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Book review


The Infosys Prize is given annually to promote scientific research and honour outstanding achievements of contemporary researchers and scientists by the Infosys Science Foundation. The award, carries the prize of a gold medal, a citation and a purse of Rupees 55 Lakh.

Felicitated on 8th February, one of the recipients of the Infosys Prize 2013 is a Delhi University professor – Nayanjot Lahiri. She received the award for her contribution in the field of Archaeology, and her work that focuses on the integration of archaeological knowledge with the historical understanding of India. Her areas of specialisation are proto-history, Indian Archaeology, Archeological Theory, Heritage Studies and Ancient India.

She earned her M.A, M.Phil and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Delhi. She was appointed as a Reader at the Department of History, University of Delhi from 1982-93 and Lecturer at the Department of History, Hindu College, University of Delhi. She has also held the post of Dean of Colleges, University of Delhi from August 2007 till December 2010.

She has myriad number publications to her name which include Ancient India: New Research, Finding Forgotten Cities: How the Indus Civilization Was Discovered, The Decline and Fall of the Indus Civilization, Copper and its Alloys in Ancient India etc. She has also reviewed books in academic journals, newspapers and newsmagazines.

“She is one of the leading archaeologists in the country with very innovative work stretching back from the early days when she was working on the early history of ancient inscriptions of Assam. She has brought to light an understanding of ancient Indian history drawing on archaeological records and historical records and linking them in a way that has transformed the subject”, said Amartya Sen, the jurist for the award in his congratulatory message.

Oracle is the newsletter of Gargi College with a coverage of a widespread array of topics including economics, politics, entertainment, opinions, creative prose, poems and reviews of food, movie, books and current affairs.

The idea was born out of the minds of a group of students from English Honors in 2001. The names of founding members- editorial board names- Kakul, Namita, Bhavana, Aarathi, Neharika, Priyanka and Anandana Kapur. Now, the founding members have gone on to become journalists, teachers of literature, film makers and lawyers.

“The college – under Dr Hema Raghavan – had an open door, student oriented approach. We felt we needed a forum to express our ideas, build dialogue within and across the college and that our backgrounds in art and literature would equip us to shape and present popular opinion”, says Anandana, one of the founder members who is now a documentary film maker now.

Oracle has a vision-“to have a space for expression and articulation through words and images, to be a graffiti board, a space for debates and even creative outpourings of anonymous writers!” Earlier it also invited readers to send in open letters, draw caricatures and that is how it was to make a space for critical engagement as well as a site for popular ideas.

On being asked what gave Oracle its name, Anandana said, “Oracle was a tipping of the hat to our major – English literature. It was also a play on the ability of the oracle to be prescient, to be a medium to connect beyond (with the student body and teacher) predict the future (in this case trend) and reveal what lies within (creatively and intellectually). We also created an opinion box when Neharika and I became editors. Soon, oracle became a very sought after medium and inspired other discipline led newsletters. You can say, we started the fire! ”

The editorial team of consists of 11 members from Commerce, Science and Humanities including of the Editor, Arunima Sodhani, the Sub-Editor, Drishti Rongpipi and 9 columnists. There are three issues published per semester. The columnists are selected on the basis of the on-the-spot article that has to be written from 3-5 topics given for choice.

Twisha, a student from Gargi College said “The college newsletter provides us information from almost all backgrounds be it current affairs to entertainment and what not, it is a really nice platform and initiative that our college has.”

With funding that is allocated by the college annually and a variety of themes in purview, Gargi college’s newsletter is an interesting portal for the college’s students to explore.

With inputs from Sonakshi Agarwal

The DU Beat team is extremely glad to present a new interface for our readers! Welcome to the new DU Beat – one that is more mobile, interactive and surely more focused towards the news that you want to read.


Is it the metro travel and the bus rides when you wish to read DU Beat? Well, DU Beat is faster and slicker on mobile now. Pages are lighter and at the same time more interactive. High five on being the smartphone and tablet addicts!


We love Facebook and Twitter and we know for a fact that so do you. That is why social media integration on DU Beat is stronger than before. Discover the total number of likes and tweets on every post and if you appreciate the content, participate and add one to the number! The next time you are reading an article, take a look at the number of shares on the left. If you like the post, make it count.


Delhi University is a place full of visuals – those of people, events and activity all around. The new DU Beat focuses on the same. Through the introduction of galleries, now get a glimpse of activity around the campus simply by glancing through a couple of photos. Look out for latest galleries on our homepage!


Digital Footprint of the Newspaper

The newspaper that you pick up every Wednesday has a different experience attached to it. Now, find the e-issue of the weekly newsletter easily in the website sidebar, conveniently placed for our readers to explore.

Interactive Reviews

DU Beat has always been enthusiastic about reviews. The idea behind the same is to share our explorations and observations with the rest of the student community. However, if reading a review on DU Beat seemed boring up till now, the new version is surely built to change that. Scroll at the bottom of every review and see a box with our rating and a summary of the analysis.


Adding to all these, we have several more features that will be added within the next few days. Until then, we hope that you like the change and would now love reading DUB a little more than earlier. We are exploring domains that are of interest for our readers and we surely love feedback.

If there is a suggestion that you want to make, do write to us as [email protected], mention @du_beat in a tweet or send us a Facebook message. We want to hear from you, no matter what the medium is!

People say getting published is a long frustrating dream. Maybe it was once, but in today’s world, with all the new technologies and innovations, it isn’t as scary as it used to be. If one goes step by step and climbs the ladder gradually, it is actually very simple. The foremost point is of course, writing a best seller.

One can start with a simple blog or keep a journal. That way, writing prose or poetry becomes a habit which eventually leads up to the desire of getting published. Bloggers have an edge over the diary writers for they can get opinions from others too. Now days, microblogging on social media sites like Twitter has become a trend too.

Moving on from free expression and no bars, getting published is quite a different scene. Impressing a certain publisher seems quite a task. Freelancing for various online magazines like 21 Fools or Campus Diaries can help one earn some decent amount of money and also get an idea of what the audience today likes to read. These sites are different from news sites or content writing sites which do not give any freedom of expression to the writer.

Apart from these today-written-tomorrow-published techniques, actual writers dream of making it big in the world. They dream of the Man Booker Prize or the like. Even for well-written manuscripts there is a world of struggle out there. One can again start from smaller avenues like approaching magazines like Readers’ Digest or Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Short stories generally find  place here.

Certain publishers like Power or Zorba present packages as low as Rs 8000 for self-publishing. They print 20 copies of your book but without any editing. Editing and more sophisticated layouts require more investment by the writer. It may be a risk but then 50 Shades was a self-publication. And it turned out to be a best seller so the investment does pay off at times. Or if one likes the feel of having his or her name on a book cover in the bookstore nearby, it’s a good idea to go for such deals.

Other budding publishers like Rupa or Srishti publish selected works and sell your book for as low as Rs 100. Many Indian authors have established their names through these previously unknown publishers. Ravinder Singh, author of I Too Had a Love Story is one such example. Even though it is difficult to make a living out of self-publishing, there is no limit to the marketing creativity. One can ask bloggers to review the book or set up YouTube or Facebook pages.

“Usually when authors approach us with their books, we want to read a synopsis and a few chapters. Every publishing house has a few pet subjects on which they publish books.”

One of the world’s leading publishers is Penguin and they accept sample chapters by mail. If they like your work, they talk business. They respond within their concerted three months limit. Pothi.com prints even one book at a reasonable cost thus reducing or eliminating the need to invest in bulk printing and storage of copies.

So just sit down, get that pen and paper (laptop) ready and begin writing! Once the manuscript seems good to you, it can easily find a place in the wide world of books out there.

Email your work to:

Penguin: [email protected]

Srishti: [email protected]

Grapevine: [email protected]

Power: [email protected]

Image credit: freedigitalphotos.net

Someone once said ‘those who say money can’t buy happiness are the ones who don’t have any’. That someone apparently had excellent insight into human mind, especially of the ones in the film making business. And so the whole process of spending months writing, shooting, editing and releasing a movie boiled down to filling already overstuffed pockets.

And what better way to create a multi million dollar blockbuster than converting an already oversold book into a motion picture. And since the author ends up with jaw dropping royalties and the producers with more money than they can spend, everyone’s happy. But the one flaw in the plan is that blockbusters don’t fall from the skies or off bestselling pages, they need to be made with the most deep and well-thought perspectives. So here’s a look at all the movies that did not only leave blots of disturbing memories in the minds of the viewers but also spoilt the reputation of the books.

  • Angels and Demons- The movie, which had expectations soaring as high as those from classics, was a disappointment. Not only was the plot changed drastically, the film failed to bring out the sheer excitement and thrill a viewer should experience watching Robert Langdon come to life. The studio made a sad choice between a shorter running time and a better, more authentic plot.


  • Eragon- If you’ve watched the movie, then I don’t even need to elaborate on what a horror those 2 hours were. One of the most well written fantasy novels was turned into one of the most pathetic movies (genre no bar). Everything from start to finish was completely different. In fact, if the studio named the movie something else, they would have had an original disappointment to their credit. Thankfully, a sequel is unlikely. But please do not trust the movie, read the book. It’ll be worth your time.
  • Lord of The Rings: Before you write me off as delusional, let me clarify, the movies were pretty good! But, they were not even a spec on Tolkien’s classic Trilogy. Even though no movie can capture the depth of a book, this is especially true in this case. The plot was the same and the movies won Oscars, still reading the books is a far better experience.
  • Eat Pray Love- Think Julia Roberts, Think visual excellence. And then think again. Beside Roberts in exquisite locations, Eat Pray Love has little to offer. Roberts brilliance as an actor was eclipsed by a completely deformed plot. The movie seemed to drag on endlessly. It wasn’t even able to approach the depth of the book.


  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen- No list of worst movies can be completed without the mention of this particular one, much less a list of good books turned into bad films. The graphic novel is touted as one of the most hair-raising comics of recent times was turned into one of the most shunned movies of all times. In fact, it’s hard to find even one review recommending the movie.
  • One Night At The Call Centre/Hello- If you believe that only Hollywood makes such mistakes, then let me enlighten you. Although the book itself was no Pulitzer winner but the movie was even worse. The audiences discomfort in sitting through the film was mirrored by the evident discomfort of the actors trying to do something they can’t. Actually, neither watching nor reading it will be the safest option.

A few others, which managed to make it to the hall of shame, are Inkheart, The Bonfire of the Vanities, Stardust and Hobbit (making 3, 3 hour films out of one book- seriously!) to name a few.

Do yourself a favor, and do not watch them, read them! (or at least read them before watching the films)

Tom Hanks portrayed the role of Robert Langdon first in The Da Vinci Code.
Tom Hanks portrayed the role of Robert Langdon first in The Da Vinci Code.

Dan Brown, one of the most widely read authors across the globe, is back with yet another spine chilling novel. And not just any power packed thriller but another book featuring ‘Robert Langdon’, the insightful professor from Harvard who cracked the secret of the Holy Grail in the Da Vinci Code. His latest offering, Inferno, takes Langdon to Florence, Italy where Langdon finds himself not only suffering from retrograde amnesia but also trapped in a cat and mouse chase with WHO. In this roller coaster ride spanning over a day and a half, Brown once again shows his prowess in keeping his readers hooked to the pages without food or water, powerless in the face of an imaginary apocalypse and an imaginary Professor playing Superman.

Not to reveal too much and not to make this piece of writing yet another review of perhaps this year’s most reviewed book, lets focus our attention on Robert Langdon, the Harvard Symbolist who shot to fame after his escapades at the Vatican and whose popularity soared the charts with The Da Vinci Code. What makes him the awe-inspiring personality that everyone thinks he is?

Being an ardent Robert Langdon follower, I have compiled a list of credentials that make every student want Robert Langdon as his professor, even if it means studying iconology and symbology :

  • He knows everything there is to know about every relevant person in history: As each of his adventures gets more perplexing Mr.Langdon has no qualms about solving archaic riddles and messages which stem from the famous works of prominent shapers of history and which also take the story forward.
  • Displays of superhuman Dexterity : Remember the time Langdon was trapped in the Vatican Library in Angels and Demons or the time he excuses himself to the washroom in the Louvre in The Da Vinci Code. A normal person would be completely bogged down and clueless about which way to run, but not Monsieur Langdon. Also running away from the police or International Organizations is his area of expertise.
  • His enviable ‘personal connections’: Langdon always seems to know whom to contact and which strings to pull. Right from caretakers of museums to owners of private chateaus, Langdon not only knows everyone but can just as easily call upon them in the hour of need.  Private jets and possession of priceless artifacts often comes with the package.
  • A beacon of bravery: Langdon is nothing if not courageous. Right from saving an entire country while walking on egg shells in Angels and Demons to saving his dear friend from a psychotic killer(who turns out to be his friend’s son) in The Lost Symbol to the more recent, trying to save the entire world from a pandemic, Langdon has displayed the virtue of bravery like no other.

Leaving all his abilities and shortcomings apart, Robert Langdon has captured human imagination like no other and has carved a niche for himself in the minds of is readers. For me, he is the hybrid of Harry Potter and Einstein.

Another year has gone by. And with it was brought in a generous dollop of shamefully unreadable garbage literature whereas few and far between lay some gems. Here’s to the hits and misses of 2012-13.

The Good

1.       Bring Up the Bodies – Hilary Mantel

After already winning the Booker prize for her first book in the Cromwell trilogy, Wolf Hall, Mantel made it two-in-two by bagging the Booker Prize for 2012 with its sequel. With bookies going all out on her winning an unprecedented three in a row when the last part comes out next year, this is one author that comes well recommended from everywhere. Grand tales of grand people with a language generously sprinkled with quips and wisecracks, Mantel is probably the best of the best.

 2.       The Yips –Nicola Barker

Also on the shortlist for the Booker prize this year was this latest of Barker’s yummy novels after her earlier nominated Darkmans and the more recent Burley Cross Postbox Theft. Her odd-ball sense of using language and interesting plotlines together mingle to tingle your sensory nerve endings to delight. Barker doesn’t ever to fail to amuse a reader and if you haven’t discovered this brilliant author, who unfortunately isn’t the most well-publicised of writers, now is your chance.

3.       NW –Zadie Smith

The much acclaimed author of White Teeth has come out with a novel after what would seem ages and is stirring interest among literary circles everywhere. This tragicomedy tells the tale of four Londoners and by extension of London itself. Get your copy nowand it’ll be one the better decisions you make after reading this newspaper.

 4.       Narcopolis – Jeet Thayil

Shortlisted for the Booker and winner of the DSC Award at Jaipur Literature Festival, Thayil has been the name on the lips of many. Marketing his material better, he even visited DU’s own IP College for Women. His story about opium, intoxication and other effects, set in Bombay, which has provided an immaculate location for novels like Midnight’s Children before, will make your rack look all the better. Book-rack, that is.

5.       Em and the Big Hoom – Jerry Pinto.

It’s once in a long time only that someone from this oh-so-great nation of ours ventures to write uninspired by Chetan Bhagat. Pinto creates a story of a household in turmoil, with a mentally unstable and ill mother in charge of the house, bidi in one hand. Refreshing and rejuvenating, it’s a sign of good things to come from the debut author.


The Bad

1.       The Casual Vacancy- J. K. Rowling

As most of the Potterheads would have been, your humble reviewer too was tempted to pre-order this latest offering from the magical Rowling who gave us The Boy Who Lived. Damnation and despair is all this temptation brought. Rowling tries too hard to write an “adult” novel, as she claimed her next would be after Hogwarts’ tales, and in the end falls flat on her face with book. Unexciting and reeking of desperation for recognition as an author who could do more than write fantasy fiction,  unexpectedly albeit, Rowling is a foremost disappointment that 2012-13 had for readers.

2.       The Shiva Trilogy – Amish

Contrary to popular perception, I refuse to see merit in this trilogy and would say that if this is what’sinitiating so many in India into reading, given Chetan Bhagat was the first to do so, it tells a sad tale for the readers here. What this set off was a series of bad fiction from people like Ashwin Sanghi,who then spewed trash like The Krishna Key and the Chanakya’s Chant and one more which I refuse to remember the title of even.

3.       What Young India Wants – Chetan Bhagat

Thankfully, this wart didn’t publish fiction this year, but equally horrible are his attempts at writing essays and his view of, as the title unimaginatively says, what young India wants. I would say we would like you to stop writing, much obliged. And maybe try doing what you went to IIT and IIM for, Mr. Bhagat, instead of polluting the literature scene of this country which rarely sees bright days after the legacy that actual greats like R. K. Narayan left for us.


The Ugly

While there could be a possible million titles in this usually most-populated segment, I thankfully didn’t witness them all too much, for various reasons. However on obnoxious presence was that of E.L. James’s Fifty Shades series, which go from one horror show to another. What’s more, her fansite even advertises the various, ahem, “toys”, her novels make oh-so-generous use of. Inspired from Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series and originally written as fan-fiction, the story of Anastasia Steele is also slated for a movie version, which Mila Kunis seems too eager to be a part of. Then came the numerous pieces of trash which were spawned by James’s “mommy-porn” novels, making it the bestselling genre this past year, to which I wonder how the protagonists from Anthony Burgess’s classic A Clockwork Orange, with their ultra-violence, might have responded. Alas they’re fictional too. Maybe Apocalypse 2012 would have been appreciated?

On 26th and 27th of January, So Delhi and Travel Secrets held a Travel Writing workshop with Ms.Shubhra Krishan. The workshop focussed on improving writing skills and evaluating one’s aptitude for Travel Writing. Ms.Shubhra Krishan, the editor of Travel Secrets magazine, also spoke about how one can improve and make their CV more impressive in order to help them start their careeras a Travel Writer.The first day of the workshop discussed what is Travel Writing, what is the job of a Travel Writer and what are the key points one must know before getting into this field. The basics of pitching a letter to the editor were also taught,where Ms.Krishan shared a few key tips with the participants.

Shubhra Krishan, herself is a writer, editor, and a globe-trotting journalist with 20+ years of experience (Femina, Cosmopolitan and DNA), is also an author of four successful books. She also writes for Conde Nast Traveller (UK and India), Yoga Journal (USA), Asian Age, The Sunday Express, and several blogs and online magazines.

The organizer of the workshop was So Delhi- a web-based portal (www.sodelhi.com) which focuses on everything that represents Delhi. Apart from covering all restaurants and hotels and reviewing food, they also have a section dedicated to the shopping spots of Delhi, local markets, history of the city and events happening in and around.

The second day of the workshop saw the participants engage in writing exercises where each write up was read and edited by Ms.Krishan, who went on to explain the use of imagery in writing. Later some participants won books and goodies through a lucky draw. One participant even won a meal for two at the ‘Over The Top’ restaurant. The participants were contented after the workshop, having learnt a lot more about the field. One of them even called it a “paisa-wasool” exercise. After this successful endeavour by So Delhi, they plan to hold more of such activities in the near future.


SAFE Delhi is a movement aimed at refining the current state of women’s safety in the National Capital through awareness, action and communication. It started out in March and a subsequent online campaign really got people talking about it. Today it is quite a rage on Facebook with its page having upwards of two thousand likes. SAFE Delhi has been inspired by initiatives such as change.org.

Rape and molestation cases have been on the rise for quite sometime now. These problems can’t be addressed and resolved over a cup of coffee. They demand action and SAFE Delhi are looking to do just that. They already have a plan but they need your support (moral and in the form of any connections that you might have). If you feel that a united youth front demanding concrete actions towards making Delhi a safer place stands a chance at success, join SAFE.

SAFE Delhi deems the following as absolutely necessary for ensuring the safety of women:
1. Monthly review of police complaints regarding harassment, molestation and stalking from each locality’s police post. 2. Monthly reviews to be made public. 3. Mandatory presence of female constables in all PCRs patrolling at night. 4. Rape trials to be fast-tracked with a special bench in charge of these cases. (Similar to consumer cases) 5. ‘Community Service’ to be a form of punishment for offenders of harassment, eve-teasing and molestation.

SAFE Delhi are open to ideas and suggestions on this issue. Further, SAFE have proposed the following course of action to be taken by the movement:
1. Getting local support through RWAs. 2. Target DU. Unite North Campus and South Campus on the issue. 3. Get the NSS and WSDCs to support SAFE.?4. Contact youth forums like MAD, AISEC, YP Foundation etc. SAFE needs to be a popular campaign with massive public support before it can attract the media.?5. The ultimate aim is to serve the concerned authorities with a petition which will be backed by SAFE Delhi members.

You could visit their Facebook page for more details, http://www.facebook.com/SAFE3DELHI

Just when you thought The Great Indian Education System couldn’t spring any more surprises, out comes DU’s first semester results. If 100% cut-offs for admissions raised eyebrows, these results are a whole new bolt from the blue. While the highest for English (Honours) was a never-heard-of-before 78%, three Economics (Honours) students top scored with a staggering 99 per cent.

Is this the dawn of a whole new era of the super-geeks in DU, or a people-pleasing attempt by the University board to show how well the semester system does for its students?

Ms Nandini, an Economics teacher from Miranda House certainly believes it is the latter, “It’s [99 per cent in Eco] absolutely shocking! These were not multiple choice type papers. The marks don’t show what actually went on in the classrooms, the kind of pressures on us. Teachers had specific instructions not to fail anyone. Internal assessment records had to be submitted before the terms ended! All this is just an attempt by the University to prove the efficacy of the semester system to everyone. The students are happy, but the University is only belittling the [Honours] degree! Oxford, other foreign schools won’t recognize us anymore!”

Mr. Krishan Kumar, another Economics teacher from Sri Venkateswara College, seemed less appalled, “This semester had the scoring papers – Maths, Statistics and Principles of Economics. The explanatory technical papers only begin the third semester onwards. Besides, though the highest score may be this much, number of first divisions in Maths is quite low.”

As for the students, several echo similar viewpoints. However, the overall mood of the community is one of gross disbelief.

Professors from colleges including SRCC, Miranda House and St Stephens are now even considering filing RTI applications to review the answer sheets of students who obtained the highest scores. Click here for the full story

Click here  for exclusive interviews of the Economics Honours toppers

Here are some of the student responses as expressed on Facebook…

Yes DU, we get it! The semester system is ‘perfect’! You don’t have to go CBSE to prove it

99% Ok…this aint the cut off for Srcc…but first sem’s highest score in eco(hons)…


?99 highest in eco. 80 and 90 percent distributed like langar

Dear DU,
I hope you’re also planning on being Santa in June.
Sincerely, 3rd year student who just got a half-hour lecture from her parents.

Ankita Dhanda
[email protected]