"..when a victorious chief minister openly admits that he himself approached the leading newspaper of his state with money for “positive stories” after learning that the newspaper had signed a “package deal” with his rivals to print negative stories, you had better sit up and take urgent notice"
Protesting corruption with the zero-rupee note. Indian NGO 5th Pillar has a come up with a unique project to help India's poor fight against institutionalized bribery.
Fascinated by the Orient An exhibition of the letters, photographs and maps bequeathed to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences by the great explorer, archaeologist, geographer and Sanskritist Sir Marc Aurel Stein. Journeyer in the footsteps of Alexander, explorer of Central Asia and West China, surveyor of the antiquities of India and Iran; after a long life of journeying through and studying central Asia, Aurel Stein found his final rest in Kabul. He is also remembered for rediscovering the oldest dated printed book still in existence, a copy of the Diamond Sutra in the caves at Mogao. That the latter and many thousands of other manuscripts collected by Stein now reside in the British Library is of course, like his other 'treasure hunting', not without controversy.
Best known as an Indonesian handicraft, batik is a distinctive technique for textiles that has been used for millennia and can be found as far away as Egypt, Ghana, China and India. An integral part of daily life in Java, batik has spread around the world as a wellknown artform as well as clothing. From its hippy heyday to the smart couture outfits of the Singapore Girl, batik is still daily wear for many and the equivalent of black tie in the ASEAN. [more inside]
Follow that Dabbawalla For nearly 130 years, Mumbai's Dabbawallas have been delivering lunches from customers' homes to their workplaces and taken the empty tiffin boxes back again. The service, with its origins in the mid 1880s when a single textile mill worker paid an errand boy to bring him his lunch from home, is a complex system with in which color coded lunch boxes are passed from Dabbawalla to Dabbawalla to reach their destination, creating a network that, in many ways, resembles the Internet itself. [more inside]
Ahead of the global climate talks, nine photographers from the photo agency NOOR photographed climate stories from around the world. Their goal: to document some of the causes and consequences, from deforestation to changing sea levels, as well as the people whose lives and jobs are part of that carbon culture. Warming threatens lifestyle of Russian herders | Refugees flee drought, war in East Africa | Greenland’s shrinking ice hurts natives [more inside]
It has been nearly a year since the Mumbai terror attacks. Journalist Jason Motlagh has written a four part article about them for The Virginia Quarterly Review. The first part is about the initial attacks and the history of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the terrorist organization responsible. Part two continues describing the events of the first night as well as police and media responses. The third is about the events of the second day and includes intercepted phonecalls between the gunmen and their handlers as well as recounting the initial interrogation of the sole terrorist captured alive. The last part is about the last day of the attacks and the aftermath. The article has a large number of photographs and is a harrowing read.
Today would have been Indira Gandhi's 92nd birthday, had she not been assassinated by members of her own guard in her own backyard on October 31st, 1984 (I was there in New Delhi in a cab when the driver suggested it might be safer if he turned around and took me straight home). Often confused as a relative of the more famous Gandhi, fashionable, stylish and well groomed Indira was actually the daughter of India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru and used her married name, although divorced from her Parsi exhusband. Daughter and mother of Prime Ministers of India, she herself held office with an iron fist, remembered for the "Emergency", a brief period of martial law often overlooked in the democratic vibrancy of Indian politics. Will Mrs Gandhi's legacy of dynasty be continued by her half Italian grandson?
In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year, NATO may lose in Afghanistan, the UK gets a regime change, China needs to chill, India's factories will overtake its farms, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum, the stimulus will need an exit strategy, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2", African football will unite Korea, conflict over natural resources will grow, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable), technology will grow ever more ubiquitous, we'll all charge our phones via USB, MBAs will be uncool, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world. And so the Tens begin.
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
The Maskatorium: hundreds of masks collected from around the world over the past 20 years.
An Indian Doctor's Cure-All: Charlie Chaplin "Aswani's pushing sixty. He's not in great physical shape, thanks to a bad motorcycle accident years ago and also arthritis but he can do the funny walk beautifully." In a story about movies that seems like it would make a good movie itself* (or at least a moving story on This (Non-)American Life), Ashok Aswani, a practitioner of ayurvedic medicine in Adipur, India has taken the phrase "laughter is the best medicine" to its logical conclusion and hands out free DVDs of Chaplin movies to cheer up his patients [more inside]
The Big Picture: Recent Hindu festivals and rituals. "Many Hindus throughout India recently celebrated Ganesha Chaturthi, a 10-day festival celebrating the birth of Ganesh, their supreme god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. Hinduism, the predominant religion in India, is rich with traditional festivals and rituals, celebrated in many ways and locations around the world. Collected here are a few photographs from recent Hindu festivals and of Hindu devotees worshipping and practicing ritual ceremonies in India, England, Nepal and Indonesia."
The government of Delhi is claiming success in reducing female infanticide by a recent scheme to pay the school fees of poor girls. [more inside]
Kuchh Kook Hota Hai is an all singing, dancing (and possibly epileptic fit inducing) Indian cookery show (without much cooking), featuring two sassy assistants 'salt' and 'pepper'. To whet your appetite – Mutton Burger and Carrot Roll.
When you think of Hinduism, you probably don't think of suburban Lilburn, Georgia, yet it is home to BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, at over 30,000 square feet the largest Hindu temple in the world outside of India. The beautiful temple was assembled from 34,000 pieces of Turkish limestone, Indian pink sandstone, and Italian Carrara marble hand-carved by some 1500 craftsmen in India, then shipped to Georgia, where about 900 volunteers put in over a million man-hours to bring the architects' vision to fruition (YT), at a cost of about US$19m. [more inside]
UC Scientists Determine That Ancient Maya Practiced Forest Conservation — 3,000 Years Ago. "As published in the July issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science, paleoethnobotanist David Lentz of the University of Cincinnati has concluded that not only did the Maya people practice forest management, but when they abandoned their forest conservation practices it was to the detriment of the entire Maya culture." [Via] [more inside]
An American Sadhu - A seeking of holiness, resulting in disillusionment and abandonment. A very good read about one man's experience meeting a guru and his disciple, and ultimately coming full circle to "you get the guru you deserve".
"‘You have to have at least, like, a BMW or a Mercedes to join. They meet at midnight and they race their cars. The Prime Minister’s office is always calling us to complain.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because the Prime Minister can’t sleep. These engines make so much noise they keep him awake...." (via Ultrabrown)
"Its the story of our own village" ~ A journey in Indian street theatre (PDF of article) share's author Joel Lee's experiences wandering around India with three street theatre troupes. Also called the "theater of social change" this grassroots artform has become a powerful means of communication across the barriers of language, literacy and culture in both rural and urban India. [more inside]
The Art & Life of Annie Truxell [via mefi projects]: Annie Truxell is a well known painter who has lived a long and fascinating life. Her adventures have been legendary, encompassing Greenwich Village in the 50s, London in the 60s and India in the 70s. She was friends with Franz Klein, Bill de Kooning, Truman Capote, Terry Southern, Mati Klarwein & many other wild & woolly people.
New Delhi legalizes homosexuality. In a landmark ruling, the Delhi High Court has for the first time in India declared the British-era law against homosexual sex unconstitutional. Is this India's Stonewall?
June has been a good month for political upheaval and mass protest. Peru (update), China, and Iran were discussed here previously. But how many of the following were you aware of: Canada, Thailand, Honduras, Venezuela, Bangladesh, Kashmir, Pakistan, and India? The latter four reflect a quite serious electricity shortage throughout the Indian subcontinent, during a record-breaking heat wave that has caused over 100 deaths. But don't worry, not everyone is dealing with life-threatening problems. In Israel 30,000 turned out to protest a parking lot. Meanwhile, Indymedia continues to cover all the bourgeois first-world protests you've never really wanted to know about.
Van Shipley was the first electric guitarist in India. The name Van Shipley is Methodist, he [was] from Lucknow [Uttar Pradesh, India]. He designed his own electric eight string steel guitar in the 1940's. The reason he did this was that he'd studied Indian classical music under Ustad Alaudin Khan, the leading classical musician in India, who was also a contemporary of Ravi Shankar. He also studied the violin with a German teacher... so he made an eight string guitar, instead of a five string. His guitar was a solid guitar, designed to his style at the time, it was futuristic. [more inside]
Come, take a Train Ride through India. You could take the Palace on Wheels, and opt for a Luxurious Travel. Or, you can take one of the Super-Fast Trains here, according to Indian standards that is. And hey, while you're at it, how about taking a train ride to one of our Hill Stations? [more inside]
Dr. Frances W. Pritchett, Professor of Modern Indic Languages at Columbia University, New York, has created a superb online collection of resources, all about India and South Asia, its art, history, literature, architecture and culture. Her Indian Routes section (the Index page) is a particularly rich resource. Her vast, colorful and informative site also has many great images. Check out her "scrapbook pages" on the Princes l the Ghaznavids l British Rule l Women's Spaces l Perspectives on Hinduism. [more inside]
Atheistic Materialism in Ancient India. Interesting piece on the ancient Indian philosophical school of Carvaka.
Welcome to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, located to the right side of India, where you can take a ride on an Elephant on the Beach, swim with the local Fauna, and snorkel or scuba dive to your merriment. [more inside]
Scholars at odds over mysterious Indus script. The Indus script is the collection of symbols found on artifacts from the Harappan civilization, which flourished in what is now eastern Pakistan and western India between 2,600 and 1,900 B.C. A new analysis using pattern-analyzing software suggests that the script may constitute a genuine written language. [Via]
Sidi or Siddi is a "community of the descendants of African slaves and seamen, the ancestors of the Sidis came to India and Pakistan through sea trade with East Africa and the Persian Gulf around the 12th century." The slave trade between India and Africa predates the more infamous transatlantic slave trade by at least six centuries. They have a rich history which included controlling the only fort never to fall against the efforts of the British, Dutch and the Mughals. They have now, however, fallen into hard times . [more inside]
Between 16 April - 13 May the worlds largest democracy will go into action. Being India the logistics are mind boggling. Over 700 million eligible voters who will vote in over 700,000 polling stations for 1,055 political parties. The BBC goes on to explain what makes Indian elections special. University of Maryland has Forecasts and Analysis and Trends in Indian Election Politics has both insight and an interesting blog roll. As Indian Politics are more than usually corrupt and thuggish there is website dedicated to information about candidates with a criminal history. Sadly in spite of this great democratic exercise, repression of speech and miscarriage of justice will probably still be around for a while.
Bhay ho phir bhi jai ho! Be afraid, and then be victorious! Jai Ho, the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire song, was adopted by the reigning Indian National Congress Party as it's theme song. In response, this parody was released by supporters of the violently Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. And you thought the Pussycat Dolls' version was bad.
Today marks the launch of the Tata Nano. Some see this car as the next Ipod. Some have grave environmental concerns. (previously)
ASIAN DRILLPOP! Lurid junk culture artifacts from Japan, Korea, Thailand and India. Mostly not safe for work. [more inside]
Movie posters carry the movie in one still image. But they're also a great overview of trends, both artistic and popular. Modern major film posters are common enough, and if you're looking for some discussion of modern posters, Movie Poster Addict might be your scene. But dig deeper and you come across quality versions of foreign films, such as Mexican posters (deep link to a section of Pulp Morgue) or hand painted posters from Russia, India and Pakistan, even the US. MeFi's own flapjax at midnite shared a collection of recent finds from the 1960s and '70s on in this Flickr set. [flapjax at midnite's collection via mefi projects] Some-what pre-vious-ly on Me-ta-Filter. And not from MetaFilter, but from our favorite list site: 20 baffling foreign movie posters.
India’s New Face. "Meet Narendra Modi, chief minister of Gujarat and the brightest star in the Hindu-chauvinist Bharatiya Janata Party. Under Modi, Gujarat has become an economic dynamo. But he also presided over India’s worst communal riots in decades, a 2002 slaughter that left almost 2,000 Muslims dead. Exploiting the insecurities and tensions stoked by India’s opening to the world, Modi has turned his state into a stronghold of Hindu extremism, shredding Gandhi’s vision of secular coexistence in the process. One day, he could be governing the world’s largest democracy." [Via]
Destination: Out, an astounding mp3 blog devoted to mostly out-of-print free jazz and improv records, has been linked a few times on Ask, but never gotten the main-page exposure it deserves. Until now. The editors' selections are always interesting and written about well, and they're ready to go to the mat for the music. (The interview with Marsalis by the Bad Plus to which that's a response is also well worth reading.) But the real impetus for this post is only tangentially related to jazz: recently they got saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa to do a guest post on Indian (mostly Carnatic) music, and it won't be long before the links expire. Fall to! [more inside]
They call themselves Visual Journalists. Prime among them is the Bombay Flying Club, a group of photo-journalists who are using the latest web and flash technologies to frame their online news gathering and documentary storytelling. [more inside]
When Resul Pookutty won the Oscar for Sound Mixing last weekend, it's probably the first time an Oscar acceptance speech, or really any U.S. network television broadcast, has mentioned the "primordial syllable," Om, which is very important to Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists.