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When Elon Musk said, “AI is More Dangerous than Nukes.”


It is said that we create our own demons. How much truth does this expression hold as far as Artificial Intelligence is concerned? Just like all of mankind’s inventions have a bad effect in the long run, like nuclear weapons, oil extraction technologies, natural gas, and other natural resources, Man’s greatest invention, Artificial Intelligence, stands as a miracle; a clever machine that outperforms humans at various activities. However, will they evolve into conscious robots that start destroying humans and eventually decide to wipe humanity off the face of the Earth?

The replication of human intelligence with machines, particularly computer systems, is known as Artificial Intelligence. The idea of AI has been around for decades, but it wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that British mathematician Alan Turing developed the concept of machine learning.

Artificial intelligence is a technique used for teaching a computer, a robot driven by a computer, or software to think critically and creatively like the human mind. AI is achieved through examining the cognitive process and researching the patterns of the human brain. These research projects produce systems and software that are incredibly intelligent.

Credits: AI Time Journal

Just like every other thing, Artificial Intelligence has its advantages and disadvantages as well. Sure, there are some upsides to relying on AI for most of our activities like reduction in errors, 24/7 availability, faster decision-making, and better handling of information. However, the dark side of Artificial Intelligence may sometimes get a shade too dark.

Max Tegmark said, “Everything we love about civilization is a product of intelligence, so amplifying our human intelligence with artificial intelligence has the potential of helping civilization flourish like never before – as long as we manage to keep the technology beneficial“. But is the amplification of Artificial Intelligence slipping through our fingers?

Let’s be true, mankind has always had the fear of super intelligent AI systems. In pop culture, films like Ra One, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Blade Runner, The Matrix, and The Terminator are all a reflection of the same. So before discussing the real problems that AI can cause us, let’s bust some myths established regarding them. One of the biggest myths is that AI will develop a conscience and turn evil, annihilating everyone in its path. While this is unsettling, the actual concern is that AI will have objectives that aren’t compatible with ours. There won’t be much we can do to stop them once that happens. While this is not bound to happen in this lifetime, given the speed at which technology is advancing and the safety precautions put in place, it is still highly improbable for an AI invasion to occur even in hundreds of years.

Credits: Indie Wire

Al is consistently portrayed in the movies as a menacing robot with laser cannons and indestructibility. But an Al won’t need a body to act badly; all it needs is a place online, and then all hell can break out. Let’s take a look at the realistic threats AI possesses to humankind.

1. Data Privacy and Safety: The existence of a vast amount of valuable data is a crucial requirement for a successful AI model. However, sending all the information to the software raises another issue, namely, the security and protection of our data. Is it susceptible to hacker attacks or is it adequate to protect users’ sensitive information?

2. Wars and Destructions: AI-based systems may provide the most cutting-edge, self-destructive weapons. But because we are separated by national borders, a select few developed nations who have access to more advanced weaponry have an advantage over others. This not only benefits a small group of privileged individuals but also increases the risk of world war and other dangers to the destruction of humanity. Another very crucial concern is raised by the massive growth of nuclear power – can we trust a computer to handle such massive and critical information?

3. Job Automation: Another concern raised with the introduction of AI-based bots was the gaping hole it will leave in the employment sector. We are replacing the individuals who do certain jobs with AI bots due to improvements in the monitoring systems in the industries. This is leaving a significant void in the employment market. Is AI sufficient to offer enough possibilities to accommodate everyone?

Adopting AI, according to Elon Musk, is like “Summoning the Demon“. He thinks that robot leadership poses a threat to the planet and that artificial intelligence has the potential to start the next world war, and ultimately dominate it. He also cautions that when those competent AIs evolve into merciless autocrats, there will be no way for the planet to survive. He said, “We need to be extremely careful with AI since they are potentially more destructive than nukes”. Additionally, he recommends being proactive rather than reactive when everything fails. He thinks that better controls and laws should be in place as AI is developed. The irony here is that Elon Musk, despite believing in the existential risk AI possesses, has spent enormous resources on tech industries that are responsible for the development of intelligent machinery; for example, his brand of self-driving cars – Tesla.

Credits: Forbes

Whether or not the evolution of Artificial Intelligence poses an apocalyptical threat to mankind is a matter of speculation, but only at the moment. In the years to come, with the rapid digitalization of information, anything is possible. After all, it took us thousands of years to touch the skies, and only a few more to reach the moon. The pace at which the planet moves is scary. And we just might see a different dominant species take over if we deal the wrong cards.

Mariam Tuba is a student pursuing Psychology from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Anzal Khan

Internet Suspension in the Epoch of Technology


According to Indian Express, the country has faced over 550 internet shutdowns since 2012, with over half of them being imposed from 2019 onwards. While the Constitution rules that suspension of telecom and internet services should only take place should a National Emergency befall the country, the government has been neglecting the boundaries and using these shutdowns as a propaganda tool. With far-reaching effects, internet shutdowns in India have resulted in many grave problems for the country, economically as well as democratically.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee for Information and Technology, headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, in its report titled ‘Suspension of Telecom and Internet Services and its Impact’ called for defining the parameters and a “robust mechanism” for internet shutdown. The committee quoted, “when the Government’s thrust is on digitization and knowledge economy with free and open access to the internet at its core, frequent suspension of internet on flimsy grounds is uncalled for and must be avoided. The Committee, therefore, recommends that a proper mechanism is put in place at the earliest to decide on the merit or appropriateness of telecom/internet shutdowns.”

The Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, issued rules necessary to be followed while passing an order of Internet suspension. The reasons must clearly be included in the order and the order needs to be forwarded to a review committee the day after its issuance and must be reviewed by the committee within five days in accordance with section 5(2) of the telegraphic act that allows the government to restrict the transmission of messages in case of a public emergency or for the safety of the people.

Though the central government has never ordered a nationwide internet shutdown, India still tops the list of internet shutdowns globally. The Software Freedom Law Centre’s tracker states that there have been about 381 shutdowns since 2012, out of which 106 were in 2019 alone. The 2019 shutdown of Jammu and Kashmir is recorded to be the longest ever in any democratic country. The UT experienced an internet shutdown which was 552 days long from August 4 2019 up till February 6, 2020. Internet access at this time was either non-existent or only at 2G speeds.

With rules being neglected, the freedom of speech and trade on the Internet which is a fundamental right is often overlooked. Internet shutdowns have not only led to untold suffering for the public but also to grave economic losses. There should be more checks by the government to review the appropriateness of the rules on telecom or internet bans. Businesses relying on Internet services face up to 50% losses.

Many states in India including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Rajasthan have had multiple Internet shutdowns in 2019-20. Despite this, there is no maintenance of records of the shutdown orders with the Department of Telecommunications (DOT) or the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The officials of DOT and MHA reported that they were unaware of the total number of shutdowns that have been imposed. While the government’s thrust is on digitization, we’re still here topping the lists of internet shutdowns, along with being labeled “Internet shutdown capital” globally, without there being any proper records for the same.

Internet outages might seem very easy to live through but one can’t imagine the distress that follows when you can’t even have the access to the necessities of the present times. Students facing network issues cannot attend online classes or even access the required material for their courses. For those subjected to online examinations, the fear of not being able to submit their papers on time, after months of preparations and pressure, is something that adds to the tally of major inconveniences for the youth of the nation. Long-term Internet shutdowns have limited the public’s freedom of expressing freely as well. Journalists struggle to provide any kind of news online since they cannot upload pictures or videos. Students, on the other hand, are cut off from classes and even forced to drop out of school. Moreover, access to healthcare facilities also becomes difficult. Lack of proper internet facilities also affects businesses, online services, and so on, ultimately affecting the country’s economy. According to studies, India has suffered significant economic losses due to Internet shutdowns over the past 5 years.

There should be strict monitoring of the rules of the Telephone Telegraphic Act which states that all kinds of telecom or Internet services can only be suspended during a public emergency or for the safety of the people. Experts have suggested that there is an urgent need for a better legislative framework with strong safeguards to curb the government’s arbitrary internet shutdown bids. There should be a proper authority to monitor whether an event hampers public safety and the necessity of warranting internet ban.

Samreen Khan is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Anzal Khan

Navigating through the Pandemic: Jamia Administration


Jamia Millia Islamia University has been disloyal to students ever since the COVID-19 pandemic. Even after the re-opening of other universities in the country, JMI University has been adamant about keeping the college closed. After two years of online classes, and countless protests, the university has now finally opened. Although, it remains closed for first-year students.

Credits: Amal KS

Amidst the pandemic, it was not only difficult to prepare for exams but also to attend classes, even though they were online. After attending classes for so long through the online mode, the concentration level of many students dropped due to the continuous wandering on the screen. The ignorant behavior of the administration has not been helpful in this situation either. While some students were struggling to finish the paper on time, Jamia’s helpline desk number was not operative, which added more to the burden of those students who were not able to submit their answer sheets.

With one or the other person sick in the house, studying in itself was a task. Moreover, the helpline number was not responsive, which made the situation difficult for students who could not upload their answers on time due to various reasons,” said a 1st-year student (now in 3rd year).

Be it for the re-opening of the college or any other matter, the administration’s attitude towards students has always been unfair. They have kept the students in the dark by not releasing any notice for the longest time possible and when a notice was recently released it was taken down from the site in a few hours, with the administration stating it as “fake news”. Thankfully, they shortly released another notice for the re-opening of the college; however, the ignorant attitude remains.

The administration gave a mere 10 days to the students before starting with offline classes and with no hostel facilities, it has been very difficult for students to travel from afar and search for PGs or apartments in such a short notice period.

Not only did we struggle to shift to a whole new city within this short span, but also were obliged to find a residence. No notice was released for the hostels and the students were left to opt for expensive PGs/flats. Even today, many are facing several issues concerning PG facilities, whilst also struggling to adapt to a whole new city”, says a third-year Literature student.

Credits: The Indian Express

Even after keeping the college closed for more than two years, the administration still hasn’t made the necessary arrangements for resuming offline classes. Students from distant locations are not given access to hostels. And even now, there has been no information regarding offline classes for 1st-year students.

We students of the first year were greatly unsatisfied with this partiality. We held many protests for the full reopening, but the administration didn’t care,” a student of Jamia Millia Islamia said in an interview with ‘The Indian Express’.

Recently, the examination department lost a first-year student’s answer sheets and marked her absent, thus failing her in the first-semester examination, claiming that the student did not submit the paper. However, the student insisted that she had submitted all the papers, and so the administration requested proof. Despite the evidence, the administration has yet to pass the student.

I talked to my professors about the issue. One of them told me that she had passed me with fairly good grades, but the portal shows I have failed. After finally being able to get done with the formalities for my earlier subjects, I’ll probably have to go through the misery once again, as the work has still not been done. It’s difficult to process the things happening to me when my exams for the second semester have just started,” said a first-year student of BA English.

While all other universities in the country have reopened, JMI University remains closed for many students. Even though classes for second and third years have begun in offline mode, hostels are still unavailable for them. This only adds to the administration’s lack of loyalty toward students. When the country is still recovering from the pandemic, it is important to have an education institution with adequate administration. Effective administration supports education that goes far beyond simply imparting knowledge.

Sana Perween is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Maryam Hassan

Stockholm Syndrome: Captivated by Captivity


How would you view a situation wherein victims align their opinions and feelings with their captors; wherein they tend to protect their perpetrators against testimonials; wherein they eventually identify and furthermore, work with their offenders? The human psyche is a vulnerable phenomenon, exposed to atrocious actions in society. When struck by one, the affected person reacts in a way that is unpredictable and may be implausible to stable minds. One such known, yet mystifying behavior is scientifically defined as the “Stockholm syndrome”.

When we hear the term, “Stockholm Syndrome” we frequently associate it with brainwashing hostages or kidnapping situations. When the hostages in a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden, defended their perpetrators, the term “Stockholm Syndrome” was coined. Furthermore, the victims in the Sweden case were reluctant to give evidence against the robbers. This syndrome describes the conduct of the hostages as having favorable thoughts for the captor, supporting them, and adopting their values.

A person would never admit that they are facing Stockholm Syndrome as the unconscious mind plays in such a way that everything seems logical. The coping technique of the unconscious mind is the defense mechanism. Defense Mechanisms are psychological tactics used by an unconscious mind to control, ignore, or distort reality to combat anxiety-inducing emotions and irrational impulses and preserve one’s ability to think for oneself. The mind operates in mysterious ways and will stop at nothing to ensure that the body survives. The logic seems illogical at that point in time and the only future seen in captivity is with the perpetrator.

For instance, people who are kidnapped or taken hostage frequently perceive their captor as a threat, but they also depend heavily on them for survival needs like food, shelter, and company. If the kidnapper or abuser offers them some kindness, even as little as a concerned look, they might start to experience favorable emotions toward their captor for this alleged “compassion”.

Caption: Patty Hearst

The victim forms a psychological bond with the abuser in this protective mechanism, wherein they identify with the powerful opponent, which is sometimes referred to as identification with the aggressor. Patty Hearst, who was taken prisoner by the Symbionese Liberation Army, (SLA) is a well-known case. Two men and a woman broke into Patricia Hearst and her fiancé’s Benvenue Avenue apartment on February 4, 1974. Members of the Symbionese Liberation Army, or SLA, kidnapped Hearst. Their objectives were to overthrow the “capitalist state” and “incite a war against the U.S. government.” Then, her kidnapper raped and assaulted her. Hearst was shown by security cameras inside the San Francisco Hibernia Bank on April 15, 1974, aiming a firearm at a bank employee while aiding SLA members in robbing the bank. She started working as “Tania,”. Two months after being abducted, she declared her dedication to the SLA and its principles. She criticized her birth family in a tape that was played on a radio station. Hearst was held captive by the SLA for the first 57 days while being bound and blindfolded in a closet. As part of a brainwashing campaign, SLA members, including its leader Donald DeFreeze, gave Hearst lectures on the group’s viewpoints on revolutionary action, left-wing conflicts, and feminism. DeFreeze also used intimidation tactics, warning Patty that she would die if she tried to run away and that she would be beaten or hanged if she made any noise. Patricia and DeFreeze demanded the Hearst family start a food organization, called “People in Need” to feed America’s underprivileged. The demand was aired through a videotape that served as a ransom. The public and Hearst’s family were by this point aware that she had joined the same group that had kidnapped her. However, Hearst was forced into submission. She then recalled how DeFreeze had assaulted her sexually, and she put the responsibility on herself for having voiced her worries to one of her guards. Self-blame is a characteristic shared by victims who have a strong bond with their captors; hostages frequently blame themselves for the suffering they endure at the hands of their captors. This argument over Hearst’s reasons for complying with the SLA points towards unsolved uncertainty and a lack of public knowledge regarding the potential psychological effects and traumas associated with being held captive.

Stockholm Syndrome is viewed by many psychologists and medical professionals as a coping mechanism or as a means to aid victims in overcoming the stress of a horrific scenario. About 8% of hostage victims have the disease, according to FBI research. Despite being well known, the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not identify Stockholm Syndrome since this paradox does not happen with every hostage or victim and it is not known why it does when it does.

Abia Fazeelat Fakhri is a student pursuing Bachelors in Commerce from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Maryam Hassan

Aurangzeb: A Victim of Perversion of History


History is a mirror, in which the viewer sees the reflection of his own viewpoint. Opening new frontiers based on history disrupts society, which we see today in various countries and communities. A comprehensive anatomization of the reality of the blames and claims against Mughal emperor Aurangzeb by a young journalist and writer, Afsar Ahmed, has recently come out in a series of six books, three of which have been published. This is a review article of this academic research and its contribution in unveiling the altered veracity of significant events in history.

Credits: Medium

In the 331-year protracted period of Indian history, from 1526 to 1857, three Mughal emperors stand as one of the most debated and controversial topics—pioneer of the Mughal Empire Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur, his grandson Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar and Mohiuddin Aurangzeb Alamgir. Among them, Aurangzeb has been portrayed as an outright villain in India for the past century. Until the early twentieth century, Aurangzeb was considered alike several other rulers, who fight wars within themselves and outsiders to run and save their government, struggle to reconcile themselves to various political, social and religious powers and are engaged in expanding or consolidating the government to the most extent. This picture of Aurangzeb is clear in the chronicles, perspicuously mirrored in all the old historical texts of Persian, English, Urdu and Hindi.

Aurangzeb Alamgir, born on 3 November 1618 and died in 1707, lived for a period of 89 years. He ruled from 1657 to 1707 for a total of 50 years. Famous historian Sir Jadunath Sarkar started framing Aurangzeb from a specific perspective. He wrote his first book ‘India of Aurangzeb: Topography, Statics and Roads‘ in 1901. His second book ‘History of Aurangzeb‘ appeared between 1919 and 1928 in 5 volumes. Apart from these, he wrote half a dozen books on Aurangzeb, Mughal Empire, Shivaji etc. To corroborate his particular point of view, he first accused Aurangzeb of having waged wars against Hindus, especially the Rajputs, due to his religious fanaticism, promotion of forced religious conversion and radical Islam. It is from here, how a negative image of Aurangzeb began to emerge. Later writers deliberately made efforts to portray Aurangzeb an enemy of Hindus by fabricating historical texts and concocting malicious stories, underlying on this base.

The present age is the age of distortion of history. Instead of reading the old history in the light of truth and facts, there is an attempt of misstating the forgotten events to target a certain class today. Babur, Akbar, Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb, Siraj-ud-Daulah, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Tipu Sultan and Mir Usman Ali of Hyderabad—all the Muslim heroes are fudged as enemies of the country and Hindus, with the intention to endanger the ancient concerted civilization and harmony of India. Amid this situation, young researcher and journalist Afsar Ahmed has taken the initiative of wiping the different layers of Aurangzeb’s life again. Last June, the third part of his Hindi book series ‘Aurangzeb: Nayak Ya Khalnayak’ titled as ‘Aurangzeb Banaam Rajput’ came out. Earlier, the first part of this book, ‘Aurangzeb: Bachpan Se Satta Singhrash’, was released in 2019 and the second part, ‘Aurangzeb: Satta Singhrash’, was released in 2020. Afsar Ahmed projects to re-read and examine all the important periods of Aurangzeb’s life in 6 volumes. In about 500 pages in 3 parts, he has succeeded in presenting King Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb, Darashikoh, their lives and relationships clearly. Afsar Ahmed writes in the foreword explaining the need of the book:

Impartial researchers have severely criticized Jadunath Sarkar’s theory. In response to them, several books were published. The question is, when so much work has been done on Aurangzeb, then what can I add or subtract in this discussion? In the 6th volume, I have endeavoured to present every aspect of Aurangzeb’s character with utmost audacity and have specially thrown light on those parts which for some reason have either remained in the dark or have escaped the notice of historians. I am not a professional historian nor do I claim to be. Standing in front of Aurangzeb’s character, I neither admired him nor hated him. I just tried to capture it in this book ‘just like it’. I don’t care if it creates a controversy or not. For as a student of history, my purpose is to examine the questions and objections which have been raised against Aurangzeb. I have also focused on whether or not it is in the society’s favour to project Aurangzeb’s decisions or policies in the 15th and 16th century on the scale of 21st century Indian society and politics and use it as a negative propaganda.

In the first part of the book, Ahmed has shed light on Aurangzeb’s circumstances from birth to adolescence, court activities, and the nature of his relationship with his parents and siblings. In the last days of Shah Jahan, the details of how Aurangzeb’s elder brother Darashikoh had rendered his father helpless, how by issuing decrees of his own accord, he attempted to make Aurangzeb, Prince Shuja and Prince Murad fight each other, keep away from the administration and declare himself the future king have been described. It gives a complete picture of the conspiracies of Darashikoh in the last days of his father to stay constrained on him and his instructions and eventually arrest Aurangzeb after his death. The third volume, recently released, examines several of the charges levelled against Aurangzeb against the Rajputs case-wise. For example, some of the allegations against Aurangzeb are that he did not treat the Rajputs well, he did not even give them the honour that was given by the earlier kings, and he was ambivalent about them or that he was anti-Rajput from the beginning; he further tried to convert the Rajputs. It is also alleged that after the death of Maharaja Jaswant Singh, Aurangzeb tried to annex Marwar to the royal empire. This claim has also been made that the number of Rajput position holders dwindled during his reign. Another allegation made up is that his social and kinship relations with the Rajputs were not up to par.

Credits: Amazon

Ahmad, while perusing the relationship between the Rajputs and Aurangzeb, has substantiated that the Rajputs were the strongest of the four pillars on which the throne of the Mughal Empire rested, and if Rajputs were expelled from the courts of the emperors Akbar, Salim, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb, the entire government would have collapsed. In such a situation, an experienced statesman and strategist like Aurangzeb could not make the mistake of deliberately ignoring the Rajputs.

Any faux pas or goof of history can never be rectified in the future, except that merely lessons can be learnt from it. Afsar Ahmed has given concrete responses to myriad sets of questions raised in relation to Aurangzeb with arguments. His analysis has proved once again why several notable luminaries in the field of history like Professor B.N. Pandey and Dr. Ram Puniyani have manifested the real side of distorted history through their books like ‘Itihas Ke Sath Ye Anyaye!’ and YouTube videos respectively. It is an undeniable certitude that several authors like Jadunath Sarkar and Hariprasad Shastri have not only documented false histories, but have also misrepresented the background of these events. As a result, esteemed and foremost personalities and rulers like Aurangzeb became victims of distaste, repugnance and abhorrence. In this regard, Afsar Ahmed’s efforts need to be appreciated and acclaimed.

Syed Ilham Jafri is pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Zaina Shahid Khan

What if you could actually live for 200 years?


The extremes of humanity have always fascinated people. In this endless pursuit of longevity, ageing stands as a Brobdingnagian obstacle. Medical science has long been involved in a crusade for curbing old age. Dr. Andrew Steele, a British computational biologist, claims that recent advancements can make it possible to destroy the ‘zombie cells’, thus allowing individuals to live for as long as 200 years. But is this an optimistic prospect for the near future or is it a mere abstraction?

S. Jay Olshansky, a professor of public health and a researcher on ageing at the University of Chicago once said, “A drug that slows the biological process of ageing will be a medical revolution on par with the discovery of antibiotics. Whoever develops the first one will be very, very famous.” Well, the day has arrived and the “very, very famous” personage is Dr. Andrew Steele, a scientist and the author of ‘Ageless: The New Science of Getting Older without Getting Old’. Steele walks us through the principles of ageing biology and shows us how it has paved the way for us to stand where we are now – on the cusp of a medical revolution. In a talk with the MailOnline– the website of the Daily Mail, a newspaper in the United Kingdom, Dr. Andrew asserted that recent developments in the field of senolytics—drugs that try to eliminate cells that impair tissue function— could be essential to human longevity. One such major development that he highly anticipates is the creation of drugs that focus on destroying senescent cells, also known as ‘zombie‘ cells. These cells stop proliferating and begin to build up in our bodies, eventually producing chemicals that quicken the ageing process. He believes that with the onset of such drugs in the marketplace, many individuals will easily be able to achieve a double-century mark.

I don’t think there is any kind of absolute cap on how long we can live…I can’t see a physical or biological reason why people couldn’t live to 200 — the challenge is whether we can develop the biomedical science to make it possible,” said Dr. Steele to the MailOnline.

The pursuance of a drug for an increased lifespan in human beings has been a crucial objective in the suddenly hot world of ageing science. Multiple tests conducted on mice and reptiles showed highly positive results in different laboratories. However, this does not corroborate the results on humans. The first study evaluating the effectiveness of senolytics was released in the year 2020, in a medical journal- The Lancet. Tested on mice, the research noted: “Broadly, it has been demonstrated in mice that administering senolytic drugs and eliminating senescent cells increase physical function and lengthen health span and lifespan…”. Dr. Andrew Steele pointed to the study of reptiles, mainly a Galapagos tortoise when trying to increase humans’ life expectancy. After succeeding with the creatures, the study on humans has gained ground at a rapid rate. “We’ve reached the perfect storm in ageing science. Everything is happening. We have the foundation from decades of studies on animals. We’re ready to move forward to people,” said physician Nir Barzilai, the director of the Institute for Ageing Research, New York.

Other specialists, in stark contrast, contend that trying to prolong life, even in the name of health, is a doomed pursuit. Given humanity’s long history of hoarding and wasting resources, as well as the enormous socioeconomic disparities that already exist in a world of almost eight billion people; it is fair to assume that most people are anxious about the risk of overpopulation.

The unending desire to live longer has amplified greed among the mortals. The most willing individuals to promote the human trials of these drugs are mainly from the ultra-rich category. A prominent company working in the space of ageing biology is Unity Biotechnology and it has raised more than 300 million dollars from investors like Jeff Bezos and Peter Thiel. While these advancements take place, the idea of living for over 200 years which was once a pipe dream has left us on pins and needles.

Credits: The Sun

The desire to unlock the secrets of longevity and immortality has likely been around as long as humans’ awareness of death. According to experts, it might be that humans don’t comprehend death. Therefore, the infinite desert of death and the thought of not living causes a form of FOMO. In an interview with Time, Paul Root Wolpe, an American sociologist and bioethicist said, “The quest to live forever, or to live for great expanses of time, has always been part of the human spirit…The most difficult and impenetrable thing to us as mortal beings is our own death… We don’t understand it, we don’t get it, and as meaning-laden mortals, we can’t fathom what it means to not exist.”

With the development of this drug, the technology to live far longer is already here. But the question is- Will the politicians, skeptics, hatemongers, powerful nutjobs and people obsessed with death allow it to be executed successfully and respect people who want to live and enjoy life longer? Perhaps the most unpredictable consequence of uncoupling lifespan from our inherited biology is how it would alter our future psychology. The idea that earthly existence is limited and, in the larger scheme of things, relatively short has permeated every aspect of human civilization. If we are born one day knowing that we can reasonably expect to live 200 years or longer, will our minds readily accept this unparalleled scope of life? Or is our neural architecture intrinsically unfit for such broad horizons? Only time will tell.

Ambrisha Zubeen is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Maria Aqdas

A House on Fire: The Looming Threat of the Global Climate Crisis


Back in our school days, we were made to believe that planting a tree on our birthday, or biking instead of using a car, can help us “save” our environment. We cut to 2022, wherein researchers suggest that every tenth of a degree of additional warming will escalate threats to people, species, and ecosystems. As we see climate change unfold before our eyes, we are forced to wonder whether our contribution amounts to anything.

Credits: Timothy A. Clary

When Greta Thunberg put world leaders to shame by saying, “I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is” back in 2019, the discourse on climate change gained a newfound momentum, entering school classrooms and parliament houses with equal propensity. Three years later, South Asia witnessed a heat wave that claimed more than 90 lives, northern India is experiencing its fifth heat wave, and temperatures have reached a record 49.2 degrees in Delhi.

The days when the climate was determined by solar cycles and organic weather patterns are long gone – human activities have been the primary cause of climate change since the 1800s, primarily due to the extensive use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas. According to the latest report from a United Nations climate panel, the adverse effects of climate change are worsening much faster than scientists predicted less than a decade ago.

The combustion of fossil fuels produces greenhouse gas emissions, which act like a blanket wrapped around the Earth, trapping the heat of the sun and raising the temperatures. Statistics warn us that adverse impacts of global warming are unavoidable and will hit the most vulnerable populations of the world hardest. While large-scale collective action from governments to curb greenhouse gas emissions seems like the only way to prepare communities to avert the worst outcomes of global warming, we are forced to wonder whether turning off the lights when not in use, works anymore.

Being aware of the effects brought in by climate change, we must think about how we can confront them. That being said, activists like Thunberg give hope to us that our voices have power. We would either enjoy the fruits or bear the burdens of any actions taken today. A few years from now, we will become world leaders, and the world we live in may suffer a new type of refugee crisis, consisting of people who are nothing but climate migrants – fleeing their homes that are no longer safe or able to provide livelihoods. And at this rate, the planet might not even be habitable after a century.

The efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through various mitigation measures—phasing out fossil fuels, increasing energy efficiency, adopting renewable energy sources, improving land use and agricultural practices—continue to move forward, but the pace is too slow. We have to scale up and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy. Simultaneously, we must acknowledge that climate change is already occurring and affecting the lives of millions of people.

It is no surprise that we are worried about global warming, considering that the members of the Millennial and Gen Z generations will experience the most severe impacts of climate change within their lifetime. In line with the view that climate change needs to be addressed today, a majority believes that several public and private actors are not doing enough to help reduce climate impact.

We can avoid this bleak future if we reduce emissions, offset what cannot be reduced, and adapt to new climate realities. There are effective policies, regulations, and market instruments. If these are scaled up and applied more widely and equitably, they have the potential to support significant emissions reductions while also stimulating innovation. That being said, we can be certain that inaction is our greatest enemy, and denying the existence of a climate crisis will not alleviate the problem. And while turning off unnecessary lights and fans and relying less on air-conditioners is not a bad idea, now is the time for us to demand accountability from those in power and force them to panic as much as we do for our future.

K. R. Swathi is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Maria Aqdas

The line between Good and Evil


Fiction often portrays characters as Black or White. This is especially true for early cinema and literature, where heroes were perfectly good knights on a mission to vanquish absolute wicked dragons and save the heroine from the beast’s clutches. With time, as cinema and literature have evolved, there has been an influx of morally grey characters – the anti-heroes. There’s something about such fictional personas that speaks to the general audience. The morally ambiguous character trope is now a multifaceted stereotype that is more accurate to reality than fiction, even if they do terrible things for a noble purpose or one they mistakenly believe to be good.

I started writing this article after I had a debate with one of my acquaintances regarding a very eminent character – Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series. The said person believed that Snape reads like the caricature of abusive male protagonists who are eventually not only forgiven but also celebrated because they did the right thing in the end, no matter for what reasons, no matter how late into the game; and you are supposed to like them because they have a sob story.

Credits: Quora

My argument against this notion was, that Snape was a broken person. He was someone who wouldn’t miss life and whom life wouldn’t miss. He was despised. He knew he never mattered to anyone and that’s what made him guarded. He only had himself to look out for him, which made him set up walls around him, turning him bitter and rude. Situations make a person, and how Snape found himself to be as a grown-up was a culmination of a long chain of events that led up to the moment in which he developed his sense of morality. The fact that his character was not only forgiven but also celebrated brings faith in the power of redemption.

Earlier, fictional words were divided into morally White and morally Black characters. With the evolution of both cinema and literature, we started seeing relatable reflections in our favorite stories when morally grey characters were introduced. The anti-heroes, who operate on the thin line between what’s traditionally good and bad started intriguing the general audience. While we may not concur with the choices of these ethically conflicted characters, we are, in many cases, offered the chance to grasp their hidden motives through their sob stories. It is this element that appeals to the audience as they can relate more with the characters now. Their choices, which earlier appeared to be wrong, suddenly become admirable or at least understandable. They leave the rigid outline of black and white and enter a grey area, showcasing their psychological complexities and making them appear more realistic.

In fact, let’s have a look at some of the very prominent morally grey characters who are thoroughly loved and admired by the audience –

  • The Batman from the Dark Knight Trilogy: We might see Batman as a hero, especially due to his strict moral code and refusal to kill offenders, but that doesn’t change the fact that this Gotham City’s Dark Knight aces in breaking laws and we simply dismiss his actions because ultimately, it’s for the right cause.
  • Tony Stark from The Avengers: Remember Wanda Maximoff and Pietro Maximoff, as in The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver? It was a bomb manufactured by Stark Industries that killed their parents. Despite being several shades of grey as a character, Tony Stark aka Iron Man continues to be the beloved hero that he is.
  • Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones: Tyrion Lannister is one of the most beloved characters in both the books and the TV show because he’s funny, and his unapologetically confessional wit often acts as an excuse for the killing and horrendous things that he does.
  • Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter saga: If Draco Malfoy was pure evil, he would have killed Dumbledore without a second thought. But he was frightened and worried, and ultimately couldn’t do it. Draco is morally grey because of his doubts. He makes one wrong decision after another and his doubts start piling up, and eventually, they help him progress toward the right path.
  • Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries: Who is a better example of a morally grey character than Damon Salvatore? When he first appears in the series, he is the most hated character. But gradually as the seasons progress, the villain actually turns out to be the hero. Not only Elena but also the audience falls in love with the perfect modern-day embodiment of an anti-hero.

It’s simple to predict a character’s potential course of behaviour in any given circumstance when they are motivated by moral goodness. You essentially know that the worst this hero will ever do is struggle with the urge of stepping out of line. On the other hand, morally dubious personalities will undoubtedly surprise you. They have more richly-developed personalities that challenge our ethical narratives.

In conclusion, it is the aim, the motive that distinguishes a villain from someone who is morally grey. Investigating the motivations behind a character’s behaviour showcases their morals. We all make mistakes and have reasons for doing or not doing things. People are frequently drawn to morally grey personalities because they identify with their flaws and traits.

Credits: PopTonic

Laura Friday says “I think, with all humans, the duality of human nature is such a common theme throughout the history of stories and nobody is wholly good or wholly evil and as much as we strive to be good we just sometimes can’t help ourselves. We’re naturally creatures of short-term orientation and instant gratification and as much as we want to make the right choice all the time, we don’t always think about long-term consequences.”

Characters can develop significantly during the course of a movie or television show, and their internal moral conflict is what makes them human and appealing. If you have been evil, it doesn’t mean you have to stay evil. After all, we are humans, each learning to be more of Heaven’s than of Hell’s.

Mariam Tuba is a student pursuing Psychology from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Anzal Khan

Little Things – A Slow-Paced yet Enthralling Romantic Drama Series


Initially created by Dice Media, Ashwin Suresh’s Little Things is a tribute to the semi-modern Indian society of live-in couples, which rose to worldwide fame after Netflix took over from season two. The series does not encourage the entire larger-than-life character trope, nor does it even follow a track that is too loud for the audience: a motif that is distinctive with the ‘coming-of-age’ genre. The entire show is founded on simplicity—raw, genuine, unremarkable, and ordinary.

Caption: A still from the show.

Starring Dhruv Sehgal as Dhruv and Mithila Palkar as Kavya, Little Things follows the story of a cohabitating couple in their twenties as they tackle the ups and downs of their careers and modern-day relationships while discovering themselves in contemporary Mumbai. The show’s stunning storyline and outstanding performances by its leading duo struck a chord right away. It is in fact, a breath of fresh air for those of us who grew up seeing implausible melodramatic love stories.

Over the course of its four seasons, Dhruv and Kavya work toward their professional ambitions, spend time together and apart, and discover what they truly want from life. The first season was mostly about the couple figuring out what they mean to each other – essentially a sweeter start to their relationship. They deal with difficulties linked to individuals around them as a couple in the second season, while figuring out their position in the world in terms of their ambitions in the third. Then, as a natural extension of that reasoning, the memorial of their relationship follows. The first three seasons were penned by Dhruv Sehgal, while the fourth season credits him as a Co-Executive Producer. Abhinandan Shridhar is in charge of both the writing and the production in the final season. Throughout the series, there are some thought-provoking yet simple dialogues that never fail to amaze the audience.

“Trying to make the best out of what you have is what everything is about.”

In the second season’s episode five, Kavya acts out after returning from a workplace trip, and Dhruv serves her favourite dinner as a surprise. Then they have a genuine discussion about what if someone else might be a better match for them. It’s both startling and endearing to witness Dhruv manage the matter with logic and affection, resolving Kavya’s perplexity without a fight. Again, the couple emphasise the importance of valuing small details in everyday love.

Dhruv and Kavya, whom viewers originally met in their adorable twenties, are now in their thirties, and finally prepared to confront the questions that come with wanting to spend the rest of one’s life with someone. After nearly a year apart, the pair reunites for a holiday in Kerala in the final season. Incorporating beautiful shots of Alleppey, Munnar, and Fort Kochi, as well as a slow-motion montage of the pair going around, the director Ruchir Arun takes a few detours with the show.

I guess that depends on who you are going around in circles with.” – Responds Kavya when Dhruv explains life appears to revolve around circles but questions how to move forward. Further, they discuss what went well and wrong, staying away. Kavya continues to have doubts about them, and Dhruv is keen to iron out any wrinkles before they take hold. They both want to be together, nevertheless, in their hearts. Dhruv even comments in one of the series’ last episodes that they work because they want to find reasons to be together and solve problems.

By expressing their experiences in a coherent form, the script makes a purposeful attempt to have us notice the changes in these characters. There are certain aspects of maturity that Little Things has indeed skillfully depicted that demonstrate a great understanding of Indian millennials. Dhruv and Mithila are always outstanding in their performances, but the actors impersonating their parents, whether it’s Loveleen Mishra and Pawan Chopra as Dhruv’s parents or Navani Parihar and Rishi Deshpande as Kavya’s, often steal the show.

Apart from this, the show’s inherent charm and tenderness emphasise small, seemingly insignificant gestures that long-term couples typically overlook – a foot massage, having someone accompany you to a doctor’s appointment, and comforting your partner’s parents. Or simply having someone in your life who loves you despite the fact that you burp loudly in their company on occasion.

Caption: A still from the show.

Once the couple is back in Mumbai and is living together again, things start to get more intriguing. Dhruv contends with the hardships of his new work in the final four episodes directed by Pranjal Dua, while Kavya confronts an unforeseen health setback that threatens to put a long pause in her promising future. However, in what some may consider a very predictable conclusion, the two finally determine how they want to spend the rest of their lives together.

The final scene shifts to Kavya’s room, where she is prepping for her engagement. Dhruv and Kavya join the rest of the family in the living room for the ceremony. As they exchange rings, Dhruv requests that Alexa play “Ek din aap yun” from Yes Boss, as suggested by Kavya’s father. Like there are no perfect plot structures in life, the show’s season four somehow doesn’t neatly wrap up all of the cliff-hangers. Despite this, Little Things has managed to bring things to a close, perhaps in a conventional manner, but with great care and authenticity.

Tahseen Fatima is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Maria Aqdas

How realistic is it to raise the Marriage-able Age for Women in India?


Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared in his 2021 Independence Day speech that his government intends to raise the legal age of marriage for women in India. While the general public has applauded this choice, will we be able to understand its practicality after we consider other significant factors? Was this decision aimed toward progress, or is this step a case of moral posturing? Let’s have a look at the various arguments that stand in favor of and against the proposed bill.

The Union Cabinet in December 2021 cleared a proposal to raise the marriageable age for women across India from 18 to 21 years. The bill now lies before the Standing Committee for further evaluation, a few steps away from becoming a law.

The bill amends the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 to raise the minimum age of marriage for girls from 18 to 21 years, quashing any other customs or practices. The bill also increases the minimum age for application of annulment of marriage, i.e., before attaining majority (before 20 years of age for girls). The bill now allows women to apply for annulment of marriage till 23 years of age, i.e., for up to five years.

A woman is considered an adult upon attaining the age of 18 years. This implies that all laws meant for adult citizens of the country would apply to her. It would include her being allowed to vote, sign a contract, attain a driver’s license or be tried as an adult if she’s involved in a criminal case. However, according to the proposed bill, a woman is still not old enough to exercise her choice of getting married. This is also the current status of males in our country. Attaining the age of majority at 18, while not being permitted to marry until the age of 21, may have implications for the rights and obligations of people aged 18 to 21.

According to the government, raising the marriageable age will help achieve a variety of goals, including further declines in MMR and IMR, improvements in nutrition levels, sex ratio at birth, female labor force participation, and gender equality. But data on MMR and IMR shows that these indicators have already been improving in the country. There is no credible data to suggest that child marriage is the major reason for the high MMR and IMR. There may be other factors like health, nutrition, and lack of medical facilities that contribute to it. While the government intends to improve education among women, this move may eventually lead to a rise in the number of underage marriages.

Credits: TOI

Under the new law, underage marriages would be considered null, and women would be allowed to approach the court for annulment of marriage up to the age of 23, which would help young girls who are forced into marriage and want to come out of it. However, for many poor families, marrying off their daughters is seen as a solution to deal with poverty, escalating dowry demands, and the fear of sexual assaults against their daughters. Raising the legal age of marriage would mean that a much larger section of society, mainly the poor, would face punitive measures.

If child marriages are considered null and void in the eyes of the law, it would mean the spouse would have no right to maintenance, no marital rights, and no right to inheritance, and the man would face no legal consequences if he married again. Moreover, marriages considered null and void in the eyes of the law would still have social validity. A young girl who is married just becomes a spouse without any legal protection. Raising the age of marriage would result in many more such young girls who would have no legal protection or even recognition under the law. Steps must instead be taken to tackle the ongoing issues faced by young girls.

Critics of the proposed bill argue that this increase in the minimum age for marriage would be counterproductive. They say that this would deprive young girls of their rights as adults and would be misused by parents as a tool to keep them under their control.

According to the NFHS (2019-21), 23% of women aged 20 to 24 married before the age of 18. However, only 785 cases were registered in 2020. This means that there has been limited success in curbing marriage below the age of 18 years. The current PCMA law treats underage marriage as valid but voidable. It gives social workers flexibility in negotiating with the families involved. Using laws at the village level may have severe repercussions (e.g., Bhanvari Devi was gang-raped for stopping child marriage).

Credits: BBC

The supreme court has said that the right to marry is a part of the right to life under article 21 of the Indian constitution. It further stated that this right could not be taken away except through a law which is substantively and procedurally fair. In a case in 2018, the supreme court held that the consensual choice of two adults to be together is recognized under articles 19 and 21 of the constitution. It also held that consensual sexual activities between two consenting adults are fundamental rights under articles 14, 15, 19 and 21 of the Indian constitution. If the bill were passed, it would be legal for two consenting adults to have sexual relationships but illegal to marry between the ages of 18 and 21. Again, this is also the current status of males in India.

Several national and international committees recommend making 18 years the legal age of marriage for both boys and girls. The current law is based on the archaic assumption that girls mature earlier than boys. However, it must be noted that due to the prevalence of hypergamy, bringing down the age of marriage for boys would result in people desiring a bride of age 14-16 years for a man of age 18. Hence, the government must focus on strengthening the current laws rather than introducing changes without any secure foundation.

The proposed law essentially puts off the existing problems, even while effort must be made to address domestic abuse, early pregnancies, etc., and new laws must be passed to address issues like marital rape and domestic abuse against males.

It is crucial for the state to envision a certain future for women in the country, but the proposed legislation would impose a drastic shift without addressing the circumstances that necessitate such legislation in the first place. Adulthood is not divisible. The law seems to be limiting a woman’s rights under the pretext of women’s empowerment. There is no hard-core evidence to prove that raising the marriageable age would benefit society in any way. In fact, it might end up guiding us away from the core issues.

Bushra Faridi is a student pursuing Geography from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Diptarka Chatterjee

Jharkhand’s Newfound Popularity is no less than a Tragedy


The murder of a 16-year-old boy, Mobasir, by the Government’s arsenal yet again doomed Jharkhand. Often dismissed as the State harboring Naxals, Jharkhand has always remained the ignored child. The riots continue to grow wild and after this incident, nothing would be the same again. Because as it’s said, “When the police murder, who do you call?” The embers set aflame by a long queue of corrupt Government are eating Jharkhand away!

When (mis)fortune strikes, there are no warnings. Jharkhand is the best case study for the aforementioned phrase. There was a time when the media wouldn’t even dare acknowledge the state’s autonomy. Yet today, Jharkhand is at the tip of everyone’s tongue. Unfortunately, it isn’t for a good cause. The state-sanctioned murder of a 16-year-old boy has called upon the wrath of India, pulling Jharkhand into the limelight. Or, the uncontrolled riot on Maha Shivratri is just another recent incident in a decaying province. As a concerned citizen of the state, this fame is as good as a noose in our neck.

Credits: Pragativadi

Jharkhand is India’s richest mining province. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Tata Steel Groups, Kalakand, and Rasika Dugal are just some of the most famous contributions of the state to India. And yet, for ages, Jharkhand has evaded the mainstream media’s eyes. By being left unseen and ignored, Jharkhand is now known for some of the worst crimes, Jamtara‘s hub being one.

Though the protests arose because of what was said against a certain community, it was in that particular community’s fundamental right to protest – peacefully! Many suggested that the incident demanded bullets even though there were better and less violent means to control such incidents. Often when the cops become involved, the demand is to have an unbiased entity deliver justice. Instead what happened during the protests was politically manipulated. Had the outcry taken the lives of the youngsters, it would have been different. The police’s complacency and corruption are the criminals here and the state should be held accountable.

In December 2019, Jharkhand overthrew the saffron-clad BJP, which had a landslide victory in 2014. This change in leadership was a slap for the inefficient and complacent politicians. It was a clear message that the actual power still resided in the public’s hands and they were not ready to give that up. Jharkhand’s history of independence has a lot of struggles in it. And corrupt leaders were a mutual deal after partition for both, Jharkhand and Bihar. Chief Minister Hemant Soren, too, is a dishonest leader who has blindfolds that make ignoring his own mistakes much easier.

The Prevention of Mob Violence and Mob Lynching Bill, 2021, has done nothing to better Jharkhand’s lynching conditions. From Sanju Pradhan‘s murder to the lynching of Muslims under the impression of carrying beef right before every Eid-ul-Adha is a reality for many. Moreover, Jharkhand’s superstitious beliefs, too, have taken the lives of many. According to the CID data, killings of about 27 people in 2019, 28 in 2020, and about two dozen in 2021 were registered, under suspicion of them being “witches“. Sure, to say that the CM has done nothing to ease these wounds would be me ridiculing myself. Yet those endeavours are just not enough to stop these evil practices. However, any smart government would know that these numbers are only the registered ones. Many cases that never get registered continue to echo in the jungles of this state.

Credits: Ravi Choudhary

In a time when India should soar, Jharkhand is still grappling with the bare necessities. Despite mining about 40% of India’s coal, it is still one of the poorest states. Due to the inefficiency of the government, thousands of Covid vaccines were wasted. Jharkhand’s need for change in its education system is urgent. Yet, its own Education Minister isn’t a graduate himself. This certainly does not mean that less educated people don’t deserve higher posts; but people with a better understanding of education would be much better candidates. Unsurprisingly, the state also saw a 17% rise in rape cases in 2021, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). The NCRB reports also released that offences against SC/ST communities were the highest in Jharkhand in 2020. The most popular motives were – vendetta and enmity (269), love affairs (62), dowry (56), and illicit relationships (36).

But Jharkhand’s obstacles to being India’s pride do not end at these issues but begin from them. As a third-generation citizen of Jharkhand, I know these cases and statistics by heart. They may be mere names and numbers for the elite and the CM, but as a person who has always seen her neighbourhood burn, it’s a death sentence we serve every day. The CM’s uncanny silence on the devastating murder of Mobasir empowers the ones behind it. The inciter should be held responsible, whoever they may be – the Hindutva groups, Muslims, or the State, itself. It was the State’s irresponsibleness to curb the upheaval that followed the protests. The death of Mobasir and Sahil was from the State’s guns and that is a fact. There is room for compensation because these kids were not anti-social elements, that could be easily disposed of and whose lives did not matter. They mattered and so does Jharkhand who’s being chewed whole by a Government that sleeps in castles and does a cameo every six months in a helicopter, blissful in their ignorance of whatever the on-ground reality is like!

Juhi Salim is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Anzal Khan

The Survivors of Ted Bundy


In the seventies, America had to witness one of its most notorious serial killers, Ted Bundy, who startled the world with his heinous crimes against young women. Numerous young souls lost their lives at the hands of a monster, but some of them were fortunate enough to survive those attacks. A few of these women shared their experiences during the trials and in the documentaries made years later.

Trigger warning: Sexual Assault, Severe Physical Assault, Murder

Credits: AP

Even after all these years, the case of Ted Bundy remains a matter of curiosity among the masses, catering to which, numerous documentaries and movies have been created. Some of those include Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, Ted Bundy: Serial Monster, and Ted Bundy: An American Monster. One of the most famous movies made on him is titled Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile, gaining its reference from the remarks of the judge at his trials. During the court hearings, many women across America supported him as he looked too charming to be a killer.

He lured young women mostly by pretending to be in dire need of help, using it as a facade to gain their trust. He drove a Volkswagen across the Pacific Northwest, in which he used to stalk and abduct his targets. His victims were young women, conventionally pretty, and were long-haired brunettes, indicating the preference he had for his targets. Kimberley Leech was the only child he killed. He was a necrophile who raped the distorted bodies of many of his victims after they died and would often keep a few of their body parts as souvenirs. Bundy spent several years in prison before being executed in the electric chair on January 24, 1989. Before his execution, he confessed to killing at least 30 women.

Karen Epley was his first victim and one of the few survivors of his crimes. On January 4, 1974, she was sexually assaulted and beaten down to a pulp. She was taken to the hospital after shuddering in pain for 18 hours. As a consequence of the attack, her bladder was severely injured. She had permanent brain damage and lost half of her hearing as well as forty percent of her vision. For many years, she experienced panic episodes.

Credits: The Times

Kathie Kleiner was attacked on January 15, 1978, at her sorority house in Florida at midnight. After killing Margaret Bowman and Lisa Levy, sorority girls in the adjoining room, Kathie and her roommate were attacked with a golf club, which resulted in Kathie’s shattered jaw line and a torn cheek. When Bundy realized Kathie was still alive, he smashed the golf club against her face for the second time. Ted fled the crime scene, leaving three dead women and one severely injured. After spending a week at the hospital, she was sent back to her room to check if the killer took any of their belongings as a souvenir, but all she could see was blood and his fingerprints on black dust. She stood as one of the witnesses at the trial.

On the evening of November 8, 1974, Ted Bundy approached Carol DaRonch at a bookstore, claiming to be a police officer, and asked her to accompany him to the police station, justifying that he had caught a guy who tried to break into her car. She tried to cooperate with the police and sat with him in his car. He drove them away and pulled them over to a curb, pulled out a gun, and held it over her head, threatening to shoot her. That’s when her defense instincts got activated. She fought for her life, and eventually pushed him back and got out of the passenger seat. She escaped by chance in an approaching car. She was the only victim who survived the Utah abductions and was even responsible for his detention later on. She realized it was Ted who tried to abduct her because the person shown on the TV had the same cold, lifeless eyes as her kidnapper. She also stood as a witness against him at his trial, which infuriated him quite a lot as shown via the tapes.

Though Lizzy was not a survivor of his attacks, she did survive the emotional trauma caused by the reality of the love of her life. Lizzy, a single mother of her daughter Molly, met Ted Bundy at a club. Given the charming and smart man that he was, she was smitten from the get-go. Being deeply in love with him, she dated him for five years. She recalls he was an absolute gentleman and never, in her wildest dreams, could she have imagined he was capable of something so brutal. Ted even shared a special bond with Molly, who adored him and perceived him as a father figure in her life. It was the year 1974 when Lizzy started noticing certain changes in his behavior, which she suspected was because he was seeing someone else. Little did she know, this was the time he was initiating a heinous journey of the bloodbath.

Credits: Amazon Studios

There were accounts of several women going missing in Seattle. On July 14, 1974, Ted Bundy abducted Denise Naslund and Janice Ott from Lake Sammamish State Park. Their bodies were later found dumped in the woods. With the help of park footage, a sketch of a man who drove a Volkswagen was circulated in newspapers. That is when one of Lizzy’s co-workers brought a copy of the newspaper to her. Lizzy also noticed the uncanny similarity and called the police through a tip line they had issued, but it wasn’t received seriously by the cops. She was afraid of confronting him because of the possibility of it being true. Ted fled Seattle and killed a hitchhiker within 12 hours of his journey to a different state. He set off on a killing spree in a few other states of the Pacific Northwest. Lizzy came to realize the murders were now transpiring outside of Seattle, which reinforced her doubts against Ted. She tried to reach out to the police, but it went in vain once again.

In the year 1975, he was halted for a traffic violation in Utah, where the cops found a few questionable belongings in his car. He was taken into custody and was later on identified by Carol DaRonch, the survivor from Utah. He got out on bail and went to visit Lizzy for the last time. Molly believes they were spared because of his apparent existence in their lives which would have created problems for him if he did harm them. Elizabeth recalls she was always confused as to why he didn’t contact her even before his execution, but she was unaware that he did send her a letter before being electrocuted, stating his love for her, which was burnt down by Lizzy’s daughter as she didn’t want her mother to be manipulated once again. She stated he didn’t deserve closure after what he did to all those innocent women. Molly, to date, has been deeply disturbed by the fact that Kimberly Leech, Ted’s last victim, was 12, the same age as her when she was raped, killed, and dumped beneath a pig shed.

Several women were fortunate enough to survive and several families got the closure of their tragedies. However, the actual figure of the victims slain by Ted died with him. It is speculated that it could be more than a hundred.

Ashna Arif is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Shoa Falak

Affirmative Action: An Insoluble Debate?


Indians may not be familiar with the term, but they mention affirmative action in at least one conversation a day. Amidst ever-rising competition and a lack of employment, someone needs to be held accountable. And most Indians in the UR category put the blame on people from the reserved categories. Should it be called indignation or yet another symbol of privilege? Affirmative action has been one of the most controversial political issues since its inception. It is worth deliberating whether the subject matter will ever reach a consensus or not.

Affirmative action describes a set of policies that grant special concessions to underprivileged communities who were stripped of adequate opportunities in the past, particularly due to racial bias and apartheid. In a multicultural society like ours, affirmative action forms a significant part of politics. It plays an essential role in the endeavour of redistributing opportunities more reasonably. Affirmative action is, hence, a means to this end that has manifested as a result of the prolonged discrimination of ethnic, racial, and gender minorities.

Credits: The Guardian

To Americans, affirmative action is an American dilemma. To Indians, it is exclusively a manifestation of the centuries-old caste system. However, it is interesting to note that such remedial action is found all around the world. Group preferences are present in most modern nation-states with entirely different histories and ethnicities. What is called affirmative action in the US is called positive discrimination in Britain and India, standardization in Sri Lanka, and referring to the federal character of the country in Nigeria. All these different nations are under peculiar circumstances, but such circumstances are dealt with similar programs or policies.

Since affirmative action emerged out of the struggle to combat discrimination, it relies upon efforts to combat historical patterns of racial injustice. Compensatory justice has evolved as a core argument in defence of the policy. Samuel Krislov, an American political scientist, draws an analogy of a race in which two runners are competing but one of them is forced to bear a heavy burden. After the race begins, the unencumbered runner moves far ahead. According to Krislov, you cannot say to the runner cumbered under burden that you see their suffering and ask them to leave their burden at the side of the course. That does not make the race equal. Restitution has to be made for the prior injustice.

“You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him to the starting line of a race, and then say, ‘you are free to compete with all the others,’ and still justly believe you have been completely fair.”

— Former US President Johnson

An additional utilitarian argument- pro affirmative action– rests on the belief that integration within organisations and society at large ensures constructive outcomes. This is because identities carry with them distinctive socialisation experiences that often result in diverse perspectives. The third argument is that of democratic values. Elizabeth Anderson has argued, for example, that the dismantling of barriers to opportunity, which has worked to the disadvantage of minority groups, is essential for the promotion of a democratic civil society. In the context of government bureaucracy, democratic values enhanced by inclusiveness are all the more important.

But not everyone is up for such policies. The most common argument against affirmative action is that individuals should be evaluated based on their personal merits. Opponents argue that giving special preference to some groups because they have suffered or continue to suffer, is simply substituting one form of inequity for another.

Credits: Indypendent Reader

Another argument made to attack the notion is that preference is often given to the wrong people; “the most fortunate of the least fortunate groups” and “less qualified minority group people in contrast to more qualified majority group people.” This argument suggests that:

  • (a) Not all members of the disadvantaged community need preferences, and (b) More qualified individuals deserve selection over less qualified ones, irrespective of their background.

Affirmative action not only benefits the wrong people but also that it is at the cost of innocent non-minority individuals who may have never been guilty of discrimination themselves. This has come to be known as reverse discrimination. As society moves from a system that advantaged majority groups, say, white men, to one where a greater share of opportunity is available to previously disadvantaged groups, say black men and women, it is inevitable that opportunities for white men will be reduced.

“To equate the efforts to remedy the plight of racial minorities with the actions that produced it is to twist history.”

— Stanley Fish

Fish’s opinion notwithstanding, it is further insisted that affirmative action is, in fact, not needed at all. That we could do away with it. It is vigorously argued that the minority groups are now well represented in the areas of education, employment, and the establishment. Hence, we can let go of institutions like these because the goal has supposedly been achieved.

The debate centres on the two competing values that are fundamental to democratic culture: liberty and equality. Supporters of the policy accentuate equality of opportunity for groups historically disadvantaged, while opponents lay more stress on liberty in the sense that employers should have the choice to select whoever they deem appropriate for a job role instead of focussing on their identities. Resolving this debate is a Herculean task, one that scholars have not been able to and don’t seem to achieve any time soon. Nonetheless, there is one point where both proponents and opponents of the policy would agree. Affirmative action, when first conceived, was supposed to be a transient tool. It was hoped that one day we would not need it anymore. However, what segregates the two sides of the issue is the question of when we will reach that day. For those against it, the time from when onwards we don’t need it has already arrived. And for those who continue to root for its presence, we are yet to arrive. Consequently, the day we reach a consensus on the preferential policies of affirmative action is yet to arrive too. Perhaps one day that goal will be realised, but in the interim, the argument continues.

Alisha Uvais is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Shoa Falak

Activism in Modern Age: Effective or Performative?


Every few days in recent years, there has been a new worldwide crisis or incident. Social media has made activism more accessible with practically everyone talking about their concerns, stating opinions, and demonstrating their “support”. But, the question is, does it make a difference? Of course, we do it with the best of intentions, but is liking a post really helping the cause, or has it simply become a self-congratulatory way to signal support without truly having to engage?

As we’re in the era of fast news, social upheaval, and the need for people to stand up for what they believe in our society, there has been an increase in the number of people who just talk the talk and not walk the walk and this is what can be referred to as performative activism. Performative activism commonly referred to as “slacktivism”, “clicktivism”, or “hashtag activism”, occurs when a person or organization posts on social media about a current topic but doesn’t follow through with meaningful actions. In other words, showing online solidarity for personal capital gain and social clout. It’s the notion that simply altering our profile picture or posting on social media with a viral hashtag is enough to convince people that we care about the current events without doing anything beyond that.

Credits: Pew Research Center

While it has been around for decades, ‘Black Out Tuesday‘ was arguably the pinnacle of performative activism during the BLM Movement of 2020. The movement #TheShowMustbePaused was initially launched by music executives Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang to amplify Black voices, stories, and artists. But when #BlackOutTuesday rolled around, the feeds were deluged with nothing but black squares. The #blacklivesmatter and #BlackoutTuesday hashtags were filled with roughly 24 million black square posts, completely drowning out the educational and important information about the movement that had been shared previously under the same hashtags. People hastily posted a black square to assure others of their “wokeness” and went about their everyday lives without doing any actual work to support it. By its very nature, slacktivism relies on the simplest and least amount of engagement – a repost, to appease our conscience and feel as though we have accomplished something.

Too often, social issues are taken up by hashtags or shares and become trending topics for a few weeks before dying out. People treat disasters like the Russian-Ukrainian war, the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands by Israel, and Yemen’s humanitarian crisis as if they were a fad, sharing one post and then disappearing. Other crises do not receive the same level of attention due to a lack of hashtags and likes. It’s disconcerting to consider how some issues that affect people’s lives and integrity are just part of a trend cycle.

Credits: Delphine Diallo

Everyone is expected to be concerned about the hot and trending societal issue, ignoring other, still-unresolved and appalling concerns. But how genuine is someone’s interest in these causes if they only ever share or talk about them on social media?

Most notoriously, celebrities are also not immune to the desire to seek online validation. They weep for a black man’s life lost in America while endorsing skin-whitening products in a country with a predominantly dark-skinned population. Talking about hypocrisy, Indians from higher socioeconomic brackets are also not exempted from it. They are quick to speak out on international issues and point fingers at the relevant authorities while turning a blind eye to the atrocious issues in their nation perpetrated by the Indian police force and the Indian government.

It’s indisputable that online activism has a significant role in bringing issues to the foreground that would otherwise go unnoticed. Social media can be used to promote awareness, start dialogues, and persuade others to act. Not to mention how it sparked global outrage by turning Black Lives Matter into a global social movement. However, social networking is not the panacea for all the problems. Sending a link or signing a petition won’t solve all of the issues. It’s important to remember that social media is a tool, not an end in itself. Awareness is a strategy, not a goal. Public support does not always imply private action. In today’s fast-paced world, public support for evolving movements is fleeting and easily forgotten by the next repost.

A field study on slacktivism found that an online campaign that showed engagement from 6.4-million online users only received 30 physical donations. According to a preliminary study, this is likely due to the absence of accountability and repercussions associated with e-pledging. Furthermore, between June and September 2020, support for the BLM movement dropped from 67% to 55%, particularly in white and Hispanic communities, indicating that #blacklivesmatter was merely a phase for many.

But this needs to change, especially in cases of social justice. While spreading information is always valuable, pressing topics deserve action beyond a retweet. Our Instagram story is not going to feed a starving child. To make a difference, we need to ensure our support is continuous and extends beyond social media and not fall victim to performative activism.

Moneera Aiman is a student pursuing English Hons. from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Anzal Khan

Human Trafficking: The Modern Day Slavery


Be it a result of war, poverty, or just a means for the traffickers to entertain their own inhuman wants, human trafficking has become a worldwide common crime. It takes place in the shadiest corners of the darkness, making it impossible to gather the exact number of victims. Even so, many surveys have shown that the vast majority of trafficking victims are girls and women, with three out of four being transported for sexual exploitation.

Human trafficking or Modern Slavery is the recruitment, transportation, or transfer of people, with the intention of making money by force, fraud, or deception. Men, women, and children have all become victims of this crime, which is been happening in every corner of the world. To deceive and coerce their victims, traffickers frequently resort to violence, sham employment agencies, and false promises of education and job opportunities.

Traffickers force their victims into performing sexual activities or manual labor. They hunt for people who are vulnerable for various reasons, such as psychological or emotional weakness, economic difficulty, lack of social security net, natural calamities, or political instability. Fear of their traffickers, language barrier, and fear of law enforcement usually keep the victims from seeking help, which results in making human trafficking a secret crime. Many victims have been so traumatized that they not only stop expecting help but are also no longer able to identify themselves.

Apart from being forced to sell their bodies for sex, people are also being trafficked to be house slaves or beggars. Many are thrown into farms and factories to work as laborers as well. Despite the fact that boys and men are also victims, women and girls make up the majority of those recognized as being trafficked for both work and commercial sex.

Credits: Rena Effendi
Caption: Luiza Karimova

Luiza Karimova, a 22-year-old woman from Uzbekistan, left her home and travelled to Osh, Kyrgyzstan, in search of job opportunities. She was soon offered a waitressing job by a woman and she accepted the opportunity. But things, however, took a turn for the worst. Karimova and some other girls were locked in an apartment while their employers seized their passports and other documents. Later, they were given fake IDs in exchange for the real ones. The women, along with Karimova, were put on a plane with their fake passports. Karimova said in an interview that she was sent to a nightclub and was forced to be a sex slave and was expected to earn at least 10,000 USD by the end of the month. Her life was absorbed by the nightclub job for 18 months. One evening, she saw a police car arriving while leaving the club, and instead of fleeing, Karimova stayed there and let the police arrest her. She was sent back to her home, but since her ID was fake, Karimova had to spend a year in jail. She filed a police complaint about the traffickers and three of them were arrested.

After Karimova was released from prison, she was left to live on the streets, humiliated and unemployed. She returned to the sex industry until she was contacted by Podruga, an organization that helps women who have been victims of sex and drug trafficking. She was hesitant to accept at first, but eventually, she accepted the help. Now, Karimova is working to prevent situations like the one she found herself in.

Credits: Stuart Mannion
Caption: Khwang Nu

In Myanmar, a girl named Khawng Nu was misled by another woman from her village who sent her to a birth trafficking ring in China. Khawng Nu said in an interview that there were more than 40 women, some as young as 16, on the floor of the building where she was detained. She also revealed in the interview that the traffickers provided pills to the women and injected them with sperm in order to carry children for the Chinese men. If the women showed any sign of resistance, they would be beaten and tormented.

However, Khawng Nu was one of those lucky girls who managed to send a message to her family. By paying her ransom, her family was finally able to attain her location. Upon arriving in her village, Khawng Nu managed to rescue five more women with the help of local authorities. The trafficking broker of her village was also arrested.

Millions of girls are often found in the same situation as Karimova and Khawng Nu were once in. Human trafficking is a hideous crime that destroys a person’s life, family, and dreams. The government should make an effort to put an end to this crime by educating people about human trafficking and how they can detect the signs of it. It is vital to start spreading awareness about this topic in schools so that children do not become victims of human trafficking.

Sana Perween is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Maria Aqdas

Debunking Dark Academia: From Dead Poets Society to The Secret History


Humans starve and hunt for beauty in the world that surrounds them. We crave it, and we need it psychologically. We delve into aesthetics to find meaning behind our existence, a mindless search for beauty in our being. The universe of dark academia is mere make-believe. The conceptions are nothing more than manifestations of an altered reality. While the aura of this aesthetic may seem highly sagacious, if we investigate from the vantage point of an intellectual, dark academia is actually problematic.

Dark Academia has been hyped up by Gen-Z with an attempt, in the words of Francois Rabelais, “to seek the Great Perhaps.” While this is in pursuit of purpose, it also offers an escape from our conditions through vintage images. These images include a color palette of dark and neutral shades, thick classic novels, minimal and delicate jewellery, tweed trousers, black turtlenecks, and too many cups of black coffee. Often located in an art museum or a historic library or merely at a study desk, these dark academic snapshots worship aesthetic standards that, if followed, can only lead us astray.

A common question that would arise is how did the Dark Academia social media trend spring to prominence recently? The answer lies in the Style section of The New York Times. Most likely in June 2020, during the initial days of the pandemic lockdown, an article titled “Academia Lives-On TikTok” brought this concept to light. People took to the app of Tik Tok and created a slew of short looping videos, lionizing dark academia and boosting its popularity. Having its genesis in Tumblr, this internet culture has transcribed into real life to become a lifestyle movement with core beliefs and ethos.

“Known as Dark Academia, it is a subculture with a heavy emphasis on reading, writing, learning — and a look best described as traditional-academic-with-a-gothic-edge; think stubby brown cardigans, vintage tweed pants, a worn leather satchel full of a stack of books, dark photos, brooding poetry and skulls lined up next to candles.”

— The New York Times

Dark academia is the yearning for a life yet to be lived with academic blunders. There is an unbearable whiteness with the literary canon having little to no variety. It creates an unhealthy romanticizing in denial of the eternal verities. The aesthetic is just a set of facades to hide superficiality and meaningless conformity.

The critics point mainly to the lack of diversity in this community, notably in terms of colour. Dark Academia, as an aesthetic, is steeped in 19th and 20th century Europe. It is sadly, largely white and often depicts the stories of privileged white men. Since it is Euro-centric, it only promotes Ancient Rome and Greece and ignores other races and colours. The issue arises from Dark Academia’s attempt to teach that Eurocentric literature and languages are superior to all other literature and languages. There is no heterogeneity in the trend. The 1988 book and 1989 film, Dead Poets Society is an archetype of Dark Academia as a movement. John Keating, a liberal English teacher, encourages his students to defy convention, challenge the status quo, and live life without remorse. He brings with him a passion for teaching romanticism, thus exposing his students to a world they have never seen before. The nasty scar is that the entire cast is composed of white men, completely devoid of diversity in terms of race and gender.

In order to fully comprehend the aesthetic, we must look at The Secret History by Donna Tartt. It has been the magnum opus of the dark academia genre since its publication in 1992. Although it is rarely read, and when it is, it is frequently misunderstood, The Secret History showcases itself as the orthodox lexicon of dark academia. The novel is about five students studying Greek at an elite university in New England and their attempts to hide the murder of their coalition’s former sixth member. The stumbling block here is the ultimate need to be a part of the upper class. It’s a necessity to be rich with a polished urbanity. The Dark Academia community includes solely the elites of the society. They receive criticism due to the concentration on top-tier and Oxbridge universities, which are unreachable to the general populace.

Unfortunately, dark academia is in many ways an enigma pointing out how to glorify suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, and depression. Mental illness and drunkenness are romanticized and idealized in an extreme way. The aesthetic supports studying around the clock, skipping sleep, and ignoring the need to maintain mental health in order to do so. In the world of dark academia, unhealthy lifestyles such as caffeine obsession and extreme sleep deprivation are prevalent.

The camp of people who find placidity in dark academia wish to be perceived as something akin to an angsty scholar who is intelligent but disturbed. They seem unruffled as they read complex poetry and discuss classics at length. A chaotic yet organized energy powered by a frantic drive for learning consumes them, thus entrapping them into this toxic romanticization. Only neurotypical and nonpareil individuals can find a place in this tribe. Achieving divine madness is a dark academics’ raison d’être. “Whether or not, Dark Academia is the Modern Renaissance” – it is a question that persists unanswered in the colorful yet daunting thoughts of the dark academia realm.

Ambrisha Zubeen is a student pursuing English Hons. from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Diptarka Chatterjee

How the distortion of History occurs?


Many incidents, based on religious and ideological bigotry and distaste have been observed around India in recent years. With their grounds lying on the historical aspect, they are falsified and displayed in terms of untrue incidents, whether related to ancient Indian mosques or Indian Muslim emperors. Amid this scenario, one should at least possess the notion that it’s a long process of historical facts being altered and presented through several mediums including media and the film industry.

After independence, some of our political thinkers placed their interest in following the policy of the British. Incentivized by the aforementioned interests, the work of misguiding the new generation was initiated in educational institutions by putting distorted history chapters in the syllabi. Professor B. N. Pandey, former Governor of the state of Odisha and a historian, published a booklet titled, “Itihas Ke Sath Ye Anyaye” (Hindi), meaning ‘Such An Injustice To History’, where he perspicuously shows how history has been distorted by the authorities through the medium of adding falsified and malicious statements in the textbooks of courses offered by our educational institutions. These statements were especially related to fraudulent accusations on Muslim emperors in Indian history like Tipu Sultan, Aurangzeb Alamgir, and many more. Moreover, apart from books, it spread through other mediums like movies, slogans raised by political parties, their leaders, etc.

Credits: IndiaToday

A very recent example of it can be proved by Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar’s new movie, ‘Samrat Prithviraj‘ which has its grounds on no reality, but a fictional poem, Prithviraj Raso, which entirely lacks historical references and proof. It shows that Prithviraj Chauhan killed Muhammad Ghori, whereas the reality is absolutely the opposite. It is a fact that Chauhan died in 1192 AD and Ghori in 1206 AD. Moreover, it is preserved in the old and modern historical texts that Ghori killed Chauhan after the second battle of Tarain. It is a certitude that the work has been done to give a wrong touch to medieval Indian literature and history, and has many sides and many directions.

The gap between the Hindu-Muslim community, who had settled in one place with mutual cooperation and brotherhood for centuries became very wide, due to the motives of the British. After the bloodshed of millions of people and the partition of the country, though the British brave was sent off safely, the malice between the communities is maintained even today. To please the ambition of promoting bigotry and misinformation, human lives have been taken, and hundreds of villages and cities have gone through bloodshed and massacres. The administration of the country and all the systems are contributing to this motive even today, directly or indirectly, wearing a mask. They use history as a seed of hatred to break the society, so that the organized power of the people to unite and fight against the original problem is eliminated. This plan was carried out so smoothly that today the poison of hatred, aversion, and malice has spread everywhere.

Another foremost example of how history is distorted and altered is of the renowned Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. Undoubtedly, it is proven from history that Aurangzeb had ordered the demolition of the Vishwanath Temple in Banaras and Jama Masjid of Golconda, but the reason for this was something that is not talked much about. In connection to events with the Vishwanath Temple, it is told that when Aurangzeb was passing near Benares on his way to Bengal, the Hindu kings in his convoy requested the emperor to pause the journey, and stay there for a day so that their queens could go to Banares, take a bath in the river Ganga and pay a visit of obeisance to Vishwanathji’s temple. Aurangzeb immediately accepted this request because it was a matter of reverence for his subjects. A military guard was placed on the five-mile route from the convoy’s stop to Banaras. The queens went into palanquins and came back after bathing and worshiping, but a queen (the Queen of Kutch) did not return. She was searched a lot, but could not be found. When Aurangzeb came to know about it, he got outrageous and sent the big officers of his army to search. At last, those officers saw that the idol of Ganesha, which was attached to the wall is shaking. On removing the idol, they found their way to the courtroom and found the missing queen lying, crying on the stairs leading to it. She was raped and her jewellery was snatched away too. This cellar was just below the idol of Vishwanathji. The kings expressed their displeasure over this act and protested. Since it was a very heinous crime, Aurangzeb demanded strict action. On their demand, Aurangzeb ordered that since the holy place had been defiled, the idol of Vishwanathji should be installed elsewhere and the temple should be demolished, the ground, levelled, and the Mahant should be arrested. Doctor Pattabhi Sitaramayya in his famous book ‘Fathers and the Stones‘ has certified this incident on the basis of documents. Former curator of Patna Museum, Dr. P.L. Gupta has also confirmed this incident to be true.

Credits: HindustanTimes

There are a number of incidents in history, which have been distorted and could be proved untrue. Unfortunately, the events and characters of medieval and modern Indian history have been presented in such a distorted manner that the lie itself was accepted as divine truth and those who differentiate between fabrications and facts were blamed. Even today, communal and selfish elements are engaged in distorting history and giving it a wrong color. Our work is to always call humanity towards truth. Always!

Syed Ilham Jafri is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Maria Aqdas

The Good, the Bad, and the Dank: How Memes Shape Popular Culture


As part of the times of the internet, memes have seamlessly become a part of routine life, seeping gradually into our day-to-day vernacular. Some extremely relatable, some downright hilarious, memes can be found everywhere, becoming an integral part of our lives to such an extent that we refer to them in everyday conversation, share them amongst our friend circles, and quickly jump atop the Meme-wagon as soon as a new meme catches the eye of the masses.

In fact, reputed foreign universities have introduced specialized courses in meme studies, where you can actually pursue a degree in memes! UC Berkeley and the University of Cambridge are among prominent universities that seek to understand and analyze this “Meme Revolution“. This brings us to the question of why memes are so relevant to popular culture.

Credits: Sizzle

At the surface level, memes might just be graphical representations of commonplace situations, kind of like illustrated comics, but much simpler to design, easier to understand, and quicker to recreate. Broken to its bare essentials, a meme is nothing but an expression of popular sentiments and opinions. Sometimes borrowed directly from books, movies, and TV shows, sometimes remixed to carry an entirely different meaning, a line becomes a meme as a direct consequence of human acceptance and creativity.

An Independent Language

Any information or instance becomes meme-worthy due to its relatability. From awkward social encounters to modern-day difficulties to a reflection of everyday life, the ideas depicted in memes are short, simple, and succinct. Memes assume a universality as they are understood by several people irrespective of linguistic or geographical differences, becoming a language within itself, thereby forging a sense of community within cyberspace.

Memes not only bridge languages, but their relatability fosters a sense of belonging among certain internet users in specific age groups. Memes are a fun and easy way for teenagers to communicate with their pals, whether to express their opinions about certain sociopolitical topics or to reaffirm their fascination with famous people. Indeed, the process of spreading memes, sharing them on social media platforms, and tagging their friends under specialized meme pages has improved communication around the world and contributed to the triumph of globalization.

After all, modern problems require modern solutions.

Credits: Tenor

The Quest for Relevance

That being said, this cultural paradigm is reflective of the mindset of the current society – one that loves entertainment, celebrates materialism, and reinforces people’s need to remain relevant. Not everyone understands every meme that makes its way through their social media feeds. Understanding a meme necessitates a certain level of cultural awareness as well as familiarity with obscure pop-culture allusions.

When people understand a meme, it shows that they are aware of these references. Memes have an in-crowd appeal that improves one’s belief in their ‘cool’ factor, making them feel like buff Doge. However, because of their accessibility and capacity to reach a large audience in minutes, memes may also be used as propaganda tools, easily instilling and cementing opinions that quickly become popular among cybernauts.

While they are capable of having a positive influence on society, some people believe that memes impede communication in more ways than simply reducing things to one-liners and visuals. They can be used to exacerbate hostile and discriminatory sentiments toward certain races, genders, religions, or sexualities, thus expanding rather than bridging the divide between people. Moreover, the ability of a meme to be shared with many people in a really short span of time is only proof of the captive power of a meme to control and modify popular sentiment, sometimes leading to the spread of misinformation and ill will.

Credits: Facebook

There’s no doubt that memes have changed the way we communicate, for better or worse. However, as we progress into the digital age, we are forced to examine the impact of memes on more traditional modes of communication. This culture may find its way into literary and academic circles, affecting our perspective on the world.

Or maybe, just maybe, memes are nothing more than the result of human inventiveness. Perhaps, at the end of the day, they’re nothing more than a hilarious illustration of people utilizing humor to cope with all of life’s tragedies and sadness.

K.R. Swathi is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Shoa Falak

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard: Trauma Turned Sensational


After years of being involved in a toxic relationship with each other, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard have come forth with their own, different versions of the truth. The court proceedings for the defamation case finally came to a halt after several turmoil-laden weeks. Irrespective of the judicial verdict, the public reaction to the case was, once again, disappointing. Dark memes, clips taken out of context, and personal attacks are still commonplace on different social media platforms. Intoxicated with fresh gossip every week, the public has sensationalized the shared trauma of the two celebrities.

To break a vow to oneself is not a pleasant experience. Years ago, a promise was made that participating in the glamorous squabbles of celebrities is something that’s not worthy of my middle-class attention. The differences in lifestyle would also make it difficult to understand their perspectives; even more difficult was the concept to spend an ounce of empathy on people who were quarantined in million-dollar mansions and tried to downplay their situations as being similar to ours. So, like a wise person, I remained relatively detached.

That came to an abrupt end a few weeks ago, when Johnny Depp filed a defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard. The trial can be dated as far back as 2018 when Depp initially sued the director of The Sun, a British tabloid after it published an article that defamed him and accused him of assaulting Amber Heard when they were together. The article also labeled Depp as a “wife-beater“, something that he repeatedly denies to this day.

A libel trial was heard in the United Kingdom to settle the dispute. Only a single judge presided over the courtroom courtesies and eventually ruled in the favor of the magazine. In the same year, Depp had also filed a case against Amber Heard for defaming him through an Op-Ed that was published in the Washington Post. This particular trial went on despite the UK verdict, as two different entities were sued in each case. The case dragged on for years, as shards of evidences were presented in front of an entire jury this time. The strenuous proceedings came to an end last week when the jury finally ruled their verdict. It was determined that Heard had acted with pure malice. Depp was awarded $10 million as compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages for the lawsuit. The jury also determined that Depp had defamed Heard in one instance, and therefore awarded her $2 million as compensation.

The verdict is out and the global population is mostly satisfied as most of them were rooting for Johnny Depp to win the case. I rejoiced as well, for I thought I could finally scroll through my Instagram Reels without seeing a clip of Camille Vasquez’s (Depp’s lawyer) well-timed objections or the unfunny, dark memes on Amber Heard. In their biased spite for the perpetrator, the internet abolished all kinds of boundaries and treated a trial centered on domestic violence as a circus. As more and more, even seemingly conscious people joined the bandwagon, the extreme trolls and misogynists let go of their masks and produced some of the filthiest, most obscene takes on women on the Internet.

Credits: CNET

It’s 2022, and I don’t expect a lot from the internet, but this case was special. As far as personal opinions are concerned, Amber Heard might not be the perfect representative of domestic violence survivors as she claims to be, but I would not delude myself as far as to paint Johnny Depp as a saint. Mind you, the Pirates of the Caribbean saga defined my childhood, and I couldn’t help but admire his acting prowess. But some of the pieces of evidence against him are shaky, to say the least. The comments he’s made, albeit out of pure frustration, are inhuman and deserve some kind of outrage. Far from it, they are being presented as funny clips, a fact that cannot be justified irrespective of how terrible the person might be towards whom the words are directed. And let’s not forget that Depp is still ruled as an abuser in the United Kingdom.

Another interesting fact about this lawsuit was the work of the actors’ PR teams. Heard’s side tried their best, but they had nothing over Johnny Depp’s entourage. They played their cards right, presented the right clips, appealed to the interests of the masses, and won the trial of the public. Weeks before the verdict was announced, Depp was already the people’s champion. Irrespective of what argument was presented, the narrative worked in his favor. The jury, as experienced as they are, definitely didn’t base their judgment around the popular opinion, and analyzed all the shreds of evidence objectively. However, the disgrace here has always been the internet and how it made a mockery of what was seemingly a sensitive issue.

Taking this particular trial as a reference point, we can also address a larger cause for concern. It’s easy for women to be depicted as the pantomime villain. Men, on the other hand, don’t face the same amount of scrutiny for committing crimes of greater degrees. The likes of Tupac, Kevin Spacey, Chris Brown, and many other male celebrities have been accused of domestic abuse, rape, and so on. But they haven’t faced a similar, more globally-charged scrutiny. It wasn’t just the men harping on Johnny Depp’s victory, however. Many women were supporting him with equal fervor. Is it because Depp is just too likable, or is it a classic case of internalized misogyny?

Credits: Guide4Moms

The answers might be murky but one fact remains clear – there is something inconsistent about how the public reacted to Amber Heard and how they have reacted to men accused of similar charges in the past.

Anzal Khan is a student pursuing B. Com Hons. from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Zaina Shahid Khan

School Shootings and the Construction of a Cultural Discourse of Emergency


It’s in the United States that the tragic occurrence of ‘mass shooting’ most commonly takes place. With the nation surpassing 200 mass killings, including instances of school shootings, the US has recorded the highest number of such tragedies in the world. Moreover, such instances have occurred worldwide, but the United States is known to have the vastest history of school shootings. It is depressing to know that 27 school shootings have taken place in the States in the ongoing year 2022, a fact that calls for immediate action.

There is no specific consensus on how to define mass shootings, so the most common words to define it would be “an incident with a minimum of 3 or 4 victims of gun violence”. It’s in the United States that these incidents most commonly take place. The Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act in the United States defines a mass killing as “3 or more killings in a single incident”. However, they haven’t given any specific definition for mass shootings. School shootings can be defined as “an attack on an educational institution such as a primary, secondary, or a high school or university, with the use of arms”. Many school shootings have been categorized as “mass shootings” since multiple casualties occur. This phenomenon is widely spread in the United States, with the nation recording the highest number of such attacks in the world.

It is depressing to discover that 27 school shootings have occurred in the US during the ongoing year 2022. The country has surpassed 200 instances of mass killings, including school shootings. The individuals involved in these attacks have been found to have high levels of depression, anxiety, dysfunctional families or have been subject to bullying, mental illnesses, or any other forms of psychological issues. Their sources of motivation can vary, but when tried to cover under a broad umbrella, it mostly comes from different forms of depression, suicidal thoughts, built-up stress, or even the desire to be known or recognized. This has been taking place across the world, but the United States has the vastest history of school shootings.

The earliest and the most widely publicized school shooting that occurred in the US was back in 1999 at the Columbine High School in Littleton. The incident involved two students who opened fire at the school, killing about 13 people, including 12 children and one teacher, leaving around 20 other people injured, and ultimately committing suicide. Gun violence, in particular, has been observed to be an epidemic of sorts in the United States over the years. While people advocate that gun-bearing measures should be made stronger in order to curb firearm violence, on the contrary, any such restriction could also violate the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, which gives the right to keep or bear firearms.

There are many other countries where school shootings have been taking place, but contradictory methods of reporting school shootings, especially where no fatalities occur, differ from place to place; only the ones that are covered by recognized media outlets are usually considered.

More than 3,000,000 children in the US have been exposed to armed violence. The most recent case in the States took place at Rob Elementary School, which is a primary school specifically for children between the age of seven and ten, located in Uvalde in South Texas. Salvador Rolando Ramos, a teenager, was said to be a high school student from the same area. The 18-year-old opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle, killing 19 children and two teachers and injuring many. This horrific killing of innocent children reignited the debate over guns in America, and President Joe Biden has called for gun control.

School shootings have involved despair, anger, suicidal thoughts, and most importantly, the availability of guns. Hence, school is the best place to discover the irregular behavior of children. Often there are signs that such children possess which reveal that they may be suffering from a psychological problem. Building a supportive, friendly, and cohesive school environment can help prevent such heinous actions. The administrative bodies should focus on creating an environment where children feel safe to talk to each other or the staff about any trauma they are going through. Life skills classes should be arranged for children to open up and talk about their experiences, whether good or bad so that they can be explained the positive ways to deal with their traumatic experiences.

There should be proper health care; the administration could use behavioral screening tools to analyze students’ mental health better. Teachers should address the risks of violence and its aftermath. Issues of mental health and bullying should be addressed, and the educators should employ more friendly behavior so that the students can get confidence and know that they can approach somebody when in need.

Families should be careful if they own some arms or weapons to keep them away from the sight of children and not discuss any such thing before them because ultimately, it’s the availability of guns that leads to such heinous acts. Lastly, our focus should be on building an environment where school shootings cannot take place. As so aptly demonstrated in the Ted Talk, “I was almost a school shooter,” by Aaron Stark, making someone feel that they have value and that they matter can go a long way toward altering that individual’s life and, consequently, the lives of others.

Samreen Khan is a student pursuing a English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Diptarka Chatterjee

The Jamia Review