Coursera Program Electives—FAQs

This article is current as of 8th July 2022 and will be updated with more information shortly. 

Manipal Global Education Services (MaGE) partnered with Coursera in 2016, to provide students of MAHE with several sponsored courses belonging to a wide array of fields. In addition to these resources, MIT offers minor specialisations to the students of the sixth and seventh semesters as program electives through Coursera. Students opting for these specialisations are often faced with a multitude of questions regarding the process. This article answers a few such frequently asked questions.

What specialisations are offered as Program Electives on Coursera?

• Big Data by the Department of Computer Science.
• Fundamentals of Computing by the Department of Computer Applications.
• Digital Marketing by the Department of Humanities and Management.
• Data Analytics by the Department of Information and Communication Technology.

Each course constitutes three credits and is handled by course coordinators belonging to each of the respective departments.

How do I sign-up for the course? When do I start it?

You will be asked to provide your email ID by the respective department coordinators. You will receive your login credentials using these IDs soon thereafter. You need to ensure that the email ID you provide has not already been used to sign up to the selected course on Coursera. The timeline to be followed, along with the date of course commencement, will be sent to the students through the course coordinators of each department.

What is the marking scheme? Will I have to write sessionals or assignments on campus?

The marks obtained on Coursera through the quizzes and worksheets will be reduced and marked out of 35 by the college. There will not be any assignments on campus. Furthermore, students opting for Coursera will not have to write sessional 1. However, a test will be conducted on campus during the second sessional. This test will be for 15 marks and will have 30 multiple choice based questions. This, in addition to the 35 marks obtained through Coursera, constitutes their internal marks. They will also have to give the 50-mark end semester exam on campus. These tests will be based on the study material provided for the course by Coursera, as well as the materials recommended by the department. (The number of questions for the MCQ test is 30 as of November 2019).

What is the attendance scheme for this course?

As with other subjects in the curriculum, a minimum of 75% attendance is compulsory for this course as well.  Attendance is computed as the percentage-of-completion. This is calculated based on the number of completed videos, assignments, and quizzes, along with any other study material provided, such as PowerPoint presentations. Completion of videos and other materials is mandatory, and the course-completion certificate will only be considered if the percentage-of-completion is above 75%.

What are the deadlines for the course?

In addition to the deadlines imposed by Coursera, the college will provide the students with a timeline for milestones to be achieved through the course of the semester. These deadlines need to be strictly followed.

To further familiarise the students with the process, a workshop will be conducted by MaGE towards the end of January. For any further queries, the respective department heads can be contacted who will then direct you to the course coordinators.

Featured Image Credits: Coursera

Terms and Conditions May Apply—The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019

While technology has evolved leaps and bounds in recent years, the problem of privacy and data protection is one that has yet to be properly addressed. With everyone staying in during the lockdown, reliant on the internet for entertainment, education, and work, among other things,  it is crucial for each user to understand their rights on the digital playground. The revised Personal Data Protection Bill offers some respite to this problem. However, it has come under much scrutiny by the public and the press alike for a variety of reasons.

The step towards India’s first concrete law on personal data protection was initiated in August of 2017 with the formation of an expert committee, headed by retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice B. N. Srikrishna. With inputs from the members of the government, academia, and industry, they were able to provide a comprehensive draft of what was to be the Personal Data Protection Bill (PDP). Oddly enough, when the bill was approved by the Cabinet and presented before the Lok Sabha, it was tweaked and laid bare of the safeguards that the Srikrishna Committee had proposed against exploitation of personal data by the government. Among these being the removal of the explicit mention that such exemptions must adhere to the Supreme Court’s privacy judgement of 2017. The judgement mandates that the government declare specific objectives for collecting and using private data according to the procedure laid down. In an interview with The Economic Times, Justice Srikrishna criticised the bill, calling it the “most dangerous” act and a footstep towards an Orwellian society, which is characterised by a brutal policy of draconian control exerted by propaganda, surveillance, disinformation, and political doublespeak.

The committee chaired by Justice B. N. Srikrishna. (Image Source: INDIANTelevision)

The Government’s Perspective

The data generated by Indians has increased exponentially over the years. India’s smartphone revolution has turned it into a market with over 500 million active internet users, making it second only to China. This bill intends to make individuals the owners of their data and aims to keep consumer data protected.

Introduced in the Lok Sabha by the Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad on 11th December 2019, the bill seeks to provide protection of the personal data of individuals and establishes a Data Protection Authority for the same. The bill compels the government and companies dealing with personal data of individuals in India to be accountable to the said authority. The bill also allows the government to direct the companies to provide it with non-personal data for better targeting of services.

The government propounds its belief that intelligence agencies can be more effective in their work if surveillance is centralised and automated rather than distributed, federal, and manual. India has seen a steady proliferation of surveillance technology. In December 2019, Delhi’s police officers used facial recognition devices to screen individuals entering a protest venue. In Chennai, surveillance drones circled above a protest march, and in Hyderabad, police have used fingerprints to check past criminal activities of individuals. Electronic databases of intercepted telecommunications, in particular, had begun to proliferate after the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. The Central Monitoring System (CMS), a centralised telephone interception system that automates the wiretapping of criminal suspects and Netra, a system that intercepts voice-over-the-Internet platforms to pick up words such as ‘attack’, ‘bomb’, ‘blast’, ‘kill’ etc. have been in operation since quite some time, but the government now plans to build a more centralised network of India’s intelligence operations.

The Companies’ Perspective

To understand the perspective of various companies, there are two terms that one has to keep in mind. Data fiduciary and data processor. Any companies that a user interacts with, and provides data to, is a data fiduciary, because the user is entrusting his/her data to the company. This company, in turn, has to process this data to draw certain conclusions. This is where the data processor comes in. A data processor takes the data collected by a data fiduciary and further dissects it to obtain relevant information that can benefit the company in some way.

This law has a clause of Data Localisation, which states that sensitive personal data cannot be stored and processed outside the borders of India, which prevents data fiduciaries from processing it in foreign countries without prior permission of the user. This is seen as a welcome law to the public in a place like India, where there have not been prior laws related to the location of the data. This clause would give the government and public more control over the data fiduciaries and would prevent foreign organisations and governments from the misuse of data. However, many experts believe the location will have no bearing on the ownership of the data, or decisions about the data, which will effectively make this law useless.

Apart from this, companies will have to bear the added burden of employing skilled technicians, who will have to transfer data stored overseas within Indian borders. Another positive consequence of this bill would be the rise of homegrown data processing companies to assist data fiduciaries with the processing of relevant data, which follows in the footsteps of the current governments’ ‘Make In India’ model.

However, this law is not without flaws, proving especially dangerous to the country regarding the business perspective. Granting access to sensitive data to the government can make the customer base lose trust with the company, something that most multi-national corporations spend a considerable amount of time and effort building. Another disadvantage is that the inner trade secrets of the business world would be out in the open to the government, which can discourage foreign investment into the country. This in turn can have severe repercussions on the economy of the nation.

The People’s Perspective

Starting off with the positives, there are a few clauses in the bill, shown below, that ensure the protection of the owner’s personal data from commercial enterprises.

Due to this bill being introduced in the Parliament at a time when the NRC/CAA issue was at its most aggressive peak, it hasn’t received as much attention from the public as it should have, which explains the minimal discussion and debate on this topic over the internet and in the news. Nevertheless, while some have come out in support of this act due to the increased restrictions it places over companies’ misuse of data, many are still wary of the negative impacts this bill can have on the privacy of the user. Since the bill is very vague over what it considers to be “critical sensitive data” and data that can be used in matters of national security, it can enable the government to gain access to any specifics user’s credentials through this law.


Clause 35 of the law which states the exemptions provided to the government under this bill. (Credits: PRS Legislative Research)

Another example is that of access to aggregate data. While sensitive individual data, like information on caste and finances, can be out in the open through this law, the expose of aggregated data can be equally as terrifying. For example, government organisations, of the present and future, can find out statistics on the religion, or political leanings of a group of people in a particular area, which can then be a target of an aggressive political campaign.

Data Protection Bills in Other Countries

In developed countries like the United States and most countries in Europe, instead of having a singular Bill laying down the framework for data protection laws across the country, there are data regulations in place, drafted with the consultation of experts who have spent a long time in this field. States (in the US) or countries (in the EU) can either draft their own legislation or direct companies to follow these regulations, with most of them opting for the latter due to the standardisation of laws they provide. The most prominent of these regulations are California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and General Data Protection Regulation EU (GDPR), which is also referred by several countries around the world to draft their own legislation around data protection.

India ranked in the bottom 5 non-EU countries in privacy and surveillance, according to a study by Compritech.

In the world, 107 countries have a Data Protection legislation in place, India being one of the 66 developing or transition economies among them. This still doesn’t mean there’s no work to be done. The General Data Protection Regulation (EU) is a regulation on data protection laws in the European Union that also acts as a yardstick for comparing data protection laws in other countries. While most countries in Europe, Canada, and the USA ensure an adequate or partially adequate level of data protection recognised by the EU, India still does not. Further, if the clauses in the Bill that give the government leeway on what they consider to be “matter of national security” aren’t amended,  this status is unlikely to change soon, in spite of the many positive consequences of this bill.

With streets around the country painting a deserted look, a stark contrast to the notorious crowds of dissent just a few weeks ago, we as citizens can perhaps shift our focus on this issue as well, threatening to snatch our privacy in the digital world. While not directly related, this piece of legislation that promises to return power and dignity to our digital society is more connected to the very same fundamental rights and constitutional principles that were being fought for on the streets a few weeks ago.

Featured Image Credits: Swara Singh

Manipal Dog Killings—Activist’s Fight Continues

On 25th June 2019, Senior Animal Rights Litigator and trustee of Madhwaraj Animal Care Trust, Babita Madhwaraj, filed an FIR at the Manipal Police Station under section 428 of the IPC, section 11 in The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and section 93 of the Karnataka Police Act, 1963. These acts make the killing or poisoning of animals, among other things, illegal and a punishable offence. She was joined by students of MAHE, along with concerned animal rights activists from other organisations in town, in filing the first FIR of its kind in Udupi.

According to the complaint, on the night of Saturday, 22nd June, eight stray dogs were found dead in the vicinity of Mandavi Emerald, Manipal—allegedly due to the consumption of poisoned fish. Two days later, two more bodies—one of an adult dog, and another of a puppy were found outside Mandavi Sovereign, Manipal. Most of the dogs found had been sterilised by a local NGO and posed no threat to the community.

Body of a dog found on 23rd June.

Shriya Dhaundiyal, a student of MAHE, along with her friends, noticed the eight dogs lying in front of Emerald on Saturday night. The following morning, on questioning the building security guards, they learnt that the dogs had died, and their bodies had been taken away. Shriya then complained at the Manipal Police Station on 24th June and informed Babita Madhwaraj about the issue, who took up the case and filed an FIR the next day. Assuming the dogs were taken by the Udupi Municipality staff, Babita Madhwaraj duly requested the police to issue a requisition letter to the Deputy District Veterinary Officer to conduct a post mortem immediately after exhumation of the bodies. Further, the complaint states that CCTV footage is unavailable at Mandavi Emerald, as the CCTV connections were reportedly taken down that week.  

Since the filing of the FIR, Babita Madhwaraj has spearheaded the fight to find the perpetrator, making personal attempts to find CCTV footage and posting regular updates on social media. Owing to these efforts, along with the outrage of the community, much media attention has been focused on the case. In the past week, she has appeared on talk shows on two local channels—Namma Kudla and Spandana TV joined by Pritam Adiga and Dr Suhas Bhat respectively, to raise awareness on the case. While some callers on the show expressed their support, a few others criticised her for not speaking up about the abuse of other animals.

The FIR filed at the Manipal police station. 

“The planned, merciless and inhuman poisoning of the eight community dogs is not just illegal, but also completely unacceptable and condemnable! It’s a matter of extreme shame and disgrace for the entire community, and we hope that justice will be served soon. The guilty must be caught and punished”, said Babita Madhwaraj. The Manipal police continue their investigations, but there have been no major updates or breakthroughs.

Image Credits: Babita Madhwaraj.

The Strays of Manipal

The sun breaks through the clouds as Pao rests at the footsteps of the glass building. The sirens blare, and Pao stirs to life. It was time. She runs to the first batch of students coming out of the building. Her efforts for attention aren’t ignored, and she wags her tail excitedly as they pet her. She nudges a pair of jeans incessently until the person in them throws down some biscuits. Life was good.

Surrounded by a student population with an overwhelming love for dogs, the strays within the MIT campus live a relatively good life. Outside these boundaries, however, it is a different story. It’s a struggle for survival and territory that brings these animals into conflict with humans and others of their kind, and it is here that the problems begin. As adored as they might be as a species, large stray dog populations pose a threat to the people living in the area. Apart from the diseases they carry, such as rabies, there have also been instances of dogs attacking people and mauling them to death. Even within this campus that generally has a soft spot for them, complaints about being chased and menaced by the rising number of dogs have been voiced.

Drawn by their love for the animal, humans generally tend to overlook the repercussions caused by the lack of hygiene in them. A study by PLOS in 2015 showed that 1 in 143 Indians had been bitten by a dog at some point in their lives. According to a survey conducted by WHO, India contributes to about 36% of the world’s rabies death count—roughly 20,000 deaths out of an estimated 55,000 globally, every year. Furthermore, a significant portion of it constitutes children below the age of 15.

The stray dog population in India remains to be alarmingly high (Image source: socialcops)

The solution lies in reducing or controlling the population of stray mutts. Communities are often quick to resort to the culling of these dogs to resolve the issue, which is ineffective. Most street roaming dogs in India belong to an ancient canine race of scavengers called the Pariah Dog, which is primarily a territorial animal. They are constantly looking to acquire new territories and food resources. Thus, when one dog is eliminated from its area, other canines around the periphery rush in to occupy that space. So, even humanitarian qualms aside, mass-killing of dogs does not solve the problem.

The most potent method to circumvent the problem at hand is mass sterilisation and immunisation of the dogs. Albeit not a perfect solution on its own, successful sterilisation programmes have left areas rabies-free and thus made the streets safer. This procedure further triggers a chain of positive results. Since these dogs no longer mate, spontaneous fights erupting reduce significantly. This, in turn, reduces the risks of humans getting bitten by dogs, and even if they do, the vaccinations mean that the consequences are less dire. To cite an example, Jaipur has been running successful mass sterilisation/vaccination programmes for more than two decades. Help in Suffering, a charitable trust, kicked off the Animal Birth Control programme in parts of Jaipur in November 1994. An indicator of the NGO’s efficiency was that there were zero incidences of rabies reported in areas that underwent the drive in 2002, in stark contrast to the areas that did not.

We, at The MIT Post, had the opportunity to sit down with Captain’s Animal Care Trust, an organisation that, among other things, runs mass sterilisation drives in Manipal. Founded in 2007, this benevolent and self-funded trust began as a rescue organisation but soon expanded into treating and neutering dogs as well. Since 2013, CACT has had thirteen neutering and treatment programmes, with the first programme alone reaching up to 289 dogs.

The team of Captain’s Animal Care Trust

While curbing the rise of the stray population is of paramount importance, the tools employed in this endeavour have to be sensitively selected, for mass culling is not only unethical but inhumane as well. According to CACT, neutering thus remains the only viable option and has proven effective in controlling the population to an extent.

These techniques, however, do not essentially eradicate the problem. The situation stems from the streets of India that are piled up with garbage. The littered streets function as a source of food and breeding grounds to these dogs. Owing to the lack of public hygiene, India now harbours around 30 million stray mutts.

Stray dogs in a pile of garbage (Image source: permanentwalkabout.com)

CACT’s camps generally last from five to six days, with close to ninety dogs treated every day. Since 2017, they have been a monthly affair barring the monsoons. Dogs from the peripheries and surrounding areas are brought in, along with the strays caught by CACT themselves with the help of a purposed net and van. After being treated at the camp, the dogs’ ears are trimmed and clipped for better identification of neutered dogs. The van goes around the town with five catchers to safely and harmlessly capture the dogs from specific areas and also returns them to the same place after the government mandated three-day observation period.

The net used by the team to catch the puppies for their treatment.

These camps, that cost upwards of two lakh rupees, are a herculean effort by all measures. “We’re all dog lovers here, but that doesn’t mean we ignore the situation at hand. Dogs do not belong on the streets around societies. It’s extremely unsafe for both the dog and the humans residing there,” said Dr Shubhageetha, the brain behind the project, while talking about the necessity of mass sterilisation of dogs. “Inviting strays into your homes is a grave mistake as they are easy carriers of harmful and infectious germs,” she added, insisting that hygiene was of prime importance. As a general note to students, she requested them to avoid adopting dogs off the streets without getting them treated by a veterinarian and do so, only if one can keep up with the permanent responsibility it imposes. She further instructed students to never, under any circumstance, care for a diseased or dying dog themselves. While this might not seem like much, it is imperative that the masses are educated of these nuances as the affection so generously showered could actually be harmful.

The Manipal Homecoming—3rd Global Alumni Convention

The 3rd Global Manipal Alumni Convention kicked off on 14th December 2018, in Manipal. The inaugural function drew a homecoming of students and teachers of various batches to the MIT Quadrangle in the evening. The function followed a day of reliving Manipal, with walks and Marena sessions.

“You can take the person out of Manipal, but not Manipal out of the person,” said Prasanna R Kailaje as he welcomed the gathering, prompting an uproar in appreciation by the audience. While the convention had a registration of 2000 people from around 25 countries, the inaugural ceremony witnessed a turnout of only around 200. Mr Kailaje acknowledged the low number, attributing it to their need to explore the enormous changes the town had undergone.

Dr H Vinod Bhat addressed the gathering, highlighting the various achievements and laurels received by the university over the past few years. After a special mention to the Silver Batch present this year and wishing all those present a jolly reunion, Dr M Vijaya Kini, Associate Director of Alumni Relations, gave the vote of thanks. Various cultural performances came next, followed by a banquet.

“For a person who’s coming back after 10 or 12 years, the places and even the roads seem completely different. We couldn’t make out we were entering Manipal—although all the blocks remain the same, and they bring back all the memories of our stay here. The sports complex is brilliant, and I definitely wish it was present during my day,” said MIT alumnus J S Krishna of the ECE Batch of 1993 and currently a designated examiner at Jet Airways.

“I think its tragic the hostels shut down at 11 now. In our days, we had no curfew, and we connected with all the wardens and caretakers very well. Of course, we were a disciplined lot, but that didn’t stop us from having fun. That has to be my best memory from studying here,” commented Vikram Chandra of the Batch of 1993.

“Do MIT, and you won’t regret it,” said Vasu Rangaswami, another alumnus of the same batch, who currently works in Microsoft, summarising the thoughts of all present.

Two to Tango—Sitting Down with Bryden and Parth

Bryden and Parth are no strangers to rubbing shoulders with the likes of Indian music industry behemoths Aditya Chopra and Raghu Dixit during the course of a regular work day. Despite this, their humility keeps them rooted firmly to the ground, with abundant wisdom to go around. The Post had the opportunity to converse with them about learning the ropes of composing music in Bollywood, rising to YouTube stardom in this day and age, and much more.

Could you tell us how you guys started out as a band?

It’s a long story. So both of us used to play for the Raghu Dixit project, and that’s where we met. We played with that project for five years. We were jamming together for 5 years, and it was the casual jams that happened after the shows that turned into putting out content on YouTube. I mean we obviously discovered at the end of 5 years that there was chemistry when the both of us played, and everyone around us enjoyed the music. So we decided to put out a video on YouTube and that’s pretty much where it started. Something very casual turned into something very serious.  We didn’t have any intention to do this, it was just fun jamming.

Parth and Bryden in a still from a music video, circa 2014.

What was it like working with Raghu Dixit?

Raghu has been in the scene for a while now, and we were very young when we were invited to play with him. It was slightly intimidating, since he was pretty much a pioneer in the indie music scene, and because of the kind of venues he’s played at both in India and internationally as well.  So working with him was a huge learning experience, especially for me, because I come from a Western music background. That said, there were still no compromises in my style of playing. I learned so much along the way, just in terms of how to be a touring artist, and the whole Indian side of music and everything. So it was a huge experience, and for anyone of that age you can just imagine what it would be like.

Seeing as you guys have differing influences, how do you bring them together while making music?

The combination of our styles is very straightforward.  There are no compromises in our style, we don’t try and do what the other person is doing, because we have Parth who is very strong with his Indian music, and he covers that style and sounds with flute even with saxophone and the harmonica. He plays most of the wind instruments. I emulate those sounds through the exotic instruments that I play, like the ukulele, the bouzouki, I really like trying different string instruments.  But the influences are strong you can hear it in the arrangement; I think that’s the strongest area of ours. The arrangement is always Western for the most part. If you come to our live shows—of course YouTube videos tell a very different story—but the live shows are always how we like it and how we want it. It’s a very strong influence of Western music and Indian music.

Seen playing with The Raghu Dixit Project

Tell us about your experience working as music composers in Bollywood.

Commercial work is always restricted because it’s commercial, it’s a pre-planned audience with a pre-planned everything. But at the same time, we had a great time putting out music, because if there’s a script for one song, you’re basically testing five songs around it. So again, we were very young, and we were working with Yash Raj, Aditya Chopra was basically the guy telling us whether the songs were working or not, so it was huge. Raghu was the music director for the film, and we were associate composers.

How much of an influence has your shared love for Hindustani music been in this project?

It’s not an influence as such. Both of us have, in our separate lives, watched every single Bollywood film with our parents, so it comes naturally. We wouldn’t call it an influence, but it was such a huge part of our lives that it comes innately to us, and a lot of people in Bangalore are surprised to see that. Whenever they assume we are giving in to Bollywood, it’s the other way around, it’s part of our blood. That’s why it happens so naturally. Even the covers that we do, we put out the songs that both of us really like, and then we look into how we should arrange them.

These days, most artists can use mediums like SoundCloud to spread their music, but you guys got more famous on YouTube. So why did you choose YouTube? How did you branch out into it?

Because I think both of us figured out that the visual appeal is as strong as the audio. Putting out video content is very important in today’s time especially because the platform is evolving to bring more visual, and of course audio is always there, but YouTube and platforms like Instagram are all very visual. So much so, that you can even mute a video and you’ll have subtitles to it. So you’re basically still consuming content without listening to the audio, but of course, even though the music is always the focus, we also wanted to be visually out there. It’s not the most appealing thing to see the two of us on screen, but it’s nice to be seen on those kinds of platforms especially.

Pictured with the crew of the Bryden and Parth band. Credits: New Indian Express

We see that you have done a lot of cover songs. Do you like doing cover songs or writing original pieces?

Both of those come from an independent background but writing our own music is the most satisfying. While we are buying time by putting out a lot covers and doing a lot of live shows, we’re also writing our album at the same time. That’s going to be an independent album with independent original music, so hopefully by next year, we should have a lot of the original music coming out.

Do you guys give emphasis to writing lyrics, or do you prefer that the instruments do the talking?

Always the melody first. The only way I think, is through a melody. I don’t think writing lyrics is our strongest point, but Bryden comes from a background where he’s focused a lot on arrangement, and he’s also the lead guitarist. Composing the music first comes very naturally to us. I think our vocabulary has to reach a certain maturity to draw inspiration for lyrics, because both of us don’t read much, so the lyrical angle is always secondary. But you never know, while the album is progressing, we may work the other way around as well.

You’ve been voted Best Metal Guitarist by Rolling Stone. So can you tell us what, to you, makes a good guitarist?

Someone who practises, someone who makes space for his part in a song, because I feel a lot of people lose out because they overplay or underplay. Your musicianship needs to mature in a way that you can portray yourself. So for me, it’s not like fast playing or extremely peaceful, I feel it’s doing something at the right moment. And it shows, you know, as a musician grows, you can hear it when they play. But I’m not the type who says less is more, I feel like if you can play fast then you may as well do it right, but you’ve got to do it right, there should be a lot of musicality involved in it.

So I don’t think as a guitarist at all, I only think as a producer. Back then I didn’t know but clearly I was more inclined towards producing, like I looked at the overall song. And if I have to break it down to a solo, I like putting a song within a song. It’s because of the way I grew up with musicians around me, even simple songs by bands like Iron Maiden, you can sing their solos, and I’m a very melodic player. I mean those are my influences – bands like Europe, Earthquake, Maiden, I’m not the Metallica type.

Featured image credits: Deccan Chronicle




Spoonful of Blues—Impressions by Chords & Co

The MIT Quadrangle has witnessed a multitude of band performances over the years, always radiating an aura of merriment and gaiety. Adding to this growing list, Shorthand, a Delhi-based free genre band, rocked the stage on 11 September 2018 as part of ‘Impressions’, a music fest organised by Chords and Co. An enthusiastic, albeit small, crowd cheered on as the band performed through the night.

Credits: The Photography Club

The half-hour delay gave rise to some irksome response. However, it all subdued once the bands went on stage. The event kicked off with a performance by an in-house band, Half Light. Last Minute, another band from MIT, went on next. Both these bands succeeded in getting the audience grooving to their tunes and set the standard high for the night.

Credits: The Photography Club

Next came the pièce de résistance: Shorthand. Starting off with a few of their originals, Shorthand displayed impeccable stage control, managing to capture and retain everyone’s attention all through the night. Covers of popular songs by Jimi Hendrix, The Snarky Puppy, and Masakalli (from the movie Delhi 6) among others, received loud cheers and had the audience busting moves. Sreya Muthukumar, the lead singer, constantly interacted with the crowd with her velvety voice and wooed everyone present. Their two-hour long set encapsulated various genres from blues and jazz to progressive rock, thus catering to a wide array of tastes.

Credits: The Photography Club

Impressions housed various other fun activities such as a photo booth and a creative way to find your ‘song partner’. Students gravitated towards the photo booth, set in collaboration with The Photography Club, Manipal, making it a popular attraction. Blessed with a clear sky, the event provided students with a well-deserved break after gruelling weeks of sessionals and assignments.

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death—Sitting Down with Tenzin Tsundue

Tenzin Tsundue is a Tibetan writer and activist. The author of four books of poetry and stories, he won the first ever Picador-Outlook Non-Fiction Contest in 2002. He is now working on his fifth book, a book of Tibetan refugee stories. During his visit to Manipal for MILAP cultural events, he mesmerised the audience with his poems and radical views. After his panel, we got an opportunity to sit down with him.

As you have mentioned before, you identify yourself as an activist before a writer. So could you talk about your early life and the factors that pushed you into pursuing writing in the midst of the struggle?

It started at school. Ours was a very small school, called Tibetian Children’s Village Pathlikuhl. It’s in Kudu Valley, on the banks of river Beas. It was a tiny school with about 250 kids. It was wooden planks nailed together onto one wooden pillar, with a tin sheet on top. It becomes classrooms during the daytime and dormitories at night. In that school, I think my first education was that although we are born in India, and this is the only country we’ve ever known, this is not a country we belong to. We’ve been told that we were all Tibetans and eventually we’ll have to go back. And that’s shocking to me as a stubborn little boy. Suddenly the ground underneath your feet is shattering. My identity was questioned. The teachers would tell us about the ongoing freedom struggle and that we’d one day go back to our country.

It was our duty to take part in this struggle, and we were so enthusiastic about it that we’d think if we didn’t grow up fast enough, the teachers would complete this struggle for us. So we read about Bhagat Singh, Subash Chandra Bose, Gandhi among others. They were our heroes. As a confused 5th grade child I went up to my teacher, asking her what can a little boy do. My teacher said, you seem to be asking questions, and see things clearly. Why don’t you become a journalist? Write about Tibet, in English and let the world know about us. Get them to help our cause. So in 5th standard, I took a pledge: when I grew up, I’d be a freedom fighter and my weapon would be a pen.

In your poem, A Personal Reconnaissance, you talk about your journey to Tibet and the subsequent freedom struggle. What was the journey like, to walk The Himalayas by foot and the events that unfurled?

Staying in India the most I could do was protest and shout slogans. It doesn’t amount to any freedom struggle. There was no romance in it; there wasn’t a solution. This made me want to go to Tibet and fight the struggle on the ground. Even if I get killed, it would be for the freedom of my country and inspire more people to eventually stand up. So I went to Ladhak after my graduation and taught for a year while secretly finding ways to get into Tibet. When I actually did in March 1997, I was to meet some Tibetans on the other side of the border. However, when I crossed the border, they weren’t there. Not wanting to return, I kept pushing myself deeper into Tibet, and I got lost. It’s 4000 m above sea level, not a single human being in sight and a cold desert. It’s dry rocky mountains and plains with just rocks and dry grass. No water, no food and no human contact. At night, everything gets frozen. The entire Indus river is frozen into a giant ice-snake.

For five days I was lost in the mountains, my lips were cracked from bleeding. On the 5th day, I got arrested by border security, and they blindfolded me and subjected me to several interrogations. I was thrown into jail and was repeatedly questioned if I was sent by the government of India on a spy mission. They couldn’t believe that a young, educated man went there on his own. After weeks of torture and thrashings, I was taken to a jail in Lhasa. Hope for getting out dwindled with each day. I was helpless and vulnerable. Half-remembered Tibetan prayers and Bollywood songs like Suhaana Safar Hai kept me going each day while also admiring my first growth of moustache in the dingy window glasses. After a few gruelling weeks, I was “pushed back” into India where I was questioned for my sanity, again.

How important do you think it is for an individual to have a unique definite cultural identity? You are Tibetian, raised in Bengaluru, then moved to Dharamshala, and have travelled all across India. You were exposed to a plethora of languages and cultures and lifestyles. How would you describe your cultural identity, because the confusion regarding this seems to be a recurring pattern in your work?

Culture is everywhere. The way people behave, eat think and talk is culture. There’s traditional culture; there’s spiritual culture. Some of them are our homes, our roots. Being very emotional about my homeland Tibet: beyond the Himalayas, on the mountains, having nine months of winter and cut out from the rest of the world with majority Buddhism, it created a unique mentality. Hardy strong while equally compassionate. I believe there is a Tibetian mind which helps you deal with your happiness and your mistakes. Tibetan religion and culture come about with a basic ethos of dealing with happiness and sadness together with equanimity. However, there is a consistent effort from China to destroy this culture, so that everybody becomes consumers like them. Therefore I am extra emotional about my religion and culture because this is being systematically destroyed.

In your article, “Tibet: A Room for Hope?”, you said, “As an activist, I try Gandhi. Dalai Lama is too complicated. I keep my Guru at heart but work with Gandhi.” Could you elaborate on what you mean by this?

I’m a very practical man. I practice Buddhism; although I don’t follow rituals, I am a Buddhist at heart. I find Gandhi’s confrontational non-violence more practical, than Dalai Lama’s self-effacing forgiving and forgoing behaviour and compassion to the point that you would give up your rights for others, for example, his practice of seeking autonomy within China. At the same time, I love and respect His Holiness Dalai Lama so much, because I think he’s going beyond the individual desire. I am caught into the nationalistic fervour, and he goes beyond that. However, I cannot pretend and follow something I don’t believe in.

Tibetian politics and religion are deeply intertwined. What are your views on this blend?

I would like to say Tibetans are confrontationally compassionate. Even though we aren’t physically fighting China with weapons and violence, we are spiritually putting up the best fight. The beauty of this spiritual struggle is that it guarantees your survival and without provoking the other, you are assuaging and instilling a sense of kind and compassion in them. I think our practice of non-violence has not only guaranteed the survival of our religion and culture; it has given us a great sense of purpose in life and a hope for a future. This practice truly is the religion we stand for, and that is our identity

What does freedom essentially mean to you? How far are we from it?

Freedom for me is not just kicking the Chinese out. It’s a human society; there will be a cycle of violence and injustice. Once we regain control over Tibet, there’s a lot of work to be done to decolonize. Many mechanisms in the functioning of the government have to be optimised. But I believe with a constant fight, we will achieve everything our land deserves.

When the Levee Breaks—Manipal Does its Part for Kerala

The late Atal Bihari Vajpayee once said, “I would like that no citizen of the state feels alone and helpless. The entire nation is with them“.

Despite the lack of coverage by mainstream media towards the distress in Kerala and Kodagu due to heavy flooding, the people of Manipal have come together to lend a hand in this time of crisis.

Among the many donation drives organised all over the town, students from various institutes of Manipal Academy of Higher Education came together on 17th August and started a collection centre at KMC Food Court. A group based in Mysore was contacted, that will later be transporting the collected goods via tempos and distributing them in relief centres all over Kerala. Besides this, booths had also been set up at all MAHE institutions, as well as at the local masjid. Collection points were also set up at the School of Communication, St. Joseph’s Church, and the MIT Student Plaza—among other places—on Saturday, the 18th of August, between 9-10:30 a.m.

Efforts in full swing to ship off supplies at KMC, Manipal.

Justin Varghese, a student of SOAHS, emphasised on focussing more on helping in kind, by sending essential materials rather than collecting funds. They succeeded in obtaining a multitude of non-perishable items and hope to play their tiny role in helping our neighbours.  Within two hours of setting up the collection centres, the organisers had to start declining donations, due to having more supplies than they had the means to transport.

If you wish to contribute and help the cause, there are ongoing efforts in Manipal that can enable you to do so. Another collection drive will also be held on the 20th of August. The following are contact numbers regarding the drives in Manipal: 9207173045 and 8296374434

Besides this, one can also send monetary assistance online by using Tez, BHIM, or other UPI apps through the Kerala Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund. For more information, please visit http://keralarescue.in.

One-Stop Pit-Shop—SAE Manipal’s Garage Hunt

Over the years, SAE Manipal has made its mark with their trademark technical events. The team constantly aims to bring in a fresh new outlook to the club. SAE has already made steady headway with its first non-technical eventGarage Hunt.

The first round, held on the 10th of August had the contestants engage in a treasure-hunt mission. Clues were dispersed all over the campus, each leading to the next and had the contestants frolicking for hours. The riddles were witty and focussed on the locations on campus rather than automobiles, making the hunt more jovial.
Out of the seven teams, each consisting of two participants, five teams proceeded to the second round conducted the following day.

On 11th, the second and final round of Garage Hunt ensued. Following the pattern of a treasure hunt from the previous round, the participants had to solve riddles to find the locations and further decipher and identify prototypes of automobile parts located in the said location. On returning, the teams received the elements they correctly identified and embarked on a mission to assemble a car using these parts made out of cardboard. Aiding materials such as sticks and glues were provided, along with constant guidance from the organizers.

“Although exhausting, the contest was really fun-filled. The riddles were smart and got me racking my brain. I’d take part in more such events!”, said Yash Maheshwari, a 2nd-year student, on being asked about his experience.

Shivam Aggarwal, President of SAE, and Nitesh Kedia, the General Secretary of the club emphasized on building a stronger member base by conducting more such events. While talking about future endeavours, they also mentioned how low resources make the technical events repetitive and yield lesser turnout. The organizers conveyed their satisfaction with the result despite the risk taken with this competition, and hope to have many more exciting events.