Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
India is a land filled will problems and potential, due its geographic context. This regions is great for a regional geography course, that also includes a good overview of the entire South Asian region before discussing India's political situation in global affairs.
More complex international borders in this follow up to part 1.
In this video I look at even more enclaves and exclaves."
This video (like part 1) shows some great examples of how the political organization of space and administration of borders can get complicated. Here are the examples (and time in the video when they are covered in the video) on these complex borders:
Which statement is true?
A. 60% of all households without toilets in the world are in India.
B. India’s Muslims are less affected by the sanitation problem than Hindus.
C. India’s lack of toilets is worse than China’s.
D. Lack of toilets in India puts women at especially high risk.
This is the ultimate trick question because unfortunately, ALL of these statements are true. India is a country of tremendous economic growth, but also filled with squalor; there are more cellphones than toilets in India. The lack of adequate sanitation and toilets is serious enough that that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made building toilets a national priority. Comics are using their platform to bring this issue of uneven development to light.
"The Golden Temple is the holiest shrine of the Sikh religion. It is also home to one of the largest free eateries in the world. Read the related article."
This two-minute video clip is an effective portal to alternative religious traditions on the South Asian subcontinent. While students might not at first relate to the theologies of diverse religious traditions, they connect with the underlying ethics of many world religions. This video is an effective tool to help them gain greater cultural understanding and to demystify unfamiliar cultural practices.
TO OUTSIDERS, the magnitude of Indians' love for cricket is as incomprehensible as its feverish intensity. On February 4th India awarded the Bharat Ratna, its highest civilian honour, to Sachin Tendulkar, a recently retired batsman. Millions in India, a country of 1.3 billion people and only one nationally-popular game, celebrated wildly. When India's national side plays a big game, an estimated 400m watch on television. Yet cricket's take-off in India is a highly improbable development. The game is demanding to play properly, requiring space, a good turf pitch and expensive equipment—which only a relative handful of Indian cricketers have access to. Most will never strap on pads or bowl with a leather ball. So why do they so love the game?
"In this video I look at some of the most complex international border. Of course, there are more complex borders in the world, but this video looks at some of my favourites."
This video shows some great examples of how the political organization of space and administration of borders can get complicated. Here are the examples (and time in the video when they are covered in the video):
"From the time we’re about 6 years old, everyone loves a good poop joke, right? But is there something more meaningful lurking beneath the bathroom banter? Take a look at some international potty humor and then follow the jokes to a deeper understanding. Every laugh on this page reflects a life and death issue: the very real sanitation problems facing India today."
What is the most impactful way to assist underdeveloped societies? Many will argue for food, clothing or education, but these comedians from India feel that access to sanitation will have more tangible impacts in the lives of the poorest Indians. 54% of people in India do not have regular access to toilets and these comedians are using their platform to not only get some laughs, but to advocate for social change.
INDIA’S general election will take place before May. The front-runner to be the next prime minister is Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party, currently chief minister of Gujarat. A former tea-seller, he has previously attacked leaders of the ruling Congress party as elitist, corrupt and out of touch. Now he is emphasising his humble caste origins. In a speech in January he said 'high caste' Congress leaders were scared of taking on a rival from 'a backward caste'. If Mr Modi does win, he would be the first prime minister drawn from the 'other backward classes', or OBC, group. He is not the only politician to see electoral advantage in bringing up the subject: caste still matters enormously to most Indians."
This article from the Economist is dated since Mr. Modi is now the prime minister of India, but this analysis of how caste was used as a political asset in the election is a timely reminder that while the caste system has been officially abolished, the cultural ripples are still being felt today in a myriad of ways that impact social interactions (marriage, jobs, etc.).
|Suggested by Mike Busarello's Digital Storybooks|
Hamm said he was drawn to the true story of an agent looking for India's first pro-baseball player
This 6 minute clip is a preview of the movie "Million Dollar Arm." It looks to be a fun movie, but what I find academically interesting about the movie is that it is a portrayal of one of the countless fascinating cultural and economic interactions that was created by globalization. The story is about the economic forces motivating baseball scouts to seek out untapped labor pools in areas such as India that were previously not a part of baseball's cultural reach (and the really cool global lives of these individuals).
Agreement aims to ease tension on their contested border, as the two countries try to break a decades-old stalemate
China and India signed a deal Wednesday aimed at easing tension on their contested border, as the two countries try to break a decades-old stalemate on overlapping claims to remote stretches of the Himalayas. Beijing lays claim to more than 55,000 square miles disputed by New Delhi in the eastern sector of the Himalayas. In turn, India says China occupies about 24,000 square miles of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the west. Under the provisions of the new deal, the two sides will give notice of patrols along the ill-defined border to reduce the chance of confrontation, and will exercise "maximum self-restraint" should the two sides come face to face in areas where the line of control is unclear.
We chart the routes of, and reasons for, the barriers which are once again dividing populations
This is an in-depth, multi-media interactive that explores the political, economic and cultural implications of borders that are heavily fortified or militarized (I found this too late to be included in the "best posts of 2013" list, but this will be the first to include for 2014). Not all of these borders are political; in Brazil it explores the walls that separate different socioeconomic groups and in Northern Ireland they look at walls dividing religious groups. The interactive examines various borders including U.S./Mexico, Morocco, Syria, India/Bangladesh, Brazil, Israel, Greece/Turkey, Northern Ireland, North/South Korea and Spain. The overarching questions are these: why are we building new walls to divide us? What are the impacts of these barriers?
"In India, China and many other parts of the world today, girls are killed, aborted and abandoned simply because they are girls. The United Nations estimates as many as 200 million girls are missing in the world today because of this so-called 'gendercide' or femicide."
Part of me hates to bring up this issue since it is so disturbing, but silence itself is a part of the problem. Just know that I don't bring this up lightly and I wouldn't share this with students of all ages. Read more on in the this topic in the accompanying article here. The filmmaker has explained why he was motivated to produce this, but not everyone thinks the message of the full documentary is fair and balanced.
Questions to Ponder (with a heavy heart): what cultural, political and demographic factors create the conditions where a situation like this can occur? What should and can be done?
Facing religious discrimination in the Hindu-dominated job market, many are forced to assume fake identities.
This is not that uncommon in India unfortunately. As the articles states, a government commission was appointed in 2005 to investigate the degree to which Muslims were disadvantaged in social, economic and educational terms. The commission concluded the socio-economic condition of most Muslims was as bad as that of the Dalits, who are at the bottom rung of the Hindu-caste hierarchy, also referred to as the "untouchables."
"It’s rare that a video from a brand will spark any real emotion--but a new spot from Google India is so powerful, and so honest to the product, that it’s a testament not only to the deft touch of the ad team that put it together, but to the strength of Google’s current offering."--Forbes
True, this is a commercial--but what a great commercial to show that the history of of a geopolitical conflict has many casualties including friendships across lines. This isn't the only commercial in India that is raising eyebrows. This one from a jewelry company is proudly showing a divorced woman remarrying--something unthinkable for Indian TV one generation ago.
Questions to Ponder: How does the Indian media reflect the values and beliefs of Indian culture? How does the Indian media shape Indian culture?
The partition of 1947, which led to the creation of India and Pakistan, was one of the most volatile events of the twentieth century. Partition coincided with the end of British colonial rule over the subcontinent, and Indian independence was overshadowed by violence, mass displacement, and uncertainty.
The scholars in this video were interviewed for the Choices Program curriculum, "Indian Independence and the Question of Partition". For more information, visit the Choices Program.
Researchers are heading to Dharavi, Mumbai, to study the impact of slum tours on the residents.
The article leaves me with more questions than answers. What do the residents think about the tons of tourists wondering through their winding streets? The very idea of tourism to see poverty in situ in an authentic slum is riddled with power and cultural imbalances. Why would wealthy tourists from the developed world want to more fully explore the slums in the developing world? What do you see as the 'wrong' and the 'right' within this situation? Is slum tourism ethical?
Laxmi's story of being kidnapped and trafficked in Nepal is not an isolated case but, as this graphical account shows, things are not always what they seem.
Teaching about human trafficking and child slavery can be very disconcerting and uncomfortable. How much of the details regarding these horrific situations is age-appropriate and suitable for the classroom? The BBC is reporting on events with sensitive stories to both give a human face to the story, while protecting the identity of under-aged victims (to read about the production of this comic, read Drawing the News.) I encourage you to use your own discretion, but I find this comicbook format an accessible, informative and tasteful way to teach about human trafficking in South Asia to minors. It is a powerful way to teach about some hard (but important) aspects of globalization and economics.
As geographer Shaunna Barnhart says concerning this comic, "It moves from trafficking to child labor to pressures for migration for wage labor and the resulting injustices that occur. There's differential access to education, gender inequality, land, jobs, and monetary resources that leads to inter- and intra-country trafficking of the vulnerable. In the search for improved quality of life, individuals become part of a global flow of indentured servitude which serves to exploit their vulnerabilities and exacerbate inequalities and injustice. Nepali children 'paid' in food and cell phones that play Hindi music in 'exchange' for work in textile factories - cell phones that are themselves a nexus of global resource chains and textiles which in turn enter a global market - colliding at the site of child labor which remains largely hidden and ignored by those in the Global North who may benefit from such labor."
Tea plucking machines are threatening the livelihoods of tea pickers in the Indian state of Assam, reports Mark Tully.
This is yet another example of the uneven impacts of globalization.
|Suggested by Clairelouise|
Every 12 years, the Kumbh Mela, a centuries-old Hindu pilgrimage, temporarily transforms an empty floodplain in India into one of the biggest cities in the world.
A boom and social change are pitting young working women in the city against men from conservative villages.
The recent resurgence of this issue had me looking through the archives and stumbled upon this 2011 article. As urban expansion is booming in many Indian cities, the modern city expands into the countryside. The cultural values of these two demographic groups are quite distinct. Young, educated women are part of the modern cities' workforce but in many conservative, traditional Indian villages, women working outside the home are seen as "lacking in virtue." In many of the recent gang rape cases, the perpetrators are less educated young men from surrounding villages and the victims are well-educated young working women that are a part of the new city.
Public spaces, especially at night, are seen as masculine spaces in most traditional societies. One of the mothers of an accused rapist succinctly explained this mindset thusly: "If these girls roam around openly like this, then the boys will make mistakes." This is seen as 'Eve teasing,' where women are perceived as responsible for the violence committed against them to maintain social order. As another article hints, the outrage that this incident ignited could lead towards long-term change in Indian society.
This other NY Times article op-ed states, "India must work on changing a culture in which women are routinely devalued. Many are betrothed against their will as child brides, and many suffer cruelly, including acid attacks and burning, at the hands of husbands and family members. India, a rising economic power and the world’s largest democracy, can never reach its full potential if half its population lives in fear of unspeakable violence."
2012 has had many stories around the globe have grabbed the headlines with their shocking tales. Some of the most important shifts in the world however are incremental processes that happen slowly...
This article from Foreign Policy shares some great global stories that may end up impacting the coming years as well:
1) India and Pakistan start trading more
2) Brazil becomes an immigration destination
3) Inuits strike it rich
4) A tropical disease nearly eradicated
5) The copyright wars go 3-D
6) The end of the Indian call center (Philippines)
7) Hong Kong fights back
8) Moscow on the Med (Cyprus)
9) Oil discoveries in Central Africa
10) Island dispute between Iran and UAE
Rising numbers of people of Indian origin born in the West are moving to the country their parents left decades ago in search of opportunity and a cultural connection, reports the BBC's Rajini Vaidyanathan.
Since 2005, the Indian government has been encouraging people of Indian descent and former Indian nationals to return to India. For many Indians living in the UK, there are more and better economic opportunities for them within India. Migrants have many reasons for moving (including cultural factors), but the primary pull factor is most certainly India's ascendant importance in the global economy and rising IT industries.
|Suggested by Don Brown Jr|
DB: The aesthetics of architecture within a society not only reveal the communities interpretation of what is considered beautiful or pleasing in appearance but also differentiates between what is considered sacred or important. The symbolic significance of aesthetics in colors, designs and a place of residence can be indicative of socioeconomic standing is within society and what the community values. Jodhpur, India is well known for the beautiful wave of blue houses that dominate the landscape of a rather dry region. However, it is believed that these blue houses originally were the result of ancient caste traditions.
Brahmins (who were at the very top of the caste system) housed themselves in these “Brahmin Blue” homes to distinguish themselves from the members of other castes. Now that the Indian government officially prohibits the caste system, the use of the color blue has become more widespread. Yet Jodhpur is one of the only cities in India that stands steadfast to its widespread aesthetics obsession with the color blue which is making it increasingly unique, creating a new sense of communal solidarity among its residence.
Questions to Consider: How has color influenced the cultural geography of this area? How are the aesthetics of this community symbolic of India’s traditional past, present and possible future?
In North East India just north of Bangladesh is the province of Meghalaya.
This is an astounding video that shows a (literally) natural way that local people have adapted to an incredibly flood-prone environment. The organic building materials prevent erosion and keep people in contact during times of flood. The living bridges are truly a sight to behold.