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International Webinar on ‘Culture and Society in India: Continuity and Change in 21st Century’

KISS Deemed to be University organized an International Webinar on ‘Culture and Society in India: Continuity and Change in the 21st Century’, which was participated by a panel of distinguished speakers from different parts of the world. Held on the eve of the 74th Independence Day celebration, the topic assumed added significance as the level of interest in patterns of continuity and changes in India post-independence has drawn the attention of both Indian and Western social scientists.

Noted speakers from different walks of life presented their insights on the topic at the virtual meet. Traditional demographic and ethnographic accounts of regions or social institutions, often bracketed as cultural and social isolates, have generated attention towards post-independence socio-cultural interrelations, patterns and processes, the experts remarked. Case studies have brought to limelight, time and again, the interrelations by focusing on institutional adaptation to modernizing forces such as – industrialization, urbanization, westernization, sanskritization, political, economic, land and educational reforms, they said.

Prof. Paramjit Singh Judge, President, Sociological Society commenced his talk by referring to the Punjabi diaspora. He said, “We have closely observed the transition of traditional folk songs to contemporary music and there is reflection of castes even in music”. He also cited examples of transnational Punjabi singers and traces of change in them. Prof. Mohan K. Gautam, Former Professor of Anthropology, Netherlands shared his scholarly thoughts on the Mundari Adivasi Community and highlighted the concept of continuity. He said, “Continuity is only possible through institutionalization and language.” Stating that the work of restoration can be taken care of through identity, he proposed the idea of Santhalization, just like Sanskritization.

“If food habits remain the same and someone desires for a good car, laptop or a smartphone, that does not mean he or she has distanced himself/herself from his or her culture,” said Prof. Sukant Chaudhury, Lucknow University. He went on to cover the concepts of isolation, ethnicity, inter-tribal and intra-tribal groups and proposed suggestive measures of reviving old culture. In his talk, Prof. Biswajit Ghosh, Jadavpur University stated, “By studying caste over a period of time, one can easily understand the journey of caste from its historical trajectory to recent studies during pandemic”. He also spoke about the bipolar angle of caste and caste-based politics. “One will see the use of coded language while referring to caste in daily conversations”, he added.

The webinar began with the welcome address by Prof. Harekrushna Satapathy, Vice-Chancellor, KISS (DU), who introduced the dignitaries and spoke on the relevance of the topic in the context of KISS. “We are working on transforming the fate and future, retention of culture and heritage of indigenous population, under the leadership of Dr. Achyuta Samanta, the esteemed Founder of KIIT and KISS,” he added.

The deliberations were followed by a question and answer session. Dr. Prashanta Kumar Routray, Registrar, KISS (DU) summed up the key points of the panelists and proposed the vote of thanks. The webinar was moderated by Dr. Iswar Chandra Naik, Associate Dean, School of Social Services and Administration, KISS (DU).

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