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Lars Eklund 2013 reports from Karnataka research institutions

In connection to the Bangalore workshop on Urbanisation and Migration in Transnational India, jointly organised by SASNET, Nordic Centre in India (NCI), and Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), 5–7 March 2013 (more information), SASNET deputy director Lars Eklund also visited a number of other research institutions in Bangalore, plus the Fisheries College in Mangalore in early March.

These visits are in addition to the visits made to other important Bangalore and Mysore research institutions by Lars Eklund and Anna Lindberg during their SASNET Contact Journey in 2007. At that time they visited the Indian Institute of Science (IISc); the Indian Institute of Management (IIM); Christ University; and Centre for the Study of Culture & Society (CSCS) in Bangalore; and in Mysore, the Anthropological Survey of India; the Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL); and the University of Mysore. Go for the 2007 Reports.

National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore

Web page: www.nias.res.in

From left to right Dilip Ahuja, Carol Upadhya, V S Ramamurthy, Lars Eklund, Amarjit Singh and Hippu Saik

On Monday 4 March 2013, Lars visited the prestigious National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) at its premises within the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) picturesque green campus. There he met its Director, Professor V S Ramamurthy, well known Indian nuclear scientist, and a number of other distinguished fellow researchers working in various fields both in Social Sciences and Science/Technology, including Prof. Dilip Ahuja, Prof. Carol Upadhya, Prof. Amarjit Singh, and Dr. Hippu Saik Kristle Nathan.
An informal meeting was organised in Prof. Ramamurthy’s office where Lars got an opportunity to present SASNET, followed by a presentation of NIAS. the researchers present and their ongoing projects.
NIAS was founded in 1988 by the late industrialist J R D Tata, who sought to create an institution to conduct advanced multidisciplinary research, combining natura and social sciences.
This idea still characterizes the work of NIAS, where research teams are formed with an approach to study the intersections between science and technology, philosophy, social issues and leadership. Besides its approximately 30 core faculty members, NIAS also keep adjunct faculties and a number of visiting professors, representing a multitude of fields. In addition NIAS has 30 PhD candidates, with a rotation of 5-10 every year.

Prof. V S Ramamurthy was keen to discuss possible collaboration with Swedish universities, and especially he was making a request to Lars that he should approach the Centre for Risk Assessment and Management (LUCRAM) at Lund University, to find out whether such collaboration could be inititated.
He started his career in Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai in the year 1963. He has made important research contributions, both experimental and theoretical, in many areas of nuclear fission and heavy ion reaction mechanisms, statistical and thermodynamic properties of nuclei, physics of atomic and molecular clusters and low energy accelerator applications. During the period 1995-2006, Prof Ramamurthy was fully involved in science promotion in India as Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Science & Technology (DST), New Delhi.
Carol Upadhya informed about her involvement in two joint Netherlands-India research programmes. Being a social anthropologist, she is the Co-director of one of these, a research programme entitled ‘Provincial Globalisation: The Impact of Reverse Transnational Flows in India’s Regional Towns’. The co-director on the Dutch side is Professor Mario Rutten at Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam. More information.
She has published several papers and book chapters on the Indian middle class, work culture and employment issues in the software industry, caste and class formations in Coastal Andhra, the history of sociology in India, and land rights and adivasi politics in Jharkhand. Prof. Upadhya holds a doctoral degree in social-cultural anthropology from Yale University, and previously taught sociology at the Post-Graduate Department of SNDT Women’s University in Mumbai.

PhD Candidates at NIAS Bangalore.

Dilip Ahuja, ISRO Professor of Science & Technology Policy is working on Energy issues. His most significant research contribution is a recent proposal that Indian Standard Time should be advanced by half an hour to save energy. A recent publication estimates the energy savings and other benefits to be obtained from such a shift.
Amarjit Singh is a sociologist. hailing from Manipur. He works on ethnic diversity, autonomy and territoriality in India, including cross-border migration and identity conflicts in the Indian Northeast. Prior to joining NIAS, he was a research scholar at the Delhi-based Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA). While at IDSA, he was closely associated with the Journal of Defence Studies as assistant editor, and also wrote a regular column titled Internal Security Review for The Week in Review (newsletter).
Hippu Saik Kristle Nathan is a young post-doc involved in NIAS Energy and Environment Programme. He is an Engineer-turned Development Researcher with an M Tech in Thermal Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, and PhD in Development Studies from Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR), Mumbai. Prior to his PhD, he worked as a software professional at Infosys Limited, Bangalore and Geometric Global, Mumbai. As a part of Civil Society Interventions through Peoples Foundation for Scientific Socio Economic Development (PeFSSED), he has been involved in education, health, and livelihood issues in urban slums and remote villages of Maharashtra, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh.

Srishti University of Art, Design and Technology

Web page: srishti.ac.in

From left to right: Dharma Kannan, Geetanjali Sachdev and Vasanthi Mariadass.

From there, Lars proceeded to Srishti University of Art, Design and Technology, located in Yelahanka in north Bangalore. Srishti is an experimental and teaching-focused school of art and design, founded in 1996 by the not-for-profit Ujwal Trust. Srishti provides its students a self-initiated, self-directed and self-assessed learning environment, with curricula integrating multiple disciplines with an arts foundation. Srishti offers undergraduate and graduate programs. It has specializations in Textile Design, Product and Interface Design, Visual Communication Design, Independent and Broadcast Media (Film and Video) and Furniture and Interior Design.
Shrishti has had fruitful collaboration with the School of Arts and Communication (K3) at Malmö University since a couple of years, and recently a collaboration has also been established with University of Gothenburg and the Region of Västra Götaland.
A meeting was arranged with the key persons behind these inititatives, Ms. Dharma Kannan, Dean of Students, Ms. Geetanjali Sachdev, Dean, Advanced Diploma Programme, Dr. Jyothsna Latha Belliappa, and Dr. Vasanthi Mariadass, Head of Aesthetic and Critical Studies.

The collaboration with Malmö University is realized through a project entitled ”Memories of Modernity”, similar to a previous Memories of Modernity project carried out by K3 in collaboration with South African partners 2005-07. The project received funding in the form of ”aktörssamverkan” from the Swedish Arts Council (Kulturrådet) in December 2011 (more information), and its focus lies on exploring the role of performance in facilitating community participation within socio-cultural processes. On the Swedish side, this project is coordinated by Oscar Hemer; along with Kathrine Winkelhorn, heading the Masters Programme in Culture and Media Production; and Anna Brag, a visual artist with international experience, who previously worked with Oscar Hemer in the MalmöLund Third Space Seminar in 2002.
At Srishti in Bangalore, the coordinator is Deepak Sreenivasan, artist, media practitioner, researcher and pedagogue, currently a core member of Maraa, a media & arts collective based in Bangalore and faculty at Srishti.
A 3-day Communication for Development seminar and workshop was held in Bangalore 24-25 January 2013. It involved faculty and students from both universities, as well as artists engaged in the project. At the same time, a series of trans-disciplinary interventions (performative, communicative etc) were carried out in the old commercial district of Shivaji Nagar in Bangalore, conducted in collaboration by artists, academics and students. Full information.

Lars Eklund with Dharma Kannan to the right, and Mary Jacob, Dean of the Professional Diploma Program

The collaboration with University of Gothenburg focuses on Critical Heritage Studies (CHS), a priority research area at the University of Gothenburg – more information, involving the four faculties of Humanities; Science; Arts; and Fine, Applied and Performing Art. The collaboration, that also involves the Region of Västra Götaland, and the Institute of Textiles in Borås, is carried out within the framework of University of Gothenburg’s Go:India Project.
At Srishti the corresponding partner institution is the Aesthetics and Critical Studies Program, headed by Dr. Vasanthi Dass. The first joint activity consisted of a conference on “Identities and Resistance: Heritage” that was held at Srishti in Bangalore 22 – 25 February 2012. The conference aimed at working with the national museums as a part of public space, public life, places of memory and identity building. The Swedish organisers were Johan Öberg, Lecturer at the Valand Academy, part of Universty of Gothenburg, and also being the research secretary of the Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts; and Sigríður Beck from the Division of History and International coordinator at the Faculty of Arts. More information.
After the successful conference, two MoUs were signed, one between Anna Lindahl, Dean, Faculty of Performing Arts, GU, and Geetha Narayanan, Rector, Srishti, formalising the collaboration (photo to the left), and a second between representatives of the Faculty of Arts and Srishti.
The ambition in the first case is to launch joint research projects in Design and Crafts, and prepare a major research application on issues related to Cultural Heritage, Identity and Museums in Karnataka and wesetern Sweden.
A new joint workshop will be held in Bangalore 17–22 April 2013, to plan for common research projects in various fields. Both Margareta Hallberg, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, and Ingrid Elam, new Dean, Faculty of Performing Arts, GU, will participate, as well as Sigridur Beck; Johan Öberg; Katarina Karlsson from Valand, Anders Hagberg from the Academy of Music and Drama (HSM); and Mattias Bäckström from History of Ideas and Science, Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion (LIR).
Vasanthi Mariadass spent two months as a guest researcher at University of Gothenburg in May-June 2012. She was jointly invited by the faculties of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts; and Arts, and worked on a book project about the film maker Harun Farocki, and was based at V:ARC – Valand Artistic Research Centre. She did her DAAD research stay at Asian Studies Department, Humboldt University, Berlin in 2011. Her teaching experience include both in the US and in India. She was a research fellow at Indian institute of Science, Bangalore 2008-2009). More information.

Lars also separately met Dr. Jyothsna Beliappa (photo to the right) who coordinated the Mediating Modernity Festival held in Bangalore in January 2013 (in collaboration with Malmö University). Jyothsna has previously taught at the University of York, UK, from where she also obtained a PhD in Women’s Studies in 2009. On completing an MA in Sociology at Jawaharlal Nehru University she undertook research for the United Nations World Food Programme and then moved into education, obtaining a Diploma in Professional Studies in Education from Oxford Brookes University, UK in 2003.
Her research work has been on women in professional life, the relationship between work and personal life and the self. More lately she has developed an emerging interest in gender harassment in both public and professional spheres and on women in education, and recently she published a book entitled ”Gender, Class and Reflexive Modernity in India” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).
In the summer 2013, Jyothsna changed over to a position at Azim Premji University, also in Bangalore. In September 2013, she is coming to Malmö and Lund, more information.

International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore (IIITB)

Web page: www.iiitb.ac.in

Two days later, on Wednesday 6 March 2013, Lars made a tour to Electronics City, east of Bangalore, to visit two premier research institutions located there, namely the International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore (IIITB), and the newly established Azim Premji University.

At IIITB (”Triple ITB”) Lars was warmly welcomed by Prof. Srinath Srinivasa, who has also been closely involved in collaboration with the School of Arts and Communication (K3) at Malmö University since many years, and even attended a function organised by SASNET and the Embassy of India in Malmö in 2009. A meeting was organised in the office of Prof. S Rajagopalan, heading the IIITB outreach work, and a number of other researchers joined, Dr. Madhav Rao, Prof. P G Poonacha, and Dr. Neelam Sinha – the latter also much involved in the Malmö collaboration.
Before leaving IIITB, Lars also got an opportunity to have a short meting with the Director of the institute, Prof. S Sadagopan.

Azim Premji University

Web page: azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in

From IIITB, Lars went to Azim Premji University, the first autonomous private university in Karnataka, inaugurated in 2011, in its current premises – a new campus will be inaugurated within a few years. Eminent Sociologist, Prof. Chandan Gowda, hosted a meeting with some of his researcher colleagues, Dr. Vikas Kumar, Dr. Sailen Routray, Dr. Nilotpal Kumar and Dr. Siddhi R Vyas, representing different fields within Social Sciences, Economics and Educational Science. Again the discussion focused on possibilities to establish collaboration with Swedish universities.

College of Fisheries, Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University, Mangalore

Web page: www.kvafsu.kar.nic.in/College%20of%20Fisheries.htm

Finally, on Monday 11 March, Lars visited the College of Fisheries in Mangalore (part of the Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University), involved in a strong collaboration with the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg and the School of Education and Environment, Kristianstad University in the field of Marine Ecology. The Department of Fishery Microbiology at the College became a UNESCO Centre for Marine Biotechnology (MIRCEN) in the 1990s and has a high international scientific reputation. It is led by Prof. Indrani Karunasagar, who informed about the university’s international collaboration that also include a major vaccine platform project with a number of Norwegian institutions, among them Tromsö University, and involving eight Indian research institutions. Mangalore is also member of the Erasmus Mundus Action 2 mobility programme coordinated by University of Ghent, Belgium.
Professor Karunasagar (photo to the right) also informed about other international collaboration programmes, for example with American universities on the issue of fish poisoning, and harmful algae blooms. In 2008, an international workshop was organised, it was entiteled ”Taxonomy and Ecology of Harmful Algae & Study of Biotoxins”.
Another collaboration involving both Mangalore and Swedish researchers is a project together with Dr. Darshnee Ruwandeepika at Peradeniya University in Sri Lanka. There is an ambition to develop this project with Swedish research funding.
Two Mangalore researchers are currently based in Gothenburg, Dr. Arvind Singh (he will however soon move to a post-doc position in Kiel, Germany), and PhD candidate Gurpreet Kahlon, and happily enough they were both in Mangalore at the time of Lars’ visit, since they had come to India for a major mesocosm experiment on the effect of climate-induced changes in hydrography on species of harmful algae and pathogenic bacteria in the Indian Ocean. The experiment should start on March 18th, and the project leader Dr. Anna Godhe was supposed to arrive from Gothenburg a few days later.
Arvind and Gurpreet informed about the project, and so did Dr. Ashwin Rai – who also demonstrated an aquarium fish farm that he runs outside Mangalore.
Lars also got a chance to meet two final year Biology students from Kristianstad University, Patrick Callan and Victor Englund, who arrived on the same day, funded by Minor Field Studies (MFS) scholarships to take part in the mesocosm experiment, staying for six weeks.

Gurpreet Kahlon, Arvind Singh and Naveen showed around the well-kept laboratories at the Fisheries College.