The 1st International Seminar of MINDAS in FY 2019
- Date：Thursday, June 20, 2019 16:00 - 18:00
- Venue：The 6th Seminar Room, 2nd Floor, National Museum of Ethnology
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After seven decades of Indian Independence we know far too little on the movement for swaraj (self-rule) and the writings on Indian society. Sociological writings on swaraj began to appear in 1905 with the publication of a journal called The Indian Sociologists (TIS) which came out from London from 1905 to 1914 and thereafter from Paris and Geneva from 1920 to 1922. The journal was edited by a sociologist called Shyamaji Krishnavarma (1857-1930) who graduated from Balliol college, Oxford and was actively involved in mobilizing support for India’s freedom movement. With the publication of the journal, Shyamaji made two points clear: first, sociology of India does not have to begin its journey on Indian soil, TIS will be an organ in the UK the home of the colonizer to expose contradictions in their policies on the question of equity and justice. Second, sociological writings need to include Indian people’s aspirations for swaraj and swadesh. This is why the sub-title of the journal was mentioned as “An Organ of Freedom, and Political, Social, and Religious Reform.”
The year 1905 was a turning point in Indian history because of the nationalist struggle against Partition of Bengal. The nationalist leaders had the following objectives: (a) unification of the Indian people on a common platform for the advancement of common political interest; (b) to spread the principles of swadeshi; (c) the uplifting of the masses, both politically and economically. As the colonial rulers began repression, the struggle for Swaraj and swadesh began to gain momentum. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s clarion call ‘Bande Mataram’ changed the political landscape of the country. The slogan became a weapon to fight again the colonial rule. During this time scholars began to write not only about Indian society but also on the effects of British rule in India. Bhudeb Mukherjee in Bengal became the chief crusader who wrote against the adverse effects of the colonial rule on Indian social institutions and culture. Bhudeb’s contribution to Sociology was immense.
From 1905, swaraj became a central theme in the writings of many Indian scholars located in three cities, Calcutta, Bombay and Lucknow. In Calcutta scholars like K.P. Chattopadhyay (1897-1963), Benoy Kumar Sarkar (1889-1968) and N.K. Bose (1901-1972) were raising important questions about the role of sociologists in the movement against the British rule. In Bombay, two prominent sociologists who wrote on different aspects of the British rule were Patrick Geddes (1854-1932) G.S. Ghurye (1893-1983), both taught at the department of Sociology, Bombay University. In Lucknow, scholars like Radha Kamal Mukherjee (1889 1968), D.P. Mukherjee (1894-1961), D.N. Majumdar (1903-1960), and at a later stage Ghaus Ansari (1929-2012) were at the forefront. Contributions of all these scholars led to the emergence of a new sociological discourse on swaraj. The meaning of swaraj was defined and redefined by these scholars from different theoretical perspectives. What can we learn from these writings? The debate took a new turn with the publication of Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj (1909) in which a new meaning of swaraj was presented. Almost all the sociologists mentioned above were involved in interpreting the meaning of swaraj. How did the idea of swaraj influence sociologists in its formative stage? Why Calcutta, Lucknow and Bombay emerged as the main centres of sociological writings on swaraj, nation, and nationalism? How sociological writings at the formative stage help us in understanding Indian social institutions like village, caste, family and communities? In short, the paper will revisit the debate on swaraj in the Indian sociological discourse.
Abhijit Dasgupta teaches sociology in South Asia at the University of Delhi. He studied at the University of Calcutta and University of Delhi for his BA and Masters degrees and received national scholarship from the Ministry of Education, Government of India, for study in the University of Sussex, U.K., from where he obtained his Ph. D. He has authored Growth with Equity: New Technologies and Agrarian Change in Bengal (New Delhi: Manohar, 1998), and co-edited State, Society and Displaced People in South Asia (Dhaka, University Press Ltd, 2005) and Rethinking Social Exclusion in India: Castes, Communities and the State (London, Routledge, 2017).
Dr. Abhijit Dasgupta (Visiting Scholar, Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies / Professor, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi)
“Swaraj and the Discourse on Indian Society”
- 16:00 - 16:05
Minoru Mio (Professor and Director, Centre for South Asian Studies, National Museum of Ethnology)
- 16:05 - 17:05
“Swaraj and the Discourse on Indian Society”
Abhijit Dasgupta (Visiting Scholar, Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies / Professor, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi)
- 17:05 - 17:20
- 17:20 - 18:00