A reflective piece on the state’s attempts at defining aesthetic spaces within Delhi and ‘invisibilizing’ citizenry.

Through the years, the capital city of Delhi has been at the heart of romanticization and overt aestheticization. From Purani Dilli ke Seekh Kebabs to sunsets at India Gate, the city has been branded as an illusion of dreams, love, and utopia.

However, the reality is pretty different. Over centuries, in the same gullies of old Chandni Chowk, live ghettoised communities of immigrant labourers and religious minorities who lack proper living or working conditions. The same Delhi that is depicted by the beautiful roads of Jor Bagh also holds infrastructure so poor in the northern parts that shelters get flooded within a week of rainfall.

Hitherto, the supposed aesthetic face of Delhi has always existed in popular culture and conventional media, but the recent G20 summit revealed the government’s inclination towards maintaining those spaces as well. The G20 summit, with reputed foreign delegates and heads of state like Joe Biden, Rishi Sunak, and Olaf Scholz arriving in the capital city of Delhi, was a matter of huge pride for the country, the ruling government, and especially Prime Minister Modi’s image in the global arena.

And hereby, for the sake of maintaining and polishing this supposed glamorous image, sacrifices were made. And these sacrifices always came down to the same set of voiceless and suppressed sections of the Indian population.

Under the ironic guise of ‘One Earth, One Family’, the Modi government deliberately placed green curtains over the poor slums and local businesses of Delhi, apparently too ashamed of its ignorance towards inclusive social development through the years.

Hiding the so-called ‘ugly parts’ of the capital city implies the state defining aesthetic spaces for the citizenry on the basis of social and economic status. The state decides which aspects of the Indian diaspora are suitable for the eyes of Joe Biden and Rishi Sunak. This points to the idea that if you are living in unhygienic quarters and are unable to fend for three meals a day with malnourished children running around your streets, then alas! Your existence is a bane to ‘Bharat’ and must be hidden.

While trying to boost its own image on the global stage, the Modi government fails to imagine how the green curtains have, in fact, done the opposite. It depicts the Indian government as one that is ashamed of the real issues plaguing its populace and is naïve enough to go ahead and hide them rather than working to resolve them. While the Prime Minister boasts about economic prosperity on international television, the same government goes ahead and puts a veil on the other side of the coin—extreme inequality.

Newspapers, broadcast channels, and Instagram reels have bombarded you with how Delhi has received a ‘glow-up’ for the G20 summit and the government spending nearly 4000 crores for it. However, the question can always be raised: Why didn’t the government spend this sum on slum development rather than polishing the already-tidy streets of South Delhi? Was such a huge investment for the G20 necessary when it didn’t bring forth the same in return?

Probably, the answer to all these issues, according to the Modi government, is ‘invisibilizing’ the existence of such people and suppressing their voices. But is this how it is going to be? The solution to all of India’s woes, from caste oppression to extreme poverty? Are green curtains, rejecting press conferences, and shooshing down social strife across the country from reaching international ears now the answer?

The most heartbreaking part is the changing political climate amidst the Indian diaspora. While the rich and privileged of the city go out on car rides, enjoying the G20 decoration of Delhi under moonlight, the have-nots are losing the right to ‘visibilize’ their meagre existence and, in turn, their real issues. The lashing out of the Modi government against anybody that stands to tarnish its image has produced an apolitical diaspora—either too unbothered and ignorant or too scared to speak.

And hence, the green curtains of Delhi have gone unnoticed without much uproar in mainstream media and among the local masses. The scary part, however, is that if the state runs wild, defining its standards of governmentality this way without proper scrutiny, the systems of democracy will fail, as they already are.

The tragedy of the romanticization of the capital city of Delhi has been persistent. History has spoken more about the might of the walls of Red Fort than the plights of the looted locals at ‘Shahjahanabad’. Even today, we are talking about the ‘economic and cultural power’ of ‘Bharat’ and not the misery of millions whose mere existence the Modi government is ashamed to show to the world.

Even along with the romanticization, one thing has remained constant over the years: the sufferers of this supposedly mighty, aesthetized city, that is, Delhi. Perhaps you too, like the government, will content your heart with green curtains and turn a blind eye towards what lies beyond them. As the state probably said to themselves at some point, “What happens in Delhi stays within Delhi, after all.”

Read Also: Women in Politics, or the Lack Thereof

Featured Image Credits: downtoearth.org

The University of Delhi is the place to be for most non-pcm students in India. Why is it, then, that the varsity is not able to compete with higher education institutions abroad?

If I told you, dear reader, that I knew where to start when I first took on this topic, I would be blatantly lying. Should I start with the insane cutoffs that plagued the varsity until this year? Perhaps the lack of teachers for advanced subjects in various colleges? Maybe the Sisyphus level pointlessness of trying to cooperate with DU’s admins?

Or maybe where it all starts and ends: the education system. It is no secret that India’s education system has lagged behind for a long, long time. Ask the first student you see about what they think of the education system they are a part of and answers range from a frustrated and tired admission of defeat to a colourful and impressive string of swears (the latter is a lot more common in Delhi though).

It might just be that universities in India are seen as the natural extension of the schooling system instead of a place for learning and growth – quite unlike their high ranking counterparts in other parts of the world. The schooling system is geared towards gaining marks, memorising book knowledge to then ace exams and DU seems to be a very similar system but without the influences of a schedule or teachers. For example, students in higher education institutions abroad choose electives and minors in fields that support their major, are their interest or are beneficial to their overall development. However, you will find most students in the University of Delhi picking their electives and by extension, their minors, based on what’s scoring and what gets marks with the minimum amount of effort. Despite learning how to score in exams instead of true learning for the 15 years of school life, it seems that students will not or cannot make the choice to expand their knowledge in an environment with experts that can offer that knowledge to them.

However, can you really fault them? After all, it’s hard to gain knowledge and gain insightful learning from experts when your college doesn’t have any of them for your subject. Delhi University struggles with having enough professors for undergraduate subjects across different colleges. According to the data shared by the education ministry, as of April 1 2022, DU has 900 teaching positions vacant. As Hindustan Times found out in its piece, as of 2019, there were 4500 ad-hoc teachers – about 50% of the teaching posts available at the varsity.

Then there’s the issue of infrastructure. Colleges across the university seem to only remember to invest in infrastructure and facilities during inspections. The University of Delhi has a long history – most of its colleges were established in the 20th century. As its reputation as being one of the most sought after universities in the country has grown immensely, its infrastructure has barely followed at all in the decades that have followed. To give you perhaps the quickest summation of this issue that I can: in April of this year, a ceiling fan fell on a student in Lakshmibai College. Only colleges like SRCC and Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies have centralised air conditioning, with most other colleges having only a few classrooms that have this amenity. Some colleges, on the other hand, barely have working fans let alone air conditioning. The lack of air conditioning in most colleges, thus, made the lack of summer holidays for the batch of 2024 an especially hellish condition during the Delhi summers this year.

Which brings us to the next issue: the University of Delhi’s admin. The university and its college’s administration is notoriously caught up in bureaucratic chains. Its almost impressive inability to address issues in an efficient manner led to the delay in admissions and the subsequent start of the first semester for the 2021 season. This delay in sorting out the admission process then led to a first and second year with barely any breaks in between semesters and thus the aforementioned lack of summer holidays. In fact, the batch of 2024 have been given the long, relaxing and peaceful vacation of exactly one night after their third semester exams. The Lakshmibai incident we mentioned earlier, needed the filing of an RTI to gain any sort of transparency on the state of infrastructure within the college due to the college’s repeated refusal and avoidance to answering any questions.

Delhi University ranks 521-530 in the QS Global University Rankings. The reasons behind such a low rank for a university that lakhs of students clamour to gain admission in are varied. There is the emphasis on studying for marks, an education system that teaches you how to work hard and worry about placements that net you a decent amount of annual packages instead of growing and developing a knowledge base that goes beyond the books. There is the lack of infrastructure except for when you’re getting graded on it (ironically, just like most students including yours truly’s tendency to study the night before exams). Quite infuriatingly as a student of this university, it’s also the typical bureaucratic government administration style.

Perhaps, these are all signs of an institution that knows there are lakhs of students fighting for a seat here anyway. Perhaps, Delhi University is simply an institution that prefers to rest on the laurels it won in days gone by instead of actively competing with the Harvards and Oxfords of the world. After all, when all is said and done – DU toh DU hai!

Read also: DU and its All-Pervading Issue of Inadequate Infrastructure

Siddharth Kumar

[email protected]

A deeply personal essay on the degree about to be gone past, and a final attempt at courting the essay form and being the Joan Didion of DU Beat one last time.

It has been three years. Let that sink in first.

Three years ago the world around us was struck by what will go down in history as a life-halting and soul-sucking pandemic. Freshly off my board examinations, like all students from my batch, I had dreams of making it big in this world. I too thought a liberal arts degree would equip me with words that would have the power to change the world around me and albeit propel me eventually towards a career in the liberal arts. However, the sudden imposition of the pandemic which immediately drove us within the four walls of our house seemed to indicate that I need to reconsider these choices.

At a time when my family was mourning for loved ones lost to the pandemic and finances seemed precariously perched, the obvious decision for me would have been to stick to a college in Kolkata, my hometown – and why not? There was an entire pool of prestigious institutions for me to choose from and one could always pick up the dream of moving out of your hometown for one’s postgraduate studies. To avoid giving my parents and family members weekly bouts of anxiety I even enrolled in a Kolkata college but everyone around me knew that my heart was not there. After a six month long wait that felt like an eternity when I got the merit list making it evident that I had indeed made it to one of the leading North Campus colleges in a degree I have wanted to pursue from the day I could think, I knew this was a decision I had to make. Back then, everyone around me seemed hesitant – is it really necessary? What was I trying to prove? But my guts said otherwise.

A year of online classes and two years of being in Delhi later, I am glad I stood my ground that night. Coming to the University of Delhi has not been the sweetest of experiences, but the bitterness that underlines this has now started lifting its head up in the form of a sweet melancholic nostalgia. With thirty days left for this degree to end, I look back on the years gone by and the moments of euphoria and heartbreak. I then look at the mirror (and trust me as a literature student freshly off Lacan that is difficult) and realise the person, or subject (yes I will crack Literature major jokes) is barely the lanky, long-haired boy who stepped into this institution so many moons back.

For one, this University puts you in place. And for good. Especially for a city-bred, English-educated man like me, buzz words like “Unity in Diversity” and “caste masquerading as class” became stark realities. Thrown into a liminal campus space where people of a host of disparate cultures not only lived together but often came into violent conflict with each other was a lesson in life. The spurious nature of identity politics left a stark impression upon me and while multiple friends and lovers became alien overnight, in the by-lanes of Gupta Chowk and Jawahar Nagar, I found my greatest lessons in kindness and empathy. You could be sharing a small plate of Malabar Biryani in Cafe Lucid all by yourself and the person sharing the table with you, suddenly strikes up a conversation and before you know it you have made a friend for the next set of semesters to come. You might be strolling down the ridge on a sultry evening and you will chance upon the sight of two lovers stealing moment, and you silently smile to yourself for this moment of rare affection that wasn’t yours to begin with you — but now is, because moments are meant to be borrowed and loaned, till you find yours.

During my tenure as an author for DU Beat, I have written on a wide range of subjects – ranging from student politics to cinema. But the one thing that I have continued advocating for and writing about relentlessly is issues pertaining to queerness and the queer experience. And on that note, in this final piece of mine, I wish to mention something. Loneliness is one of the biggest problems plaguing every student who lives on this campus on a daily basis. It is divorced from alone-ness and it is something that operates at a structural level. Its violence is less performative from the stone-pelting in protest marches and its cure amorphous. In fleeting moments it buries itself in the fists raised to the chant of azaadi and under the varying colours of the Pride flag. But it raises its uncanny head on metro rides where you see a stranger taking glitter off their jaws with tears in eyes and the person in tattered cargos as they scour your canteen for the millionth time with pamphlets people will stamp over in seconds.

The University of Delhi, and I never thought I would say this, is a family. Yes, because families are spaces with imbalance power dynamics. If there is anything I have learnt from these three arduous years it is this, there is nothing greater in this world than your truth and you alone and speak the same (Foucault says hello at this point) . If you choose to let this university teach you anything then let it be the urgent need and the requisite power required to speak this truth and claim your space. Be it a battle of queering the space, or gendering the discourse, or dismantling caste hierarchies. This is a place, and you belong, let no one tell you otherwise. For the ones who think the reality of the world begins when you step out of the bubble of your college, you are wrong. Aren’t you the real world in all earnest?


Anwesh Banerjee

[email protected]

The transition from school to college is more of a time of change than any other, but some things end up staying the same.

When looking at someone who is just leaving school and another someone who is already in college, the difference in age might just be a year, but the difference in the hopes, dreams, and everything else in between looks like one that might exist between two widely different people. Your classmates from school would rarely know this confident, pumped-up, college version of you, but the one thing that they would relate to are your ever-lasting rants, more importantly, your rants on our never-changing education system.

In conversation with Trisha Saxena, a 12th grader pursuing commerce without maths, and Rubani Sandhu, a first-year student from LSR, we find places where these two conversations converge at a single point and places where the conversations could not be farther away— a proper representation of your school-to-college transition, if you will.

Even though a lot of us go into college expecting it to be more freeing than school— that new sense of being an adult, of being away from home, and of being free with your own ideas and thoughts, none of us are really able to actually fathom the intensity if the difference that is brought into our lives with this transition. Being not so much about the academics and the non-academics, the college makes you want to crawl back to school sometimes, for school was so free of so much of this burden of responsibilities. But school can also never be what college is— that one place where you can be anything (yes, college is Zootopia).


Indian Education: Practical education?

The one question that strikes a chord, regardless of what you are studying and where you are studying— how practical is Indian education? There are some things that continue to haunt you for the rest of your life, and frankly, this is one of them.

“I see my batchmates struggling with integration, differentiation, calculus and not all of them want to be mathematicians.  I studied maths up until 10th grade and I can promise you I am never going to use Pythagoras Theorem in my real life. Why do we have to calculate square roots by hand when everyone has a calculator in the real world? If you want to teach us something, teach us about our finances, teach us real life skills— how to cook, how to open a bank account— things that will help us in the long run,” Trisha continues, speaking out for every kid who barely passed in maths, calculating useless stuff we could have very easily found out answers to using a calculator.

“I mean I sympathise with the fact that school makes us study a lot of things and frankly, a lot of subjects that might just turn out to be useless, but that is one area where college gets better. You get a choice. The education might still be largely impractical and rote-learning might still be the building block of every course syllabus, but atleast you get a choice in what you end up learning (even if it ratta).” says Rubani, giving her perspective on the college life.

College does end up giving us a lot of autonomy, in terms of it literally being about the subjects WE want to talk about (lord help the BAP kids studying non-discipline courses against their will), but wasn’t that what classes 11th and 12th offered us too? How much of a difference did it make? We just found new subjects to hate, and new classes to bunk, because at the end of the day, it is only the book we are going to be following, so what’s the point?


CUET and NEP— can they make things different?

“Atleast the government is taking some kind of initiative with CUET and NEP… But this is also a two-sided sword. A lot of my batchmates, including me, are now thinking that when we have to give CUET to get into colleges, then why do even have to give boards? What is the point? Why not just bunk the boards and spend our time preparing for CUET?” continues Trisha.

On the other hand, Rubani gives her opinion, “I think yes, it is not going to make a very drastic change in the way education takes place in India, but it is a step towards creating a single platform for all the students to be judged upon, regardless of their backgrounds or their boards. Obviously, this means that there is going to be a change in the way admissions take place in colleges and I think that is going to make a significant difference,”

Two very different perspectives, but both of them perspectives that are not ill-placed. Maybe CUET and NEP are a step in the right direction, maybe it all going to fall on our faces, but isn’t it too early to call the end result, placing bets when the coin hasn’t even been tossed yet? 


Is the Indian education system flawed?

“On a scale of 1 to 10? A solid 8.79… there is an immense focus on memorising and the teachers don’t want us to go beyond the scope of the NCERT. In all the boards in India, there are some key points that the examiners want and if you do not write them, you won’t get marks. But what if I have understood the concept and I just don’t remember that one big fancy word that you use in your textbook, does that mean I am dumb?” says Trisha.

“I don’t think the answer to this question really changes when we move from school to college. The education was and is flawed, and there is no way around that. However, much we try to incorporate projects and assignments, all of them still end up falling in that same narrow scope and we are still shunned for asking questions that might stretch beyond the prescribed reading,” adds Rubani.

So, does it really make a change— that move from school to college? College does give us a lot of practical skills, it does make us learn things like budgeting and saving, that we wouldn’t have learnt before, but then this isn’t a feat of the education system. We might be blaming the education system for more than what is due, but isn’t education that one place where we expected things to be different? Isn’t education the place where we are supposed to be free to ask questions in? Isn’t education that one thing that is supposed to uplift us and allow us to become better than becoming a shackle in our leg and a leash on our throat?


Manasvi Kadian

[email protected]

Disclaimer: This is a work of opinion, and views highlighted are limited to the writer. Any resemblance is not coincidental but an intentional attempt at satire, without any desire to defame. Reader’s discretion is advised.

Are you guilty of knowing what kind of stucco or flooring Katrina Kaif has, or how dazzling Ayushman Khurana’s trophy display cabinet is, or do you have a head going ‘Coronaviiiiruuuss’ like Cardi B every random second? If you test positive with affirmation to the above mentioned questions, then you my friend- are not alone!

Everytime things go down- socially, politically or economically in that order of importance, the media reaches these celebrities with Flash’s speed to get their comments. No wonder they mostly refrain from speaking, because judging without generalising from their increased shared screen time with fans these days- (Courtesy: COVID-19), their blinding insensitivity peeks from time to time which they try to hide, or subconsciously let out from their interactions which are awaited by their millions of fans.

Bollywood star Katrina Kaif was found brooming, what was visibly an already cleaned floor, and the scene was as good as her acting. The ‘all time favourite’ sweep however, still credits to Hema Malini, for her awesome pitchforking on the roads outside the parliament in 2019.

image-2 Vicky Kaushal

Image Source: Instagram/vickykaushal09

Actor Vicky Kaushal also put together efforts to dust an already clean fan while flaunting his height. Well maybe he did clean it, but showed us half of the video?

image-1 kaif

Image Source: Desimartini

The attempts of these actors to relate with their fans to show how similar they have become to us, and how we are all in the same boat is a catch-22. They are clearly on a cruise, we are in the boat, and yet there are others in the ocean without life jackets, and just about anyone can sink against the odds.

We are in the middle of a pandemic, and our coping mechanisms vary significantly due to our privileges. While some A-listers like Ellen DeGeneres compare their million dollar mansions to prisons, some like Ali Sethi appear regularly on instagram lives to dissolve boundaries, and unite folks for the love of classical music renditions.

While this article could have been about migrant labourers, or status of vaccine for COVID-19, or doctor’s plight amidst the pandemic, among various other things, and the lost opportunity cost is regrettable. How many of those in whom we find recluse tell us about things which actually matter? Ignorance is a bliss, until you are not the subject of it, and while big shots may put up random TikToks, which may lighten your mood, or ease you in oblivion- someone dies, or starves or just longs to go home on your peripheral. In such times it’s important to remember that- we all may not be in the same boat, but all of us maybe at the brink of sinking in the same ocean!

Feature Image Credits: VICE India

Umaima Khanam

[email protected]

Both, Censorship and the Freedom of Speech require a delicate balance and immense intuitiveness. Many have argued on both sides, This piece aims to highlight what ideas stand out in this debate? 

Censorship refers to moderating the information and ideas that are disseminated in the society. After entering the web of the censorship debate, there is no escape. This fascinating, unsolvable mystery has questions that lead to more questions, gently treading the path between morality and legality. Everyone’s subjective notions of what is moral, acceptable, decent, and inoffensive are at interplay.

Now a question that would make Mr Pahlaj Nihalanijump onto his toes: Is censorship a good thing?

An infamous opinion piece, in the New York Times, ‘Free Speech Is Killing Us’, addressed the issue of noxious speech. Rebutting the idea of the Internet as a beacon of progress, it reminded the readers of the social media driven campaigns of Trumpand Duterte, the murder of Heather Heyer, the massacres in Pittsburg and Christchurch. “But what about speech that’s designed to drive a woman out of her workplace or to bully a teenage into suicide or to drive a democracy towards totalitarianism?” writer, Andrew Marantz, probed his readers.

Moving away from this, on another end of this spectrum there are moral policing and unnecessary restrictions being imposed. Banning of films representing the LGBTQ community, deletion of Twitters posts talking about casteism, unnecessary edits on several films by the former Chief of Sankar Board and being tagged as ‘anti-national’ for expressing dissent.

What such pieces necessitate are a need to draw lines around some content on the internet. But how easy is this task? Youtube’s ban on violent content resulted in reportage of the Syrian war being take down, Twitter’s rules about sexual content led to information on sexual health also being removed. Regulations can, therefore, close doors on several avenues to spread awareness.

A move criticised for its timing right before the General Elections, stricter social media regulations were put in place. The authorities claimed this was done to curb misinformation. This would require content deemed as “unlawful” by government will have to be erased from Facebook, Google, TikTokand other platforms. WhatsAppwill be required to decrypt encrypted data, to trace it to its original sender. Netflix, Hotstarand seven other platforms have begun self-regulation in attempts to avoid censorship. This played in favour of, our favourite mota bhai, Mr Mukesh Ambani, for obvious reasons.

Stringent censorship can be found in countries like China, Saudi Arabia and Russia. With more than 150 days of internet shutdown in Kashmir, how long before we enter the list?

Journalism, as an independent and impartial body, is not meant to serve the establishment. Its duty is to question, educate and be the voice of people. It was not birthed to be controlled. A democracy seizes to exist when its journalists, activists and reporters begin to live in fear. The ABP row and stepping down of two leading journalists demonstrated the heights of control over the press. The gruesome violence at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo was also a dark day in the history of the press.

Free speech is an inextricable part and the cornerstone of a democracy. Dissent cannot be suppressed under the garb of censorship, because with changing times, the youth refuses to settle and rather demands what’s better. The New York Times piece warns against absolutism and how it cannot be used as an opt out from harassment. It is a right to be exercised with full responsibility. Use of force cannot be a medium to extinguish protests and silence voices of people.

Going back to the dilemma we started with, one’s morality emerges from their upbringing, culture, values, and education. The same rules cannot hold true for all, which makes censorship an endless debate. While morality is where we use our discretion, the higher authorities have the onus of the legalities of it.

Feature Image Credits: Debate.Org

Shivani Dadhwal

[email protected]

Losing internet access is not that big of a deal. It’s just a matter of time… isn’t it? This piece aims to highlight the internalisation of communication blackout that has been normalised by the current regime.

Many might remember waking up one morning, sometime last month, to find their Instagram feeds not refreshing, hence beginning the day on a rather agonistic note. People came to realise later, that this wasn’t their terrible Wi-Fi bailing on them. Instead, this was their Government imposing an internet shutdown allegedly for “controlling violence and misuse by any anti-national elements.” 

Post the enactment of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act into a Law on 12th December 2019, widespread protests were observed across the country. These protests grew larger following the news of police brutality on December 15, at a peaceful protest by the students of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI). In response to these protests, the Government ordered internet shutdowns across different parts of the Country including Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and parts of West Bengal, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.

An article in the New York Times, reported, “As the Government of India pushes increasingly provocative policies, it is using a tactic to stifle dissent that is more commonly associated with authoritarian regimes, not democracies: It is shutting down the internet.” 

On 12th December 2019, a State-wide internet shutdown was imposed on Assam by the State Government. Contrary to the raging protests observed in the State that day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “I want to assure my brothers and sisters of Assam that they have nothing to worry after the passing of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. I want to assure them – no one can take away your rights, unique identity and beautiful culture. It will continue to flourish and grow.” It is ironical how the medium used to provide comfort to these people was the one which had been made inaccessible in the first place.

Following the 134 instances of internet blackouts in 2018, the Government imposed shutdowns “only” 93 times in 2019. Not so bad compared to the previous year, is it? Well, 2019 also observed the world’s longest internet shutdown ever in Kashmir, which was imposed on 4th August, and has crossed 150 days of the blackout. With over 350 shutdowns since 2014, India’s closest competitor is Pakistan, with only 12 shutdowns- followed by Syria and Turkey imposing a shutdown just once each in 2018, both countries not popular for their democratic spirits.

“Living in Meerut, internet shutdown isn’t a big thing. This isn’t the first time we faced this. Every little fight that’s not even a riot, results in us living without the internet with no clue when we would get it back. You become a cave-person and unwillingly you become a part of the act of deceiving the rest of the nation that things are fine in your city,” said Avni Dhawan, a student of the University of Delhi, discussing the normality of shutdowns in certain areas.

Research by Jan Rydzak, a scholar from Stanford University released a statistical report on internet shutdowns, revealing that these shutdowns compel protesters to resort to violent tactics instead of non-violent ones gave that they are less reliant on effective communication and coordination.

Moving forward, the economic impact of these blackouts is alarming. The cost of internet shutdowns to the economy was around Rs 21,336 crore between 2011 and 2017, according to the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations—a think tank. 

Rajan Matthews, Director General, Cellular Operators Association of India, said, “Internet shutdown is a blunt instrument and it should not be used frequently. In today’s connected world, when you shut down the internet, people cannot do banking, no transactions take place, people face issues in transportation. It affects daily life to a very large extent and therefore it should be used as a last resort. We have, from time to time, conveyed to the Government that its use should be more surgical.”

Matthews further added, “Instead of using internet shutdown as the first alternative to controlling local problems such as cheating in exams, (as was done thrice within 22 days in Rajasthan), the Government should use other administrative methods to control the problem and use curbs on communication only as a last resort.”

Upon conditions of anonymity, a telecom industry association representative quoted, “It is visible that internet shutdowns don’t stop demonstrations. Nor do they hinder the circulation of rumours. It is estimated that the shutdown of internet services leads to a loss of ?2.45 crore per hour across the value chain.” 

“The other day I was listening to some office workers, who were discussing the internet shutdown and how it discourages firms to work with repeated hindrances. While almost every other work is carried on or through the internet, this has a big impact on the professional domain,” said Faizan Salik, a student of Jamia Millia Islamia commenting on the impact of these shutdowns on the country’s economy.

It is rather fascinating to note that at the Indian Digital Summit, 2014 Prime Minister Modi quoted, “I dream of a Digital India where access to information knows no barriers”. The increasing number of internet shutdowns following his election that year conceptualises his vision of a “Digital India”. 

In September 2019, the Kerala High Court in the landmark case of Faheema Shirin R.K. v. the State of Kerala declared that the Right to Access internet is a basic right which is being violated relentlessly over the past few years. 

Internet blackouts strip people of their Right to Express themselves, their Right to Obtain Information or simply their Right to Communicate with their friends and family. Access to the internet allows people a platform for their voices to be heard in the political spectrum. 

Certainly, denying this access gives the Government excessive control over the dissemination of information and dominance over the narrative. Regular and indiscriminate shutdowns can have chilling effects on free speech in the long run.

These internet shutdowns aren’t merely an inconvenience, they are a hindrance to the already stagnant economic situation of the country. And above that, they are a gross transgression of our fundamental rights- The Right to Information, The Right to Privacy, The Right to Internet Access.

Feature Image Credits: CNN

Aditi Gutgutia

 [email protected]

There are people from all walks of life who aim of accessing education but, the elitism around it stands as an overcast shadow, giving chances to some and leaving others behind.

Each year, when the results of the 12th grade examinations are declared, the nation collectively holds its breath. It does not matter if your kid is actually in 12th, or if they are in the second grade. The results reach new heights each year, with students working hard to achieve seemingly impossible scores. It is with these scores that come the impossible cut-offs.

It is a thinly veiled fact that the University of Delhi (DU) remains to be one of the most sought after universities in India. The “DU Tag” is a golden goose to catch, since it offers both – a subsidised education, and a status symbol. Thus, every passing year becomes a blood-bath of score battles to get into the best colleges. The idea of over-achievement is now so deeply internalised that even students who are fully aware that one exam set for one day is hardly enough to judge their worth, get carried away and caught in this vicious trap.

Many feel a sense of elitist pride for having been admitted to one of the more prestigious universities of India and our conditioning tells us – “well, why shouldn’t we?” After all, we worked hard to achieve it and it is a big deal. It is at this stage in the stream of thoughts that we contribute to forgetting our privilege. In economics, the “cycle of poverty” is the “set of factors or events by which poverty, once started, is likely to continue unless there is outside intervention”. This cycle is built on gate-keeping the weaker sections of our society from accessing the resources, education being an important one of them, which they direly require to come out of their existing state of situations.

Education is freedom. It is for that reason that education became such an important tool for the British to keep their colonies “in-line” – for that is precisely why only a certain set of Indians were educated in order to create a divide, and the perfect set of subordinates. It is then, that it becomes interesting to see that even after 72 years of Independence, it is exactly what we continue to replicate in slightly different ways. This is not a secret that in India, a Government school education is inherently sub-par when compared to the private education. This divide exists not just because of more highly qualified, high-paid teachers who can be held accountable but it also exists because of every other element that a private education entails. It entails an ability to afford dedicated teachers, extra reading material, and even private tuitions – something that has become a rite of passage in possibly every Indian household that can afford to do so, and most importantly, a support system that enables this culture of education.

It is then that the prospect of Government colleges being revered over private institutions becomes an asset. It works towards bridging a gap of working towards the façade that it is not just money that would get you a good education, but it is your own merits, too. However, when the Government of India introduces policies like the National Education Policy of 2019, which works towards privatisation of these government institutions, this re-enforces a privilege that already has had a strong base, to begin with. When we make Government institutions autonomous and give them the liberty to set up courses with their own fee-structures, when we allow the Government to take away the job security of those who put “quality” in quality education, we allow a culture of gate-keeping.

Not every student can afford to pay lakhs to be able to go to a university. It is then that it becomes important to recognise this cycle of elite education, and to make conscious efforts to resist it.

Feature Image Credits: DU Beat Archives

Shreya Juyal

[email protected]

Online Petitions are all-pervasive. From Climate Change to opposing bills and amendments, nowadays, every movement begins on social media. Every day thousands of people sign hundreds of petitions to stand for varied causes. But, do these petitions ever accomplish anything?

The world today is undergoing various catastrophes daily which affect millions of people across the globe. Mostly, citizens watch the authorities remaining silent and wait for them to act on such disasters, expecting them to retaliate. In these cases, online petitions have become a simple solution which provides a platform that allows the people to contribute towards the betterment of the society, rather than just sitting around and waiting. Online Petitions give a wider meaning to the concept of Democracy. It is an appropriate way that gets the point across many, to reach the authority, and gain support from people all over the world. Many even believe that it has become an internet version of street rallies minus the commitment and efforts.

It is a matter of concern that in the 21st Century, people have to rely on this strategy to have their voices heard, and make the administration recognize the needs of the people which are quite obvious. The fact that the number of online petitions is rising at a rapid rate is an accurate representation of how authorities, elected by us, don’t listen to our needs, leaving us helpless to the extent that we feel the need to engage in this rebellious method of harmless protest. Our constituency leaders are hardly put up for questions, they are closest to our concerns, and they hardly care.

But the question remains, do these petitions contribute to change? I would say- Rarely.

It depends on the majority of people who sign these petitions. When we take steps to bring about a change, there are only a few people who genuinely care about the cause, while the majority of people participate for the sake of participation and not emancipation. People sign these “petitions” to reduce their guilt of actions. They aim at achieving a slight sense of contribution, by investing barely two minutes of their time and consider it making a change. On the other hand, one might argue that such movements are instrumental in raising awareness. But, these petitions, arguably, also allow people to feel as though they have taken action when, in reality, they haven’t, and potentially have prevented individuals from pursuing more hands-on activism.

The answer, regardless, isn’t to stop yourself from supporting and signing the next viral campaign that you come across. One has absolutely nothing to lose from signing something they agree with, and nobody knows which appeal might defeat the odds, and provoke a real change. Instead, the answer is to rebel vigorously, as well as ensure that our effortless contribution online meets subsequent real development offline.

Feature Image Credits: BBC

Avni Dhawan
[email protected]

With the growing demand for work experience among candidates in the process of finding jobs, students find themselves getting lured towards unpaid internships. Read on for an analysis of the system of unpaid internships and its relevance.

The transition from school to college is a significant one. While school was marked with scoring well to get admitted to the desired course and university, college makes one job-ready. College prepares an individual for the work-culture which awaits them after it. With the jobs being scanty, and candidates in abundance, there is a rapidly increasing race among students to enhance their skills and curriculum vitae (CV) to stand out among the rest of their peers. With ever-increasing competition, students with prior work experience are preferred over the rest of the lot. Thus, students freshly out of college find themselves in a fix. Internships, in scenarios like these, come to their rescue. Several small and big companies hire students as interns on a weekly or monthly basis where they are asked to work either from home or directly in the office.

The past few years have seen students actively seeking internships in their field of study to gain firsthand industry experience, and well, add that extra line in their CVs. Internships come with the promise of certificates, and the much revered letters of recommendation (LOR). Apart from strengthening one’s CV, they also help students in building connections in the industry. While several companies hire paid interns, a host of other companies offer nothing more than a certificate and “experience”. Despite that, unpaid internships see a huge number of applications with students desperately yearning to get in. When you are working as a full-time employee, the company needs you as much as you need it. But the paradigm shifts in the case of interns. Interns find themselves needing the company a lot more than it needs them. Interns can be easily replaced by anyone from among hundreds of others seeking that position, who are willing to work for free. Thus, the demand for a stipend, however meager, in exchange for the value the intern is adding to the company, is always silenced. “Psychology students often pay for an internship at a hospital,” apprised Shivani Dadhwal from Kamala Nehru College, representing the sorry state of students seeking experience through internships.

Are these unpaid internships worth it? The answer cannot be in a binary of yes or no. Internships do not matter as much as where you intern does. Before diving into this world of internships — which is darker than it appears to be —students need to carefully assess the value of the work, and the certificate that they will get after its completion. There is no dearth of dubious companies which treat interns in exploitative ways, offering nothing in return, except for a certificate, which more often than not, holds no value if the company in question is not renowned. On the contrary, companies having a stronghold in the field of your interest can allow you an opportunity to connect with some of the renowned names in the industry, all the while making your CV shine. Working with a reputed firm, even if it is unpaid might prove beneficial while you are seeking jobs, but the quality of the work matters too. Several interns complain about having clerical jobs like photocopying, making coffee, among others. Such experiences, however mighty the workplace may be, will end up adding no value to your targeted skillset.

At the same time, unpaid internships at startups with excellent work-culture, where you are trained within proximity of learned seniors, might end up opening doors of success for you with the amount of experience you can get working there. Lucrative offers of internships need to be carefully scrutinised before students decide to invest their talent, time, and energy into working for a company. It is important to realize that your talent, however raw, holds value in the market. Consequently, it should be invested in with much thought and research. Platforms like Glassdoor and Linkedin might help students in learning from the experiences of other interns, and making a smart choice. Demand for the proper value of their work and strict labor laws for interns should be made to save young students from exploitation in the name of unpaid internships.

Feature Image Credits: Medium

Shreya Agrawal

[email protected]