65 years of independence, 65 years since we shooed away the British. 65 years, since trains pulled up at railway stations, loaded with dead bodies. 65 years since everyone wanted to kill each other.

We, the youth of India, are a safe 60-something years away from all the violence, bloodshed and gore. But are we really free, in every sense of the word?

In a country where people wearing Armani sunglasses and holding Gucci bags look out of their BMW windows only to see beggars and slums, in a country where a law graduate’s throat was slit because she put up a fight against a rapist, in a country where brides are burnt in kitchen fires over dowry issues, in a country where honour killing is considered honourable, in a country where modernity is given the tag of promiscuity, in a country where politics is a mud-slinging arena, FREEDOM, in its truest form, cannot exist.

From the very beginning of the the day, to the very end- we find ourselves ensnared in various violations of the term freedom. From the haggling with the uncouth autowalas, to the formidable looking aunties pushing you out of the queue at the ticket counter; from the steady line of eyes peeping into the women’s compartment in the metro, to the judgement and competition between cousins; from the rude personal remarks your teacher makes at you before the whole class, to the back-stabbing between friends; from “customer care” services that put your call on hold for the next hour or so, to power cuts and unfair billing, we live each day only to discover it’s a man-eat-man world.

I refuse to believe that there is even a single teenager in this country, who at some point or the other, hasn’t considered “Lucknow wale chachaji aur delhi wali maamiji kya kahenge” before making a decision- be it about a piercing, a haircut, an outfit, or his/her career.

I refuse to believe there is a single teenager who has never felt a violation of his or her freedom of choice and expression.

DUTA (Delhi University Teacher’s Association) and DUSU (Delhi University Students Union) apparently did not get a say in the decision of semesterisation of undergraduate courses in Delhi University that was made a year back. And now, WE are the ones living it’s consequences (read: inflation of marks scam).

The great Indian illusion of independence and freedom shatters to reality every time a young girl is made to wear traditional clothes and forced to carry a tray of biscuits and chai into a drawing room full of prospective in-laws. It falls to pieces every time a rape survivor is blamed because her clothes were “provocative”. It breaks down even further every time parents tell their child not to play the guitar or play sports or paint or write, and practise chemical equations instead. It decays every time a mausiji or buaji wrinkles her nose at the idea of her nephew/niece pursuing a humanities course.

And what do the elderly have to say this?

Bharat ke paas ek aisi cheez hai, jo videsh mein nahi milegi- hamaare sanskaar!

Ab aaj kal ke bacche raat mein pub jaayenge, toh ye sab toh hoga hi na!

Girls being physically assaulted at a pub in Bangalore by the Sri Ram Sena activists, does not look like sanskaar to me. Couples deciding not to meet on Valentine’s Day for fear of being dragged to temples by the same Sena, does not look like sanskaar to me.

True, if sanskaar is to discriminate, violate, and suppress- then there is no country like India.


In Delhi, the arrival of 15th August brings with it a spectacular array of granduer and splendour. The streets are filled with festivities and the bright Indian sky is speckled with multicoloured kites. Young and old unite as one while each family tries to prove its mettle to their neighbours by taking them down in a fun-filled yet competitive ‘kite fight’. Big or small, cheap or costly, monochromatic or brightly coloured, these stringed machines reign the skies of our capital on the day we won our Independence.

Historically speaking, the relationship between Delhi and Kite flying goes back to the Mahabharata, where it is mentioned that Krishna spent his leisure time flying kites with the Gopikas. Kites have also played a significant role in the freedom struggle as they were used by the common people as a symbol of their unity against the oppressive Simon Commission, in 1928. The Indian skyline was filled with an army of paper birds, with the slogan ‘Go Back’ plastered over their bodies. Thus, it doesn’t come as a surprise that these kites are used, till date, to signify the freedom and Independence we have rightfully earned from our oppressors.

Kite Flying is more than just a yearly festival for people living in Old Delhi. Lal Kuan market, known for its large number of kite manufacturers and sellers, has seen families in which successive generations dedicate their life to a practice they consider a Kala-an art form. Delhi also boasts of close to 150 kite clubs, such as Evergreen Kite Flying Club and Galaxy Kite Flying Club to name a few. Members of such clubs often come together every Sunday, with bright kites and manjhas (Thread), all set to watch them soar into the sky. On some days, intense kite-matches are also held where groups are made and everyone comes together to enjoy a morning full of passionate team spirit and camaraderie.

Despite the existence of Kite clubs and enthusiasts, the unfortunate truth is that kite flying is now a dying sport due to ignorance and lack of cultural enthusiasm by the younger generations. Many attempts have been made in the recent past to revive the significance of this age-old game. 2011 saw the introduction of a kite-cutting competition organised at India Gate to encourage its revival. Many of the kite enthusiasts are now trying to promote their passion though the marketing of the already existing Kite clubs. Some blame the exorbitant price hikes as the main cause of this fading art, but a lot is left unsaid when today’s generation turns towards their computer and Play Stations instead of choosing to pursue something traditional and timeless.

No matter how disconnected we might be from this ancient sport, today on 15th August, a majority of people living in Delhi will bring out some thread and a colourful paper kite, ready to spray paint the blue canvas above with a splash of vibrant hues.



Happy Independence Day. Why day? Why happy? Most importantly why the Independence?

First and foremost, why must we celebrate an Independence DAY? Surely the massive struggle for Independence was not achieved in so insignificant and insulting a time as a day. It was a gut wrenchingly slow and dragging battle for which thousands of souls over far too many generations fought and died. It began from the first feelings of unrest among those suffering under the yoke of colonial oppression and continued till the last of the colonial overlords, wearied to the bone, finally took his leave of the land that had been to him successively a trading haven, a conquest, a property and a home.

Even if we do, in the impatience of contemporary life, choose to allot a mere day to acknowledge this monumental episode of our past, how can the complex emotions triggered by its memory be labeled by that grossly simplistic umbrella emotion: happy? It was a hard won independence, resulting as the result of a long drawn struggle, a world war, mutinies, marches and the silent protest of a nation wanting to exist. It inspired an utter cacophony of emotions. Feelings of relief, euphoria, thankfulness, bliss, bittersweet triumph and pure epiphany all swelled up when the realization dawned that this land was finally solidly ours. At the same time the joy was drenched in the sickening memories of partition, of violence which tore a country apart and the irreversible damage it wreaked. Will any amount of relief drown out the horror necessarily attached to the same historic incident? Surely the drowning cannot be so complete as to even leave behind an overall feeling of ‘happiness’ in its wake…

Finally, to tackle the issue of Independence: Why use such an uncompromising psychologically and socially relevant term to describe a historical victory? Our freedom from colonial rule was certainly a magnificent triumph leading to the re-assertion of our identity. However our country existed far before the British ever came seeking us. We have in turn been conquered and ruled by many invaders; most of whom got assimilated and became us while some were thrown back. Did we celebrate as Independence each little skirmish that led to an oppressive tribal chief, city chieftain or even king being ousted from power? However those fights won freedom too, highly valued by the victims in each case. Even today the struggle for independence is far from over. Whether it is a corrupt government, a negligent minister, an unfair law or even a tyrannical teacher, there will always be people trying to overpower us and deny us our rights. The fight against these oppressors can never cease as indeed our quest for finding new ways of defining and achieving freedom can never end.

Independence is a state of mind. It cannot be brought about unless every citizen truly feels free in our country. Perhaps when India can satisfactorily fulfill the needs of every person calling it home, protecting them and nurturing them, it will achieve that which is closest to ‘Independence with a capital I’- the selfsame one we so presumptuously celebrate each year.

However until that utopian ideal is achieved, let us be content with hoping that each one of us shall appreciate and acknowledge the multiple facets of one great historical achievement of our country, not an Independence but a more temporal albeit equally creditable struggle for freedom.

Here’s to a great victory!

At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom….” Jawaharlal Nehru’s words will keep resounding in the ears of generations of Indians to come. While we are no doubt citizens of a free country, and have the liberty to do as we wish, sometimes we do tend to take it for granted. For freedom is a privilege and right till the point it does not impinge on anyone else’s space.

1. While we do believe that dressing is a form of self expression and DU Beat is all for freedom of expression, lets not get so carried away that it blights your sense of judgement. Take the instance of Delhi’s Hard Rock Cafe.It has received ample criticism for being more like a club than a cafe. Delving deeper into the problem reveals that the elaborately adorned girls with cheetah print tubes and high boots,boys with spiked hair and tight shirts accentuating their bulging biceps may well be the root to this problem. Other than providing enormous source of entertainment to the few reasonably dressed ones these ‘elaborate costumes’ may just get a dress code slapped on you.

2. While the Metro is the pride of Delhi, it is sad that authorities had to add “Kripya zor zor se apne phone par gaana na bajaye” to the already elaborate list of announcements . The culprits? ‘Yo’ cool dudes, who voluntarily deign to be the metro DJ. Seriously guys ,get a pair of earphones. Let us recognize the fact that the freedom to listen to what we want, extends to everybody. Difficult as it may be for some to come to terms with, perhaps everyone does not like to listen to Akon at the top of your phone volume.

3. So typical of the Delhi driver is an inherent tendency to park his car wherever he pleases. So lets instill a little road sense into our brain and realise that curtailing parking in the middle of roads is not a gross violation of your rights.

4. Lets just restrict our inner artist a tad bit more specially when he gets the creative urge to decorate public walls. And no, urinating or spray painting with spit deserves no special concession. Graffiti , we have heard, looks infinitely better on the walls of your room. It comes as no surprise that freedom from inhaling non putrid air somehow seems to figure at the top of the list these days

What is the point of 62 years of independence if there’s no one out there to assert their liberty, to whine for their freedoms and demand their rights? Social activists, mahila mandals, politicians, actors – they’ve all had their fare share of grumbling and now it’s our turn to jump into the bandwagon. Freedom, here we come!

We want freedom in the classroom. Freedom to stand up and say “Sorry ma’am, I’m sure you think obsessing over the ramblings of dead Greek scholars spells bliss, but I beg to differ” and skip out of the class without fear of being dragged into the principal’s office by the ear. We’ve all come across teachers who angrily insist that no one is compelled to sit in his/her class and those not interested can walk out anytime but something tells me that the day we actually take them up on their offer would be the end of our budding education.

We want freedom in public. To sing our favourite song to ourselves on the metro, to do the moonwalk in the middle of the vegetable market, to try and run down the escalator going upwards. To do all this without being subjected to glares, open mouths or urgent calls to the mental ward of the nearest hospital.

We want freedom from “fashion” in all its glossy-papered, televised forms. The freedom to wear polar bear caps with little paws you can snuggle your hands into, green tees with purple salwars, slippers without the trademark PUMA or REEBOK stamped on them, peacock earrings and orange spectacles. To just get up in the morning and let your hand decide what you’re going to wear, not the thought of your stiletto-ed college-mates.

We want freedom from roadside Romeos. The freedom to walk down streets without being subjected to whistles and Govinda songs and eyes that scan with the efficiency of an x-ray machine. To not feel the necessity to burden our bags with pepper sprays and pen knives or sweat it out in Kung Fu classes. To not be forced to enquire about their ma/behen at home.

Most importantly, we want the freedom to just be. To live, and let live. To chart our own course and not be asked to fill in the footprints left behind by others. The freedom to fly, to soar, the freedom to be free.