International Webinar Series to Commemorate 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi during August 24-31, 2020
The Central University of South Bihar (CUSB) celebrated the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, by organizing a series of five online international webinars from the 24th of August 2020 to the 31st of August 2020. The main purpose for holding these talks was to deliberate upon the contemporary relevance of Gandhi’s thoughts and philosophy by disseminating it worldwide in intellectual circles. The event would be flagged off by the Hon’ble Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. (Dr.) Harish Chandra Singh Rathore on the 24th of August 2020 in presence of renowned Human Geographer, Prof. Craig Jeffrey, Director at the Australia-India Institute, University of Melbourne. The webinar was convened by Dr. Sanat Sharma, Associate Professor, Department of Sociological Studies and compered & moderated by Dr. Aditya Mohanty, Assistant Professor of Development Studies. The event was held under the aegis of the Ministry of Education and the University Grants Commission of India. The event was streamed Live on Official Facebook page of Central University of South Bihar.
1st Webinar on 24th August 2020
In the 1st Webinar, the Hon’ble Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Harish Chandra Singh Rathore remarked that the Gandhian views on the dignity of labour, decentralisation and cottage industries are a timely reminder for the youth. The Key Note Speaker for the event, renowned Human Geographer, Prof. Craig Jeffrey, Director at the Australia-India Institute, University of Melbourne, provided a reflective critique on the state of youth politics in India and the implications of Gandhian modes of ethical and visionary politics on it. Prof. Kaushal Krishore, Dean School of Education and the Discussant of the event opined that whether the visionary politics of the youth is to remain merely at an emotional level or whether it can play an instrumental role in young people’s lives, is dependent on the skill-set of the youth. The webinar ended with a Vote of Thanks, by Dr. Digvijay Singh, Assistant Professor of Law and Governance.
2nd Webinar on 26th August 2020
In the 2nd Webinar, the Controller of Examinations (CoE), Mrs. Rashmi Tripathi, in her inaugural address highlighted the fact that Gandhi’s emphasis on both access and agency to women is a critical reminder for our times. The Key Note Speaker for the event, renowned Feminist and International Relations Expert, Dr. Swati Parashar, Associate Professor, School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, argued that although Gandhi’s views on sexuality and caste-ridden hindu social order remain controversial, yet his views of considering the power of female energy as an unavoidable force, necessary for comprehensive social reforms cannot be ignored. She also reflected on different strands of Gandhi which she termed as the ‘political Gandhi’, ‘eccentric Gandhi’ and ‘idealist Gandhi’ and argued that the idea of Gandhism was instrumental in shattering the stereotypical notions of masculinity. His soft, subtle, and nuanced engagement with the colonisers gives us excellent lessons of organizational management today. Prof. Krishnan Chalil, Dean School of Social Sciences and Policy and the Discussant of the event interestingly opined that at such a take is very important to understand as to why by merely coining terms like Gender Mainstreaming, Gender Budgeting etc. is not helpful and hence the real beauty lies in the Gandhain idea of integrating the efforts of both men and women. The webinar ended with a Vote of Thanks, by Dr. Jawaid Ahsan, Assistant Professor of Biotechnology.
3rd Webinar on 27th August 2020
The Third International Webinar on the theme ‘Gandhian Approaches to Development in the 21st Century: India and elsewhere’ was conducted 27th August 2020. The Dean of the School of Management, Prof. Brajesh Kumar, in his inaugural address pitched the idea that whether it is State-sponsored, market-oriented or Civil Society based participatory model of Development, Gandhian ideas of ‘trusteeship’ and ‘self-governed communes’ still hold their relevance. The Key Note Speaker for the event, distinguished political scientist, Dr. Subir Sinha, Associate Professor at the prestigious School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), UK on his part argued that Gandhi’s views on Nai Taleem (skill-based, local conditions oriented education) and Appropriate Technology is also relevant in today’s era where the very idea of development has become both competitive and contested. He traced Gandhi’s numerous experiments for the attainment of an utopian future, right from his South Africa days to his engagements with conflict resolution and his efforts to restore communal harmony in the early post-independent years. Prof. Sinha argued that Gandhi’s views might sound vague to many critics today, but they still hold currency in non-institutionalised set-ups. The Discussant for the talk, Prof. Sanjay Srivastava, Dean, School of Law and Governance, however opined that in an era, where the predatory State-Capital nexus or what he preferred to call as the ‘mafia raj’ is so rampant, implementing Gandhian modalities of Development remains wishful thinking. He therefore suggested that the judiciary needs to play a pro-active role to facilitate an atmosphere within which the ‘rule of law’ can prevail to bring back Gandhi to life. The webinar ended with a Vote of Thanks, by Dr. Anju Helen Bara of the Department of Development Studies.
4th Webinar on 28th August 2020
The fourth Webinar in the series was held on the 28th of August 2020 where distinguished historian at the University of Leeds, Prof. William Gould deliberated on the wider ramifications of the role of Gandhi in the Second World War.
5th Webinar on 31st August 2020
The webinar series wrapped up on the 31st of August 2020, where Associate Professor & Director of the South Asia Centre at the London School of Economics, UK, Dr. Mukulika Banerjee provided an anthropological reflection about the relevance Gandhi among the Pashtuns.