The supreme court of Nepal last week ordered to temporarily ban imports of genetically modified seeds. This follows after a series of protests led by some popular independent youth groups and supported by the public. Since the massive failure of genetically modified maize seeds to yield even basic returns to several farmers across the country in the course of the last few seasons, public sentiment was getting more negative against GMO seed imports.
The decision by Nepal’s Supreme Court has been welcomed by many people inside and outside the country. Public sentiment against imported genetically modified seeds had gradually been growing throughout the world. A lot of anti-GMO activists throughout the world have welcomed the decision by the court and have called it a ‘landmark’.
Around a month back, news about a local importing company, belonging to a famous corporate house, partnering with one of the biggest genetically modified seed companies in the world had been received negatively by the public. But with the verdict of the supreme court, imports of genetically modified seeds is expected to be stalled for some time.
What would you say when just one year old party makes a debut in politics, takes on two of the strongest national parties and comes close second only to form the government in the administrative capital of the nation. Yes! It is not a fairy tale; it has happened in India today. A civil rights activist and 2005 Ramon Magsaysay Award winner Arvind Kejriwal today took oath of Delhi Chief Minister after his party, founded less just a year back, formed the government in Delhi. The anti-corruption crusader who served Indian Revenue Service earlier left his additional commissioner’s job to raise the issue of Right to Information Act and won the battle when the RTI Act came into force in 2005, which later won him the Ramon Magsaysay Award (regarded as Asia’s Nobel prize) as well. In 2011, he joined Anna Hazare to raise the issue of Jan Lokpal Bill (Anti-Corruption Bill), such meticulous was his planning to garner support among masses and campaigning that the government had to call civil society group to bill drafting committee for the first time. However, the committee reached an impasse and Hazare and Kejriwal went on to protest two more times sitting on fast unto death to pass Jan Lokpal Bill, however, government refused to budge and dared them to enter into politics. Kejriwal and his confidantes formed a political party called Aam Aadmi Party (Common Man Party) with the symbol broom with the sole aim to clean politics. Even his mentor Anna Hazare distanced himself from the newly formed political party. Being a naturally gritty person Kejriwal decided to fight elections on all 70 seats in upcoming Delhi Assembly Elections and filed his nomination against Delhi Chief Minister of 15 years Sheila Dikshit, later to beat her by more than 20,000 votes. His party won 28 seats after withstanding a smear campaign by two national parties, a series of attacks on its member, which claimed one life, a sting operation and several FIRs and cases. AAP wave swept across Delhi and voters turned out in huge numbers to elect their representatives. All AAP representatives come from humble backgrounds and one candidate, Rakhi Birla who sworn in as a new minister today, lives in just 25 yards home. To add to that all candidates come with clean backgrounds and have no criminal cases pending against except for those filed just before elections and during protests. It is left to be seen how AAP fulfills its promises as its task is will cut out, and time is at premium. But the victory of AAP has rejuvenated Delhi’s common men with new vigour and a new found belief that politics can be clean, and they can finally breathe in a corruption free environment. –Abhishek Bhardwaj
Weeks after India’s Supreme Court criminalized gay sex under Section 377 and asked the Parliament to review the existing law for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Community; Indian government filed a review petition in the apex court to review its verdict. The SC verdict created a furor among Indians across the world and cheered up conservative section which were happy to marginalize LGBT community. While almost all the health organizations, human and gay rights activists came all out against the verdict calling it regressive, archaic and biased towards a minority community. The voice of the non-government representatives found support from political entities as well. India’s major national party Congress slammed the verdict and expressed resolve to overturn it by making necessary amendments in the existing law. Although there are still political forces who welcomed court decision, citing gay sex anti-religious and unnatural (as it does not lead to reproduction), which was more of an effort to garner votes among people who consider gay sex as taboo and against their religious views. The main worry that arose post SC decision was not only ostracization of the LGBT community, but also the harassment that they have to deal with from police personnel and anti-social elements. Besides the rapid rate of HIV positive cases among LGHBT community may also go unnoticed as the verdict would make the sexual act and any relationship illegal and criminal forcing people hesitant to approach health official. A health organization has also filed a review petition in the Supreme Court to re look its decision based on existing Section 377 which was enacted in 19th century. Both the petitions are pending for hearing in the Supreme Court and has raised hopes among deprived LGBT community and prompted them to come out of their hiding by raising the issues they face in their day to day lives. India’s young generation has reacted progressively at the verdict and joined gay pride parade in Delhi to oppose the decision and demanding the government to review the particular in question. As for the next generation the choice of one’s life partner has nothing to do with caste, colour, creed and gender! -Abhishek Bhardwaj
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