#DemocracyDefeated: How Indian Right-Wing Groups Stalled A Bollywood Period Drama


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A big budget Bollywood movie’s release was stalled recently. A detailed article on the same.

The current objection to the film is taken by Shri Rajput Karni Sena, a Rajput caste group at the forefront of those who condemn the content of the movie. Their argument against the film is that Padmavati, who was considered to be a Rajput queen, would be portrayed in a bad light and that would mean deferring from the historical account of her description. Additionally, this would distort the culture and religious practices and could possibly indicate a romantic relationship between the Rajput queen and Sultan Alauddin Khalji. Ironically, after the release of the trailer of the movie, only the Rajput and the Hindu have taken to the streets to contest the release of the movie while the Rajputs in the movie have been shown as regal and royal, and Sultan Alauddin Khalji has been portrayed as somewhat barbaric in nature. If the extreme criticism is to be believed, then it should be a reflection on the overall content of the period drama and not just certain aspects of it.

The complete article

Global VoicesVishal Manve & Devika Sakhadeo

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Unraveling an Ancient Code Written In Strings


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You might remember the alien language in the movie ‘Arrival’. One of our ancient cultures might have used code written in strings which has not yet been deciphered.

This raises a host of questions. Were these logosyllabic khipus a local phenomenon influenced by contact with Spanish writing, or do they have far-reaching roots in the pre-Columbian Andean past? Do the other types of khipus that were used in the central Andes until the 20th century, such as those for accounting, share features with phonetic khipus? What are the implications of a three-dimensional writing system, in which the sense of touch plays as important a role as sight, and how does this expand our understanding of what “writing” is?

The complete article

Sabine Hyland — Sapiens

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The Murderer Who Helped Make the Oxford English Dictionary


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Never knew that Oxford English Dictionary had such an interesting history.

Indeed, it’s hard to fathom the magnitude of Minor’s contributions. He provided material for entries as obscure as dhobi and as common as dirt. Today, the OED calls itself the “definitive record of the English language,” and it defines more than 300,000 words (more than half a million if you count word combinations and derivatives). It remains the authoritative reference for courtrooms, policy-makers, and etymology-nerds alike; linguists respect it as the barometer of where the language has been and where it may be going. Much of that credit goes to Minor.

The complete article

Lucas Reilly — Mental Floss

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Bastards and Game of Thrones


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Now that we are all waiting for the next season of Game of Thrones which will only air next year, here is an article on the categories of bastards in medieval Europe.

Much as in Medieval Europe, there are several different kinds of bastards in Game of Thrones, falling into sometimes overlapping categories. The first and most obvious type of bastard is one born to a known “highborn” father who recognizes the child as his but whose mother is either unknown or known to be low status. Here the most memorable example is Jon Snow, Snow being the surname for Northern bastards of this type (though of course — spoiler alert — Jon’s parentage turns out to be more complicated, and extremely throneworthy regardless of any niceties of marriage law), or Sand, Sand being the surname for bastards from the south. It is quite clearly better to be a Sand than a Snow, with the warm sunny climate of the south both more openly licentious than the restrained north, and more tolerant of children born to extramarital sex.

The complete article

Sara McDougall — OUPblog

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The partition goes on: A Pakistani perspective


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A Pakistani perspective.

Twenty years on, I feel we had underplayed the whole thing. When I hear about another beef lynching in India, I am reminded of all those old men who boasted about throwing a pig’s head into a mosque or slaughtering a cow in the middle of a Hindu festival.

And I think of my own beloved country we carved out of India to protect our liberties. And where we don’t have to cower in fear of a Hindu or Sikh mob.

We can get lynched by our fellow Pakistani classmates for quoting a bit of poetry and questioning some fragment of a religious text.

The partition goes on in slow motion. I took a flight back from India after the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

The complete article

Mohammed Hanif — Al Jazeera

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The Ugly Briton


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World War I killed 7 million civilians. The 1943 Bengal Famine killed 3 million people! Beware who you consider as your heroes. Churchill certainly isn’t mine.

In 1943, some 3 million brown-skinned subjects of the Raj died in the Bengal famine, one of history’s worst. Mukerjee delves into official documents and oral accounts of survivors to paint a horrifying portrait of how Churchill, as part of the Western war effort, ordered the diversion of food from starving Indians to already well-supplied British soldiers and stockpiles in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, including Greece and Yugoslavia. And he did so with a churlishness that cannot be excused on grounds of policy: Churchill’s only response to a telegram from the government in Delhi about people perishing in the famine was to ask why Gandhi hadn’t died yet.

The complete article

Shashi Tharoor — Time

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Barbaric Beauty


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What did Vikings look like? Is their representation in pop culture accurate?

How authentic is Vikings’ representation of Vikings, then? If we merely compare the characters who strut onscreen with the imagery imparted on us by the Icelandic sagas and the sparse Viking Age sources that supplement them, not bad at all. These finely attired TV Norsemen are, to a man, mikill ok sterkr, their bodies and faces tattooed and painted, their gazes penetrating and haunting, their hair and beards carefully kempt. But the point to drive home is that the question itself is ill-posed and ultimately unanswerable, because we would need to reorient our own mental set-up in order to be able to grasp the alien mindset to which descriptions like ‘very much eyed’, made sense.

The complete article

Oren Falk — History Today

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