POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Mar 29, 2015 AT 20:33 IST ,  Edited At: Mar 29, 2015 20:33 IST

Homi Adajaniya and Deepkia Padukone have collaborated to create ‘My Choice’ for Vogue’s initiative on women empowerment. 99 Mumbai women came together to speak up for “their choice for equality, be it social, political, economic, sexual”, Vogue India writes on Youtube.

The video has invariably gone viral, especially after various media sites shared it claiming that the video was so powerful that it would leave one with goosebumps.

Undoubtedly, the video is rather empowering for thousands of women who live under the constant shadow of patriarchy and the 'log kya kahenge' phobia.

But let the emotions expressed in this video not be confused with feminism.

To start with, feminism as a movement aims at gender equality, and as far as this video is concerned, it seems to have missed that mark.

While it does deal with a woman's need to assert her independence and talks about all the things that are her choice, a large chunk of it seems to be trying to prove women superior to their male counterparts, which is absolutely not what feminism is about. The video is more about privilege, less about equality.

It is this misinterpreted version of feminism that leads so many women to think that when they board a public transport, a man has to get up and offer her his seat. That is not equality at all. It is called special treatment and is yet another form of discrimination.

The voiceover in the video says: “My pleasure may be your pain.” That sentence rings of indifference and the freedom to choose in no way means the right to be indifferent. 

What if a man were to say that? "My pleasure may be your pain" 

Isn't that the sort of attitude that we are fighting against where one gender thinks the other's feelings or choices are insignificant compared to their own?

To carry forward the fight for women empowerment, it has to be understood that we are fighting for a world where everyone is viewed equally, and no one deserves special treatment.

"I am the universe, infinite in every direction" also adds a certain ego maniacal quality to the whole thing. If a woman is infinite, so is a man and every human being, no matter what their gender or sexual orientation deserves euqal respect and the freedom to live life the way they want to. 

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POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Mar 29, 2015 AT 20:33 IST, Edited At: Mar 29, 2015 20:33 IST
POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Mar 24, 2015 AT 14:51 IST ,  Edited At: Mar 24, 2015 14:51 IST
The Supreme Court today struck down a provision in the cyber law which provides power to arrest a person for posting allegedly "offensive" content on websites.
Terming liberty of thought and expression as "cardinal", a bench of justices J Chelameswar and R F Nariman said, "The public's right to know is directly affected by section 66A of the Information Technology Act."
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POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Mar 24, 2015 AT 14:51 IST, Edited At: Mar 24, 2015 14:51 IST
POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Mar 17, 2015 AT 23:22 IST ,  Edited At: Mar 17, 2015 23:22 IST

With BJP-ruled Maharashtra and Haryana banning the slaughter and consumption of cows and putting in place strict laws for those who kill the animal, one wonders if the reason is strictly based on religious reasons. 

Cows maybe referred to as 'Gaumata' by many in India, but it seems that even the RSS ideologue M S Golwalkar who led the movement against cow slaughter in the 1960s did not cite a religious reason for banning cow slaughter but a political one.  

'Amul-man' Verghese Kurien writes in his autobiography, I too had a dream

Golwalkar was a very small man — barely five feet — but when he got angry fire spewed out of his eyes. What impressed me most about him was that he was an intensely patriotic Indian. You could argue that he was going about preaching his brand of nationalism in a totally wrong way but nobody could question his sincerity. One day after one of our meetings when he had argued passionately for banning cow slaughter, he came to me and asked, 'Kurien, shall I tell you why I'm making an issue of this cow slaughter business?'

I said to him, 'Yes, please explain to me because otherwise you are a very intelligent man. Why are you doing this?'

'I started a petition to ban cow slaughter actually to embarrass the government,' he began explaining to me in private. 'I decided to collect a million signatures for this to submit to the Rashtrapati. In connection with this work I travelled across the country to see how the campaign was progressing. My travels once took me to a village in UP. There I saw in one house, a woman, who having fed and sent off her husband to work and her two children to school, took this petition and went from house to house to collect signatures in that blazing summer sun. I wondered to myself why this woman should take such pains. She was not crazy to be doing this. This is when I realized that the woman was actually doing it for her cow, which was her bread and butter, and I realized how much potential the cow has.

'Look at what our country has become. What is good is foreign: what is bad is Indian. Who is a good Indian? It's the fellow who wears a suit and a tie and puts on a hat. Who is a bad Indian? The fellow who wears a dhoti. If this nation does not take pride in what it is and merely imitates other nations, how can it amount to anything? Then I saw that the cow has potential to unify the country – she symbolizes the culture of Bharat. So I tell you what, Kurien, you agree with me to ban cow slaughter on this committee and I promise you, five years from that date, I will have united the country. What I'm trying to tell you is that I'm not a fool, I'm not a fanatic. I'm just cold-blooded about this. I want to use the cow to bring out our Indianness, So please cooperate with me on this.'

In the late 1960s, the Government of India had set up a committee to look into the banning of cow slaughter. It was chaired by a former chief justice of India, Justice A.K. Sarkar. Golwalkar, the Shankaracharya of Puri and Dr Verghese Kurien were members of the committee. Pushpa M. Bhargava, the former vice-chairman of the National Knowledge Commission had been summoned by this committee.

In an interview to Outlook in 2014, Bhargava, the founder-director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad spoke about his experiences with this committee:

Golwalkar asked me how milk and meat were made in the body. I said that they were made by basically the same processes. He then asked me as to why, in that case, I ate meat and but did not drink milk. I answered that by the same logic I would like to ask him as to why he drank milk and did not eat meat. This made him extremely agitated and angry. It took quite a while for the chairman and the Shankaracharya to quieten him down. 

In the interview, he claimed that ban on cow slaughter based on religious grounds is illogical:

Incidentally, there's no ban on cow slaughter in our ancient religious texts, and eating beef is expressly permitted. So even a ban on cow slaughter on religious grounds is unreasonable. 

And he too admitted that the demand on cow slaughter was for political reasons:

Off the record, Golwalkar had told Kurien, who narrated it to me, that it was actually just politics. It is now a heady mix of politics and religion in the garb of Hindutva. There is absolutely no scientific evidence for it.

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POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Mar 17, 2015 AT 23:22 IST, Edited At: Mar 17, 2015 23:22 IST
POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Mar 12, 2015 AT 22:21 IST ,  Edited At: Mar 12, 2015 22:21 IST

Truth is bitter and reality is a bitter pill to swallow, going by which one can say that anything that puts an end to delusions or puts something straight is never quite pleasant.

Funnily, medicines too have a reputation of being bitter and this time, we aren't just talking figuratively. It is but natural that one may therefore feel drawn to medicines that are nothing but little sugary pills, the one that your homeopath gives you, because who doesn't like sweets? But you can't simply be sweet with the bad guys, can you?

Homeopaths believe that illness-causing substances can, in minute doses, treat people who are unwell.

By diluting these substances in water or alcohol, homeopaths claim the resulting mixture retains a "memory" of the original substance that triggers a healing response in the body.

Many studies have been conducted on these claims so far.

But the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has for the first time thoroughly reviewed 225 research papers on homeopathy to come up with its position statement:

Based on the assessment of the evidence of effectiveness of homeopathy, NHMRC concludes that there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective. People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness.

An independent company also reviewed the studies and appraised the evidence to prevent bias.

NHMRC CEO Warwick Anderson said:

All medical treatments and interventions should be underpinned by reliable evidence. NHMRC's review shows that there is no good quality evidence to support the claim that homeopathy works better than a placebo.

Full text of NHMRC's statement:

NHMRC Statement Homeopathy

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POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Mar 12, 2015 AT 22:21 IST, Edited At: Mar 12, 2015 22:21 IST
POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Mar 12, 2015 AT 21:55 IST ,  Edited At: Mar 12, 2015 21:55 IST

Sir Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld fantasy series of novels died at the age of 66 "with his cat sleeping on his bed, surrounded by his family".

His publisher, Transworld, described him as one of the "brightest, sharpest minds" of the world.

20 quotable quotes from Sir Terry Pratchett on life, the universe and everything:

  1. In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.
  2. Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.
  3. Most gods throw dice, but Fate plays chess, and you don't find out til too late that he's been playing with two queens all along.
  4. They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it's not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance.
  5. Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.
  6. The ideal death, I think, is what was the ideal Victorian death, you know, with your grandchildren around you, a bit of sobbing. And you say goodbye to your loved ones, making certain that one of them has been left behind to look after the shop.
  7. Five exclamation marks, the sure sign of an insane mind.
  8. Only in our dreams are we free. The rest of the time we need wages.
  9. Evolution was far more thrilling to me than the biblical account. Who would not rather be a rising ape than a falling angel? To my juvenile eyes, Darwin was proved true every day. It doesn't take much to make us flip back into monkeys again.
  10. If you are going to write, say, fantasy - stop reading fantasy. You've already read too much. Read other things; read westerns, read history, read anything that seems interesting, because if you only read fantasy and then you start to write fantasy, all you're going to do is recycle the same old stuff and move it around a bit.
  11. It occurred to me that at one point it was like I had two diseases - one was Alzheimer's, and the other was knowing I had Alzheimer's.
  12. It is often said that before you die your life passes before your eyes. It is in fact true. It's called living.
  13. Death isn't cruel - merely terribly, terribly good at his job.
  14. Inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened.
  15. I like the idea of democracy. You have to have someone everyone distrusts. That way everyone's happy.
  16. By the time you've reached your sixties, you do know that one day you will die, and knowing that is at least the beginning of wisdom.
  17. I didn't go to university. Didn't even finish A-levels. But I have sympathy for those who did.
  18. I intend, before the endgame looms, to die sitting in a chair in my own garden with a glass of brandy in my hand and Thomas Tallis on the iPod. Oh, and since this is England, I had better add, 'If wet, in the library.' Who could say that this is bad?
  19. I believe in freedom. Not many people do, although they will of course protest otherwise. And no practical definition of freedom would be complete without the freedom to take the consequences. Indeed, it is the freedom upon which all the others are based.
  20. If cats looked like frogs we'd realize what nasty, cruel little bastards they are. Style. That's what people remember.

Also see: Terry Pratchett on the need to talk about dementia

The last few tweets from Pratchett's Twitter account which he shared with his friend Rob Wilkins:

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POSTED BY Outlook Web Desk ON Mar 12, 2015 AT 21:55 IST, Edited At: Mar 12, 2015 21:55 IST
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