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, we saw the new possibilities that space exploration holds—Kartik 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