WE NEVER EVER TELL STORIES OF WOMEN’S RIGHT TO THEIR OWN BODIES: SEEMA ANAND - The Daily Guardian
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WE NEVER EVER TELL STORIES OF WOMEN’S RIGHT TO THEIR OWN BODIES: SEEMA ANAND

In an exclusive conversation with NewsX Influencer A-List, Seema Anand opened up about her experience of writing her book ‘The Art of Seduction’, interest in this particular field, and much more.

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Seema Anand, author and mythologist, recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as part of NewsX Influencer A-List. During the chat, she opened up about her experience of writing her book ‘The Art of Seduction’, interest in this particular field and much more. Read excerpts:

 Speaking about her interest in this particular field and how you came about writing her book ‘The Art of Seduction’, Seema said, “It actually began with the idea of looking for stories, so I am a storyteller by profession. I believe the stories we tell define who we are. They actually create our identity. The kind of stories we tell, if you tell stories about how a man comes home, he is drunk and beats up his wife but she is so good that she never says anything to him, then you create the identity of a good woman as somebody who will never stand up for herself, and to me, it’s always been a fascinating subject. As I explored these stories, I realised we never ever tell stories of women’s rights to their own bodies. That’s always somebody else’s property and I decided to try and see what it is that we had shut down or what are the stories that we had silenced. That led me to the Kamashastra. As you know, there are hundreds of Kamasutras, not just the one Kamasutra. I had actually thought it was part of my studies. I thought I’ll do a paper on it. I’ll move on. I started this about 18 years ago. All I can tell you is that it is the most fascinating subject that I have ever come across because the Indian Kamashastra are the most exquisite books on erotic passion in the world and they’re so unexplored, untranslated. When I say untranslated, I don’t just mean about translating word to word, I mean about the metaphors, what they actually mentioned and what they talk about. It has become life’s mission now for me to discuss it but what really draws me to them more and more is the emphasis that they put on a woman’s pleasure. The emphasis that they put on the divinity and the beauty around sexuality, which is so different to the world that we live in right now. It just makes me want to explore it more and see what it is that our ancient wisdom taught us that we see lost in this twilight zone that we live in today.”

When asked how is she using her platform on social media to spread the word on, not only sexual liberation and talking about sexuality but also saying that Indian culture has such a rich understanding of what sexuality is and it can be much more than vulgar, she responded, “It’s just the case, it’s anytime you have to change a story, you have to do it one tiny little bit at a time. I think sex education is extremely important. I know that a lot of people in India believe that if you teach sexual education in school, then it’s giving kids a license to go up and do things. But actually it’s making them aware of what’s going on so that they don’t go up and do things, they become more sensible or more careful or more intelligent about sexuality. It’s a very important part of our life to be intelligent and to understand sexuality but coming back to the question about how our culture or our background plays into it, what I find in all sex education classes is it’s very clinical. It’s literally being taught as the anatomy. This is this part of the anatomy. This is what happens at penetration. We keep saying that sexuality and intimacy are not necessarily about penetration, that’s one act in the entire world of pleasure out there. To me, I really want to bring back the idea of pleasure as a thing of beauty and refinement, which is what the Kamasutra was trying to teach. As a thing of refinement, as a thing that intrinsically includes emotion, I think that’s where we are lacking. When we teach sex education or when we talk about sexuality the problem is it’s so taboo. In just trying to break the taboos, most of us are just trying to say okay, let’s normalise the conversation. Let’s just get out there and talk about it so that it’s not hush-hush and it’s not so pushed under a carpet.”

Seema further added, “Most people are just literally trying to fight that first battle and my battle has always been slightly different because I didn’t actually start off by doing this on social media. I’ve been doing this work for so long. I just want to bring back people to the idea that there is beauty, refinement, and culture around it. It’s not that one act of penetration that surrounds it, there’s so much more to it.”

In just trying to break the taboos, most of us are just trying to say okay, let’s normalise the conversation. Let’s just get out there and talk about it so that it’s not hush-hush and it’s not so pushed under a carpet. 

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LIFE SKILLS COLLABORATIVE LAUNCHED TO CHAMPION SKILLS FOR INDIA’S YOUTH

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Eighteen organisations have come together to announce the launch of the Life Skills Collaborative (LSC) with the aim to support government agencies and education institutions by building a life skills platform that can aid in the transformation of India’s learning ecosystem. In the first phase, the LSC will work in tandem with state governments across Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, and Mizoram to bring contextual, social and cultural inputs to the development of life skills among the young people of India.

The Collaborative comprises organisations with diverse and global expertise in education, skill development, health and gender with a commitment to collaborate in deepening the understanding of life skills, designing learning tools that nurture life skills, and developing context-relevant assessments to measure progress, share learnings and inform system change India. The current collaborators include Breakthrough, Centre for Science of Student Learning, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Dream A Dream, Echidna Giving, Gnothi Seauton, ICRW, Kaivalya Education Foundation, Magic Bus, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, Omidyar Network India, Porticus, Pratham, Quest Alliance, Room To Read, Sattva Consulting, Shantilal Muttha Foundation and The Teacher Foundation. Speaking about the launch, Vishal Talreja, an LSC Collaborator and Co-founder of Dream A Dream, said, “One in three children in India live in extreme poverty and have stunted and/or wasted growth. Children from vulnerable backgrounds are exposed to a combination of adverse experiences causing an irrefutable impact on their physical and mental health. Empathy-based transformative pedagogy, experiential learning, and mentoring can help young people immensely.”

The Life Skills Collaborative will focus on three core areas:

1. Voices, a nationwide engagement with youth, parents, and teachers to capture their voices and translate them to insights that can drive the integration of life skills within public education systems.

2. Glossary, a set of definitions that serves as the vocabulary to discuss life skills in India and establish the foundation for discussing and aligning on outcomes, designing assessments across community, practitioners, and government.

3. Assessments, will focus on creation, establishment, and dissemination of an assessment repository for adolescents, teachers, and the system. At the adolescent level, this will assess student’s capacities and strengths in the age groups 11-14 years and 15-18 years; at the teacher level, it will assess the ability of the teacher to foster life skills in an adolescent; at the system level, it will assess the readiness of the system to deliver life skills.

Rathish Balakrishnan, an LSC Collaborator and Co-founder and Managing Partner at Sattva Consulting, said, “Young people often struggle to access education and employment opportunities, limiting their engagement in society and stunting their potential to live a full life. Equipping them with life skills can change this immensely. While there is a lot of interest in life skills, there is a lack of a common vocabulary and effective assessments, which limits its potential. By building credible and system-ready public goods, the Life Skills Collaborative can accelerate the effective adoption of life skills across the ecosystem.”

In recent times, the need for developing stronger life skills has become more acute. Focusing on building life skills in the next generation is imperative in enabling them to handle different situations capably. In a country like India, where a vast majority of the population is young, life skill development enables young people to direct and manage their lives positively.

Geeta Goel, an LSC Collaborator and Country Director, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF, India), added, “The Life Skills Collaborative is an innovative attempt to solve a wicked problem – the development of life skills among the young people of India. To achieve this goal, it is essential to support organisations, institutions and government agencies in building a more inclusive learning environment suited towards promoting life skills.”

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RED FM launches World Cup campaign ‘Totka Chalao India Ko Jeetao’

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93.5 RED FM has kick-started its World Cup campaign ‘Totka Chalao, India ko Jeetao’. Capturing the passion and craze of fans, RED FM will celebrate the ‘totkas’ and will have RJs follow some of these tricks shared by listeners as part of the campaign.

Witness the best of entertainment with ‘Nand Kishore Bairagi’ aka RJ Kisna taking a spin on the ‘totkas’ in his unique style. The campaign will also have Bauaa aka RJ Raunac calling up opponent teams as part of his prank calls series. Keeping the passion of the World Cup alive, RED FM will also launch the anthem, ‘Totka Wala Gana’ capturing the craze of cricket fans across the country. Speaking on the campaign, Nisha Narayanan, Director & COO, RED FM and Magic FM, said, “Cricket generates a kind of excitement that cuts across all sections of the society in India. Fans have been eagerly waiting for the mega tournament to start after the Covid-19 pandemic put a stop to all sporting activities. Over the years, cricket has united fans and radio has been a crucial part in bringing them together. There’s no denying that luck and superstitions go hand in hand with a cricket fan and this year we are bringing some of those practices the fans have subconsciously picked up over the years and now cannot let go. Our campaign, ‘Totka Chalao, India ko Jeetao’ will highlight some of the crazy ‘totkas’ that cricket fans follow across the country. We hope that you will share your favourite ‘totkas’ with us and cheer for team India with RED FM.”

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MICHAEL KORS TO LAUNCH MK MY WAY IN-STORE POP-UPS THROUGHOUT INDIA

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Michael Kors has announced the launch of an exciting new pop-up store activation throughout India to celebrate MK My Way—the popular interactive experience that immerses customers in the luxe world of Michael Kors and lets them customise their Signature logo print handbags with their initials.

The MK My Way activation will take place in stores with a colourful pop-up kiosk. Equal parts elevated and high-energy, the pop-up’s countertop and facade are splashed with metallic hues and punctuated by oversized, graphic takes on the brand’s signature print. After selecting their Signature print handbag, customers have the chance to have their bags hand-painted by Bangalore-based artist and illustrator Srishti Guptaroy (@srillustrator) with either their English/Hindi initials or with one of four unique motifs designed specifically for Diwali.

As an extension of the in-store program, the motifs will also be made into gify stickers available for all Instagram users. Supplies are provided by Angelus Paints, a California paint company and world leader in luxury customisation. To celebrate the launch, the brand has also created a digital campaign starring Bollywood actress Janhvi Kapoor (@janhvikapoor).

The pop-up store activations will take place in several cities throughout India, including:

Jio World Drive in Mumbai (from 8 to 31 October)

DLF Emporio in Delhi (from 11 to 31 October)

UB City in Bangalore (from 23 to 30 October)

Tatacliq Luxury (online) (from 18 to 31 October)

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Civilian killings in J&K are not random, but part of deliberate plan: Defence expert

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Defence expert Dhruv Katoch, while raising concerns over the recent killing of civilians by terrorists in the valley, on Monday said that the killings in Jammu and Kashmir are a deliberate attempt on the part of the Pakistani intelligence agency where they have made a detailed plan to create disturbance in India especially within the union territory.

Pointing out that these incidents are not “random”, Katoch said, “These are not isolated incidences. Everything is planned. They are targeting the poorer sections working there. The consolidated impact of the act is the cause of concern.” “It is a deliberate attempt on the part of the Pakistani intelligence agency where they have made a detailed plan to create disturbance in India especially within Jammu and Kashmir,” Katoch told ANI.

The defence expert said that it is important to hand this over to these incidents to National Investigation Agency (NIA) to determine the linkages within India, but more importantly to determine the linkages outside India.

Reacting to the ongoing counter-terrorist operation in J-K’s Poonch, he said, “We have already lost nine bravehearts and the operation is still on for nine days.”

He further said that the visit of Chief of Army Staff General MM Naravane to forward areas along the Line of Control in Jammu is simply to convey his support to the troops.

Amid the heightened counter-terrorist operations in the Poonch-Rajouri sector, Army chief Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane is on a two-day visit to the Jammu region to review the overall security situation on the ground.

The Poonch sector has seen heightened military activities in the last fortnight as nine Army soldiers have lost their lives there and operations are still on in the 16 Corps area to neutralise the terrorists. After a lull of six months, terrorist activities have gone up in the hinterland and ceasefire violations attempts are also on the rise in the Jammu area.

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PAKISTAN PLAYING ‘DOUBLE GAME’ IN AFGHANISTAN, TERROR ACTIVITIES MAY AGGRAVATE: THINK TANK

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The fall of Kabul and the conversion of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan on 15 August this year has boosted the morale of terrorist outfits, as per an analysis by a Canada-based think tank.

In view of “strong ties” between the Afghan Taliban and the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP), violence is expected to increase in the “pro-democracy” countries and even in Pakistan, according to the think tank, international think tank based in Canada, International Forum for Rights and Security (IFFRAS). In recent developments in the South-Asian region, particularly in Pakistan, 52 people died in 35 terror attacks in August indicating the growing instability in the region, according to the international think tank based in Canada, IFFRAS.

The killing of seven Pakistani soldiers by the TTP in Waziristan in September followed by the killing of the Pakistan Army’s Captain in the district bordering Afghanistan are the latest instances of the rising violence in the region including Pakistan.

According to IFFRAS, the role of Pakistan is being studied by the experts and they have been “suspicious” about Pakistan’s “double games”.

The Taliban after capturing power has assured no propagation of terror activities on Afghan soil.

“However, the Taliban has the reputation of saying one thing and then doing quite the opposite,” IFFRAS quoted a scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Aqil Shah as saying.

More than 6,000 terrorists had made their hideout in Afghanistan till 2020 even in the presence of the US military, IFFRAS reported citing a report by the United Nations.

“The total number of Pakistani foreign terrorist fighters in Afghanistan, posing a threat to both countries, is estimated at between 6,000 and 6,500, most of them with TTP,” the international think tank quoted the report as saying.

According to a rights advocacy group, Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Pakistani military and civil societies have garnished their relations with the Taliban for smuggling and terror training to counter India’s rising influence in South Asia, according to IFFRAS.

With the Taliban back in power in Afghanistan, Pakistan is staring at the problem of aggravation of Islamic radicalisation on its soil, furthering its image as a terror state.

“The government will be under greater pressure to make the state more sharia-compliant if Taliban next door is doing that,” IFFRAS quoted a researcher at the University of London, Ayesha Siddiqa as saying.

As pressure mounts on the Imran Khan government in Pakistan to recognise the Taliban government, the chief of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI) called for a revolution to “pull down” the government, according to the IFFRAS.

Following such calls for revolution, the terror outfits in Pakistan may get a boost which may lead to “bloodshed”, according to the think tank.

“With the Taliban taking over, anti-Pakistan terrorist groups will be emboldened, but it doesn’t end there. There could be an emergence of a new war of narratives in the country, which will transform ongoing debates about state and society and the role that religion plays,” IFFRAS quoted the director of the Pakistani Institute for Peace Studies in Islamabad, Muhammad Amir Rana.

Former US National Security Advisor, Lt Gen HR McMaster called Pakistan an enemy nation and said that the country uses “Jihadist terrorists” as an arm of their foreign policy.

“We have to stop pretending that Pakistan is a partner. Pakistan has been acting as an enemy nation against us by organising, training and equipping these forces and by continuing to use jihadist terrorist organisations as an arm of their foreign policy,” reported IFFRAS quoting Lt Gen HR McMaster.

The total number of Pakistani foreign terrorist fighters in Afghanistan, posing a threat to both countries, is estimated at between 6,000 and 6,500, most of them with TTP.

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Since lockdown, I felt a surge of people on social media just looking for content: Tarini Shah

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She is a Gen-Z content creator and her relatable content is popular with the youth. Tarini Shah already has an enormous Instagram followers count of 248k, and it is growing with each passing day. We hosted Tarini for a frank conversation for our latest series, NewsX Influencer A-List. Below are the excerpts from the interview:

We began the interview by asking Tarini about her journey down the path of content creation. Tarini replied, “I started creating content around two years ago but I really started focusing on content during the pandemic and since lockdown, I felt a surge of people on social media just looking for content.” She added, “I was lucky enough to be there at that time creating content on the other side of it and that’s actually what kickstarted my career.” This was the point when Tarini realized that the creative field was her calling.

On being asked about how she juggles between her college life and her influencer life, Tarini told us, “Sometimes, it does get really, really overwhelming because assignments have deadlines and collaborations have deadlines and managing these two deadlines does get a little stressful,” said Tarini when we asked  Tarini appreciated the efforts of her professional team who help her in keeping up with the tight deadlines. She also expressed gratitude towards her sisters from whom Tarini learnt the valuable skill of time management. Ms Shah further said, “It requires a good to-do list to make sure that both the things go on properly because they are equally important to me. Education is important and content creation is something I really love doing and it’s kind of like my job.”

We then asked Tarini if she thinks content creation can be taught as part of a course and if she plans on taking up the craft as her full-time profession. “I am studying Bachelor in Management Studies and I’m doing marketing, and content creation does turn out to be digital marketing in one way when we start doing brand collaborations, so we do have this tiny thread that connects them both but I feel I’m more inclined towards creating content,” said Tarini. She believes that content creation teaches a plethora of different skills which can be applied in various fields. She concluded the thought by saying, “…content creation can definitely end up being a course because the monetary aspect is there and this is just the start. There are so many content creators who are coming up in the pandemic, so the future of it looks massive to me. The brands are coming to lots of influencers with various campaigns because there is a direct connection between the people and the influencer.”

Our next question to Tarini was about how she maintains her mental health in the middle of a demanding lifestyle. Tarini answered, “I feel talking to people does definitely help- my family, my sisters, my mentor, and my friends.” She continued, “Just talking to them about what’s going on in my life and because of this I feel like I am actually living my life like I’m living my dream life, but I also lowkey want to do those 19-year-old teenager things that sometimes I miss out on, but just by talking to people around me helps me live my life through them a little bit.” This, according to Tarini, helps her keep a calm mental state amid a healthy work-life balance. 

For our last question, we asked Tarini about how she deals with body image issues on social media platforms, to which stated, “…it takes a while to put those insecurities out in the public with so many eyes watching you and you are worried about the opinions of people which is also very natural to do so but seeing other people on social media doing it encourages you as a person as well.” She continued by saying, “That’s what I am trying to do, slowly and steadily one step at a time trying to put myself out there, just the way I am.”

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