In This Issue
About Us
About Pattrika
b This newsletter, conceived to give a glimpse of the many and varied projects conducted by the French research centres in India, circulated for several years as a "dead-tree" newsletter, then as a large PDF file. After a pause for reflection in 2016, we have decided to relaunch it in a more convenient online format as a biannual newsletter. This issue covers the first half of 2017, with one or two allusions to significant events from just before or after this period. Click here for previous issues
Contact Us
IFP: ifpinfo{at}ifpindia{dot}org

EFEO: administration{at}efeo-pondicherry{dot}org

CSH: communication{at}csh-delhi{dot}com
Assam Biodiversity Portal (IFP)

Homepage of the Assam Biodiversity Portal

Following its legacy of forestry and biodiversity research in the biodiversity hotspot of Western Ghats for the last five decades, IFP has in the past few years forayed into the other biodiversity hotspot of India, the Eastern Himalayas. IFP is part of the three member core group which provides the leadership for the India Biodiversity Portal - 'IBP' [1], an open access, participatory biodiversity information system which aims to document Indian biodiversity to help better conservation, research and education. Inspired by the IBP experience, IFP is currently leading an effort to establish an exclusive biodiversity information system for the State of Assam in partnership with Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment and Strand Life Foundation, who form the IBP core group. The one year project is being funded by the Assam State Biodiversity Board and the Assam Project on Forest and Biodiversity Conservation Society [2] which is a special purpose vehicle setup as a collaborative effort between Government of Assam and Agence Française de Développement. The project was launched with an inception workshop on 30th June 2017 in which the Chief Secretary to the Government of Assam, Secretary of Assam Biodiversity Board and a spectrum of stakeholders in the biodiversity conservation scenario of Assam participated. The workshop discussed the spatial, species and citizen science modules of the upcoming Assam Biodiversity Portal [3], the specificity of biodiversity richness of Assam which is recognised as an important area for speciation. The project is being implemented in full pace with wide outreach campaigns across Assam, engaging with academics, young researchers, students, university departments, research institutions, non-government organisations, citizen science community and with the full support of the Assam State's Department of Environment and Forests and Biodiversity Board. By the end of the project, the team hopes to demonstrate an effective state level open access biodiversity information system which will prove to be an important asset for biodiversity conservation research, policy making and education.

Contact: balu.d{at}ifpindia{dot}org

On the History of Śaivism in Laos (EFEO)

View of the mountain of Vat Phu from the air; behind the
two reservoirs at the base of the mountain lies the path
that leads up to the temple of Siva.

Numerous advances have been made recently by the EFEO in the study of the stupendous site of Vat Phu in Laos, partly because of further discoveries and partly because of the transcription of more epigraphic materials. Tucked into the side of a mountain whose shape, as early as the fifth century, gave it the name Liṅgaparvata, the “Liṅga-mountain”, is an ancient shrine to Śiva known in Sanskrit epigraphs as Bhadreśvara. Some of these have been known for a century, but a beautifully engraved four-sided stela of 926 CE was discovered buried upright and perfectly preserved in 2013. The archeologically unusual context of its discovery was written up by Christine Hawixbrock (EFEO, Vientiane) in Aséanie 30, and its remarkable text published by Claude Jacques (EPHE) and Dominic Goodall (EFEO, Pondicherry) in Aséanie 33: it is a grand edict in 96 Sanskrit stanzas in which the King Īśānavarman II declares that all the annual taxes due to him from the administrative unit of Liṅgapura are henceforth to be paid to Śiva Bhadreśvara instead. No monetary units are mentioned: the taxes are instead made up of grains, spices, medicinal herbs, fragrant essences, elephants, monitor lizards, weapons, birds, feathers, gold nuggets and much else besides. It is the only detailed source about taxation in the Khmer-speaking world for the Angkorian period. An edition with an English translation can be found here.

On a field-trip with David Bazin, Christine Hawixbrock, Brice Vincent (EFEO, Paris) and members of the Vat Phu Museum staff, Dominic Goodall was able to see this and three other Sanskrit inscriptions on the mountainside behind the temple, one of which records the sojourn and death of an ascetic of the Śaivasiddhānta in a cave there a thousand years ago; two others are unpublished records in Sanskrit verse belong to the seventh century: a first edition and translation is being prepared.

Contact: dominic.goodall{at}efeo-pondicherry{dot}org

Screening and Panel of "Timbaktu" - The take of CSH's Economics & Development Axis on feeding the world (CSH)

The panel at the screening of "Timbaktu" at the
Alliance Française de Delhi

On 27th of september 2016, Dr. Bruno Dorin, researcher and director of the axis 'Economics & Development' at the CSH, and Dr. Himanshu, professor at the JNU University and affiliated to the CSH, presented in the presence of the CSH Director Prof. Leila Choukroune the documentary "Timbaktu" at the Alliance Française de Delhi, for a screening and panel discussion around a subject at the heart of the CSH research: the paradigm shift of the 'agro-ecology', or how to feed the world. The screening of "Timbaktu" was first the occasion to observe the basics of all the questions surrounding the modification of the agricultural landscape since 1960 and the intensification of agriculture through industrialization (use of GMO, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation propulsed through fuel).

The documentary takes the spectator for a meeting with a farmers' community in South India, and allows him to observe the changes going on in terms of process, from intensive agricultural procedures prevailing for a few decades towards ecological agriculture, prophecy of a silent revolution. The farmers' works echo the climate change and their efforts allows for a general assessment on the crucial issues that are the sustainability of the food secutiry programs or the sovereignty of villages. After the screening, a panel reuniting Dr. Dorin and Dr. Himanshu with Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh, directors of the documentary, went on the path of discussing the future of agriculture through agro-ecology and sustainability of the soils. These questions are indeed central to the work of B. Dorin at the CSH, as showed in his latest paper "India and Africa in the Global Agricultural System (1960-2050): Towards a New Sociotechnical Regime?", published in june 2017 in Economic & Political Weekly, and echoes as well his work in his book "Agrimonde - Scenarios and Challenges for Feeding the World in 2050" published in 2014.

For more information.