Distinction Achieved

“May I come in, professor?”

“Yeah, sure Ritika. Have a seat”, said Mr. Roy.

Fidgeting, she sat down on a velvet couch, exposed to his deep stare. She looked around her. Even though it was quite a normal cabin, it seemed plush and spacious than the rest.

Mr. Roy, an ex-attorney, was an eminent law professor at The Institute of Legal Studies, Ranchi. Apart from taking classes of criminal law, he was also in charge of training the undergraduates for the internships. In the current circumstances, Ritika Dey, one of his top students had just screwed up on a very crucial case.

After what seemed like an eternity, Ritika spoke, “I am terribly sorry, sir. Just give me a chance. I ca-”

“I am sorry. It’s not in my hands anymore”, she was interrupted by Mr. Roy. His voice was soft but his intentions were clear.

Disappointed, she left his office. Unsure of her next step, she strolled the corridors for a while. Her eyes fell on a guy, loitering in the hallway. It was Dhruv Talwar, her former partner in that case. Suddenly, she felt a surge of anger rise within her. What a jerk! He was the one who had messed up and then backed out shamelessly.

Dhruv was among the popular guys in college. He was handsome, had rich parents and hanged out with all the cool kids. Being in the same batch, they knew each other to the extent of acquaintanceship. It was only after Mr. Roy handed them a case together, as a part of the innocence project, that they began interacting with each other. Their case began on a good note. But as always, Ritika remained invisible while Dhruv took all the credits. Deep inside she was furious, but she knew it was pointless. It would be only a matter of time before the project would be over and they would move on with their respective lives.

However, the prison visits were the worst. The inmate, Jay, was thrown to jail based on accusations of illegal trade with a potentially dangerous drug dealer. Though the shreds of evidence were inadequate, he was facing a death sentence. From a prosperous businessman, he merely became a nameless criminal.

Ritika knew that they had to meet with him every week and highlight the loopholes in his arrest documents. What she didn’t know until recently was the fact that the two guys with whom she worked were attracted to each other. Dhruv had arranged quite a few illicit visits to the prison. And it was the hidden CCTVs that had captured their rendezvous, thus bringing an end to the show. The prison officials obviously didn’t suspect their romance, but instead made an allegation of some conspiracy. Moreover, Dhruv was reluctant to come forward with his orientation. He was afraid of his reputation. This further jeopardized their case. She could tolerate gay dudes but her teammate going behind her back was not at all acceptable.

Ritika was snapped back to reality as a green light flashed on her phone.

Called the federal prison this morning. Your case is dropped. Jay’s visitation rights will be suspended from Thursday. Only a day and a half left. Do something ASAP.

Her best friend, Tiyasha’s message popped up on the screen. With long strides, she rushed home. Her classes were almost over. Dhruv was as lazy and useless as he could be. Thus, it was about time she took the reins and straightened things out.

Alone in her room, Ritika began contemplating her plan. It was vague.

The thought of his life lying in her hands made her even more anxious. She had to think fast. Now!  She started all over again, from the very beginning.

An idea struck her. She gathered her files and hurried away. An introvert, shy and apprehensive, the twenty-one-year-old had never before made the journey to a prison alone. But, here she was. Trying to look confident, Ritika Dey entered the large iron gates of the prison and walked straight, hoping for her strategy to succeed. After all, it was her life. She was going to be a lawyer. She had to assert her presence, with or without any help.

Advertisements

Year 2018: The Intolerant Era Continues

Mob violence has taken a completely new turn, with cases of lynching making headlines quite frequently these days. Most of all, ordinary people’s reactions to such incidents is a bit surprising. How can someone stay calm and do nothing when a lynching takes place right before their eyes? We are gradually reaching a level where society is being dominated by regressive ideas and baseless rumours. The violence which began with bovine related vigilantism has expanded to a vast space of other provocations. Here, social media is partly to blame. Circulation of fake news about child lifters and videos of people tied and beaten up has resulted in the increase of these incidents. Messages are forwarded without even being vouched for the authenticity of its content, and the repercussions seem dangerous. We have already transformed into an intolerant society where freedom of expression is at stake. So, only a slight trigger is necessary to disturb the coveted peace and brainwash people to commit such violent incidents.

Intolerance has always been an issue, be it anti-nationalist slogans or religious bias. It looks as if society has refused to accept opinions apart from what was meant to be. This has directly affected our critical thinking, resulting in an ineptitude of judgement. We can’t think for ourselves. It would be more appropriate to say that we aren’t allowed to. On the other hand, those who are brave enough to think freely and speak their mind are targeted brutally. Until now, journalists were the only ones who were victimized. Now, anyone simply walking on the road can become a victim of mob hysteria.

In order to curb mob violence, the Supreme Court had recently given a judgement to establish lynching as a punishable offence. Also, compensation would be provided on the extent of the injury and not depend on any factor such as religion, caste or gender. Other measures include keeping patrol on highways and isolated terrains. However, given the history of amateur schemes, this too will remain an idea, unless, some real action is taken against the perpetrators. Since Whatsapp is a platform which is misused to send fake information, it is equally important to identify fake news from real ones. Along with its new feature of adding forwarded tags to the messages, it needs to verify the authenticity of the content for the user. This might be a trivial step, but at least we will begin to question what we read and thus at some point, become well-trained to detect the false information.

It won’t be incorrect to say that over the past few years, the polarization of court cases has resulted in verdict bias. Hence, the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators has encouraged more such violent incidents. Lynching violates the basic constitutional policy of Right to Life. It must thus be condemned and stringent laws should be passed to instill a fear in the minds of the offenders. More importantly, they must be implemented properly or the law might just exist, as always.

The Interview

Name: Nivedita Singh

Age:23

Degree: Journalism (DU-2016)

Job profile: Previously worked as a news reporter at Times Now

Category: General

Mr. Shah, HR head of Miracle handshakes, was studying her CV quite closely and was almost scowling. He looked up from his desk and asked sternly, “So you want to join our start-up?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Will you be able to manage this large project on your own?”

“Yes, sir.”

“But you haven’t done any research work before. Are you sure you want this job?”

“Yes, sir.”

Then he asked Nivedita some general questions about mining bases, following which, she was dismissed.

************************

It was slightly raining outside. Small droplets spattered on her file as she stepped out of the old building. The interview had barely lasted for five minutes and she was convinced that her interviewer hadn’t looked very happy. However, she was confident enough that they would hire her since she was more qualified than her contemporaries.

Six weeks had passed. Still, there was no mail in her inbox. Neither was there any phone call from the NGO. By now, her confidence was on the verge of getting shattered. So, she herself contacted Mr. Shah’s office and was called in at 4 o’ clock that evening.

************************

The clock seemed to be ticking away very slowly that day. Nivedita had been sitting in the office for over an hour. Mr. Shah was called for an emergency meeting, so she was asked to come the following day. But she was adamant and decided to wait.

She was counting the number of lines on a painting hung immaculately above Mr. Shah’s chair, when the door creaked open. He was wearing a grumpy expression. Nivedita suspected that his meeting hadn’t gone well and was convinced of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. She was just about to leave.

“It’s okay. Have a sit, please. Apologies for being late, but a meeting was scheduled at the last minute and…”, he went on to explain his encounter with the board and their decision on his project proposal. Nivedita listened quite intently since she had no other choice.

When he had finished, he took a deep breath and asked with a tone of indifference, “So, Ms. Singh, how may I help you?”

“I needed to talk about my job application”, said Nivedita, a bit anxiously. She was beginning to sweat and already there were butterflies inside her stomach.

“Oh yeah! About that. Actually, the thing is you, um…you are overqualified for this job”, he cleared his throat and continued, “We don’t want you to waste your talent here.”

Nivedita’s face had drooped slightly. “But-but I don’t-…”, she stammered haplessly.

Mr. Shah removed his glasses and looked thoughtfully at her. After a while, he said, “You seem to be a very good journalist and I appreciate your efforts to help the children of the miners in Chandrapur. But this shall be our last meeting. I am very sorry.” But he didn’t look very apologetic.

She was left speechless.

************************

Her previous job was unsatisfying and she wanted more from a career point of view. There was no such thing as authentic news these days. She was forced to report on cases based on what people wanted to see, and not on what they, as a news media should make people aware. It seemed the truth was lost somewhere amidst the hyped up stories and reckless explanations. This was the reason why she had left.

The NGO had offered quite a good job prospect. Although the compensation was not quite appealing, she was willing to work in a field that respected her views and gave her the necessary platform to implement them. Now, all this seemed paltry. She felt stupid for leaving such a coveted job and instead applying at an NGO, which wasn’t even properly established.

Under qualification could have been an issue but how could over qualification possibly be? Seething with anger, she blamed her luck. She had taken a risk and it didn’t work out. But what now? Seeing that most of the job applications had failed her expectations, it was difficult to find anything that was willing to concede to her demands.

************************

Three months had passed. After having scrolled through most of the job sites on the net, Nivedita gave up. Journalism was not for everyone, she felt.

The next morning, she went to bring the newspaper and bumped into Jay, her ex-colleague. They greeted each other, “Hey!”

“Hola!”

“So what brings you here?”, asked Nivedita.

“I shifted just a week back. There’s this start-up called Miracle Handshakes. They have given me a job offer. The mines in Chandrapur are facing a serious situation. They …”

She didn’t need to listen to rest of his conversation. It was as clear as ever. Jay had applied in the reserved category. Thus, it was much easier for him to get that job. Now, she understood the scowl on Mr. Shah’s face. She was qualified enough but the ‘category’ on her CV had posed a substantial problem.

Cancelling out all kinds of reservations, she fell in the category that had only 15 out of 100 seats left. Nivedita knew that she wasn’t the preferred candidate despite being one of the best in her class.

Walking back home, she wondered what mattered more. Whether it was one’s skills or the family’s caste? Reserved seats were fine but there must be some logic to it, shouldn’t it?

************************

We have progressed way beyond what we had imagined a few decades back. However, it has encouraged the concept of reservation to swell rather than result in its elimination. Sadly, this is just another example of how the media industry has failed to make people think rationally.

College education- Are we being wise enough?

As the season of declaration of results and the run for admissions begin, it is not surprising that the anxiety levels of aspirants as well as their parents soar high amidst all uncertainties. Marks secured become the foremost criteria (and ratings, of course!) for college admissions. But being mere first-timers, we are left with no other option but to consult the internet in order to judge an institution for its significance, and thus getting lured into the delusional advertisements. Nevertheless, the conventional belief that getting into a good college will help their kids achieve a secured future, drives parents to pursue the so-called elite institutions. Interestingly, in a recent article from The Times Of India, it was stated that nearly 6.1 per cent of India’s youth are unemployed, as of February 2018, which accounts for almost 31 million people. Let’s be honest, unemployment has always been an issue with our country. But over the years, we have seen a surge in the number of institutes for higher education, however, the unemployment rate too continues to rise. Is it a mere coincidence? Or does education have an impact on this crisis? And more importantly, a negative one or a positive one?

 To begin with, a pivotal aspect of economy that hinders our country is the burden of the educated unemployed. One explanation can be that lesser number of jobs are created compared to the undergraduates or post-graduates churned out by the universities. That the graduates are not qualified enough for the jobs provided in the market can be the second reason. This raises another perverse question, Is college education really worth it? Spending four straight years of your life and not to mention the lakhs of money expended. All for nothing! If going for higher education can’t make you employable, then why to pursue it at all? It may seem like a ridiculous question but this is the stinging reality.

On the contrary, some people might be of the opinion that college is a place of community learning and prepares students to face real-life situations. It is a place where intellectual interactions and engaging in new ideas can help them develop their personalities. Also, mingling with other cultures enable the students to view the world from a different perspective. It also provides them with internship opportunities and on-campus placements(even though not 100%) which is a boon for both the students and our country.

However, the alarming increase of engineering colleges gives a grim picture of our future. A plausible explanation to this can be that students are pressurized by parents to pursue engineering as a career option over general studies, in the name of job security. This has resulted in dilution of our education system and the quality is shamelessly compromised with the retention of backward methodologies. And when we talk about graduation in science, it is reckoned as a bad idea since those who don’t get admission in mainstream courses go for it. As a result, the slow death of the quality of technical education has paved the way for a number of online platforms, helping the students gain better insight into the topic, which further proves no point in attending college.

And who knows, students not having a formal college education might even do well, if not better. For instance, the Silicon Valley sees a large number of dropouts each year. These programmers might not have a degree, but they do possess the knowledge required to design algorithms or create networking or develop app-based utilities, ultimately making a mark in the tech region. Well yeah, you might be wondering that that is so because they are computer geeks who began coding even before they were in high school! But the point is, they learned the essential skills required to get a job all by themselves. Moreover, in colleges, though theoretical training is given, its practical applications are often skipped out. Naturally, the candidates well equipped with the latter get better placed.

So to sum it up, we live in a era where political feuds are given priority over the falling economy. And while higher education has an upper hand in empowering the economy, at the same time it can be considered as a setback because of the mediocre educational structure. And earning a degree surely doesn’t guarantee a route to financial independence. On the other hand, attending college does make you better prepared to face the challenges that life might decide to throw to you sometime later. We can agree to disagree on the worthiness of college education. But, the dilemma will continue to exist unless we, the students of today’s generation, do something about it.

To do away with the flaws of the current education system might not be an easy task, but it’s atleast worth a try.

 

 

 

 

 

Lanes of Nostalgia

Life was much easier,

If not a lot better

When we weren’t tangled so deeply,

In the vicious web

Of complications and justifications.

When Noddy and Oswald were enough,

To bring back the lost smiles

On our forlorn faces.

 

Unfortunately,

Time flew by too quickly

And childhood turned to adolescence

In the blink of an eye.

Nursery rhymes got replaced by EDM,

Teen romance became the new genre

Skidding past the old pop up books.

And quite snobbishly,

Social media took the limelight,

Dimming the thin line

Between strangers and friends.

 

As I look back,

Nostalgia strikes violently.

Oh! How I long for my childhood

To sweep me out of my nightmares

And grace me with a second chance,

To relish the gullible life

That got lost somewhere,

While chasing a lucrative career,

Which is no less than a mere illusion.

 

Even today,

Inside my confused head,

Rationality and fantasy alike

Witness an unsettling tension

While scrolling down the internet,

Cause Disney shows refuse to be jilted

And web series be the current rage.

Tacos and cocktails remain unmatched

By the chocosticks and bubble candies,

That still serve our generation

With an empyrean pleasure,

Proportional to the happiness’s measure.

 

Though I am told,

By the hypocritical society,

To adhere to the rules

Prescribed for my old self,

The inner voice smirks slowly

with a sly smile and a wily face.

Paying no heed,

And resuming its juvenility,

With an aura of sanguinity.

But there are times,

When my ephemeral maturity chides me

For my childish approaches

And impulsive actions.

Begging me to behave,

Asking me to act my age.

Although, it never really happens.

 

Maybe,

Or most probably,

I am not ready yet

To land in the murky arena

Of lies and feuds,

Or I am just too afraid,

To give away my privileges

Of committing mistakes unreservedly

And thinking out loud,

Without getting judged.

 

Till then,

I will permit myself,

To behave as a kid

Without any reservations.

Till then,

I better let the six-year-old

Prevail in the mind

Of a preoccupied eighteen-year-old!

 

-Raka Sinha