- Report on FIRMA Conclave 2019
EVENT: FIRMA Conclave
Date: 26 July 2019
Number of Audience: 2500
Location: Main Audi, Audi Block, Central Campus
Organizer: Department of Professional Studies
The FIRMA (Finance, Insurance, Risk Management, Actuaries) Conclave was organized by the Department of Professional Studies (DPS), CHRIST (Deemed to be University), in association with the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA), the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and the Insurance Institute of India (III).
The corporate connect marked the commencement of the programme, followed by a session at the Main Auditorium welcoming the distinguished guests of honour, Sir John Taylor, President, IFoA, Mr. Clifford Friend, Director of Education, IFoA and other key personnel from the industry of Insurance and Actuarial Discipline – Mr Mahidara Davangere, Council Member, IF0A, Prof. Soundarya Sankaran, Fellow, III, Prof. Ravi Seshadri, Vice President, Bharti AXA General Insurance Ltd and Mr. Amit Pradhan, Market Development Manager, CII. A panel discussion, moderated by Prof. Biju Toms, Head of Department of Professional Studies introduced the various professions encouraging the undergraduate students to start their journey in these industries, with insights about CII curriculum, the future of Actuarial Science, analytics as bread and butter of any industry and related current trends. The audience also witnessed an insightful paper presentation on microinsurance.
- Report on Contested Imagi-Nations 2018
Description of the Event:
The first annual Post- Graduate National Seminar on Contested Imagi-nations was organized by MA English with Cultural Studies, School of Business Studies and Social Sciences in BGR Campus. The two-day seminar was held in the Mini Auditorium and Seminar Hall and touched upon the discourses in diasporic imaginations, gender and creative expression, emergent popular culture, feminist debates and interventions from India, language and culture and nation and nationalism.
A Bio-note of the Speaker:
1. Dr. Sujatha Vijayaraghavan: is a professor at the Department of English, School of Humanities at Pondicherry University. She has an MA and an M. Phil from the University of Hyderabad and has completed her Ph. D from the Department of Humanities, IIT Chennai. Her areas of interest include Translation Studies, Folklore Studies and Oral literature, Postcolonial Studies and Indian Writings in English.
2. Dr. Rajendra Chenni: is a professor at the Department of English at Kuvempu University and has an academic experience of 39 years. He has authored four books in English and 12 books in Kannada. He has also been awarded the Karnataka State Sahitya Akademi Life time Achievement Award among many other honours.
Report of the Event
Objectives of the Talk: The objective of the Post Graduate National Seminar was to revisit and engage with post-colonial debates. The seminar aimed to touch upon various debates across Film Studies, Literary Studies, and Cultural Studies etc. Imaginaries of national identities have been intensely contested from the eighteenth century onwards and forms of cultural expressions played an imperative role in charting and shaping these contested terrains. The seminar intended to look at such historical debates from the perspectives of contemporary India.
Basic ideas of the talk:
Dr. Sujatha Vijayaraghavan talked about the word nation. In drawing attention to the etymology of the word nation she emphasized that when the word nation was first used it referred to a shared belief and had no connection to territory or status. The Romans had used it to refer to the students who came from outside to study. It referred to the shared common theological principals until the 10th century. When the church divided then nation came to be understood as the cultural or theological beliefs, which could be aterritorial and state referred to the administrative overlapping of the nation.
Looking at the concept of nation from the perspective of literature, she highlighted how Joseph Conrad’s novel, The Heart of Darkness reflected the form of the novel that made a stark differentiation between the other and us. Such novels then revealed that the European states came into being at the cost of another. Within the literary sphere of Europe a third world was produced simultaneously with the production of the first world. The production of the self and the other was a monitoring principle and had a lot to do with the production of states outside Europe. Nation states outside Europe began to emerge from outside Europe as a protest and were triggered by the emergence of the European states.
Dr. Rajendra Chenni spoke about Cultural Studies’ engagement with Postcolonialism. He began by noting that Cultural studies has a very important role to play in today’s world and in decolonizing our knowledge system and also in trying to negotiate with indigenous knowledge systems. Drawing from his experience he also stated that when Cultural Studies made its entry into the Indian Academic Institutions, its Eurocentric approach had entered into a different ambience making it ahistorical and apolitical.
He then went on to emphasize how the social sciences of Indian academic institutions have not recovered from a colonization of the knowledge system. Tracing the history of Cultural Studies from the Birmingham school he emphasized the self-reflexive nature of the discipline. But in India, Prof. Chenni feels that rather than being self-reflexive Cultural Studies is imitative. Thus he urges that Cultural Studies in India needs to retrieve the original strength of the discipline by engaging directly with the process of decolonizing knowledge while looking at our own local and regional contexts.
The talk was followed by paper presentations by various participants.
The theme of the first session of the paper presentation was Nationalism and post colonialism and was chaired by Prof. Arun D.M. The papers were influence of British Raj in Indian Nationalism, Women’s identity in building National identity through the lens provided by Lalithambika Antharajam’s Agnisakshi and the New National Citizen: (Re) Imagining the nation and sacrifice in Rang de basanti.
The second session was themed as Diaspora and Exile chaired by Prof. Devaleena. The papers presented by the students were, A brief reading of the use of language and schizophrenic identities in Saadat Hasan Manto’s Toba TekSsingh, Paranoia and chaos in post 9/11 world: A study of Marina Budhos Ask Me No Questions and Watched and The politics of reconstructing Tibet: A case of Jamyang Norbu’s The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes.
The post lunch session chaired by Dr. Santhosh was themed Fear and freedom: Construction of cell/city spaces. The papers presented were Violence as Agential: Post colonial lives in Jeet Thayil’s Narcopolis, The transformation of the image of Kala Pani or the cellular jail into an emblem of the Indian Independence struggle and a Transnational study of the city of Kozhikode.
The fourth session themed Women’s narratives in post colonial India was chaired by Dr. Lisa Thomas. The papers presented by the students were ‘manipulation of history: A post colonial reading of the film Kammarasambavam’, ‘A cultural turn in Tamil cinema: Intersectionality of class, caste and gender in the film Kaala’, ‘In search of a female voice: A post colonial feminist reading of the film Kammattipadam’ and ‘Remembering to re-membering: Changing diasporic narratives in Bollywood.
The fifth session was chaired by Prof. Charles Godwin and was themed Construction and representations of womanhood. The papers presented were ‘Female narratives reconstructing the position of women in a post colonial India’, ‘Re-reading the footstall: understanding the statue of Kannagi in Postcolonial India’ and ‘Dismantling the Hawai Manzil in Lipstick under my Burkha’.
• An understanding of the concept of a nation state
• Social media and its role in understanding and shaping identities today
• Necessity of the local in Cultural Studies
• Various perspectives on Nationalism, Diaspora, City construction and women narratives.
Student Response and Reception: The students found the seminar to be very helpful in understanding the necessity of postcolonial studies due to the various manifestations of colonialism in our daily life. Perspectives went beyond the binary of colonizer and colonized and thus helped understand the various implications of colonization and the postcolonial situation.
- Report on Post Graduate National Seminar 2018
Description of the Event:
The first annual Post- Graduate National Seminar on Contested Imagi-nation was organized by MA English with Cultural Studies programme, School of Business Studies and Social Sciences in BGR Campus. The two- day workshop was held in the Mini Auditorium and Seminar Hall. The seminar touched upon the discourses in diasporic imaginations, gender and creative expression, emergent popular culture, feminist debates and interventions from India, language and culture and nation and nationalism. Student Coordinator Prakriti Arora welcomed the gathering and emphasized that the aim of the seminar was to trace the development of cultural debates over the years.
The dignitaries present in the seminar were Dr. Jyothi Kumar, Associate Dean, School of Business Studies and Social; Prof. Gaana J, Academic Coordinator, Prof. Arun D M. The hall also marked the presence of other faculties, students of English cluster and several paper presenters.
Dr. Jyothi Kumar in her inaugural speech opined how important it was for a gathering such as a seminar of this kind to transact and share what knowledge we have gained through our research. She wished everyone the success and hoped that the two days will be made fruitful through discussions, deliberations and a lot of knowledge sharing.
Professor Arun D M introduced the topic of the seminar, Contested Imagi- nations. The seminar, he said, aims to unveil the contestations that have been occurring across diverse fields such as Film Studies, Cultural Studies and Literary Theory. He said that it is imperative to debate and deliberate on such contestations. He emphasized the need to debate on the simple at the same time subtle modifications that one might find in one’s own culture. Concluding, he posited that common realities are actually contested realities and this contestation must be explored through discussions and research papers.
Objective of the Workshop :
The objective of the Post Graduate National Seminar was to revisit and engage with post- colonial debates. The seminar aimed to touch upon various debates across Film Studies, Literary Studies, Cultural Studies etc. Imaginaries of national identities have been intensely contested from the eighteenth century onwards. And forms of cultural expressions played an imperative role in charting and shaping these contested terrains. The seminar intended to look at such historical debates from the perspectives of contemporary India.
Basic ideas presented
The first panellist discussion was moderated by Prof. Arun D M. The panellists were Prof. Gaana J, Dr. Meghna Mudaliar and Dr. Rashmi Sawhney. Prof. Gaana J talked about the marginality in terms of narrative. She emphasized on today's world embedded in capitalism which is organized by a systematic violence emerged in Europe since the 17th Century. She brought into the picture the commodity 'tea' or 'chai' to understand the systematic violence. One might think of tea as an indigenous drink however it is important to understand the history of it becoming a popular drink. Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II introduced the ritual of drinking teas to the English Royal Court thereby marking its entry into the aristocracy. And from then on it led to the huge demand for tea. She moved onto talk about the crucial role played by India under British in the violent history of opium production. East India Company from the mid-18th century established a demand for opium in China and it helped British to gain profit which was used to procure tea in Britain.
The question is as to why it is a violent history? Large parts of Bihar were cleared for growing opium. This led to the decline in Cheetah, Leopard, Tiger etc., inhabiting the forests areas. Further, it has created an imbalance in the ecosystem. Moreover, a large number of aboriginals were displaced. Therefore, we are all part of this violent history wherein there was a loss of economy, property and lives. Summing up this history, Prof. Gaana J concluded by stating that the works of fiction like Ilbis Trilogy by Amitav Ghosh enables us to look at many such marginalised idea.
The second panellist, Dr. Meghna Mudaliar talked about the conceptualization of the nation through the story. She started off by reading out the poem 'Post Card from Kashmir' by Agha Shahid Ali. She elucidated on the idea of memory depicted in the poem with regard to the geographical space. Then, she touched upon the various understanding and analogous that each one of us holds in order to maintain a relationship with the nation. She brought in this idea by referring to the essay A Scientific Religion by V Raghunathan.
Saying so, Dr. Meghna Mudaliar concretized the idea of memory that one can find in narratives. She explained this idea by referring to Politics of Memory: Looking for German in the New German by Jane Kramer, Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie and Clandestine in Chile by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Bringing in the idea of the imagination of homeland, she stated that it is never possible to see the whole picture of a nation as it is necessarily fragmented.
The third panellist, Dr. Rashmi Sawhney started off by reflecting on the post-disciplinary context that the seminar is set in. She mainly explicated on the idea that texts are never separated from life and that it is intensely part of life. She mentioned about film Padmavat directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Historical evidence suggests that Queen Padmavati was a work of fiction. However, multiple contested the way in which Queen is represented. Thus, these contestations point towards the fact that one can slip in and of the past. She concludes by stating that our collective business is to think about our lives wherein lives are part of the text and vice versa.
The theme for the first session of the paper presentation was Women, Religion and the Construction of Identity chaired by Prof. Arya P V. The papers were Globalization and the Changing Representation of Christian Women Characters in selected Hindi Films, Blurring the Boundaries: A Postcolonial Study of the Film The English Patient, and Jan Ruff O’Heme Transcending Position as ‘Comfort Woman’: Understanding Religion as Solemn Protest.
The second session was themed From Governmentality to Artificial intelligence - The Formation of a Subject chaired by Prof. Gaana J. The papers presented were Is Governmentality a” Colonial Attack” on Universities?, Victims or Villains: Pirates in the Context of Colonisation by England and Spain, and Understanding A.I. Ego: A Psychoanalytical Analysis of David, an Artificial Intelligence in the Visual Text, Prometheus.
The third set of papers presented in the morning session included papers titled Post-colonialism in Disney films: A Critical Analysis of Aladdin, The lion King and Pocahontas and Diaspora: Through the Photographer’s Lens. The papers followed the theme Popular Culture and Cinema chaired by Professor Renu Elizabeth Abraham.
The final session of the paper presentation chaired by Dr. Disharee on Language, Culture and Aesthetics. The papers presented were English and Non-English: Countless major and minor ‘Imagined Communities’ in India, The importance of language and culture in the novel One Part Woman, Ecological Imperialism and its associations to global epidemics; from Medieval Ages to Present Ages, and Double Consciousness and the “Third Culture” Dilemma.
Trajectory of Argument
The trajectory of her arguments was structured in nature. While covering the important debates on contestations across various fields, the seminar was categorized into different themes under which papers were presented. All the panellists and presenters ensured to present their arguments in a linear fashion within the allotted time limit. Rather than making it seem theory as an isolated category, the presentations provided instances from films, novels and so on.
• Critical Understanding of Imaginaries of national identities
• Knowledge about contested terrains from 18th Century
• Grasping Historical debates from the perspectives of Contemporary India
• Understanding post- colonial debates
Response and Reception
Paper presenters and students felt the Post Graduate National Seminar was extremely informative. The seminar was fruitful to all those who were interested in engaging with post- colonial debates. The paper presentation was spread across different themes which enabled the participants to understand the varying nuances of historical debates. The seminar was successful in imparting the intended knowledge to the students as they were able to historically understand the transformation that the society underwent.
- The Story Studio: Masterclasses in Writing and Storytelling for Children
The Story Studio: Masterclasses in Writing and Storytelling for Children
14 – 15 February 2018
The session on storytelling by Ameen Haque started with him recalling his childhood habit of stammering and stuttering, as a result of which his mother enrolled him to participate in certain activities which included speech therapy, elocution and theatre. It gave him the confidence to write and direct his own play in class 10th. Though the play was not a success, his teachers were supportive of him furthering his approach in the field. Haque commented, “When you fail at life, the best gift you can get is encouragement.”
Having being born into a lower middle class family, Ameen Haque studied sales and advertisement, and was placed in one of the finest companies of Mumbai. After acquiring a paying job, Haque returned to his hobby by joining the theatre at night. He argued that stories have a lot of power, they can create and destroy. To validate his point, Haque played a game with the audience called “Fastest Fingers”. The point of the activity was to prove that while a person may forget the facts and lessons he had been forced to learn, he always remembers the stories that were told to him in his childhood. He said, “Stories were the only means to pass wisdom back in the days. We would sit in a cave around fire and tell stories that affected survival.”According to Ameen Haque, listening is as much a part of storytelling as speaking is. He narrated the story of two warriors who could not kill each other in spite of being enemies since they had listened to each other’s stories and hence saw a part of oneself in them. Through listening, a connection with the other person is formed. The world which is at war today would cease fighting only if they listened to each other’s stories.
Apart from this, Ameen Haque talked about the basic structure of a story. He used the example of the story ‘Epic of Gilgamesh’ which is recorded as the first story of the world to illustrate his point that every story has the same plot. The story of James Bond’s first movie of the series – Dr. No matching with the ‘Epic of Gilgamesh’ shows that stories are repeated and one just fails to notice the similarities.Haque gave further examples by comparing the stories of ‘Star Wars’, ‘Lord of the Rings’ with that of ‘Harry Potter’. He connected the plot of ‘Ek Dunje ke liye’ with ‘Qayamat se Qayamat tak’, ‘Red Riding Hood’ with ‘Ramayana’, ‘Krishna’ with ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Hamlet’ with ‘The Lion King’. He proved that while the art and style of narration differs in each of these stories, the content is the same.Even though, some stories have been repeated for 5000 years, Haque proposed that there were some which ‘ran out of time’. For instance, the story of ‘The Wicked Stepmother’ passed its expiry date since the ideals constructed within the narrative were problematic. It gave the impression that all stepmothers are villainous. Such stories, influence the child to believe in a lot of negative stereotypes that are imbibed at a very young age.Ameen Haque ended the interactive session with an advice to seek out stories that were good and worth telling. The talk gave the audience an insight into not only how storytelling depends on ‘how’ rather than ‘what’ but also provided a way to seek out their own voice.
Evolved ancient art of storytelling by Geeta Ramanujam:The workshop was organised by the English department of Christ University for the students of first and second year. The stage was taken over by Mrs. Geeta Ramanujam. Geeta Ramanujam is the pioneer of the Kathalaya Trust in Bengaluru, which was introduced in the year 1996. She holds a diploma in storytelling and has travelled all over India, Japan, UK, US, Latin America and has a vision of creating "Story land”. Moreover she is an Ashoka fellow and the Indian coordinator for the International Storytelling Network- RIC and the coordinator for the Indian storytelling network.The seminar on "Evolved ancient art of storytelling” began with simple exercises of uttering 'Yes and No' in different tones bringing out the energy among the audience. She asked the audience various questions like, what is storytelling? Why do we write stories? Who are natural storytellers? And deftly shifted her attention towards her experience in judging kids story telling competitions because they are forced to speak which loses the essence of presenting a story. Taking this example, she grabbed the opportunity of explaining how important clarity is. She continues by saying that in today's hurried world, people’s speech is also hurried.
She demonstrates the same by giving an example of her conversation with a customer care executive.When it comes to meeting new people, according to her, words are the ways to connect and one should know the art of conversation. The art of conversation comes from words already assimilated and that the best way to converse and communicate is through story telling. Another thing that she pointed out through the example of story telling by kids is storytellers are less likely to suffer from the disease Alzheimer’s and how small kids trying to tell story in a competition is not storytelling. There is no clarity or confidence in their voice and even after one grows up it still stays the same. This is because of the ' fear of failure'. People live a very reactionary life but in truth, appearances doesn't matter, heart does. People connect because of hearts.She further continues by how she wanted to be a storyteller and how the rhymes of our childhood, for example 'Ba-ba black sheep' and 'Cock-a-doodle-do' were at times untrue. She also mentions about how language plays another important role in delivering a story because it adds a lot more options in terms of pronunciation in case of our regional languages and how Tamil is also written as Tamizeh but it is neither pronounced as 'Tamizeh' nor as ‘Tamil' but as ‘Tamirh’. However according to her, story is not just a very powerful tool but also an excellent way to learn a language and says that whenever a story is translated it loses its flavour if not said properly.
Geeta Ramanujam, has a knowledge of English, Hindi, Tamil and as a result of her upbringing in Mumbai, Maharashtra she also learnt Marathi as a third language .She also states that as a school student she had to help her mother in the kitchen before leaving for school, and a simple remark by her mother would keep her mind occupied for the whole journey to school. By this she emphasises on how stories keep one on their toes, keeping their mind active and curious. She mentions, storytelling unlike theatre is different. In storytelling, the storyteller derives energy from the listener. She continues onto telling the story of the 'Fly who forgot its name’ in Tamil and then translated it into english, the story of the in-completed remark that her mother left in the morning.She remarks, it is easier to remember stories because we visualise them and it is natural for us to recall pictures and imagining. Its pictures that appear in one’s mind before words. One should retain, recall, retell, reinforce, read and then write a story. She also says that, when one shares a story, they share an energy of themselves. She continues with telling about “How to tell a story?” She gives the example of a bad storytelling about a village headmaster who fails to keep his students interested, however as an example of a good storyteller, she mentions about a teacher, singing the story under a tree which keeps the children hooked.
She continues, while telling a story it is essential to use one's strengths and that there are many methodologies of how a story can be told and that tone helps a lot in this. She also gives the example of the story of ' The Giving Tree’ and continues with, how all stories, all movies have the same master plot and still people enjoy them because during the duration of the movie a person imagines himself as the hero and has the time of his life.In the second half of the session, Geeta Ramanujam came up to the audience with three activities. The first one was a breathing exercise cum understanding how variation in voice helps in delivering a story. The second activity was where volunteers were called up on stage for this- Agnidh and Akankshya, Garvit and Annie, Vedanshi and Abhimanyu who demonstrated how stories can be expressed without words by using sounds like ‘aa’, ‘ae’ and ‘o’.