An insight into history

Originally posted on theamazingud:


This timeline was made by Vikramjit Singh Rooprai and sent to me by my mother. It shows how we don’t remember some who were here for a long time and know those who didn’t rule for long. I don’t think many will know these facts so I posted it.

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Recollections of a strange night in a train


For all our sakes, I hope not much has changed.A riveting account from my mother’s life. As always, inspiring….

Originally posted on sitanaiksblog:

It was in early winter of 1995 , in late November if I remember right. I was returning from a cousin’s wedding in Mumbai, many years before personal travel by air became a possibility. I had taken a Mumbai-Delhi train and then the Lucknow Mail.  It had been a short trip and I was traveling with a small bag containing a few clothes including a couple of silk sarees and a little jewellery. An elderly couple got in and occupies the lower berths (I think it was 2-tier coach) and  I remember noting that they had a lot of luggage with them! Somewhere late into the night, I was woken up by a lot of activity below (I always opted for the upper berth in those days) – and listening to the talk, gathered that the gentleman was not well. On enquiring what the problem was, the wife told me…

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Conference paper: Vibrant small cities can keep rural youth closer to home

I was in London late August this year to present a paper on small cities in the context of internal migration in India. Read the full paper here.

I chose as a case study for this research project a small, I would say tiny, city called Narendra Nagar located in the Tehri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand. Here, out-migration is a familiar phenomenon. Men have traditionally left hill villages for employment opportunities to metros- Delhi, Mumbai and the like. More recently, young men and women are moving out to industrial and service-sector cities in the plains an hour or two away, to seek education and employment, a better life.


Its been eight months since my field visits to Narendra Nagar and the faces of the youth I interviewed are still fresh in my mind. I can recall their names, their words, their enthusiasm for life, their innocent narration of life in a small town. To the surprise of many who heard me in that cozy room at the RGS IBG conference, this is what I found:

  • Small cities like NN are at the cusp of two migration flows, (1) from the village into the city and (2) from the small city out to larger cities
  • The perceived migration costs are high for rural youth who commute to Narendra Nagar for work on a daily basis. Under-confident of their ability to secure well paying jobs in larger cities, they are satisfied to work close to home where they can continue to support and be supported by their families.
  • In contrast, youth who already live in Narendra Nagar whose parents are already in secure government or private jobs are more ambitious and see eGramServe as an opportunity to gain experience that will secure them better jobs in a larger city.
  • For women, employment near home allows them to continue to work despite the bindings of a patriarchal society that denies them independence in movement and decision-making.
  • Migration decisions of young people appear rational, albeit complex and a number of interesting patterns including multiple cycles of migration as well as return migration exist
  • The study questions the notion that educated youth in rural and small town India aspire to migrate to the big city fulfill their dreams. Instead, it indicates that it is worthwhile to find ways to support small urban entities like Narendra Nagar in terms of investment and governance to enable rural youth to be meaningfully employed closer to home.

Could we – should we – stop migrants coming to Britain?


Immigrants take and create jobs. A basic tenet of economics that is ignored far too often!

Originally posted on AC:

37ce4b64-8aac-44ca-9fd7-bfad444f9ea4-460x276Britain is convulsed with anxiety about immigration, with claims of too many EU citizens coming here, the benefits system being abused and wages being forced down. An expert on immigration looks at the evidence.

(By Jonathan Portes/Observer)

1) Didn’t the European Union just start off as a Common Market? When did free movement of workers start?

Long before the UK joined in 1973, the Treaty of Rome (1958) established what was then the European Economic Community, with four basic principles, called the “four freedoms”.

These were: free movement of labour, capital, goods and services. The objective was to establish a liberal market economy, where people could trade with each other across borders; free movement of labour was seen as part of that.

And the expected benefits were very much those that economists in general think you get from removing such barriers, allowing goods, services, capital and people to move freely…

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Property and the political elite


A lot of this resonates with the connection of Indian politics with land and housing!

Originally posted on Jules Birch:

It’s now received wisdom, and a key part of UKIP’s appeal, that we are ruled by politicians who are out of touch with the concerns of ordinary people. How much of this is down to house prices?

Perceived divisions between politicians and voters are nothing new of course. Nor are accusations of champagne (or Islington/Hampstead) socialism and a huge gap between Labour leaders and their core vote. However, if these are US-style ‘culture wars’ over the politics of identity and national flags, they are being fought in the language of house prices, as shown only too clearly in this week’s Mail on Sunday story about the ‘Thornberry set’ and the North London ‘liberal elite’.

The issue was highlighted by last week’s tweet by Labour MP Emily Thornberry about a flag-festooned house in Rochester & Strood and then brought home by media coverage of its Sun-sponsored owner knocking on the…

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Addicted to writing and missing it!

It’s been over two months since I started working full time. My job is great. Intellectually stimulating and the right mix of freedom and discipline. What I miss most about working full time, though, is my blogging routine.

My blog has, over time, become a really important part of me. As I go about my day, I park certain thoughts as they flow. Invariably, these disparate ‘parked’ musings coalesce around a hook to create a post. Sometimes I don’t really know how it happens. It’s magical and it’s therapeutic.

Now, with work deadlines and a commute of over two hours everyday, I find the thoughts aren’t being parked anymore and writing a post is becoming an effort again. I’ll have to find a way to get the blogging back into my life. And I’m sure I will!

Panaji wakes up


Panaji, close to my heart. Love this post that describes the city waking up….

Originally posted on sitanaiksblog:

This morning I decided to give the beach a skip and walk along Campal into Panaji. And what a pleasure it was, since the pavements have been done up since my last visit.

And this stretch goes past the lovely bungalows of Campal and the sports complex ( which had a fair no of walkers and joggers). Here I saw a board announcing a ‘Senior citizens park’ – so I wandered in that way, past the very pretty Fabindia outlet to a large parking lot of the Sports complex and a small stretch along the riverside with seats – a quiet and pretty spot. Along this stretch is also the local Bal Bhavan, in which I could see a lovely children’s park.


Panaji is the IFFI venue and the 13th edition is to be inaugurated tomorrow. All preparations are on and further along Campal was the stretch with Kala Academy…

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Why the world’s largest democracy has the most modern-day slaves


Makes me sad, but some would say this is the ‘price of development’. I do not buy that logic!

Originally posted on Quartz:

India has the highest number of enslaved people in the world.

More than 14 million out of India’s population of over 1.2 billion people are living in modern slavery, according to the second edition of the Global Slavery Index. Produced by an Australian human rights body, Walk Free Foundation, the survey defines modern slaves as those without individual liberty, by being subjugated to forced labor, trafficking and sexual exploitation.

An estimated 35.8 million people worldwide, or 0.5% of the world’s population, live as modern-day slaves.

In terms of the highest number of slaves as a percentage of a nation’s population, India is ranked fifth, with 1.14% of the country’s population trapped as slaves. The worst affected are people belonging to lower castes or tribes, religious minorities and migrant workers.

Of 167 countries surveyed, the worst 10 countries are home to 71% of the world’s slaves.


Government response

The Global Slavery Index gives…

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What indeed is humanity? Thoughts on ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy

I read McCarthy’s 2006 book The Road with a feeling of horrified fascination. That is expected from any post apocalyptic story of human survival, in this case a tale of a father and son duo walking towards the coast through a brutally cold and violent America that has been completely burnt down.


To illustrate a bit, the duo need to protect themselves from highway gangs who steal and kill and even eat other humans. The need to keep moving so no one would find them. A few scenes in the book took me right back to Leon Uris’ books about The Holocaust! Frightened humans who had been stripped of dignity and reduced to chattel. Macho men and women surviving by exploiting and dominating the weak. Another constant activity and challenge was the hunt for food from abandoned homes, shops and orchards. Calories to survive, to keep walking. One particular incidence illustrates the apparent conflicts in these two objectives of safety and nutrition: when the duo luck out and find a fully stocked bunker, only to abandon it a few days later so as to continue moving in order to stay safe!

But beyond the nitty gritty of surviving the violence and fighting hunger, this story is about the overarching question: What is humanity? What makes a human being human? How does a good human differ from a bad one? And when all else is lost, what does a human need to be able to survive?

Turns out it’s all about love and being needed. It’s all about keeping the “fire within” alive even when you face death. The father, who understands deeply that his love and sense of duty towards his child is the sole reason for his own survival. The child, who the author imbues with an unusual sensitivity and sense of justice. Who will not leave an old man dying on the road and make his father go back and give away some of their precious resources to a stranger. A bit of a ‘child is the father of man’ situation.

In the end (I won’t go into specifics) the enduring values of humanity appear to be bonding, love, nurturing and respect. The rest abnormal and unpleasant. Unsavory.

How do we reconcile that lesson with the brutal realities of the world around us today? For those of us who believe that the goodness in the world truly endures, McCarthy’s book is lyrical and beautiful but also unsurprising and comfort-giving. For the little cynical being inside me, it’s also a little unreal.

Read it if you can face the truth within you.

3 churches and a basilica: Exploring Bandra’s Christian heritage


With great attention to detail, Sudha brings alive a delightful slice of Bombay!

Originally posted on My Favourite Things:

It’s a little before 7 on a muggy Saturday morning in March earlier this year.

At Bandra’s Basilica of Our Lady of The Mount, otherwise known as Mount Mary, the morning service is in progress. The stalls outside the Basilica are already open for business. At that time of the morning, there are hardly any people out on the roads; an occasional rickshaw, car or jogger pass by stopping for a quick prayer before going on their way.

Mount Mary, Churches of Bandra, Mumbai

A jogger stops to say a quick prayer outside Mount Mary

I had wanted to attend the morning service at Mount Mary, but the bus that got me to Bandra from Navi Mumbai got delayed. Not wanting to enter the church midway through a service, I decide to wait at the Oratory of Our Lady of Fatima, which is across the road from Mount Mary.

With me is a friend and…

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