Madhuchanda Ghosh (Ph.D., 2004-2007)
Title: India and Japan: Prospects for a Strategic Convergence
Department of International Relations
The aim of the thesis is to explore the prospects for a strategic convergence between India and Japan on the basis of post Cold War experience and changing bilateral relations within the time frame early 1990s to 2005.
Does India’s contemporary relationship with Japan vary according to factors shared by both?
Relevance of the study:
A survey of the existing literature on Indo-Japanese relations reveals that while there are publications on their economic, political and cultural relations, the proposed area of study has not been much ventured into. The research study, therefore, would enrich knowledge of the Japan-India strategic relations.
The research work will be an empirical study based on analysis of data, interviews and surveys. Data will be collected from the offices of Government of Japan in India and related agencies and libraries.
The research work is meant to shift the attention of the policy makers of both countries from longstanding but unwarranted misapprehensions and reservations and help conceptualise the gamut of Indo-Japanese relations in a manner conducive to mutual benefit over a long time scale. To achieve this end, care would be taken in this research study to carefully unearth the enduring basis of cultural ties of the past that would rejuvinate and further cement the contemporary and future India’s political, military and economic relations with Japan.
Bipasa Mukherjee (Ph.D., 2007-2010)
Title: Experiencing primary education by the school children in Corporation
School: A sociological study
Department of Philosophy
Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), previously known as Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC), originated as an administrative institution as early as in 1770s. After 225 years, KMC has now become one of the twenty three municipalities of Kolkata Metropolitan District (KMD). KMC provides primarily two important services to the people of Kolkata - public health and primary education. The schools run by KMC are known as Kolkata Municipal Corporation Primary (KMCP) Schools. At present there are 239 KMCP school situated in 141 wards of Kolkata Municipal Corporation.
This research will focus on school children and their experiences of education in Kolkata Municipal Corporation Primary Schools.
A review of literature in the concerned area of research highlights that the bulk of studies have been on assessing the impact of the primary education. My project examines the socio-economic profiles of the students accessing the primary education, the form and content of education and the pedagogy adopted to impart education to these first generation learners.
Some of the questions that the research aims to explore through are as follows:-
- Who are the children who attend these schools?
- What type of education is imparted to students at these schools?
- Do the students continue their education after completing the primary level?
The research will contribute to the body of literature on the reception of the government induced primary education programmes in KMC schools.
Sreerupa Sengupta (Ph.D., 2008-2011)
Title: HIV&AIDS Campaigns and Funding in India: Exploring Relationships and Challenges
In a span of less than three decades, HIV&AIDS has emerged as the single most formidable challenge to public health, human rights and development, worldwide. This had compelled the policy makers to rethink their response to the epidemic moving beyond a narrow bio-medical approach to a more holistic one. In this context, communication has evolved as an important intervention strategy to disseminate information about HIV&AIDS and create an environment that would enable People Living with HIV&AIDS (PLWHAs) and their families to tackle the disease better.
In India, the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) and various international and national NGOs are involved in developing effective campaigns to arrest the spread of HIV. Over the years, the concerted efforts of these organisations have no doubt initiated generated awareness about HIV among various sections of the society; but as yet it has not led to a destigmatised response to HIV&AIDS from the civil society. Even today People Living with HIV&AIDS face stigma, discrimination and social marginalization on grounds of their gender and health statuses.
§ What paradigmatic shifts have occurred in the approaches and themes of the media campaigns in India in the following years (from1992 till2007)?
§ Are the media campaigns empowering for the HIV positive people? Do they address the lived realities of the people (ranging from treatment, care and support)? Do campaigns address gender inequality and human rights violations faced by the HIV positive people, especially women?
§ What proportion of money is allotted by the government and the non-government organizations for developing media campaigns? Do the sources of funding influence the messages of these media campaigns?
This thesis by analyzing the evolution and shifts in the HIV and AIDS media campaigns in India and the representation of related issues of gender, rights will provide critical insights to policy makers, programme developers and communication experts. It will help them identify the gaps in the communication programmes developed so far. Such an exercise will facilitate in designing more effective, representative and responsible campaigns in future.
Shyamasree Dasgupta (M.Phil, 2009-2010)
Title: Forest as Carbon Sink: An Emerging Method of Conservation?
Department of Economics
While the world is looking forward for a sustainable solution to reduce carbon concentration in the atmosphere, the possibility of emergence of a fully functional carbon market is getting clearer. This carbon market would consist of many players. Industries in one hand are the expected buyers in the carbon market as they are one of the key emitters of carbon dioxide. Forests on the others hand can emerge as a supplier of carbon sink. But, what is the potential of such carbon capturing capacity of forest lands to be a part of such carbon market is still an area to be explored. I would like to investigate how a country can enter into a global carbon market with its forest land and take active part in carbon reduction. A competitive price generated through a fully functional carbon market accruing to the forest might become higher than income generated through alternative sources after clearing the forest. If that is the case it would act as an incentive towards forest conservation and this in tern would reduce the release of carbon dioxide from global deforestation and degradation.
Objective of the study:
To analyse the role of forest as a carbon sink in the present context of global climate change and emerging carbon market.
Can appropriate valuation of new eco services generated by the forest augment the conservation process?
The methodology would involve developing a theoretical framework for valuation of forest as carbon sink. I intend to conduct a small survey to understand the barriers and facilitators of carbon policy in India. The stipulated time for the completion of this study is one year.
Shreya Maitra (M.A., 2007-2008)
Title: Development Induced Displacement; Compensation and Resettlement
Department of International Relations
In the arena of international politics, states seek to execute appropriate development models for the enhancement and progressively efficient use of resources and infrastructure. There is a perennial effort to articulate development projects and establish them in suitable areas for higher economic growth and stable political, socio-cultural environment. But the phenomenon of Development-Induced Displacement is its undesirable yet unavoidable fall-out. The massive displacement of resident population of an area at the alter of the development goals has attracted enormous international and legal-specific concerns due to it overwhelmingly negative socio-economic, cultural and human rights consequences. Modern India has found itself embroiled in this tussle between the development plans of the State at the macro level and their undesirable consequences for the specific project affected people. Though the exigencies of time and the logic of the liberalization policy demand the continuous articulation of development projects, it is equally imperative to transcend the disempowering effects of displacement on its people.
a) What are the theoretical, legal and policy level problems impeding the smooth implementation of development-induced displacement?
b) How can a just and equitable compensation and resettlement policy package be articulated for the people affected by development-induced displacement in India?
The aim of the project is to assert that there is an urgent need for the state to reach a necessary balance between its efforts to augur development and to make it sustainable, just and equitous. Lacunae at the theoretical, legal and policy levels impeding the fluent process of implementation of the development projects in India will be explored. The subsequent problems encountered in the allocation of compensation and resettlement in such projects will be studied. The framework of international legal principles governing development induced displacement and the theoretical models reflecting the socio-economic realities of the project affected will serve as reference points.
Nilanjan Pande (M.A., 2007-2008)
Title: Erosion Afflicted Population Groups in Malda, West Bengal: Identity, Politics and Livelihood
Department of History
The paper provides an ethnographic account of the victim hood who has been victims of the erosion of the river Ganga, in the fringe regions of the district of Malda, West Bengal, India. Documenting and excavating a range of first-person narratives, the paper seeks to interrogate the ways in which the erosion affected have been silenced in state-authored documents. It also unravels how the subjects struggle to form and retain their own identities and expectations, outside the developmental exclusions of the state.
To understand the history and politics of identity formation in erosion effected regions of Malda, West Bengal.
1. Has the state yet identified the erosion affected populations as it's beneficiaries? If not, then how do the state and the affected marginalised communities interact with each other? Again if not, then what lies behind that exclusion?
2. How do they relate themselves with their past identities?
3. What kind of future do they envision?
Most of the literature is reportage-oriented. Of the few works that have tried to make a detailed study, it has been found that they devote little attention on the people who have been displaced by the continual erosion of the banks of the river. More attention has been diverted on investigating the causes (and remedial measures) of erosion.
1. Existing literature treats the entire problem in techno-economic terms.
2. The question of the everyday survival strategies of the victims and their voice remains unexplored.
The work attempts to unravel the interaction between the state, marginalised groups and mainstream society.
Payal Sen (M.A., 2008-2009)
Title: Coffee House to Barista: A Cultural Study of Change
Department of Sociology
The cityscape of Kolkata has off late witnessed a steady growth and expansion of coffee retail outlets where today’s youths prefer drinking coffee. These coffee outlets are distinct in their culture in comparison to the veteran coffee houses that still grace the city in their dilapidated forms. This change in the form and style of coffee houses of Kolkata can be attributed to the forces of globalisation which has significantly influenced the lifestyle, and mentality of the people and has also altered the coffee culture of the city.
It is against this backdrop that the study proposes to map the journey from coffee house to Barista. The objective of the study is to analyse the cultural change that is associated with the shift in coffee drinking styles and spaces. The study explores the following dimensions to map the change -
1.Types of people who visit coffee shops keeping in mind several variables like age, sex, social class, language and even dress of the customers.
2.The purpose of their visits.
3.The ambience of the spaces.
The nature of the study will be qualitative and exploratory. This study is a multidisciplinary one since it is a cultural study focussing on different dimensions of existence like economic status, educational qualifications, professional achievements, political activism, general social awareness as well as lifestyles and preferences. The research will involve participant observation and semi-structured interviews to gather primary data. In addition, oral history and content analysis of relevant films and songs will also be used as tools of study.
Neha Chatterji (M.A., 2009-2010)
Title: Aspects of Peasant Mobilization in Post-colonial India
Department of History
The BKU (which launched a rational critique of the modern nation’s industry-centred model of development by alleging that the vast rural population would be adversely affected) has produced a peasants’ statement of their ‘consciousness’ and has articulated a self-definition with particular moral-cultural bearings, and community-identities, thus bringing, into standard modern politics, a kind of new language. In contrast, the Krishak Sabha (since its inception in 1936) has mobilized the rural poor, as adjuncts to the working class, through its class-political agenda.
With all their differences, the colonial mind as well as the nationalist mind had constructed the peasantry as the ‘unself-conscious’, ‘ignorant lot’, ‘close to nature’, which had to be corrected, guided and appropriated as an object of their different strategies. So did the Marxists seek to educate the peasants in the language of class. The peasant’s self-articulation, delineating the peasants’ conscious subjecthood (and affirming that the peasant can speak for himself and does not merely wait to be reclaimed) has emerged, very significantly, in post-colonial India (at least in the case of the BKU).
Objective of the study:
My proposed research attempts to study forms of peasant-mobilization in post-colonial India by specifically taking up the contrasting cases of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) in Western UP and the Krishak Sabha in West Bengal. It seeks to research into forms of peasant-response to the contemporary (post-liberalization) marginalization of peasants and see to what extent, the respective traditions of peasant-mobilization, in the two sites, have shaped contemporary forms (with regard to the rhetoric used).
a) What rhetoric does the BKU employ today?
b) How have the dominant perceptions of the peasant become reformulated under the influence of the peasant’s self-articulation of his identity and aspirations?
c) In West Bengal where peasants have been mobilized by the communist party in terms of the universal category of ‘class’, how do peasants conceive of their identities in their everyday lives? Is it solely in terms of class? What are the dynamics of caste, religion in the politics that they engage in?
Sebanti Chatterjee (M.A., 2009-2010)
Title: Searching for a professional identity- a sociological perspective on the western classical musicians of Kolkata
Department of Sociology
Music has the unique characteristic of being able to epitomize pain, grief, detachment, attraction, love, joy. It is intriguing to try to understand its forms and expressions as music is a problem not in the conventional sense of the term. Rather, it is really something one needs to examine intricately. Assessment of its position today amidst photography, painting, theater, and cinema addresses the hierarchical trend in the cultural framework.
Music, especially western classical music is ‘elitist’ in the opinion of a good many individuals. The confinement of western classical music within the concert halls, embassy gatherings, and the forlorn shelves of the music stores with expensive price tags do make it inaccessible to a large section of the populace.
Max Weber in ‘the rational and social foundations of music’ attempted to trace the influence of social factors on the very creative core and technical basis of music. In its broadest sense, Weber’s thesis was that western music had peculiar rational properties produced by social factors in Occidental development.
Objective of the study:
The study will focus on classical guitarists and their musical influences and performances. The relationship between Kolkata and Western Classical music will be explored using sociological imagination.
The study will analyse three dimensions of the Western Classical Musicians of Calcutta – their social background, their economic aspirations and the social recognition and position of the western classical musicians.
Whether the western classical musicians of Kolkata succeed in sorting out the dilemma regarding teaching and performance?
The research will be qualitative in nature. An in-depth and focused interview of select western musicians in Calcutta will be carried out applying purposive sampling. Biographies and autobiographies of select musicians will be analyzed.
This study will provide a strong base for further researches within the sociology of music.
Subhashree Bhattacharya (Ph.D, 2009-2012)
Title: SONG IN WORK: LABOUR/WORK SONGS OF KOLKATA
Department of Comparative Literature
In the proposed research, my concern would be to deal with labour/work songs in the urban space of kolkata accompanied by an investigation of the different registers that open up when one sees them in conjunction with varied conceptions regarding ‘work’, ‘labour’ ‘worker’ and ‘labourer’. This would be placed side by side with the realities of such practices in other urban and rural locations. Binaries such as rural and urban, pre-industrial and industrial, categories of ‘folk’ and ‘popular’ would be critically dealt with through documentation and research. The research would also take into account the different existent theoretical premises regarding such practices as found in folklore studies, studies on orature as well as on urban cultures.
There have been few theoretical investigations regarding Labour/Work songs. This can primarily be attributed to definitional problems regarding the practice. This is one of the key areas Of investigation. In the wide gamut of folklore studies, labour/work songs, If they ever occupy a distinct position broadly have two perspectives shaping them. Either labour itself is seen as the origin of songs or the songs are seen from a strictly utilitarian perspective as functioning to alleviate the tedium of labour and therefore aiding in the production process. In most research, either these songs have been dismissed as not being ‘poetic enough’ or have been read simplistically as instances of proletarian resistance, subverting dominant structures of control. What has largely been kept outside the purview is a corporeal body with its senses working in synchronization engaged in an act, which unites both work and song. The song has more often than not been seen as a means towards an end - song for work rather than song with or in work.
Problematising such restrictive boundaries, this research would try to situate these songs in the present urban cultural milieu and investigate the cultural transactions that give rise to significant changes. This would squarely address the changing cityscape as well as the changing soundscape of the city.
Rimple Mehta (Ph.D, 2010 - 2013)
Title: Agency and the Experiences of ‘Illegal’ Bangladeshi Women Migrants in Kolkata Correctional Homes: A Feminist Exploration
School of Women’s Studies
India’s land border with Bangladesh – nearly 4,096 km – is the longest that India has with any of its neighbours. Of this, 2,000 km is shared between the State of West Bengal and Bangladesh. Due to the porous nature of the border, and a variety of push and pull factors there is an exodus of Bangladeshi men and women to India. There are various sectors of the economy that are thriving on this influx of migrants. Several estimates have suggested that every day over 5,000 Bangladeshi women and children are becoming the victims of trafficking-in-human beings with false promises of jobs, marriage and other forms of security. Trafficking is not for the purpose of prostitution alone; it may be to fulfil the demand for labour in various sectors. Apart from being trafficked, there is a large population of women coming to India in search of a livelihood or a better standard of living. Women who are labelled as being trafficked are sent to protective homes and those who are labelled as ‘illegal’ migrants are processed under the criminal justice system and are imprisoned.
India does not have any specific legislation for refugees or ‘illegal’ migrants and the decisions taken with regard to women crossing borders are ad hoc. Bangladeshis or other ‘Foreigners’ in India without relevant passports and documents are arrested under Section 14 of the Foreigners’ Act 1946 or the Passports Act 1955.Very often these women continue to languish in prisons long after their term in prison is over. Thereafter they are ‘pushed back’ in large groups.
What is the basis on which a distinction is made between a ‘refugee’, a ‘migrant’, and a ‘trafficked’ woman? A number of times all of these women are put under the bracket of ‘illegal’ migrants. I will utilise the category of ‘illegal’ migrant woman at the beginning in order to understand the nuances of the experiences of these women in prison. Furthermore, the research will raise posers regarding the concept of borders, the question of categorisation of women who cross borders, the concepts of violence, honour and State design and the workings of the criminal justice system in the context of all these issues. It will add to the broader knowledge and literature on the subject from a feminist perspective.
To explore how agency and experiences of a woman are shaped in the context of honour and violence in the process of ‘illegal’ migration and in the context of her interaction with the Criminal Justice System in India and the larger State(s) design
- To explore all the information with regard to the processes involved in the legal proceedings in such cases, the deportation that is planned thereafter and the records that are kept for the same
- To evaluate the ‘gendered’ aspect of the policies designed for deportation of illegal immigrants
- To build knowledge about the existing procedures followed during deportation to formulate effective national and international policies in context of illegal immigrants
The research will follow a feminist qualitative research design. Primary data will be collected from Correctional Homes (Prisons), police stations, courts, and the site of push back (border post). I will use interview guide for narrative interviewing and open-ended questionnaire for the structured interviews. A non probability purposive sampling strategy will be used to collect the data. My data analysis will include - narrative analysis, analysis of case laws/court judgements, and interviews with key informants
Shyamasree Dasgupta (Ph.D, 2011-2014)
Title: Experimenting Sustainability in India: An Analysis of National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC)
Department of Economics
Sustainable development is a three pillar (economic, social and environmental) approach focusing on long-term changes across local and global scales, including innovations in technology, institutions and behaviour. Given the unsustainable increase in anthropogenic emission of Green House Gases (GHG) and resultant increase in concentration of Green House Gases in the atmosphere, decarbonization of economic activity is a must to board the pathway of such sustainable development. The adoption of National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) in India in 2008 is a move towards ensuring the country’s sustainability, secure and efficient energy use and designing comprehensive policies towards climate change mitigation.
As the success of such an experimental policy like NAPCC would depend on several sustainability criteria, my research will focus on the broad question of “How does NAPCC create opportunities and barriers towards sustainability transition of the development pathway in India?”
This has three components –
a) Does NAPCC have a potential to induce economic growth in India?
b) Up to what extent could NAPCC achieve environmental sustainability, especially with respect to energy use, in India?
c) What is the social viability of NAPCC?
The research will primarily emphasize on the mission of Enhanced Energy Efficiency from the perspective of climate change mitigation while touching upon the issues related to other missions.
The analysis would involve some of the methods mentioned below:
- Collection of secondary data on production, energy use, emission
- Accounting for sources of growth
- Econometric analysis of the bias of such growth
- Development of Social Accounting matrix to analyze the impact of NAPCC
- Computable General Equilibrium model to estimate the effects of NAPCC
- A section on qualitative analysis of case studies to understand social impacts
The research is expected to generate a framework for evaluation and a literary database evaluating the role of climate change mitigation policies towards sustainable development in India. This research would add to such literature analyzing the recent comprehensive plan of NAPCC. The outcome of the proposed research would, however, strongly depend on the ex ante behavior of socio economic agents and future policy steps given the continuous development of ideas in the field.
Saumyashree Ghosh (M.A., 2011-2012)
Title: From the ‘mill’ to the ‘mall’: Understanding the changed face of a city
Department of History
With the recent spurt of urbanisation in Asia, India by the turn of century has had a violent expansion of its urban frontier. In Calcutta, following the 1991 liberalisation, the Left Front Government sought to remake its environment ‘world-class’ to ensure beauty and order in the city. In this spirit, my proposed research looks at the South City mall, at the Anwar Shah Road, from an extended historical perspective. With a prior history of the Usha factory it tells an interesting story of labour, land, and settlement patterns. Usha, first to manufacture the sewing machine in India in 1935, and after, gave the road a remarkable pattern of socio-economic development. It burgeoned after 1947, expanding in scale through the 1970s, and thereafter. In post liberalisation era, the space of the road where the factory had been marked as ‘sick’ had to be converted into an elite enclave with Calcutta’s first ‘destination mall’.
Objective of the study:
My research seeks to study the transformations of prior labour practices over to its present neoliberal forms. Literature on South City does not study the immediate history of the factory. My project situates the theme immediately adjacent to the southern side of Calcutta where its labour history always moves out to its extreme fringes. Anwar Shah Road is an interesting case is point which had a sort of industrial working class and a factory amidst heterogeneous neighbourhoods and contested land claims. I wish to incorporate this case study in my research in order to interrogate the formal-informal binary of labour studies, in thinking through the re-urbanising process.
1. Malling of the factory is viewed in literature as informalization of labour relations. Did Usha Factory, at all, have a formal working class? Or, should one say its labour also included an informal sector?
2. How does, for that matter, the history of the road and property complicate the narrative? Does it enable a history of informality beyond a designated historical conjuncture?
3. Is the story of transformation merely one of work and labour being refurbished in these new retail spaces? What does it say about the socio-spatial functioning of the road, over time?
4. Does the story of transformation embolden or erode the robust claim of ‘development’, ‘re-writing’ of history, and a ‘world-class’ aesthetics that justified the changing face of the city?
Aritra Chakraborti (Ph.D, 2012-15)
Title: The Politics of Information The Continuity of the Chapbook Tradition in Bengal and its Social Implications
Department of English
Chapbooks are slender volumes of street literature, printed on poor quality paper and sold by itinerant sellers. Beyond the reach of the great nineteenth century cultural movement known as the Bengal Renaissance, chapbooks published from Battala in North Calcutta, written on topical subjects in sensational language, acted as the principle mass medium for the economically underprivileged sections of the society. This is a tradition that continues to this day in an almost unchanged form.
—What does the continuity of this chapbook tradition tell us about the ways in which a section of the society determines the hegemonic structuring of the information system for the consumption of different economic classes?
—How did the colonial rule prompt a section of the native elite to actively create a social condition in which the educational and information systems for different social and economic sections were separated and classified?
—How did the social structuring of the colonial period affect the ways in which the information and educational systems are viewed almost eighty years after the coming of electronic media in India?
—How has the construction of ‘official knowledge and information systems’ affected archival politics in general?
This research attempts to trace the evolution of a marginalized information network. Several archives which need to be consulted include the Ramdas Sen collection at the National Library in Kolkata and the India Office Collection at the British Library in London. I shall also take help of some of the private collections that house a large number of chapbooks. I will access the contemporary materials from the School of Cultural Texts and Records (SCTR), Jadavpur University.
I would also the actual market of chapbooks: this includes interviews with the book-sellers and customers and ethnographic studies of the book-stalls.
Extra-textual materials shall be sourced from accessible government archives, reports from both colonial period and present day, historical and theoretical commentaries, journals from libraries and others.
Objectives of the Study and Expected Output:
—To comprehend the importance of printed ephemera as modes of communication in a pre-electronic age and examine the reason for their continuity in an age when electronic media has become omnipresent.
—To determine the position of this ‘poorer’ communication device within the power-structure of the present day capitalist society where newer, technology-heavy forms of representation have become the key to the successful build up of a dominant discourse.
—To understand what role this socially and economically disenfranchised mode of communication plays in a system where most mainstream print or electronic media play a conformist role to one political ideology or another.
—To understand what roles archives play in the shaping of social history, and how the manipulation of the archival narrative works as a part of larger political interests.
Anindita Roy (M.Phil, 2012-13)
(Re)Telling Stories to Re-Visit Realities: Exploring the Dynamics of Socio-Cultural Influences on a Child’s Consciousness
School of Cognitive Science, Jadavpur University
Socio-Cultural influences on individual adaptation have been of considerable importance in the understanding of human beings- their shaping of individual identities and the society at large. The proposed research is to investigate, in children, the cultural and social influences that could account for the individual differences in their behavioural adaptations and socio- emotional structures. A child’s learning development is enmeshed deeply in the socio-cultural contexts it is situated in. The cognitive developments result from the dialectical process whereby a child learns through problem-solving experiences. These experiences in turn, are conditioned within certain contextual paradigms, inclusive of agents that become the child’s point of reference- usually a parent, teacher, sibling or peer who, in the initial stages, take(s) upon the primary responsibility of guiding the child’s problem solving.
Language, be it spoken, written or sign; is the primary form of interaction used for the transfer of any kind of information and as the learning progresses, the child’s own language comes to serve as the primary source of its understanding and adaptation. Therefore, language becomes an important tool by which meaning is mapped onto the world. It is not only interpretive but also generative of meaning and actions. When the process of crystallizing sounds and symbols with meaning takes shape as language, it not only helps in communicating with others but also with the self, in the form of internal language or internal thought. Eventually, when a child uses internal language, it helps to direct their own behaviour.
Stories which are orally narrated-composed by a special group of children living in the red light areas of South Kolkata, West Bengal will be collected and analysed. The process of storytelling by the narrator-author as a performance of making meaning of the socio-cultural situations they live in; with a special emphasis on child sexual abuse and substance abuse, which the participants are highly vulnerable to, will be looked at. Within these processes of narrations and the interrelations between the narrator-author and the listener-comprehending reader, the objective of the research will be to understand stories as means of re-interpreting subjective realities in the children’s contemporary society.
It will be an investigation into how interactive tools of communication can be used on an everyday basis to cope up with the different stages of child development and differences in psychological orientations. Since the major focus will be the stories told by the children themselves, it will lend a firsthand understanding of how the child places certain settings, images or symbols to describe certain ideas or situations. The narrative metaphor of storytelling could be used as therapy and self-development, if one could successfully abstract the symbolic associations the child makes with the characters and settings it would create. The fictional world therefore, becomes an effective cue to the factual existence, and could be reused to reinterpret the child’s real life situations. By helping the child to renegotiate with language and symbols in a more positive fashion one could help children, especially, those with a history of child abuse, child delinquency, or even poor scholarly performance or those with special needs to feel more empowered, better aware and more equipped of their potential for better lives. This understanding could extend as self awareness and self correction or coping methods that will not only help children take charge of their lives, but will hopefully nurture them as peer educators in team or group settings, as well as help adults understand the various factors that disturb child development and help take children’s views, voices and concerns more seriously.
Sohini Banerjee (M.A., 2012-13)
No Data Available
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya (Ph.D., 2013-16)
When we were champions: Nation-building, hockey and the Anglo-Indian community of Calcutta
Sport plays an important role in how nation-states project themselves to the world. It is not for nothing that countries compete with each other to win the right to host international sporting events, employing their biggest brand ambassadors and parading their proud histories and current financial health. Governments are often eager to allocate a considerable portion of their budget to producing top-class athletes.
In the history of modern India, the one sport that stands out is hockey (or field hockey). Football had its epoch-making moment in 1911 and an upsurge that saw India emerge Asia’s best in 1951 and 1962. And in the last three decades, cricket has been one team sport where the country has excelled at the international level. However, six straight Olympic gold medals on either side of Independence and eight in all explain why hockey is India’s national sport despite the sharp decline in the team’s performance after 1980 (when the last gold medal was won in Moscow).
Objective of the research
Fascinatingly, given the city’s current disconnect with the sport, a major portion of the early history of hockey in India unfolded in Calcutta. Hockey, like most other organised sport (cricket, golf, rowing, rugby, football, etc.) imported to India by the British, was first introduced in Calcutta. India’s first hockey tournament, the Beighton Cup, began in the city in 1895 and the country’s first hockey association, the Bengal Hockey Association, was founded here in 1908.
The Anglo-Indian community of Calcutta was one of the major patrons of the game, providing players, infrastructure and, on occasions, injection of cash. Yet there is a lacuna in documenting this role. Although hockey is probably the sport on which India’s identity rested before and after Independence, the game itself has not attracted the kind of scholarship that cricket and even football have. The Anglo-Indian community has also had a slightly uneasy relationship with the country, exemplified by the mass exodus of its members in the decades following Independence. It has never quite been one of the pressure groups demanding its history to be written. And in a nation that has increasingly grown callous towards most sports, the history of a marginalised community’s role in a sport where India has long lost its domination was always going to struggle for attention.
My study proposes to cover a portion of this historical blind spot, focusing on Anglo-Indian institutions such as the Calcutta Rangers Club and players from the community who helped build India’s hockey legacy. I will also try to draw out the possible reasons why such a lacuna exists at all.
Questions to be investigated and relation to existing literature
The study will aim to situate the Anglo-Indian community role in propagating hockey in the context of India’s emergence as a nation; compare hockey vis-à-vis football and cricket as a subject of scholarship in India and search for possible reasons for the neglect of hockey in this area. Apart from a handful of books, including autobiographies of former players, not much has been written on Indian hockey. Trevor Vanderputt’s Hockey’s Odyssey: From Dhyan Chand to Charlesworth (London: Athena Press, 2003) does look at the Anglo-Indian community’s role in the sport, but it is written more as a memoir and does not engage with the kind of social and political question asked by Ramachandra Guha about cricket or by Boria Majumdar about football. My research proposes to fill this gap.
Methodology and sources
The five years I spent in the Department of English in Jadavpur University for my under-graduate and post-graduate studies taught me how to interpret texts, and not just those that are written or printed. The three-and-a-half years I worked as a sports journalist in the daily, Hindustan Times, brought me in contact with players and administrators, fans and experts. I hope to combine what I have learnt as a student of literature and as a sports journalist in my research. The third element is the location. Calcutta, which has been my home for the past 14 years and where the research will be conducted, is enmeshed with the history of Indian hockey. The city is where the earliest hockey administrators took bold decisions, where the best players played for decades and where fans flocked the grounds.
My research will involve archive work, field work and interviews. Apart from books on Indian and world hockey, I will study articles published in periodicals. I will look at the archived records, if any, at the Calcutta Rangers Club, the Bengal Hockey Association and various Anglo-Indian organisations.
Anwesha Sengupta (M.A., 2013-14)
From City Calls to City Walls: Emergence of Gated Communities and its Impact on the ‘Pheriwallahs/wallihs’ of Kolkata
Transformation of the built environment of a city has diverse effects on various segments of its population. Kolkata, with its ‘hybrid’ population and recent history of post liberalization housing reforms, forms an interesting case study here. These policies have facilitated the replacement of pre-existing single or double storied buildings with new housing projects within the city on one hand, and on the other, created new planned towns like in Rajarhat in the city fringes.
Identification of the problem:
Increased formalization of living space resulted in ‘othering’ much of the ‘informal’ population. The Pheriwallahs/wallihs provide an interesting case point here. Kolkata being the point of convergence for labour and capital has been the traditional site of livelihood for this occupational group. Initiated into this profession for generations, their mode of merchandising and interacting with the potential buyer has been dependant on the cityscape. Their mobility on the streets, vocal calls announcing their arrival and transaction at the door of a household is what characterizes them and makes them vulnerable in an event of changing city structure.
The questions that I wish to address are:
- To what extent has the creation of the ‘gated communities’ impeded the mode of merchandising for the Pheriwallahs/wallihs and how have they adopted to it?
- What does this interaction between the living space and livelihood reveal about how the ‘informal’ is being accommodated (or not) in the neo-liberal structure of the city?
Existing literature points out how the West Bengal Government with its Public-Private Partnership initiative had originally introduced the housing reforms to benefit the urban poor. But the multiplier effect of property value nullified Government intervention and made it unaffordable for them.
Restructuring of the urban housing sector took place hand in hand with the increased formalization of the retail sector The new liberalized and privatized set up was favorable to the upper middle class of this city whose investment in real estate has facilitated this growth and whose consumerist practices has been significantly shaped by it.
But there is noticeable silence in existing literature about the Pheriwallah/wallihs and their right to trade within the city. Literature on them is mostly descriptive or nostalgic and the actual implication of their precarious situation as an indicator of the real face of ‘development’ remains unexplored.
My methodology shall be three fold:
- It will involve secondary literature study on the historical emergence, sociological significance of the ‘gated communities’, the causes of transformation of the city and evolution of the occupational group of Pheriwallahs/wallihs
- Participant observation of the Pheriwallahs/wallihs and their daily trade
- Qualitative interviews of the Pheriwallahs/wallihs
The Pheriwallah/wallihs being a point of contact between the ‘informal’ and the ‘formal’ of this city provides an entry-point into understanding the impact of cityscape transformation. Information gathered on this profession and its analysis will serve as an archive for future research. The deliverable shall be in form of a paper publishable in a peer reviewed journal and a short documentary.
Shounak Set (M.A., 2013-14)
Impact and Implications of Information and Communication Technology in Rural India: A Case Study of the e-Choupal
A dominant theme among academic and policy elites which informs the policy practice and discourse is that information and communication technology (ICT) can be a vehicle for homogenizing and overcoming the plethora of governance hurdles. Such initiatives with their intrinsic techno-managerial framework are problematic as they incline towards mono-dimensional economic indicators. The study shall examine the process with a case study of the Indian Tobacco Company’s (ITC) e-choupal initiative; an information-technology-enabled rural information and trading network.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
e-Choupal functions through a network of rural kiosks operated by a sanchalak. The sanchalak, typically an individual of certain social standing may cater upto ten villages and hundreds of farmers within a five-kilometer radius. e-choupal serves to entrench his position through increased revenue generation and as the exclusive provider of several web-enabled services. Sanchalaks may manipulate the information-dissemination process and emerge as a dominant class with rentier character and political ambitions. With monopolistic control over an entire local ecology, e-Choupal indicates a management/development model whereby a transnational corporation configures an ICT network and treats its service areas as a cheap hinterland and ready market. This phenomenon has grave ramifications for society as it generates concerns about social justice, equity and empowerment.
LITERATURE REVIEW AND RESEARCH GAP
This emerging phenomenon can be traced to the broader aspect of the effect of operative forces of ICT on extant societal structures; incidentally this subject is still in a nebulous stage and remains unexplored in all its dimensions. Literature on ICT in terms of social science readings is scarce and this impedes any meaningful analysis. The e-choupal has generated appreciation in several quarters but the studies have been undertaken mostly under the aegis of Management and Economics. These focus on financial aspects and trivialize a multi-dimensional phenomenon to a singular economic framework. Agriculture as a sector has been an area of social, political and economic interface and the effect of technology on agriculture must be examined from a social science perspective for a better understanding of the dynamics and to supplement possible research in technology and management itself.
RATIONALE FOR THE STUDY
The study attempts to examine the impact of ICT on agriculture through a holistic prism and thereby bridge this crucial research gap; an imperative of our time and context. The aim is to widen the ambit of research by analyzing from a socio-political perspective and discern possible ways to negotiate the limitations of the process.
The study will seek to address the fundamental question:
What are the problems pertaining to socio-political linkages generated, or likely to be generated by the e-choupal?
METHODOLOGY AND SOURCES OF DATA
The proposed study shall engage in critical reading of existing literatures and thereby interrogate the contradictions and the crevices, immanent or apparent. It shall include reports and documents from the academic, government, non-governmental and corporate sectors accessed through visits to libraries/archives/offices. Interviews of experts and policy practitioners shall be undertaken.
Little realized and least understood, this issue of increasing salience and wide ramification impels greater research and study through a multi-disciplinary prism; so as to transcend the conventional demarcations and determinate dogmas of a single discipline and thereby effectively interpret this critical development.
Reep Pandi Lepcha (Ph.D., 2014-17)
Lepcha Folktales: Understanding the Praxis of Sequestering Oral Tradition and its Impact on the Indigenous Community.
Folklore encompasses a plethora of stories passed along generations through oral tradition. It offers imaginatively rich perceptions often considered factually incorrect and unscientific. The importance of these narratives lies not just in the tales, but also on the interlacement of emotions—a key ingredient which guides one into a deeper understanding of indigenous people and their folktales. Folktales worldwide are considered to be under threat and measures are often taken to safeguard them, since memory plays a major role in transmitting knowledge, invariably some fragments get obliterated and replaced over time. Belonging to a generation which received some exposure to this art form, I feel the urgency to preserve folktales of the Lepchas, the indigenous tribe of Sikkim who are already defined as a “vanishing tribe”.
? Have Lepcha folktales lost their importance as an oral tradition in the wake of changing societal trends leading to the sequestering of folktales of the tribe? How can one assure a healthy transmission of oral tradition without threatening the basic structure of the folktales as a rich cultural art form? Especially when the geographical contexts on which the tales are based undergo change due to unchecked development?
? There are various female archetypes in the Lepcha folktales, examples being Itbu-mun or the creator figure, to the priestess (mun), the witch, the wise old woman, and many more? if folktales are supposed to convey value loaded morals in their plots, do these representations in any way convey the treatment of women within the Lepcha society? What results can internalization of these tales have in moulding a close knit indigenous society?
Procedure (methodology, archival access, garnering relevant information):
? Research Methodology: The process will require recording of information, audio or video depending on the situation, followed by transcribing of the recorded material to enable me to archive the information for future accessibility and convenience for duration of my research and also for scholars who are interested in similar areas of study.
?I am expecting the stories to be narrated mostly in Lepcha language, a certain amount of translation work will be mandatory.
? I will be following “Oral History” method for recording the tales and will also follow the life history of the narrator, to equip me for a complete understanding of my area of research.
?Further, feminism will prove an important tool to observe the archetypes of women which present themselves in the folktales and also in studying the relation of the treatment of Lepcha women within the community.
? Accessing archival materials in The Namgyal Institute of Tibetology (Sikkim) and The Van Manen collection in Leiden University.
? Locating other related archives both private and institutional is also underway.
? Garnering relevant information depends directly on reliability of resource persons, a pilot survey of the area concerned has helped in locating a few. However, there is need to keep searching for other reliable resource materials.
Since no major compilation work of the Lepcha folktales exist, the urgency of recording the existing tales has arisen. This research will hopefully contribute to the dissemination of the knowledge of oral history and tradition and also towards the regional literary canon which is currently expanding. Additionally, i hope the research will in its own way find a niche in the larger canon of folktales by bringing in the trajectory of ‘context’ and ‘history’ oriented tales and in assessing its influence on the community.
I also aim to record and archive the materials discovered, making it available to interested scholars for further research.
Natasha Upadhyay (M.A., 2014-15)
TRITIYA PRAKRITI: SOCIAL, ECONOMIC AND LEGAL RIGHTS OF THE HIJRA/TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY IN KOLKATA
The historiography of the hijra community in South Asia is varied, rich and extensive in scope of its scholarship. As a characteristic of the Indian subcontinent, the hijra community is afflicted with a twin paradox owing to the ancient myths they have been considered to be auspicious in the Indian culture, yet at the same time, they are ostracized and marginalized from all aspects of the mainstream society. The governments of Tamil Nadu, in their effort to address these issues faced by transgender people, established a transgender welfare board in April 2008 that has been rather successful. Numerous states in India including West Bengal have no such similar provisions and therefore limiting the funds to the prevention and awareness of HIV.
? How has the West Bengal State government planned to bring in income generation activities, sex reassignment surgeries, clarity of their legal status (voter’s card…) and educational schemes besides the prevention and awareness of HIV?
? How can effective implementation of rights be ensured within the community in Kolkata?
? Considering the marginalization, what measures should be taken to diminish the attitude of the society?
Despite the fact that they are born as citizens of the country, they have been excluded from most of the essential rights which are guaranteed to citizens of India. These include various socioeconomic and political rights such as the right to vote, education, employment opportunities, opening a bank account, purchasing property, etc. This paper is an attempt to understand the situation in Kolkata under an organization working for the same.
Limiting the extent of study:
My research shall be restricted in understanding the limitations of the Government of West Bengal in the provision of funds for income generating and other such social activities that go beyond HIV. The hijras/transgender people have always suffered from tremendous social, legal and economic problems. This dilemma of legal issues can become complex with gender variants as well as for those who change sex.
The research would mostly be weaved through the community. These would include the collection of reports from the organization (SAATHII) along with other intergovernmental organizations.
Scholarly articles and other material will be accessed from the School of Women’s Studies, Jadavpur University and other similar institutions and government libraries.
Data collected from newspapers especially the archives shall be accessed from the Tarak Nath Das Research Centre, Jadavpur University.
Additionally, field visits would be beneficial in understanding the gap between theory and practice.
Reports accessed from the SAATHII headquarters at Chennai with assistance of their branch office at Kolkata will enrich the work and allow for comparative analysis in both the cities. Since the paper aims at taking into account the conditions of the community, the information should ideally be based on the interviews of the hijra community in Kolkata and move to members of the NGO, government officials in the sector for clearer comparative reports. Unfortunately, certain objectives of the research may be left unexplored due to the multifaceted character of the subject.
The aim of the work is to make aware the unending obstacles faced by their community in Kolkata and the research work endeavours to untangle the complexities between the state, the hijra/transgender people of Kolkata and the conventional society so as to achieve a synchronization in the process of wholesome development instead of the current lopsided one.