Independence Day


The following piece promises the top 10 ways to celebrate this Independence Day that you won’t even find on your most favourite blog, read more to find out!

Come August and we see the fervour of patriotism reach it’s crescendo. From spending a lazy holiday with your family at home to extravagantly announcing your patriotism, everyone has a different way of celebrating Independence Day and exercising their own freedom of expression (ahem). So, what are your plans for the day? Finishing all the laundry? Or simply scroll through your Instagram feed for hours on end? Here is a list that might help out.

1. Update your social media with “Happy Independence Day”
The first thing you must do is post a loud and clear “Happy Independence Day” on your page. Next, spam all your contacts (even the ones you don’t really care about) with Independence Day WhatsApp forwards. Remember, the number of Independence Day messages you send and receive is inversely proportional to you being called an anti-national. Do NOT forget to put up the tricolour as your profile picture. Your personality should be entirely “tricolourised” to match with the aesthetic of patriotism.

2. Wear Tri-colour
The next thing you should do after you’ve bombarded all your social media with tricolours and swiped through all the Instagram stories screaming patriotism (read jingoism), you should go and wear the tricolour. Make special efforts to match your outfit with our honourable Prime Minister’s turban, it will add extra punch to your patriotism. Wear the tricolour and while you take pride in its long history of struggle and sacrifice, conveniently  forget the sacrifice of those whose tricolours are stained by the blood of pogroms and genocides. Cheers.

3. Listen to our beloved PM’s speech
Even though it’s a holiday and you can sleep till late, you should wake up at 8 am in the morning and get yourself ready, of course you can sacrifice your sleep for your country, right? Switch on the TV and listen to the whole speech by our honorable Prime Minister from the ramparts of the Red Fort. Take special notice of how many times he mentions about Manipur burning, or the recent killings of Muslims in Nuh, Haryana and Gurgaon or even gives cognizance to the fact that so many of our daughters are raped every day. Once you watch the whole speech, just turn to one of your favorite news channels (read Godi Media) for a more detailed analysis of the speech. And don’t miss out on the part where they show yet another record set by the PM for the longest speech (with empty rhetoric). Haha love you Modi Ji.

4. Attend/watch the Independence Day parade
Try your best to attend the parade in person at Lal Quila. If not, you must make up for it by playing it on the television and sitting through the entire event. The parade would give you a sense of glory and charm of the military and developmental prowess of India and you MUST take pride in it (at all costs). As you watch the defence forces march, do not let thoughts of military excesses and humanitarian crimes committed in ‘disturbed’ areas intrude on your national pride in the army.

While you enjoy the glorious parade, do not let anybody remind you of the Kuki woman being paraded naked in Manipur. Let the loud band and shrill music make you deaf to the rage of resistance and shroud the silence of the state. Love for one’s country after all must mean complete complacency with institutions of power. India is a democracy, yes. One that has come to value submission to authority as a mark of national pride. Be sure to uphold that on this Independence Day.

5. Hoist flags

If you don’t live in Delhi and can’t go in person to see the flag hoisting, hoist your own flags. Hang the flag all around the neighbourhood, Wave the flag all around while you take the tour of the neighborhood on your bike. Chant “hyper-nationalist Hindutva” slogans for special effects! Make sure you catch the attention of everyone, the number of people who will see is equally proportional to how strong your identity as a citizen of India is. Christians are advised to take at least two rounds on their bikes, not any less than three is recommended for
Muslims (beware of those who might try to snatch your tricolour, pun intended.)

6. Watch patriotic movies
You must spend the rest of your day with the same patriotic zeal. And what’s a better way of instilling national pride than to consume movies – Bollywood patriotic movies that have just the right amount of tadka, thrill, romance, and an overdose of desh bhakti. Watch the story of an exceptionally talented military officer/ RAW agent whose entire personality revolves around an internalised macho saviour complex and the villain is most likely Pakistan or Pakistani terrorists (let’s learn from phantom). Or you can choose to watch something like Uri
to witness the proficiency and swiftness with which vengeful military decisions are made and mindless violence is presented as defence (indeed similar immediacy in action was absent when Manipur burnt unnoticed and migrant workers died of exhaustion and starvation during Covid. But let’s not remind ourselves of that, lest we hurt our national ego). Well, if you are the dissenter anti-national type, and both of these options are too problematic for you, just watch Veer Zaara (Hopefully it is subversive enough) and call it a day.

7. Reminisce about the freedom fighters
There is no way you can celebrate the present without revisiting the past. Our freedom fighters would indeed be very happy to see the current state of affairs in the country. Our freedom fighters are the personification of the past that is used to amplify and legitimise the hunger for nationalism in today’s India. No, you are not allowed to question or critique them. However, while you praise Gandhi’s plea for non-violence, watch the nation tread the path of militant Hindutva. While you praise Nehru’s plea for secularism, watch India take the alternate road-that to development and yoga of course. Praise Bhagat Singh’s violent resistance to British rule, but do not be a dissenter like him because those who adopted his ways to fight state-sanctioned oppression faced UAPA or death in today’s India. Savarkar must not be absent from the list of great freedom fighters, because who else reflects the idea of India better than him? Gulp in the hypocrisy because embracing apathy and blindness helps you celebrate a wonderfully guiltless Independence Day.

8. Flying kites

Flying kites on Independence Day is one of the most sought out activities amongst children, especially in the northern part of India. So after you’re bored of feeding (manufactured) nationalism and (jingoistic) patriotism, you should try your hands at flying kites. For adults flying kites is an effective leisurely activity to distract themselves from all the next day’s work problems, just like how the government conveniently ignores all the real world problems in parliamentary discussions. Be ambitious like our honourable Prime Minister and cut all the kites soaring higher than you (even if it requires unfair means). All the best!

9. Listen to patriotic songs
Your ears should, at all times, ring with patriotic songs. Be it Lata Mangeshkar’s ode to soldiers at the border in “aye mere watan ke logo”, or the uniting tune of “Kandho se milte hai kandhe” that stirs the army pride within us and asserts “hum chalte hai jab aise toh dil dushman ke hilte hai” (the identity of said dushman is hugely relevant to the creation of the national unity of India along socio-political lines). The idea is to play these songs and dance to them in glamorous Independence Day celebrations at your schools and offices. The idea is to sing them but pay attention to only selective words and messages. While collective thinking, pride, and national glory deserve attention, messages of unity in diversity and pluralism as reflected in some of these songs do not need to be stressed upon. Play these songs on loudspeakers and sing along so you become deaf to the sound of bulldozers uprooting lives.

10. Sing the National Anthem
Sing the National Anthem with great pride and vigour. Stand up for it and make others stand for it too (forcefully and violently at times). This is your duty as a “true” citizen of India. Stand up for the National Anthem, stand up for each other. Yes, you’re not mistaken but maybe for a change try standing up for each other this time. While we nonchalantly sing and repeat those 52 seconds yet again, let us try to absorb and internalize each and every word that we say.

When the whole country stands up in respect, the values of unity amongst all castes, creeds, gender, race, sex, and religion reverberates in unison. Let those words of unity, equality and fraternity not fall prey to any empty electoral rhetorics. Let not any effort to saffronise our national tricolour come to fruition. Working towards and taking pride in an India that is free of all social evils, where everyone feels equally at home and treated with equal respect and dignity. So as we celebrate our 77th Independence Day, let our values reflect the long history and the sacrifices of those who made this day possible. This day is not about a nostalgic romanticisation of the past but about a hope for a better India.

Happy Independence Day!

Read Also: Hollering for the wrong kind of Azaadi: That one, tiny, essential point skipped in P.M. Modi’s Independence Day speech Independence Day Celebrations in Delhi University

Featured Image Credits: Bar and Bench

Tulip Banerjee
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Samra Iqbal
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Bollywood influences and almost the entire population of the nation, and the Hindi movie industry’s understanding of freedom is embarrassing and this is reflected on what they decide to show us on Independence Day.

National holidays are always a reason to celebrate. Even if they do not come with a festival, they prove to be a holiday we never knew we needed. A breathing space, quite similar to a Sunday, but incredibly precious. While our lazy brain cells debate whether or not to spend the day holed up binging on a senseless television show, corporations are at work.

If we could rank holidays on the basis of which can be most easily capitalised, Independence Day would surely be at the top. It does not just carry meaning; it carries immense emotion and history, too. It also helps that independence is a spectrum – any incident in our lives could be loosely tied to the idea of freedom. The sheer number of products and the brands they belong to hence find different ways of associating themselves with this day, and frankly the results are incredibly creative and inclusive. For example, last year Ola’s campaign, #MyIndependenceDay followed Meghna Sahoo, their first transgender driver, getting ready for the day’s work or #UnitedByHope from Benetton.

Although these advertisements are produced by corporations that value profit more than anything else, they push the boundaries and very often start conversations. It is important for imaginations to be filled with myriad notions of freedom and patriotism. Bollywood, on the other hand, seems insistent on feeding us one type of patriotism and one idea of freedom. Judging by what the industry has been serving on Independence Day for the past few years, they seem obsessed with an aggressive and predominantly masculine brand of patriotism.

Let’s consider Independence Day releases of the past five years. Here’s a list for your reference-

2019 – Mission Mangal, Batla House, and 


2018 – Toilet- Ek Prem Katha

2017 – Rustom

2016 – Brothers

2015 – Singham 2

It doesn’t take a lot to notice that the protagonist is almost always a dedicated male soldier, a dedicated male police officer, a dedicated father, etc. It’s one man’s fight to save a city or the country.

Mission Mangal stands out presenting a different brand of patriotism, one that involves the use of intelligence and team-work. Even though the poster makes it very clear that the male scientist is more important and hence takes roughly the amount of space given to five female pivotal characters, it is refreshing to see that, for once, it is not one man’s fight to make the country proud. In fact, a lot of people were involved and all of them had equally important roles to play.

Isn’t that a much more holistic and realistic approach to understanding what being a patriot is? The ability to collectively make the country a better place? The decision to release these movies on Independence Day has consequences.

They begin to set the rules for what defines patriotism for popular imagination as they set the standard. People fill theatres on Independence Day, expecting this standard and then production houses continue making this brand of movies to suit this standard. It is a vicious cycle.

Another problem with these movies is that they always end well. That one man does succeed to save the city (no surprises there). Independence Day is a happy and proud occasion but independence is a process. It did not end on 15th August and it does not end when the credits start rolling.Bollywood barely tries to scratch the surface on the idea of freedom. The amount of influence they hold on public consciousness is no secret. Yet, they steer clear of uncomfortable conversations. Mainstream production houses never produce films that make you squirm in your seats. Look at the wasted opportunity, our country still houses communities who are yet to achieve an independent existence.

Our movies need to reflect realities, they need to urge us to define our own patriotism by making decisions that benefit the country in some way. We need to stop being fed stories that make us believe that there is no work left to be done, or even if there is, there is a muscular man out there to do it.

Feature Image Credits: The Times of India


Pragati Thapa

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What makes India India, is its composite nature, its many cultures and languages which is why imposing one single language on all the people is problematic, at the same time the alternative is continuing with a language that was once imposed on us (quite ironically, the language used in this article as well).




In the current political context, this is a word we don’t feel shy throwing around. We may add a suffix such as ‘hyper’ or ‘anti’ at times but the root word remains. But what really does the word indicate?


Unlike what many believe, nationalism is not simply the love for one’s country, it is the contempt for all others, it is the belief that one’s nation is superior to all other nations. Nationalism also appeals to the identity of the person, a sense of belonging or one force that binds everyone together to the nation.


When Indian nationalism developed during the freedom struggle, it was based on the territory of India that constituted the entire population despite their diverse backgrounds. It was anti-colonial nationalism aimed to create a sense of patriotism with the purpose of attaining self-governance.


After attaining Independence, it was the need to rid ourselves of colonial elements that Hindi was proposed to be the language of administration and governance. Due to protests in the southern states, a compromise was made that there will be a fifteen-year period to transition from English to Hindi but as temporary provisions go in India, this transition was never made.


After seventy-three years, the language debate still continues. This year, for instance, the National Education Policy draft recommended mandatory Hindi classes in all schools, even in non-Hindi speaking areas. This clause was met by protests in the south and was thus removed but it nonetheless proves that ‘nationalists’ of this country have not given up on the hope of having one language that would unify all the people of the nation.


While this idea seems promising and also gives us a sense of letting go of our colonised past, the need to implement Hindi as the common language of the country is not driven by anti-colonial nationalism as much as it is by cultural nationalism. Cultural nationalism is a form of nationalism in which the nation is defined by a shared culture, it focuses on the identity of a nation and its people shared by common language and traditions.


Those rooting for the imposition of Hindi are not rooting against English or the west, in fact, a lot of them can be seen celebrating Donald Trump’s birthday in Delhi, but it is their need to create a homogenous cultural identity that makes them make such demands. This imposition is especially felt by those from South and North East India, students coming from these states to Delhi for higher education are faced by casual comments like ‘this is why they need to teach Hindi everywhere’ when they can not comprehend the language.


At the same time, what is the alternative?


English was also an imposed language, Lord Macaulay in 1835 decided for us that English should be the language of education, instead of other ‘Oriental’ languages. It is the language of the colonisers and even when English is said to have been appropriated by Indians as is evident in postcolonial literature, the truth still stands that as long as we continue to give English the importance that we do, we diminish the importance of our own culture and languages.


Then, of course, there is the three-language formula, one that says that each state should teach English, Hindi and any other non-Hindi language. The issue with this is that while almost all students receiving formal education in India learn Hindi up to a certain grade, those living in the Hindi belt do not reciprocate the same respect to other regional languages. You will not find many students in Delhi learning Tamil or Manipuri in their schools, instead, their school would offer German or French (thus furthering the ‘west is best’ idea).


Both Hindi and English are languages that one cannot sustain without while living in India, and it is these languages that show up, front and centre while engaging in the language debate, but in the midst of it all, it is our regional languages that suffer the brunt of English and Hindi tyranny.


Featured Image Credits- Deccan Herald


Gauri Ramachandran

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From sheltering Chandra Shekhar Azad to jumping over the walls of confined campuses for leading a protest, DU students have a story of their own to tell about their contribution to the Indian freedom struggle.

The University of Delhi (DU), established in 1922, was supposed to be the centre of educational and cultural control for the Britishers. The University received funds amounting to INR 1 lakh per year. Since the British had the monetary power over the DU colleges, they threatened to withhold government grants and forced the college principals to take strict action against any politically active student and staff. In fact, in September 1942, the government cancelled the wheat permits of hostels of three colleges of Delhi University – Indraprastha College, Hindu College, and Shri Ram College of Commerce. Although the British didn’t give any reason for this action, it was seen as an act of vengeance against the colleges for participating in the freedom struggle.

Despite that, DU contributed actively in the form of cadre and infrastructure in the Indian freedom struggle. During the Civil Disobedience Movement, they put up the national flag on the flagstaff in campuses. Even the college buildings served as hiding places for revolutionaries and hosted crucial conferences.
Vice Chancellor’s office The building which now houses the Vice Chancellor’s office was earlier called the Viceregal Lodge. It served as the residence for five Viceroys and hosted several crucial conferences. Bhagat Singh was confined here and his trials were held in this very building too. It is also said that the Gandhi-Irwin pact came into existence in this Lodge.
Ramjas College This beautiful campus was surrendered during World War II for the use of Allied forces. Around the same time, India was taking the opportunity to revolt against the Great Britain, which had weakened due to the war. A group of Ramjas students was arrested and jailed for its involvement in the freedom struggle. Their names have been inscribed on a plaque, near the college auditorium.
The hostel students also sheltered Chandra Shekhar Azad, while he was evading the British government. They kept him in hiding, and for months disguised him as a Sikh student from Pakistan.
St. Stephen’s College Several significant leaders including Lala Hardayal, the first revolutionary, and Sir Chhotu Ram, the leader of Unionist Party of Punjab, were from the St. Stephen’s College.
Students and staff of this college protested in several ways, for example, C. B. Young, an English professor wrote a column condemning the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. In 1946, Sameeruddin Khan, a Stephanian, disrupted the morning assembly and with 50 to 100 boys, they boycotted classes, organised a protest march, and pulled down the Union Jack from the flagstaff. Charles Freer Andrews, an English teacher in the college, was close friends with Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore and even went to South Africa in 1914 to persuade Gandhi to come to India and lead the freedom movement.

Hindu College This college was the centre for political debate and action particularly during the Quit India Movement. Several students and teachers of the college went to prison following the movement.
Since Hindu College had a Students’ Parliament back then, it became an easier platform for many national leaders including Mahatma Gandhi, Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, Sarojini Naidu, and Subhash Chandra Bose to motivate and guide the youth of the nation.
Indraprastha College for Women Writing about the bravery of students of Indraprastha College for Women (also known as IP College), Dr. Aparna Basu, a professor of history at DU and author of the book University of Delhi (1922-1997), writes, “During the Quit India Movement on 10th August 1942, a vociferous gathering of Hindu College students and ladies from Indraprastha College collected outside Stephens’ and urged Stephanians to join them in a procession to support the Congress leaders who had been jailed the previous day. The crowd marched down Alipur Road, passing enroute IP College, whose authorities had shut the gates to prevent the girls from joining in. They resourcefully jumped down the walls assisted by willing Stephanian hands and the procession continued down Chandini Chowk, shouting slogans.”

Dr. Meena Bhargava and Dr. Kalyani Dutta, in their book, Women, Education, and Politics: The Women’s Movement and Delhi’s Indraprastha College, mention that the students of IP College also started a charkha association in college against the principal’s order.
Zakir Husain Delhi College Situated in central Delhi, the 326-yearold Zakir Husain Delhi College predates Delhi University by over 200 years. At the time when the British would demean our literary heritage by saying, “A single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia,” this college established international standards of education in the medium of Hindustani or Urdu. Its old walls have braved the Revolt of 1857. During the partition of India, the college was set on fire by the mobs but somehow the staff members managed to protect the library.
The Foundations of Delhi University Delhi University was established 96 years ago with only two faculties. Since then it has flourished to be one of India’s largest universities with 90 colleges, 87 departments, and more than a dozen centres. But what was the beginning of this enormous educational institution and what is its inspiration?
The University of Delhi came in existence in 1922 and saw the affiliation of St. Stephen’s College, Ramjas College, and Hindu College, which was closely followed by Zakir Husain Delhi College and Indraprastha College for Women. The importance of instituting DU came to the British as an exercise to mitigate the attempts by nationalists to set up their own institutions. A bill to reorganise Indian universities was passed and came into effect on 1st May 1922. We celebrate this date as the Foundation Day.
Mr. Hari Singh Gour, a distinguished jurist and social reformer, served as the University’s first Vice-Chancellor and pioneers like Mr. Daulat Singh Kothari and Mr. Panchanan Maheshwari were part of the faculty. With its motto, ‘Nishtha Dhriti Satyam’ (Dedication, Steadfastness, and Truth), the University has time and again shown its contribution and commitment to nation building. DU has produced an illustrious array of alumni across the fields who went on to become presidents, scientists, and artists.
Be it the Indian independence movement or the democratic struggles of the present times, Delhi University has been on the forefront of all important events. The University that once operated out of Ritz Cinema, Kashmiri Gate, has today expanded its web in all directions of the National Capital Region.

On a lonely day if you press your ear against the college walls, you will hear the whispers of those who came before us. They will tell you their stories of struggle against the British. It will speak of the foundation that has been made and its legacy which is in the making.


Feature Image Credits: Delhi University

Khyati Sanger

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Niharika Dabral

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As we all celebrate the 70th year of freedom, a youth organisation is all out to battle the biggest threat to our population – hunger. The Robin Hood Army (RHA), an organisation of professionals, students, and mostly youth volunteers, works to feed the hungry every day.

The Robin Hood Army is a team of volunteers who collect surplus food which would otherwise go waste from restaurants and distributes it to the poor and homeless. In the last three years, this passionate team of individuals from different walks of life has served food to over 2.1 million people across 41 cities.

On the eve of Independence Day, they launched a campaign to fight hunger. #Mission1Million, which the Robin Hood Army calls its ‘largest war against hunger’ – aims to bring together the private sector and civil society to feed one million hungry people this Independence Day in both India and Pakistan. #Mission1Million aims to collect and facilitate a million meals that will go to orphanages, old-age homes, the homeless, and even the patients in hospitals.

The major idea behind this unprecedented project was to raise awareness about the national hunger problem (more than 200 million hungry). As a part of the initiative more than 10,000 ‘Robins’ will manage the operations across 41 cities across India and Pakistan.

Speaking to News18, Aarushi Batra, co-founder of the Robin Hood Army, said, “As the youth of our nation, it is imperative that we take the onus, stop blaming the state for everything, and use our skills and collective network to make a real difference.”

RHA works only through partnerships and volunteers and doesn’t take any donation or funds.

Meanwhile, a large number of DU students join the organisation every year. “The learning benefit and the social, as well as EQ that we learn, is a boon for us,” says Samikshya Samantaray who works as a volunteer at RHA. “The self-satisfaction of working for the underprivileged and giving something back to the society is invaluable,” she adds.

During previous I-Day celebrations, RHA undertook two campaigns – Mission100K in 2015 and Mission500K in 2016 – and the response was massive. They shot past their target, as volunteers from all parts of the nation contributed to the initiative.

You can be a Robin too. To join Robin Hood Army, click here and follow the details.


Srivedant Kar

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Independence Day began with the TV blaring much earlier than usual in the morning at several homes, as it usually does every year, when the upbeat Modi fans and some of the plainer, curious souls like me were unable to catch the Prime Minister upfront at the Red Fort. So we resorted to half-heartedly watching him live on our personal screens in the end. For me, at least, a smattering of vibrant saffron, that colour which has taken on a furious new meaning in the past year, came to overshadow the ‘red’ in the Red Fort this time. And so the speech began. In a typical, conciliatory fashion, the Modi-esque rhetoric was employed as if to simmer the heat under all burning issues. “Bharat jodo (connect India) should be a popular slogan”, he said, like Bharat Chhodo (Quit India). International problems and Kashmir and the Goods and Service Tax and everything in between, including the staggering ‘natural calamity’ at Gorakhpur, were quickly addressed and laid aside like sizzling meat off the grill. The speech was careful not to delve into any topic in too much detail. One got the sense that there was much to say and too little time. But a singular theme kept reverberating over and over — digitisation.

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi addressing the Nation on the occasion of 69th Independence Day from the ramparts of Red Fort, in Delhi on August 15, 2015.
The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi addressing the Nation on the occasion of 69th Independence Day from the ramparts of Red Fort, in Delhi on August 15, 2015.

Should the word ‘digitisation’ bother me and you?

As a student, my ears perk up almost by some innate instinct at words like ‘technology’, ‘digitisation’, ‘Digital India’, ‘science’, ‘demonetisation’, ‘Internet’, etc. which get thrown about in the air casually like playthings these days. This 15th of August proves just how far we have come in our journey of naturalising these terms and carving out a space for them into our everyday lives. These are also the terms we take forward into our new dictionary, stepping into the P.M.’s ‘New India’ of 2022. One does not stare at his or her phone, look at the plethora of payment-making apps, and go ‘Oh!’ anymore. Tapping on smartphones comes naturally to us millennials, and the government plans to utilise this trait of ours to the max. We leave a stylish impression on the global platform – that the India paraded in front of the United Nations and elsewhere is fun, hip, and keeps up with the times. The truth is slightly more complicated.

For every new word having to do with digitisation, which this Independence Day speech embeds in our minds, there are several others which get replaced without a whisper. One of these major terms is ‘education’. Precisely for this reason, the new words bother me to no end, especially since I happen to hail from a minority — my loyalties lie, unconventionally, with the Humanities. When the P.M. talks of the ‘Badal Sakta Hai’ (It Can Change) attitude in this country, I know that it cannot stand the test of time where the education system is concerned. Forget about change, education does not even score a hit in his speech. It finds no mention. As university students, what should make sparks fly in our minds are not those claims and promises which the speech consciously makes, but rather the things he leaves out. God is in the details. And if anything, the recent case of changing the content in the History textbooks of Maharashtra is but a miniscule example of how rotten the macrocosm under the current government is. What about the plight of ad-hoc lecturers in universities? Why were there even talks of shutting down centres, including that of Women’s Studies, in the Tata Institute of Social Sciences? What about the lack of funding in the University of Delhi and cutting down of seats in our universities? What about the Vice-Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University requesting that an ostentatious military tank be placed within the campus? What about the lack of job prospects?

It makes me believe more and more that we are scared of educated citizens and the Humanities somehow. Politicians avoid talking about it on the national platform because it is that one field which can blow the lid off of human injustice. It is also the most effective weapon with which to target the shortcomings of governments. Yet, I am a student and a girl child who will manage to have received a university degree by 2018 — nothing short of a mean feat in itself, especially in India — and I can attest to the fact that the P.M.’s Digital India will crumble into a heap of ignorance, violence, and atrocities without the basic foundational pillar of that very education.

Education swatted away like a fly on the windshield

When the P.M. says, ‘Our resolve is to build a New India by 2022’, it is very clear that he targets a certain section of the population which is blind enough to the state of education or uneducated itself so much so that it gulps down the speech without a pinch of salt. That leaves out university spaces, and unfortunately for students of the Humanities, me and you. Even if I had an orientation towards the I.T. or banking or all those wonderful sectors that the P.M. always chooses to focus upon selectively, the latest International Labour Organisation findings point to the fact that I might still be staring dead into the face of unemployment.

Right from school, we are exposed to a toxic mix of jingoistic patriotism, saffronisation, disregard for any subject other than the Sciences, and then a complete disregard for university spaces: unfortunately, this will be the India of 2022 if careful attention is not paid. And I, for one, sincerely believe that though India may be ready to ‘tackle any kind of change’, this is not the one on anybody’s mind.

Jai Hind!


Image Credits: Indian Express

Deepannita Misra
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We are celebrating our 70th Independence Day in a time when terms like ‘independence’ and ‘azaadi‘ have become stigmatised. Our public discourse has been simmering with vivid debates about loyalty, freedom, and jingoism, and from the JNU row  to the recent Ramjas College protests, we can identify that it is from the epicentre of universities that narratives of nationalism have been (and are being) shaped. As a college student for the past one year, I was directly exposed to new ideas on a daily basis. After hours of contemplating over them, I’ve discovered that I’m an anti national.

The many meanings of patriotism

When I say that I’m an anti national, it doesn’t mean I do not harbour love for my country. It’s just that my idea of what constitutes patriotism is different from the version portrayed in popular media. As Abhinandan Sekhri puts it, “Patriotism is not something that can be easily universally defined even by the most eloquent and evolved minds.” For some it is an expansive love for the territory of the nation, the laughter of its people, and their languages. For others it is an idea that is so narrow and flimsy that merely singing the national anthem is considered nationalism and attacking someone who does not stand for it in a cinema hall is considered an act of nationalistic passion. Whatever your idea of nationalism may be, the notion that there can be only one concept of what constitutes a nation, and that every other view is anti national, is intellectually void at best and authoritarian at worst.

For me personally, a nation is a free society where someone’s right to dissent is not questioned by those who disagree with them. Today when Gurmehar Kaur is trolled for espousing peace, and college plays are being censored because they talk about Indian insurgencies, it makes me wonder what people would call Ambedkar, whom the so-called nationalists are eager to appropriate when he supported the demand for plebiscite in Kashmir. What should we call Ambedkar then? Anti national?

Or for that matter, Gandhi, who in his meeting with a Naga delegation in 1947 said, “You can be independent. You are safe as far as India is concerned. India has shed her blood for freedom. Is she going to deprive others of their freedom? Personally, I believe you all belong to India. But if you say you don’t, no one can force you.”  What do we call such a thought? Seditious?

Appropriating the Army

These days when the sacrifices of the armed forces are revoked at every instance and TV news panels have given space to retired officers, there is one observation that I would like to point out. Contrary to what prime-time news would like you to believe, there are armed forces personnel who don’t consider critique of the army as seditious.

When Major General G.D. Bakshi vehemently advocated that JNU students be booked under sedition, Admiral Ramdas (Vir Chakra awardee) and Retd. Colonel Laxmeshwar Mishra supported the students at JNU and espoused that sedition has no place in a democracy. In April when Major Gaurav Arya, now a prominent face on Indian television, was lauding the army for tying Kashmiri youth to an army jeep as a human shield, Param Vishisht Seva Medal awardee Lieutenant General H. S. Panag condemned that very act. I wonder if that makes these men anti-national.

The reason I’m making these comparisons is because even within the armed forces there are differences of opinion. Situations develop into problems when only one person is touted as the sole representative of the armed forces.

Soldiers are not holy cows

As students of social sciences, we all know that history is an important discipline and that our today is a product of our past. So, I would like to go back a little bit and talk about 15th June 2004 when 12 elderly women in Imphal stood naked behind banners proclaiming, “Indian Army, rape us” as a protest over the killing of Manorama. I would also like to mention 2nd November 2000 when  Sinam Chandramani, a National Bravery Award winner, was killed alongside 10 other people when Assam Rifles personnel opened fire at Malom village in Manipur.

On 15 July 2004, women stood naked in front of the Kangla Fort in Imphal with a banner that read "Indian Army Rape Us" to protest the killing of Manorama Devi. Image Credits: Outlook
On 15 July 2004, women stood naked in front of the Kangla Fort in Imphal with a banner that read “Indian Army Rape Us” to protest the killing of Manorama Devi.
Image Credits: Outlook

In these contexts, with these histories, would you not question the men in uniform? The accusations of human rights violations are not imaginations of “liberal-sickular-minds”, but observations that the  Supreme Court itself has made.

In July 2013, the Santosh Hegde Commission highlighted the rampant misuse of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) for fake encounters by the security forces in Manipur. Earlier in January 2013, the Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee had recommended the suspension of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act on account of being “too sketchy” and “inefficient”. Other than this, the Justice Verma Committee also took cognise of the sexual harassment of local people by members of the armed forces.

By today’s standard when many civilians regard soldiers as holy cows and accusing the armed forces of atrocities is equated with infidelity, the truth remains. In Barkha Dutt’s words, “Sacrifices of the military, of which I am a huge admirer, have coexisted with unforgivable human rights violations of which we all must be outspoken critics.”

Tank Man vs. Tanks

Now that the University of Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru University have inaugurated the “Wall of Heroes”, chances are that soon army tanks will also be installed in the campus to instill nationalism in students. I don’t know how inspiring the tanks will be, but I know for sure that the picture of Tank Man, an unidentified person who stood in front of a column of tanks during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, is awe-inspiring. It teaches me to respect strength and not power.

An unidentified man stood in front of a column of tanks on 5th June 1989 after the Chinese military had suppressed the Tiananmen Square protests. Image Credits: Jeff Widener

In 1908, Tagore wrote that  “It is my conviction that my countrymen will truly gain their India by fighting against the education which teaches them that a country is greater than the ideals of humanity.” Even after 109 years, Tagore’s words remain relevant. It’s time we evaluate what we prioritise as a country – our nationalism or our humanity.


Feature Image Credits: Tsering Topgyal

Niharika Dabral
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Our country has been independent of foreign rule for 67 years now. We’ve been fortunate enough to grow up in an India whose laws and policies are made by its own people. We’re even more fortunate to be a part of a small section in India that can read and write. And while we’re counting your blessings, maybe we should also consider ourselves lucky to be part of a miniscule population of young people in India who are able to manage a decent University level education. Now that we are thinking along these lines, lets think about what it’s like to be part of the ‘best’ University in India. Think about what we really know about the University of Delhi. How ‘free’ is this University we go to? How ‘free’ are we?

Are we free enough to choose not to study a particular language to match up to a certain standard of ‘Indian-ness’? Are we free enough to walk up to our Vice Chancellor, tell him we don’t agree with him? Or even our Principal? Are we free to decide what papers are ‘foundational’ to our Undergraduate education? Are we consulted every time there is a fee hike? How many protests have made a difference? How many of us actually care enough to participate in the Student’s Union elections – possibly our first experience of active democracy?

What is freedom to this University if something as essential as a new syllabus is made without consulting a body of teachers who have been teaching the subject for half their lives? What does technology mean to students who don’t even have enough chairs and tables in their classrooms? We’ve celebrated Independence Day in most colleges of the University, we’ve garlanded statues, remembered martyrs, but we’re not even slightly aware of what this freedom is meant for.  We – the future of this country; we – the torchbearers of the best university in the country; we, belonging to a University famous for producing the greatest contemporary thinkers this country has seen.

Freedom obviously comes at great cost. Its funny how being from a privileged, educated and well read India, many of us still haven’t been able to experience what it really means to be free. Many of us may never know.  The very establishment of Delhi University in 1922 took place as an attempt to free young minds of the country. 67 years after achieving formal freedom, it’s only upsetting this Grand University is being colonized by its own officials. From the Four Year Undergraduate Programme to the DUSU Elections, from hunger strikes to petitions and memorandums – teachers, students and administrative staff have no reason to celebrate freedom, no reason to feel free in a space ‘’where the mind is meant to be without fear, and the head is supposed to be held high.’’