<![CDATA[The recent uproar on the case where a 23-year-old girl was raped and thrown out of a bus, took a tragic twist with the demise of the rape victim, popularly known as Nirbhaya. The protests held at Raisina hill and India Gate were charged with anger and adrenaline, but her death brought with it an even stronger will to seek justice for and pay tribute to ‘India’s daughter’. After being transferred to Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth hospital on 27th morning, the nation collectively prayed for a speedy recovery. However, the girl succumbed to her injuries just two days later. Her death ignited a flame within the hearts of Indians across the world, and many movements were held across the country to send a message to the Indian law-makers that the war had only just begun. In New Delhi, Jantar Mantar was the prime spot where peaceful gatherings were organised to show solidarity. As Jantar Mantar has been a symbol of non-violent protests even in the past, it seemed to be the perfect spot for the citizens of the capital to gather and pay tribute to the brave girl who fought against the rapists for her life. “The crowd was very peaceful and calm. More than a sense of revenge, there seemed to be a solemn atmosphere. Despite the fact that there was a group of people yelling ‘Hang the rapists!’ at the top of their lungs, most present realised that the point of meeting at Jantar Mantar was to pay tribute to the girl who was raped as well as all the other women who have suffered due to shameless, savage minds,” said Ankita, a student of Lady Shri Ram College. As students continue to organise street plays and people come together to light candles in memory of the 23 year old medical student, the direction of these protests and marches seem to be aimed at a complete overhaul of the existing safety regulations and policies. This might just be the start of a new revolution, spearheaded by the dynamic and powerful youth of a nation infested with outdated laws and run by ageing leaders well beyond their time.]]>
December has always been my favorite time of the year. I get a break from the sweltering summers and winter comes like a breath of fresh air (Only the air is way too cold, but that is what makes winters my favorite), the dense fog adds to the mistiness usually associated with Christmas, it’s a time of year end retrospection and Connaught Place becomes the ideal hang out zone to experience the sweetness of new year and shake hands with the people roaming around dressed as Santa.
However, this time around the situation wasn’t the same. Since December 1 the end of the world became the trending topic on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites, and to just see your Facebook wall being spammed by “end of the world” posts don’t help. After this Modi gained attention. Everything he did was seen as “enroute Delhi via Gandhinagar. Then, chaos reached its pinnacle. A 23 year old physiotherapist was gang raped and brutally injured by 6 men in a moving bus. Next thing you see, everyone was out on the streets, protesting against the inefficiency of the police and government. The public demanded- either give the rapist capital punishment or something so brutal that makes him suffer for rights. The girl till this time continues to be in a critical condition and is fighting for her life every second.
What I mean to say this, things don’t seem very Christmas-y when you go to Connaught place with your family to celebrate and all you see is police barricades blocking every road. Things don’t seem very festive when you go to India Gate to have ice cream and all you hear are cries of “hang them hang them!” You are in no mood to retrospect on your past year when all you have for conversation topic is the percentage of intestines left in the girl. Yes, this doesn’t seem like new year at all.
But amidst this, I spot one ray of hope. I went to CP on the morning on 25th December and saw a lady distributing chocolates to some construction workers. That woman, amongst all the negativity, made efforts to spread happiness.
And that’s when I found my spirit of Christmas.
In what is being seen as the next biggest uprising India saw since Anna Hazare’s India Against Corruption, the protest march that commenced today on India Gate has surely got the parliament at its toes.
The official time of beginning the protest was 9 am, however such was the charge amongst people that a significant crowd could be seen assembling from 7:30 am. Slogans of “Delhi Police hai hai!”, “Hang the rapist” and “We want justice” echoed across the entire stretch of Rajpath. Several street play groups came up and vehemently put forward the appeal of death penalty, or something more harsh and cruel for the perpetrators. A very significant part of this protest was that a lot of school students could be seen, accompanied by their teachers. They could be seen holding banners and echoing the appeals that the entire nation seems to voice- punish hard and punish fast.
Celebrities preferred to hide behind the veils of Twitter and their support ended at that. “It seems ironical. The same celebrities who say so many things about social change on T.V. never actually do something to use their star power to the fullest potential”, said Nikita, a protestor. Gopal Krishna Gandhi, former Governor of Bengal showed up to voice his support.
According to me, this protest was slightly different from its past counterparts and by different I mean in a good sense. Lesser were the number of men who went to protests to engage in some “bird watching”. Lesser were the attention seeking people trying to hog into media limelight by coming to such territories. Lesser were the number of people who came with their friends to watch the tamasha. Of course, you could spot some bored looking men wandering aimlessly, giving the protestors a queer expression, clearly realizing they don’t fit in. You could also spot some ladies all dressed up in the “perfect protest March ensemble” trying to attract a media person to let her protest in front of the camera.
However, as far as the majority was concerned, the anger within them seemed genuine and an honest concern for the rape victim could be felt. There was unity in the crowd which prevented the crowd from turning into a violent mob. The only violence that existed was towards the inefficiency of the police and law makers.
Later on, things turned a little problematic when the crowd tried to force themselves in into the President House premises. The police began a lathi charge and tear gas was splashed. This only perpetuated the anger towards the government. Many people were injured and admitted into RML hospital.
Image credits: Kirti Narain
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.