Conflict and Coexistence: SOC hosts International Conference on Tagore and Gandhi
MANIPAL: School of Communication (SOC), Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) and Edinburgh Napier University, UK, came together for a collaborative international conference on Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore with the theme of ‘Samaj and Freedom – The Relevance of Gandhi and Tagore’s Ideas Today’ on February 22 and 23.
The event aimed to celebrate 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi and was organised by the Tagore Centre (MAHE), Gandhian Centre for Philosophical Arts & Sciences (MAHE) and Edinburgh Napier University, UK. The conference provided a platform for encouraging discussions on these two revolutionary personalities, who were very different, yet quite similar, in so many ways.
The inaugural address was presented by Dr Vinod Bhat, Vice Chancellor, MAHE in which he talked about the friendly rivalry between the two which also went on to prove how similar their thought processes were. This was followed by a keynote address by Dr Talat Ahmed, Co-Director, Centre for South Asian Studies at Edinburgh University, where she spoke about the historical and philosophical aspect of Gandhi and Tagore’s lives.
The conference saw presentations of research papers, which was divided into two batches. The first batch presented mainly on Gandhi’s ideas and opinions such as ‘Relevance of Gandhian Educational Values in Today’s Digital India’, ‘Gandhi’s Reading of Bhagavad Gita’ and more. The second batch elaborated on Tagore’s views. The topics included were ‘The Concept of Labour and Common Man in Tagore’s Political Plays’, ‘Dance Elements in Tagore’s Nrithya-Natya Chitrangada’ among others.
Dr Blanka Knotkova Capkova, Head of the Department of Asian Studies, Metropolitan University, Prague also addressed the audience and spoke how Tagore advocated rights for women in his work. The first day came to an end with the screening and discussion of Dr Piyush Roy’s movie – ‘Pleasures Prejudice Pride: An Indian Way of Filmmaking’.
The second day of the event started off with a keynote address by Dr Deb Narayan Bandyopadhyay, Vice Chancellor, Bankura University, who spoke about Tagore’s criticism of Gandhian philosophy and how it ultimately led to violence and extremism. He emphasized on the concept of nationalism from Tagore’s point of view and how he never adhered to western ideas of nationalism.
The papers on this day included topics like ‘Gender Portrayal in Tagore’s Novels: Chokher Bali and Jogajog’, ‘A Comparative Study of Tagore and Kuvempu’s Women Characters’ and many more. Along with these, Ravishankar Rao spoke extensively about Tagore and Gandhi and called them as two true ‘universal human beings’ in his keynote address.
The event saw an exhibition showcasing poetry, photographs, write-ups, artwork and more, contributed mainly by the undergraduate students of School of Communication. It was based on issues like freedom, problems faced by women and issues surrounding the LGBTQ+ community. The conference ended with a tour of MAHE. Later that evening, Yakshagana, which is a traditional form of theatre and a unique blend of dance, music, dialogue, costumes and make-up, was performed specially for the dignitaries at the Yakshagana Kendra in Indrahalli.
“The planning and functioning of the event is a part of our assignment and so far, everything has been very smooth and easy. Even though there were a few minor glitches, everything was resolved in time,” said Aarti Kumar, a postgraduate of School of Communication. The event was a great success, according to her team.
Featured image courtesy: Yeshaswini Srihari
Edited by: Drishti Sanyal