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The Open Electives (2022-23)—Semester VII

Open Electives offer you the opportunity to take up a subject well-tailored to your interests, but making the right choice is not always an easy decision. To help you know your options and decide what’s best for you, we have compiled a list of all the Open Electives on offer this academic year. Watch this space for details including the syllabus of the subjects.

Allotment of Electives: The allotment of Open Electives will be done based on CGPA till the 6th semester,  and the seats available. There is no CGPA cut-off while applying for the OEs. The preferences once submitted cannot be edited. Students will have to submit a minimum of 20 preferences.

The option to enter OE preferences is now available on the portal. The last date for entering preferences is July 11, 2022. To access the OE application login to your SLCM -> Application -> Apply for Elective.

Note: This page will be updated with more information about the electives. While this list has been compiled using official sources, it might vary slightly with the options on SLCM. The discrepancies will be sorted out soon. 

Aeronautical and Automobile Engineering

  1. AAE 4305:  Introduction to Farm Machines and Earth Moving Equipments

This course aids students to understand the working principle of a variety of earthmoving machinery and determine the productivity and sustainability of machines for earthmoving. By the end of the course, the students will also be able to understand the safety methods for the equipment.

Syllabus

Engine Component overview, Lubrication System, Cooling System, Fuel Injection System, Turbocharger, Supercharger, After Coolers. Basic types of transmissions, auxiliary transmission, compound transmission, twin triple countershaft transmissions and planetary transmission, constructional and working principles, hydro shift automatic transmission and retarders. Final drives, types of reductions final drives and planetary final drives, PTO shaft. Power steering types, linkage type power steering, semi-integral power steering & integral power steering. Steering of tracked vehicles, Skid steering, articulated steering, clutch/brake steering system, controlled differential steering system and planetary steering system. BRAKES: Types of brakes, disc brakes, engine brakes. Different types of earthmoving equipment and their applications. Construction details and attachments of Dozers, Loaders, Shovels, Excavators, Rippers, Trenchers, Dredgers, Drag Line, Clamshell, Scrapers, Motor Graders, Rollers, Compactors. Tractors, Primary and Secondary Tillage Equipment’s, Harvesting Equipment, Types of Sprayers. Tyre and tracked vehicles, advantages and disadvantages, undercarriage components like tracks, roller frames, drive sprockets, track rollers, track chains and track shoes. Suspension system, Rubber spring suspension and Air spring suspension. Types of maintenance schedules purpose and advantages, organisation setups, documentation. Safety methods for earth moving equipment.

Biotechnology 

  1. BIO 4305: Body, Mind and Medicine

This course teaches the students how different cultures understand the human body and its evolution. It discusses the subconscious and conscious mind’s effect on human beings on an individual scale and how different practices of medicines interpret the ailments of our body.

Syllabus

Explanation of the human body and its evaluation of the present form. How different cultures interpreted the human body: energy centres, energy chakras. Explanation of mind and different aspects of it. Subconscious, conscious mind and their effect during the different stages of human growth. How it has reached the present form. Interaction of mind and body and its effect on human development and growth. The different interpretations of the human body by allopathy medicine, Ayurveda medicine and Chinese medicine.

Biomedical Engineering

  1. BME 4306: Nano-medicine

Syllabus

Fundamental concepts in nanotechnology, fundamental concepts in cell, molecular and tissue biology, nano-particles and their synthesis, nanotechnology platforms, characterisation of nano-materials, nano-pharmaceuticals, nano-biosensors and diagnostics, role of nanotechnology in biological therapies, nano-devices for medicine and surgery, application in orthopaedics, cardiology, microbiology, ophthalmology, imaging, role of nanotechnology in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering, nano-toxicity,  case studies in nano-medicine.

Chemical Engineering

  1. CHE 4304: Introduction to Petroleum Engineering

This course aims to give non-chemical engineering students an insight into the oil and gas industry. For the foreseeable future, oil and gas will continue to be a key source of energy for the global energy infrastructure. Through this course, students will understand the economic and geopolitical importance of the petroleum industry. 

Syllabus

Overview and history of the petroleum industry; Petroleum reserves, production, and consumption statistics of the world; Crude oil origin, exploration, drilling; Crude composition, characterization, and classification; Reservoir properties and drive mechanisms; Enhanced Oil Recovery; Fundamentals of refinery major operations and processes; Refineryproducts and test methods.

Civil Engineering

  1. CIE 4301: Air and Noise Pollution

This course introduces the students to various effects of air and noise pollution. It discusses the negative health effects caused by it, aiming to bring awareness to the importance of practising an environmental-friendly lifestyle.

Syllabus

Definition, sources, classification, Behaviour of air pollutants, Meteorological variables, stability conditions, plume rise and stack height, Effects of air pollution, Sampling, analysis and control, Global effects of air pollution, Noise pollution, Air and noise legislations.

Computer Science Engineering

  1. CSE 4301: Essentials of Industrial Computing

Syllabus

Introduction, Programming techniques, Introduction to object-oriented concepts, Advanced concepts in object-oriented technology, Object-oriented design methodology, Introduction to Analysis of algorithms, Code tuning techniques, Analysis of algorithms, Analysis of some well-known algorithms, Intractable problems, Evolution of software, Software development models, Requirement analysis and design, Software construction, Software testing and software quality, Introduction to Web Technologies, Internetworking concepts, Architecture and protocol, The World Wide Web, web applications, Security in applications and issues in web-based applications.

2. CSE 4305: Principles of Soft Computing

Syllabus

Artificial Neural Networks: Definition, Benefits of Artificial Neural Networks, Human Brain, Terminology, Neuron Models, Activation Functions, Network Architectures, Learning Process, Types of Learning: Error-correction, Memory Based, Hebbian, Competitive, and Boltzmann Learning. Types of Neural Networks: Feed Forward Neural Network: Single Layer Perceptron, Limitations, Multi-Layer Perceptron, Back Propagation Algorithm, Practical Considerations, Radial Basis Function Network. Recurrent Networks: Hopfield Network, Recurrent Multi-Layer Perceptron, Second Order Networks, Learning Algorithms. Self-Organizing Map, Neural Network Applications. Fuzzy Logic: Fuzzy Logic Applications. Pattern Recognition, Control Engineering, Image Processing. Genetic Algorithms.

Electronics and Communication Engineering

1. ECE 4307: Intelligent Instrumentation System

This course deals with everything from automation, sensors, and other intelligent sub-components required to build an intelligent instrumentation system. Students will get hands-on experience in these topics via assignments as well, hence completing the intelligent instrumentation course.

Syllabus

Transducer review; Automation system; sensors and actuators; PLC; Virtual instrumentation; Lab VIEW; Introduction to intelligent controllers. Design and development of real-time ON/OFF controller – P-I-D controller design – Building an autonomous embedded system in integration with Embedded target – Development of AI-based Vision system using Lab VIEW – assignments

2. ECE 4308: Computational Intelligence and Environmental Sustainability

Syllabus

Introduction to Computational Intelligence: Computational Intelligence Implementations, Modeling and Optimization, Applying Computational Intelligence to Data Mining, Performance Metrics and Analysis. Introduction to Environmental Sustainability: Need and concept of sustainability, Global warming, Ozone layer depletion, Conservation and Management of Resources for Development, Environmental issues and sustainable development. Computational Intelligence and GIS: Remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Application of GIS in Earth sciences, Geographic coordinates, QGIS Spatial and Temporal analysis. Artificial Intelligence methods in GIS applications,  application of Computational Intelligence in Environmental Prediction: Computational Intelligence in time series forecasting, Climate change and terrestrial ecosystem modelling, Rainfall prediction and prediction of meteorological parameters, Water quality prediction, weather and water resource forecasting.   

3. ECE 4309: Applications of Signal Processing

Syllabus

Basics of multi-modal signals, types of signals in real-time applications, image perception, image representation, image and video processing, basics of sound speech and processing, time and frequency domain analysis of speech, an overview of pen computing and processing, applications of gesture recognition, case studies with different domain such as aviation, automation like driverless vehicles, gesture-controlled robots, handwritten data analysis, recommendation systems for digital marketing, speech controlled devices for home automation, concepts of real-time applications such as surveillance video processing, face recognition, face tracking.

Electrical and Electronics Engineering

  1. ELE 4306: Renewable Energy

Energy sources and their availability – Solar Energy – solar radiation and measurements, solar energy storage, Solar Photo-Voltaic systems design – Wind Energy – estimation, Maximum power and power coefficient, wind energy conversion systems – design considerations and applications – Energy from Bio-Mass – Sources of bio-mass, Biomass conversion technologies – Thermo-chemical conversion and Biochemical conversions, Anaerobic digestion and Fermentation, Bio-gas generation Pyrolysis and Liquefaction, Classification of Gasifiers, Energy plantation -Energy from the Oceans – Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion, Open and Closed Cycle plants, Site selection considerations, Origin of tides, Tidal energy conversion systems, Wave energy conversion systems – Hybrid Energy Systems.

2. ELE 4307: Utilization of Electrical Energy

Traction – Traction Drives – DC and AC Traction Drives, Power semiconductor controlled drives, DC and AC traction employing polyphase AC motors, diesel-electric traction. Electroplating: Preparation of work for electroplating, Electro-extraction, electrolysis of water. Electric Welding: Resistance welding, spot, seam, butt, projection and flash welding, Power supply, Arc welding, Carbon arc and metallic arc welding, Control of current in welding transformers. Electric Heating: types, modes of heat transfer, resistance heating, resistance ovens, Design of heating element, Temperature control, Induction heating, Core type furnace, Coreless Induction furnace, indirect induction oven, High-frequency eddy current heating, Dielectric heating, Arc furnaces.

Information and Communication Technology

  1. ICT 4301: Computer Graphics and Animation

This course offers students a basic understanding of the concepts of Computer Graphics and encourages them to develop new algorithms for various transformations. Students will be able to review the current status of research in this field and apply the concepts to game design as well as information visualisation.

Overview of Graphics Systems – 4 Hours

Graphics Output Primitives – 9 Hours

Geometrical Transformations – 7 Hours

Two-Dimensional and Three-Dimensional Viewing – 5 Hours

Animation – 6 Hours

Graphics Programming using OpenGL – 5 Hours

Syllabus

Introduction to Computer Graphics, Video Display Devices, Raster Scan Systems, Graphics Output Primitives, Line Drawing Algorithms, Circles and Ellipses Generating Algorithms, Geometrical Transformation, Two Dimensional and Three Dimensional Transformations, Inverse Transformations, Three Dimensional Translation, Rotation and Scaling, Transformation, Two Dimensional and Three Dimensional Viewing,  Animation, Raster Methods for Computer Animation, Design of Animation sequences, Articulated Figure Animation, Periodic Motion, Graphics Programming using OpenGL.

Instrumentation and Control Engineering

  1. ICE 4307: Farm Automation

Syllabus

Farm mechanization, sources of farm power, renewable energy sources, IC engines, tillage, sowing, plant protection, intercultural operations, harvesting, threshing, biomass management techniques, watershed concept and theory, soil erosion, measures, hydrological cycle, irrigation methods, devices, Water conveyance systems, Water harvesting, aquifer and its types, interaction of water resources with the changing environment, engineering properties of biological materials, heat and mass transfer, devices for cleaning, grading, milling and storage of farm produce. Drying and dehydration, function and features of greenhouse. Resource conservation management, precision farming, automated irrigation scheduling, variable rate seed and chemical applicators, robotics, Rainfall-runoff prediction models, watershed modelling, climate change impact analysis on bio-resources, drying characteristics, storage or process kinetics, simulation and modelling in tillage implements. 

2. ICE 4306: Virtual Instrumentation

Syllabus

Architecture of a virtual instrument, Virtual instruments V/s Traditional instruments, Advantages of VI, Graphical programming, Creating Virtual Instruments using LabVIEW-Loops, Arrays, Clusters, String and file I/O, Graphs, Data Acquisition, Common Instrument Interfaces, Current loop, System buses, Interface buses, VISA, Image acquisition and processing, Design of ON/OFF controller for a mathematically described processes using VI software.

Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering

  1. MME 4304: Introduction to Alternative Fuels and Applications

This subject deals with the study of various types of alternative renewable fuel sources. The study focuses on the effect of various fuel properties on the combustion, performance and emission characteristics of spark ignition and compression ignition engines. A detailed discussion on the merits and limitations of the liquid and gaseous alternative fuels are included in the study. The subject also highlights modern electric vehicles and their importance in the transportation sector.

During the course, students can do mini-projects and publish papers in reputed journals. Students can also join the automotive industries in the R&D division. This open elective provides higher study opportunities in the areas of Renewable Energy Technology, biomass energy conversion and electric vehicle design and development etc. 

Introduction – 7 Hours

Liquid fuels in SI engines – 6 Hours

Liquid fuels in CI engines – 8 Hours

Gaseous fuels in SI engines – 4 Hours

Gaseous fuels in CI engines – 4 Hours

Electrical Vehicles – 7 Hours

Introduction to alternative fuels Need for alternative fuels, Availability of different alternative fuels for SI and CI engines. Properties of potential alternative fuels—Ethanol, Methanol,  DEE,  DME,  Hydrogen,  LPG,  Natural gas,  Producer gas,  biogas and biodiesel properties, merits and demerits. Requirements of fuels for SI engines-Different Techniques of utilising alternative liquid fuels–Blends,  Neat form, Reformed fuels -Manufacturing, Storage and Safety-Performance and emission characteristics of alternative liquid fuels. Requirements of fuels for CI engines-Different techniques for their utilisation-blends, Fuel modifications to suit CI engines, Neat fuels, Reformed fuels, Emulsions, Dual fuelling, Ignition accelerators and other additives–Performance and emission characteristics, Various vegetable oils and their important properties. Different methods of using vegetable oils in engines–Blending,  preheating  Trans-esterification and emulsification of Vegetable oils,  Performance in engines,  Emission and Combustion Characteristics in diesel engines. Use of Hydrogen, CNG, LPG, Natural gas, Producer gas and biogas in SI engines, Safety precautions, Engine performance and emissions. Use of Hydrogen, Producer gas, biogas, LPG, Natural gas, CNG in CI engines. Dual fuelling, Performance and emission characteristics. Layout of electric vehicle and hybrid vehicles –Advantages and drawbacks of electric and hybrid vehicles. System components,  Electronic control system –Different configurations of hybrid vehicles. High energy and power density batteries –Basics of fuel cell vehicles.

2. MME 4308: Thermal Treatment of Metals and Alloys

Phases in solids and phase diagrams – 7 Hours

Iron-Carbon systems – 5 Hours

Heat treatment – 4 Hours

Heat treatment processes – 5 Hours

Case and surface hardening treatments – 5 Hours

Steel specification, classification and heat treatment of steels and cast iron – 7 Hours

Heat treatment and application of non-ferrous metals and alloys – 3 Hours

Syllabus

Introduction,  Phases-Single phase and Multiphase, Gibb’s phase rule, Solid solutions and types, Intermediate phases, Types of equilibrium diagrams (only binary),   Equilibrium and Non-Equilibrium cooling,   Analysis of phase diagram to determine Composition and Amount of phases involved, Invariantreactions (Euctectic, Peritectic and Eutectoid) and Congruent melting alloy phase. Allotropy and Polymorphism, Cooling curve for pure iron, Fe-Carbon equilibrium diagram,  Study of iron-carbon system with emphasis on the invariant reactions. Lever rule application on Iron-carbon equilibrium diagram, Effect of alloying elements on the diagram. Principle and Objectives of heat treatments, Isothermal transformation diagram-Construction and Explanation, Factors affecting shape and Position of isothermal transformation diagram, Continuous cooling curves on isothermal transformation diagram. Annealing and its Types, Normalizing, Hardening and its Different methods, Tempering, Hardenability, Determination of hardenability by Jominy end quench test, Factors affecting hardenability,  Age hardening and Thermo-mechanical treatments. Case hardening-Carburizing and its types,  Post-carburizing treatments,  Cyaniding and Carbonitriding,  Nitriding,  Thermal treatments:  Flame hardening, Induction hardening, Electron beam hardening, Laser hardening. IS and AISI Classification of steel, Heat treatment and Application of plain carbon steels, Commercial steels, High-speed steels,  Stainless steels,  Maraging steels,  Spring,  Valve,  Bearing and HSLA steels. Cast iron and Heat treatment -Grey, White, Malleable cast irons, Malleabilization of white cast iron, Spheroidal graphite (SG) iron.  Aluminium alloys, Titanium alloys, Copper alloys, Defects, Causes and Remedies in heat treatment.

Mechatronics Engineering

1. MTE 4304: Industrial IoT

Introduction to Industrial IoT, Components of IIoT. Sensors, Acceleration: Accelerometers (Piezoelectric, Capacitive); Proximity & Range: Proximity Switches, Ultrasonic Sensor, Hall Effect Sensor, Eddy Current Sensor, Temperature: Bimetallic, RTD, Thermocouple, Thermistor, Optical Pyrometer; Pressure: Electric Transducers, Pressure Transmitters, Pressure Gauges – McLeod, Knudsen, Pirani, Vacuum; Flow: Ultrasonic, V Cone, Laser Doppler, Mass flowmeters. Introduction to PLC: Advantage of PLC, and Chronological Evolution of a PLC, Type of PLC, Parts of PLC and Block diagram PLC, I/O modules and interfacing, networking of PLC, Input-Output System Sinking and Sourcing, power supply module, Programming Equipment. Programming formats using contacts and coils, latching etc. Converting simple relay logic diagram to PLC ladder diagram, Digital logic implementation in ladder programming, Timer and counter functions, Arithmetic functions, R-trig / F- trig pulses, shift registers, sequence functions, PID principles and functional block, position indicator with PID control. Industrial Process Automation, Networks and Protocols: AS-i, CAN, DeviceNet, Interbus, LON, Foundation Fieldbus, HART, PROFIBUS-PA, BACnet, ControlNet, IndustrialEthernet, Ethernet/IP, MODBUS, PROFIBUS-DP. Database-System Applications, Purpose of Database Systems, View of Data, Database Languages, Relational Databases. Introduction to security, Characteristics of Information, Components of an Information system, Security System Development Lifecycle, The Need for Security- Business Needs first, Threats, Attacks, Intruders, Intrusion detection

Media Technology

  1. MED 4303: Packaging Design and Development

Packaging in modern society, packaging and marketing, designer’s role, designer’s qualifications, design as an aspect of marketing, packaging specifications and quality assurance, paper, paper board and structural design – types of paper and paper board, working with paper and boards, folding cartons, corrugated containers – designing and manufacturing, testing corrugated containers, stacking strength, plastics and flexible packaging: natural plastics, development of synthetic plastics, chemistry of plastics, classification of polymers, techniques used to mold and shape plastics, uses of plastics, designing with plastics, rigid packaging – glass making, producing glass containers, types of glass containers, decorating glass containers, designing a fragrance bottle, phases of designing a bottle, cans, tubes and aerosols, designing cans, metal tubes, plastic 32 tubes, and the aerosol can, environmental implications of packaging – solid waste disposal, packaging regulations – weight and measures, food regulations, cosmetic regulations, tamper evident packaging, other laws and regulations, recycling of packaging, latest trends in packaging – advancements in package designing tools, smart packaging technologies, aseptic packaging, advancements in packaging machineries

Inter-Institute Open Electives

  1. IIE 4305: International Business Management

Syllabus

Historical perspective of international business, International business environment, Modes of entering international business, Cross-Culture and dynamic market understanding, Differences in Culture, Theories of international business, World Bank, World trade organisation, Multinational Corporations and their involvement in International Business, Tariffs and quotas, Balance of Payment Account.

2. IIE 4308: Health Economics

Syllabus

Economics: Understanding Economics, Efficiency, Rational decision making, Opportunity costs, Supply and demand, Price discovery, Health economics: Defining health, Human capital, what does supply and demand mean in the context of health? Arrow on the uncertainty and welfare economics, The Moral hazard, DALY and QALY, Efficiency: The Production possibility frontiers. The production function for health care. Health policy, Defining equity, Standards of healthcare provision Epidemiology, The Healthcare sector, The demand for health, Disease prevalence, The pharmaceuticals market, Cross country case studies.

3. IIE 4311: Lifestyle Modifications And Complimentary and Alternative Therapies

Syllabus

Principles and concepts of lifestyle modification and various complementary and alternative therapies, Demonstrate skill in performing different yoga aasanas, guided imagery/Progressive muscle relaxation, meditation & Pranayama, reflexology, massage therapy, aerobics, laughter therapy.




Donating in Times of Need—Sociio Ichor Blood Donation Camp

Sociio Ichor, a student-run body, in collaboration with the KMC Blood Bank, held a blood donation drive on 19 February 2021. They strive to serve the KMC Blood Bank, by mobilising blood donors across the town of Manipal especially when the blood bank goes dry. Any emergency request that comes their way is satisfied to keep the balance of blood units. Being one of the first events to be held after the MIT campus opened up after being sealed for over a month, the Blood Donation Camp (BDC) saw a decent turnout with about 45 people on a Saturday morning. Medical reasons and limitations prevented 10 people from donating their blood, but the rest of the donors were taken through the entire process smoothly by the staff from KMC.

This was my first time donating blood and Sociio Ichor made the process extremely smooth and hassle-free. From checking blood pressure to the actual process of collection of blood, everything was well organised. It was a great experience for me!” said Anirudh Murthy, a second-year student and first-time donor. Nivedita Singh, a third-year student of Media Technology, and core team member at Sociio Ichor also agreed that their team was satisfied with the entire event. “Sociio Ichor’s main motto is to bring donors and patients onto one platform. The Blood Donation Camp today takes us one step closer to our goal.”

Staff from the KMC Blood Bank aided the donors with the entire blood donation process. [Image credits: Sociio Ichor]

The ground floor of MIT Food Court 1 was well divided into separate areas for registration of donors, the initial counselling given to all donors, and a  testing area where blood samples and general tests were carried out. Posters and banners were placed at appropriate places to keep the donors informed of the various aspects of donating blood. Volunteers from Sociio Ichor, consisting of students from MIT, also ensured that donors met the required eligibility criteria of having a minimum body weight of 45kg, having eaten a proper meal before donating blood, and having no history of alcohol consumption at least 24 hours prior to the donation.

Today’s blood donation camp, organised for the first time by our team, was a huge success. This noble deed is capable of giving life to someone’s father, a mother or even a newborn baby. We are developing a platform that envisions no life being lost due to blood scarcity,” said Mohammed Dilshaad Uzair, team leader of Sociio Ichor and a present fourth-year Chemical Engineering student. He also thanked the college administration for all the help they provided in successfully organising the Blood Donation Camp at a short notice.

Much in tune with the ideology of Sociio Ichor, the voluntary blood donation drive played its part in raising a social message on the importance of donating blood. The healthy participation coupled with support from students ensured that such events will be looked forward to by the enthusiastic student community in the near future.

Featured Image Credits: Sociio Ichor




A Contentious Legislation—The AFSPA

Permeating fear in people’s hearts often gives megalomaniacs the illusion of control. From individuals to organisations, everyone craves to exercise power in every possible form. In the context of security forces, this takes the shape of arms, ammunition, and a smart strategy. An allegedly botched up intelligence report to a foiled counter-insurgency operation, covered up by a dubious tale that makes one question the ability of people in power, made the Indian Armed Forces the centre of unwanted attention over the past few weeks.

Decoding the Nagaland killings

On 4th December 2021, soldiers of an elite para commando battalion—the Assam Rifles—opened fire at civilians in the Mon region of Nagaland, near the Assam border. Claiming to have mistaken the civilians in an open-bed pickup truck for militant insurgents from across the border, the battalion killed six of the villagers before they realised their mistake. Even as help rushed in from neighbouring villages, protestors intercepted the military convoy who were seen carrying the dead bodies of the villagers.

Officials taking a look at the destruction that took place in the ambush at Mojo, Nagaland [Image Credits: EastMojo]

In the ensuing struggle between protesting villagers and the retreating soldiers, seven more civilians were killed by retaliatory gunfire. The Army maintains that it fired shots only on being provoked and after the death of one of its men. Locals also claim that the Army was trying to dress up the dead bodies to make them look like militants. Several people got injured in the entire incident and needed medical attention. Adding fuel to the already raging fire was the fact that the President of BJP in Nagaland claimed to have been fired at, despite his vehicle bearing the party flag.

Incidents of alleged intelligence failure like these have been the cause of the deaths of civilians multiple times in the past. Even though the Nagaland Police, and other witnesses, have made statements indicating that the Army opened fire indiscriminately, top Army officials and the rest of the political diaspora are yet to give their concrete views on the topic.

A Troubled History and a Contested Existence  

Passed by both Houses of Parliament and approved by the President in 1958, The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has never been more relevant in the contemporary context. It grants the Indian Army special powers to maintain order and peace in ‘disturbed areas’. According to the law, once an area is declared ‘disturbed’, it needs to maintain the status quo for three months before the Act can be lifted again. The Act gives the Army the power to prohibit a gathering of more than five people in an area, use force or open fire to dispel the crowd, or even arrest a person without a warrant.

North-eastern states like Tripura, Manipur, and Assam have faced the brunt of this Act with multiple occurrences of violence, terrorism and protesting citizens forcing the government to grant more liberty to the Army. Even though the Act was lifted in Tripura, it persists in parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland even today.

Another region where this Act has played a pivotal role is the Punjab-Chandigarh-Jammu and Kashmir belt. The Act was withdrawn from Punjab and Chandigarh in 1997, around 14 years after being imposed. On the other hand, a rudimentary state-enforced version of the AFSPA was already present in J&K since 1978. Despite being dubbed a “lawless law” by Amnesty International, the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act failed to sensitise the country’s masses about its debatable nature. The AFSPA has been in power in J&K since 1990, despite multiple protests by a weak opposition.

Protests against the imposition of the ASFPA in Jammu and Kashmir have not resulted in a fruitful decision yet. [Image Credits: Outlook India]

The AFSPA was initially convened, drawing inspiration from the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Ordinance, formulated by the British to suppress the Quit India Movement. But, as it turned out, the AFSPA is considered a better and meaner version of its predecessor. For example, concerning the protection of soldiers from prosecution, Section 4 of its colonial counterpart restricted the soldier’s actions presumed as being in “good faith”. In Section 6 of the newer ordinance that deals with the same issue, the words “good faith” are missing, granting soldiers free rein.

The two main events defining aspects of the AFSPA are the prolonged deployment of armed forces in apparently disturbed areas and the lack of transparency in dealing with the law. This has led to the armed forces coming up with their own variations of the rules helping them operate more ruthlessly in unstable areas. Subsequently, it has also been a knee-jerk reaction of those in power to hide under the AFSPA umbrella every time a rogue action is committed.

The Way Forward

It is a widely known and lesser accepted fact that most insurgency problems, unrests, and clashes between militant groups in various parts of the country are primarily fuelled by diverse political or personal interests. The armed forces being granted special powers to tackle political or personal fights tips the scale to favour an eventual loss in military capability for the country rather than regional political peace. It is for this very reason that people and organisations across the nation have been clamouring for a repeal of the AFSPA laws.

Historically, the AFSPA has been received with mixed opinions from the country’s top brass. People across the nation have expressed their views on the varied humanitarian angles of the Act. From Tamil Nadu’s P. Chidambaram to Saifuddin Soz of Jammu and Kashmir, both being from the Congress party, there have been various politicians over the years who have condemned the Act and wanted it revoked. On the other hand, some others like Amarinder Singh have been staunch supporters of AFSPA.

Amongst its civilian disapprovers, Irom Sharmila, hailing from Manipur, had risen to fame for her stubborn and widely known opposition of the Act since November 2000. Dubbed the “Iron Lady of Manipur”, she undertook a hunger strike that lasted 16 years, from 16th November 2000 to 9th August 2016. Being denied the right to vote since she was imprisoned for her protest, she stoically refused food and water for more than 500 weeks, demanding that the AFSPA be repealed in the region of the Seven Sisters. Declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, she was voted the top woman icon of India by the MSN Poll on International Women’s Day in 2014.

Hundreds of people carry out rallies and protests demanding the repeal of the AFSPA in Nagaland [Image Credits: Hindustan Times]

Following the recent deadly Nagaland killings, hundreds of people walked 70 km to demand the repeal of the controversial Act. They began their protest in Dimapur, a city in Nagaland state, and walked to the capital city of Kohima, raising slogans against the AFSPA. Despite these protests, the Central Government extended AFSPA throughout Nagaland for another six months, effective from 30th December 2021. It was stated that “the area comprising the whole of the State of Nagaland is in such a disturbed and dangerous condition that the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary“. Additionally, in consultation with top leaders from Nagaland, the government also formed a seven-member committee, chaired by Dr. Vivek Joshi, Registrar General & Consensus Commissioner, to review the situation and submit a report within three months.

Ultimately, people’s opinions, the political turmoil in the region, and the influence of various tribal and militant groups need to be considered while making decisions that directly affect people’s lives. Though promulgated with good intentions in mind and premeditating certain necessities, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, in addition to allocating more power to the armed forces, needs to ensure that it does not get misused as it has been over the course of time. If not, the Rule of the Gun will become the new norm in various regions of the largest active democracy of the world.

Featured Image Credits: Orissa Post




Of Lore and Legends—The Udupi Krishna Temple

The Udupi Shri Krishna Matha is an important religious centre for Hindus and is considered one of India’s holiest pilgrimage sites. The Matha area resembles a living Ashram, a holy place for daily devotion and living. It was established by the founder of the Dvaita school of Hindu philosophy, Saint Madhvacharya. This Hindu philosophy is founded on the belief that Lord Vishnu (the Supreme Soul) and the individual souls have independent existential realities. These eight Mathas were created to preach and disseminate the lessons of the Vedas, Vedanta and the Tatvavada philosophy. 

From Dwarka to Udupi

According to Indian mythology, Lord Krishna’s birth mother Devaki yearned to experience the mischievous and carefree childhood antics of Lord Krishna, which she had missed due to her imprisonment by her cousin brother Kansa. To respect her wishes, Krishna promptly turned into a child again and performed his famous trick of stealing butter. On witnessing this episode, Krishna’s wife, Rukmini, fell in love with Balakrishna, his innocent childhood form. She requested the acclaimed celestial architect Vishwakarma to make an idol of Balakrishna from the Shaligram stone (sacred stones found on the Gandaki riverbed in Nepal, which is considered to be manifestations of Lord Vishnu) for her daily worship.  

At Dwarka, the idol got completely shrouded by layers of sandalwood paste slathered on it by thousands of pious devotees of Krishna. However, at the end of the era of Lord Krishna, Dwarka witnessed a massive flood that submerged the entire city and washed away the sandalwood paste-covered statue.

The Balakrishna Idol at the Udupi Shri Krishna temple [Image Credits: Divine Avatars]

Hundreds of years later, in the 13th century, a sailor heading from Dwarka found the idol lying ashore on an island and, mistaking it to be a rock, decided to utilise it as ballast for his ship. While travelling across the west coast of India, the sailor’s ship was hit by a violent sea storm and was about to capsize.  Sensing the sailor’s peril during his meditation on the beach, Saint Madhvacharya prayed to Lord Vishnu to alleviate the tempestuous weather.  He also aided the sailor to anchor on the shores of Udupi, now prominently known as Malpe Beach.

In order to express his gratitude, the sailor humbly bestowed the rock into the hands of Saint Madhvacharya. To his extreme elation, as the outer covering of the rock chipped off, it was revealed to be the long-lost statue of Balakrishna. He immediately washed and placed the idol as per the rituals at his Matha (monastery), thus bringing about the advent of the illustrious Shri Krishna Matha temple at Udupi.

Facing West—One of a Kind

The intriguing story about the unusual positioning of the Balakrishna idol involves Kanakadasa, an ardent devotee of Krishna. Initially, the statue had been installed facing east as per the customs. According to a legend, Kanakadasa, after being rejected entrance to the temple due to his birth in a lower caste, tried to pray to the idol from the western area through three holes in the wall as a last resort. His grit and determination impressed Lord Krishna, who turned around to face the west to give him his blessings.  The small window is thus named Kanakana Kindi. Thus began the unique pattern of offering prayers and worship through a silver-plated window with nine holes called the Navagraha Kitiki (window of Nine Planets). 

Navagraha Kitiki, the 9-holed window, through which the Balakrishna idol is viewed. [Image Credits: Blogspot]

The Udupi Paryaya Festival

The Udupi Paryaya is the main religious event that takes place once every alternate year in the Ashta Mathas (eight monasteries) of Udupi to signify the transfer of responsibility from one Swamiji (head priest) to the other. The Paryaya tradition has completed 500 years as of 2021. The celebrations begin a week before Sankranti, with the streets of Udupi bustling with artists and performers from all over Karnataka at night, which continue till the eve of the Paryaya ceremony.  From fireworks lighting up the sky to the repeated gonging of the temple bell resonating with the lively atmosphere, the city—home to quiet, and mostly shy natives—comes alive with activity. The ascension of the Swamiji commences with a dip in Dandathirtha, a pond near Kaup, followed by a puja at Jodukatte with the Swamijis being carried in customary palanquins. Meanwhile, the previous Swamiji spends the entire night in worship at the Krishna Matha.

Colourful festivities being carried out with much grandeur at the Udupi Paryaya festival [Image Credits: Kannadiga World]

The congregation of Swamijis then seek blessings from Lord Krishna through the Kanakana Kindi, followed by a visit to two Shiva temples, and are then finally received by the outgoing Swamiji into the Krishna Matha temple. The ascension is concluded by the ritual of handing over of the Akshaya Patra, and shrine keys at the Sarvajna Peetha (the utensils and the spiritual seat respectively of Saint Madhavacharya), by the descending Swamiji to the one ascending.

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Apart from the Udupi Paraya festivals, all major Hindu festivals like Janmashtami, Sri Rama Navami, Vijaya Dashami, Deepavali are celebrated with great pomp and enthusiasm here.

Food in Udupi

The famous Udupi cuisine traces its roots to the Ashtha Mathas (eight Hindu monasteries) and is satvik to the core- vegetarian and mainly prepared using whole grains, vegetables, and fresh fruits. The food or Prasadam served every day at the temple to thousands of devotees is rich with flavours of jaggery and coconut.  No garlic or onion is used in its preparation. The main course usually consists of rice, sambar, rasam, vegetables and sweets (payasam) served on banana leaves. 

The delicacies that are served at the temple feast at the Udupi Shri Krishna temple. [Image Credits: Hindu Blog]

Lunch is usually served at noon from 11.30 am to 2:30 pm while the evening timings are from 8.00 pm to 9.30 pm. The number of devotees rise to nearly 30,000 during important religious events like the Paraya festival. A special delicacy served during lunch is called ‘Gojju’, which is prepared using pineapple, brinjal, and bitter gourd. The expenses of the entire Udupi Krishna Matha are borne by the voluntary contributions of the devotees and by the Ashta Mathas that manage the Sri Krishna Matha. Devotees can contribute in either cash or kind. 

The Udupi Shri Krishna Temple has a rich and illustrious history, aptly reflected in the culture and tradition which has been preserved to date. One of the holiest pilgrimage sites in southern India, this temple dedicated to Lord Krishna is a must-visit to experience His divine presence.

Featured Image Credits: Navrang India




Dissent—Of the People, By the People, For the People

Dissent is like a Gurkha’s kukri: once it emerges from its sheath it must draw blood before it can be put away again.

— Shashi Tharoor, in his book, The Great Indian Novel

Kings and queens of yesteryear had immense hegemony over the lands they ruled, keeping diminutive things under their control. Trade routes and good relations with neighbouring kingdoms were considered politically advantageous, but protests by the people were always met with disdain. As monarchies gave way to dictatorships, personal and public opinions became dwindling fires, ready to be put out by the waters of tyranny. As a result, the minds of people were swayed by radical orders, decisions were taken by the bureaucrats to cater to the State rather than the citizens, and sugarcoated words became the norm of the day, lest the wielders of power crack their whips.

Times have changed considerably since. The average 21st-century citizen is not one who would discount anything on its face value. Equipped with an insatiable curiosity in worldly affairs, people around the world have begun to appreciate the freedom that comes with having an independent opinion and living an unoppressed life. They have started to voice their thoughts on the diplomacy and radicalism that directly affects their lives. The protests across Thailand, presently spreading to other parts of the world, depict the flickering flame of democratic freedom that still burns in their hearts.

DISSENT FOR DEMOCRACY

Thailand, in particular, has witnessed years of political turmoil. The monarchic system in place accepted and even supported the coup d’état that led to Prayuth Chan-ocha, the military leader of the coup, being installed as Prime Minister in 2014. However, an election won with questionable legitimacy in 2019 and a few unpopular legislations that gave more power to the monarchy was all it took to stir the anger of the masses. Around the same time, an enthusiastic group of citizens had been endeavouring to spread the idea of democracy in Thailand under the banner of the Future Forward Party (FFP). Not surprisingly, the FFP with its charismatic leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, garnered the third-largest share of seats as a result of being immensely popular with young, first-time voters. But a court ruling in February 2020 claimed that the FFP had received a loan from Thanathorn, deeming it an illegal donation. As with all well-meaning ventures, the FFP fell prey to petty politics and a biased judiciary, forcing the party to disband. The party’s sympathisers, however, added a much-needed impetus to the overall movement as they campaigned with renewed vigour against the anti-democratic policies of the State.

The three-fingered salute, inspired by Hunger Games, has become a symbol of defiance against monarchy and oppression across Thailand. [Image Credits: The Japan Times]

The protests started out as a student movement against the ill-functioning government. With the growing popularity of memes against the government, dissent against the Prime Minister and the King, Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, grew just as steadily in Thailand. In a historic move, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, a 21-year-old student led the movement and asked the government to curb the powers of the King, and empower their constitution instead. He demanded the government to scrap Section 112, popularly known as the lese-majeste law. The law decreed severe punishment of up to 15 years of imprisonment, for anyone convicted of defaming, insulting or threatening the king, queen, heir or regent faces, and has been a topic of much debate in the country.

In a failed attempt to suppress these voices and bring about ‘peace and order’ in the country, the Thai government issued an emergency mandate, banning large gatherings and limiting groups to a maximum of four people. But the protesters took to the streets of Bangkok and gathered in protest outside the Prime Minister’s office, leading the government to deploy the riot police to keep things under control. The citizens of this vibrant country, an amalgamation of several Asian cultures, have taken their fight for democracy to new heights with their persistence.

In sharp contrast, Zimbabwe—a country with a struggling economy—witnessed people rising against their own democratically elected hero. After leading Zimbabwe to freedom and subsequently being elected as it’s first Prime Minister, Robert Mugabe and the Zimbabwean parliament amended the constitution to give Mugabe limitless executive powers. A man gifted with unbelievable luck, Mugabe survived two assassination attempts while in office. He paid no heed to the economic turmoil he was causing in the country with his dictatorial ways.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, spotted alongside Robert Mugabe, is believed to be just as oppressive a ruler as Mugabe by many leaders in Zimbabwe. [Image Credits: New Zimbabwe.com]

Multiple elections, twisted mandates, and years of economic oppression later, Mugabe still wielded absolute power over the entire country. He was a violent and repressive ruler. Research has shown that authoritarian leaders almost always contend with two major political pressures—challenges from within their regime, which rarely trigger a democratic transition, and popular challenges from outside the system, which are very likely to upset the authoritarian regime. Mugabe was forced out of office in 2017 by the military, paving way for the country’s first change in leadership since 1980—37 years of dictatorship. Emmerson Mnangagwa, vice president during Mugabe’s tenure, was installed in Mugabe’s position as more than 70 per cent of the country’s 16 million-strong population (as per 2017) participated in an election that did not feature Mugabe.

Dashing people’s hopes for a better leader, Mnangagwa turned out to be just as authoritative as Mugabe. Mnangagwa continues to serve as the country’s President. His ongoing reign is riddled with political controversies and societal injustice, and the citizens have expressed their disapproval over Mugabe’s right-hand man. The elections in 2018 that placed Mnangagwa and his party in power were questioned by leaders around the world, just like polls during Mugabe’s tenure. With elections in Zimbabwe being seen as international publicity stunts, power remained with the President and his party, who remained free to amend the constitution at will due to the lack of a noteworthy opposition. Protests that erupted across the country were covered up, people were mercilessly beaten as they campaigned for democracy, fair elections, and responsible, trustworthy leaders for their impoverished country.

DISSENT IN DEMOCRACY

The world’s most populous democracy, the Republic of India, has seen it’s fair share of protests in its 72 years of independence—Dalits protesting in Maharashtra, anti-corruption movements across the country, and the state of Tamil Nadu asserting its right to the waters of the Kaveri river to name a few. In a country where the right to speech and freedom of opinion are often misinterpreted and lost over chaotic debates about trivial topics, the common man has mastered the art of voicing his opinion. Hence, we can safely conclude that Indians are seasoned protesters against oppression.

Farmers turned up in hordes at the borders of Delhi to protest against the injustices meted out to their community. [Image Credits: Times of India]

Recently, farmers in the country have been protesting against laws that might affect their livelihoods—they rebelled against the union government and ensured their voices were heard, but unfortunately to the wrong people. The government, taking due advantage of the ever-spreading tentacles of the pandemic, passed several laws in the Parliament, and implemented them—announcing that the farmers were making a mountain out of an apparent molehill. The new rules made it easier for farmers to bypass government-regulated markets and sell their produce to private buyers, engage in contract farming and made stockpiling of produce legal for traders. The farmers, however, are apprehensive about losing their bargaining power and MSPs to big corporations. Largely uneducated and limiting their lives to their fields, crops, daily wages, and three square meals a day, these farmers are immensely vulnerable to corporate exploitation. After months of failed protests in their respective states, they marched to Delhi to make their stand against these laws, and demand that the government nullify the farmer bills.

WILL DISSENT LEAD TO EGALITARIANISM?

A small spark of passion is all it takes for a disagreement to become a full-fledged protest. If the protest is well received by the masses and strikes the right moral chord, the ruling administration has a national movement that it needs to deal with. Modern technology coupled with the right amount of social media influence can fan the fires of the movement and transform it into a blazing global campaign—as is evident with the enormous number of people who stepped out in support of Thailand and it’s troubled citizens.

Political and societal landscapes keep changing with time as people continue to strive towards living a better life in an egalitarian, democratic country of their choice. [Image Credits: Observer Research Foundation]

But the pertinent question here is—will dissent lead to egalitarianism? In 1911, German sociologist Robert Michels had propounded his political theory advocating oligarchies. He stated that all organisations, regardless of how democratic they are when they are born, transform into oligarchies as power gets concentrated amongst a few individuals. But the world is subjected to frequent reality checks that sustain the endless cycle of the rise, fall and rebirth of democracies. Hence, every person in Thailand is entitled to the same resources, privileges, and luxuries that any person in a democratic country around the world indulges in. Every farmer toiling on the lands of India for a day’s worth of food, has the same rights, duties, responsibilities, and the same freedom of opinion and speech that every other man of knowledge takes for granted.

All of these arguments in light of the debate on egalitarianism lead to multiple answers on the relevance and necessity of dissent. Protests and disagreements with the ruling administration—ruling, because real democracy is rare to find—are considered radical steps by many, but the general consensus on the need for dissent seems to point in the right direction. Dissent is considered an essential tool to enforce, though ironical to the concept of democracy, and propagate equality amongst the masses. Considering how freedom, justice, equality, and representation are among the strongest pillars of any elected government, dissent presents itself as a vital cog in the functioning of democracies.

Featured Image Credits: The Straits Times




Staying Afloat in the COVID Storm—Businesses in Manipal

In a few years, history textbooks will look back at 2020 as the year of the Coronavirus. Over 7 months of the year has been filled with uncertainty and anxiety due to the spread of the Coronavirus, with no immediate solution in sight. The pandemic has been a major roadblock for global economies, disrupting the routine functioning of every single country. Ever since various countries have started imposing lockdowns, a steep increase in unemployment has been witnessed across the globe. In times like these where large businesses have struck the financial iceberg and sunk, how are the smaller boats staying afloat?

The Current State of Trade

Businesses in India and around the globe have faced a plethora of problems while dealing with the impact of the pandemic. They are trying to recover from the jolt it has delivered to their livelihoods. Businesses that are largely dependent on human interaction have been caught off guard by the lockdown and social distancing norms. While the rest of the world has nonchalantly shifted their lives online, outlets like cafes, restaurants, and small-time grocery stores are struggling to make ends meet.

Day to day activities in Manipal—essentially a university town with students coming in from all over the country depend on the student community to a large extent. From the shops and restaurants bustling with students and the auto-rickshaw drivers ferrying students to their favourite locations in town to donning an empty and deserted look—life has come to a standstill in Manipal. Ever since the students shuttled back to their homes following the outbreak of the pandemic in India, businesses have been forced to shut down and have had to cope with the reduced demand for their goods and services.

Survival of the Fittest

For many students, the walk from the academic section to their hostel blocks is incomplete without a visit to the Campus Store. From eatables, stationery, cosmetics, and photocopies—it is a one-stop destination that caters to all their needs. Six months of the lockdown has forced Campus Store to shut down and send their employees back home. Most of the staff haven’t received their salaries post-April. A lack of customers, and a consequent lack of income, has compelled them to divulge all their perishable goods to other smaller traders on campus and around Manipal.

Campus Stores, MIT, looks deserted without the presence of students on the campus. [Image Credits: Campus Stores, MIT]

Apart from convenience stores and grocery shops, restaurants, and eateries have also suffered because of the lack of students. The loss of income is also the consequence of these outlets not being able to persuade the local customers to visit their restaurants and cafes, due to the lockdown preventing people from stepping out of the house for leisurely purposes. This led to major food outlets like The Egg Factory facing a complete shutdown. The resumption of food delivery to houses has eased the financial pressure on these businesses. “Both Egg Factory and Dollops are doing okay as of now. We had to close down completely during the first lockdown, but resumed operations afterward,” said Mr Anil Pai, a member of the Management Committee of The Egg Factory and Dollops.

Taking the blow due to a dip in sales because of the exponentially reduced customers are the employees who work for various small-time businesses. They have either not been paid for the past few months and have been sent home, or are working multiple shifts to make ends meet. Many businesses like The Egg Factory have asked their employees to work two shifts to sustain their livelihoods.

Precautions and Safety Protocols

A major factor that deters people from stepping outside and leading a normal life is the fear of contracting the virus in public places. Even though the government has issued safety protocols and precautionary measures that need to be taken to restrict the spread, the task of adhering to such instructions is ultimately a collective effort that makes these measures effective. Businesses open to the public have had to make sure that their customers and staff are safe from the Coronavirus. It is, therefore, understandable that restaurants, shops, and cafes in Manipal and all over the country are emptying their coffers to get certain safety measures implemented and make the customers feel secure during their visit.

Regular temperature checks being conducted at Egg Factory, a popular eatery in Manipal. [Image Credits: The Egg Factory, Manipal]

Some businesses like the Campus Store—who are uncertain about when the situation will diffuse—are unsure about the extent of investment that is needed to be made to enforce safety measures. On the other hand, eateries like The Egg Factory have already ensured that proper safety measures like the regular use of hand sanitizers, compulsory usage of masks, and thermal scans for customers and employees alike. “All our employees have been instructed about personal hygiene and are aware of COVID-19 and its effects. Each of the employees is covered by a Corona Kavach insurance, a gesture that none of the other restaurants have done so far,” remarked Mr Pai, when asked about the safety measures and relief for employees that have been in place.

Ensuring satisfaction as well as the safety of any customer is a top priority for any business. Grub Monkeys, a hugely popular destination in Manipal where students are often seen after their classes, have switched to disposable plates and glasses, apart from installing hand-sanitizers stations and ensuring the safety of their employees with regular temperature monitoring.

The Way Forward

Despite facing a drop in their income, the businesses in Manipal are positive about their future—albeit uncertain. Students make up a majority of their customer base, and the reopening of colleges can rejuvenate their sales. While being optimistic about the future, Mr. Pai is firmly grounded in reality as he stated that their sales might go back to around 75 percent of their business before the pandemic.  “We remain closed during May, June, almost half of July, and December as students have holidays. So, we have a bit of experience in handling such situations,” said Mr Ganesh Naik of the Campus Store, MIT, Manipal, who has remained at home for the last few months. Trying times like these often prove to be the litmus test for the survival of small scale businesses.

Employees at the Egg Factory at work with masks and appropriate safety measures. [Image Credits: The Egg Factory, Manipal]

These outlets have seen it all—from being filled to the brim with the student community to bearing the brunt of the pandemic and the social distancing norms. However, as people start trickling back to their pre-pandemic routine, these owners hope that they can stay afloat and thrive by providing the customer with their services and safety. A need for survival, the belief that normalcy will be restored, and an inherent trust in the community are the beacons of hope that guide these businessmen in these current tunnels of darkness.

Featured Image Credits: The Egg Factory




We Don’t Have a Planet B—TEDxMAHE 2020

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues that humanity is facing at the moment. On 25 October 2020, TEDx MAHE organised a TED talk with the theme, Countdown—We can change the climate change, to spread awareness about this issue looming over our heads like the Sword of Damocles. Attended by students from various colleges, this mega-event saw experienced individuals put forth their perspectives on the topic of climate change.

Alexander Verbeek, Dutch environmentalist and World Fellow at Yale University, was the first speaker at the event. He presented his views on the topic by making analogies to the popular fairy tale—Little Red Riding Hood. He believes that all of humanity is like the girl in the story—choosing to live in denial about the real state of affairs. According to him, the Earth is a speck of sand in the vast Universe, and we humans fail to recognize and accept things that are beyond our imagination. Perceiving risk as it is, preparing for this predicted risk, and implementing safety measures at the right time are plausible solutions to this ever-growing problem. He also stressed the various impacts of climate change, including military and geopolitical changes, population migration, and great stress on every country’s economy. “Climate change is a predicted disaster in slow motion“, said Mr Verbeek, rightly concluding his speech by urging people, states, and countries to coordinate themselves better, and stand with each other, to brave this disaster together.

Mr Verbeek’s thought-provoking TED talk was followed by Dr Derrick Ian Joshua, Assistant Director of Environmental Sustainability in the Department of General Sevices, MAHE, presenting his ideas of a sustainable world. “The best way to bring about a change is to lead others by setting an example,” remarked Dr Derrek as he explained the need and importance for appropriate planning, risk assessment, and innovative methods to apply his ideas to the student town of Manipal. He stressed upon striking the right balance between economic advantages and environmental impacts when implementing projects like waste management or water management plants. He also shared his experiences of being a part of projects implemented while keeping the idea of a sustainable environment in mind, including, but not limited to, waste management projects, electric vehicles inside the campus in colleges, and energy-efficient lighting solutions. Dr Derrick firmly believes that environmental sustainability is a journey that we have just begun and have a long way to go.

The third speaker for the day was Mr Keshav Gupta, founder of The Dais. He talked about the climate crisis which the world is facing and how people, as individuals, can act on it. His talk was divided into three parts in which he urged everyone to use their heart, head, and hands in working for the environment. According to him, the right knowledge is critical for the right action. One of the key things to do is to develop this knowledge. Before knowing how to act, there is a need to understand it completely. The second part focussed on putting one’s heart into the work. He gave a couple of anecdotes about his work in various parts of India and the challenges that he faced. Finally, when it comes to their hands, people should understand themselves first. Their skills should be used in the direction of countering climate change. If local solutions are done well, global solutions can be implemented well. He concluded his inspirational speech with a quote—“Change begins with you; initiative begins with you.

This was followed by a light-hearted session, Social Spaces, in which the attendees interacted with each other. The participants were split into groups and took part in crosswords, quizzes, and other mini-games. It was a rejuvenating session where everyone got to enjoy themselves.

Mr George Kostakios, the co-founder of FOGGS from Brussels, Belgium, was the next speaker for the day. He advocated an upgrade to the current way of living and mindset of humans—Homo Sapiens 2.0—to advance humankind while also maintaining harmony with nature. He stressed upon the urgency of climate change and on how each individual can help reverse the biggest crisis of today’s age by simply changing our mindset and staying true to our values. He has worked with the UN on international affairs, supporting the negotiations that resulted in the landmark Paris Climate Change Agreement in 2016. He further spoke about major issues like the exploitation of natural resources, growing inequality, and the flawed worldview of profit and its justifications. He reminded us about how it is our actions that make all the difference in the world. Small changes like using public transport, switching to a plant-based diet as opposed to meat, and using renewable energy can go a long way in tackling global warming. Concluding his speech, he asked the young generation to rival the current reality and help to change the narrative for future generations.

The fifth speaker, Chau Duncan, is the COO of Earthbanc, which is an investment platform that coordinates climate-positive projects all over the world. She began her talk by highlighting the alarming statistics about climate change all over the world like the devastating floods in Karnataka. She talked about how adopting zero budget natural farming is the way ahead in agriculture to maintain an ecological balance and ensure a high-quality yield of crops at lower prices. In this type of farming, the cost of growing and harvesting is zero, and biological pesticides like earthworms and cow dung are used instead of chemical substances. She explained how Australia witnessed great economic progress in the 2000s, but at the cost of devastating nature. It also experienced the worst dust storm in decades in 2009. Adding a convincing example to her talk, she continued to talk about the erratic weather in the western ghats of Karnataka. She insisted that the only way to curb this worldwide menace is to start working with the farmers by incentivising pro-sustainability projects through innovation in technology and climate finance so that production and environment protection can go on symbiotically. As a former Vietnamese refugee, she believes the global stage is her home and works for a regenerative future.

The final speaker at the event was Rakshit Naidu, a final year undergraduate at MIT Manipal, pursuing his Bachelors in Computer Science and Engineering. He also works as a research engineer at OpenMinded. His research work is inclined towards machine learning and cryptography. Breaking the stereotype, he found out a creative way to relate machine learning and climate change. He talked about the correlation between federated learning and climate change. He emphasised the significance of both individual and collective efforts. He talked about developing technologies that can help in climate change mitigation through grid optimisations, shared mobility, tracking carbon footprints, and data retrieval. “Will people from developing countries care enough about data privacy to require Federated Analytics? If you have only just got reliable access to the internet, would you need data privacy?”, remarked Rakshit as he concluded his speech with an open-ended question to ponder upon.

The event concluded with a panel discussion where all the speakers of the day discussed the perspectives put forward in the talks as they concluded on several premises. The attendees appreciated the talks given as they could see the problems in a different light and analyse it better.

Featured Image Credits: TEDx MAHE 




India’s GDP Contraction—Myths and Realities

GDP has shrunk from Rs 35.35 lakh crore in Q1 of 2019-20 to Rs 26.90 lakh crore in the first quarter of 2020-21, showing a contraction of 23.9 per cent as compared to 5.2 per cent growth in Q1 2019-20

—National Statistical Office, 31 August 2020.

23.9 per cent—This number has grabbed attention and induced panic among Indians across the country. It looked like a massive economic collapse was on the cards for the world’s fifth-largest GDP. How did India go from being the fastest growing economy to one struggling with a massive slump in its GDP? Is India going through a recession? Did the government erase years of economic growth in just one quarter? This article aims to address a few of those extremely pertinent questions.

THE ECONOMIC CYCLE

An economic cycle, defined as the fluctuation between expansion and contraction of the economy, has four main stages.

  • The expansion stage is when the economy experiences relatively rapid growth with low-interest rates, increased production and market expenditure, and mounting inflation.
  • The cycle touches its peak when growth hits its maximum, which upsets the system.
  • Slow growth, falling employment rates, and stagnating prices contribute to contraction and correcting those imbalances.
  • A trough is said to occur when an economy hits its nadir and begins to grow again.

Contractions are part and parcel of the economic cycle, albeit unpleasant. Recessions, however, comprise two-quarters of successive contractions, whereas depression is a more profound and long-lasting contraction. To put things into perspective, the USA has undergone 33 periods of recession while only one Great Depression, since 1854.  

Image Credits: www.economicshelp.org

GDP AS A BENCHMARK FOR CLASSIFICATION

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a representation of the total value of all goods and services produced by an economy over a specific period. Contrary to public perception, the GDP does not represent the wealth in a country. Instead, it is often the most important yardstick to measure the total size and health of an economy.

GDP growth rate and GDP per capita are the most significant indicators of the monetary well being of a country. GDP growth rate, a comparison of the GDPs of two successive quarters, measures how fast an economy is growing. The GDP per capita, on the other hand, measures the value of goods and services produced per person of the population.

A nation’s GDP can be measured in three different ways.

  • The income approach—adding up what every person has earnt in a year.
  • The expenditure approach—adding up what every person has spent in a year.
  • The production approach—adding up the total consumption, government spending, investments, and net exports of a country

GDP as calculated using the production approach. Image Credits: Investopedia

Even though the GDP—which paints a comprehensive financial picture of a nation—is the most preferred gauge to classify countries economically, it has its shortcomings. More often than not, by the time the GDP of a particular quarter is declared, the nation is well into the next quarter. GDP often relies on official data and may not include unofficial income sources like household productions and money involved in intermediate transactions. Apart from geographical limitations in a globally open economy, the GDP emphasises economic output, turning a blind eye to the various negative impacts GDP growth might have on the country and its citizens.

THE BIG CRUNCH

India has two methods of calculating its Gross Domestic Product—one based on economic activity (at factor cost), and the other on expenditure (at market prices).

The factor cost method assesses the performance of eight different industries—broadly classified into agriculture, mining, manufacturing, electricity, construction, tourism, finance, and community industries. This method makes it easy to see the performance of an economy’s subsectors. The factor-cost calculated figure is what the media reports to the entire nation. The expenditure-based method, on the other hand, indicates how different areas of the economy, such as trade, investments, capital gains, exports, and personal consumption are faring. It offers useful insights into which domains contribute the most to the Indian economy.

Image Credits: Press Trust of India

Most analysts around the globe were expecting the shocking news of India’s economic contractions in April, May, and June. Contrary to popular belief, one-quarter of the economy did not just vanish, and the GDP did not plummet to negative values. A contraction of 23.9 per cent means that the total value of all goods and services fell by that proportion as compared to the same three-month period last year. The economic output of the summer of 2020 was much lesser than the summer of 2019, thanks to the pandemic. Government data indicates that except for agriculture—which grew at a rate of 3.4 per cent—every other sector of the economy has contracted.

The factor cost method rendered figures showing the growth of the agriculture sector by 3.4 per cent. In contrast, sectors like mining, construction, trade, hospitality and other services, and manufacturing witnessed a steep decline in their economic well beings. However, the expenditure-based method indicated a drop of 27 per cent in private consumption of goods and services. Investment into the private sector falling by Rs 5,33,003 crores combined with the reduced consumption contributes to 88 per cent of the GDP shrinkage. The significant drop in exports only added to the damage meted out to the economy.

India can potentially be classified as a country experiencing recession based on its performance in the second quarter, i.e. July, August, and September. Considering that manufacturing, tourism, construction, and numerous other day-to-day activities are still not back in action, it is very likely that India will receive the recession tag, like many major countries in the world.

A PEEK INTO THE FUTURE

Moody’s Investors Service has predicted that India’s GDP will contract by 11.5 per cent in the fiscal year 2020-21, much higher than its previous estimate of 4 per cent contraction. However, they also believe that growth will rebound to a minimum of 10.6 per cent in 2021-22, as economic activity normalises slowly but surely.

Image Credits: https://www.economicshelp.org/blog/1599/economics/cyclical-economic-activity/

The pandemic has slowed down economic growth worldwide. Sporadic outbursts of the disease in various places in the country have forced regional or nationwide lockdowns, curbing all activities. Key sectors that drive employment of the masses have been struggling to keep themselves relevant in the market. Amidst the desperation to get things back to normal, economic soothsayers predict that the current phase is just another trough in India’s economic cycle, and India is all set to tread the path of economic expansion once again.

Written by: Raghukrishnan J, of The Economics and Finance Society of Manipal

Edited by: Parthiv Menon, of The MIT Post

Featured image credits: ESOM




A Map for the Higher Semesters – The Mentorship Program

Students from the third year, with the help of the Student Council, took up the initiative to guide their juniors, currently entering the second-year, through the new and upcoming semesters. Webinars were conducted between 16 August and 20 August 2020 where senior students interacted with juniors of their branch. The meetings were conducted simultaneously for every branch on Microsoft Teams and saw a decent turnout from students wanting to know more about what they can expect from branches they have chosen for themselves. This initiative was carried out as an extension to the Students Teaching Students Program that was set up by the council last year.

A representative from the Student Council and one mentor from a higher semester kept the students engaged with tales of their experiences in Manipal. Right from coping with academics and club activities in first-year to letting go of the urge to spend time with friends and explore Manipal, the attendees of the meeting were pleasantly reminded of the time when conventional classes were more engaging than the present online mode. They were advised to concentrate right from the beginning, focus on getting the basics correct, and develop an interest in their respective fields. As an additional tip, these mentors advised second-year students to not only take notes and refer relevant books but also asked them to go through teaching resources like NPTEL to compensate for the absence of our college library.

Apart from allaying students’ fears about online classes, the mentors asked their mentees to stay away from stressing too much about their studies. Students were urged to get themselves involved in what they were doing, enjoy the experience of engineering and have a fun-filled college life, enabling the holistic development of the student’s character.

As affable as any senior can get, Paree Navet from the Aeronautical Engineering branch was delighted to help her juniors out. “I know how daunting it is to be thrust from the cushioned environment of first-year with common subjects, to a specialised field,” she remarked.  She also wanted her juniors to feel at ease in the new position that they find themselves in, “Many end up believing that their respective branches are tough and that the “GPA drop phenomenon” will plague everyone. I wanted my juniors to have a positive outlook towards the forthcoming semesters so that they continue to pursue their interests with vigour.”

“The feedback we received from the juniors was very positive. We were given some constructive suggestions that we can use to improve the experience of the mentee the next time. The participants were plenty in number, around 410 second years took part in the seminars that were held for all the branches. We are really happy to see the enthusiasm shown by them”, said Ankit Jajoo, Joint Secretary of the Student Council.

The meetings were wrapped up after an hour-long discussion on the overall state of mind of students of the third semester as they look forward to gaining knowledge in their respective fields. Representatives of the Student Council announced that the Student Teaching Student Programme will be launched within two weeks and urged students requiring guidance to apply for the same. Seniors and juniors alike share the same enthusiasm apprehension as they wait, with bated breath, for classes to resume on campus as soon as possible.

 

Featured Image Credits – Byjus.com




Treading the Road to Research—Webinar by the Research Society

The Research Society is an upcoming student organisation that aims to connect students and their resources, so as to enable a research-friendly environment within the college campus. This community of students is exploring projects including, but not limited to, the field of artificial intelligence, technology-driven social projects involving women safety, and innovative aircraft design concepts.

Following its vision of supporting students in research, the society has formed a well-developed network of alumni from universities like Yale, Oxford and IIT Bombay. The Research Society organised their first-ever event on 30 July 2020—a webinar focusing on the importance and relevance of research. Upamanyu Ghose, the 2019 batch topper of CSE and a distinguished alumnus of MIT, Manipal, addressed student queries as the guest speaker at the online event.

The interactive session began with Upamanyu describing his journey into research. From his early days in IECSE as a first-year, to being a part of Project MANAS in the second year and his interest in the biological aspects of neural networks, Upamanyu spoke about the many inspirations that put him on his current path. Interning twice at Singapore’s National Technology University, a quest for more in-depth theoretical knowledge bolstered Upamanyu’s inclination towards a life of research. He urged students interested in research to keep themselves abreast of the various happenings in their respective fields, to interact with other people, and take up projects on related topics. He resonated with the Research Society’s idea of creating a research environment that can help overcome the shortcomings that students of higher semesters often face when stepping into the arena of research.

The Research Society hosted the webinar on their Discord server, allowing questions to be asked in message format. Image Credits: Research Society

We had over 88 students attend the talk, including several students from colleges other than MIT. I want to attribute the ease in the conversation to our moderator and co-founder, Achintya, who did an impeccable job. The webinar seemed like we were hearing from an extremely overachieving, yet grounded and interesting senior, over dinner at the food court,” said Shuba Murthy, a co-founder at Research Society, who was delighted with the number of positive responses received from the participants on the server.

Now pursuing a career of research at Oxford, Upamanyu overall stressed on the importance of creating a supportive atmosphere to get more students involved with research. In a student life filled with club activities and student projects, the Research Society of Manipal has taken the first step in achieving their vision of bringing research into the limelight.