Stonewall Inn Uprising: 50 years

The Night at Inn Became a Proud Shrine. Still a bar, but a highly visible one.June 28, 2019, marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, which is considered the most significant event in the LGBT+ liberation movement, and the catalyst for the modern fight for LGBTQ rights in the United States which slowly spread to the world. Today, as we celebrate 50 years of the movement here, is a brief account of why the inn is gradually becoming a shrine.

The Stonewall Inn

In 1969, the Stonewall was part of a Greenwich Village discreet yet known gay scene. At the time, showing same-sex affection or dressing in a way considered gender-inappropriate could get people arrested. Bars had lost liquor licenses for serving such people. Some gay nightspots simply operated illegally. A former horse stable in adjoining buildings at 51 and 53 Christopher Street, the Stonewall was a divey, unlicensed spot with darkened windows, black-painted walls and a doorman who scrutinized would-be patrons through a peephole. But it also had a sweeping, pulsating dance floor that attracted a diverse, mostly young crowd.


On June 28, 1969, Greenwich Village, The New York City Police Department, with a backdrop of homophobia and transphobia, raided the Stonewall Inn, a neighborhood gay bar, in the middle of the night, fueled by bigoted liquor licensing practices. The raid was met with a series of responses that went down in history as the most crucial period in the world’s fight for sexual and gender liberation: a rebellious reaction from the bar’s patrons and surrounding community, followed by six days of protests.
The bar itself didn’t last long after the raid. Over the ensuing years, space was divided and used by a bagel shop, a Chinese restaurant and other establishments, including a gay bar called Stonewall that briefly operated at 51 Christopher in the late 1980s. Renovations changed the interior decor. The current Stonewall Inn, at 53 Christopher, dates to early 1990.
The Stonewall was raided just four days before that uprising, arresting employees and seizing liquor that Tuesday night. But as the police were leaving, someone said with disdain, “We’ll be open again tomorrow.” Gay New Yorkers were feeling increasing pressure and harassment in Greenwich Village and beyond, and the violent eruption at the Stonewall was a result of this mounting tension. Within days of the Stonewall uprising, the police had raided five gay bars in the Village, shutting three of them — the Checkerboard, the Tel-Star and the Sewer — down for good.

Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera: Icons of the Queer Movement.

Marsha P. Johnson, a black transgender woman, threw the first brick at the Stonewall Inn 50 years ago, sparking the modern gay liberation movement. She, along with a fellow transgender woman Sylvia Rivera, who was of Puerto Rican and Venezuelan heritage, became inspirational leaders of the movement born in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969.
Soon after the rioting, Johnson and Rivera became active in the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), the first known pro-transgender group in the United States, providing shelter for the abandoned and homeless.
The months after Stonewall was a time of LGBTQ unity that would not last long. Gay men, mostly white, assumed leadership and ostracized trans women like Johnson and Rivera in the name of “respectability.”
By the time of the fourth-anniversary parade, organizers banned “drag queens,” so Johnson and Rivera marched in front of the parade banner, outside the official event. Rivera was booed when she took the stage in the rally at Washington Square Park.
“Transgender,” as the term was not yet familiar. Instead, words such as “transvestite,” “drag queen,” and “transsexual” were used interchangeably.
Johnson died at age 46 under mysterious circumstances, her body pulled from the Hudson River in 1992. Rivera, who had been homeless at times and suffered from addiction, died in 2002 of liver cancer at age 50.
As the 50th anniversary of Stonewall approaches, Johnson and Rivera are receiving a belated measure of recognition in death that coincides with a growing awareness of transgender rights. New York City announced last month it would build a memorial to Johnson and Rivera near the Stonewall Inn, the Greenwich Village bar.
Last week, the New York Police Department apologized for the first time for the raid. Transgender activists revere Johnson and Rivera for becoming the public faces of the most marginalized among LGBTQ people, for standing up to police harassment, and for insisting on respect.

The Movement Now
In the years since then, a new understanding of gender identity has pushed its way into the mainstream. That has brought about a measure of reconciliation between transgender women and gay men, who have become a powerful coalition influencing policy on LGBTQ rights and fighting discrimination.
The month of June is Celebrated as the Pride Month throughout the globe. Most major cities in the world have pride marches in June with the community coming out together and celebrating their identity. Many countries have struck down laws that made homosexuality illegal, and transgender people are getting recognition in some, but the work began by Johnson and Rivera is far from complete.

KABIR SINGH : A ROMANCE WITH MISOGYNY

‘Kabir Singh’ perfectly teaches the audience that you cannot judge a movie by its trailer. It is so because many people, just like me, thought it to be a romantic love story. Indeed, it comes under the genre of ‘Romantic movies’, but the protagonist is hardly a lover. Kabir Singh is a bully who abuses, someone who is an unparalleled example of toxic masculinity. In a nerve-tiring 175 minute, one could only realize that his noxiousness can never be attractive.

Kabir Singh falls in love at first sight with Preeti and decides on the spot that “yeh bas meri bandi hai” and takes immense pride in marking the woman as his “territory”, without her consent. This is the form of “loving” we are greeted with. Immersed in the world of drugs, drinks, emotionless sex and misogyny, he is shown as a ‘free-spirited’ human, one who hardly can walk freely in a democracy. This movie clearly fails to touch the pulse of the audience because of the context in which these lines, that were meant to be of some substance, are said.

There comes a scene when he is involved in some sort of violence while playing soccer in the campus. Devoid of any sort of regret or apology, Kabir Singh is tagged as a ‘swagger’ when he says, “This is me. This is who I am.”  It gets all the more disputable and unsettled when the Dean of the college prefers not to bring him under any sort of disciplinary measure as a corrective. Reason? Because he is some sort of an out-of-the-world genius, an academically brilliant medical college student. This scene is directed to assert that Kabir Singh’s escalating machoism is excusable, and even tolerable, because he is a genius. The horrifying conclusion that “boys will be boys”, of which the movie is proud of, surfaces at every turn.

Fifty minutes into the movie, and then we hear the first proper line by Preeti ,”Kabir, what do you like in me?” To which he replies, “I like the way you breathe.” Misogyny and male entitlement are glorified and glamorized at every step. There is hardly any instance where we can actually feel Kabir Singh or empathize with this alcoholic, abusive jerk.

Kabir Singh is a remake of Arjun Reddy, a Telugu Original, which undoubtedly reinforces the same idea of the very problematic portrayal of the relationship between man and a woman. 

Sandeep Reddy Vango has directed a film which might show Kabir’s actions as a handiwork of loveable, mad genius. He has zero understanding of the word ‘consent’ and kisses the woman he thinks he loves infront of everyone. What adds to the celebration of this toxic masculinity is the he also slaps her when she agrees with him that “You have no identity in college. All know you as my girl.” I do not want boys and men watching Kabir Singh take up the notion that women like dominant, aggressive and a violent boyfriend.

What on earth does this movie of dominance-submission imply, afterall? Kabir Singh’s aggressive, deplorable actions are taken for laughs ; either when he chases his maid when she mistakenly breaks a drinking glass or when he threatens to take his pants off after a woman asks why he has not shaved before the surgery.

Indian cinema is obsessed with romanticizing the stalker hero. Kabir Singh is so much in love that when she dies, he brings a dog home and names her “Preeti.” But mind you, his volatile temperament which is feared by all – colleagues, friends, students alike was not unreasonable. Kabir believes “he is not a rebel without a cause.”, but definitely irrationally violent without a cause.

Kabir Singh is a butt-numbing, 175 minutes of debatable establishing of a power equation. Male chauvinism, dominance and machoism are very usual movie tropes employed as well in this film. A horrendous ode to patriarchy and misogyny, this is film that reeks of sexism and objectification.

There are some who say , “It is just a movie and Kabir is just a character.” But sadly they are not aware that movies in the 21st century serve more than the purpose of entertainment alone. They teach, and people learn. It seeps deep into their psyche to act like heroes in the movie. If the movie, at all, was sending a message about how ‘toxic the story is’ or how ‘this is not love’, then it would have been okay. But the fact that it is normalizing the misogynistic behavior of an ugly sociopath is beyond controversial. Problematic might just be an understatement.

RELIGIOUS SYMBOLISM AND DIVIDE IN INDIA

India is a representative democracy. The people of this country together cannot be at a single place at a single time to take part in the decisions that affect us. Therefore, we elect people who would represent us  and engage in policy making on our behalf. As active participants of this nation, we trust these people and support them.

The atmosphere in the Parliament, where our elected representatives ensconce themselves, has to have vibes of a healthy competition. This particular atmosphere should be impartial in its treatment of representatives from different communities.

A rewind into some years, the hyper-fanatic religious chants of ‘Jai Shree Ram’ and ‘Vande Matram’ were a rallying call on the streets of India by the uncompromising zealots. Although Hindutva still remains the ideological bedrock supporting the BJP’s existence as a national party,  these rallies were devoid of the people from the mainstream political party. Rather, the fundamentalist stance were undertaken by Bajrang Dal, one of the most radical and extremist fringes of Bharatiya Janata Party.

The principle of secularism enshrined in our Constitution is emblematic of equal respect to all religions. However, the past few years have been an eye-opener and sent us in a state of shock. This bigotry has penetrated the walls of the Parliament , and religion once again becomes the ingredient of divisive politics.

On June 18, 2019, many ministers went for the swearing-in ceremony in the Lok Sabha . Asaduddn Owaisi was re-elected to the Lok Sabha for a fourth consecutive term from the Hyderabad seat.  We see the sway of majoritarianism when he was interrupted with derisive comments and heckled with chants of ‘Jai Shree Ram’ and ‘Vande Matram’. In response to the age-old, muscular and divisive Hindutva which weighed heavy in the Parliament, president of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) concluded his speech with – “Jai Bheem, Jai Meem, Takbeer Allahu Akbar, Jai Hind.”

The BJP is a right-wing political party which stresses on the need for political Hindu resurgence through any means possible. It wrongly constructs an imaginary notion of India, by trying to change the discourse on secularism and exploit religion and caste-based differences for electoral gain.

 The ideology of Hindutva can only survive by homogenizing ideas, history, culture, gods and in this bid, the entire nation. This fascist project, in its process to create a Hindu rashtra, also reins in the multitude and diversity of ideas, cultures, faith and gods within the Hindus.

India is not, and will never be a single, homogenized rashtra. Nor can any particular religion/community predominate its plural landscape. It shall remain a peaceful coexistence of various languages, ideas, sects, religions and schools of thought.

To equate the ideology of Hindutva with the mainstream politics and play the religion card, only delineates how the fundamentalist approach is trying to foment discord and seclusion amongst people. A Muslim representative in this secular nation-state is as much deserving of the honor and respect as a Hindu. But there is no defence for the inclusive and plural ethos India stands for. Rather, democracy in the Narendra Modi government is under attack and facing a political authorization. The chants are symbolic of the majoritarian bullying and the strategic political message from them to the minorities. It is an overt use of religious symbolism that easily legitimizes hate and violence, and a complete disregard of the secular norms that India stands for. Because the BJP thinks itself as the sole custodian of national pride and security, anyone who speaks up for the Muslims, or against the violence in Kashmir, is tagged with the epithet “anti-national”.

The fact that India is wrongly imagined as mono-religious, mono-cultural and mono-lingual becomes the root cause of the polarized environment and the 

emergence of a country divided by hate. A nation-state’s unstable and weakening condition is visible when regionalism and religious oppression becomes rampant.

The constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion seems to be set only in theory as the young generation is blindly imbibing the idea of bigotry and hatred ; thus creating violent, irrational and de-individualised participants. The concept of India is not reducible to a single faith. The complete polarization based on the politics of religion enables the radical elements to marginalize minorities.

India has a religious problem, and  as far as the BJP retains political power, the sectarian line-up of the political conflict is to dominate the political landscape of India.    

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND MASS SHOOTINGS- 2019!

The Virginia Beach shooting: 12 killed after city worker open fires at colleagues on 31st May 2019.One of the brutal attacks of the MONTH. With 12+ being killed 5 individuals getting severely injured. The exchange of firing eventually killed the gunmen involved after he open fired at the city public works. This incident was one of the 43rd shooting of the month and 148th in the year.

Mass shootings are incidents involving multiple victims of fire-arm related violence. The total number of mass shootings listed according to Wikipedia is 140+ in 2019 itself.

America had a rough total of 148 mass shootings throughout the country in which total number of people killed has reached to 149 and 585 being injured. This shocking statistical data does not explain the deeper thought processes of the shooters involved, neither does it explain the access of firearms among the civilians despite Gun Laws in the states. 

The need to have guns apparently is a big paradox in itself. Civilians have been arguing their gun access as to protect and to defend themselves but at the same time, it’s some of the very civilians getting on the ground and resorting to killing innocent people due to their unconscious or conscious motives.

The statistical data of the shootings show a rapid increase in the shootings and the number of victims with the highest in the month of May – 43 shootings and a total of 198 being wounded.

January

From January 1st to January 28th 2019, a total of 28 deadly turn of events took place in which 36 individuals were killed and 92 getting injured. The worst of them took place on January 23rd in Sebring, Florida where 5 hostages were killed during a shooting at a bank.

The states where mass shootings happened in the month of January 2019:

Houston, Texas; Birmingham, Alabama; Newark, New jersey; Indianapolis, Indiana; Albany, Georgia; Ascension Parish and Livingston Parish, Louisiana; State College, Pennsylvania; Rockmart, Georgia; Sebring, Florida; Miami, Florida; Gaffney, South Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; Lebanon, Pennsylvania; Chicago, Illinois; Houston, Texas; Owensboro, Kentucky; Jacksonville, Florida; Palmdale, California; Little Rock, Arkansas; Phoenix, Arizona; Roswell, New Mexico;  Hurt, Virginia; Houston, Houston, Texas; Torrance, California; Texas City, Texas; Jonesboro, Arkansas; Columbia, South Carolina; Tallahassee, Florida.

Texas had 4 shootings in January month.

February

With a gradual increase in the number of victims killed reaching to 41 from 31 in January, February had a total of 22 shootings in which 68 individuals were injured. 5 people were killed and 6 were wounded in Aurora, Illinois after a man opened fire in his workplace which killed 5 employees and injured 5 police officers and a civilian. The shooter was later killed by the police.

The states where mass shootings happened in the month of February 2019:

San Diego, California; Chicago, Illinois; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Washington, D.C; San Antonia, Texas; Cleveland, Ohio; Brooklyn, New York; Petersburg, Virginia; Livingston, Texas; Jacksonville, Florida; Aurora, Illinois; Clinton, Mississippi; New Orleans, Louisiana; Henderson, Texas; Evansville, Indiana; Solon Township, Michigan; Covington, Tennessee; Houston, Texas; Baltimore, Maryland; Elizabethtown, Kentucky; Birmingham, Alabama, Oakland, California;

 

 

March

The month of March has seemingly less number of shootings compared to the previous month with almost 13 killings and 89 being injured. 21 mass shootings took place in total.

The states where mass shootings happened in the month of March 2019:

Pine Bluff, Arkansas; Chicago, Illinois; Oakland, California; Shreveport, Louisiana; Denver, Colorado; Paterson, New Jersey; Harvey, Illinois; Missoula, Montana; Mobile, Alabama; Camden, New Jersey; Rochelle, Georgia; Las Vegas, Nevada; Augusta, Georgia; Phoenix, Arizona; Phoenix, Arizona; San Francisco, California; North Las Vegas, Nevada; Baltimore, Maryland; North Charleston, South Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois;

The extreme events which took place ranged from 6 people getting injured in a bar shooting at a bar following a fight to 4 people getting killed after an argument in which the shooter claims it as an act of self-defence to being randomly attacked.

 

April

 The statistics swooped up to 138 being injured and 30 being shot dead from 138 and 30 since last month.

The states where the mass shootings happened in the month of April 2019:

Covington, Kentucky; Herman Ville, Mississippi; Stockbridge, Georgia; Panama city, Florida; Tallahassee, Florida; Chicago, Illinois; Wilmington, Delaware; Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Indianapolis, Indiana; Shreveport, Louisiana; Kansas city, Missouri; Baltimore, Maryland; Los Angeles, California; Phoenix, Arizona; Carbondale, Illinois; Miami, Florida; Vallejo, California; Stockton, California; Germantown, Maryland; Louisville, Kentucky; Wichita, Kansas; Corpus Christi, Texas; Memphis, Tennessee; Los Angeles, California; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Hugo, California; Poway, California; Jackson, Michigan; Jackson, Mississippi; Baltimore, Maryland; Birmingham, Alabama; Nashville, Tennessee; West Chester Township, Ohio; Charlotte, North Carolina;

 

May

Virginia incident was 43rd shooting of this month and the number of people injured has reached 198 people, with 29 being killed. On Friday, a Virginia Beach city employee fired in a public utilities building. The attack began shortly after 20:00 GMT at Virginia Beach Municipal Centre.

The states where the mass shootings happened in the month of May 2019:

Boston, Massachusetts; Dallas, Texas; Baltimore, Maryland; Baltimore, Maryland; Wilmington, Delaware; Indianapolis, Indiana; St. Louis, Missouri; Oceano, California; North Bergen, New Jersey; Highlands Ranch, Colorado; Indianapolis, Indiana; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; St. Louis, Missouri; Chestnut hill Township, Pennsylvania; Paulsboro, New Jersey; New Orleans, Louisiana; St. Louis, Missouri; St. Rose, Missouri; Cleveland, Ohio; Sacramento, California; Muncie, Indiana; Winston- Salem, North Carolina; Long beach, California; Atmore, Alabama; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Cascilla, Mississippi; Portland, Oregon; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Columbus, Ohio; Alexandria, Louisiana; Trenton, New Jersey; Chesapeake, Virginia; Baltimore, Maryland; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Chicago, Illinois; Washington D.C; La Crosse, Virginia; Stockton, California; Washington D.C; Trenton, New Jersey; Cleveland, Texas, Robbins, Illinois; Virginia Beach, Virginia;

 

These events of mass shootings are certainly killing innocent people, but looking from another perspective, these shootings must have some deeper reasons to it. The Gun- laws and access of arms and ammunitions from adolescents to adults is contradictory in itself.

 

France To Give 7 Lakh Euros For Railway Station Development In India

In a recent agreement with the French National Railways SNCF, French Development Agency AFD will give a grant of 7 lakh euros for the world-class infrastructural development of Indian railway stations.

The tripartite agreement (A tri-party agreement is a business deal between three separate parties. In the mortgage industry, a tri-party or tripartite agreement often takes place during the construction phase of a new home or condominium complex, to secure so-called bridge loans for the construction itself. In such cases, the loan contract involves the buyer, the lender, and the builder.) between the “three parties” are namely:

French National Railways SNCF: The Société nationale des Chemins de fer français is France’s national state-owned railway company. Founded in 1938.

French Development Agency:) The Agence Française de Développement (AFD) funds, supports and accelerates the transitions to a fairer and more sustainable world. Focusing on climate, biodiversity, peace, education, urban development, health and governance, our teams carry out more than 4,000 projects in France’s overseas departments and territories and other 115 countries. In this way, we contribute to the commitment of France and French people to support the sustainable development goals

IRSDC: Indian Railway Station Development Corporation (Presently the authorized share capital of Indian Railway Station Development Corporation is Rs. 250 crores and the paid- up share capital is Rs. 51.60 crores.)

On Twitter, Ziegler said, “Just after the signing ceremony of an Indo-French agreement to support India’s modernisation of railways stations, @JBLemoyne (Lemoyne) met Shri @PiyushGoyal (Piyush Goyal) to discuss about the future of this cooperation! (sic)”

 

“Under this agreement, AFD, has agreed to provide in-kind grant financing up to 7,00,000 Euros, through SNCF-Hubs and Connexions as a Technical Partner to IRSDC to support capacity building for the Railway Station Development Program in India,” said a statement released by the Indian Railways.

The agreement was signed under the presence of:

  • The Minister of State for Railways, Suresh Angadi
  • Minister of State for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, Jean Baptiste Lemyone
  • Ambassador of France in India, Alexandre Ziegler and other senior officers of the French authorities and Indian Railways.

The ultimate aim of this agreement is to transform the current condition of Railway stations throughout the country to Airport like infrastructure. Stations which have been considered to have a makeover at first are: Chandigarh, Anand Vihar, Baiyyappanahalli, Surat, Shivaji Nagar, Sabarmati, Kanpur, Kanpur, Bijwasa, Sabarmati, Gwalior, Nagpur, Amritsar, Thakurli, Gandhinagar.

According to this financial years’ statement, Indian Railways plans to redevelop around 70+ stations throughout the country.

This will impose no financial liability on IRSDC or Indian Railways, the statement said.

 

“India and France have a strong and long standing prosperous partnership in the railway sector. French Railways (SNCF) in the past has been associated with Indian Railways in conducting speed upgradation study for Delhi-Chandigarh section and station development of Ludhiana and Ambala stations,” Angadi said.

 

“I am sure that this effort will go a long way in further strengthening Indo-French cooperation and will help Indian Railways in positioning its stations to world class standards,” he added.

 

However, this huge step of Infrastructural development brings in question the current scenario of the country and poverty at a glance.

 

As 101 kids died in Bihar, Minister asks the cricket score!

“Kitna wicket gya,” asked the Bihar State health minister Mangal Pandey in between the meeting with Union health minister and Minister of state at the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH). SKMCH is the same hospital where 101 kids have died suffering from AES in the last 15days.

Mr. Panday, who visited the hospital after 13 days of the tragedy, was interested in a cricket match. I wonder how someone did not reply to him, “Sir, 92, that is the number of kids died in the same building you are asking the wickets.” Minister Panday later tweeted about India’s victory from his official Twitter account.

On the same day during a Press Conference with Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan, newly appointed Minister of State for Health and family welfare Ashwani Kumar Choubey was caught sleeping. Earlier we used the term the government is sleeping while mothers are crying for their dead kids, thanks to Mr. Choubey, we literally, saw how government sleeps!

Mr. Choubey was also spotted celebrating Bharatiya Janata Party’s victory in Bhagalpur a day before. He later told reporters, “I was not sleeping; I was pensive.”

It has been 17 days of the epidemic, and none of the opposition leaders in Bihar was heard talking about the tragedy, or even asked questions from the governing party. Well, that is too much to expect I guess, they did not even visit the hospital once not for their photo opportunity. Is the opposition dead in Bihar? If yes, why are they still living in the bungalows paid by our taxes? Move in the car that we pump the fuel for?

Remember, how Bihar had hot seats in the recent election from Begusari to Patna Saheb. Look the state now.

The Bihar state government, who was sleeping for good 14 days, woke up on Saturday with a visit of Mr. Pandey. This was when the death toll had reached 70. A day after Union Health Minister reached the SKMCH with the Minister of State for health and family welfare. If this is what you call efficiency, Bihar will develop in another century!

Thanks to local media, we got to know what is happening in the state else the national media had cricket to cover. While we are criticizing the media, it is essential to thank TV9 Bharatvarsh’s Ajit Anjum who went to ground zero and made the nation see how kids die in the scarcity of doctors and resources in north Bihar’s most significant state hospital.

What we ask today is why should not on moral grounds, the Minister of State Mr. Choubey for sleeping, and State Health Minister Mr. Pandey should offer their organization as soon as the crisis is over. I respect his love for the game, and the state is pretty sure he will go great as state sports minister, but we need someone who can save our children as the health minister.

We also ask, why shouldn’t the opposition parties and their leaders should leave politics as their crippleness in voicing the issues of people are causing much damage to the state.

As per the reports on Monday AES has claimed 101 lives in Muzaffarpur.

BUS AND METRO TRAVEL FREE FOR WOMEN IN DELHI

On June 3rd this year, Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, announced free metro and bus rides for women. While this is a new initiative by the Delhi government, it did spark some debate. After a few days of announcement of it, when Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia took a bus ride, enquiring with approximately fifty women regarding the government’s novel initiative, none of them seemed unhappy about it. A strong wave of women, all over Delhi, expressed their ire over the “freebies”, and stated that they can afford their travel expenses. While this surely shows how independent and self-reliant women are, it simultaneously echoes their already privileged position.

The initiative will prove to be a major leg up for women who are poor and underprivileged, who hail from the lowest rungs of the strata of society. These women work as house-maids, labors, sellers of various items on the bursting streets of Delhi, and are engaged in some other petty work of the same ilk, to earn a living and make both ends meet.

Their monthly income nears somewhere to seven to eight thousand, of which they unfortunately spend two to three thousand on travels, either by e-rickshaws or on foot. Metro, to them, is a luxury.

Added to this, metro is also a relatively safer means of commute system when compared to auto or bus rides. By making it free, not only women from deprived classes will be able enough to save some money, but their safety, which else compromised, also shall be guarded. The safety issue springs up for women of all classes, who are a part of late night commuters by metro.

The Delhi Metro Railway Corporation (DMRC) will incur no losses. The funding of the entire initiative is entirely under the ambit of Delhi government. The mere presumption of tax hike and the skepticism that male citizens will eventually have to bear its brunt holds no solid grounds.

Many critique its underpinning, knotting it with a move to bolster AAP’s vote bank for the upcoming Assembly elections which is due for the year 2020. But again, if at all it is a  ‘poll plank’, it is a better strategy than fomenting religious or communal hatred, or hinting at majoritarianism, or disseminating disinformation to the masses through the sheer power of rhetoric.

This maneuver is one of the many affirmative actions that should be taken to empower women, since centuries of neglect and discrimination. Since it came to power, the Delhi government has taken many steps for the overall public welfare of the city.  This new undertaking should not be leveled with gender equality. It is primarily about empowerment; because, say, have we ever seen men get uneasy with or question the unequal pay to women for the same job?

Even when a woman carries the same number of bricks as that of a man, she would be paid less because of the entrenched, stereotyped dynamics that are still linked to gender. So, free metro and bus travels are rather related to emancipation, than equality.

This inventiveness forms a part of a larger framework of enterprises needed to give freedom to women and enfranchise them.

83 Children died in two weeks as the Bihar Government Sleeps!

The cycle of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome(AES) is back in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur, claiming the lives of 83 children in just 14 days. AES or locally known as ‘Chimki’ or ‘Dimagi Bhukhar’ is not new to the Muzaffarpur region. Since 1995 the syndrome has hit the area almost every year. In fact, in 2014 it killed 120 children of the city. Surprisingly, the administration still does not seem to be prepared, neither it is an election issue for the state.

Around 288 children have been admitted in two major hospitals of Muzaffarpur since June 1, while 197 have been taken to state-run Shri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH), 91 were taken to a private hospital (Kejriwal hospital). They were all suspected of AES.

According to a press release issued by Muzaffarpur district administration, 83 children had died till Sunday morning at the SKMCH and Kejriwal Hospital.

The attendees of the victims have been claiming that there are no doctors at SKMCH during the night. “My daughter is in the ICU room of SKMCH. The toll is increasing day by day. There were no doctors after, and only nurses are here. There are four bodies inside the ICU,” Mohammad Aftab told news agency ANI.

Another attendant, Sunil Ram, said, “My four-year-old daughter was admitted to hospital on Saturday. She was declared dead today. There is no facility in SKMCH.”

Meanwhile, CM Nitish Kumar has announced an ex gratia of Rs. 4 lakh each to the families of the children who died due to AES in Muzaffarpur.

Earlier this Saturday, Bihar state health minister Mangal Pandey visited SKMCH after 14 days of the epidemic and said, “We are trying everything and anything that can save children’s lives. Everything is being made available, from medicines to doctors. We have even called doctors and nurses from AIIMS in Patna.”

“There is a protocol regarding what kind of medicines and facilities should be given, and we are doing the same. We are monitoring things regularly and trying to save our children,” Pandey said.

However, a senior doctor while talking to TV9 Bharatvarsh claimed that “there are less medicine, lack of ventilators and doctors. We have mostly student nurses who are taking care of hundreds of patients.”

“There are four doctors that include one junior resident doctor and two interns with the senior resident doctor who is handling four ICUs in SKMCH” alleged the senior resident doctor to TV9 Bharatvarsh. He further added that “the ideal ratio during such emergency needs to be two patient per doctor.”

On Sunday Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan arrived at SKMCH to review public health measures for containment and management of the AES. Union Minister had previously said the Centre was continually monitoring the situation and supporting state health authorities to manage the encephalitis cases. The minister was greeted in the state capital with black flags displayed by workers of the Jan Adhikar Party Loktantrik who shouted slogans against him.

There has been a popular theory that connects AES with lichi harvesting. Let us find out what the researchers have found out.

The Bangladesh AES Outbreak

A similar AES outbreak has been reported nine times between 2008 and 2016 in Lichi harvesting area of Bangladesh. A research conducted by the team led by British Chemist Saiful Islam at the International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research in Dhaka investigated the 2012 outbreak in Bangladesh that affected 14 children 13 of whom died within 20 hours of the onset of AES symptoms. Based on the epidemiological and clinical analysis, they concluded that it was triggered by the liberal application of multiple, highly toxic pesticides – including endosulfan that is banned in 80 countries – in orchards where children used to play and pick up fallen fruit to eat without washing.

The Indo-US based report Denies Islam’s conclusion.

An indo-us study that investigated Muzaffarpur’s 2014 AES outbreak ruled out pesticides as a contributor and blamed the outbreak on naturally occurring toxins, hypoglycin-A and methylene-cyclo-propargylglycine (MCPG) in litchi seeds and pulp. Its authors had claimed it to be “the first comprehensive confirmation that this recurring outbreak illness is associated with litchi consumption and toxicity from both toxins.”

However, a popular argument that questions the above case asks why doesn’t the outbreak reaches to different regions where lichi is consumed.

A 2017 report published in natureasia.com claims that both the outbreaks in India and Bangladesh are “two different diseases both associated temporally and spatially with the litchi harvesting season.”

There is a need to understand both the reports or a new study to find out the solution to the epidemic. There is also a need for better outreach program by the state Government, state health care units, and local citizens in order to not let the cycle repeat.

While writing this story, one more kid died in SKMCH.

If you are in Muzaffarnagar right now, TheMatchbox.co urges you to help the nation understand the situation. Use #biharmedicalcrisis and put stories on social media. If you can volunteer and help the administration, please reach out. We cannot let our children die, and they are more than just numbers.