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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…)

Pirates, spies, soul-stealers: spirituality transformed March 5, 2015

Posted by southasiamasala in : Black, Shameem, India , comments closed

Shameem Black

In the past decade the worldwide yoga industry has become a multi-billion-dollar business. Yet, ironically, the one country where yoga does not yet thrive commercially is the very place from which yoga is thought to originate: India. Why should this be?

This paradox emerges, in part, because the practice known as ‘yoga’ around the world is a modern invention of the globalised and capitalist 20th century. A brief look at the history of yoga may help to explain why this industry has not had a straightforward development in India.

Yoga in India has never represented an unbroken historical tradition. Although many of the postures, breath practices and meditations have their roots in classical and medieval Indian texts, the very meaning of ‘yoga’ has varied widely across texts and periods. ‘Yoga’ has been variously understood as a search to separate the spirit from bodily matter, as a quest to unite with the divine, as a tool to strengthen the nation, as a means of magic, and as a form of military training. Before the 20th century, yogis were usually depicted as sorcerers, spies and soul-stealers. They did not do very many lotus poses.


CHOGM: our complex relationship with India November 1, 2011

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

Gail Pearson

First published in The Conversation on 26 October 2011

India is one of Australia’s largest trading partners – and yet, our relationship at times appears hopelessly fraught. This week, Prime Minister Julia Gillard ruled out changing the government’s stance on uranium exports to India. This has been an increasingly contentious issue between the two countries as India seeks to further expand its nuclear-powered electricity to meet its growing energy needs. With the announcement that India will significantly ramp up its manufacturing sector to create 100 million jobs over 10 years, this pressure will only increase.

In August, India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh unexpectedly withdrew from CHOGM, opting instead to send vice president Hamid Ansari. Media reporting of concerns of racism towards Indian students has also done little to perpetuate positive views from both countries.

Emerging economic power

There is a perception that the Australian government has been unable to establish an optimal relationship with India – as a diplomatic cable leaked to whistleblower website Wikileaks revealed in March. Yet, why this is the case isn’t exactly clear. Like Australia, India was relatively unscathed by the global financial crisis. It is the fourth-largest economy in the world by purchasing power parity and the 11th by GDP. While its rate of growth has recently slowed to 7.7% against a target of 9%, India’s Reserve Bank has raised rates yet again in a bid to combat inflation.

There are 55 Indians with assets over $1 billion on the Forbes Rich List – seven are in the top 100, two are in the top 10. By the end of last year, India was our seventh largest two-way trading partner (up from 10th in 2008) and our third largest export market. By contrast, the United Kingdom is our fifth largest trading partner. In return, Australia is India’s sixth largest trading partner.

At a diplomatic level, India continues lobby for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, while we are lobbying for one of the rotating seats. There is a Strategic Partnership between Australia and India and a Bilateral Investment Promotion Treaty between the two countries. We are negotiating a Free Trade Agreement. So there is potentially much in common. (more…)