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Acknowledgement
We would like to extend our extreme gratitude to Dr. Jyoti Chandirimani, for supporting our activities throughout the year. We would also like to thank Ms. Ishita Ghosh and Dr. Sukalpa Chakrabarti for their unfailingly useful advice and Mr. Krishna Kant Roy for the readiness with which
he helped us out of the problems that we faced during the course of the year.
We would also like to thank Sourav Das for his expertise in making this magazine look like much
more than just a college magazine meant for 500 students. We would like to thank all the members
of the Editorial Board, the members of Arthniti, all the contributors to both, the newsletter and the
magazine, for consistently providing us with material and assistance to create material regularly.
Lastly, we would like to thank all the students of the Symbiosis School of Economics for gradually
building their faith in us and giving us another reason to keep on working.

Editors: Sanaya Chandar, Sarayu Nandakumar, Malavika Gode, Manasi Nikam, Nandita Ramesh,
Saakshi Puri, Tania Sharma

Contributors: Akshath Jitendranath, Soumyadeep Sen, Roshan Iyer, Shashank Pareek, Akarsh
Verma, Arnav Rawat, Krishna Betai, Arshaan Furniturewalla, Radha Karmarkar, Anmol Bhotika,
Sourav Das, Mugdha Gupta, Moritz Gundelach

Contents
Artha, Niti and Shastra:

Manning the Wall

Economics and Rationality


by
Akshath Jitendranath
pg 4-5

by

Paying to Save: An Era of Negative Interest Rates

And the Ballon dOr Goes to*

by

by

Soumyadeep Sen

Krishna Beta

pg 5-6

pg 20-21

Gods among Us
by
Sourav Das

Arthniti Cover Contest Submissions 2016

Move over Israel; its Irans Turn


by
Roshan Iyer

Spotlight: Movie Review


by
Malavika Gode
pg 23

Lee versus Ali


by
Shashank Pareek
pg 10

Insanely General Claims and the Compartmentalisation of Knowledge


by
Arshaan Furniturewalla
pg 24

Cheat Sheet to the US Presidential Elections

Poetry: Conflict; The Alley with the Wooden Bench

by

by

Akarsh Verma

Radha Karmakar

pg 11-12

pg 25

Laissez Faire 2016 in Pictures

Anti-Humour

pg 13-14

pg 25

Bsc. Economics, Batch 13-16: Through the years,


from 2013 to 2016

A Year with Arthniti:


Experiences of the Editorial Board

pg 15-16

pg 26-27

Arnav Rawat
pg 18-19

pg 22

Clamping Down on Dissent: Sedition in 21st Century India


by
Sarayu Nandakumar
pg 17-18
3

Artha, Niti, and Shastra :


Economics and Rationality
Akshath Jitendranath
When I was first asked by the members of the Arthniti
club to write this present essay, I accepted immediately.
There were three reasons for my accepting this invitation:
first, the name of the club resonates with how I view the
discipline of Economics. Second, I think the way I look at
Economics might be a useful insight to share with the
students of my alma mater, who Im sure are still grappling with the question What is Economics?. Third,
through this essay I hope to introduce myself to my juniors and update my old professors by discussing, at a very
elementary level, the work I am currently engaged in.
The Sanskrit word artha translates to the means of living. In some other contexts, the word can translate to
meaning itself. However, in all contexts, artha is understood as an instrument that provides for living. It is a
means through which life is lived. Paradoxically, in a
dominant Indian intellectual tradition, artha is also a part
of the ends of a good life, the other three parts being
kama, dharma, and moksha. Indeed, it is this duality of
the word artha - simultaneously a means of living and
an end of a good life - that makes it anticipate the discipline of Economics.

Akshath Jitendranath (pictured above)

tra. Thus, arthniti, rather than arthshastra, is rightly the


appropriate word for an economic journal. It is the reasoning involved in an argument, and not its appeals to divine
or political authority, which must justify the means we use
to live our life, which in the end are also a constituent of
the good life.

It is for this reason that I feel honoured to have the opportunity to write to my juniors through the channel of a stuBut what is this discipline? And how does the word dents club named Arthniti. By invoking the word niti,
the club is dedicating itself to the use of reason and not
artha anticipate it?
divine or political authority, to justify an economic princiThe most famous use of the word is made in the great text, ple. Indeed, this is how I view Economics. It is this lesson
Arthashastra. The Arthashastra, as every Indian has been that I hope you will learn from Economics as well.
told, is a treatise on the means of consolidating and extending the authority of the State. It is the first text of its In what follows, I shall make a comment on economic
kind to be generated by human civilization. Indeed, the theory, through which I will introduce to you the work I
question must then be asked, why the name Arthniti for an do. It is important to pay special attention to this for two
Economics club? Surely, if we want to invoke an Indian reasons: first, all this might seem a little abstract in the
approach to Economics, we ought to use the word Arth- beginning, but I assure you, pay close attention and you
will understand what Im saying. Second, I am commentshastra for a journal or club concerning this discipline?
ing on the use of reason or more specifically, rationality
Here, I shall pursue this matter a little further, justifying in Economics. While we have seen rational argument to
the use of the word arthniti. A shastra is different from be central to Economics, I am afraid that I am reporting
a niti. A shastra is associated with divine or political au- on the discipline short-changing the idea of rationality
thority. It is by invoking the authority of divinity or the itself.
State that the means of living get justified in an arthashastra. A niti, on the other hand, is a just principle. The au- Reason, as we have already seen, is central to justifying
thority of a niti isnt derived from divinity, but relies on economic principles. Further, a central axiom from which
the reasoning involved in justifying the principle. It is most of economic theory has been constructed is the
true, of course, that words such as niti and shastra have axiom of the rational agent. This axiom states the followbeen used in many different senses in different philoso- ing: rationality entails a decision maker having a complete
phical discussions in ancient India, but there is still a basic and transitive ordering over a set of alternatives. I underdistinction between the respective concentrations stand that for some of you, the Sanskrit might have been
easier to translate than these abstract words. What is a
of niti and shastra.
complete and transitive ordering? I can hear some of you
Now, Economics is a set of principles that outlines the say. Fret not. Let me illustrate what I mean.
means of living for an individual, a firm, or a state and
thus, is also one constituent of the good life for an individ- Let A be a set of three alternatives x, y, z. Thus, A={x, y,
ual, firm, or society. These principles, then, have to be z}
justified by reasoning, not by invoking any spiritual or
political authority. Artha must be based on niti, not shas- Let i be an individual or institutional agent deliberating
over the alternatives in A.
4

possible for Mohammed to compare each alternative to


the other. Further, he cannot conclusively say that one
R is complete if every alternative in the set A is compara- alternative is better than the other. This situation of logical
ble to each other. That is to say, if xRy, xRz and yRz, then incompleteness is one we encounter very often in our
R is said to be complete.
daily lives, because we cannot compare one alternative
with respect to another alternative in the same units of
R is said to be a transitive relation if xRy and yRz implies accounting a real valued utility function.
that xRz.
However, economists have been blind to such problems of
Perhaps my meaning will be better illustrated with an ex- incomplete logical relations between alternatives. In their
ample. Let us call the individual i by the name of Moham- opinion, every alternative will have a real valued utility
med, and let R be the preference relation. Let Mohammed function, which gives us a number, and the highest numbe an anti-terrorist specialist combatant. Let A be the set ber must rank first, the second highest number second,
of alternatives a terrorist organisation is said to be target- and so on. Such reasoning, which is very common among
ing. Now, let us specify the alternatives in A. Let x be the economists, has two problems. First, not every alternative
ancient city of Palmyra. The city isnt populated densely, is comparable in the same units of accounting. Second, a
but is rich with the heritage of the human civilisation. Let decision maker confronted with such logical incompletey be a central district in the city of Baghdad, much more ness is branded by the economist to be an irrational agent.
densely populated than Palmyra. Let z be the embassy of
the Mohammeds country in Kabul. The alternative z isnt The point of this discussion is the following: rational decidensely populated, but is populated by individuals Mo- sion making is important. Misunderstanding this, as
hammed shares an identity with, namely his nationality.
economists often do, has enormous consequences for the
content of economic principles. Indeed, economists who
Given the three alternatives in the set A, and given that posit this model of the rational agent increasingly look
Mohammed and his team of commandoes can save only like they derive their authority from divinity rather than
one alternative, then which alternative should Mohammed reason shastra more than niti. The rational agent of ecosave? Should Mohammed save Palmyra? Should he save nomics, like divinity, is found only in texts, seldom in real
the embassy populated with people of his nationality? Or life. However, if there is anything I can tell you by way of
should he save the densely populated district of Baghdad? advice, it is the following: like with divinity, in EconomNow, economic theorists assume Mohammed should or- ics specifically and science more generally, we must not
der his alternatives in a complete and transitive fashion. succumb to the temptation of mistaking the text to be the
This ordering will be based on some real valued utility final word.
function each alternative is said to represent. But it is imLet R be the relation of i over A.

PAYING TO SAVE: AN ERA OF NEGATIVE INTEREST RATES


Soumyadeep Sen
Negative interest rates in Japan are blowing my mind,
said Jose Canseco on Twitter, the provocative retired
baseball player not normally known for his economic
musings. And the truth is, hes not the only one.
Up until a few years ago, if an individual was made an
offer which involved paying an additional sum for giving
ones money away, one would think the person who made
them the offer ludicrous. On January 29, Haruhiko Kuroda, the governor of the Bank of Japan, may have irreversibly changed this notion when he cut interest rates to 0.1% to join the central banks of Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and the European Central Bank in the negative
interest rates club. 1.1 trillion dollars worth of German
Bunds (bonds) carries a negative interest rate while in
Japan an amount as colossal as 4.5 trillion dollars of government debt carries negative interest rates. Over seven
billion dollars worth of bonds world over have negative
yields.
Negative interest rates, until a few years ago, were a concept that only existed in theory, and it seemed impossible
that theory would ever be put to practice. The Global Financial Crisis of 2008 was the first time that the notion of
negative interest rates being put into practice seemed like
a reality. However, it wasnt until 2012 that negative interest rates were implemented when Denmarks central

European Central Bank Interest Rates


bank set its deposit rate below zero to prevent an influx of
money due to the European Debt Crisis. In June 2014, the
European Central Bank became the first major bank to set
its negative rates below zero and further cut it to -0.3%.
The central banks of Switzerland and Sweden adopted
below zero rates in December 2014 and February 2015
respectively.
The Bank of Japan (BoJ) became the latest to join the list
of central banks which have set their interest rates below
zero. Being the third largest economy in the world, Japans stance has caused a stir worldwide and negative
interest rates are now being considered as a serious option
for monetary expansion.
Why are central banks considering negative interest
rates?
5

The Global Financial Crisis, the European Debt Crisis and


in the case of Japan, the lost decade represent significant
economic set backs which have required the central banks
in these countries to take some action to ensure that the
economy recovers. Low price levels, unemployment and a
fall in trade in some cases have led to a number of measures. First, the central banks of these countries cut the
interest rate to zero and followed it up with quantitative
and then qualitative easing policies. These policies succeeded in stimulating some economies including that of
the United States, but were unsuccessful in the case of
most European nations. In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo
Abes famed Abe-nomics does not seem to have brought
about its desired effects, as the country is still nowhere
near achieving its 2% inflation target. Recent data show
that inflation without food still stands at a mere 0.5%.
The failure of these policies has led these central banks to
usher in an era of negative interest rates.
How do negative interest rates work?
The implications of negative interest rates are the same as
that of reducing the short term interest rates, offered by
the central bank. Low interest rates aim to encourage savers to invest the money instead, because the opportunity
cost of investing is lower when the negative rates are low.
Negative interest rates aim to achieve the following
objectives:

To ensure that commercial banks lend at very low


interest rates, because reserves held with the central bank are charged and therefore there is a severe
lack of incentive for holding reserves.

To encourage customers of commercial banks to


borrow more and save less. In the case of negative
interest rates, borrowing will occur at either no cost
may lead to the borrowing individual to be paid to
do so.
The third objective of interest rates is not publicised by
central banks as much as the first two. Negative interest
rates will lead to some money leaving the country in
search of better investments. This process will lead to the
weakening of the domestic currency which will give the
home nation a trade advantage by making its exports

cheaper and more competitive globally.


What are the possible downsides to them?
Currency depreciation may be a viable alternative if it is a
single country implementing negative interest rates to
achieve the same, but if it takes place in multiple countries
it can lead to major price wars.
The economy is built on a foundation of below zero interest rates. Lowering the interest rates below zero could
change the way that money and credit move through the
economy and lead to the economy being affected in ways
which are unpredictable. It could also lead to banks ceasing to be a viable business. Banks are a major institution
in channeling funds from savers to investors, and if they
fail, it could lead to a total re-establishment of the workings of the economy. They could also lead to major problems for money market mutual funds, insurance companies and pension funds.
What effect have they has so far?
The initial fear with implementing below zero rates was
that it would lead to a bank run due to the mass withdrawals that would result, because the incentive to save would
be removed. However, as the ECB as well as the other
countries which implemented the initial rate cuts observed
that there were no bank runs and that they could cut the
rates further at a slow pace.
The reason behind this is that individuals and commercial
banks alike were willing to pay a small amount to keep
their money safe, because storage costs might be more
expensive than the amount being paid to the bank.
The effects of negative interest rates are also hard to observe currently, because commercial banks have still not
passed on the negative interest rates to individual users as
yet. Negative rates will be reduced further and further
until the desired economic recovery is achieved bank or
until they begin to do more harm than good.
Negative interest rates are still a very new concept and
more will be understood about their consequences in the
future as central banks try and test whether they are really
effective or not. For now, however, it is a concept understood only by a few.

Map of Central Banks with Negative Interest Rates

Source: www.marketwatch.com, January 29, 2016


6

Gods among Us
A look at the elemental processes behind the creation of the
concept of God
Sourav Das
What is a god? Is it an immortal being, the guardian to the
human race? Is it the supreme judge, jury and executioner? Or is it merely the fabled light at the end of the
tunnel? God is the cosmological constant, the part of the
equation of Einsteins general relativity that becomes
whatever the viewer of the problem needs it to become.
But to understand the true meaning of the concept which
has been the trigger for crusades and miracles alike, we
must delve into the creation of a god, by critically analyzing the gods among us.
The most curious factor driving psychosocial behaviour
patterns is our ability to empathise with our fellow human
beings. It is the phenomenon which leads to the dynamics
of the market and forms the cornerstone to most economic
theory, but that is a discussion for another time. The fact
which makes this psychosocial behaviour interesting to
our current discussion is that empathy is capable of nearly
un-resisted transfer between human minds. So even
though we are unique individuals, the deep layers of our
minds are connected to form the bare mesh of a hive
mind. This hive mind, on the basis of our very primal
instincts, amplifies certain elements which it perceives as
important (these elements are those having roots in the
early stages of evolution of our species), fear and reward
being two of them. But what does this have to do with
god?
Let us assume a scenario; there is a person who provides
food to the community, who protects the community from
substantial threats, rewards those who do good and severely punish those who do wrong. People are of the opinion that this person can control the weather in case the
crops are failing, rain fire from the sky on the enemies of
the community and in essence belong to a higher physiological class of Homo sapiens. It is thus safe to assume
that this entity is by strict definition, a god.
The description given above fits the image of Kim JongUn as told by the people of North Korea. It also fits the
description of the US government as given by a conspiracy nut. To some extent, it also fits the description of the
prime minister of India as given by an illiterate farmer
from the backward area of a certain state. Finally, it reminds one of a certain entity in Jerusalem some 2000
years ago performing daily miracles one of which was
walking on water.
God is a fantastic social concept. It is perhaps the best
example of how the amplifications of the hive mind act as
catalysts to promote an individual, an idea to the position
where they reach a supernatural status. Rationality acts as
a resilient barrier to this process, only to be dismissed by

the unified empathy of the society. The best example of


this is North Korea where an individual has attained the
position of a living god. But then again this example is the
best because the rest of the world can consciously realise
the process, unlike other scenarios where we subconsciously create these gods around us and then vehemently
deny it.
We live, breathe, and survive as time drills forward
through the chasms of concrete that materialises the technological maze we live in. Worlds move forward, as war,
peace, and truces are propped in place by flimsy supports,
organisations and treaties that substantiate and sustain our
very existence, preventing multiple genocides every moment.
We are glorified animals with paper and ink halting us
from tearing ourselves apart like a pack of starved wolves.
Our lives are miracles. We survive and yet we die every
second. Safety is a term. Privacy a myth told and retold to
keep us bowed down to the few who consider themselves
as leaders; ironically, because we chose them to be. The
human minds act as one, yet minor differences are amplified, forcibly, to keep us enslaved by our own weaknesses. God is being invented and formulated. Miracles
are dead. Still, we believe.
7

Move over Israel; its Irans Turn


Its time Indias foreign policy
looks beyond Israel and considers Iran as a major economic and regional ally
Roshan Iyer

to tighten these sanctions and to entangle the world in the


web of American enmity towards Iran and its revolutionary ideals: nationalism, justice, resistance and so on. India
too came under sanctions during its nuclear testing in the
late 90s. Again no fingers were pointed at Israel by the
United Nations, despite the countrys nuclear progam in
place at the time. Today there is another matter at hand:
Indian foreign policy is in a dilemma. It has no choice but
to welcome the nuclear deal, because the entire world is
welcoming it. Yet Indias decisions in the near future will
have far reaching consequences for Indias West Asian
relations.

Even during the time when Iran was under sanctions, India had sizeable if volatile trade relations with it. India is
the biggest consumer of Irani oil after China. The chart
below shows how despite heavy sanctions on Iran, the
value of Indian exports nearly mirrored the value of unsanctioned exports to Israel. Iran allowed India to purchase oil in rupees which in turn allowed Iran to easily
purchase Indian goods with those rupees. However, the
$15.7 billion bilateral trade must move beyond the oldstyle oil and fertiliser, cereals and chemicals export basket. Tehran is beginning to offer generous incentives to
foreign investors to formalise its economy: low taxes and
easy profit repatriation laws. Indias private sector can
offer consumer credit, factories for auto parts and electric
vehicles, and pharmaceutical and technology investments.
Fortunately for India, the only other big supplier of manuFor nearly half a decade Iran has been a victim of US ac- facturing goods in Western Asia is Israel, What Iran cantions, first with the coup in 1953 and then with the sanc- not buy from Israel, it can get from India.
tions imposed since the Islamic revolution in 1979. The
issue of Irans nuclear program merely provided the alibi Once the sanctions are removed, Iran is potentially a
New Delhi had a surprisingly lukewarm reaction to the
news of Irans landmark nuclear deal with the United
States in January 2016 and the lifting of sanctions that
came along with it. The deal would allow Iran to return to
the global economy after being placed under sanctions for
more than 35 years. It is obvious that the Iran issue went
much beyond the countrys nuclear program. If, in fact, it
was simply the nuclear issue that was the program, it is
Israel rather than Iran that should have been the prime
target in the region. In fact, other than from Iran, Israeli
nukes enjoy relatively less global attention that they deserve. India seems adamant in sticking to its pro-America,
pro-Israel policies even when logic dictates that we require a clear shift in foreign policy.

much bigger regional power than Israel can ever hope to


be. Irans markets have developed strong teeth during the
decades of sanctions and are many times the size of Israels. Irans mineral resources are vastly more than that
of Israel and all these factors show Iran as a much more
absorbing economic partner. On the other hand, trade be-

Source: CMIE Economic Outlook


tween India and Israel consists of only two major products: diamonds and weapons. In 2014, bilateral trade between the two countries had reached $4.52 billion, excluding defence, 53.5%of which constituted diamonds. With
little else to consider, the real business between India and
Israel is the arms trade from which Israel earns nearly $1
billion annually and is currently valued at $10 billion over
the past decade. The Israeli Army is largely equipped with
American equipment. This means Israeli defence companies must therefore rely on sales to foreign markets. Since
a significant amount of Israeli defence research is funded
through Indian purchases of Israeli arms, Israel is more
willing than most other arms-producers to sell defence
technology to India. Now considering the issue of arms
trading overlaps with the issue of national security, the
Ministry of Defence should have ideally spent that $10
billion in supporting Indian defence research and development, but this has not been the practice. Other than arms,
India has little to trade with Israel. However, the excellent
fit between the trade and industry in India and Iran is at
once obvious.
Security is the next contentious topic when it comes to
dealing with Iran and Israel. Here the debate becomes
much more multifaceted. Firstly, Israel arms-trade with
India does not make it the obvious choice in the matter of
national security. Purchasing equipment and weapons
worth billions of dollars, we never know how thick was
the creamy layer of profits enjoyed by Israel in all those
arms deals by way of kickbacks. It is likely to be very
substantial, considering the issue of corruption in both
nations. Iran has consistently brought up the
civilisational links between India and Iran. Iran is a ma-

jor player in the Islamic region and has still stood by India
on vital issues such as the Kashmir problem where it used
its veto power in the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation
to support India on the issue of human rights violations in
the region. It is also reported that not a single Kalashnikov held by the insurgent groups in Kashmir was ever

traced to Iran, not a single Kashmiri militant was spotted


as having received training in Iran all through the past 25
years. In fact Iran and India both suffer from terrorism
arising from instability in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the
1990s both Iran and India supported the Northern Alliance group in their fight against the Taliban and the subsequent anti-Taliban government put in place by the US.
In the West Asian region Iran along with Russia are spearheading the fight against ISIS. Israel, on the other hand, is
mired in the Palestine issue and continues to go against
the mainstream world opinion creating major instability in
the region. Furthermore, Irans regional strength is not a
result of US hand outs as is the case with the Israel. Irans
industrial and technological base, its military power and
trained manpower are all indigenously developed. Iran is
Indias natural ally in the fight against terrorism.
India may find its strongest regional ally in Iran if it plays
its cards right. Although this does not mean Israeli relations must be thrown out all together; instead the focus
must be on building ties with Iran. The country is eager to
embrace the global economy. It contracted two Russian
space companies to build a satellite observation system
while China finalised a project to build a hundred small
nuclear power plants in the country. India too must join
investments into Irans Indian built Chabahar port as a
start. Iran could become a vital partner for Indias longterm security in terms of energy as well regional security.
It is a next-door neighbour that can supply India with oil
and gas for decades to come. Irans regional strength,
meanwhile, may provide an opportunity to further interests that both the nations share in Central Asia and Eurasia.
9

ince.
In 2014, China commenced massive oil drilling operations
in the region and began to reclaim and militarise the islands to consolidate its claim over them, including an airstrip capable of operating fighter aircrafts, docks for ships
and anti-aircraft missile systems. Other claimants have
also reclaimed land in the region in the past, but Chinas
reclamation has been alarming since it has reclaimed more
land than all the other nations combined in the history of
the contentious islands. China has also been expanding its
navy in terms of equipment and manpower.
Chinas actions sprung Washington into action and in
light of Chinas actions, President Obama urged China not
to use its military might to elbow out and undermine the
claims made by other nations over the disputed territory.
China however continued with its activities in the region.
Shashank Pareek
The Peoples Republic of China and the United States do In response, the US issued a series of warning to deter
not see eye to eye on a plethora of global subjects. One China from asserting its claim over the region.
such subject that has grabbed significant global attention
is the territorial claims of China over two archipelagos
located in the South China Sea, the Spratly islands and the
Paracel islands. The Spratly islands, also known as the
Spratlys, are a group of nearly 750 geological features
in the South China Sea which are claimed by the CHINA,
Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan and Brunei,
while the Paracel islands, a group of 130 geological features are claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Chinas claim to the island dates back to the third century
during the reign of the Han Dynasty when the islands and
surrounding waters were used by Chinese fishermen who
inhabited the islands, while later claims are backed by the
nine-dash line. Vietnam, on the other hand, argues that it
officially documented the rights to the islands in 1771,
which is well before China legally staked its claim on the In 2015 and 2016, US aircrafts made a series of surveilislands in the nineteenth century. The Philippines claims lance flights near the disputed islands. This action of the
the islands to be a part of their sovereign territory based US met with some opposition at Beijing which summoned
on their proximity to the Filipino mainland, while Brunei the US ambassador and warned him against the potential
and Malaysia claim the islands because of the islands lie impact of US involvement in matters which are not its
in the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of the nations concern. The US has since deployed destroyers to patrol
based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the region. In order to deter China, the US has tried to ally
the Seas (UNCLOS). Taiwan backs its claims on the fact itself with other claimants in the region and has used its
that the country originally occupied a part of the Chinese influence over Manila to curtail Chinese indiscretions.
mainland. Although China administers a majority of the The US has also tried to provoke China by scheduling a
region, all nations except Brunei have occupied features in joint naval exercise near the disputed region with India
the two archipelagos.
and Japan, the two other major powers in Asia. On March
Possession of the islands is instrumental in the economic 4, 2016, the US deployed a carrier group near the Spratly
and geopolitical welfare of the claimants, because control islands, which has been regarded as a major threat by Beiof the islands provides these nations with significant con- jing.
trol over the South China Sea. The South China Sea is the The growing tensions in the region have sparked a debate
second busiest sea route in the world and comprises of a over the implications of a potential engagement between
third of the global shipping traffic. The South China Sea is the US and China and another major war, however
also a centre for marine diversity and a massive fishing unlikely the situation may seem to be. There is also a
hub in South East Asia. Over and above, the South China growing concern of the US trying to use its influence over
Sea is estimated to hold about 28 billion barrels of oil and the other countries in the region to create a proxy war,
266 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and a plethora of which can be disastrous for the region and has the potenother natural resources.
tial to destabilise South East Asia in the same manner as
The official diplomatic claims to the islands date back to the Middle East. However, with North Korea proceeding
the 1950s, but major tensions arose between China and with its nuclear program, there is little hope that the US
Vietnam in the 70s and 80s when China fought Vietnam may stand down and stop asserting its influence in the
twice and in 1974 gained total control of the Paracel is- region since Washington considers it vital to deter Chilands. Recent tensions among the claimants have only nese and North Korean activities. With the estimated
arisen in the 2010s. In 2012 China took control of the global oil reserves in decline and an ever increasing deScarborough Shoal, a small group of geological features mand for oil, it is very unlikely that any of the countries
off the Filipino coast, form the Philippines and later took involved in the dispute will cede their claim in the near
over all the islands in the South China Sea in the adminis- future.
trative prefecture of Sansha City under the Hainan prov-

Lee versus Ali

Arthniti takes a look at how a


bunch of desolate islands have resulted in a global standoff between two global superpowers:
the Peoples Republic of China
and the United States of America

10

Cheat Sheet to the US Presidential Elections


Akarsh Verma
Super Tuesday, that is March 3, 2016, marks a turning point in the US presidential campaign. On Super Tuesday,
Donald Trump won seven states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia. Ted
Cruz won three states: Alaska, Oklahoma and Texas, and Marco Rubio won one state- Minnesota. On the Democrats
side, Hillary Clinton won seven states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia
and Bernie Sanders won four states: Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Vermont. With results out for Super Tuesday, Trump has won 10 states, Clinton has won eight, Sanders five and Ted Cruz three. Hillary Clinton and Donald
Trump have pretty much been anointed as the frontrunners for the Democratic and Republican parties respectively.
Since the primaries and caucuses started on February 1, a slew of candidates have dropped out including Jeb Bush.
Lets take a look at the top candidates from both the parties and what they have to offer:

The Republicans
DONALD TRUMP
Who is he?
Donald Trump is an American billionaire, businessman, politician and a real
estate mogul. Currently, Trump is the Republican frontrunner.

Who wants him to run?


A shocking portion of the Republican primary electorate, Democrats (the
progressive ones, in the hope for reforms), and white supremacists. The
rest of the Republican field, along with its intellectual luminaries, however,
is horrified by his statements. Trump offers to Make America Great
Again, to realise the American dream for the people.

Can he win the nomination?


Yes. After Super Tuesday, unfortunately Trump has the best chance of winning the nomination.

MARCO RUBIO
Who is he?
A second-generation Cuban-American and former speaker of the Florida
House, Rubio was catapulted to national fame in the 2010 Senate election
after he unexpectedly upset Governor Charlie Crist to win the GOP nomination.

Who wants him to run?


Rubio enjoys establishment support. He has sought to position himself as
the candidate with an interventionist foreign policy.

Could he win the nomination?


Until Super Tuesday, Rubio seemed to hold the second-choice slot, right
behind Trump, but his stumble that day is causing many observers to reassess whether he can actually win. Rubios moment of truth is likely to be
the March 15 Florida primary.
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TED CRUZ
Who is he?
Cruz served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the George W. Bush
administration and was appointed Texas solicitor general in 2003. In 2012,
he ran an insurgent campaign to beat a heavily favoured establishment Republican for Senate.

Who wants him to run?


Hardcore conservatives, tea partiers, social conservatives.

Can he win the nomination?


Cruz did better than expected on Super Tuesday, picking up wins in Texas,
Oklahoma, and Alaska. That, combined with Rubios poor showing, is giving Cruz some new momentum, but the path from here to the nomination in
Cleveland is still a bit uncertain.

The Democrats
HILORY CLINTON
Who is she?
We dont need to tell you, but shes a trained attorney, former secretary of
state in the Obama administration, former senator from New York, and former first lady.

Who wants her to run?


Most of the Democratic Party.

Can she win the nomination?


Her grasp on the nomination looked more tenuous than ever on the eve of
the Nevada caucuses, but her win there gives her a boost headed to South
Carolina. She may be past her worst threat in the primary election.

BERNIE SANDERS
Who is he?
A self-professed socialist, Sanders represented Vermont in the U.S. House
from 1991 to 2007, when he won a seat in the Senate.

Who wants him to run?


Far-left Democrats; progressives who worry that a second Clinton administration would be far too friendly to the wealthy.

Can he win the nomination?


Sanders picked up a handful of states on Super Tuesday, but Clinton continues to build a delegate goal, and shes probably unbeatable without some
major external event.
In the end, a Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump face-off looks the most likely for the 2016 presidential elections.
However, what the trends so far have shown is that far less Democrats are coming out to vote than in 2012, whereas
the number of Republicans turning out to vote has touched record high levels. However, one cannot completely ignore
the competition from Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz; both have proven in their respective parties that they can be tough
contenders to beat by winning several states since the caucuses and primaries began in February 2016. The election
itself, on 8 November 2016, will see America vote for a successor to Barack Obama, a Democratic president standing
down after two terms in office which have seen the Republicans take control of both houses of Congress.
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Laissez Faire 2016 in Pictures

Photo Credits: Nandita Ramesh

13

Pictured left:
Iconic picture from
the Ethnic Day
2013, featured in
the LF 2016 flex

Pictured right:
Swarnabhas high
voltage rock n roll
at the Social Fest,
Khwaishein
Pictured below:
Aindrilla Chakraborty at the LF
2016 opening ceremony

Photo Credits: Sourav Das

14

Bsc. Economics, Batch 13-16: Through the years, from 2013 to 2016

Ethnic Day, 2014


15

Pictured left:
Trek to Tikona,
2015

Pictured right:
Ajay Pawar eating a
crab c. 2013 (Yes, that
happened)
Pictured below:
Our first outbound to
Tamini Ghat

16

Clamping Down on Dissent: Sedition in 21st Century India

Above: Protests against the arrest of JNUSU leader, Kanhaiya Kumars on the charge of sedition
Sarayu Nandakumar
Anger and anguish was felt across universities throughout
the world as Kanhaiya Kumar, a PhD student from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) was arrested in February
2016. Also the leader of All India Student Federation
(AISF), the youth wing of the Communist Party of India
(CPI), Kumar was charged with sedition due to the alleged raising of anti - India slogans by some people in a
student rally against the 2013 public hanging of Afzal
Guru.
The term sedition has caught the buzz since February 9
when slogans demanding azadi in Kashmir were reverberated. Soon, many Indian journalists were quick to brand
the protests as anti-national and circulated a doctored clip
from the protest which eventually led to a police crackdown. The protest was eventually squashed and the right
to dissent withheld. Consequently, public opinion on social media mirrored the muzzled-up newsfeeds passed by
the media and politicians of the government in power.
The fight has shifted the attention from the intent of the
protest and the Kashmir conflict to question of the validity
of the right to dissent. The right to dissent, according to
Articles 19 and 25 of the Constitution, allows liberty of
thought, expression, belief, faith and worship. The arrest
of Kanhaiya Kumar for seeking freedom from the ills that
plague the nation, especially among Dalits, has reverber-

ated the point made by Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, who


spoke about the dangers posed to political democracy due
to the co-existence of political equality and socioeconomic inequality. However, dissent as a concept contains with it the democratic right to object, oppose, protest
and even resist.
Sedition, on the other hand, is not explicitly mentioned in
section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code, but is found as a
marginal note to as a term that can be used to define the
crime under the section. To qualify as a crime under this
section, it requires firstly, bringing or attempting to bring
into hatred or contempt, or exciting or attempting to excite
disaffection towards the Government of India. Secondly,
such act or attempt may be done (i) by words, either spoken or written, or (ii) by signs, (iii) by visible representation. In several cases including, Kedar Nath Singhs Case,
five judges of the Supreme Court a Constitution bench
made it clear that allegedly seditious speech and expression may be punished only if the speech is an incitement
to violence, or public disorder. The proceedings of the
event which was held at JNU, despite the harsh tone of the
slogans, therefore do not qualify as a criminal offence
because they did not incite any violence.
As India is witnessing a growing disparity on several social fronts, the rage coming from students like Rohit Vemula from Hyderabad Central University to Kanhaiya
Kumar or even those who raised some harsh slogans call17

ing for a free Kashmir at JNU, are nothing but manifestations of caste inequalities and communalism which are
resulting from a repressive Hindu authoritarian government, masked in the name of development.

not entitled to be surprised. He further adds, It is the


criminalisation of dissent that you are fighting. It is to
make criminals of dissidents. That is the process you are
fighting Welcome to the rest of India.

Therefore, criminalising dissent in this instance is not just


an act of further marginalisation and suppression but as
Pratap Bhanu Mehta of the Centre for Policy Research
(CPR) rightly put it, the democracy in India, on its surface
has a cacophony of voices, but once the surface is
scratched, dissent in India labours under an immense
maze of threats and interdictions. This should however not
stop the youth to feel empowered to use the constitutional
rights of dissent to bring forth issues that have forcefully
been accepted as an act of subservience.

There is hunger among the public for justice, there is hunger among the public for their rights. But if government
narratives forever mar the constitutional rights given to
the people, especially when it comes to narrating the story
of Kashmir or the Dalits, anything that falls under the
category of dissent will be anti-national.

Manning the Wall

The lands are so barren and dry, that only the best of
friends or the fiercest of enemies visit us

The most effective of all propagandas take away the right


of dissent and label it as an act of sedition so long as it can
go on. But time has come for us to stand in solidarity not
only with JNU, but with Kashmir, with the people of BasP. Sainath, former rural affairs editor of Hindu, told a tar and everywhere else, where an invisible war on Indias
gathering at JNU that while it was alright for the students margins seems to be brewing.
to be shocked by the attack on freedom of speech, they are

- Ladakh saying
Arnav Rawat
At 18,800 feet, up in the Karakoram Range in the Himalayas, lies the second coldest place on Earth and the highest
battlefield in the world. The 76 km long Siachen glacier is
a place like no other. Extremely beautiful and scenic, but
equally harsh. With temperatures that drop down to -60
C, just surviving there is a feat in itself and only one force
in the world operates in these conditions - the Indian
Army.
The barren heights of Siachen and its nearby regions have
been claimed by both India and Pakistan. This dispute has
its roots in the Karachi Agreement of 1949. The Indian
interpretation is that the current line of control (LoC)
should run north easterly from NJ 9842 along the Saltoro The yellow line shows the Actual Ground Position Line (India).
Range to the Chinese border. The Pakistani interpretation The Green line shows Pakistans claim.
18

is that the LoC should run from NJ 9842 straight to the


Karakoram Pass (KKP) on the Chinese border. By the
1970s, several world atlases had begun showing the LoC
running north easterly from NJ 9842; meanwhile Pakistani
maps showed the LoC running straight from NJ 9842 to
Karakoram pass. This was seen as cartographic aggression on Pakistans part. The Indian governments suspicions deepened when it learned that Pakistan was issuing
permits for mountaineering expeditions into Siachen. Indian reconnaissance patrols then started reporting sporadic
presence of the Pakistani army.

your goggles as the reflection from the snow can permanently damage your eyes.

Meghdoot, 1984 : Somewhere between 1983 1984,


Pakistan decided to stake claim of the region through
troop deployment. Islamabad ordered Arctic weather gear
from a London supplier. Unfortunately for them, they
were unaware of the fact that the same supplier also provided outfits to India. Having learnt of this new development, the then prime minister of India, Mrs Indira Gandhi
ordered the Indian Army to be deployed at Siachen.

Surviving in Siachen is not just about adding layers on


you and keeping warm. To survive in a place where the
oxygen is just 10% of that on the plains, even taking a few
extra steps or stepping out of your post at the wrong time
can seriously affect your health.

Thus, the race to capture the Siachen glacier began in the


summer of 1984. The first phase of the operation began in
March 1984 with the march on foot to the eastern base of
the glacier. A full battalion of the Kumaon Regiment and
units from the Ladakh Scouts marched with full battle
packs through an ice-bound Zoji La pass for days on end.
The units under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel (later
Brigadier) D. K. Khanna moved on foot to avoid detection
of large troop movements by Pakistani radars.
Thanks to the tip-off that gave the Indian Army a head
start by a few days, and with the rapid deployment of Indian troops, most of the area came under India; it hasnt
moved since. Pakistan occupies lower elevations of western slopes of the Saltoro ridgeline.
Present Situation: Up until 2003, skirmishes were very
common in the region. Even low ranking officers on both
sides could call in artillery barrages on the other side. That
however, changed after the 2003 LoC ceasefire agreement
between the two countries. Fortunately, unlike the other
parts of the Jammu and Kashmir LoC, this agreement has
been mostly respected in Siachen.
Life up There: The tragic deaths of ten Indian army soldiers in February were the most recent of deaths in the
region. The human body was never meant to live at such
heights at freezing temperatures. No matter how much a
soldier is acclimatised or no matter how good his gear is,
the dark secret about Siachen is the fact that the human
body starts dying there: cells die faster, which basically
means every soldier who goes up there is only speeding
up the process of life, but they go up none the less.
Bathing is a once in a few weeks ordeal; some go without bathing for months. At that height, a person almost
never feels hungry, which is why food keeps getting
stacked up and stored for later, but never rots because of
the cold. Even though the beautiful white bed is very scenic, you cannot look at the mountains without wearing

No equipment is touched with bare skin because the skin


on your hands would stick to the metal and peel right off.
Other than that, one may also get frostbite. However, the
biggest unseen danger are crevasses (cracks in the glacier). Siachen receives snowfall of a couple dozen feet
every year, which means these crevasses easily get covered up with snow. They can be as deep as several dozen
metres, making them death pits.

The Demilitarisation Debate: 869 Indian army personnel


have died in Siachen glacier since Operation Meghdoot,
and that too because of natural factors and environmental
conditions, and not from the enemys bullet. According to
a report in The Hindu, the Indian government spent about
Rs. 938.54 crore on Siachen just last year, which is still
very less compared to the average Rs. 2000 crore in the
previous years. Not to mention the deteriorating affect it
has on the flora and fauna of the region due to military
deployment. All this, for just that 76 km of ice? is a
question that has been asked by many. Any logical person
would agree it is a waste of resources and of human lives,
which is why many have proposed to once again demilitarise the area.
Pakistan shows more interest in demilitarising the area
than India. Demilitarising is a very logical and sensible
approach to the whole Siachen issue; it saves both the
countries from spending crores of money and more importantly, saves lives. But demilitarisation is a very big step
for any country which requires trusting the other country
and trust is difficult word to associate with these two
countries, considering their history together. 1947-48,
1965, 1971, 1984 are all examples of this, especially the
1999 Kargil confict when Pakistani troops had occupied
Indian posts because the troops had vacated those posts
for the winter. So, even though the proposal of demilitarising the glacier appears a very logical proposal, it is by
no means an easy decision for either government to make.
If the Indian army is ordered to pull back, then it will not
leave a single bullet or a single man behind; but if it is
asked to stay there and continue guarding the glacier, then
it will fight till the last bullet, till the last man. The Siachen glacier is just one example of the many sacrifices
made by the Indian defence and paramilitary personnel.
Too often, the ordinary citizen takes freedom for granted
and forgets the armed forces, remembering them only
during terror attacks. Whatever may be the political motives governing the situation in Siachen and whatever are
the steps taken by each government in the future, the sacrifices made by the men on the glacier must not be forgotten.
19

And the Ballon dOr Goes to*

Krishna Betai
*DISCLAIMER: The characters depicted in this

event strictly do not belong to the English Premier


League. The occurrence of the Player of the Year
being awarded to players from any other league is
purely coincidental.
To play for a major football league team is one thing, to
hold the most coveted accolade, the Player of the Year or
the Ballon dOr (Golden Ball), is another. Every footballer strives to make his mark in the most watched sport
on the planet and to be recognised as the best footballer in
the world. FIFA, the global governing body of the sport,
holds this prestigious award ceremony every year to celebrate the best football player in the world. After evaluating each player on the basis of sporting performance and
general behaviour off the field, the Golden Ball is
awarded to the most deserving player.

Despite the EPL being recognised as the best league in


the world, it is upsetting not to see a single player belonging to this league in the 23-man shortlist for the Ballon dOr. The last time a player from the EPL won the
award was in 2001 and was received by the home-grown
Michael Owen. Since 2008, two players have dominated
the podiumLionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and to
contest against them is probably one of the greatest
achievements for a player. The chances of these players to
win are so far-fetched that they seem to be just fill-ins. An
ardent fan of the Premier League may question the exclusion of EPL players in the pool of nominees and may accuse the entire process of nominating and voting of being
fraudulent, and has all the right to do so.
The Ballon dOr celebrates the already celebrated, honours the honoured, and glorifies the glorified, adding just
another trophy to the winners glistening cabinet. Fans
may argue that it is a marketing gimmick by FIFA, just a
publicity stunt. Or it is just another reason for fans to see
the two greatest players, Messi and Ronaldo sit beside
each other, which adds more salt to the bitter rivalry between the supporters. The award ceremony is more of an
entertainment show, much like the Oscars; there is always
a hue and cry about the unconventional suits worn by
Messi, and the varied expressions on Ronaldos face during the event, and about everything else unrelated to the
game itself, which makes it anti-football, as reported by
several journalists.

The irony lies in the fact that while football is a team


game, the Ballon dOr ceremony recognises individual
talent. The voting criteria for the coaches, players, and
journalists is arbitrary; one cannot compare players with
different roles on the football fieldit is obvious and
natural that the players at these positions will score lesser
goals than the attacking player in a given season. An
award that is based on individual statistics such as the
number of goals scored, the number of assists, and other
variables in the performance equation cannot be given to a
What is the real reason behind the exclusion of Premier
player on the basis other factors, making the whole procLeague players in the nominees list of the Ballon dOr?
ess ridiculously subjective.
Cynical eyes scrutinise the English Premier League as
many fans, pundits, and journalists have begun to question
Mere sympathy is not enough to console the disheartened
the credibility of the best football league in the world.
and frustrated fans of the English Premier League (EPL).
Fans worry that the Premier League focuses too much on

20

becoming the most entertaining and competitive league,


instead of increasing the quality of its players, which has
led to its dismal representation at the annual event. London, Manchester, and Merseyside once used to be the
magnets to the finest football talent in the world, although
the Ballon dOr nominees list suggests otherwise.
As of today, the best league in the world in terms of the
strength and skill of its players is the Spanish Premier
League, also known as La Liga. It has shunned critics who
claim that the La Liga lacks the strength in depth with a
substantial amount of statistics that tip the scale in its favour. Over the last decade, the team winning the English
Premier League has lost an average of 4.8 matches per
season, whereas the team winning the La Liga has lost and
an average of 4.1 matches per season. These statistics are
pretty much the result of the domination by two mega
clubs, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. The success of
these two clubs has resulted in an unmatchable virtuoso,
which is clearly lacking in England, Germany, or Italy.
The charismatic charm that the two clubs possess draw
fans towards them, which shows its effect on the voting
boxes at the award ceremony.

non-resident players instead of the progressive tax rate of


43 percent. This move resulted in an influx of foreign
players in the country. This clearly shows the level of
leniency in Spain when it comes to taxation. On the other
hand, there is England, where the only way in which the
English Premier League can attract the best players in the
game is by offering massive transfer fees and salaries.
However, with a view to increasing domestic employment, the Football Association (the governing body in the
UK) has tightened work permit rules to limit the foreign
players entering England, and to promote and help the
home-grown talent to develop. It has laid down strict prerequisites for the players outside the European Uniona
player must have played more than 75 competitive
matches for his national team. Furthermore, the national
team must be ranked in the top 70 in the world. This is
done so that the internationally-recognised foreign players
make significant contributions to the development of the
game at the highest level. Recently, Prime Minister David
Cameron has proposed a memorandum called BREXIT,
which calls for Britains separation from the rest of the
European Economic Area. If this happens, it would become much more difficult for the foreign players to enter
Strong players make a strong league. Thus, it is the re- England. Consequently, the English Premier League will
sponsibility of the football clubs to attract world-class not be permitted to attract foreign, world-class talent.
talent and take the level of competition to the next level.
There is a reason why brilliant players in the English Pre- Tighter immigration rules, stringent tax laws, and stricter
mier League end up leaving for La Liga or the Serie A (in work permit rules have made England lose its magnetism
Italy): the EPL is unable to create a favourable environ- for world-class players. As such, the best players migrate
ment to attract the best players in the world.
to countries like Spain to enjoy tax benefits and make
their mark in the league, leading to worldwide recogniOn the one hand, countries like Spain, Italy, Denmark, tion. This has an adverse impact on the names that appear
and Belgium are tax havens for the players who are paid on the nominees list of the Ballon dOr. The unconducive
seven-digit salaries. The tax laws are supposedly quite environment for footballers in England have resulted in
favourable for foreign players outside England. A tax was the morose representation of the English Premier League
introduced in Spain in the year 2004 known as the at the Ballon dOr.
Beckham Taxa 24 percent flat tax was levied on the
21

Arthniti Cover Contest Submissions 2016


Left:
Anmol Bhotika,
Welfare vs. Growth

Right:
Mugdha Gupta,
Urban Poverty

Sourav Das, Time


22

Spotlight: Movie Review

Malavika Gode
Think of the uncovering of explosive news stories and you
think of a glossy, powerful million-dollar corporation like
WikiLeaks, for whom even the CIA is no match. You
picture John Oliver and his team at HBO, taking on Donald Drumpf, backed by the power and reach of the internet. However, before the internet was the powerhouse it is
now, journalists dug up important stories the old fashioned way rummaging through libraries, knocking on
doors, and usually, having doors slammed shut in their
faces. The more important the story, the deeper it was
buried.
The movie Spotlight, directed by Tom McCarthy, with a
talented cast including Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton,
Rachel McAdams and Stanley Tucci, explores one such
story. The movie follows the investigation of an elite team
of Boston Globe reporters into the systemic abuse of
young children in the Catholic Church, by priests, often
high ranking ones, and the casual air with which this
chronic molestation was brushed under the rug. It documents how the team fought a long, hard battle over the
course of a year, to uncover truths that no one seemed to
want to hear, about one of the most powerful organisations in the world. With the initial aim of exploring the
story of one Boston priest allegedly abusing a child, the
team uncovers a mountain of shameful cover-ups that
begins to tumble down, involving over 200 priests and
brothers in the Boston diocese and then several more all
over the world.

This movie does a great job of bringing out the gravity of


the story being covered without resorting to sensationalism. It focuses simply on the story of the journalistic investigation, without much emphasis on lurid detail. This
does result in some dull moments in the story, but the
writers must be respected for sticking to the story they
wanted to tell, without any box-office frills.
Spotlight and similar movies, such as All The Presidents
Men, which follows The Washington Posts uncovering of
the Watergate scandal, also highlight the importance of
the investigative journalist in media houses. In a world
where papers go to print every single day, and sometimes
twice a day, and a media brands viewership depends on
getting to breaking news stories first, where is the utility
of having journalists spend weeks and sometimes months
following murky leads on a single story? However, it is
the dedicated work of such investigative journalists that
shines light upon stories that dont come into public
knowledge. And these stories are not just relevant in the
era before the internet. After the economic crisis of 2008,
director Charles Ferguson began intensive research about
the systemic corruption prevalent in the financial services
industry in the USA, coming out with the award winning
documentary Inside Job.
Spotlight is a movie that is important both for its simple
and effective portrayal of investigative journalism in action, as well as the spotlight it shines on a shameful practice deeply rooted in one of the most powerful institutions
in the world.
23

Insanely General Claims and the Compartmentalisation of Knowledge


Arshaan Furniturewalla
The concept of a rational individual, as prescribed by formal theory, is very familiar to most people studying a
social science. Given how often the idea that humans are
rational is refuted, it seems natural to assume that society
in general has some standard of what is to be considered
rational or sane behaviour and, accordingly, what is to be
considered irrational or insane behaviour.
These conceptions are more or less stable in any particular
generation or time for a society. Unsurprisingly, people
who are insane are (almost by definition) considered insane by at least almost all self-proclaimed sane individuals who use the word. Some persons go so far as to apply
this label of insane to those who lived in the past and, in
some cases, even to entire societies from older times. Going by linguist Geoffrey Nunberg, many scholars would
affirm that a single copy of the New York Times today
contains more information than the average seventeenth
century Englishman encountered in a lifetime. It is easy
then to shun the (what would now be considered) crazy
beliefs our ancestors had, considering how much more
knowledge the modern man has at his disposal.
What is intriguing however is that from the great body of
knowledge that is considered valid today, a good amount
of it predates the information age we are in, sometimes by
millennia. That is to say, even contemporary academics
that helped their respective bodies of knowledge progress
would have likely done so by standing on the shoulders of
giants or, working over the set of knowledge that existed
before them, as opposed to discarding all of it and starting
from the ground up. In other words, these lunatics of the
past have often said useful things.
Consider for example Isaac Newton, the man who, many
would say, started the scientific revolution. It might be
intuitive to classify a person who had such (what might
now be considered) rational beliefs as sane, given the numerous contributions he made to modern science (through
his insights into gravitation, for example).
Surprisingly, Newton himself demonstrated a great interest in what we today call studies of the occult; his writings
on alchemy and mysticism far exceed his writings on science and mathematics. He engaged in a quest to construct
the philosophers stone and held on to theories that were
disregarded even by alchemists of his time. For example,
he believed that both Greek myths and the Bible contained
hidden knowledge that, when decoded, would describe
secret alchemic techniques. On top of this, Newton set a
minimum date for the apocalypse as 2060; as Keynes put
it, Newton was not the first of the age of reason; he was
the last of the magicians.
This case of scientists and men of reason making claims
far beyond their field of study is nothing new and more
interesting instances can be found by looking back a couple millennia to around the fifth century B.C.
Pythagoras is a household name today, given his lasting
contribution to geometry in the form of Pythagoras
theorem. There are however, more interesting achievements biographers have attributed to Pythagoras, including his ability to talk to animals, his golden thigh

(literally), his power to exist in many places at the same


time, the fact that he was the son of Apollo and many
other superhuman feats. Pythagoras and his followers took
their mathematics very seriously. Among other mystical
beliefs, they held that mathematics was the closest things
humans know to the soul since, just like the soul, mathematics too is both incorporeal (abstract) and immune to
error. A claim that many modern mathematicians might
find misplaced in an academic text and, perhaps, naive.
As generations have passed, fields of study have looked
deeper into themselves, compartmentalising knowledge
within boundaries of what can be considered rational to
speculate about, given the tools of investigation one has
access to. As Will Durant observed, the scientific expert
knows more and more about less and less while those
who are more philosophical, seeking principles by which
to synthesise the universe in a broader sense (perhaps as
Newton, Pythagoras and many others would like to) have
found themselves knowing less and less about more and
more.
This greater expertise, sadly, has a cost. As economists
investigating the field of education have observed, the
average age of achievement in academia has been rising
recently, due to the greater body of information one has to
master before making new discoveries. Giving a single
example, Einstein, one can see, was very young when
making his breakthroughs, as compared to many modern
prodigies. Some have speculated that this rise in the time
needed for an individual to make landmark discoveries
will persist until a knowledge event-horizon is
achieved, wherein the costs needed to make a paradigm
shifting discovery, in terms of time, are so high that the
benefits come too little and too late to justify devoting any
effort to it.
24

Conflict

The Alley with the Wooden Bench

Radha Karmarkar

Radha Karmarkar

It is not the nightmares that we fear


But the wake of blasts and thuds,
The sun rises darker here
And the moon shimmers over blood.

The leaves beneath my feet crunch


As I walk the dusty plane
The alley with the wooden bench
Takes me down the memory lane.

Where realm after realm leaves deep scars


Over lands that once were lovely,
Where love and food are forever sparse
And the houses are no more homely.

Where once long ago we lived


Like a big family, we shared
Moments of joy, so vivid
For each and everyone one we cared.

We cannot paint our houses bright


And to talk aloud is condemned fool,
There exists no wrong or right
Only the men with the guns rule.

But now the houses lie barren


Broken windows, scattered mud
An unknown hush upon the walls,
An alley thats stained with blood.

And often when we step out


For daily work or to learn,
Or to buy some bread, we always doubt
To our homes well ever return.

The aura of a war zone


Reflects deeply upon my face
With a hurtful pang, I realise
No longer do I recognise this place.

The conflict has always been near


But hopes sieve as fast as they flood,
The sun rises darker here
And the moon shimmers over blood.

The place where once we sang


The songs of happiness, a splendid culture!
Where temples and church bells rang,
Blessing us with a great, bright future!

Anti-Humour

Morning walks and evening plays,


Tea times and cricket games.
Ice-cream vans all in those days
Before the devastating war came.

Question: What do you call a black man on the moon?

And now, collecting every memory I could,


I turn around, leave my childhood.
With a small shrug, hand resting on my cane
I wonder, through war, what did we really gain?
The alley with the wooden bench,
Takes me down the memory lane,
It takes me down the memory lane.

A man entered a local papers pun contest. He sent in ten


puns hoping one of them would win but unfortunately, no
pun in ten did.
Question: What is the similarity between a banana and a
helicopter?
Answer: An astronaut.
Question: What do you call a dog with no legs?
Answer: Doesnt matter what you call him, he isnt coming.

Answer: Neither of them is a police officer.


Question: What do you get when you cross a joke with a
rhetorical question?

25

A Year with Arthniti:


Experiences of the Editorial Board
When I took up the responsibility of being the co-club head in
July 2015, my only agenda was for the club to be functional all
year long. For the club to be functional all year long, we needed
dedicated members who, sans logs, were willing to put their time
and effort into creating what we envisioned. Every Wednesday,
break-time was spent deciding what the clubs activities should be
for the rest of the semester and in six weeks, we came up with a
solid plan: to institute a monthly newsletter. What seemed like a
solution to keep the club active at that point was just the starting
point for a lot of challenges that came along our way.
It became a part of my routine in the first half of each month to
work out a strategy to raise funds. The remaining two weeks were
spent on editing and formatting, phoning a few printers every
other evening to pick up print jargon and experiment with various
papers and ink given our monetary constraints.
I really believe that the club has evolved a lot especially in terms
of the articles that we receive since the publication of the first
newsletter and it is just fabulous to see how all of us have grown,
equipped ourselves with new skills that are not of our primary
expertise.
To all my juniors and fellow club-members for the years to come,
Arthniti is like a start-up. It is in your capacity to build this club
and take it to new heights. It prompts me to say that although
some of the problems faced can take the entire year to be resolved, the most exciting feeds will be discussed in this space,
will be debated and will hopefully translate what SSE is all about.

SANAYA CHANDAR, CO-CLUB HEAD

SARAYU NANDAKUMAR, CO-CLUB HEAD

Sarayu and I had started thinking about our plans for Arthniti before our third year began. We decided to contest the elections together as co-club heads, probably the best decision that we have
taken as members of Arthniti.
Considering that Economics students arent expected to know
their way around the details of printing, editing and formatting,
our activities form a unique blend of extra and co-curricular work.
People who are now active members approached us to help with
web design, editing, formatting, digital design, and fundraising,
besides contributing as writers. Realising that each newsletter and
magazine is a hugely collaborative activity is my most distinctive
experience of working with the club.
The one event that perfectly encapsulated the cocktail of emotions
that has been the last year with Arthniti was the student-faculty
mixer. From the frustration of dealing with the implication that an
Arthniti party just didnt sound cool enough to the immense
relief that enough students eventually turned up, we were taken
through the entire spectrum of human emotion in the space of a
few hours. Two weeks later, we fulfilled our promises and distributed the third and final edition of the newsletter.
While I did take the internal decision of never organising a party
ever again, the support that we witnessed that day from our college-mates and teachers made me realise that despite all the challenges, all that time and effort was worth it.
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H G Wells once said No passion in the world is equal to the passion to


alter someone elses draft. A year as economic editor for Arthniti has
convinced me of the truth of his statement, but perhaps for different reasons. Being an editor for the newsletter and magazine has let me glimpse
the breadth of literary and journalistic talent that SSE has to offer: I am
pleasantly surprised. As you can guess, not all the writing we receive is
great, but our criticism and the spurned authors patience is well rewarded as we get to see our feedback being implemented, and the authors quality of work increasing tremendously over time.
It hasnt all been coffee and red ink. One of the highlights of the Arthniti
year has been the mixer that was held at Frozen Monkey, which saw
much patronage, some gracious and some grumbling, by students and
faculty members alike. The funds being used to finance an edition of the
newsletter gave legitimacy to our frolic. It seems the SSE spirit resides in
us all.

MANASI NIKAM, BLOG EDITOR

I was always involved with writing clubs; from school magazine to the
French society (I understood very little here, but it was nevertheless fun).
This was the best year of all the three years that I spent in Arthniti (Yay
to SanSar!).
Working with like-minded persons is always rewarding; the nerdy talks,
the obsession with grammar and punctuation, appreciation for different
kinds of cinema and our common objective of producing good work. The
article Nandita and I wrote for NCC canteen was by far the most amusing
experience. We got to ask curious questions of the elusive NCC boss.
Who knew that there would actually be a story behind our adda?
Working on the blog, I realised how difficult it is to get other people to
collaborate to produce something. However, I am glad that I got the opportunity to see the blog grow and of course the opportunity to see the
club grow.
P.S: The student-teacher mixer was a brilliant idea. Our club could organise it every year for the college as a whole and make a tradition of it.

Arthniti as a club managed to do a lot of things this year, but its biggest
achievement, in my opinion, is that it was able to bring people together.
Sitting in one of the fifth floor classrooms on a Wednesday, discussing
ideas for the next issue of the newsletter is what I will remember about
the club. We got a lot of work done, but we had a lot of fun too. The club
was a safe place, but it also was a voice, especially for enthusiastic juniors who would always come up with great topics to write on. I hope
when the editors sit together to write for the magazine next year, they
will be able to say the same thing.

SAAKSHI PURI, EDITOR

MALAVIKA GODE, ECONOMIC EDITOR

NANDITA RAMESH, ECONOMIC EDITOR

Looking back to the beginning of the year, I remember sending in one of


my writings to become a part of Arthniti. I was told, in a week, that I was
on the Editorial Board for the club, and my happiness knew no bounds. It
has been an overwhelming journey with both the club heads and all the
members of Arthniti. Sticking to the deadlines, and sometimes not sticking to the deadlines, but still managing to put forward a newsletter every
semester has been the biggest victory from my end. Working on
Oeconomica Scriptis was tedious but definitely worth it since as a reader,
I got to read some amazing articles and reports. Finally, I'd like to pay
my gratitude to Sarayu and Sanaya for being so patient and for teaching
me so much in this one year with the club.

Working with Arthniti this past year has been an incredibly enjoyable, enriching
journey for me. Right from the onset, I've learnt a lot, not just by constantly
working to improve the quality of my own work, but through the example of others. Working on the newsletter month after month while juggling deadlines was
always an exciting experience. Working with our club heads, Sanaya and Sarayu,
has helped me improve not just as a writer and an editor, but has also taught the
kind of work and effort that goes into making a good magazine as a whole. Our
work on Oeconomica Scriptis wasn't the easiest thing, but was a new and interesting experience nevertheless.
For all the efforts we have all put in and the work we have collectively done,
working with Arthniti has been one of the most satisfying experiences of this
year.

TANIA SHARMA, EDITOR


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