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”

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”

The Larger Implications of Films like ‘Padmaavat’

I only went for the popcorn. And as far as that was concerned, it was a good evening. The movie, however, was an altogether different story.

Based on everything I’d read/heard, I knew that Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Padmaavat’ would likely infuriate me, so I made an effort to not take it too seriously from the start. In the process, I even managed to enjoy three quarters of the movie. The dialogues were insufferably trite but the film was visually mesmerising. Continue reading “The Larger Implications of Films like ‘Padmaavat’”