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This chapter tracks the development and use of magical realism in South Asia. It argues that realism in the colonial novel grew in a complex fashion, drawing upon elements from fables, myths, puranas and epics. The term's South Asian ‘boom‘ arises in the decolonized context, specifically in the political turmoil of the 1970s, and with the publication of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children. While the essay offers a through reading of the novel, it situates Rushdie alongside a host of lesser-known English and vernacular-language writers from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Further, it shows that beyond this time frame the term has been used by writers with tremendous heterogeneity to address social issues ranging from gender, caste, religion, ecology, identity, refugee movements and others. Offering a list of resources, the essay builds a much-needed archive on the vast and diverse examples of magical realism in South Asia.
Patient and public involvement/engagement (PPI/E) in public health research and health technology assessment (HTA) in high-income countries (HICs) have significantly increased over the past decade. PPI/E helps to improve research and HTA, ultimately benefitting patients and service users. PPI/E is a very new concept in many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This paper considers the importance of PPI in public health research and HTA in the development and implementation of technology in the health sector in South Asia. Currently, in this region, health technology is frequently adopted from HICs without local research and HTA. It also discusses the importance of local co-creation of technology to reflect the needs of users within a culturally appropriate setting. It is important for LMIC-based researchers to understand the potential of PPI/E and how it can contribute to it to improve health care and research, especially perhaps in the era of COVID-19.
Drawing on textual and ethnographic research conducted over the last five years, this article analyses an important genre of judicial practice in South and Southeast Asia that has been almost entirely ignored by socio-legal scholars: Buddhist systems of judging. Using the judicial system of one monastic group in contemporary Sri Lanka as a case-study, it argues that Buddhist judging requires more than just the internalization of moral principles, as is often assumed. According to Buddhist (monastic) principles of judging, legal procedures—similar to those used in state legal settings—are equally essential. These procedures govern everything from making legal complaints, to the structuring of trials, to determining jurisdiction, and many other topics. By examining Buddhist judicial systems, this article not only casts new light on the pluri-legal landscape of Asia; it also offers new reflections on the intersection of religion-based and state-based systems of law in the contemporary world.
There is increasing evidence that domestic violence (DV) is an important risk factor for suicidal behaviour. The level of risk and its contribution to the overall burden of suicidal behaviour among men and women has not been quantified in South Asia. We carried out a large case-control study to examine the association between DV and self-poisoning in Sri Lanka.
Cases (N = 291) were patients aged ⩾18 years, admitted to a tertiary hospital in Kandy Sri Lanka for self-poisoning. Sex and age frequency matched controls were recruited from the hospital's outpatient department (N = 490) and local population (N = 450). Exposure to DV was collected through the Humiliation, Afraid, Rape, Kick questionnaire. Multivariable logistic regression models were conducted to estimate the association between DV and self-poisoning, and population attributable fractions were calculated.
Exposure to at least one type of DV within the previous 12 months was strongly associated with self-poisoning for women [adjusted OR (AOR) 4.08, 95% CI 1.60–4.78] and men (AOR 2.52, 95% CI 1.51–4.21), compared to those reporting no abuse. Among women, the association was strongest for physical violence (AOR 14.07, 95% CI 5.87–33.72), whereas among men, emotional abuse showed the highest risk (AOR 2.75, 95% CI 1.57–4.82). PAF% for exposure to at least one type of DV was 38% (95% CI 32–43) in women and 22% (95% CI 14–29) in men.
Multi-sectoral interventions to address DV including enhanced identification in health care settings, community-based strategies, and integration of DV support and psychological services may substantially reduce suicidal behaviour in Sri Lanka.
In order to design, enact, and protect poverty alleviation policies in developing countries, we must first understand the psychology of how the poor react to their plight, and not just the psychology of the privileged called upon for sacrifice. This book integrates social and psycho-dynamic psychology, economics, policy design, and policy-process theory to explore ways to follow through on successful poverty-alleviation initiatives, while averting destructive conflict. Using eight case studies across Latin America, Southeast Asia, and South Asia, William Ascher examines successes and failures in helping the poor through affirmative action, cash transfers, social-spending targeting, subsidies, and regional development. In doing so, he demonstrates how social identities, attributions of deservingness, and perceptions of the policy process shape both the willingness to support pro-poor policies and the conflict that emerges over distributional issues.
The COVID-19 pandemic is nowhere near over. Some things, however, seem relatively clear. So far, the agendas of the world's most powerful actors seem unchanged—or, indeed, accelerated. Partly as a result, disease mortality and economic losses have fallen largely on poorer people, though deaths so far have been concentrated among poorer people in rich countries. Consequently, the pandemic's implications look very different at the local, subnational, and international levels—although at all levels, they thus far reflect accelerations of preexisting trends more than new departures. Many developments reflect remarkable gains in human capacity to cope with disasters—a point highlighted by comparisons to the 1919 flu and other historical events pandemics made by the authors in this forum. Those gains are particularly evident in Asia, though they look more precarious in South Asia and Southeast Asia than in East Asia; this has contributed to a marked shift in rhetoric about global “sickness” and health and seems consistent with prophecies of a coming “Asian century.” However, COVID-19 may not be a singular event like 1919 but may portend a wave of environmental emergencies; in that scenario, no world region has exhibited as much resilience as it would need.
The prevalence of dementia is rising in low-resource countries, where specialist memory services are almost non-existent. The COVID-19 pandemic has created opportunities for innovative remote healthcare. Research shows a lack of dementia literacy and help-seeking behaviour for memory-related problems among older adults in South Asian countries. This paper proposes a remote memory service model and virtual dementia training in South Asian countries, called Memory First Aid (MFA). MFA offers help to a person experiencing memory difficulties until appropriate professional help is received. The MFA course is a 12-h webinar-based package consisting of four weekly modules. It covers dementia awareness and clinical features. The aim is to develop a non-medical workforce able to screen and assess older people with suspected dementia.
This article will examine the structural evolution of China’s maritime trade with South Asia from 1684, the year in which the Qing dynasty legalized private commercial voyages, until about 1740. It concludes that, initially, most of the Chinese goods that entered the Indian Ocean destined for South Asian markets were first exported by Chinese merchants to Southeast Asian ports, and were then relayed from there to the Indian Ocean. The two most important hubs in this indirect trading system were Ayutthaya and Johor. However, between about 1715 and 1725, political changes in these two centres, combined with a short-lived Qing ban on Southeast Asian trade, encouraged South Asian-based merchants to increase the number of direct voyages they made to China each year. The result was an expansion of direct trade between South Asia and China at the expense of the indirect routes.
Women in South Asia, including Nepal, have some of the poorest nutritional indicators globally, leading to poor maternal and child health outcomes. Nepal also suffers from high levels of household food insecurity, and newly married women are at high risk. Intra-household relationships may mediate the relationship between food insecurity and women’s nutrition in Nepal for newly married women. Our aim is to understand how newly married, preconception, women’s food consumption changes when she enters her husband’s home, compared with her natal home. We also explore whether relationship quality with husbands and mothers-in-law mediates the association between food insecurity and eating less high-quality food, using structural equation modelling.
Cross-sectional survey data.
Rural Nepal in 2018.
Data were collected from 200 newly married, preconception women.
Women had poor diet quality, and most ate fewer high-quality foods important for pregnancy in their marital, compared with natal, home. Higher quality relationships with mothers-in-laws mediated the association between food insecurity and a woman eating fewer high-quality foods in her marital, compared with natal, home. Relationship quality with husbands was not associated with changes in food consumption.
Preconception, newly married women in Nepal are eating less high-quality foods important for women’s health during the preconception period – a key period for avoiding adverse maternal and infant health outcomes. Relationships with mothers-in-law are key to women’s access to high-quality food, suggesting that interventions aiming to improve maternal and child nutrition should target all household members.
Islam travelled across the Asian expanse along land and maritime routes, as Muslims engaged in trade, proselytism, and conquest. While the territory and influence of Islamic political authority expanded, collapsed, and reached further once again, between the seventh and sixteenth centuries the realities and attributes of any given Islamic society varied greatly. This chapter provides a bird's-eye view of the expansive movement of Muslims out of Arabia and into Asia, as Islam crossed the Oxus/Amu Darya river (Uzbekistan), following two main paths. First was the military expansion of the Arab Muslim Empire, which reached its territorial apogee under the Abbasid, spreading as far as Transoxiana and Northwest India. Second was the movement of pilgrims, scholars, soldiers, and mystics – whose identities melted one into the other – across continental and maritime Asia, along the centuries-old Silk Road and the Indian Ocean networks. These trajectories allow us to see Asia as a historically cohesive space of Islamized interaction, where Muslims imagined themselves as part of a religious community, the umma.
Recent decades have seen the rise of violence related to Hindu nationalist movements in India, the Muslim Taliban in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, the militant Khalistan movement of Sikhs in India’s Punjab, and Buddhist nationalism in Sri Lanka and elsewhere in the region. These movements have competed in the context of a secular political order that was the legacy of British colonial rule, once embraced by founding leaders such as Pakistan’s Muhammad Ali Jinnah and India’s Jawaharlal Nehru, who advocated the nationalism of ‘secularism and socialism’. Though each of these political ideologies has its own history and internal dynamics, each is also related to the others. They have arisen as mutual responses to one another and to the global influences of colonialism, transnational religion, and globalization that have buffeted South Asian politics in recent years.
In Bangladeshi student politics, political performances in public spaces play an essential role in establishing patronage relationships and determining local authority structures. As Thomas Blom Hansen has famously argued, “visibility means everything” in such a context. With the emergence of social networking sites like Facebook, new digital public spaces have appeared. Focusing on ruling-party student activists at Rajshahi University, this article examines how student politicians in Bangladesh utilize Facebook to become visible in their everyday politicking. It shows how longstanding performative repertoires in the nondigital public space have gained a new salience through performances in the digital public space. It is those digital spaces that allow the performer to rearticulate even mundane everyday events as political performances. As these new digital public spaces impact the politics of visibility, it is crucial to integrate them in our efforts to understand local politics in South Asia and beyond.
This article reconstructs the history of the Indian YMCA's Orientalist knowledge production in an attempt to capture a significant, if forgotten, transitional moment in the production and dissemination of scholarship on the religions and cultures of the Indian subcontinent. The YMCA's three Orientalist book series examined here flourished from the 1910s to the 1930s and represent a kind of third-stream approach to the study of South Asia. Inspired by the Christian fulfillment theory, “Y Orientalism” was at pains to differentiate itself from older polemical missionary writings. It also distanced itself from the popular “spiritual Orientalism” advocated by the Theosophical Society and from the philologically inclined “academic Orientalism” pursued in the Sanskrit departments of Western universities. The interest of the series’ authors in the region's present and the multifarious facets of its “little traditions,” living languages, arts, and cultures, as well as their privileging of knowledge that was generated “in the field” rather than in distant Western libraries, was unusual. Arguably, it anticipated important elements of the “area studies” approach to the Indian subcontinent that became dominant in Anglophone academia after the Second World War.
Emma Willard's map-drawing geographic pedagogy revolutionized early nineteenth-century American education, turning students into participants in the crafting of the new nation. This essay explores the conditions under which map drawing was transported to American missionary schools in South Asia and helped instigate a Tamil nation in British Ceylon. What did the missionaries intend the teaching method to impart? What were the consequences of this pedagogical form on dominant Tamil portrayals of space and identity in Ceylon? To answer these questions and to track the foreign career of American didactic mapmaking, this essay draws on print and manuscript archival materials, including two maps by a Tamil student at the American Ceylon Mission named Robert Breckenridge. The essay argues that the use of map-drawing pedagogy in Ceylon partially transmitted American ways of being in the world, which were consequential for local spatial knowledges and the crafting of a Tamil national identity on the island.
Cooperatives are a promising link that can coalesce subdisciplines such as agrarian, labor, economic, and social history. This article reassesses the significance of cooperatives in the agrarian and social history of South Asia. It provides a broad sketch of the major historical developments—legal, economic, and social—in India up to 1970, emphasizing the continuity between the colonial and postcolonial periods in terms of state engagement with cooperatives. The article goes on to discuss the existing historiography regarding the cooperative movement on the subcontinent, arguing for the substitution of the prevailing notion of failure with a more historically grounded and nuanced approach that takes into consideration the broader economic context, as well as social stratification and inequality. Finally, some promising avenues—including, but not limited to, organizational economics, bottom-up social and cultural history, and global history—are suggested for the future historiography of cooperatives in South Asia.
In light of the emergent “history of capitalism” field in Euro-American history, this article reviews and critically situates how the category “capitalism” has been debated within the historiographies of China and South Asia. In discussions paralleling European historiography, Sinologists and Indologists explored whether the “prime mover” of capitalism was changes in production or in circulation. The example of South Asian studies shows how, from the 1960s through the 1980s, the dominant production-centered approach—drawing upon Marxist theory—produced stories of economic “failure” in Asia. The example of Chinese history since the 1990s points to the resurgence of a Smithian circulation-centered approach that challenges the Eurocentric story of failure. Each of these approaches emerged out of distinct eras of capital accumulation in the twentieth century: mid-century state-supported industrialization and late-century deregulated globalization. The tension between these approaches points towards a more integrative reinterpretation that sees the core dynamics of capitalism as a cyclical process of “capital accumulation,” one that integrates both production and circulation-centered approaches and also challenges Eurocentric histories of capitalism. This article's conclusion provides speculative thoughts on writing the histories of capitalism for China and South Asia today.
Despite an overall downward trend in child sex ratios in India, some of the most imbalanced districts in 2001 (fewer girls than boys) showed signs of becoming more balanced in 2011. This analysis looked in depth at these districts to better understand the nature of the improvement in the child sex ratio using two rounds of data from the Census of India from 2001 and 2011. Data were used from the 153 districts that showed improvement in their child sex ratio between 2001 and 2011. The improvement was decomposed into: (1) less sex-selective abortion and (2) improved girl compared with boy mortality. Most of the improvement in child sex ratios were shown to be due to reductions in sex-selective abortion, although this still made up the majority of the cause of imbalanced sex ratios in 2011. Child sex ratio improvement has been happening in both rural and urban areas of India, and there is evidence of stagnation in mortality decline for urban girls.
When judicial department officials at Bombay began to enforce the British East India Company’s (EIC) authority over the production and authentication of certain types of legal documents in the late 1830s, qāẓīs (Islamic judges) like Sayyid Aḥmad Ḥusain of Bharuch, objected to their loss of authority. In petitions sent to the Governor in Council from the edges of empire, these legal intermediaries objected to the Company’s interference with their livelihoods. Although the qazis’ complaints did not yield the desired results, by demonstrating the utility of their record-keeping abilities, qazis were able to retain discrete rights. The effects of these negotiations demonstrate the ways in which the intersections of expanding Company policies and local legal activity contributed to the growth of imperial power. Attending to the particularities of local legal practice, captured in the writings of these qazis, this article highlights the material mechanisms by which the EIC co-opted existing documentary cultures to extend state surveillance over local populations and challenges prevailing histories of legal translation and codification by focusing on the social ramifications of changing legal definitions at the moment such relations were first articulated in writing.
Environmental enteric dysfunction (EED) and systemic inflammation (SI) are common in developing countries and may cause stunting. In Bangladesh, >40 % of preschool children are stunted, but EED and SI contributions are unknown. We aimed to determine the impact of EED and SI (assessed with multiple indicators) on growth in children (n 539) enrolled in a community-based randomised food supplementation trial in rural Bangladesh. EED was defined with faecal myeloperoxidase, α-1 antitrypsin and neopterin and serum endotoxin core antibody and glucagon-like peptide-2, consolidated into gut inflammation (GI) and permeability (GP) scores, and urinary lactulose:mannitol α-1 acid glycoprotein (AGP) characterised SI. Biomarker associations with anthropometry (15-, 18- and 24-month length-for-age (LAZ), weight-for-length (WLZ) and weight-for-age (WAZ) z scores) were examined in pairwise correlations and adjusted mixed-effects regressions. Stunting, wasting and underweight prevalence at 18 months were 45, 15 and 37 %, respectively, with elevated EED and SI markers common. EED and SI were not associated with 15–24-month length trajectory. Elevated (worse) GI and GP scores predicted reduced 18–24-month WLZ change (β −0·01 (se 0·00) z score/month for both). Elevated GP was also associated with reduced 15–18-month WLZ change (β −0·03 (se 0·01) z score/month) and greater 15-month WLZ (β 0·16 (se 0·05)). Higher AGP was associated with reduced prior and increased subsequent WLZ change (β −0·04 (se 0·01) and β 0·02 (se 0·00) z score/month for 15–18 and 18–24 months). The hypothesised link from EED to stunting was not observed in this sample of Bangladeshi 18-month-olds, but the effects of EED on constrained weight gain may have consequences for later linear growth or for other health and development outcomes.
‘Hidden hunger’ is a term used to describe human deficiencies of key vitamins and minerals, also known as micronutrients. While global in scale, the prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies is particularly high in South Asia despite recent successes in economic growth, agricultural output and health care. The present paper reviews the most recent evidence on patterns and trends of hidden hunger across the region, with a focus on the most significant deficiencies – iodine, Fe, vitamin A and Zn – and interprets these in terms of health and economic consequences. The challenge for South Asian policy makers is to invest in actions that can cost-effectively resolve chronic nutrient gaps facing millions of households. Appropriate solutions are available today, so governments should build on evidence-based successes that combine targeted health system delivery of quality services with carefully designed multisector actions that help promote healthier diets, reduce poverty and ensure social protection simultaneously.