75 Years of Freedom

The 75th Independence Day of India is going to be celebrated today, 15th August 2021. 75 years ago, India was one of the first countries in Asia to become independent. A lot has been talked about India’s freedom struggle against British rule. Now, let us focus on the history of independent India, which stood up from the burnt ashes of conflict and fostered a sense of peace and unity.

After World War II, two world’s superpowers, the USA and USSR, started dominating the politics of smaller countries under their influence. The former centred around the idea of democracy and capitalism, while the latter was keener to protect Communism and Communist influence across the globe. Indirect civil wars started in China, Korea, Vietnam, Germany, Afghanistan, and many more nations around the globe. However, India chose to side with neither of the two superpowers and promote ideas of peace and co-operation through Jawaharlal Nehru’s Non-Aligned Movement.

India emerged as the leader of the third world, a cluster of small, backward countries mostly across Asia and Africa. Non-Aligned Movement policy gained ground in Indonesia, Ghana, Yugoslavia, and Egypt. The NAM policy guaranteed the countries full independence and helped them develop and co-exist peacefully with other sovereign states. The NAM policy today has been ratified by 120 countries around the world after having its first summit at Belgrade, Yugoslavia on 1st September 1961.

However, the dreams of India coexisting peacefully was mired with disturbances from its neighbours. India and Pakistan bitterly fought 3 wars in 1947, 1965, and 1971, while China attacked India in 1962. Despite emerging victorious both as a military power and through diplomacy, these wars, together with problems of partition, slowed down the development of India as a superpower. The Indo-Pak wars centred more on the western border of India, with the main hostility around the fate of Jammu and Kashmir, an independent princely state joining India. The conflicts with China are mainly in the eastern and northern sectors, where unclear border demarcations between British India and China resulted in a strained relationship between India and China.

India was instrumental in helping Bangladesh gain independence in 1971 from Pakistan. India also fought the Siachen and Kargil war with Pakistan. India gave refuge to thousands of Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama when Tibet was annexed by the expanding China. Bloody insurgencies in Punjab up to the 1980s, and in Kashmir since then did not help in India’s economic growth. The biggest fight of India throughout its history, and even after independence was poverty. A mass influx of refugees from Pakistan and emigration to Pakistan continued along the Indian border. Also, the pre-partition train and bus communications were severed between the two countries owing to decorating diplomatic ties.

However, India has stood strong with time. It has an active foreign policy, good diplomatic ties with most other countries, and it has also conceived to address its internal problems. Perhaps the biggest achievement of India was the introduction of democracy by Jawaharlal Nehru, which ensured multi-parties, other than the Indian National Congress, can participate to take India forward. India has undergone many ups and downs since its independence. But as long as India remains a democratic country, a secular country for all religions, and maintains close ties with countries around the world, India will rise as the world’s next leading superpower.

Exactly 75 years ago, the father of the nation, Jawaharlal Nehru said on the midnight of 14th August 1947

At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.

At 75, India is ready to take on challenges and be the developed country our nation’s founders dreamt to see. Come, let us take it forward to our future generations.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Corruption: A Termite That Weakens The Roots Of Democracy

Also called mal politics, corruption is the use of power by government officials or their network contacts for illegitimate private gain, violating their vows to uphold the Constitution and the sanctity of the land’s law during their oath-taking ceremonies are typically broadcasted all over the world. This political ideology of robbing your own constituencies’ resources for self greed fulfilment even though Mahatma Gandhi rightly said,” the Earth provides sufficiently for every man’s need not for every man’s greed.” and if left unchecked, will slowly but surely erode the fundamental spirit of democracy not just in one country but in the whole world for it has now become a threat to the global egalitarian society of humans in 2021

Someone has rightly said Crisis Covets Corruption, and the world has faced no crisis as explosive as the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic that brought human civilization to the brink of extinction. States worldwide have taken significant measures to address the health emergency and avoid a global economic collapse. They hastily mobilized billions in funds to procure medical equipment and provide a financial safety net for citizens and businesses in distress. However, the urgent responses required led some States to trade compliance, oversight, and accountability for the achievement of immediate impact, thus creating significant opportunities for fraud. Today the Indian bureaucratic system has become synonymous with bribery and dishonesty. The gap between the rich and the poor has widened, as has the misuse of public funds and embezzlement of black money into swiss banks by business directors.

Despite legislation like demonetization and tax reforms like the introduction of GST, India is still a far cry from being corruption-free. People who indulge in corruption show a severe loss of moral values and must be penalized under the Indian Penal Code’s stringent laws. Media, both print and electronic, can impact awareness and sensitise the masses against this issue plaguing the world. Awakened & enlightened citizens need to join hands as one and demolish and vanquish this social evil once and for all.

Written By – Yatin Arora

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Viewer Discretion Required: The Reality of ‘New’ media

Importance of Viewer Discretion to cope up with prevailing media bias

You switch on the news channel and see a person shouting at the highest of his lungs trying his best to make you think that the establishment is ‘always’ right. You flip the channel and are welcomed by a man who barely resembles Imran Khan, mimicking the Pakistani PM. Yet one more channel flip and comes a person on your TV screen, taking sarcastic digs at the screaming anchor while propagating his agenda.

News media in today’s context holds a particularly complex place. While there is no denying that in a democratic country, journalism and news act as power balancers and checkers. The commercialisation of news that has come up to be the truth as a consequence of competition and TRP races, has caused sensationalisation of stories. So something like PM visiting his mother is given more coverage than a crucial subject. Not just this but the increasing competition has also led to journalism counting on political parties for funds, thus biased news presentation.

Social Media: The New News Source
Social Media: The New News Source

For a short time, social media sites were considered the perfect successor. Since social media didn’t believe TRP’s, it had been assumed that bias wouldn’t seep in there. But social media comes with its perils. In some other context, the ‘personalised content’ trait of Social Media would be appreciated but within the context of stories, personalised content causes you to sleep in a bubble. You’ll be shown the content, you engage the foremost with. So if you follow leftist accounts, your opinion will progress from what’s shown as facts on those accounts. Which entirely kills the motive of stories within the first place. News should only present events as they’re happening. What to form of it should dwell in the hands of the audience, which, unfortunately, isn’t the case, right now. Social Media has also caused a faster spread of lies. Independent journalism, that became a fad with youngsters like Dhruv Rathee and Pratik Sinha could have brought change but even then the importance of viewer discretion can’t be neglected.

Need of the hour is that the ‘spectator’ becomes the ‘questioner’.

Ravish Kumar, Journalist, NDTV

The circumstances that we live in mandates every citizen to actively pursue true news. To become what they call, “active citizens”. To understand everything about everything and keep an open mind with well-formed opinions. As a citizen of a democratic country like India, it’s our responsibility to not just receive news but actively engage with it. We can not stop watching the news altogether since it’s only when we hear differing opinions that we get to introspect and see if we truly believe in what we are saying. The trick is to seek out a balance between the consumption of news and it’s analysis.

Story of Communism and Revolution

“The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.”
― Karl Marx, Eleven Theses on Feuerbach

February 1848 saw the publishing of ‘The Communist Manifesto’ that would go on to become one of the major revolutionary writings propounding an ideology available to people in search of liberation. It called for a revolt by the working class against oppressive capitalism. Its maxim being, “Workers of the world, unite!” quickly became a rallying cry. Communism as an ideology has always called for a classless society, where everything is shared equally. A revolutionary German philosopher, Karl Marx, has been claimed to be the father of Communism. Marx proposed a new ideology that promoted a society where everyone would be treated equally. Richard Pipes in his book “Communism: A History” explains that the emergence of Communism can be traced back to Ancient Greece. One of the main criticisms of the ideology has emerged from the prevailing private property ownership, and such criticism can be easily found even during the period of enlightenment. The upheaval during French Revolution pushed Communism into the political sphere. Since then, communism has come to be associated with a revolution of a kind that had the power of overturning the prevalent economic structure that has been promoting inequality amongst men.

Lenin’s October Revolution in 1917, with the establishment of the first communist government, and its further spread to China with Mao Zedong’s rise to power marked the beginning of the political journey of communism. Taking inspiration from the Russian Revolution, the Communist Party of China was formed. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of ‘free market’ capitalism backed this ideology to a corner and it saw a gradual decline all over the world. The following years see the collapse of communist regimes around the globe, for instance, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Benin, Mozambique, Nicaragua and Yemen. In 1991, the Soviet Union is dissolved with the rise of a new Russian President Boris Yeltsin who banned the Communist Party. Communism soon ended in countries like Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Congo, Kenya, and other nations. North Korea remained nominally communist, although the North Korean government identified its ideology as ‘Juche’ (self-reliant).

The ”great experiment” had failed miserably. The Communist Parties that retained power after the war did not now constitute a threat to the ”hegemony of the global capitalist system”. Moreover, the majority of the nations decided to organize their economy in the lines of capitalism, thereby suggesting that the economic order of the world was majorly capitalistic. The Communist parties that maintained their authority were, however, compelled to cave into the establishment of the ‘the market’ by imitating various features of contemporary capitalist societies. Other than this, the sphere of International Relations is also portrayed in a very skewed and unfamiliar manner in the initial writings of communism. When compared to realism and liberalism, the latter put forward a world political scenario that resonates with those presented in the newspapers and magazines, thereby making it easier to comprehend, but communist thoughts aim at something “deeper, underlying-indeed hidden-truth”. It explains that world politics is all about wars, treaties, aid operations and all these occur within the global capitalist structure. Moreover, these structures have an enormous influence over such events and hence, while studying the global world structure a broader understanding of capitalism is necessary. Communism also argues that the capitalistic structure ensures that the powerful and the wealthy continue to prosper at the expense of the poor and the powerless.

The inception of communism has been attributed to the writings of Karl Marx who was also the founder of the Communist movement. Marx’s thoughts originated against a backdrop of great industrial change. Moreover, he explained the bourgeoisie (the property-owning class) and the proletariat (the industrial working class) while looking at history as a story that talked about the struggle of the oppressed against the oppressor. It is also imperative to mention that Marx while writing about the class struggle, talked about ‘mode of production’. The mode of production as mentioned is a combination of the ‘productive forces’ along with the ‘relations of production’. According to the philosopher, a new stage emerges when the productive forces and the relations of production are in a direct clash. For instance, we have the emergence of the primitive communism which was not a society that experienced clashes amongst classes as there was none, but the emergence of private property institutions led to its decline. This was followed by the slave society, the feudal society, and ultimately capitalism. Each stage experienced its struggle amongst the owning class and the ones who worked for that class. “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles,” Marx famously wrote. The modal quality of these relations in capitalism is in constant confrontation with each other believed Marx and hence, capitalism had in itself the seeds of destruction.  

While putting forward the role of the Bourgeoisie, he explained that they mercilessly exploited the Proletariat. The work of the Proletariat, argued Marx, created great wealth for the capitalist thereby giving impetus to expectation. For instance, a factory worker might be paid $2 by the owner to produce a yard of cloth. After which the owner then sells the cloth for $5. In this way, the owner/capitalist, controlling the process of production, makes a profit for himself. The worker, however, does not benefit in any way from this added value and also, fails to benefit from the fruits of his/her labour. This thought further gave rise to another theory of Marx claiming that ‘Alienation’ was intrinsic to capitalism. This unjust situation had been contented to give rise to feelings of resentment amongst the proletariat which would lead to the ‘overthrow’ of the capitalist system and would eventually lead to a revolution against the Bourgeoisie. Marx wrote that “Modern bourgeois society with its relations of production, of exchange, and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and exchange, is like the sorcerer, who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells.”

Karl Marx and his writings have shown the world that they can influence people unlike any other. The thoughts of this philosopher have changed and developed over time. Marx’s idea which maintains that communism would give rise to a classless society has appealed to many as a result. The emancipatory nature of these thoughts has often led people to associate communism with a revolution which would lead to a complete overturn of the prevailing modes of production thereby ushering in a society which would free all men, and not only those owning the modes. Moreover, a vast number of Communist revolutions, most often a proletarian revolution, to free themselves from their oppressors has linked Communism with Revolution.  Followers of Marx all over the world believe that the workers need to unite and free themselves from the shackles of the capitalists once and for all. This would be to create a world that would treat everyone equally. Thus, the proletarian revolution needs to happen in nations all over. This thought is reiterated time and again which has led to the usage of communism almost synonymously with revolution. In addition to this, with a vast majority of the world population having to face a certain degree of injustice which can be directly linked to an outcome of capitalism, there has been an inclination towards communism. The communists agree that oppression of the minorities is a problem that this society needs to deal with but they have also brought to light the fact that these things are not a result of the bad morals existing in humans, but are directly connected with the mode of production. —vehemently, in fact—but they do not see people’s bad morals as the origin of this, but rather is due to the mode of production.

Currently, the system that is manipulating the mode of production is capitalism. So, if people can do away with the current economic situation, they will see the emergence of a society that will treat everyone as they deserve to be treated. Also, there has been a gradual emergence of several schools of thoughts claiming a direct inspiration was taken from Marx and developing theories that are in line with the current situation of the world. The commitment to the cause of emancipation that would abolish a society based on injustice drew attention from scholars across the globe, and along with the mass that has begun realizing that they are working tirelessly for capitalism with little to no return. The idea that the social world has to be studied in totality widened the base of Marxism regarding the influence the thought held after the end of the Cold War. A well-known theory in the field of International Relations, the World Systems Theory by Immanuel Wallerstein is believed to have been inspired by the works of another communist, Vladimir Lenin. This theory has played a key role in the climate talks and explained the role of the ‘core’ countries (industrialized) and the ‘semi-periphery’ countries (industrializing), and the ‘periphery’ countries (relatively less industrialized when compared to semi-periphery countries).

Communism has always talked about a revolution that would bring down Capitalism. This action would be a conscious revolutionary act by the working class. It has talked about revolutionary socialism that would with time achieve a stateless communist order. Although a change in the perception of people has led to the association of communism with revolution, the writings say enough about the ideology to relate it to revolution and a revolutionary change in the society. With a little reading of communism, it becomes clear as day that what the writings truly talk about is a ‘Proletarian Revolution’. Now, how that is reached may vary, but the various group claiming to be followers of communism have this particular thing in common were they see capitalism as the oppressive system and layout means with the help of which it can be handled. A fundamental change is what binds all these schools together leading the mass or scholars to identify communism with revolution. However, it should be mentioned that Karl Marx saw the capitalist stage as a progressive one and claimed that the development of humankind would be promoted by Capitalism. Nevertheless, as mentioned earlier, Capitalism is a stage that would move into a state of stagnation due to internal conflicts thereby giving rise to favourable conditions for a revolution.

                                                                                          By Sagarika Mukhopadhyay