Issue 8

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

On the 14th of February, 2021, environmental activist Disha Ravi was arrested on charges of sedition for sharing a ‘toolkit’ and supporting farmers’ protests online. She was charged for being part of a ‘global conspiracy’ because she was associated with Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future. Following her arrest, 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”. 

While the opening lines of his piece truly baffle me as part of the generation he is addressing, I cannot overlook how these ideas resonate with the larger Indian public his age. The assumption that the only correct way to bring change in society is by becoming a part of the system which the youth believes needs to change is one of the primary differences between Manu Joseph’s generation and ours. Equating young protestors and activists to misguided and unemployed individuals with nothing better to do is an easy narrative most of us have heard over dining table conversations with our parents. However, the question we all must ask is why the ‘privileged youth’ of ‘sound mind’ choose to protest if the avenues for economic and political upheaval were an easy alternative. Manu Joseph, in his piece, writes that contemporary activism in India is influenced by the West, if not an extension of it and fails because it does not have the same humanitarian networks backing it as the United States does. But what this ‘practical’ advice and observation seems to ignore is that young activists in India choose to speak up despite the system and its flaws, and not because they are unaware of the lack of protection from non-state organisations and the consequences of their actions but to get rid of the pattern itself. 

Joseph argues that the most effective way for the youth to ‘serve their nation’ and ‘take care of the unlucky ones’ is through encashing on the for-profit world, rather than ‘choosing the easy option of festive grandstanding and do-gooding, which is often harmful, at best useless or an inefficient way to make the world a better place.’ When Joseph states that choosing activism is the ‘easy option,’ he contradicts himself and his point about state scrutiny for activists and the lack of a humanitarian organisational mechanism for the protection of these individuals. If protests and sharing a ‘toolkit’ was in fact ‘inefficient and useless’, and ‘an easy option of festive grandstanding’, a 22-year-old, unemployed youth would not have been scrutinised and subjected to charges of sedition by the government, and young protestors would not need a mechanism to protect themselves from state action. 

Another argument that Joseph makes, which is also commonly used against the youth in this country is that they do not understand their battles and are influenced by Western ideas and aspirations which often only work in the West. A response from the ‘young’ to these arguments would be to ask questions about their assumed naivety, address how the State, since its inception has borrowed several ideas from the West and continues to do so. Western ideas and aspirations are not merely being used by the youth today, but have been part of discourse across the country since its inception. Further, protest and activism are not merely borrowed Western concepts but have been part of the country’s political culture throughout history, be it Gandhi’s call to protest for Independence, or the ‘Jungle Bachao Andolan’ by tribals in Singhbhum. Joseph says that, “The young who hope to be “good trouble” can be ruined by the state, and their handlers, who use them to achieve political and ideological ends, cannot always save them”. The understanding that the young will be, and can be ruined by the state, and their ‘handlers’ will not be able to save them is premised on the belief that these activists have ‘handlers’ and are being influenced by people who will not be able to support them in the long run, completely negating the youth’s ability to think, reason, form opinions and then act.

The Court granted bail to Disha Ravi on the account of the contents of the toolkit being ‘innocuous’ and denied any account of her being part of a larger conspiracy to harm either the state or any particular community. However, the action taken by the government, and the article written by Joseph represent sentiments against the young and their actions, often misunderstood, simply because they are forms of direct dissent and expressions of freedom instead of the path that the youth has always been expected to follow. Maybe, the problem is not that activists are misinformed, unaware, gloomy individuals seeking a moral advantage as saviours for the ‘unlucky’ but that, the way they choose to bring about change is different, more spontaneous than the generations before them. Maybe, all of us truly believe that, ‘We have only one job: if we are lucky, we must take care of the unlucky; everything else is merely an argument about the best way’, as Manu Joseph puts it, and our generation’s way is different from his, possibly because of avenues like social media that connects us globally. Maybe we are not after the drug of ‘do-gooding’ alone but are only seeking different means to make the world a better place. 

Saman Fatima is a third-year History Major at Ashoka University, who is often found sketching or reading for leisure when not immersing herself in mandatory class assignments. 

We publish all articles under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noderivatives license. This means any news organisation, blog, website, newspaper or newsletter can republish our pieces for free, provided they attribute the original source (OpenAxis).

Issue 8

Rishabh Pant: The Boy at the Centre of It All

“पाजी, जब ङारूरत पड़ेगी, तो घर से बुला के लाएंगे”

(When they’ll need me, they’ll come home to get me)

This was Rishabh Pant’s response to being dropped from the Delhi Ranji side in 2017. Ajay Jadeja, a veteran of the cricketing circuit, recalls this incident. The sport is usually unforgiving to players with this attitude – it is not about being confident in one’s ability, instead it reflects a sense of गुरूर (pride). Commendably, in the face of all the failures and criticism, this man has never changed and that, ultimately seems to have rewarded him. 

When you come in with a bit of flamboyance about yourself, as Rishabh did, you irk the cricket world. Sachin, Sourav, Laxman and Dravid were instant fan favourites because they were humble. On the flip side, Kohli, Sehwag and Dhoni have that fandom that elevates them to a near-god status (the title of God, of course, is reserved for Sachin alone). While somewhat similar to the latter three, Pant is different. He isn’t there to watch the ball, see new balls out, or even take his front foot to the pitch of the ball. Tumbling away while playing the pull over fine leg is more of his style. 

Anyone’s first memory of Pant has to be the Under-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2016. With two standout innings, 111 (96) against Namibia, and a sphincter-tightening 78 (24) against Nepal was what set him apart. Funnily, India was chasing just 170 in 48 overs – an easy chase under all circumstances. Yet, Pant being Pant was in a hurry, hence, a 78 off 24. With the IPL auctions just around the corner, who wouldn’t want to bet on this hard-hitter in the T-20 format!

A large chunk of that U-19 team found takers but Rishabh attracted the dough. The Delhi Daredevils decided to bring him home to try and turn their fortunes around. He had a decent first outing in the IPL, getting 198 in 10 games, and averaging it to 25. However, bigger things were yet to be set in motion. In 2017, Rishabh faces a heartbreak right before a game between DD and RCB – he lost his father who peacefully passed away in his sleep, knowing that he had seen his son register his first cap for India earlier that year. Hastily, Pant travels to and fro, attends the last rites, and makes it back just in time to play an innings that goes down as an ode to his father where he gets a lone warrior’s 57 in a lost Delhi cause. Despite the emotional turmoil, Pant makes 366 runs in 14 games that season, and the world notices this boy who was made of different mettle.

However, it was the next season that got his name on the lips of a billion Indians. In 2018, the Daredevils finished last, once again, but the only feather in their otherwise drab cap was Rishabh. He ended the season with 684 runs to his name in his 14 games, second only to Kane Williamson. He made it a memorable year. His scoop off of India’s premier fast bowlers were nothing short of mesmerizing. Pant had finally merited the world stage. 

His test debut before the ODI perplexed the public. In his 3rd test against England, he achieved a century and the murmurs began. India had already lost the game, and he was getting into a habit of coming good in inconsequential causes. He was also making a habit of throwing away his wicket in games where his team stood a chance. Yet, the selectors are convinced that this boy will cement his place in the Indian team in all formats as the wicketkeeper of choice.

Series after series, Pant becomes a controversial selection with DK, Ishan Kishan, Saha, Samson and even KL Rahul, lurking in the wings for their chances. Sometime before the 2019 World Cup, Pant became a fringe player. He was not selected for the squad that would travel to England to compete on the world’s biggest stage. When he was called up as a replacement player, he carelessly got out after a well-made 32 in the Semi-finals. The popular narrative became about just another talent who had majorly squandered away his time on the big stage. 

Fast forward to the Border Gavaskar Trophy of 2020-21. Pant has lost his place in the ODI and T20 sides to KL Rahul, and it is highly likely that Saha will play the tests. But Rishabh somehow gets a shot. After a valiant 97 in a drawn test match, we set our sights on Gabba, for the potential series-decider. Australia gets 369, India responds with 336, Australia put up a fighting 294, nearing Stumps on Day 4. India starts the day at 5/0, and now needs 324 on Day 5. A tall order on any pitch, much rather Fortress Gabba. And the same day, at 5 am in the subcontinent, our eyes glued to a thrilling finale for this smack-banger of a series, Rohit goes where? and Gill takes the Aussies to the cleaners with a quick 91. Rahane falls cheaply, with Pujara holding up the fort on the other end.

On the famous Gabba day, the Brisbane crowd was absent. There was an eerie silence, and slightest of knicks could be heard till the parking lot. The loudest voices on the day were probably the ones in Rishabh Pant’s head, as he came out to bat.

“He’s not fit enough to play for India”

“Tu Dhoni Banega??” (“Will you become like Dhoni??”)

“When Saha is fit, Rishabh is out of the side”

“Don’t pick him for England at least, this series is over anyway”

“He just got lucky”

“Keeper hoke bhi, catch pakad nahi paata” (“Even as a keeper, he couldn’t catch it”)

We need 161 with 44 overs left in the day. Pujara falls, Mayank, Shardul and Sundar too. It’s up to Pant to take us home and shed the image of unreliability. The norm would be to bat it out and protect one’s wicket but Pant only knows one way to bat; his own way. An innings full of lofted pulls over fine leg, no footwork square cuts past point, and a few ill-timed scoops over the keeper against a daunting Australian line-up culminated in a drive-through mid-off – causing the Indian team rush to the ground in delight, as a billion people watched the victory in awe.

“Fortress Gabba has been breached” made headlines in dailies across the country. An Indian side with enough injuries to fill a whole hospital ward had barraged past a strong Australia. At the centre of it all, as always, a 23-year-old from Haridwar and Delhi, with a proud attitude, and a unique spirit. Long live Rishabh Pant, may you conquer this sport, as you did at Gabba that day. हम तुम्हारे साथ है (we are with you!)

Picture Credits:

Arnav Mohan Gupta is a graduate in Economics and Finance and is currently pursuing a Minor in Entrepreneurship at Ashoka University. He plays cricket and has a keen interest in the world of sport. 

We publish all articles under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noderivatives license. This means any news organisation, blog, website, newspaper or newsletter can republish our pieces for free, provided they attribute the original source (OpenAxis).

Issue 8

Can Banksy Bring Dadaism Back To Life?

The explosion of different street art movements comes from the combined effort of various artists who practise hybrid forms of graffiti to make a mark by any means possible. But if there is one player who grabs the spotlight beyond the art world, it’s Banksy. 

A professional prankster, Banksy is a street graffiti artist and a global sensation. Banksy’s flair for street art combined with the proclivity for mystery, drama and danger ensures that every new Banksy piece ends up making headlines. 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. 

Dadaism or the Dada art movement began in Zurich, Switzerland in the mid-1910s. In pre-war Europe, the movement emerged as a form of protest art with congregations of artists, intellectuals and writers expressing different forms of subversion in the wake of World War I. The European avant-garde movement aimed to ridicule modern life, apply absurdity to art and question the values held by the bourgeois. 

The movement was based on some key ideas. Elaborately explained by thoughtco., three ideas were basic to the Dada movement—spontaneity, negation, and absurdity—and those three ideas were expressed in a vast array of creative chaos.

Spontaneity was an appeal to individuality and a violent cry against the system. Even the best art is an imitation; even the best artists are dependent on others, they said. Romanian poet and performance artist Tristan Tzara (1896–1963) wrote that literature is never beautiful because beauty is dead; it should be a private affair between the writer and himself. Only when art is spontaneous can it be worthwhile, and then only to the artist.

To a Dadaist, negation meant sweeping and cleaning away the art establishment by spreading demoralization. Morality, they said, has given us charity and pity; morality is an injection of chocolate into the veins of all. Good is no better than bad; a cigarette butt and an umbrella are as exalted as God. Everything has illusory importance; man is nothing, everything is of equal unimportance; everything is irrelevant, nothing is relevant. 

And in the end, everything is absurd. Everything is paradoxical; everything opposes harmony.

A pioneer of the Dada movement, Marcel Duchamp, incorporated these ideas of the movement to critique establishments that decided what art ought to be and how it ought to be created. In doing so, he combined spontaneity, negation and absurdity and came up with what some consider the first piece of conceptual art ever created, Fountain

Fountain is a standard white urinal that was signed and dated ‘R. Mutt 1917’ in black. It is a part of Duchamp’s series of work called readymades where ordinary objects would be designated as works of art. Fountain is one of Duchamp’s most famous works and a classic example of dada. By submitting an object like a urinal that is bought in the plumber’s shop as an entry for an art exhibition, he intended to test what people thought of as art. He wanted to change the idea of what was conventionally considered art and assert that the artistic expression was of greater significance than the object of art created. Thus, the dada movement was one of the first art movements that challenged the foundations of art. 

Although the movement did not represent particular styles of art, it favoured collaboration, spontaneity and chance in the process of creation. As traditional dadaists intended to reject traditional forms of artistic expression like painting and sculpting, they worked on ready-made objects, created photomontage and made use of non-conventional mediums. 

While the lifespan of the dada movement was known to be short-lived, Banksy’s creations and artistic stunts have brought this movement back to life. In one particular stunt, Banksy made use of an invention of the dada movement, auto-destructive art. The dada notion behind auto-destructive art comes from the idea that it aims to either redefine art or ridicule it.

In a 2018 Sotheby’s art auction in London, Banksy’s famous image Girl with a Balloon, which depicts the image of a girl reaching out for a red, heart-shaped balloon, was sold for $1.4 million. A few moments later, the picture started shredding and sliding down in strips. Sotheby’s claimed that it had been “Banksy’d” through the use of a hidden shredder in the photo frame. The act is viewed as a dada act because it was an attempt to critique the pretentiousness of the art world and show how easy it was to transform what people considered precious art into strips of paper. 

From critiquing consumerism and capitalism to calling out social absurdities, the elusive graffiti artist is often critiqued for falling prey to the cultural system. The stunt of shredding the image Girl with a Balloon led to its increase in value in the art market. Thus, a stunt of provocation ended up being co-opted into an exhibition. While past movements have influenced the future trajectory of art, it is important to remember that cultural sensibilities and audience interaction with art are as important as the art itself. 

Shrishti is a Politics, Philosophy and Economics major at Ashoka University. In her free time, you’ll find her cooking, dancing or photographing.

We publish all articles under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noderivatives license. This means any news organisation, blog, website, newspaper or newsletter can republish our pieces for free, provided they attribute the original source (OpenAxis).

Issue 8

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 Union Budget for 2021. While all eyes were glued to the Budget, Uttarakhand witnessed an immense loss of life and extensive property damage, leading to an estimated loss of over INR 1500 crores. Muskaan Kanodia debates whether ambitious developmental projects are at the heart of such disasters while shedding light on the new ‘Sustainable Development of Little Andaman Island – Vision Document’ proposed by Niti Aayog and its environmental implications. 

The past year also provided much time for reflection about our way of life, including our relationships with the environment, technology, and with each other. Ridhima Manocha shares her experience of taking on a digital detox in complete isolation and questions the practicality of such an endeavour in today’s world when we are so highly dependent on technology. This dependence also leads one to question the ways we use online spaces and how this changes our understanding of the internet itself. Across the world on Wall Street, Redditors came together to bend the stock market to their will, upsetting several established hedge funds and stockbrokers – Aarohi Sharma explores how internet memes were the source of their power. Closer to home, a military coup in Myanmar brought the success of sanctions and US foreign policy into question, as discussed by Saraansh Mishra

As we approach International Matri Bhasha Diwas (International Mother Language Day), two budding translators from the Languages Society at Ashoka University discuss the complexities surrounding preserving a language and share their struggles of translating texts from their mother tongue to English. Another article by the Society shares a personal take on and critique of the inclusion of regional languages and mother tongues in the National Education Policy, brought forward by the Centre last year. 

On a different note, Valentine’s Day this year provided couples with a much-needed opportunity to celebrate while prompting contemplation for those outside heteronormative structures of romance. Roshan Roy discusses gender norms and societal restrictions that affect our conception of love and can make this a difficult holiday, especially for individuals who identify as queer. Furthering the discussion on ‘forbidden love,’ Ipshita Nath provides insight into ideas surrounding interracial relationships during the British Raj in India and prompts the readers to ponder if in some of them have trickled down into our ideas of love and marriage today. 

In a time where news travels faster than ever before, our issue aims to pause and give context to events that are shaking the world, nudging one to observe, rethink and express.

-Ariba, Ashana Mathur, Harshita Bedi, Rujuta Singh

Image Credits: iStockPhoto

Issue 8

Leading up to the Historic Mahapanchayat: Hindu-Muslim Relationship Since 2013 in West UP

Social media is fuelled with people expressing apprehensions and even anger over all the excitement around Rakesh Tikait who recently extended his support to the protesting farmers at Ghazipur border. Rakesh Tikait is the farmer leader and spokesperson of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU). Most of the public anger stems from BKU’s role in the 2013 sectarian violence in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts. 


What Followed Was Regret & A Call For Unity

It has been over seven and a half years since that madness engulfed West UP. We saw BKU split while many new factions emerged. The noticeable split was the breaking away of Ghulam Mohammad Jaula, the biggest Muslim leader of BKU, often considered as late Baba Tikait’s right-hand-man. 

Interestingly, once when Ajit Singh (founder and Chief of Rashtriya Lok Dal, political party in West UP), and son Jayant Chaudhry (RLD leader) lost elections in 2014, many older Jats in the region were crestfallen. Many of them sobbed, “humne chaudhary sahab ko kaise hara diya.” Many Jats were always upset with their younger generation for indulging in violence that occurred in 2013. Secretly between those sobs, they’d often say, “hope it’s not too late before our youngsters realize where they’ve gone wrong.” This is not to insinuate that elders from the community were not involved in the violence. But those who had seen the heydays of BKU and RLD understood the futility of the madness. They understood that Muslims of the region were an inseparable part of their existence (within which there are contradictions of caste among Muslims in the region – but that’s another topic of discussion).

Some local level Jat leaders such as Vipin Singh Baliyan among others, have put in their share of effort to undo the Hindu-Muslim rift. Those efforts, while commendable, were small and acted as only a small drop in an ocean of hatred and bitterness that West UP had become. Around five years after the riots, there were, finally joint Hindu-Muslim Kisan Panchayats which were led by people like Thakur Puran Singh, Ghulam Mohammad Jaula etc.

Finally, there was a massive rally led by Rakesh Tikait that came to Delhi with a set of ten demands, just before the 2019 elections. Both Hindu and Muslim farmers particpated in that rally. Many other Unions extended support to the movement. Delhi was again under siege. Even though all the demands had not been met, the rally was called off. Many were upset, and felt that he had been bought over by BJP. After 2019, there were many protests in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts led by BKU. What was interesting – the presence of many Muslim farmers in at protest demonstrations. Many were post-holders of BKU as well. It was evident that Rakesh Tikait was trying hard to revive BKU while Naresh Tikait (the current President of BKU and elder brother to Rakesh Tikait) had evidently been sidelined. 

The Trust Deficit

In the 2013 Mahapanchayat where BJP had completely hijacked the BKU stage, it was Nresh Tikait who was seen on that stage with BJP leaders. He continued to make inflammatory statements even after the 2013 violence in the districts. Over the last two-three years, it seems that Rakesh has taken over the reins of the Union and sidelined Naresh because of the communal politics that one has begun to associate him with. Whether this is an ideological clash between the two brothers or a tactical move, only they know. 

Once the anti-farm bills reached the borders of Delhi, eyes were set on borders lining Ghazipur as well. Why wasn’t West UP joining the protests with the same intensity and fervour that their farm movements have been known for in the past? Truth be told, while many farmers were very keen to join the movement, there laid a massive trust deficit with Rakesh Tikait. Many suspected that he was a BJP agent who could flip any minute.

Towards Bridging the Divide

However, the events on the night of 27th January at Ghazipur border changed that perception. A large police contingent was out to remove the protesting farmers from the border. The very emotional appeal by Rakesh Tikait in a video message where he was seen crying has stirred West UP farmers in action. Among the most prominent words he said was the admission of guilt of once having supported BJP, a decision he said will always regret. That night saw thousands of people gathering outside Tikait’s house in Sisauli village in Muzaffarnagar district. Two days later, on 29th January, a historic Mahapanchayat attended by several thousands, took place in the district. 

Among the key speakers at the Panchayat was Ghulam Mohammad Jaula. He minced no words. “The two biggest mistakes you’ve made so far,” he said, “one, you got Ajit Singh defeated, and two, you killed Muslims.” Interestingly, there was no booing, no attempts at shutting him up. A pin-drop silence. Introspection. Other speakers added, “we will never get carried away by BJP again.” A very rare decision taken at the historic Mahapanchayat – to boycott the BJP. Rare for maha-panchayats to publicly disown a political party.

Even today as the groundswell of support from farmers continues to increase at the Ghazipur border from districts like Baghpat, Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Meerut etc., similar views are echoed. “2013 was a big mistake.” “BJP abused our anger, and we got carried away.” “BJP and SP are responsible for the 2013 situation.” And most importantly, “BJP grew in West UP in 2013 because of Muzaffarnagar riots, it’s downfall will also begin in the same Muzaffaranagar.” The most prominent slogans of BKU, “Har Har Mahadev, Allahu-Akbar,” which echoed through the boat club in 1988 may soon be back.  

The Unanswerable Questions, and Small Steps

Does this easily erase the past? Does this heal wounds of 2013? 

As someone who made a film on the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots and having witnessed the trauma, destruction and polarisation they had caused, I don’t have an answer. Maybe. Maybe not. Those 60,000 people, essentially Muslims, who were displaced and will never go back to their native villages. Should many, who were responsible for the violence, but today regret the past be given a clean chit? Is this genuine redressal? We don’t have any answers. What we do know is that West UP has suffered enormously in the past. The spiralling effects have been grave. Many continue to suffer.Yogi as the CM wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for 2013, and perhaps Modi as PM as well. What we do know is that the recent events at West UP will go a long way in healing and bringing back some peace in the troubled parts of West UP. Even personal relations between Hindus and Muslims will witness renegotiations. This is not to suggest that this changes everything. But each of these steps count for something. 

While many raise apprehensions about Rakesh Tikait even now, and perhaps rightly so, one needs to approach the situation with patience in these difficult times as such churnings are crucial. The damage that the ruling government has done to India will take long to be amended. Sometimes even fraught with contradictions. Impulsive reactions won’t help anyone. Many fault lines still exist in West UP. Unlike Punjab where militant Farmers’ Unions have been active for many decades, Haryana and even West UP (including BKU) rely on Khaps to mobilize farmers. Feudal attitudes will take time to break down. But the Mahapanchayat on the 29th was a sure, small but significant step towards democratization of that society.  

Image Credits: National Herald

Nakul Singh Sawhney is an independent documentary filmmaker. His notable feature length documentary films include, ‘Izzatnagari ki Asabhya Betiyaan’ and ‘Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai…’. He is the founder of a film media collective in West UP, called ChalChitra Abhiyaan. ChalChitra Abhiyaan trains youth from marginalised communities in West UP to make their own videos on relevant issues in the area. These videos have often brought out grassroots news to the public domain on contentious issues when the mainstream media has looked away. The collective also screens their videos and other films (both Indian and international) in various villages and townships of West UP.

We publish all articles under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noderivatives license. This means any news organisation, blog, website, newspaper or newsletter can republish our pieces for free, provided they attribute the original source (OpenAxis).

Issue 8


‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions’ is the phrase that this gripping two-season series embodies. The show follows the life of Ramy Hassan, an American millennial with roots in Egypt, and captures how he grapples with his conception of the ideas of spirituality, love, religion, family, and judgement. The comedy-drama encapsulates snippets of what constitutes a sense of belonging for a minority, immigrant community in the United States and humorously captures the cultural conflicts and politics of the two nations that Ramy identifies with, the USA and Egypt. 

While the first season gives us a glimpse of the characters and their ideas, the second season grips one further as Ramy finds himself in unfamiliar terrain in Egypt, falling in love, drifting in and out of religious ideals and finding a Sufi spiritual instructor in Mahershala Ali. The show highlights contradictions between belief and faith, religious practice and understanding, family and loyalty and portrays the characters’ struggles with religious practice in a world of sin and vice. The show takes pace as it highlights religious biases, perceptions about Muslims and Ramy’s ‘well-intentioned sins’ as he tries to navigate between the ‘haram’ and ‘halal’ life while judging those around him.

Quick-one liners, puns on Trump, Islam and its relationship with the USA and a representation of religious performance and faith is what makes Ramy a must watch. Each character in the show has a different story, slowly unfurling in the background as Ramy struggles to juggle between Friday afternoon prayers and Friday night parties.

Issue 8

Black Artists on Instagram

Art is a powerful tool of expression. Not only does it appeal to the visual senses but it also consolidates powerful pictures. It brings to life realities that we often hear about. To celebrate Black History Month and keep alive the spirit of the Black Lives Matter, here are a few black artists you should follow on Instagram:

  1. Lauren Harris: @loharris_art
Image Credits: Instagram @loharris_art

Lauren Harris is a Brooklyn based digital artist, who specializes in illustration and motion design. She uses bright and vibrant palettes to create artwork that embodies kindness, joy, confidence and humanity. Her artwork revolves around the everyday life of women, with a special focus on the lives of African-American people. Through her artwork, Harris also aims to contribute to various social justice initiatives.

2. Nikkolas Smith @nikkolas_smith

Image Credits: Instagram @nikkolas_smith

Nikkolas Smith is a native of Houston, Texas. His speciality lies in children’s books illustrations, movie poster design and digital painting characters. After working on several film posters, and authoring children’s illustration books, Smith has been interested in Artivism that is Activism through Art. As a person of colour, he wants to create artwork that initiates important conversations around social justice and brings about a meaningful change in the world.

Issue 8

Tightrope by Zayn Malik

With Valentine’s Day having just passed us last weekend, some of us may still want to continue feeling butterflies in their stomach for their significant or imaginary others, and Zayn Malik’s ‘Tightrope’ is just for that.

Zain Javadd Malik, known by the name Zayn, is an English singer and songwriter who recently released his new album ‘Nobody is Listening’. The song ‘Tightrope’ is all about how one is willing to fall into the steep slope of love, when it’s with the right person. It is perfect for when you are on your 5:30 pm evening walk, with the sun setting and the serene sky, thinking about that special someone who may or may not know of your existence. For his desi fans, Zayn provides a pleasant surprise with the 1960s Mohammad Rafi’s verse from ‘Chaudhvin ka Chand’ later into the song.

As the song is on the acoustic end, it will get your feet tapping while you immerse yourself into enjoying the serotonin rush of reminiscing the times you fell in love and “something told you it was them.”  

Issue 8

The Midnight Library

The Midnight Library starts with a 35-year-old Nora Seed having the worst day of her life. She gets mugged, she loses her job at the music store, her only piano student decides to quit, and to top it all, her cat – the only companion in her life – dies in a car crash.

She could have been a glaciologist (as she used to tell her school librarian: Mrs Elm), a famous musician, or she could have married the surgeon Ash who asked her out for coffee once. Instead, she finds herself alone in her battered room, regretting all the choices she didn’t make. So, she decides to kill herself at midnight but finds herself caught in the middle of life and death in the midnight library with her school librarian Mrs Elm. This is no ordinary place; it is a magical library that gives Nora a passage to transport back into life. The Midnight Library offers Nora Seed a second chance in life.

It took me back in life (as it did Nora) to my school days when during the exam seasons, I used to finish preparing for it early to have enough time to read “The Famous Five” novels. There was a kind of silence in my head that amplified my inner voice and made me think more clearly about my life. About how if I get a chance to reset my life, what would I do differently? Then I started to think about if I can anything do anything to change for the better now. Matt Haig’s simple writing flows throughout the book filled with otherwise complex thoughts. I think more people should experience the silence in their heads that amplifies their inner voice.

Issue 8

Headliner: A Chilling View of How Hate Sells

Headliner is an indie game developed by Jakub Kasztalski, where players are tasked with being the editor of a fictional magazine in a fictional town. Their responsibilities are primarily concerned with choosing which stories get reported in the next day’s news cycle. As the editor, players need to prioritize the news stories that they believe best contributes to the social cohesion of the town, while at the same time ensuring that their newspaper remains profitable. 

The game soon evolves into a test of character, as all the choices that players make directly affect their in-game family and society. Kasztalski effectively establishes conflicts that are hard to navigate – with players’ job security, familial interests and general social atmosphere often placed at odds with one another. Ranging from issues of sensationalism and hateful narratives, to personal biases and ambitions, the game provides its players with an understanding of the complexities within the operation of news media. In an ecosystem where stories that sell better outshine those more worthy of telling, Headliner proves to be an inexplicably valuable tool for highlighting the processes and dilemmas underlying contemporary reportage.