Landmark Ruling. India’s Supreme Court formally recognized a “third gender” yesterday, paving the way for the country’s nearly 3 million transgender people to gain access to a range of welfare programs, among other overdue social services. The Supreme Court did, however, specify that “the ruling would only apply to transgender people but not to gays, lesbians or bisexuals. India’s LGBT communities have been protesting the court’s recent decision to reinstate a colonial-era law banning gay sex, which they say will make them vulnerable to police harassment.” Can India only handle one human rights issue at a time? In a thought-provoking First Post.com column, senior editor Sandip Roy responds to the debate, arguing that “…perhaps it’s not inappropriate that the people who have been discriminated against the most and had to fight the hardest for very basic rights have had their right to dignity reaffirmed first by the highest court of the land.” [The Washington Post]
Miss America Goes To Washington. Michelle Obama extended an Easter Egg Roll invite to the reigning Miss America, Nina Davuluri, who will attend the April 21st festivities, complete with live music, cooking stations – where another Indian-American luminary, Chef Maneet Chauhan, will prep healthy treats – staged storytime (Davuluri will be one of the 12 celebs reading) and yoga. It’s all an extension of FLOTUS’s buzzed-about “Let’s Move” initiative, a campaign that finds a natural ally in Davuluri, who knows a thing or two about staying healthy. My kingdom for a spot on the South Lawn! [Deccan Chronicle]
The Culture Chronicles. We’re hooked on Arun Venugopal’s refreshing new WNYC series, Micropolis, which promises to take listeners “behind the lives of New Yorkers – through the lens of race, gender and identity.” The man sure delivers. From an entertaining exposé on the age-old South Asian habit of eating sans utensils to a more serious discussion on the notion of pigmentocracy (“God forbid you’re not wheatish – you’re dusky,” he stage-whispers, discussing Indian matrimonial ads), Venugopal’s stories are just the right blend of provocative, chuckle-inducing and witty – tune in. [WNYC]
Who Can Write About India? While you won’t be able to squeeze this read in on a coffee break, it certainly deserves a spot in your Save For Sluggish Morning Commute (Damn You, New Jersey Transit) folder. No, seriously. We salute Prayaag Akbar for his critical and nuanced review of “Implosion: India’s Tryst With Reality,” a new book by ex-Financial Times correspondent, John Elliott. Akbar, who argues that Elliott reaches for reductive cliches when describing a complex and multifaceted democracy, also answers a crucial question about who can and cannot speak for India. His answer? “Anyone…provided the writer has a point worth making, and bases it on evidence.” Ouch, Elliott – you got served. [OPEN]
A Techie’s Touch. We’re beyond impressed by Silicon Valley’s latest rockstar entrepreneur, Aarthi Ramamurthy, who recently added Lumoid – a digital camera rental service that hopes to eventually include all sorts of gadgets on its roster of borrowable goods – to her growing list of ventures. The software engineer previously programmed a photo app on her honeymoon, then followed it up with a nifty website that took the awkwardness out of bra-shopping. Keep your eye on this one, her future’s bright. [WIRED]
Aarti Virani is an arts and culture writer based in Hoboken, New Jersey. She has written for publications including Vogue India, The Wall Street Journal and Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @aartivirani.