Sunday, March 14, 2010

Asian Philosophy Congress: Some Reflections (6- 9 March, 2010)

Ambuj Sharma of the Philosophical society and Critique Ferozepur Chapter participated and presented a research paper on “Re-reading Hind Swaraj in the Times of War, Democracy and Globalization, in the Philosophy and Politics in Asia Session of First Asian Philosophy Congress organized by Indian Council of Philosophical Research (ICPR) on 6th – 9th March, 2010 at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi.
There were around more than 400 Delegates from India and Abroad who participated in the congress.
According to Ambuj, “the event was more kind of a Fete ‘Mela’ where people were gathered to meet each other. Though, there were some important round table, panel and sectional meetings and discussions but on the whole it was not a strong academic exchange exercise. The time limit given to each participant was too short to bring their ideas and work to the other participants. The papers of the participants were not circulated unlike other seminars. Although hospitality, accommodation, transport and food provided by the organizers was good but the organizers could not seriously worked upon the time and presentation management in the sectional meetings”.
While giving an account of a note of appreciation for the staff of the ICPR who were on their toes to make the congress go smooth and successful, Ambuj, said that “the presentation given by Dr. Asanga Tilakarante from Shri Lanka, Merietta(Moscow), Prof. S.P. Gautam, VC Rohailkhand University (UP), Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty, Patricia Uberoi, Prof. R. C. Pradhan (Hyderabad), Dr. Bhagat Oinam, Prasenjit Biswas, Ghazala Irfan(Pakistan). Prof. Luca Scrantino (Itly), Prof. Bhuvan Chandel (New Delhi), Lallan Singh Baghel (Panjab University), was indeed very fruitful. Questions raised by Junaid, Muzzafar, Jigmit and Moon Star from Panjab University brought the discussion to the social and political arena of philosophy. They actively catch hold of each and every presenter with their instant relevant questions and made the sessions more live and analytical.
During stay at Vishya Yuva Kendra, the conversations with Dr.Ithamar Theodor(Hon Kong), Mr. Sasaki Kazunori (Japan), Dr. Koniko (Japan) , Dr. Lara Mitias (Cairo) were extremely beneficial in understanding their culture and their interest in the Indian Philosophy and philosophy of mind.”
Escaping one session Ambuj and lallan Singh went to attend a meeting of the Peoples Union of Democratic Rights (PUDR), a committed group of Delhi University teachers and studens which are working since 80es to bring social justice by raising voices for people’s rights and Justice.
Escaping another session Ambuj and his friends got the opportunity to attend the round table discussion of renowned Political theorist and scholar Parth Chattergee who was there to address the questions prepared by the students of the Centre for Political Studies at JNU. Ambuj also intervened by asking a response of Parth Chattergee on operation green hunt, which was ignored by the speaker with humility but with another scholars intervention, he said that “there could be another session for the Question”. The speaker very effectively responded to the question raised to him.
After the session was over, in an informal passing remark, Prof. Gopal Guru, Chairman, Centre for Political Studies and Prof. Anupma Roy from the same centre, encouraged the youngsters to take the discourse of critical rationality in understanding political and social issues.
Needless to mention Anita M. Phil, Research Scholar from Centre for Philosophy, JNU took great pains in showing the Campus to the scholars from Punjab University and Ferozepur. The most memorable time was Tea at ‘Ganga Dhabha’ and a small discussion at the Stadium.
On the whole this note is left for other friends to give their feed backs and critical suggestions if any.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

National Seminar on Philosophy, History and Multiculturalism: Contesting Claims ( 24- 25 February, 2010)

Breaking the boundaries of colleges and University Seventy undergraduate Philosophy students from Dev Samaj College for women, Ferozepur captured the discussions relating to contesting issues related to philosophy, history and multiculturalism at the Department of Philosophy, Panjab University, Chandigarh.
It was a remarkable event that such a large number of undergraduate students participated in an academic seminar at Panjab University.
The seminar was organized by the Department of Philosophy, Dev Samaj College for Women, Ferozepur in collaboration with the Department of Philosophy, Panjab University, Chandigarh.
In the first session Chairman of the Department Dr. H.P. Sah and Principal Dr. Madhu Prashar extended the welcome address. Dr. Dharmanand Sharma, spoke on the relevance of Indian philosophy He highlighted the concept of Dharma in Buddhism. Dr. V.T. Sebastian informed the participants about the history of western philosophy, particularly the Greek philosophy. Lallan Singh Baghel brought the issues of recognition and other concerns related to equality. He criticized the ongoing politics in the name of language, caste and region going on in the country and emphasized on the concept of secularism as an essential value for humanity.
Dr. Asha Maudgil in her presentation sensitized the participants about the gender equality and encouraged the young girls to pursue higher education. . Dr. Shiwani Sharma brought the concepts of art and aesthetics in a creative manner. Rajeev Godara from Panjab and Haryana High Court in his presentation outwardly rejected the fatwa’s given by Khap Panchayats in Haryana. He said that “it is high time that the young generation should raise voice against the caste system and honour killings”
Dr. Deepak Kumar from Department of Political Science informed the participants about the culture and other identities of the north –east region. He inspired the young participants to develop respect for cultural diversity and language.
In the last session Bhawna and Amarjeet of Dev Samaj College for women, ferozepur raised their concern on the caste and class conflict going on in the country. A lot of questions were asked by the participants and there was a consensus that history and philosophy is essential for a critical dialogue to understand the social and political dynamics operating the society.
On the Second day of the national seminar Professor Harjinder Singh Laltu and Professor Akshaya Kumar of Department of English and Dr. Kiranpreet Kaur of Sociology department shared their views with the participants.
In the first session Harjinder informed the participants about Howard Zinn an American historian, author, activist, playwright, intellectual and Professor of Political Science at Boston University about his contribution to the society. Laltu informed the participants that that Howard wrote more than 20 books, which included his best-selling and influential A People's History of the United States. He said that “Zinn also wrote extensively about the civil rights, civil liberties and anti-war movements.”
Laltu said that it is important to remember Zinn because he questioned the justifications for military operations that inflicted massive civilian casualties during the Allied bombing of cities such as Dresden, Royan, Tokyo, and Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II, Hanoi during the U.S. War in Vietnam, and Baghdad during the U.S. war in Iraq and the civilian casualties during bombings in Afghanistan during the U.S.'s current and nearly decade old war there. Laltu sensitized the participants to raise voice against war and violence in the country. He said that Howard Zinn died recently on 27 january, 2010 and inspired the young generation to raise the voice of peace unlike Mahatma Gandhi.
Professor Akshaya Kumar raised the issue of the problem of writing history. He said that it is very fundamental to know who writes history and about whom history is been written. He said that the time has come when history should be critically evaluated and issues of feminism, secularism must be included in the history.
Dr. Kiranpreet shared her thoughts on the sociological aspects of Entrepreneurship and Gender issues.
The presentation was followed by discussion in which Amarjeet, Babbal, Veerpal, Harpriya, Navdeep Kaur, Head girl of Dev Samaj College for Women, and Rupinder Kaur President Philosophical Society, Amandeep kaur from Department of English PU, Anter from department of Physics PU, Monika from Department of Sociology PU raised important questions. Philosophy Department Chairman Dr. H. P. Sah and Academic secretary Lallan Singh Baghel appreciated the effort of Dev Samaj College for Women in organizing the event.