Sabarimala Temple is located in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala, India. It is an ancient temple of god Ayyappan. Ayyappan is an eternal celibate (Bhramachari) Hindu god. In 12th century, Manikandan prince of Pandalam Dynasty meditated at Shabarimala Temple. It is believed that, Ayyappan visited him and he became an “Avatar” of God Ayyappan.
The Travancore Derasworm Board (TDB) manages the Temple. It is also considered as the Second Largest Annual Pilgrimage after Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The Sabarimala Temple which only opens seasonally is in middle of at Pariyer Tiger Reserve on top of the hill. One has to pass through Tiger forest and a traverse a difficult path to reach Sabarimala temple.
There are special rules for pilgrims to visit the Ayyappan temple. Devotees have to follow 41 days Austerity Period (Vritham). In those 41 days, Pilgrims have to bathe twice a day with cold water, should use special clothes, wear special Mala of Rudrakshya and Tulsi, have special vegetarian diet, should be barefoot, be celibate, control the anger, fully devote themselves to God and cannot cut their nails and hair, among others.
Women aged between 10 to 50 are not allowed to enter Sabarimala Temple. So this temple was in highlight since last few decades.
Issue in Court
In September of 2018, the issue of disallowing the women of age group 10-50 inside temple went to the court in the name of discrimination against women. The Temple’s management told Supreme Court that women of menstruating age can’t be allowed on account of ” Purity .” The Supreme Court reached the verdict allowing women of all ages in the Ayyappan Temple, Kerala.
The Five Judge Constitution Bench verdict came 4:1 in favor of lifting the ban saying that banning the entry of women in Sabarimala Temple is an act of gender discrimination and the practice violates the rights of Hindu women. Interestingly, the only woman judge on the panel opposed this by saying, “the issues of deep Religious sentiments should not be ordinarily interfered by the court.”
Case in Context
Although Supreme Court allowed women of all ages to enter the temple, temple board and locals didn’t allow women to enter the temple. Many women attempted to enter but they were stopped. Some women had attempted to enter the temple on December 24 amidst mass protests, accompanied by a 50-member police battalion. While less than a kilometer away from the hilltop, the women were forced to climb down to the base camp at Pamba. Millions of Women formed “Human Chain” or “Women’s Wall” of 620 km in Kerala in protest. The “Women’s Wall” was organised by the state’s left-wing coalition government.
On January 2, 2019, two Kerala women, Bindu and Kanakadurga, made history by setting foot in the Sabarimala temple. As soon as Temple Management knew that women under 50 were there, Temple was closed and the “purification” process inside the temple started. On the very next day, a Sri Lankan woman also tried to enter but she was obstructed in the stairs.
Kerala meanwhile continues to be on the boil as local groups went out on streets to protest the entry of women at Sabarimala. They are supported by BJP and RSS. Also they are blaming the Communist Chief minister for breaking of old tradition of Temple. Businesses and transport services have been hit the worst in Kerala. Meanwhile, Supreme Court has agreed to hear in open court review petitions in Jan 22, challenging its verdict allowing entry of women of all ages into Sabarimala temple.
The Kerala High Court on Tuesday (Jan 8) observed that Sabarimala is meant for devotees and stated that the state government should be able to identify those with a ‘hidden agenda’ who intend to ruin the peace at the shrine.
Now, final decision will be given by Supreme Court, whether it will restore the Ban on Women of age 10 to 50 or stands on its previous decision to lift the ban inside Sabarimala Temple.
What do you think about this Issue? Is it Gender Discrimination or not? Should the ban on women of age group 10-50 should be restored?? Should court interfere on religious beliefs or not? Your thoughts and views regarding this issue are welcome in the comments section.
Citizenship Act: What’s the issue
Many from Nepal seem quite confused when it comes to the debate on citizenship provision in New Constitution and I reckon that’s because the constitution came in rush without much of discourse and debates and lot other factors like nationalist rhetoric. So here is my attempt to explain everything in very simplistic way.
What constitution has said about citizenship
There are two kinds of citizenship:
- Citizenship by descent.
- Naturalized citizenship
What’s the difference
Citizenship by descent is quite superior to naturalized citizenship in sense, in order for a person to be elected, nominated or appointed to the office of President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief of State, Chief Minister, Speaker of a State Assembly, and chief of a security body, the person must have obtained the citizenship of Nepal by descent.
Which basically means if you have naturalized citizenship, you can never become President or Prime Minister or Chief Justice or anything mentioned above. Naturalized citizenship is basically designed for people who would like to obtain Nepali citizenship though didn’t have ancestral root in Nepal.
Ya, in a way, it makes sense for not letting naturalized citizen to become president of Nepal or Prime Minister of Nepal. Up to here, no issue.
So what’s the issue
This is the most complex part. So let’s go slow from here.
Neha and Raj are siblings. They both got married and both have children from their respective partners. As their children reached 18, they both went to get citizenship by descent for their children.
Neha’s child can get citizenship by descent if:
Clause a. Her husband holds Nepali citizenship.
Clause b. Her child was born in Nepal.
Clause c. Father of her child is not traceable.
Which means, Neha’s child can never get citizenship by descent even though she herself is citizen by descent if:
1. Her husband is a foreigner.
2. Her child was born outside Nepal.
3. She didn’t want to lie or hide father’s identity.
So, Neha must prove that either her husband is Nepali, or her child was born in Nepal, or she should simply lie that she does not know where the father of her child is. If she fails to provide any, her child will only get naturalized citizenship which means her child can never ever become president or prime minister of Nepal.
Whereas, Raj’s child can get citizenship by descent without any clause.
Can you see the difference??
Do we ask the same question to a man? “if he is married to a foreigner, he should get citizenship for his child from his wife’s country. Why Nepal?”
We don’t. Why? Because we are culturally wired in patriarchy.
Sufferers of this constitutional provision will not be Nepali girls marrying Nepali guys. Sufferers will be the following:
- A Nepali girl married to a foreign guy and got abandoned later with a child.
- A Nepali girl, who while working abroad, got impregnated through exploitation.
- A Nepali girl, who wants her child to be remained as Nepali though married to a foreigner.
- A couple (Nepali woman and foreign man) who wants to settle in Nepal and helps their children grow and reach to their full potential as freely and openly as any Nepalese couple by descent.
This will not be a case if is a Nepali man. If his wife (foreigner) abandons him, his child can still get citizenship by descent. If he wants his child to remain as Nepali though married to a foreigner, he can make that happen. If he wants to settle in Nepal with his foreign gf/wife , he can and still help his children grow and dream to their full potential as freely and openly as any Nepalese couple by descent.
Another issue is,
There is a provision though that will let child from such women get citizenship by descent. All she has to do is lie and tell “I don’t know where the father is.”
11.5 A person who is born in Nepal from a woman who is a citizen of Nepal and has resided in Nepal and whose father is not traced shall be provided with the citizenship of Nepal by descent.
How awful, sad, frustrating, and sick can a constitutional clause be that is designed to work as loophole, to encourage contempt, practice lies, and make someone feel terrible?? Why can’t her child be given that goddamn citizenship by descent without too much drama and questioning??
There are thousands of Nepali women married to Indian men. Now what?? we give citizenship by descent to all those children?? No way!!
Boom! Nationalist rhetoric.
Why can’t we set uniform criteria for both male and female? Maybe something like, a child, whose father or mother is of foreign nationality, must have stayed in Nepal for X number of years to qualify for citizenship by descent. That would be win win for all.
To sum it up,
A brother gets married to an American girl. A sister gets married to a Korean guy. They both have babies from their respective partners. After some years, they got divorced.
Brother comes back to Nepal with his child and sister with her child.
18 years passed since then. Child from both have grown up. Time to get the citizenship. Brother’s child gets citizenship by descent and sister’s child gets naturalized citizenship. One can dream to become president of Nepal or Prime minister, and another’s can’t….just because she is not man.
That’s discrimination. Please don’t justify it showing people from other side of borders.
Why freedom of expression matters and its limitations
According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, freedom of expression is the right of every individual to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Freedom of expression is a wild game. At first, it all looks mess — everyone talking garbage. After sometime, garbage will get into a logical argument. Then, slowly logics will start replacing illogical voices. Within these logical ones, more logical arguments will happen. Finally, it will hit the limit of logic.
So, to rightly understand freedom of expression, understand that freedom of speech and expression have common limitations or boundaries relate to libel, slander, obscenity, sedition, incitement, classified information, copyright violation, right to privacy perjury, etc. As long as your freedom of expression does not fall under those things, you are all set to go exercise the right.
You know what does that mean?
It means, you are given rights and freedom so that you can prevent harm to others, so that you can utilise your liberty for your personal happiness which shall eventually benefit society/community. You are not given rights and freedom, many didn’t die for your rights and freedom, to grant you a power to harm others.
Information Technology Bill: All that you need to know
The bill includes detailed provisions on legal recognition of electronic records, electronic signature, protection and confidentiality of information, domain registration and management, public e-service, digital signature, provisions related to social media, information technology court, national information technology centre.
On Thursday, government tabled Information Technology Bill in the House of Representatives causing yet another outrage among people. Some provisions of the bill have created fear and suspicion among people. Critics are worried about possible abuse of this law by government and its authorities to deliberately incapacitate free speech of people.
What is this Bill about?
Ministry of Communication and Information Technology prepared and tabled the bill in parliament with an objective to have legal provision for the development of information technology, to promote, monitor and regulate it, maintain cyber security, control cyber crime and regulate the usage of social media in the country. Upon approval by the Federal Parliament, the bill will shape as an Act, replacing the existing Electronic Transaction Act, 2063.
What does this bill include?
This bill includes detailed provisions on legal recognition of electronic records, electronic signature, protection and confidentiality of information, domain registration and management, public e-service, digital signature, provisions related to social media, information technology court, national information technology centre.
What’s all the fuss about?
However, the major debate is on the provision related to Social Media. Clause 91 of the bill makes it mandatory for social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others alike to register themselves in the country. They also need to open their office in the country and abide by its laws, rules and regulations. If not, government holds the authority and power to ban them.
Some provisions of the bill are ambiguous. For instance, Clause 94 restricts anyone from posting improper contents on social media. Clause 96 of the Bill permits government and its authorities to impose penalty of up to 15 Lakhs and up to 5 years of imprisonment for posting such improper contents on social networking sites. But what exactly constitute that “improper contents”? The definition is vague and can be misused by the government to target its critics. If the bill is passed as it is, there is an actual threat of government being more authoritarian and despotic.
Should we be worried if the bill passes?
After all this outrage, there is slim chance of Federal Parliament endorsing it without making necessary amendments. Our Constitution guarantees Freedom of Opinion and Expression under Article 17 (2) (a) as a Fundamental Right of the citizen. Nepal is one of the signatories of the UDHR and holds the compulsive responsibility to implement it. To guarantee Right to Freedom of Speech is binding for the government as it is a vital part of Customary International Law.
The bill hence, cannot snatch away that liberty from us. But by tabling it in the parliament, the Oli-led government has once more indulged itself into a nasty controversy. The damage has been done. What they’ll do to reconcile is all that matters.