The Azim Premji University regularly organizes seminars, webinars and colloquium lectures involving members of the faculty as well as academicians, activists, artists and other distinguished personalities from a wide array of fields. This section consists of video recordings of major events conducted at the Azim Premji University.
Interaction with Shyam Benegal as part of Open Course on Cinema.
About the Lecture
Mr. Shyam Benegal along with his other illustrious colleagues of Indian cinema pioneered a film movement that drew its artistic principles from the cinema across the world. Describing the movement in traditional vocabulary coined by uncomprehending film writers as ‘parallel cinema’, ‘middle of the road cinema’ would be to trap him in terms that seem mystifying, vague and clichéd. Deeply influenced by the stylistic and aesthetic elements of the pioneers of world cinema who worked outside the mainstream system including the well-known studios, Mr. Benegal found his calling in telling stories with a different sensibility that eschewed the clichés of mainstream films around him; the style of telling was often at odds perhaps with the mainstream cinema all around. Besides being a Padma Bhushan awardee, Mr. Benegal was bestowed with the Dada Saheb Phalke award in 2005, the country’s highest award for cinematic achievement. Some of his well-known films include Ankur, Nishant, Manthan, Bhumika, Junoon, The Making of Gandhi, to name a few.
Community Management System ‘Oran’ Conserves Biodiversity and Protects Rural Livelihoods: Experiences from KRAPAVIS
About the Lecture
‘Orans’ are community forests that act as a store of biodiversity, enable effective water management and serve as a community based regeneration system, which also ensure sustainable extraction of Non-Timber Forest Produce (NTFPs) by villagers, in the world’s oldest Aravali Mountain Range and in the Great Indian Desert of Rajasthan (India). There are about 25000 orans in Rajasthan that cover more than 600,000 hectares and provide a much-needed lifeline and safeguard to their respective communities. Until two decades ago, orans have suffered widespread degradation due to neglect and misguided priorities, opposition from hostile actors such as profit-seeking corporations, the introduction of foreign flora and fauna that compromise biodiversity and from a changing climate, all of which led to a marked decline in the condition of orans. Founded to address the above challenges, KRAPAVIS, an organization of local people, has been working for 21 years to revive orans, both physically and conceptually, in the desert and Aravali regions. This talk will discuss the various strategies through which KRAPAVIS has contributed to sustainable natural resource management and made a tangible difference to awareness of biodiversity, instilled respect for the land and its multiple uses, and improved thousands of local eco-systems across one of India’s most water-challenged states. It will also demonstrate how the work of KRAPAVIS serves as a model for stakeholder engagement at multiple levels (international, government and local communities) to realize tangible environmental improvements that enable future generations to continue their productive stewardship of the land.
Aman Singh is the Founder of Krishi Avam Paristhitiki Vikas Sansthan (KRAPAVIS), a voluntary organisation which works towards the betterment of ecological, agricultural and livestock practices, to ensure sustainable livelihoods for pastoral communities in Rajasthan. Its success has led it to be selected as a finalist for the UNDP Equator Prize. Aman has been awarded with prestigious awards include ‘Dalmia Environment and Water Conservation Award’, a state level award for environment conservation and another one ‘Asian Technical Award’. He is an Ashoka Fellow and has received several fellowships from international agencies such as UNDP, UNOCHA, Schumacher College, the Ford Foundation and the University of California. Aman has written extensively on rural ecology and pastoralism, and has presented to international audiences in countries as diverse as Scotland, Nepal, Kenya, Bulgaria and the US. Aman holds an MSc in Environmental Education, is a graduate of the University of California’s Environmental Leadership Programme, and has studied Deep ecology/ bioregionalism at the UK’s Schumacher College.
Caste and Educational Inequality in Colonial India
About the Lecture
In both popular conception and a larger body of social science literature on caste, it represents a quintessential ‘tradition’. In contrast, the education introduced by colonialism, represented by and institutionalized in the form of school promised and represented ‘modernity’. But did colonialism leave caste unmarked by its presence, power, experience and discourses? If ‘modern’ education was tainted by its association with colonialism, then how did ‘tradition’ of caste intersect and interact with it and how were the two shaped by each other in the presence and context of colonialism along with other vectors of social stratification and inequality?This talk attempts to examine this complex relationship between caste and education in colonial India through following questions. Who accessed education at different historical junctures and what were the regional variations? How did access to education reestablish and/or challenge social dominance? What were the attitudes of colonial officials, missionaries, social reformers, nationalist leaders and dominant castes to the education of the ‘lower castes’ and ‘untouchables’? In what ways did the lower caste groups redefine and challenge the subject positions offered by the dominant powers and discourses? What insights we may gain from these historical contestations to ask questions about meaning of education, educational inequality, public and private, decentralisation and state?
Dr Manish Jain teaches at the School of Education Studies, Ambedkar University, Delhi (AUD). He previously taught in a school and at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai. He has been a member of textbook/syllabus/teacher education reform committees of NCERET, SCERT (Delhi), National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) and MHRD.Manish was awarded doctoral fellowships by Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute (SICI) and CSDS, Delhi for his comparative historical study of Citizenship and Civics Curriculum in India and Canada since late nineteenth century. His teaching and research interests run along the triad and intersection of history, politics and sociology of education. They include history of education in colonial and postcolonial societies, sociology of education, educational policies, comparative education, social science and citizenship education and gender and education.Manish writes both in Hindi and English and has published in the Handbook of Asian Education (Routledge), Contemporary Education Dialogue, Economic and Political Weekly, Seminar, Book Review, Social Change, Shiksha Vimarsh and Samayik Varta. At present, he is working on the manuscript of a book tentatively titled, ‘Framing Subject, Making Citizens: Civics and Citizenship in Colonial India’.
Reflections on the Broom: Material Culture, Caste and Development
About the Lecture
Drawing on my book Rajasthan: An Oral History – Conversations with Komal Kothari and excerpts from the documentary film Jhadu Katha (Broom Stories), directed by Navroze Contractor, I will reflect on the social processes and interrelationships connecting material culture, caste and develop ment, as represented in the most humble and inconspicuous of objects in everyday life: the broom. Outlining some of the central principles of Kothari’s empirical research, grounded in a critical observation of rural material and cultural practices, I will focus on how orality catalyzes new modes of thinking through an interconnectedness of diverse contexts of traditional knowledge systems. How are these systems linked to both the hereditary and mutant manifestations of caste, and to what extent are the means of livelihood supported by these systems open to social development and new engagements with the market?These questions will be problematized through a sharing of two different kinds of research – one linked to the writing of oral history and the other to the making of a film in which the voices of people are pivotal to the overall narrative. In both cases, ‘orality’ is constructed, subject to the immediacies and political choices of editing and framing. Within these protocols of different kinds of documentation, how does one tell the stories of the broom in everyday life? And how do they resonate within the larger political and social matrix of materiality, caste, and development operating in Rajasthan and beyond?In the spirit of a conversation, these questions will be thrown open to the audience for discussion, who will be encouraged to think aloud on how an object as seemingly folkloric as a broom is actually embedded in some of the most pressing contemporary realities of our times, relating to survival, ecology, humiliation, self-respect and resilience.
Rustom Bharucha is Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies in the School of Arts and Aesthetics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. He is the author of several books including Theatre and the World, The Question of Faith, In the Name of the Secular, The Politics of Cultural Practice, Rajasthan: An Oral History, Another Asia: Rabindranath Tagore and Okakura Tenshin and the forthcoming Terror and Performance.
The Recolonisation of the Indian Mind
About the Lecture
In a seminal lecture, subsequently published as "Swaraj in Ideas" in 1929, KC Bhattacharya lamented the impact of Western education on India. In deeply evocative language he wrote', it 'induces certain habits of soulless thinking which appear like real thinking. Springing as these do from a rich and strong life - the life of the west - they induce in us a shadow mind that functions like a real mind except in the manner of genuine creativeness'. In this lecture I will return to the three ideas in this statement (i) the organic link between a cultural life and an intellectual life, (ii) a shadow mind and creativity, and (iii) resistance to this induction. The issue to be explored is whether we today are faced with a recolonization of the Indian mind or whether we live in a plural knowledge universe where there are remote possibilities of recolonization.
Professor Peter Ronald deSouza taught political science at Goa University for 16 years and has been with CSDS, Co-Directing Lokniti since 2003. He has written on Panchayati Raj and the 'second wind' of democracy in India, party hopping, and the party system in India, electoral violence and its sources, Dalits and discrimination, trust and political institutions, and freedom from fear and human security. His abiding interest is in threats to freedom of expression in democratic polities and in issues of righting historical wrongs. In addition to numerous articles he has edited two books, Contemporary India: Transitions (Sage, 2000) and India's Political Parties (with E. Sridharan, Sage, 2006). He was one of the three principal investigators of a five nation study on the State of Democracy in South Asia (2006). deSouza has served as an expert for the UGC on political science, for SSRC on a survey of social sciences, and has been a consultant on matters of governance, rural decentralization, equality, and discrimination for the World Bank. He was Director, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla between 2007 and 2013.