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The transexual Nikey Chawla who made it big

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Nickey Chawla

New Delhi, March 8, : Bigo Live host Nikey Chawla who is a transexual and also an actress by profession is famously known as a ‘History creator of India.’

(Due to inadvertent error the profile, name and picture of the personality had previously been referred to and mentioned as ‘Shraavya Reddy’. The name and picture have been corrected and is to be read as ‘Nikey Chawla’)

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, IANSlife spoke to Chawla about the lessons she’s learned and difficulties she’s faced, to make a name in the world of glamour world.

Excerpts:

Q. How has your journey been till now?

Chawla: My life is a blockbuster movie, it has drama, pain, romance, thriller, suspense, heroes, villains and of course there’s a climax. But the journey has been a roller coaster ride. I’ve had days when I felt lost, alone, misunderstood, betrayed and had a lot of self doubt. On the other hand I have seen magic in life where people who I don’t even know have become my angels, moments I have been saved by a supreme power. There are days when I was broke and there are days where there has been plenty.

That’s why I believe in my destiny and the universe. I believe I exist for a great reason which is yet to reveal itself. I feel blessed that after going through so much my life is an example and achievement for others.

Q. Looking over your shoulder, any regrets?

Chawla: Frankly speaking, I have stopped looking back. After my first TV show ‘Emotional Atyachar’, where I have told everyone in the world about being India’s first transsexual model/ actress, after that thousands of people have sought me out and connected with me on social media. The wishes and blessings they gave me that day has washed all the pain away. The love and appreciation of strangers has won over the hate and pain given by friends, family and people.

Q. The biggest lesson you have learnt?

Chawla: I am still learning… but if there’s one thing I have learnt in life is that if you want to be happy and achieve something in life then be passionate, believe in karma, love yourself and don’t allow anyone to dim your light. If you can’t take stand for yourself then you are good for nothing.

Q. Being transgender, how difficult was it for you to get recognition?

Chawla: That’s a good question. Well first of all, I would like to educate others that the Trans community is vast. People in Western countries have different definitions of Transgender than people in India.

I have gone through proper medical treatment and support. All my documents have been changed and updated. I am a transsexual, a female soul who was trapped in a wrong body, but with hard work and medical help I got a SRS (Sex Reassignment Surgery) done. The Indian Government also supports this under Medical Term.

I turned my weakness into my strength. People who said ‘No’ to me, who denied me work as they found me different and not acceptable by society, are now the ones who give me opportunities, love and respect. When I chose To Be ‘Me’ I got recognition. I believe be yourself with pride and the world will accept you. Yes I have many problems but someone had to take initiative. I took the initiative and became the voice and the face of transgirls openly. Now, I feel proud that in last 10 years a lot of new transgirls and transboys are showcasing their talents proudly and living the life they want. I feel proud.

Q. Is it harder in the world of glamour?

Chawla: Actually no. Being in the business of glamour actually helps to ease everything. In this world people are welcoming. Most importantly, if you are not happy in your skin, then you can’t be happy anywhere.

Q. The impact of social media?

Chawla: Well social media is a blessing and a curse. You feel like giving everything but you should know better. You learn this gradually. But, thanks to social media apps and handles I am able to keep in touch with my fans, followers and friends. You just have to create a line. Social media is very tricky, the more popular you get, the more love and/or hate you get.

Q. What message would you give on Women’s Day?

Chawla: First of all I want salute to evey woman on earth. Be she from a village or metro cities. To be born as a woman is a blessing. I choose to be a woman, so I understand the value of being a feminine divine power. My message to is be who you are! Discover you powers, abilities and become unstoppable. Educate others, Learn how to say no and draw a line when it comes to your self respect. Help other women grow in life, educate your sons and daughters to be respectful and understanding towards each other. That’s how we can make this world a better place for everyone.

Q. What are your upcoming Projects?

Chawla: Well I have been on break from the past one year due to my father’s passing away last year I have been busy on BIGO Live streaming app from past two months and have written a book on my life which I am planning to publish later this year. I will be making some good short films as a producer for film festivals. My last film ‘QAID’ with Nykaa has inspired me to make such cool projects for general awareness. So wish me luck so that I can make some changes in people’s lives.

(This article is website exclusive and cannot be reproduced without the permission of IANSlife)

(Puja Gupta can be contacted at [email protected])

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Every citizen must fight the Covid war: Experts

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COVID-19 pandemic

Bengaluru, Aug 9 : With the government easing more restrictions under Unlock3.0 to further revive the economy since August 1, the war against the Coronavirus pandemic has to be fought by each and every citizen across the country, according to health experts, including epidemiologists.

“As the war against the elusive virus is going to be long and hard, the government alone cannot fight it, and the onus is on each and every citizen to join the battle even after a vaccine is found to treat it,” Karnataka health task force chairman M.K Sudarshan told IANS here.

By enforcing the lockdown since March 25 and extending it up to May 31 with stringent measures, ostensibly, to contain the virus spread, the government managed to control the situation initially and ensured that the country’s woeful healthcare infrastructure was not overwhelmed by lakhs of positive cases.

“The government, its agencies and healthcare warriors have been doing their best over the last 4 months, risking their lives to contain the pandemic, as is evident from the case data during the lockdown and after it was gradually lifted to revive socio-economic activities and restore livelihood.

“The onus to carry on the fight is more on all citizens by wearing masks, sanitising their hands and maintaining social distancing,” asserted Sudarshan, former head of the community medicine department in the state-run KIMS (Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences) hospital in the city centre.

The Karnataka government had set up the 6-member committee in mid-April to analyse the Covid-19 data from the southern state and across the country to study the epidemiology of the virus cases, how different patients got infected, what measures for breaking the chain and suggest changes, if required.

Though testing of swab samples to find who got the virus was less and results took longer time due to shortage of diagnostic labs, the stringent lockdown forced most of the people across the country to stay home, wash hands frequently and maintain social distancing at any cost.

“When lockdown was lifted and unlock 1.0 began on June 1, like a genie coming out of a bottle, thousands of citizens stepped out of houses, violated the norms and exposed themselves to the infection. With people travelling again in cities and states in their vehicles, buses, cabs and autos, select trains and flights, the number of citizens who tested positive soared by the day, as they too contracted the virus for violating the norms such as failing to isolate, quarantine and get treated if they were asymptomatic or get admitted in any designated hospital if they were symptomatic,” noted epidemiologist Giridhar Babu.

For instance, till the lockdown was in force up to May 31, the southern state with 7 crore population had just 3,221 positive cases and Bengaluru only 358 cases out of 1.2 crore (120 lakh) people. By June 30, the numbers shot up to 15,242 for state and 4,555 for the city.

“Within a fortnight by July 14, the cases shot up to 44,077 and 20,969, to a whopping 71,069 and 34,943 by July 19 or 5 days during unlock 2.0 and to a massive 1,64,924 and it is now 69,572 as on August 6 in Unlock 3.0,” Babu recalled.

Babu is also a member of the task force and faculty of the New Delhi-based Public Health Foundation of India.

With hundreds of people returning from most-infected neighouring states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in cars, buses, trains or flights, the number of Covid cases zoomed in the state, especially in this tech hub by the day as they carried the virus like super spreaders and became a source of local transmission.

“Though a 9-day lockdown was again re-imposed from July 14 to July 22 in this tech city, 4 Sundays in July and night curfew was maintained till July 31, there was no let-up in the cases as they continue to climb, while recoveries also have been going up steadily,” reiterated Babu.

Admitting that lockdowns, shutdowns and night curfew do not reduce the cases but only delay them, noted pediatric cardiologist Vijayalakshmi I. Balekundri told IANS that the only way to be safe from the dreadful pandemic was to do “SMS” (sanitization of hands, mask-wearing and social distancing) as corona virus was a communicable disease and fatal as it attacks the respiratory system (lungs) and affects all other vital organs of the body.

“The onus of winning the war against the pandemic is more on 130-crore+ citizens than anyone else across the country. God helps those who help themselves is an old adage, as each has to take care of himself or herself from being infected by the virus till a vaccine is found, because it is preventable but not curable,” Balekundri said.

The Bengaluru Medical College and Research Institute Emeritus Professor said though all five fingers are not same or equal, they become a force as a fist when together and converge themselves into a weapon.

“Similarly, the thumb is for mask, index finger for washing hands, middle finger for social distancing, ring finger for maintaining toilet hygiene and little finger to avoid travelling to the extent possible or unless warranted,” Balekundri added.

By Fakir Balaji

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Two brick laying ceremonies for Ram: Which one was kosher?

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Modi in Ayodhya

It reflects on the civilizational power of Lord Rama in this ancient land that independent India’s five Prime Ministers involved themselves in the affairs of his birthplace at Ayodhya. Nehru, Rajiv Gandhi, P.V. Narasimha Rao, Narendra Modi and, tangentially, V.P. Singh in between.

India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, learnt his early lessons about the limits to his power when the Rama idols “mysteriously” appeared on the night of December 22, 1949 at the spot where the Lord was supposed to have been born and UP Chief Minister, Govind Ballabh Pant, refused to have the idols removed despite Nehru’s insistence. Secularism was a fine concept but not at the cost of Hindu faith. In the different approaches to Ayodhya are embedded serious divergences within the Congress on the centrality of Hinduism in national life. Not only was Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, President of the Congress for a record four terms, but he was also a founder of the Hindu Mahasabha. One may quibble on proportions, but there is Hindu Mahasabha in the Congress DNA just as there is the RSS in the BJP.

Nehru was a proud “Pandit” but there was a clear mismatch between his elitist tolerance of Hinduism and the all-pervasive Hindu faith in the make-up of most of his colleagues. It turns out, in retrospect, that Nehru’s secularism was a huge gamble. It would be thrilling if the secular experiment succeeded to a point where my brother Shanney could revisit relatives in Karachi and regale friends in JNU with the observation which became a classic in the 70s: “Nice place”, he said returning from Pakistan, “but too full of Muslims.” Today, this gregarious raconteur finds himself fixed in the pitying gaze of relatives from across the border. I called him in Lucknow on August 5, the day of the Shilanyas. He didn’t say much. It is instructive that the top-down secularism of Nehru and Mustafa Kemal Pasha Ataturk faced eclipse within weeks of each other.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra must be commended for having endorsed the beginning of a Ram temple, but in doing so she may have slighted her father’s memory. Rajiv Gandhi may not have been present at Ram’s birthplace for the first bricklaying ceremony on November 9, 1989, but a foundation stone was laid, at the behest of Rajiv Gandhi’s government under official supervision of the District Magistrate of Faizabad, Ram Sharan Srivastava, a more harassed officer I shall never see. Since I was seated next to him, I could virtually peep into the pit where the brick was to be laid, under instructions from Rajiv Gandhi, his cousin Arun Nehru and UP Chief Minister Narayan Dutt Tewari. It was an underhand, duplicitous operation, totally violative of the Allahabad High Court order which prohibited any construction on “disputed” land. In a show of force, Ashok Singhal of the VHP, the Hindu body leading the agitation for a temple, threatened “rivers of blood”: he would lay the foundation stone on exactly the spot which the temple plan dictated, namely the “disputed” land. Clandestinely, the VHP was allowed to have its say. But Srivastava was to put out a press note that the brick was laid a 100 feet away from the disputed site.

Rajiv was fighting for his life against his once favoured Finance Minister, V.P. Singh’s rebellion, in the 1989 General Elections. He struck a desperate deal with the VHP. The VHP was to press the BJP to pull back its horses in a seat at Faizabad and three in Kerala. The VHP will claim that it had done the Shilanyas where it wanted, in the first place. This double cross too was part of the secret deal. With all these machinations, Rajiv lost the General Elections.

Pranab Mukherjee in his memoirs, The Turbulent Years, has confirmed a gem of a story. A week before the Shilanyas, Rajiv escorted by Home Minister Buta Singh, visited Godman Devrahwa Baba who had a delightful way of blessing his devotees. He dangled his legs from a thatched roof and thumped on the head those he chose to bless, in this case the renaissance Prime Minister of India, eager to know if he should allow the Shilanyas. The Baba, networked in the interstellar spaces, transmitted his message: “Bachcha, ho jane do” (child, let it happen).

The soft saffron that Rajiv adopted by way of electoral tactics came to him from two sources: Indira Gandhi donned this shade during the 1982 Jammu election, this being her gut response to the Khalistan movement. Two years later, the unprecedented majority with which Rajiv Gandhi came to power after Indira Gandhi’s assassination by her Sikh bodyguards in 1984 was not attributed to a sympathy wave but a massive Hindu consolidation against “minority” communalism.

This conventional wisdom among Congress senior leaders caused him to open the temple locks in May 1986. Since then the Congress is wasting away, wearing soft saffron, selling its family heirlooms, even as the BJP acquires a shade of saffron as hard as was on show at the Shilanyas in Ayodhya.

Since it is accepted by everybody except perhaps Randeep Surjewala that the Congress is now beyond redemption, the best the Gandhi siblings can do is to recover as a priceless memento that brick which was laid in their father’s name in Ayodhya to start a temple for Lord Rama.

(Saeed Naqvi is a senior commentator on political and diplomatic issues. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached on [email protected])

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‘1806 not 1857? History of Indian freedom struggle should be rewritten’

This was the first case involving an Indian who challenged the empire and refused to obey the diktats of the British and the reasons were political, relating to freedom and dignity, says Chandni Bi.

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Agra, Aug 9 : Unfazed by the possibility that her assertions could open up a Pandora’s Box of controversies and trigger a north-versus-south India debate, historian S. Chandni Bi says there is need for a thorough review and rewriting of history of pre-independence India, objectively assessing the role of each region and community.

“Time and again we are told that the 1857 rebellion of sepoys against the British East India Company was the First War of Independence. The sentiment found an echo in the movie ‘Mangal Pandey – The Rising’ which depicts the hero as the first man to rise against the British.

“True, the 1857 rebellion of the sepoys against the East India Company was a major move in the process of evolution of the Indian freedom movement. But, can that be called India’s First War of Independence? If it were to be, were there not similar and much more organised and violent uprisings in different parts of the country against the company rule much earlier?” asks Chandni Bi from Salem in Tamil Nadu, who teaches South Indian History at the Department of History, Centre of Advanced Study, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).

As far as the 1857 mutiny is concerned “there seemed to be as many motives for the resistance as the number of people involved in the mutiny. The soldiers of the East India Company refused to use the cartridges and the animal (cow or pig) fat to grease them. The anger was borne out of their religious sentiments. There is nothing to concretely suggest antipathy to alien rule,” she says.

Chandni Bi notes that Indian historians have clear parameters to judge which events qualify for “national status” and which do not. According to her, “The incident should involve a significantly large number of people (a mass movement); the goal should be inspired by a single motive and, finally, (there should be) a feeling of oneness among all sections/stretch of people involved against their common enemy.”

Applying these yardsticks, incidents, revolts or rebellions that occurred before the Swadeshi Movement of the 1920s cannot be described as national. “Hence, to call the 1857 revolt the first war of India’s Independence is wide off the mark and unacceptable,” says Chandni Bi.

On the freedom movement in southern India, she says there were many revolts against the East India Company and the British on either side of the Vindhyas that reflected aversion to alien rule. “There are incidents that took place in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu a half century or more before the 1857 revolt of Mangal Pandey. Veer Savarkar had noted that the Vellore Mutiny of 1806 was similar to the 1857 revolt. Vellore has a fort where the Company kept the successors of Tipu Sultan under arrest. The sepoys and soldiers who were kept under arrest in this fort revolted overnight and freed themselves,” she says.

When a committee headed by Dr S Radhakrishnan was appointed by the Union government to write the history of the freedom movement, the Tamil Arasu Kazhagam, a Tamil nationalist movement in Tamil Nadu, had protested saying that the history of the freedom movement should start with the revolt of Veerapandiya Kattabomman from the land of Panchalankurichi in Tamil Nadu.

“This personality, Veerapandiya Kattabomman was the Palayankarar (ruler) of the Palayam (a political division) Panchalankurichi, who agitated against the Company’s overlordship and refused to pay taxes. He questioned their right over the land. Finally, he was betrayed by a friend and arrested by the Company. There was an open trial for not paying the dues and he was sentenced to death. He dared to kiss the noose of death by himself and refused the touch of the Company’s servants,” says Chandni Bi.

This was the first case involving an Indian who challenged the empire and refused to obey the diktats of the British and the reasons were political, relating to freedom and dignity, says Chandni Bi. Apart from the 1806 Vellore mutiny, similar acts of defiance were reported from Mysore and Kerala, as early as the 1790s. There is a need for rewriting the earlier history of resistance and freedom struggle with all the inputs now being provided by south Indian historians, she says.

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