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To Female Friends

With apologies to the other kind…I love them too!!

Though men have their uses; mainly procreative,
Besides some other ones, rather more lucrative,
Those nitty accounts to be totted up, tallied, tabulated,
Even at times, updated; these are investments indifferent

Material ones, the mensural pleasures engendered
By a lineage of clerks, statisticians and bankers.
Those are territories over-charted that our
Broader female souls shun, refuse to traverse.

Through other Amazonian lands have I travelled,
Shared things unlike these, personal, perhaps mundane,
Indistinct yet choice, more joyous in the end,
For their very incalculable nothingness, their thingness;

Let me not compare.

Written by Professor Madhu Grover

Featured Image by Shubhangi Gokhroo

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संभलना आ गया है, संभालना नहीं |

आज आँखें नम हुईं तब सोच रही थी कि
दिल्ली आने से पहले न जाने कितनी ही बार मैं तुमसे दूर, बहुत दूर, कैंप में जाया करती थी, ख़ुशी ख़ुशी !!!
जानती हो न –
कल फिर से जाना है | यहीं पास में ही, सफ़दरजंग में, ज़्यादा दूर भी नहीं |
हाँ, मैं शायद अपने कमरे के बहुत करीब रहूँगी लेकिन अपने घर से बहुत दूर !

अब जब चार दिन पहले से ही सामान अपने बस्ते में ले जाने के लिए इकट्ठा करना शुरू किया तो जाना
कि ऐसा कुछ तो मैंने पहले शायद कभी नहीं किया |
मुझे  याद आया कि जाने के एक दिन पहले मैं चीख रही होती थी,
और आने के एक दिन बाद याद आता था,
“मम्मी यह तो मैं लाई ही नहीं ! आपको याद दिलाना चाहिए था | अब कैसे करुँगी वह वाला काम ?”
और तुम फिर कोई नया उपाय सुझा देतीं थीं !!!
इस बार मैं कोई भूल नहीं करना चाहती, इसलिए एक लंबी सी लिस्ट बनाई है जिसमें हर वो चीज़ लिखी है जिसे तुम रखतीं थीं मेरे बैग में,
और उसे अपने मोबाइल में लिए घूम रही हूँ, ताकि भूल से भी कुछ भूल न जाऊँ |

पर चाह कर भी उस लिस्ट में उन दो डब्बों का ज़िक्र नहीं किया जो तुम मेरे बैग में हमेशा रखतीं थीं |
दोनों डब्बों में होते तो मेरे पसंदीदा लड्डू या शक्करपारे ही थे, लेकिन तुम कहतीं थीं कि
“यह जो डिब्बा ऊपर रख दिया है, इसे तो तुम सब के संग खाओगी न . . . फिर तो यह जल्दी ख़त्म हो जायेगा |
दूसरा डिब्बा बाद में खोलना, अकेले ही खा लेना, जब लगे कि सिर्फ तुम्हें ही ज़रूरत है |”

केले के चिप्स, मूँगफली के दाने, मखाने और न जाने कितना कुछ था जो मैं रात को भूख लगने पर खा लिया करती थी –
अभी लिस्ट में शामिल तो कर लिए हैं, पर क्या मुझे ही बैग में रखने पड़ेंगे ?

काफी खुशी होती है जब सोचती हूँ, तीन साल बाहर रह कर सीख लिया मैंने सब कुछ,
जब दोस्त कहती है कि, “श्रद्धा तुम होती हो तो काम आसान हो जाते हैं | पैकिंग करवाने आ जाओ !”
तो समझ आता है कि

संभालना आ गया है, पर संभलना नहीं |

क्यूँ कि मुझे संभालना तो तुम्हें ही आता है |
कोई कैसे जान सकता है मेरी ज़रूरतों को तुमसे बेहतर |
कोई कैसे रख सकता है मेरे बैग में हर वो चीज़ जो तुम रख सकती हो |
कोई कैसे पोंछ सकता है मेरे आँसू जो बह रहे हैं बिना रुके |

माँ, तुम ऐसी क्यूँ हो !?
अब मैं बंद कर दूंगी अपने बैग की चेन, कोई भी डिब्बा उसमें रखे बिना,
क्यूँ कि मुझे सीखना होगा संभलना खुद ही |

Written by Shraddha Jain

Edited by Eshna Gupta
Artwork by Malvika Swarup

 

The Art of Forgetting

It is easy enough once you begin
To slough old scales, fur, feathers, skin,
Begin, to shed, to shuffle off
Clinging alluvial nostalgias.

Easy enough to wipe, rub clean, erase
The slime trail, persistent
At the edges of cold memory,
To pluck and loosen knots, resistant, gnarled,
Unravel the web, pick out the shards
Of broken worlds, too neatly planned,
Too needy, and too counterfeit.
Those burdens that have staked their right
Those hungry vines are parasites,
Their time is done.

At first the unfamiliar, unsheathed being
You meet, lacks words, seems strange,
Newly arrived from a land of dreams.
But soon enough this strange, new self
Walks bare, struts forth, blazing
With a clean madness.
Soon enough, there’s dancing in the sunlight
And a house warm with a friend.

Written by Professor Madhu Grover

Memory and Memoir

It was almost mid-morning. I was standing on Platform No. 2 of Canning Station, loaded with my backpack and armed with my DSLR. Neither the scorching heat nor the hustle-bustle on the platform could dampen my spirits. I was on my way to the Sundarbans – the world’s largest mangrove Tiger-land. As part of my work assignment, I had been asked to cover a story about the mangrove forest, along with my colleague, Vrinda. It was an important assignment for my career as a journalist and I was eager to give it my best shot. And besides the professional reason, I also had a personal reason to be super excited! I was eager to see the land and meet its people and of course, meet the Maharaja of the mangrove – the Royal Bengal Tiger! “Hey Sunaina! Why do you look so lost? Come let’s click a selfie! #RoyalRendezvous” chirped in Vrinda and pulled me aside for a selfie.

After a long and arduous journey, we set off to the land of the tiger. As we moved away from the crowded banks, signs of civilization began to diminish. We were surrounded by water on all sides and the river appeared like the sea. I felt as if I was on a Robinson Crusoe-like adventure. Everything about the place was mystical. I just wanted to freeze the beauty of this land in my camera – the birds, the water, the Sundari trees, and the serene silence. I quickly switched on my camera, not wanting to miss any moment while my photogenic friend looked for more “hashtag” worthy photos.

Suddenly, we stopped. Almost immediately, my eyes shot up. Have we spotted a tiger already? Maybe he has come to give us a majestic welcome. As it turned out, it was not a tiger but a barrel of mischievous monkeys who had come to greet us. One of the daring ones of the troupe snatched a biscuit from a fellow tourist and climbed up to his friend who was sitting on a huge signboard which said: WELCOME TO SAJNEKHALI LODGE.

Our lodge was a beautiful one. Set amidst the serene forest, it was the perfect stay for a forest sojourn. Hearing about my eagerness to see the tiger, the manager there told us that a tiger had been spotted in the vicinity of the lodge a few months ago. But this was nothing new, every local here had his or her own “tiger-tale” to tell. At night the silence around the lodge was spine chilling. Every minute sound, even the rustling of leaves, made me feel as though the tiger was here for a night out! And though my mind wished to be lost in these thoughts, my eyes were already conquered by sleep.

Next day, I was the first one to wake up. As I pushed the curtains on my window, I witnessed the most ethereal sight – the sky was decked up in all vibrant shades of orange, with a tinge of rosy pink, like the blush on a baby’s face. After a light breakfast, we began our expedition along with the boatman and a guide of course, with the mandatory “#therivercruise” selfie, courtesy Vrinda.

“What are the chances of spotting a tiger?” I asked the guide. “Well…you never know… you can get lucky…the last time a tiger was spotted was in 2017 by a group of foreigners.” That information infused in me a new zeal for adventure. As we moved on, I noticed a small boy and a middle-aged man rowing a small canoe towards a tapering canal holding a fishing net. For most people there, fishing and honey collection were the only sources of livelihood, which made their lives intertwine with that of the forest; tiger and man often crossed paths and their meeting was not always a pleasant one. We learned about the locals’ daily struggles for existence. Suddenly, the guide signaled the boatman to slow down. My heart skipped a beat. Was it finally the much-fabled tiger? About whom everyone here had a tale to tell? But alas, no. Just like the mark of Zorro, the tiger had only left a pug mark on the marshy land, indicating that he had swum to the other side. We could see the pug marks, smell the stink of its dead prey, but no sign of the tiger. Was it only me then, who felt that the tiger was close by, playing a game of peek-a-boo? After the sudden excitement had died down, we had a scrumptious lunch on the boat prepared by the boatman’s assistant. We saw the best of wildlife – wild boars, deer, monitor lizards – but no sight of the tiger.

The chirping of the homecoming birds announced the arrival of dusk as we headed back to the lodge. Devoid of any physical energy or motivation, I dropped myself onto the bed and immediately fell asleep.

In the dead of the night, I was woken up by the constant buzzing of my phone. It was Vrinda. Before I could respond, she asked me to get up quickly and come to the common balcony. Curious, I hurried out of the room only to find all the tourists crammed up on the common balcony and peering down towards the fences. I looked down and I could not believe what my eyes saw. I pinched myself to check if it was all a dream. The ‘ouch’ confirmed the reality – standing right there was His Majesty himself, the striped beauty – the Royal Bengal tiger. The King had not failed his subjects. I just stood there gazing and felt as though the time had stopped. If God had given me a boon to relive one moment of my life – I would surely choose this one. The tiger, unaware of the hysteria around, loitered for some time and then leaped into the darkness of the forest.

Oh, what a sight! I smiled to myself and made way to my bedroom. As soon as I entered the room, the first thing I saw was my camera, safely seated on my bed, staring right at my face. I hit myself on the head. How stupid of me! The moment I was dying to capture was right in front of me and I, like a complete fool, had forgotten to get my camera. How could I forget to take this shot? I didn’t deserve to be called a photojournalist!

Like after every storm peace prevails, my mind had gradually calmed down and I recollected the happenings of the night. I recalled all the clicks and flashes that surrounded the tiger, all those selfies that we took on this trip. Have we become so busy in capturing moments that we have forgotten to actually live them? Have we become so self…rather so selfie-obsessed that we have failed to understand that we must live the moment to enjoy the memory? Realization dawned on me. We live through countless experiences in life and try our best to preserve them but when we actually come across a once in a lifetime moment, we stand dumbstruck, gaping at this wonder called Life.

Maybe, not all good things are meant to be captured in the camera. Maybe some golden moments are reserved to be captured by the eyes and preserved in the mind – forever.

Written by Aaheli Jana

Edited by Sukriti Lakhtakia
Artwork by Ayushi Kapoor

Bandits

The frosty January wind metamorphosed into the warm homely aroma of home-cooked dum-aloo. I pulled up his coat that he had wrapped around my bare back and hugged it close to my neck. From across the table, he gave me a warm amber smile in response to my weary expressions. As I chewed on the honey chilly potatoes, he looked deep into my eyes and told me that they were bewitching. Was he mocking me? Maybe, or maybe not.

“I am glad to be spending this precious night with you, here in this rooftop restaurant.” He said nonchalantly, scrutinizing my facial features for some kind of response.

“Umm…I have never been out on a date like this. Well, nobody ever asked me…” my words hung heavy in the air between us.

The rest of the conversation surpassed my level of comprehension. He graced my scarred conscience with sentences highlighting my beauty; beauty that he specified indicated an inner and inherent beauty, not the one sticking close to my skin. He was the first man, I recalled, in ages who had said something like that to me. Initially, his words felt more like a jest than a compliment. Eventually, as the hours passed and the indigo hue of the night overhead deepened, I realized that he earnestly meant what he said.

I recalled, how just a few hours ago, I was sprawled on my bed in the dingy brothel, waiting for the next customer to devour me. This man in the black cardigan walked in. With wild hair and sober, undecipherable eyes, he gazed at my body from top to bottom. A grey frown coloured his features. I was aware of the fact that I was dressed just the way the brothel-owner woman instructed us to, in a lacy black bra and matching underwear. What could be wrong or unappealing in my appearance that made this man frown, I wondered.

He came and sat beside me. He lifted his hand and brought it close to me. My eyes closed instinctively along with a slight shuddering of my muscles. It has been nearly ten years that circumstances forced me into this occupation, yet I was unable to come to terms with it. Every new man that walked in, brought with him the same dark clouds, ready to smear my life with his primal passions.

His hand drew near me. When I opened my eyes, he held my hand in his and pulled me up, making me sit facing him. This was unusual. He read my bewildered expression and said – “I was feeling lonely and was in requirement of a human soul. Would you accompany my soul tonight?” I nodded my head in confusion.

He asked me to dress up, and I did. Next thing I knew, we were in his car, driving through the now-deserted roads of the metropolis at three o’clock in the morning. He narrated to me the deplorable state of his marital life. In his wife, he wished to seek a profound company for his joys and sorrows. But all he ever got from her was the mere satiation of his body. He longed for a genuine state of love and companionship within his marriage, but all that was there was carnality.

“Then why don’t you leave her?” I asked with the curiosity of a five-year-old.

“It’s not that simple in a society like ours. I don’t want my little children to suffer the angst of the separation of their parents.” A long, impregnated silence permeated the space between us.

After a few minutes, he broke the ice and told me that he wanted to spend the night with someone who would just listen and understand him. He repeatedly told me how beautiful I was and that he was thankful for my company tonight. He didn’t touch me, at least not in any suggestive manner. The only occurrences of physical contact between us were when he tucked a loose strand of hair behind my ear, or when he held my hand and thanked me for hearing him patiently.

The dinner passed with a slow pace, with him telling me his tale, and him listening to my own story; how my parents abandoned me here ten years ago, when my face was disfigured when burning acid was thrown on me by two passing bikers when I was walking alone home one day. Ever since the brothel-owner woman ensured that I never escaped, and even when I ran away, she devised means to bring me back. He listened patiently.

The first spark of dawn started cracking through the canvas of the sky. We rose from our chairs. He embraced me warmly. I thanked him, he thanked me. Each of us was grateful for the other, for that night was significant in giving us both a moment to cherish forever, in this fleeting world. We never could or did meet again. The society shunned us both into our respective dungeons. He returned to his morbid life, and so did I. But now, both of us, that stranger and I, had a taste of what felt like magic in the passage of time, which once gone, was never to return again.

We parted with a mysterious smile on our lips. Perhaps we had been bandits that night. We stole from the ocean of time a moment of felicity that we would hold onto till the end of time.

Written by Rashmi Chakravarty

Edited by Sukriti Lakhtakia
Artwork by Himangi Shekhawat

 

The Radio at my House

There are moments where I find myself looking for things to do. I indulge in things that are admittedly, not very productive, however, which keep me busy, but not quite. Maybe something like television? Ah, no, not television. Television bores me. Instead of sitting idly in front of the television, I would rather sit idly in front of the radio. One may gather that sitting idle is my favourite pastime, which would not be false, but having agreeable sounds and voices fall over the ears every once in a while doesn’t hurt, does it?

I have always been more intimate with sounds, with the auditory, more than the visual. Maybe that is why I need to scan the same spot for more than three and a half times before I find the bowl in the refrigerator, or my slippers hiding in plain sight. But I sure am privy to the voices and the sounds, the resounding reverberations. I can recognize a song even before it begins to play. Well, that might not be absolutely true. I am not that intuitive. I should now close this string of thought only hoping that I got my point across.

The radio in my house, as I hope is the case with other radios too, plays songs. Songs interrupted by the same long advertisement breaks with the same short advertisements lined up one after the other, in a seemingly unending queue. Listening to them all day enables me to mouth the advertisements as they come along, to sing the jingles complete with music and air-drums, which is, undeniably, quite a useful skill to have.

I sit near the radio in my house again as the advertisement draws to a close. This one seems like a song I have never heard before. It is only in the first few seconds that I decide whether or not I would take a liking to a track, whether I will try to catch every word of it and look up the broken sentences that I indeed managed to recognize. I find myself ever attentive, willing to grow fonder, trying to grow fonder, wanting to grow fonder of it more than anything else than I would want in that moment.

This song is not familiar to me yet, it all seems stranger than a stranger. I don’t know how the tunes will turn, how the chords will set in, how the drums will quicken or slow down or make a dramatic halt.

The notes are elusive every second, so invisible in one moment yet so clear in the very next. I hang on to every note, waiting for them to take me away completely. I am always prepared to lose myself somewhere in the small space between the strings of the guitar, or to sit lightly on the black key of the piano, gazing at the melody escaping from the ever so gentle flute. I could settle there quite comfortably, for all of eternity if it were possible. The mood of the song changes mine, sometimes upbeat, at times so glowingly pensive but always exquisite.

I can sense the song drawing to a close. It ends, and so does my little vacation. I sigh in the pleasant memory of the melancholy strings.

I will be on the look-out for the same song again. I will prepare for the same trip, all hyped up, yearning to experience it all once again. Only this time, and all the others, I will know that the piano will enter one minute into the song, the drums will be quicker in the beginning and slow down progressively, and the beat won’t catch me off guard ever again by vanishing in the middle only to reappear.

What wouldn’t I give to forget it all and listen to it all over again, to hang on to each little motion which had surprised me and drawn me in so effortlessly the first time round.

I know that I won’t find that feeling again. I make my peace with the dreary realization. Simple splendid things gradually turning into routines is not something new after all. The first two sips of iced tea on a hot day are nothing like the rest, and the first whiffs of petrichor don’t persist after the senses get used to it. It is for that one moment that everything makes perfect sense, or makes no sense at all, when you suddenly seem to find everything at the same place or lose it all.

But there’s always another cup of iced tea. There is always another shower of rain. There is always another song somewhere.

That is why I sit today, again, near the radio in my house, to get to know closely the melodies which will tug at my heartstrings for the first time all over again, holding them for as long as the song exists in that moment.

That is why I hold, we should all have a radio in our houses so that we may experience this beaming tragedy together. Maybe we are already, in some way or the other, aren’t we?

Written by Pakhi Pande

Edited by Sadhana Gurung
Artwork by Parul Nayar

A Sweet Sunday by the Sea

A sweet Sunday by the sea
bustling with chit chatting and screaming humans
and small shells emerging from the sand
with the hands of my Amma
resting peacefully on my shoulders.
Her greying hair blowing wildly across her face,
the wrinkles on her forehead
standing witness to her journey.
With her softening skin and reducing bones
she holds on to me, her child,
like a newborn baby.
Our eyes in sync with the rhythm of the sea,
the crashing waves on the sandy beach –
music to our deafening ears.
The number of naked people
touristing here is enormous,
I wonder if they hear what I do –
the bittersweet soliloquy of a distant ship
calling out to me and Amma, someone’s home;
a familiar voice, I wonder if that’s my brother,
gone away to serve a nation
that’s fighting hard to remember his name.
The humming of the ocean
during this setting sun
dipping away into the night
reminds me of him.
The magnanimity of its waters
turning orange under the warm sun,
touches some deeply buried sentiments,
my eyes feel wet
and I feel Amma tighten her grip –
in that moment,
of a sweet melancholy
gazing into the golden horizon
and glittering waters,
we synced our thoughts
and our heart beats
for one, and one only.

Written by Athira Raj

Edited by Shriya Kotta
Artwork by Najma Shamim

A Prime Minister named Mob

Always doubt the sympathies of a rich man. Always doubt the powerful.

A Prime Minister named Mob:

(Scripted)

Part I
In this section, a supporter of Prime Minister Modi will be answering some of the questions that his dissenters keep asking.

List of things not to be asked:
Rafale deal
Nirav Modi
Gujarat 2002
Unemployment
Ambani
GST

Supporter Speaking:
Ram-Ram, how are you all? Aap sab log theek hain? I am very delighted to be here to talk about our great Prime Minister Modiji. I look at the media, watch all the TV channels every day and all people do is to criticize him on matters of little consequences. He has done so much for the country – so much! But instead of thanking him for the large positive changes, people choose to dwell on a few negative inconveniences. Like, there has been great hullabaloo pertaining to the fact that our honourable Prime Minister, in the last five years of his tenure which is almost complete now, has not given a single press conference to answer the questions asked by the people of this nation. I personally disapprove of this hate-mongering behaviour of the media. We have never had a more honest Prime Minister! If we start acting and stop our pointless talk, we can easily find a picture for every single day of his tenure on social media greeting celebrities and representatives from foreign countries. Ah, no one can meet his charm! Have you ever seen a politician hold his own like Modiji does among stars and celebrities?
To all the people crying about freedom of the press, I suggest them to go and live in Saudi Arabia in order to understand how free our country is in the matters of press. India is home to 407 million newspapers. 407 MILLION NEWSPAPERS! And you are saying we don’t have Press Freedom?! How many countries can you name which has this many newspapers? Haan? Haan? So what if seven journalists died in 2018 in relation to their work? What if someone named Gauri Lankesh did die under ‘shady’ circumstances? Our Jawans die on the border every day for the country.
I hate these Urban Naxalites who, with their questions and their demands and their complaints about the falling agricultural budget in the economy, add fuel to the fire. The other day, someone was complaining that Modiji had promised fifty percent profit over input costs for farmers; but I say, show me one government in the history of the world that has kept all its promises; at least, Modiji is trying…
One cannot just summon parliament like that, you need to win an election to just be in the parliament.
Suddenly you have 100,000 farmers from 200 farmer organisations marching towards the capital city–the capital city of the nation where traffic and movement are so important; who will tell them that they can’t just occupy the roads there. If they were sensible, they would have chosen some other city to march to/ to head to for the march. Or better still, the march should have been headed towards some village, so that nothing would get disrupted. That way, the government would not even have to dispense water on them.
Yet meanwhile, there was also a draught. Prime Minister Narendra Modi can’t control the weather now, can he?
Kissan protesting, Mazdoor protesting, Dalit protesting; if too many people talk at once, the individual voices get lost in the general mass of voices and nothing is heard properly.
Acha, there was another matter that kept going on and on about the Citizenship Amendment Bill. I do not understand why the Citizenship Amendment Bill is creating such a ruckus. What is so wrong in giving a home to defenseless immigrants displaced from their homes? What a touching gesture by the government to not only give the immigrants refuge but citizenship also. My heart swells with pride at this gesture. All people are welcome to my country—Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists—everyone but Muslims. For the entry of Muslims, we have rightly drawn a much necessary line. What religious persecution do Muslims face, I ask? None! They are the perpetrators of persecution. Ernest Renan (a firangi he is, and firangis are right about such stuff) described Islam as a “reign of dogma” and a phenomenon that is ‘only injurious’ to human reason. Ambedkar, in spite of the other issues I have with the guy, rightly points out that teachings of Islam are the “suppression of all rational thinking”. He said 1857 was actually a Jehad proclaimed by Muslims to try and convert India into a Dar-ul-Islam. Muslims and their bloody jihads!
Muslims cannot be innocent immigrants; they are cruel and cunning immigrants stuck in the dark-age, led by their half-witted Prophet and the most backward book in the history of civilization, the Quran. Now I have not read it myself but we don’t need to read it to know what’s in it. It’s not just us; the white people also agree that Muslims are terrorists. In the twenty-first century also, their dream. Pathetic! VIRGINS CAN BE F*CKED ON EARTH ALSO, WHY THE NEED TO GO TO HEAVEN!? They can seek refuge in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq or any of the violently terrorist nations that suit their needs, but not India. India is a secular country that treats its citizens and immigrants without bias. Many articles in the Constitution guarantee that, including Article 14, Article 21, etc. Ours is a very accommodating nation; don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Indian Constitution is a great constitution, despite the fact that it was presided over by this lower caste man called Ambedkar. Now I have nothing against Ambedkar personally but I don’t think he understood the world as well as the President of the Drafting Committee should have. One needs to understand power in order to draft rules for power . . . but Ambedkar? It’s hard to imagine that he and his family exercised any power except that of cleaning the streets.
What is this discussion about resisting the changing demographic in North-East India that will happen due to Citizenship amendment Bill? What would anybody get from changing the demographic of the North-East? So many years after 1947, they have still not inculcated India’s ancient spirit of absorbing people and their cultures. They are still reeling under the influence of China and its closed off outlook; now in India, we don’t do that. How’re identities in North-East and their preservation more important than any other part of India? That is unfair behaviour. Then we should ask for preservation of identities in MP, UP, Bihar also. It’s interesting to note how the same people who support preservation of ethnic identities in the North-East criticize the preservation of the glorious Hindu culture of the past: they look at ‘Sankritisation’ and renaming of cities with abhorrence. Such hypocrites!
Can I get some water, please? Yes? Thank you. Ahmmm.

Now there’s the question of Dalits and Muslims. With regard to Dalits: Indian Society is tailored around caste. Caste is an intrinsic feature of Indian society. To eradicate it all at once is a) not possible and will b) cause many more problems than present. A fact that is worth mentioning right now is that BJP won almost half of the 84 seats reserved for Dalits in 2014. What does that tell you? If you tell me that there has been a 25 percent jump in crime against Dalits in Uttar Pradesh alone in the last few years and try to suggest that this government, like all the other governments before, has done nothing for the community, I will most respectfully just ask you one question: who appointed Ram Nath Kovind as the President?
Don’t give me fact and figures of how many Dalits have died in cow vigilantism and other hate crimes. What did Congress do about it? To be honest, there are too many people advocating for fault rights at the moment; there are other issues also. You know, the conflicts between communities increase when social conditions get slightly better for a community that has been generally downtrodden. Keeping that in mind, the crimes against those communities could be good, desirable things. Maybe BJP is doing some good in this regard after all.
About BJP’s agenda being anti-Muslim, I will tell you one thing plain and clear, Muslims are filthy people. History is laden with examples of their inhuman behaviour. Muslim rulers fought bloody wars to set up a regime in India; I know everyone fought wars in those times but Muslims are just dirty people, they are dirty. Their wars were dirty. Despite all that, we let them stay in this glorious country of ours. I think it is very kind of us to let them live here and generate children. Personally, I think there should be a limit set to the number of children Muslim people can keep in India. All of them keep ten, ten-twelve, twelve children: it is hard to ignore the fact that this is only done to out-populate Hindus in this country. At the rate they are generating children, it is not impossible if they become the majority population of India in some decades. Then they will drive all our children out and people who sympathize with them now will have to bang their head against the wall for misjudging but it will be too late then. If the government is pre-empting this event and making sure to de-citizen the Muslim citizens of India, what is so wrong with that? If anything, we should rejoice over it. As Shri Narendra Modi rightly pointed out when he was the Chief Minister of Gujrat in 2002, they are “baby producing factories”. Referring to them he said, “hum paanch hamaare pachees”. Haha, that man cracks me up!
Also, they keep getting into trouble due to their innate nature. Now Muslims are getting lynched left, right and center: something that we all should note here is that when a deer keeps coming to the clearing and ends up being eaten by the tiger, it is a) the deer’s lack of cautiousness and b) the natural course of things. I am telling you they are the world’s biggest trouble makers: just take a look at Kashmir and you will understand.
I have no patience with people who keep having endless discussions about beef ban. If you are an Indian, you cannot eat or sell beef. How are those mob-attacks an attempt to deprive a minority of their means to sustenance, I can’t fathom. I know India is the biggest exporter of beef in the world and most of the large exporters are Hindu people whose beef companies are registered under Muslim names; all I have to say on the matter is how does one commit such an offense if not under an unholy name?
Election Commission of India forbids me saying it, but it was Shri Narendra Modi under whose government the highly successful Surgical Strike and Balakot Strike took place. Election Commission can say what it wants about defense forces being a neutral body but we all know if it had been anybody else apart from Modiji who was at the helm of the nation at the time of Uri attack and Pulwama attack, they would have cowered like young brides instead of taking a strong stand. That is all I am saying.

Part II: Election by the people.

Democratic_

Democratic Government_

Democratic Government for the people_

Democratic Government for the people theorised on by rich and the powerful_

Democratic Government for the people theorised on by the rich and the powerful, owned by the rich and the powerful_

Democratic Government for the people theorised on by the rich and the powerful, owned by the rich and the powerful, communally charged_

Democratic Government for the people theorised on by the rich and the powerful, owned by the rich and the powerful, communally charged- leaders,_

Democratic Government for the people theorised on by the rich and the powerful, owned by the rich and the powerful, communally charged- leaders (sold)_

Democratic Government for the people theorised on by the rich and the powerful, owned by the rich and the powerful, communally charged- leaders (sold), communally charged supporters (majorly)_

Democratic Government for the people theorised on by the rich and the powerful, owned by the rich and the powerful, communally charged- leaders (sold), communally charged supporters (majorly), governed also by market_

Democratic Government for the people theorised on by the rich and the powerful, owned by the rich and the powerful, communally charged- leaders (sold), communally charged supporters (majorly), governed also by market that benefits all of entities mentioned above except people in the phrase for the people_

Written by Faryaal

Edited by Eshna Gupta
Artwork by Malvika Swarup

The First Manned Moon Landing Might Have Been a Hoax

There are multiple conspiracy theories claiming that the six manned moon landings (1969-72) were hoaxes staged by NASA, possibly aided by other organizations. Claims have been made that the public was knowingly misled by these organizations into believing that these landings did take place, by tampering with or destroying available footage and evidence, and/or manufacturing photographic and video evidence. Those who believe that the moon landings were faked have given several theories about the movies of NASA and consequently, those of the US government. Despite quite a lot of third party evidence as well as detailed and acclaimed rebuttals to the claims, these continue to garner popularity.

The most accepted theory is that of the Space Race. The time in question was that of the Cold War, and there was undeniable competition between the US and the former Soviet Union which has since then been popularly called the Space Race. A moon landing would have generated worldwide awe and acclaim and would have been a national and scientific accomplishment of great measure. But a mission to the moon was an expensive and highly dangerous venture, and it is believed that the US hurriedly staged the landing to win the so-called space race without a dent in the national treasure or facing great danger. Besides, NASA was at risk of losing credibility and more importantly it’s funding if the widely publicized proposition did not end up working out.

Conspiracists have focused on gaps and inconsistencies in the records of these missions. The foremost idea is that the landing, and in fact the entire program was a hoax. This could be due to lack of technology but also due to desperation to win the space race.

These conspiracies focus heavily on the nationally televised moon landing footage and pictures released by NASA. There are no stars in any of the pictures, and in post-mission conferences, the Apollo 11 astronauts stated that they did not remember seeing any stars. If this is to be believed, NASA could have chosen not to put stars into the pictures as it would have been very difficult to determine the celestial positions expected to be seen from the moon. The shadows and angles in many of the pictures are inconsistent. There are shadows being cast in multiple directions which suggest the use of artificial light as there is only one source of light in space – the Sun. Repetition in background patterns has been observed, which according to their time/location stamps were taken miles apart. One of the biggest inconsistencies was the waving of the American flag on the surface of the moon; it seemed to have fluttered despite the impossibility of a ‘wind’ like that on Earth.

If one was to try to prove that the program was not a hoax, one would find that the blueprint and design drawings of the machines involved are missing. Apollo 11’s high-quality video footage has also apparently been “taped over”. It becomes difficult to believe that NASA taped over footage of one of its greatest successes.

However, according to James Longuski, Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering at Purdue University, the conspiracy would have to involve more than 400,000 people over the course of nearly 10 years, not including the actual men who walked the moon and their pilots. Hundreds of thousands of people would have had to keep the secret. Longuski argues that it would have been much easier to actually land on the moon than to create a hoax of this magnitude and risk losing all credibility.

Despite opposing theories regarding the moon landings, it can surely be determined that there are hefty inconsistencies making the possibility of the whole thing being a hoax much more real.

Written by Himangi Shekhawat

Edited by Tinka Dubey
Artwork by Malvika Swarup

 

Warring Actors, Warring Art

Google served me with the expected lot of artworks when I looked up artworks from conflict zones, fascist regimes, and episodes of impending war—those which criticised wars, mourned innocent blood, expressed pathos, inspired pity. Soon after, I was served with the unexpected when the web search brought me to a realisation that in conflict zones, fascist regimes, and episodes of impending war, the art that flourishes is but an attack on those factors.

It was not the grey drawings of humans and animals devastated by this world’s violence in the Guernica, neither the disintegrated canine faces in The Wolves that Franz Marc painted amidst the violence preceding World War I, nor the poignantly horrifying blank stare—the ‘two thousand yard stare’—of an emotionally defeated war soldier, which worked its intended influence at that time. Far more influential were posters convincing people that feeling a certain way, taking certain decisions and believing what they are being told is best for them and their country. There were posters from the World Wars telling people that serving in the army is the best they can do in their lives, picture of Rosie the Riveter from America during World War II telling women to become ‘strong and capable’ by manufacturing war weapons, a poster counting casualties of the Bataan Wars in the Philippines and calling Filipinos to ‘stay on the job’ until every Japanese ‘is wiped out’, a North Korean poster for school children to take up respectable professions which can contribute towards killing Americans, are only a few examples.

The Guernica, now famous as an icon of anti-war art, was then displayed only in fancy galleries of the globe where few people could visit it and even fewer could have taken it to heart. The common people, who needed this anti-war impetus, could not access it let alone be influenced by it. The posters, however, were published to occupy all the public spaces frequented by people and obviously had more power over their minds.

Reflecting on my own times and trying to establish a pattern, I wonder if there is any painting in some fancy art gallery of my own city, which can powerfully tell people to stop killing other people but will do so only after it’s too late. I close my eyes to imagine what that painting might look like, but as soon as I open my eyes, I see instead a movie advertisement on a huge hoarding. The poster keeps changing, sometimes lauding a powerful leader to make him more powerful, sometimes boasting about the nation’s ability to kill, sometimes celebrating our hatred for the neighbouring country, or sometimes rhyming along hate speech directed at our own people. These days, it is always a movie poster I see and it is always lecturing people what sentiments they should have and what opinions they should not have about their country. I see those promotional posters every day and I think of people who saw the other propaganda posters in the same way; the huge boarding blocks my view as well as the sunlight which used to fall on my window and I understand how people living during wars are persuaded to live under blinding darkness.

Yet, when I think of artists during disturbed times, I innately think of them as more enlightened than their people, thinking of only those guided by conscience not commission. My mind conjures an image of an artist working in the quietness of her room with the utmost calmness that boosts the precision of her skills. I think more about her calm and precision such that she stands out against the clamour and chaos of that reality outside of her room. I imagine a moment when the growing disturbance outside interrupts her process and her distress over the state of affairs distracts her; yet, at large, the distress is what drives her. So, for the moment, she shuts her windows to keep the noise out and gets back to her silent rebellion, and sunlight filters in through the glass panes, though blunted by clouds of dust. That is how I imagine Guernica and the like of it were made.

WhatsApp Image 2019-04-06 at 1.56.17 PM
Warring Actors: Narendra Modi’s selfie with mainstream Bollywood

But I actually see artists of my time raising their voices to join the cries of trouble-makers, bringing out high-end audio equipment from their recording rooms to add to the cacophony of loudspeakers on the streets. I encounter puppet shows where glamorous puppets perform and propagandists stand ventriloquizing the scripts from behind. I see them play it out in dark, packed rooms where people not only get trapped willingly but also celebrate their shackles by stirring up a bedlam of claps and cheers from time to time. Every time I see my surroundings transforming into one of those rooms, and the noise becomes unbearable, I quietly wish there exists another room—where the noise is shut out but sunlight filters through the window panes, though blunted by clouds of dust. I wonder where that room is, I wonder about the artist who is working to create her individual rebellion amidst the disturbing forces, and I wonder how much at loss with the state of affairs she also feels; but I also wonder if she has suffered any loss in the state of affairs, I wonder if she has been troubled enough in the safety of her privileged room, and I wonder if her rebellion would speak up only after it’s too late.

Written by Eshna Gupta

Edited by Shriya Kotta
Featured Image is a crop from a propaganga poster from 1942