UNT faculty member discusses ancient origins of Diwali, India's biggest holiday

Every year around October and November, Hindus around the world celebrate Diwali, or Deepavali—a festival of lights that stretches back more than 2,500 years. And in India, the five-day celebration marks the biggest holiday of the year.

Like many Hindu festivals, there isn't just one reason to celebrate the five-day holiday. Pankaj Jain, a professor of anthropology, philosophy, and religion at the University of North Texas, says that the ancient celebration is linked to...

UNT Professor speaks on the disproportionate incarceration and death penalties for Dalits and Muslims in India

Sat, May 7, 2016 - 12:00pm

I grew up in a slum of Kolkata, India – here, Dalits and Muslims live next to one another. It is not uncommon to encounter substantial police presence in the locality that I grew up in. But instead of instilling security, police here represents terror. In other words, the police essentially terrorize Dalits and Muslims in India. So I am not surprised that recent studies (for example the one by the National Law University of Delhi) point to the disproportionate incarceration of Dalits and Muslims. The police force, to a significant extent, is communalized. Additionally, the police force is corrupt. I am even aware (and I cannot...

Geography professor provides perspective on ISIS

Fri, Jan 29, 2016 - 8:17pm

By Asad Hasan

Growing influence/Power of ISIS in India, North Africa and Saudi Arabia:

On India: The question of whether ISIS poses a real threat to India or is the right-wing Hindutva government simply using the ISIS ‘card’ to harass Muslims in India requires recognition of the fact that the answer to this is not a very straightforward one. The fact remains that India’s ruling political party, the BJP, thrives under conditions of communal polarization. In fact, speeches during election rallies, prior to polling, are designed to create tensions between Muslims and Hindus in order to...

Artist’s exhibit coming to UNT

Sat, Feb 6, 2016 - 9:28pm

Artist Siona Benjamin explores the small pocket of Indian culture that is neither Islamic or Hindu in her art.

Benjamin, herself a Jewish-Indian New Yorker, considers the mysteries of India’s non-Hindu and non-Muslim culture in “Blue Like Me,” an exhibit that comes to the University of North Texas Art Gallery from March 3 through April 2. The exhibit examines the relationship between Judaism and India, and the artist reflects on her experience as a minority and the definition of home. In her colorful paintings, Benjamin incorporates motifs from India and Persia, blending them with forms from contemporary culture.


Geography professor gives his perspective on ISIS and Russia-Turkey dispute

Sat, Nov 28, 2015 - 9:49am

On possible rise of ISIS in India: The ‘lone wolf’ phenomena could happen just about anywhere in the world, so there is not much to add to this in the Indian context. But I do think that there are certain contexts that we should be mindful of in understanding implications for radical Islamist Ideas in India. First, a large number of Indian Muslims, devoid of employment opportunities in India in the organized sectors of the economy, have been working in the Middle East for the past several decades. While living and providing labor in countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE and many others, they have come in contact with...