ADRI Silver Jubilee Celebrations:Scholars throw light on Process of Subalternization, Another Cosmopolitanism
Patna,(BiharTimes): The decimation of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the recent Uttar Pradesh elections has significant implications on the party as well as the nation in terms of subalternization of politics. The malady lies in the fact that the process of subalternization is limited only to outward manifestation through legislation and there is no proper way to bring subaltern groups to prominent positions inside a party. The BSP and the Samajwadi Party, two powerful regional parties which are supposed to be led by the so called deprived castes, have failed to build a second line of leadership beyond Mayawati or Mulayam Singh Yadav and his close relatives.
This view was expressed by Kanchan Chandra, Professor, New York University, while delivering her Silver Jubilee lecture here on Saturday on the topic ‘Democracy from the Margins’. The lectures are being organised as part of the international conference on ‘Bihar and Jharkhand: Shared History to Shared Vision’ which itself is the third and last conference as part of the Silver Jubilee celebrations of ADRI, Patna. The five-day conference was kicked off by the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee on Friday.
Chandra said an inclusive democracy beyond what it may lead to is desirable in itself since it sends out a signal of empowerment and representation of the marginalised in the polity. She said, over the years, the Indian polity has moved towards subalternization but it is over-hyped. To prove her point, she cited data culled from the composition of Parliament in 2014.
She said 70% Backward Caste, 83% Scheduled Caste, 92% Scheduled Tribe and
50% Muslim MPs are from parties dominated by upper caste leaders like the Congress, the BJP among others.
The rise of Narendra Modi, who is vocal about his backward lineage, as the Prime Minister of the country has implications for political inclusion, she said.
Her lecture session was chaired by Siddhartha Varadarajan, founding editor, The Wire.
Earlier, Vinita Damodaran, Professor, University of Sussex, Brighton, delivered her lecture on the topic ‘Adivasis and the Anthropocene: Towardsan Environmental History of Eastern India’. She said there was a need to study the multiple meanings of climate change on Anthropocene and to open new points of policy intervention. Her lecture was based on her twin visits to Saranda forests in Jharkhand in 2005 and 2013. The extension of mining was bringing 100% FDI but at the cost of pollution of land and water bodies.
The need of the hour was “emancipating politics and restoring ecological balance” for the benefit of the local people, she added.
The session was chaired by Gopa Sabharwal, Founder Vice-Chancellor of
Nalanda University, Rajgir.
Ashis Nandy, Honorary Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi, delivered his lecture on the topic ‘Another Cosmopolitanism: Living with Radical Diversities and Being One’s own Self’. It was based on his experience of days spent in Cochin, a town in Kerala which has not recorded any inter-community violence in the past 6600 years.
Following the lectures, six technical sessions were held on Saturday, the second day.
Research scholars and social scientists from across the world presented their papers on topics like ‘Colonialism and its varied Impact in the region’; ‘Mobility in the Region over Time’; ‘Voicing Heroes and Unsung Heroes’; ‘State Reorganisations and Alternative Identity Formation’; ‘Politics, Election and Power Structures’; and ‘Jharkhand and Bihar:
Socio-Economic Development and Policies Compared’. Each session invited questions from the audience.
The post-tea session on Friday, the first day of the conference, saw four Silver Jubilee lectures by J J Boillot, Economist, CEPII France; Gerry Rodgers, former Director, International Institute for Labour Studies, Geneva; Yoginder K Alagh, Chancellor, Central University of Gujarat; and Wendy Singer, Professor, Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio. The lecture sessions were chaired by Ashis Nandy; John Harris, Professor, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver; Nitya Rao, Professor, University of East Anglia, Norwich; and Subrata K Mitra, Director, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of
Boillot’s lecture, ‘Arthashastra—the Paradox of Modernity in Ancient Times and Beyond’ dealt with why a modern state must be at the same time liberal, social, entrepreneurial and finally, regulator but also conducive to innovation. While the topic of Rodgers’s lecture was ‘Bihar’s Development in Comparative Perspective’, Alagh and Singer spoke on ‘Managing Rivers: The National Water Framework Law’ and ‘Reservations and Creating New Government: Jharkhand and Bihar in the 1950s’, respectively.