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Volume 4

Issue 1

November 2011

UNC-Chapel Hill’s Premier South Asian Publication


About Diaspora Diaspora, UNC-Chapel Hill’s South Asian publication, was started in October 2001 as a subcommittee of Sangam, the South Asian Awareness group on campus. Beginning as a newsletter, the issue took on the direction of providing South Asians with articles written by their peers. Although effective on a small scale, this mission has changed over time to accommodate a broader range of readers. After a few years of dormancy, Diaspora was started once again in 2008. Currently, Diaspora publishes personal essays and analyses of South Asian cultural values, as well as articles on topics ranging from politics to popular culture. The staff is dedicated to educating the publication’s readers about issues pertinent to the South Asian community in a creative, entertaining way.

Letter From The Editor It’s fall, which means it’s Aaj Ka Dhamaka again. Teams from all over the country are going to be competing in one of the biggest competitions in the Southeast. You will see a variety of dance forms and routines that in many cases represent our interpretation of traditional Indian art in the context of our Western upbringing. We at Diaspora strive to reflect this in our magazine. In this issue, we are excited to bring you stories of students and alumni across the United States, South Asia, and the world as they interact with the global South Asian diaspora. This issue contains accounts of personal growth, discovery, and self-examination. It’s always good to be reminded of everything that is going on in the outside world, and we hope that you will get a taste of our experiences there through these articles. We wish you a happy Diwali, and as always, we are open to any and all feedback.



APURVA OZA Editor-in-Chief

Table of Contents In This Issue...

Features Rumble 4

5 A UNC Alum Finds His South Asian Hero In Japan! 8

Hindustan>Finding Your Forefathers Through Truth and Triumph

Opinion Touchdown India or Fumble India 10


Remembering Who You Are: A Take On Keeping It Real Moving at the Speed of Life


Experiences Thumbs Up To Delhi!14

A Little Taste of India in Singapore 16 Of Mice & Helping Men17 Indicorps


Arts & Culture The Firecrackers of Diwali19 The Ghazal King


Politics Anna Hazare: Twenty First Century Gandhi 22 Turmoil in Sri Lanka: The Tamil Tigers 21



RUMBLE Rumble; It’s the sound Mummy makes when she tells me and bhai about the valiant actions of Lord Rama when he defeated the King of Lanka with his bow and arrow. So maybe the rumble in my stomach means that I’m brave, bold and daring and strong as Hanuman, but the rumble won’t stop, and Mummy can’t help, I remember she sent Bhai out to the streets, to beg for rupees. “Beg” Mummy hates that word, She’s very prideful, So when I tell her that I’m full, I pray that she doesn’t see through my lies, And I pray that tomorrow, maybe tomorrow, Someone will be more generous. It’s been ten days since I’ve had water, The trashcans have been lacking as well But I hear the rumble, Maybe it will rain soon… but that is my stomach fooling me yet again. Some people say that the heart beats For survival, Or that the brain leads the body, They are fools, For I know that it is the stomach that is truly in charge. “Maintain your dignity,” Mummy says, “Stop digging in the trash Where everyone sees.” Sorry, Mummy. For my choices are being governed Not by my brain, Nor by my heart, But by my stomach.


I think Bhai is sick, He sleeps a lot more than usual, His face is like the inside of a coconut, rather than the outside, like it should be I can see every one of his ribs. He sleeps so soundly Not waking up. “His rumble was heard, And now he is feasting with the gods.” Mummy says, tears leaking. “He’s safe now. His belly is big and round now, Like Ganesha.” She smiles at me. And I slowly smile back. “Like Ganesha,” I repeat.

Radhika Ghodasara, Class of 2015 At 23% of the population, the South Asia Region has one of the highest rates of malnutrition in the world. That is over 336 million people.


HINDUSTAN  Finding Your

Forefathers Through Truth and Triumph APURVA OZA

A few weeks ago, my father brought back a tattered family tree from my grandfather’s empty house in Pune, India. My name was scribbled at the very bottom in Gujarati. I started counting generations upwards, looking for birthdates of my great-grandfathers, great-great grandfathers and so forth. The earliest of my ancestors on the tree were placed around the late 1600s. This was before the U.S.A existed, before even the British Raj took over India…was Gujarat even a state? The origins of my family name Oza are in Srimal Nagar, present day Bhinmal in Jalore district, Rajasthan. Hence the questions commenced. “What is my true land?” Many of you might ask yourselves the same question; humanity’s desire to know where we came from has always guided where we go in the future. If you are of South Asian, this ancestry is most likely the same, because it all starts in the same place—the fertile land of the Indus valley. Let’s rewind 5000 years, through a pictorial tale of conquest and migration, a tale of integrating cultures and peoples. The tale of the South Asian Diaspora. HINDUSTAN . The land of the river Sindhu—Sanskrit for the Indus River, which the Ancient Persians pronounced Hindu. What we now call India was simply another word for Indus. This civilization coexisted with the Nile Valley and Mesopotamia around 3000 BCE. Take a look at where it all started:

Our ancestors lived in the current Indian states of Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir, Rajasthan, Punjab, and parts of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. At that time the capital was Harappa, which sounds an awful lot like Hadippa. That’s exciting.




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Over a span of a couple millennia, India went through the Bronze Age and Iron Age, as well as the Vedic period, in which the Rigveda was composed with the earliest known form of Sanskrit. Moreover, the IndoAryan migration, which had a great effect on contemporary Indian society, occurred during this time period. The subsequent centuries make up a period we can call “Epic India,” A time when scholars believe the Sanskrit epics of the Ramayana and Mahabharata were written. In 563BCE—Siddhartha Gautama, Mr.Buddha himself was born. Finally, a more tangible period of history: Emperors, Kings and Greats. Alexander the Great arrived in 326BCE, and defeated Porus, the King of Paurava (modern day Punjab) in battle. However, due to some tactful Indian bargaining, Porus was able to regain all of this lands, as well as those he had not previously held. And so, the politics began. Hindustan expanded and contracted, cultures assimilated and merged with eachother. Empires and Dynasties began—most notably the Maurya Empire, founded by Chandragupta Maurya. Chandragupta’s grandson Ashoka is widely recognized as one of the greatest rulers of India. Indeed, the three headed lion, the Emblem of India, comes from a structure erected by Ashoka. India continued to grow and prosper throughout the early centuries of the 1st millennium, during which Bharatnatyama, science & inventions, Ayurvedic Medicine, and other human endeavors flourFIGURE 2 ished. When we approach the end of the 1st millennium Think about the boundaries—forests, rivers, and mounCE, it is easier to trace our oritains. Even today, boundaries are made with rivers. A real Amurican example: the Mississippi river is the boundgins. The states do not exist in Inary for Illinois and Iowa, Mississippi and Arkansas etc. dia, but ethnic groups have begun Our South Asian Diaspora is limited to those boundaries. to coalesce. For example, much Imagine a few thousand years ago ruling a region that of the region of Gujarat was occuis on the other side of the Himalayas. I wonder how the pied by the Gurjars, from which the bridge from Lanka was made? Setubandhanam? state got its name.




FIGURE 3 Note familiar cities : Ahmadabad, Bihar, Lahore, Amritsar, Kabul. Fun fact: Lahore was founded as Lavapuri in ancient times (or the city of lava), by prince Lava or Loh son of Rama.

It’s interesting that Bombay was actually a province back then, and that Pakistan was known as Baluchistan. Also, Burma was a part of the British Raj. Even Southeast Asia was influenced by India due to many “Indianized Kingdoms” in the past.

I t is not until the end of the Delhi Sultanate (1206-1526) that we get to a unified India under Mughal Empire. This is around the same time the most familiar form of Hindi/Urdu language started (See Figure 3). The collapse of the Mughal Empire in 1858 brings us closer to the present day, with the assumption of total control by the British Empire. Their divide and conquer philosophy is reflected in the many states they

created (See Figure 4). Then finally, let’s all put on our thinking caps and visualize modern India and South Asia as we know it. It has become much more divided in the last 65 years. Voila, the Diaspora of Hindustan in 5000 years—scattered across South Asia. A tangible example of this can be seen in Asoka’s edicts. These pillars once covered a unified empire, but are now found in present day India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. Parallels to this can be drawn with the Roman Empire in the West, where there are more than 250 amphitheatres erected across 25 countries. It’s interesting how borders change due to politics, religion and controversy. Back then it was so simple—rivers, mountains and forests. India’s diversity is fundamentally a product of its history—Akbar and Asoka were India’s two greatest emperors, and were responsible for creating the most unified empires before modern times. They were also of completely different religions (Muslim and Buddhist respectively), a testament to the plethora of diversity that constitutes the history of our motherland. India is truly the mix of all cultures, and whatever political boundaries it encompasses, it still tries to lead with the same honor Emperor Asoka fulfilled, “It is forbidden to decry other sects; the true believer gives honor to whatever in them is worthy of honor.” Now, let’s finish our tale, and take our parents immigrating to the US from their motherland. Alas, we have finished our place in the weave of diaspora. It’s always nice to step back and think about how we got where we are today. Remember, just as how you look up to your grandfather, he looked up to his, and the cycle rewinds…



True Legends: A UNC Alum finds his South Asian hero in Japan Anish Thakkar


landed down in Narita airport, converted about $200 dollars into yen, and caught a bus to Chiba, the New Jersey of Japan. After finally finding and checking into my ‘weekly mansion’, and staring out the window at the glimmering lights of Tokyo, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I started work the very next morning as an assistant program coordinator for IES, an international education company headquartered in Chicago. I worked in a traditional Japanese office setting until the 45 American students arrived, and learned quickly that although the office structure was rigid, everyone was team-oriented and genuinely cared for each other. Soon over a week had passed, and the 13-hour jetlag was all but forgotten. I technically turned 22 in a smoky izakaya [pub] filled with middle-aged suits, but on the morning of my birthday in Japan, a man dear to the IES staff - and thousands more - paid the office a visit. Happily digging into my gifted slice of fondant au chocolat from a nearby French bakery, I looked up and saw a splitting image of my late grandfather. There, beaming broadly directly at me, was Dr. Rabinder Malik. He introduced himself – in Japanese, of course – as the former director of IES Tokyo, but that hardly encapsulates his spirit and persona. Although it took some time to obtain his full story, I will share it with you here from the top, or in his case, the bottom. Dr. Malik grew up near Lahore, which was then part of Northwest India. His life was relatively privileged, and his older brother left for university in Delhi, the capital, when Rabinder was in high school. Then, turmoil struck. Partition. Unfortunately – for the Maliks, at the very least – Lahore was claimed by Pakistan. Dispossessed and forcefully relocated, Rabinder tried his best to fend for his family throughout this exodus. His brother’s dorm almost 300 miles away became the only place the family could call home. Unwavering in his educational pursuit, Rabinder worked multiple jobs in the daytime, and attended evening courses in ‘tent universities,’ or temporary establishments for refugees to learn. Though exhausting, it allowed him to provide for his family while following his dreams. The World Health Organization set up an office nearby to assist with reparations, and served as his first significant employer. He balanced this position with studying business & personnel administration, French, English, and his personal passion, Indian classical music. After earning his bachelor’s degree and his wife’s hand in marriage, the WHO sent him to Jakarta, Indonesia, where he and his budding family stayed for nearly six years. He had one daughter there, and twin daughters were born after they returned to India. A shift to a United Nations assistance program in West Iran proved Rabinder’s adaptability and effectiveness, which earned him his appointment (and promotion) in Tokyo. There, he co-founded the United Nations University. However, in the midst of such success, tragedy struck; his wife in Delhi had a sudden illness and passed away. To put it in his words, “Even now I shudder to think of that period in my life.” Rabinder marched forward with his new role, and brought the United Nations University to new heights, bringing hard-earned experiential knowledge to the board alongside the research of world-renown scholars. He remarried in Japan, and reared his fourth daughter. He arranged for his daughters in India to attend university in Japan, and kept them close although the UN sent him all over East, South, and Southeast Asia. Feeling lucky to


FEATURES have been with the UNU since its inception, he described it as “a unique international educational institution dealing with issues of human survival and development,” issues that he himself knows all too well. After serving the UN for over 40 years, Dr. Malik received an honorable plaque from the Secretary General to commemorate his service as he ‘retired.’ Immediately after leaving his post at the UNU, he became a visiting scholar abroad, and ended up completing the master’s degree that history deprived him of so many years ago, in Miami. He continued teaching and then earned his PhD at Syracuse University in International Relations. Upon returning to Tokyo, he became the interim director at IES Tokyo, charming and inspiring countless international students. On two occasions, he served as an advisor on the Ship for World Youth, a Japanese government-sponsored program that promoted international education. On the cruise ship, en route throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans, he gave seminars on the UN to nearly 600 international students. He represented TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute) in Japan, a non-profit research body focused on sustainable development and tackling environmental issues that will impact future generations, and leveraged his role as a visiting lecturer at Keio University (the Princeton of Japan) to promote these causes as well. Last but far from least, he continued training his voice for ‘Enka,’ or traditional Japanese pop singing. Growing up admiring greats like Muhammad Rafi, Rabinder adapted his voice for Enka, which already uncannily resembles old-school Bollywood music. He competed in various regional and televised competitions, and hold several awards for his Indian approach to Enka. He also formed a singing group called ‘Oyajigumi’, or ‘group of uncles,’ and have several recordings in studio and karaoke format available for purchase. All of this happened after ‘retiring,’ or after his 65th birthday. Constantly a celebrity both and and off the stage, Rabinder is still Chairman of the Urayasu Foreign Residents Association, a philantropic organization focused on helping immigrants with education and naturalization. Furthermore, he is still proud member of the Seaside Lions Club of Lions International, which recently teamed with the Lions Club in Bombay to assist disadvantaged children in slum schools. I was invited to speak at the Seaside Lions Club monthly banquet days before leaving Japan, and presented on South Asian Music & Dance, closing with a solo performance of bhangra. I was worried that my Japanese was sloppy, but Dr. Malik assured me that it was fine, and that he got away teaching college-level courses with less competency! There are still students today at Keio University that proudly call him ‘Sensei.’ Writing this article has been an emotional feat, with love and admiration standing out as the strongest emotions felt. I love the unabashed borrowing of cultures that defined Japan’s own culture, like kare (Japanese curry) enlightening my senses with Indo-fusion done right. I admire the people, and miss the politeness and warmth they possessed that made America feel so alienating upon my return. Here in the States, I have donated my time, energy and money ($1.5K) towards relief, but heroes like Dr. Malik in the world urge us to continuously do more. As everyone knows by now, the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that rocked Japan to its very core has done tremendous damage. Damage to land, damage to homes, damage to life, damage to an already faltering political and economic body. Before this tragic event, I had successfully compartmentalized my experiences in Tokyo away in a corner of my mind, as if tidying letters and photographs into a small wooden drawer. After first catching wind of such news, this drawer was forcibly thrust open, and these thoughts and emotions spilled over my conscious self, bringing with them deep sadness and anxiety for Japan’s loss. Picking up the pieces, it becomes clear that hope glimmers alongside tragedy, waiting for its chance to shine. With heroes like Dr. Malik, we can all surely persevere. The night I performed for the Lions, I received a toast, accompanied by a generous gift from Dr. Malik. Although I could never reciprocate the honor felt that day, I hope that this entry can serve as a toast to him. If nothing else, this has been my way of tidying up these precious pieces, and placing them back into that drawer. As the wood groans while softly closing, Malik Sensei’s essence remains, and settles on the page.

At 78 years young, Dr. Malik can be seen playing with his new iPhone, face-timing with his quarter-Indian, quarter-Japanese, half-Nicaraguan grandchildren.



Touchdown India or Fumble India? Keyoor Patel Bhubaneswar Warhawks. Delhi Defenders. Goa Swarm. Hyderabad Skykings. Kolkata Vipers. Mumbai Gladiators. Pune Blacktigers. Punjab Warriors. This is the Elite Football League of India, the professional American football league that will soon captivate a nation, at least in theory. One could equate it to the perfect arranged marriage. The second fastest growing economy in the world meets a $10 billion dollar industry. It has to work out right? I mean, India has already shown success in adapting foreign industries, right? IBM has over 100,000 employees in India. Yum Brand Foods (mother of our beloved Taco Bell) is opening 1000 more stores over the next four years. The Bombay Stock Exchange has the 2nd most companies behind the NYSE and its growth potential is higher than Wall Street. Overall, foreign investors are increasingly investing at a rate of 45% annually into Indian markets. Also, as we all know, Indians love their entertainment as shown through Bollywood, the largest film industry in the world. They also love their foreign entertainment; Voldemort has struck fear in Indian movie-goers and Justin Bieber has captured the hearts of millions of young Indian girls (and boys, nothing wrong with having Bieber-fever). One could credit the focus on entertainment to the youth-driven economy that is becoming global with the spread of the internet, which is making the world increasingly borderless. Now, the next wave in in the market is televised entertainment. India has the fastest growing telecom network in the world, and the number of televisions is growing at an unprecedented rate. What is the number one form of televised entertainment? Sports. Without a doubt, American football is the most popular televised form of entertainment in the United States. Television companies are paying over $20 billion for the right to broadcast NFL games. It’s mind-boggling how quickly the NFL has become our country’s passion.

The 2011 Superbowl was watched by 111 million viewers, making it the most watched television program in US history.


OPINION There are 130 million TV households in India to capture through American football. The statistics and historical trends seem to add up to a huge success. However, is this truly practical? Will a cricket-obsessed nation be willing to accept an adopted son? It won’t and I’ll tell you why:


Cricket will always be king. An estimated 1 billion Indians watched the 2011 Cricket World Cup semifinal match featuring India and Pakistan. The Superbowl numbers in the US pale compared to this staggering figure. The Indian population is obsessed with cricket. There are thousands of cricket leagues, regional teams draw huge crowds, and kids grow up dreaming to play for the Indian National Cricket Team. No sport will come close to touching the market share that Cricket has over the Indian population.


Football Development will be slow, maybe too slow. Sports become part of a country’s culture through development. It starts with the kids. Kids in India have not grown up playing football, and it’ll be hard to teach a fairly complex sport without this aspect. Also, passion is created through development. Kids in the US grow up loving football and experience it through High School, college, and NFL games. Every stage of our life has a corresponding football element just like the development of cricket in India. It’s going to be hard to thrust a professional sport into a country that has no lower-tier development and passion.


Low quality of play. Playing off the development aspect, how are teams going to recruit quality talent from Indian youth? Since kids in India haven’t grown up playing football, they likely aren’t going to be that great. It takes years and years of practice and real-game experience to become a professional football player. This is an element that is going to be lacking in India. Also, not to bash on Indian physique but there aren’t too many burly, 6-4 258lb Brian Urlachers roaming around India. Sure, there may be some talent from the US coming over to play for these Indian teams, but who really wants to watch a bunch of NFL-rejects fumble the ball around?


Poor Precedents. Professional football has already attempted to overtake another dominant sport in a specific area and it failed tremendously. This failure is NFL Europe, which tried to convert some “futbol” fans into football fans. Consumer interest was low and the experiment was disbanded in 2007.

To me, the EFLI is going to be a failure. India is so intertwined with cricket that it will be hard for any sport, nonetheless a complex sport such as Football, to even come close to matching the love Indians have for cricket. I hope India surprises me and embraces American Football,w but I somehow doubt that Shahrukh Khan will be rocking a Mumbai Gladiators uniform in a heated match against the Delhi Defenders. One thing I will say is that I’m still disappointed there isn’t a Gujarati team, maybe the Ahmedabad Patels will be an expansion team if this EFLI business ever takes off.



Remember who you are: A take on keeping it real

Priyank S. Patel


outh Asia. Yeah, in all honestly what does that mean to you? Maybe if you’re “brown” you represent one of the 8 South Asian nations but even then, what does your nation mean to you? For example, many people on this campus claim to be Indian--but how Indian are you actually? Do you know how to make a samosa? Do you speak an Indian dialect? Do you wear kurtas on really hot days? Many will gladly claim to be Indian but in reality what do really do that’s Indian? I’m sure a lot of us have had friends or relatives come from the motherland, and we’ve brazenly scoffed at them for not integrating into “our” customs. “Why doesn’t he wear deodorant? Dang, his clothes are awfully tacky! Is that what they wear in India?” We have it so good here that we forget what it’s like to be over there. The West is so idolized around the world that we think only what WE are doing is right, at the expense of our heritage. But I still hang out with Indians and do Indian things.” Well that’s awesome but instead of JUST hanging out and JUST doing “Indian things” we should make attempts to understand our backgrounds and why we DO what we do. So many kids go to Garba and Diwali celebrations but how much do you really know about the root of these festivals? I’m pretty guilty for being reluctant to further understand my culture. I have NEVER been to India and back in high school I NEVER WANTED to go in the first place. As far as I was concerned, being American was ideal and I literally used my Indian card as a form of humor. “What’s your dad do?” He owns a gas station and motel like every other Indian “What do you want to be when you grow up?” A doctor, I mean come on it’s the Indian dream. Even when I got to college, I refused to be absorbed by the Indian/ South Asian groups, but now the tables have turned, I’m deeply involved with South Asian culture and heritage, I’m a proud Sangam member, a South Asian Studies Major, and a brother of Delta Sigma Iota. I never want to go back and revisit my aloof past... I learned that there’s more to India and South Asia than whatever my parents talked about. There are people in South Asia with their own unique identities that many of us would have shared or talked about had our parents not moved here. Just like you guys, I’m not very “Indian” but we still need to represent our culture more than we already do. I don’t know about everyone else but I do not want my descendants to never know about what being Indian means. Indian culture needs to be more than just spicy food and Bollywood films. In reality, whatever YOUR culture is, YOU need to be able to explain it BEYOND the stereotypes. For some, our South Asian culture has become a bubble you fill in on standardized tests and nothing more. If we do not look deeper, and remember where we came from, our culture could very well die out completely in a generation or two. . Heritage is something to be appreciated and prized. . Every time something South Asian related or Indian related pops up, I take pride in that. I found out the other day, the lead singer of Queen-- Freddie Mercury was Indian! That’s something I’m going to share with people every time Queen comes up in conversation. India has produced amazing epics and dealt with very difficult issues and only acknowledging these things when it’s convenient doesn’t help anyone. If you’re REAL about being Indian then randomly talk to your friends in Gujarati or have a Bollywood night. Go to the temple if that floats your boat or simply do something as small as LEARNING a new fact about South Asia once a day. Thus, remember, whatever you do, know where you came from and be able to back it up. Know more about YOUR motherland than you know about America. Trust me, it’s easy to do considering we’re comparing a 4 millennia culture to the 235 year American culture we live in…


OPINION Moving at the Speed of Life: Tips to Make the Most of Your Carolina Experience Anonymous 1) Take a different route to class everyday. It truly is something simple you can accomplish in your everyday college life, so no excuses. You’d be surprised at how many wild things you can run into by doing this: The people can be completely different, the buildings will be ever changing, and that element of surprise to your routine can really brighten up your day. Maybe you can successfully avoid that awkward guy/girl you danced with at Players the night before. In any case, the campus is a maze of buildings and pathways. Your goal is to know the campus like the back of your hand before you graduate.

2) Don’t be afraid to be impulsive. Your roommate is stressed out and asks you to drop your books and to drink some spar-

kling grape juice (non-alcoholic) with the ladies from across the hall. Obviously within reason, if you don’t have an exam the next day or anything obligatory, then just go for it. People can be so afraid to break their every day routine that any slight change in schedule will result in a nervous breakdown. But I have learned that these spontaneous actions are the one’s that you will truly never forget. I’m not only talking about going out to Franklin St. and dancing your nights away. Try stargazing at Kenan Stadium, visiting the Gimghoul Castle late at night, or even finding your friends and throwing water balloons at them. Those are the nights you will remember years from now; they are the same nights I remember from my freshman year. Be spontaneous without any regrets.

3) Relationships can be scary, so be wary. I’m starting to learn that when some of our parents are COMPLETELY against

the idea of us having relationships in college, it is maybe because they possibly could have experienced some of the same things that we go through today. My theory is definitely a long shot but who knows? Maybe they used to scream at each other outside on Franklin St. because your Dad decided to buy his ex a drink. Anyways, they seem to be right for the most part but trust yourself and your judgment. Marriage can last up to and beyond fifty years. College only lasts for four.

4) Don’t be a gossip girl. Gossip is inevitable, especially depending on the crowd you associate with. Regardless of who did what, what did whom, or who did whom, just worry about your own problems. If you keep your own life interesting, then everyone else’s business will become irrelevant to talk about. Take that for what it is. At the same time, don’t worry if you’re the poor kid at the center of the gossip. In a week from now there will be a cooler, juicier story out there about what someone else did and you will become old news. 5) Holding a grudge against someone only wastes time. Make up and move on, life is too short. 6) Open your Friends Circle. Do not associate with the same 10 people every day of all four years in college. Networking is

something you shouldn’t avoid until you’re out of college. There are over 17,000 undergraduates alone at Chapel Hill. Take the time to meet as many people as you can because you really don’t know who you’ll end up being friends with and how beneficial it can be. Trust me when I say that knowing people helps you get through college. Whether it involves basketball tickets, free food, or even sparkling grape juice, if you can learn to sustain mutual relationships with as many people as possible, then you will reap the benefits. Life moves fast. It’s easier to walk forward by looking ahead, not looking backwards. Up until recently, I would keep reminiscing my years in high school. Now I’m a senior in college, I realized that I’ve begun to reminisce my freshman and sophomore years. A wise man once told me that the people who claim their high school years as the best of their lives were the one’s who never made it to college. Nostalgia is quite the sensation but the moral of the story is to keep your head forward and enjoy the moment as if it was your last. College will literally pass you by in the blink of an eye there is nothing you can do to slow down time or to time travel backwards. Make your memories now so that you’ll have stories to tell in the future. Think twice before you complain about something insignificant. Think twice before you hold that grudge against an old friend. Think twice before you decide to call it a night instead of having an adventure with someone new. Learn from your mistakes now before the real world sets in. As Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”



Thumbs Up To Delhi! Katyayani Jhaveri

My SEAS study abroad trip was the most comical, captivating, eye-opening summer I have ever spent in India. Being viewed as an insider was a unique experience; I loved being able to talk about India’s food, clothes, culture, and history! Until this summer, the India I had read about in books was fictitious. I thought all the wild adventures and the rambunctious midnight bus rides were just things that happened in Bollywood movies. Normally all I got to see were some malls, a few movies, and the inside of my relatives’ homes. This past vacation though I had a whirlwind tour of Delhi with an amazing group of UNC students. Not having my family members with me meant that I had to make decisions for myself. Never before had I actually hailed taxis, dealt with beggars, or bargained in Hindi since someone else always knew better. And never before had I shared this wonderful country with someone else. In ten days I got to see Delhi sights that I had only heard about from my parents. We went to the Taj Mahal in Agra, Fatepur Sikri, India Gate, Chandni Chowk, Humayun’s Tomb, Qutub Minar, and Nizamuddin’s Shrine, among others. But what was better than just seeing these sites was sharing them with my friends. I think we had just as much fun listening to live Qawwali singing at the Shrine as we did travelling by rickshaws to get there. We took advantage of India’s national fruit with our 2 a.m. mango parties in the hotel--, we bought mangos off the street during the day and got together to devour them at night. These were some of the most entertaining nights I have ever spent. Once, a few of the girls in our group went shopping at Delhi Haat. As we were wandering around browsing,there was a pair of harem pants that really caught my eyes and I soon got separated from my group. As I went up to the shop clerk to ask him the price, he started venting to me about how one of my friends had gotten him to bargain the price down to Rs.200. All of this was in Hindi of course. Ironically, since he told me how much he had sold them to her for, he had to give me the same price. The point of the story- SEAS people really got a knack for bargaining in India, even though they didn’t speak a word of Hindi.

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EXPERIENCES Alas, somehow our crazy group of 25 extremely, diverse students worked! What really touched me was the respect that each and every SEAS student had for Indian culture. It wasn’t just feigned political correctness; they truly cared. College years are some of the best years of one’s life. Why? What is it about these four years that makes them so much better than the rest? Is it the hours spent in Davis library or the stresses of exams, deadlines and competitions? I think it may be the people. Never before have I had a family away from home that knows me so well. In less than a year I have formed a bond with the students at UNC that I know will continue for the rest of my life. And I am proud to say that this year, I have 25 new members to add to this family.



A Little Taste of India in Singapore Olamide Olusesi The decision to leave the familiar sights and sounds of home behind to immerse oneself in a completely new setting on the other side of the world is no small one. This is why when I told my parents that I was in the process of applying to study abroad in Singapore all they could do was laugh. At first they thought I was joking, because they couldn’t imagine that someone as grounded as myself would want to do something so flighty, no pun intended. After they got their laughter out of the way and my mother had wiped her eyes clean from laughing so hard, they saw the serious expression on my face. For me the decision to study abroad was fueled both by a desire to prove to myself that I could be survive the “big bad world” on my own and to experience a part of the world much different from the one I had grown to love. As my mother correctly pointed out, I just wanted to “put my nose where it didn’t [necessarily] belong.” Singapore turned out to be a great place to do this seeing as it is a collection of Asian identities. In Singapore I experienced a little bit of Chinese, Malaysian, and, perhaps most significant to my experience, Indian culture. My first taste of Indian culture was when I went to Mustafa Shopping Centre in Little India. It was only about three days after I arrived and I realized that I had no food, no voltage converter, and other essentials. I heard from some Singaporean friends that the best place to get great deals was Mustafa Shopping Center in Little India so I was off with a couple of friends. The little I had seen of Singapore before Little India made me skeptical about how new my surroundings were. I felt like I was just in another big city. When I got to Little India though, things seemed completely different. The streets were bustling with merchants selling their wares in outdoor markets. I heard majestic calls from a nearby Hindu temple and then this area was dominated by a gigantic building. “Welcome to Mustafa” was what awaited us outside the door of this towering object in Little India. Saying this building is large is an understatement, it spanned several floors and sprawled underground across two streets. After wandering around for hours I learned that Mustafa would be a big part of my Singaporean experience. Aside from realizing that I would be doing all my shopping in Little India, after many subsequent visits to Little India, I also learned that Indian culture reminds me a lot of my own Nigerian heritage. I was so excited to be in an outdoor style market again after years away from the bustling markets of Lagos, Nigeria. Just seeing all the colorful Indian attire reminded me of how my mother taught me the significance of various kinds of colors and patterns of traditional Nigerian laces. As a lover of spicy food, Little India ended up being the only place in Singapore I could go to get my spicy fix. Also, I don’t know if anywhere else in Singapore prepares rice quite the same way as my mother other than the Briyani at my favorite eateries in Little India. So although I went on study abroad to ensure myself that I am capable of functioning as an individual, I gained an appreciation of a culture through finding the similarities my culture shares with that culture. After returning from my study abroad adventure, I auditioned for and joined an Indian-Western infusion a capella group and I hope my experience with the group will only deepen my appreciation and understanding of Indian culture. Lastly, I would like to thank the Phillips Ambassadors Scholarship for making my study abroad experience possible. The Phillips Ambassadors Scholarship funds study abroad experiences in Asia and pushes students to not only travel to Asia but to make connections between their experiences in Asia and their life back home. Thanks to the Phillips Ambassadors Scholarship I was not only afforded the chance to study abroad in Singapore but I was motivated to search out and experience the cultural similarities I’ve been talking about.



Of Mice & Helping Men:

An MGF Fellow’s story of building a future for village children Bindhu Pamarthi, UNC 2012 After my five week stay in Rajabhatkhawa, West Bengal, village children who had only ever touched the mammalian mice inhabiting their kitchens could now use a computer mouse to draw pictures, navigate keyboarding software, enter data in Excel and send emails. Farmer’s kids who would otherwise be spending their weekend afternoons playing soccer with an empty plastic bottle now have a computer lab in which they play keyboarding games on laptops. This lab is the village’s first and only computer lab, and contains the village’s only computers for public use. Seven adolescents who just a few weeks ago did not know how to use a scroll bar are now using this lab to hold computer lessons of their own for 40 other village children. Currently, 160 children are eagerly waiting to be moved up on a wait-list that has been formed due to the overwhelming demand for these lessons. The lab now houses two laptops but thanks to a benefactor, this November the village children will have a total of four computers. By introducing computers to the youth in this village, the adolescents who shared with me their visions of becoming teachers, doctors and police officers may have a better chance at putting their lives as subsistence farmers living below the poverty level in the past.

Blog Entry: August 11, 2011 From student to teacher My classroom was buzzing with activity toward the end. A few days before the final assessment, I asked my class to bring a few of their friends the following day to facilitate my old students’ transition from student to teacher. As I waited for my class to show up at the tiki hut, I realized that my student’s conception of “few” was not exactly what I had in mind. I found myself suddenly surrounded by 15 eager children waiting to be instructed and only 3 computers at our disposal including my personal laptop. Even before I could tell my class how to get started, my original students began teaching their friends how to place their fingers on the keyboard, make slide shows, open up the typing program and even play games. Have you ever seen seven kids try and share a single computer? I might have imagined that there would be a great deal of pushing and pulling but instead, the kids could not have been more civil about it. There wasn’t much left for me to do but pull out my camera! I swear the pictures are candid despite the appearance of the children who seem meticulously posed.

For more entries from Bindhu’s service project, visit



Indicorps: Viewing India through a Different Lens ANSHU GUPTA Unbeknownst to me was India- a country I had visited multiple times. For me, India was a place to spend hot summers, snow-less Christmases, and attend weddings. It was a place that I had seen through a privileged lens, one of electricity, cars, and Pizza Hut. While I didn’t realize it then, I came to India as an outsider. For this reason, I applied to the Indicorps Fellowship, a development-oriented fellowship designed for the Indian diaspora to serve India by applying their skills, time, and resources towards grassroots public service opportunities and sustainable strategies for change. This was my chance to shed my status as an outsider. It was an opportunity to see India as an Indian. I didn’t think it would be challenging. To the best of my knowledge, I already was Indian. I spoke Hindi, respected my parents, and most importantly understood the art of Bollywood. To me, I was ready. I was ready to take on India, to become more Indian, and I guess, I would help those less fortunate than me. In retrospect, I wish I knew how silly I was. Upon arrival, I was thrust into An India I had never seen. Indicorps had set up a three-week boot camp styled orientation. We stayed in a slum, lived with farming families in rural Gujarat, met inspiring people, and then we boarded sleeper-class trains, and left Ahmedabad to start our projects. I had an unconventional fellowship year. Originally based in Chachiya , a village in the Ajmer district of Rajasthan, my project was to promote libraries in government schools. After four months, I couldn’t make sense of the project. No one was cooperating with me and the libraries didn’t work, so I worked with Indicorps and switched project sites halfway through the year. Ultimately, having to start over in a new community, with a new project, and re-acclimate myself once again. This time I was partnered with an NGO based in Udaipur, but I was working in the Dungarpur district of Rajasthan on creating the infrastructure for a youth center for the children of migrant workers. I realized that I couldn’t use the excuses I had made the first-half of the year, and I would have to be accountable. Development is hard. I haven’t only seen the challenges in rural India, I have lived them. People ask me what was hard about India. I mention the superficial things: cow feces, washing my clothes by hand, no electricity, using a chula to cook, etc, etc. Yes, it’s true. Those things were hard. I learned how to get through them, and they just became a part of my life, my daily routine. India was hard. It was hard to see the group constantly suppress the identity of the individual. It was hard to see women of every generation fade as they were undervalued and ignored by their communities. It was hard to see my host sister cry after her husband would hit her. These things happen all over the world, not just India. But I was there. These weren’t just people who I heard about. I knew them, lived with them. How silly was I to come to India thinking I could help people? I took far too much from India, and gave back only a little. India taught me humility. It taught me the power of listening instead of speaking. India showed me what resilience looks like and the strength and power lying within every human. I lived in a village for a year. I finally saw India the way I wanted to- without a lens.



The Firecrackers of Diwali D

Sarayu Kumar

iwali in India is a big deal. Rootedin mythical and spiritual origins, Diwali represents more than just fireworks to a lot of people. Diwali was first celebrated by the people of Ayodhya when Lord Rama returned with his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana from his 14-year exile. In essence, Diwali actually wasa welcome home party thrown in Rama’s honor, celebrated with lights and firecrackers. The more profound spiritual significance is the celebration of good over evil--. the people of Ayodhya reveled in Lord Rama’s defeat over the evil King Ravana. Diwali is the time of year when the days are lit by the sun and the nights are ignited by everlasting diyas and firecrackers. There is light everywhere, symbolic of the overpowering brilliance of good over bad. Through a child’s eyes howeverthe beauty of Diwali only goes as far as enjoying the fireworks. I was no different when I was younger. When I lived in Bangalore, the street that I lived on didn’t have much of a nightlife. Younger children would be fed and in bed by 9:00 pm. Older children would quietly be tucked away in their rooms memorizing formulas for their exams. Grandparents would be finishing up their dinners while watching their favorite Indian serials. But every year on Diwali, I could count on all my neighbors to be spirited, stirred up and sprinkled all over the street amidst the brightly lit firecrackers. The whole street took part in the explosive fun: from the excited toddlers to the doting maidservants and the cheerful parents. The tired but content grandparents sat on the verandas watching the light burst forth in everyone’s eyes. This energy and zeal infected every nook and cranny of India. Early in the morning, shopping bazaars were bursting with the latest and most exotic firecrackers. One year the novelty was spinning firecracker wheels. The year before, everyone wanted hand-held sparklers that changed colors several times before fizzing out. Another year, the salesmen boasted of the dragon firecracker–a sure crowd pleaser. My dad would take my brother and I bright and early to the markets to get the first pick of the firecrackers. Whenever we got too greedy, or begged him to buy just another box of sparklers, he would say that firecrackers last literally a second and



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then explode into a bunch of little bits of paper. You might as well light rupee notes on fire, he always said. But I could tell the little kid in him secretly loved lighting the thousand-set dynamite crackers, which would burst for minutes and minutes on end once ignited. He would always save those for the end, for the grand finale. The firecrackers might be fleeting, but the fun and good times they exuded seemed to last forever. Every year I got to try a more exciting firecracker than the year before. It’s like I grew up with these crackers. My first year, I got to hold a golden sparkler in my hand. A couple of years later, I lit my very own fountain firecracker. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I placed the cone-shaped cracker on the middle of the street and used a match to light its tip. I sprinted back a few feet to where my younger brother was waiting for me. Suddenly a 10-foot flame of flowers erupted from that tiny cone and spewed ten different colors. At just that moment, I looked around and saw the colors of the fireworks illuminated in my brother’s eyes. Only after you get over the constant flashes of the sparkling hues, do you realize just how loud these crackers really are. Boom, boom, boom, they’re constantly alight. Once you finally step back into your house, you hear a dull ringing sound in your ears and everything sounds just a little muffled. Something that goes unnoticed every year is just how messy fireworks really are. After a night of sparkling, crackling and bursting, they leave behind so much confetti debris on the streets. It’s like a New England autumn; only the orange, red and yellow leaves are replaced by bits of white, green and red paper. And when the light morning breeze blows through the street, it scatters away the only remnants of the night. The street becomes its old self again. I used to have to wait a whole year for the magic of Diwali to once again transform my street. Whether it is through the mythical, spiritual or recreational avenue, everyone enjoys Diwali in a unique manner. Whether it is by cherishing the triumph of good over bad, or telling the story of Lord Rama for the umpteenth time, or watching fireworks fluoresce in the night sky, Diwali occupies a special place in all our lives.

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The Ghazal King:

The Life of Jagjit Singh (1941-2011)

SUDEEP MEHTA “Chitthi na koi sandes, jane who kaunsa des jahan tum chale gaye”: those were the words that penetrated my ears every morning as I rode in my dad’s car to kindergarten. Those words, meaning no letters or news, who knows where you’ve gone or what country you’ve moved to, were in one of the greatest ghazals of the legend Jagjit Singh that moved people like my dad to tears. Such ghazals typically reminded Jagjit Singh as well as his fans about the absence of their loved ones. The unfortunate loss of the ghazal king makes us reflect back on his greatest ghazals that have moved the world, and will continue to impact future generations. Jagjit Singh was known as the king of ghazals throughout his career. A ghazal is basically a poetic form of music consisting of rhyming couplets and a refrain, with each line sharing the same meter. Ghazals are generally understood as poetic expressions of pain and loss, or the beauty of love that is felt despite having a personal loss. Ghazals follow structural patterns which are similar to Petrarchan sonnets, in which a few lines are repeated to describe the central themes of love and separation. As a singer, composer, and a music director, Jagjit Singh contributed to the ghazal genre through every aspect and point of view possible. His pain and melancholy in his voice reached out to several lonely hearts in the world in several languages such as Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, and Nepali. Jagjit Singh sang with a lot of emotion in his voice, as he himself faced several personal grievances, such as the loss of his only son as well as the divorce with his first wife. He impacted Indian culture greatly because he was the first ghazal artist to infuse a fresh life in Indian music in the 1970s by incorporating ghazals into Bollywood music. Jagjit Singh is given the main credit for reviving the ghazal genre in a decade when modern music was taking over poetic expressions of music. His great influence of ghazals in Bollywood music led to him being the recipient of the Padma Bhushan award, which is amongst the top three civilian awards in recognizing distinguished service to the nation Since my birth in 1991, I’ve had the opportunity to see the impact that Jagjit Singh had in popular mass media. His silky voice grabbed my dad’s attention in the 1980’s, and I became interested in his music after listening to his songs in Bollywood films such as Dushman, Sarfarosh, Tarkeeb, and Tum Bin. His great ghazal albums reached out to the South Asian community throughout the world, and have left a lasting impact on how the world views indian music. The days will be missed when thousands of Pakistani and Indian fans around America rushed to their computers to reserve tickets for Jagjit Singh’s American tours. The days will be missed when my parents ran into the living room to watch small interviews or performances by Jagjit Singh on television. The days will be missed when millions of Indian fans had their eyes glued to the television as Jagjit Singh and Lata Mangeshkar sang India’s national anthem on India’s Independence Day. The days will be missed when my parents got excited at the release of Jagjit Singh’s new album. Today, Jagjit Singh’s voice has gone silent, but his melodies will live on.



ANNA HAZARE: Twenty First Century Gandhi? NIDHI SINGH Mahatma Gandhi has forever been considered the essence of peace and the symbol for independence, not only in India, but in nations around the world. His efforts and role as a freedom fighter are those that have either successfully or unsuccessfully been mirrored across the globe. However simple it is to emulate Gandhi’s principles and ideologies, is it possible to reincarnate the man himself? Currently, the burgeoning popularity bubble has enclosed over a rather familiar face in order to bring social and political corruption to an end in India. In other words, many believe a modern-day version of Gandhi has reached the doorsteps of India once again. Kisan Baburao Hazare, otherwise known as Anna Hazare, has inspired millions of supporters to eradicate corruption in India. For years, India has faced many problems concerning political and social corruption affecting government proceedings and daily routines around the nation. Celebrities and social activists have taken to the streets in an attempt to erase such unjustified actions from the Indian government and society but none as sacrificial and penetrating as those of Anna Hazare. Similar to Gandhi’s hunger strike against the British imperial government, Hazare led a hunger strike to emphasize the importance of a joint committee in the government to establish a stronger anti-corruption bill with stricter actions to the Lokpal (citizens’ ombudsman) bill after his demands were rejected by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The Jan Lokpal Bill is the proposed law which Hazare is currently fighting to pass. His hunger strike began on April 5th, 2011 and only ended days later when the Indian government intervened, beginning negotiations for this proposed bill. Thousands of supporters and various media outlets followed Hazare’s actions consistently. The government decided to fulfill Hazare’s demands on April 8th, 2011 and created a joint committee to revise the Lokpal bill. However,, the government and Hazare are still continuing negotiations for what revisions should be added. Hazare’s ability to grab the government’s attention as well as have his demands fulfilled in such a rapid manner inspired millions of citizens around the nation, calling him the twenty-first century Gandhi. But, is this an appropriate name to give the activist? How similar is he to Gandhi? Hazare may have utilized Gandhi’s ideals and principles, but calling him another Gandhi is stretching the name. Gandhi participated in a hunger strike in order to prevent fellow citizens from taking part in crimes and fighting. Gradually, his fasts became a movement which included diverse groups of people to prevent crime and violence against anything. At this point, he had earned great respect from many. On the other hand, Hazare’s actions are somewhat extreme. He emphasized to the government that if they were to neglect his demands, he would fast until his death. This is a similar approach to Gandhi’s actions, with the exception that Hazare was demanding the government something that could not be changed overnight. Gandhi’s movement was substantial. Hazare is demanding immediate changes and putting his life on the line. Gandhi and Hazare are incorporating the same actions & principles for different causes. Hazare’s work and efforts are encouraging and it is time corruption found its end in Indian society and in the government. How long will citizens have to endure through bribes and blackmail in order to live their lives? How long will people have to pay more than need be? Hazare’s movement is absolutely necessary and should be noted around the world today. It is probable that millions refer to him as Gandhi due to a simple fact. Hisstruggles to bring an end to corruption in Indian society are similar to Gandhi’s motive: peace around the nation. Gandhi merely wished for an equal society where violence was not prevalent. Technically, weren’t both men struggling for equality? The facts surrounding both men are questionable. While both were inspiring activists and executed similar approaches to garner a movement, Hazare’s actions can be considered somewhat radical compared to Gandhi’s. Both men however, will remain symbols of social activism and peace for years to come.



Turmoil in Sri Lanka: The Tamil Tigers “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”



he infamous, yet facile, phrase is commonly overheard in discussions of terrorist groups. Since the times of the earliest civilizations, terrorists have existed and fought for their various ideals, whether to remove Western influence from their native country or to form their own nation-state. Terrorism is defined as a political conflict that resonates deep in society and bases itself on the struggle of access to certain resources, such as land and power. In Sri Lanka, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have tormented the Sri Lankan population in hopes of secession to create a Tamil nation-state in the northern region of the country. For over three decades, this militant Tamil group has proved to be a major security threat for not only Sri Lanka, but for the surrounding nations and Sri Lanka’s allies as well. Their use of collective action and how they cope with its downfalls has allowed the LTTE to embody the definition of terrorism and will pose a continuing threat for years to come. The animosity felt by the Tamils that had built up from the discrimination enacted by the Sinhalese government caused a radical, extreme stir in the Tamil community and led to the formation of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 1976 under the leadership of Velupillai Prabhakaran. The LTTE issued a militant approach for an independent Tamil state and this hope for separation brought about a civil war between the Sinhalese and Tamils. The war began in 1983 with incidents occurring intermittently and leading the civil war to last for the next 26 years. The civil war displaced nearly a quarter of a million people and killed nearly seventy thousand civilians. The Tamil Tigers had a solid following during its peak; its membership base ranged from eight thousand to ten thousand people. Their strength was grounded in their manipulation of the ethnic tensions within Sri Lankan society. The LTTE represented the suppressed voice of the minority and rallied support through the animosity against the Sinhalese majority. The adoption of the collective action method proved to be quite beneficial to the terrorist organization as they had a stronghold over national security for twenty-six years. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were defeated in May 2009. Since then, its leaders and militants have been convicted for the wrongdoings. Interestingly, both the Sri Lankan government and the terrorist group were condemned of war crimes that took place during the Civil War. The government is receiving the higher end of the scrutiny for its actions, whereas the LTTE continues to lose its strength. Minority Tamil parties do exist within the government, but they still face repression. For now, tensions are still present, but they are not as volatile as they were in the years before the war. However, if the government does not provide opportunities to its minority Tamil factions, there is a strong possibility that the LTTE, or a similar group, could rise again. The LTTE still has a following and thus the government must be very careful on its future interactions with its Tamil population.


November 2011 DIASPORA  
November 2011 DIASPORA  

Fall 2011 edition of UNC's premier South Asian publication, Diaspora.