Bangalore, India

Takedown 2020

Takedown Winners

Lockdown Videos by Annie Louis (3rd EJP)

A plethora of things happened after the world was hit by the pandemic. Now i don’t know if it
was an honest chinese whisper that let out the virus or the country actually reared this very
self-aware virus and let it out to the world on it’s own. Well not to worry about the virus,
he/she/they found their very own homes in the human lung system and are thriving with
grand and great grandchildren. So the virus is well rested and content.

It might be fair to talk about the hardships of the migrant workers, protesters getting arrested
and the war that keeps getting postponed between India and China but who wants fair when
interesting things lurk around our search engines. Please don’t be mistaken I am not
referring to Donald Trump’s hiccup-y tweets, presenting to you- The news of the year
celebrities washing dishes. (round of applause)

Hello guys, welcome to this session of analysing Katrina Kaif’s method of washing dishes.
Is her method right or wrong? (kindly request you to read this sentence like a certain
someone for nobody-asked-for dramatic effects.)

What is the magic liquid in her possession that helps this mind blowing episode of washing
bartan. (kindly engage in the same tone of reading)

The readers of this piece are free to be creative and think of more tan-da-tan headlines.
(The background music is expected to play until asked to alter the tune or stop.)

Now let’s get our facts right, on 23rd march Bollywood actress who dances fluently but
refrains to act in her films Ms.Katrina Kaif used her instagram account to share her bartan
washing super technique to her humble followers. She said that this was a tutorial for herself
as well as those who forget the steps to be followed while washing bartan.

I am very eager to get into the intricate mind of this bollywood not-actress and understand
what she priorly thought as washing bartan meant. I know the title washing bartan is kind of
a give away but, did she think that the process was washing the sink instead of the dishes?
Or that we were trying to scrub the plate away from the soap. I will be updating once I get
access to this information.

I am sorry to interrupt but my mother has a question, did she have a full time house help
which means there were people to wash her dinner plates also? According to my mother’s
cockroach and other jeevis theory, never leave utensils in the sink overnight, otherwise you
are in bed with the rising number of cockroaches and other jeevis late-night parties. This
needs to be interrogated.

This is an objective platform to raise opinions but it will be cruel if I do not point out the fact
that her dishes were floating around in the sink clean, is she telling us that she chumma
dumped vessels into a sink full of water or that she doesn't use masala in her food.
Turmeric stains are never deceptive unlike Ms.Katrina washing her unclean/clean dishes.

Various aunties in my building have raised a complaint that the centuries old bartan washing
technique has been misrepresented and Ms.Katrina has put up this idea without giving them
their due credits. Most of the building aunties are on instagram, and was deeply
disappointed in the stealing of this sequential bartan washing technique.

Mrs. I am too good said, “All she had to do was tag us on instagram, I mean how hard is it
yaar to find me?” Mrs. Nosy aunty completely agreed to this statement by her co-building
member and close friend.

Time to enter our common sense section, did Ms.Katrina really think that while people
engage in this wholesome experience of bartan washing that the individual lathers and
washes two sinks full of vessels one by one? Please send in your answers to this mail id by 12.

See you all next week with part two of analysing Ms.Katrina Kaif’s bartan washing video.
Don’t forget to send in your answers. The best answers will be featured in our next episode
and a free coupon to the Honorable Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s talk show
“Actually the country’s GDP is not plunging” will be provided.

(no) Love In The Time of Corona by Saran Sibu (1st EMS)

The worst thing that the pandemic caused was the millions of deaths globally. The next worst thing is
Modi’s pandemic messages. Those messages make me want to believe that he has a ghost-writer. All
talk and no action. I think they were meant to provide hope and strength to the crores who’ve been
affected by the pandemic and the lockdown that followed, but it only brought clarity to the fact that Mr.
Modi has no clue about what he’s doing at the helm of India.

The Janata Curfew which was a precursor to the complete lockdown in the country, brought out the
creative side of Mr. Modi. Assembling in the balconies to bang vessels, ring bells and clap hands, the
citizens of India obliged to the PM’s desire to showcase solidarity with the medical professionals who
are at the frontline of the pandemic. Instead of compensating the health workers for their meritorious
labor, increasing safety measures and providing better assistance and compliance, Mr. Modi
orchestrated a dramatic act of noise pollution and utensil abuse.

Lighting candles for nine minutes is further vindication of Mr. Modi’s penchant for theatrics. Instead of
taking firm action to safeguard the citizens and the crumbling economy, he urges the citizens to partake
in meaningless displays.

Both ideas, borrowed from other countries (in his defense, there were not Copyrighted) didn’t serve any
inherent purpose than to prove that Mr. Modi is a talented vote-getter, but an inefficient leader. The
country asks for tax-rebates and improved testing measures, Mr. Modi continues his magnanimous
gestures. Another day in India.


Lockdown Videos by Suhasini (1st JIP)

Enter stage right. They’re an actor. But not just an actor. They’re also an activist, a social media
influencer, and a mental health ambassador. Young, but not too young. Vacations in
Ibiza, and pronounces it the right way. Probably given multiple Filmfare Awards or Teen Choice
Awards in their career. Definitely endorses weight loss tea and hair growth candy. Their
Instagram feed is carefully curated, an art gallery for their tens of millions of followers. Sunsets
and brunches and sleek looking corridors and expensive night clubs. But also unfiltered selfies
and movie nights with friends and cooking disasters. Because they’re real people. Real. People.
Now, wait for the applause. Take a bow. Let the curtains fall. No, open them back again.
Everyone’s still watching. Be raw. Be authentic. They’re going to pretend they’re not pretending,
and you’re going to pretend you don’t know they’re not pretending, and everyone’s going to
write articles about how this is not pretend. Standing ovation. Everybody’s laughing and crying
and this real life. Real. Life.

Enter stage left. This is you, but not every day you, weary three-months-into-a-pandemic-you.
The world is pre-post-apocalyptic. The economy is a house of cards. Your future flickers like an
old lightbulb. You haven’t seen anyone but your parents in weeks. Your Zoom calls keep
freezing every other second. You can’t read the news; the numbers only go higher. You’re slowly
losing your mind (you put that on Instagram.) You’re talking to the walls (you put that too.) You
haven’t washed your hair in three weeks (you don’t put that.) You walk around aimlessly at 3 am,
eating uncooked Maggi in the darkness (you don’t put that either.) You’re hopeless, searching for
meaning, and looking for it in Tik Tok Challenges. But it’s gone now, you have to move on.

A ray of hope is what everyone needs.

Presenting: Celebrity Workout Videos. The sky has cleared, and it’s a whole new day. We must
take care of ourselves during these times. We need to keep fit, carry on. We’re all trying to do
our best. Did you know exercise releases endorphins? They’re going to not only help fight our
anxieties but boost our immune system. This is what they think they’re saying. LOOK AT ME,
is what they’re saying. Look at me as I live in this big house. Look at me handling this pandemic
gracefully even though my circumstances haven’t changed all much. Look at me, I’m still rich.
Look at my shiny skin, and yes, thanks for asking, that is sweat. Organic sweat. I don’t actually
know how hard this lockdown is, God no, can you imagine? But I’m going to show you my
exercise routine with no equipment because the fact that I also can’t go to the gym makes me
relatable. Ha, don’t I remind you of you? Of course, I do. Now, double-tap to like the video.  
There was maybe a handful when you went to sleep. When you wake up at 2 pm the next day,
there are more video clips than all the fingers and toes you have. A single SARS-CoV-2 particle
has sharp teeth-like spikes that attach itself to a protein on the cell body. Quickly, because this is
a hostage situation, it takes control of the cell to use its RNA to produce more copies of the
virus. In a few hours, a single cell can manufacture thousands and thousands of copies. (This is
just some need-to-know information. This has nothing to do with lockdown workout videos.
Nothing at all. So, moving on.)

Let’s say you’re an optimist and generally believe in the world and in yourself (if you’re a
pessimist, none of the rules apply.) You say, why not? If they can do it, so can I. How hard can it
be? This can be your inspiration, your moment. This is your time to shine. Never mind that the
only “productive” thing you’ve done is water your plants. That you’ve watched Netflix’s library
of trashy rom-coms and that you’re watching Gossip Girl for the third time this month. You
want to look like Blair Waldorf in a world of Blair Waldorfs and Serena van der Woodsens. It
doesn’t matter that you change hobbies every two days and never follow through with any of
them. Or that you haven’t read a book since last year. They tell you trying is what matters. You
need to make time for the important things in your life. Change beings when you decide. So, you
decide. You Are A Changed Person. You’re going to improve your core strength, build muscle,
improve stamina, and learn what hamstrings are. Yes, you are. Chole Ting’s workout playlist:
saved. Ad: skipped. Video: playing.

It lasts three days. You’re aching everywhere. You’re a commercial for Volini, and you can see all
the strained muscles in your bed marked in red. It was rewarding for two days, the heaving and
the panting, and the increased heart rhythm. You decide, as you lie awake in pain, it’s not worth
it. Celebrities don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re just flaunting their privilege in all of
your faces. You know so many people who’ve lost their jobs because of the lockdown. There are
actual people actually struggling with the actual virus invading their bodies. This is unacceptable.
They need to step up and realize that they live in a bubble. They need to acknowledge their
wealth and luxury and speak up for those who can’t speak up for themselves. Whether you

choose to believe this revelation was inspired by reality or as a way of combating your
inadequacies, it’s up to you—dealer’s choice.

Maybe someone brings them back to down to earth. Maybe they don’t. If they realize they’re
spending too much time on social media and need to disconnect more and enjoy what life really
has to offer, they’re going to make a post about it on Instagram. If they don’t, they’re still going
to post something, and you’re going to like it, and the world will continue to spin on its axis. But
even you’ll skip over the workout videos. Oh, look at all these dance challenges people are doing.
Maybe, you’ll participate too.

Exit stage left.

An Honest Review Of Viral Lockdown Videos by Naina Mary Sebastian (1st EJP-B)

How To Make The Perfect Dalgona Coffee With Just 3 Ingredients! (2020)
Rating: 2/5

This video made me furious. Look at the title, what do you think? “Hey, an easy recipe, let’s try
it out!” Well, what these people don’t tell you is that you have to whip the coffee for half an
eternity to get it to look even remotely like it does in their artsy Instagram photos. And
honestly? It tastes like the kind of thing you’d give to reticent prisoners to get them to spit out
their secrets (along with the coffee, of course). Also, whipped coffee has been around for
decades. You didn’t invent it. Get over yourself, please.
Pro Tip: To anyone brave enough to try this recipe, keep a tissue handy to wipe your inevitable
tears of frustration so that they don’t fall into the disgusting brown goop.

The Savage Dance (2020)
Rating: 2.5/5

Okay, if I’m being absolutely honest, this video dropped half a point because I, like thousands of
people out there, cannot, for the life of me, THROW IT BACK. What is this mystifying dance
move that seemingly comes to everyone so easily and why do I look like a camel while doing it?
Personal grudges aside, if anyone sees this video once more on their Instagram feeds, I’m
pretty sure they’ll throw up. Hearing the opening beats of the song has been proven to cause
sweating, bile rising in the back of the throat, migraines and an overwhelming sense of panic.
And come on, do you really expect us to believe all of y’all are classy, bougie, ratchet? Do you
even know what ratchet means? Google it, you might be surprised.
Pro Tip: Please don’t stick your tongue out. It’s 2020, there’s a pandemic raging, keep your
germs to yourself.

I Cut My Own Bangs! (And You Can Too) 5 EASY STEPS (2020)
Rating: -2/5

Come on, you’ve seen these right? The YouTube video with a gorgeous blonde on the
thumbnail who has these perfect bangs that make her look like something on the cover of
Vogue Paris. She has a half smile that says “watch my video and you can look like me, or ignore
me and keep looking like the dregs of fashion.” Well, she should be sued for fraudulent
marketing. Cutting your own bangs is not easy and it definitely does NOT make you look like
Zooey Deschanel (DIY Salon, I’m looking at you). I sympathise with all the victims of this SCAM,
because I, too am one of them. I still have no idea what the steps in the video are supposed to
be, but here are the five stages I went through while following one of these horrible tutorials.

Stage 1: Absolute confidence as I gather my supplies- a comb, a pair of scissors, wait, did she
just say flat iron? Apprehension begins to set in.
Stage 2: How do I make a triangle? How is hers so even? WAIT.
Stage 4: Oh my God! What have I done? I was supposed to look like an actress not a mildly
poisonous lizard!
Stage 5: Cries in a corner as I contemplate the absolute annihilation of my social life and
whatever shreds of attractiveness I had.


Mann ki Baat by Shaivik Shetty (3rd CPE)

‘Mann ki baat’? More like ‘Monkey baat’. Every now and then our honourable Prime minister takes
time out of his busy schedule of feeding peacocks, taking yoga sessions and attending auspicious
inaugurations to address the people of the country. Over the last few months he has taken to
national television a number of times to reassure the public he plans to do nothing about their

He’s that person who sees the hand of a drowning person frantically waving for help and goes and
high fives them. In his initial speeches he suggested some break thorough measures to tackle the
pandemic like banging utensils and lighting diyas. It’s like he takes advice from a DJ in a crowded

“Doctors are in severe need of funds PPE kits, and medical equipment”

Modi: what should I do

DJ Advisor: Make some Noise!!

“Dark days ahead as pandemic spreads ”

Modi: how to ward of corona

DJ: its lit!!

Either that or he thinks corona virus is some jungle animal who will be scared off by lots of noise
and light.

He is also known for using big flowery words in his speeches which almost no one understands. If
people are too distracted by how he speaks they’ll forget what he speaks about. The only good
thing is he speaks so slowly there’s enough time to google each word in between. His push to be
more Atmanirbhar must be why he is growing a beard, the clippers were made in China.
He probably never learnt about integers as a child, therefore he doesn’t understand the little dash
next to the GDP means minus. We should be honoured though, Modi ji wanted to participate in
takedown as well, but instead of taking down the prompts he took down the economy.


Special Mentions

A letter to my best friend by Krishnaa Nair (1st JIP)

Dear Arundhati,

I hope you’re doing well. It has been a while since we have spoken; 4 years, 6 months and 28 days to be
exact. I heard about your promotion recently, congratulations on that. I have tried multiple times to
write to you, and failed. It is quite daunting to reach out, not knowing whether you will respond. But I
have a few things to get off my chest.

We met when we were 5 years old and were best friends for the longest time. When you asked to sit on
the see-saw with me, at that time, I could not have imagined what would follow and what it would lead
to. You were my only friend for the longest time and no one else mattered to me. Being glued to your
side for more than a decade, growing up with you and facing life together was the best journey of my

Our first day of school, we walked in together, with pigtails, backpacks bigger than our bodies and
matching scrunchies on our arms. We sat on the last bench, judging everyone in the class, not having a
care in the world. We used to walk back home together and spend most of our time at each others’
houses. We built forts made of pillows; we used to play house-house and I was always the husband. We
used to dress like our parents and tell each other off. We were so desperate to grow up.

You were the coolest person I knew and everything I did was to be more like you. I didn’t get to go out
and hang out with people because of my parents and their rules. Yet, you never made me feel left out. I
remember in 10 th grade, when you got your first boyfriend. It was a strange experience and a lot of
emotions that I faced. Suddenly, I had to share you. You were spending the majority of your time with
him and I was the afterthought. That made me quite bitter and I did not know how to deal with it. I felt
you slipping away from me and those 6 months were brutal. I was losing my best friend, at least that’s
what I thought at the time. As you are well aware, I had never felt any attraction towards boys or
anyone in general. I never felt the need to give my time or attention to anyone else. I never gave anyone
a second thought.

When you and he broke up, for what I now believe to be juvenile reasons, you were back to being mine.
Although I was hurt seeing you go through pain, it gave me a sense of happiness watching you come to
me for comfort. I loved being there for you; I wanted to keep you safe and never wished for anyone to
harm you.

I remember one night, when we were having a sleepover, you had your head on my lap and you were
about to fall asleep. There was something about the way the nightlight was hitting your face. It was dim
but your face was glowing. There were tears on the temples of your forehead, which were sparkling
because of the light. You were scrunching your itchy nose and moved a strand of hair from your eyes.
Watching this incident play out, gave me chills. It made me feel emotions I have never felt before. I
didn’t quite know what was happening. I was extremely overwhelmed and didn’t know what I should do

The next couple of days, as you may remember, I was distant. I was in a battle with myself. I had no one
to talk to about this. I knew my parents would read too much into it, besides I wouldn’t even know what

to tell them. You called me, messaged me, dropped by my house but I was not ready to face you. I was
not ready to face what I was feeling.

Since, there was no one else to talk to, I went to the internet to help me figure out what was happening.
Some websites told me I was ill but a majority of them pointed out to me being a lesbian. I refused to
believe it at the time, I was shocked and confused and terrified. How would I come out to my parents?
How would they react? How would you react? Could this even be true? I was overcome with emotions
and went numb. I lost all sense of reality. I didn’t know where I was, I didn’t know who I was.
I took the next few weeks to myself, to try and figure out what my next steps should be. The internet,
although toxic, was more accepting of me and my sexuality than anyone I knew. Ever so often, I would
hear my mum or dad make a snide remark about the people from MY community and it made my blood
boil. That’s what they thought of me and my people. I had no idea how to tell them. As I researched
more about it, the prouder I became of my community and everything we represented.

Finally, I decided to talk to you. I decided to open up to you. We had this conversation on the terrace of
my house. I was extremely anxious to see you; I remember tugging at my shirt loosening the threads on
the side. You showed up in a red tank top and blue jeans and immediately gave me a hug. That was the
only thing I needed after the horrible few weeks that I had had. We sat down on the ground, me
fidgeting with my keys and you holding a cup of coffee. I mustered up the courage to open my mouth
and what followed was pure chaos. I couldn’t stop talking, venting rather. I told you everything I was
feeling and facing. I cried, I laughed, I rejoiced. I was so proud of myself to be able to get it out.
You sat there, in silence, expressionless, staring at me. I went on for about 15 minutes before stopping. I
turned towards you and suddenly you had tears in your eyes. I didn’t understand why you were crying, I
didn’t understand how I had hurt you. I was perplexed; you still didn’t say a word. I had made my best
friend cry.

You finally spoke; you said you were proud of me and called me strong. You had also reached the
realization of being part of the community, but were too afraid to express it. You felt the same way but
never found the courage to say it. I was taken aback by what I had just heard. The only person I had ever
loved, my best friend, love me back. It seemed too good to be true. We vented our emotions for the
next couple of hours and started catching up about the days we were apart.

After telling you, I had a newfound strength and I did not want to be silenced. I wanted my parents to
know and love me for who I was. I walked into my house, my heart in my chest and my mouth, bone dry.
I decided to just speak it out and let things go about how they would. After I was done speaking, their
faces were awestruck. They were angry, furious in fact. They were ashamed of me, and said they would
kick me out of the house if I continued feeling this way. I told them what I felt for you. That seemed to
make things worse. They, in an instant decided to move away from the city, they wanted to take me
away from you. My world was turned upside down, a few moments ago, I was excruciatingly happy and
now everything was being torn away from me. Before I could say anything to them, they packed our
bags and we moved. They did not give me an opportunity to tell you anything. They forbade me from
everything after that.

I can’t imagine what you must have felt, me leaving like that, with absolutely no explanation. I never
meant to hurt you. I loved you, with all my heart. I never found the courage to write to you after things
settled down. I was ashamed, I should have fought harder. I guess after all this time; I need you to know
I never stopped loving you. You were my best friend and everything. Not being able to be with you was
hard, but I guess that’s just the way the world works, it isn’t funny or pretty. Friendships are overrated

I hope with all my heart that you write back to me. I miss you, I love you.

A Letter to the Prime Minister by Vishesh Asnani (1st CBT)

Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook Inc.
(Too arrogant for an actual address)

16th September, 2020

Dear Supreme Overlord Modi

I hope you liked my new boosts to the spread of right-wing prop-uh.. right wing inclined content and er..
alternative news. Would’ve sent you an Instagram DM, but I decided to utilise this primitive form of
communication to suit your antique tastes.

I hope you’re in good health in these extremely trying times. The situation has changed a lot, hasn’t it? Just the
other day the you all were in a twist about how to deal with the pandemic, poor Donald was hyperventilating so
much! I was worried India too might need assistance due to the penchant for riots… If I remember correctly you
ended up with protests right before things went south. Thankfully BJP IT cell and corona arrived to the rescue.
But I must say that even without my assistance you made the best out of your situation. Never in my life did I
expect a politician to turn his country into excellent showdogs amid a pandemic! I must commend the ideas you
came up with… I have been wanting to meet you even before you were elected PM, but alas! Most civilised
countries didn’t allow you to enter them!

Your countrymen have a few good tricks over their sleeves, as we’ve seen in this lockdown. When you told me
that they’d clap for an entire afternoon in their balconies, I was thinking who would even do that? I never
believed that a country of 1.33 billion would leave everything and begin clapping just because a man wearing
saffron and white told them to, but just a slight shove in the right direction with a few tasteful alternative news
articles and they didn’t just clap! I was incredulous as I watched news reports of countrymen swaying in your
rhythm, clapping, ringing bells, even banging plates and cups! Some people even disregarded their lives and
risked the virus just to chant for you! Brilliant, absolutely brilliant… even my unpaid interns aren’t as obedient
as that. It was beautiful to see the effects of my alternative news algorithm. Showing people what they believe,
trapping them in a bubble leads to quite the subservient populace. The creative articles about all bells running at
the same coronavirus-killing reasonant frequencies were a particular favourite of mine.

As coronavirus cases soared, I was worried that people would finally see the light of day and even your loyal
followers may go the direction of dissent… but with your ingenious second task, they did see the light of day,
but just the way you wanted them to! While the amount of cases touched one lakh, you skillfuly persuaded your
people to light candles on their balconies. After all who pays attention to numbers when they’ll see their country
in the world news? Why would they even think anything else while holding candles, feeling like people of
Ayodhya and waiting for the Ram-like corona cure? You guys even got a second Diwali! We’d be hard pressed
to get a second July 4th celebration here… Celebrate in peace since we pretend climate change doesn’t exist.

Your devotees thrive on attention, even a few facts can’t get in the way of that! So a few candles later they were
happy. Of course, trends like that stupid Dalgona helped too. What a waste of time…

Governments all around the world must take notes on the way you were the only influence on the narrative the
world sees. Just the other day I noticed surges of the word “aatmanirbar” on Instagram. I don’t know Hindi but I
sure know it’s one of those one word weapons you hand over to your population to uphold their brand of
nationalism. I’m glad to inform that it’s successful in outnumbering the people who dared to point out actual
facts. I’m glad to see that the Indian media acts on the ethos of Facebook Inc. on an almost instinctual level.
That surely must’ve helped you a lot. Also, please send Mr. Arnab Goswami my regards since he just increased
Instagram hashtag activity by 60%!

Your attempts to keep your country occupied with buzzwords and continuious tasks is the ideal way to raise a
country amid such a difficult situation. Countries like the US and Brazil cannot even dare to hope for such
charismatic messages airing on their televisions 24/7. A new message, a new buzzword, a new argument ended:
such is the power of your speech. I wouldn’t say it was an easy path though. Just as easily as you convinced the
population to bang on their plates, with the same ease you convinced them to move out, kickstart the economy
even if that meant potentially offing themselves to coronavirus. You even got Sonu Sood to do your homework!
Coronil’s nice bout of confusion helped your case a lot too, I must say. Ironically 80 lakh cases are easier for
you to handle than 1 lakh most probably. You even got parents to send children to school during this! *drool*

Sending you a signed copy of a shorter version of the letter so Arnab can say “Facebook CEO applauds Modi
and India via heartfelt letter!”

P.S.: Your luscious lockdown beard has been really well received! I must say it suits you…
With Love

Modi’s Pandemic Speeches – The Rhyme for Our Children by Anindya Somaiah (3rd EJP)

Nehru, Nehru, what have you done,
Let’s not talk about unemployment or
farmer suicide, but everything else under the sun.
Of all things imaginary, let us clap our hand
To shoo away the virus that inhabits our land.
While we comply and do as you say,
You leave half of them to decay?
Then you asked us to light a lamp and pray
for the virus to go away,
we waited through one hour of 2024 campaign,
just to listen to what you had to say, in pain.
You announced, four hours ahead, the lockdown,
not even giving us the time to process it and frown.
Then you lie about unity and trust,
when you, yourself drown in Hindutva lust.
While we protect ourselves from Covid-19,
there’s little we can do to revers 2014.
When you say stay where you are,
what about those who are afar?
Your claims of being the ‘common man’
is far worse than Trump’s horrible tan.
For in lying to the people who voted for you,
you become worse than a railway loo.
To you other things seem more desirous
Clearly, your priority isn’t the virus.
You’re too busy jailing students and their anthem,
Its probably too much for you to fathom

Empty Vessels Make the Loudest Noise by Yashika (1st JIP)

Some things have a fixed pattern, they never change like the formation of waves or the waning
and waxing of moon and the way the indian government- especially prime minister Modi- handle
things. Our prime minister holds immense love for thrillers. So much so, that he pursues to seek
thrill in real life too, mostly in political affairs. No, not in the way Avengers would do, that would
destroy the nation with all its violent ventures. His actions would not destroy… well… not in the
crumbling buildings and falling bridges kind of way.

It starts on March 22, the day of Janata Curfew, at 5pm when everyone, ministers, parents,
strangers and their dog, collected in their front yards and balconies, a plate in hand and started
banging to show their support to the frontline workers. A few others took out their conch and
blew into it. Temple bells and gongs too joined the fight. For India, the battle had been won.
Naina puts away the dented steel plate, happily sighing, “we did good today.
Watch us overcome this.”

But, that was not the end. On March 24, my dad joked about the extremely short notice
demonetization as PM Modi starts his live speech. He eats pulao, increases the TV volume and
BAM-! A lockdown from the very next day. It was like 2016 all over again. All the phones started
blaring, after twelfth plans went down the drain, twitter blew up, people tried to contain their
shock in simple words and content creators blessed us with new memes. Agreeably, Mr. Modi, did
not look too far out into the future. He skipped over the fact that Indians love to panic, be it over
cricket matches, their son’s grades, their neighbour’s son’s grade or shortage of Maggi. What we
don’t stress over are minimal things like jobs, employment or even exposure to a global pandemic.
Which is exactly why, three hours later, with a bag in hand, we herd to the markets, one person
over the other, hands touching all the packets on the shelves, not a mask in sight. But, he does
excel is something; staying in trends. It didn’t take long for our prime minister to take all over the
worldwide trends- a proud moment for all Indians. Three days later, we see migrants crowding
bus stations in the outskirts of Delhi, media houses flock to them, people scream of social
distancing and masks. Raju’s uncle too, curses them, while he cooks the Maggi he snatched from
the grocery store on the night lockdown was announced.

The worst thing to come out of PM Modi’s pandemic messages was not the noise pollution. It was
the suddenness. It left people hungry and starving, in a state of confusion. It left the most
vulnerable more vulnerable. Worse than that was the fact that the government turned its back
onto them. Even the people- you and me- failed to understand their desperation. But, then again,

what if they just wanted to walk a few hundred kilometers? A walkathon, while the snobby rich
sleeps inside, the poor gets the road to themselves.

But, amongst this chaos, these heart wrenching incidents, the protagonist of this piece makes a
comeback, with yet another video. This time, he leaves us with a new assignment. To light candles
and diyas and light up these dark times. And yet again, everyone, ministers, parents, strangers
and their dog complies like a well trained student. But, every class has those annoying few
children who always do extra, and so right after, a firework goes off, Then another, then another,
and soon it’s Diwali, arriving early this year. Now that I see the cases soar higher day by day, it
looks like a fantastic plan. Who knows, which new peaks we will achieve on the world charts by
November, good thing at least Diwali is not ruined.

“It was to raise awareness,” says Shilpa aunty, her mask lowered to her chin. “You
and me, we are fine. How will the uneducated poor know?”

The video messages continue, one after the other, with breaks in between. Like a seesaw, the
virus moves up as the economy plunges, in the middle rests the common population- fools and
intellects alike. The good thing though, is that the mortality rate isn’t high. Too many people
aren’t dying. And a few thousand- eighty- sacrificing themselves for this war is a great bargain,
right? It’s for our own welfare after all. Plus, the population. There are too many people, this
much is to be expected. Even the professionals say so. Source? I read it somewhere.

Here is the thing. Encouragement is good. But, things get a little tricky when inspiring words are
all we are left with and actual discussions are thrown out of the car. Despite several warnings, the
government ignored the migrant crisis for a very long time and did not start services until after
months. The country was forced to open up after the failure of the lockdown, and now we are at a
position where many cannot afford to stay home. Staying home is a privilege, even for Raju’s
uncle. The messages provided false reassurances, and made noise louder than our empty utensils.
In all of this, media houses shut its eyes and so accountability too becomes a far away concept.
Instead, what we are left with, is a prime minister, blind to the necessities of the commoner, an
economy left to the blessings of Lord Rama and a healthcare system gasping in the emergency

At ninety seven cases per day, we stand at a situation where the country is opening up faster than
the sinking of the economy and while the former is necessary to save the latter, it still needs to
have a certain order and discipline in the way it’s done. People still continue to lose their jobs and
the employment rate decreases. The media is busy with media-splaining bollywood, and so the
duty of questioning is left to us and with growing awareness, more exposure, we are beginning to
hold them accountable, for the job losses, the failure of controlling COVID-19, the dreadful impact
on the poor- “They did start ‘local ko vocal,’ just say you are a hater and go na.”