Gyan Akarsh

Who am I?

EDITOR: Aman Verma

It’s been over two decades, and I’m yet to find who I really am. Where do I stand among these people who create this “society”? How do I contribute to this “system”? What do I stand for?

Every day of my life has been a step forward, upward; or I choose to believe so. Each day I’ve looked behind me and have realised how little I knew. It feels like walking backward from a humongous wall. Whenever it seems that I can see the top, the thing I thought of as the wall turns into a small grafitti painted over the abysmal enormity of what the wall really stands for.

I see myself as a learner. I’m always eager to ingest what was not there before. The joy I feel when I realize I’ve added something to myself doesn’t have words to be described in. I see myself as an optimist in my own way. I always find somewhere to be which is better than where I stand now. I believe failure to be the greatest teacher one can have, and failing at something does the exact opposite to me of what it does to others.

I’m good at a lot of things. And the arsenal keeps growing. I’m used to thinking about a lot of things, and I believe myself to be somewhat intellectually better than my peers, or it simply might be arrogance on my part.

Despite all that, I’m still unable to figure out what kind of person I am. Where do I stand in this society? How do I contribute to this system?

 

Who am I?


Types of Friends in Today’s World

EDITOR: Aesha Kallattuvalapil

Well, it’s simple and plain enough to say that making friends in this age of Social media is far more easy than it was way before all this. We practically become “Besties” of some person whom we’ve never ever met or have no chances of meeting in the distant future. We find some friends in college who practically become like our family. Then there are some friends we make in college, with whom we coincidentally shared the same school or van but never interacted enough due to whatever reasons we had.

Sometimes, we just become friends under pressure. Not peer pressure, just the pressure to not look rude or unfriendly.

Sometimes, we have no other “choice”(they’re the only ones tolerable, so better be with them than alone).Sometimes people feel temporary solace, in the words of a stranger, whom think is “nice”.

Now, this one is tricky, so pay attention!

Someone who speaks nice stuff to you may be genuinely interested in you(distant chances) or maybe just wants to please you to get favors.. They usually become “sudden best friends”.

Some feel connected to these sudden best friends mainly due to 2 reasons:

1. Their current friends take them for granted and the new one(s) don’t. They actually listen to you or at least that’s what you think they do and before you know, you’d prefer talking to them than your original friends.

2. These “sudden best friends” have the world’s choicest compliments for your looks or OOTD {outfit of the day (for those who don’t know)}. They innocently flirt with you and often say ” you’re the only one with whom I speak so freely” and all those sweet scented lovey dovey words that make us instantly fall for them..

Now, people need to be aware of some things :

1. It’s impossible to trust someone by just having some few conversations where you both just discuss some insecurities or fears or general things going on in each other’s life.

2. Nobody has so much time to think only and only about you or your problems or to ask what’s happening in your life etc, etc.

3. Sometimes people just don’t want to sound rude or impolite and hence say “Hey! Anything wrong? you can tell me”. But the minute you say “No I’m good” they’re like “Okay cool “.

Clearly showcasing they’re not interested.

4. Sometimes people have literally no other thing to do and hence pretend to be your “concerned friend” who stays up late to listen to your worries.

5. These sudden feelings of finding a best friend in a stranger is just a shallow feeling we get when we feel the other person is the most understanding one we’ve ever met. They may not be even a quarter of what image we create about them in our mind.

Beware: the minute they feel they’ve had enough of entertainment, they just vanish.. they don’t bother to message the other person who now practically starts expecting them to talk or ask them how everything was..

Now, one should realize that as much shallow as all this sounds , this is exactly what goes on in anybody’s life.

We all have that “one friend” who comes out of the blue as the savior of our problems.. there’s nothing wrong with that, but the thing is, never trust them with so much of your heart.

Keep a level and a distance with everyone..

So, next there are some people having marvelous masterpieces
called “Besties” or “Bae”, who’re practically the “Soulmates” of the person concerned. They know everything about the other, no secrets, no nothing.

Well, some of these “Baes” and “Soulmates” don’t last more than the time they’re together.. namely during college time or school time.

Mostly such friends feature only in Instagram posts or Facebook profile photos.

And finally come the true friends. No, they aren’t there for you all the time. No, they don’t call or message you for every occasion.

They’re the ones with whom you talk not so frequently, but your level of understanding and love and concern for each other is so strong, that every time you meet, you get along like a house on fire!

They’re always there for you in times of your trouble, you just have to tell them. Even if they can’t be around , they’ll give try their best to comfort you.

There are no chances of misunderstanding with them because you both have realized that your friendship is more precious than anything.

So, hold on to such friends and never let them go!


The Fault in our Syllabi

EDITOR: Aesha Kallattuvalapil

As you read this, someone somewhere is cutting out little paper squares to stick in their math lab book, probably.

After having spent 14+ years in school, I can conclusively say that I know nothing. Sure, I can factor polynomials, name (most) of the countries and their capitals and tell you when World War -I began. But if you ask me what the fifteenth alphabet is, you would be wise to expect a recital starting with A. It’s the same when it comes to months. That’s irrefutable proof that school succeeded in educating me, but not quite enough. And certainly not about the things that do matter.

In case you were wondering, or have ever wondered, you will never use calculus in your everyday life unless you become a calculus professor, a mathematician or the alien race taking over our planet mandates the knowledge of differential equations as humankind’s only defining character. Knowledge of basic mathematics is crucial, although I don’t remember the last time I didn’t turn to a phone or a calculator for help. In the tenth grade I learned how a light bulb works, but I still need my father (and sometimes an exorcist) when the lights in my room start flickering. I do not know how to fix flat tires, reply to official emails, identify profitable ventures and more importantly, use theoretical knowledge in practice. Problem: If A, B and C  each order one starter, one main course and one drink, and B orders a dessert and C gives half his main course to A, then how many tears were shed on that table when the bill arrived? Solve for ‘x’ and show your work.

The education system is seemingly about how much a student can commit to memory, without ever truly knowing why. They’re expected to stock their brains with information and regurgitate the same on a piece of paper within a time frame. Granted that knowledge of history is important to prevent the past from repeating itself, but what good is memorizing a bunch of dates which will inevitably be forgotten at the beginning of the next year to make room for more information? I’m glad that I know why leaves are green but my knowledge of the cross-sectional diagram of a leaf does me no service. “I spend my days finding the surface area of cubes and cuboids” – said no one ever.

We’re taught to read and repeat and make no real contributions on our part. We’re told not to think for ourselves but rather to believe as fact what others have said over the years. Schools should encourage its students to study so that they may enhance their knowledge and not just pass an exam. Intelligence should not be judged on how many anecdotes and numbers a student can recall. We must address the fault in our syllabi and give way for earnest discourse.

In conclusion I would like to say, mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.

 

 


God Complex

EDITOR: Aesha Kallattuvalapil

There are people around me who whine about every little trouble they come across. Maybe you are just like them. Or not, it might be so that you are a lot tougher. Not much fazes you. You may even claim to have ‘control’ over your life. You may harbor the wee dreams of floating above your clouded emotions. But, at the end of the day, you remain what you are – A human.

People like me are rare. We don’t pop up around you very often. It’s not that we like being obscure. It’s just that the spotlight holds no appeal to us. We live our lives the way we want to. We let ourselves indulge into just the correct amount of emotion we find appropriate. We are masters of our mental state. We are entirely absolute.

I’ve forgotten the last time I lost my cool. I have to consciously make an effort to react in a way even slightly astray from the neutral. No condition, I repeat; no condition brings out the emotions out from the inner me. I’ve to choose the emotions I let flow to respond to the situation at hand. And even then, most of the time I simply don’t bother letting my emotions out.

The concept of ‘God’ eludes me. But he must feel similar to what we do – being in a position of total power, total control over oneself, ignorant of any and all dangers. That is the way God must feel. It was the reason they termed ‘God Complex’ for how we choose to behave or act.

I too, have it i.e. an absolute control over my emotions by acknowledging that I’m perfectly capable of handling any situation thrown at me.

I have God Complex.

Or maybe

Am I emotionally broken beyond repair?


Hindutva Pvt. Ltd.

UNEDITED

Excessive liberalism leads to excessive conservatism.

Since decades, a narrative has prevailed that anything Hindu is ‘communal’ and anything Islam is ‘secular’. Governments after governments have ridden the secular waves. Cursing the government and speech against the union is freedom of speech and expression. Accusing the army everyday for everything is a norm. Being asked to stand up for the national anthem is a violation of right to choice. Supporting Pakistan in an India vs Pakistan cricket match is intellectualism.

All of this is excessive liberalism, and each of the examples has created a segment of voters who are excessively conservative. Voters who were very much at the centre have shifted to the right. But, a ‘communal government’ isn’t the reason.

Years of minority (muslim) appeasement, and frequent anti-Hindu statements and actions of the two UPA governments have done something that perhaps no one had thought would happen. The BJP put all its strength to consolidate Hindu voters in and around the decade of 90s, but it failed to get significant results. The Congress served the consolidated Hindu votes to the BJP on a platter a decade and a half later.

When Narendra Modi contested in 2014, corruption of UPA was the primary issue. The Mandir Mudda was played alongside. The next few years changed things in ways that in 2019, Prime Minister Modi is as if invincible.

Corruption at centre since 2014 is non extant and the government is performing well on other indicators. This made it difficult for the opposition to find issues to raise. In difficult times, they stuck to the tried and tested formula of secular politics. Only this time, it backfired.

2017 could be remembered for the rise and revivalism of Hindutva [politics]. Congress is on a [softer] Hindutva track in Gujarat. If (despite all odds) it succeeds, it will have a template to replicate across the nation. Who would have imagined this five years ago?

It was all started by the Congress itself. One day after the new Prime Minister’s swearing in, minority communities across the country were worried. Their rights were being snatched away and their lives were being interfered with, their faith was being attacked. There was intolerance across BJP led states. The Congress saw all these and much more. Occasional faux pas from the government (including the beef ban) encouraged them further.

But, Congress failed to observe the reactions to its actions. Its overuse of secularism hurt and aroused conservative Hindu sentiments, which were already at a life-time high. Congress had made the biggest of the blunders.

Uttar Pradesh election was possibly the wake up call for Congress. The unprecedented victory was something that even the BJP was not expecting. Among various reasons, a major factor was the coming together of Hindu voters against the ‘secular’ forces. Something that both the BJP and the Congress read correctly. Yogi Adityanath’s appointment and Rahul Gandhi’s ‘janev’ are both direct results of it.

After Gujarat results, we could be entering an era of ultra-right wing Hindutva politics and Hindu appeasement. If the Congress wins, the model will be repeated almost everywhere else. The BJP will also move further right and Hindutva just may become its prime agenda thereafter, pushing ‘New India’ to the back seat.

The fight to reclaim Hindutva between the two sides will also create a vacuum – the now emptied secular space.

Next few months will be interesting. The Supreme Court will begin hearings for the Ayodhya case next week. The judgement, whatever it may be, may not stop the temple from being built. If Hindus turn into vote banks, a lot will be at stake, except the Mandir.

21st century is different. Every one year of it has changed the world in ways that decades of earlier centuries did not. In this age of information, decades old politics had to change, and change it did.


Live your Passion

EDITOR: Aesha Kallattuvalapil

‘How do I find my passion?’
There is no answer to this question. ‘What would you love doing all the time and never get bored of it?’
Now, this question might have an answer.

When you pursue and keep doing what you love, you do not look for personal time because you are happy even when you are working. That is the beauty of following your passion. I love photography. I could do it all day. I can never get bored of it. I find my happiness while clicking pictures of people in their own grace. It calms me.

Did you know? In India, pro-gamers make around 10 to 15k per month minimum. I’m telling you this to make one point clear, that now is the best time to follow your passion and turn it into a business and also make a living out of it. But you should be willing to do whatever it takes to take this chance to live on your own terms.

I don’t think people have understood of how much the society and its mentality have changed. In India, did you ever think wedding photographers could earn so much money like they do now? The generation gap is fading and people appreciate creative ideas and newer businesses.

Terribly Tiny Tales is a great example for this. It was a very interesting idea to capsulate a formula by combining the idea of Twitter and social media’s unlimited opportunity. A simple image with less than 140 characters now creates a terribly good awareness about a lot of issues, makes an immediate impact on people or at least puts a smile on the face of the reader.

Maybe, you have a hobby. Maybe, you are tossing and turning in bed with a million ideas in your mind. Google it! Your idea may turn out to be something no one has ever tried. It maybe unchartered waters that you are sailing into. But if you work hard enough, you get all the fish.

In India, you get to think about your career only after you complete an engineering degree. But, that is okay. It’s not too late. It is better you find your happiness doing something you love, making 40k-a-month rather than making 60k-a-month being an engineer and being upset & blaming the society and family for it. If you want something, you have to get up from that comfortable couch and get it. Complaining that people don’t get that something to you or that people are telling you that if you get up from the couch, you will not get the same comfort ever again is utterly baseless and has zero use.

Lower your expectations from other people. Someone isn’t going to be there to keep applauding your efforts and keep motivating you do it. Self-motivation is very important.

The opinion of others which are actually not going to help you grow is all just a moopoint. It does not matter.If the opinion of the people who love you does matter to you, then do respect it and also convey, justify and convince them with your point of view. Whatever you do, you are the one who is going to live with the consequences. Hence, you have to be unapologetic for being yourself. It is not wrong to put yourself first.

The other important trait required to live your passion, is to gain confidence. Practice, practice and keep practicing because there is no alternative to working super-hard. Confidence levels will rise as you learn new techniques and achieve each milestone. If you fail in achieving a milestone or anything of that sort, forgive yourself first because nobody is perfect. Then, get yourself on your feet and push harder. You will eventually reach the heights that want to, also, staying happy all the way up there.

Living your passion might just be the panacea you needed! In Gary Vaynerchuk’s words, “When you get to do what you want to do, you’ve won”.


The Checklist

EDITOR: Shruti Bhatia

Based on a true and unfortunate story.

From the very moment I turned eighteen, I ardently avoided weddings. Not because I despised the fanfare or the ever-present smell of jalebis and jasmine, but because of the inevitable turn every conversation seemed to take: my own wedding. I am now twenty one and the fear is stronger than ever. Every time the family gathers, my bridey-sense tingles. The wind shifts, the ground rumbles and I know that it is time for nervous chuckles and subject changers.

Let me assure you that I am not against the institution of marriage. But I am vehemently against the idea and practice of forcing someone into marriage. All conscious and subconscious efforts to do so included. In my defence, I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes. Growing up, I could only watch as one by one my siblings and cousins defected to the other side. I speak not of those who genuinely chose to get married, but of those whose right to choose was limited to the pool of select candidates courtesy of matrimonial sites. Being an individual of marriageable age in today’s world is like being in the Hunger Games: with each passing year your chances of being picked increases exponentially. And there is no escape.

The early man began cohabitating to procreate. Procreation was necessary to populate the planet. There was strength in number. More people meant more labour and more resources. It was once crucial for man’s survival. Fortunately, we have come a long way since then. We no longer need to procreate. Companionship is no longer a necessity for humankind to survive. It’s a want, and a negotiable one at that. Marriage is not and should not be a social sine qua non, but a choice. It is neither a right nor a duty. It is not an entry in a checklist that needs to be ticked off.

It is interesting to note how the items in the above-mentioned checklist vary with age. At eighteen it is marriage, at twenty five it is parenthood and at sixty, grandparenthood (exact numbers may differ). Marriage should be about two willing parties who mutually decide to spend their lives together. The decision to start a family should be made based on natural love and affection and not ticking biological clocks. They are not tasks that need to be completed in order to graduate to the next level.

As I write this, I come to terms with the fact that THE CHECKLIST is very real and inexhaustible. A shocking majority are bound by it in one way or another. And as I heave a sigh of relief for having survived yet another conversation with an expectant wedding guest, I realize that it will not be my last.