Winter Theme Semester explores India’s changing role in the world


India has emerged in recent years as one of the world’s most vibrant economies, the largest democracy, a key player in geopolitics, home to the world’s largest middle class and a contributor to global trends in art and aesthetics.

“India in the World,” the Winter 2014 Theme Semester in LSA, will explore India’s role in the daily life of the world through music, art, films, lectures and courses across a range of disciplines.

This artwork, titled Green Goddess, is featured on the poster for the Winter 2014 Theme Semester. Learn more about the LSA theme semester, “India in the World.” (Artwork by Daisy Rockwell)

Students, faculty, and the community will be invited to explore India’s history, culture, politics, economy, art, religions, architecture, music, philosophy, contributions to mathematics and sciences and its diaspora. Events scheduled from January through April are free and open to the public.

The theme semester will examine changing perceptions of India from a Third World country infused with mysticism and marked by poverty to a major player on the world stage.

“The India Theme Semester will push you to re-evaluate your concept of India from art to music to geopolitics to the diaspora,” said Farina Mir, director of the India Theme Semester and director of the Center for South Asian Studies. “By participating in the theme semester events students and the community will discover how India is relevant to our everyday lives.”

Among other events of interest in January, the theme semester will present a public symposium Jan. 25 on “India as a Regional Power,” which will examine how India’s geo-strategic significance affects surrounding countries such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. The symposium, 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. in Room 1636 at the School of Social Work, includes presentations by:

• Mohammed Hanif, director of the BBC Urdu Service and special correspondent in Karachi, Pakistan, who will discuss how Pakistanis see India.

• Arijit Sen, television journalist and senior editor for CNN-IBN who reports on India’s policy in its northeast region and towards it northeast neighbors. He will examine the effect of India’s Look East policy.

• Bhavani Fonseka, lawyer at the Centre for Policy Alternatives in Colombo, Sri Lanka. She will discuss the role of India and the United Nations in the search for justice and accountability in Sri Lanka.

• Naeem Mohaeimen, an anthropologist, blogger, political writer, and visual artist. He will deliver the lecture “A Missing General, Indian Jawans and Submerged Narratives of Bangladesh’s 1971 Liberation War.”

Five exhibitions also will be offered as part of the theme semester.

• “The India Map Exhibit” will be Jan. 16-April 22 at the Clark Library in the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library, 913 South University Ave.

• “The Garden of India” will be Jan. 25-March 2 at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, 1800 N. Dixboro Rd.

• “Snake vs. Dinosaur” opens Feb. 16 at the Museum of Natural History, 1109 Geddes Ave.

• “Wild India” opens Jan 25-March 2 at the Museum of Natural History. 

• “A Place of One’s Own: Exploring America’s South Asian Diaspora” will be March 17-April 21 at the Hatcher Graduate Library. 

On March 21 the University Musical Society will present the Asif Ali Khan Qawwali Ensemble at 8 p.m. at Rackham Auditorium, 915 E. Washington St. A protege of the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Asif Ali Khan has established himself as one of the finest exponents of the art of qawwali, mystical lyrics set to music. Ticket information is available at the UMS website.



  1. Orin Gelderloos
    on January 7, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Locations such as the Western Ghat Mountains are one of the hot spots in the world for biodiversity and emphasis a statement an Indian colleague made to me that “India is a rich country where a lot of poor people live.” I would be good to have a presentation on the ecological systems, biodiversity, and challenges they face with wildlife – human conflicts.

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