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Murli Natrajan
Balmurli Natrajan
Murli teaches at William Paterson University of New Jersey, where he is also director of the Gandhian Forum for Peace and Justice.

Coming Together For Continuing Bigotry?


by: on July 28th, 2009 | 4 Comments »

It was bound to happen. Religious “leaders” (the quotes are meant to highlight the fact that the existence of “leaders” depends entirely upon the legitimacy and consent they enjoy or don’t among their so-called followers) from the major religions in India – Hinduism, Islam and Christianity – decried the recent court ruling decriminalizing LGBT sex (article 377, or 377 for short; see my earlier blog). Over the last couple weeks these “leaders” (who are usually busy fighting with each other in India) came together on this platform of opposition to 377 using any or all of four arguments that I am sure many of us have heard before in other spaces, other times. At the heart of each of their objections was the attempt to label LGBT sex-act as:

A) “unnatural” and then offer “cure” it through psychological/ psychiatric/yogic counseling, or


Sotomayor’s Sutra and Believable Change


by: on July 17th, 2009 | 2 Comments »

Judge Sotomayor has demonstrated to us the power of sticking to scripts. And, she did it in a robustly intellectual manner. The rituals (a term that anthropologists use very seriously and devoid of negative connotations of superficiality) of confirmation do follow a publicly recognized patterned performance that reinforces what and who the group is. Or, as anthropologist Clifford Geertz told us long ago, rituals are like stories that people tell about themselves to themselves. And the story here was of course that established precedence in judging and in confirming was sacrosanct. And Judge Sotomayor came off as Supremely qualified for this kind of action through her application of a beautifully crafted sutra (a rule or aphorism, from Sanskrit): To be the best judge, one must not pre-judge.


Of Independence and Freedom


by: on July 3rd, 2009 | 3 Comments »

Of Independence and Freedom

As U.S. Americans prepare to celebrate the 233rd anniversary of the nation’s independence from the British, we would do well to remember that political independence does not easily or readily translate into the freedom or dignity of all citizens. Right from the time of the Declaration of Independence to more than two centuries later, Americans are still witness to the struggles of many “minorities” against discriminatory practices in society and in law. The same holds true for a much more recently independent and younger democracy, India, whose constitution-makers drew inspiration from the US American constitution and the French Revolution.

As I write this from Mumbai, all major cities in India concluded the largest ever public demonstrations and celebrations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community. Lasting for a week and culminating with a pride parade on Sunday, June 28, these celebrations commemorated the events of Stonewall in New York and in solidarity with other LGBT communities around the world.