Thursday, 15 October 2015

National Seminar on Reconstructing Development and its Discontents in India: Problems, Paradoxes and Possibilities

Following from Prof.  Dr. Bikram Keshari Mishra

ICSSR-Sponsored Two-Day National Seminar


Reconstructing Development and its Discontents in India: Problems, Paradoxes and Possibilities

 [14-15 November 2015]

Organized By

About the University
Ravenshaw University has been functioning since 15th November 2006 in Cuttack. The University, an upgradation of Ravenshaw College (subsequently achieved the status of autonomous college with CPE status by UGC and ‘A’ grade by NAAC), was established in 1868, one of the oldest and largest colleges in India. With all its scholastic achievements, the College had already established a distinct intellectual vibration in the academic landscape of India and beyond. This historic institution, in a sense, is one of the illustrious institutions in India that started to foster the idea of modern education. The institution is famous for nurturing the ideas - national unity and nationalism, promoting social mobilization and gearing up the freedom struggle in the then Odisha – that ignited the minds of thousands of individuals at several times. The institution was also a great avenue for certain historic achievements of the then Odisha: the Declaration of Orissa (present day Odisha) as a separate province on the 1st  April 1936, inauguration of Odisha’s first legislative assembly till it’s shift to Bhubaneswar, the state capital of Odisha, and the initiation of Utkal University, which is currently functioning in Bhubaneswar. Recognizing its great heritage, the Institution has been awarded as National Honour by the Government of India through the issue of a commemorative stamp in 1978. This much celebrated institution is rightly considered as one of the greatest educational institutions that India has so far produced.  
Prior to its upgradation as a University, the institution had started its first post-graduate teaching in 1922 especially in the subject of English. Currently, the University has twenty-seven departments in several disciplines; twenty-three departments are offering post-graduate programmes. The university is also offering research programmes: M. Phil, Ph. D. and  D. Litt. The Department of Sociology offers B.A. (Hons), M.A., M.Phil. and Ph.D. programmes in Sociology. The department is known for its both teaching and research activities in core as well as applied areas of Sociology. The Department had successfully organized the 37th All India Sociological Conference in December 2010, the annual event of Indian Sociological Society.
About the Seminar
The trajectory of development appears somewhat dialectical. According to Sachs (1997), ‘development is a perception which models reality, a myth which comforts societies, and a fantasy which unleashes passions’. As a global discourse, the initial dialogue on development began only during the second half of the 20th century in order to envision, enunciate and emancipate the (de)colonized social reality. The development dialogue has begun to unravel and identify multiple dimensions – economic, cultural, social, political and human – in its journey in order to attain its desired goals. No wonder, the academics, policymakers and development practitioners tend to approach development through a number of paradigms – modernization, dependency, basic needs, structural adjustment, Washington Consensus, Millennium Development Goals, human-centred, participatory, bottom-up and the contemporary one i.e. sustainable – in making deeper sense of the issue. More specifically, soon after the Second World War, scholars and practitioners have sought to study the causes of poverty and so-called ‘underdevelopment’ in a more systematic and sustained way. These days, the development discourse focuses mainly on poverty reduction and improving ‘human development’ worldwide.

With little ambiguity it can be said, in fulfilling the global agenda of ‘development’, global institutions – World Bank, World Health Organization, International Monetary Fund, the UN agencies and the like – tend to intensify the development journey with their pro-active role. The processes of globalization, liberalization and privatization have encompassed the world community in general and continue to impinge upon levels of progress of every single nation. India is no exception.

In consonance with the world order, India has been chasing the goal of development in defense of its Constitutional ethos of democracy, socialism and people’s welfare thereby promoting social justice for all. From Sarva Siskhsya Aviyan (RTE), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), Sukanya Samridhi Yojana under Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Campaign, to Swachh Bharat Mission, Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana and the like, the country has introduced a plethora of schemes and has been making all-out effort for accelerating development and ensuring collective well-being. A thorough scrutiny of India’s Five Year Plans best illustrates the manner in which development strategies in the fields of education, polity, culture, environment, health, science and technology, industry and communication have differed from time to time.

However, the very pursuit of development in India is not free from its inherent paradox. At one level, it enriches some people, empowers them and fosters their participation; at another level,  it results in marginalization, exploitation, alienation and exclusion of others. Here is a country where empowerment and enslavement, enrichment and exclusion exist side by side. This renders development a contested terrain. There is often resistance to the very practice of development. The growing dissent and protest movements that keep appearing from time to time only represent the repressed side of development. The cases of Nandigram (West Bengal) and Kalinga Nagar (Odisha) are just tip of the iceberg. It appears the very process of development is caught in its self-refuting paradox. It incorporates some people and excludes others leading to their marginalization; it benefits one section of people and penalizes other; it is accepted by one community and rejected by another. This renders the very process of development ‘double-edged’. The situation is best articulated by the argument of Arturo Escobar when he argues: ‘Development is the last and failed attempt to complete the Enlightenment in Asia, Africa and Latin America . . . rather than search for development alternatives, we need to speak of alternatives to development’ (Escobar 1995). Development process is more known and debated for its discontents rather than its positive effects. Hence, it calls for a critical review and re-thinking of the process itself. It is in this context, the proposed national seminar finds its relevance.  The seminar represents a modest endeavour to uncover development and its discontents in India with specific reference to its various domains:  environment, health, tribe, gender, communication and the marginalization. The seminar shall revolve around the following broad sub-themes:
Seminar Sub-Themes
The Paradigm of Development: Concepts and Theories
Actors in Development: Individuals, Communities, NGOs and Civil Societies
Development and the Nature: Environment and Ecology  
Development and the Human Body:  Public Health, Care and Prevention
Democracy, Development and Deprivation: Gender, SCs and STs
Media and Development: Issues and Concern
Rethinking Development: Plans, Policies and Programmes

However, papers that may not fit in the above sub-themes but are reflective of the broad theme of the seminar are also welcome.
Travel and Accommodation              
TA will be provided to limited number of delegates only (not all). Organizers will take care of accommodation for out-station participants only on prior intimation (at least 15 days in advance of the seminar).
Deadlines to Remember
Last date for Abstract Submission: October 15, 2015.
Acceptance of Abstracts: October 16, 2015.
Submission of Full Paper: October 31, 2015.

About Cuttack
Cuttack - the cultural capital of Odisha - situated in its coastal track is one of the oldest cities with its glorious history, heritage, unique culture and scenic beauty. With the change of time, Cuttack has not failed in preserving its rich cultural distinction. It is also known as the millennium city and considered as a scenic peninsula surrounded by three rivers namely Mahanadi, Kathajodi and Kuakhai. There are certain places worth visiting in and around Cuttack city, for instance Barabati, Dhabaleswar, etc. Cuttack is just 30 km away from Bhubaneswar and is well connected to the major cities of India by air, railway and bus.

Organizing Secretary
Dr. Bikram Keshari Mishra
Reader and Head
Department of Sociology
Ravenshaw University, Cuttack
Odisha – 753 003, INDIA
Mobile: +91-9439849565, 09438246624

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