THE HYDERABAD ENCOUNTERS- JUSTICE SERVED? AT WHAT COST?

Author: Rahul Srinivas

 

We know that the number of rapes keep increasing in the country and we, the citizens are more aware and enraged about it, now more than ever. Thanks to social media. The cycle of women being raped and the guilty getting away with it, while we stood and watched this injustice happen kept repeating until the 6th of this month.

The Hyderabad rape case consisted of a woman veterinarian of age twenty-five, who was brutally gang raped and murdered, and her body burnt. This inhuman act enraged the whole nation. The four suspects in this case were Arif, Jollu Shiva, Jollu Naveen Kumar and Chintakunta Chenna Keshavulu. These four people were arrested to be interrogated. There was no concrete proof that all four had a part in this unspeakable act, and so they were taken for interrogation.

But, on December 6th, the alleged rapists were shot to death by the Hyderabad police. All the four suspects were encountered by the police. The police claimed that the suspects tried to flee and were armed, and hence they had no other option other than to shoot them for self-defense. This does sound a bit far fetched and cinematic.

But the effect these encounters had on our citizens was different. On that day, the citizens who were enraged of the injustice, the families of the victims who were mourning their loss and the millions of helpless souls that prayed for the ones who passed; everyone got an answer. Everyone stood united against the injustice. Everyone felt at peace for a while on knowing the fact that finally, someone did something.

But let us look at the facts for a minute here. These four alleged rapists were after all, alleged. There wasn’t any concrete proof to prove them guilty. And fortunately, or unfortunately, our system says ‘Innocent until proven guilty’. And in front of the eyes of the law, they were not guilty. In front of the eyes of the nation, they were not innocent.

There was a lot of controversy surrounding this encounter. A lot of politicians and celebrities like Akhilesh Yadav and Vivek Anand Oberoi, tweeted supporting the encounter while some stood against it as that is just not how the system works. But our laws allow encounters for self-defense. But is that what actually happened is still a mystery. Shooting and the killing the suspects at the same spot they allegedly killed the victim seems to be a bit much to be a coincidence though.

On one hand, the system does not allow this. But on the other hand, I feel that our system on itself is flawed. It takes a lot of time for concrete proof and to prove that the suspects are guilty. For instance, seven years have passed since the brutal rape and murder of the Delhi medical student Nirbhaya. The four accused are yet to be hanged even after getting the death sentence. A system that takes seven years to hang criminals who are proven guilty, is neither a fast nor an effective system.

Another flaw in our system is that the suspects can not be held in custody for that long as it is really easy to get a bail in our country. And is animals like these get bail this easily, they will continue to do these brutal acts again. So, basically the system would have allowed these suspects into the country to roam free and commit crimes while it should have already punished them for their crimes. The recent UP Unnao rape victim’s situation clearly saw the full extent of this flaw.

The victim was raped by two men, who were granted bail. A few days ago, when she was asked to appear on court for the hearing, she was abducted by five men- the 2 accused, their fathers and another male. They took her to a field, poured kerosene on her and burned her. She called the police and ran for almost a kilo metre by herself, in that condition. She was then admitted and sadly, passed away in the hospital.

Her final words said that she wanted to see those who did this to her be hanged. She died without her last words coming true.

So now you decide. Was the encounter of alleged rapists and going against the system for justice wrong? Or is a system that doesn’t punish the guilty and allows these animals to roam free wrong?

#MeToo

Author: Afreen

The #MeToo initiative was a movement started to combat sexual harassment and assault. It went viral in the past years as a way for victims of harassment to vent out their frustration and to call out their alleged harassers. It still continues to pick up steam to this day. Its main purpose revolved around the empowerment of vulnerable individuals and to give others a sense of the magnitude of the issue of harassment.

Using social media as a platform to reveal the prevalence of sexual violence in society, it became all the craze with people to gain the right to relate with others, and call out demeaning predatory behaviour.As the initiative met with success, by acknowledgement from even high profile celebrities, the notion that harassment shouldn’t be kept under wraps became a worldwide sensation.

Keeping in mind the publicity one gains from participating in this movement, many have filed false allegations against innocent people, without evidence, leading to a devastating effect on the lives of the accused. Like almost every other social campaign, it has fallen victim to opportunism from individuals.

Because of such disgraceful people, both sexes suffer greatly. Men are now afraid to compliment women in any way, touch them in acceptable situations or afraid to simply be alone with women at all. One bold liar is all it takes to have our lives in shambles. Men aren’t the only victims here. The price women pay for this extra security is skepticism and an arms-length approach by men in dealing with them both professionally and personally.

So, has the #MeToo really changed anything? One can’t definitely say that it has made absolutely no impact on our community. The numbers of men and women healing after confiding in to others and opening up to their therapists have shown an exponential increase after the introduction of #MeToo. The #MeToo movement gives people the courage to speak out, and since most sexual assault goes unreported

As controversial as #MeToo is, its important to remember that movements like these, have positive effects that outweigh the detrimental ones and does, in fact, bring about a large change in the mindsets of people.

Out For A Walk

The breeze is cold, with no identifiable smells, it’s pleasuring. The city looks beautiful, calm and the major intersections are the only places with lights. These huge flood-lights look like mere toothpicks from where I stand. The city looks like a collection of a kid’s building blocks, organized as on a circuit board of some complex electronic device. I have seen this view multiple times, probably in every lighting condition that the eyes can perceive, yet, it looks especially mesmerizing right now. I stand on the visibly largest bridge crossing the Ganga river, marking the start of this holy city. The oldest bridge was replaced by the latest one. The double-decker bridge is barely visible which identified the city in films like Raanjhna. A train chugs through the bottom and some two-three people walk by on the top every few minutes. Dawn will break soon.

 

I stand here, after hours of trying to sleep. The breeze keeps pushing me back, tailwinds of trucks passing on the highway behind me keep thrusting me forward, and I keep swinging like a disoriented pendulum. I came here to see the end. Option 1: Fall on the bottom of the pillar, crack your skull, instant, and certain death.  Option 2: Fall in the water, I’m high enough for the surface tension to shatter my bones, I writhe in pain and eventually drown. Another possibility is I enter the water safe and sound, the cold water and strong current give me a long, slow and agonizing death, my body is found somewhere downstream. 

This is it, my dream of twelve years is finally becoming a reality. I climb and sit on the edge, anytime now.

“Hey, why are you here? What are you planning to do now?”

“I have seen it all, I have reached the tipping point of my life, it cannot get any better. I will jump and end it all.”
“Yes, that’s the best you can do, I mean, you being here or just disappearing, wouldn’t make a difference in the grand scheme of things. Your existence is known to a maximum of a thousand people. About 500 remember that they met you. About a hundred remember you regularly. Some fifteen-twenty people care about your existence, only to eventually benefit from you. NO ONE ADORES YOU. It would be for the best for you and everyone around you if you died.”

“Wait. You have so much to live for, didn’t you want to go Bungee Jumping? You could do it if you didn’t jump now.”

“This isn’t much different though.”

All three of us laughed as a tear rolled down my face.

“Yeah, that’s true but you wanted to buy a car, raise a kid, live a happy life?”

“But isn’t that inviting more trouble down the line? Every change brings discomfort.”
“Exactly, right from choosing the pursuit of engineering. No, from choosing science. No, wait, from the first time I ever spoke, I have only invited trouble to myself and the people around me. My words, my actions, never solved anything, but definitely sprouted seeds for trouble.”

“Yeah, and you were also responsible for 9/11, don’t listen to him. You’re doing good. You’ve got a healthy lifestyle, a stable job. You are who many aspire to be. You can do anything you want to.”

“Haha, as if you’ve ever had anything in control.”

“That’s true, I have never had anything in my control. Isn’t that the truth of the world? No matter what decision I make, it always has consequences beyond my control. What am I doing, where am I headed? I will never have the life I wanted. It is all pointless. I will never know what’s next and uncertainty is never good. I can count the major events left in my life on the fingers of just one of my hands and most of them aren’t happy ones.”

“You can’t end here. People look up to you. They tell their kids your story. Wouldn’t you want that story to get better every time you meet them? Or do you want it to become a foreshadowing?”

“That is a part of the problem. I very much hate the life I have lived till now, I do not want anyone to follow my footsteps of all people.”

“The underachiever, the meta of our generation. You are spitting on the greats by calling yourself one. You idiot, people your age are running corporations, changing the world and whatnot. You are the worst example to follow. You yourself don’t want to be you. You are everything that’s wrong with you.”

“True, nothing I ever did has made a difference. My whole life has been a compromise. I have never had what I wanted. I was and never will be satisfied with what I have, and will live my entire life hustling for something better trying to unsuccessfully satiate myself. I do not want this. This is the worst part: I will never know what I truly want. What will make me full? A woman? A big home? Many big homes? Kids? Grandkids? Supercars? I guess I dreamed too big, haha. You get the gist.” 

“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. Not opening the box could be the biggest mistake you make. Walk back, and you can set a better example than the one you would if you jumped.”

“Haha, a box of chocolates can’t have ice creams or potato chips. I know where my life is headed, the last time I got a surprise gift was in sixth grade when my parents got me a digital camera for my birthday. There haven’t been any welcomed surprises after that. My life is not a movie, if I jump down and swim to the next town, they wouldn’t cover me in papers. They would put me in an asylum.”

“That reminds me, your birthday is coming up. Let’s postpone this ordeal until that day, the sun is up too. You do not deserve a release so soon, you should suffer more. Wouldn’t it be poetic to do it that day?”

“Yeah, not knowing what to do when they sing happy birthday would be the best torture. How bothersome, I loathe that day. I have to pick my own gift, sometimes I pick it months before or after, depending on when I need something. I have to plan a party for a bunch of ungrateful nobodies, who would dissolve in the crowd as soon as the party’s over. Leaving a debt to be fulfilled only on their birthdays.”

“Hey, you came here to celebrate that. A birthday with your parents after 4, maybe 5 years.”

“Yeah, let’s call today a trial run for what we will do on that day. Everyone will be tired from the party, it would be easier to escape.”

“Yeah, let’s head back.”

 

The sun shines from way above the horizon. People have started their days. Cattle owners, taking their herds of buffaloes to pasture. Milkmen cycling with huge tin containers on either side of the bicycle, headed to deliver or sell it at the “Satti”. Dust flows as school buses and vans rush on the roads to force start the dozy kids’ day. “You coward.” 

I put my head down. My cheeks keep getting wet, my breath keeps pacing and I blame it all on the dust. No one turns their head, ever. “They all have their problems to deal with, not everyone is as weak or has the time to lament over such issues.” The same sound keeps screaming at me on my way back. “You coward, you’ll never have the courage to do what you want. You can’t even JUST DIE. People work very hard to live and your puny, pathetic self can’t even do that. You can never be happy for you will NEVER BE SATISFIED.”

I reach home, wipe the mix of dew, dust, sweat, and tears off my face. Maa sips her daily tea while watching the headlines. Advertisements start, and she changes to some religious channel as I walk in. 

“Where were you?” She asks.

I don’t have an answer, I stay silent for a moment, it always makes me look like an intellectual who knows what he is going to say. I answer, “I was just…”

Fault Lines

Author: Aditi Chandrasekar

We’ve all been witness to at least one or two cases of artists going mainstream, by giving into whatever will please the dominant society, their success measured by the absolute measure of their popularity-rampant in the entertainment industry. There has always been a constant battle between art and its commercial production, and there always will be. It is an effect of a larger issue-the “herd mentality”, which would take pages and pages to fully delve into, but here I would just like to highlight its negative impact on traditional artists. An illustration of this would be the life and death of an exceptionally talented artist named Jangharh Singh Shyam. In July 2001, his untimely death, caused by suicide, in the Mithila museum in Japan was widely reported about. Soon after the shock of the incident wore off, theories surrounding his motive started cropping up, from mainland cities to the most far-flung regions. People wanted answers, and were good at formulating them too. The most accepted one was that he committed suicide due to the pressure put on him by the museum to continuously produce paintings. He reportedly wrote letters filled with frustration to his wife back home, asking her to arrange for his return. A report in The Hindu said his passport had allegedly been withheld by the director of Mithila Museum and his stay extended beyond what was initially agreed upon. This caused wide-spread rage and the museum came under fire. They denied their involvement and refused to pay any compensation which was obviously frowned down upon by everyone. But this brought to the forefront a larger, looming issue- the degradation of art by demand, its corruption by society. Before the unfortunate progression of events that led to his demise, Jangarh Singh Shyam was a genius of sorts. In his birth village of Patangarh in Madhya Pradesh, he was a ‘pardhan’-someone responsible for orally transmitting the Gond way of life. Soon after being discovered by Jagdish Swaminathan, his aptitude for painting became evident. His first solo exhibition at Dhoomimal Gallery in 1984, was poorly attended. However, success soon came to him-that is, if we refer to his popularity as the only measure. His battle against the fault lines between art and dominant society had only just begun. In 1988 he was told at an art gallery that his usual attire of shirt and pants wouldn’t “seem authentic” and was directed to wear a loincloth and turban to more closely resemble the public’s idea of what a tribal would look like. He was frequently seen merely through the lens of his cultural background, and continues to be even after his death. In Jangarh’s life and death, lie several unanswered questions about the wicked, but common, practice of exploiting art for commercial gratification.

La Bambola

Antonio was bored. The little town of La Martella had little to offer, and was always sulking in the shadows of Matera, a nearby tourist hotspot. The small, narrow lanes, in which three bicycles caused a traffic jam, were lined with two-storeyed brown-brick residences, with a splash of colour here and there, in the form of a restaurant or a café. His mother, Rosalia, insisted on moving here, away from their small cosy hut in the countryside. He didn’t understand why. He was so happy there, playing with his friends, going to school and running around in the fields.

As he tapped the panes of the window, and looked outside, he saw something peculiar. The shadow between the two houses opposite to theirs seemed to be moving. There were eyes looking up at him, and hands pointing at him. He was transfixed, and his hand slowly inched towards their house phone. However, the eyes and hands disappeared, immediately, when a policeman passed by. He quickly closed the blinds and started watching an Italian dub of The Godfather.

At sunset, his mother came home. As her heels clacked on the wooden stairs, Antonio rushed to greet his mother. As the door opened, he stood in shock. Her hair was more dishevelled than usual, her makeup was smudged in a couple of places and her hand trembled carrying the packet of their dinner.

“What happened, mamma?”

“Nothing, Toni. Just a hard day at work.”

“Okay! What did you get for dinner?”

“I got Chinese food! Let me go wash up, and then we can eat!”

Antonio prepared the table, while Rosalia took a warm bath. “The food looks delicious, mamma! Where did you get it from?”

“I got it from Wang’s, a new place near the School!” said Rosalia, while drying herself. “Speaking of which, a man will be coming tomorrow morning, to talk about a new job that I’m starting. If it goes well, you’ll be off the shortlist in no time.”

Antonio jumped in excitement, and ran to hug his mother. “I can’t wait for tomorrow morning!”

After their nightly prayer, they began dinner. During dinner, Antonio told his mother about the eyes and hands he saw in the shadows. She raised her left eyebrow at him, and said, “On the opposite side, you say? Well, don’t ever go into the shadows. It’s a bad place. Filled with bad people. Let’s finish off and go to sleep.”

The prospect of going to school again, it kept him up all night. He couldn’t wait to meet this man, who could steer him back towards his old life. As the first ray of sunshine entered the bedroom, he started shaking his mother. “Mamma, Mamma, wake up! It’s morning! He’ll be here soon!”

“Will you relax? It’s 6 o’clock, he’s not due till 9! Go back to sleep!”

But sleep was no longer a companion for Antonio. He made himself breakfast, drew up a bath and arranged everything in the house, so it was spick and span. When a sharp rap on the door announced the arrival of ‘The Man’, Antonio let out a squeal of excitement. Rosalia, dressed in a red, sheath dress and stilettos, opened the door. A tall, well-built, clean-shaven gentleman stood across the threshold, wearing a black suit. He carried a bag from Pinocchio Toys. He smiled, stepped in and said, “Ciao, Antonio. How are you today?”, in a raspy voice.

Trembling out of excitement, he stuttered, “I-I’m good, Sir. H-How are y-you?”

“I’m doing great, thank you. I got you a little present. Here.”

A trembling Antonio took the bag and thanked him feebly. ‘The Man’ replied, “Ms. Rosucci, shall we confer in the room downstairs?”

Rosalia replied, “Please make yourself comfortable downstairs. I’ll be with you in a moment.”

As ‘The Man’ left, Rosalia leaned down and said, “Play with your gift, ragazzo. I’m downstairs. Call me if you need anything. But do not come downstairs.”

She left, with her heels clacking on the wooden floor. Antonio opened the bag, and a doll popped out. A doll of his favourite superheroine, Wonder Woman! That was the last one he needed to complete his collection! He received the final bambola, the one he’d been looking for three years!

As he ran to add it into his collection, he heard his mother scream downstairs. It was no ordinary scream of anger or despair; it was one of pain. Then came another. And another. They seemed to be getting louder, and deeper. He could also hear things being scattered downstairs, as they hit the wooden floor. Her screams turned to moans; moans of anguish and agony.

Terrified, he stood frozen in the middle of the house, clutching the bambola in his hand. He couldn’t move, couldn’t think and couldn’t speak. He didn’t know what these sounds were, and he didn’t know why his mother was making them. All he wanted was, for them to stop. They did, half an hour later, with a guttural shriek from ‘The Man’. His mom shouted, “I’m leaving for work, ragazzo! See you in the evening! I love you!”

He spent the whole day, curled up in a little ball. He couldn’t get over what he heard. He tried to drink some water to calm down, but he wasn’t thirsty. He wanted to eat a light pasta to soothe his nerves, but his appetite had been murdered. He looked at the bambola and asked her, “Wonder Woman, what was happening?”

At sunset, his mother came home. As her heels clacked on the wooden stairs, Antonio rushed to greet his mother. The door opened, and Rosalia appeared. Her hair was well kept, her makeup was perfect and her she kept a steady hand on the packet of their dinner.

Antonio hugged his mother, and cried, “Mamma, what was happening in the morning? Did ‘The Man’ hurt you? Mamma, what was going on? Talk to me, Mamma!”

Rosalia replied, “Ragazzo, I’m a bit tired today. I’ll explain it tomorrow morning. I promise.”

They ate dinner in silence, and she tucked him into bed. She stroked her thin, ebony hands through his hair, and whispered, “I love you, ragazzo. You’re a big, brave boy. You will always take care of your mamma.” He fell asleep.

Antonio woke up next morning to loud noises. Rubbing his eyes, he heard his mother scream. And again. And again. They got louder and deeper. The moans replaced the screams. And it ended, again, with the guttural shriek. Antonio clutched the bambola, and started crying. “Why are you doing this to me, God?”, he exclaimed, “Please let my mother go!”

At sunset, his mother came home. As her heels clacked on the wooden stairs, Antonio’s ears perked up. He still didn’t move. His mother came into the bedroom. Her hair was well kept, her makeup was perfect and her she kept a steady hand on the packet of their dinner.

Antonio screamed, “Mamma! I couldn’t move all day! What is going on? I’m feeling ill! I can’t move or think or-or sleep! My tummy’s empty but I don’t even want to eat anything! Mamma, help me!”

Rosalia hugged him, and said, “It’s okay, ragazzo. It’s okay. Mamma bought you medicine. You need to take it, and sleep.”

“No, mamma, no! I don’t wanna sleep! Tell me, Mamma!”

She picked him and said, “Not now, ragazzo. Not now. Let’s get you in the school first. I’ll tell you after that, okay?” Antonio, burst into tears and nodded, “Okay, mamma. I won’t. But please stop!”

“I will. I will.”

But, to Antonio’s horror, it didn’t stop. Her pain seemed to increase by the day, and his horror transformed into frustration. His sleep was always induced by medicine, and his appetite was long gone. He began talking to himself and his bambolas. He went about his day in the most sedentary manner, in an eerie robot-like manner. Washing the dishes, doing the laundry and cleaning the house were tasks he performed like a computer. Entertainment and exercise failed to cheer him up.

Every time he heard his mother scream, he would take his frustration out on the bambolas. With every scream, he’d tear off their hair. With every moan, he’d bite their bodies. With every shriek, he’d pull off their heads. All, but one, remained. Wonder Woman. She gave him hope, and kept him together.

Into the second week, he’d had enough. As his mother’s screams began, he clutched the bambola, and quietly went downstairs. He trembled with every scream, and every movement was measured. He unlocked the front door, and closed it noiselessly. Stepping onto the street, he looked around. Not a soul was in sight, except a lone black cat, up ahead. Her moans had begun. And he ran.

He ran and ran, till he didn’t know where he was. He looked up and he was in a desolate, dark lane. The walls around him were whispering, and the windows were staring at him. All of a sudden, he heard the same scream. Except, it was a different voice. The voice was coming from the window next to him. He was stuck, but, this time, a part of him wanted to see what was happening.

He moved closer to the window, and cupped his hands around the glass. The sight he saw, was burnt into his memory. He stood at the window, and his eyes welled up with tears. Is this what ‘The Man’ was doing to his mamma? Was he hurting her in this way? Why did she come all the way to La Martella for all this?

He mustered up the courage and ran out of the lane. He walked back towards the main street, his feet clacking on the cobbled streets. He clenched his bambola, and headed home. He spent the whole day, trying to understand what happened, and what he had seen. He didn’t speak a word to his mother, that night.

Next morning, he decided to confront ‘The Man’ for what he was doing to his mother. In a medicine-induced stupor, he clutched the bambola and waited for the screams to start. He started to walk down the stairs, softly. The screams kept getting louder as he approached the room.

A red light was coming from under the door. He kept tiptoeing to the door. The screams stopped and the moans began. They stung him like icy needles and his heart began beating faster. He stopped at the door, and the moans stopped, suddenly. His mother let out a high-pitched scream of pain.

He could hear the noise of something hitting violently, and her screams were interspersed with the words, “Sir, please stop! What are you doing?” He peeped through the keyhole, and saw his mother, naked, on the sofa, bathed in a shade of red. ‘The Man’ was sitting on her, with a wooden plank in his hand. He struck her, and she screamed.

Antonio was petrified. He couldn’t process what he’d seen. He looked down, and saw the bambola. He bit off its head and screamed in anger. Panting heavily, he opened the door.

–  Inspired by the song Puppe by Rammstein

Too many mouths

Author – Vignesh

‘So, while I’m here being confessional, I guess I have a sudden urge to say something that I’ve never really been able to air in public. So, a declaration that I’m really nervous about…..Loud and proud, right? So, I’m going to need your support on this….’ It was 2013 Golden Globes awards. A famous Hollywood actor standing on the stage along with fellow actor Robert Downey Jr. as a hall full of famous figures sit and watch her fidgeting ‘I..am…’ she holds the mike as well as her breathing, as the crowd leans to the edge of their seats expectantly. ‘single’ she says and the hall erupts in laughter. This was Jodie Foster trying to explain that she indeed was homosexual, yet shying away from even uttering the word ‘gay’. Today we know that the USA and the rest of the world which includes India has come so far.

TEDx Talks releases a video on Youtube on November 16, 2016, named Homosexuality: It’s about survival-not sex. The speaker: Dr James O’Keefe MD tries to justify that same-sex marriage and being gay was only nature’s response to the overpopulation of humans. He says ‘You all have gay genes in you!’ as the crowd gets really uncomfortable. He goes on to say that homosexuality is not against nature but rather a part of natural selection. A loving couple that doesn’t reproduce but takes care of its herd is exactly what an overpopulated planet like ours needs and that nature knows it.

On 15th March 2019, Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year-old Australian who the media describes as a white supremacist walks into a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand and guns down 51 Muslims. Minutes before his attack, he posted a 74-page declaration text that serves as a “justification” for his act whose details were disturbing and bizarre. He details that all the environmental problems that we face including global warming were a consequence of overpopulation and the world is in a desperate need of population control. The reason why chose a mosque was because, in his own belief, Muslims were the ‘highly fertile’ group. So why is a well thought out and a profound doctor and a terrorist worry about the same thing? Overpopulation is a recent concern that is brought up by endless pop culture releases in different media, from the books like Dan Brown’s The inferno to the movies like Kingsman and of course, Avengers: Infinity war but is it really a problem?

population bomb.jpg

The whole argument that too many mouths to feed equals a problem hinges on the fact that we have limited food. Any resource is professed to be a zero-sum which is the concept that anything that is gained on the consumer’s side is lost by the other side: the source, that is the planet that provides us with the resources. It’s not wrong to think that way. After all, with the water crisis that our country is facing right now and we are told that there is only a constant volume of water existing on our planet and we are running out of it.

It still begs the question: have we really understood the problem though?  Yes, there’s no denying that an increase in demand at a short period of time calls for attention but is population control really the solution? Well, no.

There is another resource that we are running out of. Fossil fuel. We have fuel rates increasing and the government to put the blame on. After all the cold wars and the fight against terrorism paraded by the USA in order to obtain control over oil for years. Now, all that has settled down a bit and now the talk is shifted towards making Electric Vehicles and how to pioneer a way to be oil – independent. Statements that water will be the resource that the countries would be fighting each other for in World War 3, not oil have gained attraction. It is intriguing to think that both oil and water are limited. Yet, the fight for oil has settled down a bit. How did that happen? That is because, while in a technical sense resources are limited, they are really not.

We used lamp oils derived from seeds of canola, sunflower and in extreme cases, by killing whales from the oceans to light our homes. We had our existing populations do the heavy lifting such as moving wheels and machinery, that mined coal which in turn powers up printing machines that would imprint news texts on papers made out of uprooted trees to pass information. Did that lead to an inevitable doom? Did the trees and whales go extinct as the population exploded? The truth is, what we call resources is only limited by our very own imagination. Anything has value only we value them. If we just start to think differently, we may never run out of resources.

In the year 1879, Thomas A. Edison takes credit for inventing the bulb which turns electric energy into that of light. Transistors are invented by American physicists Bardeen, Brattain and Shockley right after World War 2. Now, we have the unlimited source of electromagnetic waves that power up industries and offices letting people work 24/7 through electricity and the transistors revolutionising the same industry with computer electronics and automated machines as well as of course, the smartphones we use to share information. We didn’t stick to the papers or the oil lamps. We innovated. We developed. More population doesn’t mean just more mouths to feed, it also means more minds to think and more hands to work. The real solution to the problem of overpopulation is not genocide or homosexuality, it is, after all, education. Enabling the existing population to think or work is enough to find new resources as we go.

Have you ever heard of the meme that everything in the world is invented by Indians? The invention of diodes followed by that of transistors was by Jagadeesh Chandra Bose. The invention of ‘zero’ of course is credited to Aryabhata. Endless new areas on mathematics unexplored to this day were claimed by Srinivasa Ramanujan. Even the advances in optical fibre technology, on which the today’s internet run on owes the fundamental optics starting scattering effect of light, a phenomenon that was first discovered by Sir C V Raman. Why is it that all the groundbreaking ideas originate from the land that is the second most populated? Countries around the world are making new efforts to eradicate carbon-emitting businesses. India is pushing its automobile industries to make electric vehicles as it is seen to be the future. A future that is independent of oil. Engineers are looking for new ways to produce fresh water every day in labs through researches. The future is not dark. Apocalypse is not nigh as long as there are researches, universities, labs and funds. It’s us, the students who think, create new ideas and innovate!

Cooking And Compilations

“Maa! Tell me this. Why is it that I can put in the right amount of salt almost every time? I have never cooked, never been taught about it, then how can I be so accurate with it?” I asked as I sprinkled salt over the pan to caramelize the onions. I must have been cooking some paneer dish, since I cannot cook non-vegetarian food at home. I made dinner that night and everyone felt fulfilled. It was the first time that the biggest food critique, my dad, passed my cooking. I had only cooked Maggi before this, which according to him, is not worth calling food.

“Shivam, you’ve been called to the staff room.” I had been at my best behavior, so I was pretty sure it was not about something I had done. I walked to the staff room and saw a bunch of other kids surrounding Nivedita Ma’am. She was my class teacher in sixth class and she taught English. She called me close and said, “You have a decent pronunciation. If I give you something, will you be able to read it on stage for the morning assembly?” I was excited; it was going to be my first time on stage if you ignore the Bangla play I did in the third standard where the teachers had to feed me my lines by the end. I had to recite the English translation of our national anthem, my first gig.

I was in the fifth standard. Until now, my computer lab was only about presentations but today was going to change my life. “Today we are going to learn about QBASIC: Quick Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. It is a programming language; you can make calculations and even draw with this. It is a lot like LOGO, but it can do a lot more.” I learned the most fundamental program that day. The “Hello World” program. I learned a lot of QBASIC that year, all of which I have now forgotten.

“Before performing in front of everyone, I would want you to take part in the debate. I have written something you can use.” She handed me a two-page long speech. It was perfect. Never have I been able to recreate a speech of that caliber, even though it has been ten years since then. It started and ended with a quote, it even had a poem in between. It was perhaps too good for me. On the day of the competition, I choked. Nevertheless, my assembly presentation went nicely.

“I have always noticed that people with sharper minds have very accurate assumptions when it comes to cooking. They add the right amount of salt, spices, tomatoes, etc.” my mother replied. The conversation ended, but I will be honest, it was not the first time I was cooking. I had made Maggi many times before this. Sometimes I would add a lot of vinegar or soy sauce. However, I had never had difficulty adding ingredients I had tasted. I would add anything I found in the kitchen: Pickles, Garam Masala, raw spices, Chat Masala, absolutely anything! Except for the aforementioned mistakes, I was always proud of my creations. It tasted different every time and Maa would always look forward to my new experiments. 

I cannot continue this without mentioning Dhananjay sir. He hammered down the basics of programming into his students, especially the interested ones. It was the only class I looked forward to, in my last two years of school.  Eventually, I realized, anything that a human can do, can be programmed. Some decisions and repetition of certain steps, a permutation of these could describe anything our human mind can comprehend. He would never tell us the shortcuts until we mastered the basics. We would print patterns, sort numbers. Arranging numbers in ascending order can be done in one line. Nevertheless, he made us develop our own way to do it, after which he told us about the existence of the shortcut.

 

These three hobbies influenced me greatly. It was not until recently that I realized how similar they are.

 

A good dish needs a good recipe. There are hundreds of ways to cook but it all starts with choosing the right ingredients. They must be fresh, their taste and textures should complement each other and the spices. The way they are prepared can make a huge difference. Dicing, fine chopping, grating, Julienne cutting, blending, etc. can give a wide spectrum of flavors and taste to the same ingredients. Roasting, shallow frying, deep-frying, steam cooking, etc. are all possible ways and each of them can highlight a different aspect of the same ingredient. The taste should make the person hungrier with every bite while eating half the time and make them feel fuller with every next bite for the next half.

A good speech is always less than 5 minutes long. A good lecture should not have more than 15 minutes of explanation. You need roughly 5 minutes to change the opinion of a person or to implant an idea in the crowd’s mind. A rhetorical question or a statement, preferably a joke, with a deeper meaning is always good to start with. The type of language you use, how formal you are and how you present controversial statements could make or break your speech. You should divide it into sections with interconnected topics. The most crucial step is to connect with the hearts of the crowd. I have never won any prizes for my public speaking, but I have always received a better response from my crowd than my competitors have.

A good program must have comments. After some experience, one can always tell a good code apart from a bad one. When reading a good code, you can visualize what is happening in each step. There are varieties of ways to solve a problem and optimization is the key. Choosing the right language for the right problems is a lot like choosing the right weapon to hunt. You cannot hunt birds with spears. For a problem with strings you would choose Python or JavaScript, for a numerical problem C and for a problem where you need copies of similar items, you would want to use Java.

My best code would be the menu-driven attendance management system I made, using a 2-Dimensional linked list. It was an absolute beauty. All the functions well connected, no bugs, extremely fluid and highly interactive. My masterpiece. I have come all the way from QBASIC and I still have miles to go.

From choking up in my first speech, I gave a monologue for my school farewell. It was filled with witty remarks and anecdotes from my final couple of years at school. Everyone found it relatable and had a great time. I had left my final mark, spoken my final words at school. Another good speech I gave was the one where I prepared to go for a competition but it turned out to be just an exhibition performance. I spoke crystal clear, everything went perfect and the audience was left spellbound. Once, when I had to deliver a poem written by our school’s late great director, my mic malfunctioned and every “sh” came out as an “s” and it came out as a detestable rustic accent. I now write my own scripts, they are nowhere near the first script I got, but the audience always loves it. My dream is to pull off something like Mark Antony from Julius Caesar. I can never speak well during my practice presentations, but I absolutely nail it when it matters.

I am still improving my cooking. I can follow recettes but I cannot combine non-powdered spices to create the real magic of food yet. My best dish would be the Shahi Paneer I made before coming back from my summer vacation. I can also not forget how I once messed up Anchari Paneer by using twice the amount of spices than necessary. If the first were a swim in a lake on a sunny summer day, the latter felt like walking bare feet in the desert and licking sand out of thirst.

Once you light the stove, introduce yourself on the podium or submit the code for checking test cases, there is no turning back. You have to prepare and keep all the ingredients handy; you cannot chop onions while frying your spices. They need care, five extra seconds of frying and you have vaporized their flavors. You have to ensure you are speaking in a flow, every expression, direct or indirect is visible on stage. You might think you covered it up, but a long enough pause, a slight fumble that you correct by repeating the words, it’s all noticed and you lose all the recognition from your audience. Every time you build and compile your code, the entire CPU, all of the hardware engages to comprehend what you have instructed the computer to do. Even if you asked it to do a never-ending job, it will do it until stopped. This could crash the system; damage the hardware, this small bug is enough to destroy the entire motherboard. One lazy person created the Y2K problem, which could have ended up with us losing all our digital data as we entered the new century.

All three of them, are the same. It is all about living in the moment, enjoying what you are doing and not thinking about anything else in the world. Every time I put on the frying pan, step on a stage or compile my code, time stops. My mind clears out, and all I can think of is what I am doing. My senses become sharper than a doe in an unknown part of the forest. A slight change of smell and my dish might be ruined, a short hum and my speech is gone, and a missing semicolon is like a murder amidst a crowd. I cannot afford to make a mistake, if I make one; I have to live with it. Every hobby is an escape from the daily life, where you live the moment with no pain from the past or worry about the future. “A hobby might not define who you are, but it definitely affects some aspects of your personality.” I leave you with this statement to ponder upon and the fact that Adolf Hitler made great paintings (like the one above), to support the above statement.

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.