Tag Archives: South Asian Studies

South Asia Open Archives (SAOA) Launched

SAOA logoThe South Asia Open Archives (SAOA) was launched on Friday, October 18th, in conjunction with the Annual Conference on South Asia in Madison, Wisconsin. A collaborative initiative of (currently 22) US libraries and (currently 4) partners from South Asia, SAOA is administratively hosted by the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) and available globally open access (to the extent copyright permits) in partnership with JSTOR/Ithaka. At launch, SAOA includes 6,759 items with 350,000 pages of research materials in 13 languages, in four curated collections of caste & social structure, literature, social & economic history, and women & gender. Here is a brief overview of the four collections.

Viplava serialCaste & Social Structure

Monographs, serials and pamphlets relating to caste and social structure are included. To the extent that copyright permits, they are open access. (Certain serials published in the 1930s to 1940s, such as Bāgī (Lucknow, India),  Viplava, and Viplavī ṭrekṭa (Lucknow, India) may not be fully open access). Books in this collection include Caste in India, Caste Everywhere: How to Keep or Lose an Empire by Peter the Pearker (1850); An Essay on Hindu Caste by Rev. H. Bower (1851); Evolution of Caste by R. Rama Sastri (1916); Hindoo Castes by Etienne Alexander Rodrigues (1838); On the Beneficial Effects of Caste Institutions by R. H. Elliot (1869); Treatment of Indians by the Boers, and Treatment of the Low Castes in India by Their Own Countrymen; A Speech, by G.K. Gokale; and other materials.

Appar bookLiterature

Creative works (fiction, poetry, drama), literary criticism, and reference works related to literature are included in this collection. Sample items include A compendious grammar of the current corrupt dialect of the jargon of Hindostan, (commonly called Moors) (1809); Appar : a sketch of his life and teachings (1918); Kāvyakirīṭa by Yaśavanta (Marathi); Hindustānanā devo nema itihāsa, sāhitya, ane pūjānuṃ saṅkshipta varṇana by E. Osborn Martin (1917, on Gods of India); One hundred best views of Ceylon from photographs taken by the publishers (1900); Pal̲amol̲ikaḷ/Selected Tamil proverbs for the C.M.S. examinations (1905); Siege of Chitur/चितूरगडचा वेढा by Nāgeśa Vināyaka Bāpaṭa (1899); Vicarious punishment by Bombay Track & Book Society (Urdu, 1863); स्त्रीधर्मनीति/Strīdharmanīti by Ramabai Sarasvati (Marathi, 1883, on the duties of women and the advantages of female education); and many others.

Report on Native PapersSocial & Economic History

This is an especially large collection. Highlights include census, commerce, customs, and land commerce reports, and newspapers such as The Morning Chronicle (1853, Kolkota, India) and The Star of Islam (1939-1940, Sri Lanka). An especially rich primary resource for historical research is available in the various Reports on Native Papers collected from 1874 through 1937 in various provinces of British India including Kolkata, West Bengal; Mumbai, Salsette Island, Mahārāshtra, India; and others. These reports compiled a weekly summary, often including extracts from the original article, of Indian newspapers in multiple languages (including English), with summaries and translations in English. Similar reports for other provinces include Selections from the Vernacular Newspapers Published in the Panjab, North-Western Provinces, Oudh, Central Provinces and Berar (1881-1901); and Selections from the native newspapers published in the United Provinces of Agra & Oudh (1903-1912).

The Indian Ladies' MagazineWomen & Gender

This module includes books, serials and pamphlets by and about women. Highlights contributed by Columbia University Burke Library include Our Indian Magazine (1899), The Indian Ladies’ Magazine (1916-1917), The Young Women of India (1900), and The Young Women of India and Ceylon (1908-1916). The Indian Ladies’ Magazine was the first magazine in India edited by an Indian woman, Kamala Satthianadhan.

Medicine, Religion and Alchemy in South India (Siddha conference)

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in a conference on Medicine, Religion and Alchemy in South India: Resources and Permutations of Siddha Traditions and Siddha Medicine that convened at Tübingen University, Germany, 25-27 July 2019. The conference brought together scholars from Austria, France, Germany, India, Poland, Switzerland, and the United States who met in Hohentübingen Castle to discuss developing research in Siddha traditions.

Tubingen, Germany

View of Tübingen from Hohentübingen Castle

The conference was divided into four panels. Panel 1: Siddha Essentials, Essences included a paper by V. Sujatha (a sociologist at Jawaharlal Nehru University, India) on medical syncretism in contemporary Siddha; a paper by Brigitte Sébastia (from the French Institute of Pondicherry) on a Siddha manuscripts Endangered Archives Programme archival preservation project; and a paper by T. Dharmaraj (from the Cultural Studies Department at Madurai Kamaraj University) on Tamil Buddhism as practiced by Dalits.

Boat ride in Tübingen

Siddha conference participants

Panel 2 focused on Colonial Transformations, and included a paper by Christèle Barois (an Indologist from the University of Vienna) on the Usman Report as a resource for Siddha medicine; a paper by D.V. Kanagarathinam (a historian from Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, India) on the historical emergence of Siddha as a distinctly identified medical ‘system’; and a paper by Gary Hausman (South Asian Studies Librarian, Columbia University) on the history of Siddha clinical and pharmaceutical research in 20th century Madras State, India. The report by Christèle Barois is of special interest for librarians; volume two of the Report of the Committee on Indigenous Systems of Medicine, Madras (1923) which consists of original testimony of indigenous Ayurvedic, Siddha and Unani practitioners in multiple vernacular South Asian languages and scripts is being translated under an ERC-funded Ayuryog Project: Entangled Histories of Yoga, Ayurveda and Alchemy in South India, and will be published Open Access online in the near future (2020).

Brahmananda Swamigal, Siddha expert, Coimbatore

Panel 3 of the conference was on Alchemy and Medicine, and included a paper by Ilona Kędzia (Tamil/Sanskrit Lecturer at Universität Hamburg) on textual references to alchemical medicine in the works of Siddhar Yākōpu; a paper by Justus Weiß (University of Tübingen) on an ethnographic study of plant life forces (muligaikappu) in the Siddha cosmos and pharmacology; and a paper by Roman Sieler (University of Tübingen) on the role of mercury in Siddha medicines. Tamil Siddha texts are often composed in an esoteric parīpāṣai (‘twilight language’) with coded, hidden meanings, so such ethnographically informed textual research is especially important.

Kavadi dancers, Palani, India

Kavadi Dancers, Palani Temple

Panel 4 of the conference, on Religion, included a feminist engagement by Kanchana Natarajan (Department of Philosophy, University of Delhi) on Siddha views of women with positive connotations (e.g., the goddess Valai as first generative principle) as well as negative views; a paper by Nina Rageth (Department of Religious Studies, Universität  Zürich) on “Kaya Kalpa Yoga,” a specific technique of a Hindu Guru organization in Coimbatore district, India based on traditional Tamil rejuvenation practices (kāyakaṟpam); and a paper by Layne R. Little (Religious Studies, University of California Davis) on narratives of commodification and cultural loss relating to the navapashanam (“nine poisons”) icon of the god Murugan reputed to be secreted away  in the Palani Murugan Temple, India.

Kudos to Universität Tübingen, and the main organizer Roman Sieler, for a most intellectually stimulating conference.

 Dr. Ambedkar and Columbia University: A Legacy to Celebrate

Every morning, I look forward to glancing at Dr. Ambedkar’s bust, in the far East corner of the Lehman Social Sciences Library, on my way to work. My eyes first rest on the bright garlands (offerings of admirers) that often adorn the bust, hanging around the neck, and then, unfailingly, go to the glasses carved in dark bronze (like the rest of the sculpture), almost indistinguishable from the broad face, but yet magnetically pulling my eyes in. I find myself drawn into the eyes of the “Father of the Constitution”, the “Doctor and Saint” or as people affectionately refer to him, Baba Saheb Ambedkar (1891-1956), and I unfailingly detect a subtle smile. I tried looking at the glasses, and the eyes, from different angles, and the smile is always there, barely perceptible, but definitely present. There is something slightly jolting, refreshing about this daily ritual: looking for that subtle grin has come to frame my mornings, and in fact, my whole experience of my working space, the Lehman Social Sciences Library. A grand library, designed like a “ship of state”, and part of the SIPA and Law School complex (–both designed by Max Abramovitz and Wallace Harrisonthe latter is known for leading an international team of architects on the design of  the United Nations Headquarters in NYC, and the former for designing the Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center –) the Lehman Social Sciences Library opened in the early 70s, and is often jokingly referred to by students as “the NASA Headquarters” or even  “the bunker from the cold war”, for its subterranean open aesthetics and its typical late 60s, early 70s look. That is very far from how I experience this space, and I just realized recently, it is in large part due to my daily anticipation of seeing that fleeting grin in the morning subterranean light of Lehman Library’s open skyline.

 

 

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Joel Larus Book Fund Established at Columbia University

This year, South Asia collection development at Columbia University was enriched by a new charitable book fund, for acquiring materials related to India’s foreign policy following independence, including issues of national security and maritime affairs. The Joel Larus Book Fund is being distributed from the Community Fund of Sarasota County on an annual basis. Joel Larus is a political science specialist with South Asia expertise, and a Columbia University alumnus (Ph.D., 1960).  We are grateful to Joel Larus for his contributions to the Columbia University library collections.

SAMP Open Archives Initiative

Columbia University is one of 23 institutions that has joined the South Asia Materials Project Open Archives Initiative. The SAMP Open Archives Initiative will create and maintain a collection of open archives materials in all academic disciplines for the study of South Asia. For more details, see the SAMP OAi business plan.

The SAMP OAi has a position opening for a Program Coordinator. Applicants should preferably have either an MLIS degree or an advanced degree in Asian Studies.

Afghan Titles Available in Microfilm Format

A collection of materials originally published in Afghanistan has been preserved in microfilm format, and is available for lending from CRL (the Center for Research Libraries). MEMP (Middle East Materials Project) and SAMP (South Asia Materials Project) contributed funds to preserve these materials from the Library of Congress–Islamabad office. (Columbia is a member of both organizations) These materials include holdings from 1924 through 2010 and cover the last years of the monarchy’s rule in Afghanistan, civil war, foreign invasion, and the rule of the Taliban.  The collection of materials includes general newspapers, cultural periodicals, and the publications of organizations as diverse as the Lawyers Association, trade unions, the Ministry of Defense, and the Ministry of Information and Culture.  The titles were published in a variety of cities in Afghanistan and are written in Pushto, Persian, and Dari.

CEIC India Enhanced Datasets

Web CEIC Data Manager is a subscription database of economic, financial and  industrial time-series indicators that covers over 117 countries and regions. It is available to Columbia University affiliates by online access.

CEIC chart on declining public sector undertaking in pharmaceutical sector

From CEIC dataset on India’s pharmaceutical sector

The India Premium module of CEIC has been expanded with enhanced datasets on India’s pharmaceutical sector including: detailed sector-wise operational indicator statistics; detailed breakdowns looking at the performance of six state-owned public sector pharmaceutical companies relative to the overall industry; data for assessing growth prospects of the pharmaceutical sector in relation to the availability of tertiary education courses; enhanced data series on the maximum sale price of prescription drugs set by regulatory policy; and related statistics on the monitoring and enforcement of this price ceiling, with cases of overcharging. These statistical datasets make it possible for users to evaluate the growth of the pharmaceutical industry in the Indian economy.

Other new data series in the CEIC Indian Premium Database include enhanced chemical and petrochemical statistics, expanded tourism statistics, expanded cement statistics, enhanced foreign trade statistics, enhanced metal and steel statistics, and enhanced transportation, post and telecom statistics.

Himalayan Times Archive (1947-1963)

A digital archive of the Himalayan Times, an English language newspaper published in Kalimpong, India is available from Heidelberger historische Bestände — Digital for the years 1949-1963. The newspaper provides historical material on social and political developments in the Eastern Himalayas after World War II.

Two Business/Economics Databases from CMIE, Mumbai

Columbia University Libraries now has access to two online databases from Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy. The two new electronic resources are Prowess and CapEx.

Prowess includes data on the financial performance of more than 27,000 companies, including those traded on the National Stock Exchange and the Bombay Stock Exchange, as well as many unlisted public and private limited companies. The database is compiled from Annual Reports, quarterly financial statements, and Stock Exchange feeds, and includes more than 3,500 data fields per company for customized search queries. Time-series data goes back to 1989-1990.

The name CapEx is a concatenation of the short-forms of Capacity Expansion and Capital Expenditure. Thus this database includes investment projects with a capital expenditure of Rs. 10 million or more that involve the setting up of new capacities. The CapEx database captures the life-cycle of projects from the years 1995-96 to the present.

Bull at Bombay Stock Exchange

Bull at Bombay Stock Exchange Photo by Elroy Serrao

Six Archives Unbound Digital Collections

Columbia University Libraries has purchased six new Archives Unbound digital collections of primary sources:

  • Afghanistan and the U.S., 1945-1963: Records of the U.S. State Department Central Classified Files (9,674 images from the U.S. National Archives)
    Afghanistan’s history, internal political development, foreign relations, and very existence as an independent state have largely been determined by its geographic location at the crossroads of Central, West, and South Asia. This collection provides an opportunity to peer into the mountains, valleys, villages, and cities that is called Afghanistan.
  • Afghanistan in 1919: the Third Anglo-Afghan War (1898 images from the British Library)
    The Third Anglo-Afghan War began on 6 May 1919 and ended with an armistice on 8 August 1919. While it was essentially a minor tactical victory for the British in so much as they were able to repel the regular Afghan forces, in many ways it was a strategic victory for the Afghans. This collection of confidential correspondence, memoranda, orders, reports and other materials provide a broad spectrum of information on military policy and administration, including the organization, operations and equipment of the army during the war.
  • The Hindu Conspiracy Cases: Activities of the Indian Independence Movement in the U.S., 1908-1933 (2,706 images from the Justice Department Library and U.S. National Archives)
    During World War I, Indian nationalists took advantage of Great Britain’s preoccupation with the European war by attempting to foment revolution in India to overthrow British rule. Their activities were aided politically and financially by the German Government. In the spring of 1918, the “Hindu Conspiracy Case” trial (as it was called in the press and Department of Justice correspondence) was held in San Francisco, at which 29 people were convicted in indictments arising from the arms shipment. Indictments arising from the fraud case were dismissed.
  • Indochina, France, and the Viet Minh War, 1945-1954: Records of the U.S. State Department, Part 1, 1945-1949 (10,715 images from the U.S. National Archives)
    This collection contains records relating to the internal affairs of Indochina, during the period 1945-49. The records include instructions sent to and correspondence received by the State Department; the State Department’s internal documentation, as well as correspondence between the Department and other federal departments and agencies, Congress, and private individuals and organizations; telegrams, airgrams, instructions, inquiries, studies, memoranda, situation reports, translations, special reports, plans, and official and unofficial correspondence.
  • India from Crown Rule to Republic, 1945-1949: Records of the U.S. State Department (53,824 images from the U.S. National Archives)
    This collection identifies the key issues, individuals, and events in the history of the Indian Subcontinent between 1945 and 1949, and places them in the context of the complex and dynamic regional strategic, political, and economic processes that have fashioned India in the postwar period.
  • The Indian Army and Colonial Warfare on the Frontiers of India, 1914-1920 (5,280 images from the British Library)
    For generations of British and Indian Officers and men, the North-West Frontier was the scene of repeated skirmishes and major campaigns against the trans-border Pathan tribes who inhabited the mountainous no-man’s land between India and Afghanistan. This collection contains Army Lists; Orders; Instructions; Regulations; Acts; Manuals; Strength Returns; Orders of Battle; Administration Summaries; organization, commissions, committees, reports, maneuvers; departments of the Indian Army; and regimental narratives.