I am what I am; I will be what I will be.

Friday, November 10, 2017

‘South Asia’ as an Idea and a Problem of Modernity

(Plenary lecture delivered at the conference, ‘Modern Matters: Negotiating the Future in Everyday Life in South Asia,’ Lund University, Thursday 22 September, 2016)
Good morning.

When I was asked in early August to speak at this conference on the broad theme, ‘Modern Matters: Negotiating the Future in Everyday Life in South Asia,’ I was reading an interview with Terry Eagleton by Alejandra Ríos which had as its point of departure the following question: 'What’s Next After Postmodernism?' In a sense, Eagleton was already thinking of postmodernism within an idiom of the past. I wondered why we were about to begin a conversation on modernity in South Asia this late. I wondered if we have not debated modernity quite extensively, particularly visible in social sciences in India.

Having looked through the topics of papers initially submitted and after listening to the discussions over the last two days, I can see that much could still be said about modernity in our part of the world, without concerning ourselves too much with issues such as post modernity. Self-consciously however, I will not get into this today. 

You have already debated in some detail how modernity manifests in the place you have collectively called ‘South Asia.’ My engagement with the question of modernity would in the form of an anxious-ridden and curious wanderer meandering through the intellectual and cultural terrains in that region. So let me begin with some questions for revisiting modernity along with the idea of South Asia. I choose to specifically dwell upon the idea of South Asia for various intellectual imperatives. 

For one, the question of modernity has been seemingly discussed in the confines of sovereign territories of nation states as if it recognizes national borders. In the context of the after-life of the deliberations at this conference, it is perhaps heuristically important to locate modernity in a kind of regional framework by stressing upon it’s relation with the idea of South Asia. 

Secondly, continuing with the first one, is the realization that deliberations on modernity, it’s characteristics in historical and sociological purview, seem to be a dominant muse on theoretical turfs alone. This is the time that we look much beyond this, toward instances of more organic connections among local contexts within the region of South Asia, in order to propose ways forward in theoretical deliberations on modernity. All this is for the future.

Today, I am not too keen to speak about modernity as such, or it’s various appearances in the region. My interest at the close of your discussions is to outline a few issues of one specific construct of modernity in our region. And that is South Asia itself. 

South Asia is often seen as a concrete reality, imagined primarily in geo-physical or cartographic terms. This is more clearly visible in contemporary political science and international relations scholarship, even though other disciplines such as sociology don’t do much better. I think this is mostly due to our inability to transgress what might be called ‘nationalized’ domains of knowledge production, which hinders the possibility of comprehending the region across both disciplinary and national borders. 

In this general context, I will briefly look at the region as an incomplete idea and a problem of modernity, which still needs to be explored and worked out. For me, South Asia is not a given. At best, it is a work in progress, and thus a challenge to those notions of modernity that allude to the rigidity and finitude of the constructs. In saying so, I am reminded of the Zygmunt Bauman’s detailed discussion on the ambivalence of modernity, ambivalence between familiar, indubitable, and classified, and everything that seems queer in the framework of modernity. One need not subscribe to the scheme of post-modernity to reckon with the ambivalent character of modernity, particularly in the context of South Asia.

I will revisit recent debates on what South Asia means both as a product of modernity and as a specific kind of lived reality, a process in perpetuity. Later, as another incomplete effort, I will also briefly place in context how academic rituals of knowledge production look at South Asia and pose the question if it might be possible to re-imagine the region through more nuanced forms of cultural and intellectual knowledge production.
My immediate interest comes from two specific locations:

1) First is my institutional location at South Asian University established by South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation where I often hear official platitudes of regional cooperation, South Asian consciousness and so on, without much to see on the ground. So I am often caught between South Asia of official imagination and rhetoric, South Asia as it exists on the ground, and South Asia as it could exist according to the fantasies entertained by some of us -- not only as a place, but also as a framework for research. 
2) Second location is my presence here today along with all of you in this place discussing how modern matters in South Asia.

In both cases, though we seem to take South Asia for granted and as a given, I am not sure if things are that simple. Let me share with you some of my anxieties. My concern is, when all of us take South Asia for granted, as does SAARC, do we get a fuller and a nuanced perception of the region? Or in other words, does South Asia as a modern finished entity communicate the its latent as well as manifest unfinished nature? Is our knowledge of the Maldives for instance, comparable to that of India? Or, to take a less extreme example, do we know at least as much of Maldives as we do of Sri Lanka?
Or, does our perception, understanding and knowledge of the region remain merely at the level of rhetoric, in the safe and comfortable framework of modernity where things are classified and differences are erased beyond redemption? Does this even matter in the real world? Let me outline some of the key issues of South Asia as a product of modernity, and explore if academic and cultural practices have a better chance of imagining South Asia differently or more fully?

Imtiaz Ahmed’s simple suggestion that “the idea of South Asia is both new and old” (Ahmed 2012: 1) makes perfect epistemological sense as it places in context historical and contemporary enigmas associated with the region and the concept. 

What he means by this is that the terminology of ‘South Asia’ is new. Compared to this however, if the term also includes to “the people and the things that make up the region,” then it is a fairly old idea, based on “civilizational and historical” imperatives (Ahmed 2012: 1). In the same context, as suggested by Nandy, “the idea of South Asia is partly artificial” as are “its nation states” while it is also “partly an imposed one” (Nandy 2005: 241). Both Ahmed and Nandi seem to be in unison in suggesting that South Asia has more layers within its structure of meaning than the dominant value-system and cognitive apparatus of modernity could allow to perceive. 

The coinage, ‘South Asia’, is often attributed to the US State Department and was the result of post-World War Two and Cold War era political compulsions primarily as understood by the US. Like many other contemporary ideas and categories in the region which came to us via the discursive practices of modernity, it is an importation that has been politically adopted by the eight nation states which currently constitute the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation without significantly exploring its nuances. 

At the level of SAARC and in the official perception of the nation states that constitutes SAARC, South Asia merely remains a political and cartographic category. At the level of quotidian practice, it is a flippantly used concept. And that too, in the midst of significant land and maritime border issues involving India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as well as an uneven play of politics. The terminology itself was used more often exterior to the region until 1985, when SAARC was established. The division of the world into convenient areas of study which includes South Asia occurred soon after the end of the Second World War and the clear emergence of the United States as a superpower. 

In this context, it became imperative that the world was more clearly dissected, studied and situated which went beyond the older areas of study made necessary as a result of colonial expansion. More specifically, this required the production of knowledge about areas of the world about which American policy makers knew very little (Guneratne and Weiss 2014: 4). 

This was not a simple intellectual curiosity. More importantly, it was a political imperative that also fed into schemes of global security, intelligence and politics of carving out spheres of influence in the emerging Cold War. It is in this context that the interest in the idea and category of ‘South Asia’ for the United States Department of State makes political sense. In this larger intersections of meanings, politics and sensibilities, the study of specific world areas including South Asia expanded rapidly in the US university systems with the establishment of centres of expertise with funding from the National Defense Education Act of 1958 (Guneratne and Weiss 2014: 4). 

This also shows the security prerogative in understanding these kinds of global areas as specific political ‘curiosities’ rather than cultural areas or interconnected social systems through which ideas, objects and people flowed over a considerably long historical period, much before the advent of European colonialism and the nation states which currently inhabit the region. 

In this sense, South Asia as a specific category and label was invented in North America; fine tuned in Western Europe and was finally imported to the region. And by and large, those of us in the region are mere inheritors and followers in this scheme of things rather than creative re-inventors.

One of the basic problems with ‘South Asia’ invented in this manner and as it exists at the rhetorical-epistemological plain today is its seeming leveling of culture, politics and social variations across the region, making invisible its complexities and inherent anxieties. Is this an inevitable consequence, qua necessary evil, in the scheme of modernity? At this conjuncture, let me make two basic propositions, underlining the possibility of rethinking South Asia beyond the strict pale of modernity: 

1) These issues in the recent construction and meaning in the category of South Asia does not mean that an imagination of the region did not exist in different ways in the pre-colonial past or does not exist today at the level of different kinds of practices undertaken by people. But much of this exists beyond the flippant deployment of the idea of South Asia.

2) In this general context, it is also clear that the realization of SAARC as a truly responsive and relatively internally egalitarian regional organization has not borne fruit in any significant fashion mostly due to the hegemony of statecraft of nation states within SAARC generally practiced with an obsessive focus on the nation.

Let me now focus on South Asia as an area, an idea and a problem.

In their new book, Pathways to Power: The Domestic Politics of South Asia, Arjun Guneratne and Anita M. Weiss, note that as an area for study, compared to many world regions such as Southeast Asia carved out for study, which lack a sense of ‘organic unity, the logic of selecting South Asia as a group of states that should be collectively explored is easier to fathom (Guneratne and Weiss 2014: 4). As they point out, most of these countries share “cultural affinities deriving from a common past as well as the legacy of the British Indian empire” which established within the nation states that emerged after official decolonization “similar frameworks of constitutional governance, public administration, military organization, systems of law not least, a common elite language of English” (Guneratne and Weiss 2014: 4-5). However, cultural affinities from a somewhat connected past is mostly underrepresented in the rhetoric of regional and national politics today. 

Imtiaz Ahmed, one of the most consistent dreamers of South Asia, in a trying moment of frustration defined the region as ‘chaotic’ and ‘stagnated,’ which all of us who live or work there also experience quite often (Ahmed 2002). From that moment of frustration, Ahmed goes on to pose the following question, partly inspired by some of T.S. Elliot’s ideas which further self-reflexively crystallize the collective frustrations of proponents of South Asia, including myself:
“have we not succeeded in our own fashion and fancy a ‘hollow South Asia’, a ‘hollow SAARC’ and indeed even a ‘hollow South Asian’ having only shape without form, shade without colour, [a] paralysed force, gesture without motion?” (Ahmed 2002).
Despite incessant meetings, cultural events and conferences, where South Asia seems to be clear, why is it so difficult for some of us to imagine and even more difficult to achieve? Providing a partial answer to this question, Asish Nandy has described South Asia as the only region in the world where most states prefer to define themselves, “not by what they are, but by what they are not” (Nandy 2005: 541). According to him, “Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal try desperately not to be India” while Bangladesh “has taken up the more onerous responsibility of avoiding begin both India and Pakistan” (Nandy 2005: 541). 

Despite Nandy’s exaggeration of regional politics, it seems to me that at some level, he is referring to these countries’ established practice of being the antagonistic ‘other’ of each, based on the manner in which contemporary political compulsions of nation states unfold locally, rather than with reference to some of the shared cultural practices that no longer take the centre stage in regional or national-local politics. More insidiously, these practices and histories are no longer within recallable collective memory for most people as well. 

Ahmed has noted that “regionalism in South Asia is as much an effort as it is an idea” (Ahmed 2012: 1). Very clearly, that effort is still by and large an abstract notion that needs to evolve beyond mere abstraction, and travel to the streets and the consciousness of the region’s people. On the other hand, as argued by Nandy, the concept of South Asia at certain levels can be seen as an “acultural, emotionally empty, territorial concept” (Nandy 2005: 542). 

In a sense, both Ahmed’s and Nandy’s ideas are very similar. Both are talking about an idea that needs realization in contemporary times. However, while Ahmed offers some hope, Nandy offers none or very little. His antipathy towards the concept comes from his disagreement with the terminology of South Asia which he considers to be a-historical. Even though he accepts that it is a ‘compromise’ and a ‘neutral term,’ he is unhappy with this ‘improvisation,’which he only deploys “in deference to my friends and colleagues from the rest of the region” (Nandy 2005: 542). 

This disagreement needs some reflection as it has much to do with comprehending the kind of regionalism that could emerge or might not in South Asia by focusing on how history is read in the present. Nandy suggests that the term South Asia acquired public status in the region in the 1980s “because the medieval name of the region, Hindustan or Al Hind, and its ancient name, Bharatvarsha or its lesser known variation, Jambudvip--- had become ideologically tainted” due to the association of these terms with the nation state of India (Nandy 2005: 542). 

It is correct that terms such as Hindustan, Al Hind, Bharatvarsha and Jambudvip often referred to an extended area in the medieval and ancient past much beyond the borders of present day India, the nation state. This area included much of contemporary sub-continental South Asia in geographic and civilizational terms. But unlike what is expected today as a pronounced regionalism by proponents of the idea of South Asia, these earlier notions were vague, liminal and too flexible at best though they consisted of lived-realities encountered in travels, circulation of ideas, myths and so on. In other words, these ancient experiences were proximate at some levels, and distant at others.

On the other hand, one has to wonder whether present day nation states such as Sri Lanka and the Maldives, separated by the ocean from the mainland, were part of the extended reality and imagination represented by Hindustan, Al Hind, Bharatvarsha and Jambudvip compared to sub-continental mainland. More broadly, I have in mind the areas which include southern states of India in addition to Maldives and Sri Lanka. It is this culture area which a Maldivian diplomat once referred to as Southern South Asia.

Sri Lanka for instance, shared many cultural and religious practices, kinship systems, languages, language scripts, monarchic practices and very proximate and sometimes extremely hostile relations with kingdoms in the mainland as local inscriptions as well as historical chronicles such as Deepwamsa (compiled in the 04th Century) and Mahawamasa (compiled in the 05th Century) written in Pali attest. The lesser known of the older terms for the region, Jambudvip was well-known in Sri Lanka by its Sinhala term Dambadiva, which remains in use even today in much the same way it was understood in the ancient Pali chronicles of the country. 

This relationship is also evident from details embedded in the Sinhala dance routine known as ‘Wadiga Patuna.’ This is part of the healing ritual, ‘sooniyam’, depicting through comic sequences, the entry of Brahmans to Lanka from ‘India’ (or to use the older forms, from Hindustan, Al Hind or Jambudvip). According to myths associated with the dance and the ritual, the Brahmans came to Sri Lanka from ‘India’ to heal the sickness the local king was suffering from. There was no local expertise to address this condition. As the Brahmans enter Lanka, the language initially used by them is mixture of Sanskrit, Tamil and Sinhala which clearly marks out their difference, unfamiliarity with local conditions and above all, their ‘foreignness.’ 

Their foreignness and distance from the local cultural terrain is further emphasized by their costumes and long beards, which portray aspects of Sinhalas’ imagination of Brahmans. Significantly, the Brahmans were not recognized or understood by the local ritual experts, and by extension the people as well. But towards the end of the ritual, mutual understanding becomes possible as the language transforms into ‘Sinhala’ while Sanskrit and Tamil elements disappear. On one hand, it is possible to argue this is a representation of the assimilation or Sinhalization of migratory Brahman communities. On the other hand, it is also indicative of the distance and relative unfamiliarity of specificities of the culture world beyond the island’s oceanic boundaries beyond certain layers of familiarity. And it took considerable effort and time to acquire familiarity of this culture world beyond the ocean, if and when necessary. 

In terms of this understating, Jambudvip was both familiar at some levels and very unfamiliar at other levels. It was emotionally proximate in some respects but physically and politically distant in other ways. It was familiar as a place associated with the life of the Buddha and other cultural practices as well as a source for specific materials and expertise such as ritual specialization as evident in many ritual texts and Sinhala myths. But it was also a place in the distance, which one had to cross the ‘seven seas’ (sat samuduru) to reach. Besides, it was a source of invasion and catastrophe, a source from where political instability and historical ruptures reached across the ocean. 

In this specific context, there are no historical references in Sri Lanka that allows for an argument for a consciousness of the region in its pre-colonial and ancient manifestations as a specific cultural and emotional zone. It also does not appear that the ancient terminology at least in the Lankan context provided a sensibility for an overarching regional identity despite very obvious instances of cultural and mythical familiarity one can cull out from literary and ritual sources. 

Given this historical reality, it is not possible to make a claim for Hindustan, Al Hind, Bharatvarsha as a possible gloss for South Asia in contemporary Sri Lankan political contexts though Jambudvip might touch a more sympathetic chord due to its Buddhisisation in the Sri Lankan context within practices of pilgrimage. But then, that would only refer to a Buddhist world closely and emotionally linked to the life of the Buddha. 

In the discussions of the historical context, an issue that is generally not addressed in these discourses is the fact that such terminology was given by the literate and often brahmanical segments of society in literary sources. Was the textual significance these terms created similarly evident in non-textual references and practices? For instance, when Hindu pilgrims travelled to their sacred places as did Buddhists, they navigated across a ‘sacred geography’ within which everything happened to be ‘part of a living, storied, and intricately connected landscape’ (Eck 2012: 2). In their travels, they dealt with what Diana Eck has called a ‘polycentric’ landscape where each site had its own significance (Eck 2012). The wanderings of these pilgrims painted on the ground a very different and nuanced cartography as well as an experience of an extended place. But was it understood in these routine practices as Hindustan, Bharatvarsha and so on? Or were they perceived merely in experiential terms? 

More importantly however, the older broader civilisational aspects of terminologies such as Hindustan – irrespective of their limitations in contemporary use -- have been appropriated by the Indian nation state for its own limited purposes which has brought these terms into “constant tension with the Indian nation-state” (Nandy 2005: 543). And today, these terms have also been appropriated by non-state entities within India for their own parochial political use. 

This also means a further distancing of such terminology across the region’s emotional makeup. In this specific historical and political conjuncture, South Asia remains the only neutral political terminology throughout the region despite Nandy’s characterization of it as an “acultural, emotionally empty, territorial concept” (Nandy 2005: 542). 

It seems to me this seeming emotional emptiness and lack of a sense of history in the concept needs to be addressed by precisely infusing into it what is missing. But such a consciousness cannot come from SAARC. It also can hardly be expected from agents of South Asia’s disparate state bureaucracies. 

Besides, in terms of global politics as well as the way in which regional politics routinely play out within the region in SAARC as well as beyond it, the centrality of India overshadows much of the remainder of the region. This is not a simple matter of recognizing India’s economic or political power. That would be obvious. But that centrality needs to be tempered with a nuanced sensibility towards the region in terms of culture, politics as well as knowledge if the region is to be imagined differently than it is today. The question is whether this is possible?

In this sense, it is clear that despite thirty years of SAARC and the numerous efforts of sensible proponents of the idea of South Asia, the consciousness of South Asia, which necessarily has to come from the wider recognition of its regionalism by the region’s people, is yet to be collectively defined and embraced by the wider regional polity (Nandy 2005: 542).

I think what I have said so far should make it very clear why I prefer to see ‘South Asia’ as an incomplete idea or as a problem we have inherited from the way modernity has manifested in our region and from the ways in which the nation states in the region have interacted with each other, rather than as a concrete and coherent reality. But I am not sure if this incomplete picture of the region with its inherent contradictions and uneven play of politics and the difficulties these situations throw out are taken into account, whenever South Asia is invoked in both political and academic rituals of our time.

From this obvious position, let me pose one rhetorical question: Since South Asia’s nation states as well as its main regional forum, SAARC cannot work out a sensible regional sensibility that would allow us to comprehend the region more fully, who could? Before my sense of romance and idealism on these matters began to falter, I used to believe that this is something academia might be able to do by devising regional frameworks for research and knowledge, which might allow us to trespass across both disciplinary and national borders. 

But now, it appears more clearly that nationalized systems of knowledge production as well global real politics have not allowed us to do so. I want to briefly explore this by looking at the structure of two academic platforms as a simple illustration: that is, this conference itself, and the excellent series of publications known as ‘South Asia Across Disciplines.’ For me, the question is this: are these forums able to perceive South Asia in a more nuanced and comprehensive fashion than do SAARC or state entities?

Let’s look at the conference first. South Asia Swedish Network has been hosting important academic events for a considerable period of time. The present conference is one such event. How does South Asia manifest in the conference in a concrete sense? I counted 57 entries in a cursory exploration of the initial submissions. Of these, 46 focussed on India, two on Nepal, one on Bangladesh; one on Afghanistan; one focused on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border zone, one on Sweden and India, four suggested their interest was on South Asia though I was not sure of the actual focus, and I simply could not fathom the focus of one more paper on the basis of the title. The actual numbers are not important here. What is important is the pattern of research and the cartography of South Asia these presentations formulate in terms of knowledge they produce. Clearly, there is an overwhelming emphasis on exploring the present as well as the past of India. 

One could see a similar uneven focus in ‘South Asia across Disciplines’ as well. Without a doubt, it is a significant initiative. And it is even more significant now because, thanks to collaboration between the three original US-based publishers and Primus Books in Delhi, those of us in the region can also aspire to buy these texts and read them at leisure. 

The stated aim of the series is to publish “work that aims to raise innovative questions in the field,” which “include the relationship between South Asian studies and the disciplines; the conversation between past and present in South Asia; the history and nature of modernity, especially in relation to cultural change, political transformation, secularism and religion, and globalization.” From what I have read, the hopes of innovative approaches and the opening up of new archives seem to have been achieved. And intellectually, this makes perfect sense. But ideologically for someone like me, still harbouring hopes for a fuller understanding of South Asia, the knowledge the series has so far generated on South Asia in so far as sources and focus are concerned, is uneven. 

For instance, from about 32 published and forthcoming books, 20 focus on India, one on Nepal and India, one on West Asia and India, one on Bangladesh, one on Pakistan, one on Nepal, one on Sri Lanka, one on South east Asia, one on the Tibetan and the Himalayan region, while four have South Asia as their focus on the titles. Again, I guess the pattern is self evident. 

I am not arguing for an area-studies approach in regional scholarship of the kind we have seen not so long ago. But is it simply impossible to decentre India as the predominant focus of contemporary and historical research, and find thematics that may allow for research across both disciplinary and national borders? Is it impossible to encourage younger scholars to focus on thematics and research areas in lesser known locations in the region, which might also make sense elsewhere? Is it impossible for scholars to attempt what policy makers and politicians have so manifestly failed?

But this is more an ideological necessity rather than an intellectual one. After all, intellectually, we can produce knowledge in the manner we have been so far, and they might continue to be sound scholarship. And it would be sound scholarship in a familiar comfort zone. It is only ideologically one might have an anxiety with the kind of restrictions on comprehending the region existing systems of knowledge production imposes. 

These are not rhetorical sentiments as far as I am concerned. In different ways, some of us at South Asian University have faced the same issues when we launched our journal with Sage, Society and Culture in South Asia as well as our monograph series, Conversations for/on South Asia and the ongoing lectures in the twin series, ‘Contributions to Contemporary Knowledge’ and ‘Exploring South Asia.’ Despite our institutional location at South Asian University where we frequently hear mantra-like utterances such as ‘South Asian consciousness’ and ‘South Asian sentiment’ often devoid of any tangible meaning, it was difficult to generate through our own efforts the kind of fuller and more nuanced cartography of the region, which our ideological interests demanded. 

There was considerable scholarship emanating from India and on India. But the same was not true of the other countries’ pasts and presents. It was also difficult to see works which self-consciously criss-crossed borders of different kinds. So in a way, the kinds of limitations in our understanding of the region which I flagged with regard to the composition of this conference and the structure of South Asia across Disciplines also haunt us.

This comes from multiple sources: the sheer volume of people trained within India perhaps cannot be surpassed by any other country. But such people, given the limitations of perspective they have inherited from higher education, prefer to explore India. This is what I have referred to as ‘nationalized’ domains of knowledge production. It is simply too bad not too many of them would like to focus their intellectual curiosity on some other location beyond the nation’s borers? In different ways, the same end result applies to other countries too. On the other hand, globally speaking, it makes far more sense to focus on India in terms of career prospects, funding possibilities and so on. So the possibilities of knowing India is immense and it will continue to grow.

Let me come back to my institutional and personal locations. We recognize the existing status quo for what it is. But for the moment at least, we have refused to accept this state of affairs and succumb to the more common and hegemonic assumption of South Asia. Amidst our mounting frustrations, how far we can go along this path of discovery remains uncertain. But our assumption so far is this: if we call something South Asian, our work and efforts must reflect that reality as broadly as possible.

In making these assumptions, I think it is reasonable to assume that scholars, their forums of discourse, their analytical frameworks and collaborative projects -- if carefully thought out -- have certain subversive possibilities of transcending the routine limitations put in place by nation states in South Asia as well as the agendas of South Asia studies programs in the region and beyond. But one must have the will to do so. It is in such a context that Nandy has noted, “the more the scholars, artists and writers talk of the common heritage of the region, the more the functionaries in the region nervously eye their neighbours as enemies planning to wipe out their distinctive identities” (Nandy 2005: 542). 

Perhaps, this is the limitation of an understanding of South Asia conditioned by modern cartographic strategies, which my discussion in the early part has highlighted. Some effort to broaden the discursive framework by factoring in the components not-much-conducive for rigid schemata of modernity could bring about the possibility of starting a discussion on a different sense of modern South Asia. That is when modern South Asia would cease to be a finished product, a conglomeration of nation states. It would be a process in perpetuity, something messy and non-clinical, challenging and hopefully summoning our intellectual interests from across the region. 

For me, what is important is this sense of embedded subversiveness in the acts of people like all of us. But I am not sure if many of us have invested as much time in these possibilities as we could and should. That is because we are satisfied merely with intellectual output as opposed to intellectual output tempered by a passion, an imagination and a sincere ideological commitment to South Asia.

Thank you for your time.

(Much of the lecture is base don my previous writings, both published and unpublished)

Please click here for the video of the address

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