Miseries of Migrant Workers

Author: Vrushali

 

The nationwide lockdown extension was announced on April 14th. It was declared that the lockdown will be extended till May 3. However, no declaration was made regarding the economic revival plan despite the urgency to curb the endless miseries of the migrant workers. Probably their miseries are as insignificant as their earnings and social status or their hassle is too feeble in the noise of mainstream politics and city-centric media.

Exodus of these migrant workers, walking across borders ‘barefoot’, trudging back to their native villages, is posing a huge issue of community spread of the virus as there are about 41.4 million (about 37% of the Indian population) who migrate for work.

They are stranded with no wages in hand and are supposed to suffer the marginalisation silently. These workers, who are mostly the sole breadwinners in their families, living thousands of kilometers away, barely make 200-300 rupees a day. Dignity of these labourers, howsoever sporadic the work and meagre the wage is, has been scraped out. They are slashed to stretching their hands for two meals a day.

It is poverty that strangles and stifles their very integrity and subsistence, and not the catastrophe of this virus. They cannot even buy a bar of soap to wash their hands as the world struck by the virus constantly demands. Their desperation is falling between the cracks and abysses in welfare measures. Their dwindling supplies, dearth of money and terrifying panic precipices their existence and an absence of agency in this microcosm.

In the eventuality of the lockdown being extended, many of the state governments have set up relief camps, community kitchens and announced cash transfers for such workers including hawkers, rickshaw pullers, construction site workers, labourers and other homeless citizens.

The Centre has approved Rs. 1.7 lakh crores to assuage the consequences of this pandemic on them too but majority of them are either unaware of the schemes or of the procedure to access them.

For instance, under the BOCW (Building and Other Construction Workers) Welfare fund, workers are to be provided income support. But most people are not eligible for these benefits as they do not have a BOCW card (about 94%).

The Centre has also increased the quantity of rice and wheat under the coronavirus relief package and have set it above what the EWS were entitled to. But the ground reality does not resonate with the announcements nor the entitlements are enough for their sustenance. Each discrepancy should be checked by the government in immediate effect.

In my opinion, the foremost step should be direct cash transfers to as many workers as possible. Intellectuals have also suggested measures regarding the inflow of cash, restoring food supply chain and direct procurement from farmers which the government must consider.

The most urgent of all measures should be to protect the migrant workers, understand their plight and ease up their lives to at least a considerable extent. They should be provided with transport facilities (while maintaining social distancing and screening them) to send them back to their hometowns or should be quarantined at well- equipped shelters.

As resourced citizens, we must reach out for their help or should at least donate for the relief funds and render support to these workers.

Let us watch out for the true essence of #weareallinthistogether and put efforts to make it happen.

 

Alone Together

Author: Shatakshi Singh

 

2020, what a time to be alive. Trapped between four concrete walls with nowhere to go. The pinnacle of modern society, a utopian world where no one is disturbing us, no unwanted opinions, overpriced dinners or nasty traffic. We are where we are, and we have all the time in the world.

Never have we valued going out as much as now, when we are stuck in. Ah, all the morning walks we never woke up for and the casual drives that seemed too tiresome.

Twenty four hours a day with a world of entertainment just a few clicks away, isn’t that something we have always wanted?

As is evident now, sometimes things that we wish for subconsciously are better off as mere figments of our imagination. It is often the norm to take what we have for granted and lust after what we can’t have. This is human tendency, which is the very cornerstone for all competition and our collective ‘growth’ as a society. Chasing financial compensation for all the money we have put into our education and then some, a never-ending spiral that we drift down, until everything comes to an abrupt stop, indefinitely.

It takes a global pandemic for us to realize that workers create wealth while leaders are merely orchestrators and oppressors. A capitalistic economy collapses without workers who are so dispensable in the normal run of things. Perhaps this shock to our system is a necessary one for us to realize, appreciate and cherish things which we casually ignore.

I have come to understand that happiness comes intrinsically and if you find it within yourself to not be boring, you can surprise yourself every day with simple things you can create on a kitchen stove. You can listen to Coltrane’s saxophone clearer when someone isn’t in a hurry to get somewhere on the street. Soaps about mythological characters in crappy resolution can be fun when you are surrounded by people who share personal anecdotes about how they felt when they watched it for the first time. You see, we can hear much better once we take our headphones off. Being stuck in a house can lead you down the paths of rediscovery. Tales from your grandmother’s childhood, your brother’s embarrassing nudes from when he was three, your father’s vast collection of poetry in a language you too often consider pedestrian but is your mother tongue.

Frank Bretschneider composed a musical album called Isolation which simulates what German political prisoners must have felt in solitary confinement during World War II. It is sonically disturbing and deeply unsettling. But the beauty of it lies in the background obscured by the canvas of war. Their purpose in life was clear and they knew that they were liable to be imprisoned and isolated from any form of human contact. We are fortunate enough to have people around us to be isolated with. Let’s hear each other out before there is no one left to speak to.

 

Dead Heat

Author: Ankit

 

You glance to your left, and see one of your rivals revving his car. You look to the right, and see the screaming audience waving banners in support of their favourite team. The stands are packed. You tighten your grip around the steering wheel, and start to mildly push the throttle to warm up the engine. Eyes closed, you clear your mind. You feel the roar of the audience get more intense as the lights are about to go off. At this point, everyone is jamming-down hard on the gas, clutching their brakes tightly.

Three.

Two.

One.

You let go of the brakes and feel the kick of the howling, 800-horsepower V10 in your back. In an effort to lead the pack, you shift through the gears to reach 340 km/h, before slamming on the brakes and dropping to 80 km/h moving out of the first corner and into the chicane, all whilst trying to not throw up due to the massive G-forces acting on you. You watch out for people trying to overtake and hit the apex around the Ascari curve, going up to 270 km/h, before going hard on the brakes again, narrowly overtaking an opponent with every passing opportunity. You go up the hill onto the Parabolica corner, navigating through the series of curves, struggling to maintain the pace at over 330 km/h. You head out and accelerate onto the starting line.

You are Michael Schumacher, racing for Scuderia Ferrari and you just completed one lap of the Monza National Autodrome.

One down. Fifty-three more to go.

Welcome to the 1999 Italian Grand Prix.

If you’re confused at this point as to what you just read, this is a brief description of an “average” race in Formula 1. I say average in quotes because there’s nothing average about risking your life in the pursuit of speed.

The three days of an F1 weekend, right from the qualifying session to race day, the threshold for human performance goes up. A special breed of men, for whom fear simply doesn’t exist, at the helm of their power-hungry beasts, try to course their way into a win. It seems like an ideal combination of man and machine, clawing their way to victory. So daunting, that they stare death in the eye, while tearing down the track. The drivers live more in the few hours they drive the car than most people do in their lifetimes. One thing’s for certain, this isn’t for the weak-hearted.

The fascination towards speed in man has been around forever. When we invented the motorcar, the first thought to graze the minds of the speed-freaks then were to break the land speed record. This inexplicable desire to go faster can only be termed as mildly insane. Knowing full-well of the inherent risks involved with the sport and deciding to go forth with it, their hearts raging with passion, I find no term to describe it but beautiful.

Motor racing has come a long way since its inception; there used to be a time when safety wasn’t even an afterthought, when drivers had to play their cards right, as one false move could prove to be fatal. The death of every braveheart over the years has paved the way towards a much safer routine now, and the inherent risk involved has reduced by a huge margin. But in this field, there is no possible scenario where the environment is completely safe; there is always an element of risk.

When people, man or woman, young or old, dare to go fast on anything, they accept that this risk might be fatal. They are deemed crazy or the cliche of having a “death wish” is brought up. The statement in its entirety is ridiculous; nobody wants to die. It just so happens that every now and then, the odds are not in their favour. No one ever gets into the car thinking its their last time. Nobody forces them into this profession either. It is purely out of their thirst for glory, and more importantly, breakneck speeds.

Oh, and did I mention the reason for this being the greatest sport in the world? It is a culmination of all the greatest qualities as a human. Technology, that is so cutting edge that we’ve now evolved to precision instruments of aerodynamics and speed from a racer sitting in his car trying not to fall off at corners.

It demands the drivers to be very athletic, focused, on the edge and strong. Knowing what’s at stake, a fine control over your body with lightning fast reflexes is a necessity.
Millions of people from different nationalities find themselves huddled around a TV screen, barring all differences and supporting their favorites, uniting everyone. The thought of the sheer insane logistics required to carry around an event of this grandeur, all the people involved in carrying out the race, without a single flaw gives me a rush.

The research and development involved has far-reaching benefits outside the world of motorsports as well. The race car condition monitoring technology developed for the cars are used in urban rapid transit trains, or come to think of it automatic transmissions, button ignition, active suspensions, high intensity modern brake calipers, limited slip differential, anti-lock braking systems facilities seen on any car today traces its origin to racing. And the list can go on.

If I were asked to put a label on this article, it’d be a chore as I’m not really sure what this is, so let’s call it an ode for now. An ode to motor racing.

“A lot of people dismiss Formula 1 as an unnecessary risk. But what would life be like if we only did what was necessary?”- Niki Lauda, F1 World Champion (1975, 1977 ,1984)

 

Goodbye Notes, To My Teenage Years

Author: Atulya Subhash

Most of us are now twenty or going to be twenty soon. What’s the big deal, you might ask. It essentially marks the end of our teenage years. All those years, we lived by being reckless, impulsive and with no care in the world. We dealt with all our happiest moments and our darkest times with passion. We’ve all had our fair shares of thrills and woes. From your first conversation with that high school crush to your first heartbreak. From driving your first ride, breaking speed limits to your first ever road accident. (And probably not the last). From learning with zest and enthusiasm to hating the education system. Well, the list goes on.

One of the most exciting moments for most of us would have been when we first received our smartphones. We were thrilled to use it. We were on cloud nine while creating an account on every social media platform in trend. However, what we probably didn’t see then was how our childhood subtly bid us farewell forever.

Most of us never really went out to play again.

If only, I had known what was coming, I’d trade the world to have those simpler times again. The times where I could play with my friends even though it was way past my curfew time, when my friends and I would make random people the victims of our lame prank calls.

I feel people around us now expect us to be more and do more. Until two years ago, some mistakes were forgiven and forgotten. If we make the same mistakes now, they aren’t considered forgivable anymore. People consider us as grown adults and expect us to know everything. It’s not easy, especially when deep inside, you feel like a 10 year old stuck in a 20 year old body.

However people thinking that way is only fair because the truth is we all are stepping out into the real world pretty soon. We’re going to take on responsibilities that we thought were far into the future, but in reality it’s not that far at all.

What makes things more complex is that although we are given the responsibilities of an adult, we’re not given as much freedom. People expect us to be wise but also regard us as raging lunatics with temper issues. It’s like we’re caught between the devil and the deep sea. It’s only natural that in a situation like this, people like me have a midlife existential crisis, contemplating whether or not I have lived my life to its fullest.

On some days, I look back and ask myself, should I have enjoyed more? Should I have gone to that concert, or to that late night party I wasn’t allowed to go to?

On some other days, I look back and feel nothing but pure joy, thinking about all the fun I had in school plays, on those long walks with a dear friend or just reading my favourite novel and jamming to my favorite songs. It makes me realise that these simple things which give us moments of great happiness, are the things that when looked back upon, will always warm my heart and make me smile.

So I guess in the end, we all have great memories of our teenage years. It’s now time, to embrace the new life awaiting us and create new memories.

Ca-lazy-thenics

Author: Aaditya Natarajan

 

In these trying times, it is very important for us to keep ourselves fit and healthy, while staying at home, of course. So here’s a quick fitness routine, which is very easy to follow and produces great results. I have designed this in such a way that all parts of the body get equal attention. So give it a try if you like.

We’ll start with the arms and hands. First step is to get out of your bed and pick up your laptop. Then, gently place your laptop at a convenient location, preferably your bed or the sofa. Keep in mind that comfort is the most important factor here, although proximity to the fridge and kitchen also plays an important role. Now, open your laptop’s lid and log on to your favourite streaming service.

Next up, is a brain exercise. This exercise can take anywhere between ten minutes to an hour, but it has to be done right (not really, no pressure). While on the streaming service, decide what you’re going to watch.

That’s it. That’s the entire brain exercise.

Now, its time to exercise the eyes. This one is really simple. It has just one easy step. Stare blankly at whatever you’re watching, while contemplating every life decision.

Most gym experts acknowledge that cardio is one of the most important parts of every workout. This one is no different. Hit pause on your laptop, but make sure you don’t leave it high and dry. Assure your laptop that you’ll be coming back. Now get out of your bed, stretch your back and shake your legs to wake them up. Then, walk up to the refrigerator, open its door and look for food. Or you can simply gawk at the chilling tray. The best part of this particular routine is that you can do it as many times as you want. I personally walk up to the fridge around ten times an hour. It’s great fun too!

If you’ve followed this schedule religiously, you must be pretty tired by now. It is very important to cool down after exercising, or you might experience cramps or a sprain (fair warning: you might experience cramps and sprains even after cooling down). To cool down, take your phone, switch off all lights and slide into your blanket. Now, you can either continue whatever you were watching or scroll onto the Insta-treadmill, until one of these things happen:

1. You fall asleep, which is very rare

2. You get Instagram’s “you’re all caught up” message

3. Someone from your family tells you to sleep while they are going to the washroom or to get their morning coffee

But, jokes apart, the most important part of your body that you absolutely must keep in shape is your mind. With all the negativity around, mental health has honestly gone to the dumps. Make sure you take proper care of your own mental health. There is no one way to do this, but the simplest way is to do something that makes you happy. Remember, every smile makes you younger by a day.

Cycle of Dreams

Author: Pragya

 

Everyone was delighted at the sight of the newborn.

All stood mesmerized and smiled dreamily upon.

 

The baby giggled and enjoyed the attention,

Never knowing what was their intention.

 

The father saw through his face a famous actor,

And behind him gleaming with pride his great benefactor.

 

His passion to become an actor he chose to bury,

And now he wanted his child to achieve the glory.

 

Though himself an engineer, living his father’s dream,

Who in pursuit of a secure future moulded his son, and he in esteem

 

Of his father, but now he had gained enough peace and finance,

So he wished his grandson to become a cricketer with skills and stance.

 

Which was his hobby to pursue,

but the great grandfather had his view.

 

To keep his words he became a physicist,

the fault was neither his nor his.

 

It’s an endless and beautiful cycle of dreams and aspirations,

Shared by father and son for countless generations.

Let Go

Author: Afreen

 

It might be better for you to be alone now

You are noble, but it’s time to focus on you

It will be worth it in the end, a solemn vow

To rely on yourself, you will pull through.

 

To grow as a person, to walk without me

As hard as it may seem, you must stay true

True to yourself, without a crutch, nobody

Telling you to do things not good for you.

 

Do not hold up your walls of resistance

Nothing about you was ever wrong

Selfishly, I’ve already gone the distance

The echoes sing it loud and sing it strong.

 

To see the past in shades of grey, to learn

That outside me, there is a world you can change

I will be loyal till the sun and stars stop to burn

But you must let go and not believe it strange.

 

You’re far too strong for heartbreak. Deep ache

And great errors mould us into who we are

This is how I’ve made you, you won’t break

It won’t be long before you see, a healed scar.

The Surge of OTT Services

Author: Prajjwal R T

 

In the times of distress and calamity, the surge of OTT services has surely engaged the audience inexplicably. With an obligatory lockdown imposed all across the globe, the viewers have been saved by the bell due to the existence of online streaming platforms. Netflix, Hotstar, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Voot, Zee5 have observed a spike in viewership during this global crisis. Umpteen number of shows and movies with intriguing content is all what these services have in store for you during the quarantine snoozefest.

Over 181 million people engage with OTT platforms regularly. Netflix came barreling through like a bullet, rattling the architecture built for content delivery and thus providing a tough competition to other services. These platforms have been successful in merging television and digital video to forge a singular, revolving content stream.

Binge-racers are all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed whenever they are anticipating a new season of their favourite series or a movie with their favourite bigwigs. Beside fictional plots, documentaries and reality shows have also caught the eye of the audience. Matches and highlights of the games streamed have served to be a great boon to sports aficionados while the bairns are lit up with impish glee as they watch their favorite cartoons.

On the contrary, the entertainment industry has suffered a severe blow due to blockades over multiplexes and theaters. Veteran trade analysts have exclaimed their dismay over this matter due to reschedules which tends to disrupt the entire calendar. OTT platforms have observed a commendable boost in the market over the years and have created a benchmark worldwide. Since the birth of such online services, multiplexes and other stage shows have faced a downhill affecting the economy of film and other related industries.

An increase of 15-20% has been observed in OTT viewing with Canada and West Asia witnessing the highest spike in viewership.  COAI has besought to cut down the advertisements and pop-ups due to the constraint of streaming over high bandwidth and would instead be replaced with awareness regarding COVID-19. SD streaming quality has been mandated to avoid network congestion and improve the infrastructure on all the OTT platforms.

From whimsical sitcoms like Friends, The Office, How I met your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, Modern family to gripping shows like Sherlock, Narcos, Breaking Bad, Money Heist and a myriad of other genres, these services have saved us from monotony with its captivating content.

Oxymorons

Author: Shreya Volety

 

All my life, I have lived as an oxymoron. Interestingly so has the rest of my generation. We are the Gen Z, the ones who don’t like labels. We are the so called irresponsible generation that will bear the responsibility of taking the planet forward. We are the ‘snowflakes’, too easily offended, who are seeing the advent of humanitarian crises every day around the world. Essentially speaking, we are the generation that is required to not only bear the onus of making the world more progressive but to also personify obedience and discipline that the previous generation expects of us.

Now this is not a piece meant to vilify the people who lived before us. That would be fundamentally unfair. They bore the consequences of living in a world their ancestors handed down to them. However, their worlds didn’t constantly morph into something different every day. There was some sense of stability – a certain level of homogeneity. We do not have the privilege of that.

As members of this generation, we are constantly looking for validation and acceptance. Every morning, when we stand in front of the mirror to dress for the day, we are all thinking of fitting in. Either to appeal to our peer group or to appeal to the out-group. We are trying to balance the ‘I care about my life and am a responsible adult’ and the ‘I’m too cool for this life’ attitudes every waking moment of our lives. I am constantly choosing which battles are worth fighting for and if I have the energy to fight them or not.

I have lived as an oxymoron. In a shockingly competitive world, where I am expected to thrive, any more ambition than the prescribed level becomes selfish. The lack of ambition is labeled lethargy. It is expected of my generation – to be different and stand out in the crowd, but an expression of self-identity is wrong.

Either directly or indirectly, my generation will be shouldering the responsibility of a world and a planet that is collapsing. The world collapsing is accepted to be real, but mental health deterioration which can be a direct consequence of that isn’t.

And the absolutely worst part is none of this is inherent to human nature. They are social constructs that have evolved into rigidity. They are the fabrication of our ancestors, who may have offered them some form of social control in the past, but they simply have no benefit in the 21st Century.

One of the common platitudes offered to console the likes of me ranting away in a blog post is ‘Change is difficult to accept. Have some empathy.’ I know change is difficult to accept because my generation is battling it more than any other. We are still trying to find our place in this world amidst climate change and global pandemics. We share memes to help each other swallow a commonly shared anxiety and joke about existentialism.

We definitely aren’t perfect. I am sure any of the readers can offer me hundreds of examples of my generation’s stupidity. But this isn’t a battle to prove who is better. The idea is to stop competing, not revel in it. Cooperation cannot exist when social constructs are inherently judgemental and divisive. There is no way we can move forward if we’re constantly running around in circles and tangents.

I have lived all my life as an oxymoron. I’d like to stop now.