, advanced machines come equipped with washing modes that control speed and water temperature depending on the fabric. While jeans and towels can endure a high-speed tumble and spin action, delicate fabrics like silk need a gentler wash at low speeds. Some machines also have a monsoon mode. This is an India specific mode that gives clothes a hot rinse and spin to reduce drying time during monsoons. A super clean mode will use hot water to clean the clothes deeply.

Washing machines have come a long way, from a wooden drum powered by motor to high-tech machines that come equipped with automatic washing modes. Some washing machines include all the above-mentioned features and provide damage free laundry in an energy efficient way.

(Source: Scroll)

Rangoli, Kolam designs and what they mean

Every day, my mother religiously performed a ritual. Rain or shine, she never skipped this ritual even for a day. Every day, she drew enchanting kolam patterns using rice flour.

Here is an example of a typical kolam design in front of the house.

On special occasions, the white kolam designs were made with wet rice flour paste accompanied by thick strips of earth colored borders made with red sand mixed with water.

My mother is proud of her kolam design skills. She is not alone. It seems no self-respecting South Indian woman will tolerate anyone questioning her ability to conjure up kolam designs at will.

Millions of women from different communities in South India practice this art form every day.

For over 38 years, I considered Kolam to be just another ritual among the long list of rituals Indian women seem to follow. However, when I decided to dig deeper to understand the significance of kolam designs, I was surprised at what I discovered.

The threshold is a key concept in Tamilian culture. Even historical Tamil literature such as the Sangam literature (Tamil literature in the period spanning 300BC to 300 CE) is divided into the akam (inner field) and the puram (outer field).

That’s not all.

In one of Nammalvar’s (the fifth among the 12 Alwar saints who espoused Vaishnavism) hymns, the God in the poem is the God of the threshold. Of course, every newly married bride formally becomes a part of the household when she steps overs the threshold.

Should we then conclude that kolam designs are a celebration of the threshold?

Different interpretations of the significance of kolam designs

Here are a few explanations I came across in my quest to unearth the real significance of the kolam ritual.

The most common understanding has been that the idea of using rice flour is to provide food to ants, insects and small birds.

If that is the case, what’s stopping men from participating in this noble deed?

While I did not find an answer, a common sense reasoning is that women have traditionally carried the burden of maintaining the home and the kolam ritual automatically became a part of the woman’s domain.

That’s also a reason why my mother and my aunts believe that women see it as a key ritual that helps them improve their concentration and patience, two key components needed to run a household!

Here is another interpretation recorded in Lance Nelson’s study of Kolam.

“Bhumi Devi [earth goddess] is our mother. She is everyone’s source of existence. Nothing would exist without her. The entire world depends on her for sustenance and life. So, we draw the kolam first to remind ourselves of her. All day we walk on Bhumi Devi. All night we sleep on her. We spit on her. We poke her. We burden her. We do everything on her. We expect her to bear us and all the activities we do on her with endless patience. That is why we do the kolam.”

According to Devdutt Pattnaik, author and mythologist –

“A downward pointing triangle represented woman; an upward pointing triangle represented man. A circle represented nature while a square represented culture. A lotus represented the womb. A pentagram represented Venus and the five elements.”

Kolams connects the dots in more than one way.

Cultural practices are common across the length and breadth of India. They also transcend regions.

The concept of Kolam is definitely not unique to Tamil speaking community in India. For example, in the Telugu language, it is called ‘Muggulu’, and it’s known as ‘Rangoli’ in the Kannada language.

But the idea of drawing patterns on the ground transcends India and can be found in other cultures as well!

Anil Menon, a computer scientist, and a speculative novelist has compiled findings from his research on similar practices among cultures separated by oceans. Here are some tidbits from Menon’s work.

British anthropologist, John Layard, found that the patterns drawn on the sand by the tribal population of Malekula (an island that’s a part of The Republic of Vanuatu, situated 1000 miles east of Australia) are similar to the kolam patterns popular in Tamil Nadu!

Here is the proof.

There is also a possibility that kolam designs were an early form of pictorial language!

Dr Gift Siromani, through his path-breaking work, has proved that it is possible to create any kolam pattern using a combination of strokes.

Rituals and cultural practices are to be cherished

I did not think much of the kolam designs my mom drew every day. But a sudden spark of curiosity led me to unexpected findings and the joy of discovering human beings are connected to each other in more ways than we can imagine.

Physical boundaries, cultural differences, and racial definitions are just imaginary barriers we have erected over a period of time. Our lives are always connected just like the dots of the kolam my mom draws.

(Source: The Better India)

Forced to comply or shut down, Cambridge University Press’s China Quarterly removes 300 articles in China

China’s crackdown on academic freedom has reached the world’s oldest publishing house.

Cambridge University Press (CUP) said it has pulled over 300 articles and book reviews on its China site from the China Quarterly (CQ), one of the most prestigious journals in the China studies field, at the request of the government’s General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP). The news came to light after an undated screenshot of an email to CQ’s editorial board from the journal’s editor, Tim Pringle, went viral on social media today (Aug. 18).

According to Pringle, CUP complied with the request so as to prevent the shutdown of the entire CUP site. Most of the articles in question relate to topics deemed sensitive to the Chinese Communist Party, such as the Cultural Revolution, Tiananmen Square, Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and date back to the 1960s, wrote Pringle, adding that CUP had received a similar request to take down more than a thousand e-books a few months earlier.

Yang Guobin, a sociology professor at the University of Pennsylvania who is also a CQ editorial board member, wrote on social networking site Weibo (link in Chinese) yesterday (Aug. 17) after he received Pringle’s email: “This is one of the most important international publications in contemporary Chinese studies, yet it’s subject to such restrictions… This is unheard of. Isn’t the Chinese government trying to promote contemporary Chinese studies?”

James Leibold, an associate professor at Australia’s La Trobe University whose research focuses on Xinjiang, called CUP’s decision “shameful” in a tweet.

CUP said in an emailed statement:
Freedom of thought and expression underpin what we as publishers believe in, yet Cambridge University Press and all international publishers face the challenge of censorship.

We can confirm that we received an instruction from a Chinese import agency to block individual articles from China Quarterly within China. We complied with this initial request to remove individual articles, to ensure that other academic and educational materials we publish remain available to researchers and educators in this market.

We are aware that other publishers have had entire collections of content blocked in China until they have enabled the import agencies to block access to individual articles. We do not, and will not, proactively censor our content and will only consider blocking individual items (when requested to do so) when the wider availability of content is at risk.

However we are troubled by the recent increase in requests of this nature, and have already planned meetings to discuss our position with the relevant agencies at the Beijing Book Fair next week.
We will not change the nature of our publishing to make content acceptable in China, and we remain committed to ensuring that access to a wide variety of publishing is possible for academics, researchers, students and teachers in this market.

China signed up to the International Publishers Association last year, and one of the body’s guiding principles is that of freedom to publish. The issue of censorship in China and other regions is not a short-term issue and therefore requires a longer-term approach. There are many things we can’t control but we will continue to take every opportunity to influence this agenda.

Rowan Pease, editorial manager of CQ, referred Quartz to a list of the articles blocked in China. China’s GAPP couldn’t be reached for comment.

A Chinese academic based in Hong Kong, who asked not to be named for fear of repercussions from speaking publicly, said the academic community was “totally shocked” by Pringle’s comments, and noted that there is a broad deterioration in academic freedom in China. What is more worrying, the academic added, is that the long arm of Beijing’s censorship apparatus is clearly extending beyond its own borders, citing the recent case of the detention of Feng Chongyi in China, a professor working at the University of Technology Sydney.

(Source: Quartz)

14 legendary military hotels of Bengaluru you should visit if your taste buds have lost their life

When we are going through the chaos of the city, the muddling holy mess of traffic, tiresome office, and the ever boring Khara bath’s of Bengaluru, we have something Desi culinary of Karnataka around us to make our day. The meaty and toothsome Kaima Curry and steaming hot biriyanis from Bengaluru’s military hotels are the ones you must taste before you die. What an Aroma! Can you afford to miss the firmness of meatballs and the ever gorgeous Raagi Balls cooked over coals and served on plates made of dried leaves? There is a history for the taste of food served here. Come, let us know about these legendary military hotels of Bengaluru which are there here from the time when the city was called as Bangalore.

There is a history for Military Hotels in Bengaluru. It dates back to 17th century when Maratha soldiers craved for meat food. It is said that SG Rao Military hotel of Cottonpet area is the city’s first recognized military hotel and was established by S Govinda Rao Rannore, a Maratha in 1908. There is an another tale that says that these hotels have served military workers and martial class and so is the name Military hotel. Most hotels of this kind in the city are full-bodied around Cottonpet, Jayanagar, and Malleswaram areas as these were the popular areas of Old Bangalore.

Shivaji Military Hotel
Shivaji Military Hotel (SMH) which is known for its authentic Donne Biriyani is an age old hotel started by Manji Rao in early 1930. It was started to give the feel of Maratha cuisine and it is still fresh and hot in 2017. This food joint is run by the family of Marathas; Rajeev Rao and Lokesh Rao who have taken over from their father, M Laxman Rao. The legacy of SMH is still going strong and it is so popular that celebrities stand in a queue to relish their finger licking dishes.

The menu of SMH includes Dosa, Leg Soup, Mutton Biriyani, and Kheema. This is a typical breakfast menu of this military hotel and kitchen expands to prepare multiple chicken and mutton dishes for an afternoon meal. You may miss out a few dishes if you arrive a little later as the place will be highly crowded on all days of the week.

SMH has its own style of preparation and you will be amazed to know that the ingredients used here are of typical Maratha genre. Donne Biriyani being a winsome dish of SMH, it is prepared in copper vessels cooked over charcoal stoves. It is that vintage style of preparation gets that taste to it. It is one of those few hotels of Bangalore that is open from early 8 AM to late 3:30 PM.

Must Have – Mutton Biriyani, Mutton Fry, Chicken Leg Fry, Donne Chicken Biriyani
Where: No. 718, 1st floor, C Main Road, 45th Cross, 8th Block, Jayanagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560082

Ranganna Military Hotel
End your craving for the World’s best Thalai Maamasa (Head Meat), Paaya (trotter soup) and Kaima ball fry in this highly acclaimed non-veg food destination of Bangalore, Ranganna military hotel. You feel like you are in heaven when you put the piping hot mutton pulao in your mouth and I’m not exaggerating. Muniranganna (owner) says, “Our spices come from KR market and are ground fresh at the premises.” The early morning ride to this hotel and the scrumptious Kaal Soup (Leg Soup) along with Idli and Kaima are enough to make your day.
Open: 7:30 AM to 4 PM and 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Where: 61, KR Rd, Tata Silk Farm, Jayanagar, Bengaluru

New Govind Rao Military Hotel
This 108-year old restaurant is insanely famous for Idlis and Kheema Curry. Their Mutton pulao is equally toothsome and tangy which makes it a must-try dish. Do not miss to try the meat fries associated with chili and pepper.
Open: 6 AM to 3:30 PM and 7:00 PM to 10:30 PM
Where: No.7, Cottonpet Main Road, Opp Sudha Lodge, Bengaluru

Naidu Military Hotel
N.V Naid Military Hotel is located in the busy heart of City market which is a family-run restaurant typically tucked in the by-lanes. It has a small entrance and its interior has the broad corridor wadded with stone tables and chairs. Everything on their menu is delicious but the best order is pepper chicken fry and mutton pulao. The meat will be so smooth and firm that you can just tease it away from the bone with your two fingers. The lemon Rasam that is served at the end of the meal is something you can’t slurp without making a sound.
Open: 8 AM to 4 PM
Where: #14, Venkatachalliah Lane, City Market

Gowdru and Non-Veg are such a combination that it can be compared to Raj-Simran and Romeo-Juliet types. A day in the life of Gowda is incomplete without eating Ragi Balls and Non-Veg is a must-have thing on the plate. This Gowdru hotel located in Indiranagar is known for its Mutton Curry and Raagi Mudde. If you want to try something tastier then go for Bheja fry, Boti Masala, and Mutton Chops.
Open: 11 AM to 4 PM and 7 PM to 10:30 PM
Where: 3, Opposite Aishwarya Bar, Appareddy Palya, Double Road, Indiranagar

Chandu’s Military Hotel
If you are in Malleswaram then don’t miss Chandu’s mutton chops, Raagi Mudde, and Bheja pepper fry. The texture and flavors of this hotel are unique and piquant. You can also try Boti fry, Nalli Masala, and Chicken Fry.
Open: 11:30 AM to 4 PM and 7 PM to 11 PM
Where: 8th Cross, Near Malleshwaram Circle

Rajanna Hindu Military Hotel
Why Hindu? It is just to let you know that beef and pork are not served here. Rajanna Military hotel is known for its Naati style of cooking and their Mutton Korma, Kaima, and Biriyani rice can wake up your sluggish taste buds. Everything Non-Veg you wanted to eat is available here.
Open: 7 AM to 10 PM
Where: Govindraj Nagar ward, Prashanth Nagar, Vijayanagar

Kaveri Military Hotel
On a usual note, Military hotels don’t serve Pork but this is one among them that do. The brick benches and wooden tables make the interiors of Kaveri Military hotel and here you can relish the corgi style of preparation. Pork pepper and chicken curry are a must-have dishes.
Open: 7 AM to 10:30 PM
Where: Next to Nandi Upachar, Rani Circle, NH-17, Devanahalli, Kurubarakunte

Few more
Sangam Military Hotel in Jayanagar 14th cross road

Srinidhi Hindu Military Hotel in South End Road, Basavanagudi

Aditya Hotel in Mahalakshmi Layout

Hotel Prashanth near Kamakya theater

Nati style of Manuvana, Vijayanagar and

Siddappa mess near Gali Anjaneya temple

(Source: Metro Saga)

Sunday, 20 August 2017

This family did not send their children to school, but taught them by creating a forest

Sarang Hills is a repository of knowledge gathered over 30 years of saying no to formal education, living close to nature and learning from everyday life.

Thirty-six years ago, Gopalakrishnan and Vijayalekshmi decided that their yet-to-be-born son will not go to school. As government school teachers, they were themselves disillusioned with the limitations of formal education and how it left children unprepared to deal with life.

They dreamt of a school environment that is close to reality- open, democratic and with fluid boundaries.

This dream school, which they fondly named Sarang, was to be nothing like what traditional schools were – no certificates, no rote learning, no ‘one-size-fits-all’ curriculum.

In 1994, the couple quit their jobs and started working on Sarang. Their first student, naturally, was their son, Gautham. Slowly, a few other children also joined – from close families, neighbourhood children from poor families and dropouts from regular schools. These kids were introduced to each other not as classmates, but as brothers and sisters.

Instead of staring at black boards, the children set off their learning on a massive canvas – a barren land that Gopalakrishnan and Vijayalekshmi bought in Attappady, near Palakkad, Kerala.

Their land, starting with one acre and later adding some 12 acres, stands on the slope of a hill, degenerated and eroded of topsoil. There were very few trees, and the only water source had dried out completely. But this would be a perfect place for the children to learn about life and survival.

The children of Sarang, friends and well-wishers joined Gopalakrishnan and Vijayalekshmi in their dream to revive the land. The task was by no means ordinary or easy. While their neighbours gave up their battle with the harsh terrain and left the hills, the Sarang family stayed on the hilltop, determined to bring greenery back to the hills.

They earmarked a major portion of the land to create a forest, and in the rest, they would build their house and grow their food. They built their house with their own hands, using mud, thatching grass, and bamboo.

They built check-dams in the watershed, dug out percolation-pits and mulched heavily to protect the land from soil erosion and to conserve water.

One of the most important tasks at Sarang was to protect the land from forest fires. The children’s army surveyed the land, ensuring that the agave fences and fire boundaries were intact, and all possible triggers of forest fires were put off. All vegetables, fruits, and grains that were needed for Sarang was grown right there on the land using natural farming methods. A lot of thought went behind what would be grown so that the soil could be naturally enriched.

The hands and brains of the children of Sarang came together in all these activities.

They learned their physics, biology, geography, mathematics, chemistry and environmental science by seeing, feeling and doing. They also learned language, art and culture and expressed themselves through a medium that they chose and loved the most.

The work on the once-barren hill started showing tremendous results. Within 15 years Sarang Hills turned into a lush green forest – abundant in water, birds and animals.

Barking deer, mouse deer, rabbits, squirrels, hedgehogs, civets, snails and some rare species of frogs also became dwellers of Sarang Hills.

But the children who started this work could only be part of it for two years. By the end of 1995, the 50 odd children who learned at Sarang had to discontinue their wonderful journey. The Sarang dream was rocked as it became financially demanding for the couple to run the school. Internal issues with the staff also crept in. Within just two years of functioning, the family found themselves deep in debt, and they were forced to shut down the school.

Shutting the school down was deeply hurtful, not just for Gopalakrishnan and Vijayalekshmi, but also for the children. But Gopalakrishnan and Vijayalekshmi truly believed in the Sarang dream which they kept alive through Gautham and later his little sisters, Kannaki and Unniarcha. They continued to live in the hills, experimenting and nurturing the Sarang way of living and learning.

Gautham, who is 36-years-old today, did not go through formal schooling throughout his life. Gautham says, “I saw other children going through the pressures of school while I found myself curious to learn. When I was just 10-years-old, I stayed away from home with my cousin to learn the martial art of Kalaripayattu. We were on our own, cooking our food, washing our clothes and being responsible for each other. Out of curiosity about how a radio works, I became an apprentice at a local radio shop. I cleared the amateur wireless operator’s exam at the age of 14 and became a Ham Radio hobbyist”.

At home, there were always visitors keen on debate and conversation, which further strengthened Gautham’s outlook. “My parents did not keep me away from these discussions though I was only a child. I got to hear various perspectives. Also, life was busy with engrossing activities and learning at the farm that there was simply no time to miss school.”

For many years, the debt incurred by the school continued to trouble the family. To repay the debt, Gautham took up a full-time job with Organic Farming Association of India in Goa where he could use his experience from Sarang. He also underwent courses in web development which came in handy in turning into a freelancer. Meanwhile, Kannaki and Unniyarcha wanted to learn classical dance, and the parents decided to move with them to a town where they could find professional teachers. Sarang Hills became silent, but thankfully only to return with more vigour.

Though Gautham’s job kept him busy, his heart felt the pull of the unfulfilled dream of Sarang School. During this time, Gautham got married to Anuradha, an engineer who was also enchanted by Gautham’s wish to reclaim Sarang School.

In 2013, after repaying their debts, Gautham and Anuradha, moved back to Sarang Hills. They are rebuilding Sarang now, with the aim of developing it into a rural university that disseminates the knowledge that the family has gathered over the last thirty years.

Sarang today is facilitating alternative education for children across the country and the world. The students are not necessarily physically present in Sarang. No regular classes happen here like in conventional schools. “Parents who seek alternatives to conventional schooling methodologies bring their children here regularly. Through regular camps and workshops, we equip parents to become facilitators of open learning for their children and nudge children to learn out of their own curiosity. We encourage parents and teachers to start their own schools since we have no wish to make Sarang into another centralised solution. We believe in decentralisation. We support parent groups in forming curriculum, activities, etc.”, says Anuradha.

Apart from the educational focus, Sarang is also an eco-zone.

Sarang runs completely on solar power. Food is cooked on a specially-made fire stove, and all waste is composted. They have dug out soil pits for toilets, where faeces get covered with soil and ash, which later becomes natural fertilizer for the soil. The buildings that one sees in Sarang are built by students, their parents, volunteers and by Gautham’s family.

The structures are made out of mud, bamboo and wood – all available in and around the campus.

As they are actively learning and experimenting on natural architecture, they are limiting the use of concrete and modern building materials to a bare minimum. Natural farming, forest conservation and water conservation also continue, like in those times when the family first settled here.

Gopalakrishnan and Vijayalekshmi are now witnessing many children learning the Sarang way, including their own grandchildren – Gautham’s three kids.

Their idea has survived the test of time, and the school of their dreams is finally coming alive, slowly but steadily.

You can write to Gautham at Visit

(Source: The Better India)

Deception, lies and trafficking: How a 77-yr-old Omani Sheikh married a teenager in Hyderabad

The teenager was sold for Rs 5 lakh, the case has exposed the elaborate trafficking network.

Houses converted to illegal lodges. A web of brokers to procure certificates, clothes, passports and air tickets. And a qazi to perform the wedding. That's the laundry list of players who get together and run the elaborate trafficking racket in Hyderabad.

It has been three months since Fathima*, a resident of Nawab Saheb Kunta in Hyderabad, has seen her 16-year-old daughter.

"I don't want to talk to anyone. I just want my daughter back," she says in between sobs.

The Hyderabad police on Friday arrested two men who performed the marriage of Fathima's minor daughter, with a 77-year-old Omani national.

According to the police, the Omani national, identified as Ahmed, married the 16-year-old in May at a guest house in Jalpally.

He returned home after the marriage and sent a visa for the girl, who later joined him in Muscat.

The case
The case had come to light earlier this week, after Fathima approached the Falaknuma police station, alleging that her husband's sister, Ghousia Begum, and brother-in-law, Sikander, 'sold' the girl to the Omani man for Rs 5 lakh.

"My husband works as a daily wage labourer in a marriage hall. When Ghousia and Sikander approached me with a marriage proposal for my minor daughter, I rejected it then and there," the complaint states.

"Without my knowledge, the duo approached my daughter and lured her by showing her photos and videos of the lavish Gulf lifestyle. In spite of my objection, my daughter was married off to the sheikh," she wrote.

Though the complaint stated that the man was 65 years old, police have found that he is in fact 77 years old.

The police also said that the girl informed her parents over the phone that the Sheikh was mentally and physically torturing her.

"She wants to return to Hyderabad. When I insisted that they return my daughter to me, Sikander offered a phone and cooler to my husband and asked him not to pursue the case. I spoke directly to the Omani national, who said that he had 'purchased' my daughter for Rs 5 lakh," the mother says.

The parents say Ahmed agreed to send their daughter back, only if he was repaid.

The police have registered a case of cheating and criminal intimidation against the Omani, the girl's father, his sister, her husband, the qazi and others.

"The qazi who performed the marriage is also under surveillance," said Deputy Commissioner of Police V. Satyanarayana. The qazi could not be formally arrested as he is recuperating from a bypass surgery.

A police officer said the girl's father may also be taken into custody for being lured by the money, and submitting a false affidavit showing her age as 21.

The larger problem
"The girl's parents are extremely poor, this makes them easy targets," says Amjed Ullah Khan, a local politician belonging to the Majlis Bachao Tehreek (MBT).

Amjed Ullah Khan with the girl's parents
Amjed says that there are several such 'agents', who facilitate the nikaah (marriage) of minor girls with old sheikhs and other foreign nationals.

"There are several houses in areas like Barkas and Chandrayangutta, where homes are illegally converted into 'lodges', to provide accommodation for these sheikhs, and even provide them with a change of clothes," Khan alleges.

Two photos of the sheikh that have emerged also strengthen Khan's claims, as one of them shows the Omani national in traditional attire, while the other photo shows him in a pant, shirt and a jacket.

"That's not all. They need a qazi to cooperate as well as a travel agent to book tickets to the foreign country. There are also other agents who duplicate Aadhaar cards, Electoral Photo Identity Card (EPIC), Passports etc. There is a large nexus involved," Amjed says.

"The nexus also involves politicians and local leaders who immediately rush to the police station when such agents are caught, and try to throw their weight around, and get the accused released," he adds.

"This is nothing short of human trafficking," says Achyuta Rao, a Hyderabad-based child rights activist with the Balala Hakkula Sangham, and former member of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR).

"The government must take steps to curb this, by ensuring stringent action against those found indulging in such activities," he adds.

Achyuta suggests that security personnel at airports must be better trained to identify such cases.

"We pay so much attention to baggage at airports. If anything suspicious is found, we detain the passenger for hours, and do a thorough check. Why can't the same attention be paid to minors?" Achyuta asks.

"Authorities should be vigilant, and keep a lookout for any suspicious activity. They should ask anyone accompanying the child, to declare what their relationship is. If the documents claim that they are married, and the age difference is evident, then officials should detain them," he adds.

Additionally, Achyuta argues that airport authorities should accept government based certificates, over certificates issued by any religious body, irrespective of religion.

"The religious certificates are easier to fake, while the government certificates are more valid. We must take such factors into consideration," he says.

"Also, at the local level, qazis indulging in this should also be booked," Achyuta adds.

Amjed Ullah Khan also says that the police can put an end to this, only if there is political will.

"It is a very dangerous system that targets extremely poor families. There is an urgent need to break it, and agents should be punished severely," he adds.

Meanwhile, the police also said that they were making all efforts to bring the girl back to Hyderabad safely.

Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi had on Thursday described the incident as "deeply disturbing", and urged External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to intervene.

Authorities said they were keeping a close watch on 60 brokers who were identified during the investigation of such cases in recent years.

However, brokers based in Mumbai and even abroad are carrying on their activities by duping poor and illiterate families.

(Source: TNM)

I'm stuck in a miserable marriage for my son

I've been married for 5 years now. My husband and I never had a good relationship apart from the first few months of our marriage. Ours was an arranged marriage, we met on a matrimonial site and as he was of the same community, our families approved and we got married within 6 months. But whatever little love and respect we had for each other, it all faded away too soon.

Now, he is forcing me to leave him. I loved him so much and we have an adorable three-year-old son. Now he is asking me to leave him. But I can't leave my son.

Since the beginning, we never had any sort of chemistry between us. Our ways of looking at life is very different. We both are equally responsible for spoiling our married life.

Because of difference in thoughts and ideas, our discussions turned into arguments. And slowly these arguments turned into fights. We started drifting apart. We completely stopped sharing things, reduced our talks and even the physical intimacy was almost absent. He was never there for me when I needed him the most and he never cared about my existence. He didn't need me in his life anymore.

The worst part is - he never accepted that there was something wrong between us. He always said that all couples are like this. He is a manipulative person. He is a typical IT guy, who loved his laptop and gadgets over everything. Never a day has passed where he didn’t disrespect me and abandon me to live a miserable life. Staying in the same house, where we both share expenses, responsibilities towards our kid and acting like roommates is the only relationship we have now.

I am a working mother, and despite no family support (from my husband's side), I have been handling the office, home and the upbringing of my son, including his needs, wants, and education.

I remember how I fell into this situation. A few months after marriage, we started having a lot of compatibility issues, fights etc but my mother in-law forced us to plan a family to fix our problems. I wasn't aware of this at that time, and seeing his changed attitude and behaviour, assumed that things are getting better between us and I gave in.

As he heard the news of my pregnancy, initially he was happy. Eventually, he started disrespecting me again. Throughout the trimesters he had no time to accompany me during any of my routine check-ups. I faced a lot of health issues, but he was too busy with his office work. And, he never let me rest like any other pregnant women. I wasn't even allowed to rest like other pregnant women.

Finally, after doctor pressurized me to take some rest, I felt a little better. And then I was blessed with a new member in the house, our baby boy. As we got our son home, my husband's attitude changed so much, as if he had given me a toy to play with and his work was over. Handling a baby all by me was so difficult but I learned eventually. We started sleeping in different rooms. My son was growing and seeing him always brought a smile on my face and made me forget my loneliness.

But, now we just were parents, our marital relationship has ended. I tried to make the things work between us but he ends up insulting and avoiding me. Finally, I got the courage to speak to my parents and my in-laws about our mutual decision to get divorced. Despite of being an independent woman, he has made sure that I am left with no savings at all. I am broken, shattered, depressed and at times I feel like running away from all my responsibilities. My son is my only inspiration.

Recently, I caught my husband watching porn and flirting with young teenage girls. This made me feel so uncomfortable and out of great courage, I confronted him. He denied everything and asked me to mind my own business, as this is his life and he would do whatever he wanted to and that I’m no one to control him. My son is very attached to his father and that is the only reason I have to bear him every day. I do all the cooking, cleaning and laundry, take care and play with my son and keep our relationships moving. But I have no one to talk to. I have got no hopes to make our dead relationship work.

I was in a relationship for four years with a Maharastrian guy. I am Sikh. I had to end our relationship because he was too protective. At times I fought with him as I needed some personal space. He needed sometime to get settled in his life.

I happened to meet him in a mall while I was shopping with my son. I was delighted to see him after years. He was very caring, loving and responsible. I found a ray of hope after meeting him.

I got to know that he too was married but got divorced after two months of the marriage as it was a forced marriage. He got to know about me and cried seeking forgiveness for letting me go back then. He proposed to me again.

I am in a state of mind wherein my husband doesn't care if I exist or if I am dead. I am just a full-time maid to my husband. In fact, I'm that maid who earns and brings money. On the other hand, my ex-lover loves me and is ready to accept me with my son. But I am too scared to be committed to any new relationship again. I am definitely scared of living alone. I am scared of spoiling my son's childhood for my own selfish reasons. I am scared to give myself a second chance. I am scared of being happy again.

(Source: AkkarBakkar)

New free app helps residents learn to speak Arabic like a Qatari

If you’ve ever wanted to learn to speak like a local, a new app designed in Qatar could help.

The Qatari Phrasebook aims to teach non-Arabic speakers more than 1,500 common Arabic words and phrases, all in the Qatari dialect.

The brainchild of Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) Arabic instructor Hany Fazza, the app provides pronunciation of handy phrases. It also has the actual Arabic text and their phonetic spellings.

The app is divided into sections such as Travel, Shopping, Food & Drink, Emergency and Weather.

It also works offline so you don’t need to have a data connection, is searchable and allows users to star their favorite phrases for easy retrieval.

Authentic Qatari dialect
Five Qatari GU-Q students volunteered to read the phrases for the app. This was to ensure that the pronunciations are as authentic as possible.

Fazza, who is a mobile learning specialist, came up with the idea after speaking to expats who were frustrated that they couldn’t communicate in the local language, but had no time to attend classes.

He said he decided to focus on the Qatari dialect after realizing that it hadn’t been taught in app-form before.

“The common mobile applications we have are for Modern Standard Arabic – you will find very few applications that have something to do with the dialects,” he added.

The app, which is free to download from the Apple App Store and on Google Play, was funded by a GU-Q faculty research grant.

(Source: Doha News)

Why do I write?

My latest: Why do I write? Today's Vishwavani Virama. Here's the link: 

Gulzar’s 1988 movie ‘Libaas’ to be finally released later this year

Zee Classic and Amul Mohan, the son of the producer Vikas Mohan, will release the film.

Gulzar’s unreleased movie Libaas (1988) will finally be out later this year. Produced by Vikas Mohan, the marital drama wasn’t released over differences between Mohan and Gulzar. Mohan died in 2016, and his son, Amul Mohan, will finally bring the movie to cinemas along with Zee Classic.

Starring Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi and Raj Babbar, Libaas was screened for the first time at the International Film Festival of India four years after it was made. Mohan wanted a different ending to the story, but when Gulzar refused, he decided to can the film.

Based on Gulzar’s short story Seema, Libaas is about Sudhir (Naseeruddin Shah) and Seema (Shabana Azmi), whose marriage collapses after Seema leaves Sudhir for his childhood friend TK (Raj Babbar). The movie boasts of a winning soundtrack by RD Burman.

Papa's life long dream is finally coming true! @ZeeClassic and I are going to theatrically release Gulzar Saab's  later this year.

(Source: Scroll)

The most racist places in America, according to Google

Where do America's most racist people live? "The rural Northeast and South," suggests a new study just published in PLOS ONE.

The paper introduces a novel but makes-tons-of-sense-when-you-think-about-it method for measuring the incidence of racist attitudes: Google search data. The methodology comes from data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz. He's used it before to measure the effect of racist attitudes on Barack Obama's electoral prospects.

"Google data, evidence suggests, are unlikely to suffer from major social censoring," Stephens-Davidowitz wrote in a previous paper. "Google searchers are online and likely alone, both of which make it easier to express socially taboo thoughts. Individuals, indeed, note that they are unusually forthcoming with Google." He also notes that the Google measure correlates strongly with other standard measures social science researchers have used to study racist attitudes.

This is important, because racism is a notoriously tricky thing to measure. Traditional survey methods don't really work -- if you flat-out ask someone if they're racist, they will simply tell you no. That's partly because most racism in society today operates at the subconscious level, or gets vented anonymously online.

For the PLOS ONE paper, researchers looked at searches containing the N-word. People search frequently for it, roughly as often as searches for  "migraine(s)," "economist," "sweater," "Daily Show," and "Lakers." (The authors attempted to control for variants of the N-word not necessarily intended as pejoratives, excluding the "a" version of the word that analysis revealed was often used "in different contexts compared to searches of the term ending in '-er'.")

It's also important to note that not all people searching for the N-word are motivated by racism, and that not all racists search for that word, either. But aggregated over several years and several million searches, the data give a pretty good approximation of where a particular type of racist attitude is the strongest.

Interestingly, on the map above the most concentrated cluster of racist searches happened not in the South, but rather along the spine of the Appalachians running from Georgia all the way up to New York and southern Vermont.

Other hotbeds of racist searches appear in areas of the Gulf Coast, Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and a large portion of Ohio. But the searches get rarer the further West you go. West of Texas, no region falls into the "much more than average" category. This map follows the general contours of a map of racist Tweets made by researchers at Humboldt State University.

So some people are sitting at home by themselves, Googling a bunch of racist stuff. What does it matter? As it turns out, it matters quite a bit. The researchers on the PLOS ONE paper found that racist searches were correlated with higher mortality rates for blacks, even after controlling for a variety of racial and socio-economic variables.

"Results from our study indicate that living in an area characterized by a one standard deviation greater proportion of racist Google searches is associated with an 8.2% increase in the all-cause mortality rate among Blacks," the authors conclude. Now, of course, Google searches aren't directly leading to the deaths of African Americans. But previous research has shown that the prevalence of racist attitudes can contribute to poor health and economic outcomes among black residents.

"Racially motivated experiences of discrimination impact health via diminished socioeconomic attainment and by enforcing patterns in racial residential segregation, geographically isolating large segments of the Black population into worse neighborhood conditions," the authors write, summarizing existing research. "Racial discrimination in employment can also lead to lower income and greater financial strain, which in turn have been linked to worse mental and physical health outcomes."

(Source: The Washington Post)

RBI to introduce new Rs 50 notes soon

Reserve Bank of India has decided to shortly issue Rs 50 denomination banknotes in the Mahatma Gandhi (New) Series, bearing signature of governor Urjit R Patel.

The new denomination has motif of Hampi with Chariot on the reverse, depicting the country's cultural heritage. The base colour of the note is Fluorescent Blue. The note has other designs, geometric patterns aligning with the overall colour scheme, both at the obverse and reverse, the central bank said.

A few bundles of the new Mahatma Gandhi series Rs. 50 notes ready for circulation. Photo credit: Reddit

All the banknotes in the denomination of Rs 50 issued by the Reserve Bank in the earlier series will continue to be legal tender, the central bank added.

(Source: DH)

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Some important things you should know before you start using Sarahah

Sarahah has become the talk of the town. Everyone on social media, be it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat, is talking about Sarahah, an app that allow users to send anonymous messages to others registered with the app. The key highlight of Sarahah is that it doesn't reveal the identity of the sender of the message at any given cost. This is where Sarahah stands out from other similar applications available on the Play store.

Sarahah is introduced by a Saudi Arabian developer -- Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq. The interesting bit about the founder of Sarahah -- Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq is that he was once a part of an Indian IT firm - Wipro and gained his programming knowledge from an Indian university, this he revealed himself in an exclusive interview with India Today Group. Sarahah has become popular in absolutely no time. It was rolled out as an app on June 13, and in just a matter of two months, the application gained wide success with over 10 million downloads and Play store and has also become the top trending application on Apple's App store.

The app became popular, rather went viral only for two reasons. One, because it is a very simple to use. All you need to do is sign up for it and then share your ID with friends, or foes for that matter. After that you will get messages, which come up in a simple and easy-to-read chat bubble. Posting messages is simple and the receiving them is simpler. But the big reason why Sarahah app is popular is because it panders to the narcissist within us.

For a generation that has grown up on Facebook and Instagram, the social media platforms which are essentially all about self-obsession, Sarahah is another such outlet that help web users smart under the impression that the world revolves around them. By giving the sender an option to anonymously send a message, Sarahah allows a user to get the direct feedback from the world. It could be great feedback, bad, nice things or nasty messages. But all of them are about the user. Probably that's the reason why most Facebook users are drolling over the app.

While some may already know about this application or how it works, there are still many who are surprised by the craze. And many still have questions like what is Sarahah, how does it work, where to download it from, how to use it and so on and so forth. Well, we explain it all in 10 simple points. Below are all the details you should know before you start using Sarahah.

1. Sarahah is a brainchild of Saudi developer ZainAlabdin Tawfiq. He introduced Sarahah about six months ago as a website. However, he later realised that Sarahah would do wonders as an app. That's when he created the Sarahah app, which is now available for both Android and iOS users. The app hit both Google Play store and App store, and in absolutely no time Sarahah has become one of the top trending apps with over millions of downloads.

2. Sarahah is Arabic term means 'honesty'. The key idea behind designing the app is to allow people send creative messages to each other. But that's not what has been happening, Instead, people are -- also or rather mostly -- using the application as a means of cyber bullying and trolling others while keeping their identity a secret.

3. It is on June 13 that Tawfiq rolled out the app to for both Android and iOS users. In just two months time, the app reached over millions of downloads on both Google Play store and App store and has become the most trending app today. After downloading the app, users will have to have to register to it with their email ID, password and user name.

4. There's no way to directly reply to the received messages via Sarahah. However, Sarahah is reportedly working on the reply option. In the 'About' page of Sarahah website, it is clearly mentioned that the developers are studying the reply option. "You can't respond to messages now. We are studying this option," Sarahah mentions on its website. Further, Sarahah founder also said that the team is working on several other features, which the "users will like". People who know your Sarahah profile link will be able to send anonymous messages. Further, there's also a search bar to find who all are registered with Sarahah.

5. There'll be no name, no information about the sender of the message anywhere. However, because of the anonymity built in the application, some users are misusing it as a cyber bullying platform. ZainAlabdin Tawfiq, the founder of Sarahah in an exclusive with India Today Group said that in some exceptional instances if a user doesn't follow the app guidelines, his/her identity could be revealed. Hence, the application should be used diligently.

6. Sarahah is designed in a way that allows users to send constructive messages. Tawfiq believed that there was a need for constructive feedback in his workplace and that is when he thought of creating something like Sarahah. He thought that keeping this feedback anonymous for the employees a good option. However, like Oscar Wild once said, "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth." This phrase fits perfectly when it comes to Sarahah. Most people are registering with the app to send unsavoury and offensive messages to people instead of "constructive feedback".

7. The application has raised concerns among parents and teachers. A review that was posted on Google Play reads, "My 13-year-old sister uses this and she got a death threat aimed at our 2-year-old brother." After such incidents took place, many parents have reported that the app and said that this is "the newest platform for cyber bullying".

8. Sarahah is still in developing stage and comes with a lot of security concerns. There is no way to directly block a user on Sarahah. However, if a user receives an offensive message on Sarahah, they can simply long press on the message and block it. After which the user will not receive any message from the particular sender.

9. Several people worry about their identity being revealed. There are a few reports circulating on the web that Sarahah details will be revealed. However, commenting on the same, Sarahah founder said that the app comes with "strict privacy policy" and no information will be revealed without the users consent. He further said, "We will never reveal the identity of the sender unless we get his consent to do so. You can see also the terms and conditions of privacy policy regarding disclosure of information about revealing the identity in certain circumstances where there is a violation." But if a user follows the rules and regulations of the app his/her identify and information will be completely safe and will not be revealed.

(Source: India Today)

Trees are aware of their neighbors and give them room

I could write about trees until I was green in the gills; and I do. And it's probable that every time I write about them, I slip into anthropomorphising them. Maybe they don't walk around and fly to the moon, but they are truly remarkable organisms with gifts and talents all their own. They are some of the planet's most noble workhorses – we'd be nothing without them – and they deserve all the respect they can get.

So is it any wonder that my heart flipped and futtered when I read Robert Macfarlane's ‏word(s) of the day on Twitter? (Macfarlane writes about nature and language, and his Twitter feed is a profound and poetic thing.)

Word(s) of the day: “crown shyness” - phenomenon whereby individual tree crowns avoid overlap or touch, forming striking canopy patterns.

And many are the photos that flaunt this beautiful behavior.

The phenomenon has been studied since the 1920s, and is also known as canopy disengagement, canopy shyness, or intercrown spacing. It doesn't happen in all tree species; some species that do it only do it with trees from the same species – some species do it with their own as well as other species. There is not one proven theory behind the reticence; it's believed that there actually may be several mechanisms across different species for this adaptive behavior. A case of convergent evolution.

One explanation is that it is a matter of self-pruning, of sorts; as trees rub against each other in the wind, they become stand-offish in order to stop the abrasion. Another theory suggests that it has to do with light and shade avoidance responses. One study showed plants arranged their leaves differently when growing amongst kin or unrelated specimens, shading neighbors of different species, but allowing important light to reach their to kin. Finally, it could quite possibly be a way to protect neighbors from traveling pests.

Whatever the reason, there is obviously some smarts at play. And the ensuing result for us admirers – rivulets of sky peeking down like a ceiling map of rivers – provides the perfect excuse to ponder our clever arboreal allies and remember this: They may not be concerned with keeping up with the Joneses, but they're clearly aware of their neighbors.

(Source: Tree Hugger)

9 women authors who pioneered postcolonial feminism

As a student of English literature, several seminal texts such as Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women, Beauvoir’s The Second Sex among others made up my list of essential readings. While these texts have been enlightening to read, it is crucial for us to look beyond them to understand feminism in our own socio-cultural and geographical context.

Women in Asia, the Middle-east and Africa face double marginalisation on account of their race as well as sex. The emergence of black feminism as a challenge to mainstream white feminism that either marginalised the voices of women of colour or subsumed it within its larger discourse, was a watershed event (or rather a gradual process) in the history of feminism. Given below is a list of women authors whose writings have established the contours of feminism for us, as post-colonial subjects and as women of colour. This list, however, is not exhaustive and I have incorporated authors whose readings have helped me comprehend feminism better.

1. Toni Morrison 

Nobel Laureate Morrison is an American novelist. Born in the African-American community, her works draw upon her own experiences of growing up in a racially segregated America. One of the key authors to bring ‘Black Literature’ to prominence, Morrison’s novels are lyrical, marked by experimental narrative styles and strong women characters subverting the patriarchal and racist society of which they are a part. Morrison’s Beloved is a revisionary slave narrative that is both terrifying and beautiful and employs the stream of consciousness style of writing. Song of Solomon is a linear narrative with a male protagonist and explores the complex relationship that Macon Dead, grandson of a former slave, shares with his family and the white society. Her other works The Bluest Eye and Sula are equally riveting reads.

2. Audre Lorde

She calls herself a ‘black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet’. Lorde’s prolific literary career exhibits a long-drawn fight against ingrained sexism, racism and homophobia. She empowers the female body in her writings and the admirers of her work include her contemporary feminist poet Adrienne Rich. In her collection of essays and speeches Sister Outsider and poetry collection The Black Unicorn, she subverts racial and sexual binaries. Zami is a lovely autobiography that traces the life of a young, blind girl growing up in Harlem and explores the themes of isolation, lesbianism and disability.

3. Jean Rhys

I will confess that the only work of Rhys I have read is her famous postcolonial novel Wide Sargasso Sea. A response to Bronte’s Jane Eyre, the novel magnificently exemplifies Bill Ashcroft and Gareth Griffiths phrase ‘The Empire Writes Back’. Rhys dismantles binaries of barbarity and civilization and madness and rationality, the former associated with the racial ‘Other’. The novel delves into themes of miscegenation, madness, the loss of Antoinette’s Creole identity as Rochester (unnamed in Rhys’ novel) robs her wealth and sanity. Set in the picturesque backdrop of the Carribean, Wide Sargasso Sea captures vividly the life of Antoinette before she was transformed into the vile Bertha Mason of Bronte’s novel.

4. Nawal El Saadawi 

Hailed as the ‘the Simone de Beauvoir of the Arab World’, Saadawi is an Egyptian feminist author. In her non-fiction texts, she critically attacks religious fundamentalism in the Middle East, which intertwined with modern-day capitalism, is at the root of all oppression. She has also spoken against female genital mutiliation and veiling. Her novel The Fall of the Imam, translated from Arabic by her husband Sherif Hetata, explores the life of the tyrant Imam and the brutal lynching of a woman.

5. Flora Nwapa 

Considered a literary forerunner for many succeeding women authors in Africa, Nwapa was also one of the first women publishers in the continent. She chooses the novel form over short story, though many African women authors prefer the latter. Nwapa’s stories are ‘matri-focal’ and capture the strong spirit of women protagonists under duress. They defy convention by marrying outside their community or by gaining the upper-hand in marriage through their financial acumen. Moreover, her stories depict a role inversion – men are prostitutes and kept-men, women control finances and are the dominant ones in sexual relationships.

6. Chimamanda Adichie 

Young Nigerian author Adichie inspired us all with her Ted Talk ‘We Should All Be Feminists’. My personal favourite is Half of a Yellow Sun, that explores the tumultuous relationships of two upper class Nigerian twin sisters vis-a-vis their patriarchal family and lovers in pre and post war-torn Nigeria. The massacre of the Igbo community and a painful secession form the backdrop of the novel. Her other novels, Purple Hibiscus and Americanah also revolve around powerful women protagonists attempting to reconcile personal relationships in an unstable socio-political world order.

7. Alice Walker

The name needs no introduction. Walker’s prize winning novel The Color Purple is a part of university curriculum across the globe. The epistolary novel traces the journey Celie, a timid God-fearing woman who is raped by her stepfather and then forcibly married to a cold stranger who is never named. The novel is about Celie’s transformation into an economically, mentally and socially independent woman who comes to terms with her sexuality and religious belief as she searches for her long lost sister. The novel deals with a myriad of themes such as sexual violence, arbitrariness of law, repression of female sexuality and the nature of language itself to question oppression.

Her collection of essays In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens: Womanist Prose is a powerful read and gives an insight into Walker’s sexual politics and the concept she has famously coined ‘Womanism’. A lesser known novel Possessing the Secret of Joy tells the story of Tashi, a minor character in The Color Purple, who undergoes facial scarring and mutilation as a part of her community ritual and her harrowing memories of the same.

8. Urvashi Butalia 

Feminist author and publisher Urvashi Butalia is no stranger to Indian readers. Her most famous work The Other Side of Silence digs the unheard tales of women survivors of the Partition, who faced double violence during the exodus, one from the perpetrators of violence from the ‘enemy’ community and the other, their own ‘guardians’ – fathers, brothers and husbands, who slaughtered women to protect their ‘honour’. The accounts are chilling and grisly. This book is a reminder that in all religious, racial and political conflict, the worst victims are women.

9. Mahasweta Devi

The short story collection The Breast Stories by Mahasweta Devi (translated by Gayatri Spivak) is a vocal critique of institutionalised patriarchy. Using the breast as a motif of empowerment in all the stories, Devi narrates the stories of three women, all oppressed in varying degrees in a patriarchal paradigm. Her women protagonists hail from marginal sections of society. Their tales expose the power dynamics of sex, economics and culture which collectively tyrannise them all.

(Source: Feminism in India)