Preserving Indian Democracy in the Face of Rising Hindu Nationalism

This article was originally published on Waging Nonviolence.

After the Indian government’s decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, people across India answered a nationwide call for protests issued by left-wing parties on Aug. 7. Article 370 had provided the state with considerable autonomy and was one of the conditions for its accession to the Indian union in 1947.

Shabnam Hashmi, social activist and co-founder of the non-governmental organization Act Now for Harmony and Democracy, or ANHAD, livestreamed the protests from New Delhi.

She panned her camera to show protesters restricted by barricades at Jantar Mantar, a site where regular protests occur in the capital. “As you can see, the space — which has already been confined so much for protests — even in that area we are not being allowed to enter,” she commented. “This is the state of Indian democracy now.” Continue reading “Preserving Indian Democracy in the Face of Rising Hindu Nationalism”

Dispatches: Who Makes the Clothes on Our Backs?

In 2010, I travelled to Bangladesh with the rest of my graduate school cohort to study various developmental approaches implemented in the country. Bangladesh, in many ways, is a prime example of the success that locally pioneered methods of just and sustainable development can achieve. And yet, this development is accompanied by its own set of problems, particularly with regard to the country’s massive garment industry.

Bangladesh is the world’s second largest exporter of readymade apparel, second only to China. Garments constitute 80% of the nation’s earnings from exports, and in 2018, Bangladesh exported clothing worth over $32 billion, mainly to Europe and the United States. Continue reading “Dispatches: Who Makes the Clothes on Our Backs?”

On Fashion & Feminism

An excerpt from my piece titled ‘The Economics of Fashion and Feminism’ that appeared in the pilot issue of MUJER!, a bilingual feminist fashion magazine.

Our obsession with female beauty – with rearing, celebrating, enhancing, preserving and recapturing it – has inevitably led to the beauty industry being valued at billions of dollars. Contrastingly, the idea of embracing our natural beauty, evidenced by initiatives such as the Dove Real Beauty campaign, and the clever marketing of products using feminist ideals – a concept aptly named ‘femvertising’ – have opened up further avenues for profit. But why bottle and sell confidence to adolescent girls and women when we could be raising self-assured girls who know better than to tie their worth to their appearance? Continue reading “On Fashion & Feminism”

Strawberries from Palestine

This article was originally published on The Hindu thREAD.

I shuffle through the songs on my playlist restlessly while the bus remains firmly lodged in traffic. I was supposed to meet Zahra at 11 a.m., and I’m already half an hour late. Zahra sounds calm as she replies to my apologetic text, assuring me that she understands and would wait for me. Continue reading “Strawberries from Palestine”