Old version
Home eSS Plug-in About Us Contact Us Login Register
eSocialSciences
Follow us on : eSocialSciences eSocialSciences
 
Blog
XXXI Indian Social Science Congress
1 December 27, 2007-12-28 SNDT University, Churchgate Campus
31ST INDIAN SOCIAL SCIENCE CONGRESS December 27, 2007-12-28 SNDT University, Churchgate Campus The term ‘people’s movements’ is part of the current vocabulary of the media and the general public. But what does it actually represent? How did these movements emerge? What is their political and economic context? And where are they headed? The 31st Indian Social Science Congress will deliberate on these issues in the next four days. The Congress was inaugurated yesterday by the former Vice Chancellor of Mumbai University and Member of the Planning commission, Balachandra Mungekar is aimed to provide that vital and vibrant space for the coming together of those who are involved in the movements and those who examine it and underpin them in theory. SNDT University, which is co-host, is itself a symbol and outcome of such a movement for women’s education launched by Maharishi Dhondo Keshav Karve. SNDT’s Vice Chancellor Dr Chandra Krishnamurthy succinctly put the conference in perspective, “ If there is a people’s movement emerging, then it is in response to a need to correct something in society”. Introducing the Indian Social Science Academy (ISSA) that organises the Congress, Professor Arun Kumar its co-chair said that it was set up in 1974 as a revolt against the current idiom of higher education. The next four days of the Congress, announced Dr Ram Tarneja, co-chair of the organising committee of the congress will see a gathering of the best known minds and social activists. At the first plenary, Dr Satish Jain pointed out that today movements are no longer about the classic ideals of seeking equity and justice but about the more about the down-to-earth issues like livelihood concerns. The market ideology, he elaborated, as it has developed, and its application to non-market institutions and systems like law, is fundamentally destructive of the values for the preservation, advancement and realization of which these institutions were designed in the first place. Aseem Srivastava, one of the discussants took serious note of the ‘crisis of cognition’ among the country’s planners: economists during the course of their professional training are hard wired to think in a certain framework that sees no alternatives to the current economic regimes and philosophies. Clearly, the audience, comprising over 600 young and enthusiastic scholars from universities and colleges across the country and abroad, was not in complete agreement with the bleak picture being presented. And they applauded with vigour Sandeep Pandey’s more optimistic assessment when he drew the example of Uttar Pradesh where the conditions of Dalits has changed with the capture of political power. During the discussion many echoed the ironies captured by D Panda one of the discussants who said that while we talk about pollution and environment, we do little to about them when it is at the cost of our comfort. His impassioned appeal to delegates to refrain from drinking the bottled water in plastic containers at the venue on a matter of principle drew cheers. It is for this openness in debate that the Congresses have always been known. In the days to come it is likely to see some real battle for people’s minds. What can social scientists do about all this? The several parallel sessions—there will be over 50 sessions in the three days—saw focused and well-informed discussions on the micro issues. In an impassioned speech to researchers at the deliberations of the home Science research committee, its chairperson, S.A.Udipi, pointed out that the poorest of the poor, particularly dalits and women, are rapidly dropping off the nutrition programmes that are supposedly meant for them. One of the highlights of the conference will be the presentation of the Gold Medal to Dr Binayak Sen on December 29 for his contribution to the welfare of tribals and the underprivileged. The medal will be received by Dr Ilina Sen, his wife and partner, a women’s studies scholar in her own right. Dr Sen is currently languishing in a Chhatisgarh jail, allegedly for his involvement with the Naxal movement.
Padma - Prakash   Posted on: 30 Dec 07
2 December 28, 2007-12-28 SNDT University, Churchgate Campus
The packed third plenary session of the Congress dealt with issues of technology and science. Have you ever heard hackers of the cyber world being described as pioneers of a people-oriented movement? That is just what Dr Nagarjuna, a computer scientists and leading light of the Open Software Movement did at the paclked third plenary of the Indian Social Science Congress being held at the SNDT University’s churchgate campus between 27 and 31, December 2007. Nagarjuna reminded the appreciative audience that hacking actually means a “creative act that explores new possibilities in a constrained system”! So one needs to make use of what is available to further the movement. This may be time, the only capital resource people possessed or it may ben opportunity to seek openings in the legislative constraints in society extend the reach of new initiatives. Prashant Bhusahan further elaborated on the use of courts and legislations to oppose technologies, such as the products of the gene revolution, that were inherently anti-people. Earlier in the day, Javeed Alam gave a succinct presentation on the state of Indian democracy. He said Indian democracy has undergone sweeping and widespread changes, but in an ‘untidy’ manner in the sense that there is a rule deficit in the structuring g of the political process. What is the best way of studying the consequences of the contact of democracy with the specificities of Indian communitarian consolidation? The persistence of poverty along with “a consistency of commitment on the part of these people for democracy is the paradox in Indian democracy. While we welcome the extension of democrzy in India we have to struggle to deepen it on an expanding canvas of a democratic struggle against inegalitarian outlooks. The following speakers raised a number of issues in the context of specific movements and issues. Prakash Burte, physicist and social activist drew attention to the facets of the culture of democratic practises in which peace movements have flourished: A strong respect for plurality, equity and voices of dissent. Ram Punyani’s presentation contended that the struggle for political rights of women and dalits inevitably was agains religion-based politics. But does democracy offer a legitimate space for people rising in violent or non-violent protest on the street? Eminent economist Ranjit Sau wondered if there was alternative to mass movements to address people’s grievances. But given the bewildering diversity of people’s movements today, and the fact that some have come to be coopted by vested interests for narrow gains, how does one distinguish the genuinely broad based initiatives? asked Prasanta Ray. How does one create necessary linkages that would lend strength to these struggles? The over 50 parallel sessions of the afternoon, organised by the different research committees picked up the many questions raised in the plenary sessions. For instance, Sanjay Ranade speaking in the parallel session on communication and journalism argued that there was an increase in the rise of Hindu religious writing in newspapers over the past decade. But the media has not been sufficiently studied by serious academics and the session drew attention to the many trends in the media that needed such attention: reporting on dalit issues, on people’s protests against SEZs and so on. Modern communication technologies appear to have made little difference to thw ways in which people access information and gain knowledge concluded Mangesh Karanidkar on the basis of a 60-year survey. The session on conflict, war and peace looked at issues of technology in the resolution and development of conflict. Sandeep Pandey well-known social activists lamented that that nuclear issue was linked with national pride and virility and whoever opposed was treated as anti-national and anti-development. Surely there was a need for people’s movement to addres this concern? Shukla Sen explored the many dimensions of the Indo-US nuclear deal and stressed the need to oppose it on a variety of grounds. For instance, Sanjay Ranade speaking in the parallel session on communication and journalism argued that there was an increase in the rise of Hindu religious writing in newspapers over the past decade. But the media has not been sufficiently studied by serious academics and the session drew attention to the many trends in the media that needed such attention: reporting on dalit issues, on people’s protests against SEZs and so on. Modern communication technologies appear to have made little difference to thw ways in which people access information and gain knowledge concluded Mangesh Karanidkar on the basis of a 60-year survey. The economy, its path of development and its outcomes were, not surprisingly, the focus of many parallel sessions. Satish Jain, in the well attended parallel session organised by the Economics Rsearach committee looked at values and the markets pointing out that markets affect values and values affect the market. Vibhuti Patel speaking on the concepts of inequality contended that women suffer more in the process of laissez faire and marketization under free market forces. The government has a role to play in initiating affirmative action. Focusing on one particularly skewed development was a session devoted to retailing in trade. An issue that has obviously agitated minds in academia is the new phenomenon of urban malls. However, the clearly there were differeing points of view on their impact on customers, the small traders and producers. Women’s issues and their struggles were also the focus of attention in the well organised ongoing three day symposia.
Padma - Prakash   Posted on: 30 Dec 07
3 Brief Report of Indian Social Science Congress, December 27-31, 2007
What is the context that gives rise to people’s movements? What is their significance in today’s context? Where are they headed? What is the role of the state in encouraging or suppressing people’s movement? And what directions must people’s struggles now take? These were some of the major issues that the over 600 delegates deliberated in the over 25 parallel sessions. The 31st Indian Social Science Congress was inaugurated on December 27, 2007 by the former Vice Chancellor of Mumbai University and Member of the Planning Commission, Balachandra Mungekar at the SNDT University’s Patkar Hall. The venue was appropriate for the theme of the 31st Congress: SNDT University that is co-hosting the congress is itself a symbol and outcome of such a movement for women’s education. SNDT’s Vice Chancellor Dr Chandra Krishnamurthy succinctly put the conference in perspective, “If there is a people’s movement emerging, then it is in response to a need to correct something in society”. The theme of organising to challenge existing norms and practices is of course the dominant theme of the Indian Social Science Academy (ISSA). As Professor Arun Kumar its co-chair said that it was set up in 1974 as a revolt against the current idiom of higher education. Under Dr Chaubey’s indefatigable direction the ISSA has not only survived against odds, but garnered a large support base among progressive scientists across the sciences. While the papers presented, the symposia and the deliberations touched upon a wide range of issues and research topics, the overwhelming and deep concern echoing throughout the Congress was for the systematic efforts to dismantle people’s struggles and movements and the wipe out the gains of historic struggles. Whether it was labour movements, peace movements, women’s struggles, environment related movements or child rights movements, there has been an erosion of gains of the past. As was repeatedly pointed out, the objectives of people’s struggles were not so much about equity and justice but rather about the preconditions for achieving those, that is, desperate and urgent livelihood issues. This is what globalisation and unregulated liberalisation has meant. Professor Mungekar set the tone with his inaugural address dealing with inequities and inequalities showing how there are deep structural fault lines that cause the persistence of these divides. This state of affairs is further aggravated by injustices perpetrated in civil society. The market ideology, elaborated, Dr Satish Jain in the first plenary, as it has developed, and its application to non-market institutions and systems like law, is fundamentally destructive of the values for the preservation, advancement and realization of which these institutions were designed in the first place. Aseem Srivastava, one of the discussants took serious note of the ‘crisis of cognition’ among the country’s planners: economists during the course of their professional training are hard wired to think in a certain framework that sees no alternatives to the current economic regimes and philosophies. At parallel scientific sessions attention was drawn to the nutritional imbalance, the education deficit and of course the disastrous impact of economic policies. At a following plenary, Javeed Alam gave a succinct presentation on the state of Indian democracy. He said Indian democracy has undergone sweeping and widespread changes, but in an ‘untidy’ manner in the sense that there is a rule deficit in the structuring g of the political process. What is the best way of studying the consequences of the contact of democracy with the specificities of Indian communitarian consolidation? The persistence of poverty along with “a consistency of commitment on the part of these people for democracy" is the paradox in Indian democracy. While we welcome the extension of democracy in India we have to struggle to deepen it on an expanding canvas of a democratic struggle against inegalitarian outlooks. The theme was echoed in the following plenaries. That many of the current struggles were rooted in social movements of the past was clearly brought out by T Karunakaran who dealt at length on the several social movements against caste oppression in Travancore beginning from the late 19th century. Vibhuti Patel too drew attention to the long pat of modern women’s movements and Sujato Bhadra discussed the realities of struggle in Singur and pointed out that peaceful struggles are forced to become violent because of the response of the state which led to the observation that the distinction being made between democratic struggles and armed struggles was wrong, for, indeed the latter were also democratic struggles.. G Hargopal succinctly discussed the important but often neglected socio-philosophical implications of the movement of the oppressed. That people’s movements have followed similar paths in many underdeveloped countries was borne out clearly in the session on movements in afro-Asian and Latin American countries. The rich experience in these countries could provide models for resistance of state domination and there is opportunity for a coming together of democratic movements in several countries united for a particular objective. However the danger of leading movements in some emerging situations, such as Iraq was also highlighted. Inevitably the economic policy, its multi-level impact on people, the many dimensions of struggle against anti people policies received the most attention. But interestingly, most sessions and speakers drew attention to the interconnectedness of economic policies and the social and the political ethos. SEZs for instance, were the focus of much attention and were thoroughly examined. This was also the focus of other sessions on environment and experiences of struggle. Also drawn out were issues of the impact of policy on labour situation, the marginalisation and the fragmentation of labour the destruction that was being wrought upon the labour movement, the feminisation of labour and so on. It was these deliberations that provided a good grounding for all the other sessions. Several well organised and well structured symposia running through two or three days provided an opportunity to young scholars to present their views and interact with more experienced social scientists and social activists. The symposium on women’s struggles was jointly organised by the SNDT University’s Research Centre of Women’s Studies, Women’s Research and Action Group (WRAG), Majlis and Akshara and focused on distinct themes each day. Opening the symposium the chairperson Veena Poonacha talked of the changing features of women’s struggles. In the 1970s and the 1980s their aim was to ensure that the criminal justice system was sensitized and to ensure development policies accommodated gender issues. Today the challenges before the movement are complex: because of the twin paradoxical processes of globalization and fragmentation. The current market economy is denying women their basic survival needs and has also escalated violence against women in the households. Simultaneously, the prevailing identity politics are targeting women in all their struggles, as seen in the various riots that have taken place since the demolition of the Babri Masjid. These riots have particularly targeted women as seen in the recent Gujarat carnage. Feminist the rising has explored and engaged in extending rights to the more invisible minorities, such as lesbians and bisexuals raising questions on the nature of gender identities and sexualities and inevitably, making for ideological tensions within the movement. The sub theme on engagement with institutions and campaigns explored an important area campaigns. Saumya Uma, C
Padma - Prakash   Posted on: 07 Jan 08
eSS Column
eSS current affairs
All Rights Reserved(c) 2010 A Unit of IRIS Knowledge Foundation.
Developed & Maintained by IRIS