In today’s time, feminism has not remained a genuine commitment to gender equality. The idea of empowerment has become commodified through marketing campaigns, overshadowing the true essence of the concept. This piece explores the nuanced landscape of feminist advertising by dissecting empowering advertisements and exposing the questionable motives behind them.

This is a world still often designed to please men. Even though significant progress has been made, the existence of unconscious, underlying misogyny is undeniable and has been passed down through generations. And against the backdrop of this misogyny, the world of marketing often comes into focus. As a strong cultural force, the industry shows and strengthens stereotypes about women. When companies use feminist ideas to make money, it highlights a gap between their empowering words and what they actually do, making it an important area to talk about where unfair gender beliefs are concerned.

The battle cries of feminism, which were meant to break glass ceilings, now break sales records. At its core, feminism embodies an expansive belief in advocating for the dignity and empowerment of all genders. However, that belief gets lost when it’s used for profit. While feminists aim for freedom and equality in opportunities, sometimes this concept is exploited and used for personal gain, diluting the true essence of the movement. It’s important to see through these false claims used by the capitalist market and advocate for genuine progress.

When a company advertises its products as “women-friendly,” it may sound uplifting and true to the spirit of feminism. However, when the same company doesn’t align their policies and ideas with the ‘feminist’ image they try to exhibit to the world, that is plain exploitation. They will assure you that all colours are beautiful, but they will implicitly encourage you to buy their skin-lightening products to make you even more attractive. They will claim to reject racism, yet they will never cast anyone who is not ‘conventionally attractive’, aka ‘light skin and slim waists, to play the lead. They proclaim that women are more than just sex symbols but equate bigger breasts with more audience attention. And amidst all this hypocrisy, they’ll continue to emphasise their adoration for each individual, no matter the shape, size, or color.

AXE, a men’s fragrance brand, produced infuriating commercials about multiple “picture-perfect” women fawning over a single man for the purpose of endorsing their “masculine-smelling” deodorant. It clearly reinforced the idea that a woman is only good to enhance a man’s image and for nothing more meaningful. On the other hand, Dove sold shampoo bottles shaped like different body types to instill body positivity in women. Although this campaign appeared to have positive intentions, it was not perceived in the same way. Had it not been public knowledge that both these brands share the same parent company, Unilever, it would have worked out more favourably for the brands involved.

The intersectionality of feminism is often overlooked in these marketing strategies. Companies often exploit the idea of intersectionality to reinforce stereotypes and uphold traditional gender norms. They use factors like race, class, and gender to target specific groups with tailored ads, which can deepen existing inequalities and reinforce societal norms. This approach ultimately maintains the status quo and contributes to marginalisation and inequality.

While some argue that even surface-level activism raises awareness, the bar must be set higher. Big corporations that treat feminism as a brand or a tool for profit should be held accountable. It is not merely a question of contradiction in opinions or brand strategies; it is a matter of blatant hypocrisy, which, in turn, makes it exploitative. Intersectionality demands a more nuanced approach that acknowledges the diverse experiences of women across race, class, and other intersecting identities.

Trigger Warning: Instances of sexual harassment in the upcoming paragraph.

Take the case of ‘Thinx’, a company that set out to break the stigma surrounding menstruation by taking an innovative approach to period products. While they too seemed to be genuinely committed to feminist ideals, their workplace practices told the world otherwise. Miki Agarwal, the CEO of ‘Thinx’, faced severe criticism and legal action from her own employees, accusing her of engaging in unethical conduct, making inappropriate sexual advances, and unfairly dismissing staff members. According to a detailed complaint filed with the City of New York Commission on Human Rights, Miki Agarwal touched an employee’s breasts and asked her to expose them, talked about her own sexual exploits in business meetings, frequently changed clothes in front of her employees, and multiple other incidents that resulted in uncomfortable working conditions. These allegations shed light on a troubling reality within the company, revealing a stark contrast between its public image and internal practices. A poignant example of the pervasive hypocrisy that infiltrates the corporate world, especially in the industries claiming to champion feminist principles.

Even in companies that are supposedly termed modern or liberal, TV ads still cling to old-fashioned ideas. They often use only male voiceovers, which make men sound more important. And when they show women, it’s usually doing housework, like they’re stuck in the past. Even though some companies try to change this, many stick to the old ways because they think it works. So, ads on TV keep pushing these outdated ideas, making it harder to break free from old stereotypes.

In this world of marketing, men are applauded and celebrated when all we are given is a mirror. Distorted. We are forced to see ourselves through the eyes of society. The unspoken reality is that companies aim for male empowerment while perpetuating traditional gender norms for female consumers in order to sell, and what’s worse is that it seems to work just fine.

We’ve been given the short end of the stick since the dawn of humanity. It cannot be denied that we have come a long way, but the question remains: is our progress real or just a better disguise for the old biases against women?

As we deal with the complexities of feminism today, it’s important to acknowledge the steps forward while staying aware of the quieter forms of gender inequality. As long as this capitalism-driven world continues to prioritise profit over principles, the tagline of feminism remains at risk of becoming just that—a mere tagline.

Read also: How to Know Your Reporting is Good 101

Featured Image Credits: medium magazine.nl

Lakshita Arora

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The trope of the gay bestfriend is a painful reminder of the constant alienation of the queer community, especially on days like Valentine’s Day when queer baiting temporarily peaks. Read on for a personal piece on the same.

Valentine’s Day sucks. Not because I am single and perpetually heartbroken. But because I am gay. But then as per normative standards of viewing gayness I am not visibly queer enough for most folks. I don’t colour my hair or sport multiple piercings and there are no rainbow motifs around my social media handles (although not going to deny the presence of veiled hints for those wishing to look really hard). My wrist isn’t limp (you have childhood trauma to thank for that) and my clothes are more indie than unicorn dazzle. And hence the presence of women around me becomes a point of deep intrigue for those viewing me from afar.

Valentine’s Day sucks because being the gay best friend is tiring. We live in a world where the comfort of intimacy is only supposed to be sought in engaging in intercourse with a stranger you met on an app you downloaded two hours ago because you were drunk on your fifth shot at a friend’s housewarming party. Any sort of intimacy, specially of a physical nature, must be relegated to the realm of sexual because people in today’s world have simply forgotten the peace that is to be had in the romance of friendship.

Valentine’s Day sucks because a girl hanging out with a girl in a park is a sight for people to turn around and stare and engage in conjecture. See how they are leaning in pretending to talk? Whispers that follow you to the corner of cafes where over cups of hazelnut latte one can hear admonishing comments on grazing fingers and hands that seek to touch and put the arms as an expression of joy and happiness. There is no respite to be found in the conclusion that friendships are a romance of their own kind. To love someone so deeply and completely so as to forsake the expectations of any physical or carnal fulfilment of that love is to truly be in the presence of a love that is supreme and essentially fulfilling.

Valentine’s Day sucks because cafes across the city offer discounts on love that can be capitalised. It isn’t enough anymore for Yash Raj to earn millions when Rahul promises to love Nisha for the rest of his life while a thousand people cry in the darkness of the cinema theatre. Love must be sold tangible – through discounts and offers inscribed on menu cards and shopping banners. But these aren’t all that comes our way. Extra offers are deliciously reserved if you are queer and can bring with yourself a same-sex lover because your love is just a means to fuel the system that encashes the most fundamental and necessary of all human emotions.

Valentine’s Day sucks because it is painfully lonely to be the one man in your nearby vicinity who is proud enough to be out there – only to become a transit point for the rite of passage sexual awakening of all the queer closeted men around you. Men who use you precisely like a transit point, to never turn back and look upon once the transition is undisturbed and over with.

Valentine’s Day sucks because to be the gay best friend is to beg people to realise that you are more than just a Gucci handbag for people to sling onto their arms and strut around – claiming your space for their wish-fulfiment fantasies. You are more than an accessory to adorn the sorry lives of people, you are more than just the reductive heternormative gaze that breaks and splits you down to your tiniest atoms and you are more than your community which makes you guilty of always just not being enough.

Valentine’s Day sucks because people around you fail to realise that beneath all your pointed laughter and printed linens, very few people understand – looking at the million dazzling Valentine Day adverts – that the difference between alone and lonely shall perhaps always remain lost in translation.

 Anwesh Banerjee

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Evaluating affection in Sally Rooney’s Normal People, the story of our current post-recession movement, and a keenly observed movement in time. 

Normal People is your (and not your typical) young-adult novel, set up in Ireland, as opposed to the favoured land of white coming-of-age stories, America. When I first started reading Normal People online, I thought I downloaded the wrong PDF. The prose did not make a lot of sense at first – it was unlike anything I had ever read, much less in a book written about teens.

In a post-John Green world, where disregarding young adult novels have become the mark of intellectual superiority, the Booker Longlist and the many awards Normal People fetched has reignited an opportunity for us to ponder over stories, like that of Marianne and Connell.

A lifelong Marxist, Rooney is particularly outspoken about issues that stir her social conscience. It is set during the 2000s downturn period in Ireland. The pair weave in and out of each other’s lives across their university years, developing an intense bond that brings to light the traumas and insecurities that make them both who they are. There is no big quest in Normal People. The plot feels incidental, a not-so-elaborate set up to let the Rooney interpersonal-insight machine shine.

Casually sharp interpersonal insights seem to roll offhand through their conversations as well as their consciousnesses, dazzling the readers. Even if we cannot picture them, the characters are creatively attuned to every impulse they experience, the words a loud echo of their emotional and physical reactions that analyse the gestures and comments of everyone they encounter. The adventurous writing of Sally Rooney evaluates the notions of shame, social class, vulnerability, popularity and the intersection of art majors and the dichotomy of a generation too lost in the heat stemming from a past full of deceit.

Meaghan O’Connell writes, “Connell and Marianne’s fates may be partially determined by their social class (“A lot of critics have noticed that my books are basically nineteenth-century novels dressed up in contemporary clothing.” Rooney told Lauren Collins of The New Yorker) and the poor economy, but they are also shaped (if not saved) by each other and their shared dynamic. People can change, for better or worse, Rooney argues in this book, especially young people.

In the end, it’s the very influence that Connell and Marianne have over each other that gives each of their lives too much momentum for the traditional marriage plot. Or maybe this is the marriage plot made current: two star-crossed lovers, trading emails over oceans while one of them gets their MFA. 

Normal People may not be about being young right now, but better than that, it shows what it is to be young and in love at any time. It may not be absolutely contemporary, but it is a future classic.


Feature Image Credits: New Yorker

Paridhi Puri

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Assuming you have already watched this Academy award-winning masterpiece, read further to unravel not-so-subtle imagery of class hierarchy in modern society.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

It is not easy to describe or critique a movie like Parasite. It is a satirical, drama-thriller. Like its father, Bong Joon-ho, the movie is highly dynamic as it changes tones like a girl changes clothes (Hot N Cold reference). Bong creates a tapestry depicting class hierarchy via his craft of interweaving various subtle as well as not-so-subtle threads.

The movie opens with the Kim family son, Ki-woo, walking around their tiny house in search of Wi-Fi connection. The toilet happens to be the highest point in the house apparently giving him the connection to a network that probably isn’t password-protected, basically leeching off some neighbour. Evidently, the parasitical attributes of the family are established very early in the film. We also see how the family lives in a semi-basement. Semi-basement means that the house is also semi-over ground essentially giving the family a sense of hope as well.

A little further into the movie we see the Park family house located on some sort of a hilltop. Later we also learn how Moon-gwang and Geun-sae live in an even lower basement in the Park house. Bong uses this element of “upstairs and downstairs” to establish the positions of these families in the class hierarchies. The same concept is used in multiple ways further in the film.

Watching the movie, you realise that this isn’t just a fight between two families from different social backgrounds, but also between two families from the same background. Instead of coexistence, the idea of “survival of the fittest” is somewhat adopted. Eventually, after all the ruckus and drama, the Kim family manages to put Geun-sae and Moon-gwang back to where they really “belong”- the lowest basement.

Right after this we also see the Kim family hiding under the living room table as soon as they hear the owners of the house return; just like how cockroaches hide under small spaces in fear of getting caught and killed. As soon as the family seems to be asleep, they run and escape at their first chance, back to their original “hole”.

Water happens to play a rather significant role throughout the film. Initially, we see a man urinating outside the Kims’ window. They try to fight him away by throwing water at him, which only turns everything messier. Later in the movie, we see how the Kim basement is flooded with sewage water after heavy rainfall. Clearly, water hasn’t been their best friend after all. The flooded basement also gives a push to a domino effect which is to follow.

When the family is called back to work the next day, which is a weekend, a blatant tension can be sensed, best expressed by Ki-taek (Kang-Ho Song). While Ki-taek is driving Yeon-kyo back home from the market, we see her talk to a friend on a call about how the rain had been a blessing clearing up the sky of pollution. We learn how the rain has different effects on people from different classes. While it dragged one family out of their house, it pulled back another from a camping trip, only to appreciate the house more.

The movie reaches its climax when Gyun-sae manages to set himself free and runs up to attack, first Ki-woo, and next his sister Ki-jung. When Ki-taek kills Gyun-sae and tries to save his daughter, Park Dong-ik just asks him to abandon his own family and drive them away. This simply shows how little he cared about the “lower” class family, yet again creating a class division.

Out of frustration, killing Dong-ik, Ki-taek hides in the very place he wished to escape- the lowest basement. He became what he was trying to get rid of. The Park family left the house giving way to yet another rich German family to take their place. No matter what, a richer family will always be above Ki-taek, leaving him to remain a mere parasite.

With Ki-jung dead, Ki-woo and Chung-sook return to their original places in the semi-basement. When Ki-woo decodes a message from his father, he pledges to work hard his entire life until he is able to buy the house, and then all Ki-taek needs to do is “walk upstairs”. We even see the family reuniting, but Bong shoots his final bullet as a sure-fire, bringing Ki-woo back in his home to let his audience know that life isn’t so convenient, and his aspirations can never really turn to reality. This again reflects a very realistic image.

Why Parasite is adored throughout the world is because this same plot which is set in South Korea could have been set in New York or London or even New Delhi. Class division is a universal concept and affects each one of us in one way or the other.


Feature Image Credit: CJ Entertainment

Aditi Gutgutia

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While buying an expensive khadi kurta from the largest brands in humongous malls, we tend to forget the real roots of our ethno-Indian outfits. Ever wonder why?

The University of Delhi (DU) is a hub for street style fashion which transcends all boundaries. Every day, as students, we bring out our best fashion game in college, and in the wake of a  recent epiphany, I believe that we have strayed into an obsession for ethnic clothing and accessories.

Kurtas, long skirts, suits, dupattas, stoles, jhumkas, nose-rings, neck-pieces, and even sarees have become very common in college. We spend lavishly on our outfits and accessories to look more authentic, grounded, and in a sense, more Indian. Many agree that the choice to wear Indian comes from a place of comfort. “Loose kurtas and palazzos are way more comfortable than wearing tight jeans and tops in summer,” says a student of a South Campus girls’ college.

However, in our wish to hoard more ethnic wear, we take part in the capitalistic tendencies of the market which bring out the hypocrisy of our world. While wearing a branded and expensive kurta with an equally expensive pair of jeans we call our outfits ‘indo-western’, which almost always are the products of elite stores in some bourgeois space. 

As students, we also tend to let go of the actual ethno-syncretic root of this supposedly traditional clothing. The dupatta or shawl, that we so suavely wrap around ourselves to look fashionable and traditional, were tools of suppressing female sexuality, and furthermore were a demand made by the marginalised suppressed women, who weren’t allowed to cover their breasts. Similarly, a septum ring worn oh-so-proudly as a fashion statement has a history of being a symbol of subjugation and suppression of women, who were often compared to the cattle who wear similar hoops around their nose. In delusion and denial, we end up distancing ourselves from our history, only focusing on the materialistic hocus-pocus of it all, which in this case is: fashion.

As per reports, Fabindia doubled its sales in 2019; BIBA aims to reach revenue of INR 900 to 1,000 Crore by next year, while Aurelia, Global Desi, and Anokhi are becoming more popular over time. More and more students use outfits by these brand outlets to connect with their culture, and end up just benefiting the market strategies of these brands.

Understandably, these brands also aim at building market phenomenon focusing on this set of the young crowd, making traditional clothing more alluring and enticing, while keeping away the ugly realities of their profit-margins and labour markets, under strategically planned wraps.

Our ethnicity should not be defined by our fashion statement or emphasised by a fake ring in our nose which is not even pierced (Guilty as charged!). It should come from supporting those who actually build on this craft, and hence, support the real history and culture of our country. Undoubtedly, the potters who sell handmade vessels are more culturally conscious and informed than us heading for our farewell parties in an expensive Indigo saree, paired with black metal jhumkas, and all set to post a thousand pictures with #EthnicDayOut. 

The Indian outfits to be bought from the craftsmen and weavers have been replaced with machine-made homogeneous print goods, exported to even other parts of the world. The same yellow ‘Om’ kurti is available in all stores by Anokhi, in India, and across the globe. So, next time we see a tourist roaming around in Rishikesh wearing that yellow kurta, decked with tons of rudraksha beads, and sporting a long red tika, think of how much of our ethnicity are we spreading, or how much of it are we losing?

Feature Image Credits: Namrata Randhawa for DU Beat

Sakshi Arora

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A gentle reminder that every import from the west carries with it complex implications for a society as diverse and traditional as ours.

Among other things, Delhi University (DU) students very often boast about the kind of diversity their respective colleges enjoy. In every section of every course, there will be those who attend classes and those who don’t. Keeping the simplistic distinction aside, a safe assumption would be that all of us have known people across religions, states, and economic and social classes. Hence, Valentine’s Day too is a messy affair in this diversity of possibilities and options.

In the Indian context, the warring ideas emerge as that of hyper-capitalism and traditionalism which ultimately result in a rather interesting scenario. The whole week leading up to the 14th of February becomes larger than life, as we’re bombarded with manufactured images and products that define love in the 21st century. The capitalists controlling us carefully create customised needs and, through the course of the week, manipulate us into believing that we needed those things in the first place. Friends who are in relationships are aware of this manipulation and yet feel compelled to take part in it.

Capitalism scheming functions in such efficient ways that the expenditure is almost always considered directly proportional to the amount of love. To extend this scheme of manipulation beyond their target market, marketers are now also dictating how single people should spend this day. Quotes expressing the importance of self-love are splashed across hoardings leading you to believe that your consumption will instantly solve all of your problems and you will live “singly-ever-after”.

This complete rejection of Valentine’s Day, owing to its hyper commercialization, is increasingly becoming a dominant perspective. As students are becoming increasingly aware of the pressures influencing their consumption habits, they are becoming more immune to its effect.  How many actually make the effort to exist outside of this system is unknown, but the realisation of the fact that it’s happening is growing. While this understanding is necessary in the long run, it also springs from a very specific group of people. For this group, the idea of Valentine’s Day itself is very ordinary. It’s in a way suggestive of their privilege, which allows them to go beyond the idea of V-day and focus more on a larger global trend.

However, this idea of freely expressing love is extraordinary and even exciting for some. When you look beyond Delhi and into smaller towns, more specifically smaller towns with saffron skies, Valentine’s Day becomes much more significant. These are places where young people are regularly morally policed and not given spaces to freely interact and behave like young people with will and desires. In suffocated environments like these, you can see why Valentine’s Day would stand out as special. It’s almost an invitation for rebellion. Despite their circumstances, to keep the spirit of the day alive, young people venture out to spend their time in public spaces. Claiming to save our country from western influences and adding communal flavor in the form of Love Jihad, extremist groups inflict violence year-after-year on these youngsters.

The real story of the commercialisation of this day can be traced back to the time when it reached the same small towns. Year-after-year, more coffee houses and shopping complexes were being decorated with heart-shaped balloons. The extremists couldn’t multiply faster than the capitalists and, in the end, they were outnumbered. There were too many balloons to burst and the religion of profit-making became more lucrative than the rage of vigilantism. This is not to suggest that capitalism will solve conservatism, but is just to lend to a more rounded idea of Valentine’s Day and the significance it holds in parallel India’s narrative.

Image Credits: Bustle

Pragati Thapa

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Any Economics student at Delhi University who has done a modicum of reading about history of economic thought shall be able to see that Economics as an academic discipline is dominated by Neoclassical Economics, with some Keynesian Economics here and there. And this is true for Universities all over the world.


From the very first class, we are fed “Ten Principles of Economics” from Gregory Mankiw’s book like they are supreme laws of nature, followed by rigorous mathematical analysis of demand and supply, of markets, of consumption and production, et-cetera. The schools of macroeconomic thought enter the picture in the fourth semester where they are given, generally, as much attention as agriculture gets from mainstream media. One reason is also their low share in the marking scheme of semester examinations.
I believe, the most appropriate way to learn a social science subject is to approach it historically. Because each distinct theory has to be seen in its historical context to be understood completely. For natural sciences, the laws are pretty much timeless. But Economics, despite of such rigorous mathematics used in its study, is a social science; and we need to study each theorist (economist) in the light of times he/she lived in.
For this, the ‘Economic Schools of Thought’ should be the very first chapter in Economics syllabus at DU. This shall guide students to see that each economist was a product of its time, that Economics developed in many ways from many different ideas about human nature and social constructs. For example, a deeper reading of neoclassical economics shows that it stems out from the philosophy of ‘Humanism’ and Keynesian Economics has an element of ‘Structuralism’. If nothing else, this might introduce students to the plurality of Economics right at the beginning, so that we at least know that there is more to economics than unrealistic assumptions in the name of ceteris paribus.
When we are fed equations and assumptions about consumer behavior, demand, and supply, investment, growth etc. like they are foolproof equations of natural sciences, the introduction of schools of thought in the fourth semester doesn’t do much to expand our horizon of understanding. It’s almost as if things would be same without such an inclusion.
Post financial crisis, there have been numerous critiques of neoclassical economics, of the financial system, the banking system, of capitalism itself. But despite everything, there have been no major reforms in the syllabus of Economics at universities in India. If we look at the syllabus of Economics Honours before CBCS in Delhi University, we shall see that the foundation subjects of theory are still exactly the same. We are still fed the same ‘laws’ and ‘principles’ of neoclassical economics until we are programmed to accept them as absolute truths rather than just one interpretation of reality amongst many others.
At this point, it must be made clear that neo-classical economics is not an altogether wrong branch of economics. The ‘free market – rational individual – independent agents’ formulations of economic theories do give many useful insights about the economic phenomena around the world. And these models are extremely feasible to base research on. The problem arises when we never learn to question those theories any further than some of the questions raised by John Maynard Keynes. The problem arises when our tendency of ‘not questioning’ translates into single-mindedness about the supremacy of one theory. When global events have repeatedly proved many neo-classical models and theories to be faulty and at times, even misguided, why do we still study the same syllabus without even looking at it critically?
We study textbooks written primarily by American authors – or authors who are not American but reside in America. In the process of learning to solve problems that concern advance capitalist economies, we become arrogant ‘specialists’ who are very prone to giving first world solutions to third world problems.
While I am a second-year student and there are two semesters on Development Economics and Indian Economy in the third year, I doubt, with my neo-classical training in theory, how much I would really be able to grasp the problems by their roots concerning India. Or will I just see the problems as much as they are written in my readings, as most of us do?
I am certain that there are others like me who feel that there is a huge problem with Economics as an academic discipline here in India and across the world. We study such a plural subject by almost reducing it to singularity. The notion of an inherently stable economy is fit into our minds like a testament. But during class, while learning the models like the Walrasian Equilibrium, the Efficient Market Hypothesis, our mind is constantly confused from the fictionality of the premises of those models.
It is completely true that the arrival of Economics as a mainstream distinct academic discipline began with the Classical Economists’ works, like those of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Jevons, Walras, Vilfred Pareto etc. It is absolutely necessary to study these giant intellectuals and their theories to learn economics. But we must also notice that neo-classical economics did not really build beyond providing a mathematical proof of earlier theorems under certain assumptions, while the world, clearly, has changed a lot. And when the models developed by top neo-classical experts around the world (including Nobel Laureates) have failed (sometimes very miserably) time and again in predicting as well as averting financial crashes, we must now collectively call for reform.
I strongly advocate the inclusion of Neo-Classical Economics in undergrad syllabus, because we can’t do anything without it. But I am sternly against the dominance of one branch in academia, politics and the financial sector. We must be introduced to Marx, to the Austrians, to the causes of various financial crashes and where the neo-classicals went wrong. We must be taught the problem of ‘Unequal Exchange’ as proposed by Samir Amin as importantly as we are taught the PPP theory. Because the way we are going right now, according to me, we shall become arrogant self-proclaimed specialists who think they know more than the laymen and understand the world, but lack the basic element of ‘intellectual plurality’.
We must also be taught, as an additional Skill Enhancement Course, about the day to day working of Banks and Financial Institutions in India, about things as basic as how to buy insurance policy or how to manage our bank accounts. Things very basic, but extremely relevant to the real world. I have noticed that I know complex things like how Banks galvanize the credit-creation process, but not so much the simpler things which really matter in day to day survival.
The purpose of my education in Economics, for me, is to be part of a global intellectual workforce, who pioneer in bridging the gap between complex economic phenomena and the common people. The world is a complex place, extremely difficult to understand. As economics students, our goal must be to make it simpler for everyone. We must learn to rigorously criticize our own discipline, because at this crucial juncture in history, Economics needs it.

Alyasa Abbas

Alyasa Abbas is a second-year student of Economics Hons. at Zakir Husain Delhi College.

Influences of the American life have penetrated deeply in our day to day lives, perhaps more than we would have wanted to. But are we aware of its consequences yet?

As we tread along the waters of this postmodern world, wading our way through the crests and troughs of capitalism and the dynamics of power, I can’t help but wonder about the American influences we’re all gradually transforming into victims of.

I feel like living a dilemma. What I read or watch stands in complete contradiction of where I belong. A world full of people can be suffocating if you feel like a part of the world of books, you know. But any individual is the sum of his/her surroundings. And surroundings include social and cultural backgrounds. I believe quite strongly I’m not the only one. As a millennial, citizen of an Asian country, and a girl born into a Hindu family, this clash seems profoundly overwhelming. Through this attempt at purging, I shall try to analyse what really is this ‘dilemma’.

Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, an American psychologist discusses the psychological effects of globalisation with a special focus on youth and suggests that it generally results in issues of identity (Arnett, 2002). I surmise this is the living dilemma.

India is a country that homes people from various religions, dialects, and cultural backgrounds. It is not, like a fully developed nation, a ‘homogeneous mixture’. And in this, we take pride. But these variations are perhaps leading into a loss of individuality, and by extension, lack of cultural/social values.

The hegemony established by the Britishers 200 hundred years ago seems to have metamorphosed into an advanced form. We are now slaves to the vibrant world of Netflix, juicy Macs, and brands that we can’t even pronounce the names of correctly. I do believe that this is the natural course of events and that there is nothing to regret or feel ashamed about here. What baffles me here is the wave of identity crisis that appears to have the strength of drowning us.

The question is not if it’s a good or a bad change, or a right or wrong change. The question is to what extent can it influence us, and to what extent – as people coming from a collectivist background – we would be able to take it.

Unlike children, adolescents have enough maturity and autonomy to pursue information and experiences outside the con?nes of their families. Unlike adults, they are not yet committed to a de?nite way of life and have not yet developed ingrained habits of belief and behaviour; they are more open to what is new and unusual (Arnett, 2002). As children of a developing state, we are even more vulnerable to these changes. The kind of information/data that unearths itself from the virtual world of internet is appealing to every adolescent, but I reckon what makes Indian children more prone to getting hooked is the post-colonial hangover, which makes sure that an adolescent gets exactly the kind of escape s/he needs.

A third-year student pursuing Political Science Honours from a Delhi University college remarked, “We have become slaves of American brands and products. We do speak and protest again capitalism, but not everyone can reject the kind of effect the American market is having on us.” One may promise to not go to a McDonalds for life, or not watch Netflix but to what extent can the youth of today – susceptible by the seemingly fancy world of the West – resist the temptations it offers? And how will the individual then, cope with the flipside of it in real life?

The myth that we are progressing towards an ‘advanced’ or more ‘civil’ world shall always remain a myth. The need of the hour is not to question if the changes happening around – ones that feel like seeping through the bones and skull of the nation – are right or wrong but that, are we ready to tackle with the issue of our identity that we are seemingly growing more confused day by day about.


Feature Image Credits: Socialist.ca

Akshada Shrotryia
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-Kriti Budhiraja

In his first innings as a politician, Dr Manmohan Singh liberated our economy. In his second, as prime minister, he brought about a paradigm shift in … our foreign policy… Our guess, and wish, is that he now does to our higher education what he did to our economy and foreign policy in 1991 and 2008, respectively.

–         Shekhar Gupta

Indeed, the signals being sent out by Kapil Sibal, however vague, make an unmistakable case for the extension of neoliberalism into the sphere of higher education. In this vein, the HRD Ministry has proposed alternatives that would allow for greater ‘freedom’ and ‘autonomy’.

However, much like the economic reforms of 1991 and the paradigm shift in foreign policy reaffirmed by the nuclear deal, such promises aren’t exactly benevolent commitments to freedom. Instead, as Kavita Krishnan points out, phrases such as ‘autonomy’ and ‘freedom’ are essentially neoliberal euphemisms for freeing the state from its responsibility to provide for higher education, which is now proposed to be tied to the diktats of the market.

While it may be too soon to be sure of its specific consequences, it wouldn’t be ill-founded to fear that market forces are proposed to have an upper-hand in deciding syllabi and funding research, which could lead to the systematic marginalization of the social sciences. Further, if education turns into a money-making enterprise, it may become highly inaccessible to a large number of people. Moreover, lack of government interference in the selection process of faculty and students could possibly mean an attempt to thwart the reservation policy, which is of absolute importance given our sociological context.

Indeed, the need of the hour is to do a serious re-assessment of the situation of education in India, while keeping in mind the specificities of our context. While change is certainly imperative, quick-fix infiltration of private capital is not the most promising solution.  Instead, it would be useful for us to consider problems relating to access to education, quality and content, the domination of English as the academic language, etc in a more nuanced and sensitive manner.

At this juncture, it is upon the students and teachers’ movements to make sure that the future of education is not jeopardized by crass attempts at commercialization, even as the neoliberal discourse is attractively pitched along the lines of freedom and diversity.