IIT-MIT Experts Explore Community Living in Gandhian Way

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IIT-MIT Symposium on Mahatma Gandhi traces the roots of community networks in socio-economy and urban planning

IIT Kharagpur organized the first event in the series of e-Symposia on Gandhian Thoughts and Philosophy on August 8, 2020. Organized in association with Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA and Gandhi Forum, India, the event was graced by academic luminaries from both institutions and Gandhian experts. The talks were themed around two concepts, ‘Sarvodaya’ – universal upliftment or progress for all, and ‘Swavalamban’ – the quest for self-reliance.

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The symposium was chaired by Director, IIT Kharagpur, Prof. Virendra Tewari. He spoke about how Gandhian ideas have been inculcated among the people of India, from education, socio-cultural lifestyle and livelihood. He also talked about adopting technology in the spirit of Gandhian thoughts of self-reliance, indigenization catering to local needs. he called for the relevance of Mahatma Gandhi in this pandemic situation, his ideals of maintaining physical and mental health and strengthening immunity. 

The speakers were introduced by the convenor of the event and Dean, Alumni Affairs Prof. Subrata Chattopadhyay (Professor, Dept. of Architecture & Regional Planning). Moderator Prof. Anjali Gera Roy (Professor, Dept. of Humanities and Social Sciences) gave a brief about the themes along with the historical background and their evolution in the Gandhian movement.

The first speaker was Prof. Bishwapriya Sanyal, Ford International Professor of Urban Development and Planning, Director of the Special Program in Urban and Regional Studies / Humphrey Fellows Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA. Prof. Sanyal is also an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur. His topic was ‘Sarvodaya’. Prof. Sanyal invoked the concept through the empowerment of the weak and reaching out to the lowest common denominator. He gave the example of SEWA, the first trade union of the self-employed which operated in the areas of labor rights, microfinance, women’s empowerment and other socio-economic activism.

Prof. Brent Ryan, Head of the City Design and Development Group and Associate Professor of Urban Design and Public Policy in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning spoke on ‘Swavalamban’. His talk emphasized the need for incorporation of self-reliance in urban planning and design and sustainability in the neighborhood. With the shrinking cities and constrained quality of life, this Gandhian way of life would inspire food security by means of self-grown food, generating employment and even local education and holistic upbringing He cited cases from American and other western cities and the Indian cities of Chandigarh, Navi Mumbai. 

Dr. Shobhna Radhakrishna, Founder, Gandhian Forum for Ethical Corporate Governance, narrated her life-long experience and a lifestyle in the practice of Gandhian thoughts and philosophy such as Satya, Ahimsa through her association with Gandhian ashrams. She also spoke about Gandhipedia and her role in this one-stop online repository of Gandhian literature developed by IIT Kharagpur in association with IIT Gandhinagar and Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India.

Moderator of the symposium Prof. Anjali Gera Roy reminded the audience of the idea of self-reliant communities upheld by Mahatma Gandhi as embodied in traditional mohallas and paras and how he encouraged women’s progress through active participation in the socio-political movement. Further, she pointed out how cities and villages instead of their oppositional locus standi can find continuity instead. “I was amazed by the way Gandhian ideas and thoughts continue to travel across time and space dissolving boundaries of nations, languages and disciplines. The dialogue between MIT and IIT can be seen as the first step towards bringing together those inspired by Gandhiji’s philosophy to create a just, equitable world and sustainable cities driven by appropriate technologies,” she said.

Prof. Sriman Bhattacharyya, Deputy Director, IIT Kharagpur in his vote of thanks talked about how the National Education Policy 2020 aims to meet the goals of Gandhian philosophy. Prof. Subrata Chattopadhyay closed the session emphasizing the need for such sessions to adopt a progressive quality of life as was dreamt by the Mahatma.

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This webinar was part of the month-long symposia organized by IIT Kharagpur in association with top global universities to commemorate the completion of the 150th Birth Anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi as part of an initiative by the Ministry of Education, Govt. of India under the SPARC program. Academics from universities in the USA, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Gandhian experts from India including professors from IIT Kharagpur will deliberate on ‘Gandhian Thoughts and Philosophy’ through webinars spanning over select days in August 2020.

Upcoming Symposia

Date

Time

Watch Live on

Partnering University

August 15

07:30 PM IST

https://youtu.be/YAG467El4wU

Tufts University, USA

August 20

06:30 PM IST

https://youtu.be/oUjEszrX9P4

University of Manchester, UK,

University of Texas Arlington, USA

August 27

01:30 PM IST

https://youtu.be/5W0aFaTMYW8

University of Leeds, UK,

University of Melbourne, Australia,

University of Auckland, New Zealand

Massey University, New Zealand

August 28

07:30 PM IST

https://youtu.be/Xo5tT_KrFsU

University of Alberta, Canada,

University of Toronto, Canada

For further information visit: https://kgpchronicle.iitkgp.ac.in/e-symposia-gandhi-thoughts-philosophy/

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