Penn Calendar Penn A-Z School of Arts and Sciences University of Pennsylvania

Society & Culture

The Indian Novel as an Agent of History

Chandrahas Choudhury
Monday, September 7, 2015

It is a universally-acknowledged truth that human beings experience their lives as embedded not just in time, but in history. To interpret history, they employ a variety of instruments: personal experience and cultural memory, political ideology and historiography, even (and sometimes especially) myths and stories. Among these instruments, a somewhat late-arriving one in India – only 150 years old – is the novel.

Smart Cities: India’s Urban Future

Shahana Chattaraj
Monday, August 24, 2015

In late June, the Indian government launched an ambitious and forward-looking urban program, a centerpiece of Prime Minister Modi’s developmental agenda. The Smart Cities Mission will involve building state-of the-art new cities and modernizing old ones. It has generated reams of newsprint and massive anticipation. India is urbanizing rapidly and haphazardly, and is expected to add four hundred million new city dwellers to its urban population over the next three decades.

Rethinking Internal Security in India

Paul Staniland
Monday, August 10, 2015

The ambush of Indian Army forces in Manipur, signing of a peace accord with the NSCN-IM in Nagaland, and Gurdaspur attacks have put internal security at the center of Narendra Modi’s agenda. India has a long history of dealing with armed groups, whether Naxalites, tribal separatists, or Kashmiri militants. Yet many of the lessons of India’s experience are consistently ignored in the popular and policy discourses on how to respond to armed groups. This history reveals important insights that have received insufficient attention.

Creating an Effective Regulatory Regime for Medical Devices in India

Ritu Kamal
Monday, July 27, 2015

Nearly a decade after the Government of India first announced its intentions to regulate the domestic medical device industry and after many interim, patchwork guidelines, a comprehensive draft National Medical Device Policy (NMDP-2015) has been issued and made public for review by interested stakeholders. Medical devices form a $200 billion global industry, which develops and manufactures essential healthcare equipment ranging in complexity from simple devices like thermometers and stethoscopes to complex devices like pacemakers, ultrasound machines and surgical robots.

Unholy Hatred: Lucknow’s Sectarian Violence and A Way Forward

Kunaal Sharma
Monday, July 13, 2015

Violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims in India has persisted for just over a century. Yet, the phenomenon has received far too little attention by political scientists, journalists, and Indian policymakers, who have almost exclusively focused on Hindu-Muslim violence. Continued neglect and delay in devising creative interventions aimed at reducing sectarian conflict could jeopardize the social cohesion of India, which will have more Muslims than any other country by the 2020s.

Unpacking Wealth Inequality: A Case for Individual Level Data Collection

Hema Swaminathan
Monday, June 15, 2015

Discussions of wealth inequality are now in vogue following the global financial crash of 2007 and Thomas Piketty’s best-selling Capital. This is a welcome departure from the exclusive focus on poverty using calculations based on consumption surveys. Wealth is crucial for consumption smoothing and acts as a buffer to draw upon during times of distress. In many ways, wealth is more aligned with the concept of wellbeing than income or consumption. Wealth is also recognized for its role in creating opportunities for future generations.

Nepal: A Manifesto for Political Reform

Prashant Jha
Monday, May 18, 2015

Nepal was hit by a devastating earthquake on April 25th, and aftershocks – including a powerful one on May 12th – have continued to rock the country. Over eight thousand people have died. Over 600,000 houses are completely destroyed or partially damaged. Eight million people have been affected in some shape or form. Thousands of school buildings lie in ruins. Kathmandu has lost much of its cultural heritage. The tragedy is just unending, as millions remain homeless with monsoon season four weeks away. There is a resource crunch and supplies of essentials are inadequate.

How to Design the Next Land Acquisition Law

Sanjoy Chakravorty
Monday, April 6, 2015

A toxic mix of hypocrisy, amnesia, opportunism, ignorance, and paternalism has led to a mess on land acquisition legislation. The BJP is finding it difficult to gather enough support to pass its amendment to the Congress-made law and has begun sending mixed signals—maybe they will hold a joint session of parliament to hash this out; maybe they will reissue the ordinance that it tried to turn into an amendment; maybe the states can pick and choose, maybe they don’t have to adhere to the parts of the amended law they don’t like.

Of Pipes and Slums: Understanding Mumbai’s Proposed New Water Rules for Residents of “Illegal Structures”

Lisa Björkman
Monday, March 23, 2015

Two decades ago, a dramatic shift took place in the rules governing the provision of piped municipal water supply in Mumbai. In this shift, access to municipal water for residents of the city’s popular neighborhoods and “slums” became linked to the rules governing eligibility for inclusion in slum rehabilitation housing schemes.

Assessing Regional Cooperation in South Asia and Beyond

Arndt Michael
Monday, March 9, 2015

On May 26, 2014, Narendra Modi invited the heads of all the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries to his swearing-in ceremony. While this important gesture could have marked a new beginning for regional cooperation, such cooperation in South Asia still takes place mainly in the bilateral sphere. Since 1985, India has been a key founding member of four regional initiatives, none of which have achieved any tangible results.