IDEA OF INDIA PART 4 – Spoken Word History

Of all the great civilizations of the ancient world (Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and China), India has arguably had the most difficult time separating fact from fiction in the historical record. The reason for this is probably due to the lack of written records for most of India’s history. After the collapse of the Indus Valley… Read more »

IDEA OF INDIA PART 3 – Aryavarta and the Idea of a Glorious Past

It is a common feature of human societies to venerate particular periods of their history. Almost all major cultures hark back to some Golden Age, when their ancestors lived as physical, mental, and moral exemplars of their society’s core values. For many devout Hindus in India today, that Golden Age was the Vedic era, which… Read more »


Pragya Tiwari spent two years researching the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the right-wing, Hindu nationalist organisation in India. She noted that it was Tagore who coined the phrase “Idea of India,” and that he was highly aware of the menace that nationalism could become. According to Tiwari, the RSS is fundamentally opposed to a pluralist future for India, and does… Read more »


Barkha Dutt explored some of the challenges of being a journalist, specifically a foreign correspondent, in a pluralistic and dynamic country like India. She pointed out that often foreign correspondents come under more scrutiny than other journalists for the choice of their words, because the insider/outsider dichotomy is more pronounced. This phenomenon can be observed in… Read more »


The major theme of this session was the recent rise of national parties in regional elections. Swapan Dasgupta argued that a successful political party is one that blends national concerns with local issues.According to Dasgupta, the BJP’s victory in recent elections in Assam, India, is significant because Assam is a gateway locale to north-eastern India. He argued that… Read more »


The Third Gender, or the Hijda community of India, is a sexually ambivalent community – usually treated with fear and misconception, and often marginalized or discriminated against as a result. In this very emotionally charged session led by A. Revathi and Jerry Pinto, a variety of ideas was explored, some of which were alien to conventional European academic… Read more »