The year began with horrific bushfires ravaging the heart of Australia and further proved that changing climate is one of the most daunting global challenges of our time. The need of the hour is to earnestly acknowledge that Earth interests are much superior to ours and must be given their due voice.  

What’s with the air these days? Why is it so easier to breathe? After so many years, one can see a starry sky and identify which one among them is supposed to be their door ke dadaji (distant grandfather).  Don’t you miss the smoggy mornings of the city, the ‘sublime’ burning smell, which you got a whiff of in every breath? Well, obviously, you do not. The COVID – 19 pandemic and the consequent lockdown has opened our eyes to the rampant harm afflicted on the environment by our callous development. New videos and images of wild animals roaming freely on roads and highways that are bustling with people on normal days, surface almost every day. As humans stay at home, nature has been reclaiming its deserved space and showing us what we have been missing out for decades.

Climate change and environmental destruction have been hot topics of debates and discussions for many years now. International conventions, innovation forums, strikes and protests, are regularly organized to address the various issues and questions pertaining to the environment. Various governmental and non – governmental organizations in numerous countries have been working towards cleaner and healthier environment. But still the current scenario clearly indicates that we are not on the right path to achieve United Nation’s ambitious Sustainable Development Goals as our ignorance deepens climate change induced injustice. The denial of world leaders to commit towards action against climate change shows that in order to survive, the Earth needs to have greater representation of its interests before the court of humankind.

A country grapples with many critical issues – economic growth, provision of health and education, internal politics, international relations, and so on. As the policy makers get tied up in these, environmental concerns take a backseat and come to the limelight only after the occurrence of some natural catastrophe or due to international pressure. Over many years, environment laws have been amended to meet the present, more pressing needs. But, whenever there is a conflict between nature and development, the scales of justice either favour the latter openly or intervene too late. For instance, in the Aarey forest controversy of 2019, the Supreme Court’s judgment to stop the felling of trees came after the damage had already been done. Protesting activists were also beaten up and arrested. In India, Public Interest Litigations (PILs) have emerged as efficient tools for environmental NGOs and social activists to ensure the enforcement of citizen’s right to healthy environment. But the courts approach in entertaining PILs for environmental protection, however, has not been consistent.

For example, while the court has entertained PILs on environment problems such as water pollution, air pollution, and forest degradation from industrial activities, it has maintained a distance from PILs for environmental protection due to infrastructure projects such as dams, thermal power plants, airports etc. Particular guidelines for entertaining PILs have also been laid down, creating fear among spirited people fighting for environmental justice. Due to the spread of awareness among the common masses, political parties all over the world have been forced to feature environment-related issues in their manifestos. However, the impetus either gets lost among other matters after the elections or falls prey to the most typical characteristic of politics – promises made are never completely delivered.

The Earth is facing incredibly serious natural resource and environmental challenges: climate change, fresh-water depletion, deforestation, pollution, habitat destruction etc. Overpopulation has led to reckless changes in our consumption patterns and is estimated to put significant stress on public infrastructure and finance, especially in areas of health and education. The thing with environmental impacts is that they are slow in nature and cannot be perceived instantly. We must realize that if we allow the plunder and ravaging to continue and keep ignoring the needs of Earth in the name of progress, then great destruction looms over the whole of humankind.

The destruction Earth is being subjected to is not selective in who it punishes; it doesn’t see borders and it doesn’t favour one government over another. Its effects will affect everyone, and we must acknowledge that, at this point, there is no returning to “how things used to be.” Our leaders must realize or be made to realize that climate change and environmental degradation are crises that humanity has not ever faced before, and it cannot be solved with just some innovations and improved technologies. It requires concerted efforts to be made at all levels, in whatever capacity, to eradicate the negative consequences of indiscriminate development. We must acknowledge the vitality of discussions, followed by actions that need to be taken to address environmental concerns in all arenas, from educational institutions to courts of justice. The existing environmental laws need to transcend regulation of the human use and destruction of nature and transform into legal rights of nature to exist and flourish. This is because one of the most formidable weapons the cause of the Earth can have is legal protection through the recognition of rights, also termed as ‘Rights of nature’. Since 1971, Earth justice – a non-profit public interest organization based in the United States, has been working as ‘the legal backbone for the environmental movement’ world over. Environmental activism must also understand their responsibility to coax cessation of injudicious progress and to encourage leaders to adopt sustainable development.

It is high time that we pay due heed to the clarion call of Earth, urging us to reorient our development. We need to start from the premise that everyone matters—rich or poor, farmer or civil servant, woman, or man. Then, we must plan and act upon ways to reduce the ill effects of destruction outpoured by us on nature and reap the benevolence of our mother Earth in a sustainable manner. Only then can we save ‘life’ as we know it and build a beautiful planet and fulfilling lives, as promised to each one of us under the grace of the universe.


Featured Image Credit: Anastasiia Mishchenko

Ipshika Ghosh

[email protected]

Democracy is often hailed as the ‘perfect’ government system. However, in a political system which rests heavily on its questioning nature, it is rather rare that we see questions being put up on the democratic system itself. However, this was not the case with Socrates, what was his criticisms? Read ahead to find out.

Ancient Greece is hailed for two of its prime contribution to the humankind, on being the system of Democracy and the other being Greek Philosophy. While Socrates is regarded as the father of Greek Philosophy, he did not have the same regard towards his civilisation’s other great social invention, Democracy. His problems with democracy are stated in Plato’s ‘Republic of Plato’.

Plato regarded Socrates as a pessimistic person and hence in Book Six of ‘Republic of Plato’. Plato describes Socrates falling in a conversation with an imaginary character, Adiemantus, trying to get him to see the fallacies of democracy. If you were heading out on a journey by sea, asks Socrates, who would you ideally want deciding who was in charge of the vessel? Just anyone or people educated in the rules and demands of seafaring? The latter of course, says Adeimantus, so why then, responds Socrates, do we keep thinking that any old person should be fit to judge who should be a ruler of a country? Thereby Socrates emphasises on the fact that voting is a skill and not an intuition.

He further states that citizens should be taught the ‘art of voting’. According to him, letting citizens vote without any teaching is as catastrophic as letting random people in charge of a ship heading straight into a storm. Another example, given by Socrates, is that of two contesting candidates. wherein one was a doctor while the other was a sweet shop owner. The sweet shop owner in his arguments accuses that the doctor is evil, he gives everyone bitter potions and refrains people from eating everything. While the sweet shop owner himself, says, that he on the contrary never stops anyone from eating anything and moreover gives people delicious sweets. It is not difficult to think that the doctor can’t defeat the sweet shop owner with just the argument that whatever he does is for the benefit of the people itself. And therefore, we see so many sweet shop owners and not doctors in parliaments all over the world.

Socrates never attacked on the ideals of democracy, however, he had problems with the system which we today know as Universal Adult Franchise. Moreover, Socrates advocated for the democracy which we today know as ‘intellectual’ democracy rather than democracy ‘by birth’. He warned us that this indiscriminate granting of voting rights to people without proper education would lead to Demagoguery or the practice to getting votes by appealing to the desires and prejudices of the voters rather than using rational arguments. We can clearly see today, as to why Socrates was concerned for democracy.

Taking the example of India itself, we as voters have been swayed by political parties for a long time by issues that only appealed to our prejudices and not to our needs. Be it reservation or agricultural loan waivers, political parties often use these issues to gain votes. On the other hand, the public also has become so familiar with this form of appeasement that elections are used as pressure points on various parties by the people wanting to get their job done.

Moreover, the voters also vote for leaders who provide short term lucrative solutions rather than the ones who implement long term measures. It is this political illiteracy because of which our parliament houses a total 43% Ministers of Parliament (MPs) with a criminal background. Be it the Indian National Congress MP from Idukki, Dean Kuriakose who has over 204 criminal charges like homicide, robbery, etc. or Bhartiya Janata Party’s MP Pragya Singh Thakur who is the prime suspect of Malegaon Serial Blasts or Bahujan Samaj Party’s MP Atul Singh who has charges of murder on him.

Faizan Salik, a student of Jamia Milia Islamia, said, “In my opinion, teaching fundamental rights and duties of Liberal Democracy at primary level doesn’t help, as most just study it for the sake of studying they fail to understand things, which is really problematic, teaching of essential politics is as essential as basic banking, else wise things can go in dungeon”.

An alumna of Delhi University, Mrinalika Chauhan, said, “We as voters have to understand that it is not in our favour to vote for leaders who aren’t rational enough. Yes, it will take time but we have start at the grassroots level. Each and every person in India is interested in politics, whatever their leaning maybe. What needs to be changed is that people vote based on their understanding of politics, instead of sticking to their traditional party.”

The question which arises is that whether we can change this setting or not? And here also it is Socrates’s thoughts which can help us, “Struggle is like a steep hill which looks just impossible to scale at once but when you reach the top, you don’t think about the climb but the triumph.”
Featured Image Credits: Flickr
Aniket Singh Chauhan [email protected] 


In an episode of Bojack Horseman, I saw some smart satire when a news panel discussion on sexual harassment was going on, while the participants in the discussion were four to five old white males. Now, I have seen this satire turn into reality!

If you do not know yet, Kirori Mal College (KMC) was having a panel discussion on “Inspiring Stories Around
Us” and two-thirds of the panelists were men! Ironically, the discussion was being organised by KMC’s Women’s Development Cell (WDC)(yes, let that sink in).
The event faced backlash from many circles in the University of Delhi (DU) but the people who are speaking in its defence meekly say, “Hey, we promote equality. So why should gender even matter? Male or female, everyone is nice.”
Why should gender even matter? Well, gender has mattered immensely for centuries – from the time of early “man” to the 21st century of “man-made” goods – so we definitely cannot turn a blind-eye to the concept.
A ridiculous creation in this century with a rise in feminist movements, has been the word “meninist”. For these so-called meninists, “feminism” is synonymous with
a derogatory remark. “Aye haye, yeh toh feminist hai (Oh no, she is a feminist)” is something that I have been hearing for
a long time, and it is a bleak realisation that I have stayed silent with such sentences being thrown around.

I also feel guilty for saying things like “Femi-
Nazi” or “don’t be such a pussy”. When I was
corrected by people, it is not like I accepted them the way a disciple listens
to Jesus. I made a face and gave my arguments – “Hey, I just say this casually but I believe in equality. I’m not sexist.” Yet, the very fact that I found calling someone
a Nazi “casual” shows you where the problem lies.

Similarly, people are quick to jump on
the bandwagon with arguments like “But I
respect my mother/sister/girlfriend/wife” when their casual sexism is called out. But that is your basic obligation as a good human being. You will not get a trophy for that! Why does a woman even have to be related to you or another man for you, to respect her? What people need to understand is that despite all this ideological respecting, they might still falter. It is perfectly all right, as long as you wish to grow by listening, and trying to understand what the other person is saying.

Another ridiculous argument that I have heard proud and “woke” meninists to be making is biological in nature. “These women want itna (so much) equality, then why do they need paid maternity leave?” Yes, sure, women are consciously craving to get  menstrual cycles and nine months
of pregnancy pain, right? This argument again prompts some people to look at women as sensitive creatures and we start sympathising or pedestalising, when what we clearly need to do is empathise. In this age, when we can point out problematic arguments with counter-arguments, we can only hope that everyone listens to all opinions, and they accept their mistakes if they say something baseless. Alas! this seems Utopian, since right now, people like the meninists only seem to feel attacked at the drop of a hat (as if they are the target of attack for anything that concerns women).
It is not hard to be a feminist. It is fine if you do not want to share Instagram stories, if you do not wish to join feminist marches, some elitist feminist organisations, or a WDC with an all-male panel. You can, at the least, try learning. You can be a feminist, most importantly, by just not accepting all the problematic stereotypes and jokes that have
been passed on through generations. It is not as if without the sexist jokes, without calling a cowardly person a “pussy”, or calling a feminist a “Nazi”, your world would be shattered.
Trust me, it will not. It is fine to not be a youth activist or influencer. But if you can consciously try to correct “meninist” notions from the past, so that future generations can learn better, I think that is quite enough, for now.

Shaurya Singh Thapa

[email protected] 

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on 5th August 2019. However, has the negative and ambiguous aspects of the bill really been addressed by the public?

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill mandates a two step method for legal recognition of gender for someone from the transgender community. They will first have to apply for a “transgender certificate”, after which they will also have to apply for a “change in gender” certificate, which will get their gender status changed legally. This step seems to require surgery and documentation by a medical authority confirming it. Medical confirmation and surgery was not and should not be a necessary prerequisite for a change in legal gender, as per a 2015 report by the World Health Organisation and the Asia-Pacific Transgender Network, the Governments should “take all necessary legislative, administrative, and other measures to fully recognize each person’s self defined gender identity, with no medical requirements or discrimination on any grounds.”

Furthermore, one of the main clauses of the bill basically says that in cases of acts of sexual, verbal, physical, economic, and emotional abuse against transgender peoples, the penalty will be between 6 months and 2 years and with fine. However, those who perpetrate the same crimes against cis-gendered people have much harsher punishments put in place against them. Essentially, this clause is making a very negative impact on an already marginalized community.

Harish Iyer, a gender-rights activist told IndiaSpend, that the “transgender bill is regressive and half-hearted.” He added that pivotal hardship is that one has to go to a committee or a doctor to get recognized as a trans-person and undergo questioning related to their genitalia which any cis-person would never have to go through.

Prachi Johri, a second-year student from Indraprastha College for Women, when asked for her opinion on the Bill, said that “Going back to the 2016 transgender rights bill where the bill defined transgender individual as “neither wholly female or male”  to the 2019 version of the bill, it still efficiently renders transgender people as second class citizens by providing penal provisions for crimes committed against the transgender community less stringent compared to the crimes committed against women and by failing to keep in place a progressive certification process for transgender.” She also believes that the bill was also suppressed by the removal of article 370. According to her, it was covered and hidden from the masses and media, so, only a few people know about it and are protesting or questioning about it. It was an easy bill to pass for the government.

Esvi Anbu Kothazam, a Mumbai-based transgender spoke with The Print and stated, “What is being done is that the government is trying to legislate without taking into consideration the history of marginalisation and discrimination which the transgender community has faced.” Esvi also noted the absence of any provision for affirmative action. “The main point is that we need a comprehensive reservation policy — in education, employment and political representation, which addresses the needs of all sections of the transgender community,”

The ambiguity of this bill and its clauses makes one question the motive of the government and how it is going to work towards the protection of this community. Furthermore, it is clear that this Bill has many flaws which haven’t been addressed in the political or the public sphere as they should have been.

Feature Image Credits: Feminism In India

Prabhanu Kumar Das

[email protected] 

Delhi Legal Service Authority (DLSA) in collaboration with Delhi University Community Radio (DUCR) initiated an 11 part legal rights awareness programme. While talking to DU Beat, Gayathri Mani, media coordinator of the campaign explained that the objective, in its short term-pilot project basis, is to direct and route people to nearest Legal Aid/ Services Clinics set up by the Delhi state Legal Services Authority and managed under the supervision of concerned District Legal Services Authority. She added that the thrust area of the campaign is ‘Students’ and their involvement in areas of ‘Legal Literacy’. Besides, 65% of the population in India comprises of Youth and thus the youth needs to be aware and able regarding the issues of justice. This campaign was wholly executed by the student volunteers.

The radio series, which ran 30-40 minutes per session, entailed question-answer format type interaction with the Judges and DUCR and Para Legal Volunteers on the enlisted topics ranging from sexual harassment of women at workplace, juvenile justice, consumer protection to rights of senior citizens. The recordings lasted from 15th March, 2016 to 6th April 2016 and the first episode was broadcasted on 5th November. “The timings of the show are not fixed, but will run multiple times between 1:00-4:30 pm”, Mr. Isaac John, Assistant Consultant, DUCR said. You can hear the radio show on DUCR at 90.4 MHz or you can also download the app “DURadio”.

After the successful completion of the project, DLSA and DUCR have proposed phase two of the project, in which they will connect a loop with the community radio in the country, to the Ministry of Broadcasting.

Feature Image: Bloomberg

Niharika Dabral

[email protected]

Have you ever wondered why some people around us stand out for how short or skinny they are? Or noticed the children in or around construction sites, a little infant who seems to walk/crawl but looks not older than 6 months to 7 months? Dear reader, these observations infact point to a very big problem that we as a nation have failed to address. A frail body or being too short for their age is nothing but a manifestation of childhood malnutrition which is taking a toll on our future. A deeper understanding of the scourge is well evident from the appalling statistics that came up in a research undertaken by CRY, a non-profit organisation that works for Child Rights in India.  

An Opportunity Missed

The 0-6 age group is the time when most of our physical, mental and social growth and development happens. The impact of early childhood care and nutrition remains telling throughout our lives. Children who fall prey to malnutrition at this age are very likely to fall short in a lot of areas for almost all of their lives, while those who get the right nutrition, immunization and education would do much better in all indicators of growth, intelligence and social development.

The Glaring Reality

In an effort to see whether children in India are getting ahealthy start, CRY carried out a study on malnutrition in children between the ages of 0-6 years in 18 Slums across 5 metro cities. The results show a very dismal picture with over half the children being too short for their age, and about half of them being underweight for their age. It was also found that other essential services such as timely immunization, regular deworming and provision of nutritional supplements were also not optimal.


Nutritional Status of Children


Reaching children who missed out

There remain gaps in the effort to reach the affected children as the study found that the planned interventions reach less than half of the beneficiaries. Only 47 per cent of the children were enrolled in  Anganwadi Centres through which most of the schemes for children are channeled. The outreach efforts that are planned to educate parents about the right nutrition for their child are also effective only 20 per cent of the times.

Making the difference

In the face of these challenges, the green shoots that stand out are promising, for example 83 per cent  children like going to the Anganwadi Centre. The study also pointed that if the quality of services at the centre is bettered then the incidence of child malnutrition also falls. Therefore, there are clear signs which point to the direction which policy should take to create a better future for the children of this country. Let’s move and give our children the bright future they deserve!


-Pankhuri Jha

(Intern, CRY – Child Rights and You)

Pankhuri Jha is an intern with CRY, Delhi. An alumni of Lady Shri Ram College college herself, Pankhuri’s interest lies in the field of development economics, especially the financial and health risks faced by the poor. At CRY she worked very closely with the research team in the analysis of data of the nutritional status among children from the age of 0-6 years in slums across Delhi.  The research, in her words helped her, “get a practical insight into the health consequences of living in poverty and a first hand idea as to how this can be corrected”

Image Courtesy : CRY Database