Reborn

Author: Janani Ramachandran


Dewdrops slid down her body
As the snow began to thaw
Uncovering her buried form
That lost its way in the expanse of the perfect white
The sunlight reflecting in her ebony irises for the first time in a long time

One could say she was lifeless
But one look closer
One could feel the slight ministrations of her uncertain breath
Slight yet steady
Like the stream opening to a mighty river
Her ebony irises
Like the inky starless night sky
That conceals a million behind its inky curtains

Her pale arms scratched with blood red scars
Her soft flesh pierced by rough wood and dirt
The fair mixed with the brown
Giving rise to a new hue
The colour of her cocoon
That would give rise to the new her

Her colourless lips encrusted with dried blood
New Ebony hair peeking out from a mass of lifeless strands
Her fat eaten by the ice
Stripping her to her bones
Yet she looked full
In complete harmony with the ice complementing her starved form

They called her a miracle
When they felt a slight twitch in her cold wrist
They had thought that she would’ve snapped
Like the great trees amputated by winter
They’re great arms twisted by the unforgiving cold
Yet there she lay
A subtle pulse in her lifeless form

It should’ve frozen her heart
Crushed her bones
Sucked the life out of her lungs
Iced her blood to bed her in a coffin of ice
There was an endless list of what should have happened
But nothing of what had happened was found in the pieces of parchment

She was alive
Her blood gushing into her veins
Stronger than ever
Her breath like the beginning of a hurricane
The colour returning to her pallid body
Gasps of awe as they watched her arms twitch
Yet what almost everyone missed
Was the drops of liquid lining her closed eyes

Dawn had arrived
The first beam of sunlight hit her heart
A reminder that the wait was over
As her eyes opened
There was a certain light in them
Like a falling star in the inky night sky
That commanded attention and respect
But most importantly fulfilled a wish
It fulfilled hers
She had been reborn

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Unsolved-The arrow of Time

Author: By Aditi Chandrasekar 

I had been reading a book by Brian Greene a few weeks ago, titled “The Fabric of the cosmos”. While the entire book was filled with revelations and existential puzzles, one specific part stuck with me for a few days after I returned the book to the library. It talked about a concept that was first put into words by a Sir Arthur Eddington-the ‘arrow of time’. This basically refers to the characteristic of time that it is directed forward. Somehow, we are all inherently aware of this dogma of time-that the past is behind us and the future is ahead. When I first came across this, it seemed obvious to me that it should be dismissed as a subjective matter. I formulated this “arrow of time” as just a sort of fulcrum of our perception of the world. But when I started contemplating the objectivity of ordinary incidents and their asymmetrical nature-for example, a glass window shattering, a sandwich being eaten, and even extraordinary processes like the journey of a star from dust to a white dwarf, my mind begged to have a substantive answer to the question-Why does time never go backward? In Sir Arthur Eddington’s book “The Nature of the physical world” published in 1928, he first addresses the concept in a part that goes: 

‘The great thing about time is that it goes on. But this is an aspect of it which the physicist sometimes seems inclined to neglect. In the four-dimensional world . . . the events past and future lie spread out before us as in a map. The events are there in their proper spatial and temporal relation ; but there is no indication that they undergo what has been described as “the formality of taking place” and the question of their doing or undoing does not arise.’ 

As the world started coming to terms with Eddington’s stuff, there was an increased pressure on physics for an explanation as it had realized that there is a deep puzzle behind familiar phenomena. Many advances have been made but the conundrum is far from solved. To distinguish the past and the future, the arrow was defined as the direction in which entropy or disorder increases. Classifications were made-the thermodynamic arrow of time, cosmological arrow of time, quantum mechanical arrow of time, psychological arrow of time etc, Intriguing possibilities were contemplated-worlds not within the constraints of entropy gradient in which we are born, new physical models which conflict with our ordinary asymmetric perspective. But the long years coupled with the minimal progress, beg the question-have we simply hit an impenetrable barrier of the universe? 

City Lights

Author: Divyang Arora

 

These globs, seem like ghosts
apparitions I need to get away from,
to somewhere where they are further off the ground
a place where they are pure and white
a haven where they form a roof over my head
not a display below my apartment.

I bought a high powered pair of binoculars. A friend of mine came home. He is a scientist, you know. People who do what magicians pretend to. He saw the binoculars and asked what I do with them.

I led him out, to the balcony
I told him, I intended to look at the stars
but the stars were no longer ours.
It belongs to the people who have nothing
people who live in forests and mountains
people who don’t have riches and the gift of civilization.

so I was left only with the stars on the ground.

Those globs, their intensity has tales to tell
stories waiting to be discovered.

That huge building that has hundreds of lights on
even at this time? It’s a corporate one.
People who work there work till late at night
and go home to sleeping kids and wife.
They are at home only on Sundays,
a day which is slept sleeping
recovering from the week’s ordeals
And yet, they have achieved what they wanted
or have they?
After all, they have a big house and a lavish car
that’s what they tell people, sir!
with dark circles around their eyes.

There are people who crave for their life
people who are cheerful, relaxed, dissatisfied
men who spend time with their families
but discontent slowly seeps through their mind
creating a riverbed that gnaws at them.
The lights of their workplaces
are switched off much earlier.

Then there is a big house
the house is full of furniture, yet empty
walkways seem devoid of people to walk
the wife sits waiting in her room
the children, in their
there is not much to talk between them
They wait, for the man of the house,
who only comes when they are asleep.
But theirs, sir, is a perfect life!
People pass by, looking at the big house in wonder
grudgingly wishing for a life in it.

There is also a light that comes from a single bulb
and a chulha
the people of this house lead miserable lives in poverty
people feel a deep sadness when they think about it, sir!
But I have seen them laugh
the guy giving up his roti for his sister
her smile filling his stomach.
Together they eat in rusted plates,
but laughter rings from inside the house
as they share their day with each other.

The people from the big house seem so happy
only when they are going out for a party
lavish dinners do for them what stale chappati does in that hat.

The lights in the sky may control destiny
but these lights on the ground
they talk a lot about 
finding solace in that destiny.

ALL STRINGS DETACHED

Author: Nikita Suryawanshi

 

“You only lose what you cling to”-Buddha

While maturing from children to adults, there are many people that we interact with; many things and experiences we come across. A connection to many of these ensues and hence we bind them to ourselves through strings- emotional or mental strings. These attachments are the ones that we carry forward as memories. Some of these strings push you to become a better person but some of them hold you back, not letting you discover your entire potential. However we do not easily let go of them. Call it irrational or melodramatic thinking, all of us have something or someone that is very close to us. Be it that toy from your childhood that you don’t play with any longer, the article of clothing that doesn’t fit you anymore or the friendship which never ended on a good note.

But there is a very unique bliss in the art of detaching the strings. Letting go is a very difficult task, I agree. Yet there is a surreal feeling that follows when you are aloof. I am not saying that we should cut all the baggage that we carry around. No; that’s never going to be possible. But maybe, once in a while, we deserve to give ourselves a break. Why drain the energy out of our minds and bodies for something that may not even be worth it? We have the right to insulate ourselves from things and relationships that are toxic and only bring us distress. 

By letting go, we are freeing ourselves from emotional bondage. We learn to detach from others choices, understanding that their life lessons are not ours to manipulate. Detachment allows us to be in the world but not of it. True detachment is not a separation from life, but the absolute freedom within you to explore living with joy and ease.

Putting it simply: unwind, relax, take that trip you have been planning, complete your bucket list and enjoy doing it. Let your mind be at peace with itself.  When you have loosened the strings pulling you back, you give yourself the liberty of being who you are. You start treating yourself with love and respect, regardless of all expectations and judgments. The only expectations that matter are those that you have from thyself and thy life. When we learn to set intentions with detachment, magical things begin to happen for us. If something still does not work out, then close that door with acceptance and move on into another open door. 

Detachment from this world does not mean that we should own nothing, but that nothing should own us. We give away our power and freedom when we become attached to things, emotions, situations, and people. This does not mean detaching from a person we care about, but from the pain of negative involvement. Detachment gives us wings of freedom to choose our experiences, yet allows us to be present enough to feel deeply and to truly experience living. 

A look at space exploration’s evolution- and its challenges

Author: Akshat Kashyap

 

“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”, the famous words uttered on July 19th, 1969 by Neil Armstrong when he became the first man ever to step on moon. This year marks the 50th anniversary since the historic event, and the progress made in space exploration has been unprecedented.

What began as a show of one-upmanship during the cold war culminated with Apollo 11’s landing on the moon, which inspired and paved the way for a spurt of human space exploration and advancement. From the competition to establish power among other countries, it graduated into a competition to find the best answers to go beyond the moon.

In the early 1960’s, Soviet Union had the upper hand in the quest to dominate space, as evident by several successful missions, such as the launching of first artificial satellite – Sputnik I, in the lower orbit of Earth, followed by a series of unmanned lunar missions as well as a successful attempt of sending a man, Yuri Gagarin, into space for the first time in human history. However, through all these celestial achievements, the US was preparing for something extraordinary, a manned lunar mission that would go on to be a watershed moment in the history of international space sector.

50 years later, not only the US and Soviet Union, but several dozen countries have made huge strides to satisfy the curiosity of what lies beyond the skies. 72 countries have formed government space agencies, of which 14 agencies have launch capabilities. Six government space agencies of the US, Russia, Japan, India, China and Europe have full launch capabilities. The achievements of India’s ISRO have been lauded worldwide with several missions, such as launching a record breaking 104 satellites from a single rocket, its Chandrayan mission which was able to discover traces of water on the moon, and the success of Mars Orbiter Mission, in which India was able to send a space probe to Mars on its maiden attempt. Several space agencies, by teaming up together, have been successful in creating a habitable artificial satellite- International Space Station-  where the astronauts live and explore more about the living and working in space.

But what truly shows the possibilities and opportunities in this sector is the enthusiastic participation of private entrepreneurs, including the three most recognizable billionaires on the planet- Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson. Bezos established Blue Origin in 2000, Musk setup SpaceX in 2002 and Branson established Virgin Galactic in 2004. Iain Boyd, a space exploration expert and professor of engineering at the University of Michigan, says while the three billionaires are each very different, they were likely inspired by a similar frustration.  He says in the years and decades after the Apollo missions, with the limited success of the space shuttle programme and fewer funds being awarded to Nasa, there was a sense of an opportunity being wasted. As a result, it was natural that the entrepreneurs such as Musk, Bezos and Branson would seek to fill the gap.

The ambition of these entrepreneurs is grand.  Branson’s current project seeks to send six passengers and two crew to the edge of space, about 100km above the earth, by means of a two aircraft. Bezos’s current plan involves using reusable rockets to send a crew in a capsule to an altitude of 307,000 feet. The rocket returns to its launch pad, and the crew capsule separates and descends by use of parachutes.

In many ways, Musk’s plans are the most ambitious. While his SpaceX rockets are already restocking the international space station, again with reusable rockets, the South African-born entrepreneur also wants to send people to Mars. He has said his project could be ready to send people to the Red Planet – a vast undertaking that many scientists are skeptical about – as soon as 2026.

However, such projects, private and government, throw up new challenges, not just for technology and science but areas such as law. Right now, there are no rules governing space travel. Also, the Outer Space Treaty, a UN resolution first adopted in 1967 that prohibits the placing of nuclear weapons in space, is similarly lacking in detail.

There are also questions as to what impact the rush to reach other planets will have on our own. Some have said that by suggesting humanity can reach places such as Mars, there will be less incentive to address the pressing crisis posed by climate change.

But, no matter what consequences we face, there are still a lot of possibilities that have to be explored if the human population is to survive beyond Earth, as Konstantin Tsiolkovsky said, “Earth is the cradle of humanity, but mankind cannot stay in the cradle forever”.

Sands Of time

Author: Janani Ramachandran

 

Far away in the dirty suburbs of Kashmir,

The army commander held his breath for life,

The hidden time bomb ticking every second,

 

Down south of the subcontinent,

A woman lay dying in her drug induced sleep,

The malign cancer engulfing her cells every second,

 

In the East of the peninsular land,

The mighty river raged on ravaging livelihoods,

An old widower clutching his departed love’s portrait,

A serene smile on his wrinkled face,

as he watched his life ebb away every second,

 

Due west of the diverse nation,

Silent hospital walls disturbed by the cries of a mother,

Complications in the birth increasing every second.

 

The four lives lay far apart by the compass rose,

Their strings of fate woven by only one link,

Hovering above their heads stands the fragile hourglass,

In it flow the sands of time in their own accord,

Completely in-cognizant of the mayhem and chaos,

Though the aftermath of the dance of fate unknown,

Lie a certain beauty to the lingering uncertainties.

CINEMA ,THE BIGGEST JOKE OF TODAY?

Author: Anirudh TR  

 

A film is only as good as its plot and the plot is conveyed through action. As appealing as the sentence may sound, it is only partially true. A film with absolutely unrealistic cinematography but exemplary acting doesn’t appeal to the eye nor does one that obeys the converse. With that said, today’s generation seems to have submerged too much into the technological well that it would take yet another generation of plot-oriented simplistic filmography to bring them to the surface. Filmmakers today seem to dwell in a smorgasbord of commercial cliches rendering the path for concept-oriented cinema, a dead end. The influence of technology in today’s film making is so obvious that one thinks it is the computer work that defines the beauty of the film and not what is portrayed on the screen. Nevertheless, it is saddening to see that all the technical mumbo-jumbo is going down the drain for the output is not nearly as pleasing as what is promised in the plot or the production. The sad truth is today’s filmmakers cater to the larger population of commercial film craving fanatics and not to convey substance, something that cinema can and should be used for. The problem I feel is that people today are impatient. Their attention and interest bandwidth has shortened over generations and now has saturated at an absolute minimum that any film beyond 2.5 hours seems a burden and any film, seemingly gloomy or slow paced is a definite no in their minds regardless of how long it runs for. The advent of online downloads; ventures like F movies, etc. have made their job much easier. And this lack of interest has managed to seep down to live theater too. Gone are the days when the whole family gathers at the public hall to relish the weekend screening of an epic. Society today is clouded with a farrago of disoriented fame and with commercialization being the dogmatic aristocracy; we have involuntarily immunized ourselves to its infectious influence. The coveted heroes of today that the people uphold have made a religion out of the mainstream cinema but ironically the films that come out today are sacrilegious. Yet, the light at the end of the tunnel hasn’t been put out. With ambitious directors venturing into less trodden territories, the future bears promise. What is required is riddance from the succumbing clutches of mass appeasing cinema, a renaissance amidst young filmmakers to fall back on the masterpieces of the yesteryear and birth revolutionary scripts. As society emboldens itself, getting self-aware by the day, we need films that bolster the prevailing mentality. It is up to the change makers of today to create an environment where the celebrated religion of cinema is free of blasphemy to ensure pragmatism in tomorrow’s green screens. 

Accepting Perspectives

 Author: Nikita Suryawanshi

 

Wayne Dyer quoted- “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” 

Perspective, as described by the Oxford dictionary, is a particular attitude towards something; a way of looking at things or situations. For me, perspective is but a simple truth of life which we sometimes willingly choose to ignore. For a long time, humans have divided judgement on actions and reactions into only two categories: right and wrong. But how can we decide whether something is right or wrong if everyone is looking at it from a different angle? Every individual has his/her own unique personality which makes them stand out in the crowd. Everyone’s “way of looking at things” is different. 

Most of the arguments that we normally get engaged in occur due to different point of views. When conferring about, say, a recent crime, one might be sympathizing with the victim while someone else may have put themselves in the shoes of the accused. The reason of the argument is that the other person has a different perspective on things. He is looking through his pair of glasses at the world, as well as we all do. This means that we filter everything by our personal history, our beliefs, motivations and concepts that we hold true. But what is correct for us may not necessarily be so for another.

Our choice of not understanding and accepting another outlook is what turns discussions into debates. Somewhere, it causes unrest in our own minds. Often we are afraid that seeing the other perspective could lead to us losing the argument … or worse, to get a disadvantage. But the true value of another perspective lies within seeing more of a situation and therefore being able to make a better judgment for ourselves as well as the other person. I personally feel frustrated when the person I am conversing with doesn’t try to look at things the way I do. So here’s my main question: why inflict so much torture on our minds?

I recently finished reading To Kill A Mockingbird. Reading reviews of the book, I noticed people talking about the upsetting discrimination based on the caste and colour of an independent underlined by the author. For me, however, the highlight of the book is the way the narrator grows mature when she starts accepting her neighbor for who he is. From being curious and apprehensive about his way of living life, she transforms to a person who looks at the world from his eyes, accepts his choices and in the process learns that he cares for her in his own special way.

My point, simply put, is that things seem to get complicated when we keep on opposing. Instead, life becomes plain sailing when we start accepting. Someone is acting in a particular way depending on how they perceive that situation. To acknowledge and respect another person’s perspective can only lead to a more positive outcome. The self growth accompanied by acceptance is incomparable. Not only does it broaden our horizons, it brings us peace of mind too. If you get a bigger picture, you get a perspective that is able to solve a situation that seemed unsolvable first.

The greater good is to recognize others and their viewpoints. After all, they say open-minded people do not impose their beliefs on others. They accept all of life’s perspectives and realities, doing their own thing in peace.

अनिष्ट(disagreeable, undesirable)

India is changing in a thousand ways. Not all of them are good, not all of them are bad. What we have seen in the past two or three years is a wave of saffron spreading over our country. The Bhartiya Janata Party, founded as the political arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, an organisation committed to turning India to a Hindu nation concluded a resounding victory in Uttar Pradesh, the evidence of the ascendance of its single-track politics aimed at benefiting orthodox Hindus and marginalising everyone else. For the first time in its electoral history, UP did not send a single Muslim MP to the Lok Sabha in 2014. Paradoxically, this was when the legislative assembly had the highest Muslim representation — 63 were elected in 2012.

 

“Those claiming to be secular and progressive do not have an identity of their parents and their blood. One will get self-respect through such identity, I will be happy if someone identifies as Muslim, Christian, Brahmin, Lingayat or Hindu. But trouble will arise if they say they are secular.”                                                                                                                   Anant Kumar Hegde, Union Minister of State for Employment and Skill Development

 

Not doing anything in the face of religious tension or intolerance is almost a trademark of our government. The whole government is probably not to be blamed, a leadership wherein the PM himself is responsible for the deaths of hundreds in communal riots in Gujarat is not a leadership at all. Our chief ministers are Hindu priests and brahmacharis, why do we expect the Muslims to not be marginalised anyway? Our habit of judging the character of all Muslims by keeping some random terrorist as an example of the otherwise peace-loving group of people does not help us much either.

 

“Crimes against women happening in urban India are shameful. It is a dangerous trend. But such crimes won’t happen in ‘Bharat’ or the rural areas of the country. You go to villages and forests of the country and there will be no such incidents of gang-rape or sex crimes.”                                                                                                                                          Mohan Bhagwat, Chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, mentor to the BJP

 

I’m really sorry to say this sir, but rapes, as big a bane they are on the beautiful populace of our country, do happen everywhere. Day in day out we read reports of young girls being raped mercilessly in some or the other dark corner of our country, and yet we do not see any concrete action being taken by the esteemed leadership of our glorious country. According to estimates by The Quint, India witnesses about a staggering 106 rapes a day, and that is when about six out of ten rapes go unreported. In the face of such a tragedy we face every day, the mentor to our PM decides to blame it on urban values and not on the ineffectiveness of the law and order situation in our country. How inane is that?

 

“Those opposing Narendra Modi are looking at Pakistan, and such people will have place in Pakistan and not in India.”                                                                                                          Giriraj Mishra, Minister of State (Independent Charge), Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises

 

My grandfather was born in Pakistan and he migrated to India during the partition. As one of the pioneers responsible for bringing electricity to the state of Madhya Pradesh, I can proudly say that my grandfather did his bit for the country. His political leanings are inconsequential to the fact that he did everything in his power to help the country in spite of the fact that he is Pakistani by birth. Our mentality has been modelled in such a way that we inadvertently vote for the party that appeals to us not from the perspective of the work they have done for the nation, but from the perspective of religion. If the leadership of the party respects your religious faiths and beliefs, that party automatically becomes your first choice. The whole task of deciding upon the government trickling down to the ambit of religious and geographical differences is wrong.

 

“As a memorial to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the statue will not only remind every individual of our great nation’s freedom struggle but will also inspire the people of our country to inculcate Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s visionary ideologies of unity, patriotism, inclusive growth and good governance… a fully functional, purpose-serving tribute that will spur all round socio-economic development.”                                                                           Official website of the Statue of Unity, Government of India

 

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel stood for the downtrodden and poor. He always ensured that the poorest sections of the society had access to all the freedoms that the British enjoyed in the country. Spending almost 3000 crores on his statue is simply defiling every ideology he stood for. These funds have reduced his legacy to nothing a cheap stunt for political gains. What these funds could have done for the poor people of our country would have immortalised the legacy of the Iron Man of India. Consider the fact that the bronze panels used in the statue were not manufactured in India as no Indian firm had the capability to do it, and hence the foundation of the statue was inherently Made in China.

 

“The countries in the world are unsure about how to tackle terrorism. The UN is also not in a position to guide them. It is heartening that Prime Minister of Bangladesh despite the fact that she is a woman is openly saying that she has zero tolerance for terrorism.”                 Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India

 

I feel appalled at the fact that we always are puzzled when it comes to empowering the women in our country. When you sit down and realise that our honourable Prime Minister feels that ‘despite’ being a woman, Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina having zero tolerance for terrorism is a unique thing to be noted is an instance that explains his true stance towards women. When the leader of the country believes that a female prime minister fighting terrorism in her country is a happening out of the ordinary, I sincerely see no serious women empowerment happening in our country. No matter how much we try to sugar-coat things, all of us know that Modi was responsible for thousands of deaths during the Godhra riots, and is unfit to rule a country as diverse as ours.

 

In the end, it all comes down us. What we think and what we do determines where our country heads . Leaving the decisions to leaders like the ones we have as of now is the worst mistake we could make.

 

आलोचना और स्वतंत्र विचार ये क्रांतिकारी सोच के अहम बिंदु है I (Bhagat Singh, 1930)

 

The Minor Majority

I am a nationalist.
There. I said it.

And I’m not ashamed of being dubbed one. I’m just sick and tired of how this concept has become one associated with rebels and radicals.
With the rise of the so called ‘pseudo-liberal’ junta in our country, nationalists being compared to terrorists is not uncommon.
Our country has just recently passed 3 landmark judgements. The abolishment of Triple Talaq, removal of Article 377 and allowing women to visit the Sabarimala Temple.
Now these judgments are instrumental, and they have given relief and happiness to millions of Indians.

However, our so called ‘Liberals’ don’t seem satisfied.
Rehana Fathima recently raised furore all over the state of Kerala after breaking into the Sabarimala Temple without permission and causing nuisance.

In doing so, she instantly made headlines all over the country, in a bid to revive her dead modelling career. But did she ‘really’ need to do it?
Fathima doesn’t really care about Lord Ayyapa, the main deity at the Sabarimala. She just wanted to prove a point. In the midst of that, she created nuisance at the temple and hurt the sentiments of thousands of ‘true’ devotees. Did she really need the publicity so bad?

Such stunts are quite prevalent in our country now. They seem hidden to the public eye. But after some observation, I’ve seen that these stunts are quietly ubiquitous.
‘Sanju’: A biopic on Sanjay Dutt, released to much fanfare this July. While the movie was enjoyable, the hidden assault on Hinduism was in very bad taste. While it is well known that Dutt was friends with Dawood Ibrahim, the film decided to portray underworld via a Tilak-clad Ganpati devotee. Now this is not a one off instance. Who can forget the ‘Shiva’ scene in P.K?

Even during festivals, there is sudden increase in news articles about the harms that firecrackers pose towards animals and how Idol immersion is bad for water bodies.

I do agree that these practices are harmful but the way our media portrays Hindu festivals is obnoxious and cynical. Where are they when Bakri-Eid or Moharram is on?

Similarly, why didn’t Rehana Fathima chose one of a thousand mosques where women aren’t allowed?
Why didn’t she hesitate to do the same at a place considered sacred by people of another faith?

‘Oppression’.

This is the word which would’ve been in the headlines if Sanju included Dawood. If articles got published on Bakri-Eid. If Fathima trespassed a mosque. If a person from the minority community is asked to stand up for the national anthem.
Why can’t we call a spade a spade and drop the victim mentality?
It’s high time facts stop being twisted to suit one community and target another.
It’s high time we start treating others as equal.
It’s high time we stop disgracing nationalism.