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3 octobre 2011 1 03 /10 /octobre /2011 15:02

The State of Tamil Nadu is well known, even notorious, for the elaborate decoration of billboards, murals, and posters featuring mostly actors and politicians that appear in the public spaces of its cities and towns (figs. 01-03).1 This culture of what many see as excessive display stems from an intimate and long-lasting relation between the fields of politics and cinema, with several actors and others from the Tamil movie industry pursuing political careers.2 The political leaders who gained eminence in the state have always been ubiquitously displayed across cities and towns through iconic images, party colors, and slogans on walls, meters-high billboards and cutouts, and numerous posters. What is important to note is that this kind of imagery is not merely organized by the parties’ leaders but is mostly displayed on the initiative of low-level party supporters. Political supporters coming from lower socio-economic classes use this visibility not merely to promote their party loyalty but to make themselves visible as well.

Even though the presence of such spectacular images is widely taken for granted, the High Court document quoted above alerts us to the recurring rhetoric of agitation against them in the Tamil public realm. Newspapers regularly report on the physical dangers posed by these ubiquitous images to pedestrians struggling to navigate their way around them (as these are often placed across pavements and footpaths), and to drivers unable to see traffic signals that are obstructed by such billboards. Furthermore, it is claimed that young viewers in particular are distracted by the stunning, frequently eroticized, stills taken from new movie releases. In 2009, in the wake of extensive criticism about the defacing of public and private walls by political parties and others, the Chennai city administration attempted to intervene in the elaborate visual encroachment on its streets and initiated campaigns to regulate the ‘pollution’ caused by unauthorized forms of pictorial displays within the city. From mid-2009 onwards, the city decided to enforce a ban on posters, murals, and hoardings on two of the main roads running through the city. Billboards were pulled down and walls cleaned of posters and whitewashed, covering up the remains of the once ubiquitous murals. To beautify these roads, artists were commissioned to cover the walls with images of Tamil cultural heritage and natural scenery (figs. 04-06). Chennai's Mayor M. Subramanian declared, “Images of various cultural symbols would be painted on compound walls of government property on the two roads. …This is intended to keep those who paste posters away and improve aesthetics. Posters are an eyesore” (The Hindu, Chennai edition 29/05/2009). Anna Salai and another road in the city were chosen to launch pilot projects for a larger beautification initiative. On the success of the pilot, the project was extended to the entire Chennai Corporation limits a year later. Today, more than 3000 public walls are prohibited from being used for posters and the like.3 Moreover, Chennai is being more and more "embellished" with beautification murals: main roads, junctions, and flyovers are decorated with images of cultural and natural settings, providing parts of the city with a new look.

As can be understood from the Mayor’s words, the reason given by the city authorities for installing the beautification murals is the rising agitation over an alleged absence of what is deemed to be aesthetic, and over the excessive display of hoardings and other public imagery. In this essay, I argue instead that the needs of Chennai’s growing neo-liberal economy have catalyzed this "beautification" plan. The new murals are in fact part of a larger beautification and gentrification initiative by the city, in which Chennai is clearly presenting itself as being on its way to becoming a "world class" city. I explore how the new beautification murals can be linked to three interrelated processes that are part of this "neoliberal turn."

The first context of change is Chennai’s positioning as a "world class" city that will attract capital investors, and, related to this, the emergence of increasingly affluent neo-liberal middle-class publics."World class" can be understood as a global imaginary expressed, for instance, in architecture and the built environment, spectacular and exclusive public spaces such as shopping malls, as well as in the aspirations towards cosmopolitan life styles or globalized consumption (Brosius 2010). The imagination of "world class" seems to have become the incentive for many beautification and urban renewal projects. This has lead to the new middle classes becoming more visible in urban space, as well as brushing away selected parts of the city such as slums, or inhabitants such as street vendors, who pose a problem for such an image. The gentrification of the city is part of new "spatial strategies" in the urban environment that create or reinforce social distinctions (Deshpande 1998).

Second, following Abidin Kusno (2010), I propose that the new beautification images seem to constitute social and political identities as well as reinforce old political ideologies. The particular history of image display in Tamil Nadu, in which urban space has been used extensively for political and cinematic publicity purposes, is strongly entangled with the conventional political practices of the State. Now, just as public space demands gentrification and beautification in order to attract foreign investors, the political system demands an image cleanup as well, as populist politics are deemed inappropriate in a neo-liberal environment. Therefore, the visual environment as backdrop for conventional political practices has to be cleansed to brush away suggestions of populist politics. At the same time, however, the beautification murals with their focus on Tamil or Dravidian history and their mural form seem to reinforce the parties’ focus on ideological Dravidian origins and identity, only now more focused on a generic Tamilness.

This brings me to the third process. The murals are aimed at rebuilding present-day Chennai and its image for an aspired future. At the same time, they embody nostalgia for the past rooted in the image of a collective history and identity. As the city aspires to become a world-class city through urban renewal and novel architecture, the beautification murals mostly refer to the "traditional" past. I suggest that the murals figure as monuments of collective identity and memory (Rowlands and Tilley 2006) through which a uniform, idealized, and consumable history and future can be (re)installed or (re)created. As hyper-real objects (Eco 1990; Baudrillard 1994), the murals seem to cater towards the desires of the new, affluent middle classes to consume "tradition" in a simplified "postcard" history, a process which I will refer to as neo-nostalgia (Ivy 1988; Hancock 2008). As consumable historic narratives, they actually become more potent than that to which they actually refer. Moreover, this history, assembled from fractions of cultural values and moralities, is deemed lost by the city authorities in urban lifestyles, and thus in need to be instructed as well.

Taking these three processes together, the production of murals indicates a move on the part of the city authorities to embrace neo-liberalism and its publics through an emphasis on the aesthetic and the traditional while sidelining conventional political practices and loyalties. The murals turn the city into a postcard spectacle; a spectacle of aspirations, nostalgia, beauty, tradition, and moral pedagogy. They show a shift from more common uses of public space and taste to elitist visualities. In the meantime, unauthorized or "spontaneous" uses of public space are being replaced not only by sanitized, beautified images, but also by new, other imaginings and desires regarding what the future, history, culture, and beauty should be.

1 I have presented this paper on different occasions. I would like to thank all who responded with comments and questions that helped me shape it to its current form. I would particularly like to thank Christiane Brosius, Steve Hughes, Kajri Jain, Sumathi Ramaswamy, Patsy Spyer, S.V. Srinivas, A. Srivathsan, Mary Steedly and A.R. Venkatachalapathy for their valuable comments, suggestions, and insights.
2 For an elaborate account on the use of cinematic imagery in political discourse, see Jacob 2009.
3 Public walls are compound walls of government property.

Chennai Beautiful:
Shifting Urban Landscapes and the Politics of Spectacle

By Roos Gerritsen
This essay comprises of 4 pages plus a gallery. How to navigate them.

“An area meant for preserving greenery by the Agricultural Department opposite to the Gemini fly-over has been completely blocked from the view of the public by huge advertisement hoardings… Just opposite to the High Court in front of the Bar Council Office there is an advertisement board which is placed across the pavement, causing nuisance to the traffic and the pedestrians. If one goes down the Nungambakkam Bridge towards Poonamallee High Road, one can see a long advertisement board which must be about 300 feet in the length…We are not even worried about the obscene advertisements, mostly by film producers and Cinema theatres, which can be taken care of by appropriate existing legislation. But we are worried about the size and location of the innumerable hoardings simply spoiling the aesthetic beauty of the City and some of the modern buildings which have (been) built artistically with the help of architectural experts” 

(Excerpt from High Court Document 2006. Cited from Note 2007, 139)

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3 octobre 2011 1 03 /10 /octobre /2011 14:59

Consider figure 02 titled New India, possibly published sometime between Indian independence on August 15, 1947, and the so-called “accession” and “integration” of princely states between August 1947 and 19516 and the states re-organization that began in the mid-1950s.7 The lion capital (the newly installed national emblem), and the tricolor national flag at the top of the print suggest that this print was possibly meant to celebrate the arrival on the political landscape of the Republic of India on January 26, 1950.8 Although “India” is not named as such, and is instead cartographically depicted as a proliferation of numerous constitutive units, all meticulously delineated and named, the newly created Pakistan is identified, as are other neighbours (Nepal, Burma, and Ceylon), the colour green reserved as in many such maps and prints for the new Muslim country. This print adheres to the terms of state cartography in its general conformity to national boundaries as these began to be inscribed—in a highly contested process that ensued after the so-called Radcliffe award of August 1947—in normative maps. And yet, what sets New India apart from normative maps of the country and makes this an instance of “barefoot cartography,” is the presence of the heads of the leaders of the nation—the “big men” of India—arranged in roundels around its borders. It is almost as if the newly-won national territory cannot be merely shown as empty cartographic space, marked off by geometric lines and blocks of hues, and instead needs the legitimizing presence of these faces, left un-named but well known to any patriotic citizen as the men who had led India to freedom. These familiar faces then appear to introduce the recently configured national territory (the nation’s “geo-body”)9 to the citizen-subject, lending their recognizable—and possibly comforting—presence to the new spatial reality that had come to fundamentally alter the lives of everyone on the subcontinent after August 14-15, 1947.

There are other examples in the Priya Paul Collection of similar prints from the dawn of Independence that resemble a prolific genre of popular imagery that is called the school or educational chart.10 In figure 03, also titled New India, the emphasis is certainly on distinguishing Pakistan (in deep green) from the “new” India, but the artist—whose name might well be R. S. Mukherjee, as printed on the bottom right—also appears to be keen on showing the continuing presence of the so-called “princely” states which are set off in bright yellow within Indian national territory—not yet divided up into the fourteen new administrative units—colored red. Gandhi beams down on the newly created nation-state, his haloed presence possibly dating this print to after his death in January 1948, although by the time of his death the vast majority of these princely states had merged into India or Pakistan (some rather contentiously), dissolving their autonomous identities over the course of 1948-49.11 Such prints also appeared in the many languages of India (as instanced in the Hindi example in figure 04 and a Bengali reproduction titled Bijayer Pathe in figure 05, with “Netaji” Subash Chandra Bose joining Gandhi). In New India No. 2 (Figure 06), such big men are displaced by the Everyman, tilling the soil of the nation to yield a rich harvest, while Gandhi smiles down on vignettes of the patriotic-bucolic (although one suspects that he might not have entirely approved of the presence of the industrial-scale technology in the fields of Nehruvian India).

6 The classic “eye-witness” treatment of this process can be found in Menon, V.P. 1956. The Story of the Integration of the Indian States. New York: Macmillan. See also Coplan, Ian, 1997. The Princes of India in the Endgame of Empire, 1917-1947. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 229-287; Ramusack, Barbara, 2003. The Indian Princes and their States. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 245-274; and Guha, Ramachandra, 2008. India after Gandhi (New York: HarperCollins), pp. 51-96. None of these studies however discuss the role that cartographic knowledge and maps obviously played in this complicated and contentious “endgame of empire,” and the so-called “bloodless revolution.” Covering about 1/3 of British India in area, over 550 in number with varying legal arrangements and degrees of sovereignty and privileges, the autonomous princely states more or less lost hope by June 1947 to strike out on their own, and had to choose between joining either India or Pakistan. By August 15, 1947, most had joined India, and those that had not (such as several states on the new Indo-Pak border, Junagadh, Hyderabad, and Kashmir) did so over the course of the next few months, but they only progressively merged with the “provinces” of India over the course of the next couple years, or formed autonomous “states unions.” A document issued by the Government of India in 1951 proudly noted, “On the eve of independence the map of India was studded with as many as 562 States…These yellow patches on the map of India have now disappeared. Sovereignty and power have been transferred to the people. The edifice of new India has arisen on the foundation of the true patriotism of the Princes and the people” (Government of India. 1951. Democracy on March. New Delhi: Publications Division, no page number mentioned).

7 Although the demand for internal reorganization of provinces conforming to linguistic (and ethnic) identity goes back to the 1920s, it is only in 1953 with the carving out of Andhra Pradesh out of Madras and the passage of the States Reorganization Act in 1956 that this became a geo-political and cartographic reality. The creation of Maharashtra and Gujarat in 1960, and the re-ordering of Punjab in 1966 further altered the map of post-colonial India. Despite the transformative importance of the mid-20th century “states reorganization,” there is no single rigorous scholarly study of this process, and no analysis of the manner in which cartographic knowledge played a role in the process (Although Guha titles his chapter “Redrawing the Map,” there is no allusion to how maps were actually used in the process of this re-drawing. See India after Gandhi, pp. 189-208).

8 One of the less-studied symbols of the new Republic, the lion capital has been discussed in Nair, P. Thankappan. 1987. Indian National Songs and Symbols. Calcutta: Firma KLM Pvt. Ltd, pp. 74-97. Despite strict injunctions against non-official use of the national emblem, especially for commercial purposes, the lion capital appears in many popular prints from the 1950s (for some dramatic examples, see Neumayer, Erwin, and Christine Schelberger. 2008. Bharat Mata: Printed Icons from the Struggle for Independence in India. Delhi: Oxford University Press, Plate 58; Ramaswamy, The Goddess and the Nation, figures 33, 37; and Singh, Amrit Kaur, and Rabindra Kaur Singh. 2003. Images of Freedom. New Delhi: Indialog Publications, Plate 22). On the semiotics and politics of the national flag, see especially Virmani, Arundhati. 2008. A National Flag for India. Rituals, Nationalism and the Politics of Sentiment. New Delhi: Permanent Black, and Roy, Srirupa. 2006. A Symbol of Freedom: The Indian Flag and the Transformations of Nationalism, 1906-2002. Journal of Asian Studies 65 (3):495-527.

9 Thongchai Winichakul introduces this term to refer to the novel representation of territory as an objectified bounded whole created by the sciences of geography and cartography. “Geographically speaking, the geo-body of a nation occupies a certain portion of the earth’s surface which can be objectively identified. It seems to be concrete to the eyes and having a long history as if it were natural…The geo-body of a nation is merely the effect of modern geographical knowledge and its technology of representation, a map” (Thongchai Winichakul. 1996. Maps and the Formation of the Geo-Body of Siam. In Asian Forms of the Nation, edited by H. Antlov and S. Tonnesson. London: Curzon Press, p. 70).

10 Sirish Rao, V. Geetha, and Gita Wolf. 2001. An Ideal Boy: Charts from India. Stockport, U.K./Chennai: Dewi Lewis Publishing/Tara Publishing. In this important work that draws our attention to this visual form and pedagogical tool that has been hitherto ignored by scholars, the map of India is featured in some charts (pp. 63, 111). Despite its presence as a “school article” in one such chart (p. 47) and on the wall in the school room (pp. 9, 17, 23, 25, 84), the authors do not analyze wall maps which begin to appear in Indian classrooms from the early years of the nineteenth century but especially after the 1850s, as the paradigmatic form of this kind of pedagogical tool used especially for science education.

11 Hyderabad was the most intransigent of the hold-outs and was compelled through military action to join India in September 1948. By November 1949, “only 6 of the 552 states that had acceded to India—namely, Hyderabad, Mysore, Bhopal, Tripura, Manipur and Cooch-behar—remained as separate entities within their old boundaries” (Copland, Princes of India, p. 263). This list does not include Jammu and Kashmir, which although by this time a part of India, was a partitioned state; Sikkim and Bhutan also remained nominally independent.

Artful Mapping in Bazaar India

Teaching the Nation’s Map Form:

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3 octobre 2011 1 03 /10 /octobre /2011 14:57


Dear friend. May God’s protection be with you. This Eid card is the proof that despite being far away your memory is still alive in my heart. On this auspicious day, I pray from my heart for your happiness and prosperity.
Urdu message at the back of an Eid card printed by IPC Co. Bombay, circa 1940

In the 1970s and 1980s, a few days before the festivals of Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Zuha, I regularly visited the Urdu bazaar opposite Jama Masjid in old Delhi with my parents to buy visually attractive Eid cards, then wrote short messages of greetings and salutations for friends and relatives residing in other towns, and dropped these into the nearby post box. And true to expectation, within a couple of days the postman would start bringing a rich and colourful harvest of Eid cards from the other end as well. But over the years this traffic of greetings has slowly dwindled to hardly any cards being sent out by many families any more. In this age of email, SMS and online social networking when sending handwritten messages by post has become a rarity, it would be worthwhile to revisit the early days of Eid cards in South Asia, especially to see how they emerged as popular vehicles of iconography across cultures via the postal networks. While Eid greeting cards have existed in most Muslim societies, this essay looks at some unique South Asian examples obtained from the archives of collectors such as Priya Paul, Reena Mohan, Omar Khan and others, including my own (Fig. 01).

A few words on the sources of vintage Eid cards

To put these images in a historical and geographical context, one could first try to explore the origins of most such Eid cards in these collections. The early examples of Eid cards (and other posted letters/cards in the Priya Paul and other collections) reveal that there was heavy postal traffic between Delhi, Lahore and Bombay (besides other towns like Lucknow, Karachi, Calcutta, Rangoon, etc.) in the 1930s and 1940s, comprising business letters, picture postcards and personal communication. While most material in Priya Paul’s collection dates back to early 20th century, Priya herself is a relatively young collector, having started her acquisitions of popular art in the early 1990s. Since much of the material (postcards, stamps, labels and posters) during the digitisation in 2008 was found already grouped in folders, bundles or stacks as if these were meticulously preserved during their time of production/circulation by different collectors, one assumes that Priya mostly acquired the already curated “collections” from art dealers and other sources rather than collecting individual items. This is similarly the case with Delhi’s Reena Mohan who purchased a chunk of these postcards from a “dealer” in Mumbai. While their sources are spread all over India,1 a larger chunk comes from old parts of towns like Delhi and Mumbai via some dedicated dealers who scout at the street level, going from house to house. I tried meeting some of these art dealers in old Delhi in order to assess where the material might have originated.

We know that the partition of British India in August 1947 is a major event in the recent history of Delhi, leading to a large-scale migration of people to and from the capital city, most of it in violent and hurried manner. In the incidents of arson and looting that accompanied Partition, several homes and shops were damaged or burnt, and people’s belongings and merchandise lost. The newly arriving migrants decided to sell furniture, valuables, and other ephemera they found or looted from the homes of the evacuees, and brought some to Delhi’s localities such as the back of Red Fort, Daryaganj, Karol Bagh and Lajpat Nagar, at least one of which later came to be known as kabadi (junk) market or chor bazaar. Since Delhi had seen better days of erudite culture and arts during the Mughal and early British period, the volume and quality of such ephemera was so enormous that the junk dealers made fortunes in selling and buying it – a lot of it was resold by the collectors until recently.

Partition evacuee property also comprised printed material and images, especially posted envelopes, periodicals, advertisements, pamphlets and packing material etc., most of which might have been destroyed as waste material. It is only recently that such popular ephemera (that is not considered “antique” art) is becoming valuable with the collectors. According to one dealer, one could not have imagined that this kind of printed material would also fetch money one day. But obviously, not everything in Delhi’s junk market is Partition evacuee property – things come into the junk market even today. Delhi’s dealers visit even nearby towns such as Meerut, Saharanpur, Moradabad, Aligarh, and others to find material in old houses (some of Priya Paul’s material has been collected from such towns). Similarly, Omar Khan’s Imagesofasia.com (one of the sources of early Eid cards for this essay) depends somewhat on  pre-1947 family collections in Lahore, featuring Eid cards sent from Bombay or even from Lahore to foreign destinations. Since the website focuses on postcards of many Asian countries, the richness of its collection suggests that colonial towns like Lahore, Bombay, Delhi and Calcutta were the hubs of postcards publication and much postal traffic between Asian cities. Hence the early Eid cards and related postal documents in this essay should be seen in the context of their production and flow between these towns.

1 According to Priya, she has been picking up popular ephemera from all kinds of “antique” shops she visits in towns like Baroda, Mumbai, Kolkata and so on, despite her busy schedule.

Eid Mubarak:

By Yousuf Saeed

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3 octobre 2011 1 03 /10 /octobre /2011 14:31


Romantic comparisons are a staple of the tourist industry. That is, after all, how Udaipur became the “Venice of India,” and then “the Kashmir of Rajasthan.” But the title of “the Norman Rockwell of South India” as a description of the South Indian popular artist, K. Madhavan, (as revealed by his wife, Pankajakshi Ammal), suggests a considerable stretch beyond the insular world of mid-20th century Madras.

How this epithet was devised or circulated is unclear to me; however, it now makes sense that the two artists’ careers should be compared, and particularly Rockwell's forty years doing the covers of Saturday Evening Post and then Look, and Madhavan's ubiquitous colour covers for Tamil periodicals like Ananda Vikatan, Kalaimagal, and Mutharam (Fig. 01).1 The two artists were almost contemporary, working from the early part of the 20th century to their deaths in the late 1970's, but more important was their celebrated capture and codification through reproduction of poignant moments in the life of their respective cultures. Both have been subject to the reproach of the art establishment for what was perceived to be their saccharin sentimentality.

Although Rockwell visited India in 1962, and did a famous Post cover of Nehru the same year, he probably never imagined he had a counterpart in this country. If the influences of popular culture had been more evenly distributed globally in the 20th century, Norman Rockwell might have been known as “the K. Madhavan of Middle America”. Bollywood came too late.

The graphic mythmaking of both Rockwell and Madhavan became so influential that their most beloved designs seeped into a diverse range of vehicles, well beyond the magazine covers where they often originated. This essay begins to reclaim the biography of an exceptional artist, to look at the stunning diversity of his production and to consider his contribution to the aesthetics of 20th century India. This attempt is constrained by the fact that there is no archive of his work of which I am aware and I so far have access to only a few more than one hundred of the thousands of images he created. Most of these have been excavated from the informal inspirational archives (dusty piles of old prints) of other artists who worked for the popular market.

K. Madhavan, shown in Figure 02 near the end of his life, was born in 1906 in Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram), the second son of Kesavan Asari and Kaliammal. His family name was Vayalil Veedu. His great-grandfather, Ananthapadmanabhan Asari, was an accomplished ivory craftsman. His father worked in wood and ivory.  Madhavan's elder brother, Narayanan Asari, was also a skilled ivory craftsman famed for his St. George figures. His mother’s family, the Thazhasherri Veedu,  were one of the families of the renowned Palkulangara guild of ivory craftsmen. A maternal uncle, Padmanabhan Asari,  was head of ivory carving at the Trivandrum School of Arts and Crafts, where Madhavan studied. The artistic traditions of his family and community were patronized by the royal family of Travancore. According to Sharat Sunder Rajeev, a descendant of this community, the intensive artistic training from both his paternal and maternal relatives bequeathed to Madhavan the knowledge of the nuances of representing Gods and Goddesses and a keen eye for detail.

In 1929, he shifted to Madras where, like many artists of this period (and particularly Malayali artists), he found work with drama companies as an actor, singer and backdrop painter. He was introduced to drama backdrop (purdah) painting by Kannaiah of the Kannaiah Company, a leading theatrical outfit at that time. He is also reputed to have studied painting with Devarajulu, a friend of Hussain Bux, who was a well known artist in both Tamilnadu and Kerala. He is said to have worked for other drama companies as well, including K.S.K Nadar, and T.K. Bros. In this way, he shared an early orientation to all his painted work with other significant painters of South India, including the Kovilpatti group (Inglis, 1999). Here, as in Bengal and elsewhere in India, the connections between printed images and popular theatre are “not only metaphorical and referential but also historically demonstrable” (Pinney, 2004, 34-35).

His "break" seems to have come in the film industry, where he pioneered the production of huge painted banners that announced the opening of popular films. Preminda Jacob credits him as a “master artist of the first generation of banner painters” (Jacob, 2009, 26). By the 1940's he was painting sets and banners for several studios, including Gemini (K. Jain, 2007, 152). He was responsible for painting the banners for S.S. Vasan's Chandralekha (1948) which were deemed a landmark in the film publicity industry. As a teaser, an empty banner was first put up, which was then followed in stages by details of the production house and the film (Ramanathan, 2010). S.S. Vasan, the Gemini Studios founder, called Madhavan "the Father of Movie Banners."2

Even more persuasive are the sentiments of the late banner painter Laksmipathy of the Mohan Arts banner company in this excerpt from a 1990 interview with Preminda Jacob. Of the great “genius” artist, Laksmipathy said, “All of us learned by watching him. He provided the inspiration through which many developed. He was the person who introduced us to the technique of using several colours to create effects. Seeing him we were all astonished. We thought, aa-da-da we could have done it this way!” (quoted in Jacob, 2009, 44-45). The pivotal role of Madhavan in this field was confirmed by Jacob’s interviews at ten other banner companies.

Multiformity and Repute in the Work of a 20th century Artist

Stephen Inglis

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2 octobre 2011 7 02 /10 /octobre /2011 10:39

Image Source: www.topnews.in

A Dussehra get-together is planned on Saturday 8th October 2011. All new and old members of Indians in Toulouse and of course the newly arrived Indians in Toulouse are most welcome. On this occasion we are planning to have a few cultural programs (Dance, Dandiya etc.). If you are willing to participate or organise any such program, please feel free to contact one of the organizers (see contact details below). We wish to see you all there on this fun filled day.

Date: Saturday, 8th October 2011

Time: 17h00 – 22h00 (Detailed agenda will follow shortly)

Venue: Salle Clement Ader, ISAE –SUPAERO, 10, Avenue Edouard Belin, 31055 Toulouse (Google map)

Participation: Free. Food contribution expected for the Potluck Snacks and Dinner ;-)

In order to help us organise the logistics, please fill in the registration form before the 5th October 2011.



  1. The hall that has been booked is in the university campus. There are some stringent security restrictions. Please bring your Passport as Identification document.
  2. Permission has been allotted for around 50 people. So the participation will be based on the registration with a FCFS criteria.
  3. Public transport to reach the venue: Tisseo Bus 68 and Bus 108. Get down at stop ISAE CAMPUS SUPAERO
  4. As always the dinner will be a potluck where each one participant brings what he/she can (food, snacks, desserts, juices etc.) and we all share it. The quantity of the items to bring is up to you. 
    • Please do bring your own serving spoons and other accessories to serve food.
  5. The Organizers will arrange for disposable plastic plates, spoons, glasses and paper napkins.
  6. There is no provision of any cooking equipment at the Venue.


Contact points:

Venue related queries:
Debajyoti Upadhyay: 06 46 68 47 24; itsdebajyoti AT gmail DOT com

Cultural programs:
Sanchita Chowdhury: 07 77 72 26 96; sanchita DOT chowdhury AT hotmail DOT com

General queries:
Ankit Raj Mathur: 06 69 49 60 12; ankitrajmathur AT gmail DOT com
Yogesh Parte: 06 28 35 00 41; yogeshparte AT gmail DOT com
Bhaskar Chaudhury: 07 77 72 26 96; bhaskar DOT chaudhury AT gmail DOT com
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2 octobre 2011 7 02 /10 /octobre /2011 10:30

Worship Skandmata on Fifth Day of Navratri :navratri-300x229.jpg
Skandmata is the form of Goddess Durga when she take incarnation of Parvati and gave birth to Lord Skanda or Kartikeya. She is known by her sons name as Skandmata. Skandamata rides on Lion with six faced Kartikeya on her lap. The mantra for worship of Goddess Skandamata is :
( i ) Om Devi Skandmatayayi Namah (Do 108 recitation of this mantra)
( ii ) Sinhaasangataam Nityam Padmaanchit Kardwayaa | Shubhdaastu Sadaa Devi Skandmata Yashaswini ||
Which means, Skandmata who rides on Lion with Kartikeya, holds lotus in her two hands and Varmudra in one hand, be propitious to me.
Skandmata take care of a devotee as her own child. Devotees must worship Skandamata specifically if they have may obstacles in life. Skandmata then take care of devotee as her own child and remove his all obstacles.

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30 septembre 2011 5 30 /09 /septembre /2011 18:37

Fête de Dusshera

      Navratri Durga Puja Bijoya Dashami 



Samedi 8 octobre 2011

A  partir de 18 heures

Hall Clement Ader
10, Avenue Edouard Belin, 31055 Toulouse


Contact: https://sites.google.com/site/indemidipyrenees

Facebook : LaPorte del’Inde


                      Entrée gratuite : repas-partage où chacun amène un plat

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30 septembre 2011 5 30 /09 /septembre /2011 18:27

The Transformation of Tamil Literature in Nineteenth-Century South India

Sascha Ebeling - Author

 Details the transformation of Tamil literary culture that came with colonialism and the encounter with Western modernity.

A true tour de force, this book documents the transformation of one Indian literature, Tamil, under the impact of colonialism and Western modernity. While Tamil is a living language, it is also India’s second oldest classical language next to Sanskrit, and has a literary history that goes back over two thousand years. On the basis of extensive archival research, Sascha Ebeling tackles a host of issues pertinent to Tamil elite literary production and consumption during the nineteenth century. These include the functioning and decline of traditional systems in which poet-scholars were patronized by religious institutions, landowners, and local kings; the anatomy of changes in textual practices, genres, styles, poetics, themes, tastes, and audiences; and the role of literature in the politics of social reform, gender, and incipient nationalism. The work concludes with a discussion of the most striking literary development of the time—the emergence of the Tamil novel.

“…[Ebeling] provides a detailed philological study of the Tamil texts, especially the poetics of Minatcicundaram Pillai and the Pulavars and the emergence of the Tamil novel. The transliterated Tamil texts following the epilogue make this book valuable indeed.” — CHOICE

“This is a pathbreaking study of textual materials that have not been examined before in an English-language publication. It fills a major gap in our understanding of nineteenth-century literary culture in South India specifically and in India generally.” —Srilata Raman, author of Self-Surrender (Prapatti)to God in Sårīvaisnavism: Tamil Cats and Sanskrit Monkeys

“This book is impeccably grounded in philological expertise, and the author displays mastery of the language and the complex texts that he discusses. The entire book is conceived with great elegance.” — Indira Viswanathan Peterson, coeditor of Tamil Geographies: Cultural Constructions of Space and Place in South India

Sascha Ebeling is Assistant Professor of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago.

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables
Preface and Acknowledgments
List of Abbreviations
Note on Transliteration, Pronunciation, and Translations of Tamil Primary Sources

Chapter 1

Colonizing the Realm of Words: Literature and Colonialism
Tamil Literature in Nineteenth-Century South India
How to Ignore a Century of Literary Production
A Century of Cultural Change
In Search of a Lost Literature: The Chapters of This Book

Chapter 2

Mapping the Universe of the Pulavar: Ti. Mīnātcicuntaram Pillai (1815–1876) and the Field of Traditional Literary Practices
Pulavar Education and Pre-Modern Tamil Poetics
The Pulavars’ Genres: Pirapantam Works and Temple Myths (talapurānam)
Scholarship in the Name of the Lord: Monasteries as Patrons
When One’s Fame Rises to the Heavens: The Pulavars’ Economy of Praise
“Addressing the Assembly of Poets” (avaiyatakkam)
The Public Premiere (arankērram)
Occasional Poems (tanippātal) and Epistolary Poems (cīttukkavi)
The Spoken and the Written Word: Composition, Performance, and Transmission
Of Gods and Kings: Themes and Contents of Pulavar Literature 
The Uses of Akam Poetics in the Nineteenth Century: The Kulattūrkkōvai (1853)
Makāvittuvān Ti. Mīnātcicuntaram Pillai: A Poets’ Poet

Chapter 3

Pulavars and Potentates: Structures of Literary Patronage at the Zamindars’ Courts and Beyond
Literature and Rituals of Courtly Representation
The System of Literary Patronage at the Zamindars’ Courts
A “Who Is Who” of Nineteenth-Century Royal Patrons and Their Poets
Ramnad and Sivagangai
Smaller Zamindaris
Of Beauty and Benevolence: Themes of Courtly Literature
Kāmas's Arrows Whizzing Past the King: Royal Panegyrics and Eroticism in the Cētupati viralivitutūtu
The Pulavar in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction: Changes in Patronage

Chapter 4

Toward the Modern Tamil Author: The Colonial Critique of the “Vernacular” and Māyūram Vētanāyakam Pillai (1826–1889) as an Agent of Change
Māyūram Vētanāyakam Pillai: A Biographical Reconstruction
Writing for “the moral improvement of the Natives of India”: The Nītinūl (1859)
Law, Women’s Education and Devotional Poetry: Vētanāyakam Pillai's Other Writings

Chapter 5

The Emergence of the Tamil Novel
The History of Prathapa Mudaliar (1879): An “approximation to a novel”?
The History of Suguna Sundari (1887): A “longwinded moral tale, weary and unprofitable”?
The Fatal Rumor or The History of Kamalambal (1893–1895): “Vedanta through fiction”?
Further Comparisons

Chapter 6


The Dating of the Cētupati viralivitutūtu Revisited
Chronological Table of the Earliest Tamil Novels Published Before 1900
Original Tamil Texts Quoted and Annotations


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30 septembre 2011 5 30 /09 /septembre /2011 18:23

Explores the transformation of Hindi poetry as it reflects a changing society during the period from 1885 to 1925.

Kāma’s Flowers documents the transformation of Hindi poetry during the crucial period of 1885–1925. As Hindi was becoming a national language and Indian nationalism was emerging, Hindi authors articulated a North Indian version of modernity by reenvisioning nature. While their writing has previously been seen as an imitation of European Romanticism, Valerie Ritter shows its unique and particular function in North India. Description of the natural world recalled traditional poetics, particularly erotic and devotional poetics, but was now used to address sociopolitical concerns, as authors created literature to advocate for a “national character” and to address a growing audience of female readers.

Examining Hindi classics, translations from English poetry, literary criticism, and little-known popular works, Ritter combines translations with fresh literary analysis to show the pivotal role of nature in how modernity was understood. Bringing a new body of literature to English-language readers, Kāma’s Flowers also reveals the origins of an influential visual culture that resonates today in Bollywood cinema.

Valerie Ritter received her PhD in Asian Languages and Literature from the University of Washington and has taught at the University of Chicago and the University of Virginia.


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30 septembre 2011 5 30 /09 /septembre /2011 18:16

Les équipes "Politiques socio-économiques et recompositions territoriales" (STAKES) et "Frontières" du CEIAS vous invitent conjointement à leur première séance de cette rentrée pour écouter Meenakshi Thapan, Professeure à l'Université de Delhi.

"Strangers and their Others: the case of Indian immigrants in northern Italy"

Mardi 4 octobre de 14h à 16h au CEIAS en salle Thorner (662)
CNRS/EHESS, 190 avenue de France, 75013 Paris ; RER C, métro 14 Bibliothèque, métro 6 Quai de la gare, bus 89.

Argument du séminaire :
This paper seeks to understand aspects of contemporary Europe from the perspective of both the migrants (who are strangers for Europeans) and their others (Europeans who constitute the category of ‘others’ for migrants). The migrant is constructed as stranger by not only the state, by policies and laws, but more experientially, by the others who are encountered in the daily life of living in an alien world. At the same time, the migrants construct their European ‘other’ as a separate category from themselves so that the experience of being a migrant is always located in this fraught and complex relationship between migrants and others.
This paper is based on material collected for Work Package 3 Migrants and Borders of the EU FP 7 Project EuroBroadMap (2009-2011) coordinated by Claude Grasland at the University of Paris VII Diderot. The grant for fieldwork in Italy in 2011 has been provided by the European Studies Programme at the University of Delhi (2010-2011) that is funded by the European Union.

M. Thapan a coordonné la publication des 5 volumes "Women and Migration in Asia" parus chez Sage, et dirigé notamment le premier volume : "Transnational Migration and the Politics of Identity".

Nous vous remercions par avance de faire circuler cette annonce dans vos propres réseaux ; ci-joint un document au format pdf pour affichage.

En espérant vous y voir nombreux,

Loraine Kennedy, Aminah Mohammad-Arif, Blandine Ripert et Aurélie Varrel

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