fbpx

Writers International Edition

Open Page

The Injustice of Innocence: A Cry from India’s Prisons

Kerala, often hailed as “God’s Own Country,” is not the paradise it’s often romanticized to be. Instead, it’s a state torn by the tumultuous reign of violent Communists and pseudo-secular Congress leaders — a place where educated youth find themselves trapped in a cycle of despair. Faced with limited opportunities and a bleak future, many are forced to abandon their homeland in search of greener pastures, leaving behind a population that relies on humble livelihoods such as driving autorickshaws to make ends meet.

One among them was Ratheesh a youth who like many others drove an autorickshaws to find his livelhood. His autorickshaw was more than just a means of transport; it was a symbol of hope for his family — a lifeline in a world fraught with uncertainty. But one fateful day in September 2014, the threads of their lives unraveled before their eyes.

Ratheesh was accused of a crime he never committed — a robbery that shook the town to its core. The weight of false accusations bore down on his shoulders as he was dragged away by the very hands meant to protect him. Behind the cold, steel bars of a prison cell, he endured unimaginable suffering — both physical and emotional — as he was subjected to the cruelty of injustice.

As Ratheesh languished in captivity, his family’s world crumbled around them. His wife, burdened with the weight of shame and fear, struggled to make ends meet, while their children grappled with the harsh reality of their father’s absence. Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, yet there seemed to be no end in sight to their suffering.

But just when hope seemed lost, a glimmer of light appeared on the horizon. In 2020, the truth came to light — an unexpected confession unveiled the innocence that had been buried beneath layers of deceit and corruption. With the weight of false accusations lifted from his shoulders, Ratheesh emerged from the darkness of his captivity, his spirit bruised and broken.

Yet, as he stepped back into the embrace of his family, he realized that the scars of his ordeal ran deep. The trauma of his wrongful imprisonment lingered like a shadow, casting a long shadow over their once bright future. After enduring years of pain and injustice, Ratheesh’s spirit could bear no more — overwhelmed by the relentless onslaught of despair, he made a decision to end his life, to escape the clutches of a system that had failed him at every turn. And as he took his final breath, he became yet another victim of a ruthless police department and a court system that questioned the very meaning of innocence.

The incident is not just an isolated one. Statistics paint a damning picture of the state of India’s prisons, revealing that a staggering 68 percent of inmates are mere undertrials — individuals who have not been convicted by any court of law. Among them, a disproportionate number hail from the socio-economically marginalized sections of society, with more than 65 percent belonging to the SC, ST, and OBC categories. Illiterate and barely literate, they stand at the mercy of a system that has long turned a blind eye to their plight.

This isn’t a new phenomenon. For decades, Indian jails have been inundated with the cries of the innocent, their voices drowned out by the cacophony of corruption and negligence. Forty years ago, the Supreme Court issued a scathing indictment of the prevailing state of affairs, deeming the high prevalence of undertrials in jails a “crying shame on the judicial system.” Yet, despite the passage of time, the plight of these forgotten souls has only worsened, with their numbers swelling year after year.

In 1978, undertrials accounted for 54 percent of India’s inmate population. By 2017, this figure had risen to a staggering 68 percent, a grim testament to the failure of the system to uphold the principles of justice and fairness. And while the Indian judicial system espouses the principle of “innocent until proven guilty,” the reality is far removed from this lofty ideal.

For the majority of undertrial prisoners, the road to justice is fraught with insurmountable obstacles. Illiterate and impoverished, they lack the means to secure bail or avail themselves of competent legal representation. As a result, they languish in jail for years, their lives on hold as they await the elusive promise of a fair trial.

But who is responsible for this travesty of justice? The answer lies in the very structure and functioning of the justice delivery system itself — a system that lacks the accountability to rectify its own failures. In countries like the US, the UK, and Germany, laws exist to compensate individuals for miscarriages of justice. Yet, in India, the victims of wrongful imprisonment are left to fend for themselves, their sense of justice forever shattered by years spent behind bars.

In the eyes of society, an undertrial prisoner is no different than a convict, their innocence tarnished by the damning finger of public opinion. For them, imprisonment is not just a deprivation of liberty, but a stain on their very humanity — a mark that society refuses to erase.

As the sun sets on another day in Kerala, the cries of the innocent echo through the corridors of India’s prisons, a poignant reminder of the urgent need for reform. It is time for the voices of the voiceless to be heard, for justice to be served, and for the promise of a better tomorrow to become a reality for all. The question is who is the real killer of Ratheesh? The rotten system of judiciary in India, the inhuman department of poilice in Kerala or a society that includes even the one who write this?

Confronting the Reality of Food Poisoning: An Open Letter to Prime Minister Modi

On March 1, 2024, I purchased three packets of Patanjali Noodles for my children, hoping for a wholesome and safe meal option (as advertsied by the company. Regrettably, soon after consuming the noodles, my daughters experienced severe stomach pain and vomiting sensations, necessitating urgent medical attention in the wee hours of the night. Despite our initial belief that such symptoms might be attributed to other factors, this distressing incident has recurred, affecting all three of my daughters in a similar manner.

Following the distressing incident, I promptly raised the matter with the Consumer Helpline authority, seeking intervention and justice for my children’s suffering. In response, I received assurances from Patanjali that they were conducting a thorough investigation into the matter. However, my hopes for accountability were dashed when subsequent communications from the company declared their internal investigation had concluded, deeming the food safe. With this dismissive response, it seemed that once again, the voices of concerned consumers had been silenced, perpetuating a cycle of impunity and neglect in addressing such critical food safety concerns.

Dear Prime Minister, I write to you today with a heavy heart and a sense of urgency that cannot be overstated. Our nation is facing a crisis of food safety that demands immediate and decisive action from the highest levels of government. The recent findings reported by Indian government officials, revealing that almost a quarter of food samples tested did not meet our country’s food safety standards, are deeply troubling and indicative of a systemic failure that imperils the health and well-being of our citizens, especially our children.

As a concerned citizen and a parent, I cannot remain silent in the face of such egregious negligence. The prevalence of food products dangerous, particularly for children, on the Indian market is nothing short of a national tragedy. Brands like Patanjali, which wield significant influence and power, have been implicated time and again in cases of food adulteration and contamination, leading to countless cases of illness and even death among our youth.

It is unconscionable that in a country as vast and diverse as ours, where millions of families struggle to put food on the table, the very sustenance meant to nourish our bodies and minds is tainted by greed and disregard for human life. The fact that such incidents continue to occur with alarming frequency speaks to a failure of governance and regulatory oversight that cannot be ignored.

The statistics paint a damning picture of the magnitude of this crisis. Thousands of children across our nation fall ill or lose their lives every year due to the consumption of unsafe food products. These are not just numbers; they represent precious lives cut short, dreams left unfulfilled, and families torn apart by preventable tragedy.

As a leader entrusted with the well-being of our nation, you have a moral and ethical responsibility to protect the most vulnerable among us. Yet, by turning a blind eye to the rampant violations of food safety standards and the impunity with which unscrupulous actors operate, you are complicit in perpetuating this cycle of suffering and death.

It is not enough to simply offer condolences to grieving families or to rely on internal investigations conducted by the very entities implicated in these crimes. We demand accountability, transparency, and meaningful action to address the root causes of this crisis and to ensure that those responsible are held accountable for their actions.

Prime Minister, the time for empty promises and half-measures has long passed. The lives of millions of children hang in the balance, and we cannot afford to wait any longer for meaningful change. I implore you to heed the cries of the people and to take decisive action to overhaul our food safety infrastructure, strengthen regulatory enforcement, and hold accountable those who prioritize profit over human life.

The future of our nation depends on it.

Sincerely,

Preeth Padmanabhan Nambiar

When Social Media Challenges Quality literature: Editorial

Social media is a giant neon sign that flashes continuously, ‘LOOK AT ME,’ while it saps our time and leaves us empty-handed. – Nir Eyal

Being in the Writers Capital Foundation and its subsidiaries, where we communicate with hundreds of writers from across the world, we have an opportunity to read a number of works on a daily basis and mostly through social media. While some of the works create strong impressions, some of the works not only fail to exhibit greater standards but also leave a shock on how social media interferes with quality in literary works.

In the age of social media, it has become increasingly common for writers to post their literary works on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. While this may seem like a convenient way to share one’s writing with a wider audience, the reality is that the quality of literature is often lost in the pursuit of likes, shares, and comments.

Many writers post their work on social media simply for the dopamine boost of receiving validation from others. In doing so, they often sacrifice the time and effort necessary to produce high-quality writing. The result is an oversaturation of mediocre content, drowning out the truly exceptional works of literature.

Compounding this issue are the fake Facebook organizations that have sprung up, purporting to support and promote literary works. In reality, these organizations are often fronts for self-promotion or outright scams, preying on the hopes and dreams of aspiring writers.

The effects of social media on quality literature are significant. By prioritizing likes and shares over quality writing, we risk losing the very essence of what makes literature great – its ability to transport us to other worlds, to challenge our assumptions and beliefs, and to evoke strong emotions within us.

It is crucial that we take steps to combat this trend. We must encourage writers to prioritize the quality of their work over the immediate gratification of social media validation. We must also be vigilant in identifying and exposing fake literary organizations that seek to exploit the literary community.

At the same time, we should not dismiss social media entirely. When used responsibly and in conjunction with traditional literary channels, social media can be a powerful tool for promoting high-quality literature and engaging with readers in meaningful ways.

Social media can have negative effects on the quality of literature and the industry as a whole. The emphasis on quick, easily-digestible content can lead to a decrease in attention spans and a preference for shorter, simpler works. Additionally, the pressure to constantly produce content for social media can lead to a focus on quantity over quality, and the proliferation of fake organizations and online scams can further erode trust in the industry.

A writer may not be a great influencer, however, an influencer can intelligently act as a great writer with the so-called technologies of branding and communication skills. However, the fact is that ultimately, only quality works remain here and the rest will be eventually discarded.  Like that of the Sanskrit phrase ‘Satyameva Jayate’, which means “Truth alone triumphs,” only quality literary works would prevail in the ever-changing sphere of literature.

We must recognize the dangers that social media poses to quality literature, while also embracing its potential to support and elevate literary works. I eanestly believe that by striking a balance between the two, we can ensure that the literary community thrives in the digital age.

Preeth Padmanabhan Nambiar
Author-Poet, Educationist & Humanitarian
President & CEO, Writers Capital International Foundation
preethpadmanabhannambiar@gmail.com

On Valentine’s Day

I love you without knowing how, or when, or where from.
I love you straightforwardly, without complications or pride;
This is how I love you because I know no other way of loving than this:
But in this way in which neither I, nor you exist; so close that your hand
on my chest is my hand, so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.
Pablo Neruda – 100 Love Sonnets

Love is the ultimate drive, the most powerful force in the whole universe, for, since the beginning of time, Love has been the driving force behind all creation – first and foremost, the creation of man himself. Ancient Greek philosopher, the first to delve into this existential issue being Hesiod, maintained the following depicting concepts, qualities and notions as gods. And the god of love was, of course, Eros:

According to the Hesiodic interpretation, the creation of the world is based on a divine trinity – Chaos, Gaia and Eros. Chaos pre-exists the other two, symbolizing the infinity of the universe. Gaia symbolizes the material side of the world. Finally, Eros symbolizes creation. Eros is the driving force. Without him, the primordial trinity would not have created the world, the gods and life. The reason he is winged is that he is elusive. When you think you have caught him, he slips away. Eros has no interest if you are in chaos or order. He is lonely and likes games. Throwing an arrow does not necessarily mean that a second will follow. Love unites, transforms and transforms what is seen. As long as you do not look for him, because he will disappoint you. He will find you and then all your chaos will make sense again.”[1]

It is indeed so! Love is the reason for our coming into this world, besides the force that helps sustain us in our everyday lives. When we surrender to love, we find a way of overcoming problems and worries, since sorrows that are shared with the beloved one are halved and joys shared are doubled. Love puts a permanent grin on our face, makes our eyes sparkle with a divine gleam, and sets our hearts on fire. If we surrender to love, our whole life makes sense, for it is the reason why we were born – to spread the light of love upon this planet. Loving another like your own self and even more is so difficult and easy at the same time, so bitter and sweet, so utterly rewarding for the soul. Selfless and unconditional love is unique and almighty! Love is the power that can even “move mountains”… Love is all someone needs to make everything shine wonderfully all around, and also make it through any difficult phase one may encounter. It is undeniably the essential element that leads to bliss. If not the sole one.

Among the sweetest and most profound quotes on Love, I hereby enclose some actual smidgens of wisdom and truth by the classical Masters of philosophy:

Those that are hardest to love, need it the most – Socrates

The madness of love is the greatest of heaven’s blessings – Plato

Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies – Aristotle

and the famous quote by the ancient Greek Philosopher Plato, dedicated to poets across the world

“Αt the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet!”

Love for some people is a feeling, for others, it is a condition or a state; yet for some, it is a way of living. For them, life is what Wu Ti has said, namely “Not loving is like a long dying”; a life not worth living, one might add. Love should not be demonstrated only on one particular day, but throughout the whole year; all through one’s life. As for when real Love comes into one’s life, no one actually knows when one would feel the arrows of Love piercing their hearts, as Eros, the playful assistant of the goddess of Love and beauty, Aphrodite, plays his tricks. For some people Love comes too soon, for others a little later; for a few maybe a lot later. Yet when it finally does come, they all feel the same bitter-sweet pain and all suffer sweetly by the arrow-tip that has pierced their soul. And only one person can take away the pain, healing the wound: the only ONE.

If this is real Love, it is not only intense, but also profound, and destined to be eternal. On infinite and eternal Love a lot has been said and written all through the centuries all over the world. The symbols may vary, but they are undoubtedly diachronic and well-engraved in the collective mind. From the apple, the rose, and the sea shell in ancient Greek and later on in Roman mythology, the harp and the unbreakable Celtic love knot, the jasmine in the Himalayas, the Claddagh symbol in Norse mythology, the Kokopelli (musical instrument) in the native American culture, the maple leaf and the unbreakable red thread of fate in China and Japan, the Osram Ne Nsoromma (the symbol of a star and half moon) in West Africa, are among the most famous symbols of love across centuries; bearing witness of the infinite feelings and the pledge for eternal love to their precious one. One thing is certain, anyway, despite symbols and legends, which run through millennia: that between the beloved, no place, no time, or other boundaries are enough to make them part…

Volumes of literary works, from fairy tales to grandiose novels, have been written on princesses waiting for their princes, queens waiting for their kings or their knights to return from the battlefield, and ladies of the aristocracy courting in the palace gardens. The troubadours of the Middle Ages sang their love songs to their dames, Romeo and Juliet sacrificed themselves for their love, while whole cities were besieged and conquered in the name – or the pretext – of a woman’s love; or at least that is what Homer says on ancient Greek queen Helen and prince Paris of Troy. Equally, masterpieces were painted or sculpted in honour of Eros and the goddess Aphrodite…

Poetry is, anyway, the supreme Art, according to ancient philosophers. And what better way to express one’s innermost feelings than with a poem full of love and a kiss? Besides, as the saying goes, “in love and at war there simply exist no barriers”. And since we are humanitarians and advocates of world peace, let us all make the wish for all barriers to be taken down in the name of Love!

Prof. Irene Doura Kavadia

A brief look at a famous phrase ‘Every man ends up killing what he loves’

The phrase was used by Oscar Wilde in his poem “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” and is an allusion to Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice”, in a paraphrase in Wilde’s typical and ironic way. In this work, Bassiano asks “Do all men kill what they love?” and Oscar Wilde made it his most famous and contradictory verse.
 
If we want to analyze this phrase, we must read the rest of the poem or at least the central stanza:
“… However, each man kills what he loves […].
Some do it with a sour look
Some with a flattering word.
The coward does it with a kiss;
The brave man with a sword…. ”
It is obvious that the poet wants to link love – in its most extreme meaning, painful and perhaps desperate and forbidden – with a dangerous potential that can drive a man to madness, or worse, to death. And be it himself or the person he loves. The reference to Othello perhaps who killed his adored wife, or to the cowardice of Judas who denounced Jesus with that kiss of the most notorious betrayal, which without equal has righteously been considered as the most horrendous betrayal of all history; Romeo’s bitter gaze at his lover and at the whole world when he saw the dead body Juliet right before he drank the poison to be together with her, and the same kind of antemortem gaze of hers that saw nothing alive around her after her precious Romeo had died, ending up killing herself with his own dagger to follow him into eternity.
 
Of course, there are cases in which someone begins by expressing his love, towards his adoration, and ends up destroying the thing, the person or the adored idea. Nietzsche, for example, the German philosopher, wanted to elaborate on the phenomenon of Jesus, his miracles, his love for all humanity and ended after so much analysis by declaring that God does not exist or is dead, surprising negatively in addition to his religious and conservative family, the entire society of his time, the church, and the world of literature and philosophy. And he keeps doing it!
 
When it comes to love within a couple, everything can start as an omen for a miraculous, unconditional and eternal love, but over time it can turn into a nightmare due to selfishness, lack of communication and respect, simply because of daily problems or routine. That means the end of love, i.e. its death, at the hands of the lovers or at least by one of the two. Because pride, arrogance and arrogance lead to alienation and ultimate breakup.
 
Finally, there is the path that leads to the end, and that is the death of oneself, that is by means of suicide. It is the way to end the greatest gift that God or the universe has given to man, that is, one’s own life. It may be that one does it out of disappointment, out of despair, or to free oneself from a tormenting situation; out of the desire to escape from a tragic and unbearable life equaling to bodily torture. Regardless of the objective or the cause, the person who points the weapon, the sword or the dagger against oneself, ends up killing what he probably loves the most – or in the end hates the most – that is, one’s own life. Because according to the same famous and popular poet, Oscar Wilde, only great loves are of short duration, killed at last for their fullness; while superficial loves, like superficial sorrows too, are of long duration.
The man had killed the thing he loved
  And so he had to die.
Yet each man kills the thing he loves
  By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
  Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
  The brave man with a sword!
Some kill their love when they are young,
  And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
  Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
  The dead so soon grow cold.
Some love too little, some too long,
  Some sell, and others buy;
Some do the deed with many tears,
  And some without a sigh:
For each man kills the thing he loves;
Yet each man does not die.

The Ballad of Reading Gaol
Oscar Wilde – 1854-1900

Short Biography

Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland, on October 16, 1854. He attended Trinity College, Dublin, from 1871 to 1874 and Magdalen College, Oxford, from 1874 to 1878. At Oxford, he received the Newdigate Prize for his long poem Ravenna (T. Shrimpton and Son, 1878). He also became involved in the aesthetic movement, advocating for the value of beauty in art.
 
Article by Irene Doura-Kavadia
© Irene Doura-Kavadia
Linguist-Author-Educationist
Editor-in-Chief, Writers Edition

 
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

‘DARLING, PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME ANYMORE’

Leading Victorian writer Elizabeth Barrett Browning is as known for her enduring love for Robert Browning (immortalised in their letters to each other) as she is for her lyrical Romantic poetry. After her mother’s death in 1828, Barrett Browning moved with her father from the family estate in Herefordshire, first to Devon and then to London. There, her cousin, John Kenyon, introduced her to many of the leading writers of the day, including Coleridge, Wordsworth and Tennyson. For her mid-teens, Barrett Browning had suffered from a mysterious illness that resulted in severe headaches and limited mobility, but she directed all of her energy in writing the outstandingly beautiful poems for which she became famous. In 1844, Barrett Brownings’collection Poems brought her public acclaim and also to the notice of Robert Browning, a young poet, who began corresponding with her. The couple finally met in 1845 and their courtship began in earnest, although it was carried out secretly.

The couple had a profound influence on each other’s writing and their love for each other is revealed in the lovely letters they exchanged with each other, even after their marriage. They honeymooned in Paris and then made their home in Italy, where they resided until Barrett Browning’s death on 29 June 1861. She died in her husband’s arms.

‘I have no words for you, my dearest … You are mine, I am yours’

 

Sunday.

I have no words for you, my dearest, – I shall never have – You are mine, I am yours. Now, here is one sign of what I said: that I must love you more than at first… a little sign, and to be looked narrowly for or it escapes me, but then the increase it shows can only be little, so very little now…

At first I only thought of being happy in you, – in your happiness: now I most think of you in the dark hours that must come – I shall grow old with you, and die with you – as far as I can look into the night I see the light with me: and surely with that provision of comfort one should turn with fresh joy and renewed sense of security to the sunny middle of the day, – I am in the full sunshine now, – and after, all seems cared for – is it too homely an illustration if I say the day’s visit is not crossed by uncertainties as to the return thro’ the wild country at nightfall?

Now Keats speaks of “Beauty – that must die – and Joy whose hand is ever at his lips, bidding farewell.” And who spoke of – looking up into the eyes and asking “And how long will you love us”? – There is a Beauty that will not die, a Joy that bids no farewell, dear dearest eyes that will love forever! And I – am to love no longer than I can – Well, dear – and when I can no longer – you will not blame me? – you will do only as ever, kindly and justly, – hardly more: I do not pretend to say I have chosen to put my fancy to such an experiment, and consider how that is to happen, and what measures ought to be taken in the emergency – because in the “universality of my sympathies” I certainly number a very lively one with my own heart and soul, and cannot amuse myself by such a spectacle as their supposed extinction or paralysis, – there is no doubt I should be an object for the deepest commiseration of you or any more fortunate human being: – and I hope that because such a calamity does not obtrude itself on me as a thing to be prayed against, it is no less duly implied with all the other visitations from which no humanity can be altogether exempt – just as God bids us ask for the continuance of the “daily bread”, – “battle, murder and sudden death” lie behind doubtless – I repeat, and perhaps in so doing, only give one more example of the instantaneous conversion of that indignation we bestow in another’s case, into wonderful lenity when it becomes our own, … that I only contemplate the possibility you make me recognize, with pity, and fear … no anger at all, – and imprecations of vengeance, for what? – Observe, I only speak of cases possible; of sudden impotency of mind, – that is possible – there are other ways of “changing”, “ceasing to love” &c which it is safest not to think of nor believe in…

And now, love, dear heart of my heart, my own, only Ba – see no more – see what I am, what God in his constant mercy ordinarily grants to those who have, as I, received already so much, – much, past expression! It is but … if you will so please – at worst, forestalling the one or two years, for my sake; for you will be as sure of me one day as I can be now of myself – and why not now be sure? See, love – a year is gone by – we were in one relation when you wrote at the end of a letter “Do not say I do not tire you” (by writing) – “I am sure I do” – A year has gone by – Did you tire me then? Now, you tell me what is told; for my sake, sweet, let the few years go by, – we are married – and my arms are round you, and my face touches yours, and I am asking you, “Were you not to me, in that dim beginning of 1846, a joy beyond all joys, a life added to and transforming mine, the good I choose from all the possible gifts of God on this earth, for which I seem to have lived, – which accepting, I thankfully step aside and let the rest get what they can, – of what, it is very likely, they esteem more – for why should my eye be evil because God’s is good, – why should I grudge that, giving them, I do believe, infinitely less, he gives them a content in the inferior good and belief in its worth – I should have wished that further concession, that illusion as I believe it, for their sakes – but I cannot undervalue my own treasure and so scant the only tribute of mere gratitude which is in my power to pay.” – Hear this said now before the few years, and believe in it now, for then, dearest!”