India Insight

“Homelands” exhibit in Delhi examines identity through art

Indians give high importance to the concept of identity and kinship, especially in a land that is home to hundreds upon hundreds of different languages and ethnic groups. Indian curator Latika Gupta explores this theme in “Homelands”, an exhibition of works by 28 leading contemporary British artists, all wrestling with the idea of what “home” means in the 21st century.

The artists whose works are displayed include four Turner Prize winners, Jeremy Deller, Richard Long, Grayson Perry and Gillian Wearing. Work by World Press Photo (2007) winner Tim Hetherington, who was killed in Libya, also is on display.

“I wanted to see what it is that makes up our idea of what our identity is. Is it our language that we speak? Is it the place that we come from?” said Gupta. “The exhibition really hopes to raise a set of questions rather than provide answers.”

The theme of the exhibition holds special relevance to Indians, Gupta said.

“Most of the works in the exhibition, the themes that the art addresses, find complete resonance with us here, especially questions of language, family ties, communities, religion. These are the things that we most often use to define ourselves as Indians,” she said.

The exhibition features more than 80 works of photography, painting, print, video and sculpture drawn from the permanent collection of The British Council. It runs at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Janpath, until Feb. 14. It will go on display in Kolkata in March, Mumbai in April and Bangalore in the last week of June.

Delhi rape case: Verma committee report dredges up old stereotypes

Like many journalists who follow Indian affairs, I have been digging through the 657 pages of the Verma committee report on rape in India and attitudes toward women in that country. You can read about its main conclusion in our wire story, namely:

India needs to implement existing laws, not introduce tougher punishment such as the death penalty, to prevent rape, a government panel set up to review legislation said on Wednesday, following a brutal gang rape that shook the nation. Panel head, justice J.S. Verma, rejected outright the idea of the death penalty for rape cases, a demand from some protesters and politicians in the days after the 23-year-old physiotherapy student was attacked on a moving bus.

There’s lots more to examine in the report, which was commissioned after the gang rape and death of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi aboard a moving bus. I’ll try to highlight on this blog in coming days. The committee cited plenty of case law in its report, and it came across one opinion that it said “seems to have stereotyped Indian and Western women in a somewhat unorthodox way.” That’s putting it kindly. Here is an excerpt that highlights a decidedly retrograde view toward women — particularly in the West. It’s from a 1983 Supreme Court case,  Bharvada Gohinbhai Hirjibhai v. State of Gujarat, in which a civil servant appealed his conviction of the rape of a 10-year-old girl and a 12-year-old girl.

Delhi gang rape: Fast-track courts, juvenile laws don’t guarantee justice

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily of Thomson Reuters)
During the anti-rape protests across India in December, two slogans stood out among all the placards and banners — “Hang the rapists” and “We want justice”.

It was a case that stirred national debate and forced the state government in New Delhi to set up five fast-track courts to try sexual offences against women.
It’s nothing new. The Indian government set up 1,734 fast-track courts in the country a decade ago. The purpose was to quickly clear pending cases. But some legal experts say that the courts are not always a good thing, and many of these courts disbanded after the government stopped funding them.

“Fast-track courts were set up in Rajasthan to try some rape cases, but were forced to shut down due to ‘high costs’,” Supreme Court lawyer Pinky Anand told Reuters in an email.

Delhi police rightly targeted in gang rape case – Kiran Bedi

The gang rape of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi that sparked public outrage across the country has also put the spotlight on policing in India’s “rape capital”.

Kiran Bedi, a former police officer who won the Ramon Magsaysay award in 1994 for her work in the city, says the Dec. 16 gang rape could have been prevented.

Bedi told Reuters in an email interview that a crime prevention plan and effective police training could help turn things around in New Delhi.

Photo gallery: Cold snap hits Delhi

Delhi winters typically are short, but they also get cold. This winter has been one of the worst in more than four decades. Temperatures have fallen to just above the freezing mark, and on Thursday rose to no more than 9.8 degrees Celsius, or 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Media reports say over 100 people have died in northern India as a result of the cold.

Temperatures like these are intolerable for people in a city like Delhi, where many people spend their days and nights on the streets in much warmer weather. (Temperatures in the summer have reached highs of 49 Celsius, or 120 Fahrenheit.) Even if they have homes, they often lack heating and insulation. Here are some photos of people in Delhi during the cold snap:

Cold, they say, helps you work up an appetite for all sorts of things…

 

… and for street food:

 

And let’s not forget peanuts. The more you have them, the more you want them…

Responsibility or censorship: why Bollywood should pick

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters Corp.)

The mother and father of the 23-year-old Delhi gang-rape victim were cremating their daughter’s body around the same time I discovered Honey Singh, now lately known for his notorious song, “Ch**t,” or “Cu*t.” The song revolves around the singer’s vision of satisfying a woman’s lust, followed by beating her with a shoe and then moving on to other things.

While India convulses over its people’s shameful treatment of women, its inadequate rape laws and questions about how to change an entire society, Singh’s star has been rising in Bollywood. The industry apparently likes what it hears.

Yo Yo Honey Singh: A vulgar obsession or our own creation?

(WARNING: Post contains graphic language. Reader discretion is advised. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily of Thomson Reuters)

The gang rape and death of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi this month has sparked debates on many things from an Indian society centered on the well being of men to the tendency of Bollywood films to portray women largely as mothers or sex objects. Now, some of that criticism is sticking to Punjabi rap star Honey Singh.

Singh, whom the Indian media have called a youth icon, is facing calls for a ban on his New Year’s Eve performance at a hotel in Gurgaon, the massive suburb southwest of Delhi – and as this blog post heads out the door, NDTV reports that the show indeed has been cancelled.

Photo gallery: vigils after Delhi rape victim dies

Here are some photographs from our India Insight contributors that show vigils following the death on Saturday of a 23-year-old woman after six men raped her aboard a bus in Delhi on Dec. 16. We will update this post as more photos arrive. Thanks to Soumya Bandyopadhyay in Kolkata, Anoo  Bhuyan and Anuja Jaiman in Delhi and Vidya L. Nathan in Bangalore. Apologies for any inconsistent sizing or lack of uniformity. Note for non-Hindi readers or speakers: the sign in the first photograph says: “My voice is higher than my skirt.”

Delhi (Anoo Bhuyan):

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kolkata:

 

 

 

 

Delhi (Anuja Jaiman):

 

 

Bangalore:

 

 

 

 

 

You can see many more images related to this story from our Reuters photographers as well.

Delhi gang rape victim dies: elsewhere on the web

 The 23-year-old woman whose gang rape sparked protests and a national debate about violence against women in India died of her injuries on Saturday, prompting a security lockdown in New Delhi and an acknowledgement from the prime minister that social change is needed.

Bracing for a new wave of protests, authorities deployed thousands of policemen, closed 10 metro stations and banned vehicles from some main roads in the heart of New Delhi, where demonstrators have converged since the attack to demand improved women’s rights. Hundreds of people staged peaceful protests at two locations on Saturday morning.

The 23-year-old medical student, severely beaten, raped and thrown out of a moving bus in New Delhi two weeks ago, had been flown to Singapore in a critical condition by the Indian government on Thursday for specialist treatment.   (Read the story here)

Photo gallery: Old Delhi book fair is no page turner

The Ramlila Maidan in old Delhi is a reasonably eventful place. That’s what made the National Book Fair stand out; it was practically abandoned. On the second day of the event, there were fewer book stalls, unoccupied slots, and few enough visitors that you could count them on your fingertips. Then there was one organiser bellowing into his mobile phone about a lack of adequate power, and bored stall owners like this man:

Stall owners I spoke to said the show disappointed them in part because there was a lack of publicity. Another said that the location in Old Delhi wasn’t a good idea. But I managed to get shots of visitors:

As I went from stall to stall, I realised the collection on display was dated. Look at the picture below of a stall offering rock-bottom prices for books that are available at the nearest hawker near my house or at the Sunday Daryaganj book market.

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