Editorial

As the nation geared up to celebrate its 72nd Independence day and Stella Maris to celebrate its 72nd birthday, the students found themselves without a moment to spare with the Continuous Assessments and making hurried (sometimes secret) phone calls to determine if yet another Wednesday would be declared a holiday.  The passing away of regional and national political patriarchs and the devastating floods that almost submerged Kerala shifted the focus from freedom and friendship; the conventional themes associated with August.

Since breaking conventions seemed to be the trend this month, our team followed suit and chose ‘Throwback’ as this issue’s theme. Throwback can mean different things to different people – from poems on a community that was driven out of their homeland during Partition to parents’ and grandparents’ love stories. In a way, reminiscing about the freedom struggle and beaming at the achievements of deceased leaders is also a throw back to a time when national identity wasn’t associated with beating up fellow citizens for eating beef or standing up for the national anthem and this month’s issue tries to bring to light what throwback means to people who have been around for only twenty odd years.

A new feature we have introduced in this issue is ‘Stella in Pixels’ which is a series of photographs that captures the essence of what Stella Maris is and tries to look at the College from the lens of a student.  That being said, we hope this issue makes you nostalgic about a time when internal tests and barely making it to classes before the teacher refuses attendance didn’t exist. Happy reading!

Cheers,

Team Stellaeidoscope.

Love Aaj Kal

-Riya Nagendra, II B.A. English

Aside from the usual tales a grandmother is known to tell her grandchildren, mine often told me the story of my parents’ meet-cute. An encounter worthy of a movie, it starts off with my mother rejecting a chance to study in the States and choosing instead to work with the villagers of Varanasi. She travelled alone by train to the village of Sevapuri, her heart fluttering nervously (was it her heart fluttering or was it her mother’s; worried for her daughter?), only to be received at the station by someone from the group she was to work with. Of course, that someone was my father, who (according to my grandmother) fell in love with her at once.

I always imagined the scene with sepia overtones or in the style of a typical Bollywood movie from the ‘90s but it tickles me that it happened in full colour, in real life, around thirty years ago. Love stories from different generations are easier to process if they’re in the form of art but it’s always truly incredible to listen to stories of your family members’ romantic escapades.

Some of these tales are so full of the clichés you see in books, it makes you let out a good-natured groan, or go “oho!” and you wonder if Oscar Wilde wasn’t right in saying that life imitates art far more than art imitates life. Sharu’s parents, for example, come from different ends of the country (one from Kerala and the other from Assam) and their marriage was initially opposed – a tale as old as time; but love like that can’t be denied for long!

Those of us who had crushes in high school, only to be told off by our parents, (“There’s time for that later, focus on your studies now!”) will enjoy this one about Nevedetha’s mother’s classmates who were just twelve years old when they fell in love and, of course, everyone thought they were crazy and tried talking them out of it. Their parents, as expected, were worried about their academic prowess but they proved everyone wrong by topping their class (in fact, both of them competed with each other for the first rank) and keeping their relationship strong. Despite a few fallouts here and there they always ended up back together – and have now been together for 33 years!

There are also different kinds of love to be considered, especially when arranged marriages are concerned. There are so many cases of amiable companionship, rather than something that would be traditionally classified as being ‘romantic’, and these relationships are no less – they take a certain amount of respect and empathy. Falling in love can sometimes be very easy (especially if, like my grandmother, you’ve lived next door to your partner all your life), but relationships can be tenuous – they need care. Things have changed between this generation and the past ones and so have people’s needs – especially since we’re becoming more aware of what we, as women and humans, are capable of doing. There’s a balance between independence and commitment that’s hard to strike – but it always helps to sit down (preferably with a cup of tea and some murukku) and talk to your parents, grandparents, and numerous aunts and cousins about their experiences.

Their stories live on and you learn a little more about life.

News in Bite Size

-Revathy, II B.A. English
-Swetha, II B.A. English

  1. The first week of the month witnessed the death of the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and DMK leader Dr.M. Karunanidhi. Popularly known as Kalaignar, the leader who served as the head of the state four times in his political career which extended over six decades, passed away on the 7th of August. Apart from being a part of the Dravidian movement, he is also revered for his contributions to Tamil cinema and literature. Many politicians all over the country mourned his death and expressed this as a huge loss to the nation. The Tamil Nadu State Government observed one day holiday and one-week state mourning. Following a court battle of whether the deceased leader should be buried in the Marina beach or not, the court finally granted permission for the leader to be buried in Marina.
  2. The second week of the month shook the state of Kerala as the monsoon rains increased the water levels in the state. All the rivers overflowed, leading to the worst floods in the state in the past 25 years. Red Alert was announced in all the fourteen districts. Heavy rains lashed across the State leading to the loss of over 400 human lives and destruction of property worth over 20,000 crore rupees. The state co-ordinated rescue operations and opened relief camps all over the state. They also deployed battalions of The Army, Navy, Air Force along with the State Police and public for relief operations. The Air Force created a record with 584 ‘winchings’ (pulling up stranded people to a hovering helicopter).Donations poured into the State from all over the country and abroad to help the flood victims tackle the situation. Even though the rains receded by the end of the month, the state is still in need of essential goods to provide the people in relief camps and funding for the reconstruction of the devastated infrastructure.
  3. India celebrated its 72nd Independence Day on the 15th of August keeping up the spirits of patriotism and harmony. The celebrations in the country kicked off with the Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi hoisting the National Flag at The Red Fort in Delhi. The Prime Minister addressed the country following the tradition started by the first Prime Minster of India, Dr. Jawaharlal Nehru. Prime Minister Modi announced the beginning of the largest health care initiative for the country, the Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection scheme in his speech. Independence Day parades were organised in all states presided by the heads of the state.
  4. The former Prime Minister of India and veteran BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed away on the 16th of August at the age of 93. Studded with a political career of over 40 years, the former Jan Sangh leader had been the minister of External Affairs and later became the Prime Minister of India (1999-2004). He was a master orator who always delivered speeches in Hindi. The leader was awarded the Bharat Ratna in the 2015. He was cremated at the Smriti Stal in New Delhi. All major political leaders expressed their grief and condolences on the death of Mr. Vajpayee and many Indian states declared a holiday in the light of national mourning.
  5. The Indian team landed in Jakarta, Indonesia on 18th August for the 2018 Asian Games. They secured a tally of 7 gold medals, 10 silver medals and 19 bronze medals as of 26th August. India continues to shine in Jakarta with impeccable victories in badminton, tennis, weightlifting, wushu, shooting and athletics. The team is expected to win a lot more medals in the coming days and the event will end on the 2nd of September.

Letter to the Generation that Knows Politics only as a Joke

– Dhipthi Dona J, III B.A English

More rational reasons than jallikattu to be a proud Tamil

Dear political enthusiasts who brood, “Why our politicians aren’t like the ones in the West?” (i.e before Trump),

Before drooling over Bernie Sanders (for his idealistic socialism), Trudeau (for his liberal outlook), Hilary Clinton (for her history in office and the prospective first female POTUS tag), Obama (for his welfare schemes and the ‘cool’ factor) and wishing we had someone like them running our government, how many of us have paused to look at our own backyard? How many of us are aware of what the Dravidian politics stands for? Why were they formed? From where did they originate?

While the rest of the country was under the impression that Swaraj (home-rule) alone was the solution to all the miseries of the people, the people of Tamil Nadu were led by a visionary who believed that unless (wo)men were empowered with self-respect and dignity, no Raj could save them. The Self-Respect Movement is what we as a generation would call highly ambitious, thanks to the kind of national politics we have been exposed to. This ideological agitation brought to the center the population that had once been shoved towards the margins, and in a few cases, refused to be acknowledged as worthy enough to be provided space within the boundary.

The movement managed to subvert the statistic of how for every ten government posts held by Brahmins, (who were ironically a minority, consisting only 3.2% of the whole Madras Presidency) not one went to the non-Brahmins. This reflected the distressing state of the 96.8% of the total population  and the college students graduating from the Presidency formed a meager 22.5%. By the time other states woke up to this reality and upper-caste dominance became the pan-Indian tale, Tamil Nadu had long established a State legislative assembly proliferated by the middle class and became a State thronging with first generation graduates who had found their way into schools and colleges, breaking the shackles of caste, religion and other superstitious practices.

Not all along did the rivalry in the political realm of the State witnessed politicians being suspended in resorts or prospective heads of State claim that the spirit of their late leader accused another of murder. In fact, Tamil Nadu is a state where parties bifurcated owing to ideological differences while the leaders continued to maintain civility and friendship throughout their tenures. The first such divide took place when Periyar E.V Ramasamy wanted to continue with the agitations and protests to eradicate biases rooting from caste, gender and religion in the social, political and economic fronts and pressurise the Center for an independent state, while C.N Annadurai believed that participatory democracy would be more effective, as changing the system from within would be simpler. The former foresaw that the party would abandon its ideals in the pressure to garner votes amidst the electoral madness and the latter remained oblivious to the fact that the Dravidians formed a miniscule in the larger picture of the Central government. Irrespective of the political disputes between the two leaders and the ultimate bifurcation, both the visionaries and their cadre stayed true to the ideals of the non-political Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) till their last breath.

Led by CN Annadurai, Tamil Nadu became one of the first states to break away from the control established by the Centre. It achieved the mammoth task of overthrowing the rule of the Congress party in 1967 and no matter of how relentlessly the national parties have tried, Tamil Nadu is the only state they have never once been able to enter the political scene of.

In this land of self-respect marriages, where financial aid was provided to not just promote inter-caste marriages but also to widows (who were in a lot of cases young girls being forced to marry elderly men) to find their way through all the chastisement and taboos, politics was not always a joke. Tamil Nadu’s political movement didn’t just determine its people’s identity but also directed them towards a state of awareness. It equipped its citizens with the rationality to look past religion, caste, superstition and elect an atheist as their leader way back in 1967 (exactly two decades since the country was divided on religious differences), putting the welfare of their state above the 328 castes, 138 gods and close to 128 dialects that surprisingly didn’t divide them.

 

In as much awe and shock as you,

A proud Tamil for all the right reasons.

 

 

The History of Music (remixed)

-Anahita Teresa Paul, I Visual Arts

Terribly illustrated jokes aside, music has been around for a quite a while, and to do a throw back on it would require me to take us all on a long long journey.

While I BET that cavemen invented the magic that is music, there is no concrete evidence that shows us that. The oldest musical composition to have survived in its entirety is a first century A.D. Greek tune known as the ‘Seikilos epitaph.’ I haven’t listened to it but the ancient Greeks had good taste, so I’ll say it’s a masterpiece. After this is when things get tricky. Music is found in every known culture, past and present, varying widely between times and places and for me to cover every single composition in the world would take too much time, so, I’ll be focusing on music from the Western World and India.

Authentic Indian music finds its roots back in literature such as Natya Shastra, which was written in around 200 BC (this completely contradicts that whole ‘Selikilos epitaph’ thing Google tried to feed me). India being the diverse country that it is, sporadically birthed various genres of music which rose from the plethora of cultures it houses (go diversity!). The South blessed us with Carnatic music and the North laid Ghazal and Hindustani music on the table. The most interesting part of the history of Indian music happened during the 16th century in the Mughal court. Miyan Tansen, one of Akbar’s nine gems was the legend of his time and rightfully so because when Tansen sang the raga ‘Dipaka’, it is said that – ‘fire ignited by his wonderful music consumed his body’. Similarly, he could bring rain to the empire during drought with his magical musical powers- I know you want a Tansen of your own now.

The western world went on a bit of a rollercoaster ride- much like its art, music also kept evolving from Medieval to Renaissance to Baroque (shout out to Beethoven’s Symphony 9) to Classical to Romantic until it reached the 1900s.

The twentieth century in India was truly a landmark year for music. Amazing artists like M.S. Viswanathan, Ilaiyaraaja, Naushad, S.D. Burman and R.D. Burman got a chance to showcase their talents. Movie albums allowed artists to experiment with new sounds while other independent artists sprung up collaborating with each other.

Across the pond we could comb through the century and find ourselves amidst the birth of Jazz (and its unfortunate decline), Rock and Roll, Punk, Emo (is that a genre or an excuse to be angsty for people like me?) and so much more.

It was also this century that invented the fangirl. She fawned over Sinatra in the forties, killed herself for Elvis in the fifties and screamed her guts out for The Beatles in the sixties much like she did for One Direction in the late 2000s and for, uh, you know K pop bands in general (I’m not naming names, no one hate me) today.

I honestly can’t wait for the time when the music of today becomes the throwback of tomorrow, when our children will look at our YouTube playlists in awe, much like we do with our parents’ mixtapes.

 

 

Statesman, Intellect, Orator, PM, Gentleman

– Image Source : Google image

– Harshita Satish, I B.A. Economics

This is how Atal Bihari Vajpayee is regarded in the realm of foreign policy by everyone. The last time one saw A.B. Vajpayee was a decade ago, when he silently cast his trust vote for his successor, Manmohan Singh in the Lok Sabha. On 16 August 2018, at the age of 93, Vajpayee, BJP’s colossus, was liberated from his mortal constraints, a day after our 72nd Independence Day.

Born into a family of modest means and high ideals, he hailed from a small town in Madhya Pradesh. His sharp intellect coupled with nationalism steered his contribution to the freedom struggle. The 12-time Parliamentarian was the Prime Minister for three terms: 1996, 1998-1999 and 1999-2004.

This is a moment to look into the past, to get a peek into the future. He was surely many things to many people. For some, he is remembered as the pioneer of the first ever stable non-Congress coalition government. For others, he is the poet-prime minister and the trademark-orator without parallel. For many, he is a popular national leader who believed that power is a means of service and a statesman with a political career which never compromised on national interest.

He was a political stalwart with impeccable character who inspired people to emulate his nobility, patriotism and respect for traditional values.

He resurrected the Indian economy when it had reached its doldrums in the mid-1990’s. In May 1998, he took the decision to go ahead with nuclear tests despite knowing that the Western world led by the US would be outraged.

The credit for the construction of the Golden Quadrilateral must go to Vajpayee for taking fundamental developments in India to the next level. His camaraderie with neighbouring nations is evident from the famous bus trip to Lahore in February 1999.

Even during his final journey, we could hear the crowd clamouring “Atal Ji, amar rahey!” (Long Live, Atal Ji!). This is proof enough to his popularity as a people’s leader, which no other PM has enjoyed.

Atal Ji is a true Ratna of Bharat and a leader par-excellence. The King of hearts will continue to guide us all, as we build the new India of his dreams.

The partition of 1947 (Sindhi poem #1)

– Madhuri Lalwani, II B.A. English

some days i imagine
how the wrists of my people
were slit to draw
what people take pride
in calling the borders
today
how the partition of India and Pakistan
was more than just a political event

some days i tear up to how
the dividing lines
are drawn every day,
these ceasefires
darken the boundaries
with the blood of innocents
fighting for their countries

the lines that divide us
are reminders
of all the deaths they’ve caused,
moreover reminders of why
they shouldn’t have been.

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