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Walls that speak: India's campus graffiti

A peek into thriving public art in New Delhi based Jawaharlal Nehru University.

by Saif Khalid

30 DEC 2013

Democracy is subservient to corporate interests is the message in this graffiti put up by All India Students Association, AISA, which is the most popular student group in the JNU campus.

Graffiti or the art of wall-writing on public walls is not a big phenomenon in India, but it is beginning to make a mark on the walls and buildings of metros such as New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

The campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) based in New Delhi has one of the oldest and finest traditions of graffiti. Not surprising, since JNU has one of the most vibrant campuses in the country with a culture of open debates and intellectual discourse.

Department buildings and walls are scribbled with slogans, graffiti and posters by students of various orientations - left, right and centre – using their creative means to convey their messages.

From hostel canteens to university library to various departments, one can find graffiti and posters on all issues ranging from mundane price rise to gender rights, from Naxal politics to international issues such as occupation of Palestine and rise of the global left.