Punjab Research Group

2nd International Conference of History, GCU, Lahore 17-18 November 2014

Posted in Conferences by Pippa on November 1, 2014

PRG Meeting at Coventry University, 30 June 2012

Posted in PRG Meetings by Pippa on October 29, 2013

The meeting was kindly hosted by Shinder Thandi, Coventry University.

Prof Eleanor Nesbitt

Prof Eleanor Nesbitt

Eleanor Nesbitt, Ethnography, Religious Education and The Fifth Cup

My paper comments on issues, of concern to religious educators, which emerged from ethnographic studies conducted at the University of Warwick.  The research in question focused on UK communities of north Indian background, whose members identified themselves – in some contexts at least – as Sikh or as Hindu. The comments are made in the light of a play, The Fifth Cup, and pertain to how ‘world religions’ are defined and how they are represented in religious education.  In particular, with regard to the sensitivity of the issue of caste for pupils of South Asian origin, the article suggests that the training of religious education teachers needs to be informed by both ethnography and historical context and also raises question about curriculum content. I suggest that the ‘interpretive approach’ entails a necessary attentiveness to pupils’ experiences and perceptions, and that some issues may additionally call for expertise in pastoral care and conflict resolution.


Gurbachan Jandu

Gurbachan Jandu

Gurbachan Jandu London’s Sikh Youth as British Citizens: Identity Formation through Diversity and Discomfort

In London today, Sikh youth are challenged by the concept of “super-diversity” in the formation of British Sikh identity. To analyse this, ethnographical research was conducted in West London in the summer of 2011. This analysis is contextualised within British citizenship and national identity debates, especially with regards to the history of Sikhs in Britain. The conclusion offered is as follows; London’s Sikh youth, due to increased personal welfare efficacy and acculturation, have developed a heterogeneous identity achieved through an uncomfortable negotiation process with diversity in an urban setting. The product of this process is an increased awareness of British citizenship and national identity compared to previous Sikh generations. This development causes a disjuncture including a possible inter-generational conflict that is set to further increase the lack of coalescence in the British Sikh community. Sikhism in London could now be seen as “Sikhisms” as Sikh youth uncomfortably equilibrate Sikhism and Panjabi culture in England’s pluralised Capital. This work also utilises my own experiences as a Sikh in London.


Navtej Purewal

Navtej Purewal

Manpreet K. Gill and Navtej K. Purewal Girls’ Elementary Education in Transition in Punjab (India): Discrimination, Privatisation and Systemic Decline

Female education is a key indicator of gender equity and disparity. Statistically, progressional educational enrollment patterns and literacy of girls in India at primary level significantly lag behind that of boys. The 2004 World Bank Report Resuming Punjab’s Prosperity: Opportunities and Challenges Ahead criticised access through state education and called for a heightened role for the private sector in education provision in a state known for its paradoxial development patterns of agricultural economic prosperity alongside gender imbalance through masculine sex ratios. This article will chart available data on gender and education in the state of Punjab since the release of this report in tracing some of the immediate effects that this privatisation policy shift has had upon girls access to education. The gendered context of the household unit which informs family decision-making around girls educational opportunities, in this sense, articulates the ways in which private household space interacts with the public space in framing the economic, cultural and structural meanings of girls education, calling for a materialist analysis of gendered outcomes evident within paths towards educational attainment (Delphy 1984; Leonard 1980, 1992). Utilising secondary DISE and Census of India 1991 and 2001 data sources from 2005-6 and 2008-9; the article will highlight a qualitative change in enrolment patterns for girls. While the share of girls has improved considerably at primary stage of education (grades 1-5), it begins to decline as children move to upper primary schools (grades 6-8). The article attempts to assess the possible meanings for this trend and will analyse the data within the backdrop of privatisation policies. In order to do so the article will measure the gender disparities in different types of educational institutions (private and government) within the state of Punjab and across its districts. Enrolment is expressed in percentage or ratio, and there are several indicators representing enrolment, including Gross Enrolment Ratio, Gender Parity Index, and Percentage share of boys/girls.

Muhammad Aurang Zeb Mughal

Muhammad Aurang Zeb Mughal

Muhammad Aurang Zeb Mughal, Cultural Perspectives on Women’s Education in Rural South Punjab, Pakistan

The role of women in the rural agrarian economy of Pakistan is well established. Rural women are involved in farm activities as well as household responsibilities. There have been more sociocultural concerns over women’s education in villages than in the big cities. Recently, there has been an increase in the number of rural women getting formal education due to population growth leading to the lack of cultivable land, and the recognized role of education in socioeconomic spheres of life. Urbanization and electronic media are working as catalysts in the increased literacy rate of women. Although the unemployment rate is also higher for men, rural women have fewer opportunities for educational and professional development due to social constraints on their mobility. This paper tries to explain these constraints within a cultural context ranging from religion to the norms and values. The paper also provides an analysis of changing attitude towards women’s mobility by their families in particular and the community in general, by putting into question the empowerment of women in the new economy, and projecting some possibilities. The primary data for this study is derived from an ethnographic study of Jhokwala Village, Lodhran District, Pakistan as part of the doctoral project in anthropology while some secondary sources have also been used to inform the educational trends.


Professor Tariq Rahman

Professor Tariq Rahman

Tariq Rahman, Urdu as the Language of Education in British India

This article describes how Urdu became a language of schooling and, to a lesser extent, vocational training during British rule in India. The areas focused upon are the present-day Uttar Pradesh and the Punjab. The teaching of Urdu as well as Hindi facilitated the mobilization of the antagonistic Muslim and Hindu communal identities which led eventually to the partition of India. One part of education was the creation of pedagogical literature in Urdu which attempted to supplant the existing textual material which came to be regarded as decadent, erotic or frivolous. The new reformist canonical Urdu prose was reformist and its aim was to create a sober, puritanical, responsible and religious Muslim character imbued with Victorian values.










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The richness of the Ramayana, the poverty of a University – An interview with Romila Thapar in The Hindu

Posted in News/Information by Pippa on November 6, 2011

The controversial decision earlier this month by the Academic Council of Delhi University to drop A.K. Ramanujan’s celebrated essay on the Ramayana, Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translations from the B.A. History (Honours) course has evoked sharp protests from several historians and other scholars.

Coming three years after the Hindutva student body, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), vandalised DU’s History department to protest against the teaching of this essay, the decision has been criticised as a surrender of academic freedom in the face of political pressure.

Romila Thapar, the foremost authority on early Indian history, spoke to Priscilla Jebaraj about the decision, its adverse consequences for scholarship and knowledge, and the efforts by vested interests to project one version of Hindu cultural heritage and religious tradition over all others.

You have said that this issue is not purely about history and academia simply because it involves the Delhi University’s History Department and Academic Council, but that there’s a political background to it.

I think there’s a political background to it because the initial attack against this essay [in 2008] was led by the ABVP which made sure that TV cameras had begun to roll when they carried out the attack, so that it would be properly recorded.

Their demand was that this hurt the sentiments of the Hindu community and therefore it should be withdrawn. This is hardly an academic demand. And quite clearly, the way in which the activity was organised, it was an act of political opposition to the History department and to this particular essay.

The University initially took an academic position and appointed a committee of four historians to assess whether this essay should be withdrawn. Three experts categorically said that under no circumstances should it be withdrawn. One of them, interestingly, did not say that it hurt the sentiments of the Hindu community, but said that it was inappropriate for undergraduate teaching, that undergraduates would not follow the whole question of variants and nuances and so on. So the expert opinion again did not think it was necessary to withdraw the essay.

In spite of this expert opinion, and perhaps because the matter came up in court, it was taken to the Academic Council. And from what I can gather, there was no indication given that this issue would be discussed, and therefore people went there unprepared and suddenly had to decide on this one way or the other. And what this initial action and the reaction of the University raise are the question whether courses and syllabi can be changed by groups beating up faculty and vandalising departments. And I think this is a very fundamental question which academia has to face and answer and take a position on.

Read full article: http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/interview/article2574398.ece

PRG meeting October 2010 – University of Cambridge

Posted in PRG Meetings by Pippa on October 31, 2011

The meeting was kindly hosted by Dr Tahir Kamran, Iqbal Fellow, Wolfson College, University of Cambridge.

Ajit Singh, Emeritus Professor, University of Cambridge
Inaugural speech and some reflections on Punjab development

Kaveri Qureshi, University of Sussex
‘Hopes and Disappointment: Transnational Education in Punjab’

Iqbal Chawla, currently visiting University of Southampton ‘Lord Mountbatten’s Response to the Communal Riots in the Punjab: An Overview’
Ali Usman Qasmi, Royal Holloway, University of London ‘Sacred Violence vs State Violence: A Study of the Multiple Narratives of the Punjab Disturbances of 1953’

Shyamal Kataria, Royal Holloway, University of London
‘Sikh Refugee ‘Collective Memories’ as a Source of Ethno-national Conflict: The Case of Khalistan’


Posted in Articles by Pippa on February 28, 2010

When the British conquered Lahore in 1849, Lord Dalhousie, the Governor General, declared that he would educate the “wild illiterate Punjabis” in a new system of Anglo-Vernacular education. When they started the East India Company Board was shocked by what already existed.

The board was amazed to find that the literacy rate in Lahore and its suburbs was over 80 per cent, and this was qualified by the description that this 80 per cent comprised of people who could write a letter. Today, in 2010, less than nine per cent can do this, while 38 per cent can sign their name, and, thus, are officially ‘literate’. If you happen to read Arnold Woolner’s book ‘History of Indigenous Education in the Punjab’ you will come across some amazing facts we today just do not know. To understand the situation it would interest scholars to go through the ‘A.C. Woolner Collection in the Punjab University Library. My review is a scant one. But studying other similar pieces provides a picture of the educational system as it existed in Lahore in 1849 when the British took over.
Read full article: http://watandost.blogspot.com/2010/02/when-wild-proved-more-educated-must.html

Aesthetic Modernism in the Post-Colony: The Making of a National College of Art in Pakistan (1950–1960s)

Posted in Art, New Publications by Pippa on May 16, 2009

By Nadeem Omar Tarar,  Assistant Professor at the Department of Communication and Cultural Studies, National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan. Email: notarar@gmail.com

Published in International Journal of Art and Design Education, Vol 27 Issue 3, 2008


With the formation of Pakistan as a modern Islamic republic in 1947, the institutions of art and design education were transformed under the sway of modernization theories of development. A conceptual and physical infrastructure was put in place to modify existing institutions and to create new ones for encouraging modern art and artists in the country. The 1950s saw major developments taking place in the former Mayo School of Art which was upgraded to the National College of Arts to train designers, artists and architects to meet the requirements of a new nation. The distinction between arts and crafts formed the discourse through which the changes in art education were articulated. The process of change unleashed in art education is emblematic of the changes taking place in the other sectors of economy and culture. The Bauhaus influence which formed the initial impulse to bring artists and craftsmen in the service of national industry gave way to the competing fine art movements in painting resulting in abandoning the synthesis of arts and crafts envisaged in the earlier approaches to art education.


Jassi Khangura website

Posted in News/Information by Pippa on December 17, 2008

This website is related to The Babu Joginder Singh Benevolent Trust which has been founded by Shri Jagpal Singh Khangura and his family. The aim of the Trust is to improve the health, education and self-sufficiency of the community in the Qila Raipur Area of Punjab. This will be achieved through the implementation of numerous sustainable development projects, and donations. Some such projects are literacy (a computer-based Gurumukhi learning program), health (provision of medical vans and hygiene education), IT education and training programs for adults and youth, and water supply and sanitation. Qila Raipur constituency Punjab is at higher stage of development than other constituencies in India. Find more about villages, life events, activities, news and rural development in Qila Raipur, Punjab. 
The Trust aims to make a significant impact on the lives of the residents of the Qila Raipur Area.
For further information: http://www.qilaraipur.org

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Books not Bombs – The New York Times

Posted in Articles, Film, News/Information by Pippa on November 26, 2008

Do have a look at this short 6 minute video. It offers an alternative to bombs and perhaps more hope for the future.


Opinion by Nicholas D. Kristof in The New York Times


Books Not Bombs

While the U.S. government is fighting Islamic extremism in Pakistan with bombs, private donations are quietly financing a more important campaign: education.


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WASHINGTON DIARY: Unwarranted fears by Dr Manzur Ejaz

Posted in Articles, News/Information by Pippa on November 25, 2008

It was evident that the hateful ideology taught at our schools and colleges could not overcome the eternal compassion that people of the same culture have for each other. It revived my faith in humanity and the capacity of human beings to forgive and love each otherWhile in Pakistan for about two weeks, my hectic schedule allowed me little time to turn on the TV or read the newspaper. It was just the opposite of my usual view of Pakistan from abroad, derived mainly through the print and electronic media. What I saw was very different from what I would have expected, given the media reports.


Life was quite normal: the streets were full of school-going children and office-goers in the morning and sickening road congestion in the evening shopping hours. The scene was the same wherever I went, from Sahiwal to Sialkot. There was no mention of bomb threats or jihadi attacks in the part of Punjab where I was travelling. Although from media reports it would seem that the entire country was being run by extremists.

These aspects were exceptionally important for me, because during my visit I was hosting a group of Sikh men and women led by Dr Shahmshir Singh, an ex-official of the World Bank.
To read the full article: http://www.wichaar.com/news/294/ARTICLE/10050/2008-11-18.html

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