To address Greg's primary question, magicians in India seem to be using magic primarily for four types of communication (in addition to its primary function of entertainment): 1: Magic for (& of) the Gospel
-- This is at best a rarity when it comes to Indian magicians, as most of the gospel magic we see in India, comes from the "Western" magicians who are visiting us. We are more or less used to the fact that ANY (sorry about that!) Western magician who is visiting and performing here, MUST be performing Gospel. This is true of many "award-winning magicians" who have visited India, under the auspices of Campus Crusade, and other like-minded organisations, who perform both for schools (mostly christian convent, but also for others) and colleges, and for the public. I will address this issue in greater detail in my next post. 2: Magic for product promotion
-- which are mainly commercial in nature, and use magic as a marketing tool to promote and market products and services, or a people gathering mechanism... all the while brandishing the products/brands of a company. 3: Magic for social education & awareness
-- where magic is used as a tool to highlight the nuances of health (AIDS awareness, pulse polio campaign, et al.), family planning, promotion/propagation of governmental (& non-governmental) welfare schemes, election awareness, national integration, and more... 4: Magic for Promotion of Rational Thought
-- Closely related to the above, but drastically opposite to the concept of Gospel Magic. Here magic is used as a tool to "explain" to the people the 'reality' of long-held superstitions, religious and traditional beliefs. The performance is most of the times demonstrational in nature, and 'exposes' some of the secrets of the art, to convey the message that it has nothing to with the supernatural, but essentially trickery.
As most of us understand the first two issues clearly, let me provide hyperlinks to two news articles, to serve as examples for Point 3 and 4, respectively:
(3) - http://www1.timesofindia.indiatimes.com ... d=35003944
(4) - http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanheral ... 004/c7.asp
Hope this serves to further the discussion on this topic ;-)
PS: Greg, Sorry for the immense delay in posting a reply. Was way too tied up at work. You have started a very interesting thread! More in my next post...