Tuesday, January 27, 2009

On LeftWord International Young Scholars Seminar

LEFTWORD Books in association with Academy of Third World Studies (Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi) organised a UGC sponsored International Young Scholars' Seminar namely Rich Nation, Poor People: Critical Perspectives on the Neo-liberal Regime in India on April 4, 5 and 6, 2006. The three day long seminar was distributed into seven academic sessions and twenty two papers based on particular themes related to an inter-disciplinary study of the problems and issues of neo-liberal regime in India. After fifteen years of economic reforms marked by liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation the young critical minds (below 35 years!) tried to pose the problematics of neo-liberal situation in India while articulating the voices of an alternative. The seminar was held in the Conference Room of Nehru Guest House, Jamia Millia Islamia. On April 4, the Seminar was inaugurated by Jamia Vice-Chancellor Professor Mushirul Hasan followed by the keynote address of distinguished Marxist economist Professor Amiya Bagchi. Professor Bagchi not only attended all the sessions on April 4 and 5, but also actively participated in the discussion as well as putting sharp questions and making incisive comments on most of the papers.

The first session on April 4, namely 'Fire in the Villages' had four papers: Regional and Gender Disparities in Agricultural Wages by Shambhu Ghatak of JNU, Coping with Risk or Counting More Risk? A Report on Changing Rural Livelihoods during Agrarian Distress in Kerala by R. Ramakumar of TISS, Mumbai. The other two papers were presented by Rajshree Bedamatta from ISI, Kolkata on the topic Neoliberal Economic Reforms and Targeted Public Distribution System: A Case Study of Two Orissa Villages and by Vijoo Krishnan, Faculty of Political Science, St. Joseph's College, Bangalore on Repositioning the Land Question in the Era of Neo-Liberal Economic Policies. Dr Praveen Jha, JNU chaired the session while Jayan Jose Thomas, National University of Singapore was the discussant.

Professor C P Chandrasekhar was in Chair for the second session: 'When Work Disappears' with Atulan Guha as the discussant. Somenath Bhattacharjee, NBU, Darjeeling presented a paper on The Urban Siliguri and the adjacent Rural Stone Crushers: Perspectives and Problems and Indu Kalamani, CDS, Thiruvanathapuram talked about Understanding 'Crises' in a Traditional Industry: The Case of Coir in Kerala. The last paper in the session was by Jesim Pais, ISID, Delhi on Migration and Labour Mobility in the Leather Accessories Manufacture in the Post Reform Period: A Case from Dharavi, Mumbai. The third session: 'The World Out of Joint' incorporated two joint papers namely Political Economy of the Neo-liberal Economic Policy and the North East by Senate Khuraijam and Chinglen Maisman from Manipur University, Imphal and India's Post Liberalization Growth Experience: An Analysis by the Demand Components by Anamitra Roychowdhury and Shouvik Chakraborty, JNU. Finally, the session ended up with Saji M, JNU presenting on Constituting Development: Encountering the Deprivation of the 'Poor' Under the 'Reform' Apparatus in India. In this session, Dr Sumangala Damodaran was in the Chair while Prasenjit Bose played the role of a critical discussant.

The second day of the seminar began with the fourth session namely 'Information as Commodity' with Professor Jayati Ghosh, JNU in Chair and Shipra Nigam as a discussant. Jayan Jose Thomas' paper An Emerging Knowledge Economy and a Stagnant Agrarian Economy: Contradictions in Andhra Pradesh was read before Sambit Mallick's (University of Hyderabad) Changing Practices in/of Science: The Context of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) in India. The fifth session: 'Bitter Pill' had Professor Mohan Rao, JNU in Chair and Mita Despande as an enthusiastic discussant. Vijay Kumar Yadavendu, Faculty of Kisan College, Nalanda gave a presentation on Health Inequalities, Social Cohesion and Social Capital: An Exploration followed by Bijoya Roy's (JNU) Restructuring the Public Sector Hospitals and Services: Marginalizing the Poor.

The final session of the second day began with a paper called Verdict 2004: From Identities to Issues and Interests? by Maidul Islam, JNU followed by Democracy and People's Rights in the Neo-liberal Era: The Role of Judiciary read by Rohit on behalf of M B Rajesh of Palakkad. Sanjeev K Routray, Panos Institute South Asia, Delhi presented his on Two Kinds of Activism: Reflections on Citizenship in Globalizing Delhi and Swagato Sarkar, St Antony's College, University of Oxford made a presentation on Voluntary Organizations, NGOs and the 'Politics of Development' in India': A Critical Exploration. All these papers came under the particular theme: 'The Domain of Politics'. The sixth session was chaired by Archana Prasad while Sunalini Kumar was an analytical discussant. The evening was illuminated by a talk on 'Rich Nation, Poor People' by Professor Prabhat Patnaik with Dr Venkatesh Athreya chairing the session. The final day had only one session: In Which We 'Fight It Out' with Prof. Rashmi Doraiswamy in Chair and Albeena Shakeel as an energetic discussant. Arjun Ghosh, Faculty of Shivaji College, DU presented on Challenges Before Cultural Resistance: Methods of Intervention. Dia Mohan of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY, USA was absent but her paper namely Mirrors of Value? Advertising and Political Theatre in the Hegemonic Construction of Women in India was slotted in the seventh session. Pallav Mukhopadhyay of Kolkata read his paper as Impact of Neoliberalism on Indian Media and Culture Industry whereas The Print Media as a Handmaiden of the Neo-liberal Regime was put forward by Roshni Sengupta, JNU. The post-Lunch session was marked by a lecture delivered by Professor Aijaz Ahmad namely 'The Role of the Intellectual' with Dr. Vikas Rawal, JNU in the Chair. The seminar ended up with Vote of thanks by Sudhanva Deshpande, Manager of LeftWord Books and in-charge of the Organising Committee, International Young Scholars' Seminar.

Source: http://web.hws.edu/news/update/showwebclip.asp?webclipid=2619

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