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Reading Together

New Year is the time at which a new calendar year begins and the calendar’s year count increments by one. Many cultures celebrate the event in some manner. The New Year of the Gregorian calendar, today mostly in use, falls on 1 January (New Year’s Day), as was the case both in the old Roman calendar (at least after about 713 BCE) and in the Julian calendar that succeeded it.

The New Year signifies that the time has arrived to bid farewell to the by-gone year and to welcome the New Year. People in all parts of India dress colorfully and indulge in fun filled activities such as singing, playing games, dancing, and attending parties. Night clubs, movie theatres, resorts, restaurants and amusement parks are filled with people of all ages.

People greet and wish each other Happy New Year. Exchanging messages, greeting cards and gifts are part and parcel of the New Year celebration. The media covers many New Year events which are showcased on prime channels for most of the day. People who decide to stay indoors resort to these New Year shows for entertainment and fun. The age-old tradition of planning new resolutions for the coming year is a common sight. A few of the most popular resolutions include losing weight, developing good habits, and working hard.

Larger cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai organize live concerts which are attended by Bollywood stars and other well-known personalities. Large crowds gather to attend such shows, while some individuals prefer to celebrate with their close friends and family members. The fun filled occasion is considered a great opportunity to get closer to the loved ones in your life and to revive contact with lost friends. The idea is to wave goodbye to the year gone-by and welcome the New Year in the hope that it will invite truckloads of happiness and joy in everyone’s life.

02 Nov 2015 – 08 Nov 2015

Vijayadashami, also known as Dussehra, is one of the most important Hindu festivals celebrated in various forms, across India,Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh as well as parts of Pakistan. The name Dussehra is derived from Sanskrit. Dasha-hara literally means Dashanan ravan (the name of Ravan and in short Dasha and Hara (defeat)) referring to Lord Rama’s victory over the ten-headed demon king Ravana.

The day also marks the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasur. The Goddess fought with evils for nine nights and ten days. The name Vijayadashami is also derived from the Sanskrit words “Vijaya-dashami”, literally meaning the victory on the dashami.

In Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand and western Bihar, it is tradition to plant barley seeds in earthen pots on the first day of Navratri. On the day of Dasara, the nine-day-old sprouts (called noratras or nortas or of nav ratris or nine nights) are used as symbols of luck. Men place them in their caps or behind their ears.

In most of northern India and some parts of Maharashtra, Dasha-Hara is celebrated more in honour of Rama. During these 10 days many plays and dramas based on Ramayana are performed. These are called Ramlila. In different parts of South India, it is seen as a day to express gratitude to everything that bring success in life. Celebrations can take many forms, ranging from worshipping the goddess Chamundeshwari (Durga) to exhibiting colorful gift -,they also take admisson in school, celebrated as Golu in Karnataka,Kerala,Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu from Navratri onwards. In Bengal, Dussehra is celebrated as Durga Puja. Deities of the goddess Durga are worshipped for five days, and on the fifth day (Vijaya Dashami) immersed in a river or pond. This is referred as Durga Bisarjan/Bhashaan. In Jharkhand, Bengal, Assam and Odisha, the goddess Kali, an appellation of Durga, is also worshipped as a symbol of Shakti (Power).

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May Day is also known as Labour Day and is celebrated on 1 May each year. It is a national and bank holiday that corresponds to the International Workers’ Day that is celebrated in many countries around the world proclaiming the international labour movement.

The history of May/Labour Day goes back to 1886 in Chicago, USA, when a gathering of people during a general strike for the eight-hour workday became violent. A bomb was thrown into the crowd, police began to shoot and dozens of people were killed or injured.

Over the next few years, an international movement began with demonstrations and riots occurring each year on May Day. In 1904, the International Socialist Conference met in Amsterdam and called on “all Social Democratic Party organisations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on May First for the legal establishment of the eight-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace.”

In India, the first Labour Day, or May Day, was celebrated in 1923 in Chennai. Today around India, organisations and trade unions arrange pageants, children enter contests so they can understand the importance of fairness for workers, and political leaders make speeches.

04 May 2015 – 10 May 2015

Buddha Jayanti, also known as Buddha Purnima, celebrates the birthday of Lord Buddha. It also commemorates his enlightenment and death. It’s the most sacred Buddhist festival.

When is Buddha Jayanti?

Buddha Jayanti is held on a full moon in May each year. In 2014, Buddha Jayanti falls on May 4.

Where is the Festival Celebrated?

Buddha Jayanti is celebrated at the various Buddhist sites across India, particularly at Bodhgaya and Sarnath (near Varanasi).

Celebrations are widespread in predominantly Buddhist regions such as Sikkim, Ladakh, and Arunachal Pradesh as well.

The festival is also celebrated in Buddha Jayanti Park, Delhi. The park is located on Ridge Road, towards the southern end of Delhi Ridge. The closest metro train station is Rajiv Chowk.

How is the Festival Celebrated?

Activities include prayer meets, sermons and religious discourses, recitation of Buddhist scriptures, group meditation, processions, and worship of the statue of Buddha.

At Bodhgaya, the Mahabodhi Temple wears a festive look and is decorated with colorful flags and flowers. Special prayers are organized under the Bodhi Tree (the tree under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment).

27 Apr 2015 – 03 May 2015

11 Easy Steps To Reduce Your Impact On The Earth

Here are a few EASY things you can do to reduce your impact on the environment. Try one, two, or all. The idea is to start thinking about the way we consume and the environmental legacy that we are leaving for our children’s children. So, start small and when you get the hang of it, try another step. These are just a few ways that each of us truly can make a difference in our world.

  1. Recycle – everything you can. Utilize curbside services if you have them, or seek out the nearest recycling center. It’s worth every ounce of effort it takes.
  2. Buy Recycled. Complete the circle. Choose recycled copy paper, napkins and other paper products and even computer disks. There are many home dcor products made from recycled material that are both functional and beautiful.
  3. When possible, choose items in glass jars/containers. Glass is one of the few items that can be recycled over and over again.
  4. End the siege of junk mail in your mailbox. Go to www.newdream.org/junkmail/ to download a form that you simply fill out, sign and mail (addresses are provided). This will remove your name from the majority of mailing lists. You will be amazed at the amount of trash you won’t have. Call the companies that you do want catalogs or mailings from and tell them NOT to sell, trade or give away your name. Usually they comply.
  5. Walk or bike when possible. You’ve heard this time and time again and we’ll say it again. It’s better for the environment and for your health.
  6. Take advantage of automating your salary deposits. Just think of all the lunch hours you’ll have free! On the same note, utilize online services to pay bills such as utilities and car payments – even your mortgage. It will save you time, energy and postage. Plus, your payments won’t be late.
  7. Buy organic. Organic products are typically 30% more than conventional products and many products, such as bread, eggs, produce and even some dairy items, are right in line with their conventional counterparts. AND – scientific research proves that organic foods taste better and that they contain higher nutritional values.
  8. Support local farmers. You’ll get fresher, higher quality foods at fantastic prices. Check out www.csa.org and enter your state to find a participating farm in your city. For a set price, you’ll get a box delivered to your home every week during growing season. It’s a great way to support small, local farms, ensure fresh produce and reduce pollution by excessive transportation.
  9. Opt for organic gardening measures when it comes to fertilizing and pest control. Buy or make a compost bin and explore the amazing world of beneficial insects for pest control. It’s better for the environment, your health (no nasty chemicals) and its’ fun! Check out www.greenfire.com for a great choice of organic alternative gardening products.
  10. Properly dispose of hazardous material. Call your city hall and ask for the date of the next hazardous material drop off. They’re free and usually are sprinkled throughout the year in various areas of your community. You don’t even get out of your car. You simply bring them all of your left over paints, chemicals, oil, old smoke alarms (yes, they have radiation in them) and they will remove them from your car and ensure that they are disposed of properly. To make it even easier, coordinate with your neighbors and take turns collecting and dropping off the items.
  11. Here’s a bright idea (couldn’t resist that). As your existing light bulbs burn out, replace with compact fluorescent. They are highly energy efficient and last an average of 8000 hours. The amount of time, energy and resources they save is enormous.

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The ICC Cricket World Cup is the international championship of One Day International (ODI) cricket. The event is organized by the sport’s governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC), with preliminary qualification rounds leading up to a finals tournament held every four years. The tournament is one of the world’s most viewed sporting events and is considered the “flagship event of the international cricket calendar” by the ICC.

The first World Cup was organized in England in June 1975, with the first ODI cricket match having been played only four years prior. However, a separate Women’s Cricket World Cup had been held two years before the first men’s tournament, and a tournament involving multiple international teams had been held as early as 1912, when a triangular tournament of Test matches was played between Australia, England and South Africa. Each of the first three World Cups were held in England. From the 1987 tournament onwards, hosting has been shared between countries under an unofficial rotation system, with fourteen ICC members having hosted at least one match in the tournament.

The finals of the World Cup are contested by the ten full members of the ICC (all of which are Test-playing teams) and a number of teams made up from associate and affiliate members of the ICC, selected via the World Cricket League and a later qualifying tournament. A total of 19 teams have competed in the ten editions of the tournament, with 14 competing in the 2011 tournament. Australia has won the tournament four times, with the West Indies, India (twice each), Pakistan and Sri Lanka (once each) also having won the tournament. The best performance by a non-full-member team came when Kenya made the semi-finals of the 2003 tournament.

Qualification

The Test-playing nations qualify automatically for the World Cup main event, while the other teams have to qualify through a series of preliminary qualifying tournaments. The One Day International playing nations automatically enter the final qualification tournament, the World Cup Qualifier, along with other nations who have qualified through separate competitions.

Qualifying tournaments were introduced for the second World Cup, where two of the eight places in the finals were awarded to the leading teams in the ICC Trophy. The number of teams selected through the ICC Trophy has varied throughout the years; currently, six teams are selected for the Cricket World Cup. The World Cricket League (administered by the International Cricket Council) is the qualification system provided to allow the Associate and Affiliate members of the ICC more opportunities to qualify. The name “ICC Trophy” has been changed to “ICC World Cup Qualifier”.

Under the current qualifying process, the World Cricket League, all 91 Associate and Affiliate members of the ICC are able to qualify for the World Cup. Associate and Affiliate members must play between two and five stages in the ICC World Cricket League to qualify for the World Cup finals, depending on the Division in which they start the qualifying process.

15 Feb 2015 – 21 Feb 2015

The ICC Cricket World Cup is the international championship of One Day International(ODI) cricket. The event is organised by the sport’s governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC), with preliminary qualification rounds leading up to a finals tournament held every four years. The tournament is one of the world’s most viewed sporting events and is considered the “flagship event of the international cricket calendar” by the ICC.

The first World Cup was organised in England in June 1975, with the first ODI cricket match having been played only four years prior. However, a separate Women’s Cricket World Cup had been held two years before the first men’s tournament, and a tournament involving multiple international teams had been held as early as 1912, when a triangular tournament of Test matches was played between Australia, England and South Africa. Each of the first three World Cups were held in England. From the 1987 tournament onwards, hosting has been shared between countries under an unofficial rotation system, with fourteen ICC members having hosted at least one match in the tournament.

The finals of the World Cup are contested by the ten full members of the ICC (all of which are Test-playing teams) and a number of teams made up from associate and affiliate members of the ICC, selected via the World Cricket League and a later qualifying tournament. A total of 19 teams have competed in the ten editions of the tournament, with 14 competing in the 2011 tournament. Australia has won the tournament four times, with the West Indies, India (twice each), Pakistan and Sri Lanka (once each) also having won the tournament. The best performance by a non-full-member team came when Kenya made the semi-finals of the 2003 tournament.

The International Cricket Council’s executive committee votes for the hosts of the tournament after examining the bids made by the nations keen to hold a Cricket World Cup.

England hosted the first three competitions. The ICC decided that England should host the first tournament because it was ready to devote the resources required to organising the inaugural event. India volunteered to host the third Cricket World Cup, but most ICC members preferred England as the longer period of daylight in England in June meant that a match could be completed in one day. The 1987 Cricket World Cup was held in Pakistan and India, the first hosted outside England

Many of the tournaments have been jointly hosted by nations from the same geographical region, such as South Asia in 1987, 1996 and 2011, Australasia in 1992, Southern Africa in 2003 and West Indies in 2007.

08 Feb 2015 – 14 Feb 2015

One young man went to apply for a managerial position in a big company.

He passed the initial interview, and now would meet the director for the final interview.

The director discovered from his CV that the youth’s academic achievements were excellent.
He asked, Did you obtain any scholarships in school…?

the youth answered “NO”.

Who paid for your school fees…?

” Parents “, he replied.

“Where did they work……?”

“They worked as clothes cleaner.”

The director requested the youth to show his hands.

The youth showed a pair of hands that were smooth and perfect.

“Have you ever helped your parents wash the clothes ?”

“Never, my parents always wanted me to study and read more books.

Besides, my parents can wash clothes faster than me.

The director said, “I have a request.

When you go home today, go and clean your parents hands, and then see me tomorrow morning.

The youth felt dejected.

When he went back home, he asked his parents to let him clean their hands.

His parents felt strange, happy but with mixed feelings,

They showed their hands to their son.

The youth cleaned their hands slowly.

His tear fell as he did that.

It was the first time he noticed that his parents hands were so wrinkled, and there were so many bruises in their hands.

Some bruises were so painful that they winced when he touched it.

This was the first time the youth realized that it was this pair of hands that washed the clothes everyday to enable him to pay the school fees.

The bruises in the hands were the price that the parents had to pay for his education, his school activities and his future.

After cleaning his parents hands, the youth quietly washed all the remaining clothes for  them.

That night, parents and son talked for a very long time.

Next morning, the youth went to the director’s office.

The Director noticed the tears in the youth’s eyes, when he asked:

“Can you tell me what have you done and learned yesterday in your house….?”

The youth answered,

I cleaned my parents hand, and also finished cleaning all the remaining clothes’

“I now know what appreciation is.

Without my parents, I would not be who I am today…

By helping my parents, only now do I realize how difficult and tough it is to get something done on your own And I have come to appreciate the importance and value of helping one’s family.

The director said,

“This is what I am looking for in a manager.

I want to recruit a person who can appreciate the help of others, a person who knows the sufferings of others to get things done, and a person who would not put money as his only goal in life.”

“You are hired.”

A child, who has been protected and habitually given whatever he wanted, would develop an “entitlement mentality” and would always put himself first.
He would be ignorant of his parent’s efforts.

If we are this kind of protective parents, are we really showing love or are we destroying our children instead…?

You can let your child live in a big house, eat a good meal, learn piano, watch on a big screen TV.

But when you are cutting grass, please let them experience it.

After a meal, let them wash their plates and bowls together with their brothers and sisters.

It is not  because you do not have money to hire a maid, but it is because you want to love them in a right way.

You want them to understand, no matter how rich their parents are, one day their hair will grow grey, same as the parent of that young person.

The most important thing is your child learns how to appreciate the effort and experience the difficulty and learns the ability to work with others to get things done…

01 Feb 2015 – 07 Feb 2015

Caring for others

There was a farm, where lived farmer John with his wife Molly. They hold pigs, cows and many animals in their farm. Also there lived a little mouse.

One day the mouse looked throught small crack in the wall and accidentially saw how the farmer was opening some package. The mouse was curious what food may it contain and discovered that it was a mousetrap.

The mouse was determined to run around the farmyard and warn all the animals regarding the danger.

First of all he met the chicken. „There is a mousetrap in the house!“ – the mouse declared with despair. But the chicken answered with indifference: „It doesn‘t concern me, as this is a danger for you, but not for me. It cannot bother me“.

Then the mouse raced to the pig and the cow and told them about the mousetrap. But the pig and the cow where not impressed too. They said that there is nothing to about this and promised to pray about the mouse.

Sad and depressed, the little mouse returned to the house.

In the night the farmer‘s wife Molly heard a sound of a mousetrap. She hurried to see what was in it, but due to the darkness she did not see that it was a poisonous snake, whose tail was caught by the trap. Suddenly the snake bit Molly.

The farmer rushed with her to the hospital. Later, when they returned home, Molly still had a fever. John remembered that it is good to treat a fever with chicken soup, so he went to his farmyard to bring the main ingridient, the chicken.

Whereas Molly‘s sickness continued and many friends came to visit her, the farmer butchered the pig so he could feed all the visitors.

Unfortunatelly, As time went by Molly became weaker and weaker and one day she died. Many neighbours, relatives and friends have arrived to the funeral. John had to slaughter the cow to feed all of them.

The mouse has been watching all that was happing with great sorrow.

Remember, when we learn that someone is facing difficulties or danger, we all are at risk. It is better to help and encourage one another and don‘t leave anyone alone with his problems.

25 Jan 2015 – 31 Jan 2015

BBC News; 26th January, 1950:

 1950: India becomes a Republic

The independent republic of India is officially born today, after nearly 100 years of British rule.

A public holiday has been declared throughout the country, and millions of people have been celebrating with processions and ceremonies to hoist the new flag of India for the first time.

India has been running her own affairs since the actual transfer of power from British to Indian hands on 15 August 1947.

But today’s ceremonies mark the cutting of her last ties to Britain. India’s first president has been sworn in, replacing the King as the country’s head of state, and the new constitution ratified.

Oath of office

In the capital, Delhi, the day began with the 34th and last Governor-General of India, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, reading out a proclamation announcing the birth of the Republic of India.

The new President, Dr Rajendra Prasad, then took the oath of office.

Dr Prasad was a key campaigner in the nationalist movement of Mahatma Gandhi, along with India’s interim Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

The president then addressed the crowd first in Hindi, and then in English.

“Today, for the first time in our long and chequered history,” he said, “we find the whole of this vast land… brought together under the jurisdiction of one constitution and one union which takes over responsibility for the welfare of more than 320 million men and women who inhabit it.”

Peaceful celebrations

Dr Prasad then drove through the streets in his state coach, greeted by thousands of people along the way.

The crowds were jubilant, but restrained – a marked change from the highly-charged atmosphere of August 15 1947, when the British finally left India.

Then, there were scenes of total chaos as the police struggled to control the crowd, and riots broke out across the city.

Over the next two years, hundreds of thousands died in the terrible violence that followed partition – the division of the British colony into two nations, the secular but Hindu-dominated India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Then in 1948 the man who steered India to independence, Mahatma Gandhi, was assassinated.

Today, the place where he was cremated on the banks of the River Jumna became a site of pilgrimage for thousands of people.

Dr Prasad visited the spot soon after daybreak and joined in paying homage to the memory of the man now known as “the father of the nation”.

18 Jan 2015 – 24 Jan 2015

Happy New Year

Many New Year customs that we take for granted actually date from ancient times. This year, ring out the old and ring in the new with a New Year tradition—or two!

Make Some Noise

  • In ancient Thailand, guns were fired to frighten off demons.
  • In China, firecrackers routed the forces of darkness.
  • In the early American colonies, the sounds of pistol shots rang through the air.
  • Today, Italians let their church bells peal, the Swiss beat drums, and the North Americans sound sirens and party horns to bid the old year farewell.

Eat Lucky Food

Many New Year’s traditions surround food. Here are a few:

  • In the southern US, black-eyed peas and pork foretell good fortune. See our recipe for Good Luck Hoppin’ John.
  • Eating any ring-shaped treat (such as a donut) symbolize “coming full circle” and leads to good fortune. In Dutch homes, fritters called olie bollen are served.
  • The Irish enjoy pastries called bannocks.
  • The tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight comes from Spain.
  • In India and Pakistan, rice promises prosperity.
  • Apples dipped in honey are a Rosh Hashanah tradition.
  • In Swiss homes, dollops of whipped cream, symbolizing the richness of the year to come, are dropped on the floors (and allowed to remain there!)

Give a Gift

New Year’s Day was once the time to swap presents.

  • Gifts of gilded nuts or coins marked the start of the new year in Rome.
  • Eggs, the symbol of fertility, were exchanged by the Persians.
  • Early Egyptians traded earthenware flasks.
  • In Scotland, coal, shortbread and silverware are exchanged for good luck.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

In Scotland, the custom of first-footing is an important part of the celebration of Hogmanay, or New Year’s Eve Day.

This practice holds that the first foot to cross a threshold after midnight will predict the next year’s fortune. Although the tradition varies, those deemed especially fortunate as “first footers” are new brides, new mothers, those who are tall and dark (and handsome?) or anyone born on January 1.

Turn Over a New Leaf

The dawn of a new year is an opportune time to take stock of your life.

  • Jews who observe Rosh Hashanah make time for personal introspection and prayer, as well as visiting graves.
  • Christian churches hold “watch-night” services, a custom that began in 1770 at Old St. Georges Methodist Church in Philadelphia.
  • The practice of making New Year’s resolutions, said to have begun with the Babylonians as early as 2600 B.C., is another way to reflect on the past and plan ahead.

So, whether we resolve to return borrowed farm equipment (as did the Babylonians) or drop a few pounds, we’re tapping into an ancient and powerful longing for a fresh start!

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Darshan Karki from Nepal spoke to Kamla Bhasin , a celebrated feminist and the campaign’s South Asia coordinator, about the possibility of a common agenda for the women’s movement, its criticism in Nepal, and the challenges feminism is facing today.

You often call yourself a South Asian activist. Given the immense diversity of this region, is there a possibility of a common agenda for a women’s movement?

A movement is not an organisation or a campaign. A movement is a large coming together of people for a common cause, but there can be tremendous diversity within it. For example, when people in Nepal were fighting for democracy, the Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, and the Maoists came together, though their strategies were not the same. They all wanted democracy. Similarly, the women’s movement wants equality between men and women. But in Nepal, the issues are different. Nepali women can take up issues like gufa and chaupadi, which are not present in India. In Bangladesh, they have acid attacks. In Pakistan and India, there are honour killings. So there is no problem in having different campaigns as part of the women’s movement.

Still, 90 percent of our problemsare the same. The US also has rape, domestic violence and child sexual abuse. So the women’s movement is global, not only South Asian, like this One Billion Rising, as women are violated globally.

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When people do not like an issue, they will use any excuse. They will speak of donors, they will say it is Western or it is against Nepali and family culture. They will say anything as they do not want women and girls to be free. If there are floods and NGOs come in to help, then you don’t say it is a donor agenda. When NGOs are working on trafficking of women, then there’s no complaint. The backlash has nothing to do with donors. It has to do with people who do not want gender equality.

Western feminism was originally criticised for taking women as a homogenous group. The women’s movement here has also been criticised for propagating an image of one Nepali woman, which does not exist.

Western feminism is an incorrect term. In the West, there is French, German, American, white woman’s, black woman’s, lesbian, Marxist, socialist, and liberal feminism. So there is nothing like Western or Asian feminism. What is Nepali feminism? The UML’s feminism is very different from the Congress’ feminism. Some people coin terms like Western or Asian feminism just to criticise us. Because there is diversity, all these women have to focus on their own issues. Still, suppose I want to change something in the Dalit community. As an outsider, I cannot do it. Dalit women have to work on Dalit men and women.

What about elite women of a certain group speaking for the rest?

In every movement, not just the women’s movement, middle-class people lead because they have the education, time, resources, and the heart to work on those issues. They are using their resources for the cause of equality. Why should they work on women’s issues or Dalit issues? One needs to appreciate rather than criticise them as they are not doing it for themselves but for the cause.

So what has changed with regards to women’s rights?

The glass has become half-full. Twenty years ago, you could never imagine one-third reservation for women in Nepal’s Parliament. Now, there cannot be a single government policy without talking of gender. Today, even private companies have to think of the percentage of women workers. We have reviewed textbooks and criticised sexism in the media. Talk of laws on domestic violence, marital rape and anti-dowry show that laws are constantly improving. But of course, they are not being implemented. Yet, 20 years ago, being a victim of domestic violence was an outcome of fate. Now, we say it has nothing to do with fate. It is a crime and you will go to jail for it. So I think a lot has changed, but a lot remains the same.

What has not changed?

Earlier, we had traditional patriarchy; traditions that kept telling women that they are inferior to men. A wife has to put sindoor in her head, while the husband does not have to show any sign of marriage. There is kanyadaan [a Hindu wedding ritual which means giving away the daughter as a gift] but there is never an equal marriage where one side does putradaan [gifting the son]. Instead, the kanya is picked up by the father and given to another man, the husband. While we must change it, we now have modern or capitalist patriarchy.

How would you explain that?

It’s the billion-dollar pornography, child pornography industry. It is the trafficking of women all over the world by using technology and the cometic industry telling us to be fair. Then there’s the toy industry—guns for boys, Barbie dolls for girls. Look at the entire market coming together to promote Teej, which is a patriarchal festival. The market should have spoken about equality but it has instead capitalised on it to make money.

Now we have so much violence that two-year-old girls are being violated. There is a direct connection between pornography, seeing rapes on TV from morning till night, and reading these things. This is a push against us. If I write a nice song about women’s freedom, it reaches 5,000 people. Bollywood in Mumbai writes horrible anti-woman songs like ‘Chipkale mere photo fevikol se’ and it earns millions, is played at weddings and little girls dance to it. In the song, a woman is saying “I am a tandoori chicken, eat me and gulp me down with whiskey”. Capitalism is increasing the machismo, violent aggression of men on the one hand and the Barbie doll, sexualised woman on the other.

How do we resist this tide against feminism?

You cannot resist it. You need a partnership of political parties and women’s movements to do so. So women’s equality needs democracy, secularism, socialism. That is why my feminism is not only about women and men’s equality but also equality between Dalits and Brahmins and the rich and the poor.

Talking of politics, in South Asia, we often seem to be swinging back and forth when it comes to women’s representation in politics. Why does this happen?

Struggle is an ongoing thing. We cannot say that once we have 33 percent representation, we can go to sleep. In any case, when we had women prime ministers, they did not represent feminism or gender equality. They represented a lack of democracy. They got the post as their fathers or husbands died. Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s husband passed away and she became prime minister. In the cases of Indira Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto, their fathers died and they became prime ministers. In Nepal, Bidya Bhandari came into politics after Madan Bhandari died. All of them represent male power. But when these women came from the kitchen to the Parliament, they were not worse than their husbands. They were as bad or as good as their husbands. So just imagine how clever they were.

In case of 33 percent representation, it is progress. But for the first many years, who will make that 33 percent? It will mostly be women from political families. But maybe 10 percent of those candidates will be genuine and slowly, if we keep up this pressure, things will change. The struggle for democracy and equality is ongoing.

In that regard, do you think taking affirmative action, separating quotas for women helps?

Yes, I think affirmative action is important because for 3,000-4,000 years there has been negative discrimination against women, Dalits, and other excluded groups. Society has to take responsibility for their backwardness and exclusion. Initially, there will be weaknesses in the quota system, elites will come. But in a scenario where there are all Brahmin elites, at least there will be one Dalit elite now. Let the backward communities be visible. Gradually, members of that community will begin to talk of democracy amongst themselves and new people will come in.