CHANDIGARH, March 13, 2008:The two day National Seminar on ‘The Other Side of Politics: People’s Movements in India’ got underway today morning in
The Seminar is being organized by the Department of Political Science under its UGC ASIHSS programme and social scientists from various parts of the country have come to present papers and participate in the proceedings. The Seminar was declared open by the Vice Chancellor Prof R.C. Sobti, while Dr. Ashutosh Kumar, the Chairperson of the Department, introduced the theme.
The highlight of the day was the keynote address delivered by Dr. Rajendra Singh, General Secretary of Tarun Bharat Sangh and the 2001 Magsaysay Award
winner for Community Leadership, more popularly known as the ‘Waterman’ of Rajasthan. Dr. Singh drew from his experiences in rural Rajasthan where his
organization is involved in reviving traditional check dams. He said that there are several movements which are working in different parts of the country and they can be characterized into two types. Some are involved in struggling against the harmful effects of industrialization, green revolution and privatization while some others are involved not only in struggle but also in reconstruction i.e. in putting forward an alternative model of development. The principles underlying this alternative model are equality, justice, simplicity, sustainability and respect for nature and natural resources.
He argued that universities and academia generally ignores people’s movements because their system of knowledge has no space for local, traditional and experiential knowledge of the people. But it is only with the restoration of the diverse traditional knowledge systems that we can ensure development without any destruction, displacement or despair of the people of the country.
Other speakers of the day included Prof Sanjeeb Mukherjee, Dr. Madhulika Bannerjee, Dr. Ellora Puri, Dr. Surinder Shukla, Dr. Ajay Gudavardy, Prof.
Ajay Mehra, Dr. Arun Jana, Dr. Himanshu Roy, Prof. Annapurna Nautiyal, Prof. Gopa Kumar, A. Rambabu and Praveen Priyadarshi. The Seminar will continue
its deliberations tomorrow.
While Prof Sanjeeb Mukherjee spoke about the unexplored potential of the Directive Principles of State Policy in the Indian Constitution, Dr. Bannerjee argued that social and community health movements in various parts of the country emphasized the importance of traditional and local knowledge about medicine in ensuring effective healthcare for all. She argued that these movements had a democratic dimension and must become part of the mainstream. Dr. Ajay Gudavardy spoke about the four phases of the human rights movements in India since the 1970s and argued that human rights movements have a moral and ethical dimension. While Dr. Nautiyal spoke about the experiences of Uttarakhand and Praveen Priyadarshi spoke about the Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha in the context of debates over development, Dr. Gopa Kumar and A. Rambabu spoke about the nature of people’s movements in Kerala according to Dr. Ashutosh Kumar, Chairperson, Department of Political Science.