A Giant Leap for Indian Civil Rights

Source: Tribune India

India might be taking a couple of steps back every now and then in terms of the secular health of its democracy. But one thing is for sure, its democracy is strong and steady.

India just took a giant leap for civil rights by suspending Section 377 of the regressive British-imposed Indian Penal Code. The Indian Supreme Court threw out this abomination of a law that criminalized homosexuality. It also functionally did not recognize male or male transgender rape. This section, which by the way is still enforced in Pakistan, only accounts for sodomy as an act against nature, even if a person rapes a man or a male transgender.

This is a demonstration of how the highest court that interprets the Constitution must function in a democracy. The Indian Supreme Court, I am proud to say, is performing that function indeed.

Unfortunately, back home in Pakistan, we cannot imagine coming anywhere near the suspension of Article 377. Although there is some activism going on, particularly brought into light due to the rampant cases of abuse and torture of Transgender persons throughout Pakistan. However, the idea of homophobia is central to the culture in the country, which is a heavy mix of Islam and traditional tribal patriarchy.

The case in Pakistan is actually far worse where the courts are not even aware of their jurisdiction and function. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has turned into an activist entity whose head virtually deems himself the reincarnation of Caliph Umer I or Umer II. Removing the Section 377 or any other human rights development seems to be low on the priority list, considering how critical it is to build the Diamer Basha Dam and to guard it.

However, for all its other ills, let it be caustic politics and corruption, growing fascist tendencies and theocratic influences of the Modi regime, and hideous communal violence, India is still robust as a democracy.

Very proud of India for this.

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Pakistan Needs an Ambedkar

B. R. Ambedkar (1891-1956)

This is to offer a tribute to one of the greatest figures in the History of India, B. R. Ambedkar, who was a political leader, a scholar and most of all a legislator and thinker, on his birthday. He was one of the people whose vision combined the various ethnicities, states, languages and religions of India. There is not much you can say to admire this great man, except for the fact that you recognize his services for the Modern Republic of India.

Even if I am not an Indian national, it gives me great pride and joy to even know that such a man served India, and I would be as much proud had I been one. His work pertaining to the untouchables and underprivileged castes of India has played a phenomenal role in at least earning them their rightful status as equal citizens in a badly segmented and segregated society.

He was the Chairman of the Drafting Commission of the Constitution of India, a secular, socialist and democratic foundation of the Indian state, which combined its various castes, creeds, cults and states under the flag of the Union. Ambedkar can be the source of inspiration not just for Indians, but for anyone around the world who believes in secular values, equality, justice and liberty. And perhaps no other country needs thinkers and figures like Ambedkar than Pakistan.

Pakistan, struggling with its internal conflicts of ethnic and religious nature, has been plagued by a community-oriented constitution. While making such a change would not fix everything overnight, but it would offer just the right start and the foundation to build a stronger and prosperous country.

Pakistan needs an Ambedkar.