Newsletter 158 – 17 February 2014


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• SASNET seminar on Reporting from Maldives – Lost Paradise in the Indian Ocean

Australian journalist John James Robinson holds a SASNET seminar on ”Paradise Lost. Beyond the Beach, Booze and Bikinis: Reporting the Dark Side of the Maldives” in Lund on Tuesday 25 February 2014, 15.15–17.00. The seminar is jointly organised by SASNET, the South Asia Student Association (SASA), and the School of Social Work, Lund University. Venue: Edebalksalen, School of Social Work (Socialhögskolan), Bredgatan 26, Lund. See the poster.
J J Robinsson has worked in Maldives since 2007, and being the Editor of the Minivan News, the first independent English-language news service service in the country, he has covered extensively about the democratic transition in Maldives and the recent 2013 election crisis. He was among the only foreign media to witness the 2012 coup that toppled Mohamed Nasheed, the liberal democrat who pushed out a 30 year dictatorship in the country's first multi-party elections in 2008, and made Maldives into a internationally-famous environmental symbol.
In his presentation, Robinson will report on Islamic extremism, xenophobia, political turmoil, environmental disaster, economic catastrophe and social malaise. As editor of the country's first independent English-language news outlet, it was his job to drag these issues into the sunlight for the world to see. He will also talk about how Minivan News survived in a difficult and sometimes hostile reporting environment, and share his experiences as one of the few foreign observers of a traumatic period in Maldivian history.
The seminar will be moderated by Hawwa Lubna from Maldives, currently working at SASNET as a communications assistant and a student of Development Studies Program at Lund University. She worked as a journalist at Minivan News with JJ Robinson prior to coming to Sweden for studies in 2012. 
Full information about J J Robinson and the Lund seminar.

• SASNET seminar on Democratic Struggle in South Asia from a youth perspective

A seminar entitled ”South Asia's Democratic Struggle – Youth Perspectives” will be held at Lund University on Monday 3 March 2014, 16.00–18.00. This event is jointly organised by SASNET, the South Asian Students Association (SASA), the School of Social Work, and South Asian participants in the ongoing Social Innovation in a Digital Context (SIDC) programme at Lund University. Venue: Edebalksalen, School of Social Work (Socialhögskolan), Bredgatan 26, Lund. See the poster.

South Asian SIDC participants planning for the seminar: Saimun Reza Talukder, Anjali Sarker, and Nausheen Khan from Bangladesh, Syed Al. Abbas Zaidi from Pakistan. Saloni Malhotra from India and Haseeb Tariq from Pakistan missing.

South Asia now has a population of 1.70 billion people. One fifth of the population is between the ages of 15 and 24. This is the largest number of young people ever to transition into adulthood in the history of world. Is this a blessing or curse? Each country of South Asia is facing a myriad of political, economic and social problems and it has adversely high impacts on its young. Unemployment, illiteracy, narcotics abuse and crime are some of the many problem youth are encountering. 
The purpose of the seminar entitled is to provide a platform for the young voices from the region. South Asian students and social activists at SIDC program coming from different countries including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Maldives will explore the democratic struggles of their respective countries and what young people are doing to fight social and economic injustices as individuals and organised movements.

• SASNET seminar on India’s North-Eastern Frontiers 1790-1840

SASNET invites to a seminar at Lund University with Professor Gunnel Cederlöf on Founding an Empire on India’s North-Eastern Frontiers 1790-1840” on Friday 21 March 2014, 15.15-17.00. The seminar is connected to the launch of her new book with the same title. The book  is a richly detailed historical work of the unsettled half-century from the 1790s to the 1830s when the British East India Company strove to establish control of the colonial north-eastern frontiers spanning the River Brahmaputra to the Burmese border. It offers a much-needed reframing of regional histories of South Asia away from the subcontinental Indian mainland to the varied social ecologies of Sylhet, Cachar, Manipur, Jaintia, and Khasi hills. Venue: Conference room 1, Department of Sociology, Paradisgatan 5 G, Lund.
Prof. Cederlöf is currently on leave from the Dept. of History, Uppsala University, and instead connected to the Dept. of Archaeology and Ancient History in Uppsala, and also working as a Guest professor both at the Division of History of Science and Technology, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, and at Linnaeus university in Växjö/Kalmar. She is closely connected to SASNET, being chairperson of the board during the period 2007–2010.

• SASNET/UPF seminar on India’s Democracy in a South Asian Perspective

Subrata Mitra, Professor of South Asian Politics at Heidelberg University, Germany, holds a joint SASNET/UPF seminar entitled ”Beyond Exceptionalism: On India's Democracy in a South Asian Perspective” at Lund University on Tuesday 1 April 2014, 19.00–20.45. The success of India's democracy is put in focus, in sharp contrast to the record in most post-colonial countries. This has two significant implications. First, it adds an India bias to the comparative analysis of democracy in South Asia. Secondly, it distorts the perception of Indian democracy by the proud denizens of the country who tend to see their democracy as  unique, a kind of Indian Sonderweg, not amenable to general, cross-national analysis. Venue: Café Athen, Akademiska Föreningen (AF), Sandgatan 2, Lund.
In his lecture, Prof. Mitra tries to explain why similar origins lead to dissimilar outcomes? Asked broadly of the successor states of British colonial rule in South Asia, the question puts the Indian way, consisting of regular, free and competitive elections, full citizenship, secularism and federalism as the only appropriate path of transition from colonial to democratic rule. India's neighbouring countries, particularly Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bhutan may attach a different salience to the relationship of religion and politics or to the indivisibility of unitary power of the nation, with an invidious choice between their national identity as written into the constitutions, and a radical change in their institutional arrangement. Do they need to forgo these in order to achieve democracy, Indian style? Read more about Prof. Mitra and the Lund seminar.

• Minutes from January 2014 SASNET board meeting now available

The minutes are now available from SASNET’s January 29th, 2014, board meeting. As required by law, the minutes are written in Swedish. Besides looking back to the many activities carried out during 2013 (described in the Work Report), and approving the planned workshops, conferences and other activities for 2014 and onwards, the board discussed a SASNET self evaluation report that has been produced by the staff. This document deals with SASNET’s future after 2015 when the current funding from Lund University is over. Go for the verified Minutes (as a pdf-file).

• Anna Lindberg article on dowry practices in Kerala published in South Asia journal

SASNET director Anna Lindberg analyses the hotly-contested issue of dowry in a recently published article in the peer reviewed magazine Journal of South Asian Studies. In the article, entitled ”The Historical Roots of Dowry in Kerala”, she traces the dowry practices over a century from traditional explanations to its current rationale in Kerala.
Anna Lindberg defended her doctoral dissertation, ”Experience and Identity: A Historical Account of Class, Caste, and Gender among the Cashew Workers of Kerala, 1930-2000” at Lund University in 2001, but has later focused her research on changing marriage traditions in South India, especially dowry traditions. In the new article, Anna describes how dowry payments from the family of the bride to that of the groom were rarely encountered in Kerala during the early twentieth century, but are now almost universal.
Based on an examination of historical documents, including legislative debates, court cases, and reports, the way dowry was explained in the past is compared with the results of 200 contemporary interviews to determine its current rationale. Nowadays, making an obligatory payment for the maintenance of a wife, adherence to a social norm, and guaranteeing a woman’s good treatment have displaced earlier arguments related to inheritance, status in the social hierarchy, or a woman’s ability to provide for herself. Although several blurred traditions have been cited to account for dowries, they seem to have flourished in times of social inequity and uncertainty: the 1930s, 1970s, and 1990s. The emphasis on patriarchal nuclear families has created a mentality that a woman must pay for the privilege of being married and living securely. More information.

• Olle Frödin visited universities in Kerala and Delhi

Dr Olle Frödin, SASNET deputy director in charge of research collaboration, visited India during the period 2–7 February 2014. His first stop was Kerala University, where he met Professor Sobha B. Nair, Head of Department of Sociology, and Professor Shaji Varkey, Head of Department of Political Science, to discuss student, teacher and research exchanges with Lund University. He also met Professor Jayakumari Devika at the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) in Thiruvananthapuram.
Olle then went to Delhi, where visited Professor Surinder Jodhka at Jawaharlal Nehru University. Jodhka was ICCR guest professor at Lund University in 2012/13. On 7th February, Olle attended a conference entitled ”Punjab Today” at Delhi University. Here he also had a meeting at the Department of Sociology with Professor Satish Deshpande, Head of department, and Professor Ravinder Kaur.
Finally, he met Assistant Professor Rukmini Sen, Head of Department of Sociology at Ambedkar University in Delhi. This university was established by the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi in 2007. Its mandate is to focus on research and teaching in the social sciences and humanities guided by Dr Ambedkar's vision of bridging equality and social justice with excellence.

• Bengalis in Denmark celebrated Rabindranath Tagore’s Nobel Prize
 Gitanjali programme with Dr. Ananda Gupta from London and his co-musicians.
 Keya Kar from Kolkata/Lund dancing.
Lars Eklund with Indian Ambassador Niraj Srivastava and his wife

The Bengalis in Denmark association held a Rabindranath Tagore celebration event on Friday 7 February 2014 at Kulturhus Indre By, Charlotte Ammundsens Plads 3 in central Copenhagen. H.E. Niraj Srivastava, Ambassador of India to Denmark was the Chief Guest. To commemorate 100 years of Tagore winning the Nobel Prize in Literature, the association organised a grand evening garlanded with famous works of the Bard. 

Sarbajit Deb Bente Wolf

The main performer was Dr. Ananda Gupta, Director and spearhead, FIA UK and Dakshinayan UK in London. With assistance from performers of Bengalis in Denmark, he sang songs from Tagore’s famous work Gitanjali, interspersed with reading out the new English translations of the poems made by Dr. William Radice in 2012. 
SASNET deputy director Lars Eklund participated in the Copenhagen event along with his wife Bubu, mingling with the crowd, including Mr. Sarbajit Deb, Larsen & Toubro Vice President for Nordic Region, and Dr. Bente Wolf, Curator at the National Museum of Denmark, and coordinator for its Serampore project. More information about the Copenhagen event.

• SASNET Networking Partner 10: Division of Chemical Physics, Lund University
Professor Ebbe Nordlander with three of the four South Asian PhD candidates he is supervising at the department in February 2014. From left Amber Ata, Kamal Hossain and Mainak Mitra. Ahibur Rahaman was in Bangladesh at the time of SASNET’s visit.

The Division of Chemical Physics, Department of Chemistry, Lund University has had South Asian research collaboration projects running for many years, and housed a large number of students, PhD candidates and post-docs from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The leading person behind these efforts is Professor Ebbe Nordlander, but Professor Villy Sundström has also been involved. A large number of Indian students, PhD candidates, post-docs and academic staff has come to Lund University from the academic year 2009-10 and onwards, as scholarship holders through a number of Erasmus Mundus External Cooperation Window mobility programmes being coordinated by Lund University. 
Ebbe Nordlander has been involved in research collaboration with partners in India and Bangladesh since many years, like the Indian Institutes of Technology in Mumbai and Indore, and with  Jahangirnagar University in Bangladesh. A key collaboration partner is Professor Rabindranath Mukherjee, Director for the prestigeous Indian Institute for Science Education and Research (IISER) in Kolkata, an institution with which the Science Faculty at Lund University signed an MoU in 2013.
Professor Sundström has been involved in research collaboration with the University of Kalyani, West Bengal, India.
SASNET tries to keep track of all South Asia related research at the Swedish universities, and in our database we have information about approximately 300 departments where some kind of South Asia related research and/or educational collaboration projects with institutions in the eight South Asian nations is going on. Among our networking partners , we will each month present one or two of these departments and the researchers working on South Asia related projects. Go for SASNET’s list of Swedish departments.

• More information about SASNET and its activities
See SASNET’s page,

Research Community New

• Indo-Swedish research collaboration to promote assistive technology for Health

The Department of Signal Processing at the School of Electrical Engineering, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm is strongly involved in research collaboration with India. In 2010, Professor Peter Händel and his researcher colleagues were selected to run a Research Programme in the field of Embedded Systems, in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore. The project, jointly administered by The Department of Biotechnology, Government of India (DBT); and the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems (VINNOVA), focused on Indoor Positioning, a technology developed aimed at making the work of a firefighter safer. A small embedded computer in the heal of the firefighter's shoe allows for the leader of the rescue operation to follow the firefighters movements and location throughout the coordinated rescue operation.
In December 2013, Prof. Händel and the KTH School of Electrical Engineering (EES) were again selected for funding from Vinnova, DBT, and also the Swedish Research Council. They received a grant from the Strategic Indo-Swedish Cooperative Innovation Programme for a project entitled ”Seamless Affordable Assistive Technology for Health (SAATH)”. It will be carried out in collaboration with IISc, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur and a few other partners. The idea is to develop wireless sensor based systems for monitoring activity-level, providing physical assistance and “critical” exercise of elderly people during normal daily living using a combination of sensors, assisted reconfigurable smart walking sticks, and “physical-helper” exoskeletons with an emphasis on safe and secure mobility in the home and beyond to enable independence and active living for maximum possible span of life.
Read more about the South Asia related research at the Dept. of Signal Processing.

• Lund University collaboration with Indian Oil scientists on biofuel energy research
Indian Oil researchers Alok Satrewal and Ravindra Kumar along with Professor Gunnar Lidén at Dept. of Chemical Engineering.

In February 2014, two senior scientists from Indian Oil's Bio Energy Research Center in Faridabad, Dr. Ravindra Kumar and Dr. Alok Satlewal, organic chemist and microbiologist respectively, spends two weeks at Lund University with an ambition to explore the ongoing biofuel energy research at Lund University within LU Biofuels, and exchange expertise. Their visit marks the beginning of a new research collaboration on Biomass pre-treatment, Enzymatic Hydrolysis, and Biomass Manufacturing and Process Development between state-owned Indian Oil Corporation and the Department of Chemical Engineering at Lund University. It is based on an agreement that was formalized by an MoU in October 2013, obtained through help from Invest In Skåne and Business Sweden and with financial support from the Swedish Energy AgencyProfessor Gunnar Lidén is leading the collaboration on behalf of the Chemical Engineering department. 
Indian Oil, with its headquarters in Mumbai, is India's largest refiner and fuel retailer with a state of the art Research and Development Center manned by over 400 scientists across the country. The main location is the Bio Energy Research Center in Faridabad outside Delhi, where focus lies primarily on bio-fuel research. More information about the  research centre.
On 11 February 2014, Lars Eklund and Hawwa Lubna from SASNET made a visit to the Dept. of Chemical Engineering in order to meet with Prof. Lidén and the two visiting Indian Oil researchers. Professor Lidén then informed that this is the first time his department has established a research collaboration with a huge corporation in India. The aim is to form a viable and crucial partnership for expanding biotechnology and renewable energy research in South Asia. More information about the Dept. of Chemical Engineering at Lund University.

• Poonam Singh new WHO Regional Director for South and South-East Asia

Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh will take charge as the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for its South-East Asia Region from 1 February 2014. She was elected by the 11 Member States of the Region – including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka – in September last year and subsequently appointed by the WHO Executive Board at its 134th session in January 2014.
Dr Khetrapal Singh is the first woman to hold this post. She has served for over two decades as a civil servant in the Indian Administrative Services, being the Secretary of Health, Family Welfare and Medical Education in the state of Punjab, and later working as Advisor for International Health within the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the Government of India. She has also worked for many years with the Health, Population and Nutrition Department of The World Bank. In 1998 she joined WHO headquarters as Executive Director, Sustainable Development and Healthy Environments, and became a member of the Cabinet of then Director-General Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland. More information.

• Rare collection of old Urdu newspaper Al-Islah published online

AMZ Publications based in New York, USA, has published a rare and historical collection of the Urdu language newspaper “Al-Islah” dating from 1935 to 1947 online. The newspaper was started in 1934 by Allama Mashriqi (photo), founder of the Khaksar Tehrik (Khaksar Movement), and is an invaluable resource that chronicles the period leading up to British India’s partition in 1947. This newspaper is an important addition to the historiography of South Asian Studies (SAS) and is one of the most critical documents on the subject. It shall go a long way in helping students and academics in their research and in understanding the freedom movement and the partition of India in 1947.
The digital version of Al-Islah comprises of 4,128 pages and was compiled by Mashriqi’s grandson, Nasim Yousaf. For those interested in more information, Mr. Yousaf’s article on Al-Islah entitled ”Khaksar Movement Weekly Al-Islah’s Role Toward Freedom” was published by Pakistaniaat: Journal of Pakistani Studies (based at the University of North Texas, USA and sponsored by the American Institute of Pakistan Studies). Read the article.
More information about the Al-Islah online collection.

• Doctoral Position on South India research open at Zurich University

University of Zürich is offering a position at the doctoral level in research Norms and Social Order(s), addressing the issue of religion, tradition and medical practice in South India. The duration of the position is 36 months and it will start on 1 September 2014.
The position is available as part of The University Research Priority Program (URPP) Asia and Europe, run by University of Zurich. The aim of this program is to explore exchanges and encounters between Asia and Europe that have taken and continue to take place in the areas of culture, law, religion and society. It promotes research by junior graduate scholars at both doctoral and post-doctoral levels within a structured and interdisciplinary research environment. The URPP consists of three research fields, i.e. Concepts and Taxonomies, Entangled Histories, and Norms and Social Order(s). Among other openenings include, one position at the doctoral or postdoctoral level in research field Concepts and Taxonomies, one position at the doctoral level in research field Concepts and Taxonomies and one position at the doctoral level in research field Entangled Histories, involving a social-scientific orientation and focusing on the present. The deadline for sending applications is 16 February 2014. More information. 

• Heidelberg scholarships for Asia and Europe in a Global Context studies

The Graduate Programme for Transcultural Studies of the Cluster of Excellence ”Asia and Europe in a Global Context” at Heidelberg University in Germany is now accepting applications for eight doctoral scholarships beginning in the winter semester 2014/15. The programme offers a monthly scholarship of 1.200 Euro. It further supports scholarship holders in framing their research through advanced courses and individual supervision and mentoring. Half of the scholarships are reserved for young scholars from Asia. The deadline for applications is March 15, 2014. More information about the Graduate Programme for Transcultural Studies and the scholarships.

• Web based SYDASIEN gives in-depth stories about South Asian development

Is your field of interest within South Asia? The online journal is the only swedish journal featuring South Asia related articles focusing on cultural issues and political debates. You will also find various articles on recent news and events, in-depth research accounts, stories from NGO-organizations work in the region, Human Rights issues, Womens & Childrens Rights issues, Enviromental issues and Poverty issues.
For 34 years the Swedish-language print magazine SYDASIEN played an important role to disseminate news and information on South Asia. With popularly written articles on politics, history, literature and culture in the eight countries that consist South Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) SYDASIEN was a unique feature in Scandinavia till the magazine closed down in late 2010.

SYDASIEN editors Lars Eklund (1982–2007), John Senewiratne (2008–2010) and Johanna Sommansson.

Lars Eklund, now SASNET deputy director, was the editor in chief for 25 years, during the period 1982–2007. Go for the 2007 web page, with an index back in time.
From 2008 till the closure in 2010, the magazine was edited by John Senewiratne in Norrköping.

However, Since 2011 SYDASIEN has resurfaced in a brand new shape, as a high-quality Internet based web magazine. It was launched by the new editor of the magazine, Ms. Johanna Sommansson (photo), holding an MA in Social Anthropology and a BA in Indology from Stockholm University. Go for the
You may also join via Facebook:

• More information about South Asia related research at Swedish and Nordic universities
See SASNET’s page,

Educational News

• Illuminating article on decline of International students to Swedish universities
Koustubh Sharma from India, masters student in Wireless Communication at Lund University, portrayed in Sydsvenskan’s article. Photo by Peter Frennesson.

On Sunday 2 February 2013, the Swedish language newspaper Sydsvenskan in Malmö published an extensive 6-page article about the decline in number of International non-European students at Swedish universities after the introduction of fees in 2011. Journalist Emma Leijnse shows in the illuminating reportage entitled ”Målet: fler studenter till Sverige” (The Target: More Students to Sweden) that there has been a dramatic decline in numbers to Lund University, Malmö University and Blekinge Institite of Technology (BTH) of students other than those covered by different exchange programmes (since these are exempted from fees). As an example is mentioned the number of Pakistani students studying in Sweden the last year before the introdution of fees compared to 2012, falling from nearly 3.000 to less than 800.
At BTH in Karlskrona, the number of foreign students before the fees was 1.100, out of which many came from South Asia. Now the number of paying students is only 180, but BTH is trying to compensate by developing exchange agreements with old collaborating partner universities in India. Otherwise, the main strategy at Swedish universities right now, a strategy followed by both Lund and Malmö universities, is to increase marketing and attending international education fairs, not the least in India and China, to get a reasonable large contingent of paying students from wealthy families.
When the fees were introduced, the government at the same time promised to increase funding for scholarships. A specific quota was given for students from developing countries with which Sweden have long-term assistance agreements, in South Asia only Bangladesh. For the rest of the world, Swedish Institute distributes scholarships but the number is miniscule. Last year only 239 SI scholarships were given out, whereas the number of applicants was 5.000. 
Sydsvenskan’s article also has excellent graphic illustrations by Johan Strömbeck, and photos by Peter Frennesson. The article is not available for free, but can be read with an e-subscription, go for Sydsvenskan home page.

• Fika without borders discussion on Bangladesh's democratic struggle

Participants of the ”Social Innovation in a Digital Context (SIDC)” programme, currently run by Lund University (more information about the programme), runs a project called Fika Without Borders. The concept Fika Without Borders comes from the belief that a coffee table gathering can bring together people from all over the world. Fika (pronounced “fee-ka”) is a social institution in Sweden; it means having a coffee break with one’s colleagues, friends, date or family. These simple egalitarian social interactions can help break barriers and change the world one fika at a time. Read more.
On 29 January 2014, the event focused on the topic of ”Bangladesh:Quest for Democracy”.The three participants from Bangladesh within the SIDC program, Anjali Sarker, Nausheen Khan and Md Saimum Reza Talukder, shared local insights into the ongoing political struggle in their homeland. Ragnar Hallgren, Swedish lawyer, specialized in International Law, was an invited guest speaker.
Between Bangladesh's independence in 1971 till now, the country has faced several hurdles in the path to democracy. For a decade, the country was trapped in a military dictatorship and this episode was repeated between 2006-2008 as the country entered a state of emergency on the 11th of January, a date infamously remembered as 1/11. While the power has been shifting back and forth between the two main political parties, the citizens have become the victims suffering from high prices of food essentials, threats to their security and so on. The situation has taken a turn for the worse with the recently held elections on 5 January 2014, where the main opposition refused to participate as questions of credibility arose. This have rise to countrywide protests and loss of innocent lives. More information about the event.

• Fika without borders seminar on Global Culture to fight Extremism

Another Fika Without Borders seminar in Lund was held on Wednesday 12 February 2014, 17.00–19.00, and focused on ”Global Culture to Fight Extremism”. The seminar was introduced by Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi (photo), founding chairperson of the Pakistan Youth Alliance and affiliated with Khudi Pakistan, a counter extremism social movement in Pakistan. He is one of the participants of the ”Social Innovation in a Digital Context (SIDC)” programme, that runs the Fika without borders seminar series. VenueSödra Esplanaden – Kreativ Studio, Kungsgatan 4, Lund. More information.he seminar touched upon the global culture to fight extremism, with some focus on Pakistan. The rise of trans-national Islamist extremist movements was analyzed; but also counter-extremism and counter-narratives. What do extremist groups do? How do you counter extremism on the ground? The seminar will be followed by discussion by participants about their experiences, searching for common approaches to fight extremism.

• Other educational news connected to South Asian studies all over the World

See SASNET’s page,

Seminars and Conferences in Scandinavia

• Stockholm seminar on remarkably successful health care in Bangladesh

In November 2013, the Lancet – the world's leading general medical journal and specialty journal in Oncology, Neurology and Infectious Diseases – published an exclusive series on health care in Bangladesh. This has become a remarkable success story, despite low spending on health care, a weak health system, and widespread poverty. Go for the Lancet articles. Go for the Lancet articles.
With highlights from the series, The Strategic Research Programme of Care Sciences at Karolinska Institutet (KI) in Stockholm now invites  to a Special Event on ”Social Justice through Health: Impressive Health Gains in Bangladesh despite Multiple Inequalities”, to be held on Monday 10 March 2014, 14.00–16.00. Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairperson of BRAC will speak at the event. Venue: 
Wallenberg Lecture Hall, Nobel Forum, Nobels väg 5, Karolinska Institutet, Solna.
Other speakers include Dr. Mushtaque Chowdhury, Vice Chair and Interim Executive Director, BRAC; and Dr. Abbas Bhuiya, Deputy Executive Director, ICDDR,B, Dhaka. Dr. Börje Ljunggren, Former head of Asia at Sida and Swedish Ambassador to Vietnam and China; Professor Joakim Palme, Department of Government, Uppsala University; and Dr. Anders Nordström, Ambassador for Global Health, Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be discussants. The event is conducted by Associate Professor Zarina Nahar Kabir, Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institutet. More information.

• Linnaeus University seminar on Education and Entrepreneurship in India

The Linnaeus University in Växjö/Kalmar organises a one-day seminar entitled ”Education and Entrepreneurship in India – New challenges, new opportunities” in Växjö on Thursday 3 April 2014, 09.00–16.00. The purpose is to highlight, inspire and learn more about India and collaboration possibilities in India. The event focuses on education and entrepreneurship in the belief that both perspectives could learn from each other, but also on busnes opportunities. It is targeted towards staff and students at the university that wish to learn more about India and how to find collaboration possibilities. The event is free of charge, but registration is needed. Venue: Room Myrdal, House K, Entrance 4, Linnaeus University campus Växjö, Georg Lückligs väg.
The speakers include 
Professor Chandra B. Sharma (photo) from the School of Education, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) in New Delhi, who will speak about Higher Education in India; and Indian Ambassador Mrs. Banashri Bose Harrison, who will speak about India-Sweden Relations. Dr. Sirpa Tenhunen, Director for the Nordic Centre in India  (NCI) will present its activities; and the SASNET Director, Dr. Anna Lindberg, will speak about the fifteen years of SASNET networking on South Asia. In the afternoon, business representatives from IKEA and Oria will talk about their India experiences; and finally Mr. Robin Sukhia, Secretary General, Sweden-India Business Council (SIBC), will give a presentation entitled ”How to do business in India”. 
Last day to register is 24 March 2014. More information, including registration form.

• Copenhagen PhD seminar on Place in the Global South

The Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies (ToRS) at University of Copenhagen organises a PhD seminar entitled ”Place in the Global South”, 8 – 9 May 2014. The seminar aims to examine how everyday practices, political processes and power relations produce places in the Global South, and also bring together PhD students from various disciplines working on related themes. Keynote speakers are Professor John Gledhill, University of Manchester; and Professor Ursula Rao, Leipzig University. Deadline for submission of applications is 31 March 2014. More information.

• Danish anthropological course in Trankebar and at the Coromandel coast

The Danish Tranquebar Association organises an anthropological summer course in Tamil Nadu, India, 8 –22 July 2014. The course is led by Dr. Lars Kjærholm, Lecturer at the Department of Anthropology, Århus University. The focus lies on the former Danish trading station Trankebar, but the participants will also visit other places on the Coromandel coast such as Mahabalipuram, Puducherry and Tanjore.
The Tranquebar Association 
was established in 2002 with the objective to strengthen the historical and cultural cooperation between India and Denmark. Work has concentrated on restoring several heritage buildings in Tranquebar, including the old Danish Fort, but also to do relief work after tthe tsunami in 2004.
Even though the summer course is primarily intended for teachers, it is open for any interested person to participate. It includes studies on topics such as Film and Politics in Tamil Nadu; Social and Cultural processes of change in current India; the Dalit struggle for integration; and Co-existence of religious traditions in South India. A preparatory meeting will be held in Copenhagen on Saturday 5 April 2014. More information.

• Information about South Asia related lectures and seminars

Conferences and workshops outside Scandinavia

• Ahmedabad conference on Law, Society and Sustainable Development

The Institute of Law at Nirma University in Ahmedabad, India, organises an international conference entitled ”Law, Society and Sustainable Development: Problems and Prospects", on 17–18 February 2014. The themes of the conference include: – Environmental Management and Sustainable Development; – Sustainable Development and Green Technology; – Socio-Political and Economic Dimensions of Sustainable Development; – Legal Structures and National/International Framework for Sustainable Development; and – Globalisation, Development and Sustainable Development. The conference convener is Dr. Ravi Saxena. More information.

• Australia conference on Bollywood and the globalized culture industry

The School of Design, Communication and IT at University of Newcastle in Australia is organising an international conference on ”Bollywood and Its Other(s)" on 20–21 February 2014. It will be held at ICT TV Studio, University of Newcastle.
This conference focuses on tracing the various other(s) of Bollywood, the globalized culture industry that has successfully transcended the confines of India, urging scholars to discuss its global histories. While the history of the industry before the widely debated economic liberalization was that of an ongoing confrontation with the state, it has become a part of Indian states cultural diplomacy after the liberalization. Our conference will challenge this normative mode, bringing out the ruptures prevalent in the mainstream history, of cinema as well as of the state. 
Discussions will also concern itself with the possibility of writing alternative histories of the industry. Critical examination of the alternative histories of the national popular industry would help us to look critically at the alternative histories of the nation as well.The aim and objective of the conference is to re-evaluate the standard received versions of cinematic history, the developmentalist narrative situated in a linear historical time and to re-think various formations in the industry which have achieved normative status. More information.

• Varanasi conference on Multiple Modernities and Social Inclusion

An International Seminar on ”Multiple Modernities and Social Inclusion” will be held at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in Varanasi, India, 25–27 February 2014. It is being organized by the university’s Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy (CSSEIP). The conference will deliberate upon the following themes, which will have technical sessions also depending on the nature of abstracts: - Democracy, Pluralism and Development; - Globalization and Lived Religion; and - Post Colonial narratives and Comparative Methodologies. There will also be an Open session.
The convener is Professor Ashok Kumar Kaul, CSSEIP coordinator, and ICCR Visiting Guest Professor at University of Gothenburg during the Spring 2013. Professor Sanjay Srivastava is the co-convener. Full information.

• New Delhi Conference on State and Society in North East India

The North East India Studies Programme at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, India, is organising an international conference on the theme, ”State and Society in North East India,” from 26 – 28 February 2014. Academic and everyday debates on North East India have generally been dominated by
themes on ethnicity, tribe and nation. While one may consider this as the reflection of embeddedness of the people around such categories, the role of the state with regard to these categories of tribe, ethnicity, nation, civic institutions and everyday civil society spaces has been less explored. One such area of exploration could be the relationship between the state and society. A state-society analytical framework may help to understand historically the location of state as a political unit and practices in North East India. This also opens the scope to investigate state representing society as its integral part or the society as resisting or autonomous spaces to the state. More information.

• Jharkhand conference on Interdisciplinary Research in Social Sciences in Eastern India

A national Conference on “Interdisciplinary Researches in Social Sciences in Eastern India with special reference to Jharkhand will be organized by the Sociological Research Units within the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Kolkata 27–28 Februry 2014. It will be held at the ISI Campus at Giridih in Jharkhand. The main objective of the conference is to encourage inter-disciplinary discourse and collaborations between scholars involved in the study of resources, development and change in Eastern India with special emphasis on Jharkhand. Sub themes include, but are not limited to (a) conservation of resources, (b) effects of ethics and practices, in particular socio-cultural, economic and ecological ones on development, (c) conflict and post-conflict recovery, and (d) post natural disaster reconstruction. More information and registration forms.

• Kolkata conference on Dispossession, Livelihoods, and Contestation in India’s Capitalist Transition

The Institute of Development Studies Kolkata (IDSK) hosts a conference entitled ”The Return of the Land Question: Dispossession, Livelihoods, and Contestation in India’s Capitalist Transition” on 4–6 March 2014. It is co-organised by the Australia India Institute and the Faculty of Arts at University of Melbourne, Australia; and the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIMC). This interdisciplinary conference seeks to understand the process of dispossession and its ramifications for the political economy of capital accumulation in the Indian economy. It therefore seeks to address, inter alia, the following sets of issues: what is the nature of agrarian accumulation that has resulted in the unwillingness of peasants to sell land? What are the employment and livelihood challenges faced by the dispossessed? What has been the nature of contestation that this process of widespread dispossession has elicited? What is the nature of state-capital relationship(s) that underpin this process and has this been constrained by contestation from below within the context of a democratic polity? Who are the stakeholders in this transition process? Has the process of contestation and parliamentary democracy materially altered this process of dispossession?
Scholars from India and abroad are invited to submit proposals, which cover some facet of the land question in India. For India-based participants selected for the conference the organisers will provide roundtrip economy class airfare and lodging and boarding for the duration of the conference. To international invitees they will provide accommodation and meals but encourage international scholars to seek travel funding of their own as we expect to be able to provide only partial travel support. Full information.

• New Delhi conference on India’s Role in the First World War

The Centre for Armed Forces Historical Research (CAFHR) at the United Service Institution of India holds a conference on ‘India and the Great War’ in New Delhi on 5–7 March 2014. The First World War (1914-1918) or the Great War for Civilisation, as it was known at the time, was a watershed event in modern world history. The events of that conflict changed the social and political map of the world forever. The conference is co-organised by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Government of India, and is part of a USI-MEA Great War Centenary Commemoration Project. Invited speakers include Ashok Nath from Stockholm University, who will speak about ”A Grand Spectacle – Indian Cavalry and Infantry Regiments of the Great War”; and Fredrik Petersson from Åbo Akademi University, Finland, who will speak about ”Subversive Indian Networks in Berlin and Europe, 1914-18”. 
India, though a colony at the time, actively supported the war effort in its bid to gain Dominion status. Mainstream political opinion in 1914 was of the view that if India desired greater responsibility and political autonomy, it must be willing to share in the burden of imperial defence. As a result, India contributed immensely to the war effort in terms of both men and material. Her soldiers served with credit and honour in numerous battlefields around the globe: in France and Belgium, in Aden, East Africa, Gallipoli, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Palestine, Persia, Salonica, Russia, and even in China. By the end of the war 1,100,000 Indians had served overseas at the cost of 60,000 dead. 
The ‘India and the Great War’ conference aims to be the starting-point for a wide-ranging dialogue on India's participation in the War. By bringing together scholars and experts to examine diverse facets of India’s involvement in the conflict through a series of themed sessions, the conference hopes to unlock new perspectives and generate fresh insights on Indian participation in the Great War. The aim is to paint a broad-brush picture of the theme ‘India and the Great War’, on an unprecedented scale, and highlight multiple interpretations and perspectives that unfold 100 years since the outbreak of the war. More information.

• Dhaka conference on Democracy, Citizenship and Urban Violence

The 2nd Annual Conference of Urban Research and Development Society will be held at University of Dhaka, Bangladesh on 12–13 March 2014. Please note the conference has been reschedueld from December 2013.
The theme for the conference will be ”Democracy, Citizenship and Urban Violence”. Based on Bangladeshi experiences where inequality and social polarization has led to new forms of urban violence, and with disjunctions between democracy and modernity – producing fragmented urban spaces, the conference aims to address urban violence under neoliberal democracy and insurgent form of citizenship. 
Today's Dhaka is a city of shopping malls, restaurants, cafes, beauty parlours and glamorous gymnasiums. Dhaka in a short space of time has transformed, the landscape now dominated by new developments and an array of real-estate advertisements offering lucrative land and housing deals across the city. Alongside these new developments a new wave of service privatization, of universities, hospitals and schools is sweeping across the city, pricing out the vast majority from access to basic services. Millions of poor people moved to the city’s peripheries with the hope and prosperity where they were again entrapped into the new urban poverty. It is thus in this context in which the peripheries, where new manufacturing and garments factories are fast developing, which become centers for poverty, violence and exploitation. In fact, urban poverty, widespread violence, and massive population movements to Dhaka have contributed to the peripheralization of poverty and violence during the period of market democracy. This new forms of urban violence has produced citizen insecurity.
The conference organisers are Prof. Shahadat Hossain, and Dr. Samina Luthfa, both from the Dept. of Sociology, University of Dhaka. More information

• Third Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies conference at Yale

ANHSThe Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies (ANHS) holds its 3rd annual conference at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, USA, 14 – 16 March 2014. The conference is hosted by the Yale Himalaya Initiative and convened by Dr Mark Turin. As a central theme, the 3rd Himalayan Studies Conference will address the idea of Communities, broadly conceived. This includes issues relating to communities within and across the Himalaya; ongoing partnerships between scholars, governments and citizens in the region; as well as communities of practice that support Himalayan Studies as an emerging field of interdisciplinary scholarship and practice.
Participation in the conference is restricted to members of the ANHS. The deadline for all panel proposals was 30 September 2013. Panels include:
• Citizenship, Political Subjectivity, and the State
• Conservation Policies, Social Ecologies, and Community Practices in Bhutan
• Himalayan Ummah: Global and Local Muslim Community in the Himalayas
• Representation of the Himalayas in Films and Media
• Translating Medical Ideas across Himalayan Communities of Sowa Rigpa Medical Practitioners, Past and Present
More information.

• Thiruvananthapuram conference on Disaster, Risk and Vulnerability

The Department of Geology, University of Kerala in Thiruvananthapuram, India is organizing the ”Disaster, Risk and Vulnerability Conference 2014” (DRVC 2014) from 24 – 26 April 2014. It coincides with the department celebrating its Golden Jubilee Year. The conference is in continuation of the successful DRVC2011 conference which was held in the School of Environmental Sciences, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, Kerala, India in March 2011. Deadline for submitting abstracts is 1 March 2014. More information.

• London PhD Graduate Workshop on Crossing borders in South Asia

The brand new SOAS South Asia Institute (SSAI) at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, organises a graduate student workshop on the theme “Crossing borders in South Asia“ on Wednesday 7 May 2014, 09.00–18.00. Venue: SOAS, Russell Square College Buildings, room 4429, London. 
Papers are invited that pose a challenge to ‘methodological nationalism’ and focus on processes among people, regardless of either national boundaries or the state. In recent years, increasing scholarly attention has been paid to borderlands, thus complementing and challenging the traditional focus on nations and states, and Scott’s concept of Zomia is well embedded in many of these debates.  However, there remains considerable scope for problematizing the ‘methodological nationalism’ of many studies of society and culture in postcolonial South Asia. The papers should examine the influence and impact upon the populations of neighbouring states of ideological and cultural developments that have taken place within India’s borders, or in the reverse direction, or even totally outside the region, but with an impact that transcends considerations of national, cultural and political boundaries. The focus of the workshop will be on cross-border relationships and interactions at a level below that of the state, ie. questions of governmental foreign policy and foreign relations will not be central to our discussions. Deadline for submitting paper abstracts is 21 February 2014. More information. 

• Göttingen workshop on Modern Histories of Indian Business

Center for Modern Indian Studies at the University of Göttingen in Germany is organising a workshop focusing on the theme “Informal and Everyday Markets: Modern Histories of Indian Business and Entrepreneurship since the Nineteenth Century“ from June 18-20, 2014. The workshop aims to explore histories of Indian markets, business and entrepreneurship in the global as well as local context. It focuses on the informal and everyday markets including labor and credit markets  during the nineteenth and twentieth century which are so crucial for Indian business history but are seldom made a focal point of analysis. By inviting scholars to pay special attention to the informality of economic transactions and on the inter-personal characteristics of markets instead of their abstract nature, we hope to shed some light on markets that too often are left as conceptual black boxes and taken for granted. Markets are often described by their institutional set-ups and formal regulations alone, leaving their underpinnings on informal cultural values, social embedment, informal exchanges, traditional everyday interactions, and in some cases even illegal activities unaddressed. Deadline for submission of papers to be presented at the workshop is 15 February 2014. More information.

• Singapore workshop on Mobilities and Exceptional Spaces in Asia

The National University of Singapore (NUS) is organising a research workshop entitled “Mobilities and Exceptional Spaces in Asia“ 8 – 9 July 2014. Venue: Asia Research Institute (ARI), Seminar Room, Tower Block Level 10 469A Bukit Timah Road, Singapore. This workshop calls for fresh empirical research on a variety of spaces of exception in Asia to shed light on new ways capitalism works socially and culturally under contemporary globalisation. The organisers welcome papers that address issues such as ”What new flows of capital, labour, money, consumer power are created by/in exceptional spaces?”;  ”What roles does gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality and other identity markers/social categories play in how exceptional spaces are organised and experienced?”; and ”What historical connections exist between the recent use of exceptional spaces and past phenomena including during the time of colonialism?”.
Sociologists, anthropologists, geographers and scholars from associated disciplines are invited to submit papers pertaining to these or related issues before 13 February 2014. More information.

• Interdisciplinary comparative seminar on Balkans and South Asia at Ohio State University

Ohio State University's Sawyer Seminar Conference 2014 will focus on the theme “Imagining Alternative Modernities: Interventions from the Balkans and South Asia“. The conference will be held at Ohio State University Campus in Columbus 9–11 October 2014. The conference completes and complements a series of interdisciplinary activities in 2013-14, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation through the John E. Sawyer Seminars on the Comparative Study of Cultures grant program. On the surface, the Balkans and South Asia might seem to have little in common. However, despite many specific differences, they share similar dilemmas of linguistic, religious, cultural, and ethno-national complexity, similar turbulent political developments associated with imperial, post-colonial, and Cold War legacies, and a similar diversity of responses to these historical and contemporary challenges. Both areas have seen a mixing of people through migratory settlement, conquest, contact, and trade. But both have also experienced periods of reaction to cultural hybridity: a radical unmixing of people through partition and population exchange. The impact of these upheavals is seen in the direct violence of war and devastation, but also through crises on the levels of language, religion, and other modes of culture and human creative activity. 
Proposals for paper presentations from any disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspective within the humanities and social sciences addressing one or more of the following themes in the Balkans or in South Asia, or comparatively between the two regions: 1. Violence, Gender, and Human Rights, 2. Nation, Religion, Language, and Secularism, 3. Minorities, State, Language, and Citizenship and 4. Postcolonial and Postsocialist Perspectives on Neoliberalism. The deadline for submission is 17 March 2014. More information. 

• London conference on Violence, Colonialism and Empire in the Contemporary World

A conference entitled “Violence, Colonialism and Empire in the Modern and Contemporary World“ will be held at British Academy in London from 29 June to 1 July 2015. The conference is sponsored by the Centre for the History of Violence (CHOV) at the University of Newcastle, Australia. This conference will bring together scholars from across the world to explore innovative ways of critically engaging with the question of violence, repression and atrocity in imperial and colonial empires, its representations and memories, from the late eighteenth through to the twentieth century. Invited guest speakers are Partha Chatterjee, Columbia University; and Elizabeth Kolsky, Villanova University. 
The conference organizers encourage scholars to interpret the conference themes broadly in crafting their proposals and are not limited to European colonial empires made up of settler societies, but also empires of occupation. Call for papers to be presented at the conference is open until 1 December 2014. More information.

• Other conferences connected to South Asian studies all over the World
See SASNET’s page,

Business and Politics

• Information about South Asia related business and politics in Sweden
See SASNET's page,

South Asia related culture in Scandinavia

• Huddinge performance of Kali – Time and Change

Länsmusiken in Stockholm had a grand premiere for Kali – Time and Change, a performance containing contemporary Swedish music in an exciting encounter with Indian dance, on Wednesday 5 February 2014, at 19.00. Venue: Teater Slava, Kyrkogårdsvagen 2, Huddinge (south of Stockholm). The music was composed by Eva Sidén for wind instruments, percussion, piano, electronic band meeting, and the specially written choreography was made by by Usha Balasundaramwell known for her Bharatanatyam dance school Saraswathy Kalakendra Institution of Fine Arts in Huddinge. Young people from Vårby school had been in the process of creation through ljud/musik- and dance workshops. Full information.

• Interesting Indian films screened at 37th Göteborg Film Festival

The 37th Göteborg International Film Festival (GIFF), this year held from 24 January till 3 February 2014, was as usual a grand feast for cineasts. More than 500 films from altogether 87 countries were screened during the festival period. South Asia was reprsented by six Indian films and one joint US-Nepalese one. Lars Eklund was there and watched some of the interesting Indian films, amomg them Janaki Vishwanathan’s Hindi film ”Yeh Hai Bakrapur” (The Goat Vote), a socio-political satire set in rural south India. A goat that suddenly is considered to be divine leads to a Hindu-Muslim communal divide in the village. 
QISSA” was an Indian-German 2013 drama film by Anup Singh, set in post-colonial India. Umber Singh, a Sikh punjabi, is forced to flee his village in west Punjab due to ethnic cleansing at the time of partition in 1947. He builds a new home for his family. Longing too much for a boy heir Umber raises his youngest girl child a boy. This leads in the end to catastrophy.
Another highly interesting movie being screened was Marathi film maker Nagraj Manjule with a highly emotive film entitled Fandry”, describing all too well the unlawful caste discrimination facing a Dalit family living in a Maharashtra village. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the Mumbai International Film Festival in 2013, and is actually expected to be released theatrically in India now in February 2014. Read more in Lars Eklund’s festival report.

• Information about South Asia related culture in Sweden/ Scandinavia
See SASNET’s page,

New and updated items on SASNET web site

• Report on Asian views on Europe’s Role for Security in a Multipolar World

The Third NFG (Nachwuchsforschungsgruppe) Academic Council Meeting was held in New Delhi, India, on 26-27 September 2013 in association with Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), the Observer Research Foundation, and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung India. The Conference on ‘Europe’s Role for Security in a Multipolar World: the Views from India and China’ brought together academics, practitioners, and policy makers from Europe, India and China, with the aim of bridging the gap between academic and policy debates in Asia and Europe. 
This third Annual Conference built upon the discussions and results of previous conferences in Berlin (2011) and Beijing (2012), and brought together a community of distinguished policy-makers and scholars from India, China, Japan, the United States and Europe to discuss and compare their perspectives on Asian perceptions of the EU as a security actor.
The conference also provided a platform to present the most recent findings from extensive field research in the NFG’s two core case studies: EU-Asian cooperation in (i) peacekeeping and (ii) export control regimes. Discussion also centred on the role of strategic partnerships, diff erences between the EU and the US model of security, as well as past, present and future roles for the EU as a security actor in Asia.
A full report of the Conference has now been released. Go for the report.

• Swedish departments where research on South Asia is going on

This month there were  3 new departments added to SASNET's list: 

         ‡ Department of Communication and Media (KOM), Lund University
         ‡ Department of Chemical Engineering, Lund University
         ‡ Department of Signal Processing, School of Electrical Engineering,
            Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm

Constantly added to the list of research environments at Swedish universities, presented by SASNET. The full list now includes nearly 300 departments, with detailed descriptions of the South Asia related research and education taking place! See the full list of departments here:

• Useful travelling information

Look at our Travel Advice page. Updated travel advises from the The British Foreign & Commonwealth Office about safety aspects on travelling to the countries of South Asia.

Best regards

  Lars Eklund

Deputy Director in charge of Communication
SASNET/Swedish South Asian Studies Network

SASNET is a national network for research, education, and information about South Asia and is based at Lund University. Its aim is to promote a dynamic networking process in which Swedish researchers cooperate with their counterparts in South Asia and around the globe.
The SASNET network is open to all branches of the natural and social sciences. Priority is given to interdisciplinary cooperation across faculties, and more particularly to institutions in the Nordic countries and South Asia. SASNET believes that South Asian studies will be most fruitfully pursued as a cooperative endeavour among researchers in different institutions who have a solid base in their mother disciplines.
The network is financed by Lund University.

Postal address: SASNET – Swedish South Asian Studies Network, Box 114, SE-221 00 Lund, Sweden 
Visiting address: Paradisgatan 5 G (first floor, room no. 201), in the premises of the Department of Sociology, Lund University.
Phone: + 46 46 222 73 40 
Web site:

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