Uttaraayan, marking a return

January 16, 2011


This weekend, India celebrated Makara Sankranti, which marks the beginning of the Sun’s northward journey (Uttaraayan). The festival brings longer days, warmth and life back to this subcontinent whose southern reaches are almost equatorial and whose northern reaches stretch well past the Tropic of Cancer. Some parts of north India celebrate it as a festival of kites. In Tamil Nadu, from where I write this blog, Makara Sankranti marks the end of the harvest and is celebrated as a four-day holiday—Pongal—during which agricultural waste is cleaned up with bonfires, some part of the harvest cooked and shared, and family reunions and excursions planned.

As my profile tells you, I also run a small non-profit. The last quarter is spent preparing for our annual campaign to raise awareness about gender violence, as one of the many 16 Days Campaigns held around the world. The process consumes our small team, and leaves us good for very little else—including blogging! But that’s done for now, and like the sun shifting course, I am back to the other, not entirely unrelated, hemisphere of my life—research and writing on security.

In the last three months, much has happened. The Happy Families image presented in India during President Obama’s visit has somewhat unraveled with news breaking of corruption scandals that seem to involve just about everyone. The leaking of diplomatic cables by Wikileaks opened another Pandora’s box, raising enough questions to merit a post of its own. A new UN agency devoted to gender equality has come into existence, bringing together the work and mandate of four organizations. India is back in the UN Security Council after a long gap. So much to read, reflect and write about here!

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