August 5, 2022
Good morning. In today’s either/view, we discuss whether the LGBTQIA+ community in India is adequately represented. We also look at the proposed new airport near Chennai in Tamil Nadu, among other news.
📰 FEATURE STORY
Is The LGBTQIA+ Community Adequately Represented In Sports In India?
Recently, India’s first openly gay athlete, Dutee Chand, held an LGBTQIA+ flag at the opening ceremony of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, potentially changing the course for queer Indian athletes.
While other countries have been more open to accepting athletes belonging to the community, why did it take India so long to come around? Dutee Chand can be a symbol of the changing perception of queer athletes in the country, however, this opportunity has not been extended to many people from the community in India owing to their sexual orientation and gender identity.
While the LGBTQIA+ movement in India has not gained nearly the traction it requires, there are gradual glimpses of inclusion on platforms such as television, social media and movies. The decriminalisation of gay sex in 2018 was a huge step forward, marking the beginning of changing attitudes towards same-sex marriage.
Since sports have often been referred to as a microcosm of society, it is no surprise that a cisgender, heterosexual person has higher chances of success in the field than a queer or trans athlete. Sport has the power to represent far more than just national or state identity; it has the ability to create role models, thereby celebrating the success of a person belonging to a minority as a stepping stone for societal change.
In light of the increased representation of the community in the recent Tokyo Olympics, it is safe to assume that many nations have paved the way for inclusivity in sports. India may be lagging behind as the first openly gay Indian athlete competed internationally only recently. Dutee Chand stated that no queer person should feel ashamed or scared of persecution. She marches on as the trailblazer for LGBTQIA+ representation in sports in India.
VIEW: Sports sector is becoming more inclusive
The 2020 Summer Olympics that took place in Tokyo recorded an unprecedented number of participants belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community. According to Outsports, they accounted for at least 163 of the participants which were nearly triple that of the 56 who participated in the 2016 Summer Games in Rio. The Tokyo Olympics also saw the LGBTQIA+ community bagging 32 medals, won by various nations.
In India, while the Navtej Singh Johar & Ors vs Union of India judgement promoted the ideal of equality for the community, the case of Dutee Chand actively brought the necessity of inclusion in sports to the forefront. The historic unfurling of the Pride Flag at the Commonwealth games quashed homophobia, making Chand an inspiration for every queer Indian athlete.
In 2020, the state of Manipur witnessed the formation of the first-ever all-trans soccer team. Backed by the NGO Ya All, which is dedicated to working for the LGBTQIA+ community in Manipur, a 14-member all-transgender football team was founded, and they participated in a seven-a-side match. The founder of the NGO recognised football as the path to a revolution for trans rights in India.
The Karnataka Sports Policy is arguably more inclusive than the policies in other states of the country. It aims to ensure that ‘diverse segments’ of society are given equal access to sports through the introduction of training camps and free coaching programmes for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer identities.” The policy also uses conscious language such as “diverse genders” to replace the normalised idea of gender as a binary.
COUNTERVIEW: India still has a long way to go
It is no secret that even though Section 377 was revoked in 2018, members of the LGBTQIA+ community have continued to face discrimination and violence in every field. This rings especially true in the sports sector where people who are not exhibiting enough ‘machismo’ are often attacked with homophobic slurs.
A survey conducted in 2021 in the United States revealed that LGBTQIA+ youth actively avoid playing sports in school as it was detrimental to their mental health. One of the students expressed their apprehensions for the same as the other students as well as coaches would discriminate against them. This actively discouraged students from participating in school events.
While the threat of homophobic abuse in sports is prevalent internationally, the representation of the LGBTQIA+ community is nearly invisible in India. This is evident through the lack of consideration of trans and non-binary gender identities in India’s sports policies. A glaring example of this is the language employed in Haryana and West Bengal’s sports policies, limiting participants only to “men and women.” Additionally, the sporting infrastructure in the country completely ignores the existence of non-binary athletes as there are rarely gender-neutral changing rooms or restrooms resulting in marginalization.
Dutee Chand had to face public criticism after announcing that she was in a same-sex relationship. Her family reacted with public hostility, conveying their disappointment on public platforms such as social media and newspapers. This instance is merely a glimpse of the stigma and humiliation which Indian athletes belonging to the community have to work with.
What’s your opinion on this?
(Only subscribers can participate in polls)
a) The LGBTQIA+ community in India is adequately represented in sports.
b) The LGBTQIA+ community in India is not adequately represented in sports.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
Modi Attacks Opposition’s ‘Revadi’ Politics, But Are BJP-Led States Doing Well?
For the Left:
With Her Humble Background, Faith In Nationalism, Droupadi Murmu May Emerge As Most Popular President Ever
🇮🇳 STATE OF THE STATES
AQI board (Haryana) – From October, the Haryana government will install display boards in each district that provides information on air quality and its effects. Gurugram and Faridabad will get 10 LED boards each. Other districts will have four each. Each category will be designated a different colour depending on the air quality. For example, AQI in the 51-100 range is deemed satisfactory. They’ll also display messages on protecting the environment like the ill effects of plastic bags.
Why it matters: According to a study published by the Energy Policy Institute of the University of Chicago (EPIC) last September, Gurugram residents, on average, lose 9.9 years of their lives because of pollution. Over the years the air quality in the state and some of its cities have remained very poor, with Gurugram being the most polluted. Among the reasons are vehicular traffic and the burning of waste.
New airport (Tamil Nadu) – Chennai will get a new airport as Parandur was finalised as the new site. It’ll cost ₹20,000 crores per initial estimates, according to Chief Minister MK Stalin. The new airport will have the capacity to handle 100 million passengers. It’ll have two runways, taxiways, terminal buildings, cargo terminals, and facilities for maintenance and repair. Acquisition of land will begin once the clearance is obtained from the Civil Aviation Ministry.
Why it matters: The state is witnessing increasing passenger and cargo movement. The existing airport at Meenambakam can handle 22 million passengers a year. The ongoing expansion work will increase that to 35 million in the years ahead. The new airport will help the state government improve the economic standing of Tamil Nadu and make it a $1 trillion economy.
Flood threats (Bihar) – Many districts in the northern part of the state are facing flood threats as the Kosi, Bagmati, and Kamala Balan rivers are above the danger level. There has been heavy rainfall in the catchment areas of Nepal and along the Indo-Nepal border. As the water levels have been rising, floodwaters have spread to the low-lying districts. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar conducted a survey of the water level at the Ganga.
Why it matters: Water levels in the Ganga have risen due to the pressures of floodwater from the Gandak. Last August, water levels at the Ganga crossed the highest flood level of 43.17 metres. Water entered several low-lying areas in Patna and some localities in Bhagalpur. In the western stretch, water levels began to decrease slightly from Buxar.
Liquor politics (Gujarat) – As parties prepare to fight it out in the upcoming Assembly elections, alcohol and drugs are becoming a big issue. The Gujarat Congress staged a protest on the issue of a liquor ban. AAP Chief Arvind Kejriwal criticised the ruling BJP government in the state and said this is what people will get if they vote for them again. He instead asked people to support the AAP to ensure employment.
Why it matters: A recent hooch tragedy left 50 people dead and many falling ill. The BJP has had to be on the defensive. The party has defended the work of the state police and the coast guard in seizing illegal drugs and alcohol, stating more than 400 cases have been filed under the NDPS Act.
Check posts for illegal liquor (Assam) – Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma asked the state excise department to set up temporary check posts along the border with Arunachal Pradesh to check the illegal influx of liquor. A standing committee of the Assam Legislative Assembly said many rules were being flouted. The steps being taken now are to have checkpoints and increase vigilance in the districts bordering Arunachal. Sarma also wanted the excise department’s vacancies to be filled up.
Why it matters: Last August, the state assembly committee found the state excise department hadn’t taken the necessary steps to prevent the illegal trade of liquor along the state’s border areas. The excise department’s revenue collection increased by more than 23% to ₹2,031.33 crores in 2020-21 from ₹1,639.61 crores in the previous fiscal.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
₹58,958 crores – The amount owed by India’s top 25 wilful defaulters as of March 31, 2022. The number of defaulters was 2,790 in FY2022, lower than the previous fiscal’s 2,840.