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The National Cadet Corps of India Is Witnessing A Transformation With Diversity & Inclusion Ideas

An inspiring story of a transgender who challenged the Section 6 of the NCC Act 1948 which classifies enrolment based on two genders – male and female.

Rajeev Unnithan | 15.03.2021 | 20:00

I was struck by this news. I thought of knowing more about this trans woman. I've been an aspirant to join the Indian Armed Forces. As a student even I felt that NCC, Army, Navy and Air Force is only for women and men who are quipped with professional competency and knowledge along with the promise to keep the citizens of India safe from the external threats.

I've been proved wrong and I am perplexed by the actions of Hina Haneefa.

Today, it was a historic judgement in the Kerala High Court. The judgment was delivered by Justice Anu Sivaraman. Hina Haneefa, who wants to serve India won the fight for the community of transgenders. Read on to know how she became the unique leader who is paving the way for one of the most vulnerable communities in India and around the world.

The judgement states...

A transgender person is entitled to be admitted to the NCC in accordance with her self-perceived gender identity.

So, it means Prabhakar (a fictitious name), a man can identify himself as Prabha (another fictitious name), a woman can be inducted into the female wing of NCC. For the NCC it may be an unacceptable judgement as it didn't have any rules around gender except for man, or woman.

The NCC is governed by the Ministry of Defence (MOD). The MOD stood it's position that they cannot induct a transgender person because the NCC Act does not permit it to. The Section 6 of the NCC Act 1948 which classifies enrolment based on two genders – male and female was challenged by Haneefa.

So, who is Haneefa? Why did she challenge the NCC?

With an inclination to join the NCC since her childhood and as an active social human she joined the male cadet wing. Hina Haneefa was born as a brother to three sisters. The family hails from a small town in Kerala, Malapuram. She chanced upon wearing the khaki uniform for the first time to join the male wing of NCC. She was also awarded the 'A' Certificate in class X, which is given to outstanding and promising candidates.

Hina Haneefa belonged to an orthodox Muslim family. She was forced to move to Bengaluru. Irrespective of circumstances she managed to arrange INR 1 Lakh in two years. She decided to go for a surgery of sex reassignment in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. All this is happening when she was just a 20 year old adult.

Later she planned to move to Thiruvananthapuram to join the University college where there are two seats reserved for transgender students. Her aspiration was demolished by the NCC associate officer who cited the NCC Act 1948 and it's classification of cadets as male and female. The intent may not be to discourage Haneefa but it let her down.

Well, here's how Hina turned her situation into a win.

Haneefa, a determined human who was eager to join the ranks at the college’s thriving NCC unit, appealed. Not one, she made two appeals. One to the NCC unit in the college and second to the Commanding Officer of the NCC Thiruvananthapuram in October 2019.

Her appeals didn't trigger any response.

The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me. | Ayn Rand

When there was no response she then decided to approach the High Court of Kerala with a Writ in November 2019.

Today, the Kerala High Court on Monday, the 15 of March 2021, ruled that Hina Haneefa, a 21-year-old transgender woman, can be enrolled in the National Cadet Corps (NCC). It's a historic day for Kerala, NCC, Ministry of Defence, and India.

The right to dignity as enshrined in the NALSA judgment, 2014 and the Transgender Act, 2019 echoed by the judgement of the Kerala High Court demolished the NCC's argument that it does not have rules to enroll transgender persons.

The judgment is expected to pave the way forward for transgender persons’ entry into paramilitary and military services. The 21 year old is a pioneer trans woman who moved high court to be enrolled into the NCC.

The judgement cites....

NCC Act cannot preclude operation of Transgender Rights Act.

As a society and culture enthusiast I am amazed by the courage and determination of Haneefa. I say it because I've been hearing a lot of tragic and hostile stories about transgenders and queers in Indian and around the world. I've been reading about the history of queers too. It's not that the narrative of queer and transgender is a modern emergence. They existed before, today and they are getting stronger one day at a time.

During my school and college days I used to hear a local dialogue, inspired by the Bollywood blockbuster movie, Sholay; a cult classic about revenge and redemption. I saw and enjoyed the movie but I wasn't aware of the word Hijrah back then. I understood it much later after I began reading about our society and culture as part of my interest in caste and community growth in India and around the world.

Thakur nei hijdo (eunuch/transgender/queer) ki fauj banai hai | Gabbar Singh (Villain)

It means that Thakur has formed an army of eunuch/transgender/queer. As a student I've heard this in my school and college days as a way to confront someone who is ganging up with people who can't do anything about the bully trying to dominate the former. The word hijde and chakke is also hurled at people by those who didn't understand the queer world and such cultures.

When I began to realize that such a culture exist and their world is within our world I felt for them. I still remember a eunuch who used to hold my cheeks and say, a Raju dena. As a child I was afraid of them.

It is their way of collecting money for their survival. You may call it begging. They are also seen at weddings and several ceremonies in India performing and dancing. They expect money & gifts as khushi, bakshish or dakshina (reward). They are part of our world even though they have their own culture and rituals. They have been accepted by the society and are also abused too.

This is not the first time victory of a trans woman.

Naaz Joshi (born on December 31st 1984 in New Delhi India) is India's first transgender international beauty queen, a trans rights activist and a motivational speaker. Joshi won Miss World Diversity beauty pageant three times in a row. She is also India's first transgender cover model.

Sathyasri Sharmila enrolled her name in Bar Council of Tamil Nadu And Puducherry and became the first transgender lawyer in India.

Joyita Mondal became the first judge at the age of 29, as she was appointed at Lok Adalat in north Bengal in October 2017. While closely working for transgender rights organisations, Mondal got inspired to pursue a degree in law.

Prithika Yashini became the first transgender sub-inspector though she was declared failed by one mark. Nonetheless, she got her score re-evaluated in the physical examination and came out clear with flying colours.

We have been living in a society where a lot of prejudices still exist. The transgender community faces tremendous bias, despite all efforts by its advocates. Through this list of quotes by transgender people, we are highlighting and celebrating the beliefs and comments of the community. Take a moment to consider the experience of transgender people in a way you perhaps never had before. | Manabi Bandyopadhya

I think the judgement for Hina Haneefa is a moment that will be remembered in history by you and I who believe in equality, diversity and inclusion. After all even these transgenders are humans. Equality is when humans, animals, plants and living beings are treated as one in Nature even though the characteristics differ.

The victory of Hina Haneefa should be celebrated because she got a judgment that encourages and paves the way for her community to join the paramilitary and military services.

Isn't it an amazing news?

Tell me what you think about such transgenders or queers around you. Do you think they deserve better life? Drop your thoughts in the comments. Share this piece if you believe in diversity and inclusion.


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