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Gay rights

Not only is BJP refusing to scrap Section 377, it's back to saying gays have a 'genetic disorder'

No chance of homosexuality being decriminalised in India anytime soon.

It seemed as if Law Minister Sadananda Gowda had opened up a window of hope in the aftermath of the landmark American decision on gay marriage. On Tuesday, the Economic Times quoted Gowda as having said that the government might look to scrap Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises all "unnatural sex." Specifically, the ET report quotes Gowda saying "the mood appears to be in favour of it", with that "it" presumably referring to the scrapping of Section 377. But that small window of hope has just been shut, thanks to a denial from Gowda.

"I never said that, I was misquoted," Gowda told reporters. "The topic was on USA legalising same-sex marriage. I just said that such decisions would need wide discussions in India." He would even go on to berate the Economic Times via his Twitter account, saying the piece is a "wrong report" and asking the newspaper to take it down immediately.


This follows the see-saw nature of the Bharatiya Janata Party's relationship to the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender community over the last few years. Many in the BJP have seen the potential for goodwill that could come out of supporting the LGBT cause, or genuinely believe in it, and have been vocal about it.

Sometimes, some of those statements have even prompted hope that the government might actually take a step towards scrapping Section 377, a year-and-a-half after the Supreme Court upheld it as being constitutional. The BJP's Mumbai chief has said that it will support repealing the provision, its party spokesperson, Shaina NC, said it was for the decriminalising of homosexuality and then-Health Minister Harsh Vardhan claimed that the government should protect the rights of homosexuals. Even Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh spokesperson Ram Madhav, while refusing to approve of homosexuality, said he would find it hard to consider it a crime.

But for every one of these statements, there's one from the likes of BJP supporter Baba Ramdev who insists homosexuality is a disease that he can cure, or from Home Minister Rajnath Singh saying the BJP will not support these "unnatural" acts. Louder than these words are, of course, the silence from the party in Parliament, where its majority in the Lok Sabha could see Section 377 struck down, with support in the Rajya Sabha likely to follow.

Instead of that happening, though, the party seems to be leaning in the opposite direction entirely. Although BJP leader Subramanian Swamy is known to make statements that are controversial for their own sake, his status cannot be denied and indeed, his comments are often used by the party to send certain messages.

On Tuesday, Swamy not only attempted to insist that Gowda had been misquoted, he also sought to clarify the party's stance on homosexuality, hewing closer to Rajnath Singh's opinion than Ram Madhav or Harsh Vardhan.


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What to look for when buying your first car in India

Hint: It doesn’t have to be a small car.

When it comes to buying their first car, more Indians are making unconventional choices. Indian car buyers in 2016 are looking for an automobile that is a symbol of their aspirations and sets them apart from the herd. Here are a few things you should consider when buying your first car:

Look beyond small cars

According to the JD Power India Escaped Study (2015), the percentage of new-vehicle shoppers who considered a small car reduced by 20% over three years—from 65% to 45%. Buyers are now looking at bigger, affordable cars and luckily for them, there are more choices available. Known as compact sedans, these cars offer the features of a sedan, are larger than hatchbacks and contain a boot. These sedans offer the comfort and features that once only belonged to expensive luxury cars but at a price that’s within the reach of a first-time car buyer.

Design and styling is important but don’t forget utility.

It’s a good idea to have a car that has been designed over the past three years and doesn’t look outdated. Features like alloy wheels and dual beam headlamps add to the style quotient of your vehicle so consider those. Additionally, look for a car with a sturdy build quality since Indian urban conditions may not always be kind to your car and may furnish it with scrapes and dents along the way.

Image Credit: Volkswagen
Image Credit: Volkswagen

Does it test-drive well?

In 2014, 35% of new-vehicle buyers researched vehicles when they were buying but by 2015, this number had risen to nearly 41% according to the JD Power study. While the internet is the primary source of research in India, the best source of information about a car is always a test drive. Listen to the sales person and read all online reviews, but test every feature to your satisfaction.

Where do you plan to drive?

Look for a car that’s spacious and comfortable while being easy to drive or park on our crowded city roads. Compact sedans are perfectly suited for Indian driving conditions. Some of them come with parking assistance and rear view cameras, rain sensors and front fog lights with static cornering that are excellent driving aids. If you plan to use the car for long drives, compact sedans that provide cruise control, a tilt and telescopic adjustable steering wheel and a front centre armrest would be perfect. On road trips with family members who usually pack more than necessary, extra elbow room inside and good boot-space is a blessing.

Is the model about to be discontinued?

Never buy a model that is going to be discontinued because it could result in difficulty finding spare parts. Buying an old model will also affect your resale value later. In 2015, according to the same report, 10% of shoppers considered newly launched car models as against 7% in 2013—a strong indication that newer models are being preferred to old ones.

Diesel or petrol?

Diesel and petrol cars have different advantages, and it’s best to take a decision based on the distance you plan to drive on a regular basis. While petrol cars are usually priced lower and are more cost effective when it comes to service and maintenance, diesel cars typically have better mileage due to higher efficiency and provide a smoother drive due to higher torque. Additionally, diesel is the cheaper fuel. So it makes more economic sense to buy a diesel car if you are driving long distances every day.

Most importantly, safety always comes first.

Look for a car that is built sturdy and pays extra attention to safety features like Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS), side impact bars and dual front airbags. Safety is also a function of the design and features such as a galvanized steel body add to the strength of the build. It’s important to remember not to make trade-offs on safety for less important features when choosing variants.

Buying your first car is an important milestone in life. And the new Volkswagen Ameo has been designed with several first-in-segment features to cater to all the needs of a first-time car buyer in India. Its bold design and elegant styling along with state-of-the-art features like cruise control, reverse parking camera and sensors, and intelligent rain sensors set it apart from other cars in its class. Its safety features are also a notch above, with dual front airbags that are standard in every variant and side impact bars. A sturdy galvanized steel body and laser welded roof cocoon its passengers from harm, and its modern ABS, that is also standard in all variants, prevents the wheels from locking when you brake hard. A six-year perforation warranty and a three-year paint warranty ensure that the car body is protected from scratches and dents. The Ameo comes in both petrol and diesel variants. Check out all the features of the Ameo here. Also hear the experience of two first time car buyers in the video below.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Volkswagen and not by the Scroll editorial team.

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