Whether forming the National Council for Transgender Persons or amending the law to allow transgender people to inherit ancestral agricultural land or dedicating a metro station to LGBT community by approving that all employees at the metro station to be transgender or setting up India's first university for the transgender community, Modi-Yogi duo is taking all substantial spirited initiatives to empower LGBT community in a real sense.
Prime Minister Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath are two leaders who enjoy massive public support with a landslide mandate, but they also face the harshest opposition from a particular class of people who are supposed to have a neutral or non-political stand. These people hailing from the 'elite' section of the media see them as 'outsiders' who are misfit to stay in corridors of power. They pretend to be apolitical and neutral, but in reality, they are close to Left-leaning ideology. Left-liberal intelligentsia and journalists form a huge part of this anti-Modi-Yogi brigade not only runs a smear campaign to witch hunt and defame the two firebrand leaders but also their good, noble initiatives never get their fair share of appreciation from this self-righteous coterie of journalists and intellectuals.
Their every single move, initiative, decision- no matter how noble; is minutely observed and given an altogether different version, to paint them as bigoted, regressive, communal villains. On the other hand, the same media is too generous to Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Yadav, Mamata Bannerjee. Even if you are not a Modi-Yogi supporter, read this article with an unprejudiced mind just for the sake of objectivity. And observe how such strong concrete initiatives taken by both the leaders for the upliftment of the LGBTQ community were given zero media coverage by media houses.
Last year on November 26, Modi-led Union Government passed the The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019 for the protection of rights of transgender people. The Bill defines a trans-person as someone whose gender does not match the one assigned at birth and includes trans-men, trans-women and persons with intersex differences and gender characteristics.
The Bill allows the self-perception of gender identity. But it mandates that a transgender person would have to obtain a Certificate of Identity which will give him the proof of his identity as a transgender person and the rights conferred under the Bill. The District Officer will provide such a certificate. Based on this certificate, the gender of the transgender person will be recorded in all government documents.
The Bill prohibits discrimination against transgender individuals including refusal to serve or inappropriately behave concerning areas such as education, employment- recruitment as well as promotion, publicly available products, housing, healthcare and access to other services. Not just this, the Bill enforces a minor's right of residence compelling any trans person below 18 to cohabit with their natal family.
And if there is any change in gender, the transgender person can apply for the revised certificate by following the same procedure that was adopted for obtaining the identity certificate.
In a positive development, Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh Government amended a law to allow transgender people of the state to inherit ancestral agricultural land. This comes after the UP Cabinet cleared an amendment to the UP Revenue Code of 2006, removing the limitations of nomenclature in inheritance laws which categorically made mention of 'sons', 'daughters', 'married', 'unmarried' and 'widow' as ones who would rightfully inherit such ancestral lands
Also, it directs the Central Government and the State Governments to arrange welfare schemes for trans people. Plans and programmes will be formulated by the Central or State governments to facilitate and support the livelihood of transgender persons. This includes vocational training and self-employment as well. Steps will be taken by the Central and State Governments to provide healthcare to transgender persons including the following: (i) separate HIV surveillance centres; (ii) Sex reassignment surgery and hormonal therapy counselling; (iii) medical course review And (iv) a comprehensive insurance scheme.
The educational institutions will provide inclusive education and sports, recreation and leisure opportunities to transgender individuals without discrimination.
Recently, Modi Government has constituted the National Council for Transgender Persons (NCT) to formulate policies, programmes, legislation and projects regarding members of the community for achieving equality and full participation by them. This council will monitor and evaluate government policies.
The NCT will include representatives from: (i) Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Health, Minority Affairs, (ii) NITI Aayog, (iii) National Human Rights Commission and National Commission for Women (iv) State Government, (v) Transgender Community Nominee member of (vi) expert of NGOs.
The Bill recognises the following as a crime: (i) getting transgender persons to beg, coercion or bonded labor (this does not include mandatory government service for public purpose), (ii) prohibiting them from using public space (iii) preventing them from residing in family, village etc. and (iv) harassing them physically, sexually, verbally, emotionally and financially.
This Bill is an excellent step towards empowering the Transgender Community as it will pave the way for their healthy inclusion and participation in society.
Another initiative for inclusion and meaningful participation of the members of the transgender community has been taken by Yogi Adityanath-led BJP Government of Uttar Pradesh. The Noida Metro Rail Corporation (NMRC), which operates the Noida-Greater Noida metro service also known as the Aqua Line, has decided to change Sector 50 station into a 'She Man' station to have special facilities and employment for the transgenders. As per Census 2011, there are around 4.9 lakh transgenders in India, out of which 30,000 – 35,000 are staying in Delhi and the national capital region.
UP Government's initiative to open India's first transgender university becomes a ray of hope for the entire LGBTQ community. By providing educational opportunities right from the primary school level, the government will not only empower them but will also help them to make a living.
This station has been renamed as Rainbow Metro Station to signify and represent the essence of the Trans community correctly. The rainbow colours, represent diversity and are also a prominent symbol of pride for the wider Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community, which has for long struggled for equal rights. The 'She-Man' station will be similar to the pink stations, which provided special facilities for female passengers. Though Sector-50' She-Man' station will cater to the transgender community, it will be open for all passengers. It is a first-of-its-kind initiative by a Metro rail system in northern India. This happening in Uttar Pradesh headed by Yogi Ji causes a great meltdown to the so-called self-proclaimed liberal lobby.
The station will facilitate the travel of the trans community in the metro system and will also provide employment opportunities. They will be employed for activities such as ticketing counter and housekeeping at the metro station. This initiative by the Yogi Government will surely make the members of the trans community self-reliant. Apart from this, NMRC staff will be sensitised and trained to communicate with the transgender community members. The transgender people will also be adequately trained before being inducted in the NMRC system. Yogi Government has chalked out a plan to complete transgender-specific infrastructural changes at the sector-50 station, such as toilet facilities and separate check-ins, in one month.
Not just this, Uttar Pradesh is going to be the first State in India that will have the first transgender university. India is going to witness the establishment of country's first-ever university exclusively for transgender people in Uttar Pradesh's Kushinagar district to facilitate its members to study right from class one to PG and even do research and get a doctoral degree. It is the first of its kind in the country where members of the transgender community will be able to get the education.
The university, which will come up in Fazilnagar block of Kushinagar district, is the brainchild of Akhil Bhartiya Kinnar Siksha Seva Trust (All-India transgender education service trust) supported by Yogi Government. Yogi Adityanath is the first-ever Chief Minister who has taken such a step to help the community members make a life beyond dancing at weddings. Such solid spirited initiatives help them become self-reliant as education is the passport to the future. Education holds such immense powers that it has the potential of changing the fates of their community as well as that of others. Undeniably, Transgender people are deprived of this basic necessity. They are the most marginalised groups in the country. Lack of recognition and adequate support from both the private and public spheres of life have only worsened this scenario. So UP Government's initiative to open India's first transgender university becomes a ray of hope for the entire LGBTQ community. By providing educational opportunities right from the primary school level, the government will not only empower them but will also help them to make a living.
This significant step of the UP Government is capable of bringing a 'Sea Change' in the lives of LGBTQ people. For a community that has been largely marginalised throughout history, this new initiative could prove to be the catapult to a bright future. The varsity will help bring transgender people into the mainstream of society. This step has elated the whole transgender community. Still, no words of praise from the intellectual class and a particular section of the media that's averse to PM Modi's boldness and CM Yogi's devil-may-care attitude.
In another brilliant move, last week Yogi Adityanath cabinet cleared an amendment to the UP Revenue Code of 2006. Now the Transgenders in the State will be able to inherit ancestral agricultural land.
As a symbol of acceptance of LGBTQ community, the Sports Ministry has conferred Arjun Award for 24-year-old Dutee Chand, silver medallist in both 100m and 200m in the 2018 Asian Games. This particular selection of lesbian sprinter Dutee Chand makes heads turn because Dutee is the first athlete from the LGBTQ community to win the Arjun Award. She has thanked the government for recognising her achievements earned through hard work.
Thus the transgender people in the State will be recognised as members of a landowner's family and hold an equal right to inherit agricultural land. This amendment would lead to the inclusion of the third gender in the nomenclature. Previous mentions were limited to "sons, daughters, married, unmarried and widow".
The terminology is restricted to 'male/female' and 'man/women' which removes non-binary people from the conversation and leads to the invisibilisation of transgender people and prevents them from owning ancestral property. All the inheritance laws leave out the transgender people. This is the prime reason they have to face social ostracism. Thus this move would definitely accord equal rights and social recognition to the LGBTQ community. This change will benefit transgender people with familial holdings of land and could help reduce the stark wealth gap between cisgender and transgender people.
As a symbol of acceptance of LGBTQ community, the Sports Ministry has conferred the Arjuna Award for 24-year-old Dutee Chand, silver medallist in both 100m and 200m in the 2018 Asian Games, along with 26 others. This particular selection of lesbian sprinter Dutee Chand makes heads turn because Dutee is the first athlete from the LGBTQ community to win the Arjuna Award. She has thanked the government for recognising her achievements earned through hard work. The Arjuna Award to ace sprinter will not only motivate her to gear up for next year's Tokyo Olympics, but this will also inspire the young members of the LGBTQ community to pick up a sport. What an empowering idea!
Likewise, the UP Government is promoting start-up ventures of women and transgender under the new UP Startup Policy 2020 with additional incentives and institutional support.
Surprisingly all these efforts to uplift the trans community were not given due attention by elite media houses. The left dominated journalists, and intellectual lobby claim to be all in for LGBTQ rights and they never fail to push the narrative that the two great Hindu leaders Yogi and Modi are kinda transphobic. This became crystal clear when none of the major media houses and intellectual lauded centre or UP Government for taking such concrete steps to empower the LGBTQ community.
Left-Liberal media misrepresents Yogi Aditynath as an ultra-orthodox Hindu male chauvinist but the mahant turned politician Yogi turned out to be the best CM in general and for the transgender community in particular. This is in sheer contrast to his media imposed image of a male chauvinist.
Despite a virulent campaign against the Prime Minister Narender Modi and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, the nation is eagerly looking forward to their PM and CM stint with full optimism and undaunted support.
Foundation of Ram Mandir has been laid under the stewardship of Modi-Yogi. Article 370 has been abrogated. No other leader can match the accomplishments of the Modi-Yogi combination who have fulfilled the long-cherished dreams of Hindus.
It's high time that journalists and intellectuals take off their tinted glasses and see Modi-Yogi as the men they are!
(The writer is a Supreme Court Lawyer)