POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Jan 22, 2013 AT 05:37 IST ,  Edited At: Jan 22, 2013 05:37 IST


I was just going to add a short-take to the many posts on this subject in the blog, but it does seem like a special occasion to merit a post by itself. To our old listing of some of the best resources for Hindustani classical music, viz.

we can now add Vikram Sampath's "proposed Archive of Indian Music that would act as a repository for all kinds of vintage recordings of India--Hindustani and Carnatic music, folk, theatre, early cinema and voices of great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Tagore etc and also of common Indians. These are largely 78 RPM shellacs  that have been digitized and restored..."

Set up as a private not-for-profit trust, the AOIM has been formed with the main objectives of:

  • To digitize and restore records and create a database of high quality and high fidelity recordings
  • To preserve these vintage recordings and make them available for listening to students, scholars, researchers, musicians and interested public
  • To enrich these recordings by sourcing additional information about them including biographical details of the artistes, photographs, gramophone record sleeve images and other materials of historical significance that document the era of the record

The first phase of the project is over and a pilot website is now up and running here, already featuring about 180 artists of yore and close to 600 clips. The entire listing of artists is available here.

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Jan 22, 2013 AT 05:37 IST ,  Edited At: Jan 22, 2013 05:37 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Jan 12, 2013 AT 23:59 IST ,  Edited At: Jan 12, 2013 02:01 IST

Courtesy Flickr:Attribution Some rights reserved by peretzp

Aaron H. Swartz "committed suicide in New York City yesterday, Jan. 11"

He was 26.

“The tragic and heartbreaking information you received is, regrettably, true,” his attorney, Elliot R. Peters of Kecker and Van Nest, confirmed in an email to The Tech.

Best known as co-founder of the popular internet community website Reddit, Swartz was indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly downloading millions of documents from JSTOR (for online resource Journal storage), and potentially faced up to 50 years in prison and $4 million dollars in fines. He had pleaded non-guilty. [If you wish to follow-up on that debate, Maria Bustillos provides a very thorough discussion here: Was Aaron Swartz Stealing?]

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Jan 12, 2013 AT 23:59 IST ,  Edited At: Jan 12, 2013 02:01 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Jan 11, 2013 AT 02:35 IST ,  Edited At: Jan 11, 2013 02:35 IST

File Photo

Amanda Holpuch reports in the Guardian: Evangelical Christian group helps sue California school over yoga classes:

A group of California parents are campaigning for the withdrawal of school yoga classes, believing the activity promotes Hinduism.

In an effort to promote student health, a school district in Encinitas incorporated the yoga classes into its wellness curriculum this week. But a vocal minority of parents, spurred on by an evangelical Christian group, are calling for the program to be dropped.

The parents are backed by the National Center for Law & Policy, a Christian civil liberties organization that advocates for religious causes. The NCLP, a non-profit group, said it is considering suing the school because it claims yoga is inherently religious.

Read on at the Guardian

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Jan 11, 2013 AT 02:35 IST ,  Edited At: Jan 11, 2013 02:35 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Jan 06, 2013 AT 01:48 IST ,  Edited At: Jan 06, 2013 01:48 IST

The home ministry had announced the special 181 Helpline number for women with much hype as a part of the  'Action taken by Government in Delhi Rape Case'. Kavita an activist with the Stree Mukti League described her ordeal with this helpline in Hindi, on January 2, 2013 on her blog - 'Der Raat ke Raag' and on Sanhati. An update was published on her blog on January 5, 2013 and now Shuddhabrata Sengupta has translated it on Kafila:

After several attempts, finally, we were able to get through to the new Delhi police helpline number 181 at 9:03 pm that night. The person at the other end of the line at 181 told us that our complaint has been filed, but that they were not in a position to give us a tracking number for ‘follow up’ on the complaint. To obtain this number, we were told to call at 12 pm the following day. Upon insistence,  we were given another two numbers – 27891666 and 1096. We were told that we could try calling on these two numbers ( 27891666 and 1096) We called several times on 1096 (the dedicated helpline number for reporting stalkers and obscene callers) but each time we got a message that we had reached an ‘invalid’ number. Finally, at 9:11 pm, we got through to 297891666, (the other number that we had been given by the policeman) and we were given a complaint tracking number – 36A-1. Despite this, the obscene and threatening calls from 8505898894 continued. Sickened by this continuing harassment, I tried calling again on 181. I got through once. But the person who received the phone cut the call without letting me finish what I was saying. I tried calling 181 several times after that, but no one picked up the phone.

The next morning, I called 181 at 9:17 am and 9:18 am. But there was no response. Finally, I called the chief public relations officer of Delhi Police, Rajan Bhagat, at 9:30 am on his mobile number. I told him all that had happened and gave him the complaint tracking number that I had been given the night before. I told him that I am a social activist and a journalist. He told me that I should register a complaint on 1096 and give him the complaint number. Subsequently, I called 1096 from three different phones but I still got the ‘invalid number’ message. When I called Rajan Bhagat again to tell him that this is what had happened, he shrugged the matter off by sang that what I was saying was simply not possible. When I told him that I had already filed a complaint last night, and that I had given him the complaint number, and asked why he could not follow up on the basis of last night’s complaint, he cut the phone.

Then I went to the Delhi Police website and looked up an ‘alternative number’ for the 1096 helpline number. This ‘alternative number’ is 27894455. When I called this number, I got through to a police-woman. She was the same lady who I had spoken to when I called the number (297891666) that I was given by the person manning 181 the previous evening. She told me that the process of ‘number tracing’ could take 2-3 days, because the police has to send an email to the phone company, and the phone company takes time to respond, etc., etc...

Read the full translation at Kafila

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Jan 06, 2013 AT 01:48 IST ,  Edited At: Jan 06, 2013 01:48 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Jan 05, 2013 AT 20:05 IST ,  Edited At: Jan 05, 2013 20:05 IST


Swaang Songs, which describes itself as "a Bombay based cultural group, whose members include actors, writers, music directors, musicians and producers all in the grips of the market driven Bombay film industry, but whose hearts continue to pull towards progressive politics!" put out this song written by Ravinder Randhawa in memory of the unknown citizen and as "a token of protest against the increasing violence against women in India"

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Jan 05, 2013 AT 20:05 IST ,  Edited At: Jan 05, 2013 20:05 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Jan 01, 2013 AT 23:59 IST ,  Edited At: Jan 01, 2013 23:59 IST

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Jan 01, 2013 AT 23:59 IST ,  Edited At: Jan 01, 2013 23:59 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Jan 01, 2013 AT 00:59 IST ,  Edited At: Jan 01, 2013 00:59 IST

The shocking gang-rape has been making news not only in India. In London press, Libby Purves writes in the Times: Indian women need a cultural earthquake :

Britain, in particular, tends to sentimentality about India and it has been easy, despite brave voices from within the country, to ignore the ugly faultline in the world’s biggest democracy. For murderous, hyena-like male contempt is a norm here too. Despite its modernisations, the country has taken little care to promote serious cultural change where women are concerned. A newspaper editorial there charitably describes a “twilight zone” where traditional social and religious norms are fading “while modern values based on individual liberty have not yet gained acceptance”.

But as a corrective for just this sort of view, Owen Jones had pointed out in the Independent a couple of days earlier: Sexual violence is not a cultural phenomenon in India - it is endemic everywhere:

But, in the West, Damini’s death has triggered a different response: a sense that this is an Indian-specific problem. “The crime has highlighted the prevalence of sex attacks in India,” says the Daily Telegraph; “India tries to move beyond its rape culture,” says Reuters. Again, it’s comforting to think that this is someone else’s problem, a particular scandal that afflicts a supposedly backward nation. It is an assumption that is as wrong as it is dangerous.

This is what is echoed in Emer O'Toole's widely cited article in the Guardian where she offers a critique of the press coverage ("commentators here are using the event to simultaneously demonise Indian society, lionise our own, and minimise the enormity of western rape culture"): Delhi gang-rape: look westward in disgust

Neatly excised from her account however is the relationship between poverty, lack of education and repressive attitudes towards women, and, by extension, the role of Europe in creating and sustaining poverty in its former colonies. Attitudes towards women in the east were once used by colonialists to, first, prop up the logic of cultural superiority that justified unequal power relations (the "white man's burden") and second, silence feminists working back in the west by telling them that, comparatively, they had nothing to complain about...

Elsewhere, the message is subtler, but a misplaced sense of cultural superiority shines through. For example, this BBC article states, as if shocking, the statistic that a woman is raped in Delhi every 14 hours. That equates to 625 a year. Yet in England and Wales, which has a population about 3.5 times that of Delhi, we find a figure for recorded rapes of women that is proportionately four times larger: 9,509. 

Heather Timmons and Sruthi Gottipati in the New York Times: Indian Women March: ‘That Girl Could Have Been Any One of Us’

The government does not keep statistics on gang rape, but over all, rapes increased 25 percent from 2006 to 2011. More than 600 rapes were reported in New Delhi alone in 2012. So far, only one attack has resulted in a conviction.

Sociologists and crime experts say the attacks are the result of deeply entrenched misogynistic attitudes and the rising visibility of women, underpinned by long-term demographic trends in India.

After years of aborting female fetuses, a practice that is still on the rise in some areas because of a cultural preference for male children, India has about 15 million “extra” men between the ages of 15 and 35, the range when men are most likely to commit crimes. By 2020, those “extra” men will have doubled to 30 million.

“There is a strong correlation between masculinized sex ratios and higher rates of violent crime against women,” said Valerie M. Hudson, a co-author of “Bare Branches: The Security Implications of Asia’s Surplus Male Population.” Men who do not have wives and families often gather in packs, Ms. Hudson argues, and then commit more gruesome and violent crimes than they would on their own.

Others point to the gains that women have made as triggers for an increase in violent crimes. “Women are rising in society and fighting for equal space, and these crimes are almost like a backlash,” said Vijay Raghavan, chairman of the Center for Criminology and Justice at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai. If poverty and unemployment were the only reason for these crimes, rates would already be much higher, he said, because both are constants in India.

Meanwhile, in the Hindu, Ananth Krishnan writes: In China, Delhi gang rape spurs online debate, then censorship:

The incident and the protests in New Delhi in recent days have received wide attention in China. While the brutal attack was initially highlighted by Communist Party-run outlets as indicative of the failures of India’s democratic system to ensure stability, the following protests in New Delhi triggered calls from pro-reform bloggers for the Chinese government to learn from India and to allow the public to express its voice.

The rape case was one of the most discussed topics in Chinese microblogs over the past week, prompting thousands of posts and comments. By Sunday, however, the authorities appeared to move to limit the debate: on Monday, a search for the topic triggered a message on Sina Weibo – a popular Twitter-equivalent used by more than 300 million people – saying the results could not be displayed according to regulations. The message is usually seen as an indicator of a topic being censored by the authorities.

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Jan 01, 2013 AT 00:59 IST ,  Edited At: Jan 01, 2013 00:59 IST
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