70 Years.70 Fears

It has been 70 years of Independence. 70 years of painting the nation in tricolors. 70 years of hoisting the National Flag. 70 years of singing “Maa Tujhe Salaam”. Each and every Indian is pumped up with a sense of pride for our leaders broke the chains of colonization and liberated the future generations from the British rule. As the spirit of Patriotism flows in our blood, it changes its color to saffron-white –green. But soon everything fades- the song, the colors, and the patriotism as we indulge to free ourselves from the 70 struggles. The patriotic blood again turns violent as we fight against the wrongs. Still, fear confined in our heart strangles our freedom. This brings out a question -‘Are we really free?

independence day

We have come a long way but still there are 70 fears, 70 struggles, we fight daily!

1)      Unemployment– With Startup India, Skill India and Make in India, our country undoubtedly made a lot of headlines, but joblessness still becomes a major question as 30% of the youth stand nowhere.

2)      Poverty- President Ramnath Kovind strongly said “No place for poverty in new India”, but can this speech change the lives of those 270 million who are below poverty line.

3)      Illiteracy- India will be free of illiteracy in 5 years, says HRD Minister Prakash Javedkar. Does knowing how to do your signature make you literate?

4)      Corruption– From 2G to Commonwealth, India is the country of scams and scandals. Chai-paani being the moto of all Indians, the country stands first in Asia for corruption.

5)      Riots– we call ourselves patriot, when for every disagreement, all we do is riot.

6)      Terrorism- India is the 3rd largest terror target after Iraq and Afghanistan. From 1993 Mumbai blasts to 26/11 attack, from Parliament hijack, Mumbai local bombing, Akshardham attack to the long list, a terror fear has occupied the brains of all Indians.

7)      Rapes– From 3 yr to 60-yr-old being raped, this brutal crime has made its way in the daily newspapers. Nirbhaya case, Shakti Mills case, Uber case and the list goes on proving that India isn’t safe for women.

8)      Patriarchy- The society that runs after Ladka still calls him the head. From Fathers, to brothers, to husband and then son, a girl is born to obey them and adjust and this practice is ongoing.

9)      Dowry– The Indian system of ‘lenn-denn‘, the demanded gifts during marriage, and the suffocated wife who isn’t free.

10)   Sexism– Indian girl’s image change according to her clothes. Frome prudish, old-fashioned, bore, flirt, cheeky, provocative, asking for it, slut, whore.

11)   Domestic violence- Are the wives free of torture, physical abuse, mental harassment, scars, bruises, pain?

12)   Marital rapes– “I can do it with you, whenever I want!” She never knew marriages too haunt.

13)   Period taboo– It’s that time of the month- Don’t enter temple, don’t touch pickle, don’t sleep on bed, don’t live!

14)   Virginity- Not talking about freedom from virginity, that’s your choice. Here we want the freedom from the mindset of being pure before marriage.

15)   Body shaming- “She is too curvy, she should lose weight. She is too thin, she has no curves.” We are too judgmental, we should stop free advice.

16)   Female infanticide– The “Khandaan ka Chirag” ideology of Indian families for a male child gave birth to the crime of death of girl child.

17)   Farmer’s suicide– Over 12000 farmers free themselves from the cycle of drought and debt every year by committing suicide. Is that freedom?

18)   Suicide- In India, suicide and self-harm are presently the leading cause of death among young people. It’s not just Blue Whale that’s causing suicides. Depression has settled deep in the Indian brains.

19)   Child labour– Life of little one is destroyed when a child is employed. No reason no excuse, child labour is child abuse.

20)   Child abuse– Children aren’t toys for adults. Don’t play with them.

21)   Trafficking– Indians put up sale on everything. Even on Women and children. Every 8 minute a girl or child goes missing in India.

22)   Bonded labour– Many are still chained, many are still bonded, many are still slaves! Labours in debt are left unfree.

23)   Casteism– The childhood game of “Oonch Neech Ka Papada, Oonch maangi ki neech” is what portrays the Indian society. But people don’t get to  choose their caste, it gifted to them since their birth. But a sad fact in India is- Jaati Kabhi Na Jaati.

24)   Communalism- Hindus have tore apart the saffron and Green has been taken by the Muslims from the Indian Flag. That’s how our religions have been divided.

25)   Languagism– Not just religion or caste, but language is a major weapon in India. Marathi Vs English, Telugu vs Hindi, Bengali vs Kannad, and the fight goes on.

26)   Saffronisation– Since last three years, Indians have developed a taste for Kesar and that’s why we are cooking up all dishes and issues with the flavor of saffron. It’s time to use the inexpensive ingredient of rationality.

27)   Doping– From Honey Singh songs to Uday Punjab, dope is the reality of new India. The youth is too much dependent on drugs that we should remove the ‘In’ from Independence Day.

28)   Tobacco- Though Mukesh warns everyone time and again before a movie about this addiction, but Indians are ready to quit their lives, but not tobacco.

29)   Hunger- Some don’t get, others waste. That’s the condition of food in India. Is India hunger free?

30)   Food- Fight for our plate- that’s the recent struggle Indians face with beef ban. But the attack on food got deeper with the recent momo ban!

31)   Films- In India, movies with social message can never be free and out without scissoring and chopping. On the other hand, adult comedy get easy license!

32)   Speech- Free speech is under threat since Modi government came to power. We can debate but not against the government.

33)   LGBTQ existence– Putting up multiple colour DP does not help the LGBTQ community, acceptance should be in the society and not just on social media.

34)   Gay marriage– Love is not crime so why is Article 377 even there? It’s not common but it is by consent.

35)   Medical disability– Indian Medical system is in itself diseased. With the recent Gorakhpur deaths, not just disease but also the hospital strangles you to death.

36)   Superstition- The braid chopping hysteria, the kala bandar frenzy, the Manglik belief, the unlucky 13 and Indians follow them blindly as they are bound in this superstitious world.

37)   Neighbor enmity– Pre Independence, During Independence and Post Independence, still not free of this less love more war relationship.

38)   Violence- The lessons of Mahatma Gandhi’s Ahimsa have faded in the history. India’s streets are well aware of violence today.

39)   Naxalism- Naxalism killed 12000 people in 20 years. Is the freedom lost amidst Red corridor?

40)   Population– Not just theatres, but houses, streets, buses, metro, everywhere in India, it’s Housefull! And still there is room for more.

41)   Pollution- Not just society, but even the air in India suffocates. Not just the mind of the society, but also the water is impure. Not just the heart, but also the land is packed.

42)   Traffic- Family of two, vehicles will be four plus no traffic sense, no traffic police on the narrow road of India. A complete chaos!

43)   Racism- The black and white war is still not over in India in terms of Africans and North Easterns. They are not aliens. They are Indians.

44)   Begging- Crossings in India have more beggars than traffic lights. With every 60 sec stoppage, the task for the women and children begins. Is begging-free India possible?

45)   Robbery- Earlier the Britishers looted this golden bird, now the robbers plunder the leftovers.

46)   Child marriage– Anandi from Balika Vadhu is not the only victim of child Marriage. From Maharashtra to Rajasthan, girls are treated more as brides.

47)   Press curfew- Since Emergency, threat on press has been raised by Media houses. There have been raids on media houses, attack on journalists, cutting of journalistic writings. Is the pen really free?

48)   Cyber crime- Till date, people in India just knew about crime around but technology isn’t far behind. Crime has gone online now!

49)   Piracy– Not just gas or exam paper, but even films or shows are leaked here before they are out. Even DVD’s here aren’t safe.

50)   Plagiarism– CTRL C then CTRL V, that’s the easiest research and way to work in India. Someone’s effort, your name, all for free.

51)   HIV aids- Indians score really less when it comes to sex education and that can be seen with the increasing no of HIV+ patients.

52)   Abortion- From pregnancies of rape victims to the pregnancies where the baby in the womb is diagnosed to have some mental or physical deformities, the freedom to abort is not with the mother. The court decides the life of the baby in the womb!

53)   Honor killing– There is no honor in killing!

54)   Juvenile delinquency– At 13, they know what is rape but they don’t know what punishment is.

55)   Moral policing– police might not be aware of wrong doers, but some vigilante groups are. For them, all Indians are brothers and sisters in true sense.

56)   Animals- They don’t have a voice doesn’t mean they don’t want freedom. Freedom from being caged, from being forced to work, from being eaten!

57)   Animal testing– Imagine someone trying their experiment on us. Seems cruel right?

58)   Freedom of net- ERROR 404- Freedom not found. Looks like the freedom you’re looking for was moved or never existed.

59)   Privacy– From our identity to conversation to our decision, there is some intrusion! Do we have some privacy?

60)    Open defecation- Here we have the perfect freedom to shit around.

61)   Black money– Demonetization was the Pinking of the black money. So why color black at the first stage?

62)   Inflation– Price of Roti, Kapda, Makaan on a rise. Up, Up, Up…..

63)   Fake currency– 3.53 lakh fake notes counterfeited. Imagine those not counterfeited!

64)    Water wastage– The wars of the future will be over water!

65)   Euthanasia– If not the freedom to live happily, let one have the freedom to die peacefully.

66)   Unequal pay- After respect, status, voice, money isn’t far behind to discriminate men and women.

67)   Organ stealing– From kidney, to liver, to skin, even organs aren’t safe.

68)   Power cuts– India is in darkness! Literally.

69)   Poor infrastructure– Constructions happening, constructions falling, government is still sprawling.

70)   Money laundering- India doesn’t need washing machines, laundering easily happens here.

We have been so happy with the freedom we have, but why do we forget that we still are chained in the evils of our own deeds. Earlier British enslaved us, now we have enslaved ourselves in our own sins. Let’s come out of these bars and make India free again. Happy Independence Day!

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Lipstick​ in demand

Review of Lipstick Under My Burkha

Cast: Ratna Pathak, Konkona Sen Sharma, Aahana Kumra, Plabita Borthakur

Director: Alankrita Shrivastava

Duration: 2 hours 12 minutes

Lipstick Under My Burkha reflects our patriarchal society where women are a mere puppet in the hands of the men. It not only brings out the issue of domestic violence and marital rape, but also unveils the sexual desires of a woman which is simply not accepted by the Indian society. Director Alankrita Srivastava tries to bring out the story of four women from Bhopal who are trying to break out of their shell that the society has imposed on them.

Addressed as ‘Buaji’, 55-year-old widow Usha Parmar (Ratna Pathak) contrary to her age deeds, reads erotic novel ‘Lipstick vale Sapne’ and disguises her concupiscence in Rosy, her imaginary self while fantasizing about young swimming trainer. Konkana Sen Sharma playing Shireen’s character oscillates between being a top saleswoman of her company and on the other hand being a sex and semen dumping machine for her husband. Leela (Aahana Kumra) is dwindling between her photographer lover and an ideal man with whom her marriage was fixed as well as between her beauty parlor and business idea. Rehana (Plabita Borthakur) who cherishes Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven and reveres Miley Cyrus is confined in her Burkha and her father’s Burkha stitching shop. She tries to rebel for her freedom of clothes, dancing, and singing. She opted to steal for her freedom which though a crime but is just a regressive act to fit herself in the society.

The narration of imaginary character Rosy and her sexual desires becomes the underlying voice for not just the four women of the film, but also for every woman who dreams of being loved, appreciated and heard. Lipstick metaphorically gives hope to such women to speak out and think big.

Though living in the same building called Hawai Manzil, their stories are loosely tied to each other. Yet the viewers can sense the interrelationship they have through connecting shots and as they try to be a support for each other.  Shireen helps Buaji buy a swimming costume, Leela talks to Shireen about her abusive husband and in the end, four of them share a laugh over women’s fantasies. Though the audience expects the answers to their lives, the open ending gives the society a chance to ponder over the harsh reality of the society which the women silently endure.

The effortless acting by the women cast adds more conviction to the depictions of the Indian women. Also, the male characters like Sushant Singh, Vikrant Massey and Shashank Arora are almost dominating and insensitive, thereby perpetuating the popular feminist stereotype of men. The characters, dialogues and art-setting with bright shades and pop-art brought to reality the small town ambiance and the true colors of lipstick. The graceful narration and bold script with sympathetic gestures made it a perfect package. The humor is witty and laced with the right dose of sarcasm and pun.

The ‘too lady-oriented’ film which was earlier banned by Central Board for Film Certification and its head Pahlaj Nilhani has made 26.2 Crores INR at the box office garnering 7 international awards. After a lot of controversies, the film made it to the Indian screens and now is set to be screened in the US.

Game of Phones- Jio’s Prime plan is coming

As Jio, Airtel, Vodafone and Idea indulge in shooting each other’s high price with the bullets of tariffs, new data weapons are coming up in the tele-war zone. Amidst the tariff war, the users struggle in choice making as they enjoy the war.

Since September, Reliance Jio has taken over the telecom market with its floored prices and offers in just six months. The telecom companies might incur further loss as Reliance Jio announced its ‘Jio Prime Plan’ to hold on to the users. As the Happy New Year offer by Jio will end on March 31, Reliance Jio promoted its new plans luring Airtel, Vodafone and Idea customers starting from April 1, 2017. With an attractive Rs 99 plan, Jio gives 1GB of data per day with a monthly charge of Rs 303. Comparing the price of 30GB data with other networks, a shifting of users is expected. The Jio existing subscribers will enjoy the New Year offer benefits for one more year until 31 March 2018. Another shot by Jio of 56GB of 4G data came along with free incoming and outgoing calls, free messages and unlimited data at lowered speed.

Jio analysed that the biggest selling point in India is ‘Anything free’ and thus captured the market. According TRAI, the Jio download speed January was 8.3mbps, which is less than half of little over 18mbps that it clocked in December. Despite discrepancies in services and fluctuating connectivity, low prices are always a winner in India.

Joining the race by matching the tariff, existing mobile operators have dropped their tariff price to compete the growing popularity of Jio.  Bharti Airtel announced the abolishing of national roaming charges and reduces international roaming charges by up to 90 per cent. There will be no additional data charges on national roaming and the home data packs will work without state roaming barriers. But all this majorly affected the internationally traveling users or overseas subscribers and not the basics. As a counter attack to the Jio wave, Bharti Airtel announced to evolve to 5G services in partnership with Nokia.

The war also sprung in the home broadband market, called as fibre-to-the-home (FTTH). Jio and Vodafone are entering the FTTH market challenging the current dominance of BSNL and Bharti Airtel who control more than 66% of the market.

During the third quarter of 2016-17, Idea Cellular reported a net loss of Rs 384 crore whereas Bharti Airtel saw a 54 percent drop in consolidated net profit at Rs 503.70 crore due to disruptions caused by Reliance Jio’s entry.

The battle ground not only saw tariff war but also regulatory issues as Telecom Commission expressed concerns as Jio dented government revenues in the current fiscal.

DEMOCRAZY behind Educational Walls

How democratic and academic freedom is strangled by the politicised nationalism hooliganism.

The educational walls in India again saw stones of nationalism pelting on their students and teachers as they raised their voice just to debate and discuss. Educational institutes are handcuffed by the chains of violence and are tug-of-warred between students and teachers on one side and the student political groups on the other.

From Hyderabad University to Jadavpur University to Jawaharlal Nehru University, hooliganism disguised as nationalism has trapped the entire Delhi University too. Recently Ramjas College became a target of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad’s (ABVP) prowl. The English department invited JNU student, Umar Khalid for a seminar called “Cultures of Protest”. Apoplectic over the invitation, the right wing thugs of the ABVP not just thwarted the event but ran amok, assaulting students. Not only they hindered the Freedom of Speech and Expression, the hooliganism within the college premises threatened the freedom of life too.

To fight for their democracy, students from different colleges peacefully marched a protest in North Campus but it soon turned into violent as ABVP activists started mishandling the crowd, rape threatening women, beating teachers and did not even spare journalists. Many of those who participated in the protest were taken to hospital while the police remained a mute spectator of the mayhem.  The police is accused of connivance as they neither could save the silent protestors from the frenzied mob nor accepted FIRs filed against junior Sanghis. Online protests started on Facebook as #StudentsAgainstABVP started trending after Lady Shri Ram College student Gurmehar Kaur posted her support through placards. But ABVP again muted her by giving rape threats.

As a matter of fact, with the coming of Modi in power, Acche din have somewhere disappeared from the educational books as all time the students are busy in protesting for their rights, their voice. Flashback to last year’s JNU controversy, bring out a similar pattern of rampage and violence after the students organised a debate on Awzal Guru’s hanging. Even then the ABVP goons created ruckus over a debate, slogans, march and branded JNU, the most liberal of all Indian universities as ‘a hub of Anti-nationalists’. The anti-national slogans misleadingly raised in JNU reached Jadavpur University too. Protests for ‘Azaadi’ were called anti-national as ABVP again infringed in the student’s screenings and protests. Rohith Vemula’s suicide and the casteist controversy intermingled with student politics cannot be erased from the history of campus violence. The ‘anti-national’ witch-hunt reached the campus of Jodhpur University too, where English Professor Dr. Rajshree Ranawat has been accused and suspended for of inviting JNU professor Nivedita Menon.

The country is witnessing the democracy of educational institutes being hindered by the student soldiers of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. They are trying to paint the educational walls in saffron with the brush of Hindutva. Students are being beaten with the stick of hooliganism for even debating or discussing. Protests are becoming a culture of our universities. They have lost their voice, their choice, their democracy and all they are left with is- Democrazy.

Lone But not lonely

The locked land of Lavasa hidden behind its colorful walls, conceal a number of stories of corruption. The private planned property became a medium of false promises when the politicians tried to fill their pockets. This place lost its colours. Amidst the widespread lake, the red, yellow, orange buildings and greenery, the best thing that you’ll find here is peace. Weaved with the threads of the hidden stories and seclusion, the serenity of the place gives you ‘Me time’.

Photo credits: Poorvi Agarwal

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SIMChapter -1

SIMC undoubtedly gave us a roller coaster ride in just one year, a lifetime of experiences. From being freshers to bringing and guiding in freshers, from assignments to exams, from days when you have no time to breathe to the 22 hour sleep days. Sometimes giggled, other times upset, this one year of college we can never forget.

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When the last days of the 1st year arrived,

We got to remember and revive,

The one year of gaining knowledge

From this prestigious college.

SIMC gave us a bagful of happy days

The campus is majestic but seems to be a maze,

Classes here are fun, filled with activities,

They mold, check and improvise our abilities.

You’ll find some or either no textbooks

The students here have the craziest of looks,

Always you’ll see a camera on their shoulder

With the clicks of joy, we all grew older.

Classes had humans cause of the sword of attendance,

Benches is always houseful with couples in romance.

We came to the college with lots of excitement,

But everything faded with the burden of assignment!

Here you’ll find spirit of team and leadership,

Students find family in their friendship,

Climbed the mountain but have to cross the sea,

One year is done, but one more to go in SIMC.

The future of Community Radio in India

With all the noise around new technology

We tend to forget the old.

In search of diamonds, we lose the gold

The future of it will slowly unfold.

It can create wonders, it can bring revolution,

Music with info turns into a great combination

Though the country is moving towards digitalization,

But nothing can overpower a community radio station.

Digitalisation is the new media, believes the new generation and the government. Undoubtedly the internet is ruling the minds of the people and is a big threat to the old mediums of communication specifically radio. When it comes to community radio, a lot of development is to be done to increase its audience. Radio often plays a side role in advertising plans in India, an add-on to television, print and now even new media.

Community radios are a central form of communication, information and entertainment for low-income communities, where the internet is not easily available. Radio got a new identity after FM radio was opened up to private players in 2001. That makes it a relatively new market comprising of people from the rural India and economically weaker sections.

Community radio anyways has a very niche audience and it is mainly to aware the people about a social cause. The future of community radio is though dwindling but the developers should be more concerned about the awareness it creates. PM Narendra Modi initiative of the monthly address on Mann ki Baat on All India Radio also gave a boost to the radio industry.

The objective with which a community radio is established engages not only people interested but also lives of many others. It empowers the minority groups like women, LGBT community, disabled, North Eastern and many others to come together and upgrade themselves. It gives a voice to them and imparts entrepreneurial skills through its non-financial services.

A major reason why the growth of this sector has been slow is financial consideration. Supported by NGOs, they don’t have much of government aid. Also, license and policies tie the feet of the low-budget stations. If we think about subscriptions working for them, then we must come to the reality of rural India which doesn’t have earnings to pay for subscriptions. Minimal advertisers don’t adequately fund them. Technical know-how of radio is lacking in the tech-less areas adding onto the problems of community radio. All this can be solved by workshops that could be arranged by the government for potential community radio users. They can be given lessons of being tech savvy, about how to use new media and spread awareness and also to train the community members to develop basic production and post-production skills. Policies can be eased down for social benefit too. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting should consider the cause and aid the stations.

During the 5th National Community Radio Sammelan, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley cleared the myth that airway is government’s monopoly. He expressed his views about freedom of expression that the broadcaster has and also the right to information with the listeners, and emphasized on promoting Community radio. Also in the meeting, TRAI indicated that the permission for CRS should continue to be at five years.

We all have heard of the rabbit and tortoise story during our childhood. Community radio works very much on the same lines. Though there is a gulf between community radio and other medium of communication regarding the target audience, the cost to run a station, the entertainment factor, government policies and much more, still they are predicted to grow in future. But in the mean time it is important for the developers to fill in the gaps that make its future dicey. The developers should timely bring forward campaigns so that the Government of India recognizes its potential and support the cause.

Also, Community radio should adopt other mediums and bring out fusion to promote their existence. Going online can surely increase their listeners. Tie-ups with FM stations and media houses to get coverage of the cause will spread the awareness faster. They also create their websites for promotion. To bring some social development, community radio is neither an end nor an independent means to reach the marginalised audience. It needs coordination with base level initiatives and is not a sole arm but an additional one for social communication. But it should be kept in mind that the new technology is needed to support, not recast the old.

‘MODI’fication in Education

From being the neglected one in the educational race, secondary education in India is going through a transformation, somewhere for the better of the nation, other times for the party.

India is developing and improving in almost all the sectors every day. Our nation is seeing a revolution after the 2014 election, with digitalization, industrialization, demonetization and many more ‘tions’ adding onto the list. But what about Education?

Education is the key to unlock the door of growth and improvement for a nation and hence there came the Right to Education (RTE) Act 2009, wherein education became free and compulsory for all children between 6 to 14 years of age. But why did the whole compulsion stop at the age of 14?

Is the education ahead not important for them? Primary education in India is inclusive of classes 1 to 6 and Secondary education compiles of standard 7 to 12. As the government puts break after the journey of elementary education, children drop out of the educational drive. Sometimes, families indulge the kids in some labor so that they can start earning for their family while the other make them sit idle at home.

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Teacher helping a student at Hamari Kaksha, Chandigarh (Credit: Poorvi Agarwal)

According to the Unified District Information System for Education statistics, over 260 million children have enrolled in elementary and secondary schools in 2015-16 and 51.26 percent of the children enrolled from primary to the secondary schools. But none mentioned the percentage of dropouts or regular students. Absenteeism in the primary classes disturbs their base which makes it difficult for them during the secondary classes. The quality of teacher and school also adds onto this factor. Untrained and ill-equipped teachers at both primary and secondary level affect their education big time, especially in the rural schools. There is no massive gap in the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) of boys and girls in class 11 and 12 as it is 55.95% and 56.41% respectively.

When it comes to flagship programs, Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA), and other schemes have been majorly for the welfare of primary education. The umbrella scheme for Secondary education, the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) aims to provide services like toilets, drinking water, computer facility, laboratory, along with vocational and classrooms knowledge. Modi government’s budget for 2017-18 allocated Rs 23,500 crore against SSA and Rs 3,830 crore for RMSA, an increase of 4.5 per cent and 20 per cent respectively. Arun Jaitley pledged to create an “innovation fund” to encourage local innovation and ensure universal access, gender parity and quality improvement of secondary education. According to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, India spends the least percent of its GDP on education amongst the BRICS members. In 2015-16, India spent 3% whereas Russia spent 3.8%, China – 4.2%, Brazil – 5.2% and South Africa – 6.9%.

The every family comparison with Sharma Ji ka beta peer pressurised the students who went under depression or attempted suicides. To tackle the situation, the system of examination and mark sheet was removed from CBSE till class 10 bringing in the CGPA grading system. Major changes in the syllabus and books are seen as Modi government came to power. Recently, Union HRD Minister Prakash Javedkar made NCERT books mandatory for CBSE from the session 2017-2018 to standardise the curriculum across the country. The Rajasthan Board of secondary education will teach demonitisation to 12th from the next session.

ICSE is in a worse state as lacks specified publication or book by the council for the syllabus. When it comes to subjects like biology, the chapter ‘reproduction’ isn’t taught properly as the teachers skip many parts. This highlights the way sex education can never be a part of classrooms and blackboards. But MODIfication was seen in ICSE too. The 7th standard ICSE History book carried 8 out of 10 images of PM Modi in a single chapter. Many controversial changes came after Narendra Modi was elected as Prime Minister of India. A notification was issued in 2016 by the MP government to make lessons of the Gita compulsory in schools but due to strong protests, this decision was withdrawn. Also, former HRD Minister Smriti Irani replaced German with Sanskrit till class 8th in all Kendriya Vidyalaya, but this has been changed and third language is now made compulsory till class 10 in all schools.

The government policies seem to focus either on elementary education or higher education. Neglect of secondary education can have a devastating impact on the growth. To fix this broken ladder of education, serious thought should be given to secondary education and it should be made mandatory. Funds should be better allocated to revive secondary education. After the first year of Modi governance, a 9% drop in funds was seen in secondary education although it increased this year. Also, focus should be made on implementation and measuring of the schemes. Many positive changes have been witnessed under Modi governance, but if they focus more on improvising the education instead of saffronising, drastic growth can be seen in all levels of education.

Sister’s sinister plan in prison

Jayalalitha, Sasikala’s corruption cased closed, convicted

Corruption has become an inevitable part of politics and the Indian politicians reiterate this by the involvement in scams and scandals. From Suresh Kalmadi’s Commonwealth Games scam to Lalu’s fodder scam, from Mayawati’ Taj Heritage corridor case to the recently closed disproportionate assets case against Tamil Nadu’s Amma and Chinnamma, almost everyone hides bagful of cash and secrets. The citizen’s trust is taken for granted as politicians like these breathe on money.

Tamil Nadu’s politics came to a standstill with the demise of former Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa who served the state for over 14 years. Her loyalist and companion V.K. Sasikala has been convicted for 21 year old asset misrepresentation case and sentenced to four years of imprisonment.

The Supreme Court revoked the judgment earlier taken by a High Court that was full of errors. It held V.K. Sasikala, general secretary of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagan, with charges of corruption. The case which SC settled on February 14, 2017 goes back to 1991 when Jayalalithaa came to power. She and her companion Sasikala were involved in amassing wealth and property disproportionate to her known sources of income that summed up to Rs 66.65 Crores. The bench of Justices P.C. Ghose and Amitava Roy bars Sasikala from electoral politics for the next decade thus ending her ambition of becoming the next Tamil Nadu Chief Minister. The long lost verdict brought her from Poes Garden to prison. Other than Jaya and Sasikala, their c0-conspirators V.N. Sudhakaran and Elavarasi have been sent to jail after being imposed with a fine of Rs 10 crore each. AIADMK chief Sasikala is fined with Rs 100 crore.

After the 563-page verdict was announced, the Supreme Court started discussing on the association of politicians with corruption. The case has boosted questions against the corrupt politicians who are contesting elections in different parts of the country as their case files lie dusted in some legal corners. In Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati, the chiefs of both Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party respectively compete not only for the seat but also for the amount of land and money they can acquire out of the government funds and public property.

With demonetisation trying to lock the black money holders, all that the citizens want is a step to catch hold of the politicians that swipe their fingers on the tax money paid for development.

Blind but the Best

The game of cricket is perhaps the ultimate test of hand-eye co-ordination. The Indian cricket team has proved it infinite times and brought glory to the country. But this time it’s not the team captained by Sachin, Dhoni or Virat that made the Indians proud, it is the Indian Cricket team for the Blind!

The second edition of the T20 Blind World Cup, hosted by India contested with great zeal and dynamism. India won the tournament after beating Pakistan by nine wickets in the finals at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. Riding on an unbeaten 99 by opener Prakash Jayaramaiah, India chased down a score of 198 with a loss of just one wicket and 14 balls to spare. India versus Pakistan matches usually draw hundreds of millions of television viewers but this particular final between the blind teams of both the countries brought in great applause and appreciation to all the players.

The event was organized by the Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI), which is supported by the Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled and is affiliated to the World Blind Cricket Council (WBCC). The ten-nation tournament featured 48 matches held from 28 January 2017 to 12 February 2017 at multi cities in India. The teams participating are England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan with India as the host. India won 8 of the 9 matches it played in the tournament, ironically losing a group stage match to Pakistan. Pakistani team, on the other hand, won all the matches except the finals. For the 2nd T20 World Cup for the Blind, Rahul Dravid was chosen as the Brand Ambassador.

The Indian team has emerged as the best team in the world by winning all the formats of International Championship including First T20 World Cup in December 2012, ODI World Cup in December 2014, T20 Asia Cup in January 2016 and recently the T20 World Cup.

Cricket for the Blind was introduced in Australia in the 1920s and made its opening in India in 1980. The rules of cricket are modified for the visually impaired players to play. The ball has few ball bearings inside it, producing audio for the players’ ease. Designed by National Institute for the Visually Handicapped (NIVH), Dehradun, the ball is currently accepted as an international standard ball. The teams guide the players through verbal signals like the word ‘play’ while the ball is delivered. The game also involves underarm bowling and the field is slightly smaller in area. Totally blind fielders are allowed to catch the ball on the bounce.

The game boosts the confidence of visually impaired players and abandons the feeling of denial and dependency from their minds. Also, it kindles social responsibility in every individual and organization. Whosoever contributed to this event enjoys a tax exemption under section 80G of Indian Income Tax Act. The tournament raised funds by selling the unique balls and t-shirts through their website which would be used to support the cause for visually impaired. The team runs on donations and awareness campaigns. They believe that with funds, they can have better equipment and thus can perform better.

India’s blind cricket team has been performing astonishingly well but hasn’t got much recognition and attention. Unfortunately, it is the only team not affiliated to its country’s national board. BCCI is yet to recognize blind cricket and this is one of the team’s major demands.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted a congratulatory message on Twitter for the triumphant team. Also, Master blaster Sachin Tendulkar applauded the team on Twitter. Another tweet by Virendra Sehwag gathered criticism as the hashtag #OtherMenInBlue was taken as an offense by a few players.

The Politics of Statues

The Statue of Liberty will soon be dwarfed by not one, but two statues that will be built in India- the Chhartrapati Shivaji and Sardar Patel statues. These sky-high statues will even overtake the tallest statue of Buddha-Laykyun Setkyar, Mynammar in the run of the world’s tallest.

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Amidst the politics of demonetization, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of a 192 metre statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji in the Arabian Sea, just off Mumbai’s coast at a whopping cost of Rs 3,600 crores. But even before the foundation ceremony, Shivaji Smarak, as it is to be called was surrounded by criticism.

Online petition slams the construction as a mere waste of money and resources. More than 40K petitions have been signed on Change.org and they state the issues of poverty, farmer suicides, poor drainage not looked after while the government invests the tax-money into the construction of a memorial. Also, environmentalists point out the marine life degradation that the construction will cost. Modi’s sudden currency swap two months ago has led to severe cash shortages, bank limits on withdrawals, an industrial slump and layoffs raise eyebrows on the project’s capital. Also, it comes ahead of the high-stake elections in Maharashtra in February 2017.

The Statue of Unity- the 182-metre metal statue of Sardar Patel is also in progress. As Modi government came into power in 2014, they announced the making of this statue in Gujarat and earmarked a part of the annual budget for its establishment. The people irked over the spending of Rs 2989 crores for this project. Ram Sutar, the sculptor of the two statues counter –argued on the criticism saying, “If people had worried about how much the Taj Mahal would cost, it would never have been built.”

Earlier in 2009, SP supremo Mayawati immortalized herself as she constructed her own statues along with mentor Kanshi Ram out of the state funds, across Uttar Pradesh during her tenure. Samajwadi Party kept on accusing Behenji of scams by triggering the condition of poor, weak and underprivileged in whose name many of these memorials are justified.

Not just construction, but incidents of breaking and removal of statues also add on to the wastage of money. Recently the statue of poet Ram Ganesh Gadhkari in Sambhaji Park, Pune was vandalized by the pro- Maratha Sambhaji Brigade over historical errors in his poems. Upcoming local elections in Pune activated all the parties. Bharatiya Janata Party corporators criticized the incident demanding the restoration of the garden. Congress pushed for an oil painting till the statue is restored. Pune Municipal Corporation will set up a new statue as early as possible to calm Punekars.

This making and breaking have questioned the dwindling economy after demonetization. The vote politics converting into the politics of statue has questioned the government.

#IWillGoOut Campaign faced police obstruction

Nationwide women safety movement tagged Anti-national and denied permission by Delhi Police. The obstruction shamed the event and the organizers still the news was hardly covered by any media house except The Hindu and a couple more.

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Delhi: The Delhi-Dwarka Chapter of nationwide movement ‘I Will Go Out’ faced police resistance and permission denials hours before the march was to commence on January 21, 2017. The event for women safety and freedom was marked anti-nationalist and communal on a leaflet distributed in Dwarka.

11The social media campaign that turned into national march #IWillGoO ut flagged off across 21 cities all over the country on January 21 to convey solidarity with the survivors of sexual assault in Bengaluru on New Year’s Eve. Hundreds of women came on streets in solidarity against sexual harassment and to reclaim their right to safe public spaces.

The Delhi Commissioner of Police and the organising committee indulged in a battle over event permissions. the wide Hashmi, a social activist and the leader of Dwarka protest said, “Even though we sent an application seeking permission eight days prior to the event, DCP rejected it. He raised baseless queries regarding footfall, arrangements, medical facility and stage issues. The partially constructed stage was also removed by the Police.”

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The location was later changed from Sector 6 Market, Dwarka to Maxfort School. The time set for the event from 9 pm to 12 midnight was preponed by two hours. The posters for the event were redesigned mentioning changes and released press releases. The arrangements were made for the new location and people were informed over social media and Whatsapp.

Highly communal, defamatory and provocative leaflets were inserted in Dwarka newspapers giving a call to people not to attend the program. The anonymous leaflet read the event being organised by ‘anti-national’ people. Shabanam Hashmi and the members of Dwarka Collective have written an application to the Delhi Police Commissioner seeking investigation of the police opposition and miscreants.

leafletThough obstructed, the women were successful in organising the program and coming out in large number to protest for their freedom and proving #IWillGoOut. Dwarka groups celebrated womanhood with dance, poetry, qawwali, music and standup comedy to be performed by youth, women, artists from within Dwarka and other parts of Delhi.

While Delhi faced troubles with police, the country
wide movement was a success in Mumbai Pune, Nagpur, Bhopal, Silchar and Thrissur. Both men and women raised placards emphasising women’s rights over their body, the freedom to dress the way they want and to live without any fear. They voiced slogans like “Azadi, Azadi, a NO means a NO and my clothes, my body.” The voice of the protesters was loud and clear and brought the entire nation together.

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