Political Science

Introduction

The Department of Political Science of Gauhati University, which was established in the Year 1958, is the oldest Department of this discipline in the region. In the year 2007, the department completed 50 years of its glorious presence with significant contribution towards teaching and research in the discipline of Political Science. The Department has produced hundreds of Ph. D. scholars as well as renowned educationists in the country. The Faculty members of the Department have also earned reputation in the country and abroad through their contribution towards the discipline of Political Science and other related social sciences. The department has introduced Semester System from the academic session 2001-02 with a revised syllabus focusing on the emerging areas in political science like Environment and Political science, Human Rights, Political Economy, Gender Studies, Social and Political Movements, and Shouth Asian studies. A number of students have cleared UGC-NET and many are drawing fellowships from various research including UGC and ICSSR. In its continuous effort to achive higher echelons of academic performance, the departmen has achived recognition from the University Grant Commission(UGC) under the Special Assistance Programmme (SAP) at the level of DRS - 1. Currently the department is availing the first phace of this programme for a duration of five (5) years from 01-04-2009 to 31-03-2014

Mission and Vision Statement

From humble beginnings as a group of elective subjects taught in the department of Economics in the 1950s, Political Science emerged as a full-fledged department of study, teaching and research in 1958. Under the dynamism and dedicated leadership of Dr. V. Venkata Rao, the founder Head, and his able successors, the department has grown in strength and vitality. At present the department is actively engaged not merely in organizing formal courses of learning in the subject but also in promoting and pursuing study and research on the multifarious ethnic groups, their social and political structures, authority system and to find out to what extent the best in the indigenous traditions could be harmonized with the modern day institutions of governance. The objectives of teaching and research in political Science correspond partly to the general aims of liberal education such as cultivation of maturity of mind, responsible citizenship, and respect for human values. Teaching and training in the professional requirements of the subject enables the alumni to perform competently as teachers, researchers, administrators, legislators and professionals in politics in general, thus bringing theory close to practice.

The Department plans to elevate its status to a leading centre in the field of teaching and research. The principal objectives of the plan are:
  • Building up networking with Departments of Political Science of affiliated colleges for taking up joint ventures in areas like designing of syllabus, organization of national and international seminars, workshops on research methodology, and training of teachers on recent trends and techniques of Political Science.
  • To set up a Policy Research Center to address different issues concerning planning and decision making in diverse areas of public concern relevant to Northeast region.
  • To provide wider freedom of choice to students in selecting areas of study through interdisciplinary approach so that it could foster multi-cultural understanding in the context of national framework.
  • Set up cell for the study of Electoral Politics and Behaviour Analysis in the North Eastern Region of India and building up of networking at the national and international level.
  • o introduce employment oriented and professional short term courses for Master Degree holders in emerging areas like Human Rights, Peace and Conflict Resolution, Gender studies, Environmental Politics, Green Governance and Poverty Alleviation.
  • Establishment of a full time Department of Public Administration.
  • o start extension programme on Human Rights and Duties with special emphasis on the rights of Women and Children.

Objectives

The objectives of teaching and research in Political Science correspond partly to the general aims of liberal education, such as cultivation of maturity of mind, responsible citizenship, respect for all creation and human values in particular; in a nutshell, attainment of the Platonic ideal of virtue. But quite apart from the general objectives, Political Science education aims at teaching and training in professional requirements of the subjects so that the alumni might perform competent roles as teachers and researchers if they chose to be or else as administrators, legislator and professionals in politics in general, thus bringing theory closer to practice.

History

The history of the Department may be highlighted in terms of its leadership and thus seen broadly in three phases. The first phase began with the establishment of the Department in 1958 and lasted till 1973 (15 years) when Prof. V. Venkata Rao, the founder head who relinquished his office on superannuation. The second phase began when the mantle of headship passed on to Prof. D. P. Barooah and continued till his appointment as Vice-Chancellor of Gauhati University in 1986. With the appointment Prof.(Ms) Niru Hazarika as Head in 1986, the Headship of the Department has since become rotational every three years.

Thereafter, headship has been held on the basis of seniority by Prof. P. S. Reddi (1989-92), Prof. Niru Hazarika for second term(1992-95), Prof. Kunja Medhi (1995-98), Prof. Anuradha Dutta (1998-2001), Prof. Monirul Hussain (2001-2004) and Prof. Niru Hazarika from January 2004 for the third term. In 2006, Prof. Sandhya Goswami assumed the charge of the head of the Department. Prof. Monirul Hussain assumed charge as the Head of the Department in September 2009 upto 2012 March and Prof. Alaka Sarmah assume the charge of the head of the Department from 2012 and is continuing.

The foundation for academic pursuit in the discipline of Political Science was laid down in the first phase itself under the stewardship of Prof. V.V. Rao and it consolidated its position as a pioneer in the discipline during the second phase under the leadership of Prof. D.P. Barooah. During the third phase of the department,it continued to prosper with tremendous inputs from its own students joining as faculty members. Presently the Department has qualified faculties-specialized in different emerging areas of political science like administration and governance, gender studies, electoral politics and democracy,development, displacement and democracy, peace and conflict studies , human security, environmental politics etc.

Fellowship for Faculty

In early 1960, Dr.V.Venkata Rao was awarded Fulbright Fellowship for study in the USA. Dr. Monirul Hussain was awarded the Commonwealth Fellowship for study at the University of Oxford in 1999. Prof. Hussain was also a recipient of the South Asia Regional Fellowship from the Social Science Research Council (New York) in 2004. Dr. Noni Gopal Mahanta was awarded Peace Fellowship of Rotary Foundation for study at the University of California, US in 2004-05.

Facilities & Assets

Departmental Seminar Hall

With financial assistance from the Government of Assam, Department of Political Science now owns a Seminar cum Conference Hall with round table microphone system, LCD Projector and a Big Screen Television.

Departmental Library

The Department has its own Seminar library that has a rich collection of books and academic journals including the Economic and Political Weekly and Seminar. In the year 2003, Shri Hiren Nath, IPS and an ex-student of the Department, donated a package of books worth of Rs. 30,000/ as well as 2 book almirahs to the Department. From the UGC 10th plan allocation also the Department bought a good number of titles worth of Rs. 40,000/.

Research Areas

  • Democracy and Electoral Politics
  • Gender Studies
  • Human Security
  • Peace and Conflict Studies
  • Nationality Question, Ethnicity & Migration
  • International Politics and Regional Studies
  • Public Governance
  • Grassroots politics and Panchayatiraj
  • Politics of globalization
  • Development, Displacement and Marginalization

Guides

  • Dr .Alaka Sharma, M.A., M.Phil, Ph.D.(NEHU),Political Theory, Gender and Politics.
  • Dr. Sandhya Goswami, M.A., M.Phil(JNU),Ph.D.(G.U.), Democracy and Electoral Politics.
  • Dr. Monirul Hussain, M.A., M. Phil. ,Ph.D(JNU),Post Doctorate(OXFORD), Indian Society and Politics, South Asia
  • Dr. Nani Gopal Mahanta,M.A.(JNU),M.A.(UC BERKLEY) ,Ph.D (GAU),South Asia ,Peace & Conflict Studies.
  • Dr. Akhil Ranjan Dutta, M.A.(1996) in Political Science, Delhi University,M.Phil (1999) Delhi University,Ph.D(2005) GU.
  • Dr. Jayanta Krishna Sarmah, M.A.(GAU), LLB(GAU), Ph.D (GAU)
  • Dr. Dhrubo Pratim Sarmah, M.A.(JNU), M.Phil(JNU), Ph.D (JNU)
  • Dr. Subhrajeet Konwar, M.A.(JNU), M.Phil(JNU), Ph.D (GU)

Scholars

  • UGC and ICSSR sponsored scholars working in the Department towards their Ph.D. degree.

Staff

Alaka Sarmah
MA (NEHU) PhD (NEHU) MPhil (NEHU) Political Theory, Gender and Politics
Barasa Deka
MA (JNU) MPhil (JNU) Political Theory
Akhil Ranjan Dutta
MA (Delhi) PhD (Gauhati) MPhil (Delhi) Political Economy
Dhruba Pratim Sharma
MA (JNU) PhD (JNU) MPhil (JNU) Political Sociology
Joanna Mahjebeen
MA (Delhi) PhD (Gauhati) Gender Studies
Jayanta Krishna Sarmah
MA (Gauhati) LLB (Gauhati) PhD (Gauhati) Postdoctoral Fellow (Texas, Austin) Public Policy & Administration, Development Studies, Panchayatiraj
Monirul Hussain
MA (AMU) PhD (JNU) MPhil (JNU) Political Sociology, Development Studies
Nanigopal Mahanta
MA (Berkley) MA (JNU) PhD (Gauhati) Peace and Conflict Studies
Vikas Tripathi
MA (JNU) MPhil (JNU) Indian Politics
Sandhya Goswami
MA (JNU) PhD (Gauhati) MPhil (JNU) Democracy and Election Studies
Shubhrajeet Konwer
MA (JNU) PhD (Gauhati) MPhil (JNU) International Relations

Seminar

National Seminar on State of Democracy in North East India: A Report

A National Seminar onState of Democracy in North EastIndia in collaboration with ICSSR NERC, Shillong was held in the Department on 25-27th February 2010. The seminar unraveled the working of democratic institutions and the impact it has on the lives of the people. Discussions revolved around issues of identity and autonomy, conflict, minority rights and gender, trends of political participations, elections and governance. The seminar saw the agglomeration of teachers, researchers, activists from different parts of India. 21 papers were presented under the broad sub themes such as- Institutional legitimacy, Interest Representation and Democratic Practice, Democracy as an Area of Participation and Quality of Governance. Among others, Prof. Ashutosh Kumar, Punjab University, Chandigarh; Prof. S. N. Misra, Utkal University; Prof. Mujibur Rehman, Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi; Prof. Abu N. Ahmed, IIT Guwahati; Prof. L. S. Gassah, NEHU, Shillong; also participated and presented papers in the seminar.

The inaugural session started with a welcome address by Prof. Sandhya Goswami. She highlighted the role of the state emerging as an effective player of democracy. She raised doubts on the working of democratic institutions and their efficacy in addressing the need for building a rational political order. She has also stated that the procedural norms of it are yet to find roads. She clearly stated the objectives of the seminar which was to assess the contribution of the state in deepening and extension of democracy in the socio economic field particularly of the North East India. Following the felicitation of the distinguished guests the honorable VC of Gauhati University Prof. O. K. Medhi inaugurated the seminar by stressing upon the significance of organizing a seminar on such a relevant issue at a time when democracy and democratic institutions were standing at cross roads. He emphasized its particular significance for the North Eastern region where democracy is threatened to be shattered by the intra- state conflicts. He added another aspect i.e. “democratic extremism” where some political groups or terrorist organizations, authoritarian regimes decides the fate of the state, questioning the very notions of democracy.

This was followed by an address from the Chief Guest Prof. S. N. Mishra of Utkal University, who identified himself as an insider as he was associated with the SAP programme of the Department. He traced the original growth of the concept of democracy to Robert Dahl’s book by the same name. He brought to light the growth of democratic regimes after the World War II and spoke on the variants of democracy. 20th century was known as the century of human rights and democracy and yet the concepts were not properly viewed and reviewed. Democracy in the North East he stated was a source of inspiration as the society here is socially and politically diversified. However the domain of the government was sinking as compared to the demands of the civil society and the market. With new actors pouring into the arena; democracy has become large and therefore there is a need to study the areas of conflict and cooperation as the threat to human life and stability continues. He spokes of three major threats- threats of war, hunger and pollution. He also stated that Democracy and Security cannot exist without each other.

The keynote address was delivered by Prof. D. P. Barooah, former V. C. of Gauhati University. He made several pertinent observations on the issue of hand within the context of the country at large as well as NE in particular. Reiterating the concept of Democracy and its understanding he spoke of length on the working of democracy in the country looking at various parameters such as health economic policy, poverty etc. He emphasized on the federal political culture of the country and lamented the failure of India’s federalism in establishing a desirable relationship between the state and the democratic process at various levels of national life. He brought into focus the alienation and backwardness of the NE region to substantiate this point further. He pointed out that sovereignty externally is not divisible but internally it cannot be allowed to remain confined to few political powers.

In the remarks from the chair Prof. Monirul Hussain aptly pointed out the dichotomy between the state and the society and the problems involved in understanding this dichotomy. He highlighted such other aspects of the society like the family which is its basic unit and the importance of examining the working of democracy therein. He emphasized that only that democracy which permits into the basic units of society can work in a true sense in a state or polity.

The vote of thanks was extended by Dr. Alaka Sharma of Political Science Dept.

The first technical session started after the tea break. The theme of the session was “Democracy and Institutional Legitimacy”. It was chaired by Prof. S. N. Mishra. There were three speakers for this session. The first speaker Ch. Sekholal Kom of NEHU, Shillong presented his paper on “Identity and Governance Demand for Sixth Schedule in Manipur”. His paper focused on how ethnic mobilization and counter mobilization by various groups in Manipur especially the Maities, Kukis and Nagas have spilled over into the political arena. He called through a campaign of ethnic assertion and preservation of ethnic identities especially through the demand for extension of the Sixth schedule. Taking from here, his paper focuses on Manipur and an assessment of the workings of the District Councils in Manipur.

The second paper was presented by Prof. Ashutosh Kumar of Punjab University on “Assertion of the Regions: Exploring the Demand for New States in India.” Starting from the ‘State’ as the main unit of analysis in poor congress polity his paper focuses on demands of new states, some long standing, some new. He presented his arguments in four parts. First was a focus on the importance of region. Second was an analysis of demands for new states. Third dealt with arguments for and against such demands and at the end he attempted to find a possible pathway in terms of a coherent policy.

The next paper presented by Banasmita Bora was an analysis of National Election Study Data titled “People’s Opinion on Insurgency: Is There Any a Popular Support Base?” where she tried to look into the support base of ULFA and its popular perception in Assam.

The post lunch session was on the theme “Democratic Representation and Practice”. The session was chaired by Prof. Rekha Choudhari of Jammu University. It had also three papers. The first paper of this session was a joint paper by L.S. Gassah and Dhiraj K. Borkotoky of NEHU. The theme of the paper was “The Institution of Autonomous District Council and Its Relation to Democracy in Meghalaya”. The paper raised certain pertinent issues like the importance of institutions in a democracy and its legitimacy. How far democracy allows public institutions to be governance friendly? He examined these in the background of the Autonomous District Council of Meghalaya. He brought into focus the dwindling role of the ADC’s of Meghalaya vis a vis the state. The session was followed by an open discussion of the paper. The various issues that emerged were the clash and contradiction between the working of the democracy process and the democratic institution. Questions of federalism and regional identity were raised. The relationship between political aspiration of the people and the bass of economic development and the reasons for mobilizations thereof were also brought into the foreground.

The second paper of the session was presented by Jayanta Krishna Sarma of the department of Political Science, GU. The paper was on “Sixth Schedule and Autonomous Council of Assam”. He tried to draw a comparison between the provision of the ADC’s under the Sixth Schedule and the 73rd amendment of the constitution both of which highlighted aspects of the institution of local governance. His main contention was that the PRI are in a more advantageous position in respect of development function and the autonomy to perform such functions due to availability of funds etc.

The last paper of the post lunch session was by Dr. Rena Laisram of GU. Her paper was on “Democracy in Manipur: A Gender Perspective.” She argued how an unfolding of the democratic experiment and decades of participation in electoral process has produced a dynamics of change which has not translated into political empowerment of women. She examines this in the context of Manipur and highlighted how women have been the faces of resistance in Manipur through various organizations but their inclusion in decision making bodies were abysmal.

She remarked that provision for women’s participation did not exist in the ADC’s like in the PRI which was a point to be noted. She also highlighted a need for an inner debate within the NE on institution and their functions. The discussion that followed raised issues such as lack of women’s political participation and its reasons, developing a political culture of democracy, the contentious issue of integration of North East states into the mainstream etc.

The report of the session for the second day was presented by Moushumi Dutta Pathak.

On the second day of the seminar i.e. 26th February 2010; the seminar opened up with two (2) parallel sessions-A and B.

The session A was chaired by L.S. Gassah of NEHU, Shillong. The first paper was presented by Sandhya Goswami of Gauhati University. She spoke on “The Pattern and Trends of Political Participation in North East India”. According to her, political participation is a necessary component of democracy. It is through their participation that citizens voices their grievances and thereby make their demands heard to the public. Organize this proportions, her paper focuses on the patterns and trends of political participation in the States of North-East and explores in this context certain basic issues.

The second paper was of C. J. Sonowal of TISS Mumbai. His paper was on “The Democracy of Exclusion on through Inclusive Policies”. The paper examined the historical as well as contemporary socio-political aspects prevalent in the state of Assam under the perspective of social exclusion through contemporary democratic set-up. The process of including the Tribals into the Pan-Indian culture or the Hindu culture has led to a kind of exclusion as the developmental policies were not actually implemented in the case of the Tribals.

The next paper was of Dr. S Harsha of Assam University, Silchar. His paper was on “Electoral Process in North-East India: Litmus Test for a Vibrant Democracy”. He mainly emphasized on the electoral process in the N.E. and suggested the need of a strong and vibrant civil society to organize a free and fair election. However, insurgency remains a dominant issue in the holding of elections in the N.E.

The last paper of this session was presented by Shubhrajeet Konwer and Olindita Gogoi. They spoke on “Political Participation and Electoral Politics in Assam: NES National Election Studies 2009”. They spoke of the role of NES and emphasized on the need of post-poll studies to get a proper reflection of voting behaviour of the masses and for the candidates to know the factors that actually influenced the voters as voters could not be taken for granted. Moreover, media could be taken as strong to popularize election.

In the parallel B-session, the first paper that was presented was on “Gendered Citizenship–Exploring the Experience of Northeast India” by Barasa Deka and Joanna Mahjebeen where they basically focused on the practice of gendered citizenship in the particular context of the N.E. What was felt that women’s exclusion from the spheres of decision making in political field is largely constrained by the institutions of society like economy and culture. Though the political space was open for women under the universally accepted notice of equal citizenship signs but they are culturally trapped in the concept of identity and they are basically based as tools by the political spheres.

Anjuman Ara Begum of Guwahati University presented her paper on “Every Day Conversations: People’s Life and Longing for Truth and Justice: A Case Study of N.E. India”. According to her, though everyday’s conversation generally revolves round the talking about one’s daily life problems, studies etc. but these conversations at times diverts trend to become expression of violence, injustice, anguish and longing for truth. These states of existence if established tend to symbolize a state devoid of democracy. She also gave reference to the conversation of the victims of violence of N.E. India.

The next paper was presented by Amongla N. Jamir of Nagaland University, who spoke on “Trends and Levels of Democratic Participation in a Democracy in Nagaland”. She presented that apparently the Nagaland politics presented a different pictures to what it was in reality. Many a times if one describes…. through the superficial exterior of the Naga society, it has been noticed that the various practices resorted to by both political parties and citizens degrades the very concept of democracy.

Ningthoujam Irina Devi of JNU spoke on “Social Capital in Decentralized Governance: A Case Study of Leikai Club in Manipur State”. This paper taking cognizance of the form and functions of Leikai club, seeks to analyses the phenomenon using the concept of “Social Capital” that has been defined in multiple ways by many scholars in decentralize governance. The paper stresses about using exploratory and ethnographic tools in understanding of this sensitive issue. This paper tries to trace the emergency of the Leikai club in its present form Vis – a – Vis the Marup system exchange in Leikai club. It seeks to understand the interaction between informal traditional institutions with that of modern formal system.

The last paper of the session was that of Dr. Mujibur Rehman of Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi who through his paper explored the complex arrangement as to how India’s multi layered democracy deals with minority rights, politics of inclusion and exclusion and how the Indian state performs in this context with specific reference to the N.E. He suggested that the major criteria to evaluate democracy in Assam are to make objective assessment of how Assam treats its major religious minority. He spoke of the new dimension of the Muslims of Assam in the context of immigration which has made the relationship between Muslims and democracy particularly intriguing and problematic.

With the tea break being over parallel session V and VI began. Session V chaired by Prof. Monirul Hussain began with the presentation of the first paper by Prof. Rekha Choudhari who spoke on “Nationalism, Democracy and Conflict Situations: A Case Study of Jammu and Kashmir”. The paper focused on the conflict situations and the varied manifestations in the post 1947 period and placed them in the context of evolution of democratic processes both within India as well as within the state.

The next paper was presented by Dr. Nani Gopal Mahanta of G.U. who spokes on “Ulfocide, Sate and Rule of Law: Truncated Democracy in N. E. India”. He looked on to the contemporary period of Assam History, the beginning of ULFA as well as the secret killings of the ULFA and their relatives. He tries to look into the ethics and legality of such killings at the behest of state and its apparatus.

The next paper was of Dr. Dhurba Pratim Sarma of G. U. He spoke on “The Issue of Identity among Tea Workers in Assam”. He provided with the different statistics of tea plantation migrated from different states and attempted to examine the political orientation of migrant plantation workers and their descendants in a situation of ethnic turbulence and their responses to rapid socio- political transformations around them.

The next paper was by Amit Ranjan of JNU, New Delhi who spoke on “Democratizing Security to Secure Democracy in N. E. India”. Democracy and security could not exist in the absence of each other. They were interdependent. He reflected that for enjoying democratic rights one required to be secure. Security brought in democratic order so democracy enhanced security by providing rights to people.

The next paper was by Pallabi Medhi of G. U. who spoke on “Democracy Deficit and Minority Security: A Case Study of Kukis in Karbi Anglong District of Assam” where she explored the plight of a minority community of the Kukis in the Karbi Anglong District of Assam. The paper was based on a field investigation.

The parallel session VI began with the theme Quality of Governance and chaired by Prof. Ashutosh Kumar of Punjab University. The session had two papers.

The first paper was presented by Dr. Alaka Sharma and Chucheng fa Gogoi, G. U. which spokes on “The Role of Traditional Institutions in Governance: An Experience from Karbi Anglong”. The authors had mentioned governance as the paramount apprehension for any State and evaluate the role of the traditional institutions in governing the local governance without clashing with the democratic institutions. The paper was an outcome of a field investigation.

The last paper was presented by Dr. Akhil Ranjan Dutta and Bondita Borbora where they spoke on “Governing the Health Care Sector: A Case of NRHM of Assam”. The paper examined the core issues related to the governance of NRHM in Assam with special emphasis on convergence and non - convergence among policies, investment, institution and practices.

The two-day long seminar concluded with the Valedictory session which also saw the release of the Annual Journal of the Department on the theme “Democracy” edited by Professor Sandhya Goswami. The Journal was released by Professor Ashok Sharma and the Valedictory Lecture was presented by Professor A.N.S. Ahmed, Visiting Professor, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT, Guwahati.

National Seminar on Environment, Citizenship and the State: A Report

The emerging threat of climate change, environmental degradation and distress caused by the rapid process of globalization has affected global, national and regional societies. In understanding this threat to the environment and the consequent environmental threat to humanity one needs to move beyond the territories of the sciences to the realm of politics and society. The second National Seminar was held on 23-24th March, 2011 in collaboration with Indian Council of Social Science Research, North-East Regional Centre, Shillong under the theme ‘Environment, Citizenship and the State’ to navigate through this complex relationship of environment with that of citizenship and the state at the global and national levels and particularly comprehend the issues and concerns that are being confronted by North East India. The broad sub-themes of the Seminar were- response of the global, national and regional communities/societies to environmental crisis, contestations over Mega-dams, response of the State towards protecting the earth, environment, bio-diversity and its citizens and Resource competitions/conflicts among different ethnic groups and classes. Some of the speakers of the Seminar were Prof. Mrinal Miri, Prof. Dulal Goswami, Prof. Monirul Hussain, Prof. Sandhya Goswami, Dr. Jayanta Krishna Sharma, Dr. Akhil Ranjan Dutta of Gauhati University, Charisma K Lepcha of NEHU, Jayanta Madhab Tamuly and Deepmoni Gogoi of Sikkim Central University.

The inaugural session of the seminar was chaired by Prof. Monirul Hussain. In the welcome address he gave a brief introduction of the guests present-Prof. Mrinal Miri and Prof. Dulal Goswami. Prof. Mrinal Miri, in his keynote address, pointed out that environment and ecological citizenship are emerging areas of study today. According to him there are different types of environment out of which the ethical environment captures the attention of the concerned due to its continuously changing character. Referring to John Rawls’ idea that there are no overriding values of individual freedom, Prof. Miri stated that there are both individual and community values of the environment and both hold equal relevance. He also referred to the role of the State in ensuring security and peace for every community residing in the society. To check the excesses of the State the role of the civil society cannot be undermined. Thus, he emphasised on the relationship between community and forest and community and State / Civil Society. Prof. Miri concluded by expressing that National Identity is very difficult to construct and achieve.

The Vice Chancellor in his inaugural lecture said that Environment, its problems, management, policy making and prospects have all assumed importance in the realm of academics today. He therefore made a humble request to all sections of the people, administrators, politicians, managers, scientists and economists to join hands in solving environmental problems. Threats to the environment are transnational in nature and so stress should be given on formulating global level policies.

Prof. Dulal Goswami in his speech pointed out the different sets of environment – one which is inherited, i.e., natural environment and the other which is built, i.e., man-made environment. As responsible citizens of the society and country, we have to play the role of custodians of our environment and resources. The role of the State was also emphasised by Prof. Goswami who expressed that the State should adopt some values to protect the environment, which we call the environmental ethics. It is a fact that the scientists have identified the threats or challenges to the environment. And now the onus lies on another set of conscious citizens to identify solutions to such problems. Regarding North-Eastern region of India, he illuminated on the ethnic, geographic, cultural and other diversities and placed unique emphasis on the environment of the region. Besides he also highlighted on the importance of marginal citizens, development projects and their questions of livelihood, Prof. Goswami also spoke on the vexed issue of Sustainable Development. In conclusion, he said that the responsibility of preserving and protecting the environment lies with the Citizenship, State and Governance.

This first technical session of the first day was chaired by Prof. A.C Talukdar of Rajiv Gandhi University. The first paper on “Gender and Climate Change” was presented by Prof. Sandhya Goswami of Gauhati University. The paper was primarily a theoretical work on women in society as a vulnerable group. She opined that Climate Change is not just about energy efficiency and industrialization. It is also about people and more importantly women. Prof. Goswami expressed that Climate Change increases vulnerability, disrupts livelihood and infrastructures and contextualized it through a gender lens. Contextualizing North-east she said that class, caste, ethnicity, gender are some aspects of climate change women suffer at its intersections. She concluded her paper quoting Nobel-Laurite Wangari Mathai who said that climate equity without gender equity is an impossible feat.

The second paper of this session entitled “Ecological Citizenship: Contemporary Discourses” was presented by Dr. J.K. Sarmah of Gauhati University. The paper basically tried to draw a theoretical perspective of the concept of Ecological Citizenship and its relation with the traditional notion of citizenship. Obligation of human beings to nature is highlighted in this paper. Ecological Citizenship believes only in duties of citizen, not in rights. Dr. Sarmah said that in the context of duties of citizens, private sphere is as important as the public. To him Ecological Citizenship involves commitment of both human and non-human beings. Dr. Sarmah in last part of his presentation contextualizes the issue of big dams to the notion of ecological citizenship.

The third paper presented by Dr. Akhil Ranjan Duta was on “Neoliberal State, Citizenship and Right to Environment: A reflection on Latin American Experience”. Dr. Dutta starts by discussing the state citizenship relationship and then provided the experiences of Latin America and Northeast India. Dr. Dutta theorizes neoliberal state and questioned the privatization of natural resources like water, forest etc. To him unless and until we identify the power structure in domain, we cannot reach the desired ecological balance.

The presentations were followed by open discussions where questions were asked regarding the representation of women, Ecological-transnational and World Citizenship and notions of Liberal democracy.

The second Technical session of the first day was chaired by Prof. Avani Kr. Bhagawati. He mainly focused on the importance of political and ecological interpretation to understand environment .

The first paper was presented by Dr. Subhash Barman entitled “Forest Policies, Encroachers and Citizenship: Marginalization of the Adivashis in Lower Assam”. He highlighted the plight of the forest dwellers that are evicted from the forests in the name of encroachers and are deprived of their livelihood. He brought out a chronological history of such eviction from the colonial period to the post colonial era. He primarily blamed the state apparatus for encroachment of forests and plight of forest dwellers.

The second paper was on “Environmental and Cultural Concerns due to Dam Development in DZongu” presented by Charisma K. Lepcha. She, in her paper, focused on the ecology and livelihood of people around Dzongu river of Sikkim, and the worst affected Lepcha community. She talked about the community movement against the construction of dams and how people's voices were suppressed by the government and the way, which the society was polarized between pro-dam and anti-dam movements.

The third paper was on “Riverbank Erosion Induced IDPs in Assam: A Case of Palasbari”, presented by Hemasri Devi. She highlighted the gross affect of river bank erosion in Assam at the macro level and centered round Palasbari as a significant site of riverbank erosion in Lower Assam. She theoretically links the issues of Social justice, rights and citizenship of the riverbank erosion induced Internally Displaced Persons.

The papers were followed by open discussions where questions were asked on conditions of Adivashis, case of Lepcha community and on gross affect of riverbank erosion and preventive measures.

The first technical session of the second day i.e. 24th March 2011, was chaired by Prof. Monirul Hussain. The first paper was presented by Jayanta Madhav Tamuli and Dipmoni Gogoi entited “Damming Teesta (A case study on the Environmental Effects of Tessata V hydro electric project over Teessta--Sikkim)”. The paper basically focused on the development projects, environmental issues and humanitarian issues due to the construction of dam over Teesta. The paper highlighted that such development projects lead to frequent violation of law and human rights regulations.

The second paper of the session was presented by Barnalee Choudhury entitled “Changing Notions of Citizenship: Where do the IDPs Belong?” the paper talked about the concept of ecological citizenship in relation with the notion of territorial citizenship as that failed to address the present environmental issues . The paper has emphasized on globalization and how the prospects of ecological citizenship goes beyond the territorial boundaries. She highlighted the aspects of Pagladia dam projects of Nalbari district and the case of IDPs as her micro level study.

The third paper was presented by Dr. Anup Saikia and T Changkakoti entitled “Ending up on the short and of the stick?- Protected forest in North East India”. The paper discusses how protected forests have fared in the NE over the years.

The second technical session was chaired by K. S. Subramaniam. In this session, the first paper was presented by Sangeeta Das entitled “Response of the State towards Protecting the Earth, Environment, Biodiversity and its Citizens: A Case of NE India”. The paper talked about responsibility of the state for providing welfare services and sustainable livelihood.

The second paper was presented by Minakshi Borgohain on “Flood Hazards and Its Impact on the Vulnerable Sections of Society: A Case on Telahi Block of Lakhimpur District of Assam”. In her paper she emphasized upon the fact that Natural hazards does not necessarily lead to disasters unless it leads to some forms of vulnerability.

The next paper was presented by Dr. Navanita Medhi on “Nature of Environmental Politics, Ecological Citizenship and Sustainable Development.” The paper basically explored the development trends of environmental politics in the west which brought the environmental issues on the political agenda of nation states and the global community. She conceptualizes the notion of ecological citizenship, and sustainable development.

The last paper was presented by Dr. Aparna Goswami entitled “Affect of Riverbank Erosion on the Citizens Rights to Livelihood, Shelter, Health and Dignity”. In her paper she describes the affect of riverbank erosion empirically looking at the case of Palasbari and Goroimari revenue circles of Lower Assam. The paper stresses on the necessity of generating local awareness about sustainability, disaster management and human rights training to mitigate the plight of the affected.

The papers were followed by open discussions and the chairperson explored the need of people’s welfare from grass root level and the need of generating the local level awareness about sustainability as well as vulnerability of the resources.

National Seminar on Democracy and Diversity in North East India: A Report

The Department of Political Science Gauhati University had organized a National Seminar on Democracy and Diversity in North East India, in the University premises on the 9th and 10th of February 2012.

This seminar can be termed as an endeavour on the part of the academicians of the country to find potential and tentative solutions to the issues which are essentially the outcome of latent and manifest regionalistic tendencies operating in the North East of India. The multiethnic and extremely pluralist nature of this part of the sub continent provides social scientists with a topic for endless debate and deliberation.

Following in line with such an effort, this seminar thus opened up avenues of discussion among different scholars from different parts of the country.

The seminar was inaugurated at the Department of Political Science on the morning of 9th February, 2012. The inauguration session was chaired by Prof. Monirul Hussain, former Head of the Department, Political Science. The welcome address was delivered by Dr. Alaka Sarmah Coordinator, SAP and the seminar was inaugurated by Prof. O.K. Medhi, Vice Chancellor, Gauhati University. The chief guest at this auspicious function was Prof. Peter Ronald deSouza, Director, Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla and the keynote address was delivered by Prof. Balveer Arora, Chairman, Centre for Multilevel Federalism, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi. The vote of thanks was offered by Dr. Jayanta Krishna Sharma.

In the key note address, Prof. Arora stressed that there is virtually no place better than the North East of India to study the combined concepts of democracy and diversity. This being so, as this region inhibits an immensely rich culture and also parallely demonstrates explicit traits of overt conflicts between those cultures. Prof. Arora said, the North East of India has had issues of intra – regional accommodation, which have again been done to integrate diversity in the region. The region posits so many different challenges that, it emerged as the birth place for the experimentation on institutional arrangement in the country.

Prof. Arora highlighted that there is an organic connection between democracy and federalism. He further added that institutions are the hallmark of a democracy and hence there is a need for innovative institutional measures in the northeastern part of India. Talking about federalism in the country he stressed on the re- orientation or restructuring of the atypical asymmetrical federation, the arrangement that is provided for in the Indian Constitution. He substantiated this contention by the fact that symmetry does not always produce results.

He further went on to explain the different kinds of contestations found in the Indian Union for democracy. The concluding points made by Prof. Arora were rather thought provoking. Firstly he made a distinction between a- diverse society and a divided society and also made clear that India is very much a diverse and not a divided society. This diversity however, though is challenging but is also flexible enough for experimentation and accommodation.

Secondly, Prof. Arora talked about –Political Generations. He identified three distinct periods of political generations and summarized its causes. Political generation he explained is the process by which every union reassures its commitment from time to time.

He finally concluded with the ideas that- we need to rethink the federalism discourse and the use of the term ‘quasi’, especially when we are not sure what a pure federation is. Secondly, he stated that we need to understand that with the process of democratization comes in the issue of identity politics and that micro- level discussions are going to frame larger discourses on this topic.

SESSION II:

The Second session for the day commenced at 12:15 p.m., in the Seminar Hall, Department of Political Science. The theme of the Second session was “Minority Rights and the Question of Autonomy”.The session was chaired by Prof. Peter Ronald deSouza. Many interesting papers were presented in this session.

The first paper in this session was presented by Dr. Jayanta Krishna Sharma and Niengkhodei Singson. The title of the paper was “Ethnic Diversity and Administrative Deficit: A case of Kukis in the Dima Hasao District of Assam”. The paper was basically an attempt to highlight the fact that due to process of assorted administration and accommodation indulged in by the Government of India, the Kukis a major tribe of the region has been considerably deprived. Hence, since the state has been unable to respond to the specific grievances of these people, mainly due to problem of under representation in the legislature; the need for an alternative administrative system has been felt. The administrative deficit therefore ushers in a lot anticipated as well as unanticipated issues. Thus a case study is undertaken of a Kuki Village. The case study reveals interesting findings that inspite of having a strong traditional administrative system the people are insecure about their identity. A point worth mentioning is that the administrative deficit of the Indian state cannot and has not been substituted by these traditional administrative systems. The paper was concluded by suggesting some more innovative constitutional mechanisms like the intermixing of traditional constitutional mechanisms for the solution of the problems. Another suggestion was that land being a core issue of ethnicity needs to be dealt with more seriously.

The second paper was presented by Prof. Sumit Mukherjee from the University of Kalyani, West Bengal. The title of his paper was “The Gorkhaland Movement and the Gorkhas of the North-East—A Reciprocal Bond”. The paper essentially focused on the movement for a separate state of Gorkhaland led by the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha in the Darjeeling hills and its connection with the Gorkhas of the North East part of India. The point highlighted by Prof. Mukherjee was that there exists a strong emotional affinity between the members of the Gorkha community and hence inspite of being widely dispersed throughout the length and breadth of the country they still extend unhesitant support to their fellowmen in any part of the country. Irrespective of location, the members share a trans- territory bond and hence treat themselves as one integrated group. The paper hence attempted to explore the issue of the Gorkha identity in connection with the Gorkha psychology.

The next paper was from Dr. C. J. Sonowal, from TISS, Mumbai, entitled “Autonomy without Being Autonomous: the Fate of the Much Hyped Dreams of the Lesser Groups”. The paper dealt with the issue of the indigenous people and their issues of autonomy and their access to the right to self determination.

Following this, there was a paper by Dr. Akhil Ranjan Dutta, entitled “ Indian State and Colonial Apparatuses: Can Democracy be Consolidated in North-East India by Violating Peoples’ Rights?”. Dr. Dutta basically dealt with the contestation that the aggravating discontents in North East India are due to the fact the Indian state fails to be truly representative in character. The problems, he states arises because the state and the society are at different ends. The conflict of the state and the society and the use of the colonial state apparatuses by the state to eradicate problems peculiar to the region do not in any way better but only worsen the situation. He substantiated his argument with examples like the AFSPA etc. Dr. Dutta’s paper was thus an attempt to understand the regimented nature of the Indian State and thereby to focus on the state of democracy in the region taking the rights of the people as the reference point.

The last paper of the session was presented by Dr. K.M. Baharul Islam from NEF Law College. The paper was entitled “Imagined Communities: Language, Culture and Identity Issues of the Sylheti People in North-East India”. The paper basically explored the cultural dilemma of the Sylheti-speaking people of the Barak Valley districts of Assam, mainly due to their geo- political situation. Dr. Islam presented an extremely interesting proposition relating to the cultural and linguistic identity of the Sylheti speaking people. Dr. Islam highlighted the paradox of these people who on the one hand after Partition are not really migrants to Assam, but they are also not really included in the Assamese discourses. Paralleling the cultural trauma of the Sylheti people with Benedict Anderson’s ‘Imagined Communities’, Dr. Islam explores the insights to this complex paradoxical question.

The Third session commenced post lunch at 3:00p.m., the theme of the same was “Accommodating Diversities”. This final session of the day was chaired by Prof. Balveer Arora.

The first paper in this session was presented by Prof. Niru Hazarika of G.U. and her paper was entitled “Democracy and Identity: Experience from Assam”. Prof. Hazarika began her presentation stating that democracy is a form of human life and that the two are complementary. She stated that two factors primarily influence democracy and diversity. They are- Cultural Diversity and Geographical Diversity. She further went on to trace the history of the two concepts in the North-East. She substantiated her arguments by citing how the process of democracy and the character of diversity was impacted due to measures adopted by the colonizers during the British Rule and also how this dilemma extended into the post independent period with the Language Movement and the linguistic assertion of different groups. She concluded her paper with the contention that Diversity should be treated as a source of Democracy and not of conflict and that democracy should mean maximum autonomy and ‘maximum autonomy’ should be redefined.

The second paper in this session was presented by Prof. Sandhya Goswami and Maniki Madhuri Sarma of G.U. and their paper was entitled “Accommodating Diversity in the Political Process of Assam”. Taking demographic diversity as their starting point the presenters tried to present the impact of such diversity on the politics of the state of Assam. With the multiplication in the number of political parties and the politicization of multiple ethnicities the process has become further more complex. The political parties here have played a major role by acting as the link between the people and the government. The result has been that the outcome of the elections has been purely distributed throughout the state on the basis of ethnic and religious identities. The given paper thus tried to examine how the party system had started reflecting the logic of spatial and social diversities in the political process of Assam.

The third paper for this session was presented by Dr. Meeta Deka of G.U. and her paper was entitled “Diverse Democracy, Organic Intellectuals and Praxis in Assam”. Dr. Deka’s paper basically analysed the historical impact that has changed the nature of praxis and has marginalized the so called organic intellectuals, i.e. the students. The paper dealt with several questions about the organic intellectuals and their future in our democratic date.

The last paper for the day was presented by Poonam Kakoti Borah of G.U. who dealt with a very interesting and controversial issue of sexual minorities in her paper entitled “Democracy and Diversity: Engaging with the Emerging Discourse on Sexual Minorities in North-East India”. The paper was a fine presentation on how the issue of sexuality has always been sidelined in the realm of Indian politics, but again how we need to ponder and discuss the future of the sexual minorities in the Indian state more specifically in NE India. The paper highlighted the fact that how with the decriminalization of Homosexuality by the Delhi High Court, the existence and the privileges (if any) of the CGBT community have come to the political forefront. The paper firstly focused on how the Indian Political System dealt with the differences that exist within it based on the axis of sexual orientation and how far the Indian democracy has been open to sexual diversity in the state? The second part of the paper attempted at locating what the author called ‘invisibilisation’ of the LGBT politics and the reasons thereof in the context of North East India. Thus basically the existence and rights of the sexual minorities in this part of the country was questioned. The paper was concluded by the reframing of the majority- minority divide as the heterosexual- homosexual divide, which is indeed a very sad reality.

The first technical session of the second day was divided into two parallel sessions.

The first parallel session was chaired by Prof Sandhya Goswami of the Department of Political Science, Gauhati University. Prof S.N. Mishra presented the first paper entitled “Reinventing India: Federalism in Cultural Context’. In his paper, Prof Mishra traced the origins of federalism in India to the British period in the Government of India Acts of 1919 and 1935 and said that the values of federal culture were shaped by nationalism and institutional legacies of colonial India. In the Pre 1960 period, due to the dominance of the Congress party, federalism in India was not challenged. But in the post 1960 era due the conflict between nationalism and the emerging sub-nationalism, the federal culture of India has been challenged.

The second paper was on “Evolution of Fiscal Resource Devolution (Testing of Indian Federalism)” by Dr. Krishna Chandra Pradhan traced the origin, evolution and transfer of fiscal resources between the Centre and the states. Dividing the fiscal resource devolution into five distinct phases, the paper dealt with the problems in centre-state financial relations, the role of the planning and finance commissions and also put forward suggestions for a democratic reorganizing of the financial relations.

The next paper by Ripamchi A Sangma was titled “Federal Arrangement and Institutional Design: A Case for Democratic Inclusiveness in Meghalaya” gave an overview of the nature of institutional and political designs of Meghalaya. It highlighted the creative role played by civil society and the Church in accommodating the diversities in Meghalaya.

“Democracy and Federalism” was another paper presented by Parimal Ch. Acharjee. The paper highlighted the established notion that democracy is a highly contested concept. Without democracy, federalism is a dream. The paper specially focused on North East India and asserted the importance of federalism in the region.

The last paper of the session was presented by Khalid Ansari. The paper brought to light the failure of liberal democracy in negotiating the problems of the minorities. The paper argues that secessionist movement in the North East in particular and India in general is because of the failure of the liberal democracy.

2nd parallel session:

The other session was chaired by Prof. Sumit Mukherjee from the University of Kalyani

The 1st paper was presented by Dr. Rena Laisram of GU entitled “Challenges to the Nation-State: The “Merger” Question and State of Democracy in Manipur”. Here she stated the circumstances under which the state of Manipur was merged unethically and forcefully into the Indian Union. This had triggered large scale grievances from various segments in the state in the light of sidelining of the minority population by majority Meiteis community which created armed confrontation and rise of democratic demands. But recent civil society activism from women groups in the socio-political arena has relatively calmed the situation.

The 2nd paper was presented by Kaustabh Deka entitled “Divide Assam fifty-fifty”: From Movements to Accords and Beyond: the Critical Role of Student Organization in the Formation and Performance of Identity in Assam”. It threw light on the importance of students in the role of shaping of the issue of politics of identity going on amongst the various communities of the state. But this politics of difference also gives way to the politics of solidarity in issues of joint concern of livelihood and sustenance. But it is questionable whether a communicative social persona is possible in the age of current era of student politics.

The 3rd paper was presented by Anamika Mitra on “Interned Citizens: Forced Displacement in a Democratic State” which brought into focus the issue of Internally Displaced Persons losing their native homelands due to internal conflict, rebellions, forced migration and in the process losing their rights of a citizen. The paper highlighted that forced migration and abuse of minority by the majority are serious shortcomings of democracy which preaches equality, social justice and liberty.

The next paper was presented jointly by Antiarbum Ranglong and Merry Halam which was entitled ‘Separatism in North-East India: Reconsideration’. Here they dwelled on the issue of defining the concept of separatism where ethnicity gave way to insurgency, the causes responsible for it and ways of containing it.

This paper was followed by Dr. Subhash Barman’s paper entitled “Democracy’s Marginal Citizen: the Bodo Identity Movement and the Adivasis of Assam”. It focuses on the multi-ethnic, multi-lingual state of Assam where many communities have become marginalised, one among them being the Adivasis who came to the state as plantation labourers or peasants. The various identity movements have sufficiently sidelined the Santhal population where even the police administration has failed to ensure protection of this section of the population.

The next paper was presented by Feroja Syed on “Ethnic Conflicts and Identity Formation of Manipuri Muslims: A Case of Communal Riot of 1993”. It dwelled upon the impact of communal riots in Manipur upon Manipuri Muslims. The Colossal influence of the dominating section of the Manipuri society in all aspects of socio-economic and political life has caused much angst to the minority newly emerged Muslims of Manipur who emerged out of the process of “Islamification” since 1970s which eventually lead to the 1993 riots.

The final paper of the session was presented by Dhrubajyoti Das entitled ‘Ethnic Autonomy in Assam: A Study on the Ethnic Autonomy Demand Movement of the Rabhas in Assam’. It looked upon the Rabha community as an Ethnic Tibeto-Burman mongolised group and the issue of their autonomy, cultural identity, economic suppression and lack of popular representation in the national and state politics.

2nd technical session

1st parallel session

The first parallel session was chaired by Prof S. N. misra of the KIIT University. The first paper of this session on “Fractured Multiculturalism and the Politics of Recognition: Contextualising Language Policy in Sikkim” by Padam Nepal highlighted the multicultural society and challenges in the context of linguistic policies in Sikkim and attempts to understand the nature of democratic experiences by linguistic communities in the state.

The second paper of this session is presented by Dr. Kirtiraj D. C. on “Constitutional Multiculturalism and Challenges in India”. This paper points out to the growth of multiculturalism in India and focused on the fact that the ideals of the Indian Constitution like social justice, pluralism, freedom, secularism provided the foundation of constitutional multiculturalism in India. The paper also highlighted the meaning of secularism in the Indian context and reflected that the theory of Hindutva is not compatible to Indian secularism, posing a major challenge to the unity and integrity of India.

The last paper of this session is entitled “Regional Television and Democratic Discourse in Assam: the Cultural Politics of Space and Representation” by Alankar Kaushik raised the questions whether Media can create a more democratic society, whether the present media can accommodate diversity, whether the aim of Media is only strengthening democracy.

2sndparallel session

The second parallel session was chaired by Dr. S. B. Medhi. The first paper of this session titled “Supra-Territorial Parliament and the Issues of Accommodation: An Answer to the Ethnic Diversities of North-East India” by Pankaj Bora and Gautam Chandra Roy highlighted that the apparatus of the state, development policies etc have failed to accommodate the diversities of NE India and argued that a Supra-Territorial Parliament can be a solution toward addressing the issue of accommodation.

The paper presented by Akshay Jyoti Sarma entitled “Mainstreaming North East India: Process and Experiences” tries to find out the reasons behind popular disappointment in North East India with the mainland national polity and how this process gained momentum. The paper also highlighted the efforts on the part of the central government in addressing the developmental constraints of the region.

The next paper entitled “Peace, Development and Democracy : Exploring the Role of Civil Society Organizations in Assam” by Merrychaya Patiri tried to throw light on the accountable and critical role played by civil society organizations, especially in Assam for the establishment of peace and prosperity in the state. The paper reflected that the conflicts in Assam today are protracted conflicts and an active civil society is necessary to deal with such conflicts.

The last paper of the session was on “Democracy through Traditional Practices- Study on Pang Lhabsol, Sikkim” by Ugen Bhutia and Deepmoni Gogoi. This paper tried to bring out the inherent democratic values, the tradition of communal harmony and brotherhood through the study of the Pang Lhabsol festival of Sikkim and how this festival has contributed towards the enrichment of modern democratic culture in the state.

These were thus a brief summation of the papers presented at the seminar. The Department of Political Science had organized this seminar as an endeavor to highlight and discuss the issues of diversity and democracy in the north east of India. The North East of India is a social scientists’ delight as it presents them with a plethora of issues to be debated and deliberated upon. It is with this purpose that this seminar was proposed and today at the concluding session we may conclude that the initiative has very well served the purpose. We hope that more of such initiatives will be undertaken in the future to explore more avenues for intellectual and academic pursuit of the upcoming social scientists.

National Seminar on State, Social Movements and Democracy in North East India: A Report

The Department of Political Science (under UGC-SAP), Gauhati University organised a national seminar on – ‘State, Social Movements and Democracy in North East India’ in association with the Indian Council of Historical Research – North East Regional Centre, and with partial financial assistance from ICSSR, New Delhi and IDOL on 27, 28 February and 1 March 2013. The theme of the seminar revolved round the question of the linkages between the state, social movements and the true dynamics of democracy with special reference to the North-eastern region.

The seminar was inaugurated on the afternoon of 27th February 2013, at the Phanidhar Dutta Seminar Hall, GU. The inaugural function started with the University anthem followed by a tribute to Prof. D.P.Barooah, which was offered by Professor Sandhya Goswami. Prof. D. P. Barooah, who was one of the architects of the Department of Political Science, GU also headed the University administration as its Vice-Chancellor from 1986 to 1991. He expired on 28th January 2013. A dedicated academic and defender of human rights, Prof. Barooah also played a leading role in Assam agitation 1979-85. He was a progressive political thinker and an advocate of region’s rights over nation’s resources. While paying tribute to the departed soul, Prof. Sandhya Goswami presented the rich academic and political career of Prof. Barooah.

The welcome address was delivered by Professor Alaka Sarmah, HOD, Dept. of Political Science, Gauhati University. Prof. Sarmah highlighted the initiatives of the Department under UGC Special Assistance Programme (SAP) and the orientation of the Department under changing circumstances. The co-ordinator of the seminar, Dr. Akhil Ranjan Dutta, introduced the topic and theme of the seminar while Prof Kandarpa Das, Director of IDOL, dwelt on the various initiatives taken by the Department of Political Science under open and distance learning of GU. This was followed by the presentations by the distinguished guests. Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty, Social Development Professor, CSD, New Delhi, in his speech focussed on the concept of politics as a common idea of history, sociology etc and said that social movements need to be addressed and responded to. He stated that the north east of India is like a mini representative of the ethnic issues faced by the entire world. Professor Mohanty also highlighted the issues of people’s rights, local development, the prevalent class divide and the like. Focussing on North east India he said that the negative dimension of social movements in this part of the country is that it is affected by issues like class contradiction, widespread diversity etc, but also ensure that these problems can be overcomed. This was followed by the speech of Prof. Virginius Xaxa of TISS, Guwahati who talked about the concept of Mill’s Power Elite and related it to the institutions of the state like the military and elaborated on it in the context of social movements. He talked about the ideology of hierarchy and the ideology of equality and how this transforms into politics when the lower classes are given their shares thereby addressing only the formalistic democracy. Prof. Xaxa also talked about the changing trajectory of social movements in the Indian sub continent by elaborating how the collective action themes had changed from agricultural, peasant and caste movements to the movements of identity politics. Thus elaborating more on the typology of social movements in the country Prof Xaxa set the perfect tone for the seminar and thus formally inaugurated the seminar.

This was followed by the key note speech by Prof Haragopal, formerly of Hyderabad University and presently National Fellow, ICSSR. He talked about the complexities of the Indian society, the contemporary Indian situation, and how earlier conceptions are changing in the present day. Prof. Haragopal’s views were eye-opening and thought provoking when he talked about the anti-Gandhian attitude which is seen to be setting in the society in the contemporary times and how, Buddha, who can be termed as the most radical revolutionary in India till date was rejected by his own country and how his school of thought and religion found acceptance in other south east Asian nations. Talking in the context of north east India, he elaborated how the region has been witness to identity struggles. He explained how Identity was the core issue around which movements in this part of the country revolved and how, every identity struggle requires an adversary to assert its demands and structure its struggle. In addition to this, Prof. Haragopal talked about the constitutional provisions in relation to these struggles of identity, security issues, naxalite movements, caste movements, the concept of untouchability in India and draconian legislations like the AFSPA, TADA, POTA etc. After the key note speech by Prof Haragopal, the vote of thanks was offered by the co-ordinator of the seminar, Dr. Akhil Ranjan Dutta. The session was coordinated by Dr. Joanna Mahjebeen, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, GU.

The Panel Discussion I themed State and Social Movement in Northeast India was conducted at the Phanidhar Dutta Seminar Hall, GU in the evening. The session was chaired by Prof A.C Bhagawati, Former Vice-Chancellor, Rajiv Gandhi University, Itanagar. The speakers of the discussion were Prof. Apurba Baruah, former head, Department of Political Science, NEHU, Dr. Nani Gopal Mahanta, Associate professor, Department of Political science, GU, Akhil Gogoi, General Secretary, KMSS, Assam, Manoj Baruah , President, AJYCP and Hafiz Ahmed Rashid Choudhury, Sr. Advocate, Gauhati High Court. The session was coordinated by Dr. Jayanta Krishna Sarmah. Prof Apurba Baruah talked in length about the role of the middle class in bringing about social transformation within ethnic communities in Northeast India which, Baruah argued has given birth of ‘ethnocracy’. Baruah, who is very critical about ethnocrcay has argued that such middle-class centric ethnic movements have put limit on democratic transition of ethnic movements in the region. According to him, ethnocracy is a regime in an ethnically divided society that is governed primarily by the identity and aspirations of one ethnic group and as such it happens to be a major threat to modern democracies, that have been infusing an inclusive sense of civil equality and a persistent desire for self –rule that is felt by the entire populace. On the other hand, Dr. Nani Gopal Mahanta spoke about the condition of ‘ethnic trap’ in relation to the ethnic turmoil that the North Eastern states have experienced. Akhil Gogoi gave a sharp critique of the state’s penetration into the community domains and resources through the Panchayati Raj institutions. For him, PRIs have rather than contributing towards peoples’ liberation have helped the state to take away peoples’ resources.. He even went to the extent of criticising the Scholars of the state for not having a thorough understanding of the rural economy of the state. Manoj Baruah and Hafiz Ahmed Rashid Choudhury extensively dwelt on the immigration issue that has become a persistent problem in the state which according to Mr. Choudhury must be tackled in a secular manner so as to keep social tensions at bay and keep intact the social fabric of Assam. With such thought provoking views presented by the eminent personalities, the seminar opened on an enriching note.

The second day of the seminar, 28th February, 2013 started on a busy note with three parallel sessions in three seminar halls in the Department of Political Science, GU. The theme of the first session was – State, Social movements and Democracy: the interface chaired by Prof. Apurba Baruah and co-ordinated by Dr. Nani Gopal Mahanta. The first paper in this session was presented by Dr. Nagesha Prabhu, Assistant Editor, The Hindu, Banglore and his paper was entitled- Middle class in India: its Constitution and Politics where he focussed on the theoretical aspects of the concept of class drawing heavily from Marx and Weber and the categorization of the middle class, the social groups that go into the making of the middle class and also the impact of this class on state policies as well as the state’s policies that help in the consolidation of this class. The second paper was presented by Vikas Tripathi from the University of Delhi and Poonam Kakoti Borah of Gauhati University. Their paper was titled: The Crisis of Representative Politics, Social Movements and a vision of New Politics where they discussed the crisis that confronts representative democracy in the form of social movements which have not only critiqued the present state but have also given a new vision of politics. This was followed by a paper entitled – From Ethnic Consciousness to Ethnic Recognition; the State and the Politics of Ethnic Engagement in Assam: interrogating the violence in Bodoland- presented by Kaustav Deka from JNU in which he argued that it is the continuous production and reproduction of identities in Assam as a political project anchored around the state opportunity structures that erupts in sporadic explosions of ethnic violence. Elika Assumi from EFLU, Hyderabad, called- Sites of Negotiations: Democracy, Politics and Civil Society in Contemporary Nagaland where she argued how the structures of modern law and legality shadow the lives of the people who are caught in the process of negotiating with the forces of domination and hegemony and how they have constructed their own history against state truisms and anthropological truths through an investigation of the Naga society. This was followed by a paper entitled Indigenous Social Mobilization in Latin America: a Lesson for North East India which was presented by Juthika das and Anubhab Sarmah of GU in which the scholars tried to analyse the dominant issues and experiences concerning people’s resistance in Latin America and the role and participation of the indigenous people in the political sphere.

The second parallel session was based on the theme of --- State Social Movements and Democracy: the Interface with special focus on Gender. This session was chaired by Prof. Manindra Thakur, Centre for Political studies, SSS, JNU and coordinated by Dr. AKhil Ranjan Dutta. The first paper in this session was presented by Dr. Sukalpa Bhattacharjee of NEHU entitled – Politics of Gendered Space: Narratives of Resistance in North East India. She began by deliberating on the idea of space, how the concept of space itself is demarcated with stereotypical differences and how spatial division itself is a political division. Her paper highlighted how the maintenance of patriarchal ideology requires production of certain spaces such as gendered spaces , because space is an instrument of thought and action which enacts the struggle over power between genders. The next paper was presented by Sabrina Iqbal Sircar, PhD Scholar, Gauhati University and her paper was entitled : Feminist Movements and the State : the Struggle of the Weaker Sex within the Indian democracy. Her paper highlighted how the feminists have criticised the state as a patriarchal institution and how the Indian state has been a part in the manifestation of violence against women’s bodies. She highlighted the radical paradigm shift in the feminist movements within the state with the help of examples like the OBR etc. The next paper was presented by Dr. Padmalaya Mohapatra, from Utkal University entitled – Women and Human Rights Violations: A comparative study of North East Indian states and Odisha. Beginning with an understanding of sexuality derived from Foucault, her paper focussed how by crafting a certain kind of imagery for the female body and its sexual desires the woman is absorbed into the normative structure of society that is defined by patriarchy. The next paper entitled – Women in local governments: a New phase in Women’s Movements was presented by Prof. Bidyut Mohanty, Head, Women’s Studies, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi. Her paper highlighted how, after twenty years of women’s reservations in PRIs, the presence of the women at these centres of local self governments does make a difference after all wherever group formation has taken place but also pointed out that the objective of gender equity has not yet been achieved. The next paper was entitled Social movements and Internal Displacement in Western Assam presented by Dr. Monika Mandal, Fellow, MAKAIS. Her paper basically took up the problem of conflict-induced displacement in Assam and how violence and displacement in western Assam during the 1990s and 2000s were linked with demands for separate states and autonomous councils etc. The final paper in this session was presented by Payal Ghosh from Jadavpur Univeristy. Her paper was called--- Dissenting Bodies: a Performative Reading of the Kangla protest. Her paper looked deep into the extraordinary means of protest vis-a-vis John Langshaw Austin’s theory of the performative to see how they subvert the structure of patriarchy as well as the state by using not one but two modes of performative in this protest.

The third parallel session in the morning was based on the theme Social Movements: From Pre-colonial experience to Contemporary Manifestations. This session was chaired by Prof. Samir Kumar Das, VC, North Bengal University and was co-ordinated by Dr. Jayanta Krishna Sharma, of the Dept of Political Science, GU. The first paper in this session was presented by Dr. D.P.Sharma of Gauhati University. The paper was entitled – Labour vs Empire: rise of tea worker unions in Assam during the colonial era. The paper basically examined the rise of labour protests and formation of workers unions in the tea gardens of Assam in the context of colonial policies for recruitment and management of labour adopted by the European planters since the 1840s upto the mid 2oth century. The next paper was presented by Sanjay Kumar from Jamia Milia Islamia entitled – Shell Nigeria and Ogoni Tribe Movement: Response from the state and the UN. The paper highlighted how contemporary Nigeria is facing the emergence of new social movements against the activities of the Shell Oil Company through the example of the Ogoni tribal movement and the role of the state and UN in the protection and promotion of human rights and other issues. The next paper was presented by Dr. Subhash Barman from Goalpara College and the paper was entitled – Narratives from the Margins – Adivasi Struggle for Survival in Colonial Assam where he portrayed the way in which the Adivashis of Assam negotiated with itself and interacted with the shifts and changes of the colonial period in Assam. The next paper was called Ethnicity and Religion – Markers in locating Naga civil society in Contemporary Times. This paper was presented by Rashi Bhargava from JNU which highlighted how there have been countless debates on the applicability of the concept of civil society especially with regard to the Naga society. The last paper in this session was presented by Dr. Padam Nepal, from St. Joseph’s College, Darjeeling entitled – Poetics of Protests Movements: Contextualizing Stereotypical Representations. His paper tried to explore how the discourse of collective memory as it is enacted through literature shapes the formation/ construction of an identity by a group with particular focus on the Gorkhas in India and North east in particular.

The fourth session of the seminar also had three parallel discussions on different themes. The first of these sessions was on the theme of – Frontiers, Borders and State in North East India: Issues of Migration and Security. This session was chaired by Prof. Bhupen Sarmah, Director OKD, Guwahati and was co-ordinated by Dr. Joanna Mehjabeen of GU. The first paper in this session was presented by Babu P. Ramesh, Associate professor, IGNOU, New Delhi. The paper was entitled Out Migration from North East: Perspectives from a Receiving Region. The paper basically discussed the dynamics of the out-migration from the north east focusing on its magnitude, determinants etc. The next paper was presented by Anshuman Baruah, Phd Scholar, CSRD, JNU entitled – Informal Trade across Assam – Bangladesh border where he tried to qualify and quantify the extent of informal trade across Assam. The next paper was presented by Bikash Sarmah from Sikkim Universitiy entitled – Border Migration and Security – a case study of Assam where he attempted to understand the undecidability of the border in materialising the terms of inclusion and exclusion following Jacques Derrida’s deconstructive logic. The next paper was entitled – Exploring Differential Population Growth – a case study of Assam presented by Bandana Choudhury of Gauhati University where she discussed the factors responsible for the differential population growth rate in Assam. Chandramoni Bhattarai from JNU presented a paper on the theme – Fencing India’s Bangladesh Border: Issues and Concerns where she tried to deal with the different issues regarding the India- Bangladesh border fencing. The last paper was entitled – Where have all the Bangladeshis come from? Issues pertaining to Illegal Migration presented by Mohammed Reyaz from Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi where an attempt was made to historicize the advent of Muslims in Assam in a bid to analyse the present situation where every Muslim or Bengali speaking Muslim in particular is projected as a foreigner (Bangladeshis) and how this situation has given rise to social tensions in Assam.

The session after the tea break was based on the theme- Social movements: From pre colonial experience to Contemporary Manifestations chaired by Prof Manorama Sarma from NEHU and coordinated by Barasa Deka from GU. The first paper in this session was presented by Prof. Sumit Mukherjee from Kalyani University entitled - The Gorkhaland agitation and its Northeastern linkage: a study in Complimentarity and contradictions where an attempt was made to study critically the varied aspects of the Gorkhaland agitation and explore the possibilities of a lasting camaraderie between the Gorkhas of Darjeeling and the North East. The next paper was presented by Dr. Nirmali Goswami from Tezpur University entitled- Language of Education: issues of Community Identity in the schools of Assam in which she analysed the Bodo movement in Assam and its implications for educational policies of the state against the historical context of colonial policies and identity politics in North East India. The next paper was titled Leadership and Contours of protest: Contextualizing the Leadership Roles in the Gorkhaland movement in Darjeeling hills, India presented by Dr. Ramesh Dural from the University of North Bengal where the role of the leadership in producing movement dynamics with special reference to the Gorkhaland movement was analysed. This was followed by a paper by D.Kundu from the University of Kalyani entitled- State Democracy and Ethnic Movements in North East India: Explorations into Ethnic competition model where he focussed on the ethnic competition model as a significant tool of inquiry into the ongoing ethnic social and political mobilization and identity movements in North East India. Jnanashree Borah from G.U spoke on – Identity politics and tea tribes: Experiences from Assam where she dwelt on the plausible reasons behind the emergence of Adivashi identity politics in Assam and the role of the state and tea management in bringing about overall development of the tea tribe community. The last paper in this session was presented by Geetimala Pathak of GU entitled – State- people Conflict in Assam and the role of KMSS as a People’s Resistance Movement in which she attempted to assess the nature of the working of the movement and to gauge its success and failures.

The third parallel session was based on the theme of – Development and Resistance: Encounter between State and Communities. This session was chaired by Professor S.N. Mishra from Utkal University and was co-ordinated by Juthika Das. The first paper in this session was presented by Dr. Dasarathi Bhuyan from Behrampur University. The paper was entitled – Development and Resistance: Encounter between the State and Tribal Communities in Odisha where he explored two case studies and discussed how the anti-industrial tribal movements have looked at the process of development. The next paper was presented by Ch. Rupchandra from MAKAIS Kolkata entitled- Deepening Democracy for a Meaningful Development in India’s Northeast : a Retrospect to Manipur trajectories from 1947-2012 in which he highlighted some of the shortcomings in the working of Democracy in Manipur by going through its political history. The next paper was presented by Barnalee Choudhury from IDOL, GU. Her paper was entitled Globalization, Development and Resistance movements: Conflict between the State and the Common people where she focussed on the opposition to large scale macro development projects and questioned the state power to impose development advocating a rights based approach to development. The next paper was by Prof. Kedar nath Bishoyi from the Balimela College of Science and Technology, Balimela and his paper was entitled – Development Challenges in Naxal affected areas: a study of Malkangiri district of Odisha where he highlighted the reasons behind the increasing rate of Naxal movement in the Malkangiri district of Odisha. The next paper was entitled Countering Development: Indigenous Communities Resistance against Neo-liberal capitalism in Manipur presented by R. Chingphun from TISS Mumbai which focuses on the various development projects that are underway in the Northeast with massive capitalist profiteering ambition with particular emphasis on the issue of oil exploration in Manipur and people’s resistance against such neo liberal developments. And the last paper in this session was presented by Sangita Mishra from Gauhati University; her paper was entitled – Anti-dam movements as Anti-development movements: a Study of the ongoing encounters between the State and the people regarding the question of Development where she tried to analyse the reasons behind the resistance to large dams and tries to find out whether the anti dam movements are really anti development or not.

The panel discussion II themed Social Movement and Democracy was conducted at the Deptt. of Political Science, GU. The moderator of the session was Prof. Sheila Borah, Deptt. of History, Dibrugarh University. The speakers of the session were Prof. Samir Kumar Das, V.C of North Bengal University, Prof. Manindra Thakur, CPS, JNU, Prof. Manorama Sarma, Deptt. of History, NEHU and Dr. Samujjal Bhattacharyya, Adviser, AASU. The session was coordinated by Dr. Akhil Ranjan Dutta, Deptt. of Political Science, GU. This session saw a stormy debate on various issues among the speakers reflecting a wide range of ideas being exchanged. Prof. Samir Kumar Das in his paper Globalization, Development and Biopolitics: Reflections on the New Social Movements in India’s Northeast highlighted that the new economic regime unleashed by the setting in of the global forces since 1990s has brought in forces that have direct influence on the human body putting the physical survival of people at stake. The new regime is built on the plank of opening up of the NE region to the powerhouse economies of Southeast Asia and he conceptualized that biopolitics as a power that is exercised over the life potential eternally suspends the latter from realizing itself. Prof. Manindra Thakur spoke about the democracy deficit that has plagued the contemporary societies and examined the recent social movements and mass mobilizations as responses of people to this democracy deficit in his paper Democracy Deficit and Social Movements: in Search of New Horizons. According to him, there is a need to fashion alternatives to the three institutional arrangements sustaining the current relationships between capital, democracy and the nation state – property, party and parliament. Prof. Manorama Sarma in her paper Middle Class Values and the Social Dynamics of Gender Relations in Assam emphasized on the middle class values and the nature of gender relations those values sought to uphold in the Assamese society and to what extent it impacted the nature of democracy in the society. According to her the views of the Asomiya middle class regarding gender relations and a democratic social structure become very important to understand the true nature of the state, social movements or any other institution in the society. Dr. Samujjal Bhattacharyya spoke about the immigration issue and how the Centre has shown negligence towards the solution of the problem. He also emphasized on the Centre’s discriminatory attitude towards the region and the exploitation of its resources and was of the opinion that there should be a redrawing of the federal design of the Indian nation state so as to give more autonomy to the regional units. The session which enthused the participants to raised critical issues related to state, new economic regime and social movements in India in general and Northeast India in particular ended with concluding remarks from the chair.

The panel discussion was followed by a colourful cultural programme presented both by the students of the University and invited artists at Phanidhar Dutta Seminar Hall, GU. The programme introduced the gathering to the folk culture and different dance forms of Northeast India like Satriya Dance, Bhortal Nritya, Bihu Nritya Etc. Most attractive presentation was the folk orchestra presented by the students of the University. The programme was inaugurated by Dr. Satyen Chudhury, former Professor in Chemistry of Cotton College of Guwahati and Mallika Kandali, alumni of the Department and presently Associate Professor at R. G. Baruah College, Guwahati presented the Satriya Dance. The programme was coordinated by Barasa Deka, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, GU.

The session VI started on 1st March themed Sixth Schedule and Autonomy. The session started with a presentation by Joseph K Lalfakzuala on The Contemporary Challenges on the Working of Sixth Schedule in Mizoram: A Case Study of Lai Autonomous District Council in which he dwelt on the challenges and problems faced by the Autonomous Development Councils in relation with the state government as well the challenges within the the ADC vis-à-vis the Village Councils. The next paper was presented by A.Kapesa on the Historical Evolution of the Traditional Political Institutions of the Mao Naga of Manipur, India: Pre colonial, colonial and post colonial experiences where he dealt with the historical evolution of the traditional political institutions of the Mao Naga community and the present working status of the different Acts dealing with these institutions. Rajiv Acharya of Gauhati University presented a paper on the Politics of Sixth Schedule: Contemporary Challenges in the context of Ethnonationalist Assertion in Dima Hasao where he tried to look into the reasons for the failure of the Sixth Schedule to address the issues of the region which has led to the increasing assertions of ethnonationalist movements in the region. Breehivorna Talukdar presented a paper on the Bodo movement: Violence, Politics and Beyond where she attempted to understand why violence has been an important part of the Bodo movement and seek to understand if peaceful dialogue stand a chance in making the movement a success. Surashree Pathak dwelt on the issue of the challenges facing the successful implementation of the Sixth Schedule in Assam in her paper entitled Sixth Schedule: Colonial Legacies, Post Colonial Construct and Contemporary Challenges. The parallel session themed State, Middle class and Minorities was merged with another session themed Capturing Northeast India: Important Issues. Banashree Phukan in her paper titled State Formation, Migration and the Historical Paradox of the Tai Ahoms discusses the parameters that define a contemporary state and attempts to contextualize the evolution of Assam in medieval times in the light of contemporary discourse. Barnali Kakati in her paper Demography and Development: Colonial Policies and Contemporary Conflicts looks into the issue of colonial politics underlying development policies in the region and trace out its link to contemporary conflicts. Diganta Kalita in his paper Administration at Colonial Period in Meghalaya: A comparative study in Khasi, Jaintia and Garo Hills dealt with the administrative changes in the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo Hills in Meghalaya during the colonial period. The next presentation was made by Protim Sarmah who in the paper titled Students Movement vis-à-vis Middle Class Hegemony in Assam attempts to establish a relationship between middle class hegemony and students movement in Assam that gave rise to Assamese nationalistic sentiments through an analysis of the Assam movement. Mofidur Rahman and Nurul Hassan gave a picture of the deteriorated socio economic conditions of the Muslims in Assam through their paper on Plight of a Marginalized Community: A Study of Muslims in Assam. Dr. Jayanta Krishna Sarmah and Daisy Nath in their paper Autonomy Movement and Changing Perspective of Governance System in Karbi Anglong district tried to explore the genesis of the Karbi Autonomy Movement with a view to critically understand the dynamics of autonomy movement that shaped the governance system in Karbi Anglong Hills Autonomous Council. Another paper by Amitabh Singh, R.Bhattacharya and Priyanka Roy entitled Combating Women Trafficking in Northeast India: Issues and Challenges attempted to give a picture of the extent of women trafficking in Northeast India and throw light on the role of existing legislative and enforceable machineries to curb the menace.

The seminar ended with a valedictory session at the Deptt. of Political Science, GU. The session was chaired by Prof. M. P. Bezbaruah, Dean, Faculty of Arts, GU and coordinated by Dr. Akhil Ranjan Dutta, Seminar Coordinator. Prof. H. P. Sarmah, President, Gauhati University Teachers’ Association (GUTA) attended the session as a Guest. Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty, delivered the valedictory speech on the theme titled Stemming the tide and sowing New Seeds: People’s Movement in the Post Globalisation Age. In his speech Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty argued that the tidal wave of globalization has been stemmed by the resurgence of peoples’ movements across the globe. The determined campaigns of the people’s movements have exposed the fragility of the claims of globalization and a new phase characterised by the recognition of the power of the peoples’ movement and the long term meaning of their struggles has begun. India as a whole and Northeast in particular provide much evidence of this historical moment and how the people’s movements face the forces of repression, responsiveness and legitimation in an age of modern communication, sophisticated technology and global structure of dominant forces and carry forward the civilizational movement is the challenge of the unfolding age. The occasion was also used to inaugurate a book edited by Dr. Akhil Ranjan Dutta titled Politics in India: Issues, Institutions Processes which was released by Prof Bidyut Mohanty. The book, which is presented to Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty is the outcome of the contributions made both by the faculty members and research scholars of the Department of Political Science, GU. Published by Arun Prakashan, Guwahati, the book aims at fulfilling longstanding demands of a quality text book primarily for the undergraduate students. Prof. Alaka Sarmah, Head, Department of Political Science, GU thanked the distinguished guests and participants for making the seminar a success. Dr. Akhil Ranjan Dutta, Seminar coordinator presented the contributions received from different quarters, particularly from ICSSR, ICHR, UGC and IDOL-GU towards organizing the seminar and requested the participants to send their revised papers in the light of the feedback received in presentation so as to enable the Department to publish quality volumes on the theme of the seminar. It was followed by the vote of thanks offered by Dr. Dhruba Pratim Sarma who thanked the distinguished guests for gracing the occasion with their presence, the faculty of the Department, the presenters, the students and all other participants for their concerted efforts in making the seminar a success. With this the seminar came to an end.

The Department of Political Science, Gauhati University under UGC-SAP with partial assistance from Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) organized a two-day National Seminar titled GENDER AND DEMOCRACY IN NORTH EAST INDIA from March 4th -5th, 2014 at the University premises. The Seminar started with the inaugural session held at the Phanidhar Dutta Seminar Hall on 4th from 10 a.m. onwards.

The session anchored by Barasa Deka, Assistant Professor of the department; was chaired by Prof. Alaka Sarmah, Head of the Department of Political Science, Gauhati University followed by the welcome address delivered by Coordinator of the Seminar, Dr. Jayanta Krishna Sarmah, Associate Professor of the department. The Vice-Chancellor of GU, Dr. Mridul Hazarika inaugurated the Seminar, Prof.Dhrubajyoti Saikia, Vice–Chancellor of Cotton College State University graced the occasion as the Chief-guest and Prof. Chandrakala Padia, Vice-Chancellor, Maharaja Ganga Singh University, Bikaner, Rajasthan delivered the key-note address. On this occasion, a book titled “Democracy and Diversity in North-East India” edited by Prof. Alaka Sarmah under the department’s UGC-SAP programme was also released.

Prof. Alaka Sarmahgave a detailed report of the various projects undertaken by the department with assistance from UGC-SAP. Dr. Mridul Hazarika in his inaugural speech, talked briefly about the socially constructed identities of men and women and their ramifications; as well as the dismal positioning of native women of the north eastern society and the issue of political participation of women in democracy. Prof. Dhrubajyoti Saikia in his speech talked about the institution of formal democracy and women suffrage present in India but expressed dissatisfaction over the practice of sustentative democracy in the country. Highlighting the marginalization of tribals and women, he especially reflected on the skewed sex ratio, high rates of infant and maternal mortality, poor female literacy rate as well as low representation of women in academic and other spheres of eminence. He also said that issues concerning women should not limit to discussions and debates in seminars but the reforms and suggestions should translate into concrete actions to achieve gender equality.

Prof. Chandrakala Padiain her key note address, “Women at the Margin in North East India: Discriminatory Customary Laws, Myths and Patriarchy” talked about women, suffering from social disability rather than legal. Deliberating on the plight of North Eastern women she lamented that despite certain tribal societies being matriarchal, patriarchy has a very stronghold in the region. There is insignificant representation of women in the decision making sphere, no rights of women over property and land, low literacy rate and a host of social taboos and customary laws, degenerating their very status. Talking about the rise of feminist movements throughout the world she especially highlighted the importance of third world feminism in understanding the problems of Indian women and the need to give the greater women folk equal representation vis-a-vis the men at epistemological, ontological, societal and psychological spheres to realize their actual worth.

The session concluded with a vote of thanks by Dr. Dhruba Pratim Sharma, Assistant Professor of the department.

Technical Sessions-

Session I- (12-2 p.m.)
Theme: Gender and Democracy: Emerging Issues and Theoretical Formulations.
Chair: Prof. Chandrakala Padia
Coordinator: Dr. Akhil Ranjan Dutta.
Total Papers Presented: 5

The first paper titled “Gender and Justice: Understanding the Private Sphere” was presented by Barasa Deka, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, GU. The paper highlighted that the relation between man and woman in the private sphere is highly gendered and undemocratic. Democracy is the method of arriving at a collective decision but women’s question within the democractic discourse has always been debated. She analysed the question of justice within private sphere, specifically in family, by engaging with the notion of fairness, equality, self-respect and democracy.

The second paper titled “Women and Political Parties: A Historical Perspective on the Women’s Department of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee” was presented jointly by Sanghamitra Sarma , Research Scholar and Prof. Sandhya Goswami, Department of Political Science, GU. They tried to examine the history behind the establishment of the women’s department of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee. Besides, the initiatives taken by it in addressing the concerns affecting women of the time, the struggles endured in the course were also considered in this paper.

The third paper titled “Women and Politics: A Comparative Study of Women’s Political Participation in Western Iran and North East India” was presented jointly by Behzad Karimi, Research Scholar and Dr. Dhruba Pratim Sharma, Assistant Professor, Department of Politcal Science, GU. The paper took a comparative method to examine the political participation of women in western Iran and North East India both of which are culturally diverse regions undergoing transition from traditional to modern cultural norms. The transition is happening through widely varying paths but is showing similarly subdued levels of women’s active political participation. Women are gradually breaking all the social inhibitions and shackles to come out and make their presence felt in this important sphere.

The fourth paper titled “Issue of Political Representation and Reservation of Women in India” was presented by Kakoli Das, Research Scholar, Department Of Political Science, GU. She spoke about the necessity of women’s participation and representation in politics and decision making process, the public-private dichotomy as well as the patriarchal nature of Indian Politics. Harping on women’s effective participation in politics for promoting women’s rights and development, the presenter highlighted the urgency to pass the women’s reservation bill to make women visible in Indian politics.

The fifth and the last paper of the session titled “Gender Justice: A Myth or a Sustainable Reality” was jointly presented by Dr. Malabika Talukdar and Rajib Bhattacharyya, Assistant Professors, University Law College, GU. The paper reflected on the issue that gender justice and gender equality are not myths but not yet a reality in India. The discrimination against women stems not from legislative insufficiency but deep rooted social values and ethics of the society. To negate the discrimination they recommended certain legal and social measures to improve the gender gap and bring about gender equality and gender justice which can become a sustainable reality.

Session II- 3-5 p.m.

Parallel Session- A
Theme: Gender Violence: Domestic Violence, Trafficking, Superstition and Witch Hunting, Sexual Harassment.
Chair- Prof. Monirul Hussain
Coordinator- Dr. Dhruba Pratim Sharma
Total papers presented- 6

The first paper titled“Domestic Violence and Protection of Women” was presented by Prof. Bishnu Charan Choudhuri, Berhampur University.The paper highlighted that domestic violence is a silent crime, not resisted due to social stigma and all women irrespective of any stratification are its victims. To eliminate this menace he suggested that the government as well as the civil society including the media should play an important role in creating a society free from gender based violence.

The second paper titled “Protection of Women from Domestic Violence” presented by Dr. Chintamani Rout, Associate Professor, Department of Law, NEHU. He perceived domestic violence as a social disease which has no scientific cures. Looking from a legal perspective, he asserted that protection of women should not remain confined to mere law making. The speaker also analysed the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and discussed its provisions and shortcomings.

The third paper titled “Patterns of Domestic Violence Against Women in Sikkim” by Reshmi Limboo, Research Scholar, Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, Sikkim University. The paper discussed domestic violence as a hidden problem as well as a major social problem in Sikkim. The patriarchal system is the common cause of violence against women in Sikkimese households along with the advancement in modern technology like emergence of social networking sites, cell phones etc which are leading to violence and rise in instances of extra-marital affairs, cheating on wives etc. Moreover, the lack of family counseling and psychological problems also add to this menace.

The fourth paper titled “Witch Hunting, Superstitions and Human Rights in India with special reference to the state of Assam” was presented by Rajiv Acharjya, Research Scholar, Department of Political Science, GU. He said that despite the presence of international and national instruments guaranteeing women’s rights and safety, women are still vulnerable to blind customs and practices. Increased incidents of witch hunting constitute grave human rights violations particularly of women. In India as well as Assam it is a serious social menace and the government must take urgent affirmative steps instead of relying only on enacting punitive laws.

The fifth paper titled “Women Trafficking: The Obstruct to Humanity” presented jointly by Merrychaya Patiri and Nilotpal Chakravarty, Research Scholars, GU. They said that women’s trafficking is a global phenomenon and women are trafficked because of sexual and economic reasons. Moreover, women’s trafficking is a serious human rights violation and the traffickers prey on the women’s vulnerable position to serve their interests. This paper also focused on women trafficking in India with special reference to the North- East and how the porous international borders of the region is acting as safe heavens for traffickers.

The sixth and the final paper titled “Domestic Violence against Women vis-à-vis Statutory Provisions” was presented jointly by Smita Barua and Jupitara Sarmah, Research Scholars, Department of Law, GU. This paper considered domestic violence as a violation of fundamental rights of human beings. It focused on the definition of this crime as given by UNICEF as well as discussed at length the intensity and affect of it in India. While dealing with the statutory provisions relating to domestic violence in India, the presenters sought to review the effectiveness of the provisions as well as necessity of awareness programmes, reviewed and proper implementation of laws and education as means to address this problem.

Parallel Session- B (3-5p.m.)
Theme: Gender Issues in Tribal Societies.
Chair: Prof. Sandhya Goswami
Coordinator: Barasa Deka
Total papers presented- 6

The first paper was “Tribal Customary Law and Gender Gap in Political Participation in the Hill Tribes of Manipur” presented by Konsam Shakila Devi and Yow Peter Raiphea, Research Scholars Manipur University and NEHU. The paper examined the relation between customary laws and gender gap in the political participation in the Hill tribes of Manipur. Its main argument was against the general assumption of customary laws barring women’s political participation. It highlighted patriarchy as the chief cause of limited women’s participation in politics in Manipur.

The second paper titled “Status of Women in Tribal Societies of Sikkim” by Ganga Maya Tamang, Research Scholar, Sikkim University. Tamang reiterated the fact that status of women is the best indicator of gender issues in any society. Her paper made a critical comparative analysis on the status of women between the Lepcha, Bhutia, Nepali tribes of Sikkim, in the social, familial, religious, economic and political fields.

The third paper titled “Gender Issues in Naga Society” was presented by Dr.Shangpam Kashung, NEHU. She attempted to understand the roles of gender and gender stratification with special reference to the Tangkhul Nagas of Manipur. Though the society is patriarchal, she talked about its gradual change and the rise of women as strong economic members in the family and the larger society.

The fourth paper titled “Problem of Women’s Political Participation in Authoritarian and Democratic Regimes: A comparative study of Arab women and women in Dima- Hasao (Assam), byRechilungle Riame, Research Scholar, Jamia Milia Islamia. The main question raised in this paper was how the women of two different cultures and civilizations are trying to come out of male domination both in society and governance. The presenter tried to look into the causes of limited women’s political participation and the challenges faced in making women’s representation visible in politics through a comparative analysis.

The fifth paper titled “Gender Construction in Literature and Culture: A Study on Bhupen Hazarika was presented by Dipankar Barman, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Bapujee College,Sarukhetri. The presenter attempted to examine the lyrical composition and thoughts of Dr.Bhupen Hazarika and his deep concern for the plight of women in the tradition bound Assamese society. He said Hazarika’s lyrics were not mere artistic expressions but weapons of social change which reflected a rebellious streak to change the social functioning and dynamics for the good. The paper also brought to light the bard’s concern regarding social exclusion, gender gap and economic and social inequalities.

The sixth and the final paper titled “Gender and Democracy: Disparity in Political Representation in Nagaland by T. Longkoi Khiamniungam, Research Scholar, JNU. She examined the reasons like criminalization of politics, sexual harassment, muscle power, fundamentalism to be behind the low participation of women in politics and decision making process in Nagaland. She also tried to look across these factors and delved into the question whether women themselves do not like to take part in electoral politics and what exponential changes would come if women are allowed or they voluntarily choose to be active part of politics.

The sessions were followed by a vibrant cultural programme held at the Phanidhar Dutta Hall. The students of the department entertained the dignitaries with a host of songs, dances, short skit and an ethnic fashion show. The Cultural Evening was inaugurated by Prof. S.N. Misra of Utkal University, Orissa.

Day 2, 5th March 2014

Session V: Parallel Session A (9.45 am-11.45 am) Seminar Hall 1
Theme: Gender and Media, Gender Education and Gender Studies
Chair: Prof. Alaka Sarmah, HoD, Dept of Political Science, G U
Session Coordinator: Anubhab Sarmah
Total papers presented- 5

The first paper was “Education and Skill Development of Slum Women belonging to Informal Sectors in North East India”was presented by Jatindra Nath Deka, a research scholar, GU and Prof. Dilip K. Medhi, Prof. Department of Anthropology, GU. The paper highlighted with statistics and field report data the very position of women in slums and why they are forced to lead a life of poverty and economic hardships. The paper also stated the socio-economic conditions of slum dwellers and upheld that skill development and literacy levels of these people are dismal and it is therefore important that these issues be addressed to enhance their conditions.

The second paper was “Gender Inequality in School Education with Special Reference to North East India: The Human Rights Perspective” presented by Dr. Dulumoni Goswami , Assistant Professor, Department of Education, GU. His paper was an analytical discussion on gender inequality in educational sector with special emphasis on the primary education sector in North East India. He said that compared to Indian men, women have lower literacy, enrolment and higher dropout rates. Though the Indian Constitution has made education a fundamental right and enlisted right of children to free and compulsory education in it, the situation is gloomy. He also pointed out the importance of education in bridging gender disparities and to address gender inequality in educational sector within the broader human rights framework.

The third paper, titled “Women Rights in Tribal and Non-Tribal Indian Society: A Comparative Analysis From Anthropological Perspective” presented by Somenath Bhattachayya and Joyshree Bora, Assistant Professors , Department of Anthropology, Assam University, Diphu Campus. The paper stated right to life as the essence of human rights and presented a comparative analysis about the status of women from prehistoric to modern period in the Indian society, particularly amongst the tribal and non-tribals from an anthropological perspective and how the status is gradually changing with time.

The fourth paper was “The Effect of Television and New Media in Youngster Behaviour and Psychology, presented by Shashi Subba, Research Scholar, Visva Bharati, Santiniketan.The presenter tried to examine the effect of television as well as News media in the youngster behavior and psychology, especially concentrating on news coverage and reporting on gender issues and sensationalism. It stressed that media wields power in making and breaking images and forming opinions in young minds. The paper also talked about the ways in which gender issues are projected and receives coverage in the national media.

The final paper of the session was “Mass Communication for Awareness Creation on Witch Hunting A Case Study on Birubala Rabha” jointly presented by Debasis Bezbaruah, Research Scholar, GU and Nilakshi Kalita ,Senior faculty, Center for Mass Communication and Journalism, Cotton College. Their paper talked about the evil practice of witch hunting in the state of Assam and the efforts of Birubala Rabha in spreading awareness against this practice through the use of mass communication strategies. It also looked into the role of government and non-government agencies in dealing with this practice and helping in women’s empowerment especially in tribal regions.

Session VI: Parallel Session B (9.45 am-11.45 am) Seminar Hall 2

Theme: Gender and Governance: Legal framework, Gender Policies, Gender Budgeting, Women in Panchayati Raj
Chair: Prof. Prof. S.N. Misra, Utkal University
Session Coordinator: Dr. Shubhrajeet Konwer
Total papers presented-5

This session started with the paper on “Gender Budgetting in NE India: Urgent Need for Institutionalizing Gender Budgeting in the Region” presented by Dr. Chinglen Maisnam, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Manipur University. The paper highlighted the need of gender budgeting as a powerful tool for achieving gender mainstreaming so as to ensure that the benefits of development reach women equally as men. The presenter while talking of Gender Budgeting as an integral part of a country’s development policy also suggested for institutionalized gender budgeting in all government departments of India.

The second paper “Gender Discourse in Election” was presented by Maniki Madhuri Sarma, Research Scholar, GU and Professor Sandhya Goswami, GU. Gender discourse in elections in India can be traced from the perspectives of inclusion and social justice. The paper talked about various aspects of women’s limited participation in elections especially in India. It also explored how gender sensitive political parties are and also how gender explains the electoral outcomes in the state of Assam.

The third paper titled “Policy Deficit in Gender: Need for Deconstructing Gender Roles” was presented by Parimita Bhuyan, Research Scholar and Dr. Jayanta Krishna Sarmah, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, GU. The presenters dealt with theoretical formulations of gender including the issue of LGBT recognition and representation, the structural issues of multiple social inequalities that creates trouble in defining citizens’ sexual orientations as well as policy deficits in deconstructing gender roles.

Next paper,“Vulnerability of Women in India- Looking from a Legal Perspective” was presented by Purbali Borah, student, J.B. Law College, Guwahati; Breehivorna Talukdar and Jnanashree Borah, Research Scholar, Department of Political Science, GU. In their paper they talked about laws and protection mechanisms to deal with issue of sexual offence concerning women and the lack of general awareness about it. They also sought to address the utility of those laws and look whether the victims of sexual offences really benefits from them.

The fifth paper was “Women Rights and Judicial Delivery System with Special Reference to Domestic Violence (After 2005). The paper was presented by Bidisha Bora. Assistant Professor, R.G.B. College, Guwahati. She projected the judicial attitude towards women rights with special reference to the issue of domestic violence in her paper. She also talked about the impact the Domestic Violence Act 2005 in the society in reference to some case studies.

Session VII: Parallel Session C (12p.m-2p.m) Seminar Hall 1

Theme: Gender Gap: Gender and Land Rights, Sex Ratio/ Role of NGOs.
Chair: Prof. Niru Hazarika, Department of Political Science, GU
Session Coordinator: Juthika Das
Total papers presented- 4

The first paper“Status of Women in Char Areas of Assam: A Case Study of Bhashanir Char of Dhubri District” was presented by Mofidur Rahman and Tabassum Rizvi, Research Scholar, GU. The paper tried to explore one of the most unexplored domains of gender i.e. the plight of women living in char areas of Assam. With a case study of Bhasani Char, the paper critically analyzed the role of the state as discriminatory towards the marginalized women.

The second paper titled “Gender and Land Rights in North East” was presented byTuiting Dounreitim, Research Scholar, Department of Political Science, Manipur University. The paper dealt on the issue of disparity in land distribution in the North East and how women are deprived of their right over land. Considering land as a guarantor of economic benefit and security of women, the presenter explored the possibilities of addressing the problems associated with gender and land rights in the North Eastern region.

The third paper “Women as Peace- Makers in Northeast India: Role of Naga Mothers Association” was presented by Anubhab Sarmah, Research Scholar, Department of Political Science, GU. He talked about the issue of peace making and the role of women as peace makers in the conflict infested North Eastern Region and the various mechanisms taken in this course. He also talked about how Naga Mothers Association is actively engaged in peace building in Nagaland.

The last paper “Women Empowerment Through Self Help Groups (SHGs) for Strengthening Participatory Democracy waspresented by Mofidul Islam, Assistant Professor, Dhing College, Nagaon. The presenter spoke about the importance of Self Help Groups in strengthening grassroots democracy as these can be used as strategies for participatory and bottom up approach for the development and empowerment of women. He took the case of Women’s Self Help Groups in Juria Development Block of Nagaon, Assam to explain his case.

Session VIII: Parallel Session D (12p.m-2p.m) Seminar Hall 2

Theme: Gender Construction in Literature & Culture/ Role of NGOs
Chair: Prof. Nani Gopal Mahanta, Department of Political Science, GU
Session Coordinator: Jnanashree Borah
Total papers presented- 4

The first paper of the session was “Ethnic Identity and Nation in Asomiya Political Novel: A comparative Study of Mutilated Gendered Space in Birendra Kumar Bhattacharya’s Yaruingam(1960) and Mrityunjay(1977) presented by Sarat Kumar Jena, University of IAR, Gandhinagar. He talked about ethnic identity and representation of marginalized tribal people in the progressive literatures of Assam with special reference to the aforesaid novels by Birendra Kumar Bhattacharya. The objective of his paper was also to find out the politics of representation of the mutilated gendered space of the Naga and Mishing ethnic identities in fictional narratives

The second paper was “Resistance in Narrative: The Gaze of “other” in Temsula Ao’s ‘The Last song” presented by Payel Ghosh, Research Scholar, Jadavpur University, Kolkata. Her paper projected the historical representation of women of the North East, their pains and agonies, the issue of insurgency and its impact on the women taking the case of Temsula Ao’s publication The Last Song. She said that when justice and administrative systems fails to protect the woman, she has no choice but to take recourse to alternative and innovative ways in asserting her existence and presenting her problems

The third paper was “Why is fair Lovely: an Investigation on the Cases of Gendered Colour Biasness & Cultural Chauvinism in India” presented by Bistirna Barua, Research Scholar JNU. The paper analyzed the deep rooted causes of enchantment of the Indian mind with the concept of fairness as beautiful, lovely and desirable and its gross objection regarding other skin tones. He cited examples from ads, cinema, idioms, songs poems to put forward his views as well as deal with the issue of Cultural Chauvinism.

The fourth paper titled “Participation of women at grassroots democracy” was presented by Dr. Dilip Kundu from North Bengal University. He said that a significant number of women have entered the Panchayati Raj Institutions and it is a sign of strengthening of grass roots democracy as well as bridging of gender disparity in politics. But, still the women have a long way to go in increasing their political participation.

Valedictory Session- (3-5p.m.)

The valedictory session was chaired by Professor B.C. Choudhuri, Behampur University and the valedictory speech was delivered by Prof. Sumita Sen, Jadavpur University.

Prof. Sumita Senin her valedictory speech focused on the idea of democracy and role of women in it. She started her speech by putting an important question in front of the listeners which is- Do we really support the idea of democracy? While talking about the idea of democracy she said that the idea of democracy has been recognized and respected for quite long but its functioning has been a questionable issue till date. Here, she also talked about various expression of democracy such as liberal democracy, illiberal democracy, deliberative democracy, cosmopolitan democracy etc. Then she has talked about women who have an adequate role in any democracy and whose role cannot be ignored. Mentioning about the weakening role of the state because of which gender injustice is increasing in our society, she expressed that democracy is not only to empower but also to overcome restrictive issues. At last she ended her speech by remembering the sayings of two important personalities- Swami Vivekananda and Amartya Sen who supported/supports empowerment of women and their liberation from bondages.

Prof. B.C Choudhuriin his remark from the Chair said that gender inequality exists due to social taboos and mindset of people. Here he focused on one of the important issues i.e displacement because of which women are being adversely affected and according to him this issue should also be given importance. He also mentioned about various injustices which women are facing such as witch hunting, harassment in workplace etc. Harping on redressal of these issues, he remarked that government as well as collective actions of the civil society must be more efficient and time appropriate.

Prof. Alaka Sarmah,Head, Department of Political Science, GU thanked the distinguished guests and participants for making the seminar a success. Dr. Jayanta Krishna Sarmah, Seminar coordinator presented the contributions received from different quarters, particularly from UGC and ICSSR towards organizing the seminar and requested the participants to send their revised papers in the light of the feedback received in presentation so as to enable the Department to publish quality volumes on the theme of the seminar. He also thanked everyone present in the seminar including all the participants, students, research scholars, teachers, the faculty of the Department and dignitaries for their participation and cooperation in making the seminar a success.

It was followed by the vote of thanks offered by Dr. Akhil Ranjan Dutta, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, GU who thanked the distinguished guests for gracing the occasion with their presence, the faculty of the Department, the presenters, the students and all other participants for their concerted efforts in making the seminar a success. With this the seminar came to an end.

Academic Activitied and photographs

RESEARCH PROJECT OF THE DEPARTMENT:

The department has submitted a project on Democracy, Human Security and Conflict under U.G.C's SAP programme in 2008.

Academics Activities of the department:

National/International Seminars/Workshop Dialouge Organised in the Department (2003-08) :

  • National Advanced Training on Human Rights organized by the Department in collaboration with the National Human Rights Commission, on 10 and 11 December, 2008
  • National Seminar on Problems of Cultural Diversity, Policy Response and Consequences sponsored by Indian Council of Social Science Research, Shillong 10.02.03
  • National seminar on "National Policy for Rehabilitation and Resettlement and Draft National Policy for Tribals" was held in the department of Political Science. North-East Social Research Centre and Omeo.Kumar. Institute of Social Change and Development, Guwahati collaborated with the Department to organize the seminar, sponsored by I.C.S.S.R, Delhi. 11.02.05. and 12.02.05
  • Third International Dialogue on The Role of Political Parties in India with focus on North East India. Sponsored by International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) Sweden and Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi.14-15 June 2006
  • National Seminar on State on Human Security in North East India, organized by the Department of Political Science, Gauhati University on 17-18 November 2006
  • National Seminar on Troubled Diversity: The Political process in North East India, organized by Department of Political Science, Gauhati University in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, 29th Feb.-2nd March, 2008.

ICSSR special Lecture series:

The renowned Political Scientist Dr. Paul Wallace and Dr. Robin Wallace both Emeritus Professor from Columbia University U.S.A. delivered lecture on: Terrorism and a Comparative approach towards Conflict Resolution. Women, Peace and security on 29-30 November 2006.

Visitors in the Department under South and South Exchange Programme on Democracy and Diversity initiated by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi and the Centre for Democracy and Development, London.

  • Roberts Fidelis Okwuchukwu, Prof. Development unit, NISER, Ibadon, Nigeria, 15-20 December 2003.
  • Liasu Adele Jindu, Retired Dean Faculty of Social Science, Lagos University, Nigeria 08.2.2003 - 15.02.2003.
  • ProfEghosae Osaghee, Vice-Chancellor, Isbinedion University, Okada, negeria, 2005.

Visitors in the department:

Prof. Prabhat Patnaik from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi delivered Lecture on Political economy of Indian ,07.2.04.
Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty, formerly Head, Deptt of Political Science, Delhi University, delivered a talk on "Trajectory of Democracy in South Asia".12.09. 04.
Prof A.P. Padhi Ex Vice-Chancellor, Utkal University delivered a talk on "Value Education" 10.10.04
Prof. Satya Narayan Chakraborty from Department in Sanskrit, Rabindra Bharati University. Kingship on Ancient India. 15.10.04.
Wasbir Hussain delivered a talk on "Human Rights and State Security" 10.12.04.
Prof Egohsa Osaghae, Vice-Chancellor, Igbedion University, Africa, on Federalism in Nigeria, 17.2.05.
Prof Sumit Ganguly, Indiana University, USA delivered a talk on Ethnic Conflicts in USA. 27th 2006. 09.06. 05
Prof Rajvir Sharma, Senior Fellow of ICSSR, New Delhi, and Former Professor of University of Delhi delivered a talk "Good Governance" 27.10.06
Prof Nirmal Goswami, University of Texas, USA talked on "Federalism in USA''.3.10.05
Shri Ajay Singh, Lt General (Rtd), Governor of Assam, inaugurated PG. Diploma Courses on Human Rights and Peace and Conflict Resolution. Shri S.N. Phukan, Chairman Assam Human Rights Commission also attended the function 1.12.2005
Mr. Ranjit S. Mushahary State Chief Information Commissioner, delivered lecture on The right to information act".14,August,2006.
Prof Paul Wallace, Emeritus, Prof. University of Missouri, Columbia, delivered lecture on Global Terrorism and an approach to Conflict Resolution, 18.12.2006.
Prof. Remmington Wallace Emeritus Prof. University of Colombia, USA delivered lecture on Women As A Peace Maker, 19.12.2006
Aruna Roy, Magsassay Awardee and social activist delivered lecture on Right information and issues related to food security and the rural employment guarantee scheme on 21st March 2007.
Prof. Jayanta Bandyapadhyya, Chairman Centre for Development and Environment Policy India deliverd a lecture on Environment and Development , 31st March, 2007
Professor Andre Beteille, , Honorable Chancellor of the North Eastern Hill University Shillong and the Chairman of the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), New Delhi. delivered a lecture on Status of Social Science Research,. 18.04.07
Niroj Vaglikor, delivered Lecture on Politics of Environmental Governance: Large Dams in North-East India. 21st May 2007
Asghar Ali Engineer, Director, Centre for Society and Secularism, Mumbai delivered lecture on Working of Democracy in India 23rd May 2007.
Sandeep Pandey Magsaysay Award winner delivered lecture on Civil Activism and Democracy,
Prof.Peter De Souza, Director Indian Institute of Advanced Study,Shimla, delivered lecture on Non Traditional Security in South Asia.3.11.2007.
Prof. Yogendra Yadav,Senior Fellow,Centre For The Study Of Developing Societies,Delhi delivered Dr. Rao Memorial Lecture on Assessing Democracy. Why and How? 13.11.2007.
Prof. Kauhsik Basu ,from Cornell University, USA delivered lecture on Political Economy in India. 7.1.2008.
Dr.Rana Pratap Behal, From Deshbandhu College,Delhi Unversity delivered a lecture on "Pioneers, Coolie-drivers and Indenture Regime:British Planters in Assam during colonial rule" 19.6.2008.

1.Workshop on Research Methodology:

The Department under the SAP had organized a three day long Research Methodology Programme on “Core concepts of Research methodology-Research problem, Objective, Hypothesis, Research Question, Sampling, comparison and significance of quantitative as well as qualitative Research” from 13th to 15th May, 2010. Lectures were delivered by Sanjay Kumar of CSDS New Delhi. The programme was attended by 35 students, research scholars and teachers of different colleges under the Gauhati University. Mr. Kumar enlightened the scholars of the Department on various known and unknown aspects of a research like formulation of the research design, writing the proposal, designing the schedule or questionnaire, differences between a good and a bad questionnaire and also briefed them on the basics of data analysis and interpretation. This short course was greatly helpful to our scholars.

2. SPSS Training Workshop:

The Department in collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies conducted a three day workshop in data analysis through SPSS from 23.02.2011to 26.02.2011. The Workshop was attended by the teachers and Research Scholars of the Department as well as college teachers from different colleges. The workshop was conducted by Divya Vaid and Rahul Verma of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi. The SPSS Training Workshop has proved to be very helpful to the participants in analyzing data in quantitative research.

3. National Election Studies, 2011:

The post-poll election survey of the 2011 Assembly Elections in Assam was conducted under the aegis of the Political Science Department. The field survey was carried out by students as field investigators from different departments of the University. They were given training on the sampling methods, techniques of data collection and analysis prior to the field visit.

Occasional Papers:

a.Democracy, Armed Conflicts and the Politics of Security by Sanjib Baruah, Department of Political Studies, Bard College, New York, U.S.A.
b. Debating Democracy, Developmental Disparities and Good Governance in India by Rumki Basu, Professor of Public administration, Department of Political Science, Jamia Milia Islamia University, New Delhi.

Abstract Volumes:

a. State of Democracy in North East India.
b. Environment, Citizenship and the State.
c. Democracy and Diversity in North East India.
d. State, Social Movements and Democracy in Northeast India.

Edited Books:

a. State of Democracy in North East Indiaedited by Prof. Sandhya Goswami.
b. Democracy and Diversity in North East Indiaedited by Prof. Alaka Sarmah.
c. State, Social Movements and Democracy in Northeast India edited by Dr. Akhil Ranjan Dutta.
d. Frontier States: Essays on Democracy, Society and Security in North East Indiaedited by Prof. Alaka Sarmah & Dr. Shubhrajeet Konwer.

1.7.1: List of Visiting Fellows: (From 05.01.2010 to 28.12.2010)

Sl. No. Name of Visiting Fellow Topic Date
1 Prof. Sanjib Baruah, Bard College, New York Democracy, Arm Conflict and Prospects of Security 05.01.2010
2 Prof. Sobhanlal Dutta Gupta, University of Calcutta Modernity and Post modernity 09.02.2010
3 Dr. Udayan Misra, Dibrugarh University (Retired) Secularism in India, 11.02.2010
4 Prof. L.S. Gassah, North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong State of Democracy in North East India, 25.02.2010
5 Prof. Rekha Choudhury, Jammu University Nationalism, Democracy and Conflict situation : A case study of J & K, 25.02.2010
6 Prof. Ashutosh Kumar, Punjab University, Chandigarh Assertion of the Regions: Exploring the demand for new state in India, 26.02.2010
7 Prof. M. Rahman, Aligarh University. Minority Rights and North Eastern Democracy : Case Study of Muslims in North East States, 26.02.2010
8 Prof. Abu Ahmed, IIT Gauhati Democracy in North East India, 26.02.2010
9 Prof. D.P. Barooah, Former Vice-Chancellor, Guwahati University Democracy in North East India, 25.02.2010
10 Dr. Prasanta Saikia, Gauhati University Biodiversity & its Conservation, 29.04.2010
11 Prof. Sanjay Kumar, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) Research Methodology 13.05.2010 to 15.05.2010
12 Prof. Suhas Palshikar, University of Pune, Pune Trends in State Politics 27.10.2010
13 Prof. S. N. Misra, KIIT University, Bhubaneswar Non-Violent movement in the United States 14.12.2010
14 Sobhanlal Dutta Gupta, University of Calcutta Negotiating Modernity 28.12.2010

1.7.2: List of Visiting Fellows: (From 23.02.2011to 11.11.2011)

Sl. No. Name of Visiting Fellow Topic Date
1 Divya Vaid, CSDS, New Delhi SPSS & Research Methodology 23.02.2011 to 26.02.2011
2 Rahul Verma, CSDS, New Delhi SPSS & Research Methodology 23.02.2011 to 26.02.2011
3 Amitava Tripathi, Ex-Ambassador of India to Brazil and Switzerland India Emerging as a Global Power 18.02.2011
4 Rajeswari Despande, University of Pune, Pune State Discourses on Group Rights & Linking Moral with Political 10.03.2010 to 12.03.2010
5 K.L. Sharma, Retired Professor of JNU Caste in India 14.03.2011
6 Prof. Mrinal Miri, Former Vice-Chancellor, NEHU Environment Citizenship and the State 23.03.2011
7 Prof. Dulal Goswami, Gauhati University Environment Citizenship and the State 23.03.2011
8 Prof. A.C. Talukdar, Rajiv Gandhi University, Itanagar Environment Citizenship and the State 23.03.2011
9 Prof. A.K. Bhagawati, Gauhati University Environment Citizenship and the State 23.03.2011
10 Prof. K.S. Subramaniam Environment Citizenship and the State 24.03.2011
11 Prof. A.N.S. Ahmed, Retired Professor of IIT Guwahati Environment Citizenship and the State 24.03.2011
12 Prof. Sobhanlal Dutta Gupta, University of Calcutta Post Modernity 28.03.2011 to 30.03.2011
13 Prof. Arun Kr. Singh, University of Nagaland World Politics in Post Cold War World Order 31.03.2011
14 Professor S. N. Misra, KIIT University, Bhubaneswar Ecology to Human Rights 15.06.2011
15 Professor S. N. Misra, KIIT University, Bhubaneswar Challenges to Human Security in Contemporary World 5.08.2011
16 Siddharth Mallavanapu, JNU International Relation 11.11.2011

1.7.3: List of Visiting Fellows: (From 9.02.2012to 03.10.2012)

Sl. No. Name of Visiting Fellow Topic Date
1 Prof. Balveer Arora, Centre for Multilevel Federalism, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi Democracy and Diversity in NE India 9.02.2012
2 Prof. Peter Ronald deSouza, Indian Institute of Advance Study, Shimla Democracy and Diversity in NE India 9.02.2012
3 Dr. S.B. Medhi, President, Assam Institute of Sustainable Development Democracy and Diversity in NE India 10.02.2012
4 Prof. M. Taher, Gauhati University Democracy and Diversity in NE India 10.02.2012
5 Prof. Sumit Mukharjee, University of Kalyani, West Bengal Democracy and Diversity in NE India 10.02.2012
6 Prof. S.N. Mishra KIIT University Democracy and Diversity in NE India 11.02.2012
7 Dr. M. Bezbarua Relation between India and USA 15.03.2012
8 Prof. Rumki Basu Jamia Milia Islamia University,New Delhi Democracy, Developmental Disparities and Good Governance in India 27.03.2012
9 Prof. Dulal Goswami Gauhati University Environment and Politics in North-East India 03.05.2012
10 Dr. Pavel Svitil Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to India and Bhutan India’s Relation with European Union 23.08.2012
11 Prof. S.N. Mishra KIIT University Multiculturalism—A Communicative Perspective 03.10.2012

1.7.4: List of Visiting Fellows: (From 08.02.2013 to 01.08.2013)

Sl. No. Name of Visiting Fellow Topic Date
1 Prof. Rajeev Bhargav Secularism: How does the State Respond to Religious Diversity 08.02.2013
2 Shimon Mercer-Wood Embassy of Israel Crisis in West Asia and India-Israel Relation 11.02.2013
3 Ashutosh Kumar Explaining the Growing Power and Influence of State Level Leadership in Contemporary India 12.03.2013- 15.03.2013
4 Prof. Jacob George India and her Neighbours North-East India: Problems, Issues and Concerns 20.03.2013
5 Dr. Sandeep Shatri Jain University, Bangalore Changing Contours of Federalism 25.03.2013
6 Prof. Ram Puniyani Popular Perceptions and Communalism 01.08.2013

1.7.5: List of Visiting Fellows: (From 05.03.2014 to 06.03.2014)

Sl. No. Name of Visiting Fellow Topic Date
1 Prof. Chandrakala Padia, Vice Chancellor, MGS University Women at the Margin in North East India : Discriminatory Customary Laws, Myths and Patriarchy 05.03.2014 to 06.03.2014
2 Prof. Bishnu Charan Choudhuri, Berhampur University, Odissa Domestic Violence and Protection of Women 05.03.2014 to 06.03.2014
3 Dr. Chintamani Rout, NEHU Protection of Women from Domestic Violence 05.03.2014 To 06.03.2014
4 Prof. S.N. Misra, Utkal University 05.03.2014 To 06.03.2014

Contact Us

                       
Head,
Department of Political Science
Gauhati University, Guwahati- 781 014
Assam, INDIA
Phone No 361-2570443 ,
Email : polsc@gauhati.ac.in
Website : http://gauhati.ac.in/polsc.php
                       
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