january 2014 programmes


wednesday 8th january

6.30 pm ‘CONSPIRACY THEORIES’ Are they worth examining? A talk by Enver Masud


 A conspiracy theory is an explanatory proposition that accuses a group of people of having covered up, through deliberate collusion, an event or phenomenon of great social, political, or economic impact. The term has acquired a derogatory meaning implying a paranoid tendency to see the influence of some malign covert agency in events. The term is often used to automatically dismiss claims that the critic deems ridiculous, misconceived, paranoid, unfounded, outlandish, or irrational. If however conspiracy theory is described as a form of popular knowledge it can maybe considered alongside more 'legitimate' modes of knowing. Michael Parenti gives an example of the use of the term which underscores the conflict in its use.


"In most of its operations, the CIA is by definition a conspiracy, using covert actions and secret plans, many of which are of the most unsavoury kind. What are covert operations if not conspiracies?...”


Enver Masud will discuss the issue using the events of September 11, 2001 -- in particular what happened at the Pentagon, as an example. He will conclude with criteria to determine whether or not a particular conspiracy theory is worth examining.


Enver Masud is founder and CEO of The Wisdom Fund (est. 1995), and recipient of the 2002 Gold Award from the Human Rights Foundation for his book The War on Islam. He is also the author of 9/11 Unveiled (FREE download at twf.org), and a contributing author of Islam: Opposing Viewpoints and 9/11 and American Empire: Christians, Jews, and Muslims Speak Out.


His articles have been published in newspapers and magazines including Eastern Times, Islamic Horizons, The Minaret, Weekly Mirror, Tehran Times, Middle East Times, Jordan Times, Nation and the World (India), Impact International (UK), New Dawn (Australia), Sunday Times (S. Africa). He has given dozens of talks in the U.S., Canada, India, Malawi, and South Africa.


Mr. Masud worked as an engineering management consultant for the World Bank, EBRD and USAID in Albania, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Latvia, Pakistan, Russia, Tanzania. He was at the forefront of innovation in the electric power industry, and managed the U.S. Department of Energy's National Power Grid Study.


Enver is a graduate of St. Stephens College and the University of Oklahoma. He is descended from Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, founder of Aligarh University. His father M. N. Masud was Maulana Azad's Private Secretary, ambassador to Saudi Arabia, UNESCO Mission Chief to Indonesia, and an Olympic gold medallist (1936).


friday 10th january
6.30 pm An Evening of Bharatanatyam by Shweta Prachande

Shweta is a disciple of Guru Smt. Priyadarsini Govind, under whom she has been  training for the past eight years. She has also completed the five year course at Kalavardhini Dance institue under Dr. Sucheta Chapekar.

An aesthetic combination of Bharatanatyam techniques and styles is what makes Shweta a graceful yet powerful dancer. Her dance movements combine a masterful mix of Kalaripayattu and international level rugby.

She has a Diploma in Dance Studies at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, London and a diploma in Bharatanatyam from Bharathidasan University, Tamil Nadu. She has also trained in Nattuvangam and Carnatic music with Guru Shri Seetaram Sharma and Tamizh texts related to dance from DR. S. Raghuraman.

She is an empanelled artiste at the ICCR and has given numerous performances at various venues in India ; Soorya Festival( Chennai), The Taj Mahotsav, Kalidas Academy, Dr. Vasant Rao Deshpande Sangeet Samaroh and IIC (Delhi).

She is a regular performer during the Madras Music and Dance season and has performed at various Sabhas including Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Karthik Fine Arts, Bramha Gana Sabha, Bharath Kalachar and Narda Gana Sabha.

She has performed in the US, Sweden, Maldives and Kyrgyzstan.

She is a recipient of the Scholarship for young artistes awarded by the Ministry of Culture, the National Bal Shree Honour, Sawai Gandharva Scholarship and National Talent Search Scholarship by CCRT. She acted in the lead role in a short film “Notes of Silence” screed at the LA Women’s International Film Festival, the New York Indian Film Festival and the Legacy Film Festival in Brighton.


friday 10th january
6.30 pm ‘'An evening of classical guitar' by Yogi Ponappa

YogiThe classical guitar is the European cousin of the modern ubiquitous American-born instrument with metal strings used in acoustic and electric guitars designed for popular styles of music.

The classical guitar came of age in mid 19th Century Spain, in a world that had only just bid farewell to Beethoven, Chopin, Schubert, and a whole generation of romantic composers. Enriched by the flair and musical possibilities of its close predecessor, flamenco, but possessed of a different range of musical abilities by virtue of being an instrument whose strings are plucked individually with the fingernails instead of being strummed as in flamenco, the classical guitar found its natural role in chamber music, both as a solo instrument, and in ensembles. The1920s introduced this young classical instrument to the world outside Europe, when Andres Segovia became its first truly global exponent through the concerts he played everywhere from Beijing to Rio de Janeiro. Segovia defined the path for the generations of classical guitarists who followed, as his guitar brought to life the works of major classical composers whose lives predated its development, as well as works written expressly for it in the Spanish modern-romantic style, by composers including Moreno Torroba, Manuel de Falla, Francisco Tarrega and others.

This evening Yogi will play the following pieces:

Romanza (anon.)
Op. 20 No. 7 'The Polish Dancer' (Frederic Chopin)
Traumerei (Robert Schumann)

Dedicatoria (Enrique Granados)

Capricho Arabe (Francisco Tarrega)

Lagrima (Francisco Tarrega)

Preludio 'Saudade' from La Catedral (Augustin Barrios Mangore)

Vara Veena (Appaiah Dikshitar)

Prelude from Cello Suite No. 1 (Johann Sebastian Bach)

'Raindrop' Prelude (Frederic Chopin)

Prelude No. 4 (Heitor Villa-Lobos)

Ave Maria (Bach/Gounod)


Yogi Ponappa is a Delhi-based classical guitarist. He began his musical career in 2010 in New Brunswick, Canada, where he taught and performed as a soloist before moving to India in 2012. He is particularly interested in raising the profile of the classical guitar in India, and in reaching out to new audiences. Yogi made his Delhi debut last year with a concert at the inauguration of a residential community hall and a lecture-demonstration at the IIC, described as a “mastery over technique combined with his very sensitive interpretation of major works”.

His repertoire includes works by composers that range through history and across continents, from Bach, Chopin, and Tárrega to Barrios, Villa-Lobos, Pärt, and Machado. His efforts to engage musically with his surroundings over the past year have led him to arrange a piece by Carnatic composer Appaiah Dikshitar for solo guitar performance. He is looking for anyone with whom he could play some Vivaldi, and is living from day to day with an addiction to Bach.

Yogi began his musical education in 1993 at the age of eight in the Delhi School of Music with Shankar Dey. He moved to Thailand in 2001, where he studied further at the Robinson School of Music in Bangkok. He studied psychology in college in Canada but soon came back to the guitar. 


friday 17th january
6.30 pm ‘Durga  and  Mahisha - A tussle between a goddess and her suitor’ a talk by Dr Nilima Chitgopekar

 In the long list of Hindu goddesses, Durga is, no doubt, a major one. The wife of Shiva, she is firstly, the warrior goddess. One of her main epithets Mahishasuramardini – that is, ‘she who tramples Mahisha’ will be one of the themes Dr Chitgopekar will be talking about in this lecture. Mahisha, a major demon, has encounters with Durga in different myths.  Can we just simply maintain that her battle with the demons demonstrated a war of good versus evil? Esoteric and provocative theories have been put forward in the various interpretations.

The talk will be an attempt to combine iconography, mythology and history. With the help of a few slides, Dr Chitgopekar will take you through the various ways of seeing the relationship between Durga and Mahisha.

Dr Nilima Chitgopekar is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at the Jesus & Mary College, Delhi University.  She has lectured widely overseas as well as in India and has been the recipient of prestigious fellowships. Besides the different articles written by her, Dr Chitgopekar is also the author of   ‘Encountering Shivaism: The Deity, the Milieu, the Entourage’, ‘The Book of Durga’ and ‘Rudra: The Idea of Shiva’. She has edited ‘Invoking Goddesses:  Gender Politics in Indian Religion’ and has collaborated on two books ‘The Shiva Experience’ and ‘The Goddesses Experience’.  Nilima has worked on documentary films and radio shows with the BBC and is in partnership with Transformative Learning Solutions, in creating documentary films that focus on the message from ancient Indian wisdom. She will be publishing a book of poems in January 2014.


The Persian Empire  – an education in 12 evenings .Every Monday where possible.  An Attic video presentation from The Great Courses taught by Prof. John W.I. Lee, University of California, Santa Barbara.

In its time, the Persian Empire was the largest and greatest the world had ever seen. Beginning in 559 B.C under Cyrus the Great it lasted more than 2 centuries, until 330 BC encompassing lands stretching from Greece, Asia Minor and Egypt in the West, across Mesopotamia and Iran, through Central Asia, all the way to the Indus Valley in the East. The Empire developed an efficient bureaucracy, a postal service, a complex economy and a powerful army. The Persians numbered only about one million people and successfully ruled over a multi ethnic and multi cultural population of 25 million.

This series of 24 half hour lectures - 2 per evening (4 per month).  are free. The title of each lecture is listed below.


The Persian Empire: List of Lectures


Rethinking the Persian Empire


Questioning the Sources


The World before Cyrus


Cyrus and Cambyses—Founders of the Empire


Darius I—Creator of the Imperial System


Persian Capitals and Royal Palaces


The Great King—Images and Realities


Royal Roads and Provinces


East of Persepolis


Challenges in the West, 513–494 B.C.


Across the Bitter Sea, 493–490 B.C.


Xerxes Becomes King


Xerxes’s War, 480–479 B.C.


Cultures in Contact


Achaemenid Religion


From Expansion to Stability, 479–405 B.C.


The War of the Two Brothers


Persian Gold


City and Countryside


Women in the Persian Empire


Artaxerxes II—The Longest-Ruling King


Persia and Macedon, 359–333 B.C.


The End of an Empire, 333–323 B.C.


Legacies of the Persian Empire


monday 6th january
6.30 pm

Lecture - 17 The War of the Two Brothers

 As part of its administrative system, the empire created a new Persian currency. From surviving business documents, discover that while agriculture was important, wealth sometimes became concentrated in the hands of a few crafty entrepreneurs, whose financial clout presented systemic risk to the empire.

Lecture - 18 Persian Gold

 The history of the empire was not just about kings and battles. Take a look at the lives of ordinary folks. Beyond the capital cities, farming was the basis of the empire’s wealth. Explore the agricultural practices of the empire and meet day-to-day workers—including migrant labourers and slaves.


monday 13th january
6.30 pm

Lecture 19 - City and Countryside

 Learn why scholars debate how much political power women had in ancient Persia. Compared to Greek women, Achaemenid women had considerable legal and economic freedom. Discover how royal women participated in palace ceremonies, and meet three powerful women in the empire—Artemisia, Mania, and Epyaxa.


Lecture 20 - Women in the Persian Empire

 Chart the life of “the king who loved his subjects.” After defeating his brother Cyrus, Artaxerxes II stabilized the empire, eventually negotiating an important peace with the Spartans. Watch as he then embarked on a building program unlike anything since Darius I, which showed the empire could still mobilize enormous resources.


monday 20th january
6.30 pm

Lecture 21 - Artaxerxes II—The Longest-Ruling King

 As the empire progressed into the 4th century B.C., rumours of Macedonian aggression abounded. See how Philip II—father of Alexander the Great—reformed the Macedonian military. In an interesting historical coincidence, Darius III came to power in Persia the same year as Alexander in Macedon. See how Darius III prepared for battle.

Lecture 22 - Persia and Macedon, 359–333 B.C.

 Witness the suspenseful battles between the Persians and the Macedonians, the sieges of Alexander the Great, and Darius III on the run. Alexander, arguably one of the greatest generals in history, commanded a powerful army and defeated Darius, then took on the mantle of Great King, adopting much of Persian ideology.



'Monthly Monologue: Why it Speaks to Me?'

Hindustani Awaaz, in collaboration with The Attic, presents a monthly series of monologues: poetry, literature, short stories, plays, essays, nazms, ghazals. On the last Thursday of each month, a series of eclectic speakers present/sing/recite their favourite Urdu text and explain why the text ‘speaks’ to them the way it does. They share their passion for a poet, a text, even a fragment and tell us why, from all they have read, those particular set of words speak to them with a familiarity that is at once unique and insistent.

 thursday 30th january
6.30 pm Why Mir & Ghalib ‘Speak’ to me  – a talk by Fran Pritchett

Inline image 1Mir Taqi Mir (1723-1810) whose real name was Muhammad Taqi is better known by his nom de plume or takhallus,   Mir.  He was the leading Urdu poet of the 18th century, and one of the architects of Urdu zubaan and arguably one of the foremost poets of the Delhi School of Urdu poetry.

He was born in Agra (then called Akbarabad) but lived most of his life in Kucha Chelan in Mughal Delhi. After the sack of Delhi repeatedly after 1748 by Ahmed Shah Abdali, he eventually moved to the court of Asaf-ud-Daulah in Lucknow .

His complete works, Kulliaat, consist of six Diwans containing 13,585 couplets, comprising all kinds of poetic forms: ghazal, masnavi, qasida, rubai, mustezaad, and satire. Mir's literary reputation is anchored on his ghazals on the themes of love.  

Ghalib,  born Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan  ( 1797 – 1869),[1]  was a classical Urdu and Persian poet. . He saw the eclipse of the Mughal Empire and was present  at the victorious British take over and reprisals against the Muslim population in Delhi in 1857. He wrote about those events and was one of the greatest poets and composers of Ghazals in the Urdu language.  

Fran Pritchett recently retired from the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University, thus becoming Professor Emeritus of Modern South Asian Languages. Her real claim to fame, however, is "A Desertful of Roses," an online commentary on the whole divan of Ghalib. She is now also working on "A Garden of Kashmir," an online commentary on an intikhab of Mir based on the work of S. R. Faruqi.

 She speaks of why these two great poets ‘speak’ to her.