We have been featuring the best writers from our writers’ community for their committed contribution to FII, making it what it is today. FII would not exist if not for the passionate and loyal feminist writers’ community that we have steadily been building over the last three years. This December, we feature Harshita Kumari.
A University of Delhi graduate student, Harshita has been associated with FII since May 2021 when she first joined as an intern. Since then, Harshita has published her prolific essays on a diverse range of topics from socio-political commentaries on academia, access to infrastructure such as public transport, domestic workers’ rights to history pieces and right to privacy. Some of her popular articles include Miss Universe 2021: Can The Celebration Of Beauty Be Removed From Political Accountability, Domestic Workers & Covid-19: Lessons In Dignity That Must Be Learnt, Bihari Hai Kya?: A Question Rooted In Social Othering, among others.
FII: Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
Harshita Kumari: I am a graduate student, studying History at University of Delhi. I am interested and I work around questions that are at the intersection of gender and power . And as someone with a History-heavy background, themes of the discipline also influence my work.
FII: How did you become a part of the FII writer family?
Harshita Kumari: I have always enjoyed FII’s work and have found the prose style both communicative and engaging. As someone who is passionate about writing, particularly on the question of gender, I always wanted a platform that would allow me to do so without a filter, so I applied at the internship programme. I loved the work environment and I stayed on as a writer with the organization.
FII: How and when did you become a feminist? Which issues within feminism are close to your heart?
Harshita Kumari: I think I have been a feminist for a long time. But perhaps, it was first in school when the seeds of it were sown, likely because for most of us , school is the first site where sexism manifests. My college, as an all-girls institute further deepened my commitment to the politics and philosophy of feminism and most importantly, gave me a vocabulary to speak out.
As a feminist, I think the alienation of the movement from the mainstream is closest to my heart. That today the word has turned into a misnomer and is often misappropriated and hurled as an abuse, is both painful and representative of an interesting development of the movement for me. I am looking forward, in whatever capacity I can, then to dispel the myths and misconceptions of the word and to work towards the movement reclaiming its lost ground.
FII: What is your favourite piece on this site that you have written, and your favourite piece on this site that you have read? Why did they strike you?
Harshita Kumari: I think my favourite piece, written by me has to be, “Bihari Hai Kya?: A Question Rooted In Social Othering”. I think it was a cathartic piece but also gave me an avenue to draw attention and initiate a dialogue with friends and peers on an issue often couched in a language of humour.
As for my favourite piece on the site, I think I have enjoyed the ‘History’ section, quite particularly. The range of issues covered is not only illuminating, but also is the perfect balance between perhaps an abstract academia and popular perceptions.
FII: What do you like to do when not writing about gender and social justice?
Harshita Kumari: I am a big time foodie, so I love cooking and eating, a lot. I am also fond of reading, it has been my oldest love – Wuthering Heights and Fountainhead are my favourite re-read books . To unwind, I listen to Hozier and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
FII: What do you like about FII and our work? What more would you like to see from us?
Harshita Kumari: I think the fact that FII’s articles, while focused on feminism, also understand the binaries of the movement. Consequently, the range of articles on the site are varied and in polemic with each other. I think the diversity and the readability of complex issues makes FII a wonderful start point for a journey on knowledge-building and self-empowerment.
I think I would love to see FII publishing some feminist poetry and prose in the future. Particularly given how even today, feminist literature is rather limited, scant and often unavailable.
FII thanks Harshita for her timely and valuable contributions. We are incredibly grateful to have her as a part of our writers’ community and appreciate her for her deeply informative writing.