Politics and the World


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?

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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?

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.

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?

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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?

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?

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.

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%.

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?

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?

‘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?

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?

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.

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?

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?

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.

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.

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?

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?

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?

Phones and Guns to Phones with Guns: Am I a Soldier?

Sanya Chandra

Do you ever think how many ways the state is in your home, or on your phone, quite literally hugging your person? Do you think your means of entertainment are detached from diplomatic posturing? If the answer is yes, you are wrong.

COVID or Not, The Campaign Must Go On

Neelanjan Sircar

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, parties will be heavily restricted in hosting rallies or other large public events that are so crucial to a standard political campaign. But the campaign must go on.

When should I stop watching the news?

Siddhartha Dubey

TV news has become a platform for lies and propaganda. If Indian news television is hurtling down an abyss, should we follow?

My Son’s Inheritance: India’s Invisible Violence

Aparna Vaidik

The book demonstrates how violence is secretly embedded in our myths, folklore, poetry, literature, and language, and is therefore invisible. Framing my narrative as a message to my son, I acquaint him with his ancestors—those who abet and carry out lynching as well as those who are lynched.