<![CDATA[the Scribbler]]>https://scribbler.co/https://scribbler.co/apple-touch-icon-152x152.pngthe Scribblerhttps://scribbler.co/RSS for NodeMon, 10 Dec 2018 10:38:39 GMTMon, 10 Dec 2018 10:38:39 GMT60<![CDATA[Transforming Lives through Education: Making it Happen]]>

Ark's partnership school in Lajpat Nagar, Delhi is changing the lives of its students by focusing on specific needs of its students and giving them the attention and support to thrive.

It’s Monday morning in Ark’s school at Lajpat Nagar III, and the children have started entering the school. The air is filled with a sense of excitement as they enter their beautifully decorated classroom, and get ready for their teachers to start their classes. Looking at the corridors, filled with artwork made by the students, motivational quotes and colourful charts, nobody could have imagined that this was the same dilapidated building that served all of 9 students just a year and a half ago.

Ark started working with the South Delhi Municipal Corporation in 2015 with the aim to turn around the corporation’s primary school in Lajpat Nagar III area of Delhi, which was failing due to low enrollment. As the operators of the first ever partnership school with the government in Delhi, they decided to set high expectations and prove to all our stakeholder the strength of their model. Ark started their journey with only 9 students in 2015, expanded to 230 students in 2016 and they are now looking at an increased enrollment of 350 in 2017. All this while they have had an absolute focus on improving learning outcomes for our learners - who come from low income families from eight different slums.

With classes in full swing now, Alok, another Grade 1 student, sits quietly, listening attentively to the teacher, and following her instructions. His teachers take note of his behaviour, because it had only been a matter of months since they had been struggling to get him accustomed to the rules and etiquette of being in class. They even once found him begging outside a mall, which suggested a deeper-rooted problem. Suspecting that he suffered from neglect at home, his teachers and principal worked extremely hard with his parents to get them more involved in the education process. Since then, Alok’s behaviour has shown great improvement, and he now respects his teachers and fellow students, and obeys the rules. He pays attention in class and works hard academically. Alok has a bright future ahead of him, and with the Ark’s support, he continues to work towards it.

After a fruitful day full of learning, working and playing, the children finally return home. As they say hello to their parents once again, they are extremely excited to talk about what they learnt at school. The parents listen intently, hearing stories of their phonics lessons, math meetings and the fun games they played at the playground. The impact of the education being imparted to the children can be felt by the parents too. Tension at home often came as a consequence of their children’s poor behaviour and lack of engagement. These tensions have been significantly eased, with children occupied during the day, learning valuable lessons, and eating two nutritious meals at school. Ark recognizes the important role played by parents in the education of their children, and work towards ensuring their support. In the last one year there has been a significant demand from the parent community and local officials for them to open more schools.

Transforming lives through education – that is Ark’s mission. Through this school, that is exactly what they are doing – not just for the children, but for the parents too. Anand and Alok came to this school with a lot of baggage; baggage which they have now been able to shed. With progress being made every day, their potential knows no bounds, and the education they are receiving is opening up endless possibilities. Ark is giving them, and all its students, the best chance to succeed, and real choices in life.

[Click here to learn more about Ark’s school in India]

Kruti Bharucha

Kruti Bharucha is Country Director of Ark’s India operations. She has been working with Ark since June 2014 and brings 16 years’ experience from the management consulting and advisory sector as well as with multilateral institutions. Prior to Ark, she was a Senior Director and led Corporate Executive Board’s (CEB) Finance Practice in India. Her previous work experience includes stints at McKinsey & Co., The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Kruti has an MSc (Development Studies) from the London School of Economics, an MA (Economics) from the University of Maryland and a BA (Economics) from Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi.

https://scribbler.co/r/58de3efa0bff651419aa40b4/transforming-lives-through-education-making-it-happen<_bsontype>ObjectIDSun, 02 Apr 2017 05:33:14 GMT
<![CDATA[Consolidation over Consolation: The Case of Goa]]>

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s ability to form governments in states where it stood second reveal not just the ineptness of the Congress, but also pushes the standard with regard to post-poll action.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did not revel in its unprecedented win in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand for too long. While pollsters and analysts delved into the factors at play in the Hindi heartland, the BJP looked to two other states and developed a strategy. By the 12th of March, only a day after the results were declared, it became clear that the party, which stood second in Goa and Manipur, would be forming governments in both. Almost immediately after the verdict, senior party functionaries from both Delhi and the states got to work and stitched together post-poll alliances that caught the Congress completely by surprise. Within a short period, the Congress, which was the single largest party in both states, realised that they would be sitting in opposition. A series of deftly executed political manoeuvres, coupled with the Congress’ inability to reach a consensus for staking a claim to form government, led to the BJP taking 4 of the 5 states that went to polls. Here, I shall be looking at the significant takeaways from the experience in Goa specifically, where the incumbent BJP, with a significantly reduced seat share, still managed to pass the floor test with the support of smaller regional parties and independents.


The BJP only managed to form a government in Goa for two reasons: 1) The Congress was too caught up with in-fighting and confusion, giving the BJP an opening to analyse the verdict and ensure that they get past the crucial halfway mark with the support of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), Goa Forward and independent MLAs. 2) The non-BJP non-Congress parties put their faith in a government that would be led only by Manohar Parrikar. 

Since Parrikar’s elevation to Union Minister for Defence and Laxmikant Parsekar taking over the office of Chief Minister, the BJP has steadily lost ground in the state. What this reveals is that the Goa BJP has a substantial dearth of leaders who have the confidence of the people of Goa or other parties in the way that Mr. Parrikar did, evinced by Mr. Parsekar’s loss from Mandrem. Goa Forward Chief Vijai Sardesai, only hours after the results, made it clear that his party would only support a BJP government if Mr. Parrikar would return to the state and take up his old office. Thus, while the BJP can celebrate its success in retaking Goa, it must introspect and analyse its substantial dip in popularity in the state.


Much has been said since the verdict of the General Elections in 2014 that the Congress party is suffering from a number of internal issues, but up till now this has only been locker room talk. However, after the 11th of March, it became clear that this was not simply a hunch. The lethargic pace at which the Congress Party moved after the verdict, where it emerged as the single largest party in Goa as well as Manipur, showed that either the central leadership was too caught up in celebrating its ‘victory’ in three states, or that the same central leadership was unable to form a quick and definitive consensus for post-poll alliances due to internal disagreements that wasted valuable time. 

The BJP, on the other hand, was quick to move into action and begin liaising with smaller parties. It cannot be said that the Congress was caught unawares by the verdict and therefore was unable to move swiftly enough. Multiple analyses of the Goa polls prior to the result suggested that the State would be heading for a fractured mandate and that the small regional parties would be kingmakers. Given the likelihood of such a result, the Congress should have considered it prudent to have a game plan in place which would come into action the moment the results became final. Perhaps this is a testament to the quick thinking of BJP Goa-in-charge Nitin Gadkari, or the flat-footedness of his Congress counterpart Digvijaya Singh.


After the BJP’s swift manoeuvring in Goa as well as Manipur, the Congress began to cry foul almost immediately like getting out in a game of gully cricket when one was ‘not ready’. While not being quick enough to stitch a post-poll alliance or stake their claim to form government, the Congress did move with remarkable speed in stating that the Governors in both states flouted constitutional norms when inviting the BJP for government formation. Citing the recommendations of the Sarkaria and the Punchhi Commissions on Centre-State relations, as well as the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Rameshwar Prasad & Ors. v. Union of India & Anr. [(2006) 2 SCC 1], the Congress put forward the contention that it was the constitutional and moral duty of the Governor to invite the single largest party to form government in the absence of any pre-poll alliances. This formed the basis for their writ petition to the Supreme Court of India seeking a stay on the swearing-in of Manohar Parrikar as Chief Minister.

It is a matter of record that both the Sarkaria and Punchhi Commissions recommended that a Governor must invite the single largest party post-election to form the government of the state. The Punchhi Commission report laid down the following specific guidelines for the Governor to follow in the event of a hung assembly:

However, what the Punchhi Commission invariably suggested was that the single largest party should be given a chance to form a government, even in the event of the existence of a group that, after the polls, has the majority of the house either by coalition or post-electoral alliance. Advocating this procedure defeats one of the primary purposes of the Governor and of state electoral politics – to provide a stable government for the state. In the current scenario, had the Congress been the first to stake claim to form government despite the BJP and its supporters having superior numbers in the house, it would eventually lead to a possible no-confidence motion or calls for another set of elections. This would not only be a loss of valuable time but also a drain on resources, as elections are a long and expensive affair.

It is also possible that the formation of an unstable government would result in the imposition of President’s Rule in the state, which is always a contentious issue given the recent Uttarakhand Assembly Case.

While the Sarkaria Commission provides a similar order of preference to the Punchhi Commission, it also laid down an important principle that should be the guiding philosophy of government formation in any state:

“The party or combination of parties which commands the widest support in the Legislative Assembly should be called upon to form the Government.”

The principle laid down is that of ‘widest support in the Legislative Assembly’. While it is true that the Congress managed to secure the maximum number of seats in the elections, the BJP, by securing the support of the smaller parties and independents, proved that it commanded such a wide support in the Assembly, and this was further confirmed by the floor test.

Furthermore, a closer examination of the Sarkaria Commission’s recommendation that the single largest party be asked to form the government in the absence of a single party or pre-poll alliance with an absolute majority reveals that the Congress grossly erred in their conduct after the results. The provision reads:

“The largest single party staking a claim to form the government with the support of others, including “independents.” 

The single greatest error committed by the Congress in Goa was their failure to stake a claim. As observed by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India during the hearing of the petition of the Congress:

“You should have gone with your list to the Governor and told her ‘Here we have the numbers to form the government’. You should have gone on a dharna in front of the Governor’s residence if you had the numbers and someone else was staking a claim to form the government. You (Congress) could have proven your numbers anytime, even after approaching the Supreme Court. In the night or even today. But so far you have done nothing. You did not even have the affidavits filed before us for the record to prove that you have numbers.”

The Hon’ble Chief Justice of India rightly observed that the Congress could have at any point proven their numbers and staked their claim to form government in Goa.


As the post-election situations in Manipuar and Goa show, being the single largest party in an election amounts to little in the absence of swift actions of consolidation. Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi’s claim that it was money power that allowed the BJP to ‘steal’ the mandate of the people from the Congress is only an attempt to deflect the issue that internal issues sidetracked his party, allowing the BJP to take advantage.

The events unfolding in these states also reveal a new form of Realpolitik developing organically in India. Not necessarily the Machiavellian kind which is based on the absence of ethics and morality, but an organic Indian version that takes into account the need for a stable government and quick action. This version combines pragmatism with opportunism. The actions of the BJP showcase a new era of political deftness that has little consideration for time. The party’s ability to take advantage of the Congress’ confusion has set the standard for political parties to get into action immediately after a verdict, capitalizing on even the remotest possibility of being able to form a stable government. It would be prudent for the Congress, in such a scenario, to indulge in some self-reflection and make necessary changes to keep up with the changing nature of Indian politics. Meanwhile, the BJP has successfully introduced a refreshing new discourse in Indian politics – that in an era of coalitions and alliance based politics, a pragmatic and swift approach ensures that he who consolidates fastest, laughs longest.

Soumya Dasgupta

Soumya Srijan Dasgupta is the Assistant Editor of the Scribbler. A fan of music, television and trivial knowledge, he has completed a B.A. and M.A. in History from St. Stephen’s College, only to switch gears completely with a Law Degree from the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi. He is currently reading for an LL.M at University College London, and hopes to one day stop living off his parents.

https://scribbler.co/r/58ca9d1e0bff651419aa40b2/consolidation-over-consolation-the-case-of-goa<_bsontype>ObjectIDFri, 17 Mar 2017 04:58:35 GMT
<![CDATA[My Experiments with Tinder]]>

Experiments that took Junaid (virtually) around the world and gave some interesting insights about the world's most popular dating app.

Only Facebook rivals the kind of data accumulated by Tinder. In some ways Tinder even beats Facebook, because on Tinder people consciously bare their targeted preferences. For those not familiar, Tinder is an online dating platform, where people are supposed to Right Swipe (Like) or Left Swipe (Reject) another person based on the pictures or the brief description uploaded by them. It is only when there is a mutual like that one is allowed by the App to chat with the other person. Initially when Tinder wasn’t as big as it is today, there were an unlimited number of right swipes available to a user. So, many users like me would right swipe everything and then decide once there was a match, if the other person was interesting or not.

Also, not surprisingly, the swiping pattern of men turns out to be very different from that of women. This precise swiping trend discrepancy led Tinder to de-incentivize right swipes. They put a bar on the number of times a person could swipe right in a day. The motive behind such a medieval restraint on professing preferences, more sexual than not, baffled me. For, shouldn’t unlimited swipes generate more traffic for the App, and wouldn’t more traffic mean more regular users, which is what mobile applications vie for?

"I told one of my matches that outside of Tinder I had never been to the United States, to which she jokingly responded, that the last time a Muslim had come to New York without a visa it hadn’t ended well for the city."

It was not until a feature called ‘Smart Photos’ was introduced, that the motive became clearer. With this new feature, the App would randomly display each of a user’s 5 or 6 uploaded photographs to other users, and the picture that attracted the maximum right swipes would become the primary display picture. The bar on right swipes made sense now, Tinder was into test mode and we were the guinea pigs. This was hardly unforeseen, as almost everything on the Internet tracks user preference, sometimes even bordering eerie. Google any place on Earth and Airline advertisements for trips to that country start popping up everywhere, send an e-mail for sick leave and hospital ads grace your screen. Certainly, Tinder sitting on a treasure of data would not let the opportunity pass.

By happy accident my belief of being part of an experiment became resolute, when my display picture failed to download due to slow Internet speed. Instead, an icon of a broken file accompanied by the words – “man, beard, sunglasses, winter, tree”, which accurately described my picture, showed up. Someone was describing pictures with key words, or perhaps an Artificially Intelligent recognition software was at work on user pictures. Like that new word or thing you recently learnt that suddenly seems to show up everywhere (The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon), I began noticing Tinder’s preference-oriented data at play while using the app. Right swipe someone with dimples and a string of dimpled faces would show up in quick succession, the same happened for faces with sunglasses, pouts and even beach photos. Hence the limit on right swipes; the App wanted to clock reasoned preference and eliminate the chronic right swipers.

"15000 kilometres between their houses and mine, this was the mother of all long-distance attempts."

Another interesting and significant update to Tinder introduced Tinder Passport – where for becoming a paid subscriber, the App allowed a user to change their virtual location to almost anywhere on the planet. My date of subscription for this feature coincided with Donald Trump’s inauguration. I began swiping in New York (a Tinder Passport suggested location), and there was a mixed response regarding the new President. I told one of my matches that outside of Tinder I had never been to the United States, to which she jokingly responded, that the last time a Muslim had come to New York without a visa it hadn’t ended well for the city.

Feeling the heat after the new U.S. Government’s unwelcoming policies regarding immigrants, and being one myself albeit virtually, I fled to Bogotá. The Colombians were of immense help for my Spanish. Most of them disliked Narcos - the Netflix TV Series about Pablo Escobar, for showing their beautiful country in bad light. Being familiar with Medellín – a north Colombian city through Narcos I swiped there and matched with people who had witnessed war closely. After decades of war, the Colombian government had finally managed a peace deal with the FARC rebels. Most people in Bogotá were against the peace deal due to the concessions granted to the rebels, while those in Medellín were relieved and thankful to see the end of a war that had lasted decades.

This socio-political insight was just a by-product of what the app is really meant for. ‘En tu casa o en la mia’ (Your place, or mine?) and other Spanish pick-up lines were great icebreakers towards a futile end. 15000 kilometres between their houses and mine, this was the mother of all long-distance attempts.

Junaid Hussain Nahvi

Junaid H. Nahvi is a Kashmir-born, Delhi based lawyer working at the High Court of Delhi. Junaid is active on Instagram when at home and goes by the handle @nahvijunaid. He is a returning author to the Scribbler.

https://scribbler.co/r/58ca9add0bff651419aa40b1/my-experiments-with-tinder<_bsontype>ObjectIDThu, 16 Mar 2017 16:23:08 GMT
<![CDATA[Giving Back to the Motherland]]>

The Andhra Pradesh government under the Special Representative for North America reaches out to the sons of their soil to aid in revolutionizing education in the state.

There is an interesting tale about the origin of the word ‘posh’. Merriam-Webster defines it as ‘elegant, fashionable’ or ‘typical of or intended for the upper classes’, and this particular story goes that the word is actually an acronym, standing for ‘port out, starboard home’, a nod to homeward boat journeys during the days of the Raj, where the more affluent amongst the passengers had their tickets marked with ‘POSH’ to indicate the greater expense that went into the cabin they hired for the trip.

This little preface leads me nicely to the subject I wish to bring into the spotlight. A few centuries later, the Raj is no longer around, but the phrase required a mere inversion to introduce the basic premise of the Andhra Pradesh Special Representative for North America. Starboard out, port home, and home now lies over thirteen thousand kilometres away, distant from the continent of North America.

The project was created by the government of Andhra Pradesh following the election of present chief minister Mr. N. Chandrababu Naidu in an attempt to improve the standards of education, health and sanitation through the development of better infrastructure. Building itself as a means of ‘giving back to the motherland’, the AP Special Representative for North America, Mr. Jayaram Komati, seeks to connect the Telugu NRI community in North America with the government of Andhra Pradesh and the work it is doing across the state.

Proudly describing itself on its website as “the first of its kind in terms of an NRI backed social initiative ever created by any Government in India”, the initiative looks to facilitate the development of major projects - such as the improvement of anganwadi centres, construction of burial grounds and digitisation, in phases, of 5000 government schools across all districts of Andhra Pradesh.

Digital education is a thing that has the distinction of refining the teaching-learning process into something more interactive and enjoyable than the stuffy old paradigms that preceded it and also boldly marking the progress of a country and a state to a level of unprecedented technological sophistication. Already, this project is bearing much fruit, and the initiative highlights the case of MPP School, Vommavaram, S.Rayavaram Mandal and MCPS R.P. PETA Government School (both in Vishakapatnam district) on its blog – hosted on the website itself – in truly striking and heart-warming detail.

h/t AP Janmabhoomi

These are just two wonderful stories that have been told, and the various successes of this endeavour are duly channelled through its vibrant and active social media foothold through graphics and discussions on Twitter and Facebook, not to mention the richly expressive and genuinely heartfelt outlet that is a regularly updated official blog. Among the recent news stories chronicled, for example, was the interaction of the enterprise with Indian-born American politician Ms. Aruna Miller, a speaker at the National Women’s Parliament 2017 held in Amravati.

This connection of the AP Special Representative for North America with their NRI donors, community diasporas and other parties involved with the initiative has helped resolve queries and issue clarifications in a most ready and hands-on manner, assuaging understandable concerns over the use of funds through constant communication via phone and email. Recently, there occurred a splendid outreach programme organised by a group of Cleveland-based Telugu NRIs designed to answer such questions and fully disperse the significance of this initiative by the government back home. It awakened the latent sense of strong affinity for the community and the desire to make a telling contribution for its development amongst attendees – precisely what the endeavour is keen on doing.

The initiative knits together a buzzing network of interns and professionals in a hive of activity across various domains in this project. Something that I’ve come to learn and appreciate about the nature of this project is the kind of genuine, real-world impact it is making in lives that perhaps reside outside our sight but never our minds.

It is easy to get hemmed into self-contained, insular worlds that affect little outside of their immediate reality, but perhaps the greatest fascination with this project emerges from the cheering realisation that it is one of those things in a big, big world that can lift its eyes just that little bit above the bottom dollar and peer over the horizon to benefit the lives that do exist beyond it.

You can visit the website at www.apjanmabhoomi.org. The blog that carries encouraging stories is available at www.apjanmabhoomi.org/blog/. It is also reachable on Twitter @APJanmabhoomi or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/APJanmabhoomi/.

Sushain Ghosh

Sushain is a warm man, an idealist. He does believe in fairies. When not studying English at college or by himself writing, he can generally be found watching sport or television, thumbing through his music archive or possibly lurking around the internet looking to be entertained and informed.

https://scribbler.co/r/58c94cce0bff651419aa40b0/giving-back-to-the-motherland<_bsontype>ObjectIDThu, 16 Mar 2017 06:30:01 GMT
<![CDATA[A Vote for Friendship]]>

As liberal calls on social media for the electoral college to defect further muddled what has been the most bizzare US Election cycle, Poorna Swami goes back to that November day Trump was elected and suggests how the contours of friendship and dialogue in the space of social media need to be redefined.

[Note: (i) A version of this article first appeared here ; and (ii) cover image h/t: CC image by DonkeyHotey on Flickr.]

“I didn’t mean to say that, he then says.
Aloud, you say.
What? he asks. 
You didn’t mean to say that aloud.
Your transaction goes swiftly after that.”

- From Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric

On the day of the U.S. Presidential elections, I woke up earlier than usual. It was probably 7:30, the previous evening, on the East Coast. Massachusetts, where I had spent four years as an undergraduate, had just voted for Hilary Clinton. Over Skype, Whatsapp, Facebook chat, and all other forms of social media, my friends in the United States (none of them Trump supporters) rejoiced as another little bit of the map turned blue on our screens. Even as large portions of the map remained red, and Florida balanced on the precipice between red and blue, there was a general spirit of optimism, the hope that Clinton’s strongholds had yet to be counted. My friends raised their wine glasses to my coffee mug from across ten time zones. It was almost like a party—wry Twitter exchanges about boycotting Florida’s orange juice and the timeless Facebook jokes about the colour of Donald Trump’s hair.

But the comedy act would last only so long. Suddenly, my Facebook feed filled with posts of disbelief, disgust, and anger, from friends in the United States. Many friends even called, messaged, emailed, wanting to talk to someone, at someone, as they tried to comprehend what had just happened.

White friends. Friends of colour. White friends with black lovers. Friends who have known the traumas of abortion. Friends who had just learned their grandmothers and neighbours had voted Trump, without ever letting on. Queer friends, trans friends, friends who survived the AIDS crisis, now fearing for their lives. Friends married to immigrants, friends who are immigrants, telling me it was one of the most devastating days of their lives. And friends who grew up in the poorest regions of the United States — their hometowns had voted Trump — they seemed to be the best at holding themselves together, if only just about. One said, “I’m not panicked in the way that I might be if I didn’t remember Bush or growing up in a very traditional and hostile region. But I am very worried about the damage that can be done by this”.

Closer home, Indian friends broadcast on social media how they dreaded the violence Americans will face. It seemed like my virtual world had been hit by a colossal sadness—a collective, global mourning.

As my American friends repeated the refrain of “I just don’t know what will happen”, I struggled to comfort them. Quoting the political realities of Indian riots, and lynchings, and murders, I said, “In spite of it all, we move as a people”. I tried to sound confident. But the truth is, I really did not know what I meant by “we” or “people” or the sense of community for which I grappled. I could not locate the true empathy of my words.

“You’re lucky you escaped before this shit happened”, a friend in New York assured me. And I wanted to say:

“I escaped to the place where, in 2014, just after the election results were announced, my Muslim grandmother told me she was scared for her life. And I, who does not share that Muslim name, I remember being silent, at a complete loss for how to tell someone I love that it would be okay… it was too big a promise to keep. I remember 2014 as a time when friends said, ‘My vote is not about your safety, though, of course, you are my friend. Do not overreact’. And all through this, how many of my American friends even bothered to educate themselves, if not empathise?”

As my American friends now struggle with similar feelings, I do not blame them for not having paid better attention two years ago. Or for not having read the many articles of dissent I had shared. But I wonder, in an age when we are so connected (particularly we in the urban, educated classes), how do we choose to stand by our friends during those big political moments, and maybe even littler ones. When we pledge solidarity on all sorts of social media, what are we really saying? Whom are we calling friends? And what does that friendship look like?

"White friends. Friends of colour. White friends with black lovers. Friends who have known the traumas of abortion. Friends who had just learned their grandmothers and neighbours had voted Trump, without ever letting on. Queer friends, trans friends, friends who survived the AIDS crisis, now fearing for their lives. Friends married to immigrants, friends who are immigrants, telling me it was one of the most devastating days of their lives. "

Of course, you could say that our constructed social media selves hardly matter to how political history unfolds. But we do not need to look hard at that history to know that virtual connections can and do mobilise people, for good and bad. Think, Egypt. Think, Dadri. And, more importantly, if social media is that space where we work through our collective fright for the collapse of the world or distribute the hope we find, it also becomes a space that maps our intentions, our quandaries—indeed, how we move as a people.

The many anti-Trump sentiments that filled my Facebook feed revealed an uncomfortable fact. While I do not know anybody that voted for Trump, I know many that voted for Modi, supposedly for reasons beyond his majoritarian message. “Let’s not talk about this any longer”, friends had said, when I asked them about how they could overlook their friends’ identities, histories, and senses of security as they voted. What bewildered me most, though, was how these friends, who had  promoted one man’s hatefulness just two years ago, seemed to publicly condemn another’s now. Is it a matter of distance, I wondered…is it easier to recognise bigotry from far away? Or perhaps it is simply that social media also gives us the possibility of filtering our friendships, of choosing the people and ideologies we see first when we wake up each morning. And it allows us to have different preferences for each place, and trending story, and person.

The politics of friendship, I realised, are highlighted more strongly in social media. It is easier to find the discrepancies between whom we throw in our lot with in our face-to-face interactions and in our digital lives. Social media is where we can add or subtract words, and images, and symbols to create ourselves and the longitudes along which we relate to everyone else. We can even make distinctions between who is a friend in person and a friend in comment threads. And that choice, perhaps, is the most politically charged. Friendship is political. It is a decision, based on multiple rationales, affinities, and circumstances, that makes us call some people friends and others, if not enemies, irrelevant.

"But I wonder, in an age when we are so connected (particularly we in the urban, educated classes), how do we choose to stand by our friends during those big political moments, and maybe even littler ones. When we pledge solidarity on all sorts of social media, what are we really saying? Whom are we calling friends? And what does that friendship look like?"

That is not to say we cannot be friends with people unlike us—if that were the case, we would all live by intolerance. Because friendship is political, it can also be contested from within. To me, that is its beauty—how instead of saying “Let’s not talk about this any longer”, we can get into its messiest, most uncomfortable corners. How we can run at each other with our differences of opinion and, really, just come out with it. I, too, am guilty of many silences.

Although a fabrication, social media allows us the transparency to define our friendships unequivocally. I do not mean a simple friend and unfriend transaction. But, as I see it, social media has become the bulletin board where we announce how we plan to invest our thoughts and efforts to make new friends. Social media also tells us of whom we exclude from our circles of friendship, whose struggles and aspirations we discount in our filtering processes.

In my immediate, supposedly liberal, Indian surroundings, we were all quick to stand behind those protesting Trump and his victory, but we stayed quiet about the hundreds protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. Even our news sources mentioned the event only occasionally. And although the DAP protest has been hailed as the largest Native American protest in modern history, we failed to spare the thirty-second status update to ‘Check In at Standing Rock’—that world-wide social media action that claimed to misdirect police in Morton County, North Dakota. I wonder, can we truly be against the potential violence in Trump’s presidency and remain oblivious to DAP action and arrest? (But we are guilty of this often, right here, in our own states—we rarely extend our support, if only virtually, to so many adivasi resistances.)

So what now? As the United States signs petitions to abolish the electoral college, how do we, across the world, maintain our pledges of friendship? Sure, we can share videos of Michael Moore or use the appropriate hashtag when Black Lives Matter asks it of us. We can find the perfect 140 characters to show that we mourn. We can hold virtual hands with those who walk to Trump Tower in midtown New York, and watch their live feeds from out there in the cold. 

"Social media is where we can add or subtract words, and images, and symbols to create ourselves and the longitudes along which we relate to everyone else. "

But perhaps we could do more, even as we sit in our pyjamas with our laptops open.
Jacques Derrida, in his “Politics of Friendship”, writes that “to love friendship, it is not enough to know how to bear the other in mourning; one must love the future.” If we are to have a future where empathy runs in two directions, where friendship embraces its full potential for friction, we need to have those difficult conversations. We need to talk about what we believe, how we identify, and who are our allies, even if we change our minds and take back our words—friendship allows us that learning. We need to both reason and scream in combinations of retweets and emojis to show each other how a vote for good domestic healthcare could also mean a vote for horrific foreign policy. This is how we can sit with our wine glasses and coffee mugs and chat, as friends, about the future. Describe what we want from the future. What that future even looks like, and at the expense of whom.

Poorna Swami

Poorna Swami is a writer and dancer based in Bangalore. She is Editor-at-Large (India) at Asymptote [http://www.asymptotejournal.com]. 

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<![CDATA[tS Interviews: Ma Thida]]>

tS interviews the Burmese writer, activist, surgeon and former prisoner of conscience who has persistently challenged authoritarianism in Myanmar.

Ma Thida is a Burmese writer, trained surgeon, and activist who has been insturmental in fighting the forces of tyranny in her homeland of Myanmar. She spend nearly 6 years in jail between 1993 and 1999 for her critcism of the ruling regime. Her persistent support of Aung San Suu Kyi and demorcacy was redeemeed with Myanmar recently celebrating its first non-military government in over 40 years. That said, there is still much to be done, says Ms. Thida. In conjunction with her appearance at the Mumbai LitFest, we spoke to Ms. Thida about her literary and medical selves, the importance of children’s literature and her view on the friction that still dominates parts of Myanmar. Excerpts from an e-mail interview follow.

Can you tell us a little bit about your childhood- the books that shaped your thought, or incidents that you vividly remember that cemented your desire to fight for justice?

Since I am a mixed ethnic citizen, I learned about the inequality and insecurity in our society quite easily, and early. Because of my very considerate and kind parents, I was given the freedom to be myself. Many books I had read also help me to shape my thoughts and visions. 

"However, as you said, we now have our beloved leader in power thought it is still in negotiation with old people. Even this could not have happened if we who were killed, imprisoned and deported to other lands did not contribute and continue our unbowed, persistent resistance."
Does your interest and passion for healthcare and medicine intertwine with your love for writing and poetry? Are there any parallels between these facets of your life?

Sure, healthcare is all about helping patients to overcome physical illness, mental struggle and social difficulties. In this sense, the patient is the centre of interest for healthcare professionals. I love people and I love taking care of them, talking about or with them, and reflecting and responding to their suffering. This is how my interest and passion for both healthcare and literature come together easily. I also get chance to learn how people think and feel easily from my patients. The only vast difference is that the result out of my effort as healthcare provider is immediately obvious though the impact of my effort as writer is slowly penetrating.

"Attitude and behavior can easily be changed or shaped by what you read."
Myanmar recently celebrated the first non-military government since 1962, with Aung San Suu Kyi assuming the role of State Counselor - can you tell us a little bit about that day and how you felt knowing that your efforts  had been part of the forces of democracy finally clocking a victory?

Well, our destination is not yet reached. What we seek is not having a leader in power, but making people participate in the decision-making processes of state. So in this sense, we still have long way to go. However, as you said, we now have our beloved leader in power thought it is still in negotiation with old people. Even this could not have happened if we who were killed, imprisoned and deported to other lands did not contribute and continue our unbowed, persistent resistance. For that reason, I am happy.

Despite this great surge forward, there continues to be much to contend with particularly with the violence in Rakhine state - can you tell us a  little bit about this and how you think the government is dealing with the situation?

In fact, violence is not present just in the Rakhine state. The international media and community should learn more about our society’s problems in the sense of political conflict, rather than ethnic or religious conflict. Things are far more complicated than they seem. The current new civilian cabinet is trying to enforce its authority as a government but it they seem to be not very successful. News from remote places like Rakhine and Kachin state is mostly processed by the army or former administrative officers since access to these places by independent media is limited.

"The only vast difference is that the result out of my effort as healthcare provider is immediately obvious though the impact of my effort as writer is slowly penetrating."
The Tata LitFest instituted a new award called the Big Little Book  Award which focuses on awarding regional children's literature in India. Were there any books your read as a child that have stuck with you till today? How much importantance do you think the development of children's literature should be given?

Children literature is really important. What i remember is cartoons and comic books. I do not remember names of those but Myanmar comics illustrated by artist U Ba Kyi are still remained in my mind. Attitude and behavior can easily be changed or shaped by what you read too.

the Scribbler Staff

the Scribbler Staff

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<![CDATA[Fixing the Public Education System with Partnership Schools]]>

While access to elementary education is improving, India needs to shift its focus in order to enhance the quality of education being provided. Can 'Partnership Schools' be the solution?

In recent years, India has made great progress towards its goal of universal elementary education. According to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2014, enrolment stands at 96.7% for children between the ages of 6 and 14. A study by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) in 2014 showed that the number of primary schools is 858,916, with 98% habitations having a primary school within a 1 kilometer radius. These statistics suggest that most children have access to primary education. However, quality and learning outcomes remain a big problem, with only 48.1% of Grade 5 students being able to read a Grade 2 level text, as per ASER 2014.

In addition to this, children struggle to learn without the right guidance. The methods of teaching that are commonly used are ineffective, and the curriculum is outdated. Without good quality management and school leadership, schools do not run efficiently. To improve the public education system, innovative methods of dealing with these issues must be devised.

One solution is partnership schools. While the onus of providing education is on the government, the involvement of the private sector has been growing. Public Private Partnership (PPP) schools are run through a partnership between the government and a private partner like a nonprofit. A well-designed PPP school model can be beneficial to both private and public partners, as well as the children. Non-profits leverage the technical expertise, efficient operational style and result oriented methodology to revitalize government schools. With more autonomy, these schools take an approach that is different from the norm and makes performance management and continuous professional development of teachers more integrated. With regular tracking of data on school performance and student outcomes, there is continuous process evaluation and improvement in school practices.

Globally, many countries have used PPPs as a method to provide better educational opportunities to the disadvantaged sections of society. In several cases, this model has improved learning outcomes, and raised the standard of education in schools. A four-year Stanford CREDO study showed that charter schools in America brought about an increase in learning outcome for their students, more so than standard public schools.

In India, Ark, a UK-based non-profit, became the first nonprofit school operator in Delhi, to partner with the South Delhi Municipal Corporation to turn around a failing government school, which was dilapidated, under enrolled. Within the first month itself, the enrolment grew from 9 to 120, and currently the school serves 230 students. The teachers at this school are highly motivated and well trained in the most effective methods of teaching. Students have shown great progress in terms of academics, and their behaviour. By developing and strengthening this model, it can be replicated and used by the government to formulate strategies.

The problems faced by the education system have an impact on the future of our economy. These issues need to be addressed and resolved, appropriately. With the partnership school model growing in popularity worldwide, a new innovative solution exists. There is an urgent need for reform, to stop the downward slide and improve the quality of public education, and the cost of not investing in it now will be felt in years to come.

Kruti Bharucha

Kruti Bharucha is Country Director of Ark’s India operations. She has been working with Ark since June 2014 and brings 16 years’ experience from the management consulting and advisory sector as well as with multilateral institutions. Prior to Ark, she was a Senior Director and led Corporate Executive Board’s (CEB) Finance Practice in India. Her previous work experience includes stints at McKinsey & Co., The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Kruti has an MSc (Development Studies) from the London School of Economics, an MA (Economics) from the University of Maryland and a BA (Economics) from Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi.

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<![CDATA[tS Cityscapes [Delhi]: it comes and goes]]>

tS Cityscapes is back with poetry and photography that seeks to  vivify cities and give both outsiders and insiders unique perspectives on what defines life and living in them.

it comes and goes
Photo h/t: Abel Thayil ( Abel Thayil is a physics graduate from Delhi University, on the lookout for good music, poetry and ideas.)

a square sky matted in orange
would cast its net every night
on our halls and corridors
the land locked eyes, the rain
- that passed quickly.
and we craned our broad
happy necks and lay
on wet grass, itching,
because that’s how one must
arrogate we had heard
delhi’s vast, lunatic
vijaynagar was barely a shape

now when we have moved out
or hung close - it matters little -
to the sign boards and the poles
that slant carelessly away from the sun
we have learnt to name its parts:
“single storey” “double storey”
we pronounce carefully
in reverential tones;
we have learnt to tell the back-lanes
of hudson from its crowded shop fronts
and which turn will take us past
the fly-over, to model town.
now, vijaynagar beckons
with its luminous reds, its
green and yellow pools of light.
secrets have swelled now, the langour spreads
we build our claims painlessly, brick by brick
unseasonal then, your return after all these years
to lean into the brief winter afternoon
watching the light depart from once familiar streets
with your steady warm gaze
unseasonal the blank noise the bird cries
filling my ears, this garden variety
oblivion. and as i watch the very
color of the trees buckle
under your pressure, as you half
turn towards me and part your lips
there is this we must remember
these crowded tenements these
liquid colours that unmoving chain of traffic
that lives, that grows, that watches
and turns away, all too knowingly.

(thanks to arctic monkeys and father john misty)

- Poetry: Sthira Bhattacharya | Photography: Abel Thayil  

PS: If you’re a photographer or a poet keen to document your city in images or words, please drop us a line at: team@scribbler.co!

Sthira Bhattacharya

Sthira Bhattacharya recently completed her postgraduate studies in English Literature from Jawaharlal Nehru University. She lives in Delhi, testing the Mphil waters and puzzling out the promises of political transformation that the everyday holds out - single-mindedly unsure of how poetry fits into all this.

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<![CDATA[tS Cityscapes [Kolkata]: Glances before returning]]>

tS Cityscapes is back with poetry and photography that seeks to  vivify cities and give both outsiders and insiders unique perspectives on what defines life and living in them. First up, Kolkata.

Glances before returning
h/t: Aritra Chakraborti ( Aritra Chakraborti is a renegade academic who takes photos in his free time. He fell in love with Kolkata a long time ago, and still searches for her face in every city he goes to.)  

Someone told me once
that nothing moves in Kolkata.

Ruins dilate
with the brevity of silence
in the crevices of your face.  

Even the ghosts,
drenched in sweat and tired of returning,
remain stuck in the traffic
at the crossroads.

The city
lies pulsating with hot breath
among the cavalcade of retreating glances. 

Night buries
the skin of glances
and spreads the mirror 
inside the jaws of the city.

Faces throw up meanings
beyond comprehension
amidst the tobacco breath
and castaway glances.

returning on square windows,
even the trace of death on glass
is legendary.

The evening melts the golden carcasses
into the laughter of wet feet. 


Nobody moves in Kolkata.

Lovers dust off broken irises
in the blinding recoil of laughter
and darkness.

Nothing moves in Kolkata,
not even a leaf remembers to stir in breeze
for the fifteen minutes
I remain stuck at Rashbehari.

There’s no place to move —
car bonnets kiss in mild consternation
to stop jaywalkers from squeezing in;

people jostle for placeright in packed buses,
as faces descend through rainfall and memory
like lumbering misconceptions

and shops selling condoms on the pavements
mock mannequins in brassieres
for their misfortune.

Evening flips open the laughter
into the seven-fold mouth of darkness.

Nothing grows in Kolkata
but concrete plants that vie with each other
like overgrown children
to erase the smoke from the orange sunset.

Stories of resistance
like glittering corpse and flesh
lie in uneasy graves
beneath classroom doors.

- Poetry: Deeptesh Sen | Photography: Aritra Chakraborti 

PS: If you’re a photographer or a poet keen to document your city in images or words, please drop us a line at: team@scribbler.co with a copy to rajiv@scribbler.co!

Deeptesh Sen

Deeptesh Sen is currently pursuing his M.Phil in English at Jadavpur University, Kolkata. His poetry has been published in The Statesman, Kolkata, the Journal of Poetry Society, India, Aainanagar, the Stare’s Nest and the Crab Fat Literary Magazine.

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<![CDATA[tS Interviews: Parekh & Singh]]>

We interviewed the dream-pop (or is it indie-pop) duo, Parekh & Singh who've just signed with a huge UK indie label. Their debut single came with a breathtakingly cute video to match and they look poised to take India's burgeoning indie scene to the world.

Parekh & Singh are a Kolkata-based duo composed of the singer-songwriter and multi-insturmentalist Nishcay Parekh and the notoriously good percussionist (and producer), Jivraj Singh.  Their debut single, “I Love You Baby, I Love You Doll” is at once light-hearted and deeply soulful - a beautifully rendered and seemingly simple serenade to a loved one that is steeped in all the uncertainty that dominates young love. tS interviewed the duo and sought to look under the hood and see what makes them tick. Following are excerpts from an e-mail interview.

Can you tell us about the genesis of Parekh&Singh. We've seen and heard Nischay's stuff and Jivraj has been such a prolific percussionist. That said, what occassioned this musical marriage?

It was pretty easy and uneventful. We live on the same road, and knew that the other played music so we decided to collaborate. It was mainly triggered by the first festival slot that I(nischay) was offered in 2012. I didn’t want to play alone hence I asked Jivraj to join me. 

How does your writing process work? How did the ideas and execution of the 'Ocean' album work?

The songs were stewing in my brain for many years. So they were pretty formed by the time I took them to Jivraj. He just brings so much energy and taste to the drum parts that he writes, it was an instant fit.

Tell us about signing with a big indie UK-based label - how did that come about and has that allowed you to gain a more international audience?

It was pretty lucky and direct. We sent them an email with a demo, they liked it and signed us ! It has certainly broadened our fan base and has helped our music travel to more people.

The I Love You Baby, I Love you Doll video broke the indie indian internet a little bit and Wes Anderson reportedly gave it a thumbs-up! Tell us about how the video was conceived and shot?

The basic concept came from me, the 2 of us in this place doing different things and not interacting till the very end. The production had a big crew. Misha Ghose directed it and did an unbelievably good job ! It was an amazing project to be a part of.

What musical influences do you each bring to the table? Are there vast differences in what's on each of your playlists?

We both just love all forms of pop music. From Drake to Nine Inch Nails really. Our ears are open and our influences are a quirky cocktail of anything and everything. We don’t say no to any music.

Speaking of playlists, let's assume you've both been convicted of a capital crime and are sentenced to the gallows. You have been given the right to listen to 5 songs. Name the 5 songs you would pick today?

1) Death Wish - Dams of the West

2) Dancing in the Dark - Bruce Springsteen

3) Kerala - Bonobo

4) Get Down Saturday Night - Oliver Cheatham 

5) See What She’s Seeing - Dirty Projectors

the Scribbler Staff

the Scribbler Staff

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<![CDATA[Menstrual Misogyny: Redrawing the Lines of Tradition]]>

Saloni Saraf investigates the roots of the misogyny that surrounds menstruation in both her own religion and religions around the world.

[A version of this article first appeared here, in Artefact Magazine.]

Every year from July onwards till the end of October (or even November, depending which part of the country you hail from) Hindus celebrate what is one of the most festive and religiously heightened phases of the year.

It is a time for celebration, spirituality, and family - a time to feast on the best food, visit the most stunning temples, and pray for the good health of your loved ones.

Except if you’re on your period.

We teach our daughters to be proud of their bodies; we challenge inequality, and we stigmatise discrimination.

Yet, we ignore what can only be described as misogynistic beliefs that are buried deep into our tradition, and train our women to believe that menstruation is impure and unclean.

“Don’t enter the temple as it will not be right. Don’t touch the kitchen utensils as you will stain them.”

Growing up surrounded by a traditional religious family, whilst immersed in a liberal, feminist society, can confuse anyone who’s genuinely interested in following a religion that runs through the family.

This whole attitude has sadly fallen in the bracket of extremist rules that should not exist within a religion.

Yet for some reason, women everywhere – old and young – follow it blindly as if they themselves agree that they are unclean.

After many debates and unsatisfactory reasons as to why some will not change their mind about it, I looked up why this even began.

Historically this stage of the month was treated almost like a holiday. Five days where the pain that some women went through was taken into account, and they were allowed to take a break.

They didn’t have to carry heavy items, spend their entire day cooking, or walk miles to the nearest temple

But when did it mutate into a rule? When did something that was meant as a kind favour to a generation of submissive women become part of the law and order of religion?

This taboo however, is not restricted to just Hinduism. The perception that a woman on her period is unholy exists in many  religions.

Ayesha Soleija is a devoted follower of Islam, and has been affected by this specific tradition.

She told us that in ancient Egypt, a menstruating woman was considered dirty. She was not told to eat, and to sleep alone. Her husband would avoid her as it was believed that she was ‘excreting poison’.

"It’s frustrating that something which affects half the population of most households, has taken years of silent confusion and reluctant compliance for people to finally start speaking out against."

However, as Islam developed, the prejudice against menstruation also reduced in the eyes of many, as now the only thing that is prohibited is for a man to have sexual intercourse with his wife.

Though the concept of it being ‘unclean’ still exists, Ayesha says she will not be allowed to enter the Mosque if she is on her period. And during the time of prayer, ‘Sajda’ which is the part in which a person really connects with God, is avoided.

“I’ve never completely understood it, but it’s something my Mother, her Mother and everyone in my family has always followed.”

She goes further to say how it’s hard, to fight against something you’ve learnt to accept your entire life.

“When you tell a lie enough times, you yourself start to believe it’s true. I guess this works in the same way. I’ve spent my whole life believing that I am indeed unclean when I’m on my period, so no matter how much I convince myself that this tradition has no validity, I will always feel uncomfortable stepping into the mosque on my period.”

The worst part about this tradition is that no one genuinely understands it; no woman believes that they are ‘dirty’ when they are menstruating.

This culture is so deeply ingrained in our lives that feeling uncomfortable fighting against it is inevitable.

A ten year old will cringe at the idea of his or her sister being on her period, and that stems purely from the fact that they haven’t been taught about why it happens.

Is the lack of sexual education in our communities so telling that even fully grown adults can treat a woman on her period like she is unfit to exist in a place of worship?

In Judaism, a woman in the period of her menstruation is referred to as ‘Niddah’.

The Old Testament specifies that a woman is unclean during this period, however the Talmud, a huge collection of ‘laws’ written before the eighth   century AD, stipulate that a woman’s ‘uncleanness’ continues for a whole week after her period has ended.

It’s frustrating that something which affects half the population of most households, has taken years of silent confusion and reluctant compliance for people to finally start speaking out against.

We’re developing our mindsets, our lifestyles and our behaviour towards the world.

Let’s develop our religions too.

Saloni Saraf

Saloni Saraf is a journalist, a kathak dancer and a student still trying to figure out this whole learn-how-to cook-and-stop-eating-instant-noodles thing. Perpetually curious, thirsty for culture, she wants to experience the world.

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<![CDATA[tS Interviews: Swaha Sahoo]]>

tS chats with Swaha Sahoo who heads the PARAG initiative of Tata Trusts. Swaha tells us about the challenges facing education policy and how the Big Little Book Awards will serve to put regional Children's Literature on the map.

Following our interview with Amrita Patwardhan who heads the education portfolio at Tata Trusts, we spoke to Swaha Sahoo who is leading the PARAG initiative and behind the implementation of the Big Little Book Award which will debut at the Mumbai Literature Festival this year. She tells us about how PARAG has supported 350 regional children’s literature books in India,

Can you tell us a bit about the PARAG initiative of the Tata Trusts and your role?

PARAG is a decade old initiative that aims to fill a gap in availability of and access to good quality, contextual and original reading material for children, especially in Indian languages. We have supported 350 children’s books across nine languages. These are stories that children relate to, emerging from their lived contexts. Parag promotes libraries as vibrant spaces, with a rich collection of books and an active library educator who engages children with reading. We support a large number of organisations to strengthen their book collection and improve skills of facilitators. Recently, Parag launched the Library Educator’s Course, a seven month dual mode a certificate course targeted at librarians and educators. Last year Parag launched the Riyaaz Academy for Illustrators to identify and train young illustrators. Parag is also keen to use technology to reach more children and catalyse the reading space.

I lead the implementation of the programmes and grants across Parag. I work with my team to ensure project output and impact. I look at opportunities to partner with more organisations in this space advocating use of children’s literature for reading improvement. The best part of my work is that I get to read so many richly illustrated picture books, non-fiction, poetry and national and international literature.

What are the key challenges that have constrained education policy, in your view in India? Have there been any positive movements recently that are likely to incite the change required on the ground?

There are multiple levels of challenges in educational policy. First, for policy planning the child comes last. We don’t appreciate that children come into school with prior knowledge and varied experiences. We teach, we don’t facilitate learning. Learning happens naturally for children. Education policy must focuses on multiple ways of learning, encourage mistakes and enable skill building. Secondly, we should look at the highest levels of training for pre-primary and primary teachers. If you look at recruitment adverts you will notice how the position for pre-primary teachers requires the minimum qualification and it moves up the grade. Primary schooling is the key. If we focus on quality in the first eight years and are able to engage children, they will have the foundation for further education. Last but not the least, move away from an exam centric, percentage oriented school education system and focus on learning by doing.

Many positive policy changes have happened in the last decade and I say decade because in education it takes time for any policy to be implemented and to show impact. The National Curriculum Framework 2005 is one of the key changes. If schools adhere to the NCF and teachers are trained accordingly, learning would shift from the textbook to the learner. Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) has successfully provided access to primary schools in most remote areas but we lack trained teachers. The push towards “Swachh Bharat”, if it succeeds in creating and using toilets and access to clean drinking water in our schools, will go a long way in retaining children in schools. The intent behind Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat is to promote reading and math skills. If implemented with adequate resources and training it can make a difference to early grade literacy skills in children. Similarly, the industry focus on skilling and entrepreneurship can only succeed if school education moves from a rote and examination based approach to focus on children using their knowledge in everyday life.

What more should the Indian government and policymakers do to engage with the needs of first-generation learners and the incredible dearth of quality education at the primary level in India?

Many of the challenges I spoke about and what should be done instead are also ways in which we can cater to the need of first generation learners. For example, we assume when they come to school that children don’t know anything. But children already know a lot that they have gathered from their environment, parents, family and culture. If we can train our teachers to use the prior knowledge of children, it will give children confidence. The school will not be an alien place with which they do not identify or connect. Secondly, language is a key factor that often alienates first generation learners. They speak a different language from the language of instruction and finding no help to link the two can be a big burden for young minds. Having story books in children’s regional languages, keeping aside some hours to tell stories and creating a link between home and school language will go a long way in helping children succeed at school.

In your work with PARAG and your interactions with stakeholders, have you been able to identify the reason for the sorry state of affairs when it comes to literature focused on children in India?

The larger, sectoral challenge is lack of a reading culture. Schools are singularly focused on exams and finishing the curriculum. They have no space or energy for reading. They don’t realise that children develop many essential skills such as reading and writing skills, communication, vocabulary and critical analysis if they are exposed to a wide variety of books. Similarly, few parents encourage children to read for pleasure. It is also difficult for children to find books that are engaging. A handful of publishers in India are publishing good books in multiple Indian languages. Yet these books don’t reach a large number of children. A large number of private schools in India and parents who can afford to buy books tend to buy English literature from Western authors and publishers. Government schools have resource constraints. When they do have a budget, schools end up buying books from local publishers at deep discounts without looking at the quality. Developing original stories and illustrations with high quality production and printing is expensive and publishers price their books accordingly to recover costs. Those who keep costs low rely on subsidies. Another way of keeping costs low is to print high volumes. But in the absence of reliable government procurement, it becomes difficult for publishers to print large numbers.

How will initiatives like the Big Little Book Award serve to buoy the interest and focus on Children’s Literature in India?

An award can play many roles. It brings the winner’s body of work to the forefront and generates interest and awareness around it. If the award process is transparent and jury independent and competent, it can impact the sale of the book/s. For instance, the Newberry and Caldecott Medals, instituted by the American Library Association, have significant impact on the sale of books by a winning author/illustrator. The Big Little Book Award is in its debut year. It aims to promote the work of winners and make them accessible to children through several means. Over October and November we are organizing author/illustrator meets, library and reading sessions across schools and libraries. The Big Little Book award will serve its purpose if it successfully creates a platform for young readers, parents, schools, publishers and other stakeholders to meet, access and read the works of winners. We hope the Award will give children’s literature it due recognition and encourage young talent to contribute original, contextual and contemporary stories for children.

the Scribbler Staff

the Scribbler Staff

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<![CDATA[Courting Danger]]>

The UK High Court held that the government does not have the power to trigger Brexit with parliamentary consultation. The backlash against the decision has revealed a serious undermining of institutions that have safeguarded the liberty of the British people.  

The independent judiciary are not public’s enemy. I can’t quite believe I’m having to write those words but it’s the lowest point yet of British public discourse in a year that has taken on the challenge of plumbing the void with unparalleled vigour. Those who vilified and cried foul of the High Court’s ruling sadly neither understand nor uphold Britain’s democratic principles, instead they have entered into the most dangerous game of inciting anger and mistrust against our ancient and hallowed democratic institutions.

While I have no doubt that you, dear reader, understand the complex interplay of parliamentary sovereignty, royal prerogative, and rule of law; our ministers and newspaper editors seem in desperate need of a quick recap of exactly what is in dispute so for their benefit here’s exactly what went down in courtroom four of the Royal Court’s of Justice.

The UK’s constitution is uncodified, instead it is drawn from a collection of statutes, common law precedent, and conventions, amongst other sources; it’s therefore a sprawling living body of law rather than one single source document. This only works because we recognise the power of the parliament, to be precise the Crown-in-Parliament; this leads to the phrase of parliamentary sovereignty which articulates that the highest form of law are Acts of Parliament. This, despite leavers claims of the EU suppressing our sovereignty, has been the established constitutional settlement for hundreds of years, and allows our democracy to be flexible and adaptable to modern challenges.

The EU is a treaty organisation; normally in the UK, the power to enter and exit treaties resides with the government through the royal prerogative, which are ancient residual powers once used by the monarch and but exercised now by ministers. However the EU is a unique treaty organisation which confers rights upon the citizens of its member states. In order to achieve this Parliament passed The European Communities Act 1972 which was passed prior to the treaty taking us into the EU being ratified.

Here is the crucial point: royal prerogative powers cannot disapply acts of parliament, where those acts confer rights on the British people this is even more true. The Government broadly argued that The European Union Referendum Act 2015 authorised the government to act on the results of the 23rd June, which they humorously call an overwhelming mandate despite a slight 51.89% majority or 37% of the entire electorate. The problem is that, despite the government’s belief in legal hocus pocus, the referendum act explicitly stated that it was a non-binding advisory affair. The government agreed in 2010 in a response to an inquiry by the House of Lords that referendums cannot be binding in the UK such a law would be an anathema to hundreds of years of British constitutional jurisprudence perhaps broadly described as a Burkean approach. The only exception was the referendum on the alternative vote system which clearly stated it was binding as it would be untenable to have Parliament decide on how it is made up.

"The UK’s constitution is uncodified, instead it is drawn from a collection of statutes, common law precedent, and conventions, amongst other sources; it’s therefore a sprawling living body of law rather than one single source document. This only works because we recognise the power of the parliament, to be precise the Crown-in-Parliament; this leads to the phrase of parliamentary sovereignty which articulates that the highest form of law are Acts of Parliament."

So if the government were to trigger article 50 it can no longer guarantee that rights conferred under the 1972 act of parliament would continue to be available to UK citizens, they would therefore be undermining the statute which is the basis for the court’s devastating ruling against the government. The government’s insistence that the parliament has already had it’s say in passing the referendum act is one of the most facile legal arguments in recent memory, and betrays a total ignorance of how our laws work, a worrying thing to say about your government. If these are the government’s arguments they would better spend their time drafting a bill rather than appealing to the Supreme Court where they will almost certainly lose.

What does this all mean for Brexit then? Realistically this ruling is speed bump in the road to triggering article 50, it’ll require a bill to be put before both houses which inevitably get through. Though expect a litany of amendments attached by rebel MPs and Peers who will want to both delay and limit a hard Brexit, however it will be done in a legally unquestionable manner. The judges are not therefore, as various cretins would have you believe, cancelling Brexit, overruling the will of the people, stealing our democracy, or in any other way illicitly frustrating the process. They are ensuring its legitimacy, Brexiteers as well as Remainers should be cheered by today’s ruling amongst all the noise and confusion it cuts a path on how to achieve Brexit in a legitimate manner. It should be celebrated that in our democracy people have the freedom to hold those in power to account, one of the campaigners might be a hedge fund manager but before the law everyone is equal.

The question I’ve then been asked by others is do MPs have a moral duty to vote either following the overall result of the referendum or the result in their individual constituencies. The simple answer is no. British parliamentary democracy has long understood that a representative democracy must not operate merely as the direct mouthpiece of the British electors will, simply parroting the populist view. Instead as Burke put it to the electorates of Bristol parliamentarians have a responsibility to listen to the views of their constituents but must make their own judgement as to what is in their constituents best interests. Indeed to sacrifice their judgement to the popular opinions is a betrayal of the trust that is bestowed in them upon being returned to parliament. The very fact that the referendum was advisory in nature further confirms this as the established principle of British parliamentary democracy. So while it may be politically expedient to follow popular opinion there is no democratic or moral duty for MPs to do so, whether any will have the political courage to do so is an entirely different matter.

"The judges are not therefore, as various cretins would have you believe, cancelling Brexit, overruling the will of the people, stealing our democracy, or in any other way illicitly frustrating the process. They are ensuring its legitimacy, Brexiteers as well as Remainers should be cheered by the High Court's ruling amongst all the noise and confusion it cuts a path on how to achieve Brexit in a legitimate manner."

We must return to what is the darkest but most salient matter in the aftermath of the High Court ruling, the unprecedented attack on the judiciary. It speaks volumes about 2016 that the usual rules of engagement have been completely reversed, often it is the right that staunchly defends the constitution and the left that attempts to subvert or alter it. Instead you have government ministers effectively attacking the judiciary and the principle of the rule of law, the editors of Fleet Street have gone a several vulgar steps further, while these might seem like easy political victories for an increasingly hard right government they lead to a slippery slope. Falsely spreading distrust against institutions that have spent hundreds of years safeguarding our freedoms erodes our democracy and damages everyone regardless of their political beliefs; a reason why Liz Truss, Lord Chancellor, has a sworn duty to protect the judiciary even if she does so feebly. If the government is looking to distract the public from the lack of real Brexit strategy then they should choose something less likely to bring the entire house of cards down in the meantime “methinks the lady doth protest too much.”

For the only thing that stands against the arbitrary and cruel power of tyranny is not simply something as flimsy as democracy, all too easily subject to the whims of demagogues, but the sturdy pillars of the rule of law, resolute and unyielding.

Luke Blackett

Luke is a graduate in Law from University College London, with an interest in politics, economics and the arts. He is also a film writer/director/producer mostly making short films and music videos. Luke is a returning contributor to the Scribbler.

https://scribbler.co/r/582b4db20bff651419aa40a6/courting-danger<_bsontype>ObjectIDWed, 16 Nov 2016 04:49:10 GMT
<![CDATA[The Universal Privilege]]>

Namrata opens up about navigating the frailities of the human body and remembering the importance to stop, breathe and appreciate the small victories.

Reckless abandon is a privilege.

A privilege we all abuse, with respect to money, substances, emotions and perhaps most significantly, the human body.

This isn’t a preachy rant about how your body is a temple or health is wealth and requires a lot, if not all of your attention. Somewhere deep down, we all already know that apparent cliché is true. The only difference is how (and if at all) we discover just how much it matters. For some, and I’d like to express some amount of envy here, it’s a non-issue. They chug along day after day, consistent and unwavering. For others like me, health takes the front seat and distracts from everything else.

There is a fine line between pushing your boundaries to better yourself and pushing so hard that you start to break. I’m only just learning to navigate back to the former. For a while there, I was drowning. I couldn’t quite figure out why and none of the excuses I came up with felt ‘serious’ enough. Just for the record, there is no such thing as too minor a reason to stop and breathe, especially if your own body and mind is barking at you. If it’s telling you that something is very wrong even if everyone around you is chalking it up to not getting enough exercise or not being positive enough. I ignored mine. I knew subconsciously that the level of fatigue I felt every morning wasn’t normal, that being deeply unhappy, constantly anxious and on the verge of a breakdown wasn’t healthy and having no reason to look forward to the next day was scary. I was in a loop though, unable to find my way out of it, marooned and just barely hanging on. I should’ve taken a break, a step back and made an effort to figure it out. 

Then I woke up one morning, with eyes swollen from unstoppable crying the previous night, with both my ankles slightly swollen and unable to support my weight and I had no choice but to stop and listen. All the so-called excuses – work, social obligations, and responsibilities ceased to matter. Only the pain remained relevant. Severe pain that was present day in and day out, shifted from one joint to another and made it impossible to do anything but lie in bed. I was diagnosed with a severe vitamin D deficiency and spent two weeks in agony. The fatigue was meant to go away in a month. So was the depression, the loss of my appetite and the fuzzy feeling in my brain. It didn’t.

"To get moving every morning is a battle. It’s the hardest thing to do, but the only one that brings some ration of relief. I’m learning to listen to my body instead of just steamrolling over it. And most of all, I’m learning to be vocal about gratitude. "

What I have, as I discovered after some more digging, is a suppressive form of rheumatoid arthritis. It’s also chronic (but manageable), a fact that took me a while to come to terms with. I’ve always claimed to be self-destructive in jest, but here was my body actually turning on itself and attacking its own tissues. The irony. It was like a puzzle coming together. The dull, aching pain in my entire body, the unrelenting exhaustion and the difficulty in moving was all starting to make sense. It’s one of the most common ailments in young women around the world today, but where it comes from and how it affects every woman is different. It could be you, or your friend. They’re still making sense of the causes; some call it hereditary, some point to exposure to smoke and air pollution and some say it boils down to stress. All I know is that the human body is complex. Putting it in one box or another works as a band-aid solution to appease the mind, but the reality is, it’s hard to figure out. There is no cut and dry reasoning that you can apply.

To get moving every morning is a battle. It’s the hardest thing to do, but the only one that brings some ration of relief. I’m learning to listen to my body instead of just steamrolling over it. And most of all, I’m learning to be vocal about gratitude. Things are always uncertain, not just for me but for everyone, but they could always be worse. Appreciate the little victories and the people who help you get there. It’s no picnic in the park; there are days I don’t want to entertain conversation with anyone, especially if it comes in the form of unsolicited advice. I understand that it’s rooted in concern, but it’s still usually misguided. Your pain is your own. The best anyone can do for it is just listen, no opinions offered. And ultimately, it’s up to you to take charge. To gain some modicum of control. Control over your own mind because that’s really the only thing that’ll save you. Feeding it and training it, so that your body may follow suit.

It’s not even about sickness or disease for me anymore. It’s about consciously considering what I’m feeling, thinking and wanting and learning to use that to grow. Without letting the white noise in. Everyone, especially the people who love you always have an opinion. I listen to it, but I don’t let it smother me.

I may never go back to my former life of fourteen-hour days and boundless energy (or adrenaline; at this point who knows) and letting go of that is hard. Remembering what it felt like to spring out of bed, fresh and raring to go is also hard. Remembering some things in general is tough. Watching my peer group accomplish massive goals while mine are usually just getting through the day with enough exercise and without a five-hour nap is even harder. Also, not a path I’d recommend going down. No one wins the comparison game. Most of all, it’s hardest to shake off the fear that I’m being left behind, that I’m not enough and that there is no coming back.

Everyone has a journey to pull through. This is mine. Maybe it’ll resonate with you and make you feel less alone or maybe you’ll scoff at it. Who can say? All I know is that I’ll get to where I need to be in due time, armed with the lessons I’m learning now. 

Namrata Juneja

Former lifestyle writer, fashion school graduate Namrata Juneja is still weighing her options when it comes to her place in the world. In the meantime, she’s writing as much as possible, perfecting every Broadway show tune in her repertoire and going on long swims.

https://scribbler.co/r/58299ffa0bff651419aa40a2/the-universal-privilege<_bsontype>ObjectIDTue, 15 Nov 2016 05:46:12 GMT
<![CDATA[tS Interviews: Amrita Patwardhan]]>

tS chats with Amrita Patwardhan who heads the education portfolio of Tata Trusts, on the challenges facing children's education and their exciting new initiative, The Big Little Book Awards, which honours authors, illustrators and publishers  of children's literature in regional languages.

It is almost certain that nobody reading this was born when Tata Trusts, the philanthropic arm of the Tata group of companies, began its mission. For over 100 years, Tata Trusts has, in its own words, ‘played a pioneering role in transforming traditional ideas of charity and introducing the concept of philanthropy to make a real difference to communities’.  One of their latest efforts is the Big Little Book Awards, a part of the PARAG initiative. The Big Little Book Awards have been instituted to honours authors, illustrators and publishers of children’s literature in regional languages who have put . 74% of schools in India do not have functional libraries and the children’s literature in Indian languages has seen limited growth and little to no focus. Amrita Patwardhan, who heads Tata Trusts’ education portfolio, speaks to us regarding the Big Little Book Awards, the Tata Trusts’ focus on education and how education policy needs to refocus its aim.

How has TATA trusts developed its focus on education and can you tell us about what brought about the focus on Children’s Literature and the PARAG initiative?

Education has been one of the central portfolios of Tata Trusts since its inception. In the initial decades, the focus was on creating avenues for young scholars to access world class education through scholarship programmes such as the JN Tata Endowment, a loan based scholarship set up in 1894, as well as building premier institutions such as Indian Institute of Science, Tata Institute of Social Sciences and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research which have contributed in nation building. Our current collaborations with global Universities such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or Cornell or Chicago University tap into global expertise to address important development and social challenges in India.

Along with building institutions for higher education, Tata Trusts also focused on addressing issues such as access to quality education from pre-school to high-school for the most marginalized communities through a range of interventions. Tata Trusts and its partners work in over 2,000 schools and communities in rural, tribal pockets in over 10 states. We chose our areas of focus and strategy through a five year strategic planning exercise led by sector experts and mandate provided by the Trustees. Key gap areas in education identified for focused engagement of the Trusts include: (a) improving access to quality education from pre-school to high-school in 30 blocks with low Human Development Index for enhancing quality of life of marginalized communities through multi-thematic interventions including education, health, livelihood and water-sanitation; (b) appropriate use of technology to enhance learning and 21st century skills in children; (c) teacher education to build cadre of well qualified teachers; and (d) promote reading for pleasure through children’s literature. The Parag initiative was thus built to address the important sector gap pertaining to access to affordable and high quality books to children as an important resource for enhancing learning and overall development of children.

How would you rate the development of our national education policy since you became an educator? Are there particular issues that haven’t seen the light of day?

In the past decade, the two most significant policy developments in school education have been the right of children to free and compulsory education (between 6 to 14 age group) and National Curricular Framework (2005) developed by National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT). Implementing core commitments of Right to Education (RTE) by making quality education a right for every child studying in public or private schools, equipping teachers with capabilities, autonomy and support to provide quality education to learners from diverse backgrounds, making adequate resource allocation for education by increasing public spending on education, are some of the key aspects which need to be addressed. We continue to look for quick fix solutions to education, without comprehensive reform of teacher education and examination system. The new education policy which is in the works, needs to lay down a pathway to implement RTE in letter and spirit, which is possible only if teacher education system is radically reformed.

Indian curricula is dogged with continued criticism of its emphasis on rote learning and failure to teach applicable skills – have policymakers taken heed of this critique and do you see improvement?

Rote learning continues to be the predominant way of teaching in a majority of Indian classrooms. There is wider acknowledgement of this problem and the National Curricular Framework (2005) and textbook revision that followed was an important step in demonstrating how curricular content can be made relevant, and child centered, focusing on concept based learning rather than by learning by rote. Examination systems and teacher education are two other important areas which need to be reformed if we are serious about a school education that equips children with competencies that will make them confident, independent learners, who do not know everything, but know how to seek out information and are able to solve problems and apply learning in real life. While the process of reform is slow, we have enough examples across geographies and subject areas that have effectively demonstrated how authentic learning can happen at scale. For example,the  Hoshangabad Science Education programme by Eklavya effectively demonstrated how hands on science education can be done in government schools or the Integrated Technology in Education programme by Tata Trusts which helped children have authentic learning experiences using technology.

As an educator or a parent, what steps can one take to ensure that reading is given due importance in student development?

The best thing parents and teachers can do is to read aloud to children, from the earliest age group. In fact, ‘Becoming Nation of Readers’ (1985), a report by the National Reading Commission which suggests ways to improve reading instruction in the United States says, “The single most important activity for building knowledge of their eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children”. Providing access to good books and opportunities for children to see parents reading can make a big difference. If parents are non-literate, oral storytelling, and constant encouragement of children to read can go a long way.

Teacher and educators, especially those working with children from marginalized backgrounds have a much bigger responsibility. Teachers must provide open access to a carefully selected and rich collection of children’s books through functional libraries in schools and classrooms, ensure lending of storybooks at home, have scheduled time for library for each class and space to engage children through meaningful activities around books. For that, teacher educators have to ensure that teachers themselves are readers.

The Big Little Book Awards has chosen to emphasize on children’s literature in regional languages? Can you tell us more about what motivated this choice? 

The PARAG initiative is committed to promoting children’s literature while focusing on Indian languages, including English. India finds many strengths being a multilingual nation. While English is an aspirational language for majority of children, each first grader has excellent command over her mother tongue. Mastery over mother tongue, if used as a pedagogic resource in classrooms, can be a rich source of support for learning to read and learning new languages. For children to be drawn to reading, providing them access to engaging reading material in the mother tongue can go a long way in ensuring that reading is experienced as a meaning making activity and not a mechanical one.

Tata Trusts undertook the task of mapping the study of children’s literature in India in 2013. The study revealed that 45% of children’s books are published in English while 25% in Hindi and rest by all other Indian languages combined. In developed countries like UK, there are 6 children’s books available per child, while availability of storybooks in rural India is as low as 1 book for 11 children. Based on this gap analysis, Tata Trusts has consciously supported the development of high quality books in multiple Indian languages, as that is where there is maximum need .

the Scribbler Staff

the Scribbler Staff

https://scribbler.co/r/580f41860bff651419aa409e/ts-interviews-amrita-patwardhan<_bsontype>ObjectIDFri, 11 Nov 2016 12:16:05 GMT
<![CDATA[Portraits of the Sky]]>

One of our long-time contributors Cyril Kuhn is back with some thoroughly jaw-dropping images of the skies across India.

Cyril Kuhn takes photographs but seemingly is able to paint portraits at the same time. Below are some stunning photographs from across North India, where the sky is his muse. Words are both unnecessary and unlikely to do these photographs justice. Enjoy.

Glow in the Dark | Kanata, Uttarakhandl
Wings of the Galaxy | Kheerganga, Kullu       
Chumathung, Ladakh
Red river bank | Jispa, Himachal Pradesh  
Galactic Core |Korzok, Jammu & Kashmir     
Heavenly Descent |Mussorie, Uttarakhand   
_Jupiter & Orion over Bhadraj Temple |Mussorie, Uttarakhand     
The Big Dipper | Mussorie, Uttarakhand
Tree of Life | Sariska, Rajasthan   
Moonlit Night |Rasol, Himachal Pradesh    
Cyril Kuhn

Cyril Kuhn is a photographer with a diploma in professional photography from the Light and Life Academy in Ooty. Prior to studying photography he completed his BA in Philosophy from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi. He is an avid traveller and a lover of the outdoors.

https://scribbler.co/r/580f40460bff651419aa409d/portraits-of-the-sky<_bsontype>ObjectIDFri, 04 Nov 2016 19:33:14 GMT
<![CDATA[The Cult of Trump]]>

An argument that Donald Trump is best understood as a traditional cult leader, not unlike Jim Jones or David Koresh, and a consideration of our obligations to respond. 

In almost every academic course on religion, several questions loom large: What is religion? What makes it legitimate? Can we notice new religious movements on the horizon, or must we wait for history to pick and choose? We either come to our own conclusions on the term and argue over specifics, or say we just know it when we see it, to paraphrase Justice Stewart.

I love these questions. I could go on for pages on why they’re important, and why scholars need to answer them. Because sometimes, people come along, meeting every criteria of a new religious movement; and we fail to see them. We fail to accurately account for their existence and growth, staring confusedly, our hands and minds tied by stiff definitions and gazes. Historians peddle in the past, academics are to be unbiased, and activists may not notice religious motivations. Cultural commentators and those who would offer us fear; focus on ISIS, immigration, or the “other,” and entertainers distract. We are all seeing through a glass darkly, and it’s high time we clear each other’s eyes.

What is a cult? Can we see it and step in—either physically or through education—before their crisis points? Does it matter that some prefer “new religious movement” over “cult,” due to the term’s negative connotations? Should we differentiate between the benign and the deadly? And what are our obligations to respond to individuals and movements which exhibit cult-like activity? To put a finer point on my question—what is Donald Trump, and why are his supporters still following him?

Plenty of allegations and accusations have been lobbed at Trump. Whether true or false; whether outright lies, shadows of the truth, or completely honest; enough information is known to argue that Trump is one of the most unfit candidates for President of the United States. For those who haven’t been paying close attention, it can seem as if his popularity has come out of nowhere. America, so we thought, is supposed to be a mixing pot of diversity. However, for those of us who see subtle details and understand the complex nature of political and religious movements, nothing about Trump or his campaign has been surprising. He has tapped into an unnamed fear, caused a very real panic, and has relied upon religious faith to garner enough support to come close to the position he so desperately seeks. Many have argued, including myself, that if we had ignored Trump, he would have gone away. His traction and popularity can be rightfully explained by his perceived “news-worthiness” to media outlets and talking heads, which refused to take seriously his candidacy. Because we have been so caught up in the question of “How could this happen here?” we have missed the clear signs and signals which make complete sense when looked at closely. Donald Trump is our new David Koresh, and America may be our Waco.

"To put a finer point on my question—what is Donald Trump, and why are his supporters still following him?"

Our cultural term of “cult” calls back to previous religious groups and their leaders, such as Jim Jones of the People’s Temple (Jonestown), David Koresh of the Branch Davidians (Waco), Charles Manson’s Family, or Heaven’s Gate. All of these groups have several distinct commonalities, definable attributes that become obvious with comparison, including the following: 

(a) Relatively new in the public’s consciousness; (b) Appeal to a spiritual being or realm, regardless of orthodoxy; (c) Desiring to withdraw from or radically change society; (d) Unwavering belief and obedience; (e) Threatening to both believers and non-believers; (f) Led by a singular charismatic figure who solely, and/or through specific messengers, disseminates information.

We are terrified of cults. Really, we are terrified of a lot of things, cults just being one. Terrorists, persons of color, non-conforming gender and sexual identities, cancers, autism, fat, sugar, etc., have all been a part of our public conversation; yet cults sparked a fear which at one time outshone them all. No total understanding of the American 1950s to 1990s is complete without at least a nod to cult fascination and worry. Parents feared for their children, convinced that they had been or would become brainwashed—or worse—held under strict dogma and subject to very real or imagined danger. Historically, many “cults” (as opposed to the new religious movements which lack specific threatening behavior or belief) have ended in mass destruction, and seem to never deliver on earthly promises made. Service groups like the Cult Awareness Network existed to offer “deprogramming” and “exit counselors” for family and friends to rescue their loved ones. While these services ultimately proved to be highly problematic, their existence can understandably be explained. If your friend or family member had joined something like a cult, would you not be worried? Even though negative attention to new religious movements and cults has led to fear and consequences, their threat cannot be taken for granted, nor should it be ignored. 

"Because we have been so caught up in the question of “How could this happen here?” we have missed the clear signs and signals which make complete sense when looked at closely. Donald Trump is our new David Koresh, and America may be our Waco."

However, noticing and defining those groups which may be threatening can be tricky. Scholars are often hesitant to point fingers, lest they are wrong or feel insensitive. We can also misunderstand and/or forget the social threat to life and well-being they can present. Or, groups can just prove to be too difficult to understand, given the parameters of logic and reason so many of us operate by. Finally, these “cults” can be hard to define as such, as they may not obviously meet all of our previously defined characteristics.

One such problem in noticing these “dangerous cults” is the issue of religious motivation. Of course, a new religious movement must meet that criterion, in that it must be “religious,” however we define the term. In political movements, this can be or seems impossible. But we need to expand our view, looking beyond how religious movements begin and grow, and beyond where and how they can exist.

Movements, such as those groups of people who are supporting Donald Trump for President of the United States, did not begin with revelation. Rather, they began with a specific understanding of Christianity, which created and informed their political worldview. There are no new written texts, no new translations, and no new revelation from God. In fact, Trump rarely mentions God, and his personal faith has been seen as suspect. There is no one church building supporters gather in, no Vineyard or World Harvest; rather there are auditoriums and airport hangars. Supporters are called upon to give abundantly, being promised prosperity in all aspects of their lives. There are no coffee klatches, no church bulletin boards, and no Bible studies; rather there are internet chatrooms and Facebook posts. Trump signs and bumper stickers have replaced Jesus fish and ribbons on trees, marking prayers for soldiers. “Make America Great Again” is the new “What Would Jesus Do?”, and all sins can—and should be—forgiven. Finally, and most importantly, anyone seeming to uphold important Christian values can lead, anything or any country, it seems. There has been no preaching, but there have been memes.

Please do not misunderstand. The faith within the Trump campaign is not found within religious ephemera. Rather, these items and sentiments are cultural markers for faith—objects and areas in which American Christianity has typically been found. The religious reference is not to a singular denomination or belief, obvious in the fact that Trump supporters can be found everywhere, even within the United Methodist Church or groups of immigrant Catholics. The reference is rather three-fold, encompassing a specific understanding or interpretation of the Bible, the belief that the Bible informs every facet of our lives as the Word of God, and a hat tip to those qualified to teach or interpret.

Herein lays the rub. If we truly understand what Trump represents—hatred, intolerance, misinformation, a lack of education, misogyny, and fear of widespread destruction—and we have a working definition of dangerous cult, how could we miss this? How could we not see Donald Trump as the next possible David Koresh or Jim Jones? Are we hesitant to point this out over threats of libel? If that’s so, let Trump come for me. A blogger who has very little to lose, and who is protected by laws governing poverty.

Or maybe we just don’t recognize it? This seems impossible, and not only because politics and religion have had such a strong relationship since the beginning of recorded history. As Thomas Mann wrote, everything is political, and this cannot be truer for Christianity. It is likely impossible to find a Christian denomination or branch that has not taken some sort of political stance. Evangelicals and Catholics have swayed elections, denominations make declarations on political issues, groups of Christian socialists provide welfare for their own, and pacifists such as the Amish pay taxes yet refrain from political involvement. The Christian Bible, believed to be the written word of God, can and likely should be understood as political instruction based on common faith. We, especially those who understand and study Christianity, should have seen this coming, and it should not have been a surprise.

"We are terrified of cults. Really, we are terrified of a lot of things, cults just being one. Terrorists, persons of color, non-conforming gender and sexual identities, cancers, autism, fat, sugar, etc., have all been a part of our public conversation; yet cults sparked a fear which at one time outshone them all."

Or is the reason that we have misjudged Trump as a rising cult leader because we are too concerned with political correctness and an academic appeal to unbiased reporting? While we are rightfully reluctant to embrace the term “cult,” with its negative connotations; we cannot be so timid to wade into current political waters as to completely ignore the issue. To do so would be to almost embrace the concepts of “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings,” refusing to change the public conversation on religion, and relying on others to come to us for information. It is no longer acceptable to argue that leaders should have come to academics of new religious movements before acting, and it is no longer acceptable for scholars to hold their tongues. We must, with our knowledge and passions, call a spade a spade and attempt to effect change.

Because of how terrible the outcome can be, and how extreme the stakes are, we are morally obligated to say something and act. We have the tools and ability to understand Trump, knowing the consequences his election would bring, and an idea of how to fix it. To get things done, we must first see Trump for what he is—a leader of a group that so closely resembles a so-called dangerous cult as to undeniably be one, meeting every criteria of our previous definition of cult.

Trump is a charismatic figure, solely responsible for information. While he has a staff of spokespersons and surrogates to work in his stead, all authority is directed back to him. Until “Pussy Gate” and Trump’s threat to not accept the outcome of the November election, many of his public supporters have been unwavering in their allegiance to the failed businessman, with a handful continuing to do so. (I’m referring to you, Giuliani and Christie. Get your shit together.) Likewise, individual Trump supporters can be impossible to argue with, mostly because they refuse to be swayed. No amount of disagreement, pleading, or even begging will work to change these mind, even when the “facts” are anything but. Lying has become a kind of myth-making, and Trump and his supporters seem to live in an alternate universe, where God is on their side and their responsibility as Christians is to vote according to His perceived will.

As read, the Bible strongly contradicts much of the Trump campaign. “Mainline” religious leaders and politicians have begun to come out against the candidate, and more are expected daily. Yet, regardless of orthodoxy, this appeal to religion and prosperity is real, and can be insurmountable. People have suffered for generations under poverty and limited resources, with an economy stacked against them. Although a Trump presidency would have dire consequences for many of his supporters, his promises seem much too great to pass up.

"We have, in our midst, the single and worst threat to not only the United States, but to the world. All of our lives, we have been told that “one person can change the world.” Usually meant in a positive light; such as when we compare ourselves to leaders like Gandhi and King; the phrase is meant to inspire and encourage. Yet, the alternative to the positive axiom is also true—one person, propped up by thousands, can ultimately change the world for the worse."

There is also a clear desire to radically change society, with Trump and his supporters promising to undo those policies and behaviors that they find so abhorrent. If this proves impossible due to Clinton’s presidency, it is likely that this specific community will retreat unto itself, becoming even more insular as time passes until the next attempt into politics. And although we have already refuted the relative “newness” of the Trump campaign, it is worth mentioning again. Through the use of “political dog whistling,” Trump has been able to tap into and reaffirm thoughts and feelings that would otherwise go unnoticed. The practice of using specific words and phrases to tip off those “in the know,” so to speak, is nothing new. Sarah Palin and her ilk riled up her supporters by relying on the concepts of “going rogue” and “being a maverick,” and Donald Trump is no different. To “make America great again” is to refer to the hope that America can become what it once was—a nation largely driven by white men on the backs of women and people of color.

Finally, and most importantly, the possibility of President Donald J. Trump promises to be a veritable disaster. He has threatened almost every American, to the point that no one should logically support him. Yet even those uneducated voters, those living in poverty, and those with the most to lose, still continue to pledge their fealty. To immigrants, he threatens to deport. To Black Americans, he threatens to intimidate, imprison, and continue killing. To all Muslims, he threatens to deport. To Clinton, he threatens to imprison. To the American constitution, he threatens to destroy. To women, he subjugates and intimidates—even physically on national television. To fertile women, he threatens to control. To the LGBT community, he threatens to restrict. To other countries, he threatens to destroy. And to the world at large, he threatens to kill—with nuclear weapons.

We have, in our midst, the single and worst threat to not only the United States, but to the world. All of our lives, we have been told that “one person can change the world.” Usually meant in a positive light; such as when we compare ourselves to leaders like Gandhi and King; the phrase is meant to inspire and encourage. Yet, the alternative to the positive axiom is also true—one person, propped up by thousands, can ultimately change the world for the worse. We came close to it with the Holocaust, and at times, I have a hard time understanding how “we” won. And now, like never before, we have the largest threat to world peace and our continued existence in our midst—Donald Trump.

You may think me facetious. I am infamous for my exaggerations and predisposition to high drama. Living with an anxiety disorder makes me inordinately worried, and I can be quick to turn to disaster thinking before my rational brain kicks in. Even so, even keeping in mind the unlikelihood of Trump winning, this all should give us reason to pause. If someone can go unnoticed and so suddenly become this close to becoming the next President of the United States, what does this say for the state of our (supposed) democracy? What does it say for our response to threats? For scholars of religion, how should we see and deal with threats by “dangerous cults,” and how do we share our knowledge? Where do ethics lie for those who would define our terms? For the media and cultural commentators, what is our burden to responsible reporting? And for us, as citizens of the world, what should our focus be on, and how should we parse entertaining “crazy” from real issues? 

I don’t have answers for all of these questions. I have opinions, but those will only take me so far. But I do have one answer—that being to who should our vote be? For progressives and those Republicans who have lost so much, who should our next President be? Because we cannot have a cult leader as President of the United States, and because we cannot return to the ethics of the 1800s, and because we want our nation and world to survive, we must elect Clinton. Please know that I truly understand if you disagree. We need a third party, crossing party lines can be difficult, Clinton isn’t the best (I will proudly wear my “Don’t blame me, I voted for Sanders” shirt come January,) and it is excruciating to recognize that kind of control you can be under. But there are larger things to consider when you cast your vote, and we must ultimately decide on who can stop Trump? Since the Democratic primary, the only logical answer is Hillary Rodham Clinton. But when Glenn Beck tells you that nothing terrible will happen under Clinton, there is only one reason why—because the other option is a morally repugnant and terrifying cult leader. Vote for Clinton. Trump represents a very real and very dangerous cult. Do not fuck this up.

Finally, if this whole thing has taught us anything at all, let it be this. To my friends who cling to the hope of a greater secularism, give it up. The secular hypothesis is dead.

Tamira Beth Stephens

A recent graduate of Harvard Divinity School, Tamira splits her time between Boston and Columbus, Ohio. She is interested in everything, especially attempting to save the world one opinion at a time. Although she only tweets to her favorite authors and about Hamilton, she can be found on Twitter @tamirabeth.

https://scribbler.co/r/57e5177fd6b4f0c574e6bbad/the-cult-of-trump<_bsontype>ObjectIDFri, 04 Nov 2016 19:16:59 GMT
<![CDATA[The Toto Sessions #2: Prateek Kuhad]]>

Our second Toto Funds the Arts graduate is Prateek Kuhad, a singer-songwriter who is shaking up the indie music scene. Applications for the TFA Awards are open till October 7, 2016.

Even if you’ve just barely dipped your toes in the Indian indie music scene, you’ve probably heard of Prateek Kuhad. Since his beautiful debut album In Tokens & Charms in 2015, Prateek’s star has been steadily rising. From performing across the world to singing on a Bollywood soundtrack, he exemplifies how the sands are shifting. He is at the vanguard of an indie music scene that is more and more becoming a force to be reckoned with. Following are excerpts from an e-mail interview.

If you’re a musician (or a filmmaker, or writer or photographer), Toto Funds the Arts is calling for submissions for the 13th annual edition of the TFA Awards. More about the awards here. Scratch that, just go straight and apply here. Today (if you’re reading this on October 7, 2016) is the last day they’re accepting submissions, so don’t miss your chance.

Can you tell us a little bit about the journey that led to you becoming a singer-songwriter?

I got into songwriting seriously around the age of 18, and since then it’s just always been a huge part of my life. Songwriting started off as an emotional outlet and a way for me to express my feelings and eventually I realised that I would be happiest just doing it all the time :).

Nice! I wasn’t there for the ceremony this year but the past year was well organised. I played a solo set at the humming tree which the TFA folks had organised and that was great as well.

Nice! I wasn’t there for the ceremony this year but the past year was well organised. I played a solo set at the humming tree which the TOTO folks had organised and that was great as well.

What music influences your style? What current artists do you listen to and identify with?

Folk finger style guitar playing really influenced my songwriting for a long time. I’ve lately been listening to all kinds of music - alternative, electronic, hip-hop, pop - and I’ve also started writing on the piano more. Elliott Smith is one of my favourite songwriters ever and pretty much the reason I started writing songs in the first place. I was also really influenced by Nick Drake’s songwriting.

The independent music scene in India is growing slowly but surely. Yet, there aren't enough incredible initiatives like TFA to give artists a platform and encourage them to forge a career in the arts. What do you think that is down to?

I think it will take time. We’re a developing nation and there are so many other priorities that a country needs to get to first like basic for security, education and healthcare. India has a unique demographic where part of the country are very cosmopolitan and I think the arts are slowly being supported a lot more there. In the other parts, which are economically a lot more backward we need to first resolve the basic economic issues and then the arts will flourish on its own.

Where can fans hope to see you next and how do we keep in touch?

I’m on a lot of social media platforms, you can find me on twitter, facebook, snapchat and instagram and my website. And I’m working on a special project we’re hoping to announce soon!

Finally, our favourite and far-too-morbid question - you've been unceremeniously banished to the gallows and graciously granted a playlist of five songs to listen to before the end. Name the 5 songs you would pick?

1. Kaytranada - Bullets

2. The Lumineers - Angela (The whole album is incredible)

3. James Blake - I Need A Forest Fire (ft. Bon Iver)

4.  Chance the Rapper - Blessings 

5. Sufjan Stevens - Should Have Known Better

the Scribbler Staff

the Scribbler Staff

https://scribbler.co/r/57e0d6b3d6b4f0c574e6bbac/the-toto-sessions-%232-prateek-kuhad<_bsontype>ObjectIDThu, 06 Oct 2016 19:22:53 GMT
<![CDATA[The Toto Sessions #1: Parvaaz]]>

The first in our series profiling some of the great musicians who were past winners of the 'Toto Funds the Arts' Awards. Applications for the TFA Awards are open till October 7, 2016.

Toto Funds the Arts was named for Angirus ‘Toto’ Vellani who tragically passed away in an accident in 2004. Throughout his life, Toto exemplified a true and unwavering passion for music, literature, cinema, theatre, criticism and an energy and commitment for encouraging and nurturing art in India. The TFA awards are a testament to his life and seek to nurture and encourage young and talented artists, musicians, writers and photographers as they seek to forge careers in the arts. TFA is accepting submissions till October 7, 2016 - for more details about the genesis of the award, click here. To apply for the TFA awards and get a sense of al , click here.

We at the Scribbler have been big fans of some of the great musicians (in particular) who have participated and won the TFA music award. In recognition of 13 years of their commitment to the arts and to nurturing musicians that are often not granted the platform they deserve, we give you (in collaboration with the excellent people who run TFA) ‘The Toto Sessions’ - an interview series with past winners of the TFA. First up we have ‘Parvaaz’, a band who have been stedfastly dedicated to maintaining an eclectic and truly original sound. 

Can you tell us a little bit about the genesis of the band?

Parvaaz was formed in 2010, by Kashif Iqbal and Khalid Ahamed while in college; with Neil Simon on bass, Somarshi Bhattacharya on Drums and Adarsh Deokota on rhythm, the setup took to stage instantly. Eventually the lineup came together with Sachin Banandur on drums and Fidel Dsouza on bass. The band’s first release was ‘Dil Khush’ (2011) followed by the EP ‘Behosh’ (2012), ‘Khufiya Dastaan’ (2013) and later the commercially successful and critically acclaimed Toto Award winning full length album ‘Baran’ (2014).

Can you tell us about your experience with 'Toto Funds the Arts'? 

It was a humbling experience with the Toto foundation as we were pleasantly surprised to learn of the accolade. Anmol and Sarita have been working tirelessly to promote fresh artistic talents across various fields and we wish them more power to do so, since encouragement is necessary for talent to thrive.

What music influences your style? What current artists do you listen to and identify with?

Our choices of music listening are quite eclectic – classical, blues, jazz, classic rock other than what’s fresh to listen and learn from. Although the coming together of our music turns out quite different and quite deeply personal. Parallels are often drawn with popular music and that’s fine since we’re sure our music is rather difficult to categorize within a genre.

The independent music scene in India is growing slowly but surely. Yet, there aren't enough incredible initiatives like TFA to give artists a platform and encourage them to forge a career in the arts. What do you think that is down to?

TFA is a fine example of curating, nurturing passionate artists and upcoming talents from diverse art-forms. It’s something that requires extensive knowledge and a personal touch as well to help mould an expression. We’re grateful that this platform exists not just for music but for literary and dramatic needs and there’s definitely a lot more that can be done to help bring good skills to fruition.

What's next with Parvaaz? Where can we find about your upcoming gigs and what does the future hold?

After having released our concert DVD ‘Transitions’ filmed live with Director Gokul Chakravarthy, work is moving towards our next full length release tentatively slated for 2017. On the gigs front we’ve been excitedly traveling as much as possible and hope to satisfy audiences both at home and abroad. The future looks tough and challenging and quite fulfilling, to say the least.

Finally, our favourite and far-too-morbid question - the band has been unceremoniously banished to the gallows and has been graciously granted a playlist of five songs to listen to before the end. Name the 5 songs you would collectively pick?

1.  Dhafer Youssef  - 39th Gulay (to Istanbul)

2. Steven Wilson -  The Raven that refused to Sing

3. Portishead - Roads

4. Sigur Ros - Olsen Olsen

5. Pink Floyd - Welcome to the Machine

the Scribbler Staff

the Scribbler Staff

https://scribbler.co/r/57e0cfa4d6b4f0c574e6bbab/the-toto-sessions-%231-parvaaz<_bsontype>ObjectIDTue, 27 Sep 2016 05:42:59 GMT
<![CDATA[Travelogue: Estonia]]>

Krish Makhija records his journey through Estonia.

I’ve been travelling around and living in Estonia for the last 6 months and have been actively shooting and trying to capture my experiences and adventures on film. I wanted to understand the possibilities of exhibiting a series of photographs from these explorations.

Being my first time in Europe, everything is a sharp contrast from the way things work and feel back in India. When I got to Estonia, I definitely felt these differences and was immediately sucked into this almost alien world of icy winters, abandoned prisons and stunning landscapes. What I’ve tried to do here is capture my travels, adventures and everyday wanderings through this beautiful country the only way I know how.

I was lucky enough to come in possession of 2 fantastic cameras, a Canon A1 and a Sokol 2, which have been my primary methods of capture, with the help of an array of different film stocks that I wanted to experiment with. Some images have been developed at home as part of my dark room experimentation in a friend’s bathroom as well. I’ve also tried to add a few comments and stories to accompany some images that help to explain some of my encounters with a little more of a personal touch.

Built in the early 1900s, this beautiful structure used to be a grain elevator in the heart of the city. After many glorious years of being one of Tallinn’s noblest buildings, it lay abandoned and lifeless for many years. Currently it is in the process of being completely refurbished and converted into a swanky new office complex.
We were location scouting in the countryside and stumbled across the cutest little house. On further investigation, we met this adorable lady who gave us a little tour and history lesson on the area we were exploring. Truly amazing human being right here, just wish I could capture the full extent of her energy with this frame.
On our way to Naissaar, the ferry went through this beautiful bit of fog that totally engulfed the boat. We really felt like we were cut off from the rest of the world and had no perception of how far from land we were. All of a sudden this little guy popped up and told us we were on the right track.
Being my first proper winter, the snow and extreme conditions were always a visual treat for someone coming from a city like Bombay. There’s this beautiful long stretch of trees right by the water. When it snows, it’s gorgeous and white, when it doesn’t you see the best sunsets.
This was taken one night after a 14-16 hour shift. Tried to fool around with some long exposures. It isn’t the best, but I think it definitely conveys what driving home exhausted after long shoot days are like. Thank god I wasn’t driving.
When bright sunny days are suddenly a rare luxury, you try to soak in as much as possible. Found these 2 gents enjoying a cigarette outside a little cafe in the old town. Trying to grab a little tan at the then end of a seemingly endless winter.
This one was one of the first colour shots I took with the amazing 12 euro Soviet made Sokol that I found at a flea market.
My boots started coming apart a few weeks ago and I tried to glue them back, but it was a disaster. Luckily I managed to find this awesome old Russian man sitting in a tiny stall smoking a cigarette who agreed to stitch them back for 4 euros. Through his broken english, I learned that he used to be well respected fisherman and travelled to places like Casablanca to fish back in the day. He now repairs shoes in a small cabin in the Russian flea market in Tallinn. His eyes still burn with an amazing sense of adventure.
My name Boris I. Found this delightful gentleman while waiting for the tram. He had little specks of snow in his elaborate hat and the most imposing nose ever. (His name wasn’t really Boris, he just looks like a Boris).
At the end of the semester, a friend and I decided to get tattoos. Through some bizarre coincidences and connections, we ended up taking a 3 hour bus ride to a little town called Tartu where we met Mico at his awesome little studio. We spent a very memorable afternoon there and came home very happy with some really beautifully done ink work. Mico really is a great artist and I think this image really sums up our afternoon with him and his energy.
Spiralling out. Location scouting at some interesting structures around the city. This belongs to a recently restored grain elevator situated at the heart of the city. Stuck between a rich and noble heritage and a confusing and uncertain future, the building is currently at the cusp of quite a transformation.
This was shot inside this old, abandoned Soviet prison by the Baltic Sea. The prison is called Patarei and was very important during Estonia’s long struggle with the erstwhile USSR. It is now open to the public to explore and a few weeks ago, we decided to go on a little adventure! While wandering around the dark and gloomy corridors, you tend to find bizarre objects and remnants lying around that make you take a second to just wonder what and why? This shot was taken in one of those corridors. The armchair suddenly caught my eye and I loved how the light interacted with the space around me.
This shot was taken inside an adjoining medical room of the prison. As you can see, things lie around in shambles and complete disarray. But the remnant medical equipment, peeling walls and stained sheets were enough to create one of the most eerie and surreal environments that I’ve experienced.
This shot was also taken inside one of the medical rooms of the prison. As you can see, things lie around in shambles and complete disarray. But the remnant medical equipment, peeling walls and stained sheets were enough to create one of the most eerie and surreal environments that I’ve experienced.
Went for a weekend camping trip to this awesome island off the coast of Tallinn called, Naissaar. The island is inhabited by 2 families all year round and has a tiny little coffee shop at the jetty. Met one of the boys from these families on our way out and led me to wonder what life growing up in such a beautiful yet lonely and extreme location. 
A little before closing time at the Russian market on a Sunday evening, we came across this intense game of speed chess. From what I gathered, each player had roughly 3 minutes to outsmart the other. It was amazing to see these 2 gents going at it with crazy pace and precision. Tried to capture a small moment of calm and contemplation in the chaos. 
On a scouting expedition to find an underground tunnel, I managed to find this amazing and actually very colourful underpass near on of the railway stations and fell in love with the way the morning winter light interacted with the space.
This is exactly how I picture my life in 20 years. Far away island, my boat parked on a cute marina right next to an empty beach opening out into a beautiful bay. Maybe I’d like things a little more tropical though :) This is another one from our trip to Naissaar, a small island off mainland Estonia. A small hike through the woods leads you to this isolated beach where we spotted a local couple stocking the boat for a small cruise.
Krish Makhija

Krish is a 24 year old Cinematographer and independent producer from Bombay, India. Formally educated in Economics, Krish picked up the camera when he was 18 years old to start documenting the chaotic world around him. His love for stills soon led him to being an AD on commercials and branded content and feature films. He later began freelancing as a DP and assisting in the camera department until recently when he started a small independent production house, Mosambi Juice Productions in Bombay. He is currently pursuing his masters degree in Cinematography in Europe. The program is a partnership between 3 schools in Lisbon, Tallinn and Edinburgh and involves mobility between member schools over a 2 year program.
He loves Orcas.

https://scribbler.co/r/57d8ff2fd6b4f0c574e6bba8/travelogue-estonia<_bsontype>ObjectIDMon, 19 Sep 2016 01:56:07 GMT