Gandhi and the Champaran Satyagraha: An Endeavour, A Legacy and Contemporary Indiaat
Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla( 29 -31 May, 2017)
Satyagraha is both an individual and collective pursuit of truth through non-violence. Since its first application by Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa in the first decade of the twentieth century, it has been practiced in a variety of situations around the world to seek justice and dignity by victims of casteism, racism, sexism, colonialism, imperialism, ecological degradation and state repression.
People and polity of India made their first engagement with Satyagraha in modern times when Gandhi employed it at Champaran in Bihar in the context of the grievances of rural masses between April and November, 1917. Gandhi wrote in his Autobiography, “That day in Champaran was an unforgettable event in my life and a red-letter day for the peasants and me.” Here, on a common platform, as an integrated initiative, he brought together the local elite, lawyers, national leaders, social workers and the suffering peasants to fight against unjust laws. He also initiated a variety of constructive programs to alleviate the abysmal living conditions of the suffering men and women.
In the ensuing decades, as part of the Indian national movement for freedom from the British Raj, Gandhi elaborated and expanded the application of Satyagraha in conjunction with constructive programmes, to the national resistance movement. In the process he led and guided more than forty initiatives including the Mill-workers Satyagraha ( Ahmedabad, 1918), Non-cooperation Movement (1921), Vaikom Satyagraha (1924), Bardoli Satyagraha (1928), Salt Satyagraha (1930), and Quit India Movement (1942). Among various factors that helped India emerge as a democratic republic, Satyagraha is certainly crucial and seminal.
Since independence, there has been a continuation of the practice of Satyagraha by a variety of organizations and groups, within the political community and civil society to resolve various issues and problems. However in the plethora of efforts somewhere, it seems, that the core sensitivity of Satyagrha has either got diffused, watered down, or even side tracked. Thus, it is time to revisit what Gandhi and his way of Satyagraha stood for; more so because the continuity of seeking to draw inspiration from both Gandhi and Satyagraha remains unabated.
The occasion of the Champaran Centenary provides us an opportunity to have an overview of the wide and complex canvass and narrative of Satyagraha. We propose to bring together knowledgeable persons from diverse disciplines and fields to look together at the following aspects of the past, present and future of Satyagraha in a holistic manner:
In this context it is proposed to organize a national seminar at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study ( Shimla) to have an inter-disciplinary view of the century of trajectories of Satyagraha in India since the path-breaking Champaran endeavour. It will hopefully throw more light on the idea and practice of Satyagraha as a radically distinct endeavour to initiate, and influence processes and structures of social transformation.
A limited number of participants will be invited for the seminar. We especially encourage young scholars to apply. Those interested in participating should send an abstract (500 words maximum) of the proposed paper along with their C.V. to the following Email IDs:
A limited number of participants will be invited for the Seminar. Those interested in participating should send (preferably by email) an abstract (500 words) of the proposed paper along with their C.V. to:
The last date for submission of abstract (500 words) is 15 February, 2017. The Institute intends to send Invitation letters to selected participants by the end of February, 2017. It is the policy of the Institute to publish the paper not proceedings of the seminars it organizes. Hence, all invited participants will be expected to submit complete papers (English or Hindi), hitherto unpublished and original, with citations in place, along with a reference section, to the Academic Resource Officer, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla – 171005 by 15 May, 2017. Style sheet for the submission of papers may be downloaded from the IIAS website http://www.iias.org/ content/shss.
IIAS, Shimla, will be glad to extend its hospitality during the seminar period and is willing to reimburse, if required, rail or air travel expenses from the place of current residence in India, or the port of arrival in India, and back.
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