Are we guilty of furthering new stereotypes whilst breaking others? This piece aims to scrutinise the methodology that we succumb to, during deconstructing stereotypes and consequently ending up reinforcing them in other forms.

When someone sets to dilute a certain form of stigma or stereotype, and alights to stimulate another form of it, their arguments and causes stand contradictory, and their motives, hypocritical. Although it is mainly unconscious, but aren’t we against the set narrative of the very notion that constitutes becoming an unconscious state of the mind, in the first place?

It is well-established that it’s really hard to counter narratives which are already set and accepted as norm, to begin with. The standardisation of beauty is one such example. Obsessed with a certain body type, people find themselves ensnared in insecurities to suit the needs of what the society deems to be perfect. However while supporting and accepting your own body type if someone finds for themselves to actually have a certain other body type which is not their ‘natural orientation’ but because they want to and not for the eyes of society, would it be justified to call them out for this? If owning up to who we truly are and what we really want to be is the goal, then why should one be recipient of flak for doing whatever and chosing however to live with their bodies? It’s rather complex to decipher why people undergo surgeries or put on makeup or edit their pictures. It might be out of low self esteem or it might not be. It’s not default and rigid to look a certain way, with or without filters, so how can we stand judge of a person’s intention about themselves?

Another instance, is the notion of colour and representation. Colours are major contributors towards highlighting a certain symbolic message, like that of the national flag or traffic lights. An age old battle is that of the blue versus pink debacle, which is in association to that concept of gender which reeks of heteronormativity. While fighting this stereotype we often degrade the colour pink and shift focus from disassociation of colors with gender to superiority of a preferred colour and inferiority of another. Pink is a colour and anyone including the female population has the liberty to like it and embrace it without having to fear the judgements which generally follow.

Amidst the ongoing Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) debates, people have called out the government, but the line of reasoning can be questionable at times. Saying that an ‘uneducated, illiterate, chaiwala’ can’t run the nation is not enough and highly classist and in disdain of the working class culture. Instead, problematic aspects of fascism, tyranny and communalism should form the basis for protesting and not the status of birth or class of work. Few forget that the Constitution of India gives the right to any individual irrespective of class, caste, gender or religion to contest in elections and serve in politics. It’s ignorant to make such remarks where one seems to be fighting the battle of inclusivity on the line of exclusion itself.

It would be ideal if we could exercise sensitivity while raising concerns. Whatever we say might offend someone but that shouldn’t stop us from speaking, it should also not, in turn, stop us from employing a critical approach in terms of what forms the basis of our arguments while fighting stereotypes. Let us foster an environment which allows us to live unapologetically, just as we are, while being respectful of others as they do the same.

Feature Image Credits: Pinterest 

Umaima Khanam

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Tired of romantic clichés? Want to savour jealousy, vengefulness, passion, and imagination? If your answer to these questions is- yes! Then Wuthering Heights is your one stop book destination. We bet it has more plot twists than your college life.

1.Humans are complex

Wuthering Heights has a theme that resonates time and again, screaming through the pages and chapters, warning the readers about the superficial extent of knowledge about a person that can have lethal consequences.

Be it Mr. Lockwood’s perception about Heathcliff, or Heathcliff’s love for Isabella or Linton’s blooming feelings for Catherine. It is a tricky business! Remember when Lockwood said, “He’ll love and hate equally under cover?” Lockwood must be dreading his own words in Chapter 33.

Didn’t you clench your heart when young Catherine was called by her uncle in the most hospitable manner ever? She thought of Heathcliff as a kind gentleman, but readers knew much more. Emily Brontë did not only want to get her readers to the edge of their seats but also had a lesson to teach. Humans can be complex, their psychological realms can resemble a spider’s web, so don’t be that fly!.

2.Man is a result of his situations- maybe (not)?

You’re lying if you couldn’t help but think how different Edgar Linton and Hindley Earnshaw were! Two loving husbands, death parting them from their wives. The difference- one turns to drinking, the other turns to his daughter. While Hindley turns to a lunatic, finding refuge in alcoholism, Edgar turns out as a loving father. The difference percolates through the generations and leaves imprints on the union of their children. (did we spill all the beans?)

“I used to draw a comparision between him and Hindley Earnshaw….They had both been fond husbands, and were both attached to their children; and I could not see how they shouldn’t both have taken the same road, for good or evil…Linton, on the contrary, displayed a true courage of loyal and faithful soul”

Now, one cannot ignore the fact that Hareton Earnshaw and Catherine Linton akin to Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw. Heathcliff and Hareton find shelter but fail to find familial love. But there is a difference, Heathcliff’s urge for love resembles tumultuous flames but Hareton’s love resembles rain after petrichor. Hareton amalgamates his wild spirit to his soothing love for Catherine. Heathcliff realizes this perfect balance that Hareton creates and makes Heathcliff realize his mistakes, (maybe) even turning him towards repentance. But one wishes if Hareton could lecture Heathcliff and force him to take down notes.

3. Love is a domestic affair- literally and very literally!

The love between siblings is not the usual hair-pulling and eye-scratching we can relate to! The Earnshaw siblings have a unique attachment which, even compelled Catherine to detach herself from Heathcliff. The Linton siblings have an unbreakable bond as well. Even when Isabella marries Heathcliff, Edgar’s isolation from Isabella is grave, but merely verbal. 

“It is out of the question my going to see her, however: we are eternally divided.

There is underlying concern and affection which is evident and highlighted when Edgar brings Linton Heathcliff after Isabella meets her end.

Incest reverberates time and again throughout the novel. Many critics argue that Heathcliff was Catherine’s foster brother and hence “suggests that an unconscious incest taboo impended Heathcliff and Catherine’s expectation of a normal sexual union”

As the plot unfolds, cousins share romantic relationships as Catherine and Linton marry, and later Catherine and Hareton unite. It might make some readers uncomfortable; however, Brontë weaves a story that focuses more on the turmoil of feelings than looking at the family tree.

4. It is not just a love story!

NEVER! NEVER tell a Wuthering Heights enthusiast that the plot is “only about a love story”. You might end up getting physically injured. (not kidding)

Brontë shows how love has other transcending emotions of envy, agony and betrayal. The novel seems to whisper- “How much love is too much love?” Is the failure of a romantic union capable to allow the usage of innocent lives as pawns in the ‘revenge game’? Such questions will make you scratch your head, the worst part- Brontë leaves these questions unanswered.

5. It’s complicated

Catherine and Heathcliff are in love, but Catherine marries Edgar Linton. Heathcliff marries Isabella Linton- his long lost love’s sister-in-law; his wife’s son marries her brother’s daughter; Catherine’s daughter marries her brother’s son. Are beads of perspiration rolling down your forehead already?

Do we still have to tell you to grab a copy of Brontë’s first and only published novel? Get your reading glasses and delve into one of the best gothic novels ever written.

Feature Image Credits: Priyanshi Banerjee for DU Beat

Priyanshi Banerjee

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This piece talks about the pressures of being with someone, that Valentine’s Day imposes and how to be kind to yourself during this time.

It is ‘that time of the year’ when couples are running to buy gifts, or planning something special to do. Restaurants and cafes, like Diggin, are decorated with cutesy hearts, danglers, polaroid pictures, sweet notes and balloons. Zomato, Swiggy and others will start offering themed one-plus-one discounts for couples. That one couple who has been together for almost a decade will post hashtag couple goals stories.

But it’s incorrect to reduce the idea of Valentine’s Day to just these things. Many of us are single, separated, divorced. Many of us have different choices and identity preferences. The ‘sadness’ attached to not being with someone is what we have been conditioned to feel. Valentine’s Day can often make us nostalgic for our previous relationship and remind us of our breakup. This one day is less dedicated to couples but, is more of a dread to those who are not with someone.

Differing from those who show pity, I will talk about breakups and how to not succumb to the nostalgia. Fluffy red pillows all over malls, almost as if these were red alerts, raising an alarming reaction about how you do not have someone to buy one for you. You do not really want someone to buy this for you, but, the pressure of not having someone.. feels incomplete. Feeling lonely, unloved, low and how you are missing out on something so important- your other half. The rom-coms flooding Netflix, during this time, will only remind you of how ‘everyone’ at this age has someone. Flashbacks of your sweet moments will return at random moments.

Moving on is hard and very often people use one of the two ways to do so. The first is full of unhealthy, temporarily satisfying and regressive ways. This includes calling or hooking up with your ex, sober or drunk. Entering several relationships successively to avoid feeling lonely. Making attempts to get back together with your ex, despite sufficient red flags asking you to walk the other way. The second is rare and slow, but healthy and helpful in the long run. It involves taking some time off to heal, accept, learn and grow. Due to the compulsions of being with
‘someone’, we make the mistake of viewing things with a biased lens.

Firstly, on how everyone in a relationship is necessarily happy. We only focus on what we see, and people only post the best, filtered, and happiest moments. The fights and struggles of being with someone are hidden behind. Secondly, the idea that the only way to feel loved, is to have a romantic partner should be challenged. Many forms of love exist, you’ll find some qualities in a friend, some in your parent or sibling. Thirdly, after someone is gone, there is a void that exists. But now you get to invest that time in things you want to do. Fourthly, you learn many things from the experience of any relationship. You see what your likes and expectations are, you do not depend on external sources of validation, you learn to spot the red flags and, you know what your worth is.

Lastly, you’ll learn to build your own support system. Your priority often centers around the person you’re in a relationship with. This comes at a cost, where you lose out on older connections. This is your chance to reconnect with those. But also, to spend that time with your friends and family.

But if not any of this, make this day about yourself. Maybe you have been working too hard lately, maybe you haven’t taken a holiday in a while, and maybe you have not stopped for a second to look back at your efforts and achievements. If not with someone else, you deserve one good day to yourself feel special. Once in a while, it’s good to be reminded of your intelligence, strength and efforts, and who better to do all these things than you and your loved ones?

In the end, one thing you should know is that it is okay to be single. Spend this day with someone special, just define your own idea of who is special. Reconnect with a school friend, go out with your parents, watch a movie alone, or even make dinner plans with a classmate. As Christina had said to Meredith, “you are the sun” and its time that you redefine aspects of your life according to your own terms. And to those who do, more strength to you.

Featured Image Credits: DU Beat Archives

Shivani Dadhwal
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In conversation with Ms Susmita Das, Physics PhD student, University of Delhi (DU), to decode the struggles of pursuing science research in contemporary India. Her specific area of research is Astronomy and Astrophysics, with broader emphasis on variable stars that is, stars that change their brightness over detectable periods of time.

Image Credits: Manav Ahuja for DU Beat
Image Credits: Manav Ahuja for DU Beat

Chhavi: Science for the longest time had been a predominately male field, so, from Class 11th, where you first made the decision to pursue it, were there any struggles you faced as woman? Either from family or people in your close proximity?

Susmita: No, in that sense I feel very fortunate. We are a family of three daughters and my parents have always pushed us towards education. My family has been very encouraging. From my friends and professors, I haven’t felt any gender discrimination throughout my academic career, whether it be during school, bachelor’s, master’s or even now during research. In fact, I’ve been extremely motivated by my high school Physics teachers, Mrs. Bratati Roy Choudhury and Mr. P. C. Sarkar, among many others to pursue a career in Physics.

Chhavi :That’s so great.

Chhavi: Even in fields of science, there has always been a stereotype where astrophysics is not considered a women centric field, like most people pursue medical as one. Does that stereotype still exist and have you faced that?

Susmita: I wouldn’t say it’s a predominantly male centric field because there have been a few pioneers in astronomy who are women. As an example in the field of my research, we have a very important period-luminosity relationship which has been named after Henrietta Leavitt. However, there are few women if you compare the numbers. Of course, the institutes all over the world try to bridge the number gap between men and women nowadays- so it’s a very good time for women to be in science! A very interesting fact here is that we have the Astronomical Society of India and the current president of ASI is Dr. G. C. Anupama, a woman from IIA. It’s a female president leading the Astronomical Society of India right now, which is inspiring in itself!

Chhavi: Astronomy consists of night observations, field trips and much more that might hamper your safety. Have there been any measures to make it a more female friendly field in general?

Susmita: So, the thing about night observations is that you’re usually provided in-campus accommodation, so if you have any observation scheduled for the night, you also have the accommodation close by. And it is the same for both males and females wherever we go. However, suppose we are doing general PhD work (not night observations), say right here in Delhi University, maybe carrying out analysis in our data. When it’s night, you know it’s time to go back to the hostel, even though you may be in the momentum of getting some good work done. But then again, this is more the issue of whether we have out of campus accommodation or an in-campus accommodation. In institutes with in-campus accommodation, we wouldn’t have the constraint of leaving at say, 9PM from the lab.

Chhavi: Often women are discouraged for science research as it involves extensive years of study, and by that age they are expected to get married, with taunts like “Shaadikabkaroge?” have you faced that?

 Susmita: Yes, these questions are fairly common especially during family functions. More than my immediate family, it would be other people around generally asking this question. I’m very grateful to my parents- I’ve just turned 29 but they have never pushed me to get married. Of course, my mother enquires if I have a boyfriend, if it’s stable relationship-wise and so on; it helps to have a bestfriend in my mother in that aspect! I’m from Guwahati, Assam and I think it’s not just a special case for me- I’m sure my friends from back home would agree that the focus has always been primarily on education, irrespective of gender and there has never been a pressure to get married “early”.

Chhavi: How did you feel when people ask you this question; you did an observation and on the brink of something great and people just want to know when you’re getting married?

Sushmita: When people ask me, I usually smile politely and reply that I need to get my PhD done first because I don’t want my married life to be interfering with my studies. Of course, that’s my personal opinion- I wouldn’t necessarily say that getting married during PhD is a bad idea. I have many friends and seniors who had been married and also had children during the course of their PhD, while all the time managing their professional life really well. It all depends on the person in question and how comfortable she is in balancing the different aspects of her life.

Chhavi:How do you think young women should approach their parents, wanting a career where they spend their next 7-8 years in extensive research?

Susmita: I believe having a female role model who is relatable to your own life may help. She could be, in some way, the person who leads the path. It would also be much easier to share her story as an example to your parents to convince them that she has been so focused in her academics and she’s doing really well now on her own.

Chhavi: I agree, but don’t you think it’s time that parents encourage their daughters for science research?

Susmita: Yes, yes but I think this is also changing with time. Parents are becoming more accommodating with the age their daughter is expected to get married; they don’t push that hard. Also, it’s not the case of choosing either your personal or professional life, you can choose both and maintain both in balance. I think it’s very important to balance your life well, in general. Parents are very encouraging when it comes to academics but they also worry about the future stability of their daughter, which is quite expected. However, with the changing times, parents understand (and their daughters can convince them of this well) that a stable future does not necessarily come from marriage. It’s the education that has the power to provide their daughters a stable future. If young women were to focus more on their own education, it automatically paves to a path of a much secure future.

Chhavi: Talking about representation of women in Science. Which is the female role model  that you look up to or you were inspired by in the field?

Sushmita:All through childhood, I’ve been inspired by Marie Curie. My father is the kind of person who motivated me through biographies of female scientists and it started from Marie Curie. However, every child knows about Marie Curie and Einstein. But as you study deeper, you have so many more role models coming in. Like Henrietta Leavitt who has given us the period-luminosity relation or Jocelyn Bell Burnell who discovered the first radio pulsars, it’s so impressive. My role model keeps changing with time.

Chhavi: Now that you are part of this field, have you ever faced any kind of sexism?

Susmita: Personally no. but I have heard about female students who are PhD scholars and might not be very comfortable with professors. I have heard stories but personally I have not faced them.

Chhavi: What’s your opinion on the notion of “being beautiful takes away from your intelligence”?

Susmita: Do you remember the hashtag about women scientists? #distractinglysexy in response to the surprisingly sexist comment by Tim Hunt, a  Nobel Laureate. I believe the women in science came together wonderfully well in protest of his unfair opinion. I think it’s really unfair if you’re expected to choose one of the two options: that you can either dress well or work well. Over the last few years, I’ve met a few incredible women scientists who are also the most beautiful or well-dressed women I’ve ever met. I’m sure people with these stereopyed thoughts are more the exception, than the norm.

Chhavi: Adding to that, Have you ever faced that you won’t be taken serious, because you are beautiful?

Susmita: No, I don’t think so. I think that is also a very generalized notion. Sure, there may be cases where people assume but never confront. But again, I’m sure there would only be a handful of people who may not consider you smart only because you’ve dressed a certain way. Suppose you give a scientific talk in front of an audience from your research field, I’m sure they’d be more interested in the science aspect rather than how you’ve dressed. That way, I don’t think it’s ever been a case.

Chhavi: What is that one big factor that you would everybody consider when they are with science as a career, especially young women who want to be a part of this field? What is one thing they should keep in mind?

Susmita: Throughout my PhD life, all I’ve learnt is that you have acceptances and rejections from the multitude of applications and proposals you keep submitting. It’s always a ride of success and failure. Of course, when you have a successful application, you are really happy and then the rejection gets you down. So, the thing is through the ups and downs, you need to keep your calm because it all averages out. We may also have many more rejections than successful applications but we shouldn’t lose hope during those times. That’s what I keep telling myself, every time I get a rejection letter. I try to think about all the successful applications I’ve had so far to keep my motivation up.

11th February is recognised as International Day of Women and Girls in Science by UN Women and UNESCO. To celebrate the integral role of women in Science and Technology, DU Beat had the privilege to interview Mrs Richa Kundu, currently pursuing PhD from Department of Physics and Astrophysics, University of Delhi.

Image Credits: Surbhit Rastogi for DU Beat.
Image Credits: Surbhit Rastogi for DU Beat.

Avni: You’re doing PhD in Science and Research, what were your qualifications prior to this that got you here?

Richa: I did my Masters, MSc in Physics from Delhi University only. Then I cleared the NET JRF Exam, which is for the fellowship. Initially, I was a Junior Research Fellow and was funded by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), MHRD and two years later, I was promoted to Senior Research Fellow.

Avni: 11th February is known as International Day of Women and Girls in Science, do you feel giving this name to a particular date, benefits women out there and promotes this area?

Richa: All that can definitely help, but to promote such things, women should actually be encouraged, because when I was in MSc., 70% of my class was female students, but as I went through Masters, I felt that mostly men are there as women in India are actually not really encouraged to pursue further research, most of my female classmates from MSc are teachers right now. After a particular age, there’s society and family pressure and they are discouraged from pursuing further studies. That mindset should change and giving a day won’t change that. Making people aware and treating women equally are the kinds of things that will change things.

Avni: There definitely exists gender disparity in your field, how have you been able to cope-up with it or manage it so far?

Richa: Personally, I haven’t encountered any such thing but I get a lot of international exposure, so I don’t see these things on international platforms, but if we consider India only, we can say that this is true for India as there’s a taboo that women should get married and have children, so the main thing is to change the point of view of people. Personally, I haven’t encountered any such thing as I am also married. I got married last year during my PhD and my in-laws and family are very supportive of my studies. I have to go to Chile for the next 10 months and my family is perfectly fine with it.

Avni: What are you currently working on in your research?

Richa: I am working on the extra-tidal region of stellar clusters. Stellar clusters are made up of thousands of stars that seem like a single star in the night sky. All the stars in a cluster were formed at the same time typically 12-13 billion years ago.

Avni: What are your plans after you complete your PhD?

Richa: I don’t have a set goal, but I have two things in mind. After this, I will apply for teaching jobs, but if I don’t get one, given the situation of India right now, I will apply for postdoctoral somewhere out of India to gain experience.

Feature Image Credits: Manav Ahuja for DU Beat

Interview by Avni Dhawan and Chhavi Bahmba 

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Transcribed by Aishwaryaa Kunwar

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With the Delhi Assembly Elections today, we take a look at elections from an economic point of view, focusing on the money spent by candidates on political campaigning.

“For fifty years, we have been trained to believe that elections are a matter of life and death,” sternly opined Asaduddin Owaisi, a veteran Lok Sabha Legislator, in an informal interview with ScoopWhoop Unscripted, a month before the National Elections last year.

Though Mr Owaisi might have taken a few hyperbolic liberties while making this particular statement, one cannot deny the fact that elections are extremely significant moments in time in the history of any democracy, impacting the Nationwide dynamic and Government policies for the next few years, as well as fulfilling the political aspirations of successful candidates, and collapsing those of unsuccessful ones.

Every election sees the birth of a future leader or the rise of an existing one. Once in a while, more so in recent years, it also sees the fall of a stalwart. With such a prominent amount of reputation and power at stake, candidates standing in elections leave no stone unturned in ensuring that the majority of voters press their symbol on the ballot, spending enormous amounts of time and funds on election campaigning.

India’s Lok Sabha Elections in 2019 were deemed to be one of the world’s most expensive elections with an estimate of over INR 50,000 crores spent on electoral campaigning by parties and candidates across the Country. According to a study by the Delhi-based Centre for Media Studies (CMS), India’s election expenditure has risen six times since 1998, with the majority of the amount being spent on publicity campaigns. Costs include money spent on roadshows, billboard advertisements, television advertisements, social media campaigns, constituency tours, rallies, and music videos to name a few.

In fact, in the run-up to the 2020 Delhi Assembly Elections, the AAP Government introduced numerous freebies in the form of subsidies in electricity charges, free bus rides for women and removal of development fees for new water connections. The opposition leaders in the State questioned the economic viability of these recent freebies.

Besides these costs, parties also resort to illegitimate means of attracting votes, with reports of candidates distributing cash, clothes, land, smartphones and sometimes even alcohol to voters. The CMS study reports that around INR 15,000 crores in cash were distributed among voters in the 2019 National Elections.

This leads us to one question. Is all the money worth it?

It is no rocket science that, what matters is the appeal and reputation of the candidate, not the amount of money spent by the candidate and that on an average, a candidate with a favourable image shall garner a significant amount of votes regardless of the money spent by him/her.

The answer to this question exists in contrast. While the kindness of the world would have us believe that money does not matter, yet experience says otherwise.

Out of the humongous INR 50,000 crores spent in the Lok Sabha Elections last year, almost half of the costs were incurred by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who won by a comprehensive margin. But would a less expensive campaign have given them a less favourable result? We shall not know as long as there is not a detailed analysis of Indian elections and voting practices. But what we know is that as long as the voters of this country do not fall prey to political gimmicks and publicity campaigns, and instead decide to press a particular symbol on a ballot based on a thorough review of the candidate’s performance in the last five years, the essence of democracy and integrity shall remain intact.

Delhi Assembly Elections 2020, will be a test of heavy campaigning versus ideology. It will also answer many questions regarding the future discourse of Delhi and the political discourse of the Country. The current Chief Minister (CM), Arvind Kejriwal, won a ravishing majority in the past elections despite heavy campaigning by BJP. However, a new wave of social media campaigning, tremendous on- ground marketing had engulfed the Lok Sabha Elections. This wave might drown the Delhi Elections as well.

Feature Image Credits: The Statesman

Araba Kongbam

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 NOTA or ‘None of the above’ is a ballot option that a voter can opt for if he or she is dissatisfied with the contesting candidates. The role of NOTA in India’s context can hold considerable importance if implemented constructively. 


None of the above, or NOTA for short, is a ballot option that allows the voter to not vote for any candidate, indicating disapproval of the contesting candidates. In India, NOTA was first introduced in 2013 to Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in a State Assembly Election. India was the 14th country to introduce the ballot option of NOTA.  

Greece and Spain use the term ‘white vote’ to refer to NOTA, and in Argentina, it is called a blank vote. There are some countries that do not offer the voters the option of NOTA, but they choose to develop creative methods. For instance, Serbia did not have the option of NOTA, but a NOTA party was formed which won a seat with 22,000 votes. 

The option was introduced to encourage a high voter turnout. NOTA carries no arithmetic value and is considered a neutral or invalid vote which does not change the outcome of the election process. Former Chief Election Commissioner, OP Rawat, clearly stated that our country lacked the legal framework to implement NOTA and it would take about 100 years for NOTA to result in something meaningful.  Aayushi Sharma, a student of Jesus and Mary College said, “NOTA may seem like a good option to a few, but our country does not provide any concrete solution if NOTA gets the highest share of votes.” 

According to the existing rules, if in a constituency, NOTA gets the highest number of votes, the candidate with the next highest share becomes the winner. However, in November 2018, Maharashtra State Election Commissioner had passed an order claiming re-election if NOTA got the highest share of votes.  

This also brings into question how the electoral system followed in India can render NOTA votes as redundant or ineffective as a method of expressing disapproval at all the contesting candidates. India follows the First-past-the-post voting system, which, in the simplest of terms dictates that the candidate who gets the highest number of votes in a constituency wins the election. This applies if the candidate has won by a landslide in their constituency or even if they win by a hairbreadth, they will still get the seat.

Before getting into how this system theoretically renders NOTA ineffective, a look needs to be taken at how it affects the minorities of our country in getting adequate representation in Parliament. As this system does not give any importance to the total votes of the party but on how individual candidates have performed in their respective constituencies.  For example, in the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) got 37.36% of the vote but their seat share was much more at 303 while Indian National Congress (INC) with around 19% of the votes only had 52 seats. Similarly, Trinamool Congress with 4.07% of the votes had 22 seats while Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) had more seats (24) with just 2.26% of the total votes.

This system ensures that minorities in India which are widely spread throughout the country do not get adequate representation within the electoral system. It also renders NOTA vote as ineffective in all cases, as these votes are reduced to a mere symbolic representation of disapproval of all candidates and does not carry any real change. The idea suggested by Maharashtra State Election Commissioner while a step in the right direction will only be put in play in a very rare scenario where NOTA gets the highest share of votes. The Indian electoral system needs major overhauls to bring NOTA votes into play. To provide adequate minority representation and to preserve India as the world’s largest democracy.


Feature Image Credits: DNA India

Suhani Malhotra

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Prabhanu Kumar Das

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Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) recently revealed a survey done on around 700 ad-hoc teachers, highlighting their demographic profiles and working conditions to revalidate ‘One-Time Absorption’ as the only way to alleviate the young teachers and their conditions. 


In a press statement released on 5th February 2020, DUTA revealed information about the demographic profiles and working conditions of the ad-hoc teachers of the University. According to the survey, over 4500 teachers at the University of Delhi are working on an ad-hoc or temporary basis, as permanent appointments haven’t taken place in over a decade. All the ad-hoc teachers fulfil the minimum eligibility criteria as per UGC regulations. 80% have higher qualifications and 88% are NET qualified. Nearly half the respondents have worked in one institution – this suggests that institutions are satisfied with the performance of the teachers and are benefitting from the contributions these teachers make to the academic and corporate life of the institutions. The data also shows that most Ad-hoc teachers are only able to pursue academic activities at great cost – without any leave or only during vacations, and nearly 25% are unable to pursue any academic activity at all.   


“Recruitment was done sporadically in two brief periods, first in 2014-15 and then in 2017, in few colleges/departments. The recruitment process, which started because of a High Court Order of December 2016, was brought to a complete halt because of the 5 March 2018 UGC notification for the implementation of Department/Subject-wise roster. It took over a year for the issue to get resolved. However, meanwhile, all advertisements for permanent appointments over 2700 posts lapsed. The change in screening criteria and recruitment process as per UGC Regulations 2018 now threatens the prospects of a vast majority of these teachers,” the Statement read. 


The ad-hoc teachers have the same qualifications as permanent teachers- fulfilling all the requisite academic qualifications like NET/JRF, M Phil, PhD, Post-doctorate etc. from prestigious Universities of India and abroad, and having teaching experience for years- and perform the same functions in their colleges and institutions as permanent teachers, and still, are denied job security. They receive no facilities like annual increments, medical benefits, maternity leaves, etc. and the duration of their tenure depends largely on the whims of the administration of their institutions, as stated by the press release. “This is also reflected in the findings as women constitute 57% of the workforce and most of them are either unable to plan their families or face extreme hardship during their pregnancies. Many are forced to leave their job – this is not reflected in the survey as only those who were able to get back their job figure in the survey.”


DUTA and the University’s teachers have been agitating for over 2 months now to press for demands related to their service conditions, including pensions, promotions, and permanency in jobs, claiming that these policies stand in stark violation of not only the Statutes and Ordinances of the University of Delhi but also of UGC Regulations which have stipulated maximum 10% for such vacancies and also go against the spirit of various court judgements and violates the fundamental rights of the affected teachers including the right to equal wage for equal work. “Various State Governments have initiated such processes of regularization for teachers in their State Universities through notified executive orders. Even the Government of NCT, Delhi, through the Governing Bodies in the colleges maintained by the Delhi Government, has shown willingness towards the process of regularization: many of these Governing Bodies have passed resolutions recommending a one-time absorption of all working temporary/ad-hoc teachers which now needs sanction from the UGC and the MHRD. In 2009, the UGC had asked Universities/Institutes to absorb UGC Research Scientists working in the units.


Today, when over 50% population is below the age of 25 years, it is important to strengthen public funded educational institutions. Infrastructure development and maintaining adequate teachers’ number are essential for quality education. It is important that University and its colleges, which serve lakhs of students from across the country, are stabilized through permanent faculty,” DUTA said. 


DUTA recommends that the UGC should frame a specific Regulation as a one-time measure for the absorption of the temporary/ad-hoc teachers in the University: a provision for teachers to be absorbed against vacancies which are approved and earmarked according to the DoPT Reservation Roster for teaching positions. Their ongoing struggle has led to the MHRD to recognize that no adhoc teacher be removed until permanent recruitment is done.


Feature image credits: Satviki Sanjay for DU Beat

Shreya Juyal

[email protected]



 The english language is full of paradoxes and divisive nuances. Something as small as a comma can cost a company millions, and yet, the same may not even be recognised by the consumers. We look into possible causes behind this.


“Eats, shoots and leaves.”

“Eats shoots and leaves.”

What differs in the sentences above is not just a comma but also the same words taking on an entirely different paradigm in meaning. Anyone who feels that punctuation is only for grammar nerds is under serious misconceptions, as can be reiterated through the infamous “Let’s eat Grandma” example. Punctuation doesn’t pertain only to grammar enthusiasts; it’s a necessity that demands seriousness to save money and embarrassment. When language was primarily spoken, pauses during speech indicated what the comma signifies in written pieces. Most grammar rules are acknowledged worldwide, sparing one which has been a bone of contention between several linguists: the Oxford comma.

The Oxford or serial comma, is the additional comma that follows after ‘and’ as well as ‘or’ in a list of more than 3 items. Many style guides abhor the use of this punctuation mark: The Economist, The New York Times, and AP (the style guide most newspapers follow). However, others like the Chicago Style Manual recognise its importance. In recent years, the Oxford comma has formed a niché for itself in popular culture and has increasingly found usage in modern day writings. Although it’s considered stylistic and unnecessary by many, the tiny mark carries immense significance in removing ambiguity and establishing fact. Supporters of the serial comma demand it to be made mandatory, especially after a court ruling that penalised the lawmakers who overlooked its applicability. In a hotly debated case from March 2017, a court in Maine, USA, charged a dairy to pay $10 million to five truck drivers. The sentence that resulted in this controversial ruling was:

“The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:

  1. Agricultural produce
  2. Meat and fish items
  3. Perishable foods”

The questions that arise from this statement are multiple, including whether or not packing for shipment was distinct from distribution, and if it was indeed overtime pay exempt. Addressing these questions, the judge ruled in favour of the truck drivers, and maintained that without the comma the distinction was not clear. The dairy had to pay an estimated amount of $10 million to the five truck drivers, as they were included in the overtime pay as per the judge’s ruling.

Similar errors have surfaced because of the absence of an oxford comma. But there have also been instances where the Oxford comma doesn’t exactly help in removing ambiguity. The article headline, “Encounters with Nelson Mandela, an 800-year-old demigod and a dildo collector”, has successfully put Nelson Mandela’s reputation at stake. But an Oxford comma may not have solved it either. It’s best if such sentences are rephrased and reordered to avoid miscommunication and unnecessary inconvenience to the reader.

The English language is full of nuances and dichotomies. With the supporters for the comma growing, it’s advisable to recognise it despite its apparent downside. At least this way, next time, a lawmaker would not be held responsible for costing his company millions of dollars for vehemently refusing to add a comma where it was required.


Feature Image Credits: CNN


Vijeata Balani

[email protected]

According to a 2012 Lancet report, India has one of the highest suicide rates across the world for youth aged 15-29.

The reason for this is primarily the high cost associated with personal counselling sessions by professional psychologists. The stigma attached with resorting to professional facilities is another reason why students prefer easily accessible and cheaper methods. The following is a non-exhaustive list of sources that students can avail for free, or at very nominal rates-


  • The Delhi University Women’s Association (DUWA) offers counselling services ?through a toll-free helpline number(1800-3000-7303), where individuals can contact them from Monday-Friday, between 3 to 5:30 p.m. Students can also write to them at [email protected], the response to which would be delivered within 48 hours. The Mind Body Centre wing of DUWA also offers one-on-one counselling sessions to faculty members and female students, for an annual fee of 50 rupees. An appointment for the same can be booked by calling at 27667742.
  • Ehsaas, the psychotherapy clinic at Ambedkar University, Delhi, offers psychotherapeutic support for free to students and individuals out of AUD too. You can reach out to their psychologists and psychiatrists at [email protected]
  • Sanjivini Society for Mental Health: It is a non-profit organization that offers free counselling services since 1976. People with problems who seek intervention in their stressful lives can interact with the counsellors, who come from different educational backgrounds. The organisation has two main units- the crisis intervention centre and the rehab centre. The former unit aims to provide confidential psycho-social counselling, while the latter is a full time therapeutic facility for people with chronic illnesses. You can contact them at- 24311918/ 24318883(available between monday to friday).
  • You’re Wonderful project: This student-run organisation aims to reach out to people who are succumbing to depression or showing signs of a stressful lifestyle. It advocates the importance of mental health and is open to answering queries on their multiple virtual platforms. Though not a substitute to medical professionals, it acts as a supplement and guide to help students and individuals deal with mental health issues.
  • College level counsellors: A lot of colleges within DU have an in-house counsellor that offers counselling on issues other go beyond career. A few such colleges are- Daulat Ram College (open to students across DU), Miranda House, Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Jesus and Mary College, SRCC, Hansraj etc.

Online portals: If you want to avoid face-to-face sessions, online services like YourDost connect you to experienced counsellors and psychotherapists, whom you can talk to anonymously.


The stigma around mental illnesses is still so strong that most individuals are reluctant to seek external help. Mental health helplines can, however, bridge the gap between patients and professionals. If you are, or know someone who is feeling suicidal, contact the following helplines immediately:

Vandrevala Foundation- 1860-266-2345,

Aasra- 91-222-754-6669



Feature Image Credits:

Vijeata Balani

[email protected]

3Ds of hostel life: Discipline, Duty, Devotion. Hostel life isn’t just about the midnight Maggi and coffee. Life, there, is almost a parallel culture, an experience that takes you out of your comfort zone and exposes you to several experiences. It is a very memorable period in one’s life, but due to lack of knowledge or a casual attitude or just irresponsible behaviour, you may have problems of adjusting to the hostel environment, thus affecting your overall development. So watch your steps and hold yourself up carefully. Here are a few things you should not do when you are in a hostel: [caption id="attachment_51067" align="alignnone" width="300"]Hostel life can be tough, but it's fun too! Hostel life can be tough, but it’s fun too![/caption]

  1. First precaution: Don’t keep your money within easy reach!
There will be a lot of people visiting you, and you can’t point at a single person after a theft, should it take place. Better take precautions on this matter.
  1. Take care of your belongings
You aren’t at home anymore and you can’t let things like cell phones and laptops just lie around. In the same spirit, respect others’ belongings too.
  1. Do not use others’ things
Sharing may be a show of love, but it is also a show of bad manners. People have different needs. Are you sure you want to use their things, or allow them to use yours?
  1. Do not play loud music
Well, students have to maintain a regular study routine- you better consult others before playing loud music.
  1. Do not always speak your mind!
Just in case, remember that freedom of speech is not to be exercised anywhere and everywhere.
  1. Try not to break the rules of your hostel
Curfew time, hygiene and etiquettes are a few decrees of a disciplined hostel that must be upheld at any cost.
  1. Don’t be the late-night rustler
A rustling sound breaks the silence that finally descended in your room, right when you leaped off the bed and started performing a series of tasks, that too at the ungodly hour of 4 in the morning. [caption id="attachment_51068" align="alignnone" width="300"]Keep your room neat Keep your room neat[/caption]
  1. Don’t lounge with laundry
Hanging newly-washed laundry around the room, looping clothes around bedposts and stringing socks over the windowsill: enough!
  1. Do not keep the garbage in the room
Hostel rooms are usually tiny. In such an enclosed space, pages and packets littered around are a nuisance.
  1. Don’t keep weeping when you are homesick!
Keep in touch with your parents and try to adjust to the new place. A cry-baby does not give good vibes. The hostel is where you are adulting, so enjoy the stay and be responsible! Image credits: DU Beat, and Backpack and Bunkbeds Radhika Boruah [email protected]      ]]>