Queeristan: The Roadmap to an Inclusive India

Queeristan is a one-stop book of inclusiveness in Corporate Culture! Parmesh Shahani’s second book is a treasure trove of knowledge and a reservoir of go-to materials when it comes to LGBTQ concerns. What makes it stand out are the possible solutions to the rising issues through the techniques of ‘cultural acupuncture’ and ‘jugaad resistance’. By these pioneering methods not only has the founder of Godrej Culture Lab normalised the presence of the community within Godrej but Shahani’s strong presence as a leader, speaker and media icon has helped in voicing the ideologies far and wide across the country and overseas, leading many to follow similar paths.

‘In our country [India] where the home itself is a space of identity erasure, the negotiation starts at workplace’. Queeristan beautifully portrays the two sides of the emotion called home – one where an individual is comfortably accepted, and the other, where the polarity of gender is coerced on them. For the former, a safe and continuous space with the same respect and freedom is provided by the workplace and for the latter; the workplace becomes the home, the family that every individual craves to live freely in. Thus, the workplace, where one spends almost eight to nine hours, probably more; 5-6 days a week needs to reinvent itself to be inclusive with amenities for the community. This includes recognition, comfort, support, exposure or anonymity, legal and medical provisions and awareness / leadership campaigns for the overall growth of the individual and the company.  ‘Ramkrishna Sinha from Pride Circle, a D&I Consultancy, put it… Generally, all benefits which are gendered, we need to look at un-gendering them.’

Loaded with surveys, statistics, citations, referral work and of course, Parmesh’s personal experiences, Queeristan gives the feeling of Parmesh speaking directly to the readers. It takes the form of a fluid narrative which cites the inception of the community (or to what it can be traced); to e over-the –years legal fight with the court for recognition; coupled with the concerns raised by the community with respect to equal opportunities at work; and most importantly to tentative solutions and techniques that can make the workplace,  a holistic environment for all.  Parmesh’s contemporary anecdotes and up-to –date methodologies make Queeristan really interesting, intriguing and definitely a guide which can be followed for building an experimental ground in the corporate sector. Of course, in the process of experimenting maybe newer policies and programs can be designed to enhance the cause being championed for.

Beginning with the company HR policies and specific parameters for the LGBTQ employees, to actively recruiting more LGBTQ employees, opens the minds of the employer towards the community. In this regard Godrej’s LOUD –Live Out Ur Dream Initiative is the best example of attracting newer talents to the company by giving them opportunities to showcase their talent, excel in it, be mentored with financial assistance and of course retain them long-term for the company. This apart, taking active part in job fairs helps in broadening the network and meeting probable recruits. This is also a remarkable platform to see how other corporates are engaging with the new pool of job-seekers as well as see with the growing number of companies taking part every time. Post recruitment, the company needs to make sure that the individuals are treated equally and any instance of discrimination is to be handled strictly by the management. Provision of policies; restrooms; psychological, medical and financial assistance are some of the ways to create an inclusive corporate culture. Regular events and briefings for the employees broaden their perspectives and helps in welcoming the community wholly to the company.  Trans-employees need to be given extra support in any which way they need it and the company should provide as much support as it can. The LGBTQ cause in the ergonomic culture would remain unfulfilled if not spoken about in public forums and media. Thus, the need of taking the cause to any lectures, workshops, conferences and festivals, grows stronger by the day.

Queeristan is incomplete without the mention of inspirational leaders from the community- Hoshang Merchant, Pawan Dhall, Sushant Divgikar a.k.a Rani koHEnur, Grace Banu, Dhiren Borisa, Radhika Piramal, Keshav Suri, Akhil Katyal, to name a few who have used their field of expertise- literature, academics, business, social activism, to spread awareness  for an inclusive society. With extensive research in this domain, Shahani has also listed down the various organisations working for the cause throughout India. It is an excellent repository of information and should you like to explore your association or volunteer with them, you can get in touch.

Parmesh Shahani , through Queeristan, writes an open letter to the HR, Business Heads, and higher management of companies to envision an inclusive and healthy workplace with equal benefits for all employees, devoid of discrimination. The LGBTQ community is a reservoir of talent and it needs to be incorporated within corporates for better productivity of the company as well as the growth of the individual. Queeristan is a role-model and a stepping stone for newer companies to broaden their visions and join hands in making the society a safe and inclusive place for all.

No. of Pages: 328

Publisher: Westland Business

Available on : Amazon / Flipkart / Audible