The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

QUEER, LGBT, 377..FUNCTIONAL VOCAB GOT ENRICHED..

We had a Mexican batch mate in Communication course at Banaras Hindu University.
That was not so long ago.
Abraham had travelled all the way from that part of the world to India to fit it in his itinerary of career advancement. We made good batch mates initially. There was something peculiar about him which I didn't notice or could not take seriously at that time. He would walk with me but would abstain holding my hands and would be very cautious about it. Sometimes he would ask me about people being gay or lesbian when he would see people walking holding their hands. I did what I had to say. I would go on explaining it as part of Indian culture and emotive bond that we spontaneously inculcate in our relations and we know, for sure, for most of us, we are natural with all these body languages. I can say I had been able to convince him about it that it was not so prevalent though it was not absent from the society. I had a perception like most of us that it was something very very restricted in occurrence, certainly not millions of cases with around 4.5 million cases of HIV/AIDS in India involving men having sex with men (MSMs) as mentioned by previous Health Minister A Ramadoss last year.

But that was not long ago.

Then I was not aware of it that it would become a sort of national debate that it has become now. It is good to see a debate growing on a sensitive issue on a wide scale and that too in a span of few years. 377 is the buzz word now. Delhi HC decision to decriminalize homosexual sex between consenting adults is certainly a landmark for an individual's identity. True, it raises many debatable questions; we need to accept it as a part of the process. Foremost factor is the value of human dignity. We, human beings, are basically emotional creatures and need some outlet to depend on and we go on to develop relations within the circle. It may be anyone; even one’s own self, whosoever clicks. Choosing someone as your intimate one is your private decision. People should be left with their lives as long as it is not interfering directly with lives of others. But there are bottlenecks and bottlenecks. The religious leaders, across the section, have closed their ranks against it. Government which had not so differing voices before and just after the Delhi HC decision seems divided now and seeking more time from the apex court. But then the government was never very clear about it with differing views of Health Ministry, Home Ministry and Law Ministry on the matter since Naz Foundation started a legal battle in 2002. And so this divide within the ranks of the government was just a matter of time on an issue which has religious tentacles and therefore electoral prospects.

That was not a long ago.

Homosexuality has been a sensitive issue. It dates back to ancient times. It has both positive and negative connotations if we go with the scholarship available on texts of ancient India. While Manu Smriti, which laid a code of conduct for human behaviour, has implicit and negative references to it, Kamasutra is vivid about it not going into debates and implications of societal norms related to homosexuality. Many other scriptures have mentions of homosexuality too. What is important here, to infer from all these, that homosexuality has been an issue, though this time it has got a wide fervour and we can go on finding why this time?

But in a country where talking about straight sex is highly suppressed, even considered a taboo, talking about homosexuality was no less than a sin. Homosexuality was not at all a matter of debate. What is important here to note how it was subjugated to our phony ways in handling sensitive but unorthodox issues? True change is happening, we have started discussing about sex education and advocating for talking about sex in open; still we have varying and largely opposing counter-demands, violent retributions and retracting tactics every time we seem to have arrived at a decision to implement something unorthodox according to our societal norms; still we have not been able to make sex education a matter of national debate so as to make it universal, so as to induct it into school education. We cannot do that till we leave our escapism at bay. Let’s accept it, let’s not divert now.

When talking about subjugation of homosexuality, it is clear it had to happen but how come, in just eight years, the same has become a matter of national debate. It is important to be probed. It is inferential and it is implicative. It can throw light on the way we think, the societal norms that tend to thrive. Also it leads us to ponder over another big issue, issue of insipid culture of debate in our country on matters that might have far reaching implications. Had it not been like this, we would have a much better society, we would have well received outcomes for well conceived plans. Amartya Sen says we Indians are basically argumentative; it is something ingrained in our nature and so in our culture. He goes at length in explaining this in his book, which too, traces antiquity to modernity of culture and a debating Indian.

That was not a long ago.

Why then this insipid culture of debate? Probably, we all know the answers. We have stopped caring if we are being heard. We react, we boil internally, then we go back to do the usual things as nothing has happened. We have become more compromising as a society. Had it not been like this, we would have raging debates and not just politicking over issues like reservation for affirmative action, reservation for equal opportunities, uniform civil code, caste discriminations and internal violence, sex education, educational reforms, illegal immigrants, still higher illiteracy and poverty rate and so on and so forth, even after 60 years of independence. Every such debate has been subjected to subjugation in name of societal norms, aping alien culture, national interest and what not. The policy ballooning has been very well carved out, it seems. We need not go into the statistical details of national and international agencies to prove it. Instead of focusing on basic issues to uplift living standards of the last man, what we have seen largely, is foreplay of words.

That was since a long ago. That was not a long ago.

It makes it a queer case the way homosexuality, the Queer phenomenon, has become a sort of national debate in just few years. But do we have ways to assess what majority of people on street think about it. We do not have. At one hand the debate focuses on rights of an individual identity, on the other hand it is an ironical case study given the pace it could get. By that I don't intend to hurt anyone's sentiments. I am trying to be objective here from a macro viewpoint, diverting for a while from an individual viewpoint. Ironical because why couldn't we have this sort of debate on issues of far more inevitability to the texture of our society. Child marriage has been a curse, but its prevalence in this age compels a media house to produce a chart topping show. Have we ever had a national debate on child marriages. Had it been there, application of the law would not be so insipid. Similar is the case with dowry incidents and widow re-marriages.

How long will it go like this? We do not have answer.

Certainly the Delhi HC decision is a landmark for individual identity and freedom of expression. Personal vanity has to be respected at any cost. LGBT community has always been part of any society. They were sidelined. The mainstreaming movement started in other cultures had to come to India. We simply can't ignore valid human rights given to someone in a different culture in name of societal, religious or spiritual norms in our culture. We should wish the apex court would ratify the decision. Queer, LGBT, 377, Homosexuality should remain part of the functional vocab. We should wish the debate would continue to include the LGBT community in the mainstream to achieve the objective of a more homogeneous texture of the social sphere. We should wish it will lead to a culture of comprehensive debates on other issues.

That should not take so long. We can wish only.

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