Love, Conversions and Laws curbing Freedoms

Ram Puniyani
January 14, 2021

Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020, passed by UP on 27th November 2020, has set the ball rolling. On one hand many other BJP ruled states like MP and Haryana are activating their machinery to bring in similar law in their states and on the other at social level many interfaith couples are being subjected to harassment, some of the Muslim men in particular are being put behind the bars. This law has intentions which are out and out communal as already from 1960s there have been anti-conversion laws. The new laws have goals which are sinister and have the potential of being misused to create social disharmony.

While the ordinance does not use the word love jihad, the foot soldiers of the Hindu nationalist politics are out in the open with apprehending Muslim Man-Hindu girl couple and subjecting them to increasing degrees of torture. In Northern states the phenomenon of intimidation and violence against such couples, the Muslim men in particular is surging. Gradually more couples are being brought into the spiral of moral policing and intimidations. The worst part of the process is that those taking the laws into their hands enjoy impunity and are becoming bolder in creating a divisive atmosphere in the society and pushing back the minority Muslim community into submission and marginalization. At the same time these are putting pressure on Hindu girls and restricting their mobility and freedom.

This time two issues are being rolled into one. The fear of conversions away from Hinduism is being linked to Hindu girls having relationship with Muslim boys. At one level interfaith and inter caste relationships are natural in an open society, where people from different castes/religion interact at various levels.  

Dislike for interfaith marriages was put bluntly by the UP Chief minister Adityanath Yogi, who citing a recent ruling of the Allahabad High Court which said religious conversion for the sake of marriage is unacceptable, warned that those waging “love jihad” should mend their ways or be prepared for their last journey — “Ram naam satya hai ki yatra nikalne waali hai”. (The slogan recited in the funeral processions) The instructions have also been passed down that parents should keep a watch on their daughters.

The new law brought in by the UP Government needs to be questioned in the courts as it is an outright attack on different clauses of the Constitution, which gives us the freedom to choose, practice and propagate our faith and other provisions giving us liberty to choose our life partner. This present law (UP and possibly in other states) aims to popularize that Hindu culture is under threat, Hindu girls are vulnerable and Hindu males have to act as their protectors. While the ordinance does not mention the word love jihad, the background and the statements of the top leaders of Hindu nationalism and the actions of vigilantes makes it clear that it is an outright attempt to target the inter faith marriages , especially when the groom is a Muslim. The accusation is that after such marriages the Hindu girl is unable to practice her religion in her marital home and is forced to convert.

Such cases of interfaith marriages are few and far between in this large country of ours’. In more democratized countries interfaith marriages are on the rise, close to becoming social norm. Also Muslim girl and Hindu boy cases are fewer in number, and in the present scenario even the Hindu boy (Ankit Saxena) has to face the wrath of the parents of the girl. The Trinmul Congress MP Nusrat Jahan was also trolled for her choice to marry a Hindu. But overall the hue and cry, the target is the Muslim boy.

 In Maharashtra, a group “Hindu Rakshak Samiti” has been claiming to save Hindu religion by breaking up the Hindu Muslim couples, if the girl happens to be a Hindu. A booklet in Marathi on Love Jihad shows a Muslim boy riding the Motor bike, with Hindu girl riding pillion. In case of a Muslim girl marrying a Hindu and converting is presented as Ghar Wapasi (return home) so is not attacked by Hindu vigilante groups. The police investigation mostly showed that there is no such phenomenon as Love Jihad. The organizational promotion of such marriages is a hoax but has become part of social understanding.

Why are there such and opposition to inter faith marriage? Is it a plan by Muslims to lure Hindu girls, marry and convert them? This is a make believe propaganda. As such it is an attempt to paint the Muslim men doing it deliberately under a plan! What is missed out in the whole scheme of things is that here, in this assertive aggressive propaganda and violence the agency of Hindu girls/women is reduced to zero. Hindu girls are presented as being gullible and without any will or decision making power of their own. While Muslim men are presented as a threat to Hinduism and the Hindu girls are presented as being without any mind of their own. The advice being given to parents to keep a watch on the movements of their daughters and their contacts is a mechanism to control the lives of girls.

All sectarian nationalist ideologies are strongly patriarchal and so the woman has to be under the control of men as ‘their property’. Patriarchal values and nationalism under the wraps of religion go hand in hand. With Independence and implementation of Indian Constitution this journey takes a good leap and we can see the women as their own selves coming to all the spheres of Indian social, educational and political life of the country. This is a matter of discomfiture to those who pay lip service to values of equality and eulogize the ancient holy texts, which give subordinate place to women.

Hope the judiciary is able to restrain the state governments in withdrawing these laws which are oppressive. The interfaith amity needs to be promoted at all the levels.

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News Network
February 17,2021

Mumbai, Feb 17: Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Mumbai civic body has caught over 15 lakh people without face masks at public places in the city since April last year and collected more than Rs 30 crore as fine from them, officials said on Wednesday.

Out of these offenders, 13,008 were caught on Monday and a fine of Rs 26,01,600 was collected from them, a Brihnamumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) official said.

Concerned over the recent surge in Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday asked citizens to strictly follow government-mandated guidelines on masks and social distancing or be prepared to face another round of lockdown.

The BMC has been imposing a fine of Rs 200 for not wearing a face mask in public places.

From April 1, 2020, to February 15 this year, the BMC caught 15,16,398 people without face masks and collected a total of Rs 30,69,09,800 from them, civic officials said.

As per the BMC data, the highest number of 1,08,069 people were caught without face masks in Mumbai's K-West ward, which includes areas like Juhu, Andheri (West) and Versova.

Besides, the lowest number of 25,847 offenders were found in M-East ward, which comprises Anushakti Nagar, Deonar, Cheetah Camp and Shivaji Nagar areas.

The BMC has repeatedly appealed to citizens to follow all Covid-19 protocols, including wearing of face mask, maintaining social distance and sanitising hands regularly.

Of late, the city has been witnessing a spike in daily Covid-19 cases, and some civic wards have issued letters to housing societies under their jurisdiction and instructed them to follow the Covid-19 guidelines, a civic official said.

"At present, the M-west ward is reporting highest daily cases, which is a matter of concern, and there are chances that we might have to impose local lockdown measures," said a notice issued to society in the M-West ward.

The notice further said sealing of buildings/ societies having a high prevalence of positivity has been started in the ward.

"If the same is observed in your society, the same restrictions with sealing can be imposed in your society," the notice warned.

In the notice, the civic body also instructed housing societies to restrict the entry of outsiders to a minimum, including domestic help and milk delivery persons.

It asked the housing societies take measures like thermal screening and if a positive case is found, then the family members should follow strict quarantine guidelines for 14 days and get tested compulsorily.

Any other symptomatic person in the society should also get checked for the coronavirus infection, it added.

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Agencies
February 14,2021

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New Delhi, Feb 14: Side-effects after COVID-19 vaccination — 'reactogenicity' in medical linguistic — was reported in 66% of the healthcare workers, which mostly subside within a day of their onset, said a survey conducted by noted public health experts for the Kochi chapter of the Indian Medical Association (IMA). A total of 5,396 healthcare professionals across India, who had received COVID-19 vaccines were surveyed for the study, which was led by Dr Rajeev Jayadevan, a gastroenterologist and former president of IMA Cochin.

In the survey, the respondents in the survey stated that the most commonly reported symptoms they experienced after immunisation were Myalgia or pain in the muscle (44%), fever (34%), headache (28%), local pain at the injection site (27%), joint pain (12%), nausea (8%) and Diarrhoea (3%). Tiredness (45%) was the most prevailing symptoms. "The occurrence of other symptoms such as sore throat, insomnia, giddiness, rigour, an allergic rash, chills, vomiting, syncope were reported 1% or less cases," study said.

It also noted that the symptoms reported by the respondents were not severe in nature or required hospitalisation. Besides, the survey also pointed out that in 90% of the cases, the symptoms were either milder than expected or met the expectation of the vaccine recipient. Experts have also pointed out that experiencing side-effects is normal in any vaccine.

My study on post vaccination symptoms among 5396 healthcare workers is available on medRxiv.

Symptoms were more among women and among younger people. Onset within 11 hours, duration mostly less than 48 hours.

Thanks Dr Ramesh Shenoy & Ms Anithadevi TS https://t.co/DzIaiAm2IN pic.twitter.com/wXKM6MU0Gr

— Rajeev Jayadevan (@RajeevJayadevan) February 13, 2021
 

Meanwhile, the survey illustrated that side effects among most of the respondents did not last beyond the duration of 24 hours of the onset. "Thirty-seven per cent (1,225) of the respondents revealed that their symptoms did not prolong more than a day while 31% showed that their symptoms lingered for 48 hours, while only 6% claimed that their symptoms stretched beyond the duration of 48 hours," the survey showed.

Speaking to IANS, Dr Rajeev Jayadevan, who is one of the researchers of the survey, said that one of the key takeaways from the survey is that vaccines are safe and there is no need to fear that it will harm ones' body.

"If over 5,000 people who took it (vaccines) and reported no serious problem, then that is a considerable reassurance that the general public can take the vaccine," he said.

Another key finding of the survey was the linear correlation between age and post-vaccination symptoms suggested that the reactogenicity of the vaccine declined with age; means the chance of having post-vaccination symptoms decreased with advancing of age.

The frequency of symptoms was found highest, 81.34%, in respondents aged between 20-29 years followed by 30-39 years (79.57%), 40-49 years (67.94%), 50-59 years (58.23%), 60-69 years (44.76%), 70-79 years (33.73%), and 80-89 years (7.43%).

Jayadevan said that younger people produce a lot of inflammatory cytokines, which elicit reactogenicity (symptoms). This is why they have a vigorous response to the vaccines, whereas it is found lower in the elder population. However, he added that the reactogenicity is not considered a reliable sign of producing antibodies.

"There is a misconception among people and even healthcare professionals who believe that the symptoms are associated with the development of antibodies. Everyone responds differently to the vaccines and elicit varied levels of reactogenicity depending upon age and other factors at play. It cannot be considered as a sign to determine that one's body is producing an immune response to the vaccines," Jayadevan explained.

Dr Ramesh Shenoy, another author of the survey, who is a senior radiologist at a hospital in Kochi, Kerala, said that the conclusions derived from the survey could be that the vaccines are safe while its side-effects are mild in nature and short-lived. "The testimonies of the two-third of the respondents vouch for it," he added.

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News Network
February 18,2021

New Delhi, Feb 18: The government of India has issued a new set of guidelines for international travellers coming from or after transiting through flights originating from United Kingdom, Europe and Middle East. 

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare devised the new regulations which supersedes the protocols listed on August 2020, the Ministry tweeted Wednesday evening.

The regulations aim to segregate travellers arriving from the UK, Brazil, and South Africa due to the new strain of Covid-19 in these countries. The regulations come into effect from February 23. 

It mandates airlines to identify international travellers arriving from or transiting through United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa during the past 14 days and segregate the travellers in-flight or while disembarking to facilitate the authorities to follow the due protocol in respect of these travellers.

All the travellers arriving from or transiting through flights originating in United Kingdom, Europe or Middle East shall be mandatorily subjected to self-paid confirmatory molecular tests on arrival at the Indian airports. “Entry made in the self-declaration form (SDF) regarding telephone number and address would be reconfirmed,” stated the standard operation procedures (SOPs).

All international travellers coming in transiting from flights originating from United Kingdom, Europe and Middle East should submit SDF for Covid-19 on the online Air Suvidha portal (www.newdelhiairport.in) before the scheduled travel and will be required to declare their travel history (of past 14 days).

All the passengers arriving from the Middle East shall be carrying negative RT-PCR Test report for which test should have been conducted within 72 hours prior to undertaking the journey. The same also shall be uploaded on the online portal (www.newdelhiairport.in).

International travellers planning a short stay (less than 14 days) to India and who have tested negative and remain symptom free, shall undergo all the pre and post-departure procedures as and shall be permitted to leave India under proper intimation to their district or State health authorities, subject to them fulfilling the requirement of the airlines and destination country.
 

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