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Depiction of a Native Dance of the Andaman Islands on a British Cigarette Card

The Andaman Islands are an archipelago located in the Bay of Bengal. Occupied by the British first in 1789, they became a part of independent India as the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 1947. While the British Raj was a form of extractive colonialism in mainland India, in the Andamans, the British left behind a legacy of exploitative settler colonialism that independent India inherited and expanded. There were certain narratives about the indigenous peoples of the Andamans that both these governments employed that have had far-reaching consequences on the populations and lifestyles of indigenous communities.

When I meet people from other parts of the world and they ask me where I’m from, I usually tell them I’m from “near Mumbai”. But I’m from Surat, a city that lies on the estuary of the Tapi River some 300 km north of Mumbai. While few people know of Surat outside India today, and Indians usually know of it as just another industrial tier-2 city, Surat was once one of the largest and most connected cities on the Indian Ocean. Before the British established Bombay as their trading hub, Surat was a center for Indian Ocean trade and…

Published first in Wharton International Business Review’s Fall 2018 Issue

In 1932, Diego Rivera was commissioned by the Detroit Institute of Art to complete a series of murals — the Detroit Industry Murals — to depict the city as a center of industry and to showcase the booming metropolis that Detroit was. The 1950 Census reported that approximately 1.8 million people called Detroit home. The majority of these individuals were employed by the automobile industry: the backbone of the city. Detroit was built for cars: its scale, its road-systems, and zoning laws were all conducive to a growing middle class…

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The right-wing Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), which rose to power in India in 2014 believes that “A common spoken language with a vast literary heritage should ameliorate all the problems which beset modern India” (Hastings, 2008). For the BJP and its allied Hindu Nationalist groups, this language is Sanskrit. Not only has Sanskrit been dead, in some sense of the word, for centuries, but it was also never the “common” language of India, let alone the “common spoken language”. The Indian subcontinent is characterised by its vast linguistic diversity, and the notion of an ancient shared language is not consistent…

Like most Indian kids, I grew up traveling by train. My earliest memories of vacations, visiting family and seeing places other than the city I grew up in are associated with trains. My great grandparents owned a tea stall and my grandfather and dad grew up around trains and the station. For example, my dad knows how to read and change train signals and can identify different types of gauges. My dad was even briefly employed by the Western Railway, but as a tennis player.

However, the Indian Railways are an interesting topic even for those who haven’t had direct…

Aashna Jain

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