“Our democracy will not sustain if we can’t guarantee freedom of speech and expression,” PM Narendra Modi said in June 2014. But the recent police action against protestors showcases that in India what you preach is not what you practice. 

Our country is currently being rocked by protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in various places. Although there exist divided views on the issue, the major concern that has arisen is the importance of expressing dissent in a democracy and the biased stance of the police in the matter. 

Dissent can be defined as non-agreement with an idea, policy or entity. Democracy sustains and strengthens because of its ideals as well as voicing the collective will and diversity in views. It is only through acts of dissent that we can truly assess the efficacy of a democratic system. But in recent times, any kind of objection to the current government or its policies are blatantly termed as ‘Anti-national and seditious’ by the government, members of the ruling party and some other organisations. A large number of people who have criticised the government policies or even Modi, have either been arrested or brutally trolled on various social media platforms. Student protests against CAA – NRC have been ridiculed as immaturity and propaganda of the opposition. In places like Jamia Millia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University, Assam, etc. non-violent protests have been aggressively curbed using police force. 

The matter in question is not whether these policies and decisions are worthwhile, but the growing intolerance towards any form of opposition or disagreement to the popular decision and the police using its powers in a prejudiced manner. Scores of images, videos and other evidence have come up that have questioned the integrity of ‘kanoon ke rakhwale (Law Keepers)’. Victims of police brutality have shared horrific accounts of how they were detained on falsified charges, abused and even labelled as ‘Pakistanis’. This clampdown on civil society activists and critical minds is not a recent phenomenon. For instance, in the Bhima-Koregaon case of 2018, activists speculated to have Maoist links were arrested. Later, a fact-finding committee found that Hindu extremist groups planned Bhima-Koregaon riots, but the police targeted the activists due to pressure from the state government to protect the perpetrators. The recent transfer of the case to NIA by the Home Ministry raises further questions. Same accusations have been levied during CAA protests as the police raised their lathis and guns against some groups of protestors only. Hostility of the police is often justified on the grounds of maintaining peace and unity and colonial era laws of sedition and criminal defamation are used as crutches to support the lies. This rampant silencing by police is worrying and aggravates dubiety – whether the scales of justice always favour the privileged and the majority. 

Nurturing dogma, which restraints criticism and disapproval, will surely befall great doom upon our country. With increasing education and awareness, the police cannot act as bigoted individuals, launch a ‘witch – hunt’ on a sectarian basis and then expect the people to stay mum. 

 A democracy is prosperous when it comprises active citizens who dissent against the unjust and express their devotion and respect towards its ideals through nonviolent means and in turn, the government and its agencies too welcome their revolutionary views. That is when we become truly free and enjoy the true essence of our existence as a human. 

‘The Constitution gives us a voice

to raise against any unjust.

But they try to steal our choice

and tell us, to their whims we must adjust.

No longer will we be played as toys

cos it’s time to rise and voice our dissent.’


Image Credits: Manav Ahuja and Jassman for DU Beat

Ipshika Ghosh 

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Does your bemused self stand at crossroads, indecisive of whether to join in on vocalising dissent amidst the palpable protest culture or not? Read on to find about the battle that ensues.

You might have been a busy bee drenched with assignments, deadlines, society commitments, parties, tinder dates, self quarantines (if you are introvert) and other youth culture activities, but simultaneously there has been a turbulence which led to class suspensions, teachers’ strike, mass harassment, violent riots and police crackdowns which in turn made ‘Inquilab’ strike a crescendo.

What one may find sudden and superious is aftermath of staying passive and not challenging the existent discourse.

“Without deviation from the norm progress is not possible.” The underlying construct of this quote by Frank Zappa is evident in every little rebellious thing we do. To say someone has never protested about anything in life seems far from veracity. There are no shortages of elements which challenge the social, political, economical and cultural cloak which blankets our existence of being. We don’t dwell in Utopia. This leaves us with the current state of affairs which are results of unchallenged perpetuated norms of behavior.

But is it right to put the onus on small fragile shoulders of people who are unfazed with oppressions, are cocooned in comfort, enmeshed in apolitical stances and have sorted priorities?

These are some of the many reasons also labelled as excuses by active participants of protests. Arunima Tripathi, a B.A. (H) Political Science, first year student from Kirori Mal College expressed her dismay over privilege shaming and said,”Keeping my privileges and political leanings aside, I join in on protests because it comes from my conscience and common sense.” 

There are some who wish to be vociferous but silence themselves from the fear of their parents and society. Some fear safety amidst police crackdowns. Priyanshi Sarraf, a first year B.Com. (H) student from Hansraj College said,”I feel guilty about not being able to mobilise for protests because of restrictions from my parents who fear for my safety, but I try to be active on social media and voice my opinions where I feel relatively safer. I do receive flak sometimes but it’s my space after all.”

Online activism emboldens the cause without any doubts. Protesting is not just mere taking to streets but also cultivating a sphere which encourages more voices to follow. Those active ones continuously try to get the attention of maximum people possible to join in on the mission. This helps in keeping the discourse on the table for discussions and engagement rather than losing it in the winds of oblivion.

Political correctness is ideal when going in protests. There are instances where people are not aware of the anatomy of the protests. Brut India’s short video surfaced which showed a woman alleging her husband and kids who forced her to sit in Shah Jamal demonstrations in Aligarh in the wake of protest tide against Citizenship Amendment Act. Such accounts of incidents weakens the stride of the movement. Pro or Anti, if you feel like you have something to say remember it’s your right to do so and if you sit in silence nothing is going to change the frosted dynamic.

To protest or not to protest is a matter for your indecisive conscience but it also is an obligation to the ones to who have the potential to act in times when crisis befalls. As Martin Luther King Jr said, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal,” you have to be wary of which side you pick because that winter of the times sure has come!

Feature image credits: DU Beat 

Umaima Khanam

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The English department of Lady Shri Ram College for Women called for a series of General Body Meetings in light of the increasing state of communal violence faced by the city and its people. 

On 2nd March 2020, the English department called for a General Body Meeting at the Peace Centre. The GBM was centered around the issue of increasing state of communal violence faced by the city and its people, and was called in order to decide the extension of help to those affected by the violent environment. Following message was circulated by the English Department Union: “Minutes of Today’s Meeting and Call for GBM. In today’s meeting, we discussed the current political climate and what the department can do to play its part. 2A’s decision to boycott classes indefinitely was discussed, along with similar boycott by the department collectively, as well as collection drives, fundraising efforts, and volunteering at protest sites.

Students suggested the following ideas:

-Freeze attendance in case of classes undertaking boycotts or students unable to attend classes.

-Have one event a week wherein professors can discuss the larger situation creating space for discussion

-Publish a collective narrative of real experiences, use blogs and social media to raise awareness

-Restructure class lectures making classrooms flexible spaces for open ended discussions, if people really want to attend them

-A schedule of extra classes by teachers, or study sessions with seniors, once the boycott is over.

Some students also expressed their reluctance to boycott as they felt it could be a tokenistic gesture. The union has expressed these views to their staff advisors and administration and will be addressing the department about possible ways forward tomorrow at 10:45 in the peace centre before the protest gathering. If you are able to come to college, please attend this GBM. 

English Department Union” 

The action of boycott was first initiated by a section of second year students pursuing English honours. The section decided to go on indefinite boycott of classes in order to join protests and shake the illusion of normalcy on campus. However, differing views did arise. “I feel that it’s a very elitist stance. To go on an indefinite boycott could just hamper the education of the marginalized sections. Some can afford to pay to repeat the semester but can everybody do it? Also, what are we even doing while carrying out a boycott? Do we have a charter of demands? Are we taking any substantial step to improve the situation and actually utilize the time we have because of the boycott? If it’s only about being able to join protests then even a partial boycott on days of protests can fulfill that need. And if it’s only about showing that normalcy does not exist then it can be done while also attending classes. For instance, people could organise protests on campus after classes or wear symbols of dissent like t-shirts or any other such thing that says stuff like no NRC, CAA, NPR.”, said a student from 2A who wished to remain anonymous. On 3rd March 2020 the Union discussed their conversation with staff advisors and possible ways forward with the department. One of the resolutions was conducting online anonymous polls. Two possible outcomes came into perspective. Firstly, total indefinite boycott wherein the “entire department will call for a total boycott irrespective of internals and attendance, in solidarity with students from affected areas”. Secondly, partial boycott in which “the department will call for a boycott of classes post 11am (or suitable time), irrespective of attendance and internals, in days in which protest marches and gatherings are scheduled”. On the same day, the department announced the following: “After repeated GBMs and a vote, the department has reached a tally of 115 votes for a total boycott and 68 votes for a partial boycott. However, after the count was over, 23 students have approached us asking for a revote with a “No boycott” category. Since the option was not expressed by these people or their representatives at the GBMs, and since there is an overwhelming majority for a total boycott, this is the stance that we will be following. Since mid-sem break is right around the corner and questions arise about the situation concerning the same, we will be re-evaluating once college reopens post break.” 


Many students complained about the inability to express their views freely. “I also don’t feel absolutely free to be able to share an opinion that the majority does not support because if someone is speaking of wanting to attend classes, all of them are trying to educate her on how the boycott is important and how they are being insensitive by thinking of classes so they’re trying to just reinforce their opinion all the time when they should try to accommodate everyone’s voices.”, said a second year student from Lady Shri Ram College for Women. Another GBM was called on 5th March 2020 at 11am, to discuss the matter with the department. The following message was circulated by the Union: “Based on the GBM today, the department will be following a partial boycott stance as a collective, wherein the entire department will only boycott all classes on days of protest marches and youth gatherings. However, individual sections are free to follow a total boycott stance provided the entire class agrees to this motion. This decision comes as a result of groups of students feeling bullied and targeted for picking a stance or for attending classes, as well as the confusion in communication between students and their CRs. Note: 

  1. Classes will take place for those who wish to attend.
  2. For students unable to attend college due to safety concerns, the union will be making attempts to ensure that attendance is granted to you all and extra classes can be arranged as well.
  3. For students or classes who wish to boycott indefinitely, some teachers are willing to take extra classes in order to ensure that you do not miss out on syllabus.
  4. If a section comes to a consensus about total boycott, their CRs must communicate that to their teachers and ensure that no student is attending classes on the days of total boycott. 

Further discussions are awaited after the mid-semester break. The department also has its annual conference- Litmus 2020 scheduled on 20th and 21st March 2020. 

Feature Image Credits: DU Beat Archives 

Image Credits: Department of English, LSR


Priyanshi Banerjee

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Political allegories is that art, of which George Orwell is a deemed artist. Here is a vignette of his work in association with the modern day political discourse. 

It’s on rather sad accounts that Orwellian literature has withstood the notion of ‘change is constant’ and still continues to appropriate the political scenarios of today. With his notable works of fiction, and non fiction, Eric Arthur Blair under the pen name of George Orwell, authored classics like Animal Farm, 1984, etc.which still reverberates his relevance in contemporary times.

The narrative of using relatively passive, uneducated, gullible, and vulnerable ‘Comrades’ being furthered as pawns to unify under the garb of love for the nation, is one the basics of Animal Farm used only to supposedly overthrow the common enemy; human kind sans the kind.

This pattern has a complex resemblance with what we see in modern day India. People are duped into buying the agenda of what in true sense the love for nation is, and end up hurting their own kind because the line of demarcation of what constitutes as an enemy or not, either fades or obliterates.

A teenager from Uttar Pradesh fires a shot in Jamia Millia Islamia whilst saying, “Yeh lo azadi! (Here is your freedom!)” clearly under the influence of the so called ‘political leaders’ who spit venom of hate speeches to communalise every issue in the name of some glorified dream of India which they deem to be truer from what a secular India is.

The decisions of the supreme leader are taken as Gospel. Boxer: the horse, who lived by the maxim of ‘I will work harder’ and ‘Napoleon is always right,’ was sold, in exchange of alcohol by the leaders upon being old and injured. This just reinforces the fact that tyrant leaders will make use of people to accord to their own whims and interests, with the defence that their interests somehow coincide with that of the nation.

This notion brings us to take notes from Orwell’s notes on Nationalism. He attempts to create distinction between patriotism and nationalism where the former is a ‘devotion’ to a particular way of life which one considers to be supreme, but doesn’t force on others whilst the latter is what he categorises as ‘defensive’ and inseparable from desire of power. Alike ‘Animalism,’ ‘Nationalism’ too is used as a tool, to synchronise the mass and take them for a fool.

Squealer’s role of a propagandist is headed by media not only in India, but around the globe. Concealing the economic troubles until they became quite prevalent that the Government had to acknowledge it, resembles when food shortage was denied by Napoleon but later accepted. The bells ring quite loud when every fault is associated with Snowball just like it’s done to Pakistan.

In the dystopian world of totalitarianism of 1984 the discouragement escalates from ‘thoughtcrime’ where as much as if you think of going against Big Brother, you’ll be relinquished. A world where rebellious thoughts are illegal, not just inOceania but modern day China where Internet is censored, Islamic monarch Saudi Arabia where journalists like Jamal Kashogi are murdered and North Korea where one party republic rules, to name a few.

Altering of historical records and manipulation of facts and data is as rampant in today’s political scenario as it was done in Orwell’s novella. The discourse is set in such a way that it’s natural propensity and not deliberate strategy to add clauses to alter the seven commencements.
‘Orwellian’ is an adjective describing a situation, idea, or societal condition that George Orwell identified as being destructive to the welfare of a free and open society. Political doublespeak is criticised throughout his works. Perhaps, the fact that we still have modified and novel versions of Stalin, Josip Tito, Mao Tse-tung, Pol Pot, Augusto Pinochet, and Slobodan breathing, leading and deceiving on similar lines, of “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” its of great misfortune that Orwellian literature still stands relevant!

Feature Image Credits: Historyme

Umaima Khanam

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In times like today, when the nation burns and dissent curbs, where does the agitation divert to? In times like today, when the nation burns and dissent curbs, we seek solace in art. 

Protests. Music. Posters. Slogans. Paintings. Doodles. Protests. Years back these must have been random words stringed together, today, they are all part of a revolution to seek the truth and preserve the tarnishing ideals of our democracy. As more streets echo Hum Dekhenge, self-composed songs, witty slogans, posters, graffiti, social media too simultaneously creates content on all platforms. 

Throughout history, art has remained a crucial part in evoking the idea of nationalism. The Swadeshi Movement was laid down on the ground rock foundation of art- from Raja Ravi Varma to Abanindranath Tagore, their legacy still thrives in the very image of ‘Bharat Mata’ which has been appropriated by the other side of the wing, time and again. Historically, the world has not been much of a pleasant place politically, to begin with, ravaged with wars, suppression, overturned democracy and conflict for power. 

Image Credits: The Hindu
Image Credits: The Hindu

The Emergency 1975-77 amidst all the press restrictions paved way to one of the most iconic political cartoons which still finds a place in politics and journalism books. The Common Man by R.K. Laxman till date stands relevant in the sphere of political art. Keeping the art- ‘art’ aspect out of it, any content created by anyone is art- poetry, literature, paintings, everything is art.

Globally, too, graffiti, poetry and photography have rather been more dominant on social media. From Trump to Brexit, Syria to Hong Kong, protests have been largely dominated and propagated with art as a backbone.

Image Credits: The Guardian
Image Credits: The Guardian









Sharanya Vajjha, an amateur Artist and Political Science student says, “I really feel it’s a creative and articulate way to show someone that you disagree. Visuals are a far more effective medium in making a point, then why not make it instrumental in showing our resistance?”

Instagram today is a platform for everyone with a voice, with the rise in citizen journalism, all forms of art have emerged to be an influential way of criticising. After 15 December (Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) Violence) and 5 January (Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Violence), Instagram stories and Twitter, was flooded with creative posters, slogans, poetry, and songs.

Bol Ke Lab Azaad Hai Tere!, Azaadi, Hum Dekhenge!, Inquilab Zindabad!, dominated both the streets and sheets (literally). Idle backseat doodlers are leading protests and slogans with their art, brave images of JMI and JNU students fighting back, have become a digital symbol to show solidarity.

Who said art is for the weak-hearted?  Walking the streets of Delhi today, every wall shouts “Jai Bhim” and “No CAA, No NRC”. Bangalore’s walls are painted in shades of the OG Shah-Modi’s colour. Kolkata is well, painted in red. Political art is silent, yet screams the most.

Disha Arya, an amateur photographer covering the protests all over Delhi says, “Photography as an art form lends you an eye on different perspectives which are not observable otherwise. I hope to inspire nationalism with what I click and wish for an urgent realisation against the ongoing fascism and curbing of dissent expressed.” 

Modern urban politics have largely been incited and popularised to reach its maximum extent, solely due to creativity. People often perceive art to be apolitical, however as history has it, apolitocal art is just an oxymoron.

Feature Image Source: @afsaanehoor on Instagram 

Anandi Sen

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‘Ab bhi jiska khoon na khaula, khoon nhi woh paani hai, jo desh ke kaam na aaye, wo bekar jawani hai’, Rang De Basanti has registered itself as the very best form of narration from Bollywood over the past decades but has this tale found itself as the natural stimulus record of youth agitation and neo-patriotism?

When a bunch of young, restless and carefree students from Delhi University rise against the government’s actions, demanding justice and due resignation of a Union Minister who is responsible for the harsh consequences endowed upon their friend and his family, the ensuing repercussions take atrocious turns by the hands of the state. The above mentioned lines forms the premise of the 2006 Republic Day release Rang De Basanti, that celebrated youth and revolution like never before, since the National Freedom Struggle. It was only when these lines from this grand celluloid marvel gained relevance in the stark happenings throughout the nation that Rang De Basanti became the perfect manifestation of the ongoing struggle of students against the government and it’s policies like the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) & the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

The popular adage ‘films are the reflections of society’ couldn’t have asked for a better paradigm than Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s cult classic Rang De Basanti, that narrates and encapsulates the essence of true patriotism which was in passé in an age of pseudo patriotism and cloud of fraudulence. The film while narrating the tale of the Indian freedom struggle and deeds of our heroes like Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Ashfaqullah Khan, Ramprasad Bismil, Sukhdev, Rajguru, and Durga Bhabhi, reinstates the essential quest for better and truly free India in a generation of liberalized, west-influenced & apolitical students who have lost hope in the India that the revolutionaries and freedom fighters fought for.

The continually decaying culture of historically informed and culturally envisioned youth which was absolutely unaware of the power it possessed and the influence it can promulgate; the diminishing culture of protests which was either a tale of old books or secluded from the young blood was transformed entirely in the scape of the tale in Rang De Basanti. It didn’t just prove to be a return to a sense of patriotism in the Young’s way but also increased democratic participation and belief in its principles.

From the energetic beats of Rahman, draped craftfully in Prasoon Joshi’s lyrics that gave us the Khoon Chala, Luka Chuppi, Rang De Basanti, or the youth’s anthem Robaroo & Khalbali, these sounds have found a rebirth as songs and poems of revolution in the ongoing protests around the nation. The story of the youth rebelling and leading with reformatory actions are the scene of the current state, where characters as diverse as a passed graduate to a rich brat, a skeptical student, an aspiring poet from humble Muslim background, a dedicated filmmaker, an honest right wing party worker and defense personnel, all get together to save the nation from the abyss, when needed.

The powerful dialogues like ‘Koi bhi desh mahaan nahi hota, use mahaan banana padta hai‘ have registered themselves in the form of posters, placards and pamphlets being passed around. In one scene from the movie where Aslam, played by Kunal Roy Kapoor, is seen designing a wall graffiti with slogans like Inquilab Zindabaad and a pint of pop culture, this has veritably inspired the artists who have crafted their minds out on walls and ways in Universities and other sites of protests.

The candlelight vigil at India Gate, was seen as a thought provoking idea by Mehra, Kamlesh Pandey and Rensil D’Silva, the ensuing instances in the country replicated this on various incidents, be it the Nirbhaya Case Or Jessica Lal Murder Case. Rang De Basanti (RDB) gave the nation a fresh way to protest – by mobilizing the youth. Coincidentally, the ongoing protests have been manhandled by the Police in the same way as the protesters were attacked in the movie when they gathered in support of Flight Lieutenant Ajay Rathod.

The enactment of freedom fighters by our reel life heroes did push them with the enthusiasm and made them aware of the change they can bring about, it wasn’t surprising to see the same cast of RDB with the names of Siddharth, Kunal Kapoor, Soha Ali Khan and Atul Kulkarni being the prominent voices from celebrity domain speaking out against the police actions in Jamia and JNU and backing the protesters.

The movie with it’s iconic climax of a frustrated youth taking on the government and inciting a spark of revolution among them after the heroes turned to alternate ways to seek justice and change saw stills from different universities of the country akin to what we witnessed in the case of the rotests in Jamia, JNU, DU & AMU.

Rang De Basanti leaves us with a very crucial lesson which must be the source of inspiration for each one of us that, ‘Zindagi jeene ke do hi tarike hote hai, ek jo ho raha hai hone do, bardaasht karte jao, ya phir zimmedari uthao usse badalne ki.’


Image Credits : India Times

Faizan Salik

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This piece aims to highlight how nothing is apolitical anymore; politics with its lasting presence is now even shaping the dating lives of the Indian youth.

In a day and age where the youth has risen up to combat the elements of fascism in the country, and uphold the values of democracy laid down in the Constitution; the personal is political, now more than ever. The integrity of Law and Order as well as the Government is being increasingly questioned; the youth today demands answers from a generation that has led them into the pits of a civilisation. However, one wonders, in these times, how does a 19 year old college student deal with their own partner; supporting something they’re out on the streets against? How does the youth navigate the landscape of relationships, dating, and attraction; in a politically charged climate with barbed opinions and perspectives oft en clashing against their own? The answer to the question rests within the reality we currently are entrapped in.

In today’s time, ideological differences take a backseat over, what is now, your stance on human rights. Triparna Dutta, a student of the University of Calcutta, said, “The stakes are high, blood is being shed. It’s impossible to date someone who doesn’t care about human rights, about dissent and the constitution.” A study by Gregory A. Huber of Yale University and Neil Malhotra of Stanford University showed that political affiliation is fast becoming a factor in how people choose who they date (Having a 3 per cent impact, the same as education), while shared race and religion have far more of an impact. Shared religious beliefs result in a 50 per cent increase in interest, while similar ethnicity is 16.6 per cent more likely to result in a match. Ann Philipose, a Delhi-based therapist, has dealt with a number of couples who increasingly worry that their partner’s values, reflected through political beliefs, don’t align with their own. The digital dating panorama is marked with a young and extremely diverse demographic.

Apps such as Hinge, Bumble, Tinder and OKCupid were only launched in India in the last few years, and given the extreme variations in socio-economic strata, it is hard to collect empirical data. However, Taru Kapoor, India head, Tinder and the Match Group, told The Print that last year, on 6th September, when the Supreme Court read down Section 377 and decriminalised homosexuality, the App saw a huge swipe surge showcasing how impactful political decisions are. In a generation that is gravitating towards the notions of woke culture and political correctness, the political views of their partner becomes a deciding factor in the relationship. Events of the past few months, where dissent and the right to peaceful protests is being challenged across the Country, solidify the notion that a relationship between two people with contrasting politics is hard to get by. One also has to acknowledge the mental toll State-sponsored violence has taken on the people at the forefront of the movement. A student revealed the detrimental effects of brutality by Law and Order harmed their mental health to the extent they had to break up with their partner, because they couldn’t sustain and emotionally invest in a relationship in such troubled times.

Amidst all this, relationships can also be a safe space contributing to a worthwhile aspect of politics and dating, being able to communicate to your partner about the authoritarian elements of the regime, and transform their apolitical stance to one supporting those who are marginalised. And well, if this fairy tale like-incident doesn’t happen, you can break up with them, with Republic Day approaching; break their hearts on 26th January. Let the Constitution seep into your love life, finally.

Image Credits: Jaishree Kumar for DU Beat

Paridhi Puri

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As India celebrates its 71st Republic Day, let’s take a look at our dissenting Republic.

According to the Oxford dictionary, a Republic is defined as a State in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated President rather than a Monarch.

India, the largest democracy in the world, became a republic on 26th January 1950. In over seven decades, 103 amendments have been enacted as of December 2019. India celebrates Republic Day with much grandeur where our military might is put on display for the world. The celebration witnesses world leaders as Chief Guests for the day. This year, Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil, has accepted to be the Chief Guest for the celebrations.

All the citizens of this nation have been granted the Freedom of Speech and Expression; however, many have questioned the Government when it comes to the Freedom of Dissent. A student from the University of Delhi (DU), on conditions of anonymity, said, “In 2014, our PM said that the country’s democratic principles will not sustain if we don’t guarantee freedom of speech and expression. When we go out to protest, we are detained, even when it is a peaceful protest. I ask ‘why’? Is the Right selective? Do we have the Right depending on the Government’s wishes?”

I believe that dissent is not anti-national. Our country has been built on expression at crucial times in history. Gautam Buddha and Mahavira had expressed their displeasure over the rigid Vedic system and the associated rituals during the sixth century. The Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 was the first form of dissent by the Indians against the British rule. This even continued after Independence.

J. P. Narayanan’s call for a revolution in the social, economic, and political sphere in 1975 led to the imposition of Emergency and the whole Country turning against the then Government led by Indira Gandhi. A country cannot be free if its people feel threatened in any way, or if there is a fear of expressing oneself.

It is important that the youth, as responsible young citizens of India choose to fight for what is right. It is our prerogative to make sure that there exists a culture of democratic discussion and peaceful dissent, where there exists no violence, where the youth protests for the cause, and not for name and fame.  It is disheartening that during the times when the entire nation was protesting, some student leaders found their way to be a part of larger political organisations to favour their interests. Thus, at that time, the cause is left behind, and the political career is given more light. I saw a few people who came out to ‘protest’ at Jantar Mantar on 19th December 2019, while they saw the protesters raise slogans against the Government, one of them remarked, “acha timepass ho raha hai” (this is a good way to pass time).

The Constitution also provides for an independent Judicial system and the integrity of the higher Judiciary. So, doesn’t the judiciary hold any conscientiousness towards the alarming situation of India? I strongly feel that the Legislature, the Executive, the Judiciary, and an independent Press are the real pillars of India. Even if one of them doesn’t question the damaging image of India, then they are not justifying their existence to the citizens of the country and to the rest of the world. In these times when grave violations of human rights are being alleged every day, it is imperative of the judiciary to fulfil its constitutional duty, maintain its democratic significance, and uphold its institutional prestige.

India’s population of over 1.37 billion people gives us an indication of how many ideas and opinions can flourish in a democratic set-up. Constructive criticism and meaningful dialogue area hallmark of a democratic society and depends on its informed and active citizens who will speak out and distinguish themselves from rabble-rousing.

Anoushka Sharma

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In such times of political turmoil, its easy to feel that everyone is divided into two opposite camps.With friends having opposite and clashing political ideologies, How are many students dealing with this?

The second term of the BJP Government has brought with it many divisive decisions , which have been open to debate and dissent. The country erupted in widespread dissent against the CAA-NRC-NPR, with many feeling that the act was unconstitutional and blatantly islamophobic with many common citizens taking to the streets to express their dissent on a daily basis, a lot of which is brutally repressed by state controlled machinery. On the other side of the spectrum, many supporters of the BJP and their ideology believe that the act is for the betterment of the country, and those protesting are simply disrupting law and order.

While It is easy to see this in a simple black and white spectrum, it is definitely not so. With many choosing to remain apolitical or without a firm stance. Faizan Salik, a second year student from Jamia Millia Islamia, a University that turned into a warzone by the Delhi Police in December, believes that being apolitical is rooted in privilege and debate is the way forward. He says “ Political Apathy is a really considerate commitment, in modern geopolitical warfare where politics has deep roots in shaping major decisions of life, remaining apolitical Or inconsiderate can just be a staunch pedestal to showcase your privilege. It’s entirely subjective on individual, but when opinions differ, I would personally like to engage in a debate & discussion to let others understand each other’s scope and if I am wrong it would help me to clear my stance. Clouded ideologies are only a way to commotion and stupidity.”

The idea of trying to be open to other ideologies is also not lost among some who identify with the political right. Samaksh Sharma, a second year student from  DU says “ There is a stereotype within the left that those from the right wing are blind supporters of Modi and all his policies and are not open for debate. While this might be true for some, I personally try to keep myself open and don’t see the sense in losing close friends over politics. One of my closest friends is actively protesting against CAA and police violence and I still speak to him everyday and we debate sometimes. While I am very neutral when it comes to the CAA, I believe that the Supreme Court should strike it down, as its introduction has only harmed the country.”

It is evident that some people are receptive and open to debate however that might not be the case always. When one is staunch and adamant in their thinking and ideology and is not receptive to facts or theoretical reasoning, the author feels that it is best in this case to minimise contact in such cases. One’s mental health should be prioritized in such times of turmoil, and sometimes it is best to avoid those who disregard, admonish, and demonize our point of view.

Prabhanu Kumar Das

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 Feature Image Credits: Aditi Gutgutia for DU Beat

These are powerful times. These are politically volatile times. These are disappointing times. These are resisting times. Most important of all, these are questioning and questionable times.

With the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) being protested against vehemently in the North-East and across the rest of the country, including the popular hubs of politics and entertainment – Delhi and Mumbai – respectively, the citizens of the country are awakening to the anti-people policies of the current administration, including (but not limited to) the controversial abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir, the policies to privatize education, the Trans Person’s Bill, and the continual curbing of dissent by arresting protesting activists. As I write this, the Farmers’ Leader, Akhil Gogoi, is being charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act – a move that has invited widespread criticism for its arbitrary and oppressive nature.

In a backdrop such as this, it is impossible to go about one’s life – especially as students who study Foucault, Orwell, Ambedkar, and Marx in the classrooms of one of the premier universities of the country – without being the least bit affected with the socio-political climate of the country. The slogan, “Personal is political” manifests itself  powerfully before us, now more than ever, since the majority of us who are on any social networking platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, among many others, cannot possibly scroll through the feeds nonchalantly, without coming across stories, posts, or articles on the current climate. What, then, becomes of social media activism?

I confess that I myself, in the past, have sneered at ‘social media influencers’ and the like, believing that the social and cultural capital enjoyed by them, by virtue of their popularity, was taking up unfair space in the powerful discourse of ground-level activism. However, the past few months have altered this perspective drastically, because social media has now seemingly emerged as the preferred space of discourse for many, includingsystematically disenfranchised communities like trans-people, women, and people from conservative households. When paramilitary troops and police forces are employed in the ratio of three is to one, at organised protests in India Gate, Jantar Mantar, and brutalise the students of Jamia (JMI), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), among other locations, then being on-ground becomes a life and death battle for many from the aforementioned communities.

Social media, then, serves as the forum to express dissent, become informed, and share awareness. This is not to say that the women at Shaheen Bagh, sitting in the chilling winter of Delhi for about a month now, are not palpable to a violent crackdown, or that the resistance that has engulfed Kashmir for multiple decades is on equal footing with sharing a tweet, but it is to acknowledge the newfound power that is threatening the authorities in control. Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) IT cell has been notoriously in the news for circulating numbers, advertising that calling said numbers would get the people “free subscription to Netflix” or rendezvous with porn-stars. Doctored photos of students holding placards like Hinduo ki kabrkhudegiinstead of the original “Hindutva ki kabra khudegi,” were instantly circulated in social media pages, attempting to polarize communal sentiments against students at JMI and AMU. In no time after actress Deepika Padukone stood behind JNU Students’ Union President, Aishe Ghosh, and activist Kanahiya Kumar, that the hashtag “BoycottChhapak” was trending on social media and sexually profanity being hurled at her. Internet lockdown in Kashmir has continued for over 150 days now, while internet services in numerous states like Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Assam, and Gujarat were blocked. Instances like this are testimony to the fact that any platform of public dissent, especially a technologically savvy one like social media that people from older generations in the administration are largely unable to grasp or master, acts to counter the narrative of normalcy our Prime Minister has been propagating with his famous line – Sab changa si!” A single tweet on the everyday violence in the country is indeed momentous enough to throttle this false narrative.

While the criticism against social media has always been the legitimacy of the sources and the accountability of any debates/discussions over it, private citizens like Mitali Bhasin, Sukhnidh Kaur, Pravan Sawhney, Divya Kandukuri, are some of the few names who have set precedent for researching their own resources for news and compiling information for public use in these tumultuous times. Pages like With Kashmir, and media houses like The Wire, The Print, Quint have proven to be reliable sources of information and discourses, publicized and accessible through social media platforms.

The language barrier parting English, Hindi, and other regional languages in India has always been a drawback for left liberal discourse in India, and the dearth of similar resources / activism in languages apart from English, including in Hindi, remains a blind-spot that needs correction in an era where the voting public, from Savarna households, including in our family WhatsApp groups is unaware of the manipulation and propaganda being targeted towards them, because of language or technological gaps that disengage their participation in social media activism. However, as millennials and post-millennials, it is our prerogative to engage in sharing the information that reaches us, creating the much-needed space for dissent amid the hoardings of propaganda.

Most important of all, it is time that to take heed of all the tools at our disposal in fighting violence sponsored by the State. It is time to change those display pictures to red, to make highlights on Instagram with curated information, to tweet and flood the judiciary, the Police, and the ministries, because when we fight fascism in Orwellian times like these, it becomes poignant to break free, in any and all ways possible, from what 1984 labelled the Thought Police.

Anushree Joshi

[email protected]