Monsoon session

Parliament: Lok Sabha passes anti-trafficking bill moved by Maneka Gandhi

Members of the Rajya Sabha debated the Institution of Eminence tag given to the Jio Institute.

The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 moved by Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi.

The legislation aims to prevent trafficking of persons, especially women and children. It seeks to provide care, protection and rehabilitation to the victims of trafficking, to prosecute offenders, and to create an environment conducive to the victims, The Hindu reported.

The legislation proposes to create institutional mechanisms at the district, state and central levels. It calls for punishment ranging from 10 years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine not less than Rs 1 lakh. The legislation also covers forms of trafficking such as forced labour and begging.

Gandhi assured that she would incorporate in the rules any lacunae that the members have pointed out. “The bill is long overdue. The law is victim-centric and [the] conviction rate will hopefully improve after the bill is enacted,” PTI quoted Gandhi as saying.

“How can we remain silent while women and children are sold like goods?” Gandhi had asked earlier on Thursday when the bill was taken up for discussion. The minister provided data on trafficking incidents in the country and said that the present laws to combat trafficking have many loopholes. Gandhi added that the new law will allow police personnel to begin rescue operations whenever they get information about trafficking.

However, Congress MP from Thiruvanathapuram Shashi Tharoor called the bill “regressive and paternalistic”. He said the bill does not make a distinction between victims of human trafficking and migrants who have been smuggled. “The bill must also differentiate between those who are trafficked into sex work, and adult, consenting women who have entered sex work,” Tharoor said.

Earlier, Congress’ Leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge criticised the move to make Justice AK Goel the National Green Tribunal’s chairperson. Goel was part of the Supreme Court bench whose ruling in March diluted the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Legislators of the Congress and the Trinamool Congress also quarrelled in the Lok Sabha over holding regular meetings of a coordination committee on district development in West Bengal, PTI reported. Mushidabad Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury claimed that there was “no democracy” in West Bengal as no meeting of the committee had been held in six years. The minister made the remarks while Union Rural Development Minister Narendra Singh Tomar was responding to a question on open defecation.

Delhi BJP MP Mahesh Girri claimed that the Aam Aadmi Party government in the state was trying to cover up the deaths of three girls due to starvation. He alleged that the children’s family did not receive ration supplies properly and the girls were not treated well at mohalla clinics.

Rajya Sabha proceedings

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP Vijayakumar criticised the Centre in the Rajya Sabha during Zero Hour over the granting the Institution of Eminence tag to the Jio Institute, which is yet to be set up, The Hindu reported.

In response, Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar said no such status had been granted to the university. He added that only a letter of intent had been issued to the institute. However, Vijayakumar wanted to know if the government will issue a white paper on the selection of institutes.

Communist Party of India MP D Raja asked if the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras and the Jawaharlal Nehru University had been considered for the tag. “The decision was taken by the Gopalaswami Committee,” Javadekar responded. “We decided to provide Rs 1,000 crore funding since none of the Indian universities made it to the list of top 100 world universities. We are supporting IIT Madras too.”

Thereafter, the Rajya Sabha was adjourned for lunch and will resume at 2 pm.

Some other matters raised during Zero Hour proceedings included the plight of tea garden workers in West Bengal, coastal fishing zone management, reopening a firm in Bihar that was closed citing environmental concerns, and adulteration in food products. Congress MP Rajeev Gowda mentioned the nationwide transporters’ strike, which he said was affecting other industries.

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”


“Like what?”


A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”




“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:


This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.