Zakir was 17 when he started coughing. He was in Delhi, working as an embroiderer after running away from home. He lived and worked with 25 other embroiderers in a single room in the Kotla Mubarkpur area. Zakir's story is the story of thousands of migrants in India's urban cities. With crowded living and working conditions, as well as poor nutrition, TB creeps up on them and often remains undetected.
It's important not to reduce this conversation to the banalities of religion, gun control and terror. These are, of course, important issues and deeply linked to this crime. However, it's crucial to recognize this as a hate crime -- one that shakes humanity but most deeply affects us, the LGBTI community.
The government should understand that in a nation born of sedition, a charge of sedition is perhaps the most inspiring call you can give us. Using words like sedition betray your colonial and intellectually narrow mindsets. Both JNU and India will survive this shrieking, hysterical nationalist witch-hunt. If anything, a more liberal, resilient India will emerge with deeper commitment towards diversity and inclusiveness.
On the eve of World AIDS Day, which falls on 1 December, a shocking statement from the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) said it was not feasible to provide free ART (lifesaving medicines for HIV infected) to all patients as per the new WHO guidelines. How can this be justified in a country where more than 2 million people are HIV-infected and millions others remain at risk?
In India, our politicians and actors often serve the same purpose -- primarily to lull us into a world of make believe. They create a fictitious world, if only momentarily, where truth defeats evil and the balance in the universe is ultimately restored. Sometimes, though rarely, our reel heroes become real life ones with acts of courage and bravery. This is almost never witnessed in our political class, which is almost always theatrical, noisy and rhetorical, with little substance.
The discovery of Totally Drug-resistant Tuberculosis (TDR-TB) brought home the realisation that Mumbai was in a TB crisis. In response, the Mumbai Mission for TB Control was formed, its multi-pronged strategy focusing on proactively finding new cases in slums, creating access to rapid TB diagnosis ( including testing everyone for drug resistance), improving access to correct treatment and extending these services and support to providers and patients in the private sector.
It's a hot, brooding rainy afternoon in Mumbai as many of us TB nerds congregate in a small meeting room in a hotel in Mumbai. The room is filled with TB experts, doctors and government officials and our conversation is predictably dull. We talk about diagnosis, treatment and drugs. But the room comes alive as India's most famous TB patient Amitabh Bachchan walks in with legendary business leader Ratan Tata. Both of them are now "ambassadors" for TB control.
While planning my column, halfway through my coffee, my editor called. He always drives me mental. "Give me something hard-hitting," he said. "Why not Har-dik?" I inquired in my favourite fake American accent, making it sound like quite something else. "You pervert," he screamed, "this government will shut us down." I said Hardik again, this time in my desi accent. "Now that sounds hard-hitting," he said. So we agreed. Hardik it was.
People who live in glasshouses shouldn't throw stones, or so the old saying goes. What of those who specialise in throwing stones? Perhaps they should never claim they live in glasshouses? The AAP, the moralistic 'saviour' of our polity has certainly proved this saying true. In a matter of days, it did exactly what it spent its relatively short lifetime accusing other political parties of doing.
Every now and then we seem to completely lose our perspective and our decency. The game becomes more than just a sport. We ridicule needlessly, engage in senseless verbal violence and, as in our most recent case, flaunt our misogyny. When Virat Kohli, India's projected saviour during its World Cup crisis, played that fatal shot and his girlfriend watched from the stands, a section of the frustrated Indian fan club was already making up their mind -- If India lost, Anushka Sharma was to blame.
March 24 was World Tuberculosis Day. Not a day for celebrations in India if we consider that we have the highest TB burden globally with a million "missing" cases that remain undiagnosed, untreated and possibly undocumented. What's worse is that India's TB crisis -- the result of years of bureaucratic neglect and private sector disease mismanagement-- is now creating an epidemic of drug resistant (DR) TB. World TB Day then, if anything, is a reminder of the crisis ahead.