Bhavya Pandey


Pablo Neruda’s ‘Keeping Quiet’ was not just a Grade 12 CBSE poem, it was a warning of the times to come. A reminder to pause and look within. 

The silence today is eerie. Stranded lanes, empty bars, ghastly workplaces, and we will all keep still, we are indeed still, silent; locked inside our homes. What once bustled with gossiping, constant chatter and business deals, remain locked. Our words have found a new place to stay, Houseparty, Zoom, Google Duo, Google Meet, Whatsapp Video Calls, is this how we digitalise India? for once on the face of the earth, let’s not speak in any language; Restricted activity, inactivity, hibernation, let’s stop for a second, and not move our arms so much. A probable gigantic ‘World’ War III suppressed by the actions of a 120-nanometre virus. 

“Bengaluru Thinks COVID-19 Achieved the ‘Impossible’ as Streets Show no Sign of Traffic Jams” It would be an exotic moment, without rush, without engines; divided by the lines of religion, caste and class, today all of us struggle, one with their ‘mozzarella and cheddar,’ while the others drink off of the street. We would all be together? Just not in a sudden strangeness. The impending doom of mass unemployment, recession and hunger, who says we did not see it coming? A single catastrophe had to befall the world in order to expose its fallacies and inequality. 

International relations and global politics are at an all-time high, Trump’s threats of “retaliation” against India for not clearing exports of the drug to the States. Trump withdraws funding of the WHO amidst a global pandemic. Hinted to be a bio-weapon in the hands of the Chinese, those who prepare green wars, wars with gas, wars with fire, over 1,37,000 lives lost, victories with no survivors. 

Restlessness and inactivity dominate the larger part of our days, scrolling and scrolling, binge-watching and gorging, have we confused our lives with total inactivity? The futility of man takes the baton, what is life without social interaction, chaos, the hustle and bustle of Delhi Metro? What is our purpose beyond a degree and job? When was the last time you painted the old building visible from your terrace? Or baked the cake you so desperately want to devour? 

Our productivity, rat-race, the desire to achieve more in a time dedicated to silence, to inactivity; management books write, ‘how to utilise your free time,’ ‘how to be ahead of others,’ ‘how to fall into the hands of capitalism,’ If we were not so single-minded about keeping our lives moving, and for once could do nothing, perhaps a huge silence, might interrupt this sadness of never understanding ourselves and of threatening ourselves with death.

The earth today seems dead, New York dugs another mass burial as the numbers of lives lost climb the ladders. Perhaps the earth can teach us as when everything seems dead, a time shall come, in the near future, when we would look back, think of the scary uncertain days, crawl in the corner of a room and be thankful that humanity survived; and later proves to be alive.

Global warming, climate change, brutal capitalism, exploitation of human right, wars, sheer injustices, is it time to introspect? Introspect the futility of falling prey to the norm of society? Introspect the futility of human relations, corporations, survival at the cost of nature? Now I’ll count up to twelve and you keep quiet and I will go.

Featured Image Credits: Economic Times

Anandi Sen

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Different countries have adopted an array of preventive measures to fight the novel coronavirus outbreak that had surfaced in December 2019 in China, which later spread to different parts of the world.

Many countries that have been severely affected by the coronavirus crisis have taken steps such as drastic lockdowns and strict travel restrictions. Citizens were ordered to stay inside and popular tourist spots such as Rome now seem deserted. Berlin and New York have set a limit for public gatherings, which is 50 people, to fend off the virus. A similar limit of 20 people has been imposed in New Delhi.

Italy’s government has ordered shutdowns across the country after the confirmed cases surpass 41,000. The UK government has been reluctant in adopting such strict measures, and schools, restaurants, and pubs are still open in London. Sports events such as Bundesliga have been shut down until further notice. 

The coronavirus (COVID-19) has travelled to more than 165 countries including India. The efforts of the Indian government in curbing the pandemic from spreading have been applauded worldwide. Schools, colleges, and movie theatres have been shut down across the country. Citizens have been advised to self-quarantine at home. All passengers returning to India from international flights were screened to check for possible symptoms of the virus. Everyone has been advised to follow social distancing, which drastically reduces the chances of the virus spreading further. 

All universities across India have been closed due to the coronavirus crisis. Teachers of Delhi University are permitted to work from home alongside which online classes for students are also being conducted. Study material is provided to students on a weekly basis, and the varsity has been shut till 31st March 2020. Students were also asked to vacate the campus, and many PGs adopted the same measure and asked students to leave at the earliest. Tejasvi, a student of Lady Shri Ram College opined: “The pandemic will be more widespread if necessary measures are not taken now, and at a personal level, all w can do is practice social distancing and washing our hands after returning home.” 

Feature image credits- NBC News

Suhani Malhotra

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“….. death of D.E.M.O’Cracy, mourned by his wife T. Ruth, his son L.I. Bertie, and his daughters- Faith, Hope and Justice”- read an anonymous advertisement in The Times of India soon after the declaration of Emergency.

Back in 1975, the Opposition, led by Jayaprakash Narayan organized a nationwide satyagraha against the then Prime Minister- Mrs Indira Gandhi, the response: Article 352 stamped over the political fabric of India, a stamp that sealed voices but not dissent. The fumes of Emergency engulfed the 25th day of June in 1975.

The Emergency brought about a buffet of special powers, from custodial deaths to press censorship; all cuisines were available, with draconian measures as the suggested garnishing. The buffet lasted for two years i.e. till 1977. But an irony- the common people failed to savour democracy for a long time.

When George Orwell said, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear,” no one could fathom that Orwell was the Nostradamus of Indian Politics, and a basic democratic hue. Liberty would have dust patted over it. The Constitution’s claims of imparting Freedom of Speech and Expression, transitioned into a lie as the leaders and workers of the Opposition parties were arrested early in the morning. Furthermore, protests, strikes, and public agitations were disallowed. Strangulation of the Constitution had begun.

Media houses underwent a serious backlash as journalism came under the radar. Prior approval for all material to be published by newspaper was now a prerequisite. This was regarded as the violation of Article 19, while some defended the stance on Article 19(2). The demarcation and categorisation of events and facts remain a personal choice; however, the cutting off of electricity to all newspaper presses at 2:00 a.m. on 26th June 1975 is a fact to behold. The Prevention of Publication of Objectionable Matter Act of 1976 was another wave that hit the media. While the living document was being moulded according to events, dissent remained pristine – magazines like the Seminar and Mainstream chose not to submit to censorship and hence, closed down. Eminent newspapers like the Indian Express and the Statesman left blank spaces where news items had been censored.

On April 1976, the Constitution was virtually vandalized. The Supreme Court accepted the Government’s plea, which gave way to the Government to take away the Right to Life and Liberty. Preventive detentions were turned into arbitrary tools, custodial deaths and torture surfaced and resurfaced. Sanjay Gandhi’s involvement in demolitions and forced sterilisation were not merely controversial but unconstitutional. The common man suffered for days and the importance of civil liberties imparted through the Constitution became evident.

The Shah Commission of 1977 translated as a litmus test to the excesses. The magnitude of damage to the Constitution was deciphered. The Commission estimated that nearly one lakh, eleven thousand, people were arrested under preventive detention laws. It mentioned that the General Manager of Delhi Power Supply Corporation received verbal orders from the office of the Lt. Governor of Delhi to cut electricity to all newspaper agencies, restoration of electricity paved way two to three days after the censorship apparatus was set up. Displacement, relocation and sterilization scarred many lives.

After a long wait, 1977 reopened the gates of democracy. It was not only a moment to rejoice but a moment to reflect upon the past. Not only did citizens realize the value of the Constitution but also unravelled its ambiguities. Emergency was imposed on the grounds of ‘internal disturbance’ which was an enigmatic statement in itself. Emergency could now be proclaimed on the pretext of ‘armed rebellion’. It brought upon the realisation that the Constitution is a living document, and yet, has flaws dawned upon the citizens of the Nation. The 42nd Amendment was a shockwave as it was intended to be intransient in nature. The chaos and anarchy of 1975 amalgamated into the ‘first revision test’ of the Constitution that the Nation took. And similar to every surprise test, shock and realisation came hand-in-hand.

Image Credits: Countercorrents

Priyanshi Banerjee

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