Monday, 28 September 2015

Seminar on Social Change in India

On 21st September 2015, paper presentation was organized by the students of I MA Applied Sociology under the guidance of Dr. Sheila Mathew, professor, Department of Sociology. The class was divided into three groups. Each group was assigned topics namely, ‘Commercialization of Agriculture in India’, ‘Industrialization’ and ‘Globalization’. And, 19 papers were presented in total in over a week’s time.
The first group presented their papers on commercialization of agriculture in India. The first set of presenters from the group defined the concept of commercialization and gave the historical background to commercialization of agriculture in India.  

The next set of presenters covered the topics such as commercialization of agriculture in contemporary times, the changes in agrarian class structure, the agrarian crisis and the agrarian unrest due to commercialization of agriculture in India.
The second group presented their papers on industrialization. The papers presented were on the history of industrialization in the west, the socio-economic changes that occurred due to industrialization, the history and growth of industrialization in India till the contemporary times, the differential view held by sociologists on the industrial class structure in the west and in India.

The third set of presenters presented on globalization. The key topics addressed by the group include the definition and history of liberalization, privatization and globalization in India, the various dimensions of globalization, the impact of globalization on Indian agriculture and the positive and negative impact of globalization on Indian society.

In conclusion, it was observed that commercialization, industrialization and globalization facilitated social change. But, the benefits were reaped only by an elite section of the society, while the vulnerable sections remained out of the realm of these drivers of social change.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Exploring our rural roots

As we entered the bus, one by one, all of us were equally excited for the overnight visit that would expose us to the rural environment of Karnataka. This excursion, which was undertaken by the final year undergraduate students of Sociology between 31st July to 1st August, was directed with the help of the Centre for Social Action. The main objective of the trip was to create awareness among the students about the rural life of India by sensitizing them to rural communities. One of the main tasks assigned to us was to study the village system and its important components.After a journey of around 2 hours, we reached the base camp in Halasinakayipura village, Hoskote, where we received a warm welcome from Mrs.Shakuntala, the head of the village cluster. She rendered a brief summary of the developmental activities that were initiated in the village by CSA. We were made aware of how CSA had worked in the village for the first 7 years after which all the responsibilities were given to the villagers for better functioning. She also oriented us with the challenges faced by them before the advent of CSA to the village, which include – lack of awareness about the nutrition to be provided to children and pregnant women, problems in the areas of education, financial inclusion and women’s position in society.
We were met by Mr.Ranjit Kumar Singh after a delicious lunch. We had an enthusiastic ice-breaker session with him, after which he gave us instructions about the activities to be done. All of us were divided into 2 groups and had to visit two different villages with our respective leaders.
              Team Ragi Mudde visited the village of Chikanallala, where on visiting the school [Nammoora Sarkaari Hiriya Prathamika Shaale] they interacted with the headmaster. The students found out about the day-to-day functioning of the school and the problems faced by them, one among which was the lack of benefits received from the government. Further, the students visited two households, where they had friendly encounters with the inhabitants. They learnt about the functioning of self help groups and how the men of the houses enthusiastically supported their wives in all of their endeavours. One of the interesting experiences of the students was weaving silk with a charkha that was improvised by the wheel of a cycle. This was looked at as a source of additional income.
Activities were carried out in Halasinakayipura by Team Suhaas’s Angels. They visited the school in the village, agricultural fields and two houses after which they observed a self help group meeting. All this gave them a firsthand experience of the daily circumstances of rural society. The students learnt songs in Kannada from the schoolchildren. They saw fresh crops being grown and were also offered a few vegetarian delicacies like tomatoes and ridge gourds. On their way back to the base camp, they also had the opportunity to witness a beautiful peacock in the forest.  
As the day came to an end, the two groups returned to the base camp, tired and exhausted. Everyone had a scrumptious dinner and retired for the night.
The following morning proved to be a peaceful delight with the smell of fresh earth and the sound of birds singing. Consequently, most of us went out for a morning stroll, exploring the interiors of the village. After a tasty breakfast, we prepared ourselves for Shramdhaan, or the gift of service, which was to be provided in the form of painting the school walls of the Halasinakayipura School. An artistic quarter of us were involved in painting the water cycle and depicting the stages of a woman’s life through our colours and brushes. The rest of us applied coats of primer on the other walls. Completing this task took a time period of 3 hours after which we had a session of reflection with Mr.Ranjit Singh.
All of us shared our experiences during the session and discussed the learning outcome. We reflected and internalized our roles as agents of change in order to transform the adverse situations in rural society. We conversed about the importance of development projects and the session ended with us giving a few suggestions as to how this rural exposure programme for students could be improved. We had a wholesome lunch and set out on our way back.
In its entirety, it was a beautiful experience that widened our perspectives and gave us multiple dimensions of looking at the world.



Sunday, 20 September 2015

Panel Discussion: “Growth and issues of the Indian middle class.”

On 20th July 2015, the students of the Dynamics of Indian society paper from I MA Applied Sociology held a panel discussion on “The growth and issues of the Indian middle class.” The panel discussion was organized under the supervision of Dr. Sheila Mathew, Professor, department of sociology, which was moderated by Ashween Lama, Mitchelle D'Souza, and Roshni Mondal. The class was divided into three groups. The panelists from the first group initiated the panel by defining middle class and gradually moved to discussing the rise of the middle class from the British period to the post LPG period of contemporary India. Along with discussing the rise of the middle class, they also pointed out the disassociation of caste in India, the influence of Nehruvian and Gandhian ideology on the middle class in particular and the Indian Society in general.
The second set of panelists continued the panel with intensive discussions about the various problems faced by the middle class. They highlighted the various psychological, political, social and economic issues faced by the middle class. The panelists also emphasized on issues related to education and lack of skills among the middle class.
The third group of panelists discussed the impact of the middle class on the society and their various contributions to the society. They spoke about the effects of the middle class on the economy, politics, and the social organization.  The panelists pointed out that in a patriarchal society like India, the amount of gender disparities in the IT sector is less compared to the other sectors such as banking and finance. This gender blindness of the IT sector led to the comprehension that IT is a good job for women. The panelists also highlighted the political behavior of the middle class and the changing social lives of the middle class.
In conclusion, it was observed that all the panelists pointed out the importance of the middle class as the driver of economic, political and social change of the society.

Workshop on ‘CSR in India’

The Department of Sociology organized a workshop on Corporate Social Responsibility in India on Wednesday, 16 September 2015. It was attended by teachers and students of various departments including Applied Sociology, Social Work and Development Studies with a total of 90 participants. Resource person for the day was Ms. Abha Saxena from Social Equity Services. The context of the workshop was the implementation of mandatory CSR in India. The first session was on the provisions of CSR implementation based on Companies Act. She discussed the structure and provisions of the policy cum strategy document on CSR. Thrust was given on the understanding of what is CSR and what is not.

It was followed by a presentation by the II MA Applied Sociology students on their findings on CSR implementation of various companies in India. They had visited few organizations and reviewed the annual reports of some other companies. They discussed how the CSR implementation styles differ from companies to companies, the focus areas for CSR activities and different ways of taking CSR in a project mode with the help of Non Governmental Organisations.

The next session was on the current status of CSR implementation based on the data collected through various channels like NGO Box report, Mercer Survey etc for 2014-15. The cheque book philanthropy style of   companies were analysed very critically. This was followed by a discussion on the scope, opportunities as well as challenges of CSR implementation in India. It was a fruitful workshop in participatory manner with active dialogue between participants and the resource person.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Youth Speak 2015

On the 16th of September, 2015, AIESEC an organization that focuses on developing leadership through experiential learning conducted ‘Youth Speak’ in Christ University. It was facilitated by the Department of Sociology and addressed an audience of over four hundred students. Ritama and Keshav were the interface between AIESEC and Christ and instrumental in organizing the event. The main purpose of the event was to give the students a forum to speak about changes that they could implement for the development of the country as well as for themselves. 
The first speaker was Rajat Badami, the local chapter president of AIESEC in Bangalore who kept his focus on motivating the students and emphasizing their individual role in the development of the country. The Second speaker was Mr. Dheeraj whose key ideas involved original startups as a source of money as well as progress. The crowd was then divided into groups with a student moderator to preside over them. They were asked questions relative to actual situations faced in the United Nations and were made to work together in order to find solutions.

This event was the third in a series of conferences intended to target the student community in various colleges and was successful in terms of communicating ideals of personal responsibility, leadership and teamwork.
Report by:
Anushka Basu

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Workshop on CSR in India

Fair Trade

Fast Fashion isn't free- someone somewhere is paying

A discussion was organised in Christ University in collaboration with the Department of Sociology and Fair Trade India on 6th August, 2015. Ms Devina Singh who is placed with Fair Trade India in Bangalore addressed the first and second year M.A students about Fair Trade Organisation and its role in the lives of farmers. She focused on farmer suicides and how we as individuals can bring about a change in their lives.

Fair Trade is an alternative approach to conventional trade, based on a partnership between producers and traders, businesses and consumers. Fair Trade offers producers- improved terms of trade and a better deal. It is a powerful way of reducing poverty and ensuring environmental sustainability through their everyday buying decisions. When a product carries a Fair Trade mark it means that the producers and traders have met 'Fair Trade Standards'. The standards are designed to address power imbalances in trade, unstable markets and injustices of conventional trade. Fair Trade standards focus on improving labour and living conditions for farming communities and promoting a way of farming which protects people and the environment.

Having a long history in India, Fair Trade aims to build on the success of the export market in  key products like coffee, tea, spices, cotton and directly reach the consumer market in India. The three pillars of fair trade India are protecting biodiversity, gender equality and social justice. One of the pillars of fair trade being gender equality- women farmers, are directly paid rather than through their husbands or other male family members. This gives them more decision making powers and now they often provide loans to their husbands. Women hold important positions in the fair trade board too.

Cotton farmers who are highly illiterate and have limited land holdings are dependent on middle men or ginners who often buy their cotton at prices below the cost of production. Rising costs of production, fluctuating market prices, decreasing yields and climate change along with food price inflation and food insecurity are great challenges which the farmers face. In India, many farmers are seriously indebted because of the high interest loans required to purchase fertilizers and other farm inputs and in desperation resort to ending their lives.  Fair Trade encourages sustainable cotton production and acts as a standard tool to provide economic benefits through Fair Trade Minimum Price and additional Fair Trade Premium for seed cotton farmers. Thus cotton cooperatives have been more organised and both men and women farmers receive the same rewards.

She enlightened us with regard to how additional income through the fair trade premium is supporting better farming, strong cooperatives, and local infrastructure and helping communities plan for the future. Fair Trade also supports workers to realize their rights and negotiate the terms and conditions of their work through Collective Bargaining and Trade Unions. Fair Trade is formed and run by farmers and not by corporate which helps to eliminate middlemen in trade who are the major sources of exploitation.

Fair Trade is not the answer to the problem of farmer suicides, but it can be a part of the solution. The awareness of fair trade and what it means is still very low. We need to raise awareness so that things can start changing for the better. We as individuals can popularize the movement and resort to purchasing garments made of Fair Trade cotton. A small change even at a minimal level by questioning 'Who made my clothes' can bring about a difference for a global cause.
                                                                                                                        Nibedita Dutta (1537614)
                                                                                                                        Namrata Ghosh (1537613)