In the heart of Maharashtra’s sugarcane fields, a sinister reality unfolds as women laboring
for giants like Pepsi and Coca-Cola face exploitation through forced hysterectomies,
overshadowed by corporate profits.

About a third of the sugar produced in India, the second-largest producer in the world, comes
from the state of Maharashtra alone. Maharashtra is a key supplier of sugar to global
corporations such as PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, and Mondelez, the parent company of Cadbury. The state
prides itself on the sprawling 1.487 million hectares of lush sugar cane fields with about
203 crushing factories producing 138 lakh metric tons of sugar every year becoming the
state’s major support system. One such district is Beed, although this one in particular is one
that the state shouldn’t be proud of.

This picturesque field of Maharashtra hides a darker reality – the exploitation of women at the
hands of sugar-producing companies. While these companies reap immense profits from the
sweet harvest, the women toiling in the fields are left to endure the bitter impacts on their
health. The issue dates back almost 30 years, when the New York Times interviewed some of
the women working in the fields to find out that the vicious cycle starts with underage girls
getting married off to the men working in the field which ropes them into a contract that seems more like lifelong slavery than wedlock. The men and women are expected to work alike at the same potential for 16-hour-long shifts every day without breaks. Tampons and pads are expensive and hard to find, and without access to running water, women address their periods in the fields with reused cloth that they try to wash by hand. The fields are located in remote locations, and it’s a whole other world in itself with workers
living under tarps, and companies seeking forced hysterectomies as a way to combat the issue of
lack of washrooms on the field.

One local government report surveyed approximately 82,000 female sugarcane workers from
Beed and found that about one in five had had hysterectomies. A separate, smaller
government survey estimated the figure at one in three. Women, already marginalized and
disadvantaged, are coerced into undergoing these surgeries under the guise of ‘health
benefits’ or as a means to prevent pregnancy or period leaves from work. This reprehensible
practice not only robs women of their bodily autonomy but also perpetuates a cycle of
systematic abuse and inequality. The issue at hand unveils a centuries-old taboo enveloping
menstruation, casting a shadow of “unsanitary” perceptions upon women during their natural
cycle. This mindset, steeped in misconception and bias, tragically manifests in the coercion of
women into undergoing hysterectomies, all in the name of the illusion of “cleanliness” on the

According to the New York Times, sugar producers and buyers have known about this abusive system for years. Coca-Cola’s consultants, for example, visited the fields and sugar mills of western India and, in 2019, reported that children were cutting sugar cane and laborers were working to repay their employers. They documented this in a report for the company, complete with an interview with a 10-year-old girl. In an unrelated corporate report that year, the company said it supported a program to “gradually reduce child labor” in India possibly referring to their plans to increase hysterectomies. This Great Indian exploitation game is nothing less of a spectacle, when women working in these harsh conditions visit the nearby gynecologists with problems like forming of cysts and irregular periods, the doctors take advantage of their patients’ illiteracy and are given an ultimatum that “hysterectomy” is their only option. The whole process is orchestrated not only by the companies but also many health practitioners from the district. These major companies even have moral codes of conduct for their workers which they evidently throw out the window in a bid to make corporate profits. After facing backlash and solely because people threatened to boycott the brand, Pepsi released the most generic statement expressing their grief over the issue while Coca-Cola still hasn’t issued a statement and continues to live in ignorance.

Of the many stories that flood the Indian news channels, none have ever made reports on this
issue, it’s as if they would rather turn a deaf ear than face the truth. In conversations with
reporters from The Fuller Project, as the workers gave them a peek inside their lives, they
sang folk songs which were inspired by Bhimrao Ambedkar in unison and had only thing to
ask everyone who visits the field, a promise; that one day the world will know their plight.

Featured Image Credits: The Fuller Project

Read Also: Feminism: A Belief or a Tagline?

Saanvi Manchanda
[email protected]

Similar to what you must’ve studied about sound grade 8 physics; love too, doesn’t exist in a vacuum, especially not in India. It unfolds against a backdrop of societal expectations, parental pressures, and the relentless pursuit of individual dreams.

“Hai tujhe bhi ijaazat, kar le tu bhi mohabbat”, says the lyrics of a Hindi song from “Life in a… Metro”; this 2000s melody isn’t just an underrated gem but also a poetic attempt to encapsulate the silent yearning of hearts, entangled in the web of duty and desires.

Love in India is never a solitary endeavor but rather a communal affair, subject to the collective scrutiny and judgment of society at large. The interference in your love life can take various forms, ranging from subtle manipulation and coercion to overt control and restriction. With the Uttarakhand assembly passing the Uniform Civil Code Bill, it’s not very difficult to understand what we’re referring to. While on one hand, the Dhami government can now punish couples living together outside of marriage without official registration, it has also robbed couples of freedom and the choice to move in together as they explore their connection before marriage. 

Though such checks can be seen as a necessary evil by some, as revealed in one of our conversations; Shanmay Bokde, a student from IIT Delhi, appreciates the move and said, 

A well maintained record and data might help minimize crimes by reducing chances of deception. These regulations aren’t really restrictions, for they will help ‘legalize’ and subsequently destigmatize ‘live-in’ relationships in a society like ours where it is looked upon as a ‘prohibited practice’ of some sort.

A conversation with a final-year student from Ramjas College, offered another perspective as she contemplated over the implications that the law is likely to have. She remarked,

I think it is too early to say anything as of now. But I am sure personal freedom and privacy will go for a toss, considering how the state is interfering with individual autonomy by documenting everything.

From laws governing inter-faith marriages; that decide (or to say, give a well-framed guideline to explain) who can love whom and under what circumstances, to moral policing in public spaces on grounds of upholding traditional values and societal norms, the state wields considerable power in shaping the landscape of love in India. 

If this wasn’t enough, there’s also an annual spectacle of thrashing of couples on Valentine’s Day by Hindu right-wing groups. Under the guise of protecting cultural heritage and religious traditions, these groups seek to impose their worldview on others, resorting to violence and intimidation to enforce their vision of societal norms. While I am anxious about what this Valentine’s Day will make us witness, if you travel about 365 days back into the past, you will remember how in Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad, the members of the Rashtriya Bajrang Dal made couples tie rakhi to each other on 14  February; their only offense being – sitting in a park with people from opposite genders; without being neither spouses nor siblings, so for obvious reasons the only way left with Bajrang Dal members was to ask the women to tie rakhi to her “brother”.

Couples being subjected to harassment, and violence at the hands of right-wing groups is not new. This intolerance and intimidation took the form of coercion and control, when in 2019, in Hyderabad, a couple was forcibly married off by such activists in a public park, perpetuating fear and insecurity among couples in the name of “protection of cultural values”.

Mr. Brijesh Mohan Sharma, a working professional, shared that while couples should maintain some dignity while engaging in public displays of affection, this doesn’t give these extremist ideologies groups a ticket to moral policing. 

In a country where even platonic relationships with the opposite gender are viewed with suspicion and moral judgment, making romantic relations acceptable will require a lot of unlearning.

Khushi Garg, a student from Daulat Ram College shared her brief interaction with a middle aged relative, who upon realising that she studies in an all-girls college happily remarked, “Are waah! Yeh toh bohot achhi baat hai gudiya” and frowned upon “aaj-kal ke bachhe” having close friendships with individuals of different sexes.

In this kind of a complex tapestry of Indian society, the perceived dichotomy between love and career also becomes a significant hurdle in relationships. 

Vidhi Kanojia, a sophomore from Lady Shri Ram College For Women, shared the importance of prioritizing one’s career over the pursuit of “true love”. 

There’s no point in having a successful relationship when you’re struggling financially. Especially as a woman, one must ensure they have a settled career before looking out for love, otherwise you won’t be able to enjoy love in its true essence. Kal kya khaana hain, how to sustain tomorrow, will be hovering over your brain today.

This challenge is multifaceted, influencing parental concerns and subsequently individuals’ expectations from one self, and the dynamics of modern relationships. The prospect of love is often overshadowed by the fear of disappointing their parents, leading many to suppress their desires and aspirations in the name of duty.

Bina Sah, a student from LSR, revealed,

 The age bracket between twenty to thirty is thought of as a delicate period where we children are in pursuit of our ambitions towards a successful career, coupled with the desire to have healthy relations, strong friendships and according to our parents indulging in anything other than ‘padhaai’ will lead to a compromise in a ‘secure future’.

Shedding light on the gendered perspective Bina shared, 

Especially for daughters, the pressure to uphold family honor and tradition weighs even heavy, because while the son being in a relationship might not be as big of a deal for the family but if the daughter engages in romantic pursuits, it is looked upon as a ‘crime’.

Amidst this chaos and conflict in values, desires and personal aspirations, it won’t be wrong to say that it is a privilege to love. 

Bina further shared, 

And to top this all, the age-old obsession of parents with religion and caste, and for all these reasons I have made my mind not to fall for someone to avoid trouble in my family.

Love in a country like ours, plagued by discord and division, is nothing less of a journey that requires courage, compassion, as the “samaj” tests your resilience, patience, and commitment.

So, while I don’t know what might have been the case with the protagonists of  the movie Shree 420 that made Manna Dey sing, “Pyaar Hua Iqraar Hua, pyaar se phir kyu darta hain dil”, but these surely are one amongst the key issues with which today’s youth is confronted by, making them fear love. 

Kavya Vashisht
[email protected]

This report is a synopsis of the 11th Annual Business Symposia organised by the Department of Commerce at the Delhi School of Economics .

Adding on an another successful feather to their cap, the Department of Commerce at Delhi School of Economics organised its 11th Annual Business Symposia ” RETHINK ’23” accentuating on “India’s G20 Presidency : Navigating Global Business Challenges ” on 16th September, 2023 at the Conference Centre, New Delhi. The event commenced at 10 am IST with the inaugural speech by Mr. Ajay Kr Singh (Head & Dean of the Department of Commerce, Faculty of Commerce and Business), followed by professor Niti Bhasin’s debrief of the theme. The keynote speaker Mr. SP Sharma elucidated further on the impact of India’s G20 presidency. The Chief Guest for the event Mrs. Urvashi Prasad provided high level insights on the G20 forum. The audience intently followed through with the speeches that kick started the Symposia 

The first panel discussion centered around the impact of India’s G20 presidency on Business environment with the panelists Mr. Arpan Gupta (additional Director of FICCI), Colonel Anurag Awasthi (Vice President IESA), Mr. Aman Kumar (Vice President of Accenture), Mr. Amit Walia (Vice President at CITI) and Mr. Amiye Agarwal (Senior Director Public Services at TCS). The panel presented worthwhile insights on the direct and indirect impact of India’s G20 presidency, stressing over the forthcoming  ‘Amritkal’ and the pertinent importance of executing and implementing the takeaways from G20 that favours the vision of “India @100”. The panelists were presented with well researched and provocative questions. The scope of India’s interaction with global business and governance, increasing roles of semiconductors, tipping the scale of technology transfer in the favour of sustainability were among the few questions that led to breakthrough brainstorming which was invigorating for the panel as well as the delegates. The audience sat gripped by the eloquence and anecdotal knowledge shared by the panelists. The major takeaways from the discussion centered around “pragmatic activism” as witnessed in the paradigm shift of the global economy through balancing geopolitical tensions, intersecting collective and national interests of G20, mobilising resources and partnerships and focusing on global biofuel alliances. 

Colonel Anurag Awasthi’s “stop thinking like nations and start thinking like empires; well done is better than well said” earned him a well deserved round of applause . The students seemed vivified by the discussion, Saurav Kumar a student of International Business at Delhi school of economics deemed the lecture to be enlightening in terms of India’s growth plan for becoming a sustainable representative of the ‘Global South’.  

The second panel of speakers included–Mr. Nanda Kumar Das, Vice President at Genpact; Mr. Samir Kapoor, Chief Marketing Officer at Justdial; Mr. Tarun Goel, Senior Director at Tiger Analytics; Mr. Aditya Tandon, Vice President at Network18 and Mr. Mukesh Ghuraiya, Chief Marketing Officer at Modi Naturals. The panel was based on the theme of ‘Positioning India towards inclusive Growth and Digital Literacy’. Towards the beginning of the discussion, Mr. Das joked about ‘bringing the better panel after lunch.’

The panelists discussed topics ranging from the evolution of innovation, research and development as well as building an entrepreneurial mindset. The way new up-and-coming technologies like Gen AI are going to disrupt and innovate the market space was also extensively discussed. They also talked about maximising growth by bringing more women into the workforce. 

While discussing the role that both private and public sectors can play in inclusive growth and digital literacy, Mr. Goel said, “There is a huge opportunity underlying India. Given our infrastructure and education, the private sector can play a huge role.”

Enjoy yourself…what you do remember is all the time you spend with each other and the time you spend with your family, so really enjoy yourself.

— Mr. Tandon while talking to the students about his university days


I think the idea of ‘Amritkal’ for any entity, whether it is an organisation– whatever the entity, symbolism is very important because that is how we channelise energy and motivate people to come together for a cause. So, I think symbolism from a communication standpoint is also very important. And I think ‘Amritkal’ was beautiful–why? Because I also look at the timing. For our country, there are many positive signs.

— Mr. Tandon, when asked about the conversations about the incoming ‘Amritkal’ around the G20 Summit and what that entails for the youth

The event ended with the students and the panelists gathering for evening tea, providing them ample opportunity to reflect and deliberate about the insightful discussions they’d witnessed.  


Read Also: Protesters Demand Suspension of DRC Principal Dr. Savita Roy


Priya Shandilya 

[email protected] 

Vanshika Ahuja

[email protected]

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
[email protected]
Samra Iqbal
[email protected]

On World Theatre Day, we must apprise ourselves of the enthralling, incomparable beauty of traditional Indian theatre forms and acknowledge the need to resurrect them into mainstream culture. 

“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” – Oscar Wilde

Theatre is a branch of performing arts that comprises of acting out stories. It stimulates creativity and is one of the most popular modes of entertainment and jubilation. But theatre is much more than this; it is a platform for expression of different nuances of our everyday life through the subtle fusion of drama and/or music and dance. 

Since ancient times, our Indian culture has given huge impetus to the performing arts. From performing in the courts of kings to an auditorium stage, Indian theatre has grown a lot and the diversity of its forms is mesmerizing. Natyashastra, written by Bharata Muni around 500 BCE is the earliest contribution to Indian theatre that vividly describes the theory behind a theatrical performance and depicts the mind of a performer. Indian theatre is usually categorized into three specific periods – Classical, Cultural and Modern; each period bringing in different areas of interests and traditions. The classical theatre was marked by composition and performance in the language of Gods – Sanskrit and had playwrights like Kalidasa (also known as Indian Shakespeare), Sudraka, Bhasa and Bhavabhuti influenced by epics and mythologies. Cultural period saw the rise of folk theatre in vernacular languages with themes like romance, heroism etc. Beginning in the late eighteenth century during the time of British consolidation in India, realism and nationalism pervaded modern theatre and had legends like Rabindranath Tagore, Kalyanam Raghuramariah, Dinabandhu Mitra etc. composing revolutionary works. Such was the acclaim and influence of Indian theatre that the British Government was forced to impose the Dramatic Performances Act in 1876 to prevent the use of theatre as a tool of protest. 

Traditional Indian theatre is so rich in diversity and vigour that almost every state in India and further different ethnic groups have myriad forms of traditional theatre. But in all these forms the element of ‘simplicity’ is innate that leads to the development of an immediate, realistic and rhythmic relationship with the spectators. Regional peculiarities create a connection that is unhindered by social and economic divisions. One of the most magnificent facet of traditional Indian theatre is the beauteous use of dance and music. For instance, Tamasha a traditional folk theatre form of Maharashtra comprises of classical music, footwork at lightning-speed, and vivid gestures while in Bhand Jashn a traditional Kashmiri theatre form, the art of making the entry by dancing has been perfected as the way each character walks and enters the platform identifies him. Indian theatre has not remained untouched by urbanization and other changes and tried to improvise the aspects in innovative styles. Nautanki is usually associated with Uttar Pradesh. The stories revolve around mythological and folk tales and contemporary heroes. There was a time when only men acted in Nautanki but nowadays, women have also started taking part in the performances.  Swang from Haryana, Rasleela from Uttar Pradesh, Bhavai from Gujarat, Maach from Madhya Pradesh are just some other theatre forms in the grand myriad of Indian theatre culture. Koodiyattam or Kutiyattam, is a traditional performing art form from Kerala. It has been recognised by UNESCO as a ‘Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’ as it is one of the oldest theatre forms, based on Sanskrit theatre traditions. 

Cinema and television have certainly emerged as the greatest adversaries of theatre and a falling appreciation of these art forms is witnessed. Their reach and knowledge has become limited and is popular only in the circles of theatre admirers. Theatre is such an art form that not only expresses meaning through narration but also brings people together. It leads to development of skills like listening, imagination and empathy. Moreover, its contribution to the economy and growth of neglected areas cannot be missed. The government as well as the citizens, especially the students can play a huge role in this endeavor of remembering our customs. 

Thus, in order to strengthen our roots and concretise the cohesiveness of our culture, recognition and popularization of traditional Indian theatre is very essential, otherwise we would lose these precious jewels of our sublime Indian culture to westernisation forever.

Feature Image Credits: indiaheritagedesk.com

Ipshika Ghosh

[email protected]


Mandi House Metro Station turns out to be a quintessential hotspot for every history-forager as a photo-exhibition on the 1947 Partition opens the door to a far-off reality.

 After a long day at college, one might want to escape the exasperation and break away from the monotony of metro journeys. Here is some respite- get off at Mandi House, take the escalator and find yourself in the world of others’ reality, learn what happened during the partition.

Further, here’s the answer to every “Why should I go to the exhibit?”:

One knows more about the “What?” and “Why?” of the partition, but it’s time to delve into the “How?” of the partition.

There exists a different 1947 and independence in many hearts, away from the rejoiced call of freedom and the attainment of autonomy. “I was traumatised. I was standing there, not knowing what is happening. He- the gunman- was only ten feet away…. he shot at me few times… He missed (everytime). So I started running, ” expresses Ali Shan. Zafar Afaq Ansari further quotes, “I feel like I am a bottled plant, a bottle can be kept here… here… I have no roots.”

According to the 1947 Partition Archives, the Partition gave way to the world’s largest mass human displacement as nearly 1,50,00,000 people associated to the basic need of shelter as a luxury. These affected lives found no place in the public archives, hence 1947 Archive’s creation is a multidimensional textbook.

It introduces and harnesses the latent power of Citizen Historians, comprising of volunteer movement. History bids farewell to lousy lectures as 500 people from over 20 countries become historians, with 1000 interviews in 9 languages- history becomes everybody’s story.

Learn about Usha Bhardwaj’s anarchical holiday in Kashmir and her memories of almost leaving her brother behind on the platform.

Read about Paramjit Kaur Dhanao’s life during the Partition as she narrates her struggle of being separated from friends and family due to borders.

Witness the clenching of jaw as Narinder Kaur Oberoi tells the readers about an incident where a father had to kill his own daughter, fearing the brutality along the borders the awaited their journey, and as Gopi Bhatia mentions the month long communication snap from her father during the period of severe rioting.

Abdus Salam, Adarsh Saran, Puran Dang, Mohinder Singh Chadha and many more have their stories along the walls of Mandi House Metro Station, making its readers rethink the idea of ‘celebrating’ 15th August and wonder how lines along landmass affect lives.

 Image Credit: www.1947partitionarchive.org

Priyanshi Banerjee

[email protected]


This year, India’s guest for the Republic Day Parade is Jair Bolsonaro, the President of Brazil. And it shouldn’t be a cause of celebration.

Trigger Warning: Rape, Homophobia.

From the likes of Mandela, who have changed history for generations to come, to the likes of Bolsonaro, who has somehow single-handedly managed to ruin the world’s largest forests, it hasn’t been much of a glow-up for India.


Republic Day is a reminder of the concept of a Republic, a concept emphasising the Constitutional values that have guided us over the years and the equality of all citizens. The founding of the Republic was a very significant step for this newly independent nation of India, and needless to say, it is a proud day for us.


Bolsonaro is another fish swimming in the current populist wave. Erdogan in Turkey, Trump in the United States, and the recently elected Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom are some other popular examples showing this rise is extremist leaders; all of them are leaders who have no problem expressing themselves in vile ways, as long as it appeals to the masses. Unsurprisingly, they also have limited patience for dissent and are extremely right-wing. Does this ring a bell?


A man notorious for his policies, Bolsonaro’s stances on environment, LGBTQ+ rights, women, and democracy are deeply problematic. He’s a far-right politician known to be openly racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and militaristic. A quick search of his name would easily lead you to hundreds of articles describing his controversial statements and inflammatory takes on everything you could care about.


The Amazon fires of 2019, which were a stark, unmistakable reminder of how destroyed the earth truly is, had one man to blame. He has also been caught on tape while calling himself, “a proud homophobe,” and saying he had rather have his son die in a car crash than be gay.


“I am not going to rape you, because you are very ugly,” said he to a female politician in 2014. “Elections won’t change anything in this country. It will only change on the day that we break out in civil war here and do the job that the military regime didn’t do: killing 30,000. If some innocent people die, that’s fine. In every war, innocent people die,” said the right-wing leader in an interview in 1999.


Not only is his speech provocative, but it also is his policy-making atrocious. Brazil is also home to 17 of the 50 most violent cities in the world and has the world’s highest homicide rate. Bolsonaro pledged to tackle this security crisis: he relaxed gun ownership restrictions. He also scrapped Brazil’s Human Rights Minister, and created a position of a Minister of ‘Family Values,’ placing an ultraconservative pastor at the post. Doesn’t this ring a bell too?


“Bolsonaro is a political figure I don’t wish to see on such an occasion. He is against everything I stand for. But, honestly, I can’t say I didn’t see this coming. After this country’s policy changes and the ridiculous direction it is going, I suppose the worse is yet to come,” said Mrinalini, a third-year student.


Considered close to leaders such as Donald Trump, he’s had spats with France’s Macron, Germany’s Angela Merkel, and Norwegian leaders, over his exploitation of the Amazon. Needless to say, he isn’t a leader other respectable world leaders are tripping over their feet to befriend. This is why Modi’s growing comradeship with the Brazilian leader speaks even louder.


His statements and actions are evidence why he shouldn’t be suitable for an occasion as esteemed as this. However, it isn’t surprising that the Modi Government thinks otherwise. Modi, after all, is a part of the same extremist club too. And, well, birds of a feather flock together.


Image Credits:Bloomberg


Satviki Sanjay

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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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Kitne Jhanki thhe? Jhankis have always been the centre of attention at parades, but what goes behind the two minutes of beauty? What does it take to bring alive a tableau to life demonstrating centuries of heritage?

Back in the day, I remember singing Tagore’s  as West Bengal’s jhanki or tableau embellished the Rajpath! However, the joys of the past evolved into questions of the present; the jhankis are not just a moving galore of colour, culture, and entertainment, they harbour within them months of hard work, dedication, and skill.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) overlooks the nitty-gritty of the tableaux, right from issuing a number of guidelines to the smooth fl owing of the Parade, the MoD takes over six months to provide two minutes of joy. Over six different themes are suggested to the States, Union Territories (UT), and Central Departments ranging from history, cultural integrity, environment, to Government schemes. The Selection Committee enlists prominent personalities in the field of art, culture, architecture, sculpture, choreography, etc. The artists and designers of the tableaux are asked to not include any writings or logos other than the State’s and UT’s name in Hindi, English, and the Regional Language.

This follows two-rounds of vigorous scrutiny under the Committee: One, suggestions and modifications after the initial evaluation, and second, evaluating the three-dimensional models and cultural presentation videos, after which the final decision is taken. For the 2020 Republic Day Parade, out of 56 tableaux, only 22 have been selected. Kerala, Maharashtra, West Bengal, and Bihar, all of them being non – Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led Governments have been rejected, thus causing a lot of stir. Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party allege vendetta by BJP for political gains. “There was no politics in a committee of artists, who decide the themes for the parade,” said Jayaprabha Menon, a jury member, regarding Kerala’s exclusion. Abhishek Anand, a Law student from Bihar, says, “I personally believe the BJP is targeting the major non-BJP states.”

What is rather interesting is that in over last 27 years, Delhi has presented their tableau only 11 times. There have been protests led by ex-Chief Minister (CM) Madan Lal Khurana, along with Member of Parliament’s from East Delhi, expressing discontentment over the MoD’s rejection. In 2019, an ex-senior Government official told Hindustan Times (HT) on how on certain occasions, the Centre did not want the States to promote their governance models.

Samir, an artisan from Assam was influential in Delhi’s tableau in 2017 showing the Aam Aadmi Party Government’s exemplary work in the education sector, told HT, “It takes time to make these things. The money we get is decent. It’s around Rs 8,000, some even get Rs 16,000 though per float,”. It takes around five months to give life to a tableau with over 30-40 hands on deck, however, the fate of these tableaux is rather unfortunate. After being dismantled to shreds they are sold as scraps. Bibhuti Adhikary, the designer of Delhi tableaux over the past few years, said, “So many people give their heart and soul to making the tableau. But no facility has been made to keep them or at least the best ones intact. Respective state houses keep them for a few days or months and later sell it off in bits to whoever wants to take it.” What is rather unfortunate is the sorry state of artisans who lose their art, not to forget the mediocre payment. What is rather interesting though, is the question of what can be done to improve the gloomy state of art deconstructed as scraps. There are several pertinent questions which stay unanswered; there are innumerable possibilities of being constructive with post-celebrations tableaux, and the lack of acknowledgement for art and artisans speaks volumes. Until then, as another R-Day comes around the corner, while you cheer at the vibrant display of culture, keep the aftermath in mind.

Image Credits: Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Defence

Anandi Sen

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The Preamble to the Constitution of India is a brief statement that highlights the values and principles of the Constitution and our Country. How far have we strayed from it though?

Thanks to the very first page of our NCERT Books, we are all familiar with the Preamble. Although the Preamble is a concept borrowed from the American Constitution, it highlights the essence of what came out of the Constituent Assembly debates. The debates concluded in making India, a Nation based on the principles of social justice and democracy.

Indian nationalism had always been inclusive, overcoming conflicting social identities for the overall development of the Nation. The Constitution laid down a strong foundation for a newly independent Nation, following the principles of social justice and inclusivity, and promoting the ideology of social liberalism. Despite this strong foundation, it seems somewhere along the line we all deviated from these principles.

The Preamble starts with the words Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, and Republic. While India’s position as a socialist country is open to question, it is no secret that India has deviated from the belief of secularism. What had started way back through identity politics was only heightened during the Babri Masjid demolition and the Gujarat riots. The openly inflammatory speeches, mob-lynching, and the recently passed Citizenship (Amendment) Act are proofs all around us. On paper, India is also the world’s largest democracy. But can a Country, whose Government remains unavailable to questions and criticism on its policies and statements by its citizens, be called democratic?

The first thing the Preamble promises is Justice (social, economic, and political). Social Justice stands for eliminating all forms of exploitation and the presence of socially privileged classes from the society. But, exploitation of women, minorities, and the poor exists all around us- in manual labour, in manual scavenging, and in the very concept of working class. Economic justice stands for equitable distribution of wealth and economic equality, but recent reports say that the richest one per cent of the Country’s population, now holds 73 per cent of the Country’s wealth. Fortunately, the basic rights of universal adult suffrage and equal political participation are still secure.

The next thing the Preamble promises is Liberty (of thought, expression, belief, faith, and worship). The lack of this principle in practice is glaringly obvious. Thought and expression are accepted, only when it conforms to the ideals of the Government. Labels of ‘anti-national’ and ‘urban Naxal’ are quick to be attached to anyone and anything that raises a strong argument against the Government. Unsurprisingly, India’s rank on World Press Freedom Index is 140 out of 180. While the liberty of belief, faith, and worship do exist, believing in different Gods has now become a cause of enmity.

The third thing the Preamble promises is Equality (of status and opportunity). But, there’s discrimination on the basis of class, caste, religion, sex, gender, and colour in our daily lives. There is an outrageous gap between the privileged and the less privileged classes of society. While the Country also guarantees us, Rule of Law, a careful look at just the recent events in the Country speak more than enough. George Orwell’s famous words in his book Animal Farm, “All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others,” are intimidatingly accurate in the context of the country. The last thing the Preamble promises is Fraternity (assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation). Fraternity, here, refers to a feeling of ‘brotherhood’, a brotherhood which gets clouded with communalism and casteism too often. Although, seeing the solidarity among the universities across the Nation against violence and police brutality in the university campuses, we hopefully haven’t diverged much from this principle.

Every day, it seems like this Country moves further away from light, and these complex terms- Justice, Equality, and Democracy- lose meaning to become mere ritualistic words. In these testing political times, we must not forget what our Constitution and our Country stand for. In these political times, we must not forget what we stand for.


Image Credits: Aditi Gutgutia for DU Beat

Satviki Sanjay

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