Buzz at St. Edmund’s College

CAMPUS NOTES

St. Edmund’s College is bustling with activity and the centre of all action is the Political Science department which is celebrating its Golden Jubilee.

Established in 1962, the department has bestowed “political knowledge” to the numerous students who passed out from the institute. Hence, the Golden Jubilee marked by year-long activities is a celebration of the hard work and efforts of the students and faculty members of the department who have worked hard all along to take bring it up to this level.

The celebrations kicked-off with the inaugural function on Saturday last wherein Principal, Dr S Lamare appreciated the efforts put in by the members of the department which reflected in the performance of the students in the NEHU final examinations.

The Head of the department, Dr S Nessa addressed the audience and said, “We are remembering the past and the goal now is to carry forward the legacy and serve the student community with sincerity and dedication as a teacher’s presence relies on student’s acceptance”.

The chief guest for the occasion, Union Minister of State for water resources and minority affairs, Vincent H Pala, while delivering his inaugural speech, reminded the house of the initiative taken by the government to have a look east policy which would benefit the north-east region as a whole keeping in mind the theme of the occasion which was Celebrating the Past and Creating the Future.

In this regard he mentioned that the border hats with Bangladesh had been revived; but the task ahead is going to be challenging.

Following the inaugural session, a planned, relevant and high level talk was organised by the department.

This was surely a part of imparting knowledge beyond the prescribed boundaries of the syllabus.

Dr Nani Gopal Mahanta, a former Rotary World Peace Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley and visiting fellow to the International Peace Research Institute (PRIO), Norway was the speaker in this occasion.

A talk was delivered on, “Issues of Peace and Conflict Resolution and its relevance in India’s North-east”. In his speech Dr Mahanta argued that peace is a holistic concept and is to be seen as a process than as an event.

He referred to the concept of Peace culture as developed by UNESCO whereby, peace is understood as a process to resolve conflict through Non-violent means by addressing the root cause of the problem through negotiation and dialogue.

He said conflict can be both positive and negative depending on how we resolve conflict. If conflict is badly managed or suppressed or neglected than it could cause great instability.

Dr Mahanta cited the example of the much debated Bodo conflict among other issues that could have been handled better in Northeast India. He provided a typology of violent conflicts in the north east region.

He said, “Secessionism, movement for separate identity, intra-and inter tribal clashes, domination by one ethnic group, irredentist claim to have extra territories, ethnic cleansing etc. are some areas where there are manifestations of violence and extremism.”

Dr Mahanta argued that in a multicultural society like India’s Northeast-exclusive ethnic homeland can never be a good institutional mechanism for resolving conflicts. The need of the hour involves the designing of such multi-layered administrative set-up that can provide justice to various communities living in the society.

What seems to be a unanimous view is that ethnicity and identity conflicts will be the dominant form of violence and war in the coming years. Ethnicity itself can be enhanced and reformulated under conditions of modernization.

He also urged to resolve the structural issues that trigger ethnic conflict. Referring to the ongoing Kokrajhar conflict he mentioned, “A resolution of the vexed foreigner issue is a must if we want to bring durable peace to Assam.

Besides, the communities like the Bodos who have been fighting for justice must also have the democratic spirit to accommodate the interest of the other communities.”

The teaching faculty and the student community did benefit from this talk as it touched the burning topic of conflict resolution, something that every inhabitant here hopes for.

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