Born and brought up in Delhi, 24-year-old Mallika Arya took the fellowship of Teach For India (TFI) with the humble thoughts of bringing a change in the lives of underprivileged children. She did her schooling from Vasant Valley School and graduated in B.A. Psychology Honours from Lady Shri Ram College for Women. She worked with TFI for two years before taking a gap year to travel. She is currently pursuing her masters in sustainability from the University of Sydney.

In conversation with her, she answered these questions:

Q. What made you decide to join the fellowship?
A. I was a volunteer in a TFI classroom when I was in college and also a part of Project Leap (which later became I Foundation) and that’s when I decided that I wanted to do the fellowship once I graduated. I wanted my own class, my own students, and I wanted to create the change that I had seen in so many classrooms with TFI fellows. I worked with the mindset that I would lead the change and create magic for those kids. I came out of the fellowship with a totally different view – I only went in there as an enabler,and in the end I didn’t create the magic. The kids did it on their own, and the journey with them was life-changing not just for them but also for me.

Q. What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
A. The challenges I faced included not being accepted by some stakeholders. I was extremely lucky to have a co-fellow who had similar dreams. Both of us worked hard together to build relationships with the other teachers. We would make conscious efforts to sit with everyone else during break time and share our ideas, lesson plans, and assessment sheets. Another challenge for us had been to get the parents of the students to understand some of our unconventional teaching methods. There were regular community visits and we were often involved in calling the parents and going home for surprise visits or even just inviting the parents to come and sit in some of the classes.

Q. When did you start seeing changes (that you set for yourself) in your students? Could you recall any exact moments?
A. Looking back at the fellowship now, I think the kids taught me more than I taught them. They taught me to be patient and brought out a creative side to me which I didn’t know even existed! I hated math and science in school, maybe because of the way it was taught, but those were my favourite lessons with my kids. We would go outside and study under the trees. We started a little community garden to see how we could make compost with food waste and that really showed the kids that the solutions to a lot of problems can be found in the little things we do everyday. There were difficult days as well, but on those days it was the kids who pushed me through the rough times.

Q. What did you learn from the fellowship and the children? How did the fellowship help you in your next steps?
A. The fellowship was monumental in helping me decide what I want to do for the rest of my life. It was through our science lessons that we really started to dive deep into environmental issues around us today. I started doing extra research and we spent days following the COP21 news and hours learning about waste and pollution. My kids understood it all so well and wanted to do something about it so badly that it made me introspect my role towards saving the environment. I was immensely passionate about it, and here I am now doing my masters in sustainability in Sydney! It all goes back to my experiences in the classroom and if I hadn’t been a teacher to those 25 amazing little beings I don’t know where I would be today!

Inspired by Mallika’s story? Apply to be a fellow. Last date of application is 4th February 2018.


Feature Image Credits: TFI

As reported by a leading daily, an associate professor at the University of Delhi has filed a written complaint to the Vice-chancellor alleging discrepancies in the admission procedure for PhD candidates in the Urdu Department.

Khalid Alvi who is an associate professor at Zakir Hussain College(Morning), and a renowned Urdu poet and critic, has cited irregularities in the admission procedure with respect to disregard of a meritorious female student whose name was not included in the final list of candidates selected for Ph.D course in Urdu, under the Department of Urdu, Delhi University. Adding on, he also pointed out that his signature was removed from this final list. Regarding the same, he has sent an email and a follow-up letter to the Vice-Chancellor requesting urgent address and seeking permission to file a FIR on the matter.

Speaking to Indian express, he claimed that one of the faculty members taking interviews of shortlisted candidates pressurised the girl to apply for the M.Phil. course over a PhD Agreeing to the professor’s claim, the girl told Indian Express, “When I refused the professor’s offer of taking admission in M.Phil., he told me he would hit me with hard questions during the interview. I was asked questions as if I had applied for a faculty member’s position.”

When DU Beat approached Dr Ibne Kanwal, Alvi’s colleague and Head of Department Research Committee(DRC), he dismissed these claims and said, “It’s not necessary that every gold medallist can perform well in interviews. She performed poorly, and Dr Khalid Alvi himself arrived late. He also left early, and hence his signature was not present in the final list, whereas the rest of the committee have theirs.” The entrance exam for admission into the course was conducted on 5th July and interviews for shortlisted candidates held on 30th August. The final list of selected candidates for PhD in Urdu was released on the DU website on 5th September and the admission procedure for the same was on until 15th September.

Feature Image Credits: India.com

Vijeata Balani
[email protected]

Mythology is a subjective truth. Every culture imagines life in a certain way.”- Devdutt Pattanaik

Mythology has always fascinated me. Indian art and culture has ever since been rich, but more and more people have  now started indulging into our myths. My quest to learn more of mythology led me to interview Devdutt Pattanaik, a medical doctor by education, a leadership consultant by profession and a mythologist by passion. He has authored books like My Gita, the Leadership Sutra, Myth=Mithya and many more. Here are the snippets from the interview:

  1. A doctor by education, but a mythologist by passion: so, when and how did this journey start?

It was just a hobby for weekends. But gradually my ideas  turned into strong views. This led to articles  eventually becoming lectures, and when it became financially viable in 2008, this became a full-time vocation. It was all organic. It was just hard work, maximum utilisation of opportunities, and a neat stroke of luck.

  1. It takes a lot of effort to travel to different places of India collecting myths and stories; so how does this entire process work?

Most myths are in fact available on the internet, and before that in libraries. Tonnes of people have already researched on them but they write only for academics, not for common people. Or, their knowledge is restricted to a narrow field of study. I broadened the base and made it accessible for common people.

  1. Have you considered visiting places in Southeast Asia like Cambodia, to find different versions of our Hindu myths? Angkor Wat has many stories, so does Sri Lanka. 

One had to do that in the 19th century, but not anymore. As I said, much information has already been gathered but is badly structured and presented,  hence, not many understand the patterns. For example, Hinduism is present in Southeast  Asia but you do not sense “bhakti”, or the essential power of devotional music, as the flow of ideas to the these regions was restricted before 1000 AD.

  1. Presenting our myths in their foreign versions world be interesting, so why haven’t we tried that?

We may not like these versions. The Hanuman of Southeast Asia is not celibate or devotional. He is a wild and funny rake. You don’t feel the underlying principles of the Upanishads, which means Agama or the Puranas are not amalgamated with Nigama or the Vedas, as they are in India. So they are very yet very different.

  1. In your book Shikhandi, you talk about the queer. How do you think the yesteryear’s myths can influence the present day Indian society?

In the past, people followed whatever was convenient . If you left India during those times  and crossed the sea, you lost your caste and religion. Which means the migrants couldn’t call themselves Hindus. But, we don’t follow these old codes, do we? Likewise, in past, women were considered inferior to men, incapable of achieving spiritual wisdom. We don’t believe that anymore. In the past, we believed there were three genders: male, female and queer. But this idea faded away in British times. And now is being seen as a Western import.


Feature Image credits: Devdutt.in

Radhika Boruah

[email protected]

In a country where the music industry focuses on making party songs with arbitrary lyrics, The Local Train is a refreshing change. The band started out in 2008, and has only gotten more and more successful since its inception, with a huge fan following that love the artists for their out of the ordinary music. We got a chance to chat with them before their gig at Farzi Café, CP about their upcoming album. Here are some excerpts:

Your song Khudi is a juxtaposition between reality and dreams, what is the message behind the song?

Paras: I think the purpose of the song is very clear in the video. Like if you daydream, and ultimately you fight for it, and then you get it. That’s what the video is about, and the song is on similar lines.

Raman: The song is about everybody who is fighting to get something, or fighting for following what they want to do. It is basically about finding your true calling, basically and Khudi as a concept means ‘self-actualisation’and that’s what it is. You figure out what you want to do and actually go ahead with it. We’re just really glad that people relate to the song.

Tell us about your upcoming album that is releasing in September. Have you guys decided on a name yet?

Paras: No, no. We haven’t locked down on one single name yet. I think we’ve written five songs and then we have 3-4 more songs to go. We’ll have a clearer idea where we’re headed in totality with this album, and then we’ll bounce off a few names again. We have a lot of ideas written down and a lot of thought are going to come in now, so we are not following one set theme.

Raman: We don’t have a general concept for anything, we just keep writing songs, like we keep playing them. I think we’ve rejected more songs then the songs that are already made it to the album which is something we’ve never done before. I think the general idea would be that we’re just writing songs because we are also going through a lot of stuff as a band, and not a lot of infra there in the country to supoort band music. There is Khudi, then there’s one that we just finished called Mere Yaar, then there is song about non-believers, there is a song about traditions that don’t make sense anymore in the modern world, there’s one about two-faced people, called Dil Nawaaz.

Your music videos frequently feature aspiring artists and unexplored talent like Ryan Matyr in Jiyen Kyun, Faizan Th in Yeh Zindagi Hai and Arjun Mathur in Khudi. Is there a reason behind this or is it unintentional?

Raman: Gareeb hi gareeb ko samajh sakta hai.

Paras: Just to clarify, Arjun Mathur is not an underground talent. He is out there and he has done more things than we have. Other than that, we have always felt that is it more important to hang out with like-minded people and it would be more fun to work with them.

Raman: And we’re very glad that whatever we’ve done, with Ryan, with Faizan, and now with Arjun, all the things have worked in their own space very nicely. Which makes us believe that we should keep doing it, like go and look for people who are doing good stuff and then ask them like ‘Hey man, you want to collaborate?’ because it is a collaboration, if you really look at it, between the band and the director and the producer and the talent that is in the video.

Ramit: We have always believed in working with people that we connect with and that we like, and they need to like us back. We need to have the same thought process, we need to be looking at the same things.

Paras: I mean, that being said, we’re not closed to working with stars. If tomorrow Deepika Padukone calls, I am not going to say no.

You guys released your first album in 2015, but you’ve been a part of this industry for a long time now. Do you feel like there is a lack of investment when it comes to indie music?

Ramit: Yes, definitely. It is a cottage industry still. It is in the metros but it is still a cottage industry!

Paras: That’s a very good analogy!

Raman: There is a lot of talent in this country, a lot of kick-ass bands in the country. But the problem is that people are more interested in Bollywood music because it gets them more money. If you’re an independent band, you really have to figure out on your own, because we work as a mini label only. We write our own music, we produce our own music, there’s no one putting money behind us. Because all the money that we go and make in our shows, we put that money on music and videos. And we run it like a label, like we release our singles, we plan our tours out, we plan our gigs out. And I think, that is the only option an independent band has.

Paras: A lot of people think that, ‘Oh! Your life must be so chill, you don’t have a day job’ but it is not a just a day job, it is a day and night job. It is a full-time job, because after you’ve made the music, what do you do? You have to take it out somehow, you have to tour the country, you have to go door to door.

Your song Aaoge Tum Kabhi was featured in the movie, Angry Indian Goddesses. Do you feel that as a band it is important to be featured in mainstream media?

Paras: I think it is important to find an audience, it doesn’t matter how you get to them, through a movie or through whatever. It is important to find your audience and the people who are going to like you for what you do. And we have always made exactly what we wanted to make.

Sahil: The song, exactly how it was released, that’s how it has gone on the movie as well.

Raman: And that’s why we respect the team of AIG, because they fought for our cause and a lot of things.

Do you feel mainstream music curbs creative freedom for aspiring musicians?

Raman: It couldn’t curb our freedom. If you’re true to yourself and you know that this is going to work and you’re honest, then it is going to work. Nobody is going to curb it.

Ramit: If somebody wants to use that as an excuse, then they are more than welcome.

Paras: I don’t think we should generalize it like that. It all depends on who you’re working with in the industry. Like, as long as we have our creative freedom, we don’t mind working with Bollywood. As long as they don’t was us to do a Holi song in March. They will curb your creativity if you let them, basically.

Delhi University is a house to budding talent and music societies and they contribute to DU’s vibrant culture. So what would be your message to these aspiring artists?

Paras: Brace yourselves, guys.

Raman: As a band, the four of us, we run our lives as a school of learning. If you’re always learning and if you’re true to yourself, you are going to get somewhere. Just try to gather as much as you can, the world has changed, the time has changed, the dynamics of the industry has changed and music also has changed. So you really have to be aware about what is good for you and what is not, like a small thing can be fruitful for a very short period of time. Like, for the four of us, our calling is to make our own music.

Paras: And creatively, please don’t try to sound like somebody else. Try and be as original as possible. Sound exactly like yourself, because no one else can sound like you and that’s very important. Our true calling is that we really like creating music. And that is the only thing that has worked in our favour. So please, focus on creating original content and no matter how good or bad that is, you can never out a price on it. It is yours.


Image Credits: Nischay Chabra


Anagha Rakta
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Srivedant Kar

[email protected]



Writing is liberating, empowering and a life changing experience but not many get the opportunity to showcase the same to the world. Presently working at McKisney & Company, Abhishek Gupta is an Economics major from Kirori Mal College who stands as a young example of how to make one’s dreams come true via writing. Author of India’s first ever travel photo-poetry collection – ‘Iridescence’, we got an opportunity to have an enlightening conversation with him about his dreams, aspirations and his current calling. Excerpts:


Q1. Being an Economics Major from Kirori Mal College, how did the idea of penning down a book come up?

Abhishek: Every person has this childhood fantasy, mine was to grow up and write a book. So as soon as I found an idea which could make a difference to Indian Literature, the first thing I did was to write the book.


India's first travel photo poetry collection, ‘Iridescence’
India’s first travel photo poetry collection, ‘Iridescence’


Q2. The title of the book – ‘Iridescence’ literally means a lustrous or attractive quality that changes with the change in the angle of view. Metaphorically, why did you choose this title and no other?

Abhishek: Travel changes you.  It makes you look at things differently. In Iridescence, I have tried to voice and give vision to different junctures of my journey of self discovery and my discovery of the world. This book would mean different things to different people. It may make you reflect, introspect, awaken, love, invigorate and hope. It may make you look at the same poem differently as you read it at different points of your life. This is a book to tuck under your pillow on cold lonely nights and it is also a book to flip through on a fresh refreshing morning.

Your perspective will define what Iridescence ends up meaning to you. And thus, what better way to sum this photo-poetry book than to call it ‘Iridescence’?


Q3. How did the idea of juxtaposing photography and poetry in a single book come to your mind? 

Abhishek: I had been an avid writer since school. In my first year college I started doing photography. I was away to Africa for an internship around that time where sitting by the beach I was writing poetry. That’s when it struck me that it would be a great idea to combine photos and poetry in a book. It took me 3 years since then to materialise the book.


Q4. Most of your poems are an inspiration picked up directly from nature. Any story behind this you’d like to share with us? 

Abhishek:When I started with photography, I clicked nothing but flora, and then slowly started clicking landscapes. Nature inspires me the most, and I particularly write the most when I am travelling. I strongly believe that nature has the power to amaze you and has a lot of wisdom to impart to you about life.


Q5. What motivated you to travel and pen down your thoughts in the form of poetry? 

Abhishek:My primary motivation to travel was to get out of my comfort zone and to experience life and different ways of living beyond my confines. I wanted to breathe the air of new places and collect moments worth reliving. Photography was also one of the major reasons triggering all my travel.

Soon after, I discovered, Photo-poetry was the perfect medium to make a picture and moment eternal for myself and as well as for the readers. And then the camera didn’t stop clicking and the pen kept scribbling onto the pages of my travel journal.


Q6. Do you think poetry as a form of writing needs a new lease of life? What are your comments about the culture of poetry that we have in the country today?

Abhishek: I think we are at a very unique point in the history of literature where we are heading towards digitalisation and experimenting more than ever before. Poetry in India too needs innovation to enhance its market and appeal. It no longer needs to be about being free verse or sonnet or a haiku. It could be in different patterns, in various styles, lengths and on any particular theme.

I think the poetry scenario in India is reforming and broadening its horizons. There are slam poetry sessions every weekend, blogs and Instagram flooding with new budding Indian poets more than ever before and a wider acceptance of new forms of poetry. It is a privilege to witness such a rich growing poetry culture in our country.


Q7. Being a young author, you must have faced many unprecedented challenges and obstacles in the path of getting yourself published. Any anecdotes or important advice you wish to pass on to our young readers and aspiring authors?

Abhishek:Poetry is something that is very close to the writer, so I think the first obstacle is making peace with the fact that you are opening yourself to the entire world.  So don’t be afraid to opening yourself up to the world.

And then the second obstacle is apparently finding a publisher. So all I would say is that if you reach out to 50 publishers, only 5 would respond back and 1 will for sure accept your idea, and that is all that will make a difference.


Q8. In a collection of more than 30 poems, which poem is very close to you or has a special place among the plethora of experiences that helped you collate this book?

Abhishek:Each poem is very close to my heart, so it would be very unfair if I choose one. But if I have to choose, then it would be ‘Probably Exuberance’. Because that was the first photo-poetry I wrote, and that’s where Iridescence started.


Abhisheks book has been received very well and has also become a top-seller on Amazon in its genre. We wish Abhishek all the very best for all his future endeavours!  


Riya Chhibber

[email protected]

College is a great time to explore and discover one’s passions. The experiences, adventures, and occasional escapades enjoyed are perfect shapers and nurturers of one’s innate talent. While most are exposed to the opportunity of taking on something new, only a few actually have the dogged determination to pursue their interests and persist in only getting better along the way. Siddharth Singh and Prakhar Maheshwari from Wannabe Anonymous are perfect examples of how a passion identified and shared in college by two like-minded people can be transformed into a rewarding side-career:

Q: Let’s hear about you from you. Take us to the beginning.

Siddharth: Prakhar and I are from Delhi College of Arts and Commerce. We studied Economics, and met in our second year of college. We both had an interest in comedy. We used to follow and share videos of Kenny Sebastian and Vir Das. Inspired, we decided to actively venture into the niche comedy scene. Initially, we wanted to convey our comedy through the medium of nukkad natak, but then we decided on stand-up comedy instead.
Prakhar: Yes, because sense prevailed! (laughs) We figured that the latter form would be more apt, especially in the initial stage, because we weren’t very sure about our content. The reception and response to a stand-up gig is more encouraging as it helps you gauge the demands of the audience and learn what works and what doesn’t. We decided to combine our humour and thus, Wannabe Anonymous was born.

Q: You’ve put yourself in an extremely competitive field, which is only growing by the day. At any point in your journey till now did you find yourself questioning your instincts and giving up?

Siddharth:  After conceiving ‘Wannabe Anonymous’, we applied to perform at Rendezvous 2015. The video we sent to them got rejected. But we didn’t let that bog us down. We performed our first show at a café in Hauz Khas Village.
Prakhar: Towards the beginning of our show, the crowd was thin. But after a while, the café started filling up. That really encouraged us. We were really happy with the way we performed that day.
Siddharth: But then when we had to upload the video of our show online, we realised that we were capable of much better. We had second thoughts and didn’t want to put the video up.
Prakhar: However, we decided to learn from our experience. That video made us want to do better and strive to achieve the level of comedy that we knew we could create. We faced some lows. We do so even now. Instead of letting that pull us down, we like to let that motivate us to do better.
Q- Tell us about your most successful and special show?

Siddharth- I remember Indraprastha College for Women as a fantastic show. We had prepared a script for 25 minutes and the show went on for 45 minutes. It was the kind of show we live for.

Prakhar- It was all impromptu. The audience was very engaged and responsive, it was the kind of connect that we always aspire for.

Siddharth- I think it had to do with something that I like to call induction. It’s like when the first five minutes of the show go well, then automatically the chances of the whole show going great goes up. That’s why before starting we try to the get the audience riled up and get their attention.

Q- How do you do that? Are there any tricks?

Siddharth- I do this stupid thing – and Prakhar hates me for this – where I just ask the assemblage to show us how to clap, how to whistle etc. Basically we just make them look at us, ensure their attentiveness, and get them energised.  It works.

Prakhar- Once you have the audience hooked, your lamest jokes will work. I find this phenomenon worked with Kenny Sebastian often. Once during his gig, Kenny simply said that “I’m going to shave.” and the people went berserk. He just said “I’m going to shave”. It wasn’t a joke, but it was still funny. That’s the kind of charm we want to own.

Question- In recent times, we have seen that controversies and comedians have had many run ins. Kiku Sharda was booked under section 295 A of the Indian Penal Code (outraging religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious belief) and recently the Tanmay Bhatt and Lata Mangeshkar fiasco happened. What are your views on this? Do you think comedians should be more responsible?

Prakhar- I think people should just have a sense of humour. In case of Tanmay Bhatt and Lata Mangeshkar controversy, I find people to be unnecessarily touchy. Why it was even made into a big deal? It’s beyond me.

Q- But, do think this applies to the sexist jokes too? Someone might say that “yes, it’s sexist. If you don’t like it then ignore me.”

Siddharth- We personally do not crack sexist jokes. We make Punjabi jokes, we make jokes on colleges about certain DU colleges, and chances are someone will always be offended at something. We know we can’t always prevent that from happening. However, we know where to draw the line. It’s about one’s own discretion.  About the ethical aspect of jokes, should they be offensive or not, I don’t know honestly. I haven’t formed an opinion on this.


Prakhar– Last year we performed at IIT Delhi. Some of our jokes were sexist in nature and they were being received very well by the crowd, which was was male dominated. There were two girls there and in the middle of the show they left. We don’t know if they left because they were offended or because they just wanted to leave for other reasons. Now when we think about IIT Delhi, it does make us uncomfortable. After that show we made a point not to crack such jokes, even if they are in demand.

Siddharth- Another time, during the show at Indraprastha College for Women, I made a joke on how women are bad drivers and the crowd started screaming “Offensive”, “Not funny” and “Sexist”. Thankfully, my senses prevailed quickly and I moulded it into something else.  Anyway, we are not proud of these jokes of ours. That is something we realise now.

Q- Judging from this instance that you talked about, what do you do when a joke falls flat?  No one laughs and it’s just gone.

Prakhar- See, the fact that it’s two of us to take the fall helps a-lot. Sometimes when we are fortunate, we improvise something on the spot and it works, sometimes we simply move ahead. Initially we used to explain our jokes expecting that the audience will laugh. We would assume that no one got it, instead of accepting that it was lame. This was a horrible thing to do. Now we know (chuckles)

Q- You guys have a regular job, so how sincerely are you guys thinking about stand-up comedy?

Siddharth- I know this lexicon is clichéd but I’ll use it anyway. We both belong to a typical middle class family, which means we have a fair share of duties and moral dilemma. Papa CJ is one of my favourite comedians and one thing he says is that financial independence is the best gift you can give to yourself and your parents. I agree with this 100%. I can’t allow myself to depend on my dad’s  money because I’m aware of the responsibility I have towards my family. Stand-up comes with certain risks and I can’t afford those risks right now. However, that doesn’t mean I’ll use this as an excuse for not working on Wannabe Anonymous.  I love Wannabe Anonymous.

Prakhar- A nine to five job that ensures that we get paid every month acts as a safety net that we need. It’s like what Biswapati Sarkar categorises as:  area of interest and area of knowledge.  Our jobs are our area of knowledge and Stand-up is our area of interest. Right now we are in our early 20s and we feel believe that we are able to balance job and passion very well.

Q- Recently you did your fist ticketed show which was a success. How do you see this transition from free shows to ticketed shows?

Prakhar- It was great! I can’t explain how awesome it felt to be on stage and to see that these many people have bothered to pay for us.

Siddharth- When I was preparing the script for the show my brother asked me, “How is it going?” and I casually replied, “It’s okay, let’s see.”  To that, my brother said, “Listen, please be serious because people have paid for this. You must do justice to their money.” Some extra responsibility is always there when it’s a paid performance.

Prakhar- Though it’s not like we are not sincere otherwise. We are very serious comedians. (winks)

Q- If you were given a chance to relive your college lives, then which college would you choose, except Delhi College of Arts and Commerce?

Siddharth- Shri Ram College of Commerce

Prakhar- St. Stephens College.

Siddharth- But then who will be your friend? Stephenians won’t befriend you, right?

Prakhar- But dude, if you stay in the same collage from the starting then one or two nice people will be kind enough to be my friends.

Q- Last question: where do you see yourselves 5 years from now?

Siddharth- Ideally, I see myself doing stand-up full time.

Prakhar- When you start from the bottom it only goes up. Five years from now, I think we’ll still be doing stand-up.

Feature Image by Alex Arthur for DU Beat

Interview by Kriti Sharma ([email protected]) and Niharika Dabral ([email protected])

After days of anticipation and a rigorous electoral campaign, ABVP’s Vice Presidential candidate Priyanka Chhawri emerged victorious. A graduate in Mathematics from Lakshmibai College , University of Delhi, and currently pursuing her M.A in Buddhist Studies from Dept. Of Buddhist Studies, DU, from discussing her journey into politics to her plans of bringing changes in the campuse, we got chatting with her about her new found role.


DUB: What motivated you to pursue your candidature in the DUSU elections? How did your journey into student level politics begin?

Priyanka Chhawri: I am a student activist from the past five years and it all started when I appeared for CATE entrance and saw a group of students protesting at the arts faculty against the DU administration. The protest was led by ABVP.I was so influenced by the student leaders that it occurred to me that I must also be there one day! So when I got admission in LBC,  I joined ABVP and became an active member! I saw a great change in me in these five years. ABVP groomed me into a more confident and responsible person and with time I attained the leadership skills that were needed to contest in DUSU elections and now, here I am, as the DUSU Vice President.

DUB:  What are your some of the key areas that you are personally looking forward to focusing upon in your tenure?

PC: Personally , I would focus more on introducing societies for blind and physically handicapped students, constructing pathways for the same, giving North Campus a new look by putting the map of the campus near metro and recognised places, creating awareness session about the women safety app launched by ABVP – ‘I FEEL SAFE’, in every college, providing health cards,making medical rooms functional in every college and providing the facility of printed mark sheets be issued to students after every semester.

DUB:  The DUSU polls saw some lavish campaigning this time again. What is your take on the guidelines by Lyngdoh Committee and National Green Tribunal about the budget restrictions and green campaigning? Do you think they are realistic targets that can be met?

PC: I think it’s not feasible to contest DUSU election in just 5ooo Rupees. How unrealistic it is, that the same amount is allowed to both contest college elections and DUSU? From the last four years , the Lyngdoh Committee hasn’t been reviewed and it’s time that we look into this matter.So, as an officer bearer, I will certainly put forward this issue. As far as paper usage is concerned, it is reduced as compared to last two years but yes it needs to end and just be limited to wall of democracy and advertising sites.

DUB: Last year saw DUSU office bearers being involved in some controversy or the other and accountability and work transparency was also an issue. How do you seek to tackle that?

PC: ABVP led DUSU is very committed to work for the student welfare and we have started working the day we joined our office. We submitted a memorandum to the DSW concerning the issues of students and currently we are working to combat the recent mass failure of the LL.B students regarding which, we have given a letter to the VC. This DUSU panel is dedicated to work for the student community and we have started our work positively !

DUB: NSUI has alleged discrepancy in the voting process and after a hunger strike, they are now planning to move to the court. What is your take on this whole matter?

PC: DU is a democratic university and it’s NSUI’s democratic right to get their doubts clear but I think by doing this they are questioning the mandate of the students. I think they should accept the decision of the students and move on and raise students issues rather than sitting and challenging the choice of students.

DUB: Having gone through the entire process of filing nominations, becoming the final candidate to actually winning, is there anything that you wish to change (procedural or otherwise) in the way DUSU elections unfold?

PC: From filing the nomination to actually contesting DUSU was a great experience. The administration has been very cautious during the scrutiny. But, an incident that seemed like a failure to me was when a candidate who filled the nomination was not present during scrutiny. It should become mandatory for all the candidates to be present during that process.

DUB: DUSU elections have been known to provide the country with some of the finest ministers we have had at the helm of authority in the past. Do you see yourself there? Do you plan to continue in politics?

PC: As of now , I will be working for the students and continue as a student activist.

DUB: Any interesting anecdote you would like to share with us that happened during the election process?

PC: Yes. Once I was delivering a speech in Shaheed Bhagat Singh College. I was in such a hurry (because it was the last day to campaign and I had to cover many colleges) that I forgot the last part and garbled some words and ran away. The students found it so funny and they said, ‘Hum samajh gaye aapki bhaavna’.

DUB: In a line, how would you define your motto for this year as a DUSU office bearer?

PC: I want this DUSU panel to be a medium of exposure for the student community. I will work on involving more students in every activity that is organised by DUSU!

Interviewed by Riya Chhibber

[email protected]

Many digital media platforms rise and fall with the rapidly growing startup culture, but one in particular caught the attention of college students – The Indian Economist. It is a digital media platform available as a phone app and web portal to provide unique content. DU Beat got in conversation with Mr. Manan Vyas, the founder of The Indian Economist, and a Delhi University graduate:

DUB: Could you tell us a little about what separates The Indian Economist from other similar platforms?

Two primary aspects – we are a pure-play opinion & commentary publication. We do not publish news, and we rarely follow the news cycle. We specialise in articles that either introduce a new subject, or introduce a completely fresh perspective on an existing subject.

The second aspect is the sheer quality of our writers.

The quality of our writers is hard to match, arguably even for mainstream publications. With more than 200 writers from over 25 countries across 4 continents, The Indian Economist brings together global experts that can speak about issues that matter with credibility and authority.

We host individuals from global financial institutions, think tanks, authors, artists, activists, entrepreneurs, professors and more from the best companies, universities and institutions in the world.

DUB:What was the inspiration behind setting up TIE?

We wanted to provide access to a diverse pool of opinions and voices. We noticed that India’s English language print publications were publishing less than 300 articles a week in a country of a billion plus people with diverse tastes and interests. Moreover, Indian print publications rarely hosted foreign columnists, due to which a global perspective was missing.

We realised that Indian readers want to read more opinion and commentary, written by credible experts who know what they are talking about. We want to be the platform that could solve that problem.

Indian readers want to read more opinion and commentary, written by credible experts who know what they are talking about

DUB: Being a DU graduate, what influences from your college days went towards forming the startup?

DU has some of the smartest people in the country, and I am happy to have met and spoken to a few of them. Watching DU graduates do well is inspiring, and makes you feel proud to be a part of a cohort of driven, successful individuals. I met TIE’s co-founder, Abhisek Ghosh (St. Stephens, Eco Hons) at DU while at a competition in St. Stephens. ?We became friends, and eventually discussed the idea of TIE together. It took off from there.

DUB: What’d be your perspective on the directly involving students in curating content?

Students can do a great job with content. They are well read and intelligent and also form a readership group for magazines such as ours. If you pick the right kind of students (we pick the best, our selection ratio is less than 1%), we believe they can do a fantastic job with the content.

DUB: What advice would you give to college going students who would like to make a difference?

3 steps:

1. Figure out an area where they want to make an impact.? Ideally, pick an area that is under-served and does not have a lot of companies already fighting it out.

2. Scalable – whatever idea you pick, make sure it is scalable. If an idea involves you going door to door to speak to people, that is not scalable. If an idea restricts your area of impact in terms of distance or number of people it touches, it may not be scalable. Pick something that can scale.

3. Sustainable – this is linked to the scalable idea. If your idea requires massive investment in terms of time and money to succeed, it may never get off the ground. You will either (a) not be able to start (b) not be able to sustain. Pick an idea, just begin, get user feedback, adapt, and go back out there to get more users. Repeat.


Interview by Shaina Ahluwalia for DU Beat

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At the end of their multi-city tour, DU Beat got in touch with Paras Thakur (lead guitarist) and Sahil Sarin (drummer) of the rock band, The Local Train. They are known to have successfully mesmerised the students of Delhi University with performances in colleges like Lady Shri Ram College for Women and Jesus and Mary College this fest season. From being ranked as India’s #1 band in 2015 by Sennheiser to getting their song Aaoge Tum Kabhi featured in the Bollywood movie The Angry Indian Goddesses, they are touted as the new face of Hindi Rock music in India. We had a chat with them about music, Bollywood, fans experiences and their future plans:


Q. The band did a multi-city tour after the release of its first album. What was the tour life like?

Sahil: It is a lot of fun. Every musician loves to go on stage and play his/her own music and we got to do this abundantly.

Paras: Exactly! It is very hard for musicians to get a show these days, especially since there are like a zillion bands competing for the same ground. So, when your band gets a show, let alone a tour, you feel really lucky.

Sahil: But, it is also equally hectic. There was a time when we had three shows, one in Sonepat and two in Calcutta, in less than 24 hours. So, sleep becomes very hard to catch up on. The only way one can then afford to sleep is on the airplanes. I won’t lie; there have been times when the air-hostess had to wake us up. 

Paras (laughs): Yes, they’d be like, “Get out, man!”

Q. There are a lot of artists and bands which even go on 6-month long tours. Is that something you guys are interested in?

Paras: Yes, why not? Bon Jovi did 200 shows in 365 days and to be able to do just that is the ultimate dream!

Sahil (laughs): In fact, we’re even planning to get a bus as soon as possible and just leave for tour again.

“We’re even planning to get a bus as soon as possible and just leave for tour again.”

Q. What are your views about Bollywood and the Indie-music scene?

Paras: Talking about Bollywood music scene as a whole, it definitely gives you an audience which is bigger than anything. But, at the end of the day, a good song is a good song, and bad one is bad irrespective of whether it is a Bollywood song or an indie song.

Sahil: But, indie is definitely a way of life. We don’t have a producer come and tell us that you must put a Munni or Sheila in the song to make it sell. We play music because we feel for it. It is not a manufactured product for us.


Q. What do you guys think about lending your music for Bollywood movies and licensing your songs?

Paras: If our songs do make it to Bollywood, we would not like to be one of those people who are hired as musicians only to be forced to make changes in their songs because of some woman’s special dance performance on it. We, as independent artists, get to make whatever we want to make, and make it so good that whoever wants our music would want it just the way it sounds. 

Sahil: Exactly! In fact, even the song for Angry Indian Goddesses went exactly as it was released on the album. They were not like, ‘put a disco groove to it or change the beat of the song.’ That’s so much for an indie band. Licensing is honestly the way to go. A few changes here and there in the structure is acceptable but if somebody wants to change the vocalist or is asking you to change the song to a point where it loses its true essence, then licensing becomes tricky. It’s about the way you do it, which becomes important.

“We would not like to be one of those people who are hired as musicians only to be forced to make changes in their songs because of some woman’s special dance performance on it.”

Q. Your songs are thought-provoking and have such great lyrics. In an era where songs with absurd lyrics are trending and the music scene is shifting away from Hindi, what makes you stick to the language and lyrical quality? Do you want to re-vamp the Hindi music scene?

Sahil: It comes naturally to us. Singing in Hindi is not something we have to try. We all grew up speaking in Hindi. In fact, this question always becomes weird for us to answer.

Paras: In most interviews, people end up asking this question and for a second we go, like “are we in India?” So why not Hindi? (laughs). But honestly, at the end of the day it’s all about making good music. The lyrics, the language and the lingo are just the means to communicate with the audience. It doesn’t matter which language we use as long as we connect with the audience.

Sahil: We’ve been called the new face of Hindi Rock. We don’t plan to add English or Punjabi as a gimmick.

Q. Recently your songs were played on an International radio show called the Indian Raaga. So, do you have fans internationally as well, or do you think language becomes a barrier?

Sahil: We truly believe music transcends all boundaries. Our music is playing everywhere and we have fans from different corners of the world. Bandey’s video is playing in Brazil, Mexican channels are playing our videos and getting positive reviews, people from Seattle message us saying that they have been listening to our music, and several others are following our songs on YouTube.

Paras: Basically, language is just a means to communicate. But, I think music also pretty much does the same job.

“Bandey’s video is playing in Brazil, Mexican channels are playing our videos and getting positive reviews, people from Seattle message us saying that they have been listening to our music.”

Q. Just like your lyrics, the videos of your songs are equally beautiful with strong symbolism. What drives you to make such powerful and meaningful songs?

Paras: We just require things to have meaning. These days, art forms of music- visually or orally, are just over-flooded with aesthetics. Aesthetics are very important, but aesthetics with just pretty girls, huge cars or big explosions become meaningless. Till a certain point, it’s fine but when everything leads towards the same thing, it doesn’t make any sense. We like to attach a special meaning to it. Since our songs are so lyrically heavy, we tend to give them a form of visual aid and make sure that it’s meaningful.

Sahil: In fact, that’s exactly the kind of thing we want to add to our music, visually as well. This is where Anchit Thukral from ‘The Morpheus Productions’ comes in. He’s been with us from our very first video. He helps us execute what we see in our head and how we would like to put it in a certain song. He’s been our guy from the start!


Q. Which artists do you all listen to, internationally and otherwise?

Sahil: We all listen to different kinds of artists and have different tastes which make it all the more interesting for all of us to come together with our own particular influences and then, make some music. But, some of the artists we really like are Raghu Dixit, Indian Ocean and a band called Parvaaz from Bangalore. We also listen to Coldplay, U2 and the likes.

Q. How did you react to the people offering you exposure rather than money?

Sahil: We have turned down more gigs than we have performed, frankly, and this has always been a conscious decision of the band. A lot of people are willing to undersell themselves, but we’re not one of them.

Paras: I would suggest bands to work more on their art so that people are willing to appreciate and share their music on their own.

Q. After your performances in Delhi University, which college did you find the most receptive to your music?

Sahil: Every place has a different vibe. We really can’t choose any one.

Paras: At least, don’t make us choose on record. (laughs)

Q. There are a lot of bands that are formed during college days and the same is witnessed in Delhi University. So, do you think college becomes an important platform for upcoming talent?

Paras: College is THE most important part.

Sahil: Music Education in India is not taken seriously. Even for me, I think, back in school, music class was more of a fun class than an educational one. I started playing at the age of five but in the first 10 years of my life, I learned very little. The only time I actually learned was when I participated in college level competitions. So, I think this phase sets a foundation for all musicians. It makes them realise whether they want to/must pursue this for a living or not. So, yes, it does certainly become one of the most important phases of your life.  

Q. Can you tell us about your most intense or funny moments on stage?

Paras: Starting from the funniest moments, there have just been too many – from Raman’s forgetfulness or singing the wrong lyrics, to my repeated attempts to look cool and then end up playing the wrong notes. I’ve fallen down more than once on the stage while trying to jump out of excitement and even sprained my ankle once. 

Sahil: The most unfortunate moment would that be of Ramit falling off the stage. It was a pretty intense time for all of us as he instantly had a seizure and for a few seconds, we were just looking at him trying to figure out what to do. Apart from that, a lot of things have happened from equipments falling off the stage to several technical glitches. Things go wrong all the time because there are so many variables to take care of.

Q. Has the band experienced any creepy fan moments?

Sahil:  Of course. We’ve all had them. One time, right after playing this gig, I got a phone call from a landline number. When answered, a woman said “I will rape you”. That has, by far, been the creepiest moment in our records. Like, what do you say to that?

Paras (laughs): That it’s illegal!

2016-03-11 MIT Manipal1
The crowds at The Local Train’s shows are crazy!

Q. Is there any movie for which you would have liked to give music?

Sahil: One movie that really hit me and it would’ve been nice to be a part of was ‘Black Friday’.

Paras: I think Gangs of Wasseypur and other such movies of Anurag Kashyap as well.

Q. What all sitcoms do you guys follow?

Sahil: Every Monday, it’s Game of Thrones. Apart from that, we follow plenty. We all have our phases with addiction to new shows, like Ramit is currently fond of ‘That 70s show’ and we love watching Utopia. And now we have Netflix to watch many more!

Paras: They have this auto-play feature, which is the worst; you play one video which goes on for 12 hours. It’s very slowly destroying our lives!

Featuren Image: The Local Train

Interview taken by Nishita Agarwal (nishita[email protected]) and Nidhi Panchal ([email protected]) for DU Beat

Image Credits: Jasmine Chahal

DU Beat recently got a chance to interact with television’s new dance sensation and a DU alumnus, Ryan Martyr, who is currently showcasing his dance moves on the dance reality show ‘So You Think You Can Dance’. A contemporary dancer by profession, he wants to build a tree house and organise a buffet for dogs if he wins the dance reality show. Excerpts:

DUB: As an alumnus of a popular DU College like Sri Venkateswara, is there any anecdote you’d like to share with us that you can recall from your days as a member of Verve, the Western Dance Society of Venky? What is your take on DU’s dance circuit in general? 

Ryan Martyr (RM): I earlier wanted to become a footballer. But when I got into college, I “just for fun” auditioned for the western dance society. Surprisingly, everyone loved me and instantly started to believe that I had the potential to be a professional dancer. That’s how I began dancing. My take on DU’s dance circuit is that I feel it gives a budding artist multiple opportunities to showcase his/her potential. The competition and the whole vibe pushes you to grow exponentially. Its absolutely wonderful.

DUB: As a member of a dance society, you must have attended quite a lot of fests at DU. Which college was your favourite to perform at during fests and why?

RM: My favourite college to perform in was Venky itself. The reason being that performing in front of your own college and home crowd gives you a high like none other. The cheering before and after the performance makes you want to push for greatness and definitely brings out the best in you.

DUB: Looking at your immense experience at such a young age, who is that one person/personality that keeps you motivated or whom you admire the most and why?

RM: The one dancer who inspires me a lot is Travis wall from So You Think You Can Dance, America. He began as a dancer on the show, then moved on to being a choreographer, then to a judge on the same show and now he is an Emmy winning choreographer. And in fact, I received a shoutout from Travis wall in my first round on SYTYCD India which was definitely one of the happiest moments of my life till date.


DUB: How did the idea of entering a dance reality show crop up in your mind? What is the larger goal you wish to achieve by performing at a platform of such a mammoth nature? 

RM: Honestly, I never wanted to enter any reality show. I just did because So You Think You Can Dance was the only reason I began dancing and as a young dancer, I always wanted to become a dancer of the same quality and so since the opportunity came knocking, I had to answer it. My larger purpose is to inspire people to follow their dreams and live life whole-heartedly. Hopefully, by dancing my heart out on this show I can achieve this.

DUB: Today the youth is driven by money, fame and the limelight that reality TV has in store. What is your take on the increasing commercial interest that has penetrated a creative industry like dance? Do you think this hampers true talent from coming to the forefront?

RM: I believe that before exposing yourself to fame & money, its very important to develop your art first. There is no point in selling stale art. Once your art is ready there is no harm in exposing it to the world. In fact by doing so, you can inspire millions.


“I believe that before exposing yourself to fame & money, its very important to develop your art first. There is no point in selling stale art.” 

DUB: To choose dance as a career option definitely mustn’t have been a smooth sailing for you, given the larger societal scepticism surrounding it in India. What did it take you to convince your parents and family to let you choose your passion as your career?
RM: Choosing dance was easy. I just had to follow my calling. I knew it the day I felt it, that Dance was for me. Convincing my parents was easy because I was convinced and was showing positive results from day one. I was so dedicated to dance that my parents never felt the need to question my decision. But yes, I have gone through many ups and downs which has just made me stronger.
DUB: Apart from Contemporary, which other dance forms do you enjoy performing?

RM: I love doing hip hop and dancehall. Like honestly, at times I feel I am a better club dancer!

DUB: You have participated at the prestigious Britain’s Got Talent too. How was the experience there different from your experience performing on the Indian National Television? 

RM: I got selected for Britain’s Got Talent too, yes, but I could not participate on the show because I was on a tourist visa. But yes, to showcase my raw soul in a country like England where every dancer is so perfect was quite special.

DUB: Would you like to share something about your ‘guru’? Any memories of any college faculty leaving an impact on you in any way?

RM: I honestly have no guru. I learn and get inspired from almost everyone I meet. I am learning every minute. Wherever I am, I find someone or the other to get inspired from.

DUB: You have become a very exemplary figure among the youngsters as is evident from your growing online support. Any message or mantra you would want to convey to the students who wish to pursue a career in dance?

RM: Keep it simple. Keep it true. Make sure everything you do is full of yourself. Live life like you would never ever live it again. And love yourself!

DUB: If you do win the show, what do you intend to do post your big victory? Any specific goals?

RM: If I do win the show, I want to build myself a tree house. And use some money to publish my book, and definitely make a few songs. Probably have a buffet for all street dogs! I just want everyone to believe that Dreams Do Come True. Just work for it. Live a life people would love to read about.

“I want to build myself a tree house. And use some money to publish my book, and definitely make a few songs. Probably have a buffet for all street dogs!”

Image credits: Allan Martyr and Sandeep Chhabra

Interviewed by Riya Chhibber for DU Beat

[email protected]