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India Is Changing Some Cities' Names, And Muslims Fear Their Heritage Is Being Erased

India Is Changing Some Cities' Names, And Muslims Fear Their Heritage Is Being Erased | Geography Education |

"A generation ago, long before Modi (and the BJP) was in power, right-wing Hindu nationalist leaders in Maharashtra state renamed Bombay as Mumbai — a nod to the city's patron goddess Mumbadevi. Other cities followed: Madras became Chennai; Calcutta, Kolkata; Bangalore, Bengaluru. All the changes were a rejection of Anglicized names that came into use during British colonial rule. In the most recent wave of name changes, it's not about erasing colonial monikers. It's about erasing Muslim ones."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Indian officials have been altering toponyms to be more Hinducentric; this is a results of growing Hindu nationalism as an important element of modern Indian politics.  In another thematically similar, but regionally distinct example, we can see how place names matter in American cities.  When large corporations (like Google or Amazon) move in to a city,  the corporations might try to rename the neighborhoods and, in a sense, rebrand the place.    

Both examples show that the cultural landscape, including the names on them, are not just a passive reflection of the cultures that have shaped these places; they manifest the power dynamics of competing cultural groups seeking to assert their vision of place and culture to be physically manifested in public spaces. 


GeoEd Tags: culture, political, place, toponymsIndia, South Asia, Hinduism, historical. Tagsculturepolitical, placetoponymsIndia, South Asia, Hinduism, historical.


gara gewiki's comment, 2 May, 07:12
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The Real Threat to Hinduism: The Slow Death of India's Rivers

The Real Threat to Hinduism: The Slow Death of India's Rivers | Geography Education |

Hinduism shares an intricate, intimate relationship with the climate, geography, and biodiversity of South Asia; its festivals, deities, mythology, scriptures, calendar, rituals, and even superstitions are rooted in nature. There is a strong bond between Hinduism and South Asia’s forests, wildlife, rivers, seasons, mountains, soils, climate, and richly varied geography, which is manifest in the traditional layout of a typical Hindu household’s annual schedule. Hinduism’s existence is tied to all of these natural entities, and more prominently, to South Asia’s rivers.


Hinduism as a religion celebrates nature’s bounty, and what could be more representative of nature’s bounty than a river valley? South Asian rivers have sustained and nourished Hindu civilizations for centuries. They are responsible for our prosperous agriculture, timely monsoons, diverse aquatic ecosystems, riverine trade and commerce, and cultural richness.  Heavily dammed, drying in patches, infested by sand mafia and land grabbers, poisoned by untreated sewage and industrial waste, and hit by climate change — our rivers, the cradle of Hinduism, are in a sorry state.


If there is ever a threat to Hinduism, this is it. Destroy South Asia’s rivers and with it, Hinduism’s history and mythology will be destroyed. Rituals will turn into mockery, festivals, a farce, and Hinduism itself, a glaring example of man’s hypocritical relationship with nature. The fact that we worship our rivers as mothers and then choke them to death with all sorts of filth is already eminent.

Seth Dixon's insight:

This might be a controversial op-ed because it has a strong perspective on the religious and environmental dimensions of modern Indian politics...that said, I think it is well worth the read.  The Ganges is both a holy river, and a polluted river; that juxtaposition leads to many issues confronting India today. 


Tagsculturereligion, India, South Asia, Hinduism, pollution, industry,   environment, sustainability, consumption, fluvial

Nicole Canova's curator insight, 1 May 2018, 06:21
Religion is shaped by the geography of the region in which it develops.  For example, Hinduism is heavily influenced by the rivers of India, and these rivers are considered holy places sites and places of cleansing and purification.  However, the cleansing power of the rivers is diminished by pollution that makes it unsafe to take part in ritual bathing.  Pollution, climate change, and deforestation are also having an impact on other aspects of Hinduism, which is about celebrating nature in it's entirety, including monsoons, forests, and agriculture.  As nature continues to be negatively impacted by human activity, many aspects of Hinduism will also be negatively impacted.
David Stiger's curator insight, 12 November 2018, 20:19
Sometimes both sides can be wrong in an argument, as illustrated in this article. The secular left in India has mistaken their conservative Hindu counterparts as a people stuck in tradition, unable to address the environmental calamities facing modern society. The more right-leaning Hindus believe the secular environmentalism of their countrymen to be antagonistic to the practice of Hinduism - such as the environmental restrictions on firecrackers. Hindus celebrating Diwali feel that fireworks are a central part of the festivities and do not want environmentalists restricting them. The author notes that both sides have missed the point. Hinduism is closely tied to nature and expresses notions of environmental stewardship as a holy endeavor. Liberal Indians do not need to see Hinduism as opposed to environmental sustainability and should stop criticizing Hinduism as a whole. Traditionally religious Hindus should be aware that their own faith would have them be environmentalists - not because of secularism - but because of divine inspirations to coexist with nature. While both sides bicker, failing to understand how Hinduism is pro-nature, the rivers are being ruined by pollution. This pollution will destroy nature, and nature is the foundation and driving force of the Hindu religion. This is because Hinduism was founded around a  river valley civilization - the river and arable land being central to the culture's vitality. 

In some ways, this situation reminds me of Christianity in America. Liberals are very concerned about the environment and climate change in particular. Conservative Christians, buying into a theology of "Dominionism" of Genesis, believe God gave the earth to humans to use however they please. Paired with a suspicion of science, conservative evangelicals have largely shunned environmental sustainability and conservation. A closer reading of the Bible would show that God values nature and wants creation to grow and thrive. Humans should be stewards of the environment - its destined caretakers. Instead, liberals think Christianity preaches stupidity while conservative Christians believe the science behind environmentalism is anti-God, aligned with communism, and probably a hoax to manipulate the faithful. 

Matt Danielson's curator insight, 12 December 2018, 20:08
The river plays a key role in India. Whether its culture, religion, histor,y in agriculture, in transportation, and in many other aspects. These once bountiful rivers that sustained Indian civilizations are now threatened by pollution, climate change, damns, and other man made reasons. At best if this is problem is not solved it will lead to drastic changes in Indian society, at worse it could lead to the collapse of Indian society, Starting with the end of Hindu rituals. 
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Pakistan's traditional third gender isn't happy with the trans movement

Pakistan's traditional third gender isn't happy with the trans movement | Geography Education |
For centuries, South Asia has had its own Khawaja Sira or third gender culture. Now, some third gender people in Pakistan say the modern transgender identity is threatening their ancient culture.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Sometimes our assumptions about a society, and how they might react to cultural issues are just that...assumptions.  I for one was very surprised to learn that Pakistan had a traditional third gender. 


Tags: culture, developmentpodcast, genderPakistansexuality, South Asia, religion.

David Stiger's curator insight, 11 November 2018, 22:11
From an outsider's perspective, cultures are often hard to pin down. This became clear again when trying to comprehend Pakistan's third gender community. Not to be confused with the more modern transgender community, the third gender - or Khawaja Sira - is manifested in the traditional roots of Islam. It seems like a religiously accepted mode of existing to transcend gender. Because Khawaja Sira falls under the precepts of Islam, it is therefore tolerated but not necessarily embraced. What is interesting is that because there are rules and traditional codes outlining how a Muslim can be Khawaja Sira, there a good deal of hostility towards the modern Western notion of transgender - referring more to a person who "transitions" from the gender of their birth to a gender they more strongly identify with. One would think that Pakistan's third gender community would be more open and understanding of the West's transgender movement. This is not the case. When a Westerner is traveling in Pakistan and notices a third gender option, the person should not assume Pakistan is a bastion for liberal-minded progressives. Instead, Pakistan is just being Pakistan. 
Kelvis Hernandez's curator insight, 14 December 2018, 18:55
A topic to discuss. People who don't agree with the beliefs or rights of people in the LGBTQ community will talk about how this is a new issue. That it is the new generation that is creating these ideas.  But multiple genders and sexualities have been around for hundreds of years in many different ways. There are Native American tribes whose people had "two-spirits". Those people fulfilled the third gender ceremonial roles for their communities. In this story, they discuss Khawaja siras are "God's chosen people", the third gender people who can bless or curse anyone. But "God's chosen people" are also greatly discriminated against in society. You see the contradictions that society puts on people who don't conform to what is supposedly right.
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India’s campaign to change cultural practices

India’s campaign to change cultural practices | Geography Education |

"Television commercials and billboards now carry a message that strike at the heart of the Indian contradiction of being the world’s fastest-growing major economy and also where relieving oneself in the open is the norm in most villages. Research shows that one of the reasons for the stubborn social practice is the centuries-old caste system, in which cleaning human waste was a job reserved only for the lowest caste. Having a toilet at home is still considered unclean by many villagers. They regard it cleaner to go to the open farms, which can cause water-borne diseases, the second leading cause of death of Indian children younger than 5."

Seth Dixon's insight:

An aggressive new campaign is ridiculing those who are no longer poor but continue to defecate in the open--even this UNICEF campaign (some language and low-brow humor, so use your own discretion) is working hard to change the cultural patterns and practices surrounding defecation and sanitation.  There are more cellphones than toilets in India and 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. 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. 


Tagsdevelopment, poverty, India.

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Bangladesh's Hazardous Geography

Bangladesh's Hazardous Geography | Geography Education |
Bangladesh is exposed to threat of hazards resulting from a number of natural disasters and remains classified as one the most vulnerable countries. Majority of the country is affected by cyclone, drought and floods.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Bangladesh is regularly hit with different types of natural disasters. The impact of these natural disasters costs the country millions making it dependent on foreign aid.  Disaster clean-up and relief aid after major floods, droughts, and hurricanes.  


Tagsdisasters, environmentBangladeshSouth Asia, development.

Lee Hancock's curator insight, 2 November 2016, 00:47

Multiple challenges already face residents of Dhaka and Bangladesh in its entirety, but add into the mix climate change and the situation becomes even worse. How does this human induced phenomenon impact upon the population of the developing country and its ever-growing Mega City?

Richard Aitchison's curator insight, 22 March 2018, 14:53
These maps help show all of the natural disasters that Bangladesh is accustomed to. As one look through all of the maps that shows such things such as flood zone, cyclone zones, and drought zones we can tell that this country is ripe with geographical issues that will effect its problems both politically and economically.  With this many geographical problems with natural disasters one can only imagine how much money the country spends simply on just rebuilding itself. It is hard to continue to move forward as a country when you need to constantly rebuild. Also you become dependent on other countries with a need for foreign aid for these problems. By needing foreign aid Bangladesh becomes dependent on these countries thus making it harder for them to make good deals for their economy. If you were setting up the perfect location for a country, Bangladesh probably would not be the first place selected. However, we must look at the history of the people that live there and see why this location was chosen?  Also we must look at the future and with a changing climate how will it effect Bangladesh geography, and will we eventually see people moving out of the country and how will that effect the surrounding areas and their population. 
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India to 'divert rivers' to tackle drought

India to 'divert rivers' to tackle drought | Geography Education |
India is to divert water from major rivers like the Brahmaputra and the Ganges to deal with severe drought, a senior minister tells the BBC.
Seth Dixon's insight:

The drought has been bad enough that (coupled with rising debt to seed companies) many farmers are committing suicide to escape the financial pain of this drought.   The monsoon rains can be lethal, but critical for the rural livelihoods of farmers and the food supply.


TagsIndia, agriculture, labor, agriculture, South Asia, physical, weather and climate.



Richard Aitchison's curator insight, 22 March 2018, 17:07
As everyone knows, water is key. We usually talk about water in geography has a way to export/import or for key military purposes. Here we are talking about survival and certain states within in India (29 to be exact) that were suffering through a drought and whose rivers had been completely dried up. India has tried a new plan to try to get water to these areas, by diverting water from there other rivers to these states. This is an interesting way to try to deal with this problem, however is it really feasible to do this?  Would this eventually causes problems in the areas in which we are taking the water from? Also this would be very expensive and India , who is still a growing country,  could hurt them economically for years to come. No one has said this will work and while yes, its horrible to see what has happen to these areas, but is this just a quick fix. What would the plan be for a future drought, is there anyway to come up with a better plan? Possibly will these people need to move in the future. Our rivers and lands are constantly changing so as people we might have to move away from areas that which were once habitable, but now may not be. 
Douglas Vance's curator insight, 23 April 2018, 17:26
Extreme drought combined with inefficient agricultural practices and the depletion of groundwater resources have creates a water crisis in India. However the solution to the drought seems poorly planned and likely to fail. There is no evidence showing that a massive water diversion project like this will succeed in alleviating the effects of such a massive drought. 
brielle blais's curator insight, 1 May 2018, 23:45
Drought is a factor of the physical geography of an area that is in trouble. India is heavily depended on monsoon rains, and for two years have no received what they normally do, and 330 million people are affected by it. The country is planning to divert different rivers to solve the issue. "The government says the scheme will irrigate 35,000 hectares of land and generate 34,000 megawatts of electricity." This will exponentially help those dealing with the water crisis, but also help with other thing such as electricity. 
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Mumbai or Bombay? A British newspaper reverts to a colonial-era name.

Mumbai or Bombay? A British newspaper reverts to a colonial-era name. | Geography Education |
The Independent's concerns over Hindu nationalism led to a change in policy.


The city has been officially known as Mumbai since 1995 when it was renamed by the far-right regional party Shiv Sena, an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which currently holds national office in India. Shiv Sena advocates the use of the Marathi language, which is dominant in the state of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital. Marathi speakers have long referred to the city as Mumbai, after the Hindu goddess Mumbadevi, the city's patron deity.

Shiv Sena had argued that the previous name, Bombay, was an unwanted relic of British colonial rule in India. That name is believed to be an Anglicized version of the city's name from when it was occupied by the Portuguese — "Bom Bahia," which means "good bay." Both Bombay and Mumbai are now used interchangeably by locals during casual conversation.


Tags: culture, India, South Asiacolonialism, placeregions, language, toponyms.

Matt Manish's curator insight, 30 March 2018, 00:52
Personally, I find it very silly that a single newspaper in England is taking on the role of bringing Mumbai back to its original colony name. If Mumbai is the official name of the city then news being reported about that city should be in reference to Mumbai, not Bombay. The goal of this newspaper should be to educate its readers about the stories it is reporting on and not confusing them by using an old name for the city of Mumbai. This also seems a bit ridiculous to me because there is not a large margin of people trying to bring the old name of Bombay back to this city. It is only this newspaper trying to bring about this name change, which I feel makes their articles more confusing for their readers.
Nicole Canova's curator insight, 2 May 2018, 01:04
This highlights a significant part of decolonization.  When colonial powers like Great Britain, France, etc. took control of lands in Asia, Africa, and the Americas, they gave places new names.  This enforced their legitimacy as the colonial power in places by chipping away the local identity and replacing it with their own.  After colonization, many countries renamed places in the language of that region, stripping away unwanted remainders of colonial rule and reinstating their own local and national identity.
Kelvis Hernandez's curator insight, 14 December 2018, 20:08
This is a tough situation. Do you refer to a city by the name given to it by its colonial masters or to the name it was changed to by ethnic or religious nationalists? Honestly neither is an out-right great option, both have negative connotations. The people of the city use both Mumbai and Bombay interchangeably in everyday conversation, so id the best option to ignore the rest?  There are many other cities and nations whos names have changed after colonization, or by extremist. How will those be judged by the media or by the people within them?
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Uneven Developement and Corporate Aid

Uneven Developement and Corporate Aid | Geography Education |

"All Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to do is make the world a better place for his new daughter. While he’s technically on paternity leave, he couldn’t sit idly by as India attempts to halt, Facebook’s initiative to provide free but limited internet to the developing world."

Seth Dixon's insight:

India is a country with amazing economic potential, but hampered but uneven levels of social development.  The so-called 'digital divide' can exacebate problems for the poor and their ability to join the emerging industries.  In this situation Facebook is offering free (partial) internet access to India's poor and the discussions about net neutrality and the potential ulterior motives are underway.


Questions to Ponder: Do you favor Zuckerberg's proposal or do you think that India should reject this offer?  


Tagsdevelopment, India, South Asia, infrastructuretechnology.


Richard Aitchison's curator insight, 23 March 2018, 17:20
This was a very interesting read and a problem that will probably continue as we move forward. It is hard to believe that one billion people could not have internet access! That India wants to grow as a nation and continue to connect in this global world this would seem quite backwards. In this scenario CEO and founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg is offering free although limited internet access in India. However, its the limited access that has made net neutrality voices heard. They believe this will make it a walled off area in which the limited access will cause the Indian people only be able to see certain views and the companies chosen to be on the server will be the "winners" in India. One would figure India would have figured out a way to address this issue. In the world that we live in it is of utter most importance to have internet access. It is a major tool in everyday life, but also in education. If India wants to continue to grow in this global world then they must do something, if its not Mark Zuckerberg's idea then they must come up with an alternative. Its great to just say you  do not like an idea, but can you come up with an idea yourself that will work? This will be interesting to view going forward.  
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Diwali: Festival of Lights

Diwali: Festival of Lights | Geography Education |
In India, one of the most significant festivals is Diwali, or the Festival of Lights. It's a five-day celebration that includes good food, fireworks, colored sand, and special candles and lamps.
Seth Dixon's insight:

This 3 minute video from National Geographic is a nice introduction to the cultural practices of Diwali, the fall festival which symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness.  With some analogies to Christmas for Christians, Diwali is also perceived by some to be overly commercialized in recent years and the fireworks cause air pollution problems.  

Tags: religionSouth Asia, culture, Hinduism.

Martin Kemp's curator insight, 17 December 2015, 20:35

this is a great example of cultural diffusion. you can see events like this all over the U.S including here in providence with the waterfires, very cool.

David Stiger's curator insight, 12 November 2018, 20:48
Learning about the cultural practices of other societies and civilizations has a way of humanizing unknown people. Of course Westerners can intellectually understand the people in South Asia are human beings, but seeing the images and features of Diwali - especially the parallels with Christianity - makes India seem less foreign and more relatable. Indians celebrating Diwali can also probably relate to the mixed feelings of a shamelessly commercialized holiday. The commercialization in America is borderline manipulative as it pressures people to worry about gifts, money, and shopping.  Christmas shopping in the Western world suffocates the holy nature of the birth of Christ - making the whole season overly materialistic, stressful, and self-indulgent. It distorts the human ego creating its own form of darkness. India's festival of lights may be encountering a similar form of dark commercialization where values such as family and goodwill are set aside for spending and material desires. Hopefully, for both Christmas and Diwali, light can be restored by studying and reflecting on our materialist ways and reverting back to the old ways. 
Olivia Campanella's curator insight, 15 December 2018, 01:57
This National Geographic video is a beautiful introduction to the cultural practices of the people of India and of Diwali. Diwali is a fall festival symbolizing the triumph of light over darkness. It is a 5 day celebration that includes food, fireworks colored vibrant clothing and sands, and special candles and lamps.
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Temples and Human Sexuality

Temples and Human Sexuality | Geography Education |
It's a good thing we have so many guardians of Indian culture to protect us, the impressionable Indian youth, from being corrupted and misled. (Much like Indian culture, this post is very NSFW.)

Hinduism is much more sensual and explicit in their depictions of the human body and sexuality than other religious traditions.  Sacred spaces in India consequently feature a different ethos on their temples and shrines.  The image here is among the more 'tame' ones in this set (just sayin').  


Tags: culture, India, Hinduismsexuality, South Asia, religion.

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A City For Abandoned Mothers In India

Thousands of widows have been making their way to the holy city of Vrindavan in northern India to spend the rest of their lonely lives. Cast out by their families, or simply alone in the world, some travel hundreds of miles to get there.

Tags: genderIndia, SouthAsia culture.

Eden Eaves's curator insight, 24 May 2015, 22:10

There are 15,000 widows living in the city of Vrindavan and most of them come from over 1300 km away; West Bengal. After their husbands death, these women have been beaten and tortured by their own children for money they don't have and have had to escape to this holy city for safety where, even though they are away from the beatings, they much beg and sing for money. Many wish for death over this humiliation. 

A woman, capable of bringing life into the world, should never be treated like this and especially by her own family. 

Shane C Cook's curator insight, 27 May 2015, 09:32

It is crazy to think Indian families would abuse these widows, but what questions me is the reason to flee for spiritual fulfillment. I understand why one would leave because their family betrayed them but why spiritual fulfillment?

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Nepal earthquake: Hundreds die, many feared trapped

Nepal earthquake: Hundreds die, many feared trapped | Geography Education |
At least 970 people have died as Nepal suffered its worst earthquake for more than 80 years, with deaths also reported in India, Tibet and Bangladesh.

Tags: Nepal, disasters, physical, tectonics.

Gene Gagne's curator insight, 18 November 2015, 17:48

We have learned that the Himalayas are growing everyday while our Appalachians in the united states are shrinking. What does this all mean? In the platonic spectrum it means in Nepal, earthquakes.

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Can India become a superpower?

Seth Dixon's insight:

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. 

Tagsdevelopment, India, South Asia, geopolitics.

Chris Costa's curator insight, 15 November 2015, 20:15

I really enjoyed this video; it's packed with a lot of information, but all of it is relevant to its main discussion of India as a potential superpower. In class, we discussed the importance of the Mississippi River Valley and the Great Lakes Basin played in the development of the US economy and the rise of the US as a global superpower, and this does not differ very much from the intricate river systems that litter the Indian subcontinent. The Ganges River Valley has historically been home to millions of people, facilitating agricultural development as well as trade. The lack of natural boundaries within the nation has allowed for the diffusion of the thousands of different cultures, customs, religions, and languages that find their home within India, although this has lead to division amongst its people. Internal disputes have paved the way for foreign leaders to seize control of the subcontinent, as evidenced by the Mughal Empire, and the eventual control of India by the British. Independence has lead to huge political and economic developments, as well as forming a distinct national identity that has, so far, risen above the petty sectionalist and race-related squabbles of yesteryear, but sectional rivalries continue to be had between the various Indian states. All the tools needed to become a superpower are at India's disposal; all it must do is seize the opportunity.

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, 14 December 2015, 16:48

anyone who doesn't think that India can become a superpower is insane. they already are one. they have nukes. they have a billion people. they have massive industry, and they have a history of conflict with their neighbors.

David Stiger's curator insight, 12 November 2018, 21:47
This video did an excellent job of explaining the nature and essence of India in three ways for me. First, it outlined how India is truly a subcontinent. The oceans to the south and the long mountain ranges to the north isolate India from the rest of Asia. Add the fact that it is on a separate continental plate and it seems obvious that India is a mini continent that was pushed into Asia. The second area is India's political and cultural makeup. India is far from monolithic or homogeneous. I did not realize there were so many ethnic groups and factions that divided the region into constantly warring kingdoms. This factionalism paved the way for two foreign powers to divide and conquer the entire region - the Islamic empires and the British Empire. Even though India achieved independence, this old history carries on today as India a collection of states loosely held together by a republican national government. The factionalism is still highly present preventing coherent cooperation and reform. Thirdly, I did not realize the extent of the rivalry between India and China. This animosity has reached the point where China refuses to grant autonomy to its buffer regions for fear that India might ally with Tibet and pose a threat. On the other end of this is China's good relationship with Pakistan and the issue of Kashmir. India does not want Pakistan to dominate and control Kashmir because this would give China a strategic opening to India's doorstep. 

Despite India's size, it looks like it has too many internal problems to ever become a superpower. 
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Why South Asia’s majorities act like persecuted minorities

Why South Asia’s majorities act like persecuted minorities | Geography Education |

“Mukul Kesavan, a perceptive Indian historian, sees this region-wide propensity for majoritarian nationalism as a sad if natural outcome of the awkward struggle to build new nation-states. The most egregious recent example is Myanmar, whose 90% Buddhist majority felt so threatened by a Rohingya Muslim minority of barely 1% that it sanctioned burning, pillage, murder, rape and enforced exile. Bangladesh chased non-Muslim tribes into India, and its once large and prosperous Hindu minority has dwindled alarmingly in the face of constant pressure. In the name of orthodoxy, extremists in Pakistan have viciously hounded not only Christians and Hindus but also Shia Muslims, Ahmadis and allegedly unorthodox Sufis. Sinhalese have historically dominated the island [of Sri Lanka], a fact forcefully reasserted in 2009 when the Sri Lankan army brought to a bloody end a 26-year-long insurgency by mostly Hindu ethnic Tamils, the largest minority group.”


Tags: religionethnicity, South Asiaregions, politicalconflict

Kelvis Hernandez's curator insight, 14 December 2018, 19:13
The printed version of this story was titled "They're all out to get us" which is very fitting. In the world today there is another swing on the pendulum towards nationalism and with that goes xenophobia. The fear of outsiders, of those different from yourself who are trying to take over the country. It is hard not to see the parallels between these South Asian countries and the United States where for the last few years we have seen a major increase in xenophobia and racial/religious dog whistling in politics. In South Asia, this is seen not as an anti-colonial blowback but as  "the majoritarian logic of ethnic nationalism".
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How Bollywood stereotypes the West

How Bollywood stereotypes the West | Geography Education |
Hollywood’s view of India can be insensitive – but Indian films present clichés about the West, and about Indian emigrants too, writes Laya Maheshwari.


Nostalgia for the colour and vivacity of India turns into a snobbish belief that ‘Indian culture’ is inherently more fun and cheerful than the drab and lifeless world in France, the US, or the UK. The rule-conforming nature of Western society is seen as antithetical to ‘living it up’, which our exuberant protagonists are wont to do. Western weddings cannot match up to Indian ones; nor is Western food anywhere as tasty as Indian food. People residing in Western societies are just not as street-smart as our Indian protagonists.


Tagsculture, India, South Asia, media

Matt Manish's curator insight, 30 March 2018, 01:35
I find it interesting how Hollywood tends to not particularly cater to audiences in India, even though I never really even had this thought cross my mind before. It is also interesting that Bollywood in India creates many films that don't really grab the attention of American or British audiences as well. As I was reading this article, I thought maybe it's alright that these two major film industries cater to their specific audiences, because that way everyone has something for them. But as I kept on reading, I realized that one major audience that is currently being overlooked are Indian-Americans and British Indians that live in Western countries and were raised there. Hollywood doesn't focus on Indian culture while Bollywood focuses on Indians retaining their heritage through their culture. These Indian-Americans and British Indians are often overlooked in much of today's film culture. I feel as though I have learned much more about this topic. This article has helped open my eyes a little bit more to this issue in the film industry.
Katie Kershaw's curator insight, 5 April 2018, 18:51
Indians express in their films the disdain that they feel for other cultures and highlight their belief that Indian culture is superior.  It is important to note that they do so specifically when talking about emigrants who settle in Western countries.  I never really thought about attitudes of superiority that others have against the U.S., I usually hear the opinion being expressed of Americans believing they are superior.  Bollywood films depict the West as having loose morals that are not compatible with the Indian way of life.  So they show actors who are playing emigrants either adhering to their Indian culture or abandoning it and acting improperly like Westerners.  The most popular characters are those who stand by their roots and chose to live how they want, not the way Western society wants them to.  Although this article is highly critical of the attitudes of Bollywood towards the West, it also points out that it actually helped paint emigrants in a more positive light back in India.  The most popular Bollywood movie called Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge or "The Braveheart will take the Bride" changed the views that many Indians had towards emigrants.  Instead of looking at them as traitors and ex-Indians, it presents the main characters as heroes for sticking by their roots.  However, the film still had the problem of expressing only disdain for Western culture and making it seem evil.  

The most interesting part of the article for me came at the very end, where it pointed out that racism is an issue in Bollywood.  Oftentimes I have heard about racism in Hollywood films, but to the credit of film makers, cinema has become more inclusive lately-- especially compared to what I read about Bollywood.  The depiction of black people is always negative.  They are sometimes portrayed by Indian actors in blackface in the background of films, which is highly offensive.  Other times they are portrayed as the dregs and lowlifes of society in the West.  Overall, I think this article raised interesting points about the culture of India and the perception of Indians to the rest of the world.
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What to Know About Diwali, the Festival of Lights

What to Know About Diwali, the Festival of Lights | Geography Education |

"Diwali, one of the biggest holidays in Indian culture, is a five-day festival of lights celebrated worldwide by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains. This year, the traditional day of Diwali falls on Oct. 30, though celebrations span the entire week leading up to and following the holiday, which marks the triumph of good over evil."

Seth Dixon's insight:

This video provides a good introduction to the incredibly important South Asia holiday of Diwali. 


Tags: culture, India, Hinduism, South Asia, festivals.

Kelsey McIntosh's curator insight, 31 March 2018, 23:31
Diwali is the Indian festival that lasts 5 days and celebrates the “triumph of good over evil”. The article explains that the holiday is recognized worldwide, the festival is marked by lighting fireworks, and other objects that give off light and has many origins.
Matt Danielson's curator insight, 12 December 2018, 19:54
This festival seems interesting and all the different lights must be cool to experience.A nice mix of old cultural celebration with more modern traditions (like gift giving, sweets, etc). 
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Fertility Rates-Differences Within Countries

"An important aspect about country level data of fertility to keep in mind is that there can be considerable heterogeneity within countries, which are hidden in the mean fertility which were discussed in this entry. The mean Total Fertility Rate for India in 2010 was 2.8 (UN Data): But this average hides the fact that the fertility in many Southern Indian regions was below 1.5 (which is similar to the mean fertility in many European countries), while the fertility in Northern India was still higher than 5 children per woman (which is as high as the mean of the African countries with the highest fertility)."

Seth Dixon's insight:

This is a stunning example of uneven development and regional differences within countries.  Too often we discuss countries as if the situation inside the borders of one country is the same throughout it, even if the geographic contexts can be wildly different. 


Questions to Ponder: Why are the fertility rates in so different in northern and southern India?  How does this regional imbalance impact the country?  What are other examples of major differences within a country? 


Tags: regions, population, demographic transition model, declining populationmodelsunit 2 population, India, South Asia. 

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Where Ships Go to Die, Workers Risk Everything

In Bangladesh, men desperate for work perform one of the world's most dangerous jobs. They demolish huge ships in grueling conditions, braving disease
Seth Dixon's insight:

What happens to massive cargo vessels after they are outdated?  There are tons of scrap metal on these ships, but they aren't designed to be taken apart.  The ship-breakers of South Asia (Bangladesh, India and Pakistan are 3 of the 4 global leaders in recycling ships) risk much to mine this resource.  This is an economic function that is a part of a globalized economy, but one than was never intended.  There are major health risks to the workers and pollutants to the local community that are endemic in this industry that manages to survive on the scraps of the global economy.


Tags: BangladeshNational Geographic, South Asia, poverty, development, economic, globalization, industry, labor.

Douglas Vance's curator insight, 23 April 2018, 17:22
The dangerous conditions of working on these ships is impossible to imagine. Toxic chemicals and fumes, risks of collapses, explosions, or falling debris makes this job borderline inhumane. The risks to workers seems irrelevant in the eyes of the owners of these ships who com to Bangladesh because they know the environmental and workplace regulations are nonexistent. However, this entire situation is created by the swelling pressures of globalization and rapidly accelerating international sea trade.
tyrone perry's curator insight, 2 May 2018, 17:24
Bangladesh is one of the largest shipwrecking ports in the world.  This is a very dangerous and low paying job.  because work is so scarce in Bangladesh there are many skill less people looking for work at any cost.  many ships show up with dangerous gasses still in the ship and also lined with asbestos.  on average in the last few years about 15 people die a year.  This has become large because of cheap labor and low environmental and safety standards.
Stevie-Rae Wood's curator insight, 10 December 2018, 04:19
Bangladesh is a poor country and the shipping trade has taken advantage of the poverty here because they know men will work for little pay and do very dangerous work. As well the shipping industry takes advantage of the lack of environmental laws here so they can pollute and will not get in trouble for it. Making the efforts of countries with environmental laws obsolete. Bangladesh's coast line if filled with huge ships waiting to be demolished this ship wrecking industry has ruined there shore line. The workers are exposed to harsh chemicals and fumes diminishing there life expectancy. It does not seem like there is any hope for these people. It needs to come from the shipping boat companies and all they care about is money not people.
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Edible Cutlery

"India is one of the world's largest consumers of disposable plastic cutlery, which has the makings of a huge health and environmental crisis written all over it."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Plastics clog our landfills and single-use plastic consumption is one of the most wasteful elements of our consumer-based, disposable society.  This product is a reaction against the waste of disposable cutlery, but it is also an intriguing developmental strategy (see company kickstarter page or website). 


Tags: developmentfood, gender, agricultureconsumption, South Asia, pollution

Rebecca Geevarghese's curator insight, 8 May 2016, 11:27
How innovative!! Will definitely being showing this to my Geography students. 
Katie Kershaw's curator insight, 5 April 2018, 19:05
This video was really fascinating and brings up very good points about being environmentally friendly.  The creator of this edible cutlery noticed that there was a problem in India with the use of plastic cutlery.  He points out that it has been littering the area because of the high volume of usage of the product in India.  The problem with plastic cutlery is that it doesn't decompose, so people throw them out and they just sit there forever.  So the inventor of the edible cutlery came up with an ingenious solution to the plastic problem, he created a product that was incredibly ecological.  The cutlery is made of crops that are readily available and grown right in India.  This cuts down on waste transporting the materials to make the cutlery.  He also decided to use millet as the main material in the product because it takes significantly less water to grow than other crops he considered using.  The cutlery is completely biodegradable and 100% edible, so it has little impact on the environment once it is disposed of.  Another unique aspect of the cutlery is that it comes in a variety of flavors so it actually adds to the culinary experience.  Not only did the inventor come up with a great solution to pollution in India, but he has also helped spur the local economy by providing jobs to 9 lower class women.  This shows that even though pollution seems like a huge problem that effects the whole planet, the solution is not always as complicated as it seems.
David Stiger's curator insight, 12 November 2018, 23:02
After seeing this my first thought was "absolutely brilliant." With over a billion people living in India, something simple like disposable cutlery is no longer a small, trivial matter - it is a major environmental and public health concern. Disposable plastic on such a large scale is not sustainable. Necessity must be the mother of invention as this Indian engineer find a practical and innovative alternative to help solve an issue in his country. But, this does not have to start and end with India. This eco-friendly solution could be applied to restaurants all over the world. I love that the cutlery is both edible and healthy and also biodegradable. Humanity needs more of this. It would be interesting to see a future in which a raised level of environmental conscientiousness led to people either carrying their own personal resuable cutlery with them or, if they forgot to bring their utensils, used edible/biodegradable ones. What is is so promising is that the interviewee stated that he could find a way to make the edible utensils as cheap as the plastic ones and that they have a shelf life of three years. Climate change is not just a regional problem in India but a globalized problem. When one region of the world discovers a solution, it should be shared and promoted on a global scale.  
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The area of this map coloured red has the same population as the area coloured blue

The area of this map coloured red has the same population as the area coloured blue | Geography Education |
Well, this is kind of crazy. Only 5 per cent of the world's population lives in the regions of this map shaded blue. Another 5 per cent lives in the area shaded red. Yoinks.


Tags: population, density, South Asia.

Carlos Fosca's curator insight, 6 January 2016, 11:34

Parece realmente una broma, pero la zona coloreada de rojo alberga a 350 millones de personas sobre una superficie que arroja una densidad poblacional de 1,062 habitantes por Km2. Si esto se compara con el país más densamente poblado de Europa, que es Holanda, con una densidad de 409 habitantes/Km2 o incluso con el departamento de Lima (269.1 habitantes /Km2) vemos que hay una gran diferencia. Pero el Perú también tiene propio su punto rojo en términos de densidad poblacional (no en términos de población absoluta). ¿Saben que lugar es este? Pues la provincia Constitucional del Callao que tiene una densidad poblacional de 7,159.83 habitantes/Km2 (2015).

Richard Aitchison's curator insight, 19 March 2018, 15:52
This map shows how much population is in one certain area. It is amazing to see all the land in the blue area which roughly adds up to 5% of the population, while that small area in red is also 5% of the worlds population. One can see just from the map some of the difficulties this might cause. The area in red has a major overpopulation problem and has a major need for resources for all of the people that live there. It also causes major divisions in socioeconomic and we tend to see many slum cities develop which on most likely built in poor geographical area. This can cause many issues in this area and we also see at the end of the article that with sea changes this could cause major problems in the near future in this area. If we were to see population move out of this area where would they go? We have major issues currently with a moving population in Europe, however it will be interesting to see where this population would move and how that would effect possible political policies of other South Asian countries. 
Katie Kershaw's curator insight, 5 April 2018, 19:19
If someone looked at this map and didn't have background knowledge on the population distribution on earth, they would probably think this map is fake.  It's pretty unbelievable that one tiny spot of land has the same amount of people living on it than pretty much the rest of the entire world.  The biggest thing that this map indicates is that earth's population is not evenly distributed even a little bit.  This is partially because there are parts of the world that are uninhabitable, but that doesn't fully explain why so many people live in that tiny area.  The red spot also tells me that people living in that area are going to have a very different experience than most other humans.  Their resources are going to have to be divided thoroughly and they probably aren't going to get away with spending a lot of time without being in contact with other people.  The end of this article pointed out another big problem with this dense area of settlement- if something were to happen to this area which either wiped out resources or killed people, the earth's population would drop significantly in a really short period of time.  After looking at this, I regret how angry I used to be about sharing a room with my sister.  Now that I have my own bedroom I can see that I was actually pretty lucky, because at least I didn't have 5% of the world's population within a few hundred miles of me. 
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The Ganges River Is Dying Under the Weight of Modern India

The Ganges River Is Dying Under the Weight of Modern India | Geography Education |
The country’s future depends on keeping the holy river alive.
Seth Dixon's insight:

This article touches on very serious religious and environmental issues connected to the Ganges River.  The Ganges is the sacred river of Hinduism and in part because the river valley is the most heavily populated region of India.  Simultaneously, this holy river is an incredibly polluted river as it's the watershed for a industrial region that struggles with significant sanitation problems; this is a great article on the environmental and cultural issues of development.

Tags: religionSouth Asia, culture, Hinduism, pollution, industry, economicenvironment, environment modify, unit 3 culture.

Zavier Lineberger's curator insight, 24 April 2018, 18:20
(South Asia) Varanasi, the oldest city in India and the religious center of Hinduism, has an enormous business focusing around cremating bodies to scatter in the Ganges River. Hindus believe the Ganges can break the cycle of reincarnation, so many who do not have money to pay for cremation drop their deceased directly into the river to help them break this cycle. However, the river supports approximately 10% of the entire worlds' population and belief in Ganga, "the self-cleaning river god" allows for Indians to poison the same water they drink out of. It is estimated that 70% of people that use the water become diseased by the sewage and industrial waste poured into it.
India cannot stop dependence on the river. Hindus bath in the holy water of the Ganges, and an increasing population means increased water consumption. It will take concentrated efforts from government and spiritual leaders to change the dominate opinion.
brielle blais's curator insight, 1 May 2018, 23:39
This article showcases how different aspects of geography can both help and harm a country. The Ganges River is incredibly important to India. It is a sacred place where the people believe in Ganges, the idea of allowing the dead to reach eternal liberation. Here, hundreds of bodies are burned a day. If they aren't burned, family members of the deceased let the dead float down the river. This phenomenon attracts many tourist and allows for the economy of India to thrive. However, the bodies are beginning to seriously pollute the river. Areas have become stagnant, full of disease. The problem doesn't end however, as India's population is increasing steadily as well. Water needs to be cleaned to meet the demand or India will face a true crisis.
Kelvis Hernandez's curator insight, 14 December 2018, 19:52
10. Approximately 10% of the world's population lives on the Ganges river basin. Soak that in for a second. 10 % of the world's population rely on one way or another this religiously significant river. The god of the river, Ganga, is worshipped, but the river is also highly polluted. With waste both artificial and human, being thrown into the river and the number of dead bodies that float down to Varanasi, the oldest city in India, to be cremated. As dead bodies flow down the river the people still need to use it to wash. There are ceremonies that the people on the river hold where they dump waste into the river as they know that Ganga will clean the river. The pollution of the river is an issue that will, unfortunately, continue as India's population continues to grow. 
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Living Bridges

"In Northeast India just north of Bangladesh is the province of Meghalaya."

Seth Dixon's insight:

The living bridges of Meghalaya are truly sights to behold; these astonishing bridges are a 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.  Here is another video and articles (BBC, Atlas Obscura, Inhabitat, and MNN) with more ecological and cultural context on these living bridges. 

Tags: environment, environment adapt, SouthAsia, water, weather climate, indigenousbiogeography.

Tanya Townsend's curator insight, 20 November 2015, 21:16

I think these bridges are of great value to the world... Nature provides us with such amazing natural resources. There is really no need to do half the damage we do to it. what a beautiful way to keep the environment's natural beauty intacted


Kimmy Jay's curator insight, 20 November 2015, 23:28

H/E Interaction 


Douglas Vance's curator insight, 21 April 2018, 17:58
These living bridges are an ingenious way to construct long lasting and incredibly durable bridges in a region of the world that is enormously flood-prone during the monsoon season. These bridges are ideal because they do not crumble like concrete is prone to do and they cannot rust. This is a prime example of people working with the materials available to them to stay connected.
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India heatwave kills 800 as capital's roads melt

India heatwave kills 800 as capital's roads melt | Geography Education |

"At least 800 people have died in a major heatwave that has swept across India, melting roads in New Delhi as temperatures neared 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit).  Hospitals are on alert to treat victims of heatstroke and authorities advised people to stay indoors with no end in sight to the searing conditions.  In the worst-hit state of Andhra Pradesh, in the south, 551 people have died in the past week as temperatures hit 47 degrees Celsius on Monday." 

Tags: physical, weather and climate, India, South Asia.

Seth Dixon's insight:

This article on MSN and this NPR podcast remind me about how extremes can create chaos.  While in Texas, the flooding has ravaged much of the state.  Weather from other places is never news unless it is so extreme that it becomes a crisis.   

Katie Kershaw's curator insight, 5 April 2018, 19:34
Not to make a joke of a serious situation, but I almost cannot function when the weather hits 80 degrees and I value air conditioning as much as oxygen sometimes (I am a baby when it comes to heat).  So the fact that people in New Delhi and the surrounding areas had to deal with temperatures of 122 degrees makes me cringe and sweat just thinking about it.  This article brings up some interesting points about how sometimes the weather can reveal the shortcomings of a society.  First of all, the fact that people actually died because of heat says to me that the government was not prepared to deal with this type of crisis.  There wasn't adequate resources to give people the necessities of water and shelter when facing such high temperatures.  It seems like in this type of heat people probably cannot function as they normally can, so it seems like a system should have been better prepared to keep people indoors and hydrated.  Another flaw of the government that is revealed in this type of weather is poor infrastructure.  The article says that the electrical grids of cities are being overwhelmed by air conditioning use and wide outages were possible.  In an area with a high population and the potential of facing such extreme weather, there should be more of a priority placed on repairing and maintaining electrical grids and wiring.  The high heat also exposed that the roads weren't built to sustain this weather because it literally started melting.  This unfortunate incident in India shows that humans can control a lot these days, but the weather is still untouchable.  The best way to deal with extreme weather is to be better prepared to face it.
Zavier Lineberger's curator insight, 24 April 2018, 18:31
(South Asia) India, with the second largest population in the world and a developing infrastructure, often faces heatwaves due to its climate. But recently the heat, spurred by climate change, led to hundreds of deaths. There is no doubt that there are more deaths than can be reported due to the country's largely isolated and rural populations. In this article from 2015, the temperature reached 122 Fahrenheit. The heat causes numerous urban problems, such as  power outages due to ACs and melting roads, but most deaths typically happen in poorer areas.
brielle blais's curator insight, 1 May 2018, 23:50
India is facing a change in their physical geography as climate change continues to prove itself to be a real problem. The amount of energy being used to air condition homes is astounding and the government is worried of massive power outages. "India's power industry has long struggled to meet rapidly rising demand in Asia's third largest economy, with poorly maintained transmission lines and overloaded grids." Physical geography can effect the economy as well. 
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Burka Avenger is the Muslim Female Superhero We've All Been Waiting For

Burka Avenger is the Muslim Female Superhero We've All Been Waiting For | Geography Education |

"The Muslim world doesn't have the best reputation when it comes to female empowerment. With a lack of of strong, independent female role models, young women in the region have few places to look in popular culture for guidance. Until now.

Meet Burka Avenger, the game-changing Pakistani cartoon that, for the first time, has flipped the status quo on its head with its female superhero protagonist, who fights crime in her magical burka."

Tags: Pakistangender, popular culture, SouthAsiaglobalization, culture, Islam.

Shane C Cook's curator insight, 27 May 2015, 14:05

This superhero is more than just something to bring joy to children in Pakistan. This hero empowers women to think they can be strong like the Burka Avenger.

Chris Costa's curator insight, 30 November 2015, 14:51

This is an awesome, heartwarming story, and I highly recommend people to watch the trailer for the show offered on the website- it seems very cool, and like something kids will actually want to watch (unlike a great deal of educational television). For a nation that is plagued by such a great deal of bigotry and gender inequality- with female infant mortality rates contributing to a gender distribution of 108 men to 100 women- it is so good to see a program such as this being released from Pakistan. Young Muslim women are so deprived of positive and powerful female role models, allowing for the continued systematic abuse and mistreatment of women in many parts of the Middle East, including Pakistan. This show looks promising, from both a critical and humanitarian perspective, although I fear for the lives of its creators and that its showing will be suppressed in the very nations that need it the most. Terrorist organizations and religious extremists fear education and empowerment more than any army, as only those two factors can truly combat these movements effectively, and they will show no mercy should they ever be given the chance to cease the production of this program. I applaud its creators for their bravery, and hope that they are able to get their message across.

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India-Pakistan border Ceremony

Fascinating footage of a traditional ceremony that takes place on the Pakistan India border. From the BBC
Seth Dixon's insight:

This is a fascinating political display that shows a degree of cooperation, but is made into a sports-like event because of the geopolitical tension/passion between these two South Asian neighbors.  They have 'toned down' the overtly display of hostility in recent years.  Some love this border ceremony and others fear that they are playing with fire, fanning the flames of nationalism that only exacerbates the tension.  Just last year, this border checkpoint was the site of a terrorist attack that killed 50.  Click here for more information about the border tension in the Pakistan/India/China borderland.  

Tags: bordersgeopolitics, political, territoriality, video, India, South Asia, Pakistan.

Taylor Doonan's curator insight, 30 March 2018, 22:51
This video shows a ceremony that takes place on the India-Pakistan border and how precisely things need to be done to keep the peace. The two flags are lowered at a slow pace to ensure they are being lowered at the same pace, for if one were to be lowered before the other it could cause an international dispute. 
Nicole Canova's curator insight, 2 May 2018, 01:20
This is a really interesting display of hyper-nationalism and masculinity that has been taking place at the India-Pakistan border for years. On the surface, it seems like simply an entertaining, friendly competition. However, many are concerned that this tradition does nothing but enforce the tension between the two countries.
Matt Danielson's curator insight, 12 December 2018, 20:24
This event is interesting. Its almost reminds of me of two football teams staring each other down and chanting before a football game.  There is alot of tension between the two countries and some thing there is always a lingering possibility of war. This can seem to some as a way to be macho and "battle" without actually going to war.