Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Matters of the past mattering today

The past can be very important for those living in the present. My research experiences as an archaeologist have made this very apparent to me. Echoes from the distant past can reverberate and affect the lives of contemporary communities, and interpretations of the past can have important ramifications.

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Who are the middle class in India?

The idea of the middle class is also invoked, positively, to describe the emerging Indian, who, through education and hard work, is trying to move upwards, with his/her own resources, and in turn, is transforming the country into a modern and developed nation.

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The forgotten history of piracy in the Indian Ocean

Strangely enough, in this contest between sovereignty and piracy, law played a minor role. European sovereigns periodically made ritual invocations of the natural law that held pirates as enemies of all mankind, but in reality, the seas remained an unbounded realm. Thus, in the context of India’s western seaboard, piracy happened more in the littoral than on the high seas.

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The “Silk Road Spirit” in a time of globalization

In September 2013, during a visit to Central and Southeast Asia, Chinese President Xi Jinping first proposed the initiative of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. Consequently, the Collaborative Innovation Centre of Silk Road Economic Belt Studies has been established in Xi’an, China, which was the eastern starting point of the ancient road.

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Globalization in India

For many others, globalization has dangerous repercussions in terms of entry of foreign direct investment, and foreign corporations into national markets, thus eroding and eradicating indigenous business—for example, think of the street protest among small traders of Delhi against the entry of retail giant WalMart in India. My frustration with globalization is that the narratives I discovered were too fragmented.

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State responses to cross-border displacement in South Asia

European countries are now experiencing an unprecedented influx of refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Libya. Europeans are trying to find out the causes of population displacement and measures to deal with the crises. Much can be learnt from the South Asian experience in dealing with the refugees. Over the last six decades cross-border displacement in this region has involved a dazzling array of different groups.

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Family of Innovators: The Rays’ quest for modernity

Virtually everybody has heard of the filmmaker, writer, graphic artist, and composer Satyajit Ray (1921-1992) but except for Bengalis, few know much about the exploits of his formidable ancestors and their kinsfolk. And yet, over years of versatile creative engagements, Upendrakishore Ray (1863-1915), his father-in-law Dwarakanath Ganguli (1844-1898), his brother-in-law Hemendramohan Bose (1864-1916), his son Sukumar (1887-1923), and daughter-in-law Suprabha (the parents of Satyajit) charted new paths in literature, art, religious reform, nationalism, business, advertising, and printing technology.

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Addressing Japanese atrocities

After decades of tension over Japan’s failure to address atrocities that it perpetrated before and during World War II, the island nation’s relations with its regional neighbors, China and South Korea, are improving. Six weeks ago, for the first time in years, representatives of Japan’s Upper House resumed exchanges with Chinese parliamentarians.

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Why Rajapakse smells an opportunity

‘Yahapalana’ is a term that has been much in use in Sri Lanka’s political discourse ever since the present government came to power early last year. ‘Yahapalana’ is a Sinhala word, and means ‘good governance’. The Sirisena government was voted into office in the January 2015 election on a promise of ‘good governance’.

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Five years after: The legacy of the Japanese anti-nuclear movement

This month marks the fifth anniversary of 3.11–the moniker for the earthquake, tsunami, and Fukushima nuclear disaster that struck northeastern Japan on 11 March 2011, killing nearly 20,000 and displacing as many as 170,000 people. In addition to mourning for lost souls, the anniversary was marked by loud anti-nuclear protests all over Japan.

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Shakespeare and Asia

When a weary Egeon laments in the first scene of The Comedy of Errors that in quest of his lost son he has spent five years “Roaming clean through the bounds of Asia,” Shakespeare is characteristically using the word only in its classical sense, to indicate the Roman province of Asia Minor, a territory roughly equivalent to that of modern Turkey. Shakespeare’s sense of the geography of the rather larger area we now call Asia, like that of many fellow-Elizabethans, is more vague.

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The Guru’s warrior scripture

The scripture known as the Dasam Granth Sahib or the ‘Scripture of the Tenth King,’ has traditionally been attributed to Guru Gobind Singh. It was composed in a volatile period to inspire the Sikh warriors in the battle against the Moghuls, and many of the compositions were written for the rituals related to the preparation for war (Shastra puja) and for the battlefield.

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Welcome to Sital Niwas, Madame President

Nepal has had an extraordinarily eventful 2015. It has been rocked by catastrophic earthquakes and burdened by a blockade from India, but it has also (finally) passed a new constitution and elected its first female head of state, Bidya Devi Bhandari, who took office in October.

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