Saturday, November 26, 2005

SAR (South Asia Religious) News links....

Via the SAR News homepage, I was trying to locate a link to Fr Desmond D'Souza story titled Organised Loot Of Antiquities From Churches And Chapels In Goa On The Rise. SAR's site, of the South Asia Religious News, a Christian-oriented religious news service, is password protected. But the other stories found on its homepage related to Goa include:

Now Showing: Goa – The Uprising. On Eve Of Film Festival, Uproar Looms Over Migrant Influx, Town Planning Act By Fr. Desmond de Sousa CSsR PANAJI, Goa (SAR NEWS) -- Last year, Bollywood hit ‘Mangal Pandey: The Rising’ was the showpiece at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI). This year as the IFFI opens again, November 24 in Goa, there is a real-life uprising on the streets of the tiny coastal state.
RSS Chief’s Call For Hindu Women To Procreate More Insult To Indian Women: AICU By SAR NEWS PANAJI, Goa (SAR NEWS) -- The All India Catholic Union (AICU) has termed the call of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to Hindu couples to produce more than three children as racist.
There's also this story:
Israeli Airline Woos Goan Catholic Pilgrims To The Holy Land By Peter Raposo, SAR NEWS PANAJI, Goa (SAR NEWS) -- The officials of the international El Al Israeli Airline have unveiled a special tour package to the Holy Land in Israel to woo Goan Catholic pilgrims. The special tour would take the pilgrims to the place of birth, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, among other things.

Architectural pix... online at Flickr

Came across these links via the GoaHeritage mailing list which has Adgardo post some architectural pictures from Goa. Adgardo says:

here are some pictures of a few Salcette homes I took including a historic home (Menezes Braganza) and some church alter piece being sought after by an antique dealer. The villages of Salcette were all my memories of Goa, the football and a very laid back way of life, where the only excitement were the inter-village football and the arrival of the post man. I hope to spend more time and do more pictures in the near future. Since there are some who are working on old traditional Goan dresses, there are a picture or two that I have included.
Adgardo has also included "some watercolors I do and drawn stuff (since I am working towards a children/young adults book) which never seems to finish." |Goa pictures| |watercolors| |drawn stuff|

In the campaign, a few scraggly lines can pack a powerful punch

By Frederick Noronha fred at For Leif Packalen (59) it all started when his Finnish friend in Tanzania wrote in to ask if Leif had anyway of transferring useful dairy-cattle ideas from Ethiopia to the poor who so badly needed it. Leif's romance with the scraggly line has gone strong for over a decade-and-half. Now, he's spreading the message across parts of Africa and South Asia. For Leif, and his New Delhi-based pen-and-ink friend colleague Sharad Sharma, comics are not just something trivial that entertain kids. These drawings say much more than the proverbial thousand words of the picture -- more so when large sections of people still can't read or are sticken by poverty, illiteracy and a crying need for information that reflects their reality. Leif Packalen started World Comics and Sharad Sharma picked up and extended the idea via While Leif -- a former commercial attache in Africa for the Embassy of Finland -- has held training camps in half-a-dozen African countries, Sharad has been spreading the idea across half-a-dozen Indian states in this sub-continent sized country, and other parts of South Asia. In end-November 2005, both teamed up in Goa's sleepy Madkai village, to host a training-for-trainers camp, which they hope will spread the idea, to more of those who can use it. Put briefly, their idea is remarkably simple -- yet effective. You don't need to be an artist to express yourself in drawing. "If you have a good story, you can manage with less skillful drawings. But if you have a lousy story, there's no drawing that can rescue it," Leif told a dozen-and-half trainers-in-the-making at Goa. On simple A4-sized paper worked, non-profit groups and tribal young men and women find an alternative to searching for that elusive access to the media. Leif's message is: wall-poster comics can be put up anywhere. Wall-poster comics create local debate. Wall-poster comics are simple to make, and inexpensive. "The idea is to enable people who have something to say, to convert their ideas into comic-format. This can then be transferred into a wall-poster or a brochure," he explains. Sharad says that "anyone from eight to eighty" can work on this idea. And, he has the creative work of Lakhindra Nayak of Jharkhand, Deepak from Uttaranchal, Champalal of MP, Sujata in Orissa, Noel from Tamil Nadu, Zuala of Mizoram and Rina of Nagaland to make his point. In largely-literate Finland itself, this media is being harnessed largely for marginalised groups. Immigrants, refugees, minorities. "But I must say, our international work takes most of our time," adds Leif, who incidentally studied business administration and international marketing. He also worked in a development cooperation project in Tanzania, after being an embassy official in Nigeria and Sudan. So, he's not an artist? "I've trained myself," he corrects you speedily. "On realising the power of comics, I went to a comic-making course. Then, to drawing classes. In fact, I started drawing only at the age of 42, and had not drawn anything before that. Adult (continuing) education is very good in Finland." Drawing, he believes, is a skill you acquire only by drawing. "It's not a gift from god. I took a degree in commercial art in 1998, at the age of 52." Sharad Sharma, an artist who has worked with Indian mainstream television, has been extending Leif's idea, and his slogan of 'comics power'. But he's been not just stopping where Leif left off, and invites keep coming across South Asia for him to conduct trainings. "This is my 25th workshop in one year. We have been busy (and can only manage (to spread the idea) by) training more trainers," says Sharad. Leif adds: "I've been quite many times to India. But WorldComicsIndia has become very strong. So, now, I mostly come here to learn. My vision is to see this method of grass root communication being exported from India to other places." "We develop pictorals on parenting issues," says Rina Nath of Kolkata. From the poor urban quarters of Manchester (UK) come two community workers Kezia Lavan and Kath Taylor who say: "We hope to use this idea in building more community participation (among those marginalised in an affluent society). We had a wonderful workshop with World Comics in May this year." Meanwhile, in Mizoram, the idea is being moulded to preserve almost-forgotten folk tales, and pass these onto local children, in the more-than-catchy comics form. In Tamil Nadu, some of the victims of the December 2004 tsunami were also encouraged to use the comic form to get an alternative media voice for themselves. "Most of the time when the word 'comics' is uttered, people think it's for kids. But anyone from eight to 80 can participate (in the training). It's not even necessary to be an artist," reassures Sharad. Involving women is important, he stresses. Men take to comics more easily, but women hold the key in development. Sharad encourages trainers to get neophytes to write a story, break it into manageable parts, translate words into visuals, place the text on a rough draft, boldly knock out all but the bare-minumum of wordage, and so on.... For their work, they already have something to show. It's an 28-page booklet subtitled 'Wall-poster Comics: A Great Campaign Tool'. It carries cartoons in the Mizo language, tips of how to get your message out, and suggestions on how to 'text' your drawings. Then, there also are stories of afforestation in Jharkhand, the neighbour's pig from the North East, drug-addiction issues, the story of an eye-doctor from Madhya Pradesh, and a Jharkhandi story of elections... from a people's perspective. You wouldn't think a line-form more associated with entertaining affluent and middle-class kids could actually talk all these issue. Villagers can surely pick up the rudimentary elements of drawing. They do need some tips on how to reflect the moods in an egg-shaped face. Or how to depict people and motion. Drawing movement, sound and other effects is also briefly explained. The end-message is simple: this simple idea works. If only more could get down to try it out. 'Adivasis neh jeeti ladayee' (Tribals won the battle) is the title of one theme about the story of the Tawa Dam project in Madhya Pradesh. "When you're using comics in this way, there should be an insider element in it," says Leif. And the voice does come across. ###

On how officialdom (and politicians) work in today's Goa

For a closer idea of how officialdom works and lobbies in today's Goa, these minutes available online are insightful. BTW, a cyber-cafe owner mentioned that he had purchased the computers purchased last year for IFFI at a throwaway price of just Rs 4000. Journos would remember there were a large number of brand new computers installed at the Kala Academy IFFI campuses at that time. This year around, the cry is of shortage-of-computers!

The HIndu on Hartman de Souza

There this interesting post about our very own journo friend Hartman de Souza, titled He's true to his heart written in The Hindu by my former Deccan Herald colleague C K Meena."

What's Hartman doing these days?" a friend asked me recently. "He's carving totem poles," I said. She nodded understandingly. I could have said "He's growing tulips in Jaisalmer" and she would have received the information just as equably. Hartman de Souza, theatre veteran, has a unique approach to life, to put it mildly. He wants to sell sculpted poles to fund his theatre activities. Surely, there are less arduous ways to raise money, but Hartman is keenly aware that when easy money comes in window, idealism goes out door.

Links to some blogs...

Have been trying to update some of my blogs in recent days. Here's a list of the ones am working on: blog on free software and non-profits in association with; on Indian documentary film; on Goa; and another on Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) in India. Then, there are also some badly-needing-to-be-updated blogs on FLOSS in Asia; the BytesForAll theme; journalism in Goa; books on Goa; keeping track of some other Indian and South Asian blogs; alternative views from India, and a new-attempt at keeping track of radio-related issues in India.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Prava Rai's edit in Parmal: identity issues

PRAVA RAI, editor of the Goa Heritage Action Group's journal PARMAL, sent me the electronic text of her edit in the latest issue of the journal. From here are some links featuring the Goa Heritage Action Group, while their GoaHeritage mailing list is here. And here are some links to Parmal, from earlier postings in cyberspace. Prava writes:

Often the question of identity is related to land and sometimes our notions of identity cross boundaries as swiftly as our thoughts take wing. Invisible strands of nostalgia and affection bind us to the land we are born in. Nowhere is this more evident than the sentiments expressed by the members of the Goan diaspora. And nowhere is it more powerfully articulated than in the works of artists and writers who dwell time and again on their childhood and their homeland. Memories of festivities celebrated, the smell of the first rain on dry earth, the food prepared and consumed and prayers at churches and temples are threads that link them to their heritage.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Comics... and development?

World Comics India: "WCI is dedicated to the idea of using Comics as an alternate medium of communication. We inspire and train volunteers and grassroot activists to produce cost-effective Comics wallposters, which becomes their own voice." They're having a workshop in Goa, starting tomorrow... and here's an article I wrote some time back about this initiative....

TALKING LINES: IT'S NO JOKE, COMICS TOO HAVE A ROLE IN DEVELOPMENT Comics... and development? What's the link, you might just as well ask. But a small band of campaigners and cartoonists are seeing the connection between these two seemingly disparate fields. Delhi-based cartoonist Sharad Sharma sees strong possibilities. After getting inspired by the example of countries like Finland, Sharma is now going ahead to tell the story in bold brush strokes. Charkha, which has been providing training to rural journalists since 1994, started using cartoons and comic strips in development communication in 1997. Bangalore-based Communication for Development and Learning recently came out with a slim book titled 'Devtoons: Cartoons for Development'. Sharad Sharma of Delhi explains how a Finnish cartoonist Leif Packalen passed on the idea to them in 1998. Since then, his network called World Comics India held workshops in the remote areas of tribal Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and the North East. Problems in communicating a messages in an effective way has caused a lot of frustrations to development workers. How can people be taught new skills at a low cost? What would be a good way to deal with sometimes quite sensitive, such as health issues? How can complicated new research, like in agriculture, be simplified so that ordinary people can benefit? "One alternative is the use of comics. Obviously, in order to give desired results, these comics should be created locally. Comics involve visual storytelling, which must follow local perceptions and visual culture in order to be understood correctly. Engaging local activists and artists to create the comics therefore makes sense, in getting across information to grown-up readers," explains Sharma. Sharma started his career as in painting. But he found this "quite expensive for a middle-class family" and joined a local newspaper during his first year in college. He started both cartooning and reporting, then moved to Jaipur, the capital of North India's Rajasthan state where he worked with state-level newspapers as a political cartoonist. In 1995, he moved to the national capital of New Delhi, visited many north-eastern states, and did "lots of stories and cartoons". Since then, he has also been with Zee News as a cartoonist/animator in 1999, and produced political animation for their channel, and also contributed political cartoons for their website. Since then, he explains, he and like-minded persons "conducted a series of workshops with different organisations, during all this period we felt need of one organisation dedicated for visual communications especially for comics. This is how World Comics India was formed." World Comics India (WCI), a registered non-profit, was formed in June 2002 by a group of artists, media persons and social activists, who wanted to promote the use of comics as a medium in social change. What kinds of issues are comics best suited for? Sharma explained in a recent interview: "In our workshops we never ask participants to select any specific issue for their comics. We just ask them to write a story which is close to their day to day life; all stories cover all such developmental issues. In Jharkhand, stories coming up mostly touch migration, displacement, tribal rights, 'witch' hunting, alcoholism and corruption. In Mizoram, it's HIV/AIDS, jhum (shifting) cultivation, and the environment that often figure. Even sensitive issues like sex education and insurgency can be told through the medium of comics." The response, says he, was intense. He believes that the success of wallposter comics in Jharkhand and in Mizoram shows "the path for future". Now they are concentrating more on A-4 size comics and wall posters as both the formats are "cost-effective". Comics make sense in a cultural context like India's. Explains Sharma: "People are focused on issues in India. Also we have rich story telling culture, which is a plus point for the comics. But in the comics field, the Finns are much ahead. You will find lots of comics' artist there; it even forms part of the college curriculum. Comics artists get fellowships from the government. Political cartooning isn't dominant (unlike in India)." But whether it's in Nordic part of the planet, or in tropical South Asia, Sharma sees comics and cartoons as having "lots of scope". Says he: "The problem here is that we are again stick to its stereotype image of realistic drawing and square panel format. In Europe artists have done a lots of experiment in comics-making styles. People here usually says that there is no scope for such formats in India , but without testing those formats we can't jump to conclusion." So far, this group has made a few strips out of their comics. When these were reproduced in a "newspaper-friendly" format, they were, very well received. India's mainstream English-language newspapers currently tend to import syndicated material from the West, particularly the USA. "But think about the regional press. They don't have access to getting anything like that," says Sharma. Hence, World Comics India has been working on a service for regional press. "The important thing for these comics strip are that they are made by the people on their own issues in their own language. So, readers find it more close to their day today life. This is lacking in syndicated strips." WCI would like to publish a journal that would feature the works of local artists from across India. Maybe containing news on the international "comics movement" and also including a serialised form of their workshop module and other technical tips. From India, World Comics dreams of expanding its activities to South Asian and South East Asian countries. World Comics India (www.worldcomics.india) is just one initiative; there are others too. Bangalore-based CDL recently noted how workshops and other initiatives have led to the forming of a 'movement' of sorts across India. One retired manager of Bhilai Steel Plant launched an Amateur Cartoonists Association. The Karnataka Cartoonist Association is over 25 years old. Young cartoonists have an association called Cartoonists Unanimous. Hyderabad has its Political Cartoonist Association. Bangalore has another network called the Indian Institute of Cartoonists. Noted South Indian newspaper cartoonist Ponnappa has been the coordinator of the April 2002 'Bangalore Wall' attempt at making cartoons on a large wall space. CONTACTS: For more details about World via email or from Telephone +91-11-22795015 or mobile +91-9811702925 (ENDS)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Blogging... en route to Antarctica

Goan to Antarctica.... is a blog by scientist Helga Gomes, an active member of Goanet and former scientist at the Goa-based National Institute of Oceanography. Currently, she's part of a US-team headed for the Antarctica, and her colourful and full-of-interesting details blog is here. Makes you almost feel you're on the ship to the icy continent. And, with it getting unusually cold in Goa this year, already (after years), I'm glad that I'm not there!

Centurion, Portuguese... and a stand

RUY LUIS GOMES: O caso da India: "O caso da India" is a blog of a near-centurion. Dr Teotonio R de Souza described it recently on GoaResearchNet, saying: "Please check the following blog of Jorge Rezende Ruy Luis Gomes was a well-known professor of the University of Porto, and together with Virgínia Moura, Lobão Vital, José Morgado e Albertino Macedo he defended self-determination for Goa in 1950s. They were punished by the Portuguese political police for their courageous initiative. He would be 100 years old on Dec 5 next. You may get in touch with the author of the blog to provide you with more information if interested. His e-mail address may be found at his blog site."

Sunday, November 20, 2005

GRN (a network-for-academia) shifts home

Goa Research Net, the mailing list, has now shifted homes and is at this new Yahoogroups location with a 109 members as of now. What's GRN?

A network for those interested in researching Goa, a region in South Asia. This network is primarily intended for researchers and was initiated in April 1997 on Goacom server. To join you need to introduce yourself and let us know your involvement in this field. Kindly note, this is not a generic mailing list. But we do not wish to promote 'ivory tower' research either. We favour a linkage of research with public interest and public causes in Goa. Since this forum is open to international membership, we opted for English as the medium of communication in this forum. The success of this forum will depend upon the use you make of it. Do not be just a silent non-contributory reader.