Social-Ecological Dynamics in Rapid Economic Development: Infrastructure and coastal Change in South-eastern Sri Lanka (SEDRIC) IFP

SEDRIC is a new interdisciplinary and international research project in the frame of the IFP Coastal program. It has been granted by a FSPI (Fonds de Solidarité pour les ProjetsInnovants) program under the umbrella of the French Embassy of Columbo, Sri Lanka. The main objectives of SEDRIC are to address the social-ecological change and their impacts in southern and eastern Sri Lanka coastal regions. Among these objectives are (1) the development of a scientific monitoring system based on a remote sensing analysis of land cover and land use change, a deployment of palynology approaches to better understand the historical evolution of the environment, inventories of biodiversity and development of application for tree species identification; (2) an analysis of the evolution of key social, economic and ecological issues related to protected areas, tourism and public infrastructure development; (3) the organization of training and interdisciplinary workshops in Sri Lanka. The project will involve 5 Sri Lankan Universities, a set of NGOs and government administrative bodies/groups and local stakeholders. Training and co-supervision of post-graduate students is a key target of this project.

Contacts: raphael [dot] mathevet [at] ifpindia [dot] org (Project leader); christophe [dot] proisy [at] ifpindia [dot] org (Remote sensing); ayyappan [dot] n [at] ifpindia [dot] org (Ecology); nicolas [dot] bautes [at] ifpindia [dot] org (Social science).

Praise of Śiva on the Rock of Trichy EFEO

Detail showing the lettering engraved in the back wall of the Gaṅgādhara cave, on the way up to the top of the Rock of Trichy.

Under the aegis of the project DHARMA (ERC 809994), Indra Manuel has undertaken a critical edition with annotated translation into English of the Tiricirāmalai Antāti”. This literary work was written by Vēmpai Nārāyaṉaṉ in praise of Cirāmalai, the famous Rock of Trichy. In well-shaped Tamil letters that may be of the ninth-century, this poem was inscribed in two columns on the wall of the cave temple built by Mahendravarman in the hill in Tiruchirapalli. Even though there are stanzas of poems inscribed on stones in many places, this is the only instance where a full-length poem of a literary genre totalling 104 stanzas has been engraved in stone. Given how much younger all our palm-leaf manuscripts are, this makes it the oldest surviving document transmitting a substantial literary work in Tamil. It was first published in South Indian Inscriptions IV. It has since been published with notes and a general commentary by M. Raghavaiyangar (Tarumapuram, 1953).

When one surveys the corpus of devotional bhakti literature in Tamil, both Śaiva and Vaiṣṇava, it is evident that two different modes are used. One can be called the pure bhakti mode: direct praise of the god. Here, the place can be praised or described and the physical attributes of the god can be woven into poems. This mode is used in about half of the poems of the present Antāti. The second mode is the indirect mode of praising the god using the love themes of ancient akam poetry as the vehicle.

Three ways of using the akam or erotic mode may be observed in this antāti. One consists in introducing the greatness of the place or Lord Shiva in the background. Thus Tiricirāmalai is the place where the lovers meet or it is the place of the hero where they reach when they resort to Uṭaṉpōkku (elopement). Alternatively, the action of Lord Śiva or his devotees or his abode Cirāmalai can be used in similes. About 38% of the poems fall into this category. The second mode is the nāyaka-nāyikā-bhāva, where the god becomes the lover for whom the girl pines. As a third mode, random erotic scenes, such a person appreciating the beauty of a person engaged in the temple service or a person losing his heart to a girl playing ball in the groves in the hill, are portrayed. About 5% of the poems fall into the latter two modes. Seven songs seem too damaged to be intelligible, unless we manage to decipher more letters from the face of the rock.

Contact: manuel [dot] indra [at] gmail [dot] com

COVID-19 lockdown and change in mobility patterns in India CSH Delhi

In order to tackle the epidemic progression, the Indian government has followed the path initiated by other countries, imposing a severe lockdown on the whole country from March 23rd onwards. If the efficiency and the sustainability of such measures have been heavily questioned, those unprecedented measures consisting in a strict restriction over population movements were anyway a quite unique case to be studied with a geographical approach.

The impact of the lockdown was studied with the help of anonymized mobility data provided by Facebook, updated 3 times a day. This data was made available in the framework of an agreement within their Data For Good project.

We could then observe a massive drop in the daily commuting mobilities at national level. The overall decrease was of about 40%, but reached 90% in the Delhi NCT probably due to the strict closure of the neighboring states borders. This also led to local reconfigurations, with major urban centres losing population ; and peripheral/rural areas gaining population, possibly because of a now static workforce not able to reach back their workplaces on a daily basis, or because of relocation strategies to spend the lockdown in a familial environment. Those unusual incoming mobilities could be clearly observed in the surroundings of Bangalore, Chennai or Madurai in the South, or in the East of Rajasthan. Some long distance mobilities in anticipation of the lockdown can be seen towards the hill stations of Uttarakhand.

The link between the mobilities and the virus circulation is currently evaluated using some recently collected data on the COVID-19 cases, in partnership with researchers from the Centre for Policy Research (Delhi), the CNRS, the Institut Pasteur or the University of Liverpool. This relationship seems pretty well established at regional scale, but needs further investigation at the thinner scale of the urban systems and neighborhoods. A general research on the accuracy of social media data to describe the Indian population with regard to the digital divide is also conducted as things progress.

Contact: telle [dot] olivier [at] gmail [dot] com, samuel [dot] benkimoun [at] csh-delhi [dot] com