Issue 10

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 liveswe 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, we saw the new possibilities that space exploration holdsKartik Tiwari, a student of Physics and Philosophy, captures this sense of wonder and takes on the claim that humans will walk on Mars in the next decade. On the flip side, Aarohi Sharma critically analyses how this endeavour may become equivalent to that of colonization as she explores the world’s obsession with colonizing Mars and what this obsession represents.

With the development of scientists being able to communicate with people while they were lucid dreaming, Ashana Mathur writes about the intersection of psychedelics and their contribution in enhancing creative thinking and problem solving skills. We still can’t forget the Covid-19 vaccine, thus, Amrita Singh breaks down how the immune system actually works, how vaccines confer immunity and what distinguishes all the different vaccines on offer. 

We are also in the midst of the campaigning for two major elections, one in West Bengal and the other in Tamil Nadu. Maya Mirchandani and Gilles Verniers expertly analyse how Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress takes the lead in fielding and supporting strong women candidates in view of a larger and more gradual trend of inclusion, also contributed to by other parties. With larger than life banners, to small party symbols painted on the walls along the roads, Nandan Sanskriti Kaushik explores how street art and poster culture become an important campaign tool in Tamil Nadu.

As Ashoka University made the news for the sudden resignation of two of its esteemed faculty members, it raised important questions about academic freedom in India and, so our staff chose to collectively explore the historical evolution of academic freedom across the globe.

This issue also covers other current events as with a nuanced economic analysis of the public sector bank strike from March 15th-16th by Advaita Singh. Given the apprehension with which Indian lawmakers still regard cryptocurrency, Tanish Bafna breaks down the anxieties around a new regulatory bill and what it might mean for the future of cryptocurrency in India.

On the other hand, Rohan Pai unpacks the recent water crisis in Delhi to reveal its legal and political roots, highlighting the need to resolve internal disputes to prevent a future water crisis in Delhi, Haryana and Punjab. Rujuta Singh examines police brutality and violence against women in view of the role that power and positions of authority might play. Madhulika Aggarwal presents a critique of the content-sharing platform: OnlyFans and how it might be perpetuating the commodification of female passing bodies underneath its convenience and user-autonomy. 

Ananya Rao explores the future of menstrual health and hygiene in a post COVID India, examining infrastructural and societal taboos hurdling the cause. Outside India, Harshita Bedi investigates what the recent Sri Lankan burqa ban means for religious minorities and why the burqa has become a threat to a majority in Sri Lanka. Alexandra Verini examines the prospects of Utopia in today’s world, exploring the question of whether imagining perfect worlds benefit our present and future or do they set us up for failures and disappointment? 

We hope that this issue enables its readers to piece together their own understanding of this moment in time and see that despite our challenges, we are still hurtling towards progress—whether it’s scientific discovery or our ability to think for ourselves, to study popular claims beyond face value and to question the world around us. 

— Akanksha, Devika, Muskaan, Ridhima and Saaransh

Issue 2

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 your audience, we have a platform like never before. With this however, come important questions about how to control and carry out conversations online, and the extent of its real-world impacts.

In this edition, we attempt to start a conversation around precisely these topics. We start with the notion of privacy online, as Debayan Gupta explores the importance of software encryption and discusses whether governments should be given a secret key to decrypt citizens’ conversations. Aradhya Sharma looks at privacy in the context of health data, in light of India’s recent attempt to digitise healthcare through the National Digital Health Mission. In Deep Vakil’s piece, we deepdive into a real-life case study of online privacy—an instance of doxxing of university students and how it is situated in the context of ‘culture wars’ between ideological oppositions online.  When our online lives get too much, we try to get away from it—but can we really resist the allure of our devices? By understanding human psychology and its interaction with online media, Simantini Ghosh suggests practical ways to escape the trap of the ‘black mirror’.

But is life beyond technospace any better? With the unlawful investigation of Manisha Valmiki’s rape and murder, there has been polemical uproar against the police, media and the judicial system. Mansi Ranka’s piece tells us why caste is central to the Hathras case and touches upon how activists are carrying out related protests during the pandemic. With COVID infections still steadily increasing, many other people prefer to voice their criticism of the investigation online. Social media has been rife with polarizing opinions. 

But then again there is no dearth of people for whom the pandemic has not been a deterrent to assert their ‘invincibility’. These people, most of whom are on the conservative side, have flouted health advisories and social distancing guidelines. Isha Deshmukh examines the nuance between one’s political leaning and their proclivity (or lack thereof) towards science in her article. 

As similar political criticism continues online, engaging the voices of millions globally, it takes on various forms apart from 280-character opinions. Karantaj Singh explores one such instance in Amazon’s hit show The Boys, which stars an anti-superhero protagonist eerily similar to Donald Trump. Speaking of the current President of the United States, Aditya Burra takes us through a journey of Trump’s America over the past four years, reminding us of the high-stakes game that is November’s Presidential elections. We also take a look at the state of democracy in today’s world, and the role of American government and aid agencies in promoting it, in Bann Seng Tan’s exploration of American foreign policy.

It is thus important to remind ourselves that the world goes on, despite the pandemic and our lives online. In no way are we immune to being scrutinized by various actors digitally. In no way can our society easily get rid of structures it is entrenched in. But also in no way can we ignore the ability to collectively amplify the voices of those who haven’t been passed the mic, for the greater good.

– Nirvik Thapa, Pravish Agnihotri and Samyukta Prabhu