Hunting for Muziris – III

The BBC has an article on the theory that the town of Pattanam in Kerala could be the location of the ancient port of Muziris.

What is known, from a 1st Century document, is that the harbour was “exceptionally important for trade.”

Clues to its location are provided in ancient Indian texts. Professor Rajan Gerta, from Mahatma Gandhi University in Kerala, said that there are many references to “ships coming with gold, and going back with ‘black gold'” – pepper.

“These ships went back with a whole lot of pepper and various aromatic spices, collected from the forests,” he added. Merchants from a number of different cultures are believed to have operated in the port, and there are numerous Indian finds from the time as well as Roman ones.

In 1983, a large hoard of Roman coins was found at a site around six miles from Pattanam. However, even if Muziris has been found, one mystery remains – how it disappeared so completely in the first place.

Dr Tomba said that it has always been presumed that the flow of the trade between Rome and India lasted between the 1st Century BC through to the end of the 1st Century AD, but that there is growing evidence that this trade continued much longer, into the 6th and early 7th Century – although not necessarily continually. [Search for India’s ancient city via email from Srijith]

There is no new information in this article. Dr. Shajan has been in the news for suggesting the location of Muziris and has been covered in varnam here and here. Dr. Shajan and V. Selvakumar have a 47 page presentation on the new evidence on which they have formed this conclusion.

Note that the map shows the location of the Cheraman Perumal Masjid, which according to myth, was built by a Kerala king who converted to Islam.

(Image via Dr. Shajan)

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Against Football

Did you know that football could have a corrupting influence among the new generation and it was a ‘conspiracy instigated by the imperialists’? When you hear such a statement, the immediate guess would be that it came from the Taliban, who converted the football field in Kabul to a killing ground. Sadly, it comes from the 100% literate state of Kerala where football has a major fan following.

By going after those ‘unscrupulous’ and ‘morally weak’ soccer stars, the youth in the district are falling prey to a ‘conspiracy instigated by the imperialists’, they alleged.

“It is cruel to divert resources and energy when there are many who are suffering from poverty,” they said, adding they would launch strong campaigns against the soccer craze. SSF has held a protest march in Tirur the other day against the football craze saying that ‘capitalist forces are trying to make inroads under the guise of football’.[Soccer frenzy: Foul, cry Muslim outfits]

Conspiracy by the imperialists? Over and over again you hear this phrase as if the whole world is out to destroy Kerala through various tactics. If you look at the thirty-two teams playing in World Cup 2006, a vast majority of them are not even developed countries. There are five countries from Africa, and seven from Central and South America and then there are countries like Croatia, and Serbia and Montenegro. Since it is Muslim outfits which are crying out against the football frenzy, they should also note that Iran, as well has the holy land Saudi Arabia are also playing the game.

“Poor Countries” want to play football. Islamic countries want to play football. This protest seems to be yet another case where the monkey brigade seems to be more Catholic than the Pope.
Update: The Islamic Militia who took over Mogadishu also thinks alike. They have cut off electricity to prevent Somalis from watching World Cup, but even they have not been cuckoo enough to suggest that it is an imperialist conspiracy.

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Rice domestication in India

Previously it was believed that agriculture began in West Asia in a region known as the Fertile Crescent with the domestication of barley and wheat. Later a new Fertile Crescent was discovered in China where rice cultivation began much before agriculture in West Asia. Archaeology in Lahura-Deva site in Uttar Pradesh had recently found carbonised material containing grains of cultivated rice along with wild grass and it was considered to be proof that rice cultivation started in India much before in China.

Now according to American and Taiwanese researchers rice domestication happened in multiple sites, independently

While there is consensus that rice had its roots in Asia, whether it was domesticated in southern China alone or at multiple locations has been under debate.

In a bid to trace the ancestral roots of rice — a cereal eaten by more than half of the world’s population — plant geneticist Barbara Schaal at Washington University and her colleagues analysed the genetic make-up of wild and cultivated rice varieties.

Their studies show that the indica variety was domesticated south of the Himalayas within a region spanning eastern India, Myanmar and Thailand, while the japonica variety was domesticated from wild rice in southern China.

“We now have strong evidence for multiple sites of domestication of rice,” Schaal told The Telegraph over the telephone.

The new studies also suggest that an additional — third — domestication event might have occurred in India, giving rise to a minor variety of rice called “aus” — a drought-tolerant strain cultivated in India and Bangladesh.

The two major rice varieties grown worldwide today — Oryza sativa indica and Oryza sativa japonica — owe their origins to two independent events of domestication thousands of years ago, American and Taiwanese researchers said. [Rice roots lie in east India]

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Human Rights for Paparazzi

Recently the Chhattisgarh government decided to give a knockout punch to the Naxalites with the help of K.P.S.Gill and our friend Praful Bidwai came out strongly against it. He was sure that this police action would violate the human rights of Adivasis. For once he has not come out against the human rights violations by the Naxalites.

This model of opposing police action, while remaining silent on brutality and murder by terrorists is not just the trade mark of Naxal supporters like Bidwai, but also of many human rights organizations. While organizations like Amnesty International scream about police and state violence all around the world, not a word comes out of their mouth against terrorists, dictators and warlords.

If an award has to be given to a human rights organization for being ridiculous, then it has to go to the one in Namibia. Angelina Jolie recently gave birth to a baby in Namibia and the paparazzi have been camping there to get photographs of the celebrity parents and the baby. The couple wanted privacy and they got it there.

Bodyguards and undercover Namibian police officers shielded the celebrity parents from journalists, erecting green cloth screens around the beach resort where they stayed. A local human rights group accused the security services of using “heavy-handed tactics” to keep the paparazzi at bay. [Hello! sues over Jolie photo leak]

Now we know Namibia is so peaceful and quiet, except for this brutality against the paparazzi.

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A Tale of Two Movies

Aamir Khan recently came out with a statement that people affected by the Sardar Sarovar Dam should be rehabilitated.

“The BJP is saying I’m against the dam and against Gujarat but I’m not against the dam. What I’m saying is that the people who have been affected by the dam should be rehabilitated,” Aamir said late on Friday, during an interview with the a television news channel. [I’m neither against Narmada dam nor Gujarat: Aamir]

He also came out against the Chief Minister Narendra Modi for the recent violence in Vadodara and the riots few years back.

it is (Vadodara incident) very sad and what happened in Gujarat a few years ago was also equally unfortunate. It’s a shame that the administration is not able to control the situation there and it is resulting in deaths of innocent people,’ according to a BBC transcript of the interview.[Aamir Khan slams Narendra Modi]

All these statements did not go well with some Gujaratis. The BJP threatened to disrupt the screening of the movie in the country. Members of a student wing of Congress Party staged a demonstration and burned posters of Aamir’s latest film Fanaa, smashed bottles of a soft drink endorsed by the actor and urged people to boycott all products promoted by the actor.The Cinematograph Exhibitors Association of Gujarat has decided not to show the movie unless Aamir Khan apologizes for his remarks.

This “mob censorship” in a state ruled by the BJP was enough to get all the familiar secularists all worked up. Shabana Azmi heard only about the protests by the BJP activists and not by the Congress and she got all worked up. Mahesh Bhatt, approached the Supreme Court asking for police protection in those movie halls, which was willing to show the movie.

There is another state sponsored censorship going on in India. The Da Vinci Code, which was cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification was banned in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Meghalaya and Nagaland. Coming out in support of Aamir Khan, this is what Shabana had to say

It is the State’s business to ensure that those citizens who wish to see the film should have the freedom to do so. No political party has the right to jeopardise a film that has been duly cleared by the central board of film certification”.[Shabana Azmi, in defence of Aamir Khan]

For her, these priciples do not apply in the Da Vinci case. When political parties are dictating that a vast majority cannot see a movie assuming that a miniscule minority could be offended, such defenders of “free speech” are nowhere to be seen. People who got so angry over the so called “state sponsored violence” in Gujarat are silent when the state is supressing a movie elsewhere. These are the real communalists we should be careful of.

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