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Articles in South Asia

India’s Plummeting Birthrate: A Television-Induced Transformation?

By Martin W. Lewis | May 7, 2013 | 34 Comments

(Note: As can be seen, GeoCurrents has a new, more streamlined appearance. The “GeoNotes” feature has been replaced by section that highlights “featured posts,” as we found it increasingly difficult to differentiate regular posts from “notes.” We also hope that the new format will make it easier for readers to access older posts.
To initiate the new format, today’s post is …

New Maps of India—and of the Indian Economy

By Martin W. Lewis | April 30, 2013 | 17 Comments

New political maps of India are now needed, as the state of Orissa has officially changed the English spelling of its name to “Odisha.” The new name, however, does not imply a change in pronunciation. As the Wikipedia notes, “… the name Orissa is closer to the actual Oriya pronunciation of the name, whereas Odisha is an intentionally archaising transcription.”
Although …

Remapping Poverty in India

By Martin W. Lewis | April 16, 2013 | One Comment

Data Stories (“… on India, One Chart at a Time”) recently published some intriguing maps and other visualizations of poverty and wealth in India. Its poverty map, posted here, shows households that “don’t own any of the assets listed on the census forms – that means no phone, no TV or radio, and no vehicle of any kind…,” a category …

Punjabi and the Problems of Mapping Dialect Continua

By Martin W. Lewis | March 11, 2013 | 15 Comments

The Wikipedia list of the world’s most widely spoken languages, by mother tongue, puts Punjabi in tenth place, with its roughly 100 million native speakers exceeding the figures given for German, French, Italian, Turkish, Persian and many other well-known languages. The Wikipedia article on the Punjabi language stresses its growing appeal, noting that, “The influence of Punjabi as a cultural …

Rising Bihar Asks for “Special Category” Status

By Martin W. Lewis | November 6, 2012 |

The Indian state of Bihar has long been noted for its poverty, corruption, and lack of social progress, ranking last in most Indian developmental indicators. But Bihar now has one of India’s fastest growing economies, and its levels of corruption have recently plummeted. Less pronounced gains have also been made over much of northern India. As a result, the impoverished BIMARU region (BIhar, MAdhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh) is now considered to be defunct

India to Send Tank Brigades to the China Border

By Martin W. Lewis | September 20, 2012 |

India’s military recently announced that it would deploy two tank brigades to guard the country’s border with China, one to be stationed in Ladakh (in northeastern Kashmir), and the other in the north Sikkim Plateau. As Business Standard reports, “Such formations, equipped with main battle tanks and BMP-II infantry combat vehicles, are traditionally used for striking into enemy territory.”

From Drought to Floods in South Asia

By Martin W. Lewis | September 17, 2012 |

The all-important summer monsoon of South Asia has given weather and climate forecasters, as well as news reporters, a wild ride this year. In late June, Reuters hopefully reported that India’s crucial monsoon rains were “expected to be average in 2012, … helping to allay concern over farm output triggered by sparse rainfall in the last few weeks.” Such concerns, however, only deepened, and by late July, news sources were reporting that “with drought conditions prevailing in most parts of India, Monsoon 2012 is set to be the worst in the last 65 years.”

Fighting Flares in Bodoland

By Martin W. Lewis | July 25, 2012 | One Comment

Eastern Assam in northeastern India has been engulfed in ethnic violence for the past five days, with the indigenous Bodo (pronounced BO-RO) pitted aginst Bengali-speaking Muslims. Fighting flared July 20th after four unidentified men killed four Bodo youths; in retaliation, Bodo gangs attacked local Muslims. Before long, tit-for-tat carnage resulted in some 32 deaths and the burning of approximately 60 …

Flood and Political Conflicts in Northeastern India

By Nicholas Baldo | July 3, 2012 |

Flooding in Northeastern India and its sometimes-fraught political backdrop.

Expected and Unexpected Findings in the New Pew Poll of Pakistan

By Martin W. Lewis | June 29, 2012 |

A new public opinion survey of Pakistan by the Pew Global Attitudes Project has been gathering media attention. Most reports focus on the intensification of anti-American attitudes revealed by the poll. Evidently, only 12 percent of Pakistanis now view the U.S. favorably. Of the nations assessed by Pew, only the Jordanian have a lower view of the United States. Three-quarters of the people of Pakistan see the U.S. as an enemy state, whereas only 8 percent view it as a partner. Pakistanis also express deep skepticism about American financial assistance, with only 12 percent viewing economic aid as “mostly positive.”

Robert Kaplan’s Problematic Theory of Pakistan’s Geographical Destiny

By Martin W. Lewis | June 27, 2012 | 5 Comments

In a recent Foreign Policy article, Robert Kaplan argues that Pakistan’s problems—and its destiny—are rooted in its physical landscape: “Pakistan’s present and future, for better or worse, are still best understood through its geography.” Kaplan’s article is important and insightful in many respects, and I would urge all interested parties to read it carefully. But as a geographer, I am …

Another Cartoon Controversy Strikes India

By Martin W. Lewis | | 4 Comments

Yet another political cartoon controversy has embroiled India in recent weeks. The cartoon in question dates to 1965, when opposition to the planned imposition of the Hindi language across India generated unrest over much of the country and especially the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Tamil activists feared that the imposition of Hindi would reduce non-Hindi speakers to the status of second-class citizens, and thus agitated for the continuing use of English as the country’s unifying, common language

Gujarat to Ban References to Caste in the Classroom?

By Martin W. Lewis | June 15, 2012 |

The Indian state of Gujarat has recently decided to amend its educational curriculum by removing “all the derogatory or implied references to surnames, castes, religion, profession, region.” The reforms go so far as to prohibit the use of students’ surnames—a caste “give away”—in the classroom.

Airlift of Tourists from Gilgit in Pakistan

By Martin W. Lewis | April 11, 2012 |

Until recently, remote Gilgit-Baltistan (formerly the Northern Areas) was regarded as the safest part of Pakistan, a place where foreign tourists could still travel. Peace came to an end earlier this year with violent Sunni-Shia sectarian clashes. Mounting tension led to the establishment of an “indefinite curfew” in the town of Gilgit on April 3, as well as the suspension of traffic on the Karakoram Highway that links the region to the rest of the country.

Hindus Flee Pakistan—and Other Indo-Pak Issues

By Martin W. Lewis | March 19, 2012 | One Comment

Indian newspapers have recently been reporting that the large numbers of Hindus are fleeing Pakistan and seeking refuge in India. Such reports focus on southern Pakistan, especially Balochistan and Sindh, where most Pakistani Hindus reside.

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