On Tuesday, the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies hosted Rahul Gandhi in conversation with Prof. Kaushik Basu, economics — exploring how governments can preserve democracy in the face of the pandemic, power vacuums and increasing partisanship. Gandhi is a prominent member of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of India’s parliament, and previously served as president of the Indian National Congress party. He is the great-grandson of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, a position which his grandmother and father have also held.
The discussion was open to the Cornell community and was also livestreamed on Facebook. The virtual format has allowed the Cornell South Asia Program to broadcast its programming to a wider audience and for the event to be covered by multiple Indian media outlets.
“It’s not only people in Ithaca,” said Prof. Daniel Bass, anthropology, who serves as manager of the South Asia Program. “We’ve also had people attending our events from all across South Asia as well as Europe and Australia.”
The event was organized by the Einaudi Center’s South Asia Program and came about thanks to Basu.
In the inaugural lecture at the newly founded Cornell India Law Center, former U.S. ambassador to India Richard Verma spoke about India’s increasing relevance in international affairs, the evolution of U.S.-India ties and the importance of learning from the history between the two nations. The lecture, which took place on Thursday, was the first in a series hosted by the Cornell India Law Center in the law school, which seeks to provide Cornell law students with the opportunity to study Indian law as well as obtain a more in-depth understanding and connection with India through a variety of programs, including speaker series, summer internships in New Delhi and a dual-degree program with Jindal Global Law School in Sonipat, India. According to Verma, by 2030 “India will lead the world in almost every category.” But while India’s strategic location and its position as a democracy “in a tough part of the world” make it an important ally, the country still faces many “risk factors” such as significant climate risks, governance issues across the country, and for many of its citizens, a lack of access to clean water and electricity. “When you go to India, you can feel the excitement, you can feel the energy. People know that this is an exciting time.” Verma said.
Getting to India is the struggle. With each year that passes, my parents renew their interest in travelling back to the country they spent the first half of their lives in. They have nostalgia for practically everything they used to do; my mom missed sampling the seemingly endless supply of street food along MG road in Bangalore, and my dad missed playing cricket at his agricultural college he attended in Coimbatore, amongst a million other memories they formed during a time fondly recalled as ‘the days before the kids were born.’
India pleaded with my parents to make arrangements for a return every year, and without fail, the travel agent listing the hefty costs of such an endeavor as well as the complaints of how incredibly busy my sister and I were with middle and high school responsibilities answered. Excitement was always tempered, but never lost. A trip to the decent Indian buffet alleviated any case of home-homesickness, followed with what has now become a staple in my house: a viewing of a Bollywood film.
Currently on view at the Johnson Museum, Daniel Nadler’s ’54 photographs of Theyyam Rituals of Kerala offer an extraordinary view into the local religious traditions of the south Indian state of Kerala. These performances, in which a male performer is used a vehicle for the spirit of a god, were captured by chance by Nadler while he and his wife travelled through India in 2004.
“It’s not like any other conference you’ve been to,” promised Prof. Lisa Patti, film, speaking of the film conference held at Cornell this past Friday and Saturday. Indeed, the unique structure of the conference was readily apparent after merely a brief glance at the program of events — unlike other conferences that focus on a keynote speech and subsequent panel discussions, this conference had no keynote speech and was structured around a series of film viewings and group discussions which — though led by a discussion chair and series of panelists — included heavy audience participation.
Asmita Basu, a guest speaker from New Delhi, addressed a crowd of mostly graduate students at Myron Taylor Hall about the obstacles and successes in implementing India’s Domestic Violence Act at a midday lecture yesterday.
Basu is a fundamental contributor in the enactment of the Domestic Violence Act in 2005 as a project coordinator of the Lawyers Collective Women’s Rights Initiative, a top legal, non-government organization dedicated to empowering women through law. She spoke in a filled lecture room of around 50 people about her experience in India drafting the law, lobbying members of Parliament to form consensus over the content of the domestic violence law, and monitoring its implementation.