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Islam, Gender Relations, and Women’s Agency Workshop – India contributions needed November 19, 2015

Posted by southasiamasala in : India , comments closed

Islam, Gender Relations, and Women’s Agency

A two-day international workshop exploring Islam, gender relations and women’s agency in terms of India–Indonesia connections and comparisons

17–18th December, 2015 (9am-5pm)

Room 1.04, HC Coombs Extension (Building 9), Australian National University

This workshop will investigate connections, comparisons and contrasts between Muslim cultures in India and Indonesia, with a particular focus on gender relations, family and personal law.  Keynote speakers will be Professor Emerita Pnina Werbner (Keele University, UK), Flavia Agnes (MAJLIS, India), and Nursyahbani Katjasungkana (LBH-APIK, Indonesia). (more…)

The politics of Indian census data September 24, 2015

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Kumar, Vikas , comments closed

Vikas Kumar

Indian governments spend enormous resources to collect data — including 12 billion and 22 billion rupees on decennial censuses in 2001 and 2011, respectively. Yet they appear reluctant to release it. The latest decennial census data on religion, for example, which were released on 25 August 2015, were collected almost half a decade ago in 2011.

During the past 15 years, governments of both national parties have on more than one occasion deferred to political expediency on the question of releasing demographic data disaggregated by communities. In the process governments have contributed to the politicisation of statistics. The troubled past of the census data on religion reveals systemic problems insofar as the statistical wing of the government is insufficiently insulated from politics. (more…)

Tigers and Goats A quick report on the World Sanskrit Conference, Bangkok 2015 August 3, 2015

Posted by southasiamasala in : Taylor, McComas , comments closed

McComas Taylor

Western Marxist Orientalist scholars are chewing up Sanskrit as a tiger would devour a goat, digesting what is needed and excreting the remains. So said well-known Indian fire-brand Rajiv Malhotra at the opening of the 16th World Sanskrit Conference in Bangkok on 28 June 2015. Many of the 600 or so attendees were also surprised to learn that international scholarship on Sanskrit is fundamentally perverted by the ideas of Giambattista Vico (1688–1744). The world is neatly divided into secular leftist ‘outsiders’ (Westerners and many Indians who have been coopted by the system) who regard Sanskrit as dead, oppressive and political, and ‘insiders’ for whom Sanskrit as alive, liberating and sacred.

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Teaching Pakistan Studies: a relook July 28, 2015

Posted by southasiamasala in : Guest authors, Pakistan , comments closed

Maqsudul Hasan Nuri

Pakistan Studies is taught as a compulsory subject in schools, colleges and universities in Pakistan. However, teaching of the subject leaves much to be desired. It needs to transcend its present narrow unimaginative and stodgy content and to go beyond the narration of mere facts and events within a repetitive ideological framework. This is especially so if the aim is to build socially conscious, progressive and robust-minded Pakistani youth who are abreast with regional/global developments and needs.

Pakistan Studies, as a subject, cannot be studied in isolation. Pakistan’s recent and past history is inextricably linked with Britain, India, West Asia and Central Asia. Every nation has its own version of history, narratives and heroes to eulogize and romanticize. Although our perspectives and heroes may not be the same as perceived by our neighbours, understanding the counter-narratives offered by others would make us more empathetic to them.

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Democracy still taking root in Bhutan July 24, 2015

Posted by southasiamasala in : Bhutan, Guest authors , comments closed

Mark Turner

Bhutan was a latecomer to democracy. The small Himalayan kingdom joined the ranks of democratic nations only in 2008 when the first national elections were held and its constitution approved. But since then, how is democracy developing in the country?

Elections are the most visible symbols of democratic rule. There have been two national elections — in 2008 and 2013 — to choose the members of the partisan National Assembly and the non-partisan National Council. The system seems to be working well. The 2013 election saw greater political competition with two new parties running alongside the two original parties for the National Assembly. And there were more candidates for positions in the National Council. This non-partisan body acts as the house of review in the Bhutanese parliament.

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Realising India’s economic potential July 19, 2015

Posted by nishankmotwani in : Guest authors, India , comments closed

Peter Drysdale

India is a very large labour-abundant economy with a rapidly growing workforce and its manufacturing sector might be expected to be the primary driver of its economic growth. In fact, the manufacturing sector has contributed little to income growth and its share in total merchandise exports has been declining, as recent OECD analysis points out. Manufacturing has not brought much new employment, and most of the recent rise in manufacturing employment has been in the informal sector.

EAS India labour

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Public Seminar: Tobacco and Heart Disease: Countering the Global Threat July 10, 2015

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, News, South Asia Masala Recommends , comments closed

Presenter: Professor K. Srinath Reddy, President, World Heart Federation and the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI)
When: Wednesday 22 July 5.30pm to 6.30pm
Where: Legislative Assembly Reception Room, London Circuit, Canberra City (Opposite the Canberra Museum and Gallery)

Having trained in cardiology and epidemiology, Professor Reddy has been involved in several major international and national research studies including the INTERSALT global study of blood pressure and electrolytes, INTERHEART global study on risk factors of myocardial infarction, national collaborative studies on epidemiology of coronary heart disease and community control of rheumatic heart disease. Widely regarded as a leader of preventive cardiology at national and international levels, Professor Reddy has been a researcher, teacher, policy enabler, advocate and activist who has worked to promote cardiovascular health, tobacco control, chronic disease prevention and healthy living across the lifespan. He edited the National Medical Journal of India for 10 years and is on editorial board of several international and national journals. He has more than 400 scientific publications in international and Indian peer reviewed-journals.
RSVP
Hilde.Schneider@heartfoundation.org.au
Tel: 02 6269 2628

Public welcome

Does Pakistan need soft power? Challenges and prospects (Part 2) July 3, 2015

Posted by southasiamasala in : Guest authors, Pakistan , comments closed

Maqsudul Hasan Nuri

Pakistan lies at confluences of east, west and Central Asia. Although it has good relations with the Arab world it is intrinsically South Asian. Ties with India have to normalize as it is dragging both countries down. Since the 1990s, India has made a shift from hard power to soft power. Pakistan is a culturally diverse and rich country. It has Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic and British influences. Exhibitions, road shows, student exchanges, art, sports and cultural visits of delegations can help build the soft power of a country. Propaganda can be part of soft power, but must be based on facts to be credible. Moreover, soft power employment is less competitive and involves lesser financial and material resources. It is the power of ideas, of attraction and persuasion, that are important. But if soft power becomes too condescending the real message could be easily lost.

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Does Pakistan need soft power? Challenges and prospects (Part I) July 2, 2015

Posted by southasiamasala in : Guest authors, Pakistan , comments closed

Maqsudul Hasan Nuri

Non-traditional security has become more salient since the end of Cold War. Multiple issues, such as stagnating economies, adverse effects of climate change, energy crisis, repressive governments, cronyism and corruption, poor governance, cross-border interventions, refugees and internally displaced people, drug and criminal mafias – all necessitate revising the traditional security paradigm. Pakistan has also faced domestic turbulence in the last decade due to its proximity to war-wracked Afghanistan.

The term ‘soft power,’ coined by Harvard professor Joseph Nye Jr., gained currency in the 1990s and is now widely used in international affairs by scholars and statesmen. ‘Soft power’ is the ability to seduce, persuade and convince through values that mankind holds dear: democracy, art, culture, human rights, welfare, good governance and societal harmony. Nye differentiates between two types of power: ‘Hard power’ is ‘the ability to get others to act in ways that are contrary to their initial preferences and strategies’ On the contrary, ‘soft power’ is the ability to get ‘others to want the outcomes that you want’ and more particularly, ‘the ability to achieve goals through attraction rather than coercion’. Finally, Nye introduces ‘smart power’ fusing hard and soft power. Nye does not reject the realist paradigm, which focuses on military power, but thinks that a discreet combination will make a country vibrant and internationally credible.

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Keep foreign hands off Afghanistan June 22, 2015

Posted by nishankmotwani in : Afghanistan, Guest authors , comments closed

Gabriela Marin Thornton and Arwin Rahi

For much of its history, Afghanistan has been a battlefield for conflicts over regional influence in what has been called the Great Game. Now a weak state with deep ethnic divisions, located in a challenging security environment, Afghanistan is a key front in the pushback against terrorism.

Once again, the country has turned into a battleground for great powers, mainly in the form of proxy wars.

But if the goal is to build lasting peace in the region, the rules of the game must change. As the US withdraws its forces, regional powers such as India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and (a more recent aspirant) China should stay out of Afghanistan politics.

The Afghan government, for its part, needs to reclaim its sovereignty and oppose foreign interference in its internal politics.

An Afghan girl looks out of a damaged window of a shrine. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail

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