Kabbadi has come a long way from the villages of Punjab to become an international sport. It is played in several states in India. It is the national sport of Bangladesh  and Nepal.  It is now being played in over fifteen countries. But it is still a long way to become an Olympics game. One of the main reasons is the abuse of drugs by players from the state which often leads on Kabbadi, Punjab.

The Olympics Governing Body has told the Kabbadi lobby that they need to be played with unitary rules in 75 countries before they can be considered for the Olympics. There are attempts to spread the game around the world in order to make a serious bid.

It is enthusiastically played in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Japan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Iran, Korea, Argentina, Canada, U.K, Italy, China, Trinidad and Tobago, and Australia. In UK England, Scotland and Wales have their own teams.

But one of the issues holding back a serious bid to become an Olympics game is the extent of drugs being used in the game. There is apprehension that too many players may fail the strict drugs test to qualify at Olympics. Enthusiasm for the game is sullied by the reputation it has achieved as a drug infested game.

In the last ten years there are numerous examples of doping. In March 2010, 13 members of the Indian national team were dropped because they tested positive to banned drugs. The incident both shocked and shamed the country.

But soon after, in November 2011, BBC reported that 18 out of some 45 players had tested positive to banned drugs at the World Kabbadi tournament. The players were from various countries including the US, Australia, Canada, the UK, Norway, Italy, Argentina, Spain and Germany.

In January 2014, several players from outside India failed to turn up for the annual Kabbadi tournaments. Jagdish Bholla, a cop turned drug lord, had given the names of several players doubling as ‘mules’ who smuggle drugs. These players were put on the watch list, to be arrested as soon they landed in Punjab.
The latest scandal in Kabbadi was Amritpal Singh Matta, a police officer and renowned international player in Kabbadi. He admitted to taking drugs since 2008 but blames the police force, in which he works. He blatantly claims that he started taking drugs from within the police stations. He has been suspended from duty.

These are only some of the reported cases. But when 25% of a team is tested positive for prohibited drugs, the game needs serious cleaning up. And when players are accused of being drug mules, the game naturally comes under the scanner. Its chances of gaining status at the Olympics is almost zero.
Drugs have taken over the lives of Punjabis. They are everywhere. Not only in Punjab, but almost everywhere around the world where Punjabis go, drugs seem to find a foothold. Both the regional and national Government need to come with a comprehensive programme to address them. While drugs have taken many lives in India, their widespread prevalence in the Kabbadi players of India is enough to take strong action to eradicate drugs from South Asia.


It’s horrifying, it’s shameful, it’s ugly! A Khap Panchayat (a village council) of Baghpat district of Uttar Pradesh in India recently gave orders to rape of two sisters when their elder brother eloped with a married woman belonging to a higher caste. This unelected village council ordered that a woman, 23, and her sister, 15, should be raped and paraded naked with their faces blackened in the villages.

The Khap reportedly consists of an upper caste male members who belong to rich Zamindar community of the village. The horrifying orders made by the Khap members have come across as a shocked and has evoked severe criticism from the media, social activists and other members of the country. The khap diktat caused global outrage and criticism. The village council has now denied ever giving the orders of rape as a punishment for the sisters.

As soon this decision passed, both sisters and their family, from reported to be from a poor family belonging to a Dalit caste that the village believes to be inferior, fled the village. The family is rumoured to be hiding in New Delhi. In an interview to the Daily Mail UK, one of the sisters named Meenakshi described her plight. “I can’t sleep, I’m very scared. How will we ever return home or to our village? If we ever return they will harm us or rape us. If not today then in the future. Jats never forget and they will not forget this humiliation. They want their revenge,” said Meenakshi, in the interview to Daily Mail.

The Case

This family is living in a secrete place in New Delhi. It all started when the villagers learnt about Ravi Kumar (25), elder brother of the two sisters, being in a relationship with Krishna (21) a girl from Jat community. When families of this couple found this case, they tried their level best to keep the two apart. Relatives asked them to end the relationship as soon possible as they would never be allowed to be together.

Sibling of Ravi, Sumit Kumar (28) who live in Delhi said, “’It’s shameful that people still living in caste system. I am still in shock that the Khap panchayat could be so disgusting. I knew it was going to be bad, I knew our family would be in trouble but I never expected this. The situation is getting worse and I do not see any hope.”

When police asked village council about their order they denied saying, “We have not ordered naked parade order but we are not agreeing with this marriage.”
Amnesty International, whose online petition to save the two women was signed by more than 250,000 people, said they would not withdraw their petition despite the latest developments. “We will continue to push for protection for the family including both sisters. Our concern is their safety and rights.” Amnesty India women’s-rights campaigner Gopika Bakshi said.

In Court Supreme Court of India has ruled that these village councils are illegal and citizens are not bound to follow their decisions. The family has appealed to the Supreme Court for protection and Sumit has written to the Prime Minister, Chief Minister, Human Rights Commission, Schedule Caste Commission, but, no one has come forward to help him yet.

Police has earlier sent Ravi into prison in case of forceful marriage, but, he was soon freed on bail. “These cases happen often in rural India. After media attention local politicians have come forward but still the family are in danger. But these cases would not happen in this country if the police act appropriately and did their job. The government officials have a duty to stop such atrocities,” said Rahul Tyagi, Ravi’s lawyer. “No one has seen the girl from May 2015, so we are trying to ensure her safety and trying to produce her before the court,” added Ravi

Caste Case

The case has once again confirmed the regressive mindset and casteism prevalent in the rural India. Despite the constitutional changes, several villages are yet to change their mentality. According to the figures presented at the International Dalit Conference in Canada in 2003, nearly 90 per cent of all poor Indians and 95 per cent of all illiterate Indians fall in the community that is considered as backward by the peer villagers.


However, in the aftermath of the tragic Nirbhaya case, acid attack was made a non-bail able offence, with the punishment ranging from ten years in jail up to life imprisonment. But the question remains – did it actually bring relief? There are many laws in the country but the lack of proper and effective implementation is the real problem. Here is a reality check that describes the condition of acid attack victims in India:
A report by Acid Survivors Trust International (London based Charity organization) reveals that there have been 1,500 acid attacks worldwide. These attacks have been done by family members or jilted lovers. The victims report that they are ostracized by the society and the pain that they have to go through can’t be expressed in words. They say that they have to fight the pain physically first and then emotionally and financially.Many are left blind and deaf.

Laxmi, a brave acid attack survivor who volunteers for NGO ‘Stop Acid Attacks’ asks, ‘where is the law?’ Sonali Mukherjee who also works for this NGO was attacked while she was asleep; the acid burned and disfigured her face. Her attackers were released after serving three years in prison. India has no official statistics to show the number of attacks, but to get to hear them often in the media. Which itself is a proof that there is no law to protect women and if any women tries to protect themselves then they will be attacked in the cruelest way possible.

Supreme Court of India passed a law that prohibits the sale of acids unless the seller makes a record of the buyers. According to this law the victims have to be paid $1,400 (Rs 88955.23). The victims should be paid at least third of their compensation within fifteen days of the attack. Here again there is no implementation of the law regarding the sale of acids that are used as household and industrial cleaners, since it is available at throwaway prices and nobody questions the intent of its purchase.

India Real Time (an online digital news portal by Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones) reports that the Supreme Court has given the State authorities a three months deadline to implement the new rules regarding the sale of acids that are used for the attacks.Supreme Court has instructed Indian states and Union territories to issue licenses to the retailers who sell acids. Shops have to keep a record of the buyer’s address and the quantity sold. Photo-identification will be required to purchase acids that will soon be categorized under poison.
Those below 18 years will not be allowed to purchase acids like hydrochloric, sulphuric and nitric acids. These acids burn flesh and are available just at twenty rupees. A register or logbook should be there to control the over the counter sale of acids in the first place. Retailers have to report the amount of acid stocked to the police, if they fail to do so then the undeclared stock will be confiscated and the shop owners will be charged 50,000 rupees. Strict laws and punishments can only prevent the menace of acid attacks.
As per recent reports there are about 35 acid attack victims in Delhi and chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has taken a decision to give them government jobs based on their qualifications and work experience.Those who are visually impaired and face problems to move around  will be hired as per their convenience. The Kejriwal government has instructed the services department to consider the applications by acid attack victim survivors on priority basis. These positions may be permanent or contractual. A committee will be formed to look into their needs. This decision comes as a result of representation by acid attack victims who are looking out for government jobs.

The Supreme Court has also directed private hospitals to provide free of cost treatment to the acid attack victims. The treatment covers costly plastic and corrective surgeries. A social justice bench headed by Madan B. Lokur and U.U Lalit states that hospitals should also provide free medicine, food and other facilities to the acid attack victims.

Alok Dixit, the founder of the NGO ‘Stop Acid Attacks’ said that these new rules shouldn’t be taken as a victory sign unless they are implemented and enforced properly. He is sure that the States and Union Territories will buy more time to control the sale of acids. Then there is corruption which acts as a hindrance to law enforcement in the country. He doubts that government can control acid attacks within three months. However, he welcomes the change in the law that is targeted towards the acid attack victims. In maximum cases women are the victims of acid attacks and the acid is generally thrown on the face to disfigure or maim them. Laxmi who was attacked in 2005 reports that these laws are not implemented since the proposals for attackers to compensate the victim was completely ignored.

There are brave women who despite being attacked don’t feel ashamed to face the society. After all it is not their fault. Another reason why acid attack goes unabated is that most women under these kinds of stress find it difficult to speak for them. It is high time that government comes forward to protect these victims against the remorseless attackers. Such cowardice and heinous crimes can only be curbed by spreading awareness. The Indian government has to understand that the victims are the citizens of the state who enjoy same rights as any other citizen.


A contemporary activists, Soniya Roa, is 34-year-old works as Interior Designer at the post of Project valuation and project leader. She lives a simple life, has gone through miseries in her own life, and has fought the stereotypes and prejudices in the society around her. A Cross Dresser and Gay, herself, she understands the emotional turmoil we individuals go through and is dedicated to eradicate the social inequities in the society.

In pushing against the stereotype and the gender conformity established by society, they become a piece of mockery – in movies and in public. They are denied education, employment and a right to live and are driven to begging and prostitution. The common man insults them or in the most suave cases walks away from them or moves seats in stations, trains, buses and even on the streets. With the great Indian mind set of un-touchability, Cross Dressers are perceived as one amongst them. Even the self-describing “liberal”, “open-minded” educated person wants to “stay away” from the Transfolks. Today she being educated and working at recognised post, she still faces many trauma given in-and-by society.

LokMarg: When and how did your journey as Cross Dresser started?
Soniya: I was 10-year-old when I started loving all things which girls do. I loved wearing dresses and behaved more like a girl. Though I looked like a boy but felt very much like a girl inside. My mannerisms were distinctly feminine and I felt I was more drawn towards “girly” interests and was uncomfortable with boys. As days passed I could figure myself different than my body appearance. It’s been a very emotional journey, I have been raised by my mother, and during my last year of graduation, I confessed her about how I feel but she didn’t accepted me. And I hope one day she will accept me as I am.

LokMarg: How much time did you take for yourself to accept the truth that you feel for same sex?
Soniya: It took me two years to accept the fact….it was not at all easy. Ten years ago there wasn’t so much awareness in India about transgender even among professionals. Moreover, being gay that time was much more of crime or an object to made fun, there were no social media or counselling as such to go and talk about your sexual orientation.

Lokmarg: When was your first public appeal as Cross Dresser? And what reaction you got?
Soniya: During my 12th grade, I met few Transgender (Hijra’s) and with their help, I went out dressed for the first time. Talking about my first experience, it was very bad as people on the street started making fun. They have different image for us, more than human they think we are only for physical use. Since then I realised that my journey might not be so easy in this society where people have limited mind-set. When I confessed to few of my close friends, their reaction was heart-breaking and till today they don’t talk to me.

Lokmarg: What today’s society say?
Soniya: It is sure changing for better in some states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. However, many states of India still are not safe places for transgender people to live. So far, I have got very mixed reactions while some were to heart-touching and behaved sensitive towards me. In some places where I got for make-up or cosmetic shopping, they treat me in much respected manner, while some salesmen they speak in double slang language. Place like Kerala, where it has 100 per cent literacy but has 0 per cent tolerance when it comes to accepting transgender people and allowing them to live a dignified life. India still has a long way to go in recognizing Cross Dresser people’s rights. I believe, it will happen for sure in the coming years.

Lokmarg: What do you want to say about BJP Govt over LGBT rights? Do you hope anything?
Soniya: In the Indian constitution, the fundamental rights under part III are enforceable human rights guaranteed to all citizens of this country, whether men, women or transgender people. We, transgender people, however are discriminated in the society because of our gender identity. Only legal recognition can assure our rights. The state has to come up with policies that protect transgender people and initiate measures to empower us. On that line, I have been sensitizing the judiciary of this country for a better understanding of transgender people’s lives, the issues and problems we face in the society. Talking about BJP, I first hoped for ‘Ache Din’ but by their flip-flop reactions, I have felt the hopes. They never been positive towards LGBT rights.

Lokmarg: What do you think Is the biggest misconception people carry about Cross Dresser/ LGBT community?
Soniya: Most of the people think that being a member of LGBT community is crime, they feel it’s some kind of health or mental issue. I feel there is a need of sensitization programs for lesbian and gay community members. The more we inform and educate one another of our grievances, backgrounds and struggles…the easier it would be to work towards the betterment of sexual minorities as a collective, in this country.

LokMarg: How it feels to hide yourself in public?
Soniya: It gives lot of pain. Imagine the feel of being a blind, it’s the same one from LGBT feels when they are not open.

LokMarg: What would you recommend to all transgender women struggling with gender dysphoria?
Soniya: Be courageous, be with hope, don’t fear, and don’t rush. Most transgender women want to transition immediately. It is a whole new life and an identity. Take counselling and go for surgery only if it is necessary. Don’t take self-medication, consult with doctors, and consult with friends. Most importantly, make sure you have a career and savings for a new life post-surgery. Hold to people who truly love you and be thankful to them.


Aggressive conversions are somewhat alien to traditional Indian concept of belief.  Competitive conversions are the defining characteristic of Abrahamic religions and modern secularism. Western and Middle Eastern history is a long litany of bloody wars between different creeds of religion and different creeds of secular political movements.
Christianity has fought Islam and vice-versa. Both have subsects that have fought each other. Northern Ireland and current Middle East is a testament to that. Secular nationalism has fought two world wars. Communism and capitalism, secular liberalism and secular ultra nationalism have all been fighting proxy wars for decades. This pathology was introduced by Congress party into India.
The pathology also informs western norms on freedom of religion and thought. It is based on the premise of ‘false god’ theory. That the ‘god’ or system of the other is false and the other needs to be saved from his/her error. It is the foundation of western liberalism as much as Abrahamic religions.
Indian belief systems, on the other hand, are passive systems. They express themselves, but do not compete in a market to save souls or lifestyles. They can be critical of each other and may even show their distinctiveness by commenting on the difference with the other. But they do not have a theory of ‘false god’ to condemn the other as a ‘false way’.
Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhi have all coexisted without going to war against each other to destroy the ‘God’ or gods of the other. They are benign belief systems. People convert to them by genuine freedom of personal choice rather than by financial, physical or psychological coercion.
Nothing puts this in context than the langar at Sri Harmandir Sahib and the aid work of Christian missionary institutions. Thousands of non Sikhs eat langar at Sri Harmandir Sahib every day. They are never handed a leaflet about Sikhi. No one attempts to ‘convert’ them or save their souls by the inducement of free meal. On the other hand, a Christian missionary charity will inevitably slip in a book or leaflet on ‘the only way’ (Jesus) once a person has taken their charity a couple of times.
There are many individual Muslims and Christians who will serve and help humanity without seeking to convert. But the principle of ‘Nishkam’ is not part of either Islamic or Christian missionary institutions.
If there isn’t a material gain in the mind of the institutional donor then there is an intention of saving the ‘soul’ of the recipient. This different approach to belief lies at the heart of tensions between Hindu organisations such as RSS on one hand and Christian and Islamic institutions on the other. A ‘stronger’ law prohibiting conversions or increasing bureaucratic hurdles in the process of conversions will not address the concern among Hindus.
The success of Christian missionaries is not their better organisation or better literature. It is in fact based on the monopoly they and Islamic preachers enjoy against the passivity of indigenous Indian belief systems. No indigenous Indian belief system has the conceptual framework of competitive proselytising. It simply is not an Indian thing to do.
Of course India needs a law and policy on conversions. But it has to be based on Indian value systems rather than bureaucratic institutionalisation of fear of conversions. It has to target the very nature of belief rather than the freedom of choice to convert.
A law and policy in India needs to insist that all belief systems in India have to abide by the principles of passivity and coexistence rather than competitive marketing. Some fundamental ideas of Abrahamic belief systems in India need to change and make them acceptable within Indian civilisation. The institutions of beliefs need to show that they are not engaged in financial inducement, offensive language about other beliefs or marketing techniques.
This is neither exceptionalism nor against human rights norms. Indians who live in the west are expected to live by the norms of western world. There is no reason the same principle cannot apply to people and systems that wish to co-exist in India.
After all Judaism and pre colonial Christians coexisted in India by understanding the culture of civility to others for hundreds of years. Surely like Sri Harmandir Sahib, Christian Charities can also provide without an insidious eye on ‘conversion’ or saving souls.
A law and policy restraining competitive proselytising will not be against international norms. UN conventions on freedom of religion state the right of an individual to freedom of religion and right to decide his or her own religion. It does not grant a right to be offensive directly or indirectly by condemning others as ‘false’.
In fact Article 18.2 of International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states, ‘No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.’ It is a matter of interpretation what coercion means. In the Indian context, even financial and charitable inducements can constitute ‘coercion’.
Further, the ICCPR in Article 18.3 also states, ‘Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.’ In the Indian context, it is the fundamental right and freedom of others not to be exposed to competitive proselytising. If the French can do it in their Laicite law, so can India.
Jasdev Rai
A medical doctor with a MA in politics and some time to spare. Has long interest in governance, human and political rights issues. Written and published academic papers on ethics, gender foeticide, anti terrorism, freedom of conscience, conflict resolution and Sikh philosophy. Developed and written a critique on Universalism for UNESCO in the ethics agenda for UNESCO. Has a long record of activism at the United Nations and has been to several Human Rights Council sessions.