the mandala times December 2009
Fall Issue No. Five
Global College India Center
End of The Semester, Believe it or Not!
Students are now, officially...DONE! With the first semester at least. Deadline for portfolio submission has come and gone, and all students completed the semester on time, but exhausted. Many of us will now be parting ways, some to move on, others just for a few weeks of winter break. Here we would like to share with you some last work, some last thoughts, and some good vibes.
Call for Newsletter Submissions!
Any and all student work and photos are appreciated! Or, just ask us and weâ€™ll give you an assignment!
Talk to the Mollys.
IMPORTANT REMINDERS December 23, 2009 - January 3, 2010: (only) Center will be closed for winter break. No center services nor mail can be accessed at this time.
January stipends: If you choose to receive a January stipend, the school will automatically pay your January rent. This, however, means you
the Sun-Goddesses Anna and Olamide Udaipur, Rajasthan
will not receive a stipend in May. Either January OR May will need to be covered by the student. If you want your January stipend before the December break, give Achu 2 days warning.
We realized recently
that in our over-zealousness to share our lovely essays and introduce our staff and Seniors sharing the India Center with us, we never actually properly introduced ourselves. We intend to remedy that in this last newsletter.
For Those Leaving India (but returning): Make sure you bring a copy (NOT THE ORIGINAL) of your residential permit to turn in at the airport. They may charge you an exit fee, bring Rs. 1500 just in case. You can change money from Rupees to Dollars/Euros at the airport.
For those Leaving India (not returning): Make sure you collect all your deposits: library deposit, meals deposit, as well as apartment key deposit (call Mr. Prakash). Also, bring and turn in your ORIGINAL residential permit at the airport, as well as Rs. 1500 just in case. You can change money at the airport from Rupees to Dollars, Rs. 10,000 maximum.
THE MANDALA TIMES!
Let Us Introduce Ourselves... Jill Muth Sophomore attended Costa Rica, and India Center
Over the Break, I’ll be... My plans for break are beaches, jungle camping, cobra spotting and conducting an English language workshop for a snake charming tribe in Jaisalmer My biggest accomplishment this semester was... My biggest accomplishment this semester was teaching up to five classes a day for a week straight in the middle of the forest. Whew! The music I listened to most while finishing my portfolio was... Radiohead, lots of Radiohead. If you really knew me you would know... that I have a huge collection of Stephen King books that is borderline worrisome.
Jill’s past work can be found... In The Mandala Times, Issue 1: “Fireworks in Sheshadripuram”, page 6 In The Mandala Times, Issue 2: “Rules for Diwali”, page 6 CHECK OUT JILL’S ESSAY “Teaching As Empowerment” ON PAGE 30
THE MANDALA TIMES!
Elena Kaye-Scheiss Junior attended Costa Rica, China, and India Center Over the Break, I’ll be... I am going home for break, and will be brushing up on my Mandarin while furiously writing all those scholarship applications I procrastinated. M y b i g ge s t ac co m pli shm ent thi s semester was... resisting that hammer and sickle tattoo I thought I just couldn't live without in the midst of my Commie whirlwind... definitely a good call!
The music I listened to most while finishing my portfolio was... the incessant buzz of my fluorescent light If you really knew me you would know... a muscle connects my eyelid to my jaw, when I chew my eyelid moves up and down (subtle, but true) Next semester, I am moving on to... egg fried rice and censored internet
Elena will be leaving India Center to return to the GC China Center to finish her Junior year Elena’s past work can be found... In The Mandala Times, Issue 2: “Happy Diwali”, page 1 “Letter Writing Campaign”, page 2 In The Mandala Times, Issue 3: photos, page 4 CHECK OUT ELENA’S SHORT ARTICLE “On the Sense of Smell” ON PAGE 20 photo: Elena Kaye-Schiess
THE MANDALA TIMES!
Eliza Sprague Sophomore attended Costa Rica, and India Center Over the Break, I’ll be... My parents are coming!!!!! I’m flying up to Delhi to meet them on Friday the 18th, then we’re spending a couple days in Agra, then on to Jaipur for a day or two (which is way to short a time to be in Jaipur but oh well. After that, we’re coming down to Bangalore for Christmas, then on to a nature preserve in Karnataka. I can’t remember how long we’re staying there, but it’ll be awesome!!! Then we come back to Bangalore and fly back to Delhi to go home on the 31st of December. It’ll be crazy, but I’m really excited!!! My biggest accomplishment this semester was... I am very used to taking risks. Being a naturally skittish person quickly forces you to become comfortable with them. And when it comes to big decisions in my life, I have been able to move in the direction I thought was best for me at the time. Until now though, those decisions had always come at opportune moments that didn’t present any radical change from what had been planned, like choosing Global College or coming to India, or working on an organic farm. This was the first time that I really allowed myself to take a step back and do something that my heart really wanted, regardless of logic or previous plans. I don’t think that I could have made this decision if not for the skills and confidence I gained here in India. It can take a lot of courage to go down the right road rather than the straight one, and being here definitely gave me that. The music I listened to most while finishing my portfolio was... That depends – when I was pretending to do work, I listened/sang along to the music from Glee. When I was actually doing work, I listened to a lot of Celtic instrumental. And of course, I listened to the music from Lord of the Rings, which is amazing. If you really knew me you would know... According to certain sources, my future career goals include running a sweatshop of activism…that’s also a bed-and-breakfast.
Next semester, I am moving on to... After a month-long break back in Chicago, I’ll be heading to Scotland for a semester program with the Findhorn Ecovillage. The basic goal of the semester is to integrate art, community, sustainability, and spirituality – pretty much exactly what I want to study. I’ll be taking four classes in the subjects I mentioned, and working in the Findhorn community – hopefully in organic farming or with animals. I can’t wait!!! I’ll definitely report back to everyone what I think of it. I’ll miss you guys!!!!!!
Eliza will be leaving India Center to attend a program at Findhorn in Scotland Eliza’s past work can be found... In The Mandala Times, Issue 1: “Leaving Home, Finding Humanity”, page 12 In The Mandala Times, Issue 2: “Past Ideology”, page 14 “Humanity Within the Machine”, page 20 In The Mandala Times, Issue 3: photos, page 2, 4 “Reflection”, page 12 In The Mandala Times, Issue 4: photos, page 1, 8, 10 “Categories”, page 12 CHECK OUT ELIZA’S PAPER “An Inevitable Divide” ON PAGE 18
THE MANDALA TIMES!
Adam Brooks Sophomore attended Costa Rica, and India Center Over the Break, I’ll be... I'm free to see India however I please over the break! It might be ambitious, but I would like to head north to Varanasi for a week or two by myself. I want to explore the Classical music scene there in preparation for spring semester independent study. My biggest accomplishment this semester was... I found an overwhelming passion for listening to and playing the sitar. The music I listened to most while finishing my portfolio was... Nikhil Banerjee's 1982 performance at UC Berkeley If you really knew me you would know... ... not to stare at me from the back of a motorcycle when sitting in traffic. I will probably stare back longer than even you are culturally comfortable with. or ... not to pass by my compartment window when carrying large grain sacks up the outside ladder of a sleeper bus. I will stare at you, and you might lose your concentration.
Adam’s past work can be found... In The Mandala Times, Issue 1: photos, page 2, 3, 4, 18 “Staff Profiles”, page 5 “Local Events Update”, page 6 In The Mandala Times, Issue 2: photos, page 3,12 “Events Update”, page 4 “Weekend Out with a Not-So-One Dimensional Speed Cuber”, page 12 “Alternative All the Way in the Back”, page 16 In The Mandala Times, Issue 3: photos, page 2, 5, 7, 10 In The Mandala Times, Issue 4: photos, page 2, 3, 16 “Events Update”, page 3 “Matrimony as Value Marker in a Rajput Family”, page 16 CHECK OUT ADAM’S PAPER “The Borrowing of Hindustani Classical in Western and ‘Fusion’ Music” ON PAGE 21
THE MANDALA TIMES!
Elise Stukenberg Sophomore attended Costa Rica, and India Center Over the Break, I’ll be... Molly Levine (Mo) and I will be meeting Tessa Levine, Mo’s other half in Bangkok, Thailand. We’ll join the CRC group for a lovely Christmas dinner party then spend a few more days in Bangkok till a few more friends from California join us. From there we’ll head south to Phuket with no further plans. We like to be spontaneous.
“Kerala Reflection”, page 6 CHECK OUT ELISE’S ESSAYS “Art Preservation” ON PAGE 16 AND “Life is a Circus” ON PAGE 34
My biggest accomplishment this semester was... Finishing my portfolio!!! The music I listened to most while finishing my portfolio was... Too much Radiohead! If you really knew me you would know... I am severely spontaneous. Elise’s past work can be found... In The Mandala Times, Issue 1: photos, page 6, 14 “Reflections on Cubbon Park”, page 14 In The Mandala Times, Issue 2: “Field Trip to Chitrakala Arts College”, page 19 In The Mandala Times, Issue 4, photos, page 6, 7, 11
the cover to Elise’s portfolio
THE MANDALA TIMES!
Sandra Martin Sophomore attended Costa Rica, and India Center
Over the Break, I’ll be... Next week I’ll be going to the Netherlands to stay with my grandparents and family for 2 weeks, then I’ll have 2 more weeks back in Bangalore to hang out with my Indian friends since most of my Global College friends won’t be back yet. M y b i g ge s t ac co m pli shm ent thi s semester was... Being able to call my apartment in Bangalore my home instead of just the place I’m staying. The music I listened to most while finishing my portfolio was... I made a playlist of all my favorite calming and n on - d is tr a c t i n g s on g s, th ough i t w as counterproductive because I ended up singing along to all of them and not actually writing my papers If you really knew me you would know... that I don’t mind sharing silverware, however I am utterly repulsed by residue left on a spoon or a fork and will ask you to finish licking it off before you give it back to me.
Sandra’s past work can be found... In The Mandala Times, Issue 1: photos, page 8, 9 “Students Top Ten Challenges”, page 7 In The Mandala Times, Issue 2: “Bro-Love”, page 19 In The Mandala Times, Issue 3: “Why Wear Head Scarves”, page 13 In The Mandala Times, Issue 4: photos, page 10, 19 “List of Top Ten Head Bobbles”, page 8 “Train Trash”, page 15 “Tea and Snacks”, page 17 CHECK OUT SANDRA’S ESSAY “A Night in Keeta” ON PAGE 13
THE MANDALA TIMES!
Molly Dutton-Kenny Sophomore attended Costa Rica, and India Center Over the Break, I’ll be... Going back to the freezing Bay Area! I’ll be spending Christmas with my family, New Year’s with my friends, and plenty of time to myself driving up and down Highway 1, the most majestic of California freeways. I also hope to host a few Indian cooking parties, thanks to Naveen! My biggest accomplishment this semester was... admitting that I might possibly, maybe, sort-of, be slightly an artist, and finishing an admittedly beautiful mandala. I put my heart and soul into that thing. The music I listened to most while finishing my portfolio was... Iron and Wine. I find it so calming! I mostly listened to their album “Unreleased Demos” while working on my Mandala. If you really knew me you would know... In my travels I have gone through many names and pronunciations of my own name. My name in Spain and Costa Rica was Mooli, my name in Mali (ironically) was Nantenin, and my name in India has been, at different times, “Muali” and “Dolma”.
Next semester, I am moving on to...
Molly will be leaving India Center to return to California and take a semester off from school. Molly’s past work can be found... In The Mandala Times, Issue 1: “Tasting Culture”, page 13 In The Mandala Times, Issue 2: photos, page 5, 8, 11 “Questions From the Freshman in Costa Rica”, page 10 In The Mandala Times, Issue 3: photos, page 2, 3, 6, 13 “Rajasthani Recipes”, page 14 In The Mandala Times, Issue 4: photos, page 9
...and any other article ever ran in the newsletter that didn’t have a “by line”
CHECK OUT MOLLY’S ART PIECE “Making A Mandala” ON PAGE 25 AND “Thought on Begging, ON PAGE 14
THE MANDALA TIMES!
Olamide HollowayOkpeku Sophomore attended Costa Rica, and India Center Over the Break, I’ll be... Finding a job! ... and traveling a bit along the way. My biggest accomplishment this semester was... resisting that hammer and sickle tattoo I thought I just couldn't live without in the midst of my Commie whirlwind... definitely a good call! The music I listened to most while finishing my portfolio was... MGMT - Electric Feel Modest Mouse - Float On Sade - (Anything by her) Manu Chao - (Anything by Him) If you really knew me you would know... that my birthday is the same date as a popular convenience store's name. CHECK OUT OLAMIDE’S POEM “A Poem on Human Rights...” ON PAGE 20
Olamide’s past work can be found... In The Mandala Times, Issue 1: “Orientation Underground”, page 3 In The Mandala Times, Issue 2: “You Know You’re in Global College When...”, page 8 “Cubbon Park Response”, page 18 “Caste System Response”, page 23 In The Mandala Times, Issue 3: photos, page 14 In The Mandala Times, Issue 4: photos, page 4
THE MANDALA TIMES!
Anna Vreeland Sophomore attended Costa Rica, and India Center Over the Break, I’ll be... To go home and surprise my mommy, because she doesn't know I'm coming home. She's been wanting me to come home this entire time and she doesn't know still that I'm coming home. Then I'll go to Tahoe and spend the holidays with my family. Especially my grandpa! My biggest accomplishment this semester was... (will be) whenever I get my fashion book finished. The music I listened to most while finishing my portfolio was... Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus, Navigate Me by Cute Is What We Aim For, and Sex on Fire by Kings of Leon If you really knew me you would know... I hate crying in public and the first time I ever did was during a play I was in and my friend kept putting moss in my hair that she picked off the set and it would fall off after the show was over...during the bow.
Anna’s past work can be found... In The Mandala Times, Issue 1: photos, page 15 Photoessay, “Dhandiya Dance”, page 8 “The Indian Fashion Scene”, page 15 In The Mandala Times, Issue 2: photos, page 25 “Hindi Class”, page 7 “Response Paper, Globalization”, page 17 In The Mandala Times, Issue 3: photos, page 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 15, 16, 21 “Dr. Kumar Sits Down”, page 15 In The Mandala Times, Issue 4: “List of Top Ten Head Bobbles”, page 8 “Top Ten Ways Students Procrastinate”, page 8 “Interview with Sheela on Fashion”, page 13 “Freewrite on Disneyland”, page 14 “Tea and Snacks”, page 17
CHECK OUT ANNA’S RESPONSE “ On the Sense of Smell” ON PAGE 20
THE MANDALA TIMES!
Loren Diesi Sophomore attended India Center Over the Break, I’ll be... spending two weeks traveling around India with my mom, and then I am heading to Europe (specifically France and Italy) to hang out with some friends. Then I will be returning to Bangalore. My biggest accomplishment this semester was... surviving in India. Its my first year with Global College, and for the first couple of weeks I was completely scared of India. Im glad to have overcome most of my fears, and look forward to completing the spring semester.
Loren will be continuing at India Center Loren’s past work can be found... In The Mandala Times, Issue 1: “Apartment Living”, page 11 In The Mandala Times, Issue 2: photos, page 4, 8, 13, 26 “Creative Response”, page 15 “Indian Cuisine Recipes”, page 21 In The Mandala Times, Issue 3: photos, page 5 In The Mandala Times, Issue 4: “Tripathiji”, page 2 CHECK OUT LOREN’S RESEARCH PAPER “Human Sex Trafficking in India and Nepal” ON PAGE 28
The music I listened to most while finishing my portfolio was... I just want to say I didnt do my portfolio last minute! (sort of !). I think I listened to mainly hip-hop...nothing special If you really knew me you would know... that I love classical music, and listen to it before I sleep photo: Loren Diesi
THE MANDALA TIMES!
Molly Levine Sophomore attended Costa Rica, and India Center
Over the Break, I’ll be... Over winter break I’ll be going to Thailand! My sister is in the CRC program right now so she will be able to show me around a little bit. I’ll be there for three weeks, in Bangkok and then down to the beach before it’s back to Bangalore for another four months! M y b i g ge s t ac co m pli shm ent thi s semester ... would definitely be just learning to be comfortable living in India. A close second would be swallowing fire though. The music I listened to most while finishing my portfolio was... The Kooks and Radiohead If you really knew me you would know... that I’m way too curious for my own good. Molly’s past work can be found... In The Mandala Times, Issue 2: “Staff Profiles”, page 3 “Beginner’s Guide to the Art of the Rickshaw”, page 7
“Response Paper, Human Rights”, page 13 “Body Modification”, page 22 In The Mandala Times, Issue 4: “Free Write on Travel”, page 11 CHECK OUT MOLLY’S ESSAYS “ Parallels of Discrimination” ON PAGE 23 AND “The Artists Colony in Jaisalmer” ON PAGE 32
THE MANDALA TIMES!
~ Student Work ~ A Night in Keeta
For TCR Class
In the middle of the Rajasthani desert in Keeta Village there is a small concrete room. Inside there are 4 cot beds and a few posters, but nothing else. Surrounding the left-most bed are a few men in shabby clothes, the night sky and bad lighting making their dark hair and skin hard to see. On the cot is a boy lying on his back, turned slightly towards the old TV flickering with a black and white Bollywood movie, his legs twisted in an awkward position. Near the door opposite his bed are two women, their sheer shawls covering their faces, the bright reds, yellows, and blues of their dress muted in the dim shadows. One man, the boy’s uncle, sits on the end of his bed, a comforting hand rubbing his lower back. His uncle’s children play games in the corner of the room, occasionally raising their voices or joking in the midst of the somber adults. Last, there are two 19-year-old American girls, the same age as the boy. They sit facing him on the cot across from him, his uncle, and the young daughter who tugs at her father’s arm. All eyes dart from the girls, their pale faces showing their uneasiness, to the boy, who is surprisingly passive, though sometimes a flinch of pain dashes across his face. The uncle, chewing tobacco pan and massaging the boy lightly, tries to explain in broken English what happened. His wife, one of the women standing in the shadows, giggles occasionally as he contorts his face trying to think of the words he knows only in Marwari and Hindi—she could easily tell the girls the story in English, but she will wait until she walks the girls back to the house where they are spending the night to clarify what her husband says. As the uncle speaks, he takes a small dark bottle and pours some liquid on a cloth. He and a few of the other men work together to slowly turn the boy on his side, shifting the legs and shoulders. Then he carefully lifts up the boy’s shirt, revealing a raw lower back, a wound not yet healed stretching from his back and tailbone down to his pelvis underneath his shorts. The boy moans as the medication is applied, and is helped back to his lying position. Small parts of his legs have the same wounds, though these look to be healing much
better than his back. A man rushes to him with a metal cup filled with water; the boy opens his mouth automatically as the water is poured down his throat. He wipes his lips with the back of his hand and watches the people in the room as he is forced to listen to what happened to him. The uncle does his best to describe the accident, how the boy was climbing a pole when he was electrocuted by defective wires. He fell to the ground. His body collapsed, crumbling under his useless legs— in a second he was paralyzed. He spent some time in the Jodhpur hospital but had to leave—though the care is free, his family couldn’t afford to stay away from work or so far away from their village. Since he does not have either of his parents, he moved to Keeta Village where some brothers and his uncle could look after him. He had been to many different doctors and hospitals. It would take a while longer for the wounds to heal, but nothing could be done about his legs without money. The boy stops paying attention to his uncle, who now is trying to say that all they could do is pray to their Gods. He breathes heavily as he watches the girls, one whose face is filled with uncomfortable sympathy, the other with thoughtful intensity and disbelief. He hears his uncle speaking, seemingly from quite a distance, that he is refusing to eat; he wants to die in order to take the burden off his family and stop his dreary existence. One of the girls watches him with kind eyes—he does not know how much she wants to have a normal conversation with him, to speak of anything other than his anguish. But she only knows how to ask “how are you?” in his language, and that question seems so meaningless. Instead she smiles awkwardly, not knowing what else to do. He returns it with a slight grin. After some silence, broken only by his raspy breath and the muted voices of the children chasing each other outside, the girls and his uncle’s family depart the concrete room for their own home on the other side of the village, leaving him to wonder when he will be able to disappear into the night too. by Sandra Martin
THE MANDALA TIMES!
Thoughts on Begging for GI class
Short explanation: All my assignments this semester were phrased as letters home to friends about my musings on India. This one is to my friend Christina, experiences with beggars.
My Dear Chrissy, How are you, my dear? I hope this letter finds you well and safe and happy. I saw you recently went to Mexico, some service I suppose. You’ve always been committed and dedicated that way, and I admire it. Actually, I thought of you the other day, when I was sitting at this bus stand and these cute little girls came up to me and my friends, asking for money. I thought of course you would have given them money, but then I also thought if you had been sitting there next to me, I might have encouraged or discouraged you from doing so. A lot of tourists in India seem to be fairly ignorant about begging and its cultural position here. So you should know, being the kind and philanthropic girl you are, should you ever come to India, begging is a very sensitive issue. Usually, on principle, as a blanket rule, I don’t give to beggars here. It’s a complicate issue, and in general I would opt to give to an organization that disperses money than to ever press coins into hands extended my way. The biggest things you have to learn to decipher regarding begging in India is the different kinds of people who beg, and why. Begging is a highly profitable untaxed occupation in India, and unfortunately this has led to corruption. Of the beggars you see, you’ll never see men, or even young boys really, over the age of 8 or so. You also never see teenage girls or boys, nor middle aged women. You will see: the old and crippled, the disabled, children, women with babies on their hips, and the occasional transgender individual. There’s local begging, from those that live in the city, begging from Indians and foreigners alike, often at stoplights, street corners, and especially in front of temples. Then there’s the corrupt, mafia-esque begging that is the hardest to understand, but the most important to know about. Within local begging, you’ll see pretty much all the demographics of people, less children though. These are usually people who live on “the wrong side of the tracks” or have had a tough break in life, born into city poverty, the worst kind of poverty. They’re often desperate and feel like they’re out of options. The old and crippled will ride local buses and trains asking for money, or more often sit on the street corner in non-commercial, but still busy, areas. Local children will more often than not be enrolled in school, even if only a half day. But not always. There are definitely children who beg around Bangalore. These kids are taught from a young age the way to ask for money, cupping your hand, and raising it to your mouth then extending it out to the person you’re asking money of. Universal symbol for “give me money so I can eat.” The woman with a baby on her hip is probably the most common local beggar I’ve observed. One of my teachers told me once, that more often than not, it’s not her baby! The stint is asking for money so the baby can eat. While some mothers beg genuinely, my teacher enlightened me that some poor women do it for a little extra cash, borrowing friend’s babies in exchange for childcare. The crippled in general, almost always twenty to thirty year old men, beg at street lights locally, dragging their deformed limbs, begging sympathy and coins. Sometimes it’s very tempting, but in the city, I try not to give, even though local giving is the only giving I would consider doing. Then there’s organized begging, easily likened to organized crime. In this corrupt business, the poor and destitute are trafficked across the country and within cities to maximize profit. Local street corners are rented out and mafia-like protection is offered in exchange for a cut of the profit. Intentional disfigurement is grotesquely common, as the disabled earn more than the able-bodied. Children are only profitable until a certain age. Children keep almost none of their own money. Mothers with babies are less common in organized begging as far as I can tell. When you see those children begging in front of temples in big cities like Delhi (and to a much smaller extent, Bangalore as well), they are being constantly watched by men working for the organized sector, and are not allowed o get in any trouble, any fun, or to keep any money. It’s usually orphaned children who get sucked into this sector. Honestly, it’s heartbreaking. Especially when you see children and the disabled begging and you have to question the means and intentions by which they’re going about getting money. Giving to beggars in the organized sector only perpetuates a cycle of violence, intimidation, and taking advantage of the country’s disadvantaged.
THE MANDALA TIMES!
So it’s complicated! I’ve personally had experience with almost all kinds of begging between my two trips to India. The first time I was here, on my first day in Delhi, I got caught in a rainstorm and had to find shelter with about a thousand other people under the awning of a mosque. I spent the rest of the day with a few other kids from my program around that mosque, observing the people from the huge stairs leading up to the doors of the mosque. We’d had an assignment that day to stay in the neighborhood and find a way to observe sickness, the process of dying, death itself, and a holy person (the sights Siddhartha, the man who would become Buddha saw when he first left his palace walls).So, it was that kind of neighborhood, and organized begging quickly became obviously prevalent to us. A few kids were playing around us on the steps, at first asking for money, but then just playing, but almost as if on display for us. We’d been told by one of our instructors not to give to beggars as a general rule, but these adorable little kids seemed harmless, and my friend pressed some small change into one of their hands, 2 rupees I think, about 4 cents. No sooner had he done so, that a man came out of nowhere, jabbering away to the kids in another language and literally pried the coin from the little girl’s hands and walked away. It took me a long time to understand this incident, but I didn’t give to beggars or the rest of my trip out of confusion. Since I’ve been in Bangalore, and around India this second time, I feel like I’ve seen just about all kinds of begging there is to see. There’s the locals, the woman with the baby at the stoplight on the way to school, there’s the children near the big intersection if the rickshaw driver gets lost and takes you the long way home (happens pretty often). There’s the old man and woman on Cunningham Road. Luckily I don’t feel I’ve run into a lot of organized begging, mostly just locals. Then, there was the incident in Udaipur, the test of all my knowledge and assumptions about begging. Let me set the scenario for you: my friends and I were sitting with all our luggage, waiting at a makeshift bus stand in front of a small food stall for our bus to Agra. These three little girls came around the corner, with these colorful garlands hung in their hair, laughing and playing around. They were young, the oldest one maybe 9 or ten, the two others, most likely twins, about 6. They were by themselves. The older girl carried a small tin bowl and upon seeing us, they giggled our way, extending the bowl, which had a small propped up cardboard cut-out of a guru in it and a few 1 rupee coins. They were asking for money. Though we didn’t give any right away, they hung around, playing with a stray dog who had been sleeping under the bench before they showed up. One girl was feeding her shiny metallic garland to the dog, the others were giggling, almost forgetting about us in their childish play. I studied them for awhile. At first I though they weren’t locals because their skin was so much darker than I’d seen on any local around Udaipur. But then again, that could be the reason (unfortunately) they would be living on the so-called ‘wrong side of the tracks’. I did notice they were begging in the afternoon, after I knew school had gotten out. Maybe they went to school during the day, maybe it was just coincidence. And they were begging in Udaipur, a tourist city no doubt, but nothing of a major metropolitan city like Delhi. And they were laughing. They didn’t look scared or intimidated, I didn’t think there could be a man lurking around the corner to take their coins who would let them goof around and play during work. Taking all this into account, for the first time since I’ve been in India, I took a 2 rupee coin from my pocket and discreetly put it in the girls bowl. My friends were shocked, and immediately critical, as I tried to explain to them my reasoning, my analysis of the situation. Later, I got up to buy some healthy crackers and almonds from the food stall. The girls eyed my snacks, and so after much deliberation, I gave them 2 crackers and 4 almonds each. While in the food stall I had asked the owner about the girls, if he saw them around often, to which he replied, “oh sure, they’re locals”. I felt confident and good in my decision, to give a little bit back to some people in a town I’d come to love. And then I saw one of the girls feed her crackers to the dog! So they obviously weren’t starving or anything. Oh well, I thought. I considered my actions appropriate, thought-out, not impulsive. Analytical, and to be honest, I was kind of proud of myself. It’s one of the skills I’m happy to be gaining from traveling, the ability to quickly evaluate a situation, synthesize all the information you have, and make a quick decision taking all cultural factors into account. So that’s what I have to say about begging. Should you ever come to India, I hope you will keep this in mind. But honestly, I think this can be applied in many other parts of the world as well. Maybe even in Mexico! I don’t know, you spend much more time there than I do. Anyway my dear, I wish you the best in all your travels, philanthropic and otherwise. I really admire you in many ways. Can’t wait to see you soon!
THE MANDALA TIMES!
Art Preservation For Independent Study
From the time when the first man felt the impulse to smear a handprint on a cave wall, then went further to depict animals in hopes of a bountiful return for a hunt, art has always been inherently religious, however in more modern terms art is, “The quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.” (Dictionary). However, today art has become more abstract and although it may remain a means to obtain a spiritual quest for some, art has fallen in the laps of consumerism. In other words, “Art, once considered a hallowed field of artistic and poetic inspiration, is now grist to the mill of hedge funds investment schemes and ambitious financial speculations.” (Patronage Politics) The history of art is held by western standards and categorized into periods and styles. However, the east does not hold the same system, for it is by western standards, a categorization on its own. In the west there is a clear linear succession from ancient affiliated art that seeps into as far as post-renaissance then loses direct affiliation with religion to become abstract as the artist movement grows and modernization comes into play.
perceives art today, for the artist no longer has the relationship of interest from one honest individual, “Art and patronage have a symbiotic relationship…the balancing act between this interactive process is at the crossroads where artistic ideals meet financial necessity – it is here that we see aesthetic judgments are forged, compromised or upheld.” (Patronage Politics) Instead artists must sell themselves to a public audience. “Formerly the three main motives for the patronage of art-piety, prestige and pleasure have now given way to – profit, promotion and power.” (Patronage Politics) As mentioned previously, all art comes from a religious background; it wasn’t until the transition from the gold to the blue background during the time of the Renaissance, when artists such as Leonardo De Vinci began to experiment with depth perception that art began to slowly deviate from religion. During the Renaissance many artists felt resentment to the church, especially a man like De Vinci who was not only an artist, but also a scientist. De Vinci wanted the freedom to explore his art through his own spiritual means without restrictions from the church, he continued to fight his life for this freedom, but unfortunately never received it in full.
The origins of art are religious and although the western world has deviated from this almost entirely, India has not. Of course there are modern artists in India, who paint in suit to the westerner, however the majority of them continue to paint with a strong religious endeavor to portray a god or story from Hinduism. However, India is still one of the few countries in the world where patronage still exists to a certain degree.
India and the Islamic world however, never came across this dilemma, both societies remained contained strong uniformed religious ties with their art. For instance in Islamic art, one cannot depict humans or animals, because only Ala can create beings, because painting a person would be striving to play god. However, Indian society attempts to depict god in every possible form, for by doing this god becomes more personal and easier to relate to as a The majority of western artist today are searching for a new familiar figure in form of a human or animal or perhaps a mixture unfound form, something that no one else has thought of, which is of both. exciting in terms of progression, but how can one progress without a Art is culture’s creative outlet, proper acknowledgement for the past. This is not to say that artists without art a culture is deprived do not study art history, however in the western region those who do of aesthetics and emotion. For generally only study western art and perhaps learn those forms, yet there can be no religion, music or there is no art history course that addresses tribal art, one must study inventive creativity of any sort anthropology in order to study the beginnings of art. India, unlike without art. Therefore culture the west, still holds art in religious terms. Although, there are will always have some form of modern artists in India, the most artist create pieces for a religious art, however when a culture loses purpose like they have been for centuries; they have yet to conform its traditions, especially an art their art into materialism. The spar difference of separation is form, apart of the cultures soul directly affiliated the fading or rather extinct tradition of patronage, heritage is lost. Especially in which for centuries was the sole provider for artists. communities where nothing is ! Patron, in Latin translates to father and originates from the written down and everything is Snake Charmer’s Flute Photo: Roman times, when patrons were labeled protectors of the arts. passed down orally. For example, Elise Stukenberg Early patronage was primarily associated with the church, for the Jogis and Mangnihars of “sponsoring several clients indicated substantial wealth and interest Rajasthan who have none of in the community.” (A Brief History of Patronage) The feudal contract their traditions written down and only teach by apprenticeship, bonded between patron (patronus) and their client (clientela) carried therefore it remains in the caste. over to the medieval era and didn’t begin to fade until around the year 1682, when King Louis XIV of France founded the Acedemie des Sciences, which was the end of academia patronage along with the traditional artist patronage. (A Brief History of Patronage This loss of patronage has a directly changed how the modern world
The Jogis are the snake charming caste, however due to a new humanitarian law they are no longer permitted to catch snakes and therefore the Jogi tradition of catching snakes could very well perish with this coming generation. However, minus the snake they have kept up other aspects of their traditional performance art, instead of
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charming the snake, a dancer will enact a snake to the tune of collectors of western art in the eighties and now other Asian powers the charmer’s flute, known as a Bin. In spite of this the Jogis are with strong economies like China, India, Russia and the Middle currently facing drastic differences from the lives they once led as Eastern countries are asserting their presence.” (The Politics of nomadic performers. They no longer move around as much as they Patronage) Since this time, individuals have made investments in art once did and most hold another job in order to provide a steady and continue to treat as a product of the market rather than a income. For instance, a snake charmer named Durga works at a cultural identity. stone mine and only performs with his wife as dancer during the The most negative affect globalization has on art is the media summer for festival season. Yet, Durga fails to make enough to make and aiming to homogenize art. There is not nearly enough enough to support his increasing, therefore his wife sells jewelry in recognition for the increasing sub cultures. However, as these new order to provide the amount they need. sub cultures arise, traditional art fails to be recognized with the level The Mangnihars is a musicians caste, that have managed to of respect it deserves. For instance people of the modern era rather keep up their traditions, however the lack of support and funding sit at home watch TV and surf the Internet rather than go see a play that they receive from the government is a clear sign that they are or visit a gallery. The media itself enables people to lose creative underappreciated. Many of the interest by glorifying the celebrity lifestyle. Mangnihar families do not make enough The average individual is not going to sit to support themselves, however for most at home and write a play or paint, they their role as a musician is a fulltime job, much rather just take the easy way out and but unfortunately under paid. A master a watch a movie. However, there are some musician named Satarkhan, says that the positive aspects, for one does have the “Children burn with rhythm when they ability to view a gallery online or a are born, the children learn music when recording of a play, but it is the live they learn to speak.” This was clearly interaction that is of concern. By viewing obvious by the performance a young everything second hand, the subject group of boys aging from the years twelve becomes impersonal and the art form is no to fifteen and a thirteen year old can play longer directly supported. Without drums, double flute, twang mouth, interaction there can be no feedback and clappers, sing and dance. The first without the reaction of the viewers, the ! instrument they learn is the kastanet, four artist will never know how to progress. For wooden clappers each pair held separately Snake Charmers outside City Palace in Jaipur instance in theater a live audience is a in each hand and the rhythm of is inspired necessity, the actor feeds off of the energy Photo: Elise Stukenberg by the trotting of a horse. Unlike the snake that the audience gives back and creates a charmers the women hardly play a role of relationship with the audience th at cannot musician, however most of them tend to sing and dance at be translated onto a screen. By keeping up tradition, one keeps up weddings, but only occasionally. The fact remains that the their ambition and without this society has no motivation. Mangnihars live in a poor colony, where many family members do The most tradition of art is found in indigenous traditions, not even have enough space in their own home and resort to however in this modern world where tourism is rapidly increasing sleeping outside on a road that has not obviously been paid attention numbers even these traditions are becoming misconstrued. For to by the local government. All the boys future professions is secured, instance in a small tourist resort in the Rajasthani desert, the local they will all become musicians just like their fathers and in order to musicians and dancers perform regularly for tourists. The do this they start work from a young age and therefore have little to atmosphere draws a close resemblance to an amusement park, where no time for school. They continue to have patrons and earn their everything and everyone is attempting to play the part, however it is way in the world; even Prince Vikrem of Jailselmer claims that the obvious that is all fake. However, the performance itself is entirely musicians tend to travel more than he does. real, but the way it is presented could almost be taken as a form However, no matter what art remains to be a creative outlet for prostituting a vital piece of culture. The musicians announce each culture and, as art becomes more abstract and more of a product, item they play, starting with a welcoming verse and continue to people of the west begin to lose their heritage. Today people tend to explain each item until the dancers arrive. The dancers proceed to a buy art on a whim, because it is pleasing to the eye and not for fire pit that appears to have never been used, while the guests spiritual satisfaction. The mere fact that art is bought and sold continue to eat their dinner. Everyone watches and applauses as the instead of being given and loved, is against an artists inherent ethics. dancers continue to reel around and perform such tricks as picking There are numerous collectors who buy art as a means to raise their razor blades with their eyelids. Throughout the evening one status, thus treating as a piece of merchandise versus a resource. intoxicated guests persistently hands out money to the musicians and From the day that US President, Herbert Hoover, rallied the at one point even throws money on one of the dancers in the midst citizens of the US to “Buy! Buy! Buy!” in hopes of freeing the of their performance. The performers are treated as objects rather country from the Great Depression through consumerism has made than an integrated part of society, which is a shame for these people conform to caring less about quality and rather stress more indigenous people that are inherently more open, minded on a These on quantity. Ever since then, modernization has made art yet spiritual level and tend to appreciate art for what is. another commodity of consumerism. One would “be surprised at individuals of indigenous communities have a strong interest for the amount of art twentieth century men has surrounded himself their art; it is integrated in their society, unlike the modern world with, much of it unconsciously.” (The Lost Art of Patronage) Since the where it is objectified to such extremes that it becomes a product. economic boom of the 1980’s, the art world has witnessed drastic However, there are NGOs that recognize this matter and know changes; “initially it was the Japanese who emerged as voracious that the art form of these people is suffering due to the modern world
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and the ideologies that come along with it. Many attempt to help these indigenous performers by teaching them how to go about their finances and publicize themselves as if they have no choice but to conform themselves to this modern world. It is clear that no one is going to change for the indigenous for the indigenous must change for the modern buyers. The positive element of art is that the possibilities of it are endless; one can do whatever they want with the subject that they are given or found. Art is the symbol of selfexpression; it can be created for the self or for others. One can depict how they preserve the world through art. Furthermore, art itself can be therapeutic art and help connect an individual to their culture. When one doesn’t receive the positive affects of art, especially in a modern society like today, negative frustration may escalate inside without a creative outlet to release it. This unfortunately fails to be recognized in countries like the US, where art and music programs are being increasingly cut in public Photo: Elise Stukenberg schools. This can have a very negative affect on children psychologically, for it is proven that by drawing it increases brain chemistry and aids in the frontal lobe linkage. Without art available in the public schools, children in poverty have no outlet for built up aggression, however with an art program they would have a positive outlet. This built up aggression with no outlet can lead to extremes such as violence, but more importantly children will not learn how to think for themselves with creative integrity. Furthermore, this lack of art education creates a stigma that poor people are not sophisticated enough to appreciate art and thus art becomes a class divider. The public Indian education system also does not mandate art programs, however, children do not react the same way due to their society being more open emotionally, nonetheless their education is lacking a creative outlet for the future. My art teacher, Anthony Nordoff once told me “art’s sole purpose is to provoke emotion”, therefore does this mean that a world without art would be a world without emotion? It is against human nature to not have emotion and art is the product of the expression, ignited by the emotion. !
Preserving traditional art in its purist habitat is the strongest lead point to preserve a culture and provide positive sustainability. The revitalization of the art movement, by making it an integral part of society versus the objectification of it could ideally break down modern consumerism, by provoking value and meaning to the art itself, thereby producing work of real quality and not just blind quantity. Lastly, a society without art education is doomed to suffer for independence, humans are inherently spiritual and creative, therefore by ignoring art and being ignorant to its spirituality, society will continue to fall blindly into the abyss of consumerism.
by Elise Stukenberg
Works Cited "A Brief History of Patronage." n. pag. Web. 04 Dec 2009. Erlandson, Charles. "The Lost Art of Patronage." Arts Reformation (1992): n. pag. Web. 05 Dec 2009. Salwat, Ali. "Artfined: Patronage politics." Dawn (2009): n. pag. Web. 05 Dec 2009. Lai, Alice, and Eric L. Ball. "Home is Where the Art is." National Art Education Association (2002): 47-64. Web. 10 Dec 2009.
An “Inevitable Divide” Redefining Environmentalism For GI Class Route 90 is the straightest, most uncomplicated paved pathway connecting two of America’s mega-cities, Chicago and New York City. Starting from its shoulders and moving outward as far as the eye can see both north and south are fields upon fields of soy, corn and wheat, with the occasional free-range cow-pasture set among the cash crops. Trees line the side of the road like refugees making the slow, painful journey from one forest to another. The forests themselves are few and far between, popping up suddenly when the route passes through a national park or some other protected area. As a child, I learned to feel bitter about this agricultural desert. In my eyes, there was no comparing the rugged beauty of the natural landscape with the checkerboard rigidity of the cultivated one. The world, I thought, would be better off without humanity. The only way to protect the little ‘nature’ we had left would be to keep our species as far away from it as possible. Humans and the environment, I knew, could never be compatible. This inevitable divide was by no means the unique mental construction of an adolescent girl. The depletion of global resources, the neatly manicured lawns sporting plants from halfway across the world, the monocultural giants producing food in the name of community service yet taking actions that lead to more profit rather than less hunger, have reduced ‘nature’ to a commodity, and our interactions with it to an industry. The fact that nature is not willingly ‘tamed’ presents an exciting challenge rather than a dire warning. Industrial developers have no doubt led the way in widening the gap between humanity and the environment. Consumerism is placed above harmony and thus the United States has become trapped in a cycle of ‘necessary’ economic expansion, at the expense of both the community and the natural world that supports it. The ties between humans and nature have become lost in the image that we now carry of ourselves. We are the triumphant conquerors, and sometimes the devilish exploiters, but never the sons and daughters of the Earth. The artificial truth of this ‘inevitable divide’ has been accepted almost entirely in our society, so much so that many ‘environmentalists,’ advocates of the natural world, have
THE MANDALA TIMES! themselves turned to conservation as the only means of ‘saving the planet.’ In almost every attempt to ‘protect the environment,’ or ‘defend the Earth,’ the goal becomes one of separation. The conservationist movement has been at the forefront of attempts in the last century to stem the roaring current of capitalistic development. In an effort to ‘save what we have left,’ it is necessary to bar from human interference all undeveloped land, and ‘restore to its natural state’ areas with low or non-existent human population wherever possible. Understandably, even advocates of this course of action see their fight as doomed to failure in some respect. The conservationist/corporate developer relationship has been reduced to a war over territory, a race against time to see who will come out with more land. In this kind of fight, ego often takes precedence over intent, until the original purpose of conservationism is lost in favor of the personal battle of wills between the corporate lawyer and the environmental activist. The larger national and world community has the tendency to vilify one side or the other, and thus the polarization continues with no attention paid to the fact that both sides, and indeed all parties engaged in the ‘conflict,’ are operating under an artificial ideology Environmentalism, and in particular conservationism, is an adaptation to a false reality. It assumes the truthfulness of the assertion that humanity and nature are incompatible and in doing so, precipitates action that can only lead to a wider divide. As land is set aside for ‘conservation,’ the vast majority of people remain in their urban, suburban, and agrarian realities, continuing ways of life that long ago became discordant with natural processes. Children in these areas learn little of the natural world, and its absence adds to its irrelevance. Fear of the unknown, untamed wilderness grows until finally, the easiest solution is the deconstruction of this ‘abnormal’ entity and a restructuring in the form of the reality with which they are familiar. And thus, the prophetical doom of the conservationist movement comes true. Yet the destruction of nature by humanity is not inevitable. The earth has existed far outside our realm of consciousness and will undoubtedly continue to outlast us. Our actions and ignorance will destroy us long before we are able to utterly destroy life on this planet. And here lies the miscalculation in the ideology of so many human beings, from developers to conservationists. In our efforts either to make use of or protect nature, we have forgotten our connection with it. We have forgotten that we are nature. Without air, we would die. Without water, we would die. Without land, animals, plants, the sun, we would simply cease to exist. And of course, without our physical bodies, there would be no life for us. We may consider ourselves separate from nature, but in reality, we are no more independent than any other form of life on this planet. Some may argue that we have a freedom of choice accorded to no other animal, plant or element, but even our choices must exist within limitations handed down by nature itself. We cannot choose to exist without oxygen. We cannot put down roots and begin photosynthesizing. We cannot transform our molecules into H2O and spring from high mountain aquifers. Our identity as human beings is given to us by the natural world and we cannot
leave it behind, no matter what technology may produce or institutions politicians may construct. The divide between humans and nature cannot be inevitable because it is nonexistent. The issue lies then in our ignorance of that fact and the form of that connection. With most of our energy currently put towards a war between developers of housing projects and proponents of gated ‘natural’ ecosystems, we have little time left for gaining a true understanding of our place in the natural world. While some opportunities exist for environmental education, too many consist simply of ‘visits to nature,’ where students learn that a different world exists, without understanding how they are actually part of it. In essence, this kind of learning constitutes a superficial cross-cultural interaction. The goal is to learn about nature, not from it. We learn how the nitrogen cycle works, why we have cells and what they do, what kinds of animals are endangered, but we are not asked to think about how this relates to us beyond our guilt or indifference. Even in trying to understand the ecosystems around us, we are taught, and therefore continue to see them as separate from ourselves. ‘Environmental issues’ are widely discussed, but never integrated into discussions of the human community itself. We have, in short, no preparation for a reality in which humanity is not divided from nature. A tragedy exists in the great opportunity currently lost by our failure to take advantage of the educational resources available to us in understanding our place in the natural world. Small-scale farmers and indigenous communities throughout the world have long understood both the processes by which nature operates and the invaluable lessons that we can take from them. Ecological workers, psychologists, anthropologists, artists and any person who has immersed themselves in the realities of natural behavior has had the opportunity to grasp, on some level, the unity of humanity and the rest of the planet. These teachers have the ability to act as guides as we begin again to learn about ourselves from nature, treating the outside world not as a separate entity, but as a mirror to hold up to ourselves. In approaching ‘environmentalism’ as an opportunity to learn from rather than protect, we can begin living in accordance with actual reality, and to prepare for a world in which humanity’s role as an inseparable part of nature is seen not as an idealistic dream or an outdated fantasy, but simply as a way of life.
by Eliza Sprague
"Peace mounts to the heavens The divine waters descend to earth And fructifies our lives Earth lies under the heavens We are of the Earth now And everyone is strong" Celtic Myths & Legends, 33
THE MANDALA TIMES! A Poem on Human Rights, Women’s Rights, and Sex Slavery for GI Class She is in a room locked up with no water or food She is in a room just waiting to be abused She is in a room with no view of the other side She is in the room because this is her life She has lost her rights she has lost her faith she now believes that this is her place
On the Sense of Smell for Writing Class I had just settled down for what I knew would be an excruciatingly long bus ride when Mary swung her head around from the seat she had taken in front of mine and shoved the jar of olives just centimeters from my nose. Entirely unprepared, there was nothing I could do to prevent the putrid smell wafting up my nostrils. “Want one?” she asked lazily, popping two or three into her mouth. In the milliseconds it took for my body to register the miasmic odor my toes curled my jaw clenched, every muscle in my body contracted as it took every ounce of self control not to grab her by the face, rip her jaw open, and tear the olives out of her mouth while smashing that intolerable jar with one gratifying toss out the window. There is nothing I hate more than olives.
by Elena Kaye-Schiess
On the Sense of Smell for Writing Class
Used and abused and it hurts like hell but her cries have been silenced by the fire in his eyes She is not a person but an object and she doesn’t feel she is a profit His hands touch her in the night blindly reaching for his fantasy lust and as he reaches, he again breaks his own family’s trust The aftermath is, now she has no home, no one to love her What gave anyone the right to touch her? She is caught up in the trade can she ever get out? When she has been brainwashed into acknowledging her instinct with doubt? She is locked in a room with no water or food She is in a room just waiting to be abused She is in a room just waiting to be helped But tell me, would you save her from herself ?
by Olamide Holloway - Okpeku
It’s been almost 8 hours driving. I know we’re close. My sister and Mandy are sleeping in the back seat of the car. I’m anxious to get there, excited. Driving is thrilling, and the destination makes it even better. For a long time we were on the highway, the bright lights of the other lanes blinding me, it was numbing. Now though we drove alone, the full moon making the usually golden hills look like waves of a blue ocean. The night sky was filled with twinkling stars, there was no light pollution to hide them from view. It was just me and the road. I had been listening to music the whole way to keep myself awake, but now that the smoggy cities were behind me, I rolled down the window. The smell hit me. The smell of damp grass and dew as night had already settled in. The smell of the salty sea just over these hills and the smell of sage, so pungent, welcoming me to where I belonged. We neared the top of the last hill and there it was, the expanse of water sparkling with the reflection of the moon and lost out at a distance as sea met sky, the world seemed to go on forever. This was my home. Though I had never lived by the ocean, I knew that my life needed it. The ocean healed my soul of everything. I took in deep breaths of the fresh open air. I was dreaming of tomorrow, when I would be out there, in the ocean. My clothes stiff and dry from being hung in the open salty air underneath a sun that shone brightly. The sand cool on my feet, sliding off them with each step I took like silk. Then the momentary shock as my feet hit the cold wet sand then the even colder water. My heart pounding, I race my dad as far out into the water as I can, but he always wins, I always let him, he loves to win. Only three feet dee in water up to his mid-thigh, he dives into the next on coming way. His belief is that once your head is wet the rest of you won’t be so cold and he won’t let you alone until you’ve gotten wet from head-to-toe as well. I dive in, used to the routine we have every time go body surfing. Its our favorite activity. The waves are nice today, around a five foot swell. The surfboarders are few, which is perfect for us. The next big set of waves is coming in and my dad and I get ready, running out further till we’re up to our necks in water, but the water starts pulling away from us and getting shallower, moving out to become part of the next wave. And there it is, cresting perfectly, just asking us to ride it. I can feel the wave picking me up and I start swimming away from it, and then I’m on. It picks me up and I can feel the wave like monster truck tires moving beneath me, churning angrily, but all I can feel is the rush and the excitement as the wave takes me towards shore. Having ridden the wave enough I get off and stand up, lift my hands and arms high in victory.
by Anna Vreeland
THE MANDALA TIMES! The Borrowing of Classical Hindustani in Western Music and “Fusion” Research Paper for Global Issues
North Indian classical music, referred to as “Hindustani,” has influenced artists in Europe and North America for nearly fifty years. Styles ranging from Jazz and Rock, to conventional Pop, have been touched not only by Hindustani music’s sound and theory, but also the very Indian practitioners continuing its tradition in their own country. Furthermore, the broad genre known as “fusion” has promoted the confluence of artists and creative backgrounds between India and the West. Jazz was perhaps the first Western style to draw extensively from Hindustani’s creative elements. In his 1961 recording Live! at the Village Vanguard, American saxophonist John Coltrane took inspiration from the Indian “raga,” a musical format in which a particular rhythm and set of notes (mode) are the basic guideline upon which the player improvises. It is no wonder why the raga appealed so much to the acclaimed jazzist, as he was a pioneer in the genre of AvantGarde, which had a strongly ethereal sound, and was highly experimental. The piece titled “India” on Village Vanguard, while not recognized as belonging to the genre itself, established a musical avenue by which other artists would develop the genre known as “Indian-Jazz Fusion.” Interestingly, Coltrane later named his son Ravi, after the highly influential sitarist Ravi Shankar (RaviColtrane.com). He would have had fair reason to do so, as it was Shankar’s appearances in the US, and meetings with John Coltrane, in the late 50’s that inspired him to adopt Hindustani influences in the 60’s. In 2005, Ravi Coltrane made a small tour of India, in which his Delhi visit to the Ravi Shankar Centre culminated in an impromptu clarinet-shehnai (Indian wind instrument) jam session to which his father’s old Indian friend was a witness (Lavezzoli 293). John Coltrane’s wife Alice, too, incorporated the Hindustani sound in her music. She made extensive use of the Tanpura (a drone string instrument used to accompany vocalists and other strings) on her 1970 album Journey to Satchidananda, dedicated to her guru (Lavezzoli 291). Throughout the 60’s and 70’s, and even to this day, hundreds of artists have made Indian-Jazz Fusion a centerpiece of their work, of which a large number have also sought spiritual guidance in India. John McLaughlin is one such example of an artist— already quite familiar to the world jazz scene by association with the likes of Miles Davis, Chick Corea, and Tony Williams— who completely redefined himself with what some might call a semi-Indian creative identity. He started a band in the early 70’s known as Mahavishnu Orchestra. Blending Avant-Garde, discord, and highly intricate guitar virtuosity, with Indian-style violin playing (an already-controversial advent to today Hindustani’s scene), the project sounded hardly anything like Jazz or Indian classical. It was a style of its own. For most of the band’s career, McLaughlin could be seen at stage front, noodling through electric guitar solos in an apparent daze, wearing only white. The attire was that of Sri Chinmoy’s followers. Chinmoy was a guru for both Indians and Westerners. It was by his recommendation that John McLaughlin named the band Mahavishnu Orchestra. McLaughlin was not the only celebrity devotee, nor was he the only celebrity guitarist devotee, for that matter. Carlos Santana, too, was dedicated to the teachings of the controversial spiritual figure. It can be assumed that the two were both put in connection with Chinmoy through the manager of Larry Coryell, another Fusion guitarist (Adherents.com). An Indian musician who has played just as large of a role as the Westerners in promoting Indian-Jazz Fusion is Zakir Hussain. At twenty-four years old, the tabla prodigy from Mumbai helped John McLaughlin found his follow-ups to Mahavishnu Orchestra-- an acoustic band called Shakti in 1977, and a similar group twenty years after that called Remember Shakti. These projects were a clear sonic departure from Mahavishnu Orchestra, as they concerned themselves far more with the actual modes and rhythm structures, and were
slightly closer to the raga format of Indian Classical music. Hussain’s percussive contribution, as well as his general grasp of Hindustani, may have been what brought the two bands closer to attaining what “Mahavishnu” could not: an Indian fanbase. Remember Shakti had a strong enough following in the country that it could play and record its 2001 Grammy-nominated live album, Saturday Night in Bombay, to a sold out arena. In addition to Zakir Hussain’s creative partnership with McLaughlin is his participation in projects with the Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart, cellist YoYo Ma, drummer Billy Cobham, saxophonists Joe Henderson and Pharoah Sanders, and banjoist Bela Fleck, among many (ZakirHussain.com). He maintains a demanding international career in Fusion, while also performing strictly Hindustani Classical in India and abroad. As with nearly any convergence of culture, debates arise over the mutuality and ethics of musicians collaborating across borders. Some see the sharing and blending of unlike musical styles as unnecessary homogenization that necessarily serves one side more than the other. Others view it as a path to higher intercultural understanding, resulting in a melting pot beneficial for all parties involved. Three of India’s most influential 20th Century sitarists, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Vilayat Khan, and Nikhil Banerjee, have represented well the variety of opinions on the matter. Pandit Ravi Shankar is widely recognized as the man who introduced Europe and North America to the sitar’s sound. He is also credited as one of the most active messengers of Hindustani music to these regions. As mentioned before, Shankar left his mark at American concert halls as early as the 1950’s via his “collaborations with violinist Yehudi Menuhin (Encyclopedia of World…)”. Prior to this period, he was already a highly renowned musician among his fellow Indians, and to a certain extent the more curious listeners outside, but it was his association with the Beatles that would propel the sitar instrument to a whole new level of international recognition. In 1966, Ravi Shankar’s long friendship with George Harrison began (The Faber Companion…). Harrison had already dabbled in the sitar by recording a simple phrase for the song “Norwegian Wood” on the 1965 Beatles record Rubber Soul. Shankar was more than willing to impart his mastery of the instrument on Harrison, who would fly to India for one-on-one lessons between Beatles recording sessions. It was never the intention of these lessons that Harrison would become versed in traditional Hindustani. In fact, the common Hindustani belief has been that one cannot consider himself a decent practitioner of the music until he has spent twenty or thirty years learning and practicing it. On the contrary, Shankar expressed enthusiasm and amusement in knowing that Harrison would likely bring the sitar back to the states and utilize what little he knew of it for “Pop” music (Raga). As it turns out, Harrison did just that. Tracks for 1966’s Revolver and 1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band were embellished with Harrison’s emulation of Hindustani intervals on the sitar. Because the sitar had a droning quality that could be seen as psychedelic— unlike any American instrument— these songs were partially responsible for forging a pseudo-Indian niche within the Rock music component of the hippie movement. Although Shankar has mainly stuck to Hindustani music in his own sitar playing and recording, he has done extensive writing of pieces (many for film scores) in the Contemporary and Folk Indian fashions, as well as Western Classical. Of the public’s perception of this, he stated in a 1999 interview that “…many people completely mix up my two different identities as a performer of classical traditional music and also as an open-minded composer… But one thing I want to tell you, make a note, that I have never tried to do fusion or cocktail or gimmick music.” Anoushka Shankar, the daughter of Ravi, does not shy away from blending outside influences with Hindustani music. Her 2007 album Breathing Under Water, with Karsh Kale of Zakir Hussain’s Tabla Beat Science, is a blend of sitar playing (highly proficient, in the footsteps of her father) and electronic beats. It features appearances by The Police’s Sting, and and her half-sister, American singer-songwriter Norah Jones. Of Shankar and Kale, BBC music critic
THE MANDALA TIMES! Louis Pattison writes: “The pair are keen to point out they weren’t playing fusion ‘for the sake of playing fusion’, flailing around in search of a sound that sticks. Rather, here, you can hear how each musician carefully tempers their musical contributions to forge strong stylistic links (Pattison).” Shankar’s son, Ananda, was also a stalwart of the Indian Fusion genre. Another considerably talented sitarist in the family, Ananda Chaterjee was known for recording sitar renditions of popular rock songs. He was also said to have participated in jam sessions with Jimi Hendrix (James). He died in 1999 at the age of fifty-six. Ustad Vilayat Khan’s stance seemed more skeptical than Shankar family’s when it came to the blending or exchanging of genres. The virtuoso rejected the notion of fusion as a progressive, advanced art form. This is strongly reflected in a short biography entitled Ustad Vilayat Khan: A Life Set to Music, written by Niharika Seth in 2004, the year of Khan’s death: The domain of Indian Classical music is so demanding that people cannot enter it too easily. However, many who cannot enter it in its purest form, resort to fusion. Ustadji believes that all these guitars and mandolins used these days, are insulting to Hindustani Classical music… According to [Vilayat Khan] it makes no sense to incorporate Western instruments into Indian music, as they go against the Indian temperament and the culture’s entire philosophy. These are mere gimmicks (28). However, while his playing was never influenced by the West, his lifestyle certainly was. Vilayat Khan had a second residency in Princeton, New Jersey (Seth 72). He toured Europe and the States extensively, and very well may have preferred to have his Classical offerings received there, where he felt his work would more likely be archived properly than in his home country (Seth 35). The third modern sitarist, Nikhil Banerjee, who passed away in 1986, held a view that could not be so easily summarized as flat-out approval or disapproval of Indian-Western musical exchange. He had little concern with the influence that abstract concepts, or even instruments, of Indian music had on foreign genres. He was more worried about confusion in the music’s identity. These were the master’s own words when prompted about the popularity of Indian influences In West during the 60’s and Fusion: … during the late 60's, early 70's there was the hippy movement in (the United States), then the Beatles and some sort of guru phase. I'm really sometimes very much amazed! (The United States) is advanced, it's the biggest, most advanced country in the world in every respect yet one side is so foolish! I really don't understand… Sitar became very popular. "What are you doing?" "I am meditating by playing sitar!" However, it really became a craze for a few years, then suddenly the Beatles separated, that craze was gone, the Beatles, pop stars and film actors and actresses started saying that all the spiritualism in India is hopeless and bogus, nothing is true. And the next morning, sitar became unpopular! That craze is gone now, and it's a very good sign I think. That madness is not there; now really genuine lovers are there. Real lovers of music and fine arts, and those who respect other cultures. Indian music is now adored and respected among the genuine music lovers. It's a good sign, it will stay… If they take some scales or some rhythmic patterns from Indian music, and use it, OK. But if they say, "I'm doing some Indian music," mixing up Indian music with pop music, rock or some sort of fusion music, that I really don't like; it's not a good thing. The basis is different. (Langarten) Nikhil Banerjee was astute in clarifying his dislike for labeling Indian music “ethnic,” pointing out that India’s musical system is one of the oldest in the world. He proposed the logic that if Westerners were to call Classical Hindustani “ethno-music,” Indians could also call Western Classical by the same name. However, he also acknowledged the beauty of both styles, and concluded that such a label would not be fair in either circumstance.
If they were still alive today, it would be interesting to hear what Vilayat Khan and Banerjee would have to say about the current situation of Fusion music. The last twenty years have given rise to a multitude of artists who not only blend Indian Classical with styles from the US and Europe, but support a more abstract blend of “ethnic” music forms as part of the even larger “World Music” genre. The self-described “pioneer-extraordinaire in the field of World Fusion Music,” Prem Joshua, has gained considerable international popularity. He claims a larger audience in India and Asia than in the United States. A devout follower of the spiritual guide Osho in the 1980’s, he continues a pattern of musicians who bring their prior musical knowledge to India, learn the style there, and borrow it alongside the culture’s spiritual aspect for self-growth (PremJoshua.com). If any one conclusion can be made about the artistic ethics and mutuality of borrowing, blending, or attempting to reinvent Hindustani Classical music, it is that the matter is extremely complex. Just as diverse as the musicians involved are the opinions on whether this ancient music’s integrity is being maintained or compromised through contemporary amalgams. Finally, we are prompted to ask an important question for the future: Which of these styles will drift away with time, and which ones will flourish?
by Adam Brooks
Works Cited Banerjee, Nikhil. Interview by Ira Langarten. Raga.com. Aug. 1995. 7 Dec. 2009 <http://www.raga.com/interviews/207int2.html>. James, Alan. Rev. of The Ananda Shankar Experience & State of Bengal - Walking On. RealWorldRecords.com. 2009. Real World Records Ltd. 7 Dec. 2009 <http://www.realworldrecords.com/artists/ananda-shankar/ >. Lavezzoli, Peter. The dawn of Indian music in the West: Bhairavi. New York: Continuum, 2006. "John McLaughlin." The Faber Companion to 20th Century Popular Music. London: Faber and Faber Ltd, 2001. Credo Reference. Web. 07 December 2009. Pattison, Louis. "An album which blends Shankar’s skilful, ornate sitar playing with many of the tools..." Rev. of Anoushka Shankar & Karsh Kale - Breathing Under Water. BBC.co.uk. 21 Aug. 2007. BBC. 9 Dec. 2009 <http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/pw4h>. PremJoshua.com. Dec. 2009. 8 Dec. 2009 <http://www.premjoshua.com>. Raga. Dir. Howard Worth. Perf. Ravi Shankar. DVD. Mystic Fire Video,1971. RaviColtrane.com. 2009. 8 Dec. 2009 <http://www.ravicoltrane.com>. "Ravi Shankar." Encyclopedia of World Biography Supplement. Vol. 22. Farmington Hills: Gale Group, 2002. Seth, Niharika. Ustad Vilayat Khan: A Life Set to Music. New Delhi: Rupa & Co., 2004. Shankar, Ravi. "Ravi Shankar: An Interview With The World Renowned Sitar Master." Interview by Susna De. UrbanMozaik.com. Summer 1999. 9 Dec. 2009 <http://urbanmozaik.com/member_fea_archives/arc_shankar.html>. "The Religious Affiliation of Guitarist John McLaughlin." Adherents.com. Ed. Preston Hunter. 2 Nov. 2005. 10 Dec. 2009 <http://www.adherents.com/people/pm/John_McLaughlin.html>. ZakirHussain.com. Dec. 2009. 8 Dec. 2009 <http://www.zakirhussain.com/zakirbio.html>.
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Parallels of Discrimination: A Comment on the Indian Caste System in Comparison to the Racial Discrimination of the United States The infamous Indian Caste System is a very complex system that is extremely difficult to understand completely without years of study or a lifetime of familiarity. This comment will endeavor to avoid the emotionalism that often permeates a topic such as this, and will attempt to focus on the factual, historical, and logical points of the systems history and future. The timelines of Indian caste and racism against minorities in the United States have many similarities, and are examples of the fact that any attempt to stereotype people based on occupation or traditional position leads to discrimination because humans are inherently competitive. In its most basic and internationally acknowledged form, the caste system consists of five sects: Brahmins are the priestly class and most commonly accepted as the highest caste. Following them, are the Kashtrya, or warrior caste. In some areas, the Kashtryas are seen as the highest caste, with the Brahmins following second. Thirdly one finds the Vaisha caste, traditionally the businessmen and merchants. The fifth sect of the caste system is the tribal, or backwards castes. While these castes are seen as backwards, they are still more commonly accepted than the untouchables. Finally are the Dalits, traditionally known as the untouchables. The untouchables traditionally held this name because they dealt in the in the unsanitary occupations, working within the human waste system and handling corpses as the disposers of the dead. As a result of their polluted jobs, the Dalits have always suffered social segregation, such as not being permitted to enter the temples of the higher castes, and traditionally being prohibited from using the same silverware or even drawing water from the same sources as the rest of society. If a member of a higher caste came into physical contact with a Dalit, he was considered shamed, and needed to thoroughly bathe to rid himself of the impurities that the untouchables permeated. The Dalit caste and the extreme historical segregation against them is an obtuse part of what has given the Indian caste system so much attention in the modern day human rights revolution. Within these five sects, there are 60,000 castes and 30,000 sub-castes, each with their own cultural traditions and regimes. This clearly makes the caste system more complicated than most people will ever realize. Some have argued that the caste system is more accurately described as a socio-economic class system, yet through observations, interviews, and interactions with Indian citizens, it is clear that while a person may change his economic status, it is impossible to change one’s caste. There is no commonly accepted origin of the Indian Caste system. While one can see similarities between the Indian caste system and the ancient class organization from Iran, but to the knowledge of this author, there has been no conclusive evidence in regards to the origin of this tradition that has existed since the invasion of the Moguls. Although India is an ancestrally Hindu nation, the caste system is also present among the Christian and Muslim populations; caste division can also be seen in the nastik Buddhist population and in some areas with high populations of Jainism, verifying the fact that Caste is a tradition that spans religions. Within these religions, even in modern day one can see remnants of traditional caste discrimination. While there are currently approximately 200 Catholic bishops in India, only a minute percentage of these individuals are from historically lower classes. This is at odds with the fact that Dalits, or untouchables, make up more than 70% of the Christian population. Caste system was based on a lifestyle of mutual interdependence- a person was born into a social or community role
and retained that role throughout life. Before the British made the caste system something rigid and classified, it was a system of mutual consent. It was only after the caste system became something demanding and compulsory that it became a tool for discrimination. Historically, the economic responsibilities of a caste were coupled with traditional rights, and played out in direct relation to any other caste. It is now that India is seeing the affects of globalization and westernization, and Indian youth are learning the western value of rising out of your historical position (known in the United States as “The American Dream”). In this way the role and effectiveness of the caste system is called into question. It is often argued that the extreme discrimination from the caste system didn’t occur until the British colonialism. The British attempted to quantify the caste system in a manner that was similar to their strict class system, and turned the caste system into its rigid method of categorization that is now commonly seen as the traditional caste system, when prior to the colonization the caste system had been much more fluid and relative to specific regions. It was largely after the caste system became distinct and codified under British rule that this traditional system became a repressive one. This is evidence to the fact that colonialism has a large impact on discrimination. Just as the Indian caste system was not excessively discriminatory until British colonialism, likewise there was little discrimination in the Americas prior to the invasion and colonization of what would come to be the 50 United States. While modernization is bringing these traditional discriminations into light and making them less common, both India and the United States still see the remains of these discriminatory systems. In India, while caste discrimination is becoming less relevant in major cities and urban areas, it is still highly common in rural areas, here over half of the nations population continues to reside. Similarly, while racial discrimination is less commonly accepted in major cities and urban areas of the United States, it is still highly common in rural areas, where blacks and whites often remain highly segregated. The history of discrimination in the United States is historically anti-African and Asian. Even in modern day, in many areas there is still a huge amount of discrimination against African descendants, which stems from the recent history of slavery in the Southern states. During the time of slavery, slaves were seen as second class citizens, and there was no legal repercussions for killing a slave: there were many black massacres based on the rumors of uprisings, and plantation owners used fear of death as a major source of control. After the abolition of slavery a mere 200 odd years ago, there were two main reasons why the newly freed slaves were discriminated against so incredibly. The first was that the Caucasian land-owners were resentful of having to pay their workers after so many years of slavery, and they also blamed their workers for the economic hits their crops took after the independence. The impoverished and working class Caucasians also resented the previous slaves and the fact that they were now seen as equals. During this time in the South, the Africans arguably received more prejudice directed from the poor and working class Caucasians than from the wealthy. Even after slavery was abolished in 1865, there were many laws that still enabled discrimination and violence against blacks. The Jim Crow Laws and groups like the KKK essentially legalized the murder of a black person: according to said laws, running into a white person on the sidewalk was punishable by death, and the KKK commonly lynched
THE MANDALA TIMES! African-Americans and reacted violently to interracial couples, which were at the time inconceivable. The “Separate But Equal” system of segregation was not only laughably discriminatory in its unequal education systems but also maintained the stigma that skin color was an important and differentiating factor. Traditionally in relation to southern slavery, the mulatto, or light-skinned Africans were able to work as house-slaves in non labor-intensive jobs, while the darkest were forced to work in the crops as field laborers. In many situations the plight of the black people during this period of segregation parallels the upper caste view of the Dalits: they were neither allowed to eat in the same restaurants nor drink from the same water sources. In modern day, there are more and more instances of love marriages as opposed to arranged marriages. If a couple marries outside of his and her caste systems, the son will take the caste of the father. In many parts of India, including both cities and rural areas, it is still commonly accepted to advertise your caste in matrimonial ads. In some geographical regions of India, one must not only marry within their own caste, but within their own sub-caste, which creates an extremely specific and rigid social stratification. This is an extremely difficult concept for Westerners to grasp, coming from a society where arranged marriages are essentially unheard of. Just as there is historical discrimination even within the sub-castes of a caste, there is historical discrimination within the American slavery system. The lack of acceptance of inter-caste marriage has caused many problems for modern youth, who often fall in love with people outside of their caste, but cannot marry because it would disgrace their families and contaminate their gene pool. This parallels the struggles of interracial couples in the United States, where historically it was seen as a pollution of their skin and gene pool for a white to marry a black. Although it is more commonly accepted in modern day, mixed race individuals often face identity crisis’, as they fight discrimination from both sides of their ethnicities. Since the United States tends towards being “color-blind” as an answer to racism, these youth are left with a void as they find themselves with no explicit culture to find roots within. As part of India’s modern day efforts to give more opportunities to the disempowered, the Indian government has put in place seat reservations in companies and school systems, dictating that a certain percentage of seats must be reserved for members of lower or backwards classes. While in theory this course of action is meant to give more opportunities to the historically repressed, it is often seen to be executed in an unjust manner. Ram Badari Nasayan, a young Brahmin living and studying in Bangalore, Karnataka, sees some negative affects of the reservation system, and his perception of the government’s actions can be taken as a form of reverse discrimination. Reverse discrimination is the negative reaction that counterdiscrimination policies often create. According to some, the problem with the reservation system is that it is neither based on economic status nor merit, solely caste. In modern day, caste is seen less often in economic status, and therefore it is equally possible to see a disimpoverished Brahmin as it is a wealthy Dalit. Ram argues that a poor talented Brahmin should not have his seat in a University given to a less talented and more economically stable Dalit. Ram suggests that the reservation system should be based on economic status and merit instead of caste, and that to do likewise is an unjust case of putting social reservation at a higher importance than economic reservation. This new reverse form of discrimination can also be seen in the work place, where Ram points out that in a situation where it will take a higher caste employee four or five years work of exemplary to earn the general merit necessary for a promotion, that same promotion will be given to an
employee of a scheduled caste in two or three years. Likewise, in the United States in 2008, two friends in California applied to Harvard, one white and one of black. The first received better grades in high school and both had the same amount of extra-curricular activities, but the only one accepted was the African, who admitted to applying as a joke ‘just to see if she could get in because she was black.’ This Indian reservation regulation can be paralleled to the United States Affirmative Action campaign- a regulation that ensures a certain percentage of seats in Universities and Business’ be reserved for minority groups. This is most often seen in schools, and is very socially indicative of the new importance that Universities place on being “diverse”. Students are finding it more and more common that minorities receive more financial aid and are more likely to be accepted, even within the more competitive systems of higher education. In this situation, one can also criticize the government regulation based on its lack of direction towards economic status and towards its specification of racial diversity. It seems counterintuitive that an Asian or black youth will have more success receiving financial aid than a white youth who legitimately needs it more- making the situation an interesting perspective on the new wave of reverse discrimination that is occurring as a direct result of the regulations put in place in an attempt to rectify the racial discrimination that has been seen since the colonization of the Americas. It is interesting to note the differences between cultural reactions to discrimination in both India and the United States. In India, discrimination is much more widely accepted as a normal part of life, and the source of division is not as intense; it is much more ingrained in the culture. Since the nation has been in place (and widely stationary in its maintenance of culture and tradition) for thousands of years, and the caste system historically bred into society since the time of the Moguls, there is less rage at the continuance of historical discrimination. In the United States, however, blatant racism is often confronted with palpable rage, and I believe the reason for this is that the abuse is much more of an open wound. An end to slavery was seen a mere 200 ago, which in the span of humanity is an extremely short period of time. There is racial discrimination everywhere, it is an inherent aspect of modern culture: as everywhere is colonized, discrimination against indigenous and rural people is inevitable. From Spanish discrimination against the indigenous in Peru, to European discrimination against the Romas and gypsies in Spain and Romania, discrimination happens due to the competitive nature of globalization and everyone’s desire for power over someone. India and the United States are two examples of this fact, and only with the growth of mutual respect and appreciation of the inherent similarities of all human beings can we hope to abolish this worldwide hidden apartheid. India and the United States are only two case studies of many similar nations with histories of discrimination against minorities, sub-cultures, and tribal groups. While concepts like Affirmative Action and reserved seats for scheduled castes seem like a step in making up for the histories of violence against such people, it forces one to question whether it is right to combat discrimination with reverse discrimination, giving unearned advantages to some and undeserved discrimination to others- a concept that should not sound wholly unfamiliar when discussing this topic. Only time will tell whether the methods being implemented by India and the United States in hopes of reversing their histories of abuse will prove successful; and only after this can we hope that the governments will take alternative steps in finally realizing the goal that we should all have in mind: equality.
by Molly Levine
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MAKING A MANDALA for Independent Study
All I knew when I started this project was that I didn’t want to write a research paper. I wanted to challenge myself to be artistic, dynamic, and varied in my forms of documentation. I have never considered myself an artist, and the only kind of art I felt adept at was basic designs.Yet I wanted to challenge myself to try my hand at artistic documentation, and started to search for a mode I felt comfortable with. I had long been attracted to the aesthetics of mandalas since I began studying Tibetan Buddhism. It’s combined simplicity and complexity, and deeper meanings and symbolism have always fascinated me. While traveling in Delhi I picked up a coloring book of mandalas, to see how they were basically designed. I fell in love when I opened the front of the book to read the description it offered for a mandala, “In Sanskrit Mandala means circle and center...Its essence is unification, centering, and transcendence... Basically the Mandala is a receptacle for the gods and a collection point of universal forces. It is a representation of the universe, the infinite, and serves as a spiritual guide for (wo)man through the cosmic processes of life and death. It represents the citadel of enlightenment and could be viewed as being a maze through life which (wo)man enters into and proceeds through to find the way towards its center where eternity resides... Mandalas are basically of two types, [one of which being] Garbhadhatu, a Sanskrit word meaning “Womb World”, in which the movement conveyed within is from one to many... Each picture [is] an attempt to integrate the conscious self with the unconsciousness.”
fine tipped pens, trying to get the colors just right. I knew from the beginning, and jotted down in my notebook, it can’t just be design for the sake of design, there has to be meaning and insight. I carefully outlined each section of the mandala. At first, before I bought a compass to make even circles, I traced circles from the various shapes I had in my kitchen. I decided to keep the square as it was, traced from my cutting board, because I used that cutting board every day, and it was a symbol of womanhood to me. As the mandala took shape, it became more and more a part of me. I started to realize, as I carefully outlined, that I was investigating the meaning of life. This phrase is thrown around, with the emphasis of the three words being on meaning. Instead, my emphasis was on life. In understanding, and being immersed in the power of birth, I was gaining an understanding of life. I was finding meaning in the concepts of life and birth, as colors slowly poured from my fingers. Art can do that to you. While it started as an integration of my studies in India, upon finishing, the mandala was largely just a personal reflection. It was my testimony, at age nineteen, of what I knew and expected from birth, life, motherhood, childhood, and womanhood.
The mandala is perhaps my greatest artistic and academic accomplishment I could claim to this point. Never before have I considered myself an artist, never have I been so proud of a creation of mine. I hope I make more of a habit of it. This mandala is only the beginning of what I hope will be a lifelong investigation into the I colored in a mandala I liked the design of, meaning of life as well as the meaning of life. To slept on it for a few days, and then began to sketch understand life, I needed to start from the my own mandala. It quickly became the only thing beginning. I wanted to work on, and in the last few days I by Molly Dutton-Kenny spent easily hours upon hours coloring it in with
THE MANDALA TIMES!
by Molly Dutton-Kenny (Description of symbolism in the Mandala follows on the next page)
THE MANDALA TIMES!
• The outer blue woven border was a design taken from a resource • The small boxes to the right of the boxes depicting the elements show the four main women I interviewed. The grasses next to book, Spiritual Midwifery. The design was really striking to Fire represent Hamamakka, and when I met her on her me, because it immediately reminded me of both Celtic farm amidst the tall crops. The glasses lenses next to Earth Knots and the Tibetan Buddhist auspicious symbol of the represent Lakshmi, who wore the biggest glasses I’d even Eternal Knot (the square-ish part). I hold Celtic heritage seen in an old woman before. The weaving next to Water and have been interested in Tibetan Buddhism and its represents Accaiahamma, you showed me a woven basket symbols from a young age. It seemed like the kind of thing babies slept in for their first three days, before being out in I would want encircling the whole mandala. a hammock. The medals next to Air/Wind represent Masthama, the award-winning midwife. • The outer ring of the mandala as well as the ring encircling the central woman’s head was based on the idea from a resource book, • The inner band depicting the cycle of the moon represent the Devi: Mother-Goddess in India,that triangles with the connection of the cycles of women to the cycles of the point downwards were the symbol of women, while moon. Women’s menstrual cycles have historically triangles pointing upward were the symbol for men. Both corresponded with the cycle of the moon, adding to the combined are the symbol for creation, I tried to include “elemental nature” of women’s bodies, especially as the both, to symbolize creation of new life. This encircles the moon also controls the tides of the ocean. Many midwives central woman’s head, as creation and everything it entails I spoke to also observed the greatest number of babies is always on the mind of women, and the whole cycle is born around the full moon. This was not surprising to me, governed by creation itself. because if a woman’s body was coordinated with the moon cycles, as most village women’s (but few city women) bodies are, the full moon is the time for new ovulation. • The outer square with four offshoots is an ancient Buddhist symbol, common among almost all mandalas, as ‘ the four gateways to consciousness’. I used this to enclose many • The inner blue, yellow, and red circles hold the wombs for the other symbolic aspects that came in sets of four. I made representative depictions of a developing baby. Starting sure to enclose it within a circle as well as enclose circles above the woman’s head and rotating clockwise, the eight within it, for the symbolic meaning I found, again in Devi: circles show the development month-by-month of an eight Mother-Goddess in India. A square within a circle month old fetus, the woman in the center’s belly holding represents society within nature, and a circle within a the ninth month of development. Each womb is square represents emotion within intellect. surrounded by a circle filled with lotus petals, lotus being the symbol of fertility, and surrounding the woman in the center’s belly as well. The circles encircling the wombs are • The four offshoots from the outer square house four boxes featuring the elements; fire, earth, water, and air/wind. Just of the primary colors because I imagine that must be one as a square within a circle represents society within nature, big surprise to newborn babies as they develop out-of-theit is important to recognize the birthing process as a part of womb sight, color. nature. Also, many resource books, including Spiritual Midwifery and Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom, • The spiral background to the inner circle come from the same describe laboring women as an elemental force. I totally book, Devi: The Mother-Goddess in India, where is understand this imagery and often connect with drawings I suggests spirals represent time and change. Spirals here see depicting the elemental forces of women as women in adorn the spaces in between the wombs, showing the the waves of the ocean, or the like. passing of time and the immense changes that take place between each developmental month. • The corner boxes within the outer square featuring blue circles, orange lines, and red triangles are depictions of the connection • The floral background of the innermost circle were taken from the between the eight childbearing women in the matrilineal design n a new dress I bought and wore while outlining the line of my family. The first square of only blue circles mandala. The inspiration came from a resource movie, representing my maternal grandmother, the next two boxes Born At Home, in which they explained the word in Hindi of orange lines and blue circles represent my mother and (and used in Rajasthan, where the movie took place) for her sister, my Aunt Amy, the orange lines being their own placenta is “phul”, the word for flower. Placentas and and the blue circles being that which they carry from their flowers symbolize fertility, and I liked this obvious mother. The next five boxes of blue circles, orange lines, connection being made between a woman’s body and the and red triangles represent the female cousins, Heather, natural world. Elle, and Kate, as well as my sister Jesse and I. We are the next generation of childbearers, carrying with us our own • The central woman of the innermost circle is nine months selves (red triangles), that from our mothers (orange lines), pregnant, seated on a giant lotus as the goddesses of India and from our grandmother (blue circles). often are, namely Saraswati and Lakshmi. Lotus is an Indian symbol for fertility. She is faceless, for she represents • The small boxes to the left of the boxes depicting the elements show all women, in this time and all others. Birth is a common the hanging four seasons of the seasonal North; Winter thread connecting every woman on this planet, back paired with Fire, Spring paired with Earth, Summer paired hundreds of thousands of years. with Water, and Fall paired with Air/Wind. by Molly Dutton-Kenny
THE MANDALA TIMES! Human Sex Trafficking in India and Nepal Research Paper for GI Class Human sex trafficking, the world’s second most profitable illegal industry, is highly valued by brothel owners, pimps, and men who solicit services in the cramped dark places of rundown buildings. Every year as many as 10,000 Nepalese women are trafficked to India and are either forced, tricked, or manipulated into becoming a sex slave to this vastly growing industry (Asha Nepal). Since Mumbai has become the city with the second highest percentage of people living with HIV, sex trafficking has become a big concern for the United Nations and Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in India and across the world. Sex trafficking still exists today because of high profits, damaging thousands of women and forcing them to bear physical and mental abuse (High Aids). Nepal’s geography has little place for agriculture. Less than twenty percent of the country has land available for farming, which is the main source of income. As many as 25,000 girls are forced into unprofitable domestic work, such as farming and housework, and many look for other options to support their family (Girl Trafficking). Some girls travel outside their village to look for work, and will be offered a more promising job from a friendly stranger. The stranger will often then take them to India and sell them to a brothel. Some girls are sold by their own families for numerous reasons including starvation and poverty. While they get a sum of money for the girl, they may even hope that she will be able to send more money back home. The selling of Nepalese daughters to Indian brothels might also be due to the fact that girls are sometimes seen as a burden on families in Nepali society. Some women may also be sold to brothels by their own husbands. Since the national language of Nepal (Nepali) is different from that of India (Hindi), Nepalese women are targets for traffickers because of the language barrier they face when arriving in India. Also, in Indian society light skin is seen as more beautiful. Therefore there is a higher preference among Indian customers for Nepalese girls because of their pale skin.
India. However, soliciting sex on the street is illegal, and since brothel owners aren’t the ones soliciting, they are never punished for forcing women to solicit. Two cities in India known for their large amount of human trafficking and brothels are Mumbai and Calcutta. Many girls in between the ages of 8 and 16 are brought to the thousands of brothels located in these cities. Once there, they are put into a room and told immediately to “serve their first customer” which is seen as confusing and traumatizing. If the girls don’t agree, they are then beaten, burned with cigarettes, and then forced to comply. Most of the new girls are held down by other women in the brothel and are then raped by customers until they agree to work on their own. The girls may serve anywhere from three customers a day, to as many as thirty. The average price for one session is between three and five American dollars, in which the girl may only be allowed to keep less than a fourth of the money. The rest of the money goes towards their debt. When girls are lured into sex trafficking, they are usually sold to brothel owners by pimps, or another third party. The amount they now owe to the brothel owner is supposedly the amount they were bought for. They must also pay for their food and accommodation. Because many girls are not told how much they actually owe at the beginning, they end up staying at the brothel until they manage to escape. In rare cases, some women are let go because they cease to make enough profit, and they are too old. If a girl becomes pregnant on the job, the brothel owner may threaten the life of her baby, and instead of allowing the woman to take care of her child, they force her to continue working.
Young girls are also most often preferred among Indian male customers, due to the fact they are less likely to have STDs and AIDS. Virgins especially are rare in brothels, and are therefore a major preference because many Indian men believe the myth that says sleeping with a virgin will cure them of their own sexually transmitted diseases. (Girl Trafficking) Tragically, Nepalese girls are a special target for pimps because of their light skin and the ability to sell them into brothels at a young age. These two factors together allow brothel owners to charge an even higher price for the girl due The government officials of both India and Nepal aren’t to the high demand. much help in the situation. Some police are paid to look the The lack of sexual health education in India (sex other direction while Nepalese girls cross the border (Girl education was banned between the years of 1998 and 2004) Trafficking). Police are also known to have worked with the has also become a problem when trying to prevent STDs brothel owners themselves. They help bring back girls that from spreading to and from sex workers and customers have tried to escape from the brothels in exchange for free (Shoiba Saldanha). Many Indian men do not know exactly sex. It is especially hard for NGO’s to help these women what HIV is, let alone how it’s contracted and how it can be when they aren’t able to work with the local police. Rescuing prevented. Contraception is rarely used in brothels, and may the thousands of women subjected to prostitution can take even be seen as useless to the uneducated male customers. months. Some people believe hardly any authorities help with They might believe that condoms won’t protect themselves against the situation because selling sex for money is in fact legal in
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STDs, or maybe that they are unnecessary because they have just “purchased” a virgin who isn’t infected (Red Light Reporting). It is said that “twenty percent of Bombay's brothel population is thought to be girls under the age of eighteen, and half of that population may be infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV),” (Rape for Profit). AIDS is spreading rapidly in India, partly because of human Asha Nepal “Trafficking and Sex Slavery” Copyright trafficking. The average life span of a women working in a 2008 brothel is around the age of thirty, due to HIV and physical <http://www.asha-nepal.org/pages/the_issues/ abuse. trafficking.php> There are many reasons why trafficking still exists today. To begin, human trafficking of women brings in millions of Frontline WORLD “Red Light Reporting” 01 June dollars every year. In Mumbai they have as many as 100,000 2004 Nepalese girls in brothels, each one making around Rs.15,000 <www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/india304/ every day, a total adding up to an estimated 30 million dollars aronson.html> every day for the brothel owners (Trafficking). Some brothels may employ around six men to help the business run Geeta Menon 02 December 2009. Guest Speaker smoothly, and police are unwilling to stop trafficking because Presentation often they are also making a profit one way or another from the business as well (Geeta Menon). Although NGO’s are Human Rights Advocacy Clinic “Girl Trafficking in doing everything they can to help save these helpless victims, Nepal” 12 March 2001. trafficking is a highly organized crime and busting brothel owners and pimps is not an easy job. It may take an <www.du.edu/intl/humanrights/trafficking.pdf> organization up to six months of planning before girls are Human Rights Watch “Rape for Profit” 01 October finally rescued from a brothel. But in the end, trafficking still exists today because there is a high demand for it. If men 1995 never showed up to the brothels, then eventually brothel <www.hrw.org/legacy/reports/1995/India.htm> owners and pimps would have to find other ways to make money. Nepal “Trafficking” <http://www.uri.edu/artsci/wms/hughes/nepal.htm> Nepal has made little progress in enforcing its AntiTrafficking laws, and has made even less of an effort with PHCRD “High Aids Rate….” 03 August 2007 protecting and helping victims. The only law against <http://www.pchrd.dost.gov.ph/library/index.php/ trafficking that is relevant is actually misleading, and authorities often interpret it to “no one shall solicit sex on the news-archive/500> street.” But what police in both India and Nepal don’t realize is that the women are being forced to solicit themselves, and Shoiba Saldanha 08 September 2009. Guest Speaker that the real people behind prostitution are the brothel Presentation owners themselves. Due to this misinterpretation of the law, many “victims [are] arrested and fined for acts committed as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons a result of being trafficked,” (Persons). Accusing women for Report 2009 - Nepal, 16 June 2009, available at: http:// soliciting when brothel owners are forcing sex workers to www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/ work on the street makes the situation worse. Police should be 4a42149f2d.html [accessed 29 November 2009] making more of an effort to stop the perpetrators, and to help save the victims instead of wrongfully blaming them. WORLD “Over 200,000 Nepali Girls…” 15 February Human trafficking has led both men and women to 2009 exploit thousands of girls through psychological and physical <http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-02/15/ abuse. In order to help prevent trafficking from becoming content_10821971.htm> worse, we must not only work towards rescue and rehabilitation, but we must also find out how we can change society so there is no longer a demand for prostitution.
by Loren Diesi-Palmer
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Teaching as Empowerment: Education and Economic Class For Independent Study With all of the various problems facing today’s youth, teaching has become a challenge and a responsibility that is not to be taken lightly. When done correctly and thoroughly, education can change the course of someone’s life forever. The real potential for change in this world lies within our young people. A teacher could have the next Che Guevara or Mohandas Gandhi sitting in their classroom, just waiting for their minds to be challenged and their talents to be encouraged. The issue lies in whether that teacher makes the extra effort with the student, or whether the child has access to education, or whether the school itself has sufficient funding to properly educate its pupils. Too many educators today are apathetic, caring just enough and encouraging their students to do the bare minimum to get by. Too many governments are not making the education of their youth a priority, preferring ignorant masses that will not shake up their current political systems. Too many parents fail to see the benefits of educating their children. Too many children are not taught their own precious self worth.
Society and the general violence and difficulty of their lives have taught these children that they are worthless, and the laissez faire attitude given to their education by the government and their teachers only confirms this.
Indian schools are no exceptions to this problem. School within slums have no supplies or sufficient materials, and lack such necessities as basic plumbing for the children. Matthews Phillip from the South Indian Cell for Human Rights Education and Management offers one chilling example. A school in a local slum in Bangalore had bathrooms, but the bathrooms were kept locked for use only by the teachers. Should the children have needed to use the facilities, they were forced to return to their homes. In addition to the problem of sanitary facilities, the teachers were apathetic towards the students and often did not even show up to teach. Many cases are cited of teachers coming to school, taking attendance, and leaving the class to their own devices. There were even report of teachers physically abusing the students, and humiliating students Ideally, the education of a nation’s youth should be the top who were handicapped or suffered from learning disabilities priority of the government. In most countries, the government is (SICHREM). A visit to a school located in a nomadic tent village charged with providing free public schooling. However, the quality of near the city of Jaipur showcases the realities of the utter lack of the schooling is often materials. While the poor, and in most teacher herself was kind countries, the state “It follows that most of your young people hate school. Your and dedicated, the students does not cover the cheap invitation to them deserves no other reaction.” had no desks to write at, or additional costs of books to write in. There -Letter to a Teacher, School of Barbiana were about fifty students of education that many families find difficult varying ages and levels to provide. The priorities of many world governments are both clear seated on the cement floor under a tin roof in the midday heat, with and misguided; “Less than one percent of what the world spent one teacher for all of them. Many of the female students came with every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by their baby siblings in tow, forced to care for them while the lesson the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen (United Nations Human was going on. One can only imagine how much they were able to Development Report 2006).” To put it a different way, in the year glean from such an education. 1998, 780 billion dollars were spent on military funding. The cost for One of the main catalysts of this problem, aside from the providing universal education in developing countries would have unequal distribution of funding, is the privatization of education. been 6 billion dollars (State of the World’s Children, 1999 Sadly, the education of the youth, which should be any nation’s top UNICEF). priority, has become nothing more than a profit generating Of course, the education of certain children is considered a enterprise, especially in developing countries. Private schools ensure priority. Economic class plays an increasingly important role in this a separate but not equal education for the elite. Because it is the interaction. In the book, Letter to a Teacher, written by the students of wealthy class that has the most control within the government, there the school of Barbiana, one student writes “During the five is little functioning activism for the betterment of free public elementary years the State offered me a second rate education. Five schooling. The voices of the poor are not heard. classes in one room. A fifth of the schooling that was due me…Right One of the greatest problems in Indian schools is that of from the start, a poorer school for the poor (Barbiana 17).” The language. Free public schools only teach in the vernacular, regional children of the poor too often receive a subpar education while the language within their districts, whereas private schools teach in the children of the rich are given every opportunity to succeed. On local language, Hindi and English. The students graduate knowing some level it has to do with the class separation present within three languages and not just one, and therefore are prepared for the different neighborhoods. Within the United States, schools in richer international labor market. One of the students of the school of areas receive much more funding from government taxes, while Barbiana puts it quite succinctly: “Languages are created by the schools in marginalized areas often have to deal with terrible poor, who go on renewing them forever. The rich crystallize them in conditions such as exposed piping, broken windows, and outdated order to put on the spot anybody who speaks in a different way textbooks. It is a common sight to see students passing through metal (Barbiana 24). ” There is a clear class distinction in the district of detectors in order to get into their schools. Many inner city schools Karnataka between the poor, who speak only Kannada, and their in Baltimore have enforced rules that students must wear clear mesh Hindi and English speaking rich counterparts. All of this is the result backpacks so that they cannot hide any weapons, and police officers of the negative affects of globalization for the poor. A recent study search the students and confiscate any sharp objects at the door. has shown that the progress of education and literacy has actually Because of the constant violence and behavioral problems, many declined in the face of globalization (www.globalissues.org). This teachers grow to resent their students, and become apathetic.
THE MANDALA TIMES! disparity in education turns poverty into a vicious cycle. Those who do not speak these languages qualify only for the most menial of jobs, which do not allow them to support their families. They in turn, cannot afford private education, and their children find themselves in the same situation, and so on. In some of the worst cases, the problem of child labor arises. “…Most developing countries still suffer a high rate of illiteracy and graduates of the government low quality educational institutes are not well prepared for the labor market, so they suffer unemployment (SICHREM PowerPoint).” Poverty has a huge effect on how education is perceived by the family of the child. Even in an area where good public schooling is available, this schooling often has associated costs that the family cannot afford. Even though the schooling itself may be free, there are uniforms, books, supplies, transportation, and other such needs that the family must provide. A young orphan in a train station in Jaipur expressed his frustration at not being able to afford school costs. “School? No, no school. Uniforms, books too much money. I do not have.”The boy in question was selling train chains and repairing shoes. At the young age of fifteen, he was already addicted to drugs. When asked how many friends he had in situations similar to his own, his answer was two hundred, just within the city of Jaipur. For such children without the support of family it is near impossible to get a proper education, but even those children living at home face difficulties. In many rural families, there is no family planning, and a family may have many children. In this case, the family can often only afford certain children’s education, and in this case, more often than not, the boys are sent to school while the girls remain at home (The Hindu). Also, in many rural communities, children are seen as a crucial part of the family labor force. At the VGKK School in Karnataka, the founders faced many difficulties convincing the parents to allow the students to attend school. They were concerned that without the children, there would be no one to help them with the household tasks of cooking, cleaning and harvesting. It is particularly difficult for parents to grasp the what the benefits of education can be, especially when they themselves have not received any. For many families in extreme poverty, a child in school represents lost income. Child labor is viewed by many impoverished families as a necessity, and in the face of this hardship school is seen as a luxury that they can ill afford. What they do not realize, however, is that child labor is a cyclical problem. A child is forced to forego education to enter the workforce. Being illiterate and unprepared for the workforce themselves, when they become older and start their own family, they only qualify for low paying, unskilled jobs, which do not allow them the money they need to support their family, and they in turn must force their own children to work. “Poverty is thus both a cause and effect of insufficient education”(The Hindu).
but for the country as a whole. There are social effects, socioeconomic effects, and cultural effects that can truly make a difference in poverty and how it affects society. Education lays the foundation for eliminating poverty through empowerment, human development, social development, and good governance (The Hindu.) In terms of individual affects, the child directly benefits from receiving a good education in various ways. Firstly, the child learns to communicate effectively. This allows them to freely express themselves, interact socially, and have more control of the world around them. Communication also allows the child to learn other important skills. Once a child can communicate, they feel differently about themselves. They gain self confidence and a sense of self worth, which is vital to their personal growth and development. Along with this self confidence, they receive access to information about current events within their community and the world as a whole. This allows them to become active participants in what is going on around them. Only through knowledge can one truly become a world citizen. Through education and the social interaction that it provides them, they are also better equipped to deal with work and family responsibilities, and these skills only increase as they grow older. It also creates the possibility of economic class improvement. Once educated, a person has access to higher paying jobs, the skills to work them effectively, and the self confidence to believe that can move up in the world (The Hindu).
Education for women has its own set of benefits. Sadly, education for women is often placed as an extremely low priority within families throughout the world. Women are seen as second class citizens, and their education unnecessary and wasteful. However, there are clear positive changes in countries where women are allowed to receive even a basic education. First of all, educated women are able to participate in bringing income to the household. Because they are often occupied with working, they tend to have fewer children. “In South Asia, women with no education have seven children on average; women with at least seven years of education have fewer than four children (The Hindu).” Fewer children and more income means that they are decreasing the poverty level within their own families. Furthermore, educated women take better care of the children that they do have. When mothers wait longer periods between bearing children, the children that they do have are healthier. Also, because they have received that basic education, they understand more about child health and welfare. Their children received proper vaccinations and proper nutrition. The education of women has more of an effect on the health of children because as mothers, women are more directly involved with the food, sanitation and healthcare of their offspring. Studies have unfailingly shown that in order for a country to lift itself from poverty, one of the most important key factors is equal For one who has grown up far from the margins of society, the educational opportunities for women as well as men (The Hindu). sobering realities of poverty are indeed difficult to imagine. But the There are many benefits that come from universal education statistics do not lie. They show the truth about the opportunities that that can affect society and government as a whole. Educated citizens are being given to children in the developing world. As many as 1 are more informed on current events and therefore much more likely billion people in the year 2000 were unable to read or even sign their to participate actively in democracy. Also, within a good school own names (website). In the year 2005, 72 million children were not system, people learn more about the issues that affect their enrolled in school, and over half of those children were female. This communities and are introduced to different critical thinking and was based on current enrollment data at the time of the survey, and problem solving skills. This motivates citizens to want to become the statistics were regarded as being “optimistic” (website). more involved in social change. The foundation and staffing of With all of these facts stated, it is important to examine just NGO’s often helps to take some of the burden of social action off of how proper education can affect the life of a child. A good the government, but without an educated work force these NGO’s educational system has diverse benefits, not just for the individual, cannot exist. Schooling teaches people values, and helps them to
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develop a social conscience. Not only do they learn to care for and empathize with their fellow human beings, they also learn important practical skills such as basic manners, punctuality, time management, following rules and focusing attention. A people equipped with all of these skills helps to form a better society, and leads to less crime, poverty, and drug use. Educated people have also learned the importance of cultural norms and values. Schooling helps to develop a sense of pride in one’s nation, as well further the interest in learning about and carrying on the culture of the student’s given country. As societies change and the effects of globalization become more apparent and reach ever farther, the educated sector of the populace identifies and interacts with their own cultural systems more effectively, and is less likely to lose their common cultural values. This is true both because they have learned more about their personal culture, and because they have been instilled with a pride in themselves that translates effectively to a pride in their culture. In addition to this, educated people have a better understanding of government, how it works and its benefits. Within a proper schooling system, students learn about their governing body, and come to a better understanding of what it means for the nation in which they live. Educated people do not fear their government, but seek to understand it and make it work better for themselves and their communities. Many schools have class elections and school governments that introduce students to the general concept of governance and voting. Students that are familiar with this system are more likely to want to vote and become active participants in their local and national governments. They see how government can have positive affects when executed properly, and therefore are more likely to demand improvements from their government. Once again, because they have been instilled with the values of self confidence and self worth, they believe they deserve the best and that their government should continually be working to make their lives better (The Hindu).
The Artists Colony of Jaiselmer An Ethnography for TCR Class Within the touristic city of Jaiselmer, there is a district to which foreigners rarely travel. Walking up the slanted unpaved streets, I find that the area is reminiscent of the living standard seen in the more rural villages 20 to 50 kilometers away. One easily forgets that just across the main road, there are winding cobbled streets and amazing ancient architecture that people travel continents to admire. Ironic, one could say, is the fact that this district is the colony most all of the musicians, artists, and street peddlers of the city call their home, while their patrons stay in villas less than a kilometer away, blissfully unaware, or uncaring about the quality of life most artisans in the developing world are able to maintain. Upon entering the artist’s colony, I was met by a man named Sale Khan, a regular musician at the Artist Hotel, the only foreigner accommodation in the colony. Over a steaming cup of chai on the hotel balcony, Khan explained the structural dynamics of the members of the colony, and called musicians of his familiar caste to meet us and perform their traditional songs. In the colony, which spans approximately one city block of rough terrain, there are three traditional families of artists; the first are the Manganihars (the community to whom Khan belonged). The Manganihars play traditional Rajasthani folk music only performed by the men of their clan, and historically found themselves patroned by the high castes, often performing for the royal families and citizens of like social positions. In the Manganihar society, the women play a very small public role, historically prohibited from attending functions and as well as from being involved in the musical group, with the men both playing the instruments and performing the traditional dances. The men of this caste are always brought up to be musicians, and according to Khan, it is in their blood to perform; “they are born from that rhythm, with music.” As young boys from the ages of 12 to 15 file into the hotel to perform for us, it is clear that their passion for the art transcends familiar duty.
Poverty is a cycle, but it does not have to be an endless cycle. Education is the quickest way to break down the barriers of poverty and create better lives for the citizens of every nation. After reviewing the benefits of education, as well as the extreme negative effects of the lack thereof, how can we as a society not work towards good universal education for all citizens of the world? Every child deserves a good education. Universal education should be considered a right for all, not just a privilege for few. Improvement of educational standards, even in the poorest of nations, is not an impossible goal. The key is that education must become a priority, for teachers, for students, for parents, for legislators, for presidents, and essentially for everyone. The solution is not as complicated as it may seem. Many NGO’s have set up excellent systems that provide good, free education for the many children at the margins of societies. Their important and fruitful work reaches into the slums, the jungles, the desert villages, and the farthest corners of the impoverished world. Dedicated teachers and administrators work through substantial personal and financial hardships in order to dedicate themselves to bettering the lives of children around the world. These people are truly inspirational. Education requires a certain amount of sacrifice from everyone involved. As a society, we The first instruments that a young Manganihar boy have to be more willing to participate in these sacrifices in order to reap the eventual benefits. The end result will be an intelligent and learns are the Castronet and the Moorchang. The Castronet empowered society, fully prepared to face the constantly changing is a beat instrument, created by two panels of wood held world.
between the thumb and first two fingers, tapped together to by Jill Muth create a clacking sound that mimics the sound of horses’
THE MANDALA TIMES! hooves. This instrument is an intrinsic aspect of many of the Manganihar songs, and helps the students develop their sense of rhythm. Watching some five odd boys happily drumming along to the beat and harmony set by the better learned musicians, one can’t help but be endeared to their joy in playing. The second type of artisan family dwelling in the colony goes by the name of Bhopa. In this sect, both men and women perform, and they hold the traditional role of storytellers and singers. This sect sings folk songs called “pabuji”, about the ancient Hindu gods. They traditionally use puppets and trumpet pipes to add to their performances. In this sect, the men are all musicians while the women sing and sometimes accompany the music with dance. According to the families we met through our stay, the children don’t need to be taught the musical instruments, nor the dancesthey know them intuitively from constantly watching their parents perform. The final members that make up the colony are those called “Lungaa”- the traditional Muslim musicians, who culturally live in the countryside and perform for the Muslim people. After learning about the social dynamics of the Artists Colony, our guide took us around to meet families from every different sect. As we walked through the neighborhood, the amount of talent and hospitality shown to us was astounding, while the amount of poverty seen was shocking. Many families had cots in the street outside their house because there was not enough room in the small houses for all the family members to sleep. Simultaneously, every family we were introduced to insisted on showing us their homes and talents with pride, offered us chai and unfailingly asked if we had had our dinner. After a delightful evening spent listening to all of the traditional Rajisthani folk music, my classmates and I returned to our hotel to find the first group of Manganihar boys performing on the terrace, the Prince and Princess who owned the guesthouse being patrons of their art. This presented us with the very interesting dichotomy of both being students interested in the history of their art, and tourists who stayed at a hotel they frequently performed at. We slept that night with many questions, prepared for the next day. The next morning I woke up to prepare for an interview with a Jogi couple. The Jogi tribe is the traditional snake charmer tribe of the north, and a small family had come from a nearby village some 15 kilometers away. They were a young married couple traveling with their 2 year old child, the youngest of four. The Indian government has passed a law forbidding the catching of snakes, which has eliminated
the plausibility of the Jogis’ nomadic lifestyle, traveling from village to village with their talents, living off the patrons of their art. They have now been forced into a semi-nomadic lifestyle, practicing their traditional folk music at night, and working in construction and sandstone mining during the day. While, as a foreigner, I was first and foremost taken aback by the sadness of their loss of culture, the young mother who came to speak with us viewed this lifestyle change as something logical for the changing times. She pointed out that as their traditional nomadic path becomes more developed, traveling not only gets more expensive, but accommodations become more difficult to find. Although their children still do not receive modern education, as a family they find the stability of a constant day job reassuring, since patrons of the arts are lessening as television and internet make entertainment constant and cheap. Even as their lifestyle becomes modernized, the Jogis lack of proactive advancement into the modern world is inevitably setting roadblocks on their path to success. The fact that they still speak only in their local dialect with a proficiency in Hindi makes conversing and working with foreigners- the remaining group of people who might pay them for their traditional talents- nearly impossible, since foreigners have a cultural stigma against gypsies, a stigma which only a proficiency in English is starting to dissuade. Although the caste system in India has many negative effects, the disappearance of the caste system would, paradoxically constitute a disappearance of culture. The culture of the Jogis, like the cultures of the tribes found in the Artist Colony is dictated by their traditional castes. These disappearances are a direct affect of globalization, and in some instances these affects can be seen as casualties. As the areas that were previously dominated by these castes become developed and quickly turn towards urbanization, it becomes impossible for these castes to continue living off their traditional talents. Consequentially, as these cultural archetypes turn to day-laboring jobs and settle down in communities, the traditional folk arts become less important and will soon become a lost art. Although the Jogi people still raise their children in a traditional manner, how many generations will continue to do so before it becomes necessary to educate their children so that they can compete in a globalized world? Along the same lines, how many generations of these cultures will continue to grow up learning their traditional arts, as the Manganihars lose their patrons and laws are passed prohibiting the Jogi people from catching the snakes of their trade? Only time will tell.
by Molly Levine
THE MANDALA TIMES!
LIFE IS A CIRCUS for Independent Study
Photo: Elise Stukenberg Circus originated in ancient Rome, where Emperor Pompey held spectacular feats of entertainment that often resulted in a blood bath. These shows were held in the great Coliseum, where performances would vary on a daily basis: from tragedy to comedy and even pure entertainment. On a day devoted to tragedy, gladiators and slaves would fight to the death against other gladiators as well as wild cats and domestic bulls. On a comedic day, ‘midgets’ would chase a beautiful maiden around the arena in an attempt to shame her. Included in these performances were stylized acts including acrobats and horse riders that impressed the audience by gracefully defying gravity. After the Fall of Rome, the lack of a cultural Mecca put performing arts at a standstill, although during these dark ages comical entertainment was in high demand, by the nobles; jesters were hired for almost every court to perform acts that paralleled the clowning of today. Besides these outlets, it wasn’t until the Renaissance that an explosion of new ideologies created a certain degree of freedom and a newfound degree of acceptance for the arts. Acrobats and jugglers made their way back into the newly liberated culture, however these performers were limited primarily to street acts. (Kahler) It wasn’t until the year 1768, when an exMajor Sergeant Englishman named Philip Astley made his great debut of horse tricks, that ‘traditional’ circus, as we know it finally had a platform to regain popularity. Astley staged his shows in a roped-off circle, measuring 42 feet, which has remained a standard for circuses today. Other acts were progressively incorporated into Astley’s horse act and his creation quickly became a well-known show and began to tour Europe. In 1879, while the British were ruling India, William Chirini performed with his Italian circus in Mumbai, and dared whoever was willing to challenge him to do what he could on a horse. Vishnupant Chatre accepted Chirini’s challenge and within the eighteen months he taught himself every trick that Chirini had performed. Thus the birth of circus took place in India on December 25th, 1880. While the shows were modeled after the Italians, India had a greater wealth of animals and performers. (Shankar) With this they were able to travel at ease with the high amount of popularity they had gained. Thus the traditional circus as we know it is highly influenced by Europe. However, India has always had some type of similar performance art. A visit to the small village of Dharmadam, in Kerala, illustrates why the circus has been such a great success in India. Kerala, the home of Kalari, along with a wealth of unique festivals, where the balancing acts awe even the locals that watch them annually is the origin of traditional circus in India and the
reason why circus scouts have picked Kerala as the number one spot to recruit performers. In the small village of Dharmadam, located near the town of Thalassery, reside thousands of circus families, “the majority of people are circus people of various levels” according to Arunkumar H. Patil, who manages the local gym where they train young students from the ages fourteen to twenty in gymnastics on a competitive level. Prior to the year 2003, the gym only enrolled children of circus families, however the families demanded money and only wanted their children to learn circus as opposed to gymnastics in order to gain employment with the local circus companies. Presently, the majority of these families have retired from the circus either by choice or because of a severe injury. For many of these retired performers, circus was a means of survival and they took the opportunities that they were offered. When the scouts came in search of talent they were impressed by the people’s natural ability for acrobatic and balancing techniques; they were naturals in this realm due to the traditional Kalari practice. Viswanthan Gurukkal is a local Kalari master who has had over four hundred of his students enter in the circus. Kalari is an indigenous martial arts form that originated from Thalassery. Not only does it incorporate movements of intensive flexibility, but also flying and fighting with grace. Kalari masters can perform a full flung jump ranging up to ten feet. Gurukkal believes that circus originated from the rings that are used in the Kalari, however the various weapons that are used in Kalari may have also been an inspiration for the circus, such as hoop and staff; even now they use fire, but only for performance pieces for it is not traditionally apart of Kalari. Many of the retired performers believe that circus originated from the traditional balancing acts performed at festivals, using basic materials: bamboo, rope and iron rods. A strong grandmother, Mrs. Narayan finds that traditional circus is far more difficult to perform. When asked what the traditional elements of circus were, she explained that a three-meter long iron rod would be balanced on top of a wooden sheet and on top of the rod would be placed a cross and on each point of the cross would stand two girls. To say the least, the traditional Indian circus was all about balance. For example, she used to lie on an iron rod with a stick balanced on top of her with three children standing on top of the stick. While performing with Gemini Circus, Mrs. Narayan’s item was to carry a pyramid of seven children while standing on a rotating cable. All this was fun and good, however Mrs. Narayan does not think that children should continue to learn circus arts, because of education and financial problems. Thirty years back there was a crisis and lack of employment in the area, however presently the situation has changed and people have stepped out of the circus to take higher paying service jobs in Dubai and Saudi Arabia. Part of this reasoning comes from the fear of being injured in the circus or from the training itself, which is still feared by many retired circus members, who were beaten harshly by trainers. When Mrs. Narayan was in the circus there was no insurance for injuries. The fear of lacking security has spread to the extent that now others have found alternative means of living that they may blindly follow abroad. Mrs. Narayan’s husband, N.P. Narayan, holds a different point of view, for his love of the circus is something that will never fade. He is seventy-three, yet has the looks of fifty year old man. His item was the trick horse and trapeze, his talent took him many places and he met many significant figures along the way while earning awards.
THE MANDALA TIMES! In the year of 1958 he performed for Nehru and during this time he traveled to Egypt, Lebanon and all over India. Unlike his wife, Mr. Narayan believes that circus does need to be taught and is even starting a local circus academy in a few months, if his plans for funding come through and if people will give commitment to his cause of reviving circus training. Mr. Narayan himself suffers from heart problems due to a severe injury while performing his tumbling bit on a horse where he was kicked in the chest. He was thirty-five years old and continues to receive five hundred rupees monthly through the circus union. To him traditional circus incorporated much of what his wife said, however with a few extra things: contortionism, magic tricks, and acrobatic work, dancing rope and juggling. He finds that if the government does not take action, the circus will in die in India, and the art form will perish with his generation. He hopes, however that at the governments expense he will be able to recruit fifty students to train at his soon-to-be circus academy. In a village of over a thousand circus families Mr. Narayan says, “Now no one does circus and it is very dangerous.” He explained further that circus is a “classical art” and that his pupils will be taught first balancing then built up from there with every safety precaution taken. However, the students, just as in the gymnastics academy, must start from the youngest possible age. They should start between the ages of eight and nine and continue their training for five to six years depending on how quickly they pick up the necessary skills. Mr. Narayan himself did not initially have much interest in performing in the circus; it started out simply as a means of living. His mother ran away to the circus, for there was many love marriages within the circus families. His parents would send a couple of their children to the circus in order to earn a steady income. As it was then, most families were merely “fighting for existence” for it was always about economic survival. This is why the circus is in need of revival: so it can gain back the respect it once had and its performers and employees can earn a proper income. Dharmadam is currently not sustaining itself; it is primarily relying on the service employment rate in Dubai and Saudi Arabia. A local lawyer named Naz worked in Saudi Arabia for two years and confessed that it was one of the hardest and demeaning thing he has ever done in his life, however he was able to send a steady flow of money to his family and being the eldest son in his family put a high amount of pressure on him, and afforded him the ability to put himself through law school. However, what would happen if the service employment rate in Dubai and Saudi Arabia were to crash? Where would the people of Dharmadam turn too for a job? Dharmadam is in great need of self-sustainability and the circus is a potential outlet. Not only does a circus require a troupe of performers, but also management, office work, trainers, maintenance and laborers. MV Shankar is the current owner of three circuses in India, Jumbo Circus, Great Royal Circus and Gemini Circus, out a total of fifteen circuses in India. He requires up to three thousand laborers monthly, and in order to move the train from various locations he needs ten to fifteen thousand. With an average daily expense rate of eleven lakh, Shan claims that the circus is not properly supported by the government, especially for the short lived working time of a performer, who generally has to retire at an early age. In these situations, the government leaves them no reservations. Shan addresses this by keeping the circus a job cycle, and always offers his retired performers another position in the company to suite their needs. This being said, by the time the performer is retired they often have no desire to continue with the circus as anything other than performers, and they commonly loose their commitment to the industry. There are many other factors that come into play, for the circus is a seasonal operation and its high show time only lasts for three months. There is also the challenge of drawing
large enough crowds, fewer are drawn to the circus now for two reasons: the media and the ban against wild animals. Society has found cheaper ways to amuse themselves: watching a film or TV show or simply surfing the web. Family chemistry is changing in India, they no longer go on outings with each other, they’d rather be like families in, sitting at home and watching a movie instead of going out and interacting with one another. This is due to the globalization of the western corporate culture where there is no system of calmness and no education on how to relax. Even an art such as yoga, has been completely bastardized in the west, and is treated as a full on cardio work out, rather than an aim for over all physical and mental health. The circus is a part of Indian culture; it is the best medium of family entertainment due to its diverse medium and level of interaction. The government banned the use of wild animals in the circus in the 1991, although the law was not fully enacted until the year 1998. Due to this, the crowd draw declined twenty percent and many circuses in India could no longer support themselves. However, the only animal considered wild that the circus has ‘lost’ is the tiger; animals such as elephants are still considered domestic and legally usable, because of their use in festivals and temples. Shan finds that the wild tiger was one of the most influential education tools and that is why it drew such a large crowed. The elephant continues to draw a steady crowd and for this reason Shan does not think that the circus is in need of a revival, however Shan fails to recognize circus as an education tool. The scouted talent pool of performers that are hired come from all over the world, primarily China, Russia and Romania. Therefore they support the circus due to their extensive training. These countries train their performers starting at a very young age, however since the child labor act has been passed, this training cannot happen in India until the child is fourteen, when many circus owners lament that it is already too late. Shan has recently taken this matter into his own hands and is providing private training for a small group of eighteen local children in the area. Revival is needed in both India and the US: India is in need of a new format for circus in order to not become segregated like the American culture, while the US is in need of a change in lifestyle. Circus is a phenomenon directly influenced by globalization and has the ability to preserve culture, provide sustainability and revive education through performing arts. Without the health benefits of circus the people of Dharmadam will become active victims of modern ailments including diabetes and other health disorders within the next generation. Not only could circus sustain a healthy lifestyle within society, but also it could offer a self-sufficient job market for various levels of skill. Most importantly, circus is one of the best education mediums ever come across, and the amount of interaction and attention it draws is a great platform for communication. Lastly, circus is a unique art form that should be actively preserved; it is a unique blend that is a melting pot of cultural background, modern talent and traditional indigenous performance. The term circus may have come from an Englishman, however the form could easily be tagged to the Kalari, festivals and other forms of performance art. There can be no black and white definition of the circus; it is one of the most flexible performance art mediums surviving today.
by Elise Stukenberg
Kahler, Wendy. "History of Circus." (2002): n. pag. Web. 11 Oct 2009. Shankar, MV. "History of the Indian Circus." Gemini Brochure 1998: 15-16. Print.
PARTING THOUGHTS “India wants the modernization of technology, they want the modernization of gadgets. They do not want the modernization of mindset.” ~Cheriyan Alexander (Writing teacher) on sexuality in India and the West
susnset in Udaipur photo: Olamide Holloway-Okpeku
NEWSLETTER TEAM: EDITOR: MOLLY DUTTON-KENNY SPECIAL THANKS TO: EXTRA-EXTREME HELP FROM ADAM BROOKS (WHO FORMATTED HALF THIS NEWSLETTER!) EXTREME HELP FROM SANRA MARTIN FOR SIFTING THROUGH PAST NEWSLETTERS ALL THE STUDENTS WHO CONTRIBUTED AND OF COURSE, NAVEEN AND SHEELA
Contributions this Issue from: Adam Brooks Eliza Sprague Sandra Martin Jill Muth Molly Levine Elise Stukenberg Loren Diesi Anna Vreeland Jill Muth Molly Dutton-Kenny Elena Kaye-Schiess Olamide Holloway-Okpeku