How To Deal a Bad Boss or a Bad Manager

We may always like to sit tight in an armchair dreaming up Utopias. Utopias are a generally ideal world where you get bosses who understand your needs and requirements. She appreciates you for your excellence and motivates you on your failure. She possesses the qualities of an excellent leader and is an invaluable asset for you. 

Well, reality may be far from your fantasy. Here, you may have bosses who are cold, dominating and assertive. She may be someone who takes your credits and someone who cannot even spell the word a-p-p-r-e-c-i-a-t-i-o-n. 

Whatever the case may be, you have to cope up with them. You cannot expect everyone to be kind and sensitive to your needs. Just go with the flow until you reach a new shore.

Best Ways To Deal With a Bad Boss

Communication

Your boss may not know that they are cold. Communicate with them and express your hankering. However, you may not always get a positive response. Sometimes, you may be targeted post haec. Therefore, always be on the safe side and try to communicate indirectly but efficiently. 

Diagonal Communication May Work

You may find no use after communicating to your immediate head. In such cases, address your concerns to the managers or HR heads. Tell them what you feel about your boss and seek their advice.

Observe

Sometimes, your boss may not care about the duration of your break. Instead, they might be behaving coldly to preserve their ego or pride. Just to assert his position, he may be acting cold. If this is the case, you can act accordingly. So, observation is the key!

Personal is Personal And Professional is Professional

Do not let the coldness of your boss affect your professional work, duties and obligations in any way. Even if it is destroying your patience, stay on good terms with other leaders of your company. Being dull and taking breaks will only add insult to injury. 

I am One Step Ahead Of You

If you feel that your boss is excavating problems to pull you in, stay a step ahead of her. Even before she assigns you something, try to understand your responsibilities and take up the work. Be mentally prepared and, it is always desirable to have a quality draft in hand. 

Good Fences Make Good Neighbours

Even if your boss fails to respect boundaries, make sure that you are not like her. You know how it feels when someone acts as if there are no boundaries. Invest it in your life and practice. 

Learn From The Past

While applying for another company, do thorough research to avoid falling into a bad boss labyrinth a second time. Establish relations with the starters of your target company and learn the workspace culture and employee-employer relations. Take care so that you do not appear creepy!

Effective Time Management Techniques You Must Use

For you, being a member of this fast-moving world, there will be nothing like the time that wreaks mayhem in your brain. You might feel like twenty-four hours is not sufficient to work with efficiency and accuracy. You might feel highly stressed and exasperated, mostly worried about tomorrow and next week. 

Having a night full of sweet dreams would be exotic to you. Also, forgetting things will be a common phenomenon in your life. Notwithstanding these stumbling blocks, an effective time management strategy is what you want. That is, you’ve to work smarter, not harder. 

7 Ways to Improve Your Time Management Skills

Best Time Management Techniques That You Must Use As a Recruiter

Keep a Handy To-do List

Whenever you get recruiting assignments, just note down everything one by one in a diary or on your device. There are only two golden rules- firstly, note everything in the same place and secondly, keep your device/notebook handy. You will have to refer to it anytime from anywhere. 

How To Write A To Do List That You'll Actually Stick To

Prioritising Need Over The Best

After creating a shabby to-do list having every single work mixed and jumbled up like an exasperating farrago, you now have to analyse and prioritise them. Your to-do list will be jumbled up like a maze. Keep four standards to analyse your to-do work, like: 

  • P1: Top priority
  • P2: Secondary priority
  • P3: Can be put-off, tertiary priority
  • P4: Can be eliminated
Company Diversity a Big Priority for First Twilio CIO

The Time to Repair The Roof is When The Sun is Shining

After you prioritize your chores, plan how to execute them the next day. Always ensure that there is not more than five work in the P1 category. Every night, prioritise your work and make it ready-to-do for the next day. Likewise, every weekend, analyse the work that you’ve completed this week and what you’re planning to do the next week if any. 

Intention Without Action is Useless

Make sure you do your work according to your plans and priorities. The top priority ones shall be done as soon as possible and it shall be the first work you do the next day. After completing the P1 activities, proceed to do the P2. If you have any time left to do the P3, then complete it one by one according to the internal order of precedence. Finally, you can eliminate the P4 activities. 

Work-life balance in a pandemic: a public health issue we cannot ignore

Final Thoughts

It’s difficult to plan and is more difficult to implement. However, if you do your work in a fix amidst confusions and uncertainties, the result will be catastrophic. More and more sleepless nights with more and more forgetting episodes will juggle your life. 

By making an effective to-do list and by prioritising and proper planning, you will be able to do wonders. With the list in your hand, you can always be satisfied with the work you have done and be certain about the work you do the next day. You can sleep in peace and remember everything you have to do. If you use a planning app like Todoist or Evernote, you will get notifications for the work to be done. 

Finally, after following these four steps- Listing, Planning, Prioritising and Implementing; you can efficiently and effectively manage the twenty-four hours you have. 

Pasupathi Seal: An Indus Valley Exotica

Synopsis

The paper gives an all-inclusive review of the venerated Pashupati Seal recovered from Mohenjodaro, one of the cardinal sites of the Indus Valley civilization. Regardless of its size, the seal is a centre of extensive scholarly attraction. A plethora of scholars study the seal and attempt to identify the central figure in the seal surrounded by animals. While scholars like John Marshall identify the central figure as tricelaphic and ithyphallic and relates it with Rudra-Shiva, others give Dravidian, Vedic and Post-Vedic interpretations of the seal. The pictograph present above the seal commands equal attention but remains an enigma as the boustrophedon Indus script is undeciphered to date and so is the conundrum associated with the same. 

Introduction

The Pashupati seal, being an exotica recovered from the southern region of the DK-G area of Mohenjodaro, 3.9 metres below the surface; arouses varied interpretations from a school of scholars, historians, Indologists and scientists. In his 1937-’38 report, Ernest Mackay dated the seal to fall within 2,350-2,000 BCE and numbered the seal as 420. The 3.56cm x 3.53cm seal is devised out of steatite and has a thickness of 0.76cm. 

The central figure is found seated on a platform looking straight with legs bent at the knees. The heels of the figure touch each other and the toes point downwards. The arms are extended to reach the bent knees but don’t touch them- they rest lightly upon the knees and the thumbs face away from the body. The hands are embellished by three small bangles and eight large bangles. There are double band wraps around the waist with necklaces covering the chest. The figure has elaborate head-dresses that appears to be a fan-like crown with two huge striated horns similar to that of a bull.  The central figure is surrounded by four animals- a water rhinoceros, a tiger, a bull and an elephant. Below the figure, one may notice two ibexes facing backwards with their horns meeting each other. Above the central figure is seven boustrophedon pictographs that are undeciphered to date. 

John Marshall identifies the central figure to be one of the earliest representations of Hindu god Shiva in his 1928-29 publication. However, his claims are criticized by a school of scholars but identifying the seal with proto-Shiva or Rudra Shiva, his Vedic predecessor; seems to be the most accepted claim. With the Indus script that remains undeciphered to date, the pictograph above the figure remains an enigma. Following Marshall’s claims, many scholars conducted independent researches that came out with a series of conclusions: while Doris Srinivasan claims the figure to be a divine bovine man, Alf Hiltebeitel claims it to be the depiction of puranic Mahisasura. SR Rao claims it to be a depiction of Vedic God Agni while SP Singh identifies the figure to be Rudra, the Vedic predecessor of  Lord Shiva

Notwithstanding the scholarly tussle over the seated figure, the seal is an element of archaeological marvel. The seal along with all the artefacts recovered from the sites of Pakistan was claimed during the partition melee. However, the Government of India refused and finally, an agreement was made to hand over around 8,000 Indus Valley articles out of a total of 16,000. While the Priest-King was claimed (and successfully received) by Pakistan, the Dancing Girl and Pasupathi Seal were retained by India. 

Pashupati seal - Wikipedia
The Pashupati Seal

Seal 420 as Proto-Shiva

In his 1928-29 publication, John Marshall identified the central figure to be Lord Shiva. Firstly, he claims that the seated figure represents the lord of all beasts or Pashupati. It is worth noting that Pashupati is one of the epithets of Lord Shiva. Secondly, he claims that the figure is tricelaphic and Lord Shiva is sometimes depicted with three or five heads. Some scholars claim that the fourth or the fourth and the fifth head remains unseen in a 2-D interface. However, Lord Shiva is also depicted as having four or five heads. Thirdly, he identifies the elaborate headdresses to be congruent with the trident and the two large horns to be the horns of a bull. Both the trident and the bull symbolises Lord Shiva as the trident is his weapon and the Bull is his mount. Fourthly, he claims that since the central figure is sitting in a typical yogic posture, he could be identified with Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is also known as Adiyogi or Mahayogi who is considered the originator of Yoga. 

In his 1931 publication, he added that the Pashupati seal is ithyphallic and he claimed that certain stones and seals recovered from the Indus Valley hints at sex worship or phallic worship. Since linga is undoubtedly linked with Lord Shiva, he claims the central figure in the Pashupati seal to be the Indus depiction of proto-Shiva. However, late scholars have pointed out that that the stones that are claimed to be sex symbols by Marshall may be game stones or gamesmen. One of the notable scholars with the same viewpoint is Ernest Mackay who claimed that:

“... Various small cones made of lapis lazuli, jasper, chalcedony, and other stones, most beautifully cut and finished, and less than two inches in height, are also thought to be lingas … on the other hand, it is just as possible that they were used in the board-games …” 

-Early Indus Civilisation, 1948.

Divine Bull-Man?

On other hand, Doris Srinivasan came with an alternate approach and claimed that the central figure is a divine buffalo man. She identified the figure to be having a single head and claimed that what Marshall claimed to be two extra faces are ears of the buffalo man. She backed her findings with various articles recovered from other Harappan sites that hint at the association of buffalo or attributes of buffaloes with divinity. 

She attempted to relate the central figure of seal 420 with the terracotta bull recovered from Kalibangan, horned mask unearthed from Mohenjodaro and a horned deity represented in a water pitcher recovered from Kot Diji. With reference to these parallels, she interprets Marshall’s proto-Shiva as a divine buffalo man. 

Nonetheless, the significance of the animals surrounding the bull-man is a mystery. She claims that these animals may represent divine powers and reinforces the strength of the bull-man. However, the description seems to be dissatisfactory. 

Rudra- The Rigvedic Predecessor of Lord Shiva

Another notable interpretation of the Pasupathi seal comes from SP Singh who identifies the seated figure to be Rudra. Rudra is the Vedic predecessor of Lord Shiva nonetheless, the Rig Veda has only three hymns attributed to him. However, Rig Veda’s verse 2.33.11 depicts Rudra as fearsome as a formidable wild beast. It is also to be noted that verse 7.46.3 mentions that Rudra is armed with a bow and fast-flying arrows. There is no mention of the trident as well as a bull which’s depicted as the mount of Lord Shiva in later Puranas and epics. The Rig Veda depicts Rudra as the lord of the hunt who’s known for his ferociousness and wrath and the depiction doesn’t fit a tranquil Pasupathi. But verse 10.92 of the Rig Veda mentions that Rudra has dual natures- wrathful and tranquil. The tranquil nature of Rudra can be viewed as Shiva, Yogi or Pasupati

However, even if the Rig Veda doesn’t conform to the trident and the bull as the symbols of Rudra, it is so in the later texts. Erwin Neumayer and VS Wakankar identified some of the Bhimbetka paintings carbon-dated pre-10,000BCE to be associated with Natraja, the dancing depiction of Lord Shiva. 

Moreover, SP Singh claims that the animals surrounding Rudra– the tiger, bull, elephant and the rhinoceros are Maruts or Rudras. Verse 2.33 of Rig Veda states that Rudra is the father of Maruts and the 64th verse of the first book of the Rigveda compares the Maruts to lion, deer, bull, elephant and a serpent. This can be the basis of SP Singh’s observation. It’s believed that Maruts are storm Gods who are the children of Rudra and an androgynous cow, Prisni. Verse 8.96.8 of Rigveda numbers Maruts from twenty-seven to sixty. However, later Puranas mention that Maruts are born from the battered womb of Diti, the mother of all demons. Puranas suggest that Indra used his thunderbolt over Diti’s womb so as to prevent the birth of a demon who could rival Indra. The Puranas also suggests that Indra befriended the Maruts at a later stage and came to be known as Marutvant. He was accompanied by the Maruts while defeating the serpent king Vritra or Vedic Ahi who is represented as a dragon blocking the flow of rivers and thus, inviting drought. The hymn eighteen of the fourth book of Rigveda illustrates the series of events pertaining to the heroic battle between Indra and Vritra

Harappan Navaratri?

One of the most interesting Vedic interpretation of the Pasupathi seal is given by Alf Hiltebeitel. He claims that the central figure seated is Mahishasura. The festival of Navaratri eulogises the epic battle between Mahishasura, a very powerful buffalo demon and goddess Durga, an incarnation of Devi Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. He claims that the animals depicted are the mounts of different Gods- like Bull (Nandi) is the mount of Lord Shiva, Tiger (or Lion) is the mont of Goddess Durga and Elephant (Airavata) is the mount of Indra

Conclusion 

Notwithstanding these interpretations sprawling from Marshall’s proto-Shiva to Alf’s Mahishasura, there are many other interpretations by various celebrated scholars. No other Indus Valley artefact might have been the base of such intense scholarly attention. 

Out of the available interpretations, Herbert Sullivan of Duke University claimed that the seated figure is a woman. She claimed that what Marshall claimed to be the phallus is, ipso facto, a tassel. Asko Parpola studied the Pashupati seal and claimed that the seal is an imitation of the proto-Elamite method of seating bulls. Some claims that the seated figure is an aquatic deity while others claim the seated figure to be Varuna (Water God), Agni (Fire God) and even Indra (Rain God). Some scholars also draw parallels from the Gundestrep Cauldron while others identify the central figure to be the Sage Rishyasringa of Ramayana Epic. However, there are some group of scholars who claim that the figure is not determinable. 

Amongst all interpretations, Marshall’s proto-Shiva is still celebrated and the seal 420 is still known by the name, Pashupati. Some scholars also claim that the seal invariably hints at the existence of Yoga at that time. It’s not only the central figure and the animals nearby that attracts scholarly attention but the pictograph is also considered on par. The mystery may be partially solved if the boustrophedon script of the Indus valley is deciphered and the pictograph, read. However, the seal remains a question mark to date. More and more interpretations of the seal 420 are coming from various research scholars and universities with the due course of time and remain one among the Indus Valley exotica. 

References

  1. Hiltebeitel, Alf (2011). “The Indus Valley “Proto-Śiva”, Reexamined through Reflections on the Goddess, the Buffalo, and the Symbolism of vāhanas”. In Adluri, Vishwa; Bagchee, Joydeep (eds.). When the Goddess was a Woman: Mahabharata Ethnographies – Essays by Alf Hiltebeitel. 
  2. Mackay, Ernest John Henry (1928–29). “Excavations at Mohenjodaro”. Annual Report of the Archaeological Survey of India: 67–75.
  3. Mackay, Earnest John Henry (1937–38). Further excavations at Mohenjodaro: being an official account of archaeological excavations at Mohenjo-Daro carried out by the Government of India between the years 1927 and 1931. Delhi: Government of India.
  4. McEvilley, Thomas (1981). “An Archaeology of Yoga”. RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics. 1 (1): 44–77.
  5. Marshall, John (1931). Mohenjo-Daro and the Indus Civilization: Being an Official Account of Archaeological Excavations at Mohenjo-Daro Carried Out by the Government of India Between the Years 1922 and 1927. Asian Educational Services. 
  6. Possehl, Gregory L. (2002). The Indus Civilization: A Contemporary Perspective. Rowman Altamira. 
  7. Samuel, Geoffrey (2017) [2008]. The Origins of Yoga and Tantra. Indic Religions to the Thirteenth Century. Cambridge University Press. 
  8. Srinivasan, Doris (1975–76). “The So-Called Proto-śiva Seal from Mohenjo-Daro: An Iconological Assessment”. Archives of Asian Art. 29: 47–58. 
  9. Srinivasan, Doris Meth (1997). Many Heads, Arms and Eyes: Origin, Meaning and Form in Multiplicity in Indian Art. 
  10. Sullivan, Herbert P. (1964). “A Re-Examination of the Religion of the Indus Civilization”. History of Religions. 4 (1): 115–125. 
  11. Bryant, Edwin (2001). The quest for the origins of Vedic culture the Indo-Aryan migration debate. New York: Oxford University Press. 
  12. Basham, A.L. (1989). Zysk, Kenneth (ed.). The Origins and Development of Classical Hinduism. New York City: Oxford University Press.
  13. Bhandarkar, Ramakrishna Gopal (1995) [1913]. Vaisnavism, Śaivism, and Minor Religious Systems (Third reprint ed.). Delhi: Asian Educational Services.
  14. Chakravarti, Mahadev (1994). The Concept of Rudra-Śiva Through The Ages. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 

The dichotomy of ‘good lie’ and ‘bad lie’

“….Was it the time I realised that adults were not
all they seemed to be,
They talked of love and preached of love,
But did not act so lovingly…."

As Markus Natten had beautifully pointed out in the above lines, adults find their place in the long rolls of hypocrites. They talk of love and preach of love, but these are only confined to words. One of the most cardinal preachings of the adults is on an essentially contested topic of ‘truth’. They always ask us to speak the truth and punish us for not doing so. However, does this really mean that adults are the epitome of righteousness and truth to an extent that they only speak the truth? Well, obviously, the most rational answer is ‘no’. All aren’t Mahatma Gandhi no? Then what backs the essence of truthfulness or righteousness imparted by the adults to the younger generation? How is it legitimized? 

Family is considered to be the lowest unit of social interaction. It’s the lowest social organization. If it is the miniature version of the society, the family will be, ipso facto, communitarian in spirit. As always, some liberal values are to be compromised in a communitarian atmosphere. Consequently, the size of the families started reducing and today, we can find people living alone preserving their sacrosanct individuality. The more the size of the family, the more communitarian it is and the more liberty, rights and independence are compromised. Family hence becomes a sphere of power- where power is feloniously exercised by the elders and the youngest ones and mostly women being mute recipients of the communitarian power thus exercised. All power relations are marked by hierarchy and family thus becomes a hierarchy of the elders over the younger ones and sometimes that of men over women.  The hierarchy of men over women in the family was challenged by the second wave feminists with a powerful slogan of ‘the personal is the political’. But what can the younger ones do? Simply being mute victims of the authoritarian, totalitarian and communitarian decision-making process with the least representation of themselves even on matters regarding their life, liberty and property. 

Coming back to the notion of truth and lie, the adult’s lie is often legitimized as a ‘good lie’. A ‘good lie’ is something that can be told, preached and are legally plausible. As opposed to this concept is the ‘bad lie’ that cannot be told, cannot be preached and invites punishment. But what makes a lie a ‘good lie’ or a ‘bad lie’? As far as I’ve observed, there can be two ways to determine what’s a ‘good lie’ and what’s a ‘bad lie’. Firstly, the lie told by the adults comes under the banner of a ‘good lie’ whereas the same lie told by the younger ones become a ‘bad lie’. What is to be noted in this case is age is the criteria that determine the nature of your lie.  Secondly, the lie which the children are made to say on behalf of the adults also comes under the category of a ‘good lie’. However, if the same lie is told by the child without the directions of the ‘high command’, then it is criticized to be a ‘bad lie’. 

Another interesting concept about this distinction is that the concept is not equally applicable to all situations. What all constitute a ‘good lie’ and what constitutes a ‘bad lie’ are determined from time to time by the adults. Also, a ‘good lie’ in my case needn’t be a ‘good lie’ in your case. Forget it. It’s you and me. A ‘good lie’ in my case today may not be a ‘good lie’ tomorrow and a ‘good lie’ in my case may not be so in my brother’s case. What is to be extrapolated from the situation is that the concept of ‘good lie’ and ‘bad lie’ are flexible- flexible to the overpowering whims and fancies of the adults and obviously, to the disadvantage of the children. 
In toto, what makes a lie qualified to be a ‘good lie’ simply depends upon the person who says it or the person by whose supervision it is said. This concept changes from time to time and place to place and even from person to person and families to families. This is quite natural, owing to the communitarian structure of the family. In the modern era, for social institutions like families to survive, it is necessary to democratize the structure. Internal decision-making processes shall be democratized and sacrosanct rights are to be protected with reasonable justifications. Also, any encroachment in the realm of such rights shall not be tolerated and the burden of justification shall be placed upon the adults. May the liberal ideas liberally sprinkle upon the social institution of the family.

The Personal is The Political

‘The Personal is the Political’ was a rallying cry of the second-wave feminist movement. The idea was first reflected in an essay by Carol Hanisch titled the same. The radical feminists used this slogan and spearheaded the movement. They believed that women’s oppression occurred everywhere even in areas that hitherto have not been subjected to scrutiny. The slogan was a potential threat and a considerable critique of traditional liberal separation between the political and the personal sphere. 

"The Personal is Political" - Revisiting an old problematic!

Susan Moller Okin, in her celebrated magnum opus, “Justice, Gender and Family” argues that ‘the personal is the political’ consists of four seperate yet interrelated claims. 

Justice, Gender, and the Family by Susan Moller Okin | Basic Books

Firstly, she claims that the private sphere is the ‘sphere of power’. It simply means that power and advantage also characterize the areas of life that are excluded from the political sphere like the family life and personal relationships. For instance, the subjugation of women, domestic violence and subservient position of children in family are best examples of the same. 

Secondly, she claims that the political sphere infiltrates into the personal. That is, institutions like family that are considered to be highly personal are not immune from interference from the State. For instance, the State decides the form of marriage, i.e. if it is to be homosexual or hetrosexual; the State decides the requirements for marriage like the marriage age, number of spouse permitted, legal rights and duties applicable to married couples, incentives and tax benefits, ownership of property, conditions for divorce, etc. Therefore, Okin claims that there exist no private sphere absolutely free from any form of State interference. 

How COVID-19 is exacerbating gender inequality in scientific research – The  Publication Plan for everyone interested in medical writing, the  development of medical publications, and publication planning

Thirdly, she argues that the private sphere or family life creates psychological conditions to govern the public life. Family is an arena of social construction and social construction is deeply gendered in patriarchal societies. For instance, in patriarchal societies, there will be certain standard norms that govern clothing style, make-up and beauty concepts. Family or personal sphere is an arena where we, as individuals, develop our attitude towards these norms. That is, if children grow up in a household that is characterized by gendered division of labour, they will feel that these are ‘right’, ‘good’ and ‘natural’. They will internalize these differences and apply them in their lives in ways that will undermine gender equality. They will internalize the idea that women are nurturers and nourishers and should have ultimate responsibility for childcare as opposed to male role of breadwinning. This makes the gender differences instill in the next generation and gets perpetuated in the society. And hence, the personal sphere conditions our attitude and values that govern the political or public sphere. 

Choosing to challenge gender inequality in the post-COVID future of work

Lastly, the private sphere is characterized by gendered division of labour and creates barriers for women in all other spheres of life. That is, women’s material and mental resources are exhausted or diminished by the need to take over all the domestic work in the household. Women have to work in their house as well as in their workplace. These days where childcare is expensive and holidays that are not in sync with the children’s school holidays, women are forced to take unpaid leave and sometimes resign from their job to take care of their children.

The Best Gift

I’m sleeping peacefully. My sister pinched me and covered my eyes. I was still drowsy and the warmth of her cupped hands invigorated my flickering eyes. She guided me to the pooja room and took off her hands as I saw the magnificent idol of Lord Krishna festooned by the freshest of all laburnums and a long garland made of state of the art marigolds from which water was still dripping over the yellow mask kept below. Oh? Wait.. what? A mask? I turned back and saw her scintillating face and before I could ask something, she held my hands and dragged me to my grandfather who was sitting in his wooden armchair, distributing kaineetam to my fellow cousins. I was tossing and turning to find how much I’d get and I’ve already kept my piggy bank out of the heavily stuffed cupboard yesterday night itself. It was my turn. He asked me to close my eyes. From his stockpile, he took something and held it tightly between my fingers. My fingers couldn’t trace its whereabouts. It was something obscure. I opened my eyes and saw a sanitiser along with a yellow mask in my hands. I was transfixed in stupefaction for a while. Soon, my sister held my arms as if she wanted to take me somewhere. Everything disappeared with a glitch. Now, I could see my brother beside me in my bed with a pillow over his stomach. What? Was it a dream? How sweet it was… a new gift: a mask and a sanitiser; quite exotic and out of the blue no? Indeed, the best of all gifts one could get in this corona season. However, this dream pinpoints a very familiar reality: now, the mask and sanitiser is indeed part of our day to day life and is as common to our lifestyle as a toothbrush and paste.


Oh… yes. Toothbrush and paste. I haven’t brushed yet. Kissing my sleeping brother on his forehead, I went towards the wash-basin. While I was engrossed in brushing, contemplating on the dream, I heard my father talking on the phone, “sure. I’ll come. It’s at 12 no?”. I could very well extrapolate from his conversation that he was talking about going out. I was delighted as it has been over a month since I’ve stepped out from the four walls of my house. It seems to be nothing less than an open prison. I was craving to breathe the open air outside. Intending to coax him to take me with him; I asked, “acha.. where you going at 12? He answered while he turned on the TV, “It’s Mr S’s daughter’s birthday today” (he’s our neighbour). Taking a long breath, he continued, “his daughter would turn a year old today. He was planning to throw a grand party and now..” He choked. I didn’t allow him to complete and I interceded, “so there’s no party?” I was in melancholy of losing a grand feast. He replied, “yes, there is. But, on a small scale at his own house. He has invited only around ten from the neighbourhood and there are no many celebrations”. I presumed that it was not appropriate for me to accompany him and I turned back to shave. 

It’s 11.50 now. My father dressed up in his brand new embroidered brown shirt and stepped out to wear his shoes. My mother was standing at the door and I was watching TV in the hall. He asked my mother, “but..but.. what’ll I buy her? I can’t go empty-handed no?” thinking for a while, she answered, “you can’t buy any sort of gift from closed fancy stores. Better but some oranges and go”. While he was about to nod in consent, I called aloud, “acha.. buy her a sanitiser”

Alauddin’s Cantonment: Siri

A century of Mongol invasions has paved the way for Delhi to be a colossal military camp. The Mongol raids of Balban’s era were the work of independent groupings based in and around Afghanistan. They were brought under Qaidu and Dua towards the end of the century that resulted in a significant boost in Mongol striking power. In 1299-1300, Dua’s son invaded India and moved directly to Delhi. Alauddin Kahlji’s reign witnessed an increase in the military establishment. Different sources attribute different value to the strength of the Sultanate militia. They are tabulated as follows:

Sl.noSources/ PersonalitiesAttributed strength
1Iranian Sources- Beginning of 14th century3,00,000
2Iranian Sources- 20 years later4,75,000
3Umari9,00,000
4Al-Safadi6,00,000
5Mufaddal7,00,000
6Barani4,70,000

Keeping a formidable standing army was not very easy. The requirements of soldiers needed to be met. For instance, Juzzani reported that Balban raided Hindu territories just to amass booty for the maintenance of a large army. 

Sunken City Siri: Alauddin Khilji's Dar-ul Khilafat – My Heritage Walks
Siri Fort

Alauddin Khalji was known for his economic intervention even though it was aimed at supporting his army. Firstly, the entire doab region was designated as the ‘State land’. Secondly, the revenue derived from the State land was exclusively devoted to the maintenance of the troops. Thirdly, the revenue was also collected in form of the produce of the peasants and it led to an increased capacity of the State granaries. This has led to deflation that resulted in lower prices of goods in the Capital. His economic measures abolished intermediaries between the government and the cultivators and this resulted in an increase of state revenue that would’ve been lost to the intermediaries, middlemen and agents.

The very first reference to Siri was made by Amir Khusraw who mentions Siri as a site that existed between Delhi-i-Kuhna (Old Delhi) and Khilokri. 

The Mongol commander Dua dies in Delhi on his return march nonetheless, his lieutenant Taraghai subjected the outskirts of the city to a two-month-long investment. The exposed position of Delhi came to the limelight after this event and Alauddin moved his residence to Siri, towards the North-East and he built a new fortress there. 

Ziauddin Barani suggests that albeit his investments and large-scale construction activities in Old Delhi, Alauddin Khalji didn’t like living there. Fed up with the resistance of the entrenched elites and chose to live outside the city. 

Siri was critical in preserving Alauddin Kahlji’s authority. Firstly, the shifting of residence to Siri gave Alauddin Khalji a chance to escape from the entrenched political elites of the old city. Secondly, Siri was the best location for deploying a huge standing army that could counter the threat of Mongol invasions. Thirdly, the Sultan could monitor politics in the old Delhi from a safer distance. 

The water requirements in the new cantonment city were met by the re-excavation of Iltumish’s Hauz-i-Shamsi by removing large amounts of sand and silt from the tank. Also, the alluvial soil in Siri made it easier to dig wells compared to the rocky terrain of old Delhi. 

After the demise of Alauddin Khalji, Mubarak Shah Khalji consolidated his position after his potential competitors were erased after an intra-dispensational conflict. Mubarak Shah developed Siri as his capital and he gave Siri an urban splendour. Firstly, he commissioned a new congregational mosque in Siri. Secondly, he refurbished the fortifications of Siri and thirdly, Siri came to be known as the ‘residence of the Caliph’, owing to the grandiose title of ‘Khaifa’ assumed by Mubarak Shah
Mubarak Shah Khalji was murdered in Siri by Khusraw Khan Bawari and Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq succeeded him to the throne of the Sultanate. Tughlaq kept his capital at Siri to emphasise continuity with the Khalji regime and to gain support from the erstwhile political elites and military commanders. Later, he shifted his capital to Tughlaqabad. Further, Muhammad Bin Tughlaq enclosed Siri along with Qutb Delhi (Old Delhi) and Tughlaqabad within a fortification wall and named it Jahanpanah.

Delhi’s Ancient Past: River Yamuna

Delhi’s ancient past is heavily dependant on River Yamuna. It is worth noting that Delhi’s history starts from the 11th century when Anangpala Tomara is credited to have populated the city. However, the 11th century or the early-medieval period is still considered to be a proto-historic phase that is characterized by bereft of enough archaeological evidence to prove its existence. However, the literary traditions point to settlements as old as 5000BC i.e. Indraprastha. Some scholars also argue that the present-day Purana Qila is the site of Indraprastha. Whatever be the settlements, either epic, palaeolithic or Harappan; the river Yamuna is of utmost significance to the study of Delhi’s ancient past. 

Yamuna - Wikipedia

On extensive excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India, remains of six palaeochannels of the river Yamuna were found. The river Yamuna is further known as a migrating river or temperamental river. The river changed its course owing to the tectonic movements and it’s believed that the river once flew into Saraswati that is mentioned in the Rigveda as the foremost of all rivers. Further, it abandoned Saraswati and started its eastward course and joined Ganga. Flowing through the hillocks to the South of Delhi, Yamuna started an eastward movement around 4,000 years ago. 

Ganga and Yamuna (River Goddesses and Their Symbolism in Indian Temples)

Many ancient mounds located in the vicinity of the old and new channels of the river Yamuna mark the ancient settlements located there. Explorations on the IV and V palaeochannels of the river Yamuna has revealed thousands of stone tools. Further excavations also revealed finished artefacts, waste materials and some materials at various stages of production dating to the Harappan era. 

The river Yamuna is known as Kalindi in a plethora of ancient texts and she is considered to be a goddess. The Samhita 10.10 of the Rigveda refers to Yami and Yama being twin children of the Sun God. Whereas Yama is recognized as the God of death, Yami is considered to be the river Yamuna

Delhi University DU LOGO SK Gold Trans | High Resolution Tra… | Flickr
University of Delhi logo- note the river Yamuna flowing above the elephant

In the Mahabharata, sage Lomaksha asks Yudhistira to take a dip in the river to be cleansed of all sins. Also, places along the river are described in the Mahabharata as sacred sites for performing various sacrifices. 

The Vishnu Purana narrates the story of Balram, Krishna’s brother, commanding the river Yamuna to accompany him and she refused to and the infuriated Balram dragged the river closer to him with his ploughshare. 

The Sampradaya Sun - Independent Vaisnava News - Feature Stories - August  2014
Balram dragging Yamuna with his ploughshare

Various Puranas refer to Lord Shiva, in the form of Bhairava, being grief-stricken on the demise of Devi Sati, plunges on to the river Yamuna, making it black in complexion. 

The entrances of many Hindu temples are sculpted with the images of Yamuna and Ganga where Ganga, considered to be white in complexion, stands on a fish or a crocodile while Yamuna, black in complexion, stands on a tortoise or a sea turtle. 

g katyan misra on Twitter: "details of above Sculpture, River Goddess Yamuna  who are those two shown in that garland type? yam & yamuna? beautifull  Indian Sculptures… https://t.co/dmwGT6A5Z0"
River Goddess Yamuna standing on a sea turtle
Ganga on Makara: River on the Doorways - American Institute of Indian  Studies — Google Arts & Culture
Goddess Ganga standing on a makara or a Crocodile

In toto, the archaeological shreds of evidence mustered from the palaeochannels of the river Yamuna point to the early palaeolithic and Harappan settlements in the Delhi ridge. Also, the literary evidence from the Mahabharata, Vishnu Purana and the Rigveda, inter alia suggest the mythical significance of the river.

Dialectical Materialism

“The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggles”

Tracing its origin to the classical works of Marx and Engels, Marxism now stands stiff as a cardinal political ideology in the mainstream. Dialectical materialism or historical materialism, as Marx never used this term directly, points to the fact that society is determined by the material conditions of any particular time period. With respect to this theory, Marx suggested five successive stages of social evolution.

Marx Dialectical Materialism
Dialectical Materialism

Firstly, the initial human societies were characterized by hunting and gathering with the absence of private property, in the Marxist sense, that is, no single person or a group holds the means of production that produce a profit. Marx further suggests that developments in technology and other equivalent sophistication paved the way for the second stage, i.e., slave society. 

Marx refers to the stage of slave society as the beginning of class society. Slave owning class owns the slaves as well as the land where the former was the cardinal means of producing profit. In order to capture more and more slaves, large scale expeditions and expansion projects were initiated that resulted in the administrative inconvenience of a colossal territory. Also, slave uprising and revolutions for freedom replaced the slave society with the third stage of feudal society. 

The feudal society was characterized by different social groups that were ranked in hierarchical order based on their ownership of land. Feudal Europe had three prominent classes at the primus locus: the clergy, nobility and the third estate. The third estate was constituted by landless labourers and others of its kind. Gradually, the rich profit-seeking merchants formed a capitalistic class and consequently, the feudal lords were unwilling to accept the technological revolution that the capitalists wanted. The profit-driven capitalists were restricted by the feudal society, subsequently preventing them from making more profits. ‘Then begin the epoch of social revolution’ since the social and political organizations were hampering the development of capitalistic forces. A bourgeoisie revolution replaced the feudal society with the fourth stage of capitalism or capitalist society. 

Marx Dialectical Materialism

The capitalist society is characterized by a free market along with a minimalist state. The capitalist class own the means of production and control and regulate them via commercial enterprises or corporates that aim at profit maximization. Workers are rewarded in accordance with the contract with the capitalists in the form of wages. These wages are, however, only a fraction of the value added by the workers and this unpaid labour of the workers translates as the profit of the capitalists. Workers are, hence, not paid the true value of their labour and are, in other words, exploited. The capitalist era is also characterized by capitalist control over the state in the form of the instrumental and structural model of the capitalist state as discussed by the Miliband-Poulantzas’ debate. It is also characterized by monopolistic tendencies. In line with Marx, workers are ‘gravediggers’ of capitalism. The capitalists aim to drive down the wages of the workers to secure more profit and hence, it leads to class conflict shaped by the class consciousness of workers who realize themselves to be alienated. The working class strive to establish their own collective control over means of production. This leads to the fifth stage, that is, communism. 

The workers mount a successful revolution against the capitalists and if successful, communism will be attained. Marx refers to the existence of two phases of communism: the first phase or the lower phase and the higher phase. Lenin equates the first phase with socialism that is characterised by a decentralized planned economy directed by worker’s communes or councils. Workers govern themselves through democratically elected communes and plan production and distribution of benefits and burdens of collective action. Marx refers to the existence of labour vouchers, a certificate that awards credits to the workers based on their real contribution in the production process that can be exchanged for goods. Finally, this will lead to a perfect state of communism where classes are abolished and class society would cease. The state will ‘wither away’ and ideologies will perish. The communist stage will be characterized by statelessness, classlessness and money-less ness,  ideology-less ness. 

Complicated Understanding of the ‘Left’ and the ‘Right’

All might be pretty familiar with the political usage of the terms ‘left’ and the ‘right’ with hundreds of political parties being established in these lines. However, the concept of the left-right divide is pretty complex and controversial. The complexity is explained in terms of two graphs in this article. Moreover, the main differences between the two are also enumerated. 

After the legendary landmark of the French Revolution, the first meeting of the Estates-General took place in 1789. In the meeting, the entrenched elites occupied the position right to that of the presiding officer whereas the common people occupied the position to the left of the same. This relative position of a set of people with opposing ideologies with respect to the presiding officer then came to mark the left-right divide. 

The leftists were proponents of change. They attempted to produce a change in society. Also, they wanted the change to happen at a very fast pace and so, they were proponents of radical change. In addition to that, they were hardcore proponents of total change. Whereas some leftists support violent change with the use of controlled violence for social change, others were supporters of democratic change. The leftists believed in the social-contract theory that argued that society and State are anthropogenic products or human-made products and are answerable to them. They despised the divine origins of society and the State. Also, they believed that the power to rule wasn’t given by God and the power to rule flows from the below- from the working people. 

On the other hand, the Rightists were a heterogeneous group that differed in terms of ideologies. Broadly, they can be divided into three groups. Firstly, the Status Quoists or conservatives believed that the present or the existing social order must continue. They believed that the social hierarchy is a natural product and any change to the existing order will destroy the naturally ordained equilibrium. They aspire for social stability and argue that any tinkering with the existing social hierarchy would result in social instability. Secondly, the Revivalists believed in reviving the grandeur of the past. They tend to glorify the past and they argue that social change will come from the revival of the ancient past. They believe that the pathetic present is the result of the abandoned past. They give examples of social construction and dynamism and technological advancements from mythologies. Nonetheless, they support democratic and non-violent changes. Thirdly, the Recationists or the Fascists were violent, frenetic and intolerant revivalists who justified violence as a medium of social change. Here, social change refers to reviving the lost cultural glory. 

The linear spectrum
Why exactly are left and right political wing mutually exclusive? - Quora
The horseshoe spectrum of political ideologies suggest that the ultra-left and the ultra-right ideologies are not like two opposing ends of a linear spectrum, but closely resemble one another, similar to the ends of a horseshoe. Here, the Communism and Fascism represent ultra-left and ultra-right ideologies while the socialism and conservatism represent the left and the right respectively. Liberalism represent central or mixed ideology. Here, it’s worth noting that welfare liberalism is a leftist ideology whereas libertarianism is a rightist ideology.

The following facts make this division complicated:

  1. Some group of Rightists are proponents of change
  2. Some groups of leftists and certain Rightists believe in change through democracy whereas others of the same ranks believe in change through violence. 
  3. The Leftists are the proponents of liberty, equality and fraternity but supports economic intervention and fiscal regulations. On the other hand, the Rightists argue for hierarchy and social order but are proponents of free and unregulated markets.

The third point makes this division far more complicated. While liberty, equality, fraternity along with the free market economy are the cardinal principles of liberalism, it should be concluded that both the leftists and the rightists support liberal ideas. This makes liberalism more or less a neutral and central concept located in the middle of both the leftists and the rightists.

Sl.noParticularsLeftistsRightists
1ValuesLiberty, equality and fraternitySocial order, hierarchy and authority
2Views on social progress through changeOptimisticPessimistic
3EconomyRegulated economyFree market economy
4Nature of the StateInterventionist StateRestricted State
5Origin of the StateSocial contractGod/Nature

Marriage as a Social Institution is Losing its Relevance

Holding a bouquet of dazzling red roses in her hands, she’s glancing at the shimmering eyes of the groom whose starry eyes are blazing with a fierce flair of passion, as they both swear to be everything to each other. Slowly, she extends her arms for the wedding ring, promising to be a passionate lover to the boot. This situation reverberates a typical modern marriage; which is officially, legally, culturally and socially accepted union of a man and a woman, conferring them the whereabouts of a husband and a wife. The Manusmriti labels it as a social institution fulfilling three objectives of human life: dharma (righteous duty), praja (progeny) and rati (consensual pleasure). The Tirukural ascertains that dharma (righteous duty), artha (money and materialistic pleasure) and kama (consensual pleasure) ultimately lead to moksha. However, this social institution is losing its relevance day-by-day as extrapolated from the present scenario. 

Marriage As A Social Institution by William Hall

“The old order changeth, yielding place to the new”, as Tennyson had put it, implies that change is intrinsic to nature. Marriage, as a social institution, couldn’t brave the ravages of this change while the world is stepping towards modernization. Now, rather than a socio-economic enterprise, marriage revolutionized itself into a more companionate one, as described in the beginning lines and a free choice engagement between two individuals, based not on duty and obligation, but on love and affection. The foundations of this socially institutionalized matrimony are also influenced by the soft power or the cultural power of the hegemon, the US, in this global village amidst the well-known process of McDonaldization or cultural homogeneity. 

Now, rather than a Catholic sacrament, marriage is an individualistic choice. Modern liberalism had shaken the foundations of the ancient concept of ‘freedom’ where freedom was perceived to be the collective power of the society. The liberals started demanding ‘liberty’ rather than ‘freedom’ where the former refers to independence or the right to privacy and security. With the advent of Radical feminism, the concept of family has been questioned to an extent slogans such as ‘the personal is the political’ became the aphorism of the movement. Moreover, the moderns and libertarians celebrate the concept of coup de foudre and celebrating Valentine’s day has become popular irrespective of the barriers created by mankind. 

GD Topic - Is Marriage Losing it's Importance? | Answers & Conclusion | MBA  Skool-Study.Learn.Share.

Thanks to the legal revolution that the social institution that considered wife as femme covert and wedlock as a license for coverture is now forging its bucket-list, granting full and equal rights to women. Unconventional stories like the ‘Paper Bag Princess’ is now being absorbed in society and campaigns for equal rights for men and women are gaining ground. Increasing awareness on human rights and civil liberties along with increasing literacy rates started convincing the moderns to consider family as an instrumental organization rather than a socially structured organic one. Women started to break themselves free from the marriage ring that had hitherto ensnared them in felonious captivity. 

Is Marriage losing its Importance: GD Topic - Best GD Topics

Breakdown of socio-traditional norms of marriage is being realized by the crippling caste system, jati panchayats and landlordism, sprouting off the beaten track practices of inter-faith, inter-racial and same-sex marriage. Economic advancement along with occupational mobility incarnated as an African snail sucking calcium from the cemented basement of this traditional social institution, ultimately leading to its collapse.  

In addition to that, the modern trends of cohabitation had led to a 30% decrease in the number of marriages from 1975 to 2005 in Europe. One out of a hundred marriages in India ends up in divorce and this is the situation of a country with the lowest divorce rate. Extra-marital relationships and consensual sex is being celebrated along with the concept of ménage à trois. All these factors joined their hands in the ultimate decline of marriage as a social institution.

The Ambivalence of Indian Primeministership

“As Prime Minister, I accept responsibility for every single act of the government, including every bad act, every act of nepotism, and every act of corruption…
...As Prime Minister, I’m completely responsible for every good act and every bad act that this government may have done”.
                                                                                                                                                -Jawaharlal Nehru

The Indian Prime Minister is considered to be one of the most powerful Prime Ministers in the world. The Indian system of governance spirals upon the Westminster style of British governance, conferring a wide range of sprawling prerogatives to the Prime Minister. As far as India is concerned, the Prime Minister remains as the avowed symbol of the principle of democratic representation. The Cabinet system of government draws its institutional validity from the Prime Minister’s constitutional primacy. Irrespective of the nature of the government, the cabinet depends on the Prime Minister for its collective dynamism. The centrality of the role of the Prime Minister is pre-eminent on the dominant role that the constitution confers on the Prime Minister. Articles 74 and 75 of the Constitution of India makes the Prime Minister a very powerful head of the Government. Being the leader of the majority party in the Lok Sabha, the Prime Minister is also the leader of the Lok Sabha. The Prime Minister has the prerogative to choose her Cabinet colleagues and she can literally hire and fire them at will. She chairs the cabinet meeting and heads all major sub-committees of the Cabinet. She can advise the President to dissolve the Lok Sabha. Also, she’s the venerated head of the Cabinet secretariat and as the Minister for Personnel, she can control the Indian Administration Service. Also, she’s the head of the Administrative Appointments Committee of the Cabinet and has the last say in appointing the Governors. Also, she’s a grand federal overseer owing to the natural centripetal bias of the constitution. Also, the NITI Aayog is overtly inclined to her office. The Special Protection Act of 1985 virtually elevates the Indian Prime Minister to the status of a semi-God whose physical safety takes precedence over everything else. 

With such a plethora of powers confined to a single person, it’s not surprising to see the Indian State becoming a centralized, centripetal and unitary one during the national emergency of 1975. Prime Ministers such as Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi successfully asserted their position as an ‘elected monarch’. During the Prime Ministership of Indira Gandhi, it was said that ‘India is Indira and Indira is India’. Even the preamble of the constitution was amended in her tenure. It was mockingly said that ‘the only man in the cabinet of Indira Gandhi was herself’. The Cabinet system of government was reduced to a prime ministerial form of government where the office of the Prime Minister was nothing less than the edifice of an ‘elected monarch’. However, these events appear pretty normal considering the scope of powers vested in the Prime Minister. 

The era of coalitions remains a cardinal peripeteia of Indian Politics. Gone are the days when the Cabinet was used synonymously with the Prime Minister. With the advent of coalition politics, governments became weak and unstable and so as the Prime Minister. The structure of a weak Prime Minister dilutes the rigour of the Parliamentary control over the executive. This era witnessed a systematic erosion in the authority of the Prime Minister. 

The United Front government was led by the then Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda. During his prime ministership, he just casually surrendered his prerogative of choosing his own Cabinet as the United Front bosses nominated the Cabinet members. Gowda was replaced by I K Gujral and like Gowda, he was stripped from his constitutional prerogative of choosing his ministers. His inactiveness and weakness are evident in the following lines:

“The Prime Minister-designate I K Gujral was sleeping in the Andhra Pradesh Bhavan whereas the United Front bosses were haggling over the ministerial portfolios in the next room”

Mr Sharad Yadav, a minister as well as the President of the ruling Janata Dal opposed his own Prime Minister who wanted to introduce the women’s reservation bill. He commented:

“He’s only a Prime Minister, not God”.

In 1998, Mrs Jayalalitha named the cabinet members from Tamil Nadu. Mrs Jayalalitha was at loggerheads with the Prime Minister as she demanded the dismissal of Mr Ramamurthy from the Petroleum portfolio supported by an argument that he was in the cabinet as part of the ‘Jayalalitha quota’ and it’s her right to reshuffle the composition of her quota anytime. After the 1999 ‘Vajpayee vote’, the Prime Minister had no other choice but to give quotas to all the twenty-six parties that constituted the National Democratic Alliance in various ministerial portfolios. There was an NDA coordinating committee constituting of leaders from all the twenty-six parties that formed the alliance and it was chaired by the then Prime Minister Vajpayee but was convened by George Fernandez. It is worth noting that:

“A Prime Minister in a coalition government has even less of an elbow room”

Mr Suresh Prabhu was the minister for Power in the Vajpayee government and was asked to step down by the Shiv Sena Boss (and not the Prime Minister) and his successor was also announced by the Shiv Sena. The Prime Minister had no control over this melee and the changes in the cabinet were done to the satisfaction of the Shiv Sena boss. It was obvious that:

“The Shiv Sena quota in the cabinet was for the Shiv Sena bosses to fill and juggle with the Prime Minister being a mute spectator”

The appointment of LK Advani as the Deputy Prime Minister in 2002 was at the expense of a crumbling Prime Ministerial prerogative. The erosion of the Prime Ministerial authority can be well-understood by the following lines about this appointment:

“It was nothing more than a de facto situation being converted to a de jure reality”

In toto, the Indian Prime Minister, once venerated as an ‘elected monarch’ is reduced to the status of Lord Morley’s primus inter pares during the coalition era. The present Prime Minister, Mr Modi is also one of the strongest Prime Ministers India or even the whole world had ever seen. With enormous powers conferred to the office of the Prime Minister by the Constitution, the concept becomes ambivalent on witnessing weak and incapacitated Prime Ministers of the coalition governments. Hence, a coalition government, ipso facto, creates a weak and wobbly chair for the Prime Minister. Also, the coalition governments may even make a strong Prime Minister behave in a weak manner. It is to be noted that the Prime Ministerial supremacy is closely linked with parliamentary accountability and the erosion of the former will naturally result in the erosion of the latter. The very perception, objective and concept of the Westminster model get diluted in a coalition arrangement. 

The Prime Ministers of India

References:

  • M.R. Madhavan (2017), ‘Parliament’, in D. Kapur, P.B. Mehta and M Vaishnav (eds.) Rethinking Public Institutions in India, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 67-103.
  • A. Thiruvengadam, (2017), The Constitution of India, A Contextual Analysis, Oxford: Bloomsbury [Ch.2 Parliament and the Executive, pp.39-70]
  • S.K. Chaube (2009), The Making and Working of the Indian Constitution, Delhi: National Book Trust [Ch. VIII: The Union Government I: The Executive, pp.100-131].
  • J. Manor (1994), ‘The Prime Minister and the President’, in B. Dua and J. Manor (eds.) Nehru to the Nineties: The Changing Office of the Prime Minister in India, Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, pp. 20-47.
  • H. Khare (2003), ‘Prime Minister and the Parliament: Redefining Accountability in the Age of Coalition Government’, in A. Mehra and G. Kueck (eds.) The Indian Parliament: A Comparative Perspective, New Delhi: Konark, pp. 350-368.

Role of the Legislature in Upholding the Directive Principles

Albeit held non-justiciable, the Government of India was enthusiastic to implement the goals mentioned in part IV of the Constitution. Recurring judicial rulings supplemented by conflicts with Fundamental Rights led to a plethora of Constitutional amendments from time to time. Also, the harmony between the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles find its place in the Basic Structure Doctrine. 

After the Champakam Dorairajan case (1951), the first amendment (1951) inserted clause 4 to Article 15 of the Constitution that empowered the parliament to make any special provision for the advancement of the socially and economically backward classes or the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes. This amendment is complementary to article 46, a Directive Principle that asks the state to promote the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the society, especially the SCs and the STs. In 2005, clause 5 to the same article was inserted that provided special provisions for the backward classes, especially in educational institutions.

Directive Principles of State Policy - Radian Learning

 

 In 1976, the State decided to allot some vacant lands for the slum dwellers. A special census was conducted to populate a list of slum dwellers and some were given identity cards by the State. 

Several Zamindari abolition acts were passed in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and the Zamindars filed petitions in the High Courts and the apex court on the ground that it violated their fundamental right to property. To thwart unfavourable decisions from the court and to ensure social justice, the first amendment inserted articles 31A, 31B and the 9th schedule to the Constitution of India. Article 31A protected estate laws passed by the legislatures of any State or the Parliament from the attack on the ground that it violated the Fundamental Rights. Also, Article 31B held that any law placed in the 9th schedule of the Constitution would be immune from any such attack on the ground that it violated the Fundamental Rights. The Fourth Amendment Act of 1955 extended the protection of Art. 31A to other types of social welfare regulations and inserted seven more acts in the 9th schedule. The 17th Amendment Act of 1964 inserted as many as 44 acts in the 9th schedule. 

The 25th Amendment Act of 1972 added Article 31C to the Constitution of India lent further clearance to the primacy of the Directive Principles under Article 39(b) and 39(c). The 29th Amendment added Kerala Land Reforms (Amendment) Act into the 9th schedule. The 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 amended article 31C by protecting all the laws intended to implement any of the Directive Principles from any attack based on the violation of Fundamental Rights. Also, 14 commercial banks were nationalized in 1969 followed by six more private banks in 1980. The 26th Amendment Act of 1971 abolished the privy purse system. The 39th Amendment incorporated the Sick Textiles Undertakings (Nationalization) Act of 1974 in the 9th schedule. The Act empowered the National Textile Corporation to take over the management of sick mills. It was followed by the 44th Amendment that finally removed the Right to Property from Fundamental Rights and placed it under Article 300A. 

Section 304 of the CrPC, 1973 recognizes the right to free legal aid that is placed under Article 39A as a Directive Principle. The 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitution realized the implementation of Article 40 that encouraged the Government to organize Panchayats. The 86th Amendment Act of 2002 transferred Article 45 from the Directive Principles to the Fundamental Rights under Article 21(A) [Right to Education]. 

Various environment protection acts were passed by the Government of India in support of Article 48A of the Constitution of India, which is a Directive Principle. Some important laws of this genre, inter alia, are:

  • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
  • Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1977
  • Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
  • Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
  • Wildlife Protection (Amendment) Act, 1991
  • National Environmental Tribunal Act, 1995

20 out of 28 states in India had passed anti-cow slaughter regulations in sync with Article 48 of the Directive Principles. The consumption of liquor is banned in the states of Gujrat (1960), Nagaland (1989), Bihar (2016) and Mizoram (2019) to give effect to Article 47 of the Directive Principles. 

Equal Remuneration Act was passed in 1976 to give effect to Article 39(d) followed by the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 to give effect to Article 41 of the Directive Principles. 

The measures adopted by the Government to promote Skill Development, enhance Public Distribution Systems, family healthcare and general health schemes including the AYUSH, ICDS, INDRADHANUSH, AAYUSHMAN BHARAT, NHM, etc. comes under the ambit of protecting social goals.

Means or Ends?

The liberal approach of the Constitution of India enumerated certain inviolable rights in part III of the same. Further, the communitarian spirit of the Constitution enshrined certain goals in part IV of the same. Part III, reflecting the liberal ideology is identified as the ‘fundamental rights’ whereas part IV is adjudged as the ‘Directive Principles of State Policy’. In line with the means and ends theory, fundamental rights are the means which paves the way to the ends. Some distinctions between the two are as follows:

Sl.noFundamental RightsDirective Principles
1Part IIIPart IV
2Articles 12 to 35Articles 36 to 51
3Negative rightsPositive rights
4Restricts the state from doing somethingEnables the state to do something
5Justiciable and enforcibleNon-justiciable and cannot be enforced
6MeansGoals/ends

Even though the Directive Principles are thought to be non-justiciable and non-enforcible, the State was keen on taking measures to implement the same. However, being communitarian in spirit, such implementations began to be challenged in the court for violating the individual rights that are held sacrosanct by the liberals. The Supreme Court of India, which initially took the non-justiciable feature of the Directive Principles as the indicator of their significance, prioritized Fundamental Rights over the Directive Principles. The Supreme Court of India initially held that the Directive Principles were subordinate in nature and any conflict between the two would lead to the supremacy of the Fundamental Rights. Eventually, the Supreme Court observed that Fundamental Rights are to be understood in light of the Directive Principles and they both were complimentary and supplementary to one another and enjoyed equal importance. 

Eventually, the courts started to interpret fundamental rights with reference to the Directive Principles. The use of Directive Principles as guidance for interpreting Fundamental Rights paved the way for adjugating social rights. For instance, the Right to life under Article 21 guaranteed rights such as health, livelihood, education and shelter. In the Olga Tellis case of 1985, the Supreme Court held that the Right to Life would be meaningless unless it guaranteed the means through which life could be lived. The Supreme court also held in the Mirzapur Moti Kureshi Kassab Jamaat (2005) that the complete ban on slaughter of a certain class of cattle was a reasonable restriction on the right to perform one’s occupation, trade and business. 

The Supreme Court further pronounced that the harmony between Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles form the Basic Structure of the Constitution that cannot be altered. In the Grihakalyan vs. Union of India (1991), the court observed that the Directive Principles and Fundamental Rights are ‘harmoniously constructed’. In the FCI Union vs. FCI (1990), the court held that a writ can enforce the principle of equal pay for equal work. In Subash vs. the State of Bihar, the court observed that articles 14, 21 and 51A (g) are to be read together. 

Fundamental Rights are to be, therefore, understood with respect to the Directive Principles. Social Rights and Civil-Political Rights are inextricably linked and mere protection of the latter will be of a limited value. Without fulfilment of certain Directive Principles, many Fundamental Rights can be rendered meaningless. The true interpretation of Fundamental Rights can be only achieved by studying it with reference to some of the Directive Principles. It’s worth noting that the Constitution of India was founded on a bedrock of balance between Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles and to give absolute primacy to one over the other is to disturb the harmony of the Constitution.

KR Narayan: Assertive but Not Aggressive

“A President who chooses to play politics can make himself a formidable power because the only restraint which the parliament can exercise upon him is impeachment which requires a 3/4th majority and a President who has played his political game with skill can never fail to obtain such sufficient support in the Parliament to thwart (this)”

The Indian Republic is an advocate of the Westminster style of governance. This style of governance, adapted from the British version, elevates the Prime Minister to the status of a de facto elected monarch with the President, being a de jure executive, acts as a ‘rubber stamp’ of the Cabinet. However, due to certain unique trends in Indian Politics, this Westminster system can elevate the de jure authority into a de facto ruler with sprawling powers. 

The Indian Constitution confers three discretionary powers to the President of India. Firstly, she can ask the Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister to reconsider a piece of advice rendered to her. However, she is bound to sign the bill if it is resubmitted with or without considering her suggestions. Nonetheless, the Constitution of India doesn’t specify any time limit for the President to give assent to a bill, hence, she has the prerogative to withhold assent to the same. This is known as the pocket veto. Secondly, the President of India acts as a referee in the formation of the government. It is in her discretion to decide whether she should call the leader of the largest coalition or the leader of the largest party to form the government. Thirdly, it is in her jurisdiction to decide whether to grant or deny the dissolution request of the Prime Minister. 

The presidential activism had witnessed a substantive rise during the era of hung parliaments and coalition governments. While KR Narayan assumed the role of the primum civis in 1997, he announced that he intends to be a ‘working President’. He began to assert himself from the very next year when the Janata government led by IK Gujral asked him to impose Art. 356 (President’s rule) in the state of Uttar Pradesh. He sent the proposal back with a request to reconsider the same. Furthermore, he publicly announced that he ‘was not a rubber stamp’. 

In India, the President of the Republic of India traditionally addresses the nation on 14th August. By convention, she sends her text to the government for vetting. In 1998, KR Narayan chose not to make such an address and substituted it with an interview as it cannot be vetted in advance by the government. During the interview, he publicly proclaimed his discomfort with the Hindu nationalist ideology of the ruling party. The next day, at a meeting in the Central Hall of the Parliament to mark the end of India’s 50 years of Independent existence, he gave an address that was not vetted by the government. He criticized the people holding the public office (indirectly referring to the then government) who saw it as ‘an opportunity to strike gold’. Also, in 1999, KR Narayan asked the Prime Minister to establish through a vote in the Lok Sabha that he still had majority support.

In March 2000, President Clinton visited India. Narayan not only departed from the text prepared by the Ministry of External Affairs but after a series of positive references to the US, he remarked that:

“Globalization was fast reducing the world into a global village but one that did not need a headman”.

The speech stirred up a storm of anxiety in India’s External Affairs Ministry and the proclamation provoked rebukes from newspapers that had supported his earlier outspokenness. 

James Manor identifies three reasons behind the extra-constitutional assertiveness of KR Narayan. Firstly, he believed that the legitimacy of the government is in some doubt and it was his responsibility to raise moral concerns. Secondly, he comes from a disadvantaged community and he might’ve thought that he had a special responsibility to support the disadvantaged. Thirdly, he believed that he had been elected by a wider constituency- even though he was indirectly elected. He believed that a large number of MP’s and state legislators in his support constituted a larger political base than the BJP in power possessed. 

In toto, Presidential assertiveness is a reality in Indian Politics. With the weakening Prime Ministerial authority supplemented by a hung parliament where no majority would be easily obtainable, an ambitious President may play politics and can use his discretion to assist someone in becoming the Prime Minister on the understanding that the latter would permit the head of the State to wield greater influence in the matters of the government than the constitution intends. Such a President may even seize effective control over the government and its day-to-day affairs, surpassing the Council of Ministers. As mentioned in the beginning quotation, the only way to exercise restraint on the President of India is to impeach him and a President who knows to play politics can easily muster support in the Parliament, necessary to thwart the resolution. Also, it’s nearly impossible to obtain a 3/4th majority in a hung parliament led by a coalition government. Political uncertainty and instability at the national level, therefore, can produce assertive and strong Presidents, compromising the hitherto unrivalled authority of Prime Ministers, reducing the latter into the status of primus inter pares

References:

  • S.K. Chaube (2009), The Making and Working of the Indian Constitution, Delhi: National Book Trust [Ch. VIII: The Union Government I: The Executive, pp.100-131].
  • J. Manor, (2017), ‘The Presidency’, in D. Kapur, P.B. Mehta and M Vaishnav (eds.) Rethinking Public Institutions in India, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 33-66.
  • J. Manor (1994), ‘The Prime Minister and the President’, in B. Dua and J. Manor (eds.) Nehru to the Nineties: The Changing Office of the Prime Minister in India, Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, pp. 20-47.
  • H. Khare (2003), ‘Prime Minister and the Parliament: Redefining Accountability in the Age of Coalition Government’, in A. Mehra and G. Kueck (eds.) The Indian Parliament: A Comparative Perspective, New Delhi: Konark, pp. 350-368.

Growth and Evolution of the Panchayati Raj Institutions in India

Panchayati Raj system is, mostly or maybe a refined and accommodated version of the self-rule that existed years ago. The very first evidence of the same comes from the Rigveda dating around 1,700 BC that confirms the existence of sabhas or self-governing village bodies.  In 1870, the Mayo Resolution aimed at decentralization of power owing to the Company’s burden to deal with the activities at the lowest rungs and the increasing demands of a division of power from the subjects. The Rippon Resolution of 1882 aimed at enhancing administrative efficiency and political literacy. After the revolt of 1857, due to intense financial pressure and takeover of the Indian administration by the British Crown, the road and public works of other kind were devolved to local bodies or city councils. In 1907, a royal commission on decentralization was initiated on strengthening the local bodies. However, the Montague-Chelmsford reforms followed by the Government of India act of 1935 placed the subject of local bodies under the jurisdiction to be exercised by the provinces and then, different provinces had their own measures in preserving or destroying the same. 

In the interim period, Mahatma Gandhi envisioned a highly decentralized polity with extensive political and economic autonomy to the villages. He used the term ‘Gram Swaraj’, envisaging a string of self-sufficient village republics. According to him, the village republics were the only way to meet the basic needs of the people. He envisioned a hierarchy-less and anti-pyramidal structure where life becomes an oceanic circle with the individual at the centre who’s ready to perish for the village. In addition to that, Mahatma Gandhi urged for production activities based on the available local resources. 

Gandhian views were considered outside the realm of practical politics and were discarded while framing the constitution. As a concession to the advocates of the village Republics, the Panchayati Raj system was incorporated in part IV of the Constitution of India that dealt with the Directive Principles of State Policy. The state governments were, hence encouraged (and not mandated) to organize Panchayats within the proposed federal structure. The critics of the Village Republics argued that the weakening of the centre would result in unleashing of centrifugal forces that could threaten the very foundation of the new nation that formed after an unprecedented partition and ongoing attempts to integrate the princely states into the Union of India. One such critic was Dr B R Ambedkar who insisted that village republics were the cause of India’s ruin and empowering them would perpetuate the dominance by the upper class. He discarded villages as a ‘sink of localism, den of ignorance and narrow-mindedness’. The Inclusion of Panchayati Raj into the Directive Principles, therefore, can be seen as a compromising attempt among Ambedkarites and Gandhians. 

The first phase of the post-independence era witnessed the implementation of various community development programmes (1952) that was reviewed by the Balwant Rai Metha Committee of the Planning Commission of India. The prime reason behind instituting a committee to review the performance of the Community Development Programmes was the lagging in performance of the same owing to its bureaucratic organization. The report remarked:

Community development can only be real when the community understands its problems, realizes its responsibilities, exercises necessary powers through its chosen representatives and maintains constant and intelligent vigilance on local administration. 

The committee report further argues that the programmes thus initiated would be effective only if there’s an agency at the village level representing the entire community, assume certain responsibilities and offer leadership for implementing developmental programmes. The study team led by Balwant Rai Metha also recommended the three-tier structure of the Panchayati Raj system. 

In 1957, Panchayati Raj was inaugurated by Nehru in a district in Rajasthan that declined after five years. The Rajasthan experiment mirrored the fact that the Panchayats were riddled with group rivalry and factionalism and ensured that the entrenched elite groups remain in power. Also, attention was diverted to the most urgent problems from droughts and food crisis to the Indi-China war. From 1962, the Panchayats declined further. The failure of Community Development Programmes joined hands with a sharp cut in financial supply for meeting the needs of food security and war. The period from 1964 to 1980 also witnessed neglect to the Panchayats. Elections were postponed and the local leaders linked themselves with the state parties for providing vote banks. The Panchayats were left with little responsibility for planning and few powers to raise resources. On the other hand, the Government used its bureaucratic machinery to carry out various Centrally Sponsored Schemes (Small Farmers Development Agency, Drought Prone Area Programme and Tribal Development Programmes are some examples of Centrally Sponsored Schemes) and poverty alleviation programmes. The poverty alleviation programmes that gained considerable momentum during the fifth five year plan period were implemented at the local level by the state and the district administration. 

The second phase of the post-independent era started with the end of one-party dominance at the centre. The Janata party rule of 1977 witnessed political coalitions represented by regional parties. The five-year plan of 1978-83 aimed at progressive decentralization supplemented by the creation of full-time planning machinery at block and district levels. In 1978, Ashok Metha Committee was instituted for further recommendations for decentralization. The committee proposed a system with districts as the unit of administration and planning. They modified the three-tier system by removing the intermediate tier. Also, they urged for the functioning of political parties at the district level. The then governments of West Bengal, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh responded politically to the decentralization attempts made at the centre. They started organizing panchayat samitis and started resuming the elections that were put off. Also, they devolved some powers to the Panchayats. The over-enthusiasm exhibited by West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh were politically motivated owing to the constant threat from the centre. The congress governments of both the states feared dismissal by the Janata government at the centre. On the other hand, Karnataka attempted to make the district level the third tier of the federal system but this idea was short-lived as the party which proposed the same lost the subsequent elections. The 1977 coalition, ipso facto stopped at demands for decentralization at the district level and was reluctant to decentralize further. 

In 1982, the Planning Commission released a Working Group Report on District Planning followed by the institution of the GVK Rao committee. The committee recommended that the Panchayati Raj institutions shall be re-activated and supported supplemented by a Block development office that was to be central to rural development. In 1986, the L M Shingvi committee was instituted that recommended the constitutional recognition of the Panchayati Raj Institutions. 

The third phase of the post-independent era witnessed the beginning of coalition politics. In 1989, the 64th Amendment Bill to the Constitution of India was drafted. The bill accepted the proposed three-tier structure and attempted to confer constitutional recognition to the Panchayati Raj Institutions. However, the proposed amendment was defeated in the Rajya Sabha that saw the bill as the centre’s attempt to directly intervene at the local level, bypassing the states, through the Centrally Sponsored Schemes. They perceived it as an encroachment on the rights of the State to legislate on the matters of the Panchayats. 

Finally, the 73rd and 74th amendment of 1993 awarded constitutional status to the Panchayati Raj institution. The Act made it mandatory for each state to constitute local bodies according to the three-tier structure. The 11th and the 12th schedule of the Constitution of India enumerated the subjects of responsibilities to be devolved to the Panchayati Raj institutions as legislated by the states. Furthermore, in 1996, the Panchayati Extension to Scheduled Areas Act of 1996 was passed to institute Panchayati Raj Institutions in the areas covered in the 5th schedule. 

A Glimpse of The Liberal and Marxist View of Politics

Liberalism and Marxism are two cardinal and polar concepts in Political Science. Both have their own views of Politics. Both these ideologies perceive politics in a different manner. Whereas liberalism evolved after the breakdown of feudalism and nurtured by the Renaissance era, it gives primacy to the ‘individual’. Liberalism views individuals as the macrocosm of political activities. Classical liberalists believe in the concept of ‘abstract individualism’ where individuals are thought to be autonomous, atomic, asocial, self-reliant and self-sufficient beings. 

Marxism vs. Liberalism - An Interview eBook: Wells, H. G., Stalin, Joseph:  Amazon.in: Kindle Store

On the other hand, developed through the writings of Marx and Engels, Marxism view class as the basic unit of the socio-political community. Marxism prioritizes class/community over individuals and is critical to the liberal concept of abstract individualism./ Marxists are of a view that the prevailing political ideology, the institution of State and individual notions, emotion and intellection are controlled and nourished by the economic base formed by the nature and mode of production. They believe that individuals live under a ‘false conscience’ where the means of production influence human behaviour, thoughts and actions, thus refuting the claim of autonomous individuality. They believe that there exists no autonomous individual and the substructure or the economic base force them to make choices. This idea further developed into the concept of ideological hegemony by Gramsci and the concept of ‘soft power’ by Joseph Nye. 

Whereas liberals view politics as an instrument of reconciliation and conflict settlement, Marxists use politics to politicize conflicts. According to liberals, self-interested individuals constitute the society and are prone to conflict of opinion and choices. On the other hand, Marxists view conflicts as the beginning of social change. According to them, conflicts mirror the fact that the oppressed, suppressed and the depressed became free from the ‘false consciousness’ by gaining ‘class consciousness’ of themselves being exploited by the elites. They become aware of their exploitation and reverts to revolution. The revolution alters the economic base and consequently, changes the superstructure. 

Moreover, Liberals view the institution of State as an anthropogenic product or created by human beings similar to roads, buildings and billboards. They believe that a balanced and free society will never develop as the individuals are self-interested and a sovereign state is required to protect them and their rights. John Locke once remarked that ‘where there’s no law, there’s no freedom’. Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau further developed this concept of State and devised a social contract theory explaining the origin and function of the State constituted by the people. Thomas Paine calls State a ‘necessary evil’. While classical liberals or hardcore libertarians argue for a non-interventionist state confined to maintaining law and order and defence saying that the government that governs the least is the best, the welfare liberals are in favour of affirmative actions and welfare State empowered to and obliged to ensure social good by protecting individual rights. Hobbes is of the view that the State is required to prevent a state of war between self-interested, crooked and violent individuals. Locke argues for a State that protects three basic rights of its citizens: life, liberty and property. Rousseau is of the view that a sovereign State is necessary to bring social harmony. 

On the other hand, the Marxists have a dual opinion on the role of a capitalist State. It is well-reflected in the legendary Miliband-Poulantza’s debate. Marxist view the capitalist State as the oppressor of the proletariat. While Miliband proposed an instrumentalist view of the capital State arguing that the State functions to serve the capitalist class owing to the social origins of the members of the government and their personal and familial ties with the capitalist bourgeoisie. Poulantzas proposes a structural model of the Capitalist State where it is argued that the State is an objectively capitalistic entity that will serve the interests of the capitalists irrespective of the personal ties or familial relations with the bourgeoisie. It’s further argued that the institution of State strives to protect capitalism. In addition to that, Poulantzas are of the view that if the members of the Government coincide with the bourgeoisie, it’s nothing but sheer coincidence. 

The fifth stage in dialectical materialism as proposed by Marx is called ‘communism’. Whereas he gives two stages of communism- the first phase or lower communism and the second phase or higher communism. The lower communism is characterised by workers governing themselves through democratically elected communes. Marx considers this as a temporary stage that will be replaced by higher communism. Lower communism is associated with socialism by Lenin and the communes took the form of the Communist party. Although the Communist party was supposed to be a temporary one in the original view of Marx and even Lenin, it became a permanent, totalitarian and repressive police state under Stalin. However, Marx claimed that the communes are temporary bodies and will cease to exist when higher communism is achieved. According to Marx, the State will ‘wither away’ and he envisages a classless, stateless, moneyless and ideology less society. Hence, Marx views the State as an ‘unnecessary evil’. 

While liberals argue for a capitalist economy with private ownership in line with the famous aphorism, ‘laissez-faire is the only fair’, Marxists envisages a socialist economy with collective ownership of the means of production. Also, the higher communism urges for a money-less society. 

Sl.noMarxismLiberalism
1Class as the lowest unit of political communityIndividual as the lowest and the cardinal unit of political community
2Individuals are constrained and conditioned by the economic baseAbstract individualism
3The politicization of conflict leading to a revolution that alters the economic baseReconciliation of conflicts through discussions, deliberations, debates, arguments and compromise
4State as a capitalist entityState as a product of social contract
5State as an unnecessary evil that will wither away when higher communism is achievedState as a necessary evil
6Socialist means of productionlaissez-faire is the only fair
7common property resourcesPrivate property

Developing Cityscape of Delhi in the 13th and 14th Centuries

“Oh, Allah! Possessor of Kingdom, You give the Kingdom to whom you will and take the kingdom from whom you will”
                                                                                                                                                                  - Isami

The diverse natural wealth in Delhi has attracted a diverse body of settlers and rich archaeological excavations in the areas such as Indrapat and confirmed the continued existence of settlements in the area for centuries. The excavations in Delhi revealed remnants of an unusual rubble fortification, dating to Tomaras and Chauhans of the pre-Sultanate period. The pre-Sultanate records of the 12th and 13th centuries discuss Delhi as a city located in the south-western ridge of the Aravallis. The Tomara capital of Lalkot and Qila Rai Pithora of the Chauhans emerged as the Delhi-i-Kuhna of the 13th century. 

This article emphasises major shifts in the transformation of the cityscape of Delhi in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The reasons attributed to the same are many beginning with the thick forest lands and large resources that acted as a natural defence. Juzzani described these forests as natural agents ‘separating the path of the invading army’. The 1883-84 Gazzetter of Delhi described the importance of the bhangar and the khadar lands known for sustaining agriculture and produce for the city residents. The settlement along the Indrapat region might’ve especially profited from its association with the Mahabharata epic. Moreover, the settling of Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya in Ghiyaspur contributed to the development of the city. Political turmoil, factional warfare and the quest for independence of the new Sultans from the entrenched elites and orthodox power-groups of the earlier Sultans gave rise to frequent shifting of residence/capitals. Consequently, the cyclical rise and fall of dynasties. Overpopulation also contributed to the same. As Narayani Gupta famously remarked, the city of Delhi has many gates to come in and not even a single gate to move out. Moreover, the large-scale construction activities, as dictated by Sunil Kumar, was a necessity dictated by the ways in which society and politics were structured at that time. The threat of invasion from the Mongols also contributed to the development of suburbs and cantonment towns adjacent to or in the city of Delhi. One of the cardinal aspects for the evolution of the cityscape was the scarcity of water, owing to which the settlements were shifting towards the East nearer to the river Yamuna. The cityscape got new ease of life with developing trade, commerce and technology. Also, changing population composition with new groups coming to power and subsequent change in culture and traditions also contributed to the same. 

Map showing the medieval cities of Delhi

Delhi-i-Kuhna was a prosperous city with a currency called Dhilliwala that had a wide circulation. It was a strategically located area with forests offering natural security. Prithviraj Chauhan was defeated in 1192 at Terrain and Qutubuddin Aibak occupied Qila Rai Pithora and developed Delhi-i-Kuhna with Jami Masjid, Qutb Minar and a new fort. Adjacent to the fort were madrasas and there were markets for cloth merchants outside its gates. 

To gain independence from the entrenched elite groups, Rukunuddin Firoz shifted his capital to Khilokri. The Shamsi commanders executed him and placed Razzia Sultana on the throne followed by three more Shamsi puppets. Shamsi manipulation ended with Balban and his son, Kaiqubad shifted to Khilokri. Juzzani described the city as sher-i-nau or the new city. After Kaiqubad, Jalaluddin Khalji assumed the throne and chose to live in Khilokri. Also, Sheikh Nizamuddin Auliya built his hospice at Ghiyaspur which became a suburb of Khilokri with its northward extension. 

Delhi-i-Kuhna witnessed a large-scale construction activity at the time of Alauddin Khalji. Barani mentions that he didn’t like to stay in Qutb Delhi, exasperated by the resistance of the entrenched elites, he chose to reside in the garrison town, Siri. Siri was critical in preserving his authority and served as a cantonment to deploy a standing army to counter Mongol invasions under Qaidu. Mubarak Shah Khalji succeeded Alauddin Kahlji and developed Siri further. Siri was then known as the ‘residence of the Caliph’ as Mubarak Shah assumed the grandiose title of ‘Khalifa’. Furthermore, Khusraw Khan Bawari and his successor, Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq continued to reside in Siri
The increasing population in Delhi and Siri made Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq build Tughlaqabad. The advantage of this site was in the stone quarries present that translate as a valuable building material. Muhammad Bin Tughlaq constructed the fort of Adilabad and Qutb Delhi with Siri and Tughlaqabad were enclosed by a fortification and the region was named as Jahanpanah. A reservoir for ensuring hassle-free water supply was also built. Owing to the population explosion in Delhi, Tughlaq moved to Daulatabad in Deccan. Firuz Shah Tughlaq built Ferozabad upon the banks of the river Yamuna to shift his capital to an economically prudent location that would reduce the cost of water supply. 

“The waters of Euphrates and Nile would’ve been insufficient to meet the needs of the increasing population of Qutb Delhi”.

To respond to this evergreen problem of water supply, Iltumish laid out a large tank known as Hauz-i-Shamsi or Hauz-i-Sultani that eventually dried up. Firuz Shah Tughlaq revived this tank while he built Ferozabad. In Siri, the alluvial soil made it easier to dig wells. To supplement well-water, Alauddin Khalji built Hauz-i-Alai or Hauz-i-Khas, a square tank about two miles to the North of Qutb Delhi. Muhammad Bin Tughlaq further built the Satpula dam to the Southern wall of Jahanpanah. The problem of water supply also had shifted settlements to the North, nearer to the river Yamuna

By the 1220s and 1230s, Muslim urban civilization from Khurasan, Transoxiana, Sistan, Afghanistan, etc. sought refuge in Delhi. However, by the 1240s and 1250s, the major share of them was replaced by Mongols and their auxiliaries. The changing population composition had also resulted in the diffusion of cultures and the creation of a composite culture. 

Coming to the economy, Alauddin Khalji attempted to remove the intermediaries and to establish a direct relationship with the producers. Peter Jackson suggests that these attempts were to create a cantonment city that depended on the taxes and supplies from the producers. The period of the 13th and the 14th centuries witnessed the growth in size and population of the towns. Also, there was a significant expansion in craft production and commerce. Ibn Battuta described Delhi as the largest city of the Islamic East. The arrival of the spinning wheel from Iran in the 13th century and the use of the carder’s bow and weaver’s treadles pointed to the larger use of clothes by the ordinary people. Sericulture and manufacture of silk clothes were boosted and carpet weaving on vertical loom and paper manufacture developed. By the 14th century, sweet sellers of Delhi could pack their preparations in papers. Architecture gained considerable momentum with the use of cementing lime, vaulted roofing with the use of the true arch and dome. Also, immigration and enslavement made the growth of urban crafts possible. The growth of commerce at this time can be explained with the larger coinage. 

The residence of some Delhi Sultans are as follows: 

MonarchCapital/ Residence of the Monarch
Qutubuddin Aibak:Lahore
IltumishDelhi-i-Kuhna
Ruknuddin FirozKhilokri
Razzia Sultana:Delhi-i-Kuhna
Kaiqubad:Delhi-i-Kuhna → Khilokri
Alauddin Khalji:Delhi-i-Kuhna → Siri
Ghiyasuddin TughlaqSiri → Tughlaqabad
Muhammad Bin Tughlaq:Tughlaqabad → Adilabad → Delhi-i-Kuhna → Jahanpanah
Firuz Shah TughlaqJahanpanah → Firuzabad
P.S. The shifting residences are only mentioned. 

References:

References:

  • Ali, Athar. (1985). “Capital of the Sultans: Delhi through the 13th and 14th Centuries”, in R.E. Frykenberg, ed., Delhi Through the Age: Essays in Urban History, Culture and Society, Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 34-44
  • Habib, Irfan. (1978). ‘Economic History of the Delhi Sultanate — an Essay in Interpretation’, Indian Historical Review vol. 4, pp. 287-303.
  • Kumar, Sunil. (2011). “Courts, Capitals and Kingship: Delhi and its Sultans in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries CE” in Albrecht Fuess and Jan Peter Hartung. (eds.).Court Cultures in the Muslim World: Seventh to Nineteenth Centuries, London: Routledge, pp. 123-148
  • Kumar, Sunil. (2019) ”The Tyranny of Meta-Narratives; Re-reading a History of Sultanate Delhi”, in Kumkum Roy and NainaDayal.(Ed.).Questioning Paradigms, Constructing Histories: A Festschrift for Romila Thapar, Aleph Book Company, pp 222-235.
  • Jackson, Peter. (1986). ‘Delhi: The Problem of a Vast Military Encampment’, in R.E. Frykenberg (ed.). Delhi Through the Ages: Essays in Urban History, Culture, and Society, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1986), pp.18-33.
  • Haidar, Najaf. (2014). ‘Persian Histories and a Lost City of Delhi’, Studies in People’s History, vol. 1, pp. 163–171
  • Welch, Anthony and Howard Crane. (1983). “The Tughluqs: Master Builders of the Delhi Sultanate“: Muqarnas, vol. 1 pp. 123-166.

Khilokri- A lost city

“Oh, King! You’ve built such a wall around Sher-i-nau

That stone can reach the moon from the pinnacle (of its towers)”

Amir Khusraw

Delhi is known for its proverbial seven cities albeit it lacks precision. The ruins of the city of Khilokri, however, have not survived the wrath of time. However, the city has significantly helped in the socio-cultural development of the Sultanate capital of Delhi. The city came to the limelight when it was favoured for residence by Sultan Kaiqubad. 

The early settlements in Khilokri are, however, not insignificant. Qutubuddin Bhaktiyar Kaki was staying in Multan with his preceptor, Bahauddin Zakariya when the city was besieged by the Mongols. Consequently, he set off for Delhi and settled at Khilokri. Two leading theologians of Iltumish’s court visited him frequently but were troubled by the distance. With Iltumish’s help, they brought Kaki to Qutb Delhi (The present-day Old Delhi or Shahjahanabad) and got a house for him next to the Izzuddin’s mosque. Firishta writes that Kaki had settled in Khilokri due to ‘proximity to water’ and was unwilling to move to Old Delhi but he eventually gave in and settled there. 

Ruknuddin Firoz succeeded Iltumish as the Sultan of Delhi. A conspiracy against his rule was held in Khilokri by several officials of the old sect/dispensation. Khilokri was no longer a Sufi city and had shed all the vestiges of Kaki. Now, the city was a cantonment-like town. To suppress the rebellion, the Sultan marched with a multitude of armed men to Khilokri only to be executed. Razzia Sultana, the first and the only woman claimant of the Delhi Sultanate festooned the throne. However, she was sacked for showing signs of rebellion against the entrenched Iltumish’s military commanders or Shamsi sect and three more Shamsi puppets were placed in quick succession. 

When the emissaries of the Mongol conqueror of Iran and Iraq arrived at Delhi to meet Sultan Nasiruddin Mahmud, the entire route from Old Delhi to Khilokri was embellished with an array of soldiers and civilian militia. Juzzani twice mentioned the city as the ‘sher-i-nau’ or the ‘new city’. The riparian plains of Khilokri was indeed an excellent location far from the hustle-bustle of the overpopulated Qutb Delhi. 

The fresh founding of the city comes from the accounts of Ziyauddin Barani in his magnum opus, Tarikh-i-Firuz Shahi. He credits Sultan Kaiqubad as the founding father of Khilokri. He describes him as a ‘handsome young man of excellent qualities with a heart filled with the desire to enjoy the pleasures of life’. On the banks of river Yamuna, Kaiqubad laid foundations of a large palace and a splendid garden. He moved there and started living with his auxiliaries. The nobilities started building palaces in the quarters they occupied and the heads of each profession moved from Delhii-Kuhna or the Old Delhi to Khilokri, making it populous and flourishing. Eventually, singers, jesters and performers started migrating to the city. In the due course of time, wine houses became full and recreational places came up in the city. Sources suggest that the price of wine increased ten-fold. Everybody was busy seeking the sensual pleasure of the materialistic world supplemented by an enormous demand for wine and perfume. 

However, there’s no evidence suggesting that Qutb Delhi ceased to be the capital of the Sultanate. The imperial mint continued to be located in Qutb Delhi and the coins mentioning the name of Sultan Kaiqubad were found from Qutb Delhi. 

Nau Roz is celebrated to mark the beginning of the Iranian Solar year. A long poem by Amir Khusraw describes the celebration of the same in Khilokri

Eventually, Kaiqubad was murdered and the intra-dispensational conflict placed Jalaluddin Khalji on the throne of Delhi Sultanate. Barani mentions that fearing the hostilities of the city residents to the new ruler, Jalaluddin Khalji chose to reside in Khilokri. The nobles of Qutb Delhi travelled to Khilokri to offer allegiance to the newly enthroned emperor. The reign of Jalaluddin Khalji witnessed a new round of construction activities in Khilokri. Firstly, he ordered the completion of the palace commissioned by Kaiqubad. Secondly, he commissioned a splendid garden in front of the palace by the banks of the river Yamuna. Thirdly, a fort was built inlaid with stone walls and watchtowers each of which were placed under the control of a noble. In consequence of the imperial favour conferred to Khilokri, markets began to be built on all sides of the city. Another layer of houses was built by the nobles and officers of the new Khalji dispensation. Merchants started to migrate to Khilokri and started building markets. The population of Khilokri was increasing to an extent that a new mosque was built especially for the Friday congregational prayers. It is further evident that the term ‘sehr-i-nau’ for Khilokri reclined the Qutb Delhi to the status of Delhi-i-Kuhna or Old Delhi. 

Furthermore, Sheikh Nizammudin Auliya built his hospice in Ghiyaspur guided by a ‘divine voice’. After the founding of Khilokri by Sultan Kaiqubad, the population of Ghiyaspur started rising substantially. The distance from Ghiyaspur to Khilokri was close to half a kuroh or 1.458 kilometres. Sources suggest that Sheikh Nizammudin Auliya would walk from Ghiyaspur to Khilokri for the Friday prayers. It is also found that Sheikh Nizammudin Auliya got a house in front of the Friday Mosque at Khilokri. Finally, Ghiyaspur became a suburb of Khilokri on its northward extension. 

References 

  • Ali, Athar. (1985). “Capital of the Sultans: Delhi through the 13th and 14th Centuries”, in R.E. Frykenberg, ed., Delhi Through the Age: Essays in Urban History, Culture and Society, Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 34-44
  • Kumar, Sunil. (2011). “Courts, Capitals and Kingship: Delhi and its Sultans in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries CE” in Albrecht Fuess and Jan Peter Hartung. (eds.).Court Cultures in the Muslim World: Seventh to Nineteenth Centuries, London: Routledge, pp. 123-148
  • Kumar, Sunil. (2019) ”The Tyranny of Meta-Narratives; Re-reading a History of Sultanate Delhi”, in Kumkum Roy and NainaDayal.(Ed.).Questioning Paradigms, Constructing Histories: A Festschrift for Romila Thapar, Aleph Book Company, pp 222-235.
  • Haidar, Najaf. (2014). ‘Persian Histories and a Lost City of Delhi’, Studies in People’s History, vol. 1, pp. 163–171

Indraprastha: Between Myth and History

Indraprastha is believed to be the very first evidence of power politics in Delhi. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, in his magnum opus Asar-al-Sanadid, believed that Yudhishtira founded the city on the banks of River Yamuna in 1450 BCE. [ref; End of ‘Adi Parva’, Mahabharata (400BCE-400CE)]. The Mahabharata describes Indraprastha as a city as beautiful as heaven blessed by the presence of a fort surrounded by an ocean-like moat. Festooned by massive walls, the city’s architectural splendor is raised with huge double-hung gates with imposing towers, festooned with spears and javelins. Magnificent white buildings find their place at the sides of the well-planned streets and the city is further embellished by pavilions, pleasure hillocks, ponds, lakes and tanks and beautiful gardens with peacocks and cuckoos. According to the Mahabharata, the city was built after the episode of Khandavadahana, the burning of Khandava forest. This episode finds its place at the end of Adi Parva. The forest was burnt with the help of Agni, the God of fire; Arjuna and Lord Krishna. And this episode is venerated as the first evidence of mass deforestation- clearing forest land for settlement with deadly conflagrations engulfing the entire forest and systematic destruction of all animals, birds and fish. Lord Indra attempted to end the massacre. And finally, six creatures survived the fire: Ashvasena (The son of the serpent king Takshaka), Maya (A demon, the architect of Indraprastha) and four Sharngaka birds. Sabha Parva of the Mahabharata continues with the subsequent melee where Maya wants to thank Arjuna for helping him escape the fire. Maya was a talented architect and Krishna suggested him to build a magnificent assembly hall in Indraprastha, A golden pillared hall and a lotus pond inside the royal hall filled with lotus, turtle, fish and aquatic fowl. 

B.B. Lal conducted a trial excavation in Purana Qila, the contested site of Indraprastha to identify the age of the site and whether it could be related with the Mahabharata or not. The oldest piece of the artefact unearthed was a Painted Grey Ware dating around 1,000 BCE. The 1969-70 excavations revealed Northern Black Polished Ware dating 4th/3rd century BCE. However, no structural remains of the Mahabharata, in sync with the description of Indraprastha, were unearthed. 

One can find a series of literary evidence pertaining to the existence of this Mythical city. Firstly, the celebrated Ain-i-Akbari by Abul Fazl suggests that Delhi was first known by the name, ‘Indrapat’. He further suggests that Humayun restored the citadel of Indrapat and renamed it as ‘Din Panah. Secondly, Shams Siraj Afif in Tarikh-i-Firuz-Shahi suggests that Indraprastha was a Head Quarters of a Pargana. Thirdly, a 14th Century inscription recovered from Naraina village in West Delhi speaks of the village being situated at the West of Indraprastha. Fourthly, Nigambodh, a site situated at the Yamuna banks is identified as the site where Yudhishtira poured the oblations into the sacrificial fire after performing the Asvamedha. Fifthly, Nili Chattri Temple in Delhi is identified to have been commissioned by Yudhishtira. Sixthly, Indraprastha is mentioned in Buddhist Jataka tales as belonging to Yudhishtira Gotra, the Gotra or clan of Yudhishtira. Seventhly, Small scale excavations by B.B. Lal in Tilpat, one of the five villages demanded by the Pandavas, reported the discovery of PGW and NBPW levels confirming the antiquity of the site. And finally, Alexander Cunningham identified Indraprastha with ‘Indrapat’ mentioned in Ptolemy’s Geography. 

Two assertions (1847-1950’s) regarding the origin of Delhi turned the myth of Indraprastha into History. The very first assertion was made by experts, historians and archaeologists and by non-experts, authors and tour-guides. Both of these groups suggested that Delhi’s origin was based on Indraprastha. The second assertion was that the 16th-century fort of Purana Qila was constructed over the ancient but invisible Indraprastha. The claims by a plethora of biographies of Humayun’s contemporaries that Humayun knowingly built his fort over the ruins of Indraprastha gained considerable momentum in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The earliest evidence of the same comes from the celebrated Ain-i-Akbari, the magnum opus of Abul Fazl. Their points were backed by Indologists such as William Jones. 18th Century presentation made by William Jones in the Asiatic Society of Bengal insinuated that Iran has a powerful Hindu monarchy who migrated to India and they established the ancient cities of Ayodhya and Indraprastha. It’s worth noting that he just mentioned the cities but he skips the identification of their location. 

Asar-us-Sanadid (The Legacy of Heroes, 1854) by Syed Ahmed Khan confirms the existence of Indraprastha within the frontiers of present-day Delhi. He suggests that Yudhishtira established Indraprastha in 1450 BCE but he preferred to rule from Hastinapura. He further adds that the capital of Kurus was shifted from Hastinapur to Indraprastha on 1212 BCE by Dushtavana owing to the rising water level in the Ganges. He further identifies Lalkot, built by Anangpala Tomara to be the site of Indraprastha. Syed Ahmed Khan claims that his findings are based on the shreds of evidence mustered from the Mahabharata, Shahjahannama, Ain-i-Akbari, the Old Testament, inter alia. He further claims to have recovered a brick from Pandu Age from Hastinapura and remarked that similar blocks were identified from different sites in and around Delhi. The most unbelievable and out of the blue fact is that he dated the recovered block as belonging to 2,607 BCE but the technology available at that time was not in sync with such precise dating. However, in the following days, it was identified that 2,607 BCE falls in the time-frame attributed to the Harappan civilization and not the epic period. The claims of Syed Ahmed Khan, therefore, can be considered as an attempt to impress the European audience with his scholarship and knowledge about the Indian texts. Also, he must have aspired to find a position in the archaeological society and wanted to come to the public eye. However, the claims of Syed Ahmed Khan was the first step in bringing the rhetoric of Indraprastha into a quasi-historical, quasi-scientific realm. Syed Ahmed Khan lent further clearance to the division of Indian History into Hindu and Buddhist age for the Ancient past, the age of Muslim intervention for the Medieval past and the arrival of British as the beginning of modernity.

In toto, the urban cock-a-doodle-doo of Indraprastha being ancient Delhi is being introduced to the historical arena by a series of textual repetitions. Mention in bureaucratic spaces like history books, archaeological reports and museums conferred a specific gravitas to the existence of Indraprastha. Being backed by a series of literary and inscriptional evidence and being brought up by celebrated historians, authors, tour guides, bloggers and even the common folk, Indraprastha maintains its status as Ancient Delhi even without proper archaeological backing. Series of repetitions facilitated the translocation of this myth and chain of affective longings into the arena of history and archival truths. As it is said, a lie often repeated, becomes a truth. The myth of Indraprastha is the most plausible example of this illusion of truth.

Why do midsize enterprises choose co-working?

To begin with, in my opinion, this article would be pointless without defining the term “midsize enterprises”. Midsize enterprises are organizations having annual revenue ranging from $50 million to $1 billion, employing 100-1000 workers.

Co-working spaces, as we see today, are not products of the modern era. It’s a variant of the centuries-old Bottega system of the renaissance era of the 15th century. Nowadays, most midsize enterprises choose co-working over other alternatives like individual office spaces and more recent ‘work from home. Let’s see what makes such co-working spaces glamorous to the midsize enterprises.

1.An arena of chance and opportunity

Co-working spaces mark a unique blend of people from different workspace cultures converging in a common space. This includes all types of people, including the successful and influential.

What does it mean to you? Well, it means a lot of things. Co-working spaces could be interpreted as an arena offering important and far-reaching connections needed to propel your business forward. Sometimes, what a midsize enterprise probably lacks is proximity to other successful business people.

Therefore, co-working spaces offer enticing networking as well as quick collaboration opportunities.

Furthermore, co-working spaces are factories creating personalities. Along with dynamic collaborations and a vast network web, it offers a space to hone one’s skills and capabilities. It’s worth considering that Leonardo da Vinci acquired his skills as a young artist by working at the Bottega of Verrocchio in Italy.

2. Extracting productivity

Let’s start from the usual scene of our home: Kids crying, pending chores, a club of platters waiting in the sink to be washed and the pressure cooker endlessly whistling in the kitchen. This household cliché could be classified under a broader term- ‘distraction’.

So, what can co-working spaces offer you? Indeed, it offers you a peaceful workplace free from distractions. Such spaces aid us to turn ourselves into a “work-only mode”, offering an indescribable rise in our productivity levels.

A 24×7 accessible workspace along with unlimited coffee supply- highly provocative, isn’t it? Who’ll ever afford to witness such a preposterous offer slipping off from their hands?

3. Bursts of creativity

Co-working spaces are indeed a respite from work from home solitude. It offers not only a peaceful workspace but also mind-refreshing, alternate solutions to keep ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally fit.

For instance, The Playce, a co-working space located in Mulund West, Mumbai where India’s first-ever official Quora meeting was held in India, offers a ‘gaming zone’ to its members.

Such attractive facilities offer their members a break from their jam-packed schedules, creating spaces for self-rejuvenation and relaxation. Furthermore, it acts as therapeutic, moderating workspace stress and a virtually never-ending to-do list.

4. Economic efficiency

Shortage of funds is the most fundamental problem faced by midsize enterprises. Choosing co-working space over office spaces drastically reduces the operational cost of the enterprise. Subsequently, it provides diverse and state-of-the-art office infrastructure including printers, Wi-Fi, conference halls, and coffee corners.

Moreover, co-working spaces are equipped with timely refreshments and beverages at a fixed monthly rate. For instance, The Hive in Chuim village, Mumbai offers a plethora of mouthwatering dishes for its members. Mathias Schuermann in her work, “Co-working Spaces” argues that the cost versus value received is the best in co-working space as the costs are carried by the community as a whole.

What else should make co-working spaces appear more attractive to midsize enterprises?

5. Flexibility and ability to expand

Other than economic competitiveness and collaborating opportunities, what midsize enterprises aspire for is flexibility. Most of the co-working spaces could be rented at short notice.

Furthermore, membership could be withdrawn at any time by the enterprise, ensuring trial opportunity. Some co-working spaces are accessible 24×7 while others offer work during the day and party at night, like Colaba Social in Mumbai.

To sum up, co-working spaces can offer you more than what a monotonous life in an office space or work at home solitude could provide you. Alongside wide networking opportunities, increased productivity and rejuvenating solutions, it also offers cost-competitiveness and workplace flexibility.

The Playce, The Hive and Colaba social are living examples of such modern Bottegas. Spending a day working in these factories producing personalities will be worth it.

Online Classes are Only for the Connected

Waking up after an evening nap at 4.30, I went and sat in the hall near my father, hoping to conquer the TV remote while he was waiting for the Chief Minister’s press meet to start. Three days ago, at the same time, my pockets were vibrating with a WhatsApp notification: I had an examination (online) three days later (I.e. the present day) as I was subscribed to an entrance crash course. It was my second test, whereas I confronted with the first one weeks ago. I’d slept in the melancholy of my sheer failure in the same. Even though I wear a strong armor, impenetrable to the repercussions of an anticipated failure; outside, at the end of the day, every saint will become a sinner no? If not, circumstances will make him. I got an utter 44% against my 84% record last time. You could imagine how miserable I was, how tragic my thoughts were. Time is indeed ‘jealous’. It targets everything that is dearest to us. For instance, think of a situation when a person proud of his hair, visiting uncountable parlors and even sleep with shampoo and oil; witness his head being shaved like a mute spectator, a caged parrot. And ultimately, I’m illuminated here in a standalone manner as a living, breathing, broken-hearted illustration of the same.

Enough of all the fuss. Let’s come to the topic. 20 more minutes for the press meet. My father was sitting in front of the turned-on TV with his frameless spectacles (In which he looked more pretty) at the rim of his Roman nose. His attention was nowhere on the TV. He was engrossed in some accounting. I wanted to catch hold of the remote and was intending to coax him before I could take it. As obvious it is, the only point that attracted the attention of my mind was his unwonted accounting. With no interest in his motive, I asked, “Acha.. have you resigned your job and started accounting?” he started his epic as though he was eagerly waiting for someone to ask. My face was scintillating and my eyes were shimmering. My right arm slowly crawled towards the remote in the sofa beside him. “No”, he replied in a heavy tone. I asked, “Then what are you accounting for? You haven’t bought the reserve bank at least no?” he replied, “It’s for a new project of our office undertaking”. He took a long breath and continued, “we’ve planned to distribute 25 tablets with four-month internet connectivity to those children who couldn’t afford them at XYZ”. After hearing this, my first emotion was true, disdain. Now, my fingers were on the remote. He added, “one of our officer’s residence is in XYZ.His neighbour, ABC is a student of class 12th. He’s preparing for some law entrance examination. His poor parents had managed to remit Rs. 12,000, a heavenly incarnation of their sweat and blood; to a nearby coaching centre for his vacation classes. They were really on cloud nine. And now, in this lockdown season, classes were virtualized”. I had no time for his stories. All my sacred attention was on the remote. Still I remembered amma’s lecture and I thought, “here people are dying of hunger. Leave it. At least they’re poor. But now, those who are born with a silver spoon are forging their bucket list in hospital beds and is it the time to think about tablets? Jobless labourers are yearning for a day’s grain and here….” before I could complete, I asked him, 

“Then? Then what’s the problem? You’re having everything at your fingertips” I pulled out my phone from my right pant pocket, “in this smartphone?” He gave me a close look. I suddenly lifted off my hands from the remote. A practical experience of reflex action maybe. I was out of my wits for a moment. A deadlock. Breaking the silence, he muttered, “that’s exactly the problem. He doesn’t even have a smartphone. Their family can’t afford even that.” These words were a thunderclap for me. I was shocked. I was thinking, “can anyone in this world live without a smartphone?” I continued my ‘thoughts’ as if I’d spoken, I’d have had a hibiscus-cheek before I could’ve completed. “people can live without food for a week, water for a day and not a single second without a smartphone and mobile data and here he’s talking about not having a smartphone?” suddenly, I forgot about the remote. I muttered, “and?” inspecting my abrupt and fortuitous fervour, he replied, “and what? ABC would borrow his laptop for an hour every evening.” He paused awhile and continued, “he only suggested this idea. Our officer’s association held a meeting last week and we all contributed to the cause. We selected 25 children like ABC from that locality and…” He choked. 

I was lost in deep thought. I don’t know if he had completed his broken statement or not. I was entirely lost, “with these 25 tablets, the query of 25 boys in XYZ could be solved. XYZ is not India no? If XYZ has 25 such students, then how many will be there in this magnanimous country with an ever-so-expanding populace striking 1,300 million?” this thought sprouted off an unsung problem in my mind. My conscience was busy traversing this off the beaten track I forgot about the remote. All I recalled was a famous aphorism, “all are equal but some are more equal”. Instead of quacking “digital learning” and “virtual classes”, has anyone thought about a section that is deprived of the key to access these? Indeed Byju’s and Vedantu are doing great with unwavering devotion. It’s unquestioned and undoubtedly true. But, apps won’t work in open-air no? It needs a medium: a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone at least. What is the significance of a bottle of ink without a pen to fill it? Amidst this lockdown season, when our people Gasconade with a hashtag of ‘#India learns’ and ‘#India continues learning”, has anyone ever bothered about those who are deprived of a medium to access them? And this lockdown season added insult to injury by shutting the internet cafes. Where will they go now? It’s not their fault that they’re born poor. If it’s not their fault, then whose? Who has time to think about them? We can only advertise in the name of virtual learning and so. Their learning is now subjected to an indefinite quarantine. 

A plate fell off from the platter stand and I came back to sane. I started thinking again, “how lucky I’m with everything below the sun at my fingertips at ease while others are painstakingly pushing the wheel-less chariot of e-learning and I’m lamenting on my lost marks like a couch potato on the sofa?” It’s 5. The press meet started. My father closed his register with a pen in the middle as a bookmark. The news highlight was about an ordinance approved by the Governor enabling the State Government to hold 25% of its official’s salary after a High Court stay on the same. The reporter exclaimed, “Government officials consists of only 1.5% of the total population of the State. But, 45% of the State revenue is the disguised form of their salaries, pensions and perks”. While I was lamenting on my inability to take the remote, my mind was lost in its world of thoughts again. “Is it that only their children should be allowed to learn? What about the children of the poorest 1.5% of the populace? What sin did they do that……” My thoughts broke.

Now, I’m happy. Indeed I’ve worn brand new pink spectacles. It’s 6. Now, I’m waiting for my phone to ring again with another notification and am mentally prepared to embrace the candied harvest of my next examination. Because, I realized that I’m one I the luckiest who’s getting a chance to learn from my home, my comfort zone. Shouldn’t our education department seriously introspect about this rather than being engrossed in their routine cock a doodle doo? Ah.. whatever Maybe.. one day like others of its kind, this will also become a story to read on, lullabies to feed babies and status to share in WhatsApp. What next? I shouted, “Amma.. coffee”.

Glimpses of Corona in 2020

By mid-February 2020, dragging him out of our home, my father went to stand in long queues in front of XYZ ltd., a spoken-English centre in our locality. He was dead keen to make that poor boy’s tongue flexible to the relatively unknown phrases in English. The boy, my brother, was just about to have his debut, his first step from the world of dreams and magic to the world of reason and cold logic, stepping out from the beautiful world of innocents to the cunning world of hypocrites; like you, like me, like everyone. 

How could his little brain forsee his near future: after barely two months, he’ll be well-familiar with the reasoning ability problems related to “clock and time”, that I do in my Quantitative Ability papers, as he’ll be spending long hours, glancing at a clock in faint hope and ultimate melancholy, in an A/C room, anxiously waiting to escape from the taxing English ‘training’: training in the literal sense, like animals being forced into the loop of fire in a circus ring.

By the beginning of March, the novel SARS CoV-2, lovingly labelled as “Covid 19” shook the foundations of the world- to which even the so-called developed world couldn’t stand a chance. On one hand, it drowned the whole world into an air of desolation: witnessing uncontrollable death rates and armed burial grounds; but on the other hand, it incarnated as a saviour of the children: who brought them blissful memories of an unforgettable holiday season, giving a different, unfamiliar interpretation of the term ‘vacation’; that they might never experience in their entire life again. ‘Vacation’, in an actual sense, free from long, despondent, boring hours of ABCD classes and drawing lessons, granting our children their ‘lost spring’: swinging to and fro from the branches of the old mango tree and making cakes out of the mud- interacting with the forgotten spirit of mother nature. As it’s said, vacation per se is blissful. 

For the first time, I saw him with my cousins, all below the age of 10, experiencing the beau ideal of mother nature. Thanks to the pandemic that our children, who would’ve been stuffed into the A/C halls with keyboards, drumsticks, brushes or books of different colours open with a costly pen in their hands; are now free, experiencing the joy of carte blanche, lashing out in the open air amidst the half-acre compound of our village home, playing under the blissful shade of the old forgotten mango tree: that witnessed my childhood as well as my mother’s and maybe, my grandma’s too. Their hands, which got numb holding computer mouses and pens of all standards, are now enjoying the pulpy juice of the golden mangoes tracing its path through their arms while stuffing it into their mouths.

Edit: However, thanks to the growing technology that after some time, some sort of digital revolution took place that witnessed mass digitization of education from the lowest rungs where nearly everyone is now attending classes, one or the other, via their phones, tabs or laptops.

Five Examinations that a Humanities Student Cannot Miss

If you’re a student of Humanities/Arts stream and completed/ going to complete your +2 from any recognized Board and you are aspiring to kickstart your career from a reputed University, give this article a read and you’ll be familiarized with five All-India competitive examinations you can attempt to secure Higher Education from reputed Central Universities in Arts stream. 

Firstly, let me familiarize you with IIT-HSEE. IIT-HSEE is an annual entrance exam conducted by the Humanities and Social Science Department of IIT Madras. On clearing this examination, you’ll be selected on a merit basis for pursuing a five-year integrated program in Developmental Studies or English. However, what makes it competitive is that thousands of students attempt it every year and only 58 aspirants can clear the same. One has to attempt two papers, the first being subjective and the second, objective. Paper one consists of thirty-six questions from English and comprehension skill, thirty-six questions from analytical and quantitative ability and eighteen questions each from Economy, Society, World Affairs and Ecology. Paper two will require you to write an essay for thirty marks on a general topic within thirty minutes. Hence, the total time for completing the examination of 174 marks is 180 minutes. 

Secondly, one of the most sought-after examinations after class 12th for any candidate aspiring to pursue higher studies in Social Sciences is DUET-NTA. Clearing DUET will land you up at the University of Delhi. The examination is conducted primarily for two courses: Humanities and Social Sciences and Economics. This exam will be of two-hour duration with a hundred objective questions that carry four marks each. One mark will be deducted for each incorrect answer. The questions will be primarily from General Awareness, Current Affairs, Communication Skills, Logical Reasoning and Analytical Ability. 

Thirdly, I’ll introduce you to TISS-BAT. This examination is similar to IIT-HSEE but the examination will be for 100 marks. Similar to IIT-HSEE, the examination will be conducted in two parts- the first part carrying 60 objective-type questions of one mark each that has to be completed within an hour. The second part is subjective comprising two descriptive questions carrying twenty marks each that has to be answered in forty minutes. On qualifying the same, you’ll be granted admission to BA Social Sciences or BA Social Work at Tata Institute of Social Sciences. 

Fourthly, I’ll introduce you to CUCET or Central Universities Common Entrance Test that is conducted annually for admission into various courses in eighteen central universities. The question paper will consist of a hundred objective type questions carrying one mark each where 0.25 marks will be deducted for each incorrect answer. The questions will be divided into three categories with Part A being General Awareness of 25 marks followed by Part B comprising questions from Teaching Aptitude. Part C shall consist of four sub-parts from which the candidate can attempt any one from Social sciences, Language, Physical Sciences and Mathematics and Life Sciences. 
Finally, I’ll introduce you to the SET or Symbiosis University Entrance Test. There will be three categories of this test: Symbiosis Law, Symbiosis General and Symbiosis Engineering. Here, I’m interested in Symbiosis General. The test will have seventy-five objective questions with a written ability test. The former will be of seventy-five marks with four sections viz. English, Quantitative Aptitude, General Awareness and Logical Reasoning. The latter shall be of twenty-five marks. The entire examination shall be of 105 minutes duration.

Free Courses with Free International Certificates

Tired of sitting at home without doing any productive work amidst the lockdown? Wanna convert your free time into valuable certificates? If so, give this article a read and at the end, you’ll be able to collect at least five certificates from a plethora of reputed institutions that you cannot even dream of! The most interesting fact is that these courses are absolutely free. So, what about the certificates? Yes. You’ll get them on successful completion of your course absolutely free of cost! So, doesn’t this article deserve a read? 

To begin with, I’ll suggest bewildering courses from Amnesty International. Being a substantial International Organization working for Human Rights, Amnesty International will offer you a myriad of online courses with certificates that can be claimed free of cost provided you meet the requirements for the same. What are you waiting for? Just click here and navigate!

Secondly, I’d like to suggest the didactic yet interactive courses offered by the US Institute of Peace. They offer around forty courses in English and around ten in Arabic. After completing their courses, you’ll be offered a verified certificate free of cost. Also, the timings of each course may vary from three hours to eighteen hours depending on the course you opt for. Liked it? Just click here and start learning and start earning!

Thirdly, let me suggest you the courses offered by Agora, the global learning platform of UNICEF. This platform will offer you hundreds of courses in different fields and you can choose what suits you the best. The most glamorous feature of this platform is the presence of enthusiastic discussion forums where you can interact with other learners supplemented by beauteously crafted blogs, interactive and interesting assignments and informative wikis.  Also, most of the courses include progress tracking systems and graded assignments based on which you’ll be evaluated for being certified. The digital badges or certificates of completion offered by the same can be a prime-mover in advancing your career. Click here to visit the Agora platform. 

Fourthly, I’m suggesting the free courses offered by the United Nations Institute For Training and Research (UNITAR). It offers you various courses on different topics including Human Rights, Climate Change, Gender, Sustainable Development, inter alia. Also, you’ll receive verified certificates for free if you complete the courses in sync with the directions provided by the same. Some courses are accompanied by graded assignments and multiple-choice tests based on which you’ll be certified. Click here to visit the UNITAR platform


Last but not the least, I’m suggesting Academy Europe. Academy Europe or European Open University has around 15,000 plus courses to offer you in various categories such as Technology, Arts, Computer, Business, Economy, Life Science, Politics, Medicine, Profession, Quality Standards, Science, Social Science among others. All courses are accredited and free of cost. It’s open for anyone anytime from anywhere. In addition to that, Academy Europe also offers online Academic Diploma course in various categories and after completion, you’ll be provided with an official Diploma Certificate. What are you waiting for? Just click here and earn a certificate!

Understanding Approaches to Political Power

It’s not very difficult to conclude that the understanding of power is central to understanding politics. The following paragraphs shall aim to enumerate various approaches to power and relate them with a hypothetical political example i.e. a child complaining to his father because he got fewer chocolates in number than his brother. 

Coming back to the two children, say, X and Y, where X is younger than Y. Now, suppose the father legitimized the situation by claiming that X got more chocolate pieces because he is younger than Y. Since the decision is not in the favour of Y, Y starts to express his displeasure over the same and consequently the father settles Y by the use of force. Implementation of the decision hence made through the coercive form of power exercised by the father explains the first approach to power, i.e. decision-making. This approach overlaps with the concept of Dahl where he defines power as the ability of A (father) to make Y do a task T (abiding by his decision) that he/she otherwise won’t do. 

This approach is known as the one-dimensional or pluralist approach to the understanding of power. It’s worth noting that this approach measures power as an exercise provided the exercise of power is visible, transparent and easily noticeable by the recipients of power. Here, the force exercised by the father is easily noticeable. This approach helps in understanding the visible exercise of power and the transparent use of coercion in the current political ecosystem. 

Now, consider a modified version of the same situation. The father just proclaimed that X got more chocolates just because he gave them to him and it’s unquestionable. Here, the father fails to give a plausible backing or a reason for his decision. This is explained by Carl Schmitt as the divine power of the decisive where the decision/law is legitimized by the lawmaker. I.e. it’s the decision-maker that matters and not the decision. Here, the event where X got fewer chocolates than Y is deemed to be legal and justifiable only because it was the decision of the father. This is known as decisionism.

Now, let’s attribute a specific gender to both X and Y. Consider X and Y as identical twins where X is a boy and Y is a girl. Now, assume that the father gave more chocolate pieces to X only because he’s a boy. And, for the time being, assume that Y accepted his decision and no conflict was triggered. This is what Bachrach and Baratz claim to be the two-dimensional form of power, i.e. power as non-decision making. Here, we cannot notice the exercise of power with ease as it requires precise observation. 

The above example could be easily comprehended by explaining the father’s action to be his contribution to ensuring the future existence of patriarchy. As it’s said, the subjugation of women is central to the existence of patriarchy. The exerciser(s) of power (the father) attempts to keep potential issues (gender equality) out of the political arena. Such potential issues are excluded from the current political scenario as they conflict with the current, dominant, perpetuating norms (patriarchy) and most importantly, these are in favour of the powerful (the father, men in general). 

Considering a larger political environment, this approach helps us to identify the issues that are intentionally kept out of the purview of the public or the opposition. For instance, consider a speech on ‘merits of capitalism’ proposed to be delivered in the erstwhile USSR. The Government will never give consent to the same as it’s against the socialist interests of the Government. It aspires to keep this issue away from the purview of decision-making to avoid any future conflict with their interests. This is also known as the neo-elitist approach to power. 

Again consider the two children, X and Y, where X is younger than Y. Now, suppose they are born in a family that has been inculcating the social value of brotherhood since their birth. Now, consider that the father gave them a full chocolate piece and they’re supposed to divide them amongst themselves. In this case, Y divided the chocolate pieces in such a manner that X gets more pieces than Y. This is what Lukes claimed to be the three-dimensional approach to power, i.e. ideological power or radical approach to power. On analysing this situation, we cannot see a visible exercise of power and it’s noteworthy that even the recipients of power aren’t aware of the fact that some form of power is exercised over them. 

In such cases, the exerciser of power attempts to shape the preferences and mould the thoughts of the recipients of power, ensuring acceptance of certain decisions in the existing order. This can be explained by a simple example- a rustic woman, born in a conservative household will consider the concepts of female literacy, love marriage and wearing the dress of their choice as illegal and unsanctioned. They may not realize the exercise of social power over them that impedes even their basic fundamental rights. On growing up, they will be accustomed to the aspirations of the society that are reinforced on them. As it’s said, one is not born as a woman. It’s the society that attributes womanly characters and thought-process to them. 

Similarly, consider the two children X and Y asking their father chocolate of brand Z. In this case, large scale advertising and glorification of brand Z has created an impression in their mind and successfully shaped their preferences. Therefore, the concept of radical power overlaps with the concept of soft power and ideological hegemony

On considering a larger political arena, this helps us in understanding the widespread concept of “McDonaldization” and the cultural impacts of Globalization. It’s also the main element in understanding the concept of Joseph Nye’s ‘soft power’ concerning the US Hegemony. 

Finally, we can derive three more approaches to power from the above three approaches. They’re:

  1. Power as control over resources: The father is considered to be ‘powerful’ because he has money and can buy chocolates (resources) for the children, X and Y. 

During the cold-war era, the USA and USSR were considered to be ‘superpowers’ as they owned vast resources (oil, minerals, water, money, maritime routes, satellites, technology, etc) that were necessary for human survival. Moreover, they owned nuclear warheads and weapons of mass destruction. 

  1. Power as control over actors: The father is powerful as his decisions are binding on both the children. i.e. he has control over their children. 
  2. Power as control over outcomes/events: In the case of X being a boy and Y a girl, the father gives fewer chocolates to Y as he aspires for the continuity of patriarchy. The desirable outcomes are always defined in terms of the more powerful actor. 

Throughout this article, every concept mentioned was explained using a seemingly apolitical situation- the division of chocolate between two children. This alone implies the inseparability of politics from human lives and how even a microscopic issue can be conferred with infinite political dimensions. 

What is Politics?

Beginning with an attempt to attribute a precise definition to “politics”, this article moves forward to contradict the prevalent notions of ‘the political’ being confined to the public life of an individual, the State and its institutions. Politics is not only intertwined with the day-to-day events of one’s life but also it’s present in its private sphere. The first part of this article is concluded by attributing a political dimension to the concept of Nature. 

The entire article defines politics and approaches to power with the help of a simple issue of distributing a piece of chocolate among two children, which is considered to be purely apolitical prima facie. The dynamic dimensions of politics being prevalent in every aspect of human life, however, cautions us from an attempt to generalize the term and attribute a single definition to this undefinable, abstract entity.  

Politics is something concerning the polis. While polis stands for a city-state, it’d be much better if it means ‘a a community’ as city-states can be adjudged as a higher level of social interaction. If so, politics acquires a new definition of ‘something concerning the community’. Whatever concerning the community shall be in sync with the aspirations of the common folk and shall ultimately result in social well-being. Therefore, politics is an act of decision-making keeping in mind the hankerings of the community and formulating policies for the common good. However, this decision-making is not only confined to the term ‘community’ or ‘society’ but it’s also about decisions made by a family or an individual. If politics is about decision making in a society, then it’s also about decision-making in a family because family is the lowest unit of social interaction. 

For instance, consider a child complaining to his father because he got fewer chocolates in number than his brother. This situation can be called political because:

  1. The child is making a ‘claim’ and aspires to ‘equal treatment’.
  2. The father is considered to be a ‘decision-making authority’ who is supposed to take ‘just decisions’.
  3. The decisions are ‘binding’ on both the children. 

On considering the first point, the child made a ‘claim’ because he was free and he has the right to do so. Hence, politics is also about freedom and rights. Freedom comes from self-realization and thus, politics is a path to achieve self-realization. The child made a ‘claim’ because he aspires to equality. Hence, isn’t politics also about aspirations for a better living? 

Coming to the second point, the father is entitled to take decisions on behalf of the two children. Here, the father becomes an authority. Considering a larger unit of social interaction, decisions can be made by an individual or by a group of people. Where it’s impractical for the entire population to make decisions, a group of people make decisions on behalf of the entire population. However, in any of these forms: may it be individual, group or representative; the decision-maker is expected to make just and fair decisions, in sync with the aspirations of the people that make the ideas of justice and fairness intrinsic to politics. 

However, the father is a decision-maker because he is vested with the power to make decisions. Therefore, power is a prerequisite for decision making and so, power and politics are inseparable. This power is a typical form of ‘power over’ someone, in this case, his children. When the concept of ‘power over’ is exercised by a narrow personal interest, it leads to a personality cult and the authority becomes authoritarian. In this case, the decisions taken will be serving the exerciser’s interest and not the interest of the community as a whole. This is similar to the case of ‘bourgeoisie oppression of the proletarian’ and it can be resolved via a proletarian revolution. Hence, politics can also mean political actions like a revolution, protest, demonstration, civil disobedience, or any form of collective action that aspires for the public good

It’s already mentioned above that politics is also about aspirations for a better living. If that’s so, politics is also about actions to realize this aspiration. However, power doesn’t necessarily mean ‘power over’. It’s also defined in terms of ‘power to’. However, the concept of ‘power to’ overlaps with freedom as freedom is the power to do something and similar reflections are made with respect to the first point.

Finally, the third point paves the way for defining politics in terms of an obligation. Whatever decision the father makes is morally binding on the children. In a larger sense, the decisions made by an authority is morally binding on the community. If so, what if such decisions are contradictory to the aspirations of the people? What if the decisions are authoritarian? What if the authority exercises his power for his interest? The Communist Manifesto considers power to be all about subjugation and oppression where one class is seen oppressing the other. As mentioned earlier, this issue can be resolved only through political actions. So, when authority becomes authoritarian, power becomes a means of subjugation and oppression and hence, politics also becomes oppression and subjugation

Politics is interesting because people disagree. In the above example, the two children disagreed based on which chocolates were divided among them. This makes politics a struggle over scarce resources. It is to be noted that disagreement is intrinsic to a community and if politics, as defined above, is something concerning the community; then politics is also about disagreement and conflicts in opinion. Disagreement makes social interaction political and for the smooth functioning of the community, there shall be co-operation and consensus and disagreement is an obstacle to the same. These disagreements shall be resolved through discussion and deliberation. Therefore, if politics is about disagreement, then politics is also about resolving it. Politics is hence, also about discussions and deliberations. Politics is the phenomenon of conflict and cooperation

However, as mentioned in the earlier paragraphs, disagreements are also resolved through the exercise of coercive power and if it’s incongruent with the concept of the public good, political actions serve as an antidote. People protest because they feel that they can be much better off if they’re granted political attention. Hence, they imagine an alternate world where they are lucky enough to receive the aspired attention and where they can lead a more sophisticated living. Hence, politics is an arena of imagination and aspiration for a better livelihood. 

As time progressed, the exercise of power by the authority was confined to the public domain of an individual’s life. This led to the separation of social from ‘political’ and led to the framing of the concept of the state. In the due course of time, ‘political’ came to define the power of the state and its institutions. If so, politics is also about public agencies with power or authority to make decisions that have an impact on every member of society. Chancellor Bismarck declared politics as an art and here, he refers to the art of governance. However, ‘political’ here is only confined to the state and its agencies. It is to be noted that politics also exists in society as deliberated in the earlier paragraphs. Separation of the private and the political doesn’t imply that the private sphere is apolitical. For instance, the conflict among two children in a family, that’s seen as totally private and out of the purview of the state, has a political connotation. For instance, parents have to get their child educated and it’s the inalienable right of the dependent members of a family to be treated with respect. What if a woman in a family becomes a victim of domestic violence? The State cannot merely be a lotus-eater in this case simply because it concerns the private life of an individual. The exploited has to be legally backed by the State and hence, it justifies the legal intervention of the State in private affairs. In line with the famous radical feminist slogan, ‘the personal is the political’.  Therefore, politics is not only about the State but also it’s intertwined with the day-to-day lives of every individual. 

Coming back to the chocolate conflict, on the face of it, the two children who are considered to be ‘apolitical’ get involved in political action. They make claims and consider their father as an authority to make a fair decision. The chocolate they are fighting for is manufactured by a company that is bound by the Companies Act and the Income Tax Act. GST and SGST are appropriated from the price of the chocolate. Moreover, the children have the right to education and are going to schools either funded by the government or run by private institutions bound by the laws made by the State. The children use public roads and public transport to go to school and their father may be a taxpayer and so on and so forth. This is how a conflict between two children that appears to be apolitical prima facie is being made thronged by political ideas and perhaps this made Aristotle declare Political Science as a Master Science

From the above discussion, it’s undeniable that politics is similar to a leaf in the bud of one’s life. However, more than being related to the concept of power, authority, society, conflict, justice, protest, governance, privacy etc. Politics is also present in nature. Politics becomes resource geopolitics or politics of resources. Politics is subjected to translocation from ‘political’ to ‘cosmopolitical’. Whereas politics aspires for the betterment of the community, cosmopolitics widens the scope of the ‘community’ to include plants, animals and other living beings. This makes the air we breathe and the water we drink, political. The State intervenes in framing laws to prevent air pollution to an extent that the right to clean air and safe drinking water has been brought under the purview of basic fundamental rights. The State is committed to ensuring that the people are provided with safe drinking water. The State frames laws for waste disposal and stubble burning and gets involved in mining activities and search for natural resources. This makes even nature a political entity. 

Delhi: an indomitable city – Cultural role played by the city in the fifty years of 1675-1725

Being a city with a soul, the grandeur of unshakable cultural ethos of Delhi had been reverberating in the air across centuries from the inception of Indraprastha to the present. Even though she was lacerated by incessant plunders, devastating wars, shifting capitals and changing rulers, the cultural vibe of Delhi remained fit as a fiddle, radiating the grandeur of a thousand suns rising in all its splendor. Delhi is, therefore, a city with unparalleled cultural eminence, unsurpassable glory and more importantly, an indomitable spirit. 

Owing to the colossal historical backdrop of Delhi, this article attempts to spotlight the indomitable cultural grandeur of the city confined to a brief timeframe of fifty years from 1675 to 1725. However, one may note that this particular time frame is purely abstract and open-ended. None of the limits coincides with any major historical event nor the reigning period of any emperor and hence necessitates the need of referring to some period before or after the pre-designated timeframe. 

The designated timeframe witnesses the rule of Aurangazeb, Bahadur Shah I, Jalandhar Shah, Farrukhsiyar, Akbar II and Muhammad Shah. Nonetheless, the timeframe fails to incorporate the entire reign of Aurangazeb and Muhammad Shah and therefore, this article tends to briefly mention those periods even though it’s beyond the scope of the predetermined timeframe. 

On a brief analysis of Aurangazeb’s reign, one may conclude that his regnal period witnessed mass cultural genocide prima facie. Firstly, he banned music from the court for the want of time for festivity amidst his surging devotion for duty. Secondly, being a hardcore proponent of shari’a, he believed that the content of poetry was immobilized by Sufi mysticism and considered them hawkers of duplicity. Finally, he believed that paintings were un-Islamic and banned it and withdrew all forms of royal patronage offered to artists. One may note that Islamic law forbids the depiction of living creatures in art as it believes that the power of creation safely vests with God. 

However, on careful analysis of the period, Delhi emerged as an exquisite centre for thriving Indo-Mughal culture braving the ravages of Aurangazeb’s antics. Even though Aurangazeb banned music from the court, ceremonial music (naubat) continued to exist. Literateurs and artists now looked upon the members of the harem and the leading nobles for patronage. To illustrate, Prince Azam extended his patronage to a plethora of poets and artists. 

Soon after Aurangazeb withdrew royal patronage for art, music and poetry, many artists left Delhi in search of patronage and imperial attention. Nonetheless, one may note that many of them were hesitant to leave the premises of the city which had honed their skills and supported their livelihood. One of the many poets who were unwilling to leave Delhi was Bedil, a close associate of Aqil Khan ‘Razi’, the venerated Governor of Delhi. He spent thirty-six years of his life in the city and was deeply influenced by Sufi mystic poetry. Moreover, he trained a school of poets in Delhi and he was deeply revered to an extent that an annual urs to his grave began after his death in 1720 where the poets were expected to read out their recent compositions. 

Jahanara with her handsome allowance fixed by Aurangazeb continued extending patronage to a school of poets, musicians and artists. Even after her death, her legacy was inherited by Zeb-un-Nisa and Aqil Khan ‘Razi’ and they emerged as cultural patrons of Delhi, supporting the baluster slackened by Aurangazeb. 

However, Aurangazeb imprisoned Zeb-un-Nisa for supporting rebellious Akbar nonetheless she was granted great sort of freedom and a handsome allowance in confinement and at the later phase of her life, she set up an academy that aimed at incubating and honing the skills of artists. 

In addition to that, the celebrated Chishti order was revived by Sheikh Kalimullah and Jahanara contributed to the growth and revival of the same towards the later stages of her life. Delhi now came to be known as the ‘metropolis of liberalism’ and towards the end of the seventeenth century, two rival centres emerged for the development and propagation of cultural values- Aurangabad that stood for Orthodoxy, theology and Islamic studies and Delhi that resonated with Liberalism and Sufism. 

One may note that Delhi was deprived of the imperatorial presence for about thirty-three years from 1679 when Aurangazeb left for Aurangabad. Bahadur Shah I was in power till 1712 but he never entered Delhi in his capacity as the Emperor. However, this never meant a depreciating political legacy of the city. Firstly, Asad Khan, the ex-Wazir of Aurangazeb was elevated to the position of the Governor of Delhi and this appointment of the most senior officer as the Governor of Delhi exemplifies the political legacy of the city. Secondly, Bahadur Shah ordered that none shall leave Delhi or none shall visit Delhi without his permission. Thirdly, the Red Fort continued to be a formidable macrocosm of legitimate power which can be comprehended by the fact that the newly appointed Governor of Lahore sought permission to visit the Red Fort before assuming his office. 

Even though Delhi was deprived of the imperial presence, it thrived as an important centre for trade, commerce, manufacture and culture. Vestiges of Shah Jahan’s artistic inclination failed to meet a sudden death. Patronage continued to be extended to artists, poets and scholars, both Hindus and Muslims by Dara Shikoh and by the mid-seventeenth century, Delhi emerged as a significant cultural centre. Delhi reclaimed its political importance with the advent of Jalandhar Shah in 1712. However, from 1712 to 1759 Delhi guarded the gates of a rapidly diminishing empire. With declining monarchial prestige and dislodged nobility supplemented by food insecurity, inflation, epidemics and famines with necessary provisions being confined to imperial coffers, Delhi witnessed an era of surging turmoil and insecurity. Merciless executions, imprisonment and dispossession of nobles who had supported a rival prince laid the foundations of catastrophic factional warfare in Delhi. 

Declining monarchical prestige was amplified by the act of Jalandhar Shah as he elevated Lal Kunwar coming from a family of musicians to the status of a queen and such elevations were considered undesirable for nobility. The emperor spent his time with her and even got drunk in public. The emperor seemed to be reduced to the position of a King in the game of Chess being manipulated by the entire clan of musicians. This paved the way towards social instability where the emperor lost the support of the nobles, landlords and theologians. Farrkukhsiyar also failed to restore the lost prestige of Mughal nobility and he was widely despised for his association with a low-born homosexual. 

However, amid such adverse insecurities and catastrophic conflagrations, Delhi remained to be a city with an indomitable spirit. Firstly, even though the Emperor was reduced to the status of a restricted monarch figurehead, the subjects considered him as the guardian of social order and justice. Even the Sayyid Brothers couldn’t attempt a direct consolidation of political power and had to support Farrukhsiyar to the throne. Secondly, albeit the political power of the Mughals were rapidly diminishing with the snowballing Maratha power and semi-independent principalities like Awadh, Bengal and Hyderabad, the Mughal Emperor was seen as a nominal head and a legitimate authority to an extent to which the Marathas and even the British had to approach them at a later stage for political legitimacy. 

Despite the social instability of the period under consideration, the emergence of a small elite class with both means and desire to offer patronage ensured the evergreen perpetuity of cultural activities. Delhi remained to be the favourite halt of nobles and money-lenders who had invested in building markets, lending money for interest or trade aspiring for a supplementary income and this made Delhi one of the mammoth financial centres in India. In consequence of the same, many businessmen, manufacturers, scholars, religious leaders and elites settled in Delhi and offered patronage to cultural activities and thus, Delhi remained to be culturally bouncy even though it faced adverse calamities. Delhi was, is and will be a city with an indomitable spirit and unsurpassable glory. 

One of the biggest loot in the history of India that handicapped Delhi was the invasion of Nadir Shah in 1739. On one hand, the inexpensive Peacock Throne and the Kohinoor were looted and on the other, the repercussions of this loot incarnated as anarchy and insecurity among both the rich and the poor alike for a period of twenty years from 1740-1760. However, this event was also easily overcome within no time as the looted wealth was mostly hoarded ones, not in circulation and by and large it just accounted for a very small part of gold and silver in circulation. Supplemented by a favourable foreign trade, the indomitable spirit of the city overcame the backlash of the loot with ease and cultural life was restored. 

The period under consideration is undoubtedly venerated for flourishing music and literature. Whereas Persian was used by the upper class, Urdu continued to be the language of the masses. The Urdu poetry incorporated Persian and Hindi styles and represented an integrated culture. 

Even though she was wounded by adverse calamities in the period under consideration, Delhi remained to be culturally vibrant, alive and breathing. In the fifty years from 1675 to 1725, she was left without an Emperor for thirty-three years and after the advent of Jalandhar Shah, she witnessed social instability supplemented by inflation, epidemics, famine and factional warfare. She was much better off in the absence of the monarch as the later monarchs were downgraded to the status of a restricted monarch figurehead backed by a myriad of misfortunes. 

Delhi surpassed all her misfortunes with her indomitable spirit. Banning of cultural activities, absence of the emperor, incapable rulers, social unrest, epidemics and famines, inflation, diminishing moral values, factional warfare and plunder miserably failed to amend the cultural landscape of the city. Although Delhi was overshadowed in size, economy and cultural activities by Lahore and Agra as far as the predetermined timeframe is concerned, Delhi was an unparalleled metropolis in the eyes of its people and it remains to be so and it will remain so for the times to come.

Social media and academia are often seen as contradictory pulls in the life of a college student

To keep pace with technological advancement, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has cited the right to Internet access as a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India. Since Social media in itself is a potential medium for large-scale dissemination of information, it is pretty obvious that it is necessary to keep abreast of the latest developments and to communicate with an extensively larger populace that makes it fall under the purview of the right to freedom of speech and expression. In 2017, Kerala became the first state to recognize the internet as a basic human right. Keeping this in mind, won’t it be a clear violation of fundamental right if a college student, an individual citizen of India who has attained the age of eighteen, being barred from access to social media?

Starting from addiction, the use of social media has a wide range of repercussions on the human body and mind. Addiction becomes a very incarnation of digital neo-colonialism where the physical body, the emotion and the intellection of an individual are being feloniously glued to the cobweb fabricated by social media. However, there are only twelve notches in a regular clock. Spending hours on Facebook and WhatsApp becomes an opportunity cost that has incurred as a result of compromising the time that could’ve been devoted to academic activities. Burning the midnight oil sitting in front of a mobile phone indisputably interrupts the sleeping time of a student that in turn will have adverse implications over his biological self. In addition to that, adolescent fantasizing has emerged as a recent issue that challenges the emotional self of a student, most probably caused due to devoting undue hours on social media and ‘sitting in an armchair with a mobile-phone dreaming up Utopias’, as suggested in a recent study report published by the University of Leeds. This is a situation where an individual fails to differentiate between fantasy and reality. It won’t be a surprise if the life of such individuals ends up in a lunatic asylum.

Similar to the statutory warning printed over a pack of cigarettes, the ill effects of social media are being selectively ignored by college students. This selective amnesia has been legitimized by the digitalization of the education system amidst the pandemic. Every college now has its own social media pages and WhatsApp groups have been legitimized as the “official” medium of dispensing college-related and academic-related information. Classes are being taken through WhatsApp, Facebook, Hangouts, Zoom, inter alia and on one fine day if the phone of a college student goes haywire, his day is irretrievably lost. The suggested books, often published by International universities may not be available in public libraries and in most cases, buying them from the open market would be nothing less than a daylight robbery. This makes college students depend on the digitized version of such books, often made available free of cost, making social media like WhatsApp intrinsic to the education system. Social media, therefore, becomes a potential platform for sharing notes, suggested readings, dissemination of urgent information and repeated timetable alterations and it will continue to be so even after the pandemic. It’s simply similar to the concept of a mixed economy where features of both capitalism and socialism exist side-by-side. This relation with academics makes social media an unfathomable part of college life.

In toto, social media has now become an indispensable part of any college student’s daily life, serving as a virtual encyclopedia and as a potential stress-buster. Aside from the health concerns posed by it, it has been adopted by the current education system and now, debates are even made to make social media an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty. “Social Media: A Boon or a Bane” is one of the evergreen topics that are hotly debated for decades. Be it an English question paper of a 6th Grade student, this topic finds its place even in the UPSC interviews and columns of The Hindu. Whether it is a boon or a bane solely depends on your attitude towards the same. For instance, silkworms were given a boon to form a protective shield around them and it strives for its entire lifetime to create one and once it’s created, it loses its life by dint of its boon. A boon can easily be a bane and a bane can be metamorphosed into a charming boon. Therefore, social media can be a boon to some and bane to others depending on how they use the same. Utilizing social media in adherence to a systematic schedule and demarcating the boundary that separates academia and social media so that none of them hampers the time frame devoted to each other will make one a lucid, levelheaded college student. 

Towards the Fourth Phase of Indian Federalism: ‘Modi’fication of Centre-State Relations from 2014 to the Present

“We require a strong and united Centre, much stronger than the Centre we had created under the Government of India Act of 1935”

-Dr B.R. Ambedkar

Devised from the principles scooped out from the Government of India Act of 1935, the Indian Federalism attempted a successful translocation from a tax and law-and-order based governance to governance committed to the welfare ideas of planning and development. However, one may witness three phases of this system, prima facie viz. benign centralism of Nehru (1950-’64) and excessive centralization of Indira Gandhi (1965-’89) followed by co-operative federalism of the era of coalitions (1989-2014). However, on a brief analysis of the contemporary political ecosystem, on the face of it, one may put the finger on the fourth phase of the Indian federal exercise of Modi from 2014 to the present characterized by a series of attempt towards centripetal governance.

The General Elections of 2014 and 2019 has paved the way for the restoration of the de facto one-party dominance at the centre. Being a landmark in the history of Indian Politics, these twin electoral events conferred a hegemonic position to the BJP at the centre. Albeit the fact that the election manifesto of the BJP (2014) attempts to constitute a ‘Team India’ stressing on more sophisticated centre-state relationship supplemented by the creation of regional councils of states that aid the Centre in planning and development, nonetheless, can be despised as BJP’s cock-a-doodle-doo of competitive, co-operative federalism. There can be two possible grounds for the same. Firstly, the party in the majority no longer relied on the endorsement from regional parties. Secondly, intra-party centralization is strengthened with its say in the nomination of candidates to pivotal positions complemented by the participation of Central leaders in regional election campaigns. 

To begin with, the office of the Governors who’re being criticized as the political agent of the centre in the guise of the formal head of the State; is accorded a political dimension with the appointment of partisan Governors. In 2014, the BJP Government dismissed nine Governors who were appointed by the previous Government. One of the consequential nitpick of Indian federalism is Art.156 owing to which the office of the Governor is made immensely insecure as she shall be in harness during the pleasure of the President and can be removed from office anytime with the ease of knocking a chesspiece out. 

The celebrated Bommai Judgement (1994) serves as a lodestar of the principles of Indian Federalism that brings the cold-blooded use of Art.356 under the purview of Judicial Review. The provision was invoked twice in 2016 over the Congress ministries of Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. As far as the former is concerned, the partisan Governor advanced the session of the legislative assembly by a month (Art.174) owing to a factional warfare within the Congress, paving the way for BJP-led Government in Arunachal Pradesh. Concerning the latter, nine Congress MLA’s broke-out from the party and consequently, the Congress ministry was asked to prove their majority. However, the President of India was advised to suspend the Government a day before the floor test was conducted, inviting colossal political outrage. In both cases, the Supreme Court restored the former Governments in her capacity of the Guardian of Indian Federalism or an institutional veto player

Moreover, the Demonetization melee of 2016 has attracted large-scale opprobrium. Then Congress Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh pummeled this act as being politically motivated, aiming to destroy political rivals and ensuring a slackened propaganda before the 2017 election campaigns of Uttar Pradesh and the incapacitated campaigning activities and the Election results favouring the BJP seemed to prove his argument valid. 

In addition to that, even though the overtly centralized planning commission was replaced by NITI-Aayog, the latter tends to be inclined to the office of the Prime Minister. The Aayog constitutes of a CEO, a Vice-Chairperson, some full-time members, few ex-Officio members who’re Cabinet Ministers and special invitees of which none of them so far were State officeholders.  Even though the NDC was replaced by a Governing Council, it is highly looked down upon as being a mere formulator of Union policies- like a caged parrot. For instance, the council met thrice between 2015-17 and the ‘15 meeting was devoted to policy formulation related to the proposed amendment to the Land Acquisition (Rehabilitation and Resettlement) act of 2013. Also, the Regional Councils comprise of a school of Chief-Minister’s nonetheless, the Central Executive determines the composition as well as the themes to focus on. They aren’t empowered to work on a theme of their choice, in sync with their aspirations. In 2015, three councils on Skill Development, Swachchh Bharat and Implementation of Centrally Sponsored Schemes were formed. Albeit the fact that these councils were heterogeneous in party-based compositions, they were chaired by then BJP Chief-Ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh respectively. 

The abolition of Art.370 brings to the limelight one of the excessive powers of the Union to alter the territorial boundaries and status of the constituent units with a simple majority, with minimal and exceedingly formal consultation with the affected (Art.3). Notwithstanding the Puducherry crisis, the ex-CM accused the former Lieutenant Governor and the Union of their (successful) attempt to topple the government. The Calcutta High Court’s direction to remove the anti-CAA advertisements sponsored by the West Bengal Government validates Art.256 that requires the State Governments to implement a parliamentary law. Further, Art.257 enables the Union to give directions to the States ensuring the same. En réalité, refusal to adhere to such lawful directions may invite discharge of Art.356 according to Art.365 and the Constitutional validity of the latter was upheld by the Bommai verdict. 

In toto, the Parliament which is supposed to be the asseverate temple of democracy is being confined to an edifice of constitutional formalities. The constitution with a natural inclination towards the centre joins hands with the de facto one-party dominance paving the way for a centripetal centre-state relation.