There has recently been a number of reports about the drugs problem affecting Punjab, India and I wanted to share some useful articles and documentaries. It has become a huge problem, politically, economically and of course socially. If you have any comments or links to other useful articles or references please share them via the comments option.
Glut – The Untold Story of Punjab – 2011 documentary film examining the drug problem in Punjab.
Recent debate on NDTV: Watch: Punjab’s Drug Problem – No Political Will?
Four out of 10 men addicted to drugs in Punjab by Shishir Gupta
Drug epidemic grips India’s Punjab state by Simon Denyer
‘Drug hurricane’ lashing India’s Punjab by Toral Varla
Punjab teeters on edge of crisis as 70% fall into drug addiction by Rahul Bedi
What happened to the land of plenty – Punjab? By Ushinor Majumdar
Drug abuse threatens Punjab’s population
Punjab in grip of a drug epidemic
Sinking into deep despair of a drug epidemic by Ben Doherty
[Following is a guest post by Kavita Bhanot. She is a London based writer. Her short stories and non-fiction have been published widely in anthologies, magazines and journals, two of her stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and she is the editor of the short story collection Too Asian, Not Asian Enough (Tindal Street Press, 2011.) ]
There has, of late, been a revival of Punjabi cinema directed towards and watched by Punjabi audiences. A recent addition to Punjabi language cinema, albeit less ‘commercial’ and more ‘artistic’ is the Punjabi language film Qissa: Tale of a Lonely Ghost which has been doing the rounds at international film festivals and was screened last week at the London Indian Film Festival.
The film is about the violent consequences of son obsession in a Sikh refugee family in post-partition East Punjab.Visually striking, Qissa stands out for its cinematography; the framing, the use of shadows and light, the unusual angles. It was often absorbing, most of all in the scenes between actresses Tillotama Shome and Rasika Dugal, playing the couple Kanwar Singh and Neeli who find themselves in a predicament after marriage when they both discover that Kawar is actually a woman. Their interactions quiver with layered tension and chemistry.
Ultimately, however, the film doesn’t quite come together, it seems to lack internal coherence. I found myself watching it with a sense of unease, it didn’t carry me through, and when, in the post film discussion, the director spoke about the qissa tradition, connecting his film to this ‘genre,’ my discomfort increased.
Encompassed in the title, in the main heading (Qissa) and the subheading (The Tale of the Lonely Ghost), are two very different conceptions of storytelling, the film seems to hover between both of these, but falls ultimately, in the framework of the latter.
The Qissa is a storytelling tradition that is woven into the lives, culture of Punjabis. Qissas have been retold, reinterpreted in each era, often through music – the Sufi versions of these stories that are most well-known. Rooted in time and place – it is through particularity, detail, a connection with everyday life that qissas speak to the people of the region. Waris Shah weaves into Heer, perhaps the most popular qissa, painstaking, almost sociological detail about the customs, practices, beliefs, social, economic and political structures of the time. Qissas often portray, through love stories, the defiance and rebellion of ordinary people, exploring the radical potential of love and sexuality, as lovers and their accomplices defy the conventions, religion, ‘morality’ of an oppressive society. Qissas, in this way, critique social, political institutions, challenging power at all levels. While the lovers in Sufi qissas simultaneously symbolise the relationship between devotee and pir or guru, it is through the details, the emotion and earthiness of lived life that they become metaphors, that they become universal. Sufis understood that this was the way to connect with people.
This paper was written by Dr. Nasir Rana who teaches Punjabi at the Government M.A.O. College, Lahore.
PUNJABI RESEARCH AND CRITICISM: A Brief Study
Just like other languages of the world, Punjabi literature also started with poetry. Punjabi poetry is very old and some of its earliest poets were Charpat Nath (840 A.D.-940 A.D.), Gorakh Nath (940-1031), Pooran Bhagat (970-1070) and Shah Shams Sabzvari (1165-1276). However, Baba Farid (1175 A.D.-1265 A.D.) is regarded as the first regular poet of Punjabi, born at Kothaywal near Multan. He travelled widely in search of knowledge and after getting spiritual training from Khaja Bakhtiar Kaki in Delhi, he finally settled in Pak Patan. His poetry has been preserved in the form of Shaloks. Afterwards, Ameer Khusru (1253-1325), Shah Miranji (1400-1496), Burhanuddin Janam (1586) and Guru Nanak (1469-1534) spread the message of the Oneness of God in Punjab through their poetry. Later on, Ibrahim Farid Sani (1450-1575), Damudar Das (sixteenth century), Shah Husayn (1539-1599) and Nosha Ganj Bakhsh (1452-1554) made their contributions to Punjabi poetry and literature. Shah Husayn introduced the genre of Kafi in Punjabi, while Sultan Bahu (1632-1692) laid the foundation of another genre called Se-harfi. From Baba Farid to Guru Nanak and all the other poets expressed mystical views in their poetry. In the subsequent period, Bullhay Shah, Ali Haidar, Khaja Fareed and Ameer Baloch continued the same tradition.
Punjabi literature was formally started with the inspiring poetry of Baba Farid. Later, Guru Nanak composed his poetry on similar lines and used it as a vehicle for the spiritual improvement of the people. However, the Punjabi religious literature began when (during the reigns of Jehangir and Shah Jahan); Maulvi Abdullah Abdi wrote his twelve religious pamphlets known as Bara Anvaa. These twelve religious pamphlets are: Tohfa, Nas-o-faraez, Muamlat, Uloom, Marfat-e-Ilahi, Khabirul-Aashiqeen Kalan, Khabirul-Aashiqeen Khurd, Siraji (meeras), Hisarul-Iman, Sekal Avval, Sekal Dom and Tohfa-e-Jadeed.
Besides mystical themes, romantic and amorous affairs were also discussed by some other poets. Damudar Das is the first Punjabi Romantic poet who for the first time wrote the romantic story of Heer Ranjha during the reign of Akbar. Afterwards, the same story was written by Ahmad Kavi, Charagh Awan, Pilu, Hafiz Shah Jahan Muaqbal, Waris Shah, Hamid Shah Abbasi, Fazal Shah, Bhagwan Sing, Imam Bakhsh, Maula Bakhsh Kushta and several other poets. The story of Mirza Saheban was for the first time written by Pilu. Later, Hafiz Barkhurdar Ranjha and Muhammad Yar Aleel also wrote on the same subject. Barkhurdar also wrote the stories of Sassi Punnu and Yusuf Zulaikha. Fazal Shah acquired fame by writing the story of Sohni Mahinwal while the story of Sassi Punnu written by Hashim became famous everywhere. Maulvi Lutf Ali Bahawalpuri, Mian Muhammad Bakhsh and Makhdoom Muhammad Bakhsh wrote the story of Saiful-Mulook. Imam Bakhsh wrote Badi-ul-Jamal and Shah Behram, etc. In the same way, Munshi Khahish Ali wrote Sohna Zeni and several other stories and thus made genuine contribution to enrich Punjabi poetic literature, further.
To read the full article please visit: http://www.apnaorg.com/research-papers/nasir-rana-1/
The conference will be a two day event of panel discussions, and will be held at the newly-built Interdisciplinary Building (Symposium INTS 1113) of the Riverside Campus of the University of California. The abstracts of the papers are due by December 15, 2014 and complete papers by April 15, 2015. Attendance at the seminar will be open to graduate students, faculty and the public.
Chair of the Organizing Committee: Professor Pashaura Singh
Members: Professor Verne A. Dusenbery and Charles M. Townsend
Event Coordinator: Ryan A. Mariano
cfp: Technology and Religion in Historical and Contemporary South Asia: Spaces, Practices and Authorities
For more information about the conference, please follow this link: http://www.iahr2015.org/iahr/index.html. Please note that all panel and paper proposals will be evaluated by the Academic Program Committee of IAHR and unfortunately the chair persons of this panel cannot assist you with funding for travel expenses.
Further details: Panel proposal IAHR 2015
Dr. Kristina Myrvold and Prof. Knut A. Jacobsen
We are excited to announce the launch of the next event in our series of ‘Discovering Sikhism’ open days.
Our new programme will be held at St Antony’s College, Oxford in November 2014, and will focus on exploring the history of the Sikhs under the British Raj. As ever, we are looking to provide critical historical insights and stimulating intellectual discussions on Sikh/Punjab Studies, with the aim of making academic research more accessible and engaging for a wide-ranging audience.
This year, we would like to open up our programme entirely, and invite you all to either present research papers or any kind of artistic work (be it film, poetry, song, drama, art or expressive dance!) that relates to the historical and cultural themes we intend to explore.
Please see attached a document to this email outlining further details about our ideas and goals for the 2014 open day, with a call at the end for relevant proposals to be submitted to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. It would be fantastic to have your support!
We look forward to hearing from you with submission ideas in due course, and please do feel free to forward this email on to anyone whose work you think might be valuable to include within our programme. Should you have any questions about the event or Oxford’s Sikh Society in general, do not hesitate to drop us a line.
Full details: CfP Discovering Sikhism 2014
Priya Atwal, Vice President (2014-15), Oxford University Sikh Society
The art installation, called ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’, features 888,246 ceramic poppies – one for every British and Commonwealth soldier who died during the conflict.
The poppies have been laid throughout the summer by creator Paul Cummins and a team of volunteers. Further pictures: http://www.demotix.com/news/5441679/ceramic-poppies-fill-tower-london-moat-commemorate-wwi#media-5441668
The Hindu published ‘A European war, fought by India by
If World War I resonates in such a weak, confused, and even negative way with Europeans, it is little wonder that young Africans or Indians see even smaller stakes in this year’s centenary ceremonies. This is why it is crucial to understand the war’s global scope and the role played by the British Empire and Commonwealth.
The News on Sunday ‘From the war front’ by Mahmood Awan
An account of the Punjabi soldiers who became the cannon fodder of the colonising power in World War I, and the mournful songs and literature this episode in history generated in its wake.
Read full article: http://tns.thenews.com.pk/punjabi-soldiers-on-the-war-front/#.U-CbG0gpOHl
‘Empire, Faith & War: The Sikhs and World War One’
The exhibition will be held at the Brunei Gallery at the School of Oriental & African Studies’ (SOAS), Russell Square, from 9 July to 28 September, and is the launch event of a three year project to reveal the untold story of how one of the world’s smallest communities played a disproportionately large role in the ‘war to end all wars’.
What Indian soldiers in the First World War wrote home about by David Omissi
To commemorate the centenary of India’s service in the First World War, the British historian David Omissi collected the letters of Indian soldiers away from home in Indian Voices of the Great War, published this year by Penguin. These eloquent letters offer a poignant glimpse into the lives of these Indian soldiers, whom history forgot.
South Asian Diaspora Volume 6, Issue 2, 2014
Imagining Punjab and the Punjabi diaspora: after more than a century of Punjabi migration
Anjali Gera Roy
- ‘The heart, stomach and backbone of Pakistan': Lahore in novels by Bapsi Sidhwa and Mohsin Hamid Claire Chambers
- Culture shock on Southall Broadway: re-thinking ‘second-generation’ return through ‘geographies of Punjabiness’ Kaveri Qureshi
- Punjabiyat and the music of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Virinder S. Kalra
- Tracing Sufi influence in the works of contemporary Siraiki Poet, Riffat Abbas Nukhbah Taj Langah
- Exiled in its own land: Diasporification of Punjabi in Punjab Abbas Zaidi
- (Dis)honourable paradigms: a critical reading of Provoked, Shame and Daughters of Shame Shweta Kushal & Evangeline Manickam
cfp: Relocating the Cultural linkages in South Asia: A Historical Perspective, 17-19 October 2014, Punjabi University, Patiala
The Department of History, Punjabi University, Patiala, Punjab (India) will hold its 2nd South Asian History Conference on 17-19 October 2014 at the University campus. This three day conference aims to bring together historians, academicians, research scholars working on the countries of South Asia viz. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives, Bhutan, Sri Lanka,Afghanistan and Myanmar to cover the gap in South Asian historical studies.
South Asia includes some of the most ancient countries that have made a unique contribution to world culture. These countries have strong regional affinities in as much as they share a common cultural heritage which is not totally indigenous but a product of continuous synthesis between elements, both external and internal. Peoples of South Asia belong to different races, practise different religions, speak different languages and yet share a common civilizational heritage which Arnold Toynbee calls as ‘ Indic’, No country of South Asia can comprehend its own culture adequately without taking into congnisance the cultural traditions of the region as a whole.
The aim of the conference is to historically examine the multi-centricity of the South Asian culture and demonstrate the commonness, inner dynamics and nature and extent of interaction amongst the countries of South Asia during different phases of history. It is hoped that the deliberations of scholars at the conference will rediscover the cultural linkages to foster co-operation, harmony, peace and mutuality in contemporary South Asia.
Suggested Themes: Themes might include but need not be limited to the following:
● Language and Literature ● Art and Architecture ● Philosophy, Religious beliefs and Practices ● Socio-Cultural institutions ● Socio- Religious reform movements ● Caste, Race, Gender and cultural traditions ● Science, Technology and culture ● Climate, Ecology, Environment and culture ● Cultural Adaptation and synthesis ● Search for unity in diversity
This being the centenary year of World War I , one section will be devoted to the significance of this event in world history with special reference to South Asia.
Call for Papers
The soft copy of the abstract with a maximum of 500 words, double spaced (in Times New Roman font size 12) written in English should be sent for acceptance at email@example.com on or before 10 August 2014. After scrutiny of the abstracts the authors will be notified regarding the acceptance of papers on 25 August 2014. The deadline for final paper submission is 25 September 2014. The authors should limit their papers within 15-20 pages
All participations are required to register. The scholars are required to register before or on 1 October 2014. The registration fees (which includes accommodation and food for three days) for Indian scholars is rupees 1000/-, for scholars of other countries is 50 USD. The registration fees for Indian research students is rupees 750/-, for research students of other countries is 30 USD.
Mode of Payment
The details regarding mode of payment will be conveyed shortly.
The organisers will provide accommodation to the paper presenters only.
The proceedings of the conference will be duly published in the form of a book from a leading publisher.
Further details about the programme and sessions of the conference will be duly intimated.
Contact Information Send in your queries at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us at: +91-175-3046192 +91-175-3046193
1. Dr. Jaspal Kaur Dhanju Professor and Head Department of History Mob: +91-9915583843
2. Dr. Kulbir Singh Dhillon Professor and Formerly Head, Dean Students Welfare Department of History Mob: +91-9417385002
Based on Travels of Swarn Singh Kahlon, December, 2011
Article appeared in The Sikh Review, Kolkata, February, 2014 issue.
THE ROMANCE OF BURMA
There are two romantic poems about Burma;
ONE by Rudyard Kipling (1889-90),
where he tries to relive on return to London his travels in Burma:
“By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ lazy at the sea,
There’s a Burma girl a-settin’, and I know she thinks o’ me;
For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the Temple-bells they say:
“Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay!”
AND THE SECOND
By the exiled Mughal King, Bahadur Shah Zafar who immortalised his death in Burma (1862) through the epitaph he wrote on the wall with a burnt stick:
“Kitna hai badnaseeb Zafar, dafan ke liye
do gaz zamin na mili ku e yaar mein”
This was also the period when Sikhs started to migrate to Burma; a country now renamed ‘Myanmar’. The Sikh migration to Burma was an important component of global Sikh migration and remained a popular destination for about six decades.
Many Sikhs have their relatives and friends who still talk about the Burma days even if they have returned permanently since long back. A visit was very tempting especially as my wife’s mother was born and grew up in that country. Whenever my mother-in-law and her sisters had some confidences to share they would shift to speaking Burmese even after their return three decades ago.
Read full article: Road to Mandalay
As you know this year we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Punjab Research Group. To celebrate this milestone we have teamed up with Dr Churnjeet Mahn, University of Surrey, and are planning a two-day conference at Coventry University. The conference will be supported by the AHRC project, ‘A Punjabi Palimpsest: Cultural Memory and Amnesia at the Aam Khas Bagh’. A website connected to the project can be found here: http://www.thegtroad.com.
Attached are all the details for the conference, including the programme and abstracts. If you would like to attend please complete the registration form and send this to me by Thursday 19 June. Please note that the programme for Saturday has been revised and extended.