Vishakha Darbha


When winter turns to spring, the trees wake up from their cold slumber as tender leaves sprout from their fragile branches, adding colour to a body that stands like a bare canvas. The ground begins to thaw as life breathes through its pores, ready to face the onset of a new year. As we say goodbye to the three years that defined our outlook towards life, our branches shake off the protective layer of ice that kept us insulated from a world where we need to dig our roots deep into the soil, choosing our own paths and charting the course of our future.

With barely a month left for the final exams to begin, our third year comrades prepare their resumes and compile their academic transcripts together in the race to get into the next phase of this never-ending journey. Some choose to fill out innumerable applications and sit for overwhelming entrances, while others run around hoping to get their professors to write letters of recommendation, smoothing the obstacle course set by foreign universities. Yet another set of aspiring adults choose to begin their budding careers, and a significant bunch take a year or two off to brainstorm on where to channel their passion.

Not all of us have enjoyed these three years. Many wait for those dreaded exams to end, the close of an old chapter and an eager turn to the next page. DU is a waste of three years, the education system is below average, many of the professors can’t speak properly, and the infrastructure is pathetic. Warnings have always rained on the years of the delusional juniors. However, what we don’t realise is that behind the dilapidated, rusted exterior, we still have special moments. Moments when we run out of our class to visit the momo or bhel puri wala before he leaves, a quick snack between classes. Moments when we take part in a competition with our friends at a popular college’s fest and come back penniless due to all the food we ate for lack of anything to do. In other cases, when we outshine everyone else and hold the trophy in our hands, a reminder that no matter how big the stage is, school, college or life, the things we’re passionate about never leave us feeling less than satisfied. All the friends you make, the parts of your college that you cherish the most, the teachers that made classes memorable for you thanks to their teaching, or even their mispronunciations.

Growing up is never easy. It’s a constant headache as you wonder what’s in store for you. Yet the day you graduate, think of it as the time to let go of the past, and look ahead to your future. Cherish the memories you have created over the past three years, as these moments never come back.


Image Credits: Swadha Singh

India is known as a vibrant land, with its different cultures and varied ethnicities. Standing true to this is our country’s most colourful festival, Holi. With this eventful day just around the corner, be prepared to brandish that lethal pichkari at anyone who dares to attack you with a water balloon grenade.

Most people associate Holi with Holika Dahan, or the defeat of the demoness Holika. According to Hindu mythology, she was trying to kill Prahlad, the son of her brother, who was the almost indestructible king Hiranyakashyipu. An effigy of Holika is burnt on the eve of Holi as symbol of the triumph of good over evil.

Owing to the diversity of India, even festivals are not spared when it comes to celebrating them in unique ways. Initially restricted to the northern belt, over the years Holi has reached all parts of the country. As the festival traverses from one region to another, there are perceivable changes in the way it is played. In some cases, the name changes too. One such example is Rangpanchami, the name given to Holi in Maharashtra. As indicated by the name, people wait for the fifth day to apply colour on each other. It started out as an extremely popular festival amongst the fisher folk before spreading to the masses. Known as Shimgo in Goa, Holi indicates the arrival of spring. Playing with bright colours and water is often followed by a heavy meal consisting of a spicy chicken or mutton curry called Shagoti and sweets.

One of the most enthusiastic Holi celebrations can be seen in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. In some areas, men and women stand on two different sides, representing Krishna and Radha, and if a man is captured, he is made to dress like a woman and dance for everyone. In Haryana, Holi is usually a battle of the sexes. The Bhabhi or the brother’s wife gets to bully the Devar, or her husband’s younger brother. Things change slightly in Punjab, where it is given the name Hola Mohalla. This is an annual air, a practice that began during the time of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth sikh guru. Holi is celebrated over three days here, with activities such as Bareback horse riding, standing on two speeding horses, tent pegging, etc are seen as acts of valiance.

Basant Utsav refers to Holi in West Bengal. Here, holi is played with a lot more dignity, and is a symbol of the onset of spring. This is due to its inception by Rabindranath Tagore at Shantiniketan. Another version of Holi played in this region is Dol Purnima or the ‘Swing Festival’. Children dress up in Saffron and wear garlands while they dance to the beats of drums. Idols of Krishna and Radha are carried in a palanquin around the city, making for a colourful and joyous procession.

Holi, with Tamil Nadu celebrating a version called Kaman Pandigai, is the perfect indication of how not all South Indian states are spared from its spell. This festival is named after the lord Kaamadeva, or the god of love. The legend states that Shiva burnt Kaamadeva to ashes when he tried to shoot an arrow of love at him while he was mourning the death of his first wife Sati. Kaman Pandigai celebrates the rebirth of Kaama when Shiva realises his mistake and brings him back to life.

Whichever part of India you might live in, it is hard to escape the clutches of this highly energetic and addictive festival. If a bunch of cheeky kids attack you on your way to college, rendering you completely wet, don’t lose your cool. Bura na mano, Holi hai.

Picture Credits:

Vishakha Darbha

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The death of Mohammad Afzal Guru on 9th February 2013 caused an unprecedented stir within the different factions of the Indian society. A death sentence had been looming above his head ever since it was declared by a ‘Prevention of Terrorism Act’ court for his crucial role in the 2002 Parliament house attack. Eleven years later, the Kashmiri convict was sent to his death, opening a Pandora’s Box filled with debatable questions on the decision of ending his life.

Though most political parties are celebrating Afzal Guru’s death, the BJP further stating that it should have been done a lot earlier, a section of Kashmiris criticised the Indian government of discriminating against Kashmir and hurting its sentiments. When we look at death sentences issued in the past, notably that of Ajmal Kasab, most of the citizens didn’t bat an eyelid as the man who represented the monstrosity of 26/11 was taken to the gallows. However, what really gives one man, namely the president, to push aside pleas for clemency and condemn a man to his deathbed? One might blame it on public pressure, the chance to justify the deaths of millions, to hold up the pride of India and a multitude of other excuses. Afzal Guru’s death was riddled with controversy and protests, as he wasn’t even granted one last wish of seeing his family before his execution. On the other hand, we have a woman who was one of the masterminds behind Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination receiving life imprisonment instead of a death sentence, due to the mercy shown by India’s most influential woman, Sonia Gandhi. The death of convicts seems more like a political gamble rather than a true analysis of who deserves what form of punishment.

Drawing the line between what is considered ethical and what isn’t seems to be one of the toughest questions faced by this country. Despite the magnitude of the crime committed by Afzal Guru, jailers spoke of his pious nature and the change in his attitude as he spent his last few years in jail. A man well versed in both Hinduism and Islam, he claimed to have been dragged into the world of terrorism instead of willingly engaging in it. Before his demise, he said goodbye to his fellow inmates as he was taken away to be hanged. Comparing this behaviour to that of his past deeds, it is hard to draw the line between justice and mercy. Though the anger of the Kashmiri people and their representatives might be justified to an extent, while looking at the bigger picture one has to note that duty to the nation comes before showing sympathy to a man caught in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

Maybe Afzal Guru deserved to live, or maybe his death is the wakeup call that India sorely needed. Either way, there is no real answer to what sort of crime really deserves capital punishment. At the end, we are all just pawns being played in a big political game.

Photo Credits:

Vishakha Darbha

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Haruki Murakami, the award winning Japanese writer is known to twist your mind and transport you to a completely different world with his seemingly eccentric yet deeply metaphysical novels. Kafka on the shore is one of his works that does exactly that and more. With a combination of talking cats, unexplained UFO encounters, ghosts of people still alive and smatterings of sexual innuendo, Kafka almost puts you in a trace where a story that seems like a fairy tale has you wondering if it could actually come true.

Fifteen-year-old Kafka Tamura runs away from home after his mysterious father lays an oedipal curse on him. The dark omen consists of him murdering his father and sleeping with his mother and sister. He takes up residence in a small private library in the town of Shikoku, where extraordinary events unfold around him. A parallel story runs throughout the book, where an old man named Satoru Nakata has the ability to speak to cats after an unfathomable childhood accident that left him learning-disabled. His daily existence is simple and uncomplicated; Nakata survives on a ‘Sub city’ provided to him by the government and in addition to this, earns some extra cash and receives perquisites by finding lost cats. The two characters don’t cross paths, but their stories overlap on a symbolic and metaphysical level. While reading the book, you often question whether Nakata and Kafka are two sides of the same person.

Murakami succeeds in creating a story where the characters move through bizarre and unrealistic circumstances; yet treat these situations with nonchalance and at times even a slight indication towards expectancy. Despite the disturbing omen and the strange theme, once you delve deeper into the depths of this mindboggling adventure, you begin to believe in the surreal. The author manages to paint a landscape that consists of raining fish and leeches, but the perfect balance of humour and meaning given to such events is simply delightful.

A warning: If you enjoy stories that are straightforward and reach a solid conclusion, this book is definitely not for you. Take on the challenge of reading it only if you are ready to embark on a crazy adventure that will make you question your beliefs by the time you turn to the last page.

Les Miserables, a classic by Victor Hugo is a work of literature that has been adapted in spectacular ways on stage. Now the newest version is in the form of a movie, with Director Tom Hooper bringing the story to life with brilliant acting and a strong element of sentimentality that lingers with you long after the screen turns black.

Les Miserables narrates the tale of the peasant Jean Valijean (Hugh Jackman), whose crime was stealing a loaf of bread. A rigid upholder of the law, Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) vows to hunt Valijean down and the movie focuses on how these men go about living their lives in the years following the French revolution. The story also depicts the lives of the poor and ill-treated, strife with social inequalities and injustice in a period of political turmoil. Jean Valijean also promises a dying prostitute called Fantine (Anne Hathaway), whom he believes to have wronged that he will take care of her daughter (Amanda Seyfried).

What truly makes this film worth watching is the stellar performances by its cast. The songs are performed beautifully and never fail to leave the viewer with an accurate sense of the feelings experienced by the characters. Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe deliver remarkable performances as the re-born Valijean and the law abiding Javert, but the star of the show is undoubtedly Anne Hathaway. Her portrayal of a humiliated woman driven to the depths of despair can be felt by her heart breaking performance of I dreamed a dream. Strong emotions are etched across her face as her voice echoes with pain and anger, thus it isn’t surprising that most of the audience was moved to tears during this scene. Other performances like Valjean’s soliloquy by Jackman and On my own by Samantha Banks were also wonderfully performed, while Claude-Michel Schönberg’s music brought it all together with perfection.

The slimy Dickensian couple, Thenardier (Sasha Baron Cohen) and his wife (Helena Bonham Carter) add a dash of humour to a movie that is mostly serious and full of tear-inducing scenes. Carter does an excellent portrayal of a selfish and slightly eccentric woman, a role she seems best suited for in most Tim Burton films.

On the downside, some songs do fall flat and expressionless. The length of the movie doesn’t do much to appease those without a ear for music. Yet, you don’t have to be a diehard music enthusiast to enjoy this film. It is quite possibly one of the best musicals Hollywood has ever seen, with some moving performances and exceptional vocals. Les Miserables is definitely worth a watch, having the ability to make you believe in the power of hope as you walk out of the cinema hall.

Rating-4 out of 5.

The National Innovation Council and the National Informatics Centre is all set to launch a public lecture series on the National Knowledge Network (NKN) from Wednesday, 23rd January. The NKN is a multi gigabyte pan-India network that makes it possible to facilitate virtual classrooms across the country. Apart from classrooms; libraries, grid computing applications and various university researches can also be made available on a wider platform. Currently, NKN has connected over 900 nodes in India with a bandwidth of 1Gbps/ 100mbps.

The lecture series will be webcasted live from the Conventional Hall at the University of Delhi, from 10AM to 11:30AM. This Live webcast of the lecture can be streamed from It will begin with an introduction by Professor Dinesh Singh; the Vice Chancellor of DU. The lecture on ‘Democratising Information, Justice, Equality and the Rule of Law’ will be delivered by Professor Michael Sandel, from Harvard University, and Sam Pitroda, Adviser to the Prime Minister of India on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovation. The webcast will connect about 500 institutes across India, making it the first university lecture to take place on such a grand scale. The lecture will be followed by an interactive session, where students can pose their questions to the panel. Questions can also be submitted via twitter.

The month of February is host to Hollywood’s most coveted and star-studded event of the year-The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars. Celebrities walk down the prestigious red carpet, veterans basking in the brilliance of their successes while newcomers flock around in expensive gowns and tuxedos, eyes shining with the dream of being nominated in the future. However, looking beneath the glitzy surface, one can’t help but notice the politics and carefully selected patterns visible in the yearly choice of movies, actors and directors.

If the past 84 years were any indication, the movies that usually win the Academy awards are steeped in predictability and contain a truckload of clichés, while meritorious wins are few and far between. An award ceremony that goes on longer than the Lord Of The Rings trilogy combined, the much awaited awards are kept for the end when most people dream of curling up under a warm blanket and falling off to sleep. Apart from that, any slightly observant person will have the ability to notice that the movies that are usually nominated for the Oscar consist of gay men, a war-torn Afghanistan or Iraq, or a loveable character with some sort of mental disability. Forrest Gump, Milk, Hurt Locker, Rain man, Brokeback Mountain, And the most recent Argo, anyone?

Despite the fact that these movies are undoubtedly viewable, some even being good enough to be placed on the average movie lover’s list of top 50 movies to watch, this doesn’t change the fact that brilliant flicks such as Saving Private Ryan have lost out to the more safer option, Shakespeare in Love, in 1998. Ten years later, the trend continues with the highly overrated Slumdog Millionaire sweeping up 8 out of 10 Oscar nominations in 2008. It was indeed a proud moment for India, but considering the fact that there have been so many movies produced about Indians, for Indians and by Indians, one wonders how brilliant this movie would have been if it had been compared to others such as Salaam Bombay. Furthermore, it continues to emphasise strongly on how clichéd the Academy award nominations tend to get, with the stereotypical representation of India as one gigantic slum with loving people who base their lives on fate and destiny.

The Indian hype surrounding the Oscars is no less bizarre when we consider the quality of the movies sent in for review. Paheli, containing some ridiculous mumbo-jumbo about a ghost and his human lover was chosen over more powerful movies like Black in 2006 and Ekalavya, which deserved an award for humanity’s most wasted and boring 3 hours, was sent as India’s official entry for 2007. Regional films don’t even come close to being selected. As movies are also not spared, one does begin to wonder why everything has to have a political element attached to it.

As we sit down to view the much-awaited 85th Annual Academy Awards on the 24th of February, get ready to predict which movie has a chance at winning the prize at the world’s most overrated award ceremony. However, despite all its poorly disguised faults and politicized wins, the board definitely receives credit for its ability to attract the attention of people across the world to celebrate the irresistible power of entertainment.

The to-be-Delhi University students have a drastic change in store for them this admission season, with the authorities planning to scrap the cut-offs in the next academic session. As the four-year undergraduate system is all set to be launched, a common curriculum is most likely for all students in their first year.

Merit lists or maybe even an entrance exam might soon replace the dreaded cut-off lists that students watch out for every year. The only thing stopping the implementation of this system is the wait for the final approval from the academic council. However, the issue that arises here is the sheer number of applicants for the colleges in DU. Holding entrance tests for so many students in about 70 colleges is a mammoth task, and might get quite difficult to handle. “This doesn’t seem to be a very good idea, because entrances just increase pressure. The cut-offs were bad enough, now with entrance exams we have to worry about what to study and how to crack these tests just a few months after giving our boards,” says Sakshee, a school student currently in her final year.

Another change the officials want to bring about is the merging of the results from the different education boards across the country, giving individual colleges the ability to devise their own merit lists. Other internal changes might also be brought about, such as the scrapping of the marks given for attendance. However, these are just speculations and the truth will only be known closer to the admissions period. Until then, aspiring DU students anticipate the next avalanche waiting to crash over their heads, thanks to the University’s knack of throwing last minute shockers and its inability to make concrete decisions.


In the light of the horrific events that took place in New Delhi, causing it to earn the shameful title of the Rape capital of India, many protests and marches were organized to fight against the injustices faced by women across the nation. Keeping this in mind, an organization called Satyameva Jayate has been launched as a vehicle to give a voice to such women across the country. Not to be confused with the TV show of the same name, this organization aims at reaching out to the masses and giving a chance to women who have faced abuse in any form.

Satyameva Jayate is looking for women who are willing to narrate the story of their life and struggles. These stories are meant to deal with a woman’s daily life and the ordeals she faces in the Indian society. The privacy of the person who sends in the story will be respected, and the security of the bold women who are willing to open up to the public is of utmost importance. The organization is keen on taking the necessary steps in ensuring the safety of the participants as well as keeping the identity of the writers under wraps.

Send in your story to [email protected]. Even one story could be a stepping-stone for a revolution leading to much needed change.

2012 was a year that saw movies and music take an experimental and innovative twist in India. From Barfi’s subtle approach towards our society’s outlook on disability, to the recognition of many more bands and upcoming artists, last year seemed to be a ray of hope in an industry mostly monopolised by lewd item songs that consisted of women gyrating to pulsating beats. Despite these differences, the scenario doesn’t seem to have changed much, as the hero is still the policeman or roadside Romeo who thinks it is his birthright to pester and bully the girl of his dreams till she unwittingly falls in love with him.

The biggest sensation that emerged last year was the Punjabi rapper Yo Yo Honey Singh. From an underground artist who was barely recognised for his work, to producing chartbusters like Angreji Beat and Mai Sharabi, this self-proclaimed ‘international villager’ has taken the bollywood music industry as well as its dhol-loving audience by storm. His song ‘Brown Rang’, which refers to the tantalizing beauty of a chocolate-skinned woman that trumps the charms of a typical blue-eyed blond, was the most trending article on YouTube by Indian viewers. Honey Singh has also been one of the most searched artists in India, following Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif. Very little is left to discussion when the three most searched celebrities on the internet are those that promote brainless violence, sexual item songs and misogynist lyrics covered up by feet-tapping beats.

Honey Singh’s songs are, without doubt, highly contagious. When played at parties, very few people will be able to admit to the fact that they sat in a corner while everyone around them swayed to songs like ‘Dope shope’ and ‘High heels’. However, when we dig deep into the colourful rapper’s past, some of his earliest works consist of despicable and filthy lyrics on how to objectivise a woman during sex, including some highly violent references to please his insatiable lust.

As India is a democracy, Honey Singh’s licence to sing is a matter that cannot really be questioned. However, there do exist some disturbing realities that may not directly relate to his work, but hit on the internalization of certain beliefs over the years. Honey Singh might just be one exceptionally obvious case, yet so many others exist in the form of movie scenes and ads. Starting from Fair and lovely and Axe deodorants, even movies like Agneepath and Tees Maar Khan seem to have no use of a woman except to showcase them in sexually charged numbers like ‘Chikni Chameli’ and ‘Sheila Ki Jawani’. As toned and beautiful as the woman look, the leering men that surround them and the crude lyrics that make up the songs don’t do much to show a woman’s independence, no matter how vehemently the actresses and a majority of the audience claim that they portray this. The reality, despite its lack of materialisation into spoken words, invariably focus on what the masses seem to enjoy the most; cheap sexual thrills and an ability to gape at a woman’s body without being ostracized by the society.

Even though politicians and like-minded people seem to have woken up from their beauty sleep after the recent horrific rape case, trying to ban Honey Singh from producing more music is far from what this country needs. Just as his fans believe that he has moved from producing sexually violent songs to dance floor scorchers, blaming one man for his past isn’t going to help a society that is steeped in following practices that marginalise its women.