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The revolution begins from the street (art)

Devanshi Daga
With street art gaining momentum in India, Devanshi Daga discusses the street as a social space, the impact of street art on its large audience and the messages it seeks to convey about the environment through discussing the works of three Indian street artists.

Issue XIV: Editor’s Note

With the leaders of the world – most of whom chosen by us – preparing to meet at the critical Conference of Parties 26 (COP26) gathering in the first weeks of November, this axis of environment and politics, is one whose outlines are becoming increasingly apparent. Before we get to unpacking what may be in […]

Bats in a pandemic: Why should we care?

Devanshi Daga
In India’s National Wildlife Week, Devanshi Daga connects several 2021 studies and a leading Indian field scientist’s focus on bats. What our attitudes are and what can shift them?

The End Of The Zoo: Has The Pandemic Changed The Way We See Zoos?

Aritro Sarkar
In 2020 – 2021, when you and I have had to forcibly stay indoors, the idea of captivity itself has come to be belatedly resented, although it took the human experience of a generational pandemic for that to happen. In that light, how do we look at zoos, as venues premised on this very idea of confinement. How do we rethink them?

Deconstructing the NEP: how important is experiential learning in wildlife conservation?

Ishita Ahuja

The National Education Policy drafted in 2020 makes wildlife education under environmental studies, a new option for college students. “Towards the attainment of such a holistic and multidisciplinary education, the flexible and innovative curricula of all HEIs shall include credit-based courses and projects in the areas of… forest and wildlife conservation.” Yet it does not seem to bat for field-based learning to be mandatory in such courses. University professors, students and professionals employed in the wildlife sector, discuss with Ishita Ahuja.

Issue XIII: Editor’s Note

India’s 67th National Wildlife Week from 2– 8 October, 2021 is focusing on Forest & Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet, thematically. Through the 1950s, this commemoration went from a single day Wildlife Diwas to a whole week. Since then annually, Indians shine a torch on understanding what we have, what we are losing and what is shifting, in the life […]

An extract from India and Asian Geopolitics: The Past, Present

Shivshankar Menon

The problem is that several generations in India have been taught a version of history that ignores that India has for much of its past been well connected to the world and its prosperity and security have waxed and waned in direct proportion to that link.

Delineating the Consumption of Luxury Goods in a COVID-hit World

Muskaan Kanodia

The COVID-19 pandemic shook the luxury goods industry from its bubble, putting their revenue and loyal clientele at stake. Not only did the brands face economic downfall but were also socially and culturally challenged to create more inclusive products. With visions of recovery and rebounding in 2021, luxury brands have a long road to walk.

Once Upon a Time in Mumbai

Rujuta Singh

The city of dreams is known for its gritty underworld as much as its glittering movie sets. The life of disgraced encounter specialist Sachin Vaze may help us see the link between the two.

Issue XI: Editors’ Note

The past year saw COVID-19 and lockdowns as the only issues one extensively engaged with, both in their personal and professional lives. The question, “how has the pandemic been treating you?” slipped into every catch-up conversation with peers, friends, family and colleagues. With the current surge of cases in India once again, it is safe […]

Examining India’s Falling Rank on the World Happiness Index

Aanya Poddar

As the world is getting wealthier, it is also becoming increasingly unhappy. Talking specifically of India, it has just dropped down on the World Happiness Index released by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. This article explores India’s relationship with its neighbors and the reasons for the observed trends on the happiness index.

The Cost Of Peace in Afghanistan

Akanksha Mishra

The rising violence by the Taliban in the past few weeks raises pertinent questions about its moderation and commitment to peace, as well as the U.S.’s priorities in Afghanistan. Should the U.S., in its haste to end the war, agree to a deal that will leave Afghanistan at the mercy of the Taliban, it would be detrimental to all actors involved.

To Have Loved and Lost

Advaita Singh

Paid leaves for parents after stillbirths or miscarriages are certainly a social issue. However, the effects of grief on productivity make it an economic issue in tandem. This gives the opportunity for inclusive legislation that can improve economic conditions and boost economic growth.

The Curious Case of the Electoral Calendar

Vaibhav Parik

The fact that the ECI has conducted swifter elections in much larger states with equally (if not more) complicated situations, should refute any claims that they are not capable enough or do not possess the required resources. The fundamental question then is not that of the ECI’s capability, but of its prerogative.

The World ‘Wild’ Web and Why It Is No Place for A Woman With An Opinion

By Devika Goswami

As the pandemic strengthened our online presence, it also led to violence against women spilling over to online spaces. Women who use social media as a part of their jobs, such as politicians, journalists, activists, academics, celebrities and artists, routinely face harassment for openly expressing their views online. To what extent is online harassment, in its volume and content, different for women than for men? What are the impacts of it on women, their work and their freedom of expression?

100 Days of Biden

Karantaj Singh

The Biden administration has been highly optimistic by promising to meet an expansive agenda that includes controlling the coronavirus pandemic, enabling economic recovery, revising US climate policy and reviewing their health care system. Biden has also taken active steps to reverse Trump’s isolationist policies and decisions, alongside catalysing the process of restoring America’s place in the international community. With only 100 days of his term completed Biden has taken some notable steps towards meeting his agendas.

Exploring Crevices in Global Healthcare Systems: An Analysis of Health Beyond COVID-19

Saman Fatima

The response to this second wave of the virus is yet again lockdown impositions, curfews, shutting down of hospitals, conversion of these spaces into temporary covid wards, thereby, posing a halt on other medical services, while the question remains – can we sustain our healthcare systems in periods of crisis? And can we afford to interrupt other ‘essential’ medical services in times of a pandemic like Coronavirus?

Electric Vehicles in India: Focus on the Consumer, not the Car

By Rohan Pai

India’s growing environmental concerns have pushed the Government of India to re-evaluate its energy choices, and look into sustainable modes of production. Some of the key initiatives being carried out are focused on the electrification of vehicles, and the long-awaited launch of Tesla Motors in the Indian market. These initiatives will be a step in the right direction for the GoI’s plans. However, it is crucial to examine whether India is prepared to host these initiatives and if we can provide the right environment for these developments.

What makes the News?

By Madhulika Agarwal

In this ever dynamic world, it often feels like multiple things are taking place simultaneously making it extremely difficult to keep up. But, with the overload of information available, how do the news outlets decide what to pick and what to leave behind? Who decides what makes the news?

Girlhood in Isao Takahata’s Only Yesterday

By Saadia Peerzada

Coming of age films largely rely on romanticization of youth and fail to explore the humane aspects of the same. With Studio Ghibli coming to Netflix internationally in 2020, how does it bring its exploration of the human experience to the coming of age genre? How does Takahta’s Only Yesterday break away from the mainstream narrative on girlhood?

The Frailty of Quasi-Federalism in India

Saaransh Mishra

The structure of federalism adopted by India to tackle post-independence challenges appears to be compatible with the unitary agenda of the Central government. Additionally, the BJP’s majority forming the Centre and its recurrent tendencies to bypass state governments’ and its citizens pose an extreme danger to federalism, which is one of the basic features of the Constitution and must be protected at all costs.

E-commerce Platforms and The Continued Mistreatment of Delivery Personnel

Samyukta Prabhu & Rohan Pai

While Amazon’s Twitter antics have made news for all the wrong reasons, it has taken attention away from the delivery workers’ strikes worldwide. Hectic shifts, decreasing pay and lack of basic benefits are problems faced by delivery personnel across several e-commerce platforms. This article highlights the poor working conditions faced by Indian gig workers over the course of the pandemic, and examines what lies ahead.

Has Mercedes Slowed Down F1 Revenue Growth?

Kavya Satish
F1 has lost 129 million viewers since 2008, resulting in sponsors losing their incentive to use F1 as a way to advertise. What is it about the sport that has led to this loss – and what implications does it hold for its future?

Vote Banking the Temple Beautification Drive

By Muskaan Kanodia

The drive to beautify temples might create history for the political parties and the government, but can it justify decades of individual and family histories that are simultaneously being erased from the cities?

Assam Assembly Election: Litmus Test for CAA and BJP

By Ridhima Manocha

After less than 18 months of violent protests erupting against CAA in Assam, Assam’s assembly elections are underway. While the BJP has remained tactfully silent on CAA, the opposition has made Anti-CAA sentiments a plank to rally against BJP. Will the Assembly election be a litmus test to show if BJP will be able to recover from the Anti-CAA sentiment and discontentment?

Issue X: Editors’ Note

In the past year, a major breakthrough in Science has been the Covid-19 vaccine but as the pandemic continues to take centre-stage in our lives—we wish to use this issue as an opportunity to highlight other important developments in Science and Technology. As footage from NASA’s Perseverance Rover driving on Mars’ terrain first came in, […]

Power, Violence and The State: Can one exist without the other?

Rujuta Singh

The idea that the state should have control over legitimate violence is widely accepted around the world. However, with several incidences of police brutality in the past year, this power is beginning to be questioned. Do states use violence to legitimize their sovereignty, and should this power be curbed?

Women in STEM: Nipped in the Bud.

Rama Akondy, Trivedi School of Biosciences, Ashoka University.

Learned behavioural traits that are important for developing STEM career goals in children such as decision making, critical thinking, curiosity and making independent choices outside of care-giving duties are either neglected or actively discouraged in a girl child from a young age.

Delhi’s Water Crisis: Not Just a Water Shortage Issue

Rohan Pai

At the surface level, the Delhi-Haryana water dispute might seem like a problem with a straightforward solution, but in reality it is riddled with legal and political baggage that pose a serious threat to the availability of water for Delhi in the future. It is the need of the hour for elected representatives to avert any emergencies in the foreseeable future, by working in tandem to ensure sustainable provision of the basic necessity

The Power Under My Burqa — Sri Lanka’s Proposal to Ban the Burqa

Harshita Bedi
Sri Lanka’s ruling government recently announced a proposal for banning the burqa as well as more than 1,000 Islamic schools as they are seen to propagate ‘religious extremism’. With a clear Sinhalese Buddhist majority within the country as well as the current ruling government, why are markers of the minorities like the burqa seen as a ‘threat’? Why does such a strong majority feel the need to ban symbols of an already weak minority?

University Spaces: Where the ‘Personal’ Becomes the ‘Political’

Ariba

Universities can be understood as spaces where “private lives of people come together as public.” That is, where the personal becomes the political. These resistance movements, therefore, necessitate academic freedom in universities. Without the freedom to read and express ideas that do not adhere to the boundaries defined by the status quo, it is nearly impossible to extend these conversations to the realm of national politics.

Decimating the Ego: Exploring the Discourse Around Dreams, Drugs and the ‘Trip’ to Scientific Discovery

Ashana Mathur

The inspiration for scientific discoveries like The Theory of Relativity, the structure of DNA and the discovery of Insulin, literary masterpieces like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Frankenstein, Satisfaction and The Terminator, lies at the intersection of dreams, psychedelic drugs and the unconscious mind. A recent breakthrough, in which scientists were able to establish contact with people while they were lucid dreaming, has reignited the interest of people in the science of dreaming. What are the implications of this experiment? Can it help us hack into our unconscious minds and change the way we think about art, literature and science?

The Viability of Utopia Today

Alexandra Verini

Does imagining perfect worlds serve our present or our future, or do utopias simply set us up for disappointment and failure?

Commodification of Female Passing Bodies in the Age of OnlyFans

Madhulika Agarwal

With everything getting digitalised, sex work too is moving online, offering more liberty to the content creators of the same. However, a lot of conversation regarding online sex work focuses only on the progressive aspect of it, choosing to ignore the dangers that come associated with the same.

‘Mining’ Nothing but a Grave

Tanish Bafna
With the Parliament gearing up to pass a new cryptocurrency bill, investors and entrepreneurs are desperately scrambling to keep a dialogue open with the government. Given that the State is unlikely to change its stance, will India be potentially missing out on the next big thing since the Internet?

New Beginning for Humanity or Anarchy?- A look into Space Laws

Saman Fatima
While both of these projects are still in the making, with predictive claims for the future, the presence of these ideas makes one question how society would be structured in the future. These projects also leave room to think about climate change, the future of the earth and who will be offered an alternative planet if this one fails.

Unpacking History: The Nexus Between Politics and Academic Freedom

Open Axis Staff

Time and again, the freedom of universities, faculties and students in places around the world has come into question by the state and has often been curbed through laws and regulations. In some instances, even violence has been used to clamp down on the freedom of these voices. This piece shall explore some historical instances of academic freedom, or the lack thereof, in different countries around the world at different times.

Menstrual Health in Rural India

Ananya Rao

The state’s emphasis on sanitary pads above all other forms of menstrual hygiene, without the ability to provide enough, is not only economically expensive and environmentally unsustainable but also weans women away from traditional methods such as cloth without providing a viable alternative. Further, the solution is also ineffective as it does not address larger issues such as lack of infrastructure or restrictive social stigmas, both of which are systemic problems in maintaining menstrual hygiene in India.

Silence of the Players: The FIFA World Cup and Human Rights in Qatar

Shourjo Chatterjee

Many footballers who are aware of the situation unfolding in Qatar are likely to face some degree of moral conflict or external pressure whether or not to use their reach to advocate change, or even a complete boycott. The risk of losing one’s place in the team, being restricted from speaking out by sponsor companies, the influence of PR teams, football organizations and countries present several possible explanations for the relatively low amount of condemnation that the tournament has received from players.

Covid-19 Vaccines: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Amrita Singh

What are the differences between all the Covid-19 vaccines out there? Why does the Pfizer vaccine have to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius? Is it true that Covaxin can give you Covid? What are vaccines, anyway? This article explains how the immune system actually works, how vaccines confer immunity and why the new mRNA vaccine technology is important.

The Road to Mars – A Tale of Betraying and Befriending Physics

Kartik Tiwari

To millions like me, it remains an incredible source of optimism to know that the first human who would walk on Mars is, arguably, studying in some school right now; a hopeful reminder of the fascinating days that we will witness in our lifetime and a humbling inspiration for the work that is yet to be done, in space and on Earth.

Politics of Postering – What the Walls Say in Tamil Nadu

Nandan Sankriti Kaushik

From larger-than-life banners, to small party symbols painted on walls along roads, these political references are a part of the states’ everyday life. It’s impossible to go anywhere without noticing a political symbol, a word of glowing praise emblazoned onto a wall, or the smiling face of a political leader.

Remo D’Souza: The Man Who Changed the Face of Indian Dance

Anushka Bidani

Despite its importance, dance had always been a background element. It has always been present, but it was seldom the main focus of the film. However, in the past few years, this subsidiary status has changed. Dance films and dance reality TV shows have become more common, and dancers have steadily gained celebrity status. This shift in perception can be credited to various reasons, one of the principal ones being Remo D’Souza.

Banking on the Government

Advaita Singh
Trade Unions all around the country are protesting because they believe that the privatisation is bad for the economy. This article explores the role of Public Sector Banks to understand the impact of privatisation.

Issue IX: Editors’ Note

As the world approaches the one-year anniversary marking the global shutdown due to COVID-19, it is important to reflect upon how life has been altered at its behest. The ninth issue of OpenAxis, hence, attempts to encapsulate the various spheres of human functioning that have been reimagined and transformed in the light of the pandemic.   […]

What’s in Your Pocket – Your Office or Your Sanitizer?

Ariba

While multiple online sources guide one to a productive and healthy work-life balance during the lockdown, a year into it, conversations are shifting to that of an eager return to the workplace. Opinions on the way “this is the end of the office as we know it” along with changes that could be observed in a post-pandemic world of work have been put forward by many organizations

Humouring an Ill-Humored Audience

Ashana Mathur

With the recent arrest of Munawar Faruqui, the court order against Kunal Kamra and Rachita Taneja, it is quite evident that the general public perceives political comedy quite differently today. So how did comedy suddenly become so offensive? How has our relationship with comedy changed? And is there any scope for political satire left in India?

Personal Lives and Private Bodies: The State’s Vested Interest in Heteronormativity

Rithika Abraham

In the midst of the ongoing hearings in the Delhi High Court about the possibility of legal recognition of same-sex marriage, the Central government released a statement declaring that non-heterosexual marriages have no basis in the Indian Constitution, and is, as such, against the ethos of the nation and its culture. The State’s interest in perpetuating heteronormative relationships is as much about self-preservation, as it is about protecting a particular cultural identity.

Ancient Pandemic, Modern Eyes

Mali Annika Skotheim

A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, it is difficult to read Thucydides’ account of the Athenian plague without seeing parallels in our own time.

Caste (In)Justice: Inadequacies in Addressing Gender and Caste Violence

Shreyashi Sharma

The law is brought to life by the human hand that upholds and implements it. If the human hand continues to be governed and conditioned by these structures of patriarchy and caste, then it is impossible for the law to be effectively applied in letter and spirit. How can such a law ever be just and fair?

The Growing (In)Significance of the Nobel Peace Prize

Saaransh Mishra

Nobel laureates are meant to be harbingers of peace in this excruciatingly peaceless world that we inhabit. In order to set healthy precedents, the onus is on the Nobel Peace Committee to award this significant honour only to the ones that can leave a legacy for future generations to follow, and currently it is miserably failing at that.

Democratizing Art: How the Pandemic Has Transformed Art Spaces

Muskaan Kanodia

Virtual Tours for Museums around the world were initially made for in-person support to make the galleries accessible and their experiences better. However, with a worldwide lockdown, the virtual experience has encouraged many of us to explore uncharted territories of art history and museums sitting at our desktops in pyjamas. This has made previously inaccessible museums and galleries a more democratic and inclusive space. However, what lies ahead this road is to see whether this continues to be the case in the post-COVID world.

All Bets Are Off: Trust and Antitrust Among Large-Scale Corporations

Gauri Bhawkar

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how profitable large firms, such as Amazon and Facebook, can be even during times of global turmoil. Is there a check on how firms can become so all-encompassing such that consumers can’t avoid purchasing their products even if they tried – and what implications does this phenomena hold for economic systems across the world?

Alliance of new parties alone may not be enough: Mrinal Borah on Assam 2021

Jyotirmoy Talukdar

With Assam elections due in April 2021 and the first phase beginning on 27th March, various parties aim at defeating the ruling BJP- alliance in the state. Currently, Akhil Gogoi, an Assam activist who has been in prison for more than a year continues to strongly influence Assam politics. Jyotirmoy Talukdar and Mrinal Borah sit together to discuss the impact of Akhil Gogoi and the future of Assam politics.

On Building A Virtual Therapeutic Relationship

Avantika Bhatia

Rising mental health concerns are being increasingly recognized as a significant implication of the pandemic. Psychotherapists are on the frontline of providing support for these concerns while adjusting to the new online medium of conducting therapy. What does it mean to do therapy online? How can one establish a framework for therapy and build a relationship with the client while working across a screen?

Food Beyond the Mess: Why Campus Outlets are Invaluable to Indian Colleges

Devika Goswami

The pandemic meant nearly a year-off campus for college students. Of the many things lost, the shared memory of food is difficult to measure and yet an important part of the college experience. How do campus outlets positively shape student life and support small business owners? How might the pandemic change this shared experience of food?

Dating From A Distance

Harshita Bedi

For the longest time we have been told that once we find that special someone, our life becomes better, happier and worth living. While many choose to disagree with this view, it cannot be denied that humans are social beings who have been collectively living in a society and mating. With the pandemic, the need for human connection was sought to be satisfied. How has the world of dating adapted to the pandemic? What is different about online dating now?

Novak Djokovic: The Controversial Champion

Kartikay Dutta

Novak Djokovic is a dangerous man to idolize, and a dilemma within himself. Everyone should want to be him, but nobody should. The border is too smudged for there to be a clear line down the middle — the Venn diagram of Djokovic the tennis star and the person has to be considered one circle, as it sadly must be for those who come under the critical eye of the public. It is the legacy he must live with.

Under the Precipice Rolls the Sea

Tanisha A

When you’re working with a zero budget project, you have to rely on a lot of things outside of your control to capture a frame that tells the story you want it to tell, how you want it to.

WhatsApp With India’s Travel Plan?

Tisha Srivastav

Tisha Srivastav writes on the first two months of a buzzing Indian WhatsApp group post-Lockdown. With zero fake news, it coordinated a spirited effort to rethink responsible travel in India.

Evaluating the Implications of Privatization in India’s COVID-19 Inoculation Drive

Anjana Ramesh

India’s vaccination drive has witnessed considerable private sector involvement – from the development of vaccine candidates, to their mass-production. The recent announcement confirming the allowance of private distribution of vaccines has furthered this involvement. What implications does privatization of inoculation drives hold for India and its public healthcare capabilities?

Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge On Zoom?

Ridhima Manocha

The wedding industry in India has been the second largest wedding industries in the entire world and it’s estimated to be 50 billion dollars in India. However, with the onset of COVID-19, it came to a near halt as safety measures took the priority while a big fat wedding took the backseat. As we complete a year since the lockdown, the weddings are yet to be back to normal. In this piece, we revisit how couples and companies coped in the face of pandemic, and what then is the possible future of the wedding industry.

Issue VIII: Editors’ Note

Still reeling from the financial losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, India plunged into the new year shaken by widespread protests and environmental disasters while simultaneously hoping for economic revival. Ankur Bhardwaj explores the ramifications of the jump in India’s fiscal deficit from 3.5% to 9.5% of the GDP, in the Revised Estimates of the […]

Budget 2021 and Fiscal Deficit: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Ankur Bhardwaj

This steep revision in fiscal deficit estimates for the current financial year (2020-21) as one of the highlights of the Budget. If we take a closer look at fiscal deficit revision and the path the government wants to take in the future, we find three important points to underline – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Wages for Housework: Giving Wives Their Due?

Ashwini Deshpande

Since the suggestion is about valuing women’s work in India, a good starting point would be to explicitly recognize their contribution to household enterprises as workers, on the same footing as the men, and share the earnings from the household enterprise fairly.

Feminist Bollywood, Really?

Geetanjali Chanda

It is common to witness individuals who are vocal about the misogyny that is prevalent within Bollywood music, to be seen tapping their toes to the same problematic lyrics on a dance floor. Is it ever okay to listen to music that is degrading to a particular gender? And if we do, does that make us less of a feminist? Are we truly #SmashingThePatriarchy?

The Ineffectiveness and Brutality of Economic Sanctions

Saaransh Mishra

The rational logic behind sanctions is that since actors are concerned about economic outcomes, they would be compelled to commit to certain behavioral norms as a result of expression of official displeasure through sanctions. Yet surprisingly, in a landmark study spearheaded by economist Gary Clyde Hufbauer showed the success rate of sanctions at a meagre 34% in the 116 examined cases since 1914. A further reanalysis of the same data by political scientist Robert Pape pins the figure at an abysmal 4%.

Racy Raj Tales: Miscegenation in British India

Ipshita Nath

Recent feminist historiography has revealed that such rumours stemmed from biases and prejudices rather than actual realities, and were meant to perpetuate the fear of the ‘Other’ among the British officers/community/etc. in India. However, such notions served to deepen the prejudice against interracial marriages.

From Reddit to Revolution: How Memes Propel Movements

Aarohi Sharma

The surge in GameStop stock drastically altered current understandings of the United States stock market. At the heart of this rise in stock value were disillusioned users on the internet, and countless memes. How was a movement propelled by internet memes – and what does that imply for our understanding of online spaces?

Development: A Disaster in Disguise

Muskaan Kanodia

In recent years, India’s trajectory mapping the disasters and calamities has gone up at an alarming rate. However, is it fair to dismiss and disregard them as acts of nature without bearing the responsibility of their occurrence? By increasing development projects in highly sensitive and fragile areas, will India’s economic policy be able to ensure any sustainable growth? Or will the environment continue to be exploited for short term monetary gains?

Why making money isn’t the Recipe for Social Change: A response to Manu Joseph’s suggestion for youngsters

Saman Fatima

Following the arrest of Disha Ravi, Manu Joseph, a recognised journalist, and columnist for live mint magazine wrote an opinion piece, suggesting a plan of action for the ‘sound minded’ Indian youth, to truly bring about social change. Joseph not only critiqued various young Indians’ choices to be activists but also suggested they would serve the country better if they found jobs, started on a ‘doomed business’ and aided the economy instead of “fighting battles they do not understand.”

(Mis)leading Spotify Chart Toppers: What is India listening to?

Rohan Pai

Spotify’s algorithmic mechanisms tend to create a deluding image of what is actually trending on the ground. Brown munde, a Punjabi song by AP Dhillon, has been a chart topper for nearly three months now. Alongside homegrown artist AP Dhillon is The Weeknd, an American pop singer who is currently #1 in the world on Spotify, and Arijit Singh. But is this what India is listening to?

Digital Detox in Isolation

Ridhima Manocha

At a time of the COVID pandemic when screen time is at an all-time high, a digital detox is being touted as a solution for mental well-being. But is it too late and futile to deprive yourself of all technologies?

Can Banksy Bring Dadaism Back To Life?

Shrishti Agrawal

Banksy’s work, ranging from Kissing Coppers and Unwelcome Intervention to Hammer Boy and Girl with a Balloon, embraces social commentary through provocative visual depictions. But the true essence, the philosophy behind his art is often related to the 20th-century art movement, dadaism.

Queering Valentine’s Day: Navigating singlehood and ‘compulsory heterosexuality’

Roshan Roy

Cultural expectations around Valentine’s day can be very choking. Since the culture around it is heterosexual in nature, it fails to cater to the needs of ‘other’ identities. This piece explores the question: Can there be a queer valentine’s day that celebrates not only multiple identities and sexualities but also singledom which is overlooked by our heteronormative world? After all, love does not have one meaning. Love begins when you set out to understand yourself and counter these structures that govern our societies.

Boomers’ Guide to Gen Z: Intro to Texting 101

Devika Goswami

Prerequisites: anyone who’s been hit with an “ok, boomer” or is still confused about why people keep texting “ded” after a joke. By the end of this piece, you will understand why Gen Z is so hell-bent on texting instead of calling, what in the world ‘ghosting’ even means and why that full-stop might be making your texts sound a tad bit insincere to the Gen Z-er in your life.

Remembering SOPHIE

Madhulika Agarwal

SOPHIE’s loss is enormous for the music industry, but it is an even bigger loss for her family, friends and fans, whose lives SOPHIE coloured with compassion above everything else. They will live up to her legacy and keep honoring what was so close to her heart.

The Economy Of Stories

Varsha Ramachandran

Why reimagine Juliet in 2020, as opposed to creating a new Desdemona or Laila or Heer? What about these particular characters makes us want to bring them to life again, albeit in a new socio-political scenario, or a reimagined world? I argue that it is our need for familiarity.

Issue VII: Editors’ Note

Straying from a long-standing tradition of burdening the New Year with all our hopes, dreams and expectations, with our first Issue of 2021, we bring you a newfound sense of cautious optimism. Aditya Burra revisits the recent test series between India and Australia to commemorate the heroics of Miya Bhai Mohammed Siraj whose grit paved […]

The Biden-Harris Campaign: Representation or Presentation?

Madhulika Agarwal

Kamala Harris is widely popular for being one of the most progressive US politicians right now. She goes by the nicknames “Top Cop” and “Progressive Prosecutor”. According to her campaign, part of this “progressiveness” comes from the fact that unlike her colleagues, she is neither white, nor male. But, is that all that there is to her?

Godspeed, Miya Bhai

Aditya Burra

Despite the “good other” comments that he attracts, or the vitriol that he has to face on social media, the identity of Mohammad Siraj, Miya Bhai is one that he wears proudly, defiantly, and effortlessly, one that is expressly similar to his bowling action

The Violence We Inherit

Harshita Bedi

With the current showcase of violence within the farmers’ protests, various views regarding ‘who is responsible’ for it have surfaced in the media. Does each view with regards to the violence witnessed in the protest have a history? Is there something hereditary about our views on violence as a country?

Pets of the Pandemic

Vanishree

Research indicates that the pandemic has showcased an increase in the adoption of pets, as a distraction from the uncertainty and discomfort. How has the relationship between the pet and the owner changed during the pandemic? And what impact does the opening up of the world and transiting back to life before COVID, have on this relationship?

The Cost of the Cure: Understanding the Implications of India’s COVID-19 Inoculation Drive

Aarohi Sharma

India’s vaccination program is in full swing. However, absence of trial data assuring the safety and efficacy of one of the vaccine candidates has attracted sharp criticism and created public apprehensions about the safety of the program. How did India’s vaccination program reach this point – and what implications does it hold for the future of medical treatments in the country?

Regional Rap for a National Cause

Rohan Pai

With Indian rappers carving out their own niches by choosing to represent and reach out to their people with regional vernacular, they provide a voice to the communities that were never heard before, while also instilling a sense of belonging to the larger community of India.

“Mark as Read” to “Mark has Read”: Privacy Policies in India

Debayan Gupta

One thing is very clear: individual-level policies are insufficient. Most people do not (and cannot be expected to) have a deep understanding of privacy issues – just like we don’t all have a deep understanding of food safety norms. Some kind of aggregated negotiation tactic, then, appears to be the only solution.

Arnabgate, TRPs and What you need to know about the ‘Business’ of Journalism

Saman Fatima

Fiery debates, screaming news anchors and a flurry of accusations or honest news and analysis—-what makes journalism sell? What makes news sensational and how does the business of television journalism work? These are questions that most of us asked after Republic TVs TRP scandal, Arnab’s WhatsApp chat leak and the BARC chiefs chilling confessions.

Issue VI: Editors’ Note

Come December, we always look back at the year gone by – introspecting, making resolutions for the coming year, and subconsciously accepting that these promises won’t be followed through. 2020 has been different. We have seen the repercussions of being lax with our concerns about safety. We have had a lot to think about, much […]

Technology will change, but what about ethics?

Shrishti Agrawal

Many of the ethical dilemmas we face today are an outcome of technology. While it is essential to use technology ethically, maybe we need to take a step back, and ask: Is it morally right or wrong to use it in the first place?

2020: A year to forget or remember?

Rohit M Nair

One must be wary before equating 2020 as solely the year of the pandemic: a flurry of natural disasters have quietly made their appearance in the background, declaring that climate change is here and now. Where do we go from here?

The Job Market in 2021

Zahabiya Kinkhabwala (Naukri.com)
Unemployment has been the lowest in decades after companies laid-off and furloughed employees in record numbers in a crashing economy. With the economy in a constant state of flux and the uncertainty of the job market and remote working conditions, anxiety about employment is high, especially for new graduates entering the workforce. Here, experts from naukri.com explain the predicted trends of the job market and how to stay prepared for the same.

Indie Films You Probably Missed and Must Watch

Utkarsh Bansal
Edited by Tanvi Achwal

Even without theatres, 2020 had a constant flow of movies to watch. Inevitably, some of the smaller releases slipped through the cracks. Here are five recommendations to remedy that!

Garden of Feedin’

Deepti Jayakrishnan

I’m living a lifestyle that’s been meticulously organized into little unhealthy blocks. Every day is the same day, and that day is Self-Love Saturday. How far can I take my pursuit of umami without crossing the limits of self-care?

What was Fashionable in 2020

Isha Deshmukh
When we think of the fashion industry and COVID, we think of malls and fashion shows. What other elements does the industry consist of? Here we examine ways in which 2020 affected and changed the fashion industry in ways that haven’t been heavily discussed.

How Can Environmental Movements Be Successful?

Mehek Bhargava
With the climate crisis upon our heads, it has become even more important to urgently mobilize people. How have recent environmental movements garnered interest and what role does social media play in their success?

Issue V: Editor’s Note

On October 16, Samuel Paty, a history teacher, was beheaded by a Muslim man in Paris, France, over his use of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons on the Prophet Muhammad during a lesson on the freedom of speech. On October 29, three church goers were also stabbed to death by a Tunisian man in Nice. These […]

Remembering Maradona

Aritro Sarkar

Diego Maradona stood with the world at his feet, driven to his exalted status globally pretty much through his ridiculous talent and skill alone.

Understanding the French Principle of Laïcité

Shrishti Agrawal

While the principle of laïcité was intended to instill secularism in France, it was created at a time when the French Constitution did not need to worry about the practices of many religions. Although the complete removal of religion from public spaces may have worked in the past, growing religious and cultural tensions have raised many questions with regards to this French notion.

Bidenomics For America and The World

Karantaj Singh
President elect Joe Biden seems to have very different views from President Donald Trump on most socio-political issues, and his economic policies seem to be very different as well. So what will Bidenomics mean for America and the world?

Dosa: A Culinary Marvel

Shrishti Agrawal

The Dosa is a culinary gift from South Indian cuisine that has become a popular breakfast snack all across India. Although debates about the origin continue to persist, what most can agree upon is that the Dosa is not similar to a pancake or crepe.

Family Law: UAE’s New Marketing Strategy

Karantaj Singh
‘Progressive’ isn’t the first word that comes to mind when speaking about the Middle East. But the recent changes made in the UAE family laws, shows that the country is adapting to norms of the 21st century.

‘It’s only words’ – The Normalisation of Hate Speech

Purnima Mehrotra

Until recently, Love-Jihad was just another popular phrase used as hate speech. But with it now having informed the creation of unimaginable divisive and intrusive marriage laws, it is time to reexamine the impact of this vitriol on our lives. Is hate speech just that — only words? Or is it something much more insidious, especially in the age of social media, WhatsApp and hyper-nationalism?

Editor’s Note: Issue 4

Image: REUTERS/Mark Makela (All credits to the owners) CNN’s Van Jones broke down with tears of relief on live TV, minutes after President-Elect Biden was projected as the winner of the election. The basic decency and empathy in Biden’s victory speech were jarring as it finally faced us with the vitriol that President Trump had […]

Breathe Again

Maya Mirchandani

America breathes a sigh of relief and joy on the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President and Vice President elect, narrowly defeating incumbent President Donald Trump. But what does the path forward look like in a country with deep fissures made apparent in the election?

The Infamous Smog: Crop burning and much more

Hiteshi Ajmera
Year after year, almost every newspaper prints scathing columns condemning the smog that settles in the Delhi-NCR region due to crop burning. Why do farmers continue to burn crops? Is the smog caused solely due to crop burning?

The COVID-19 Vaccine: Will It Flatter To Deceive?

Dr. Kasturi Pal
Are vaccines truly key for our survival in the COVID era? What are the most promising vaccines in the pipelines to combat the coronavirus pandemic? Let us find out what makes an efficacious vaccine trigger a robust anti-viral immunity.

The Next Stage

Abhinaya Penneswaran
The lack of a physical setting for performance art due to the pandemic has led to the creation of a new stage for artists and performers.

Reforming Antitrust Law To Regulate Big Tech

Samyukta Prabhu

The economics of Google and Amazon seem to fundamentally differ from regular brick-and-mortar stores. Can we factor this into antitrust law? Or are monopolies inevitable in the tech world?

Uncovering Recovery from COVID-19

Mansi Ranka
Behind every single statistic is a person. What has going through it all and recovering from COVID been like?
We look at some personal stories!


Issue III: Editors’ Note

What did coronavirus, the border clashes and the ban of many apps do for the Indian people? They made discussions surrounding China everyday and commonplace. And yet, we still approach the topic in a myopic manner. The mainstream gaze refracts China under the lens of war, economics, diplomatic relations, concerns about democracy among others. Is […]

Forget the Rhetoric: India cannot be the next China!

Karantaj Singh

It is going to take a lot of planning, spending and sacrifice if India is going to even be a contender for becoming the world’s factory. The country has abundant raw material and a mammoth working population, but falls short on investments and planning.

Tanishq: Victim of an uncontrollable beast

Anant Rangaswami

After being bashed on social media for promoting ‘love jihad’, jewellery brand Tanishq took down their advertisement depicting an inter-faith marriage. A look at the process of news generation and its use of social media shows that this controversy is not a one-off event, but part of a larger systemic problem.

Everyday Forms of Geopolitics

Swargajyoti Gohain

We think geopolitics is all about international politics, where nations and national governments are involved. Yet, geopolitics can also shape the personal and social lives of individuals and communities. The geographical location of the border influences decisions about marriage, local elections, commercial exchanges, cultural expressions, regional unities and transnational affiliations.

Putting Civil Society In Its Place

Ingrid Srinath

The government seemed to appreciate civil society’s humanitarian response to the pandemic, but the recent amendments to India’s Foreign Contribution Regulation Act are ill-conceived, ill-timed and probably ill-intentioned. What explains this contradiction?

Louise Glück Wins a Prize She Never Needed

Kanishk Devgan

Louise Glück recently won the Nobel Prize in literature. Does she really need it, though? And what of all those who say she doesn’t deserve it?

Stoned, Shamed, Depressed – A Conversation with author Jyotsna Mohan Bhargava

Isha Deshmukh

Young minds have now become more overwhelmed than ever with social media generating our sense of self and technology assuring us a place in the status charts. How do we deal with impressionable teenagers being exposed to virtues and vices that even adults have difficulty navigating?

Remembering Eddie – 6 Essential Songs

Shaayak Chatterjee

Eddie Van Halen brought joy to rock and roll. An idol for an entire generation, he broke the stereotype that virtuosos should always be brooding characters. Twenty days after his death, here are six songs to define his legacy.

Do Social Media Protests Amount To Anything In India?

Isha Deshmukh

#DalitLivesMatter is the latest in a series of Indian hashtag protests. But these hashtags are temporary as is the memory of the event that spawned them. Online social movements are more popular than ever. What challenges does India face in adopting these movements? Do they have a lasting impact or are they simply fads?

A Life on Our Planet: an appeal to all of us, on nature’s behalf

Shrishti Agrawal

David Attenborough’s witness statement, A Life on Our Planet, isn’t just another story about the global decline of the natural world. It could create collective consciousness towards the environment and bring about change, if we let it.

Issue II: Editor’s Note

As we continue living our lives online, we are forced to confront and challenge our world through our screens. We debate and deliberate over real-world politics and elections, moderated and manoeuvred by the rules of the internet. With the potential to consume the content of the world, and the ability to have the world as […]

Liberalization at the Margins in Hard Times

Bann Seng Tan

Trump’s America First doctrine is considered as an invalidation of the United States’ commitment to democracy promotion. However, Trump does not represent a fundamental break in US foreign policy. There is no Golden Age of democracy promotion to harken back to.

Culture Wars: When Private Goes Public

Deep Vakil

The revolution of social media in culture wars has been likened to that of industrial weapons technology in conventional warfare. Some of the strategies and tactics deployed are justified by inflating the political stakes to such an extent that no means seem morally unjustified.

Humans v. AI: How automated decision making is a game changer for legal liability

Arushi Massey

What can the self-driving car crashes teach us about ethics and responsibility in the digital age? Are the trends shifting legal liability away from Big Tech? Can the State regulate? The intersection of law and technology poses new problems for moral philosophy, legal scholars and regulators. Product Liability may hold the answer.

Am I my Map? Cartography and Reworking Identity

Sanya Chandra

Cartography creates an ‘India’ on paper while simultaneously conversations, laws and political mechanisms create the ‘Indian’ in our minds. While robust borders and stagnant maps reinforce security, should we be conscious of them?

Bringing The Boys to Life in Trump’s America

Karantaj Singh

Blonde hair, white male, cheeky smile, self-obsessed, xenophobic, erratic, and a public image built over love for his country. Is Homelander Donald Trump in a cape?

How COVID-19 is adding to the existing NPA crisis in India

Shrishti Agrawal

The crisis of Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) has been looming over the Indian banking sector for a while now. Since lockdowns are being imposed in the country as a means to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, will the sudden slowdown of the economy drive the crisis to its brink?

To End or Not to End Privacy

Debayan Gupta

Should governments be given a key to encrypted software? Can we manage to keep this key hidden from hackers? Let’s explore the role of encryption in the privacy and security of our digital lives.

Give Me Liberty, COVID, or Cow Urine

Isha Deshmukh

COVID-19 has already claimed more than a million lives. Despite the very real threat, people continue to politicise the virus, deny it and spread baseless facts and treatments. What has happened to our scientific temperament in a time when we needed it most?

A Vote for America’s Soul

Aditya Burra

Ever since Trump became President, the international reputation of the United States seems to be in free-fall. During the elections in November, what all is at stake?

Sitting inside the black mirror and peeking at the world beyond

Simantini Ghosh

Most of the social media apps are based on the psychology of persuasion and more dangerously, addiction. This type of learned behavior is extremely difficult to extinguish and can lead to extreme polarization amongst other well-being concerns.

Anti-caste allyship: we need to do better

Mansi Ranka

Aftermath of the Hathras case has revealed the problem with savarna feminism and anti-caste allyship — hypocrisy and tokenism. So what should genuine anti-caste allyship look like?