Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Student Seminar on Social Exclusion

The theme for the seminar conducted by the 1st M.A Applied Sociology students on September 24, 2013 was Social Exclusion. There were 12 speakers who addressed various issues dealing with the theme. Moumita, spoke on Gender and focussed on the Ideology of domesticity in three important ways: Feminity, Paid work and their tendencies. Keerthana focussed on the Disability Discrimination Act and Disability in work place. Ritu spoke on the Caste system in India, Ramya spoke about Transgender and Transsexual, Soumya spoke on homosexualily, Anisha spoke on HIV/AIDS, Ann Teresa spoke on social exclusion and media and she included the results from her survey. Leela spoke on the topic of Homeless people, Margaret talked about the spinsters and the factors causing exclusion, Ringanung spoke on  aging where he focussed on the study by W.H.O. on Global aging, Anupama spoke about racial discrimination in India and lastly Tanarupa spoke on the exclusion of women in Politics.

The seminar brought the practical picture of India and how social exclusion works in India. Social exclusion was a feature of the past and continued to be so in the present, but as deducted from the seminar, initiatives should be taken at personal level to dust social exclusion scenario from the world, with India in particular.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Panel Discussion on Gender

Francis Bacon once famously said, “Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man”
Pure academia sees to the strategies of reading and writing. And Panel discussions and conferences help all round development. For this particular session, the topic of Gender was given to the panellists: Shreya Murali and Kasturi Chatterjee from EPS, Raeshmi R. and Aswathi S. from PSEco and Rachna Baruah and Priyanka Chakrabarty from PSEng.

Gender… That one word is impregnated with enormous amount of information. It draws on History, Biology, Psychology, and most of all, Sociology. The concepts of gender and sex are increasingly becoming multilinear, touching and influencing several aspects of a person’s life.
Some of these aspects were discussed through a Panel Discussion that took place among the students of Sociology. The chief themes discussed were Gender Identity and Consumer Behaviour and their usage in advertisements; Portrayal of Gender in Media; Discrimination against women and the LGBT community; and Feminism and Western Philosophy related to this domain. Indeed, this panel discussion went well beyond the common goal of gender sensitization which such discussions often have.

With these sub-topics, the panellists covered the past and present of the concept and relevance of gender and attempted to foresee its future: perhaps, as Marx viewed a classless society on the horizon, we could, as one of the panellists remarked, hope to transform into a gender creative society.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

HIV/AIDS, Cinema and Sociology

The movie Philadelphia was screened on the 30th August. The classes present for this activity were IIIPSEco, IIIPSEng and IIIEPS. The reason as to which this movie was shown was to increase awareness among the students on the long since dreaded disease AIDS.

Directed by Jonathan Demme, the movie is set in 1970 United States. The script of the movie revolves around a homosexual man Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) who is a lawyer working in a leading Philadelphia law firm. Andrew is a quick learner, a hard worker and potentially one of the senior partners of the firm. The viewer is initially given the impression of a successful lawyer who is quickly working his way up in a leading law firm. He is young, systematic and seemingly sophisticated- the kind who is not only good with words but also with people. The problem, he has AIDS. Although, nobody around him knows it and he has kept it that way. 
On being handed an important case, he manages to file the report, but because of some last minute mishaps it is misplaced and later found again, just in time for submission- the failure of which would have resulted in substantial loss to the firm. Following the mishap, Beckett is summoned to a board meeting which concludes in the firm terminating his employment on grounds of inefficiency and carelessness on the job, which Beckett is convinced are inconclusive and the real reason of his termination is due to the fact that he is HIV+. 
On his termination Andrew is hell bent on proving that he was wronged by the law firm and needs a lawyer to represent him in court. At first (Denzel Washington) denies his request based on his own stigma on people with AIDS but on further realization agrees to represent him in court. The curtain closes with Denzel Washington winning the Beckett case and Tom Hanks (Andrew Beckett) finally giving in to the dreaded disease and dying.
Philadelphia projects the dreadful disease in all its reality. It showcases the social stigma HIV+ individuals face in their everyday life. Since the movie is shot in a 70s setting when the disease was just coming out of the closet, the movie showcases the ignorance, the indifference and low comprehension of the American society. The movie also exhibits the powerful emotions of the Homosexual society in terms of the discrimination which has become their social paradigm as such.

The screening surely and most definitely left a dent in everyone’s psyche, creating awareness among the students and following up to a full-fledged discussion in class where students gave their opinions and notions on the social stigma still prevalent in the world. 

Panel Discussion on 'Inequalities in India'

A Panel discussion was held on 16th August on the topic “Inequalities in India”, which comprises of areas such as Globalisation issues, Impact of Industrialisation and Commercialisation of Agriculture. The venue was the class room of Ist  MA. Applied Sociology. First group started their discussion on “Globalisation issues” which was for three hours. Initial speakers Ritu and Moumita began defining its origin, history, theoretical positions plus the contextual relevance of concepts like “McDonaldization” and Rise of individualism. Thirdly Soumya spoke on its influence in  rural life citing examples like the usage of term ‘Bangalored’ and how an Indian candy named ‘kis-mis’ had disappeared. Further Thywill focussed on its effect on caste system and marginalised populace, followed by Rommie, discussed on its impression in the life of middle class along with concept of ‘mobility’. Varsha discussed on how Globalisation and Gender is related with respect to media, career and gender equality, then  Keerthana on how it has reflected on  the occupational sector lifestyle, migration and unemployment. Lalndrika talked on transformations in cultural aspect, Ringanung spoke on Modernisation’s relation with Globalisation and finally by Tanarupa on state and sovereignty. We are thankful to Dr.Sheila Mathew for guiding us through an intellectually rich discussion.

Cross Cultural Experiences with II PSEng

Ruth Benedict, one of the first women to earn international recognition for her work in anthropology and folklore noted, “The purpose of anthropology is to make the world safe for human differences”. And one major difference that is observed today is cultural difference. In a fast globalizing world, one is constantly exposed to different cultures. By sensitizing ourselves to the different cultures, and also learning from them, “human differences” are much easier to deal with.
What are we, if not bearers of our culture? Ethnocentrism is a powerful force, used in the right way, can unite cultures, rather than separate them. As sociology students, we explored this very important domain of our lives. Having many foreign students amongst us, we were exposed to various cultures.

 What started out as a “cross-cultural experience and exposure” tantamounted to something much more: a profound learning experience too. Students from various countries like Bhutan, Thailand, Korea, Nepal and Japan enlightened us on their respective country touching upon several significant areas including Education, Polity, Religion, and overall social status. We gained essential insights on their cultures. They were indeed, anthropological ‘informants’ in the truest sense. They were not only knowledgeable about their culture but also were able and willing to transmit this knowledge in a comprehensible way to an outsider. As Claude Levi-Strauss said, “In order for a culture to be really itself and to produce something, the culture and its members must be convinced of their originality and even, to some extent, of their superiority over the others” We learnt much about the public welfare propagandas of Bhutan, the much celebrated self-sufficiency of Thailand, the importance of education in Korea, the socio-political structure of Japan and the life-loving culture of Nepal; to name a few. After these students conveyed all the information they could, the floor was open to a question-answer session. Students were most enthusiastic to know more about these cultures and gain more insight. Thus ended the cross-cultural experience and exposure event.

Report: Voices from the Waters

The Department of Sociology, Christ University hosted Voices from the Waters 2013, the 8th International Travelling Film Festival on Water on August 29, 30 and 31 in collaboration with Goethe Institut, Rolling Frames Film Society, Karnataka Chalanachitra Acdemy, Federeation of Film Societies of India, Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, Swaraj and Deep Focus Cinema and the Bangalore Film Society. Films were screened between 9 and 4 pm on August 29 and 30 and between 9 and 1 pm on August 31. The venues were Room No.101 and Room No.105 in the Central block.

The Film Festival at Christ Campus was inaugurated by Prof. John Joseph Kennedy, Dean Humanities and Social Sciences. The newsletter prepared by the undergraduate students of Sociology ‘Reflections’ was also released by the Dean during the inauguration. Over 40 films from all over the world related to water were screened in the venues. It was attended by the students at Christ University as well as film enthusiasts from outside the university. Each film/documentary was followed by discussion led by the students of MA Applied Sociology as well as students from PSEco, EPS, PSEng, EMS, CEP, HEP, CJC, BBA and BBM.

The valedictory program was held in Room 105, at 12.45 pm on August 31, 2013, after three days of exhibiting these films on water related issues. Fr Jose CC, Director, Department of Sociology, offered the concluding remarks which brought the film festival to a glorious conclusion.


2013 is celebrating the International Year of Water Cooperation. The Department of Sociology has taken this as the central theme for their annual Sociology festival ‘Sambandh’. A range of events like news letter making, creative writing, quiz, were held during July-August 2013.                                                          

 The finale was on 23rd August 2013 with a panel discussion on Water Cooperation. The event was kicked off with the screening of the documentary “Damocracy”, which debunked the myth that dams are a source of “green” energy. It showcased how dams can be a threat to not just the environment but also how they are a threat to culture, heritage and community. It showed the real life examples of the Belo Monte Dam and the Ilisu Dam. This was followed by the recitation of a “Letter from the Year 2070” which spoke about the perils of water consumption without checks.

The invocation ceremony for the event was particularly unique. Instead of the regular “lighting of the lamp”, the dignitaries and student’s representatives poured water into a cauldron to symbolize the need for cooperative efforts to save water.

The inaugural dance by the cultural team of the University was a spectacular program! 
Father Jose C C, Director, Department of Sociology delivered the opening remarks to mark the start of the finale of the festival.
Shreya Murali of II EPS led a pledge taken by the students to save water and to use it judiciously.

The first speaker for the Panel Discussion was Mr Sharachandra Lele from ATREE who spoke on how water cooperation is dependent on good water governance. He pointed out how humans interfere with the water cycle and emphasized on the fact that water governance should take into view three factors-equality, fairness and sustainability.  He also talked about the importance of understanding the science of water in order to study it using social science.
The second panelist, Mr Deepak Malghan presented his views about when hydrology becomes social hydrology and how large cities affect and modify the water cycle. He pointed out that socio-economic and political factors affect it too.
After Mr Malghan’s speech, Ramya and Anupama of I MA Applied Sociology spoke about water conservation initiatives by Christ University. They talked about the role played by Centre for Social Action (CSA), the Waste Water Treatment Plant in Dharmaram Campus and the Rainwater Harvesting in Kengeri Campus.
Dr Kshitij Urs of Action Aid gave the concluding address of the panel discussion. He emphasized that water is a source of power. He criticized the faulty, unfair and contradictory policies adopted by the Government and privatization of water, claiming that it is anti-democratic.
After Dr Urs closed the Panel Discussion, a short interactive session was led by the moderator Dr.Tony Sam George.
The prizes for the different events conducted for Sambandh 2013 were given out by Prof. John Joseph Kennedy, the Dean, Humanities and Social Sciences. The runner up for the Class trophy was II PSEco and the winner’s trophy was bagged by I EPS.
This was followed by a cultural program which included a solo dance performance and a group song, both by students of II PSEco. The Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, Dr John Joseph Kennedy gave the closing remarks of the event. He reiterated the need to pursue water conservation and cooperation efforts.

The finale dance by the students of I EPS was a visual treat! The event will go a long way in setting the tone for socially responsible behavior for the Christ community. The Panel Discussion was highly erudite and made us question and think about issues related to water around us, infused with a perfect amount of entertainment and fun!


   I EPS