The India Post, Chandigarh, 19th December, 2008 : The proceedings began with the Panel discussion on ‘Global Economic Crisis and New Hope for Marginalities’ in which Prof J.R. Panda, University of Jammu, Prof. Akshaya Kumar, Department of English, Dr. Ronki Ram, Department of Political Science, Panjab University, and Prof Sadhu Ram, M.D. University, Rohtak took part and discussion was chaired by Prof K. Gopal Iyer, an eminent sociologist.
It was pointed out by Prof. Panda that the current crisis of global capitalism is much more serious than we think of.. An estimated $ 8 trillion is being sought to be pumped into the economy before the crisis is tamed to normal cycle of reproduction. The panelists agreed that every attempt is being made to transfer the entire burden of crisis onto to the ordinary people by throwing them out of jobs or by making drastic cut into their social security. If the civil society remains passive witness, as of now, there is no hope for any radical change in the global order, concluded the panelists.
Prof. Birenderpal Singh, Department of Sociology, Punjabi University , Patiala presented a paper on the so called criminal tribes of Punjab who have been clubbed with the Scheduled Castes just with the stroke of pen. For instance, Bazigar, Bangala, Sansi, Nat, Bauria, and Gandhila, together 4.5 lakh in number, all are actually tribes but by adding them to the long list of Scheduled Castes of Punjab they have been left to reel under perpetual poverty and backwardness. Dr Aneesa Shafi and Saleem Jahangir presented a joint paper on the precarious condition of small scale industry in Srinagar that is managing its survival by engaging sweat labour. Women are paid Rs. 60 per day and children are paid wages only Rs. 25 per day.
Prof. Jagrup Singh, Department of Political Science, GNDU Amritsar made a presentation on the brave collective resistance provided by the farmers in Manawa to their forced eviction from their fertile land to hand over to DLF, a construction company, under the provision of SEZ. The farmers finally succeeded in forcing Punjab Government to take its decision back told Prof. Singh.
Dr. Neharic Subhash, University of Jammu spoke on the inter-religious marriages in Jammu and found that still there is a lot of resistance to such departure from the tradition. More than the parents of the respective spouses it is the communities that oppose such attempts of inter-religious marriages. The session was chaired by Prof Sherry Sabharwal, department of Sociology, P.U. Chandigarh.
The conference concluded with the Valedictory address by Prof J.R. Panda from Jammu University . In his address he cautioned to all those sociologists who focus only on identity based social discriminations, at the cost of economic bases of inequality. He pointed out that identity politics is divisive and do not allow collective conscious to emerge from the people. Castiest politics helps only those who are abusing state apparatus for their own narrow ends, said Prof. Panda. Finally, Prof Manjit Singh, Secretary, NWISA thanked everyone who joined Conference from far flung areas and made 18 presentations on varied social and political issues.