Please Vote for Me at AvantGarde Bloggies Awards!

The polls for the AvantGarde Bloggies awards are LIVE. My entry is for the “Best Book Review” category. You can vote for me here (entry number 6). Voting started yesterday and runs till Sunday 28th March. Please vote for me if you liked my entry.

Also, don't miss this chance to uncover some really wonderful blogs from the Indian blogosphere. Whether you are interested in thought-provoking blogs, or satirical ones, movie reviews, parenting, cookery, travelogues – there's all this and more at the awards. There are some 2 dozen categories and the short-listed entries are the six best posts under each of those categories. So do vote in the other categories too.

All the best to all the bloggers who have been short-listed and a BIG thanks to Poonam at Visceral Observations and her team (judges, designers … ) for organizing this. Looking forward to next week for the results.

Short-listed for AvantGarde Bloggies Award 2009

My review of the book Bitter Chocolate by Pinki Virani has been shortlisted for the “Best Book Review” category of the AvantGarde Bloggies Awards 2009. This is an annual award organized by Poonam Sharma who maintains the blog Visceral Observations. There are several categories for the awards, and six posts have been shortlisted in each category from hundreds of nominations.

The winners will be decided by polls which will run for a week starting Monday, 22nd March. Watch this space for updates on the poll announcement.

I'm obviously thrilled that my post made it to the final short-list since this is the first time any of my posts has been short-listed for anything. But my real gain from this contest is the number of outstanding blogs that I discovered while browsing through the nominations. Of course the who's who of Indian blogosphere feature prominently among the final nominations; but there are scores of not-so-well-known bloggers who've made it as well. Reading through some of these lesser-known blogs; only one question plays through my mind: How come these bloggers do not get the reach and visibility that they well and truly deserve?

Kudos to Poonam and team for bringing so many excellent bloggers into the limelight. And stay tuned for Monday's poll.

Foreign Universities to open Campuses in India

The Education sector in India is poised for a reform, with a new bill allowing foreign universities to set up campus in India likely to be passed in Parliament soon. There are two features of the bill which have the potential to turn the result into a huge success or a huge failure:

  1. The foreign varsities will be free from the ambit of quota. So, one is hoping that admissions to these colleges will be purely merit-based. I only hope that Govt comes clean on this promise and doesn't end up dragging it into the quota net.

  2. These foreign varsities will be free to decide on the fees and admission process. This might be a cause for worry. I figure the universities will need to be competitive as far as fees are concerned in order to attract students; but I cannot convince myself that the colleges will not fix exorbitant fees (or that even if they do, people will not flock to these colleges).

There is a third provision in the proposed bill; which is aimed at preventing the repatriation of the profits made from Indian campuses outside the country.

We'll have to wait and watch if Indian students and the foreign universities can turn this into a mutually beneficial situation; or if it disintegrates into yet another money-making, out-of-reach-for-even-middle-class education” industry”. Time will tell.

Definition of "Rape" to be Broadened

As per this news article, The Government of India is set to amend Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code by replacing the term “rape” with “sexual assault”. This is a welcome move for several reasons.

One: as the article mentions, it makes the law gender-neutral. The law will now recognize crimes against women, men and children. There is no mention about sexual minorities and trans-genders in the article though.

Two: As a consequence of point One, the law aims to protect homosexuals against sexual crimes too.

Three: The current law only carries significant punishment for “rape”, as in penetration – other forms of sexual assault are not treated as seriously. The proposed amendment will, hopefully, recognize non-penetrative sexual offences as equally criminal.

The Government and Judiciary have been taking positive steps as far as prevention of sexual crimes goes, and this particular one is almost a reform. Let's hope that such measures help in stemming the sexual offences. More importantly, let's hope that the Govt doesn't stop here and goes on to introduce more measures; particularly in the area of prevention of, and dealing with, child sexual abuse.

Disclaimer: This is my personal blog. All the views and opinions expressed on this blog are entirely my own and do not reflect the views of my employer, organization, relatives, friends, acquaintances or any other person/entity.