Made in Delhi : Post-1947 Cultural Institutions

The Delhi Urban Platform

invites you to

Made in Delhi : Post-1947 Cultural Institutions

http://delhiurbanplatform.org/2011/04/made-in-delhi-post-1947-cultural-institutions/

Speakers:

Ashok Vajpeyi, Hindi poet, critic, cultural administrator; Currently, Chairman,Lalit Kala Akademi, Delhi

Kaushik Bhaumik, Historian and Senior Vice-President, The Film House, Osian’s

Vidya Shivadas, Art Critic and Curator, Vadhera Gallery, Delhi

Ram Rahman, Architect and Photographer

Ravi Vasudevan, Film Historian, CSDS/SARAI, Chair & Discussant

Date : 13th April, 2011  Time :4:30-6:30 pm

Venue: Seminar Room, CSDS, 29 Rajpur Road, New Delhi

This panel will interrogate an important aspect of  Delhi’s  identity  as a hosting site for a  national imaginary  about culture as it emerges, post-1947, via the realms of policy pertaining to language/literature, the arts, media and higher education.   Arguably, these domains were key to the articulation of an official vision through which the divergent logics of democracy, development and regional interests could be reconciled into manageable equations within the national-federal space.

And yet for all its centrality within the Nehruvian imagination, the making of cultural policy has proceeded without significant  debate, in largely ‘commonsensical’, un-reflexive ways, while the field has  remained somewhat stigmatized within the social sciences and the newer inter-disciplinary fields.

Seeking to move away from a facile view of policy as ‘mere’ application, this discussion will focus on the ways in which Delhi’s urban identity as a modern city has lent itself or, in turn, has been derived from its historic role as a space of mediation over key cultural and political issues.

An enduring part of Delhi’s  legacy  to the  nation, the making of cultural policy and its institutional elaboration in/via the national capital defined categories and mechanisms through which social hierarchies and  regional differences were negotiated and linked to structures of  patronage that would impinge on cultural and intellectual production. The location of these processes in Delhi has thus resonated profoundly in spaces far beyond the capital’s city limits.

Highlighting the elemental links between cultural policy interventions and the making of institutional cultures in the decades after 1947, or their remaking, both, post-Emergency and after liberalisation, our panelists will thus seek to explore possible continuities between the rationale and rhetoric of key policy junctures/documents/ statements, institutional forms and ongoing processes of democratization and marginalization.

Conceptualised by Veena Naregal, IEG

Heritage and the City

The Delhi Urban Platform

in collaboration with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture invites you to a discussion on-

Heritage and the City

Saturday, 8th January, 2011

2.30 pm -Walk through the Humayun’s Tomb Complex with conservationists of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture

4.00 pm (Panel on heritage)

Venue: Humayun’s Tomb Complex

The walk starts from the gateway of Isa Khan’s Tomb.

The panel discussion will be held near the South Gate of Humayun’s Tomb

All entry will be ticketed (see note below for details)

Humayuns-Tomb

Az naksh o nigar dar o divar shikasteh

Asar padidast sanadid ‘ajam ra

From the images and designs of the broken walls and gates

Are seen the traces of the noblemen of ‘Ajam (Persia)

n  ‘Urfi (d. 1560)

This sh’er was used by Sayyad Ahmad Khan as the prelude to his magisterial book on the ruins of Delhi, the Asar-us-Sanadid (1847, 1854)

In Delhi we are surrounded by dar o divar shikasteh, the broken walls and gates of ruins and monuments, remainders (and reminders) of the city’s pre-modern past. A set of volumes that painstakingly documents these extant remains calls them the city’s “built heritage” – and a dominant understanding of these ruins sees them as Heritage. But the word itself seems to be little thought about in public discourse.

Heritage cannot be understood without the concept of inheritance. If we think of these buildings as heritage then what exactly is inherited through these buildings? And who is it that inherits? Is inheritance (and hence, Heritage) universal; or is it about individuals, families, communities?  These questions become crucial in a city where the traces of the past are often enmeshed in legal, political and commercial struggles. Struggles which are not ends in themselves, but which determine how we relate to the city’s past, inhabit its present, and imagine its future.

To think through the problematics of heritage and the city, we bring together a panel consisting of archaeologists, conservationists, historians, journalists and religious leaders; who will approach the issue of heritage through their own experiences and engagements with the city and its pasts. The discussion will take place near the Southern Gateway of the Humayun’s Tomb Complex.

Before the discussion, there will be a walk through the Humayun’s Tomb Complex, conducted by conservationists of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, who have been working on the restoration of the site for several years. The walk will  explain the ongoing work on conservation which is a part of an ASI-AKTC project.

Panelists:

Ratish Nanda,Project Director, Aga Khan Trust for Culture
AGK Menon, Urban Planner and Conservation consultant
KK Mohammad, Director, Delhi Circle, Archaeological Survey of India
Sunil Kumar, Professor of History, Delhi University
Farid Nizami, Naib Sajjadah, Dargah Hazrat Nizamuddin
Mayank Austen Soofi, Blogger, Writer and Journalist

Venue and Access:

The panel will be held in the South Gateway to Humayun’s Tomb. Access is through the conventional ticketed entry at the main gateway to the complex, and then walking into the Humayun’s Tomb enclosure through the western (standard) gate. Once inside the charbagh of the main tomb, the southern gateway is diagonally to your right, across the lawns.

As this is an ASI protected site, you will have to pay the entry fee to enter the site. While this is a nominal amount for South Asian citizens and Indian residents (10 rupees); it is a much higher charge for foreign visitors (250 rupees/5dollars). We apologize for this, and urge you to make the most of your money by coming in a couple of hours before the event and exploring the vast grounds of the complex and the many different structures present, and soaking in the January sun.

A Walk in the Old City with Sohail Hashmi

The Delhi Urban Platform invites you to-

A Walk in the Old City with Sohail Hashmi
Starting at the Chawri Bazar Metro Station at 8 a.m, 20th November, 2010
[Everybody must reach by 7.50- 7.55.]

We can have only 15 people on this walk: do write in to kavya@sarai.net as soon as possible if you’re interested and absolutely sure you can make it, and the first fifteen will be able to go along. Others can line up for the another walk with Sohail later. Do carry some money, since we will be eating a (sumptuous) breakfast.

The walk will try to cover one part of  Shahjahanabad, variously described as Old or Purani Dilli  or Dilli 6 – the last sobriquet  derives from the pin code of the area and was used derisively to describe the city that Shahjahan built and its residents and all that the experience of visiting the area entailed.

The walk will try to bring together a view of the life of this part of the city as it has existed, the major professions that are and were in practice here; you will get to see some interesting buildings, hear some anecdotes about the place, get an idea of how the city transformed and changed with the arrival of the colonialists and how it was gradually forgotten by the residents of its younger cousin that grew all around the earlier Delhis and other scattered settlements to the north and south of  Shahjahanabad.

We will walk down Chawri up to Jama Masjid. On the way we talk about Chawri Bazaar and the businesses that were conducted here, why a road is called Nai Sarak, what the have Marathas to do with this part of the city. If possible we will go up the stairs to see the mosque of Nawab Rukn-ud-Daulah.

From Chawri we turn right go through the scrap market and enter the Jama Masjid from the South Gate.

THE SMALL PRINT
1 Every one carries their shoes in their hands or in cloth/plastic bags. Bring your own carry bags
2 Do not wear bermudas, skirts, sleevless shirts etc unless you want to wear the ungainly robes that the management at Jama Masjid will make you wear to cover your body. The robes have to be hired at  20 rupees per piece.
3 Those wanting to take photographs  of the mosque will have to pay  200 rupees per camera. They try to charge for cell phone cameras also. Keep the cell phones out of sight.

We come out of Jama Masjid through the North Gate, go through the fireworks market, Dariba Kalan and Dareeba Khurd (Kinari Bazar), visit 9 Ghara-a listed heritage site that is fairly well preserved- and go on to Gali Paratheywali (you can have breakfast here) and come out at Kunwar ji Namkeen and hit Chandni Chowk.

At Chandni Chowk we can decide which route to take, and back to the Chandni Chowk Metro Station and back to whereever you came from.

Do write in if interested!
Starting at the Chawri Bazar Metro Station at 8 a.m, 20th November, 2010
[Everybody must reach by 7.50- 7.55.]

We can have only 15 people on this walk: do write in to kavya@sarai.net as soon as possible if you’re interested and absolutely sure you can make it, and the first fifteen will be able to go along. Others can line up for the another walk with Sohail later. Do carry some money, since we will be eating a (sumptuous) breakfast.

The walk will try to cover one part of  Shahjahanabad, variously described as Old or Purani Dilli  or Dilli 6 – the last sobriquet  derives from the pin code of the area and was used derisively to describe the city that Shahjahan built and its residents and all that the experience of visiting the area entailed.

The walk will try to bring together a view of the life of this part of the city as it has existed, the major professions that are and were in practice here; you will get to see some interesting buildings, hear some anecdotes about the place, get an idea of how the city transformed and changed with the arrival of the colonialists and how it was gradually forgotten by the residents of its younger cousin that grew all around the earlier Delhis and other scattered settlements to the north and south of  Shahjahanabad.

We will walk down Chawri up to Jama Masjid. On the way we talk about Chawri Bazaar and the businesses that were conducted here, why a road is called Nai Sarak, what the have Marathas to do with this part of the city. If possible we will go up the stairs to see the mosque of Nawab Rukn-ud-Daulah.

From Chawri we turn right go through the scrap market and enter the Jama Masjid from the South Gate.

THE SMALL PRINT
1 Every one carries their shoes in their hands or in cloth/plastic bags. Bring your own carry bags
2 Do not wear bermudas, skirts, sleevless shirts etc unless you want to wear the ungainly robes that the management at Jama Masjid will make you wear to cover your body. The robes have to be hired at  20 rupees per piece.
3 Those wanting to take photographs  of the mosque will have to pay  200 rupees per camera. They try to charge for cell phone cameras also. Keep the cell phones out of sight.

We come out of Jama Masjid through the North Gate, go through the fireworks market, Dariba Kalan and Dareeba Khurd (Kinari Bazar), visit 9 Ghara-a listed heritage site that is fairly well preserved- and go on to Gali Paratheywali (you can have breakfast here) and come out at Kunwar ji Namkeen and hit Chandni Chowk.

At Chandni Chowk we can decide which route to take, and back to the Chandni Chowk Metro Station and back to whereever you came from.

Do write in if interested!

A Tale of Three Mega-Events

A Tale of Three Mega-Events
Jeffrey Wasserstorm

Jeffrey Wasserstorm also writes at www.thechinabeat.org

What can we learn, about either the People’s Republic of China or India and about what makes the two countries similar to and different from one another, by placing recent mega-events in these two young nation-states side by side?  As a China specialist who watched the Beijing Olympics from afar with great interest in 2008, spent a month in Shanghai last summer while it played host to the 2010 World Expo, and is now is nearing the end of his first stay in India, which took place in an autumn week that began right after the Commonwealth Games had ended, I’ve been ruminating on this question a lot lately.   Here are several things that strike me as worth considering, after a week in Delhi that has included participation in an academic workshop and public events devoted to themes of urban change.  In some cases, my comments bring up issues that have received a lot of attention in mainstream media coverage of the mega-events; in other instances, I push in directions that the press has not tended to go.  In all cases, I am drawing upon not just my own reflections, but also on private and public conversations I have had during my brief time in Delhi, especially discussion at a stimulating October 19 Delhi Urban Platform http://delhiurbanplatform.org/  event, which was held at the Center for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) and gave me the opportunity to share a stage with Ravi Sundaram (an urban theorist and media studies scholars who is one of the initiators of the inspiring SARAI network http://www.sarai.net/ ) and former CSDS director Ashis Nandy (the globally famous and provocative political thinker).

1. Politics and the Public Sphere.  A common theme in commentaries about mega-events, as well as other topics, is that discussions of Chinese and Indian politics should begin with drawing contrasts between China’s hyper-efficient authoritarian model and India’s unruly democratic one.  There are certainly important differences to note in this regard.  And there is no question that focusing on mega-events can draw our attention to those disparities, as well as to similarities beneath the surface of this general divide: e.g., in each setting, grand spectacles and other urban transformations are often accompanied by corrupt deals between officials and developers that disadvantage the ordinary people who get displaced to make way for new stadiums or shopping malls.  At least equally interesting, though, is the way that a focus on mega-events suggests the need to break free of the tendency to take a democracy=elections approach to politics (something particularly strong perhaps in the U.S.), and think instead of a democracy=free-flowing public debate approach.

Here, again, corruption provides a way in.  The question of who exactly will profit most from how new luxury dwellings in the Commonwealth Village are parceled out has been the subject of a lively discussion in the Indian press throughout my time in Delhi.  But though there are definitely comparable issues to debate where the Shanghai Expo is concerned, there was not a similar sort of airing of concerns in the Chinese press last summer nor can we expect one after the event ends October 31.  Similarly, satirical commentary about the Games has been taking place in the open in Delhi (including via a lively public display of politically pointed postcards and CWG-mocking buttons at SARAI http://kafila.org/2010/09/24/commonwealth-postcards/ ), whereas in China, it has been confined to Chinese-language Internet sites and the writings of foreigners (the wittiest Expo criticism in English coming via Access Asia weekly updates http://www.accessasia.co.uk/weekly%20update.asp , which among other things feature a countdown clock ticking off the time until a giant sigh of relief can be breathed about the event finally being over).

2. It’s About Time.  Speaking of countdown clocks, when it comes to time keeping, there are some interesting parallels to note between the 2008-2010 Indian and Chinese mega-event experiences.  Countdown clocks that hit zero this year were built for the Commonwealth Games and the Shanghai Expo, for example, and Delhi’s sports-themed mega-event, like Beijing’s of 2008, opened with a spectacle that invoked traditions said to stretch back thousands of years — the specific phrase “5,000 years of civilization” was trotted out by the Chinese and Indian press alike — and made use of state-of-the-art technologies of display (to convey a sense of a country with a venerable past and an ability to do things in a world class manner in the present).  And yet, there is a big temporal contrast worth noting.  In Delhi now, the aftermath of the CWG is a time for reflection, for looking back and assessing and arguing about what transpired, including asking whether the problem-plagued event that just took place demonstrated that India is indeed ready to take its place among the most modern of nations.  The fast-forward button and even play button are abandoned in favor of going into rewind and pause modes.

In China, this did not happen in 2008 with the end of the Games, nor will it when the Expo ends October 31.  As soon as the Olympics were over, attention turned to things on the horizon, whether the next spectacle Zhang Yimou would stage in his role as state choreographer (the 60th birthday of the People’s Republic scheduled for National Day 2009) or the Shanghai Expo (billed as not just China’s first World’s Fair but also an “Economic Olympics”).  And the mega-event relay signaled by the move straight from the end of the Olympics to the build-up to the Expo will not conclude later this month, for though Shanghai’s countdown clocks hit zero in May, the ones in Guangzhou ticking away the seconds until the start of that city’s first (and China’s second) Asian Games are now the focus, and reports of the Asiad torch run vie with reports of Expo attendance records in the Chinese official press.   China remains, in other words, a country where the fast forward button is favored (sometimes play is allowed, but rewind and pause are not used much).  This at least is the approach taken by the government, which discourages backward-looking reflection — except when it leads to, say, remembrance of humiliations past, as occurs when territorial tensions flare with Japan, or vague invocations of the glories of Confucian thoughts.  (In India, too, remembrance of humiliations past is an important theme, of course, and the anxiety generated by critical pre-CWG publicity that drew attention to issues such as low cleanliness standards created anxiety here in part because of their resonance with colonial era Western disparagements of Indian culture.)

Part of the forward-focused obsession in China now is that it has become a country that is intent to show that it has not just one or two but multiple cities ready to assert claims to world-class status (or at least something close to that).  After Guangzhou hosts the Asian Games, for example, a city far to the north of it is making a bid to be seen as much more than just the home of the Terra Cotta warriors.  An ad in a Shanghai subway this summer, which was placed right by a video display telling riders how many hundreds of thousands of people had visited the Expo grounds that day, read simply in Chinese: Next Stop Xi’an!  This was a reference to the fact that, in 2011, Xi’an will play host to a large international horticultural fair.  There has also been talk of Chongqing or Chengdu, a pair of dynamic cities in the western part of China holding mega-events of their own before long.  One way to understand this effort to quickly shift attention from city to city is as an effort to counteract a key weak point of China’s economic boom: namely, the uneven rate at which wealth is flowing to different regions and segments of the population.  The government is keen to show that, in the long run, all Chinese will be lifted by the economic tide, not just those in particularly fortunate occupational groups and regions.  Making the country one of dispersed mega-events speaks to that goal—though there is a problem here in that crucial parts of the populace being left behind economically are rural dwellers, and mega-events only have very indirect connections to villages.

3. The Audiences for the Spectacle.  Mega-events need to be seen as playing to local, national, and global audiences.  This has become common wisdom in the era of television broadcasts and the Internet, and an examination of India’s CWG and China’s Olympics-Expo two-step reinforce the validity of the basic notion.  It also reveals some ironies hidden within the issue of different sorts of audiences.  For example, during the lead-up to the CWG and the Expo, the people most directly affected by preparations were people living in Delhi and in Shanghai.  When the events actually took place, though, many Delhi residents who could leave town chose to do so, while many of the people who attended the Expo were not Shanghai locals. A small number of foreigners came to see it, but the vast majority of attendees were neither Shanghainese nor international visitors but Chinese from nearby and not-so-nearby cities and provinces, often but not always residents of urban areas.

A final point about audience worth making is that, with Chinese and Indian mega-events alike, a local vs. national vs. international division of audiences is not enough.  For in both cases, it seems, though too little attention has been paid to this in at least the commentaries I have read, there is a crucial subgroup within the “international” category that is a key audience for the “re-branding” goals of mega-events: people with ancestral ties to the country who now live elsewhere.  Getting “Overseas Chinese” and “Non-Resident Indians” (to employ commonly used terms for the groups I have in mind) to identify with, travel to, and invest in China and India, respectively, and to think about these countries in new ways seems a major goal of the recent spectacle in Delhi and the pageant that unfolded in Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium in 2008, after a torch run that, perhaps not coincidentally, made stops in cities such as San Francisco that are well known for having large Chinatowns.  Of course, in the era of videos circulating via the Internet, there are many ways to connect with international populations with ties to specific locales without physically bringing objects like torches into distant city.  A full account of the global circulation of the “India Shining” notion (whose obfuscations and Achilles heels Pankaj Mishra has dissected so skillfully http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/03/opinion/03mishra.html?_r=2 ) and of what I’ve called elsewhere PRC 2.0 http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/china-sees-globalizations-downside-part-ii   (an imaginary place where Confucius is treated as though he has always been venerated as a national saint rather than being decried at times as a symbol of backwardness, and where fast trains and megamalls as well as red flags and the Great Wall are given places of honor in officially produced documentaries) will need to factor in the complex question of how these visions are aimed at and rejected or accepted by international viewers with historical ties to the giant countries that stand on opposite sides of the Himalayas.

Jeffrey Wasserstrom is a Professor of History and Chair of the Department at the University of California, Irvine; the Editor of the Journal of Asian Studies, and the author, most recently of China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know http://www.amazon.com/China-21st-Century-Everyone-Needs/dp/0195394127  (2010).  His commentaries and reviews have appeared in many academic and general interest venues, ranging from New Left Review and the London Review of Books blog to Time, Newsweek, and Outlook India.  He is a co-founder of and contributing editor for “The China Beat” http://www.thechinabeat.org/ , a blog/electronic magazine that will be carrying a different version of this piece.

Dissent and Debate at a time of Rapid Change: Experiences from Indian Cities

The Delhi Urban Platform invites you to a panel discussion on:

Dissent and Debate at a time of Rapid Change: Experiences from Indian Cities

Oct 29th, 6 pm
Centre De Sciences Humaines Lawns, 2 Aurangzeb Road, New Delhi

In this panel we ask participants to consider the issues of debate and dissent in contemporary urban development particularly since economic liberalization, based on their long-standing scholarly engagement with the rapid change that Indian cities have experienced in the last two decades. The panel comes in light of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi – both a process of city building and a focus for increasing censure. It will bring together scholars from Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai to share their perspectives.

Traditionally and analytically, it has been suggested that the since economic liberalization, a dichotomous urban form has emerged, usually imagined as the eviction of poorer city residents to make way for newer forms of globalized urban development.

Given this, the panel seeks to ask:

- Whether this global template for urban upgradation/urban renewal has succeeded, and in what ways? Is the model entirely global?

- What is the role debate and dissent have played in its success and failure, and in the recent transformation of Indian cities?

- At what sites and spaces has any dissent and debate taken place, (for example within and outside of government, through politics, in the media)? To what effect?

- What are the forms and discourses that such debate and dissent are characterized by? Is there a model beyond debate and dissent that has emerged as an effective politics in the production of space?

- Finally and most significantly, how have governance strategies and policies either accommodated, co-opted or resisted efforts at debate, and in response to what kinds of urban actors?

We have with us as panelists:

1. Solomon Benjamin, Associate Professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies

2. Véronique Dupont, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Research for Development, Paris

3. Diya Mehra, Centre de Sciences Humaines, New Delhi

4. Stéphanie Tawa Lama-Rewal, Research Fellow, Centre for the Study of India and South Asia, Paris

5. Marie-Hélène Zérah, Senior Research Fellow, Centre de Sciences Humaines, New Delhi

Hoping very much to see you all at the discussion!

Delhi Urban Platform

After the Urban Event: Delhi and Shanghai, 2010

The Delhi Urban Platform invites you to:

After the Urban Event: Delhi and Shanghai, 2010

Mathura Road, Reprise, 2010/ Photo Credit: Priya Sen

Speakers
Ravi Sundaram
Jeffrey Wasserstorm
Rana Dasgupta

Location:
Seminar Room
CSDS, 29 Rajpur Road, Delhi (Metro: Civil Lines)
Date: Monday, 18th October, 2010
Time: 6pm

In a few weeks, two large urban events, the Shanghai Expo and the Commonwealth Games in Delhi will come to a close. Spectacular events such as these are occasions for local and national elites to mobilise vast resources around massive urban transformations, they also make a case for global citizenship and recognition. Examples include the Durbar of 1911, which proclaimed Delhi as the capital city of the British empire, to the recent Expo which sought to announce Shanghai’s arrival in global capitalism. Urban events concentrate energies around the production of spectacular sites, hoping to mobilise city and national pride for a brief period of time. In turn, urban events also become sites for violent displacements of the poor, surveillance of migrant populations, and accumulation of local elites through massive infrastructure expansions. Equally events may produce images of chaos, greed and urban disasters like the Delhi Games, puncturing the spectacle before its commencement. A surplus of memories linger on in the city after the event, pride, shame, anger, laughter, pain.

We will meet on 18th October to reflect on the urban event in today’s Asia, placing the Shanghai and Delhi  events in a long term comparative grid.

Speaker Bios

Jeffrey Wasserstorm is a Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine, and the author of Global Shanghai, 1850-2010 (2009). most recently, China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know (2010). He is also the editor of the Journal of Asian Studies.

Rana Dasgupta is an author and essayist. His books include the recent Solo, and Tokyo Cancelled (2005). Solo won the 2010 Commonwealth Writers Prize.

Ravi Sundaram is one of the initiators of Sarai, and a Fellow at CSDS. He recently published Pirate Modernity, Delhi’s Media Urbanism.

Photo credit: Priya Sen/’Mathura Road, Reprise, 2010′

Libraries and the City

The Delhi Urban Platform invites you

to a discussion on
Libraries and the City

6 pm, 10th September, 2010
CSDS Library, 29 Rajpur Road, Delhi-54

Imagine Paradise, like Jorge Luis Borges did, as some kind of library. And this sprawling Paradise of great big wooden shelves sky high that you have to manouevre like a silverfish trapped in bookspines. The Library Space is a realm of imagined realities, the space of lore and learning and shared knowledge, where you can roam free and be what you read. Ideas rippling with magical electricity, surprising you in explosive ways. A physical landscape and simultaneously an imagined one, of the mind but rendered with texture and organisation and meaning.

Do such spaces exist in great big cities like Delhi, where the quiet hum of a reading community can come together and access knowledge and gather to think? The library is now the bureaucratized machinery of catalogues and storage space. The lack of public libraries and libraries as public spaces proclaims an absence of a culture of an opening up of the library to the reader,the absence of a librarian who is not merely the taxonomist of dead cellulose, and the absence of books that are not only bought or owned, but savoured in circulation.

This Friday, the 10th of September, we invite librarians, publishers, readers and book lovers to to reflect on the role of libraries as a site of public gathering and learning in the city.

Join us for an conservation with:

Shuddhabrata Sengupta (Media practitioner, filmmaker, writer, and reader)

Sikander Changezi (Founder of a community library in Old Delhi)

Chiki Sarkar (Editor-in-chief of Random House India)

Avinash Jha (Librarian, CSDS)

Cordelia Jenkins (Journalist at Mint)

Anjana Chatthopadhyay (Director, Delhi Public Library)

Sheeba Cchachi ( Installation artist, photographer, activist, and writer)

[Shuddhabrata Sengupta as chair]

Discussion on Ecology of Fragments

The Delhi Urban Platform and the Goethe-Institut invite you to an open discussion-
Ecology of Fragments

6:00 P.M., 15th July 2010
Max Mueller Bhavan
3, Kasturba Gandhi Marg
Delhi- 110 001

The ecology of the city is changing rapidly in complex ways. It is impossible to capture this moment completely. In nature, as in human societies, altering any part of the ecology of an interdependent networked relationship impacts every other part in the system. In this process, many precious elements can ‘disappear,’ and become absent. They are apparent to us only as a ‘lack,’ or absence and gradually, over time. While nature evolves through a constant struggle and adaptation, with each micro niche being fragile and sustainable, there is no single predicted meta outcome, only a constant change. On the other hand, the change in our cities seems to be driven through imaginations which are fixed and pre-decided by capital and social power. Nothing else which could be termed human seems to matter anymore.

‘Absences,’ can be fragmented and dispersed, and not always visible. They are also markers of the forces behind the change. For example, has the concretisation of every green patch, lead to the disappearance of the house sparrow, or has the conservation of monuments meant that the city has no street performers any more? Will the river once cleaned, kill itself, or is the cleaner city leading more marginalized lives? Maybe it is time we think of ‘ecology’ not only in terms of ‘functionality’ (is a tree more useful than a building) and ‘aesthetics,’ (is a tree more beautiful than a building), but in terms of dominance and loss. Maybe this is what this moment is all about.

Speakers:
Ravi Agarwal: An Ecology of Fragments
Sohail Hashmi: Traditional water systems of Delhi
Anand Vivek Taneja: Monuments as living entities
Shashi Pandit: Wastepickers and new marginalisations in privatisation.
Manoj Mishra: The river as an eco-system, not merely a water channel.
(Chaired and moderated by Ravi Agarwal)

Reporting Delhi: Media Journalism and the City

The Delhi Urban Platform invites you to

Reporting Delhi: Media Journalism and the City

5:00 P.M., Saturday, 29th May 2010
Seminar Room, Sarai-CSDS

The last two decades have witnessed a fundamental transformation of the city, and previous modes of inhabiting and apprehending the urban experience in India. The contemporary city is characterized by a new visual landscape marked by the proliferation of visual signage, an increasingly dense media landscape composed of the internet, 24 hour news television, satellite TV, and a massive expansion of telecommunications. Accompanying this has also been an increasing sense of the urban as a fraught terrain. In the case of Delhi, – from bombs in marketplaces, to the everyday violence of demolition and construction, from pitched battles over resources and claims on city space, to the increasing policing and surveillance of everyday life by the state – the city seems to exist in a state of permanent crises. The media are inextricably enmeshed in this process. We witness an event almost before it occurs. From sting operations to the continual relay of images of a communal riot, the flooding of newspaper pages and TV screens of images of caught “terrorists” to the glitter of new spaces of leisure and consumption, the media actively produce the dread and exhilaration that accompany living in our cities.

This saturday we invite journalists Aanchal Bansal (city reporter for the Indian Express), Aman Sethi (who used to report on labour in Delhi for the Frontline magazine), Rahul Tripathi (crime reporter for the Times of India), Mihir Sharma, Pradip Saha (former editor Down to Earth magazine) and Manisha Sethi (teacher at Jamia and has closely followed media reporting on “terror”) to reflect on the role of journalistic practice as a site where the city is reported on, but also written into being. Join us for an open, and animated conservation with:

Mihir Sharma (The Indian Express)
Aman Sethi (The Hindu)
Aanchal Bansal (The Indian Express)
Pradeep Saha (Former Editor, Down to Earth)
Rahul Tripathi (The Times of India)
Manisha Sethi (Jamia Millia Islamia)

In Context: Public. Art. Ecology

11th March at the Khoj Studios

5.30 pm: Walk through of SEZ Who? a collaborative project by Tushar Joag, Sharmila Samant, Prajakta Potnis, Justin Ponmany and Uday Shanbag.


SEZ Who? Is the outcome of a fact finding exercise conducted at two areas adjacent to Bombay: The Gorai Uttan Belt and the Raigad District. Special Economic Zones were proposed at these locations and met with severe opposition from the local populace. The installation/ events that will unfold at The Khoj Studios is a way of cataloging the data (gathered from the numerous trips) creatively and to share the story which is actually just the tip of the iceberg. The Studio spaces will change constantly till the closing at of the project.

6.30pm: SEMINAR: (in collaboration with the Delhi Urban Platform) examining issues around urban development, the politics of land usage and sustainability

Speakers:

Praful Bidwai
Manshi Asher
Navjot Altaf & Ajay Mahajan
Arunav Dasgupta
moderated by Shuddhabrata Sengupta

8.00pm: Performance by Han Bing