Department of Communication

A festival to celebrate freedom

DIVYA

CAMPUS: The recent cases of lynching in various parts of the country led City-based activists, artists, students and general public to come together and express themselves against it through the Freedom Festival at the St Joseph’s College on Independence Day.
Margret Alva, former Governor of Rajasthan, and a key guest, said “The system is there to facilitate the people and their motives and not to impose ideologies. In a democratic country like India, one ideology cannot be imposed on all.

 

 

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Freedom Festival at SJC                                                                                                           DIVYA

 

The Freedom Festival celebrated India’s diversity via food, poetry, song, literature and dance on the occasion of Independence Day. It was co-organized by Vimochana with the participation of 20 other organizations like Sangama and Karnataka Sex Workers Union. “Listening to those who haven’t spoken is the important part of this public hearing,” said Corrine Kumar, president of Vimochana. A public hearing with testimonies and analytical testimonies was a part of this event. Indian activists and acclaimed artistes including Maya Krishna Rao, performer, Mamta Sagar from Kavya Sanje, Banandur Kempaiah, singer/performer and Harsh Mander, social activist, were present.

Mamta Sagar, poet, said “Poetry is used as a voice to express about the disturbed political scenes and suppressed identities.” Many of the poems were displayed all around and she insisted that everyone should read them. Mr. Alan Godfrey A, assistant professor in the Social Work Department at SJC, said “This event is about realizing independence in its reality in context with specific reference to cultures. We want to question the authorities about our independence and the lynchings that are continuously happening in the country,” he added. The event emphasized the need to protect the nation’s diversity. Participants wanted that culture to grow and not get tangled or torn apart due to the politics played.

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COMMUNIQUE- April 2017

Group 3: Communique

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P. Chidambaram to release ‘Fearless in Opposition’ in St Joseph’s College

Ashita / Shivangee

BENGALURU: P. Chidambaram, Member of Parliament and former Finance Minister will release his book ‘Fearless in Opposition’ on April 1 at 6.00 p.m. in Xavier Hall, St Joseph’s College (Autonomous) on Langford Road.

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Cover page of the book                        WWW.RUPAPUBLICATIONS.CO.IN

The Department of Communication, St. Joseph’s College in collaboration with Rupa Publications, India, is conducting the event.

A panel discussion moderated by Mr T M Veeraraghav, Resident Editor, The Hindu will also be held. The panel will comprise Prof. Rajeev Gowda, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, Dr Aditya Sondhi, Senior Advocate and Additional Advocate General, Karnataka, and Dr Fr Richard Rego, S.J., Director, Research Centre, St Joseph’s College.

Chidambaram’s book seeks to analyse deeper into certain political issues like BJP’S definition of Nationalism, MGNREGA as an instrument for India’s transformation, Surgical Strike, political and economic issues.

Contact number:

Manjunath: +91 -9880414915

Derrick Alex: +91-9538993092

Email: publicity@rupapublications.com

Safety of women under scanner in Namma Ooru

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Jeevan Biswas

BENGALURU: A typical New Year’s eve celebration in Bengaluru reported on the first day of the new year is something that has remained unchanged for the past few years; families on their way to church to attend the New Year’s mass, families having a quite dinner and inviting the new year in oneness, youngsters congregating at establishments that make special arrangements for the evening to welcome the new year and in the company of friends excitedly counting down the last few seconds of the old year and jumping headfirst into the new one, youngsters cruising around on the empty roads of Bangalore, chanting and wishing anyone insight a ‘Happy New Year’. But on January 1, 2017, Bengalureans woke up to news that raked up the issue of the safety of women in the city.

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Protesters raise slogans at the protest                           PHOTO – JEEVAN

The chain of events that led to the ‘Mass Molestation’ of women seemed rather simple when narrated. On New Year’s Eve, large number of people had gathered in M.G Road and Brigade Road, which are home to many popular pubs which see a humungous outpour of patrons on weekends and special occasions, to celebrate the New Year. Also, being the heart of the city, these two prime areas are lavishly bedecked during the holiday season and attract large number of revelers who converge there to welcome the New Year. The victims who later came out and recounted their ordeal to media outlets said that the perverse conduct towards them had already begun within the premises of the clubs. Right from lewd comments to inappropriate physical contact, the ordeal had begun even before the women revelers were on the streets and their protests were of little help they said. As the women moved into the streets to get away from the scene, inebriated men who were dawdling around reportedly tried to make the best of the developing disorder and molested them. The police claim that approximately 1500 policemen were posted in the area to manage the crowd. However, the victims said that the policemen in the vicinity were mute spectators and did little or nothing to protect or help them from the hooligans.

The police claim that there were 45 CCTV cameras in the site in question and no camera captured any ‘molestation’. Post the incident and further investigation N Praveen Sood, Commissioner of Police, Bengaluru said to the media, “The alleged mass molestation of women on MG Road did not happen.There was no evidence of it. The word mass molestation is a great disservice.”

On the same night, in Kammanahalli, a young girl from north-east, who was walking back home after getting off an auto, was molested by two men who drove past her on their bike and turned around to engage in the shameful act. The men present there while the incident transpired were silent onlookers and did nothing to rescue the woman. The CCTV footage of the entire event was provided to the police by one Prashant Francis, which led to the arrest of 4. Further investigation revealed that the miscreants had been stalking the girl for four to five days and acted on New Year’s night.

DSC_0259.JPGYouths of Bengaluru protest against molestation at Town Hall.                                                                                                                                                            PHOTO – JEEVAN

This however was not the end of the series of attack against women in the city. On January 4, 2017, a 21 year old woman who was returning home from her gym was allegedly molested in Kalyan Nagar by 2 bike borne miscreants. On January 6, 2017, a 25 year old woman who was visiting her relatives in HRBR Layout was allegedly molested while waiting for a cab home at 9p.m. These are just some of the incidents that have been brought to light post December 31, 2016.

There has been much furor over these attacks and has drawn the attention of the media, activists and citizens across the country. A large section of the society have raised their voices against it and openly condemned them. Lalitha Kumaramangalam, Head of National Commission for Women, called these acts ‘unacceptable and regrettable’. But a handful of leaders who are in positions of power and great accountability made comments that dropped the onus and blame on the women for the behavior meted out to them.
G. Parameshwara, Home Minister, Govt. Of Karnataka, told the media that the cause for such untoward incidents is the youth trying to ape the west. Another leader echoing a similar view was Abu Azmi,a leader in the Samajwadi Party who said on a popular Indian news channel that it has become fashionable to show more ‘skin’ and the consequences of that have to be borne.

These shocking comments have raised further reactions of aghast from all quarters. Maya Sharma, a senior journalist said to The Beacon, “It is absolutely atrocious. It shows their mindset. If these are the leaders, if these are the people who are heading, the public figures, then what does it say for the people, the ordinary person on the street? What are they looking to? Then they will fear no consequences. It’s absolutely terrible. They have to be politically correct. They have to think it. If they can’t think it, they have to say the right things. Even if they think in the retrogressive fashion they have to be very careful with what they come out with. It is very important.”

Santosh Hegde, Fmr. Judge, Supreme Court Of India, Fmr. Solicitor General of India and Fmr. Lokayukta of Karnataka, during a personal interview with The Beacon opined that it was totally irresponsible on the part of these leaders to make such statements.

Many protests and marches have sprung since then and gained momentum. ‘Night in My Shinning Armour’, an initiative which was started by a group of students and has been trending with the #IWILLGOOUT, is one such example. On January 11, 2017 a protest was organized by the group at Town Hall. In attendance were senior police officials, students, journalists and activists.

At the protest when asked about the questions, which the aggrieved parties have to answer with respect to their outings and attire while lodging a complaint at police stations, Malini Krishnamaurty, Inspector General of Police, Karnataka Special Reserve Police said to The Beacon, “Nobody will ask like that. Somewhere someone asked something and you are repeating all this.”

Answering a question about the perceived image about the police, DrChandragupta, Deputy Commissioner of Police – Central Division, Bengaluru said to The Beacon, “The opinion about the police is formed based more on hearsay rather than personal experience. And when opinions are formed they must be cross-checked without spreading them.” When asked if the police department has been misrepresented he said, “Nobody is being misrepresented. Things have come to the knowledge of the people and they have spoken. The department is taking action and probing into it.” He further added that youngsters should understand that the society is more complex than what one reads about it.

When asked about the short memory of the media, Maya Sharma agreed that there is a new headline every day. However, it is all incremental.

When asked if Bangalore is still safe for women, Ragini, one of the protesters, who lives in Bangalore and works for ‘Teach for India’ said, “It’s not about one isolated incident. It’s not about now do we feel safe. We have not felt safe as long as I can remember. In whatever city I have been in India. So I don’t think it’s because of this, now women don’t feel safe. Women haven’t felt safe for a very long time. It’s because of this issue that suddenly people are starting to talk about it. And it is going to die down in a couple of months as well.”

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Night In My Shining Armour at Cubbon Park               PHOTO – DONNA

K.E. Radhakrishna, an educationist and a member of Janata Dal (Secular) said to The Beacon that, “Every Metro has a problem. Whether it is Mumbai or Delhi or Hyderabad or Kolkata, a metro has its own pressures. Metro allows you to have anonymity. If a girl knows you and you know her, you will never attack her. Anonymity as well as fearlessness in big crowds. In a crowd there is a scope to get lost. It all begins with small fun. They don’t realize that fun leads to a crime. Most of the crimes also originate from fun. It’s not only the problem of Bangalore; it is a problem of most of the cities in the world.”

Radhakrishna, who is also the former principal of renknowned colleges in the city viz. Seshadripuram College and Surana College, pointed out that though men and women are equal, they are ‘different‘. He also mentioned that blaming the governance only is running away from facts and no particular party forming the government in any state can be blamed for it.

While much has been spoken about the incident, no clear solution or roadmap to combat the issue has been drawn. When asked about what are the best ways to reduce this Tejasvi Surya, Secretary, Bharatiya Janata Yuma Morcha, Karnataka and an Advocate practicing at the High Court of Karnataka suggested that the solution lies in 2 folds. The first being, making use of better technology and surveillance systems coupled with better policing. The second being, rekindling the ethos of respecting women among young people and sensitizing them about it.
When asked if this could lead us to being called a country with no reported cases of assault against women, he said, “Answering your question specifically, as to whether by better policing and better gender sensitization, this is going to end all assaults on women, I would say that it is going to significantly lessen. Having said that, it doesn’t mean that all these things are going to vanish from the society. The challenge of civilization is to reduce the occurrence of crime. I think we will move towards that.”

We’re still not recognized as human beings: Shilok

Bharath Krishna

BENGALURU: The transgender community is one of the most misinterpreted community in our country. Most transgenders are usually stereotyped as sex workers, beggars or criminals.

In India, transgender people include Hijras (Eunuchs), shiv-saktis, jogappas, Sakhi, jogtas, Aradhis etc. In fact, there are many who do not belong to any of the groups but are transgender.

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Hijras from Bapuji Nagar                                           PHOTO – BHARATH

Hijra community is the only one willing to openly express itself; it becomes the most visible form of transgender identity in India. And a lot of stereotyping begins here.In India, due to lack of awareness, people often call an effeminate man Hijra. Even gay people have been often called Hijra in our country. It is not wrong to be Hijra, it’s just very wrong to stereotype all transgender people as Hijra.

Being openly transgender is a very brave thing to do in our society, because it’s not easy. Hence, most transgenders choose to keep their gender status private and live in binaries as constructed by the society.

“I’ve studied MA in English. But I don’t have any job, because no one is ready to give me one. So I do begging. I come here (Nanjappa Circle) every morning and afternoon I’ll go to Vijay Nagar. It’s hard to live now. No one is giving money. You, college students have money to take out your girlfriend but don’t have 10 rupees to give me. I’ve attended few job interviews but no one took me, in cinemas we’ll find the good guy who helps everyone. But I haven’t seen one in real life”, said Sound Saroja, a transgender from Babuji Nagar.

Very few transgenders have been able to overcome the difficulties they face by the society and excelled in various spheres of life like Shilok Mukkati, a renowned poet, and a Radio Jockey in Radio Active CR 90.4 MHz

Being a media student, Shilok approached Radio Active, a community radio where she was asked to do a program on menstruation. Priyanka Divaakar, country’s first transgender RJ was doing a program called “Yarivaru” and she took a break. Shilok stepped in to do the second season of “Yarivaru” in which she expanded the scope of the program by including the community and the responses of people. Now Shilok has got her own slot called “Colourful Kamanabillu”.

“Doing this program has helped me to a great extent, both in terms of stabilizing me and understanding the LGBT community.”said Shilok. Shilok’s life has been a spectrum of all kinds of experience. She started writing in Kannada and began her journey as a poet at the Open Sky, a platform where budding artists showcase their talent in every performative field. Writing is extremely emotive as a mode of communication for Shilok. Shilok confesses to have an abiding love for literature, which she credits for clarifying her thoughts on the concepts of sex and sexuality.  One of her favourite authors is Chandani, a transgender poet who is currently working on her autobiography.

“We are recognised legally in this country but only for the sake of law. We’re still not recognized as a human being. No respect is given. There are many people who would help us, take care of us. But the rest, look at us like we are from another planet,” said Shilok.

While conversing with few Hijras from Nanjappa Circle, Sound Saroja, a hijra who resides in Bangalore talked about the Eunuch festival in Koovagam, Tamil Nadu.“I haven’t been to the Eunuch festival, but I’ve heard stories from our community. Some people in my community have been to the festival. Transgenders from different parts of the country come together for this festival 16 days prior to it. Many talent shows and beauty contest happens in the festival. My friends talk about this festival; it’s something all of us look forward to. I hope I can make it to the festival next year”.

On the full moon day of the Chithra (April/May) month of the Hindu lunar calendar every year, transgender and transvestites from all over India gather at the Koothandavar temple for the Eunuch festival at Koovagam village. Every year they participate in the re-enactment of the tale of Indian epic Mahabharata, in which they play the bride of warrior God Aravan.

Aravan is a small character in Hindu mythology that played an important role in the Hindu epic ‘Mahabharata’. ‘Mahabharata’ is a story of two branches of brothers known as Pandavas and Kuaravas, born to different queens of King Pandu. In their struggle to win the throne, the brothers’ group was involved in a historic war called the ‘Kurukshetra’.

On the 17th day, the priest at the Koothandavar temple performs a special pooja by reciting spiritual mantras and decorating the Aravan’s idol with flowers and brings upon the power of Aravan on himself, and ties yellow threads called “Thaali” around the neck of all the Eunuchs as a marriage ritual symbolizing their marriage Aravan. The Eunuchs spend the night merrymaking by dancing and singing. They also involve in sexual relationship with men visiting the temple. “The next morning after the ritual, the Eunuchs rip away the yellow threads and cry out loud beating their chests and mourn Aravan’s death,” added Saroja.