Is India a Truly Secular Nation?

Secularism means that the state will have no official religion. Moreover, the citizens of India can practise, profess and propagate the religion of their choice. It is the equal treatment of all religions by the state. The word, ‘secular’ was not in the Preamble of the Constitution from its inception, rather it was added by the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution of India enacted in 1976, and since then the Preamble to the Constitution asserted that India is a secular nation.

Secularism is important to India as the partition of the country was on the basis of religion and therefore to accommodate the diversity in India, it is essential for there to be no discrimination of religion. However, the state protects the rights of cultural minorities which is different from Western Secularism. Moreover, India is a diversity rich country with people from all walks of life. But has ‘unity in diversity’ survived through the ages?

There is an ongoing crisis with relation to secularism which has uprooted the peace and harmony between different religions. The case of the ‘Godra’ riots in Gujarat in 2002 prove that religion based discrimination was prominent. Muslims in Gujarat were brutally killed and their homes were lit on fire. It was because of this that there was a severe tension among the people. Following was the incident of the demolition of the Babri Masjid to build the Ram Mandir which was believed to be there before. The Congress party which was ruling that time did not oppose this and remained silent on this issue. It clearly sought the ‘favouritism’ in politics. The ‘Sangh Parivar’ is said to be involved in the demolition.

Many people contest that there should be a Uniform Civil Code, however the Muslim personal laws have some special status that allow Triple Talaq and Polygamy which are bigotry and are prejudiced against women. The Shah Bano case also depicts the strong hold of the Muslim Personal Law Board which despite the Congress Party’s effort did not support Shah Bano. She was subsequently denied the alimony when the Indian Parliament reversed the judgement under pressure from Islamic orthodoxy.

The most recent case of Pseudo Secularism has been that of killing of 50-year-old Mohd Akhlaque who had eaten beef and thereby hurt Hindu sentiments. To avenge the rumoured death of a cow, a human being was done to death. The mob bashed him to death. In another instance, there has been injustice in the name of secularism where a group of college students in Kerala were man-handled and threatened inside a movie theatre in Chennai allegedly because they didn’t stand when the national anthem was playing. The students have been charged with insulting the national anthem – which carries a three-year jail term.

Similar was the case where there were Anti-Sikh riots in 1984. The Operation Bluestar hurt the sentiments of the Sikh as it damaged the holiness of the Golden Temple. This in turn led to the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her two Sikh body guards. This all turned into a national uproar against the Sikh minorities where they were massacred on the streets.

This goes onto show the façade of secularism and the ongoing debate about whether state sponsored secularism should be stopped as Pseudo Secularism is being practised.

 

By Saumya Rastogi (Editor, Fiction)

Hope

Hope, it is a very simple four letter word determining the terminology of our lives. It is indeed the most underestimated weapon, a weapon of destruction as well as that of peace. If the hope ignited inside your soul turns to reality then it becomes a blessing.

But if it doesn’t come true, then it will end up killing you a little every day till you are numb and hurt. Then it becomes the greatest curse, rubbing salt into all your healing scars of the past. It always makes you feel that things will go back to normal again, time will pass and heal up all the sore scales that are left behind, maybe you will meet that person again, maybe that love will come back to you and that everything will eventually become normal.

But this seems to be a blurry illusion as maturity hits us and as we sneak out of our own cocoons to face the reality of this unfair world. There seems to be no bigger lie than HOPE because now you can relate to the crudeness and unfair rules of this materialistic world.

Hope isn’t an illusion but rather it’s made into one and that too by us, the civilized organisms or maybe animals of this world. We tend to modify our own values, morals, ethics and basic structural phase known as humanity, we bend and amend all these set barriers according to our own flexibility but still have the courage to hope and expect the world to be fair to us, when we ourselves are not fair to our own self.

Isn’t it ironic? Hope breaks you, it may make you heartless because of the deep pain that it causes you, but you have all that right to turn those scars into power and your flaws into your highlights. 

 

By Yamika Khanna (Editor, Non fiction)

Be Yourself

You are who you want to be, who you choose to be. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. Because it’s not true. You think that you can’t do something, that it’s just not possible? Well, the impossible happens every day. It’s called life.

You don’t need anyone to tell you that you’re talented enough, strong enough or good enough. You already know deep inside that you are. So, don’t listen to the naysayers. Don’t listen to those who would bring you down. After all, haters gonna hate, potatoes gonna potate right?

Just be yourself. Be who you want to be, who you chose to be at the moment when you felt most at ease with the world. Let everybody else’s opinions go to hell. It’s your life, not theirs. So, live it. Get out there, do something you’ve always wanted to do, but could never bring yourself to do. Put yourself out there, and let life knock you down. Because it’s in the getting back up that you will find yourself.

And then you will realize, once and for all, that you are good enough, and you always have been. You know who you are, and you know what you want to do.

Because it’s only when you’re at your lowest point, that you start rising again. And then you’ll find that life isn’t as horrible as it seems sometimes. Sure, there’s definitely a lot of pain and suffering up ahead for you; life’s no cakewalk. But you are strong enough to get through it.

To pick a rose, you have to risk being pricked by the thorns. Life wouldn’t be as beautiful as it is without all the petty problems that seem to be so painful to us right now. Without the daily mishaps, the little problems that seem to mar our otherwise perfect days, we wouldn’t really be happy.

The day we realize that, the day we stop focussing on the cloud, and we start noticing the silver lining, that day we will finally realize that everything is going to be okay. We will face a lot of problems over the next few years, but we will also have a lot more happiness than we can imagine or comprehend at the moment. So, it’s time to get started on living that life you keep dreaming about. Blaze your own trails, make your own paths. Be yourself. That is all anyone who really loves you will ever ask of you.

“To be nobody but yourself in a world
which is doing its best day and night to make you like
everybody else means to fight the hardest battle
which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.”

-E.E. Cummings

 

By Apurva Lodha (Head Editor, Non fiction)

The Purpose of YouTube

YouTube is an American video-sharing website. YouTube came about in the year 2005, and I do think that’s all the history you need to know about it. You know what YouTube is. YouTube is where Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes, Carly Rae Jepsen and some major artists started their career. YouTube was a crossing-your-fingers, hoping-to-get-discovered platform, a platform, that has no doubt contributed by giving the world a few hundred truck-loads of talented and melodious voices and words which impact millions of hearts. Also, cat videos.

I have been an avid viewer of YouTube since I was about 11. I can’t help but look down on how the YouTube world has completely changed and went from showcasing hidden talents and absolutely heart-warming, down to earth millennials to money/view/fame-hungry kids. This, of course doesn’t apply to every YouTuber ever. But, I’m sure if you watch even a few people on YouTube, you KNOW who and what I’m talking about.

My YouTube journey started with watching late Christina Grimmie who did covers with a keyboard and her strong voice with nothing but one sketchy, digital camera. I watched her on my old box of a computer, which now sits at my grandparents’ house probably covered in about 60 layers of dust. I usually only watched covers on YouTube as I, myself wanted to do something like that once I was a little grown up. Make simple videos of myself singing, without really caring how many people are watching. Just to get my voice out there.

YouTube is a really intimidating platform now. Starting from scratch, having to be dedicated because of the quite high- REALLY high level of competition. I found myself watching videos of people other than people who just sung or played an instrument. My brother and I would spend evenings watching Smosh and NigaHiga. I then came across Miranda Sings and got addicted to watching her, a few familiar, warm-hearted names that come to mind around that time are Zoella, Lilly Singh, Joey Graceffa, Troye Sivan, Tyler Oakley, Shane Dawson and so many just pure-hearted fun people. People that never showed they were in it for the money or they fame. People that just genuinely enjoyed entertaining and making their audience happy. At this point, I’m not sure I even knew how much they earned off of it just because they never seemed to care about the money or take all that love for granted.

Now, excuse me, if I sound a bit hateful. But as soon as Vine stars started taking over YouTube, the aura of YouTube didn’t feel all too warm anymore. Now, Vine was also a video sharing platform, of six second videos on a loop. Vine was shut down in 2016, everyone who was from Vine shipped on to YouTube. Again, a little recap of internet history that I’m positive you all are already aware of. Vine brought to us Jake Paul, Lance Stewart, Cameron Dallas, Logan Paul, Lele Pons, King Bach to name a few. I can’t help but feel, as soon as Vine started dying down some of them just jumped up and down in a state of what-now and retired to YouTube. Jake Paul is described as one manipulative, materialistic, hate-on-me-but-I-still-make-money vlogger (video blogger) who is mostly loved by 10-year olds that watched his Disney show Bizaardvark. He lost his Disney contract due to his recklessness I reckon though he didn’t put it in as many words. They are so blinded by his Disney character, Dirk, that they don’t see what he really cooks up behind the scenes. He just seems, really, hungry for views. This generation of YouTube is what really let “Adsense” out to the first world. Adsense being how YouTubers make money off their videos. Lance Stewart was one of the Vine stars that was quick to start a YouTube channel but has been left behind by the Paul brothers and now makes fake videos of paranormal activity in hopes that people would believe him and his videos would blow up. He recently got into a tiff about this with one of his best friends Chris, which also I can’t tell if it’s fake. They seem to try too hard to divert the internet’s attention from the “Paul Brothers”. Jake Paul and Logan Paul also seem to cook up a lot of fake drama for views and entertainment to their audience to some extent but mostly, it seems, for views.

YouTube was once a warm platform that showcased nothing but talent. YouTube is now continuously turning into a drama hub between brothers and friends who claim to want to spread positivity but I don’t see how if they don’t themselves know the true meaning and honour of being an influencer. Can anyone do YouTube?

 

By Aayushi Khanna (Editor, Non fiction)

The Ideal Life

Imagine yourself sitting in the world’s most comfortable chair, so cushiony and soft that it relaxes    you and puts you to sleep. Let the seat also be of profound beauty, beauty with simplicity. 

In this hypothetical situation, think that you are lying on a fresh dew-covered grassy ground.  There are multiple evergreen trees in the background, swaying in the cool breeze which just kissed your cheek. You put your feet up on the congenial stool kept just at the right distance, and you feel your every muscle relax. 

There is a large glass kept right beside you filled with your best-loved beverage, and a long colorful straw extends from it to right near your mouth, so, you don’t even have to move an inch to enjoy its flavor. Your favorite cuisine is also waiting for you opposite to the beverage. Remember it’s the best cooked and the most delicious! 

You can smell your favorite scent and can feel it’s mild fragrance going down your throat, refreshing all the cells of your body as it goes inside of you.

There is nobody around! No noise, no melody, just you!

There is no home work to complete, no competition to prepare for and no expectations to live up to.

No one will compare you to any others, no one will break your trust, none will degrade you. Your future doesn’t depend on your studies. 

Your parents don’t depend on the job you’ll attain in the future. Your life doesn’t depend on money.

There is no worry! No social drama, no ‘impressive’ selfies and no reason to be the owner of fake beauty.

No, none at all!

You are alone, but not lonely!

There is a soft light which shines on you while you are seated, making its way amidst the evergreen trees. It is the Supreme   Light, indicating the presence of the Almighty. Nobody can hurt you now! 

The glimmer in The Supreme Glow enters your mind and destroys all your tensions and worries, leaving behind just coolness that fills your mind to such an extent that   you smile.   This Light will enlighten you! 

 You are simply happy, an achiever of the greatest bliss and you need nothing else.

This is the exact form of life that I wish to live. This is the much-needed break that I want! But, I know it will never come true. Even if I get in the above-mentioned scenario, no one would be able to take my turmoil away. They will chase me down eventually.  So, I just make it up in my mind and fake myself. Oh, how I wish I could take a break!

 

By Khyati Sanger (Editor, Non fiction)

No Homo

I have never in my life felt uncomfortable when I’ve overheard or have been told of someone loving someone. Sorry, someone of the same gender loving someone of the same gender. I would feel so confused, feel a hundred questions pop up in my head when I saw a face flinch at the idea of what is simply a human loving another human. As I got older, I saw my friends “experiment”. I saw them question themselves, question their idea of loving, I saw them destroyed. I was confused. Even all grown up, I feel confused when I see them destroyed at the idea that they might be attracted to the same gender they are. I understand the issues and problems but I still fail to understand why those issues and problems are present.

I fail to understand why mom and dad are going to be disappointed, what their neighbours and relatives would think of them, how their classmates are going to laugh at them. No, I don’t believe that. I believe parents will understand. I believe they will accept, for they must accept their child, they must love them more than their sexuality. We’re entering a generation of generations changing. I have seen some absolutely naïve, terrible people, but I do believe we can over power them and change their attitude towards many issues like this one. I believe we can, being the same species take our friends’ hands and walk them through this part of discovering life with our chin ups and smiles on all of our faces. And I do believe, it is OKAY to kiss, hold hands and hug beyond behind closed doors and dark alleys. I so strongly believe it is okay-
No, awesome, to have two dads or two moms.
Have you ever sat down, thought about what you believed in? Questioned what you believed in?

I fail to understand bullies and their inhumane acts of pulling people down about things that are so normal, should be normal, at least. I want to say that the world will soon be better and a day in the near future everyone is going to accept homosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality, whatever you want to call it or be. But I can’t help but think that a lot of us are going backwards. There are moments of hope, small moments.

I also fail to understand why “coming out” must be a thing. If we want our sexualities and choice of type-of-human-I-want-to-spend-the-rest-of-my-life-with to be normal? The whole concept of coming out to your peers, parents, whoever, should be dead and buried. Of course, when you are being hit on by a sex you have absolutely no sense of attraction to, you can be like “hey, hold up”
I loved the whole beautiful phase of influencers releasing their coming out videos for the world to see, but I don’t know how I’d feel if I saw one at this point of time and world. I want it to be normal for my girl friends to come to me and say “I met a girl” or my guy friends to say “I met a guy” without a prior warning of “I’m attracted to the same sex”.

I want it to be absolutely normal, and I find it absolutely obscene that we have to let the law dictate to us, our right to love. I find it obscene that we have to fight for something like that.

I have love and respect for everyone who has to offer love and respect. Why does it matter where that love goes? Love goes everywhere.

 

By Aayushi Khanna (Non-fiction)

Terrorism Has Neither Religion Nor Nationality

The world was sleeping in peace, millions of students from all over the world were going to various educational institutions to gain the power of knowledge, people were working hard to live a decent life, everything was just normal and perfect until twilight stuck the world, clouds of tears, pain and grief covering up the bright glowing sun of peace and humanity. Indeed it was one of the gloomiest days in the history of mankind but still not enough to gain the attention of the world, peace makers and global leaders; still not enough to mark a day of struggle to save humanity and peace. The attack was on Alppeno. The city that was once declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO is now shattered into pieces, unidentifiable, broken, devastated and helplessly witnessing its children cry tears of blood and undergo the deep grief of separation.

It’s sad how people from all over the world choose to ignore this act of terrorism by stating that it is an internal matter of Syria and leaving the country alone in this time of grief and pain. People just choose to avert their eyes by declaring it as the consequences of the past deeds of the country, mostly blaming Islam and the Muslims for all the terrorism. But it’s a shame on the entire human race to do so, shame on our consciousness, and on our mindset, our humanity, shame on ourselves as individuals and the children of god. It’s a real disappointment when people from all over the world hold the entire Islamic community responsible for this entire incident rather that sympathising towards them for losing thousands and lakhs of their children, if we can’t stand with them then we also have no right to stand against them.

There is an extremely unfair and unreasonable behavioural pattern shown by the human race when they decide to mourn for the same disaster happening in the western part of the world , when the so called developed nations of the world undergo the devastation and terror but they choose to avert their eyes and put a lid over the same kind of incident taking place in a developing economy or those countries which are believed to give shelter to terror, despite the truth being that they are the ones fearing and bearing it the most. To fight the battle against the oppression of terror and to attain the final objective of establishing peace all over the world .the world needs to get united, it needs to overcome the diverse nature of different communities, it needs to believe in humanity and we need to feel the same for every disaster that might happen in any part of the world, our response and stance should remain unchanged and firm.

By Yamika Khanna (Non-fiction)

 

Let The Viewers Decide

Much was made of the embargo surrounding the release of the movie Lipstick Under my Burkha, or the 2016 release Udta Punjab, a movie that highlighted the drug problem in the state. The movies ran into trouble with the Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC) over their title, content and references, and much of the criticism was directed at CBFC chairman Pahlaj Nihalani, and understandably so, for he has in all his public appearances appeared incompetent, out of touch with the times and constantly trying to prove his loyalty to those who appointed him.

     However, the controversy around the two movies goes beyond just one man’s shenanigans. It is the manifestation of a state that empowers itself unreasonably in the good name of public interest. This imposition of choice is something prevalent not just in the Censor Board but also in a plethora of Government and Government-affiliated institutions, in dictating what books to read, (banning Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses), borderline ludicrous banning of websites (the likes of which included sports news website Bleacher Report for reasons hard to comprehend) and questioning the serving of non-vegetarian food in IITs (in a letter forwarded to the Ministry of HRD). Even the judiciary, albeit not as frequently due to its visible penchant for liberalism, has been guilty of this. It has expressed a view which has been echoed by a myriad of Censor Boards and governments- films are for the masses, and the masses aren’t yet evolved enough to be exposed to violence, obscenity and now, even the truth.

     In half-hearted attempts to defend this repressive action, we have perhaps been shortsighted, for this is not about us just as viewers, but our autonomy as free thinking citizens of a democratic nation being eroded by actions which the Censor Boards openly misuse, courts sometimes turn a blind eye to and we have surreptitiously acquiesced to.

 

    True artists hold a mirror to society. That, at times, becomes an uncomfortable truth for those in power. The CBFC’s actions are akin to a paranoia stricken organization trying to suppress the truth, blacken that mirror. Fortunately, artists in our country have been resilient to this, as has been seen in this case by Lipstick Under My Burkha’s Alankrita Srivastava, Udta Punjab’s filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, or a prominent example before that of Hansal Mehta standing by his film Aligarh. However, this suppression is susceptible to backfiring, for the more the artists are suppressed, the more they’d feel the need to express freely. The more their work would speak the language of defiance.

      The Censor Board faced flak in 2015 for its ludicrous cuts suggested in the Daniel Craig starrer Spectre, but with the abovementioned examples, a whole new level of ignorance was displayed. It is a different matter if the Board wants to remove a violent scene, or a dialogue which it may feel could cause communal unrest, but it is an entirely different matter if they want to censor reality itself.

        Lipstick Under My Burkha is a groundbreaking film, for it dared to challenge norms and preconceptions, something not seen so often in Indian cinema. With Udta Punjab, if reports and data available are anything to go by, drug addiction is a genuine problem in the state, one which has taken multiple lives and destroyed multiple families. Staying aloof from reality and maintaining an ostrich like approach where one believes nothing is wrong, is certainly not going to help in solving any problem. Having people be made aware about the predicament that’s been faced and letting them develop an informed and aware opinion on the topic, might just.        

By Kushagra Singh (Non-fiction)

The Most Commonly Misunderstood Law: The Law of Attraction

The Law says “You create almost everything that happens to you. If you think you can do it, you most definitely, can! Your energy will attract energies that are alike.”

Thoughts + Emotions = Attraction

Think. Why is it the Law of Attraction the most popular law?

Because it says YOU CAN GET WHATEVER YOU WANT. But hold your horses! It is not as simple as that. This law is also the most MISUNDERSTOOD law! I don’t want to discourage you; I want to help you manifest what you want FASTER.

So, on YouTube, you will find several videos which go like ‘Manifest your dreams’, ‘Manifest a certain person in your life’, ‘Manifest Prosperity’ etc. Also, here is a shout out to The Secret for popularizing The Law of Attraction. Both will make you believe that visualizing something or wishing for it does the whole job. Clearly, you are allowed to laugh at it. 

You know you can’t just think and not work, and expect everything to happen. You got to perform the action. So, you prevent yourself from being misled and you use the law to understand that JUST working without believing in it on the mental level, bears no fruit. The Law is about ‘being conscious of aligning our thoughts with the results we desire.’

‘When we ask and have the faith to know it is possible, we are then ready to receive it.’

Read it and reread it!

And, since, humans today don’t believe in energy guiding them, let’s turn to little references from psychology and science!

Psychologically speaking, here is an example to the Law. People do push away people who love them; because they never thought they could be loved that way. It causes unease to them, on the mental level to have happening what they didn’t expect and can’t accept… Similarly, you are sure to fail if you think you can’t pass it. You ACCEPT defeat by restricting your thinking! Because,

  1. You won’t put in effort into an ‘already lost fight’, which in fact you have created only on your mental level.
  2. You won’t try enough because you are self-doubting, because ‘you can’t win anyway’.

Turning to Science, it clearly says your body reacts to your thoughts. Your body is that naive kid who believes everything he is told! Your thoughts are what you say to your body. And your body reacts believing it is true!

As simple as this: Think about your favorite food, your salivary glands begin to excrete saliva, in your mouth. Your body thinks it’s true, believes it’s true, that your favorite dish is right in front of you. So, it helps you accept the dish and eat it. On the other hand, imagine yourself thinking about failure and loss! Your body believes it is true and reacts to it and accepts it even before it has happened! IT STARTS TO WEAKEN YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM. You system starts to deteriorate because it thinks the tragedy has already happened! So, it, in turn, attracts tragedy and isn’t competent or powerful enough to go out there and to perform anymore, to get the actual reward. Stop doing this to your body, to yourself!

Use your body and your mind to attract what you always wanted! Working on the physical level isn’t enough, it’s the mental strength gives you the physical strength!

You need to ‘feel like it’, to attract it. But then again, you can feel like it, when you do it. Let your feelings guide you into whether your frequency is in alignment with; what you want or do not want.

But if you feel bad, or do not feel good, don’t FORCE yourself to feel good. Relax, breathe, think and analyze why you feel what you feel. Go to the core of it. And once you have it in your hand, believe you me; you’ll know how to feel good.

Tips to make Law of Attraction work:

Write down a journal entry as if you have already achieved what you wanted. Make sure it is a detailed description. You may as well add HOW you got there. But even if you don’t know HOW don’t fret. It is not that important as of now.

Sit down and close your eyes. Figure out the tensions in your body. Visualize a rose and take it to the areas where the tensions can be felt. Give out all the negative energy to the rose; you may as well let it rot.  Throw the rose away and now you’ll feel lighter. Fill in the empty spaces with bright and positive light which you may as well get from the ‘above’ if you visualize.  (An adaptation from Mind Valley’s Jeffrey Allen)

Take a sheet of paper and fold it into a half. Use one of the halves to write what you feel motivated to do today. On the other side, write what you want the universe to take care of, for you.

Remember you have the power to create whatever you want using your thoughts, intentions, and minds! So think big and keep manifesting!

By Khyati Sanger (Non-fiction)

Imperfections Make Us Human

Imperfections are the tiny little faults which stop something from being perfect, which stop someone from being perfect. In short, imperfections are what make us human.

A truly perfect human being does not exist on this earth, for what could be worse for humanity than being absolutely perfect? It is the little faults in someone’s character, the mistakes that a human can make, that allows us to love someone.

Perfection is an unattainable and impossibly high ideal, but then it is not for humans to achieve, only for us to work towards. It is the quest to be perfect, to become better and better with time, that has prompted human beings to grow and survive throughout time.

The journey to the end is what matters, not the end itself. Life is just that, a journey for us to try to become our best possible versions, by changing and evolving our notions of being perfect. We keep trying to become better people, because we realise that things can always get better, that perfection, along with being an ideal, is a constantly changing and evolving truth that is different for everyone, as it should be.

We humans were never meant to be perfect, that was left to the organisms with simpler minds than the complex, ever-changing nature of the human mind. After all, to us, in the end, it is the little imperfections that matter, the little faults which make us feel for others, have empathy and understanding for them, for at the moment when you realize you truly understand someone; you also realize that you love them as they love themselves. For that is the gift of having faults in us, that we can understand each other, love each other and above all, try to become better human beings every single day of our lives.

Imperfections are an important part of us, because without them, what would be the point of ever doing something new?

Without them, why would we want to live? As Tibor Kalman once said –

“We live in a society and a culture and an economic model that tries to make everything look right. Look at computers. Why are they all putty-colored or off-fucking-white? You make something off-white or beige because you are afraid to use any other color – because you don’t want to offend anybody. But by definition, when you make something no one hates, no one loves it. So I am interested in imperfections, quirkiness, insanity, unpredictability. That’s what we really pay attention to anyway. We don’t talk about planes flying; we talk about them crashing.”

 

By Apurva Lodha (Head Editor, Non-fiction)