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Changing Times – Presidency University Bids Adieu to its Legacy of Graffiti on Walls

Presidency University is losing an integral part of its culture-the expression of opinion through graffiti on walls.

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Presidency College, Kolkata. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The Hindu College was established in 1817 in the city of Calcutta. It is much later that it came to be known as Presidency College and then, Presidency University. Presidency served as alma mater to Sukumar Ray, Subhas Chandra Bose, Satyajit Ray, Amartya Sen and many more stalwart figures. Derozio himself, had taught in Presidency(then known as Hindu College). Derozio’s disposition  towards his students was clearly manifested in his poem, “A Sonnet to the Pupils of Hindu College,” where he wrote:

“What joyance rains upon me, when I see

Fame in the mirror of futurity

Wearing the chaplets you are yet to gain

And then I feel I have not lived in vain”

Thus, Presidency was a force to be reckoned with in every sense of the term.

But when we stepped into the campus, years later, that zest for life and hunger for truth, the kind of education that was imparted by Derozio was on the verge of ebbing away. The Derozians could no longer take part in anything bigger than the academic scheme of things for they would be debarred from sitting for the examination. The legacy of protests and uninhibited opinions had come to a standstill. No matter how hard they tried, they could not break free. No more of Ray’s Non-sense Club or Bose’s undying spirit would be reborn there.

Our seniors would tell us, “How would you understand? You haven’t quite seen the Presidency we have!” We use to laugh at that but we knew something was missing.

Our teachers, especially, the ones who had once been the students of Presidency and now, served as professors, would tell us in a nostalgic moment, “What we experienced in Presidency was nowhere even near to what you are seeing”.

Indeed, we were missing out on a lot.

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The graffiti on the walls of Union Room manifests the democratic spirit of the University.

However, the walls still could talk to us. Their graffiti was still staring back at us. They still bore witness to the legacy of the past and were in no way forgetting it. They still remained vocal about their protest against AFSPA, against constant vigilance and their demand for student’s union election. But, for how long?

Little did they know that soon they would be covered in the facades of an utterly modern life.  Their voices would be silenced and put into a lifelong slumber. We had a little bit of art and love left inside Presidency and that too, would get drained.

Another graffiti.
Another graffiti.

No more Buddha, no more of that impeccable telephone. No more would the walls scream out, demanding what is rightfully theirs.

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When all of this havoc was reeking on us, a friend decided to capture the remnants and preserve it by capturing the beautiful wall art in her camera. If Buddha was gone, how long would others last? It was a novel initiative on her part, a way to hold on to something before it was gone forever,  but it never should have come to that.

The walls after being renovated.
The walls after being renovated.

On our 199th year, we are being forced to say goodbye to our legacy of graffiti on walls.

-by Atreyee Sengupta, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: Etrui14

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The Wrath Of Amphan Cyclone In India

Cyclone Amphan exposes Eastern India; Odisha and West Bengal to serious damage and devastation

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Amphan Cyclone
A satellite view of Cyclone Amphan on May 19, 2020. PC: Weathernerds.org

BY Varuni Trivedi
Odisha and West Bengal were left in shambles as Cyclone Amphan left only doom and devastation behind. Torrential rains and winds gusting up to 185 kph on Wednesday, affected 4.5 million people across 1,500 villages in Odisha, and claimed the lives of 72 people in West Bengal leaving many homeless and devastated.

Both the states suffered widespread destruction of homes, crops, and infrastructure. Many people were crushed by falling trees and electrocuted by power lines. Horrific images of destruction came from both states showing uprooted trees and electricity poles catching fire. Amidst a global pandemic that had already taken a toll on people the ‘normal life’ in these states is paralyzed for millions. Both Orissa and West Bengal currently lay in the aftermath of a destructive cyclone for which they weren’t prepared.

The worst-hit in this scenario are the small scale industries and infrastructure which wiped out leaving lakhs of people homeless. It devastated coastal villages knocking down mud houses and temporary shelters and flooding many areas. In the WB capital Kolkata, the streets are still flooded while phone and internet services have still not been restored completely. Officials say that the extent of destruction caused is yet to be determined. The loss of dwellings and crops, which has struck people amid two months of a nationwide lockdown that has left millions of Indians without an income and in a terrible shock.

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People struggling to get past an uprooted tree struck by Aphan cyclone. PC: IndianExpress

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee said she was “shocked” to see such a massive disaster. She further stated that she had never seen anything like this before and the cyclone is worse than the coronavirus. She stressed the cyclone’s “unexpected scale” and has urged great support from the center. Today PM Modi along with CM Banerjee took an aerial survey of the cyclone areas.

The Prime Minister has assured all sorts of assistance to West Bengal and will be ensuring that the relief money is credited directly to the account of the beneficiaries. PM Modi conducted an aerial survey of areas affected by Cyclone Amphan in Odisha as well, accompanied by CM Naveen Patnaik and Guv Ganeshi Lal. Financial assistance of Rs 500 Cr has been announced for the state. Ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh to next of kin of deceased whereas Rs 50,000 to seriously injured has also been announced.

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PM Modi along with West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee in an aerial survey of Cyclone hit areas. PC: PTI

The eastern coastal States during the storm season every year face the wrath of nature as the unpreparedness of the states exposes the citizens to these calamities. The cyclone’s disastrous effects were anticipated, but even with reliable forecasts and preparatory moves by the National and State Disaster Response Force units, the impact was devastating and catastrophic. The loss of life and damage to livelihoods is still significantly irreparable in many parts.

Also Read: ICC Publishes Guidelines for Safe Resumption of Cricket

This has become an even more challenging situation as the nation is amid a lockdown and faces serious issues battling the COVID-19 Pandemic. Whereas it can be said that the battle against the virus may yet be won sooner or later, India must strengthen its disaster management especially in areas like Orissa and West Bengal which experience the wrath of such natural calamities almost every year. For a never-ending cycle of storms along its coastline, India needs better preparedness so that livelihood of people may be protected if not saved completely.

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Pandemic, Pandemonium and Booze 

Lockdown 3.0 sees long queues as liquor shops across the nation open

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People queue up to get alcohol amid lockdown across the country, Pixabay

By Varuni Trivedi

Monday, saw a nationwide brawl and chaos as the government relaxed the stringent lockdown. Serpentine queues outside liquor shops were a common sight as men and women flocked to stock up on booze amidst the third phase of lockdown. While the central government has issued clear guidelines on social distancing, it was adhered to in some places while others saw complete chaos. Some states have reported a high excise earning as the liquor sales soared high after relaxations.

As the Delhi government on Sunday announced implementing the latest lockdown relaxations suggested by Union Ministry of Home Affairs around 150 liquor shops located outside the coronavirus containment zones opened on Monday. To get their hands on booze people flouted social distancing norms, a liquor shop in New Delhi’s Malviya Nagar saw more than a hundred people lined up,  the Police were called to take charge of the situation. Many other cities saw a similar scenario, people had gathered outside shops as early as 6 am in the morning. In some places the situation got out of control and shops were shut by the owners before the set time. However, the sale of liquor in malls, restaurants and permit rooms is still prohibited across the nation during lockdown 3.0.

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Liquor sales soared on Monday amidst lockdown relaxation. Pixabay

Social distancing went down the gutters in Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Kolkata too as people were seen in queues as long as 1 to 2kms outside liquor shops. In some cities, the Police had to resort to mild lathi-charge in order to get a hold of the situation. However, interestingly enough at some shops in Bengaluru staffers were seen thermal screening the customers in fear of COVID-19 spread. In UP’s Mirzapur a shopkeeper was seen showering petals on his customer.

According to the excise department Uttar Pradesh recorded a sale of over 100 crores on Monday itself, the Principal Secretary, Excise, Sanjay Bhoosreddy said: “I don’t think there would be any single industry with just less than one lakh workforce that gives ₹100 crore revenue (to the state exchequer) in a day”. Likewise, Karnataka’s excise department released a statement estimating the value of liquor sales on the first day to be around 450 million rupees. Mahasamund district’s women in Chhattisgarh staged a protest against the liquor shops opening condemning the government’s decision. Other places however saw a considerable number of women outside liquor shops. 

Also Read: Celebrities Across Country Question the Decision to Open Liquor Shops

The country saw a bittersweet situation where on one side the uncontainable happiness on the faces of customers was unmatchable while on the other side social distancing norms were flouted and the Police faced a tough time in managing the crowds. A lot of places witnessed utter chaos which led the owners to shut down the shops before time.

 

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Foodies Must Try These Dishes from the Streets of Kolkata

Here are 5 must try dishes from the streets of Kolkata

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Foodies Kolkata
Here are the dishes from the streets of Kolkata that foodies would not want to miss. Wikimedia Commons

BY PUJA GUPTA

When you think about Bengali food, you will have a veritable carnival of sweet treats and seafood dishes parading through your mind. While roaming the streets of Kolkata, you will drool at all the delicacies; thats the Kolkata street food scene for you. Every true Bengali food lover has their recommendations or will suggest some must-try street food. But there are a few places which foodies agree you have to try!

Chef Ananya Banerjee, the owner of LAB studio, who hails from West Bengal, lists the top five must-try food items from the streets of Kolkata:

(1) Kathi-roll:The Kathi-roll of Bengal is a famous Mughlai influenced dish. The dish comprises of mutton and chicken rolls, spiced with fresh lemon juice, finely chopped green chilies, red onions and salt and is served as a roll in an egg paratha. Simply mouth-watering!

(2) Jhal Muri: This Bengali take on Chaat, distinguishes itself with the use of mustard oil or paste. This pungent treat is a must-have for a tete-a-tete over tea!

(3) Kobiraji Cutlet: “Kobiraji”, is a juicy cutlet, usually made with prawn coated with a lacy fried egg on outside. “When I was young, I remember going down to the Shyam Bazar- crossing for evening walks with my grandfather. After our walk, we would regularly eat prawn- Kobiraji from a food stall called Allen’s Kitchen. This tiny place has been serving the delicacy for more than 80 years,” says Banerjee.

Jhal muri
Jhal Muri is a Bengali chat that is loved by all foodies. Wikimedia Commons

(4) Moghlai Porota: This is surely not for the faint-hearted! It’s a flaky, crispy porota (parantha) stuffed with mutton mince and eggs. Have one and it will keep your tummy full for the rest of the day! The Anadi-Cabin, a restaurant on Dharmatala streets in Kolkata, is one of the pioneers in making “Mughlai-porota”.

Also Read- The Best Destinations for a Perfect Travel Experience

(5) Macher Chop: Among the many influences that the British gave us in their 200-year reign, the “chop” preparation is very popular. You go anywhere in the world, the word “chop” usually means “cut-of-a-meat”. However, in Bengal, it typically means fish, meat or vegetables, crumb-fried. You will typically get a whiff of that appetizing aroma, from the local roadside snack counters every evening around 5 pm.

It’s barely a preface into the sheer delights Bengali cuisine has to offer, but this must-try is enough to get you hooked! (IANS)