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[Sarai Newsletter] Sarai Newsletter 04

Table of Contents

1.Call For Proposals
2.IT and Civil Liberties Meeting Report
3.Coding Collaboration
4.Translation Unit At Sarai
5.Writing the City
6.Picturepost List
7.New @ Sarai Website
i) Ravi Vasudevan essay on Satyajit Ray
ii) CameraWorking: Cinematography Project
iii) Digital Art: Renu Aiyar
iv) Readerlist Archive Link
v) Film@Sarai
vi)Review on Sarai

1. Call For Proposals

Sarai is a public initiative of media practitioners and  scholars 
looking at media cultures and urban life. It is a programme of the 
Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi. For more 
information check our website www.sarai.net 

Print Media Fellowships

We are offering three print media fellowships to write on the urban 
experience. Sarai would encourage the fellows to report upon concerns 
such as new and old media, environment, informal labour, spatial 
transformations, travel and domesticity while examining relationships 
between people, practices and spaces.  These themes are indicative 
rather than exhaustive and fellows will be free to examine other 
facets of the contemporary everyday urban experience. 

Fellows would be expected to pursue a particular story/ theme or 
report on a particular locality over a ten-month period.The medium of 
expression can be either English or Hindi. A maximum amount of Rs. 
10,000/- per month (over a ten month period) will be awarded for each 
We are looking for people with an ability to critically investigate 
daily life in cities and towns, with a strong field-work  component. 
People with a background in print and writing are preferred. 

Seed Grants

Sarai would like to encourage innovative research and practices 
concerning the contemporary urban and media experiences. We invite 
artists, media practitioners, journalists and scholars to reflect upon 
the forms and practices through which these experiences are manifest, 
with a view to developing a critical framework for further research.  
Sarai's interests are in the field of old and new media, cinema, 
environment, language and art, with a strong commitment to making 
knowledge available in the public domain. Grantees are however 
encouraged to pursue other lines of enquiry that have a bearing upon 
the urban and media experiences. 

The seed grants may be used to develop larger proposals, enquiries 
that are not conventionally possible, interesting ideas that could 
flow into other initiatives.

The seed grants would be available for up to six months and for a 
maximum amount of Rs. 60,000.

Sarai supports innovative and inventive modes of rendering work into 
the Public Domain. Proposals which pay attention to this will be 
particularly valued. 

Last date for submission: August 30 2001.

There are no application forms.  Simply post your
- proposal (approximately 1000 words)
- a brief workplan
- updated CVs 
- work samples (maximum two) 
- envelopes should be marked attention Print Media Fellowships OR Seed 
which ever applicable. 
[Email proposals will not be entertained]

Mail these to Saumya Gupta, Coordinator, Programme and Research,  
Sarai, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, 29 Rajpur Road, 
Delhi 110054, India.

2. Report on the Meeting on Civil Liberties, the Internet and 
Electronic Surveillance at Sarai

An exploratory  meeting to discuss the ramifications of the new IT and 
Information related laws, regulations and other aspects of 
information-politics for civil liberties was held at Sarai on the 15th 
of June, 2001. Those attending included people associated with the 
Linux Users Group, Peoples Union for Democratic Rights, Mind Bend 
Collective, OneWorld.Org and the Centre for Science and Environment. 
The meeting began with a presentations by Sarai on the emerging regime 
of surveillance in India and then moved on to an open discussion.

The meeting discussed the new surveillance online and offline 
mechanisms being put into place in India within a broader framework of 
information as a tool of power and a site of resistance. The proposed 
schemes to construct 
'citizen databases' and introduce multi-purpose identity cards and 
other tagging mechanisms that are currently being tried out were also 
looked into. The issue of whether 'Privacy' was a relevant issue in an 
Indian context also came up for debate.

An interesting thread of discussion that emerged in the context of 
'hacking' was as to whether the right to free expression could be held 
as being of greater significance than the right to property.

Those present at the meeting agreed that there is a great need for 
creating tools for awareness about information politics. Amongst the 
suggestions offered were the setting up of an online resource where 
materials relevant to Information Politics and Civil Liberties could 
be collected and commented upon, gathering and generating articles for 
the mainstream press, and the creation of illustrated pamphlets or 
comic books on the issues to attract the attention of a lay audience.

It was also agreed by those present that we need to lay the ground for 
a public meeting on information politics and civil liberties, 
preferably in the university, perhaps as a starting point for a future 
public campaign on the issue.

This will be an ongoing concern with Sarai. We will welcome responses, 
comments, or anything else that you may want to report on this. Please 
address them to the reader-list@xxxxxxxxx, or write to 

3. Inviting Coding Collaboration

Sarai invites anyone interested in coding to collaborate with us in 
creating 'social software '(for want of a better term!).
As you are aware, a primary outreach programme of Sarai is the 
Cybermohalla project.  Cybermohalla is a project that is primarily 
trying to develop a computing culture within non-elite social spaces. 
Our first experimental lab has been set in the LNJP basti (between 
Ajmeri gate and Delhi gate). 

This is one of our projects that will benefit a lot of people and 
especially demands addressing by programmers. Some possible areas of 
collaboration will include developing network based collaborative 
tools,  programming tools for beginners, games reflecting our 
conditions and environment, a good Hindi desktop and a database interface.

What interests us is that in collaboration we can create possible 
approaches and possibilities that will facilitate the establishment of 
an interesting computing culture. A culture that speaks to a wider 
audience by creating social software .All the software that will be 
generated will be put under GPL and we would be very keen to support a 
long term development plan for each/any of these softwares.

If there are any other suggestions and ideas, we would be happy to 
begin joint thought on those as well. Student projects are especially 
welcome. Please mail any queries to jeebesh@xxxxxxxxx

4. Translation Unit At Sarai

In order to engage with a wider audience, we are setting up a 
translation unit at Sarai. This unit will primarily work on a 
freelance basis to create Hindi texts on the themes and concerns of 
Sarai (the experience of the urban space, media practice, films, 
issues of technology, and free software ).

Sarai invites interested translators to join us in this endeavour. The 
idea is to build a community of people working for a long term. The 
work  is expected to generate  ideas, issues and challenges that we 
can address through workshops and seminars. The contributions in terms 
of new coinage, etc. will add to the  richness of the Lexical resource 
Project at Sarai.

The work will be made available in the public domain through the Sarai 
website and syndicated columns/features in the mainstream print media. 
Overtime these writings will form the core of a Sarai Reader on 
Technology and Media in Hindi.
For details about remuneration and terms and conditions, write to 

5. Writing the City

As part of its on going creative engagement with urban culture. Sarai, 
invites writers to reflect on urban space on its website 
www.sarai.net. While Sarai, being located in Delhi, India, is 
especially interested in writing on Delhi itself, it is also open to 
reflections on cities elsewhere, and on the city as a generic global 
form of cohabitation.

We are looking for subjective encounters with the city that also 
happen to transcend and transgress genres. We are particularly keen to 
provide a space for experimental and hypertextual forms of writing, 
that utilise the unique non-linear narrative possibilities and 
opportunities of dispersed or collaborative authorship that are 
opened out by the Internet.

This focus on 'writing the city' will work in tandem with a series of 
explorations of experimental writing activities that will be hosted 
soon at Sarai through workshops and collaborative/online writing 
projects. We hope that these activities can mature into a regular 
electronic discussion list on "Writers, Writing and the City".

For a more detailed account, read the "Street Signs" invitation to 
write on the city as well as three new pieces on living in the city by 
Hansa Thapliyal (Mumbai), Shuddhabrata Sengupta (Sarai) and Sampurna 
Chatterji (Mumbai) on the Sarai web site.

6. Picturepost List

Sarai has started a new list, called the Sarai PicturePost List 
(picturepost@xxxxxxxxx). In principle, the idea is to begin a forum 
where images are exchanged and discussed amongst the people on the 
list, and cause as much excitement or consternation as the text 
discussions do. These images could be personal work, or material that 
you found interesting on the web. These could be photos, images, 
illustrations, drawings, posterdesigns, cartoons or critical/ 
reflective commentaries. Basically, the main packet being sent has to 
be the image, and along with your personal annotation/ comments or 
notes as well.

We plan to collate some of the original work that is posted on this 
list and publish it on our website. Also, all these images and the 
discussion will be a part of the Sarai Archive and will create a 
critical imagebank that will be available in the public domain.

We realise that the process of sending photographs can be a little 
difficult for some people, but we are happy to provide advice and 
virtual help. Basically there will be a limit of 120k on the size of 
your image. In case of images picked from the web, there is no 
problem, as those images are always scaled down. (For those who wish 
to download images from the web: rightclick on the image, save it on 
your hard disk, and then attach that image to the email you are 
sending the Picturepost List). If however, you are sending an image 
that is your own, please scale it down - even though the quality loss 
will hurt! Please try to send jpeg, gif or png files, and please avoid 
tiff and bmp formats.

To join the list, please go to 
http://mail.sarai.net/mailman/listinfo/picturepost or email at 

7. New @ Sarai Website

i) Ravi Vasudevan: Nationhood, Authenticity and Realism in Indian 
cinema: The Double Take of Modernism in the Work of Satyajit Ray 

Ravi Vasudevan's article on Satyajit Ray is an invitation to reflect 
upon an earlier time in modern Indian history. 
'The political transition to independence was interrogated in various 
ways by the cinema of the time. The period was seen as a momentous 
one, and there was considerable debate about how images and sounds 
could capture the intricate                 passages and negotiate the 
larger pressures and sensorial wonder of a rapidly transforming world. 
With Ray, we can discern an endeavour to develop an insistent politics 
of memory, in which the onward momentum of modern experience could not 
afford to relegate past worlds. ...'

Comments, responses to the article are welcome. Please post them to 

ii) CameraWorking: Cinematography Project

If you are curious about how images in cinema are created and about 
the tangled histories of cinema technology and individual curiosity, 
then you can find a new space on the Sarai website to satisfy your 
curiosities. We have a new section called 'Cameraworking: Materials 
for the History of Cinematographic Practice in India' - about the 
shadowy world of all those who work with light, behind the camera .

'Cameraworking' is an collection of interviews with veteran and 
working cameramen, texts, archival photographs and other resources on 
the history of cinematographic practice in India. The collection is a 
first ever compilation of valuable oral histories of the making of 
some of the finest visual moments in the history of Indian Cinema. 

Here you will find first person accounts by V.K. Murthy, Jaywant 
Pathare, Jal Mistry, Soumendy Roy, and a host of other cameramen about 
their lives, their work, their relationship to technology and their 
favourite moments in cinema.

This collection emerged out of a five year long research and 
documentation project on the history and practice of cinematography in 
India undertaken by Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata 
Sengupta of the Raqs Media Collective, Delhi with C.K. Muralidharan of 
Cinematographers Combine, Mumbai. The project received support from 
the India Foundation for the Arts, Bangalore.

iii) Digital Art:  Identity - back? forward? search? STOP?
Renu Iyer from Mumbai presents her digital work on identity and 

iv) Readerlist Archive Link 
Go straight to the ReaderList Archive from the Sarai home page, or go 
to the You&Sarai section of the Community page

v) Film@ Sarai 
 Easy to access listing of the Sarai Film Series from the Sarai home 
page, or go to the Calendar page

vi) Review on Sarai



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