Talk with Professor Pushpesh Pant

DATE: 8 September 2015

Theme: “The Politics of Food”

The Department of Political Science brought a new aspect to the study of politics by inclusivity of the concept of ‘food’. As any student of the Department would say, politics is everywhere and nothing falls beyond its ambit. Keeping the same in mind, we hosted Prof. Pant to deliver a guest lecture on the “politics of food”.

According to Professor Pushpesh Pant food is at the very heart of politics as it tries arbitrarily to create a hierarchy of preferences. He started the lecture by talking about the history of ‘the melt in the mouth’ kakori kebab. He highlighted the underlying folklore that surrounds the kebab that makes it such popular a dish however the truth is the fact that kakori was actually made for old pilgrims at the Kakori Dargah who couldn’t bite into hard kebabs. According to Professor Pant, politics of food acts at three levels- production, consumption, and cultural levels. At the level of manufacturers and producers there emerges a nexus between political parties, FSSAI and MNC’s such as Nestle. There is the dominant practice of hiding or manipulating the labelling that is very central to food politics. At the level of the consumer there is often the food of the rich versus that of the poor. It is often assumed that the former is tastier or more expensive than the latter. However in the contemporary context poor man’s food (organic food) is more expensive or exotic than rich man’s food. For example, Thukpa. In the cultural context, politics of food is often the basis for the division of various taste zones. Prof. Pant believes that more than language it is food that brings together various people. He pointed out the important food zones to be Kolkata, Mumbai and Goa, Delhi, Punjab, Kerala, Chennai, Lucknow, Rajasthan and the North-East.

He finally concluded by saying that all that is food is associated with all that is political and hence, there exists the politics of food.

Polpourri, 2016 – Jang Ke Rang

Polpourri 2016 was put to a close by ‘Jang Ke Rang’ which was a cultural representation of war and peace. It was a medley of artistic expression and sought to discover the myriad nuances of war and peace. The first performance of the evening was by Rajasee, Shambhavi and Sneha who set the tone for the evening with songs like ‘Ekla Cholo Re’, ‘Jago Zaraa’ and ‘Bekauf Azaad’ which were a tribute to those walking alone in the face of adversity, such as those who hear the sounds of bombs dropping day in and day out.

This was followed by ‘Looking at a Refugee’ a painting and photograph dissection session conducted by Mr. Jonathan Varghese, Associate Professor- Department of English, LSR.
He talked about how photographs, in isolation don’t mean anything as facts alone don’t constitute meaning. A photograph requires an ontological basis for the relevance of a subject. This was followed by Prachi Das who performed Roger Hodgoson’s Logical Song forcing the audience to question the conflictual nature of the world that we try to evade.

Bidisha Mahapatra presented a thought provoking piece- “No guns at my son’s funeral” to highlight how the perils of war lead to  emotional and psychological turmoils in the lives of people which in turn lead to the demise of innocence.

The last performance of the evening was by Ananta who enthralled the audience with the divine and melodious renditions of poetry by Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Iqbal Bano.

The program ended with a vote of thanks by Dr. Mahesh Panicker (Staff Advisor), Neha Dewan (General Secretary) and Shruti Jargad (President) of the department of Political Science.

– Gauri Kundalia, First Year.

Polpourri, 2016 – Panel Discussion

By Zohra Abdullah,
Sub-Editor

The Political Science Department of Lady Shri Ram College for Women held their first academic meet after a long time on March 10th, 2016. The theme for the event was ‘Understanding War in the 21st Century’.  The ceremony was opened by Principal Suman Sharma which was followed by Ms. Rina Kashyap introducing the theme. She spoke about the significance of the word ‘understanding’ in the theme, elaborating on Cynthia Enloe’s explanation of why war does not end for women long after it is officially over as well as Foucault’s take on war.

The Panel began Ms. Veena Ravi Kumar moderating. Mr. Salman Haidar was the first speaker who began with India’s post-independence foreign policy and of course, Nehru’s role in the same. He explained how despite non-alignment, Nehru “abhorred” neutrality and believed in the obligation to take a moral stand on international events. Prof. Varun Sahni spoke eloquently about the science of politics. He spoke about epistemology and the taxonomy of war. Ms. Navita Chadha Behera opened with the constructed binaries that come to light during war such as us and them, right and wrong and so on. She went on to deconstruct art and literature in the context of war, using the example of Pakistani artist Rashid Rana. Finally, Brig. Gurmeet Kanwal spoke from a military perspective and expressed concern over the privatization of military forces.

The session ended with questions from the audience that were answered by the panelists with greater insight.

 

Talk with Dr. Neera Chandhoke

Prof. Neera Chandhoke

Date: 25 February 2016

Theme: “The rise and fall of secularism”

With its series of events, the next in line after discourse of nationalism and communalism, had to be Prof. Neera Chandhoke. In large numbers, the students gathered to hear her views on the ideas of secularism in the contemporary scenario. The discussion entailed a series of contested ideas from various paradigms of political sciences in the context of the Indian polity. There was discovery of concepts and their interplay with ground realities to the extent where students were left with a fish poise to explore their political environment and learn to question and discover concepts in every step.

Lecture by Professor Achin Vinaik

Prof. Achin Vanaik

Date: 18 February 2016

Theme: “Nationalism and Communalism”

As the country was fighting for its idea of ‘nationalism’, the Political Science Department also became a ground for a ‘fight of ideas’, a platform to discuss and deliberate concepts and thoughts. Prof. Achin Vanaik from the University of Delhi, a renowned academician and an extremely engaging speaker was just what the students wanted. In a full venue crowded with students from all Departments of the college, Prof. Vanaik traced ideas of ‘Democratic nationalism’, questions institutions and practices of undemocratic nature and provided conceptual clarity to the students on questions of ‘defining nationalism’. Policy and the Indian nation state were explored deeply. His speaking style, engagement sessions were highly admired by the students, who until after the guest lecture was over continued hearing his interesting ideas on the communalism and nationalism debate.

‘Chat with a Diplomat’, organised in Co- Operation with the US Embassy and Global Youth India

22 September 2015

Speakers:
Ms. Jessica Edwardsen
Ms. Emily White
Mr. Branden Young
Mr. Ramesh Jain

In the light of the dynamic India-US relations, The Department hosted an interactive session with Ms. Jessica Edwardsen, Press Officer, US Embassy, India, Ms. Emily Program Director, American Centre, US Embassy, India, and Mr. Branden Young, Deputy North India Coordinator, US Embassy. The event was held in association with Global Youth India, an apolitical, not-for-profit organisation being managed on a voluntary basis by a group of television journalists and young professionals who focus on foreign policy issues in India. The event brought together young students to ideate on foreign policy issues and interact with foreign policy makers from the US embassy.

Lecture with Dr. Rajan Harshe

20 August 2015

The Association hosted Dr. Rajen Harshe as our first guest lecturer. He delivered an extremely informative and engaging lecture about “Globalization and the Fluctuating Contours of International Relations”. His lecture threw light upon how globalization is a multi-layered social process and how it involves free flow of goods and services along with terrorism and knowledge as well. He explained how capitalism and globalization forms a symbiotic relationship, both aiding the growth of one another. Moving beyond the economic aspect of globalization he also went on to explain how globalization affects us culturally through hegemony and he also explained that how in a very indirect way globalization is also propagating gender inequality. Though a very serious topic, Professor Harshe made sure to keep the talk engaging by adding a dash of humor in his speech. The speech was followed by an interactive session where Dr. Harshe in a very lucid way dispelled the doubts arousing in our mind. Such an interactive and engaging session will definitely inspire and encourage our department to hold many such more events in future.

Lecture with Ms. Edith

On the 26th of February 2015, the Political Science Association organized a lecture by Ms. Edith working at the American Embassy on the topic “Black History”. Ms. Emily White and Ms. Madhuri who are also a part of American Embassy joined us for this lecture. Ms. Edith’s talk revolved around the book “Voices from slavery: 100 Authentic Slave Narratives”. February is celebrated as the black history month in USA. She spoke about the trials and tribulations that a slave went through in America, how they escaped their masters and the process of emancipation of slaves. She also talked about how the Nazis took the idea of concentration camps and the various ways of systematically killing the Jews from the practice of slavery in America. She mentioned that while these accounts give us a glimpse into the lives of slaves, we also have to remember the fact that it is impossible to construct history only on the basis of these narratives. She concluded her discussion by pointing out that history cannot be reconstructed from these selective and fragmented accounts but nonetheless these narratives remain an important source for understanding the everyday experience of slavery and its aftermath.