Indian Supreme Court issues landmark privacy ruling

By : MICHAEL K. LAVERS of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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A landmark Indian Supreme Court ruling on Thursday will likely have implications on efforts to decriminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations in the South Asian country.

The BBC reported the judges ruled the fundamental right to privacy was “an intrinsic part of Article 21 that protects life and liberty.” They also said “discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual.”

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It’s Always Summer in India

By : Ken Kundis
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KenKundisHeadshotAs part of my new job, I had the opportunity to spend three weeks in India in February. To leave New York for that length of time during my least favorite month (weather-wise) was a source of envy from friends and delight for me. For the duration of my trip, the weather was spotlessâ┚¬â€Florida-hot in the afternoons without the humidity, and pleasantly cool in the early mornings and evenings.

For those who have never visited the subcontinent, it really is a bucket-list trip. India is a fascinating country and culture, one that operates on a completely different metaphor than ours. Everything from the ethnic homogeneity to the caste structure that permeates life in this massive, complex country is every definition of our idea of â┚¬Ëœforeign.'

My company is based in Bangalore in southern India, the third largest city in the country with a population of 8.2 million people. This makes it approximately the same size as the city in which I live. While Bangalore is third on the list of Indian cities, Mumbai and Delhi have a combined population of 23 million people, which is more than half the population of the entire Northeast US.

As a result, the experience of being in India is one of never being alone. Even at 4 a.m. on a Monday, when I was in a cab going to my accommodations, the streets were filled with people.

The most striking thing for a Westerner to observe in India is the chasm that exists between the haves and the have-nots. While the upper 15% live well in an economy that we see as enormously affordable (a full breakfast of coffee, juice, eggs, and a buffet can be had for about 70 cents US), the remaining 85% live a meager existence.

I told my friend, Harini, of a trip I made from the company campus to the Crowne Plaza hotel nearby for a much needed Western-style meal. She informed me what I paid for that one meal was equivalent to 1/3 the monthly salary of the average Bangalorean.

As I was making my way back to the Bangalore airport once my time in India was done, I began to ponder a basic concept, one that has been rolling around in my brain ever since: that of dumb luck.

Back here in the States, there have been a lot of changes lately for me. Not only a new city and a new job, but the first truly adult relationship of my life. When I was in my late teens and 20s, I had a fantasy about how I wanted my life to go. I dreamed of a handsome and successful boyfriend who was fully my partner and equal in every way. I dreamed of a job that would allow me to use my skills to have an engaging and engaged career (and to make some money). And I dreamed of living in New York City, in a glass apartment in the sky.

By my mid-30s however, I'd given up on a least a couple of those things. It wasn't that I made a conscious decision to stop believing; life simply interceded. At 41, I had never lived as an adult anywhere but Orlando, was with the same company for 13 years, and while I had dated, life-long love alluded me.

Now at the ripe old age of 46, I've found myself in exactly the spot I always dreamed of. I had stopped even thinking about what the 19-year-old Ken dreamed of or thought possible. And yet, here I am:  I have a job I truly love, working for a company I respect, and using my skill to their best effect. I live in New York City, which I believe to be the greatest city in the world. And by the time you read this, Phil and I will have made the big leap: moving in together.

While I've worked hard and tried to make smart choices, I can't shake the feeling that I've simply fallen forward into the life of which I always dreamed. What confluence of factorsâ┚¬â€thoroughly out of my controlâ┚¬â€allowed me to land in this place? And thinking back to my India experience, how unbelievably fortunate was I to be born at this time, in this country, with the parents I had and the opportunities I have been given? Because if being in India taught me anything, it's that the vast majority of people in this world don't have a life that looks very much at all like mine. Or yours, for that matter.

I'm not planning on giving any of it back, mind you. But it would be truly in vain if I didn't have a real and sincere appreciation for just how lucky I am. All this largesse comes with a responsibility to be genuinely thankful.

Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a spiritual person. And I hate the idea of being called â┚¬Ëœblessed.' It implies that a hand has reached down and anointed me and not the woman who sells beaded bracelets on the streets of Bangalore to feed her children. Its pure happenstance that I have the life I have.

So the next time I get bad service in a restaurant, or I'm stuck in a cab in traffic on my way to a meeting, or I get into a stupid argument with Phil or a friend, I'll think of Bangalore, take a deep breath, and just be thankful.