India Insight

First pictures of Taj Mahal to ‘Hairy family of Burma’: subcontinent photos from 1850-1910

A new exhibition in India’s capital showcases some of the earliest photographs from South Asia, taken between 1850 and 1910 when the region was under British rule.

Around 250 images from India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Nepal are on display at the “Drawn from Light: Early Photography and the Indian Sub-continent” exhibition in New Delhi.

Dr. John Murray’s images of the Taj Mahal are recognized as the first-ever photographs of the monument. The surgeon, who was employed with the East India Company, took the pictures between 1858 and 1862.

“[The exhibition] shows there was great conflict. We’ve got photographs of the famine that was hitting India while the elite cultures were developing. On the other hand they showed a kind of confluence of cultures because there were European artists or photographers who were documenting the royalty and the rising middle class,” said Rahaab Allana, the exhibition’s curator.

The photographs were collected by the Alkazi Foundation for the Arts from various sources over the years including through auctions, dealers and donations.

Photo gallery: A walk through the India Art Fair 2014

At the sixth edition of the India Art Fair, there were probably half as many photographers as there were makeshift art galleries from different parts of the world. For a photographer, a visit to an art fair of a global scale can be awe-inspiring, overwhelming and baffling at the same time.

As I walked through the many stalls in the sprawling grounds of a south Delhi suburb, I asked myself a question: how do I capture someone else’s story, one that is already etched on a canvas or an installation?

One of the most intriguing works was by Narendra Yadav – ‘That original may also be a reflection’. Portraits were hung upside down on a wall, with a mirror in the centre that also reflected upside down. Next to it was a dark room. You walk in by yourself. Stand in the centre. A mirror rolls out and you see eight reflections of your self. The display stays for a few seconds and you’re left wondering how long this would last.

Window closing on Prime Minister Singh’s planned visit to Pakistan

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Thomson Reuters)

It is eerily quiet on the fenced border between India and Pakistan in the southern plains of Jammu and Kashmir. Farmers are planting paddy, you can hear the sound of traffic in the distance from both sides of the border, and sometimes the squeals of children. Overhead in high watchtowers that can be seen from a mile, soldiers peer through binoculars at the enemy across while in the rear just behind the electrified fence with its array of Israeli-supplied sensors, soldiers are strung out in a line of bunkers. It’s a cold peace on one of the world’s most militarised frontiers.

Now the young chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, wants to change that, by cracking open the border and allowing the movement of people and trade through a road and rail route that have been shut since Partition in 1947.

From AlertNet: Water scarcity compounds India’s food insecurity

These are the personal views of Siddharth Chatterjee  and do not reflect those of his employer, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Follow him on Twitter: @sidchat1

 

Since India’s independence, the mammoth task of feeding its hundreds of millions, most of whom are extremely poor, has been a major challenge to policymakers. In the coming decades, the issue of food insecurity is likely to affect almost all Indians. However, for the poorest amongst us, it could be catastrophic. India ranks 65 of 79 countries in the Global Hunger Index. This is extremely alarming.

In the past few years, uneven weather patterns combined with over exploited and depleting water resources in various parts of India have wreaked havoc on food security, particularly for small and marginal farmers, as well as the rural poor.

Will India’s Kashmir talks offer break fresh ground?

New Delhi said this week it will adopt “quiet diplomacy” with every section of political opinion to find a solution to the problems in India-ruled Kashmir about four years after it opened a dialogue with separatist groups there.

The response to the announcement is on expected lines — the moderates welcoming it and pro-Pakistan hardliners reminding any effort at peace without involving Islamabad would be futile.

New Delhi has not yet made a formal offer for talks. But the timing of the development appears to be significant.

Guess what is not on Thursday’s front pages in India?

It’s actually on page 17 of the Hindustan Times. The Mail Today, which leads on liquor being allowed for sale in shopping malls, puts it on page 16. The Hindu, which also finds space for liquor sales liberalization on its front page, puts it on page 20.

What is it? News of the Indonesia quake and the Samoan tsunami. Last night, when these papers were being put to bed, we knew that hundreds (now probably thousands) of people had died.

Why is such major news in Asia relegated to back pages of Indian newspapers (there are some exceptions, of course) ?

Is Sri Lanka “careering back to where it was” after election?

Sri Lanka’s bloody 25-year conflict with the Tamil Tigers ended in May but commentators reflecting on the country’s first post-war elections last weekend expressed little optimism about a peaceful future for the Indian Ocean island.

The ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance swept to victory in Sinhalese-dominated Uva province and scraped a win in Jaffna, while the Tamil National Alliance — political allies of the defeated rebels — won control of Vavuniya. Both Jaffna and Vavuniya are just outside the shadow state which the Tigers controlled for decades.

“The victory in Jaffna, the heartland of the country’s ethnic minority Tamils and birthplace of militancy, will give the government a chance to claim it as an endorsement of its handling of ethnic relations, postwar rehabilitation and a rejection of separatism,” Krishan Francis of the Associated Press wrote in the Washington Post.

Indian PM’s media coup at Yekaterinburg

“I am happy to meet you, but my mandate is to tell you that the territory of Pakistan must not be used for terrorism.” This was how Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh began his crucial meeting with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in Russia’s Yekaterinburg on Tuesday.

The comment, made in the full glare of the media, hit Zardari like a well-aimed arrow as the embarrassed Pakistani leader quickly interrupted to ensure the reporters were asked to leave the room.

Those few dramatic moments may have served Singh two crucial purposes: Pakistan could not showcase the meeting as proof that it was again business as usual between the two countries. Second, Singh managed to preclude any criticism back home that India had capitulated before Pakistan.

Cricket in South Asia: critically injured?

This is not the first time cricket or cricketers were targeted in the subcontinent, especially Pakistan.

India’s 1982-83 tour of Pakistan was disrupted after rioting marred the last Test in Karachi. Who can forget the sight of scared cricketers scampering to the pavilion as an angry mob invaded the pitch at the National Stadium.

In May 2002, a car bomb exploded in Karachi in front of the hotel where the New Zealand team was staying, killing 13 people, including 11 French navy experts. New Zealand called off the tour within hours of the attack.

Obama in the White House – will he deliver?

Barack Obama takes over as the 44th U.S. President riding the optimism of millions of people and inheriting a recession and two wars that will test his skills.

Hopes are high the 47-year-old can conjure up a rescue that will jolt the world’s biggest economy back to life and contain the financial crisis ravaging global markets.

As far as India is concerned, there are apprehensions the Obama administration may place curbs on its outsourcing industry, ban any future nuclear tests and resurrect the Kashmir question.

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