INDIA 2015 – 5 themes which came alive


Theme 1: How nature is changing & human preparedness?

With the earthquake in Nepal in the early part of the year, the drought and floods across India’s regions in the middle, many international extreme weather headlines, the volunteering spirit in the November-December rains in Chennai and the COP21 Agreement in Paris, potential climate change or ‘unprecedented rain’ extreme weather patterns have come to stay.

We highlighted the immediate and the long term through lesser known national vantage points.

Tongam Rina’s photo-report on the devastation in Arunachal Pradesh due to floods, brought a lesser covered region to the fore.

The growing soil erosion colonies of Assam, where repeated flooding and its mismanagement has created an administrative crisis.

There was also chai pe climate charcha, where Amarjyoti Borah spoke to scientists, large and small tea-growers in Assam to record the many troubles brewing in your cup of Assam Tea.

The question 2015 leaves us with, what will be our collective shift in grasping realities and response. As citizens and governments.

Theme 2: Secular Vs Bhakt

In noisy social media clashes, ban, beef, burkha, Modi, religion plus a diversity of pent up feelings burst to the fore. A larger conversation between orthodoxies and constitutional spaces has also opened up.

We privileged the responses of ordinary citizens through their responsible, query laden perspectives.

Vipul Rikhi, author, translator and singer wrote in asking – Where is the Middle Ground?

Ayushi Singhal brought legal insight in her piece on beef politics

Be it the debate over the inclusion of the word secular or artist protests or local clashes, there is an urgent need to open up the middle ground. Where liberals may need to read on religion, language, practice and historical contexts and bhakts may need to illuminate with intelligent arguments, not defensive or offensive antagonisms.

Opening up this middle space more, a senior bureaucrat contributed with an informed biography of Sanskrit.

A sane conversation, as Indians. With more listening, less yelling and zero-life threatening violence in 2016, please.

Theme 3: The many hues of migration

If there is one theme which dominated by sheer statistics and human experience, it was migration. Involuntary and voluntary migration.

We explored this through different angles, from Bangladesh, the North East, Bangalore and Kochi.

Pradip Phanjoubam, Editor, Imphal Free Press wrote an insightful piece on the causes and effects of migration in the North East

Tisha Srivastav, in a lighter piece ruminated on the lived differences between New Delhi and Bangalore. Expanding it to a North-South urban conversation.

Sudeep Mukhia, well known journalist filed a report from the Bangladesh border on the reality of fake fathers.

Maitreyee B.Chowdhury, the author, evoked the nostalgia of displaced identities in colours.

Mathew Dickens, an international events manager, chronicled the adventure of a spirited rickshaw ride from Shillong to Kochi.

Purba Ray wrote in first person, to reflect on the loneliness of the disconnected. Evoking the many ongoing transitions in India.

Understanding home and the world around us is asking us to move beyond previously held positions in 2016?

Theme 4: The Public in the art

A break from tough themes – are we are beginning to see the invisible-being-made-visible on the streets of our cities, in the shape of art, sometimes commissioned, sometimes not. Agreeable or misunderstood? Delhi, Kochi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, a society’s conversation with itself is opening up beyond bland hoardings selling this, that and the other. Reimagining our public spaces, the young, have taken to this with vigour.

A larger reclamation of narratives through public intervention – worth highlighting, as this became more visible in 2015.

As part of the Art in Transit project we had Bangalorean art students creating art at a Metro station.
Photographer Ritesh Uttamchandani revisited the Mumbai Terror attacks of 2008, through an Instagram crowdsourced project.

Chintan Girish Modi in asking a Karachi based artist on his exploration of maleness, opened up the conversation on public and private influences.

More space. More conversations. Less offense. Zero-ban in 2016, maybe?

Theme 5: Grasping discrimination

The ‘us vs. them’veils, which divide us all, as a human race. When it comes to identities, state resources and the gaps and silences in the great Indian theme – unity in diversity.

It was crucial for us to allow lesser heard voices to speak freely, as it was to come with a mind for learnings, not stoking the very same fire, we aim to not be engulfed by. Here are a few thoughtful pieces.

Dr. Daisy Hasan, from the Media Centre at the University of Westminster, jotted down an experience – from Shillong to Wales

Satyabrata Pal, Former Member, National Human Rights Commission, called out India’s dark and ugly side here.

Monica Banerjee, Director at the NGO, National Foundation for India, challenged the notion that India is a melting pot.

The bureaucrat Govind Bhattacharjee ruminated on the Indian context of an international headline.

Photo-journalist Sagar Kaul, through a feature on the traditional bandooksmiths of Srinagar, Kashmir asked a pan-Indian question – How to revive a tradition, when times have changed?

Journalist Tongam Rina highlighted the pain of what a stapled visa means for Arunchalis?

Purba Ray reminded us in this opinionated account, on why the term ‘supermom’ is a really bad idea.

May we grow as a nation, with an ability to absorb and respond flexibly to change in the year to come.

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