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2008 International Symposium on Being Indian in the 21st Century: The Politics of Culture and Identity in Contemporary India

Posted on May 3, 2008

Wednesday March 5th, 2008 7:00 PM

The politics of culture and identity in modern and contemporary India is the overarching theme of a conference to be hosted by the Yadunandan Center for India Studies at CSULB and the Indian Council for Historical Research. Within this context, the conference will address issues of national identity — what does it mean to be Indian in the 21st Century?

Undergirding the conference theme are questions about contemporary Indian “identity” – self-actualizated, and to the outside world – posed by Pavan K. Varma.

In the twenty-first century every sixth human being will be Indian. India is very close to becoming the second largest consumer market in the world, with a buying middle class numbering over half a billion. The Indian economy is already the fourth largest in terms of purchasing power parity. It is in the top ten in overall GNP. Yet at least 200 million Indians remain desperately poor. Illiteracy rates are high. Communal violence is widespread; corruption endemic. Brides are still tortured and burnt for dowries; female infanticide is common. The caste system has lost little of its power and none of its brutality. How are we to make sense of these apparently contradictory pictures of India today? And how can we overcome the many misconceptions about India that are fed by western stereotypes and Indians’ own myths about themselves.

This free event was designed to bring together academics, students and community members on Saturday, May 3, 2008.