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For over two decades now, art market has been expanding in India at much faster rate than Western countries. This increase in art market has paralleled trends in China and other growing economies. This growth of art market is correlated especially with the increasing wealth of the neo-rich. One must ask, has an increase in wealth brought along with it an increase in cultural awareness and a deep taste in art or is art a mere proxy for appearance of being suave and refined? To me, an exchange of one’s traditional appearances and outward mores with Western appearances and habits is the only transition that is obvious in overwhelming section this neo rich strata. I do not see a greater appreciation of art. I just see more art accumulation or should I say signature accumulation. Any mediocre work of art made by a known artist would do for this segment. Nonetheless, given more art is being purchased, one might wonder if some appreciation of art has increased or so to say “trickled down”. Unfortunately that is not the case.

Most cotemporary art sits in corporate offices, drawing rooms of rich and behind the wall of mighty art galleries. In an effort to take art to the people and break down this wall of art galleries, a group of 22 artists decided to take works of their art to the people. This effort was coordinated and promoted by a Nandana Acharjee, a rising artist, art promoter who happens to be a physician in daytime. These artists held works of their art on 6th July, 4p.m. onwards in their hands at three venues in the inner circle of Connaught Place, A, B and F block. This effort succeeded in gathering attention of people who were at Connaught Place on Sunday and likely kindled lasting interest in art in few curious souls. The effort if sustained and replicated in not just at posh venues such as Connaught Place, which again is the Mecca of the neo-rich, but in all cities, towns and villages of India, especially in the slums, that would really take art to the people.

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Beyond exposure to art, what we direly lack is art as an essential part of education. The only nominal experiments that have been there to merge art with education are primarily around ideas of Tagore, and that too, like everything else in India, without understanding the motivations but by blindly following some convenient and ostentatious practices. July 6th effort by 22 Delhi based artists, called “Cause Art”, was a small step in the right direction of making art a part of people’s lives.

Cause Art detached itself from social commentary that art can be an excellent vehicle for and focused solely on exposure to art. One can, and I certainly do, ask about strength (or more appropriately the lack of strength) of art, when detached from its social context but well in a cultural climate where art sits behind the walls of gallery this was one small step in right direction. Hopefully many more steps by many more individuals would follow soon.

Delhi Artist 1
Delhi Artist 2
Delhi Artist 3
Delhi Artist 4
Delhi Artist 5
Delhi Artist 6
Delhi Artist 7
Delhi Artist 8
Delhi Artist 9
Delhi Artist 10
Delhi Artist 11
Delhi Artist 12
Delhi Artist 13
Delhi Artist 14

The artists involved in this effort were:

  1. Aakshat Shinha
  2. Aarti Uppal Singla
  3. Abhineet Sharma
  4. Ayushi  Vashishtha
  5. Ankur Chaudhary
  6. Ben Angkang
  7. Hemant Bhutani
  8. Pinaki Dev
  9. Inku Kumar
  10. Kavita Nambissan
  11. Prashant Sharma
  12. Charbak Dipta
  13. Priyamvada Shingh
  14. Nipun Prabhakar
  15. Pranav Vashishth
  16. Aadit Basu
  17. Swati Goyal
  18. Shiv Kumar
  19. Romel Salwi
  20. Shikhant  Sablania
  21. Nandana Acharjee

Dr. Sukant Khurana is a New York based scientist, artist and writer of Indian origin. His basic research involves neurophysiology, computational neuroscience, sensory perception, addiction, learning and memory, while his applied research extends into many areas of drug discovery and problems of the developing world. Both his visual art and writing explore the issues of modernization, displacement and identity.

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Did ‘Serial’ Bring Justice?

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Nearly three years ago, a weekly podcast became a smash-hit and the precursor to media justice series – like the Netflix series Making A Murderer. They had the same case, a man jailed for murder, but there would always be more than meets the eye.

Serial, released by Sarah Koenig and a bunch of producers from the team at This American Life heralded a new age of podcasting and the second ‘podcasting’ boom kicked off – we’re still enjoying the golden age of podcasts right now. Serial ran for two seasons, and while there is talk of a third, it is the first season that will likely live long in the memory.

The very first season of Serial depicted the incarceration of Adnan Syed after the death of Hae Min Lee. In 1999, Hae Min Lee, a high school student, disappeared in Maryland. After a month, her corpse was found in a park, having been strangled to death. A suspect was identified in 17-year-old Adnan Syed, Hae Min Lee’s ex-boyfriend. Syed was arrested, and within a year, Syed was sentenced to life in prison. Syed was damned by the testimony of his best friend, Jay. Jay described, in vivid detail how he had helped Syed bury Hae Min Lee in the Park. Adnan was jailed, and Serial follows this case and Adnan’s plea that he had nothing to do with Hae Min Lee’s death.

Sarah Koenig, during the production of Serial, interviewed Adnan Syed for the podcast and the tale is slowly unraveled. Syed’s first trial was put to bed as a mistrial, but the following court case saw Syed imprisoned for life. Koenig took an impartial view to the trial and found a lot of worrying information, despite refusing to take Adnan’s side.

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One of the biggest worries to Koenig was the racial side of the trial. The prosecution made the case that Adnan was going to be smuggled to Pakistan and after a dispute with Hae Min Lee, he performed an ‘honor’ killing. This view could have easily stirred up an anti-Islamic sentiment in the court and within the jury. Certain aspects of the case only seem to arise because of Syed’s religion and race. A criminal defense attorney would have struggled to fight back against such a case put forward and would have found it hard to defend Adnan because of this. Add Jay’s testimony and a bunch of erratic witness accounts and you’ve got an entire case built to setup Adnan Syed.

Serial doesn’t argue for Syed to be released, but for a fair trial to take place. A man was jailed based on circumstantial evidence and a number of biased witness accounts. Thanks to the success of Serial, Adnan Syed has been granted a new trial, meaning the previous trial will not stand. Adnan Syed – right now – is still in jail, but cannot be declared a murderer until his new trial takes place later this year. Justice? It doesn’t always have to be a verdict, but a chance to do a court case once again, but by the book of the law.

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Escaping Your Addiction For Something Safer

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The modern world is awash with addiction. In day to day life, loads of people use chemicals to make their day easier. And, a lot of the time, these sorts of substances are looked at as being normal simply because so many people use them. Modern living presents new addictions thanks to the Internet, too. With people struggling to stop spending; thousands of people each year are falling into debt because of addictions. Thankfully, though, where you have an addiction; you usually have a solution. But, it won’t be easy. You’re going to have to put in some work.

One of the greatest examples of digital addiction comes with social media. Websites like Facebook and Twitter have millions of active users. These services allow people to connect with others through message-board-like structures. People trade likes and follows, making themselves feel important and popular. As time goes on, this leads to people spending most of their time on websites like this. And, unfortunately, there’s only one way to fix this sort of tendency; through seeing people in real life. Instead of dedicating time to social media, you should be spending it on arranging seeing friends. This is how humans are meant to socialise; and, it’s something that’s much more healthy to be addicted to.

Next, comes something a little more serious. Gambling has plagued people’s lives for hundreds of years. But, now it’s easier than ever to throw away your money from the comfort of your own home. Online casinos have sprung up on all of the corners of the Internet. These sites allow you to play games like you would in a casino; only the board and other players are digital. Thankfully, these games are usually playing on the satisfaction you get from winning. And, the very same feeling can be found in competitive video games; like DOTA 2 and Overwatch. This is a much more cost-effective way to get that winner’s rush.

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One of the most addictive substances within modern societies is nicotine. And, most people get their fix from smoking. Unfortunately, though, smoking is very bad for you. Not only does it damage your lungs and throat; but, it also makes it more likely that you will have heart problems, too. E-cigarettes have been proven to be safer than cigarettes. And, they’re just as safe as other nicotine replacements. Getting your hands on something like this is just a matter of visiting a website or two. Just make sure that you read some reviews.

Over 90% of Americans are addicted to caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that increases your heart rates and makes you consume your body’s resources a little quicker. This gives you a rush of energy. People use this substance to help them through the day. If you’re drinking coffee; it’s not so bad. But, if you like to drink carbonated drinks, including energy drinks; it’s best to find a healthier alternative.

Hopefully, this will give you a good idea of the modern addictions that are easy to slip into. Of course, there are addictions that you should fear more. But, these are much more rare in most places. So, you don’t have to be too worried.

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How Migration, Loss of Cultural Autonomy and Political Sovereignity can Impact Societal Security

Alexandra Goman

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Migration is a right deportation is a crime

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National conflicts in former Yugoslavia, Transylvania and the former Soviet Union have triggered re-definition of the traditional concept of security. If before security was viewed from the military point of view, now it gets more complicated. Today’s threats are not just military but also social. They concern questions of identity and internal balance of a state.

The newly emerged states after the collapse of the Soviet Union chose to pursue the European Union. Its increased integration within the EU led to “decoupling of state and nation” (Waever et al 1993, p. 23) and posed a threat to national constituencies. This desire to pursue a post-sovereign nation-state was due to internationalization process (as well as Europeanization). As higher international institutions take power over the domestic affairs, people feel threatened by this and cannot ask for help their government. Thus, if decoupling is not possible, new conflicts emerge (e.g. as it happened in Yugoslavia). In this sense, weak states are usually not prepared to deal with differences in culture and identity.

Societal insecurities happen when a society questions its own survival. The loss of political sovereignty, the loss of cultural autonomy (e.g. Euroscepticism in regards to EU integration) and migration are the main threats to the national identity. In contrast to the national security, societal security does not depend on the territory. A specific attention is drawn to the problems of migration, minorities and multiculturalism. This resembles the ideas of Huntington in the “Clash of Civilizations?” (See Huntington 1993).

For example, migration has impact on common identity and culture. It has an ability to alter the composition of the population linguistically, ethnically, culturally and religiously. Meanwhile the cultural diversity is welcomed to some extent, until it penetrates norms and traditions. However, migration is a question of numbers. That is why the recent migration crisis sparked tensions among the countries, accepting the refugees. It has the possibility to prevent the society “to reproduce itself in the old way” (Buzan 1991). In the age of the human rights and tolerance, the questions of race, religion and culture are becoming quite tricky.

Migration itself in the recent years has been becoming easier. Transportation and travel is not a matter of concern anymore. Determined young people are ready for anything in search of a better life. If in the last centuries there were migrating Europeans, now the flow usually comes from the South-Eastern side, from less developed countries to developed ones. It is impossible to avoid the clashes of civilizations, especially considering the numbers.

In the UK, for instance, the Arabs, who came to the country long time ago, are now not only following their traditions and preserving their culture, but also gaining more power at the political level. In Latvia there is an issue with the Russian-speaking population, who are trying to preserve their language and culture. Similar situation is in Pakistan, which shares different kind of cultures and identities. Many more countries are trying to deal with their minorities, and now there is unprecedented influx of refugees, fleeing the countries from the conflicts. Inevitably, this should be taken into consideration when talking about security. It is also clear that this societal element is interconnected with other types of security, particularly with military and political.

Some people view migration as a threat; others try to be more optimistic about it. Some states try to defend themselves by controlling migration flows and constructing legal and physical barriers; others are welcoming migrants and offering them entitlements. At any case, this societal security approach gave the beginning to a new branch of security, called “the identity security” (qtd in Buzan, Hansen 2009, p. 213). This security primarily focuses on the cases where the state and its societies do not align, for example the cases of minorities facing their governments.

Interestingly enough, as far back as 1987 a clear rivalry between the West and other periphery societies was noted in academia. What the West does is it constructs the image of others as underdeveloped, uncivilized, authoritative, poor, so this impacts the status of the country and the attitude towards it. Of course, the advancement of the West influenced the weaker opponents, expanding concepts, ideas and Western styles. It has an ability to threaten local customs and identities. In contrast, Islam is thought capable of expanding as another form of collective culture (See Buzan 1991).  

Not only development played the role in this Western-based representation, but also the historic events of the XX century. Back then, the West became the main writer of the history, using West-centered approach. For example, the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact condemns actions of the Soviet Union and Germany. Yet, another agreement is rarely discussed, – the Munich Agreement of 1938, signed by France and the United Kingdom, permitting Germany to annex Czechoslovakia. Having more resources to transmit information, the West could draw attention to certain facts. Even now the Western capabilities are far greater than the rest to expand its culture, political ideas and identity. Not surprisingly, other countries might not like it.

Now there is an obvious confrontation between the West and Russia (similarly as with Islam). It is also the case that the negative image is being constructed by the West in order to reach its political objective. Likewise, Russia answers with the similar pattern, targeting the West instead. Here one can see a societal element in it and how it is linked to the national security. After the Cold War, it was Buzan who suggested that another kind of the Cold War was possible: he called it “a Societal Cold War”. Now, 26 years after, it sounds quite true.

Today’s conflicts are more about cultural, identity, and civilizational clashes. This is why it is important to recognize importance of cultures and identities (and languages! As they lead right to the heart of understanding another culture | linguistic remark) and strive to achieve a balance between them. Once it is there, well…

References:

Buzan, B. (1991). “New Patterns of Global Security in the Twenty-First Century”, International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-), 63:3, 431-451.

Buzan, B., Hansen, L. (2009). The Evolution of International Security Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Huntington, S. “The Clash of Civilizations?” Foreign Affairs, 72:3, pp. 22-49.

Waever, O., Buzan, B., Kelstrup, M., & Lemaitre, P. (1993). Identity, Migration and the New Security Agenda in Europe. Lonon: Pinter.

 

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