October 2014 – April 2015
Awash with militancy, ground zero for climate change, and on the brink of nuclear war, the Indian subcontinent has long been known as “the world’s most dangerous place.” But after decades of deadlock in the subcontinent, India is moving beyond South Asia for its strategic needs—and making peace with Pakistan in the process.
Across the globe, an estimated 260 million people are relegated to a lifetime of segregation, exploitation, and extreme forms of physical and psychological abuse, all because of the caste into which they are born. In much of South Asia, caste-based divisions dominate in housing, marriage, and general social interaction—divisions that are often reinforced through the threat of social ostracism, economic boycotts, and even physical violence. The effective eradication of caste-based discrimination remains a major human rights challenge of our time.
Please join us on Tuesday, October 7th for a roundtable discussion about social justice in South Asia and the world.
- Learn about the social and political obstacles faced by Dalit communities (formerly known as “untouchables”) in Nepal and India
- Engage with scholars, media producers and activists who have brought awareness to issues concerning Dalits through traditional and social media outlets
- Develop tips and tools you can use for your own research and social activism initiatives
Some of the questions this event hopes to explore include:
What skills/lessons can Dalit and American students, scholars and activists learn from each other?
How do experiences of marginalization and /or oppression compare in different countries?
How have social justice organizations use the law, media and education as tools to raise awareness and create change?
Prominent academics, media producers and social activists will participate in a roundtable discussion. Our guests will include:
Smita Narula: currently a visiting Research Scholar at Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College and formerly a U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food and Faculty Director at the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU School of Law. She has been working in human rights for more than 17 years. In both her scholarship and her practice, Narula has focused on the rights to equality and non-discrimination; economic and social rights; and the impact of economic globalization and counter-terrorism policies on human rights. She has authored numerous reports and academic articles on these subjects, and has helped formulate policy, legal, and community-led responses to these issues worldwide.
Sarita Pariyar: a graduate student of sociology at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, where she also received her bachelor’s degree in journalism and English literature. She is an emerging social justice leader and serves as a board member of the Samata Foundation, a respected think-tank that works for the rights and dignity of Dalits in Nepal. In addition, she is involved with several activist groups in Nepal and regularly participates in various forums for social justice, democracy, and media within and outside of Nepal.
Padam Sundas: a social worker from a Dalit community who has been working for the upliftment of the Dalit community and for Human Rights for over 40 years through intellectual writings and knowledge production. A founding member and the executive chairperson of SAMATA foundation and the Asian Dalit Rights Forum, the only Dalit centric research center and think tank in Nepal. He also served as a member of the National-Level Advisory Committee under the Office of Prime Minister for the Eradication of Caste Based Discriminations and Promotion of Dalit Rights.
Rem Bishwokarma: co-founded Jagaran Media Center (JMC) to lead media advocacy against caste-based discrimination and untouchability. JMC produced the popular television series called Dalan that raised awareness on Dalit issues. JMC has established itself as a media hub on Dalit issues, inclusion and social justice in Nepal and abroad. He was awarded the Australian Leadership Award in 2010, Media International Social Awareness Award in 2013 and Ambedkar Kalashree National Award in 2013.
Each participant will speak for ten minutes on their personal work and experience. Afterwards, broader discussion on Dalits and social justice will be opened up and moderated by Smita Narula.
This is the first in the series of events hosted by the Transregional Center for Democratic Studies that will mark the 25th anniversary of the dismantling of the Communist system in Eastern and Central Europe. Organized together with the India-China Institute, The Bullet and the Ballot Box celebrates the new book with the same title by Aditya Adhikari, recently published by Verso.
The Bullet and the Ballot Box will focus on the extraordinary case of Nepal, where an anti-autocratic movement partially inspired by the fall of the Berlin Wall led to the establishment of a multi-party system in 1990. However, this was soon followed by a Maoist armed rebellion (1996-2006) that swept the entire countryside. In 2006, the Maoists joined the political mainstream and multiparty democracy was restored. Following the historic election to the Constituent Assembly in 2008, the Maoists emerged as the most powerful political force in the country, and the monarchy was subsequently abolished. The discussion will focus on how Nepal’s Maoists reinterpreted Maoism and successfully translated it into political action at a time when liberal democracy dominated public discourse and communism had lost legitimacy.
The panel will be moderated by Elzbieta Matynia-Professor of Sociology and Liberal Studies at The New School and Director of TCDS. Participants will include:
– Aditya Adhikari, author of The Bullet and the Ballot Box: The Story of Nepal’s Maoist Revolution (2014)
– Andrew Arato, Dorothy Hart Hirshon Professor of Political and Social Theory in the department of sociology at The New School
– Tamrat Samuel, former director of the Asia-Pacific Division of the UN Department of Political Affairs and former Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Nepal
– Ashok Gurung, ICI Senior Director and Professor of Practice, Julian J. Studley Graduate Program in International Affairs.
China and India: New Urban Forms, New Fields of Inquiry will explore new ways of looking at the interplay of the conceptual and the material in studies of urban India and China. A collaborative and exploratory field-building exercise, this conference will pursue alternatives to theories of social science and design that sometimes draw upon universalist and/or linear assumptions about processes such as capitalism, urbanization, and modernity. Instead, our conference participants, many of whom have engaged in ethnographic, interpretive, or other qualitative approaches to urban forms and processes, will pursue new concepts and expose areas of future inquiry based on their work on urban and urbanized spaces of China and India. ICI believes that a conference engaging scholars committed to theorizing from careful, contextualized studies of Chinese and Indian cities has the potential to create new fields of inquiry. Please check back for updates on logistical information about this conference.