Multiculturalism is the official policy that countries adopt to legally protect racial, ethnic and cultural diversity. But multiculturalism is going awry in a world that encourages the free movement of capital across borders while guarding against the free movement of people who threaten our ‘manufactured’ multiculturalism. Intercultural dialogue, on the other hand, is a small but effective means to realise the power of multiculturalism. It doesn’t need governments to implement it. Intercultural dialogue can be initiated by anyone who believes in the spirit of multiculturalism, and anywhere
Even as globalisation erases the spatial and temporal constraints imposed by national boundaries, it chooses to do so only in the convenient spaces of call centres, malls and stock exchanges. The constraints remain vibrant and rejuvenated at the good old desk of the immigration counter, as this writer discovers
The fundamentalist strategy is to polarise opinion, so that the middle ground, where dialogue is possible, collapses. Intercultural dialogue cannot change the fundamentalist’s mindset, but it can strengthen the hand or augment the influence of the moderating voices in different societies, to help prevent the middle ground from shrinking further. The best opportunities for dialogue exist between individuals and groups in different societies that have analogous experiences which can be connected and crisscrossed through the arts or in other ways
After four major Hindu-Muslim riots, Ahmedabad is a divided city. There is a ‘Muslim Ahmedabad’ and a ‘Hindu Ahmedabad’. Except for Ram-Rahim Nagar, a slum where Hindus and Muslims have lived together and worked together to ensure that the riots leave them untouched. What is the secret of their success?
Development likes resolution and dislikes complexity. So, interventionists will not see the thousands of people who live together and jostle for air in a multicultural neighbourhood such as Shivajinagar in Bangalore as an intercultural success. They will see it as a tinderbox waiting to explode. For them, intercultural dialogue is a roundtable at which prominent secularists from different religions sit; in comparison, the everyday interaction of people in Shivajinagar is mere babble
Art has to represent the times that we live in, says Ratan Thiyam, renowned theatre exponent from Manipur, a state torn by strife. But art is not about pamphlets and judgments, he says, it is about going deeper and questioning why conflict is happening. For over 30 years, this is the way the Chorus Repertory Theatre has used theatre for the exchange of ideas
Between the homogenisation wrought by globalisation on the one hand and cultural nationalism on the other, we are witnessing more violent religious and ethnic conflict, more conservatism, more censorship. In short, shrinking spaces in which to think, read, write, and express ourselves artistically. In times of such siege, all significant art becomes offensive, striking against, opposing, revealing, resisting
At a time of growing polarisations in society on the basis of language, identity and borders, filmmaker Shabnam Virmani discovered Kabir, the 15th century saint-poet who seemed to combine perfectly the spiritual and the socio-political. She spent six years making four films and several recordings on Kabir, each one trying to find the space between the dualities of Hindu-Muslim, sacred-secular, classical and traditional, and East and West
Why are young people today falling prey to primary identity -- religion, language or race -- and picking up a bomb or a gun? Do people kill and die for a dream because they cannot sing their dreams? Can the increasing mistrust, alienation and anger only be addressed through long-term political, economic and cultural processes?
Culture finds a place on the developmental agenda only as a medium of communication or as a way to build sustainable livelihoods. There is a nagging discomfort about focusing on culture in societies struggling with poverty and inequality. But it is only through the arts and culture that a community views its past, speaks about what matters to it in the present, and envisions its future. The arts are the place from which social critique can emanate, and received wisdom and values be interrogated
Royal patronage for the tradition of wrestling in Kolhapur bred a brotherhood between the north Indians who came to learn the sport at the local talims and the local Maharashtrians. This bhaichara, nurtured in the wrestling pits, could be one reason why the MNS’s anti-north Indian campaign left this city untouched. But with kushti in decline, and with growing tensions following globalisation over the last two decades, will the brotherhood survive?
Popular culture reaches out to us at some level beneath the conscious, and defines who we are. Hindi cinema has been defining India for a long time. Intercultural dialogue as portrayed in Hindi cinema was often crude -- a character called John Jaani Janardhan, the blood of Hindu, Muslim and Christian flowing into one vein -- but it was valuable in a way that we did not notice until it went away
The dialogue must go on, says Dakxin Bajrange, the moving spirit behind Gujarat’s Budhan Theatre, a decade-old theatre group comprised of Chharas, a tribe dubbed criminals by the British raj and still stigmatised even after the repeal of the Criminal Tribes Act. Budhan Theatre is their effort to communicate that no one is a born criminal, and they believe that their theatre has transformed their lives and their identities
What sells on Indian railway platforms is a good indicator of what the average Indian wants in life. When Hitler’s Mein Kampf is a bestseller at railway bookstalls, you could infer that India is full of citizens burning with anger at corruption, pseudo-secularism, indiscipline and ‘polluting’ religious minorities, and looking for a disciplined dictator. Despite this, luckily, there are some important factors that preserve Indian diversity
Michel Bauwens, founder of the Peer to Peer Foundation, is one of those who believe in open spaces and creation without incentive. In this interview he talks about the Free Software and Wikipedia movements as pointers to a genuine change in the way we think, create and distribute goods. He believes that we have never before had such real-time possibilities for human cooperation and collective intelligence on a global scale
The concept of ‘open space’ has come to be used in many fields, from urban planning, education and multipolar media such as the Internet, to social and political practice. Given the religious, economic and imperialist fundamentalisms that have intensified over the last two decades, we need to understand the struggle to open spaces as a struggle against enclosure by either State or market corporatism and/or by fundamentalist forces within societies, such as religious, caste, ethnic, and/or nationalist powers