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The Enchantress of Florence is a dreamlike novel that weaves fact and fiction so tightly together that it's hard to distinguish

between them. Yes, Florence existed with all the Medici pomp and papal flames that Rushdie describes. Ancient India, too, flourished with gilt and concubines under the rule of Akbar in the 15th century. In both India and Italy, this was a time for great achievements- from art to war and everything in between. It was also the era of exploration: Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci, whose cousin plays a major role in this book, had just crashed into the New World. It makes sense, then, that Rushdie would start his novel with a voyage. A blond man in a ridiculous coat comes from afar to Akbar's India. This man assumes many names to hide his secret - that is, his lineage. The story that unfolds reveals much about violence, love, pain and the human imagination. It also deals with history and, particularly brilliantly, with the predicament of women throughout history. One woman, the Enchantress of Florence, weaves her way from land to land, and Rushdie follows her like a lovesick boy. It allows him to connect worlds that never connected in history.1 There is a strong theme of sex and eroticism, much of it surrounding the Enchantress of the book's title, who was inspired by the Renaissance poem Orlando Furioso. There is also a recurring discussion of humanism and debate as opposed to authoritarianism, and Machiavelli is a character in the book. Like Rushdie's previous works, the book can be considered a work of magic realism.

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LAURA JAMES · JULY 16TH, 2008 · LIT

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by conferring honours upon them. not far from Delhi. Jahangir consolidated the gains made by his father. and so came to establish the Mughal Empire in India. In his reign (1605-1627). Jainism. He inherited a vast and rich empire. Babar ruled until 1530. He won over the Hindus by naming them to important military and civil positions. and Aurangzeb. who on his mother's side was descended from the famous Genghiz Khan. exhibiting a degree of centralized control rarely matched before. Shah Jahan. The courtly culture of the Mughals flourished under his rule. and Mughal painting probably reached its zenith in Jahangir's time. Din-i-Ilahi. Akbar. As he apparently lay dying in 1658. 2 . his son. Shahjahanabad. a war of succession broke out between his four sons. and extended his empire as far to the west as Afghanistan. succeeded to the throne. Shortly after his death in October 1627. who is conventionally described as the glory of the empire. and as far south as the Godavari river. which includes the Taj Mahal and the old city of Delhi. and he even started a new faith. and by marrying a Hindu princess. and at midcentury this was perhaps the greatest empire in the world. The two principal claimants to the throne were Dara Shikoh. and other faiths. though a Muslim. Akbar reigned from 1556 to 1605. Akbar was succeeded by his son Salim. Akbar the Great. Babar. the last head of the Delhi Sultanate. Christianity. Shah Jahan left behind an extraordinarily rich architectural legacy. Babar. is remembered as a tolerant ruler. came to India in 1526 at the request of an Indian governor who sought Babar's help in his fight against Ibrahim Lodi. which was an attempt to blend Islam with Hinduism. who gave the empire its first distinctive features. like his great grandfather. who took the title of Jahangir. Jahangir married Nur Jahan.The Mughal Empire The great grandson of Tamerlane. "Light of the World". he had an interest in gardens. But it is Humayun's son. who was championed by the those nobles and officers who were committed to the eclectic policies of previous rulers. in 1611. Babar defeated Lodi at Panipat. and was succeeded by his son Humayun.

It is Aurangzeb who triumphed. Aurangzeb's far-flung empire eventually eluded his grasp. and though the Mughal Empire saw yet further expansion in the early years of his long reign (1658-1707). He is admired by Muslim historians for enforcing the law of the Sharia and for disavowing the policies pursued by Akbar. was put on trial for allegedly leading the rebels of the 1857 mutiny and for fomenting sedition. He was convicted and transported to Rangoon. and no monarch has been more subjected to the communalist reading of Indian history. among Hindus. laymen and historians alike. 3 . After Aurangzeb's death in 1707. and considerable disaffection appears to have been created among the peasantry. many of his vassals established themselves as sovereign rulers. The Mughal Empire survived until 1857. after 1803. but its rulers were. he is remembered as a Muslim fanatic and bigot. to spend the remainder of his life on alien soil. and so began the period of what are called "successor states". pensioners of the East India Company. Aurangzeb remains a highly controversial figure. In the event. by the later part of the seventeenth century the empire was beginning to disintegrate. The last emperor.who was favoured by powerful men more inclined to turn the Mughal Empire into an Islamic state subject to the laws of the Sharia. the senile Bahadur Shah Zafar.

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5 . Humanism and higher philosophy concerned not only the government officials. weakening its hold upon the regions that it governed. These city-states were rich urban centres whose elite class had the money. freedom and time to explore the arts. Slowly.Renaissance Florence The Italian Renaissance was a time of rebirth. Florence and other urban centres in Italy formed autonomous city-states that closely resembled those of the ancient Greeks. Florence‖s emphasis on humanism as a civic duty is much like Greece‖s emphasis on the polis as an ideal way of life. The Florentines explored republicanism and humanism. established the belief that humanism was a civic duty. The movement encompassed man and how he related to the world. It was these battles that spawned experimentation in government. Humanism played a large role in the Florentine republic. art. but also between each other. Young Florence was ruled by rich merchants and aristocracy. The Holy Roman Empire was constantly at war with the papacy. At the birth of Florence as an Italian Renaissance city-state is the medieval papacy. The era was exemplified by experimentation in government. Humans suddenly awoke to a new world where the future wasn‖t written for them. psychology and sociology. The Italian city-states were not only plagued by internal battle between the classes. but also the general populace. City-states waged wars against each other to gain control of the Mediterranean. In this way. often considered to be one of the fathers of Humanism. nor did they see education as only something limited to the clergy. People no longer saw involvement in the arts as blasphemous. Florence was the city at the forefront of all of these developments. Gone were the days of medieval fate-driven existence. It was an intellectual movement that strongly influenced the psychology of early Florentine government. Petrarch.

such as the establishment of embassies. But even Florence fell to despotic rule. who sought to take control of the young city-states and re-establish one-man rule. Out of all of the powerful Italian city-states. despotic rulers. The Medici family contributed to Florence in many ways. but it wasn‖t until his grandson. humanism became a movement that applied to aristocrats the royal family. Florence found its wealth in commerce and industry. intelligence reports. not in land holdings as earlier societies had. The most famous of these alliances was the Peace of Lodi. Cosimo Medici. establishing a peace that lasted until the invasion of King Charles VIII. ethics and learning. 6 . The Florentine republic discovered techniques that are characteristic of modern diplomacy. The Medici family established a hereditary monarchy in Florence. The Medici family rule effectively began with Cosimo Medici who took over his father‖s bank in 1429. Within five years. Florence was a thriving city-state with a population of 60. eventually.000. The Peace of Lodi successfully stopped the constant warring between city-states. Its ruling body consisted mainly of twelve rich merchant guilds that congregated at the Palazzo Vecchio to vote and discuss city issues.By the middle of the fifteenth century. with the rise of the Medici family. With the rise of a hereditary monarchy came a change in public philosophy. Florence was one that held out the longest. it was now the sole duty of the ruling class to live up to humanist ideals of morality. destroyed the Florentine republican constitution in 1480 that the Medici family rule was solidified. balance of power and alliances with other city-states. No longer considered a civic duty. Boiling under the surface were the condottieri. With ruling power out of the hands of the public. the successors of Lorenzo having ruled until they were kicked out of Florence by Girolamo Savonarola in 1494. Lorenzo. established in part by a then rich Florentine banker. he gained significant political power in Florence.

he contributed to Florentine art and life. such as humanism. This new art form was called the International Style. of course. At the root of Renaissance art was the rejection of medieval Gothic art and the rebirth of ancient Grecian art. is most commonly known for the Mona Lisa. and established a peace between the city-states that lasted over 40 years. It was in Florence that Leonardo began his apprenticeship in 1466 with Andrea del Verrocchio. Leonardo da Vinci. In this way. humanism pervaded Renaissance art. Florence was a shining example of the best of the Italian Renaissance. The Florentine artists of the Renaissance were experimentalists in every sense of the word. The city-state gave birth to such names as Michelangelo Buonarroti and Raphael Santi. art. Much of modern government and society stands on the shoulders of Florentine giants. as well as his crucifix that resides in St. Although he was not born in Florence. mechanics. Medieval art was concerned with somber spiritual themes. including sculpture. architecture and painting. In politics Florence thrived. Maria Novella. spreading his knowledge of human anatomy. He went on to travel throughout the Italian city-states. Filippo Brunellesci led the Florentine classical revival. a late Renaissance artist. and while Renaissance art was still concerned with the spiritual aspect of things. He was an architect who successfully developed the use of perspective in art and explained it in mathematical terms.Florence was a clear leader in all realms of Renaissance art. Florence excelled artistically. They personalized art. engineering and. Well-known artists. fostering new intellectual movements. and sought to explain it scientifically. as well as experimentation in governmental administration. He is known for his work on the Bapistry doors. but he was also an engineer and a scientist. The strong rule of the Medici family kept Florence in the forefront of the Renaissance. such as Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael Santi. as well. it expressed a sense of control over one‖s own destiny that medieval art did not have. found their footing as Florentine 7 .

8 . such as Filippo Brunellesci. Sculptors and architects. gave to the world beautiful pieces of art that stand to this day.apprentices. Florence was the epitome of Italian Renaissance glory. a tribute to their skill and craftsmanship.

"an amalgamation of realism and fantasy". The plots of magical realist works involve issues of borders. Irony Regarding Author‖s Perspective—The writer must have ironic distance from the magical world view for the realism not to be compromised. Simultaneously. magical realism aims to seize the paradox of the union of opposites. and change. mixing. magical realism involves the fusion of the real and the fantastic. According to Angel Flores. and Western and indigenous. the writer must strongly respect the magic. Authors establish these plots to reveal a crucial purpose of magical realism: a more deep and true reality than conventional realist techniques would illustrate. or else the magic dissolves into simple folk belief or complete fantasy. split from the real instead of synchronized with it. Magical realism is characterized by two conflicting perspectives. Specifically. The term "magic" relates to the fact that the point of view that the text depicts explicitly is not adopted according to the implied world view of the author. which exists in conjunction with European rationality. with hybridity being a primary feature. As Gonzales Echevarria expresses. The presence of the supernatural in magical realism is often connected to the primeval or "magical‖ Indian mentality. 9 . one based on a rational view of reality and the other on the acceptance of the supernatural as prosaic reality.Magical Realism A literary mode rather than a distinguishable genre. magical realism is illustrated in the inharmonious arenas of such opposites as urban and rural. it challenges polar opposites like life and death and the pre-colonial past versus the post-industrial present. For instance. or as he claims. Characteristics of Magical Realism Hybridity—Magical realists incorporate many techniques that have been linked to post-colonialism. the act of distancing oneself from the beliefs held by a certain social group makes it impossible to be thought of as a representative of that society.

Asserting such myths was a very important part of the imperial process and therefore an important feature of much imperial writing and indeed postcolonial writing. The simple binaries that made up imperial and postcolonial studies have in some way become redundant with regard to later literature. He says. the supernatural is not displayed as questionable. they are not disconcerted because the supernatural is integrated within the norms of perception of the narrator and characters in the fictional world. The Supernatural and Natural—In magical realism. the supernatural world would be discarded as false testimony. multi cultural Australia in which he or she must fight for cultural space”. they were a tribe like any other. More recently we have become aware of how problematic such accounts are. 10 . the simple act of explaining the supernatural would eradicate its position of equality regarding a person‖s conventional view of reality. So in a sense Mudrooroo embraces his hybridised position not as a “badge of failure or denigration. Because it would then be less valid. The need for commonality of thought to encourage resistance became a feature of many of the first postcolonial novels. “the Aboriginal writer is a Janus-type figure with a face turned to the past and the other to the future while existing in a postmodern. As Mudrooroo has said of the Aborigine's .Authorial Reticence—Authorial reticence refers to the lack of clear opinions about the accuracy of events and the credibility of the world views expressed by the characters in the text. While the reader realizes that the rational and irrational are opposite and conflicting polarities. This technique promotes acceptance in magical realism. susceptible to change and influence from outside forces. Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart is an example of a novel dealing with the collective resistance to imperialism. Hybridity The idea of nation is often based on naturalised myths of racial or cultural origin. In magical realism. but as a part of the contestational weave of cultures”.

In reading Young alongside Rhys. Within languages there can also be evidence of ―linguistic cross breeding' and the use of loan words from either the language of the coloniser or the colonised. It is not a case of the oppressor obliterating the oppressed or the coloniser silencing the colonised. Labelled Hiberno-English. ―hybridity' had become part of a colonialist discourse of racism. a widely written commentator on imperialism and postcolonialism. Examples can be seen in Swahili. Pidgin and Creole are linguistic examples. For example the use of the word ―amadan' meaning ―fool'. to be a Creole or a ―hybrid' was essentially negative. Young would argue that at the turn of the century. In practice it stresses the mutuality of the process. They were reported in the book as lazy and the dangers of such hybrids inevitably reverting to their ―primitive' traditions is highlighted throughout the novel. In Ireland for example. political and linguistic.” Hybridisation takes many forms including cultural. Aborigine and Irish. the daughter of a settler in the White Valley region in 11 .One of the most disputed terms in postcolonial studies. ―hybridity' commonly refers to “the creation of new transcultural forms within the contact zone produced by colonisation. has remarked on the negativity sometimes associated with the term hybridity. it becomes easy to see the negative connotations that the term once had. In reading Juanita Carberry . However. In Jean Rhys ' Wide Sargasso Sea. He notes how it was influential in imperial and colonial discourse in giving damaging reports on the union of different races. Robert Young. According to Ashcroft most postcolonial writing has focused on the hybridised nature of postcolonial culture as a strength rather than a weakness. the crossover inherent in the imperial experience is essentially a twoway process. it is a typical example of linguistic hybridisation. The coloniser's language cannot escape and one sees the many loan words in the English language today. there are many sayings and words in English that an English man or woman would not understand. The clash of cultures can impact as much upon the coloniser as the colonised.

Bhaba stresses the interdependence of coloniser and colonised. allowing a means of evading the replication of the binary categories of the past and developing new anti-monolithic models of cultural exchange and growth”. So as Mudrooroo suggests. Bhabha argues that all cultural systems and statements are constructed in what he calls the ―Third Space of Enunciation'. Growing up a Swahili speaker and playing with the wild animals against her father's wishes. that distinctive aspects of the culture of the oppressed can survive and become an integral part of the new formations which arise. her experience was essentially more African than English. And by exploring this ―Third Space'. we may elude the politics of polarity and emerge as the others of ourselves”. In accepting this argument. but on the inscription and articulation of culture's hybridity. It is proof that even under the most potent of oppression. embracing the hybridised nature of cultures steers us away from the problematic binarisms that have until now framed our notions of culture. Bhaba urges us into this space in an effort to open up the notion of an international culture “not based on exoticism or multi-culturalism of the diversity of cultures. 12 . In his piece entitled ―Cultural Diversity and Cultural Differences'. one gets a taste of the hybridised nature of her childhood and her life. we begin to understand why claims to the inherent purity and originality of cultures are ―untenable'.Kenya. The term hybridity has been most recently associated with Homi Bhabha . Bhabha hopes that it is in this space “that we will find those words with which we can speak of Ourselves and Others.” In bringing this to the next stage. Ashcroft says how “hybridity and the power it releases may well be seen as the characteristic feature and contribution of the postcolonial.

The basic idea of this process is the deconstruction of oldfashioned perceptions and attitudes of power and oppression that were adopted during the time of colonialism. Nowadays. the relationship of the colonial power to the (formerly) colonised country. The post-colonial direction was created as colonial countries became independent. It developed from and mainly refers to the time after colonialism.Post-Colonialism: Definition. The term “decolonisation” seems to be of particular importance while talking about post-colonialism. this interest lead to an integration of discussions about post-colonialism in various study courses at American Universities. In this case it means an intellectual process that persistently transfers the independence of former-colonial countries into people‖s minds. but also in approach to culture and identity of both the countries that were colonised and the former colonial powers. A major aspect of post-colonialism is the rather violent-like. unbuffered contact or clash of cultures as an inevitable result of former colonial times. First attempts to put this long-term policy of “decolonising the minds” into practice could be regarded in the Indian population after India became independent from the British Empire in 1947. its 13 . post-colonialism can take the colonial time as well as the time after colonialism into consideration. aspects of post-colonialism can be found not only in sciences concerning history. In the seventies. However. However. Nowadays it also plays a remarkable role at European Universities. Development and Examples from India Post-colonialism is an intellectual direction (sometimes also called an “era” or the “post-colonial theory”) that exists since around the middle of the 20th century. post-colonialism has increasingly become an object of scientific examination since 1950 when Western intellectuals began to get interested in the “Third World countries”. literature and politics.

This complicated relationship mainly developed from the Eurocentric perspective from which the former colonial powers saw themselves: Their colonial policy was often criticised as arrogant. ignorant.population and culture and vice versa seems extremely ambiguous and contradictory. This often led to conflicts when countries became independent and suddenly faced the challenge of developing a new nationwide identity and selfconfidence. colonial powers had to accept the loss of power over foreign countries. The challenge for these countries was to find an individual way of proceeding to call their own. As generations had lived under the power of colonial rulers. Colonial powers came to foreign states and destroyed main parts of native tradition and culture. Post-colonialism also deals with conflicts of identity and cultural belonging. This contradiction of two clashing cultures and the wide scale of problems resulting from it must be regarded as a major theme in post-colonialism: For centuries the colonial suppressor often had been forcing his civilised values on the natives. an attempt to regain and lose power. the colonial relicts were still omnipresent. deeply integrated in the natives‖ minds and were supposed to be removed. in the first place. they had more or less adopted their Western tradition and culture. brutal and simply naïve. destruction and. both sides have to deal with their past as suppressor and suppressed. Their final colonial failure and the total independence of the once suppressed made the process of decolonisation rather tense and emotional. So decolonisation is a process of change. But when the native population finally gained independence. furthermore. While natives had to learn how to put independence into practice. They 14 . they continuously replaced them with their own ones. However.

To give a conclusion of it all. This paradox identification process seems to be what decolonisation is all about. What legacy arouse from this era? What social. While doing so.could not get rid of the Western way of life from one day to the other. The cross-border exchange of thoughts from both parties of the post-colonial conflict is supported by the use of a shared language. one might say that post-colonialism is a vivid discussion about what happened with the colonial thinking at the end of the colonial era. On the other hand. gender. This is particularly important as most colonial powers tried to integrate their language. cultural and economical consequences could be seen and are still visible today? In these contexts. So how is this difficult process of decolonisation being done? By the power of language. resistance. A lot of Indian books that can be attached to the era of post-colonialism. the major aspect of their civilised culture. The post-colonial experience in India 15 . are written in English. one examines alternating experiences of suppression. former colonial powers had to change their self-assessment. even more than by the use of military violence. they could not manage to create a completely new one either. migration and so forth. Language is the intellectual means by which post-colonial communication and reflection takes place. in foreign societies. worn-out attitudes in a lively discussion of colonisation. for instance. both the colonising and colonised side are taken into consideration and related to each other. while post-colonialism is the intellectual direction that deals with it and maintains a steady analysis from both points of view. The main target of post-colonialism remains the same: To review and to deconstruct onesided.

Madras and Bombay as the main British bases. It demanded that the Indians should have their proper legitimate share in the government. depending on the individual perspective. the Congress developed into the main body of opposition against British colonial rule.In the 16th century. The incident is also named “First war of Indian Independence”. This was the first time Indians rebelled in massive numbers against the presence and the rule of the British in South Asia. However. From then on. The rebellion failed and the British colonialists continued their rule. In 1857. The non-violent resistance against British colonial rule. the Netherlands and France ruled different regions in India before the “British East India Company” was founded in 1756. a Muslim anti-colonial organisation was founded in 1906. While most parts of the Indian population remained loyal to the British colonial power during the First World War. European powers began to conquer small outposts along the Indian coast. finally lead to independence in 1947. more and more Muslim people joined the Indian independence movement since they were angry about the division of the Ottoman Empire by the British. mainly initiated and organised by Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. In 1885. there still remained a few independent regions (Kashmir among others) whose lords were loyal to the British Empire. Portugal. The British colonialists managed to control most parts of India while ruling the key cities Calcutta. Besides. the first big rebellion took place in the north of India. the “Sepoy Rebellion” or the “Indian Mutiny”. the “National Indian Congress” (popularly called “Congress”) was founded. called the “Muslim League”. 16 .

about 7 million Muslims crossed the border to from India to Pakistan. overpopulation. conflicts with the cultural minority of the Sikhs lead to the assassination of the Indian Prime Minister Indira Ghandi. In 1984. Today. Additionally.At the same time. India became a member of the British Commonwealth after 1947. after the Congress Party had regained the majority. Ever since these incidents. In this book the author analyses how European states initiated colonialism as a result of what they called their own racial superiority. Concerning post-colonial literature. Eye-witnesses from both 17 . the Kashmir conflict has not come to an end yet. while both Pakistan and Indian are threatening each other with their arsenals of atomic weapons. India is still facing its old problems: Poverty. Edward Said‖s book “Orientalism” (published in 1978) is regarded as the beginning of post-colonial studies. environmental pollution as well as ethnic and religious conflicts between Hindus and Muslims. there have been tensions between India and Pakistan which lead to different wars particularly in the Kashmir region. apart from the significant economic progress. Post-colonial development in India The Partition of India (also called the “Great Divide”) led to huge movements and an ethnic conflict across the Indian-Pakistani border. Hundreds of thousands of people died in this conflict. In 1977 the opposition gained the majority of votes. the huge British colony was split into two nations: The secular Indian Union and the smaller Muslim state of Pakistan. For decades the Congress Party ruled the democratic country which had become a republic with its own constitution in 1950. The religious-ethnic conflicts between different groups of people play an important role in the early years of post-colonialism. While around 10 million Hindus and Sikhs were expelled from Pakistan. The Muslim League had demanded for an independent Muslim state with a majority of Muslims.

there are many different approaches to the topic of intercultural exchange between the British and the Indian population. but studied in England and started writing books about India and the British in the early eighties. who won the booker prize among various others. He was forced to leave Bombay and to settle in Lahore. being confronted to blind and irrational violence and hatred. The Partition is often described as an Indian trauma. the other one set in the 1970s. featuring young Europeans on a “hippie trail” who claim they have left behind Western civilisation and are trying to some spiritual home among Indian gurus. Rushdie. was born in India. The most famous novelist who wrote about these social and cultural exchanges is Salman Rushdie. One particularly interesting phenomenon is that authors from both sides try to write from different angles and perspectives and in that way to show empathy with their cultural counterpart. brave. Furthermore. He published a collection of stories and sketches (“Mottled Dawn”) that deal with this dark era of Indian history and its immense social consequences and uncountable tragedies. Pakistan. One example for a post-colonial scriptwriter who wrote about this conflict is Saddat Hasan Manto (1912 – 1955). 18 . Salman Rushdie was also repeatedly threatened by Irani fundamentalists because of his critical writing about Muslim extremism in the Middle East. Uncountable essays and novels deal with the ambiguous relationship between these two nations. His funny. In the past. This can be also seen in his book “Midnight‖s Children”. Another famous post-colonial novel is “Heat and Dust” (published in 1975) by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala that contains two plot set in different times: One about a British lady starting an affair with a local Indian prince in the 1920s. metaphoric and sometimes even ironical way of writing offers a multi-perspective approach to the postcolonial complex.sides of the Indian-Pakistani conflict wrote about their feelings and experience during genocide.

Concerning the integration of Western values in the Indian population and culture. and of course still not without tensions between these two nations that refer to the time of colonialism which from our retro perspective is not at all so far away. India has managed to become an independent state with its own political system and is still working to find its own identity. What about the relationship between India and the United Kingdom today? It is a special one. the more we get the impression that only a middle course between the acceptance of British legacies and the creation of a new unique Indian self-confidence will be the right way to go for India. Many Indians are conversant with the English language. The longer the process of decolonisation lasts. This was regarded as the basic fundament for further education. Young Indian scriptwriters have discovered postcolonial issues as themes for their movies and as a way of dealing with the changeful past of their country.“Bollywood” has become a notorious synonym for the uprising Indian film industry in recent years. The reason for this can be also found in the persistence of the English language. 19 . because the British colonialists intended to export their values and culture by teaching the Indian population their language. one can say that the British influence is still omnipresent in the Asian subcontinent.