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May 19, 2007

Peace out Punjab

And just in time. The Sikh conflict in North India has spread to the city I was staying in, an industrial town in southern Punjab, Ludhiana. There I spent some time at a girl's polytechnic institute, thinking this would provide a medium for me to get to know more self-employed women and learn a little about the skills they gain through education. I have since realized this was not a beneficial venture for my research. I met many future-homemakers and women who are more fortunate than most involved with the rural self-employed women's movement.

I had planned to move further north in Punjab to a small city near Amritsar on Wednesday. There I was to do a tour of five different cooperative groups who are the recipients of governmental microfinancial support. Needless to say, after hearing about the conflict within the Sikh community I, sadly, decided to cancel and/or delay the tour. Unable to gauge the severity of the situation and my own risk I am bowing to the age-old adage, better safe than sorry.

It is difficult for me to wrap my mind around the total conflict that is occuring in the Punjab. I know that there have been accusations that these eruptions of violence are actually closely related to the political situation in Punjab. An older friend told me that this whole conflict may be a ploy to divide the Sikhs, utilizing propoganda, so that they do not gain political power in Punjab, a similar tactic employed by the British in order to maitain India as a vassal state years ago. The papers say that the coflict has arisen within the Sikh community because one sect has unpardonably caused offense to the rest. The leader of the Dera Sacha Saudsa group has, according to the accusations, imitated in style and dress a former Sikh guru. Apparently this is bad news.

The complexities of this religious/political situation are semi-overwhelming. All I know is that now I am back in Delhi trying to get back on track with my research after this set-back. I have a priomising meeting with a cooperative craft group, Dastkar, on Monday. www.dastkar.org. Because my project is a comparative study that examines the many manifestations of the broader self-employed women's movement I really need to begin working with a larger organization that facilitates this as I've completed a lot of work with women who are working independently unaided by the support of larger group.

SEWA, Self Employed Women's Association at www.sewa.org, has been responsive since my arrival in India. Yet, they are focused in Gujarat and working with them would require me to travel to Ahmedabad. While I am incredibly excited to gain some insight into this phenomenal NGO I am slightly concerned that I will be dividing my time too much and will do an injustice to either group with short two-week stays at both of them, especially because they are in different provinces. Does anyone have any insight into this?

The Sant Nirankari Mission, www.nirankari.org, has done a fantastic job facilitating my research in any way I require. The initial few weeks of my project included touring their tailoring and embroidery centers. While I have moved on with my work I have continued to stay at their many bhawans, which are located across the country and the world. So don't worry about this seeming transience. I have had guidance the whole way through.

In other news, Sara and I are planning a weekend trip to Corbett Tiger Reserve. Upon telling my dad he sent me this...

http://www.break.com/index/tiger_attacks_dude_in_truck.html


hah! I think some of the affect was lost on me because I saw it in a 10 Rupee (about 25 cents) per-hour internet cafe. Every 5 seconds or so the stream would buffer and I would wait another 10 to see the continued image. Tiger is less scary suspended in air for a minutes and a half.


Wish us luck, send your advice.


Theresa

Posted by tvanderm at May 19, 2007 04:07 AM

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