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Thursday, 12 April 2018

The Hindu Editorial: A Promise Falls Short

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The Hindu Editorial: A Promise Falls Short

Title: A promise falls short 

(Four years after a landmark verdict, it is time to push for reforms to give transgender persons their rights) 

On April 15, 2014, the Supreme Court passed the judgment in NALSA v. Union of India. It was in the background of Suresh Koushal v. Union of India where the Supreme Court held that Section 377 could not be read down and it was for Parliament to decide on decriminalisation of homosexuality. 

All of a sudden came NALSA, in which Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and A.K. Sikri held that the right to gender identity is inherent in one’s right to life, autonomy and dignity. 

They held that transgender persons have the right to identify their gender as male, female or transgender irrespective of medical sex reassignment and the right to expression of their chosen gender identity. 

A fresh momentum 

NALSA brought with it great excitement and gave momentum to the trans rights movement in India. Transgender persons have been criminalised, discriminated against, deprived of access to education and employment, they have faced sexual and physical violence, even been killed due to their gender choices. 

NALSA for the first time gave public recognition to the violence and discrimination that the trans community faces in India and declared unequivocally their entitlement to constitutional fundamental rights. 

The apex court directed the Central and State governments to grant legal recognition of gender identity of male, female or transgender; to provide reservations to transgender persons in admission in educational institutions and in public appointments; to provide medical care to transgender persons in hospitals and provide them separate public toilets and other facilities; to frame social welfare schemes for their uplift; and to create public awareness. 

Government forms have included the ‘TG’ option in the gender category, but till date there is no law in place providing for a change in one’s name and gender identity. 

On identity 

One of the biggest challenges that the transgender community faces is for recognition of their chosen names and gender. Getting their changed names and gender markers in their birth certificates, educational certificates, PAN cards, passports and identity documents is an uphill battle with no norms or guidelines laid down for such change of legal identity. 

While Kerala and Karnataka have introduced State Policies for Transgender Persons, there are no schemes for reservation of transgender/intersex persons in educational institutions and public employment. 

They are not included in any of the reserved categories, making education and public employment out of bounds for them due to their transgender and gender non-conforming status. 

Final Words 

The list of legal reforms that are needed to truly capture the letter and spirit of NALSA is long. The Supreme Court has been constantly reiterating its stand on transgender rights, and it is time that governments work towards the realisation of these rights. 

Title: End to cattle curbs 

(The withdrawal of ill-conceived restrictions on livestock trade is welcome) 

With a fresh set of draft rules to replace last year’s poorly conceived ones, the Centre has sought to withdraw the ban on sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets. 

When the Union Ministry for Environment, Forests and Climate Change notified the rules under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act on May 23, 2017, there was concern that in the name of preventing cruelty to animals and regulating livestock markets the government was surreptitiously throttling the cattle trade and furthering the BJP’s cow protection agenda. 

The rules were criticised for restricting legitimate animal trade and interfering with dietary habits. The new draft makes a welcome departure from the earlier rules, seeking to provide great relief to buyers of animals from cumbersome paperwork and procedural requirements. 

Some distance-specific conditions to curb inter-State and cross-border movement of animals are to be dropped, as also rules barring animal markets within 25 km of a State border and 50 km of the international boundary. 

The definition of ‘animal markets’ will no more include any lairage adjoining a slaughter-house, thereby removing curbs on the sale of animals in a resting place in the vicinity of a market. The draft retains good provisions in the earlier notification barring cruelty in the treatment and transport of animals. 

There was further concern whether the regulations would adversely impact poor villagers, as animal markets are predominantly in the countryside. 

There was an impression that under the guise of stiff regulations, the Centre was making it impossible for cattle, a term that covers cows, buffalo, bulls and camels, to be slaughtered even for food, despite the PCA Act recognising explicitly that animals can be food for humans. 

The meat trade, valued at thousands of crores of rupees, would have suffered a serious setback had the rules been implemented. Any transformation from a tendency to advance pet causes to an approach based on economic and legal considerations would be a welcome change. 

Good governance is not only about regulating human and economic activities, but also about avoiding perceptions of sectarianism. 

Vocabulary words: 

Verdict (noun) = Judgement, conviction (निर्णय) 

Out of the blue (idiom) = Without warning, unexpectedly 

Inherent (adj) = Existing in something as a permanent and essential attribute (निहित) 

Unequivocally (adv) = In a way that leaves no doubt (स्पष्ट) 

Adequately (adv) = To be satisfactory or acceptable extent (पर्याप्त रूप से) 

Nullify (verb) = Invalidate (अमान्य ठहराना) 

Reiterate (verb) = Repeat (दोहराना) 

Proclamation (noun) = An official announcement dealing with a matter of great importance (घोषणा) 

Prevail (verb) = Prove more powerful or superior (प्रबल) 

Sectarianism (noun) = Communism (सांप्रदायिकता) 

Surreptitiously (adv) = Secretively (चुपके से) 

Throttle (verb) = Kill by choking (गला घोंटना) 

Cumbersome (adj) = Complicated, unmanageable (कष्टकर) 

Lairage (noun) = A place where cattle or sheep may be rested on the way to market or slaughter 

Vicinity (noun) = Neighbourhood, surrounding (आस-पास) 

Set Off (phrasal verb) = Begin a journey 

Stridently (adv) = In an extremely forceful way (कर्कश ध्वनी) 

Predominantly (adv) = Mainly, mostly (मुख्य रूप से) 

Guise (noun) = Appearance, exterior (भेष) 

Stiff (adj) = Rigid, hard (कठोर) 

Explicitly (adv) = In a clear and detailed manner (स्पष्ट रूप से)


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