Department Report 2013-2014

The academic year 2013-2014 was a crucial year for the Sociology and Anthropology Department. Ms. Pranoti Chirmuley joined the department as a full time Assistant Professor, and we are happy to report that she has been awarded a Doctorate by the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi in December 2013 for her thesis entitled “A Sociological Study of the Parsi Community: Questions of Ethnicity, Identity and Change”, submitted in July 2012.

In July 2013, delegates of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) visited the college. The NAAC team was impressed with every aspect of our department– right from the ambience, the courses that the department offers, the syllabus framed for every course, the Honours activities and student achievements.

The Annual Department Seminar was held on the 5th, 6th and 7th of September 2013 at Khandala. The students of the Sociology Academy helped in organising the seminar. Students presented papers based on the running theme of the department: Religion in Contemporary Times.

The Sociology Academy organised a screening of the documentary film ‘Reading Between the Lines’ on 23rd August 2013. Produced by Ms. Sayalee Karkare, an alumna of St. Xavier’s, the film examines the reading culture in Mumbai and the spaces (physical and imagined) associated with it. The documentary very beautifully captures where, when and how people read in our city.

In the second semester, the Academy organised a Career Workshop for all students on the 21st and 22nd of January 2014, highlighting a number of fields open to students with a background in Sociology. Most of the resource persons were ex-students of the department. A focal point of this workshop was the presence of Mrs. Radhika Vivek, Executive Director with Sheffield Haworth, who enlightened students on the scope of Human Resources available to students with a background in Humanities.

The Honours Programme, of which Ms. Vinita Bhatia is in charge, offered the following courses to the students:

•     Winter Seminar on Environmental Justice by Ms. Janjri Jasani and Ms. Edel Monteiro. The course ended with an action project wherein the students participated in a beach clean-up drive after the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi.

•     Sustainable Development by Ms. Denise Fernandes, an alumna of the college. As a final project, participants conducted fieldwork research on varied topics of their choice.

•     Anthropology of Photography by Ms. Suryanandini Narain held in November.

Notably, the NAAC delegates expressed their pleasure at the functioning of the Honours Programme during an interactive session with the students. The consolidated efforts of Ms. Vinita Bhatia, Honours Program Co-ordinator, and her volunteers of the Honours Programme have always kept pace with the changing times.

The Department Faculty also made a few noteworthy contributions:

Dr. Sam Taraporevala

•     Facilitated the Demystifying Disabilities Workshop at the Summer School 2013 with students from the University of California (Berkeley, USA) and St. Xavier’s College (Autonomous), Mumbai. It was entitled ‘Economics and Development in Indian Society’, at which students of both the institutions were introduced to the lives of people with visual impairment. This was held on the 28th of June 2013.

•     Was keynote speaker at the state-level seminar on Educational and Career Guidance for the Visually Challenged held on 29th June, 2013 at the Blind Students’ Learning Centre, Department of Education and Extension in association with the Office of Student Welfare, University of Pune. He also presented on the theme ‘Careers in the Social Sciences’.

•     Participated in a stakeholders’ meeting called by the Copyright Office Ministry of HRD, Government of India to plan India’s stand on the draft clauses as developed by the standing committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) of the World Intellectual Property Rights Organization (WIPO). The meeting was held in New Delhi.

•     Was appointed as Research Collaborator and Technical Consultant by the K. J. Somaiya Comprehensive College of Education, Training & Research on a major ICSSR-funded research project.

•     Co-published a journal article entitled ‘The Disability Exception and the Triumph of New Rights Advocacy’ in the National University Juridical Sciences Law Review evaluating the copyright exemption from a legal and social movement dimension.

•     Was the lead plenary speaker at a national conference ‘Harnessing Technology for the Empowerment of Persons with Visual Impairment’ on the theme ‘Accessing Banking Services–A Retrospect and Prospect’ organised by the National Institute of the Visually Handicapped in New Delhi.

•     Gave the inaugural address at a seminar on Disability at Miranda House, Delhi.

•    Jointly presented a paper on ‘Numbers and Reactions’ at Techshare, New Delhi.

•     Was involved as Research Director in the publication of “Numbers and Reactions—A Report on Mathematics and Science Access for the Visually Challenged”(ISBN: 978-81-929012-0-6), which took a socio-technical perspective on the issue.

Ms. Madhuri Raijada

•     Facilitated a session on Regional Disparities in Economic Growth – A Sociological

     Analysis of the Informal Sector in India at the Summer School 2013 with students from the University

of California (Berkeley, USA) and St. Xavier’s College (Autonomous), Mumbai entitled ‘Economics and Development in Indian Society’ on the 5th of July 2013.

•     Presented a paper on “Middle Class: Historical Moorings (Continuities and Discontinuities)” at an international conference ‘Tracking the Growth of India’s Middle Class’, which was held at Baroda from 27th November 2013 to 29th November 2013.

Ms. Vinita Bhatia

•     Presented at a National Seminar on ‘Genders, Feminisms and Sociologies: Towards a State of Alteredness’, on Conceptualising Popular Culture, organised by the Department of Sociology, University of Mumbai from 29th to 31st January, 2014.

•     Students of the department together with Ms. Vinita Bhatia attended the "Seventeenth Gulistan and Rustom Billimoria Endowment Seminar" on 22nd February at the Asiatic Society. The theme of the seminar was "Debating 377 of the IPC".

Dr. Arun de Souza

•     Facilitated a session on Regional Disparities in Economic Growth– “Rural Fantasies, Urban Dreamscapes: The Story of Maharashtra’s Regional Disparities” at the Summer School 2013 with students from the University of California (Berkeley, USA) and St. Xavier’s College (Autonomous), Mumbai, entitled ‘Economics and Development in Indian Society’ on the 5th of July 2013.

•     Presented a paper on “The Sociology of Contemporary Vocations to Religious Life” at Ashirwad, Bangalore on the 3rd of October 2013.

•     Presented a paper on “The Sociological Context of the Suppression of the Society of Jesus in 1773 AD” at St. Xavier’s, Delhi on 21st October 2013.

•     Attended a UGC Refresher Course on "Sociology" at Academic Staff College, Kumaun University, Nainital from 3rd to 23rd December 2013.

•     Presented a paper entitled, "Changing Trends in Environmental Thought in Contemporary India," at the National Seminar, "Changing Trends in Indian Society," organised by UGC-Academic Staff College, Kumaun University, Nainital on 19th December 2013.

Dr. Pranoti Chirmuley

•    Presented a paper entitled: “Parsi Zoroastrians Abroad: Questions of Migration, Change and Identity” at the Trinity College Round Table Discussion on the theme of Identity and Migration on the 30th of August, 2013.

•    Presented at the International conference with students and faculty of the University of Stuttgart (Germany), St. Louis University (USA), Stellenbosch University (South Africa) and St. Xavier’s College (Autonomous) on ‘Globalisation and Mobility’ held in January 2014 at the college. She spoke on ‘Parsis, Diaspora and Questions of Identity Preservation’.

In an effort to go beyond the syllabus, the department organised a number of guest lectures during the course of the academic year:

•     Mr.Milind Ranade, General Secretary of the National Trade Union of India held a lecture on trade unionism in India for TYBA students of the work and management course.

•     Suryanandini Narain held a lecture on ‘writing in Social Sciences’ focussing on assignment and presentation skills for TYBA students of the work and management course on 12th and 13th December 2014.

•     A discussion was held by Ms. Shilpi Gulati and Divya, on the Film “Deva to Delhi: Punjab Migrants” for SYBA ethnography students on 28th January 2014.

•     Ms Meera Khokani, an ex-student, held a lecture on Media and Social Extremism (Twitter) for FYBA students on 4th February 2014.

Our students did well on the academic front too—Sadia Zafar got the 3rd place overall in the Arts stream and also topped in Sociology, while Sharmishta Bose came second with a full Sociology major.

The academic year 2013-2014 ended with a number of fun-filled and educational activities. They are as follows:

•    Field trip for the students of TY to the Polyester plant of Reliance Industries Ltd at Patalganga on 11th January 2014.

•    Anthropology Exhibition organised by FYBA anthropology students on 1st February 2014. This was their second CIA.

•    Field trip to the Govardhan Cheese Factory on the outskirts of Pune city to see the processes involved in cheese-making. This was organised on 19th February 2014 for the TY students.

Finally, we would like to say a sincere thank you to all the students of the SYBA for organising a farewell for the TYBA students.

As always, the Department looks forward to a great deal of academic fervour and involvement in the future.

Dr. Sam Taraporevala
Head, Department of
Sociology and Anthropology