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The conundrum of free speech

Wikimedia Commons; Madelgarius ‘ You've got a nerve, coming into this muhalla! I know you: my father knows you: everyone knows you're a Hindu!! ' screams the Midget Queen.  Boys in their school whites and snake buckle are joining in, 'Hindu! Hindu! Hindu! From his window Midget Queen’s father joins in, hurling abuses at the new target… ‘Mother rapers! Violator of our daughters…!’ and the schoolboys have begun to chant 'Ra-pist! Ra-pist! Ray-ray-ray-pist!' without really knowing what they're saying. Their victim, Lifafa Das is trying to get away but by now he is surrounded by voices filled with blood- This episode from Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children , placed in the turmoil and unrest of partition, portrays the complex magic of words. Words have strange power; they can stir emotions and cause commotions in turbulent times. And these are turbulent times. It seems as if speech has been given a free hand to prey on the life of heads that donned skullcap
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Why you must read 'Sophie's World'

Most probably, the revelation of the full title of the book will be sufficient for some to grab a copy of it straightaway. Jostein Gaarder’s Sophie’s World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy is a Norwegian classic published in 1991. For those who do not find the idea of narrating the ‘history of philosophy’ in a ‘fiction novel’ compelling in itself and are still reading this blog; the book has a lot more to offer. Sophie’s World , as the name suggests, revolves around the events that take place in the life of 14 years old Sophie Amundsen as her 15 th birthday approaches. The book opens with the perplexed thoughts of Sophie when her friend suggests that the human mind is like an advanced computer; she wonders ‘surely a person is more than a piece of hardware?’ And then Gaarder knits a whole new world around her; I mean, he literally weaves a ‘new world’. In Sophie’s World, two threads run simultaneously. First, there is the story of Sophie & the mysterious Alberto Knox, fr

Why you should read 'Crime and Punishment'

picture credit:  Spencer Baum The book Crime and Punishment,  written by Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky is based on a random murder of an old moneylender by a former student of law. But the book is not a crime thriller, for the murder takes place in the first part in a seven-part long storyline. Regarded as Dostoevsky’s magnum opus and one of the best literary works of Russian literature, Crime and Punishment  offers a view into Raskolnikov’s mind (the murderer and the protagonist). The novel can be best characterized as a psychological thriller. In his book, Dostoevsky grapples with questions like- what pushes a man into committing a hideous crime as murder in cold blood?   Unlike the ideal state of the human mind and soul, as is often depicted, Crime and Punishment shows the turbulent state of the mind of Raskolnikov and the contradictions within his soul- completely naked. In the plot, Raskolnikov, a bright young student, has to drop out of university because of the lack

The Rise of Demagogues

Image courtesy: cartoonmevement.com [Demagogue: a political leader who seeks support by appealing to the desires and prejudices of ordinary people rather than by using rational argument (Oxford Dictionary) ] It is a popular cer titude that the ancient Greek city of Athens is the cradle of democracy. What is lesser known is the fact that Athens is also the birthplace of its first cousin,  demagoguery.  Albeit, democracy has run the show for the most part since their inception, the wave seems to be turning now. Democracy is failing. Fault lines have started to appear in most of the safe heavens of democracy like the United States, Brazil, India, Italy, Britain, and Germany. More and more people have started to despise the inefficient and unproductive process that democracy is and have started turning to tricksters as their last expedient. There is an exponential rise in the number of the extreme right or left-wing populist governments all over Europe, Asia, and South America. T

What Supreme Court needs is brave judges

The Kenyan Supreme Court building in Nairobi. Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group On 1 st  of September 2017, in an unprecedented and bold judgment, Kenya’s Supreme Court nullified the re-election of a sitting president as being tainted with irregularities. Commentators around the globe lauded the judgment as a savior of democracy and labeled the Chief justice David Maraga as  brave  for having the courage to rule against the man who appointed him. Nothing of this magnitude had ever happened in the history of Kenyan Supreme Court ever before. Unlike its Kenyan counterpart, the Indian Supreme Court has always had a rich legacy of courageous judgments and brave judges scrupulously defending civil rights and personal liberty. But of late, the attitude of the Supreme Court of India towards the same rights and liberties in Kashmir issue can at best be described as lackadaisical if nothing less. The Apex Court has virtually turned a nelson’s eye towards the habeas corp

Before memory fades

Living life under the clouds of hopelessness and anxiety, I have successfully wasted four and half years of my allotted time in the college. I am a student of 5 th  year B.A.LL.B. Disappointing my professors, batch-mates, seniors, and juniors in this journey, now all that I crave for is an end to this misery. Right now, the popular narrative is that I was always doomed to be a failure. A blot on the face of one of the finest institutions of the country. The narrative seems nothing but just and true. I still remember the day of my orientation when a fellow admission seeker had brought a cut out of a newspaper cutting. It announced ‘ Kashi Hindu Vishwa Vidyalaya ke 150 chhatro ka Bihar PCSJ m selection’ . “ What a mighty institution! Indeed a factory of judges,"  I thought. I, an  eighteen-year-old  kid then, was immediately filled with zeal and fervor seeing the possibilities, a feeling in stark contrast to the state of mind that I now possess. The question is, how did I en

How to kill a people

Image credits: Hindustan Times. 22 . This seemingly inconspicuous number signifies the number of days for which the upcoming UT of Kashmir has been placed in an absolute quarantine. How can I say so? Because since the 5th of August, not even a single whisper has slid past the fortress erected by J&K administration. Absolutely nothing. Of course, when I say so, I consciously exclude the optimistic words, coming now and then from the government declaring, "...restrictions in Kashmir have further been relaxed” . But after 22 days, it seems like Chandrayaan- 2 would be back on earth before we get to hear the tale of Kashmir from Kashmiris, uncensored and unadulterated. 22 days after the decision was taken, riding on almost absolute bipartisan support, the pomp of finally taking Kashmir has more or less faded away. So now few isolated voices are emerging here and there, questioning, not the decision to abrogate the special status of Kashmir, but the consequences that h