SSLA's First Inter-collegiate Fest
28th-29th April 2023
On the 28th and 29th of April, 2023, the Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts hosted its first inter-collegiate fest at the New Viman Nagar Campus. Characterized by a sense of vibrancy, diversity, competition, and excitement, ICE by SSLA marked an enthralling occasion. Students from universities within and beyond Pune came together to engage with one another and foster SIU's motto of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam in a multitude of sports and cultural events. The organizing committee (OC) of ICE helped curate an ethos of thrill and delight with the setting up of a variety of food, merchandise, sponsor and activity-driven stalls for the guests to interact with.
The Organising Committee of ICE by SSLA
With the launching of ICE's first edition this summer, SSLA is hoping to carry forward a new legacy, and make a name for itself in the arena of collegiate level fests. The two days of the event will serve as a memento for SSLA history and chart a way forward. Our aim is to inculcate ideas of togetherness, passion, and combined effort in SSLA’s student body. Beyond this, we sought to expand our horizons. Our goal saw fruition with over 600 participants and a large number of audience members, guests, and students from across the country. With such a myriad crowd, ICE by SSLA took the form of a captivating celebration of culture and student activity.
The fest was an amalgamation of events. The sports events incorporated a varied selection of games with a roster including Futsal, Basketball, Volleyball and Table Tennis. The Cultural events contained a cluster of fun and competitive activities such Group Dance, Solo Singing, Elevator Pitch, Crisis Management, Sports Auction, Slam Poetry, Monologue, and Trivia. Participants displayed their talents in these solo and team events. All the events were the outcome of the hard work and dedication put in by the OC, the student body, and the immense support of the Director, faculty, and administration of SSLA.
Table Tennis (Women)
Winner: Devanshi Agarwal
Table Tennis (Men)
Winner: Armaan Jeswani
Basketball (Women) Runner’s Up: MIT-WPU [Not Photographed]
Runner’s Up: CBSA
Winner: Pune Soccer Club A
Runner’s Up: SSLA (A)
Runner’s Up: Gunners
Winner: HVC Hadapsar Volleyball Club
Volleyball (Women) Runner’s Up: AFMC [Not Photographed]
Runner’s Up: MIT WPU
Winner: Siddhant Ranjan
Winners: Shreyans Parakh & Zayn Sadiqsait
Winner: Letminlun Haokip
Winner: Megha Ghosh
Winners: AIT Feet Tappers
Second Place: HH Crew (JSPM)
Winners: Shaun Paul, Disha Sarna, Ruthu GJ
SSLA, as an institution, does not incentivize brilliance with awards, but rather with recognition and self-actualisation; and when awards, individual or collective, are a consequence of that, SSLA beams with pride. These displays of talent are encouraged and cultivated in the space through an elaborate process of exposure, engagement and learning. For us, empowerment does not simply exist as a theoretical motto - it is the foundational basis of our pedagogy.
These prodigious personalities who represent the larger missions of the college, are so many in number, that we must enlist and applaud them in such pages. Their effort and achievement surely transcends any such representation and the campus echoes their legacies proudly.
These distinguished names belong, and proudly so, in a long upheld tradition of "standing out" that encompasses every student of the college.
Presenting to you, the victorious icons of SSLA.
Atiriya Narayan, a student of SSLA has been selected for the Maharashtra Senior Women’s Football team. Although Atiriya has played at the state level before, this is the first time that she will be representing her state at the senior level. The selection camp for this team started mid-October and included daily morning/evening high intensity sessions. Atiriya’s goal is to gain more experience as a player so that she can one day represent the national team
SSLA student, Atiriya Narayan, in action
Sruthi Venkatraman, a student of SSLA, recently started working as a Field Fellow for the Suraj Patel Congressional Campaign for District 12 of New York. A businessman and ethics professor at NYU, Suraj Patel is one of the four candidates vying for the congressional seat of NY-12. Working on the ground for his campaign has allowed Shruthi the opportunity to learn from the best on reaching out and engaging with voters. From phone banking and texting, to data entry and social media, she is learning what it means to be part of a grassroots campaign, where every vote counts.
SSLA student, Sruthi Venkatraman, learning hands on how electoral politics work
SSLA alumni, Viddhi Thakker from Batch 2022, has been accepted to Sciences Po, Paris, which is ranked third in the world for Politics & International Studies. An International Relations major with a double minor in Peace & Conflict Studies and Psychology at SSLA Viddhi will be pursuing her Master's in International Security. Her focus will be in Middle Eastern studies with a thematic concentration in Diplomacy through which she aspires to achieve a future in the United Nations. At SSLA, Viddhi acquired theoretical and practical knowledge in various facets of Diplomacy, Security Studies and Foreign Policy. The interdisciplinary approach of the curriculum helped her discover her interests. Transcending her interest in IR outside the classroom, she also co-founded The Transcontinental, SSLA's first independent forum on International Relations. Her interest in the field was reflected even in her undergraduate dissertation where she focused on crimes of genocide across a few countries and the United Nations' response towards the same. She is excited for this new endeavour and hopes to gain considerable knowledge while enjoying a few macarons during her time in Paris!
SSLA student, Viddhi Thakker will be off to Paris in a couple of months to pursue her Master’s in International Security at Sciences Po!
Ishaansh Singh, SSLA alumni from Batch 2022, has been offered a place at the Hertie School, Berlin, for Master in International Affairs. During the course of the application process, the importance of research and reading oriented skills that higher education institutes prioritise became clear to Ishaansh and he found himself familiar with these skills given the research-oriented nature of the curriculum at SSLA. As a result, he had a lot more clarity with regard to the nature of work which would be expected of him at Hertie. The interdisciplinary nature of the SSLA curriculum also enabled him to present a more holistic view of his thoughts in his statement of purpose. Additionally, since Ishaansh’s major specialisation at SSLA was in International Relations, he had relevant knowledge with respect to the field, which was largely associated with a Master’s programme. Ishaansh’s dissertation and seminar also served as a mechanism for such credibility given that both were rooted in qualitative research and covered major aspects of International Relations. Given that higher education programmes, like the ones offered by Hertie, require significant interdisciplinary approaches, SSLA was instrumental in providing him, according to Ishaansh, the tools to get through the admission process.
SSLA student, Lakshmi Priya Panicker, who graduated in 2021, is the recipient of the Gold Scholarship for her Master’s programme, “Comparative Politics of Eurasia”, at the Higher School of Economics (HSE), a research-based institute in Moscow, Russia. According to Lakshmi, it was her undergraduate experiences, interactions and structures at SSLA, which helped her secure the state-funded scholarship. An active learner of the Russian language, she hopes that studying in Russia will not only boost her conversational skills, but also her understanding of politics and society in the Eurasian region. Her interest in this region was also reflected in her undergraduate dissertation, in which she focused on understanding Russia’s role in the international order as an emerging power in the post-Cold War era.
SSLA student, Lakshmi Priya Panicker, is preparing to spread her wings in the field of Eurasian Politics in Russia on a state funded scholarship programme
Divyali Mehrotra, SSLA alumni from Batch 2020, has been awarded the ESRC Northern Ireland and North East Doctoral Training Partnership (NINE DTP), to pursue PhD at the Newcastle University, in the United Kingdom. It is a 1+3 programme, where she will be completing her Masters of Arts in Planning and Environment Research, followed by a PhD in Environmental Planning. The NINE DTP award of the full scholarship includes a monthly maintenance grant for her expenses and pays 100% of the tuition fee for the next four years. Her PhD topic explores the joint environmental development plans of the United Kingdom and India, and how the governance practices and policy making processes of these countries can be improved for more sustainable and actionable policies, for environmental development. According to Divyali, her enriched learning in the specialization of International Relations at SSLA, played a major role in directing her passion towards the field, which was further honed by a Master's in International Studies from Goa University. She also credits SSLA's interdisciplinary approach and the liberal arts background, for the development of her interest in environmental sustainability.
Divyali will be staring a new chapter of her life at Newcastle upon Tyne, come September!
Given the diverse specializations offered by Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts (SSLA) across 20 disciplines, our alumni have garnered success in all sectors after their four years at SSLA. Be it in academia or industry, the social sector, or as entrepreneurs – they are holding the SSLA name high in India and across the globe! Highlighted below are a few of our alumni and what they are pursuing, after SSLA!
(MA, Ball State University)
PhD Student, Counselling PsychologyBall State University, Indiana, USA
(MA, UC Davis)
PhD Candidate, Comparative Literature
UC Davis, California, USA
Master of Science, Neuroscience,
University of Oldenburg, Germany
Master of Arts, Society and Culture IIT-Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India
(Juris Doctor, University of Melbourne)
Lawyer, Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia
Specialized Analytics Officer
Banking & Finance (Digital Strategy & Analytics) Citi Group, India
(MA, Development Studies, University of Sussex)Public Policy Consultant,Chhattisgarh State Planning Commission, India
(MA, George Washington University) Gender Associate, International Finance Corporation, USA
(MA - Public Anthropology, American University)
Collective Service Helpdesk Coordinator
(MA, International and Development Studies,
Geneva Graduate Institute)
Program Manager, Gavi,The Vaccine Alliance, Switzerland
(MA - University of Reading & Ashton University) Good Growth Community Social Media,Tata Consultancy Services, India
(MA, Philosophy, University of British Columbia) Officer Programs, Young Leaders for Active Citizenship, India
Nikunj Agarwal, The Invisible Paintbrush
Advertising, Brand Marketing, Content Marketing,
Digital Marketing, Market Research, Marketing
Strategy, Social Media Marketing, Media Marketing
Peter Ngugi, Skizaa
Automated School Management Software,
For Administration, Students, Parents and Teachers,
Digitizing rural schools in Africa - Blockchain Enabled
Mehek Heydecker, The Letter Alley Social Media Marketing
Palak Sharma, Happy Triangle Foundation
(MA, International Economics, Johns Hopkins University) Programme Coordinator, The Barefoot College Co-founder, Happy Triangle Foundation, India
Dr. Suchetana Banerjee, Gayatri Mendanha, and Ananya Dutta teach courses in literature, performance studies, philosophy, and media at the Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts. They run an interdisciplinary Minor Research Project on ‘Traditions of Devotion: Narratives and Lived Experiences’ funded by Symbiosis International (Deemed University). The aim of the project is to document traditions of religious devotion and representations through living religious sites in Maharashtra which have historically witnessed social egalitarianism and syncretism. Through this project, they are documenting religious practices, narratives, lyrics, philosophical formulations, and social and creative performances around these sites. The study draws from the corpus of existing texts, translations, interpretive studies, and other documentation on existing work in this region, as well as from scholars, performers, practitioners and specialists in diverse fields of knowledge. The idea of this research is to create an open-source repository of sound-image-text which will be a stepping stone for students, researchers and creative professionals.
Dr. Sumithra Surendralal and Dr. Renu Vinod from the Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts (SSLA) were awarded a Minor Research Project (MRP) grant from SIU for their research project on 'Documenting Perceptions, Strategies, and Practices of Teachers in Non-Formal Education (NFE): A Pilot Study of Khelghar, Pune'. The success of non-formal education (NFE) initiatives run by education NGOs depends heavily on the individuals who take on the role of teachers. Through this 15-month project, Dr. Surendralal and Dr. Vinod hope to systematically understand and document educators’ perceptions, motivations, and their assessment of value addition in the communities they work with.
SSLA faculty members, Dr. Sumithra Surendralal and Dr. Renu Vinod, recipients of the MRP grant, working towards assessing the value addition of NEF initiatives, in the community
SSLA has been awarded a prestigious Shastri Conference and Lecture Series Grant of the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute (SICI) to host a lecture series on 'Fostering Undergraduate Research in University Spaces'. The organisers of the series are the faculty team of Dr. Sumithra Surendralal, Dr. Vaidya Gundlupet, and Dr. Shweta Sinha Deshpande. Three online lectures will be organised in the series to be held from 5-7 pm on March 19th, 23rd, and 26th, 2022.
Dr. Sumithra Surendralal
Dr. Vaidya Gundlupet
Dr. Shweta Sinha Deshpande
The track welcomes papers on India's experience with migration in its varied aspects. The overarching goal is to bring India to the centrestage of migration conversations, as a country of origin and destination. This track is designed to explore research on how the culture of migration in India has evolved and shaped aspirations over the past century.
Political divides, civil wars, development and economic policies in the Indian sub-continent have been the driving force for migration, both internal and international. India today is both a major country of origin for migrants as well as a popular destination for people from neighbouring countries. Of the total migrant population, around one-in-twenty are Indian born. With about 18 million people living outside their country of birth, the Indian diaspora remains one of the largest in the world. Migration has also created new national identities, economic opportunities, and led to the formation of a culture of migration among many communities today. In addition to international migration, internal movements have also continued within India's borders and more than 37 percent of the population is internally mobile according to the 2011 census data.
Some of the questions we hope to engage with but are limited to include, how has modernity shaped the movement of people within and out of India? What factors have enabled this mobility? How does forced displacement due to climate, conflict, and political instability fit into the discussion? We welcome papers and submissions that examine the intersections of gender, displacement, economics, politics, and conflict that continually shape migration cultures across the region and any other aspect of mobility throughout post-independent and contemporary India.
Selected papers will be included in a book published by the Transnational Press London.
Please follow the guidelines on submission website to submit your abstracts
Looking forward to seeing you at the TMC2022 in Rabat, Morocco.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
Sana Vaidya, Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, India, email@example.com
On behalf of The Migration Conference Organizing Committee, we cordially invite you to submit your abstracts for The Migration Conference 2022 which is hosted by the Faculty of Law, Economic and Social Sciences Agdal of Mohammad V University, Rabat, Morocco and organised by AMERM (l’Association Marocaine d’Etudes et de Recherches sur les Migrations) and IBBS (International British Business School, UK) from 7 to 10 September 2022.
Please feel free to share this call for abstracts with colleagues and students. The Conference is a forum for discussion where experts, young researchers and students, practitioners and policymakers working in the field of migration are encouraged to exchange their knowledge and experiences in a friendly and frank environment.
Many of you have already registered on the online system as users, but if you have not, please register as user first.
We appreciate much if you could enter a few keywords for your expertise to serve as reviewers too.
Symbiosis International (Deemed) University organised a two-day literature festival as a part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations, held online on the 17th and 18th October, 2020. Speakers from various backgrounds and professions were invited to speak on important themes and current events taking place in the country. Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor, Javed Akhtar, Rajdeep Sardesai, Mr. Pavan Varma, Mr. TCA Raghavan, Mr. Manu Pillai, Ms. Parvati Sharma Shekhar Gupta, Shobha De and Chetan Bhagat were among the distinguished speakers. Hon'ble Minister of External Affairs Shri S. Jaishankar addressed the attendees while the festival concluded with an interaction with Shri Amitabh Bachchan.
Symbiosis International University, through its constituent, Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, has been hosting the Symbiosis Literary Festival (SLF) from 2018. The next edition of the festival will be held on October 1 & 2, 2022. After being hosted on a virtual mode over the last two years due to the pandemic, the SLF is back this time in an offline mode. With the promise of a thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating weekend, the festival not only caters to the students and faculty members of Symbiosis, but to the community at large.
The past editions of the SLF have seen speakers from various backgrounds and professions, join the festival from across the world. They made up a veritable list of ‘Who’s Who’ with perspectives from fields which varied from literature to science, politics, international relations, journalism, culinary arts, music, films, theatre, health and wellness, history and culture, gender studies, children’s literature, to name a few.
With a tagline of Conversations that Matter, the SLF always has something for everyone and is a literal literary treat! Glimpses of the past Symbiosis Literary Festivals can be found on this link. Some of our most eminent and distinguished speakers in the past have been -
Amitabh Bachchan, one of the most loved actors from the Hindi film industry, he is also an extremely popular television host and film producer who had also at one point of time, dabbled with politics.
Shashi Tharoor. Currently a Lok Sabha MP and the Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, he was formerly the Minister of State for Human Resource Development and the Minister of State for External Affairs in the Government of India. He was also the Under-Secretary General at the United Nations between 2002-2007.
Hema Malini, an immensely admired actor and an Indian classical dancer par excellence, she is at present a Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha, and an active supporter of PETA.
Javed Akhtar, a poet, a multiple award-winning lyricist, screen writer and a political activist, is a regular at the SLF
Shekhar Gupta. The founder, Editor-in-Chief and Chairman of The Print, is a career journalist who was formerly associated with the Indian Express and India Today
Son of the legendary Raj Kapoor, the late Rishi Kapoor, was a film actor, director and producer.
Consulting Editor and anchor of India Today Television, Rajdeep Sardesai was the Editor in Chief for the longest time of Global Broadcast News, a company he founded in association with CNN and TV18.
The Transcontinental, SSLA’s very own student forum on International Relations, invited Ambassador Shivshankar Menon to conduct a lecture on ‘India's Foreign Policy Challenges in the Contemporary World' on the February 12, 2020. Amb. Menon began the session by explaining the key elements which determine a country’s foreign policy. He then spoke of the evolution of India’s foreign policy from independence to contemporary times and highlighted the importance of avoiding a neutral stance in order to maximise its strategic interests. Moreover, the lecture shed light on the importance of maritime engagement in India’s foreign policy concerns, to balance out Chinese influence in the region. Emphasis was also given on India’s position on the RCEP, the Afghan conflict, and the Ukraine-Russia conflict. The lecture concluded with Ambassador Menon expressing his views on the India’s foreign policy at present, and the steps that may be incorporated to further the country’s interests and strategic objectives.
Ambassador Shivshankar Menon addressing the audience
Every year, SSLA organises an annual year-end celebration titled, The Red Carpet. The event hosts performances by the various student clubs at SSLA. The Red Carpet is also about recognizing the hard work of students through various academic and non-academic awards. The Director’s Report gives an overview of the past academic year, while various annual publications like the SSLA Year Book, and SSLA’s research journal, CJIDS, are released. An integral part of the Red Carpet is The Last Lecture. Based on Randy Pausch’s book by the same name, the students of SSLA vote for a faculty member to deliver a lecture to an audience comprising students and parents, where the faculty member addresses the audience in a manner that this is their last lecture, sharing with them the most important insights they feel they have to offer. The added importance of it being, that it is the final lecture for the graduating students of SSLA. The graduating batch then bid goodbye with a batch dance, calling the curtains on a memorable evening.
SSLA is happy to announce a four day IBHA-SSLA Conference 2021, from August 1 – 4, 2021, in collaboration with the International Big History Association on the theme, Changing the World: Community, Science, and Engagement with Big History. It is the fifth global conference for the Big History Association and the third and final event in a series that was started in 2019 for SSLA. Big History is an interdisciplinary field that merges the natural and social sciences with the humanities to better understand our existence. In its essence, Big History matches liberal Arts and SSLA’s interdisciplinary model. SSLA is home to the India Association for Big History, which was formed in 2016. Being the first university to launch a Big History course in South Asia, SSLA has taken up the questions proposed by Big History and has prompted conversations about the same, within and outside its classroom walls. Keeping this backdrop in mind, together with the fact that 2021 clocks in SSLA’s 10th year anniversary, it is only fitting that the IBHA’s 5th World Conference is held here!
The conference, which is the first of its kind at SSLA – as it is a 24*7 day and night global conference, aims to explore the scientific and human endeavour to incorporate elements from different communities and societies through this conference. With a diverse range of panelists and topics of discussion, the conference will connect students, academicians, and community activists across the globe, giving them a chance to explore our global challenges through a Big History lens.
The other co-sponsors of the conference are the Asian Big History Association, the Eurasian Center for Mega-History & System Forecasting, and the Indian Association for Big History.
To find the detailed schedule and outline of the program, please visit: https://sites.google.com/ssla.edu.in/ibha-ssla/home
To register directly please visit:
In case of any queries please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
I. Workshop on Gender Equity and Inclusion: Transformative Pathways in Higher Education with Wiscomp : A unique first-of-its-kind workshop was organised at Pune from 22-24 August, 2019. The workshop was hosted by Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts (SSLA) in collaboration with Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace (WISCOMP), a New Delhi based South Asian initiative that promotes women’s equal participation and leadership in security and peacebuilding. The workshop sought to facilitate and institutionalise gender-just norms, policies and practices at Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs).This workshop seeks to open up spaces within college and university campuses for engaged dialogue to promote and nurture inclusion and equity.
Wiscomp participate and Team at SSLA MPH on 23rd August 2019
II. Women's Medical Camp : Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts in partnership with Asia Foundation, Prayas and Centre for Action and Reconducted medical camps in Bopkhel on 11th of September and at the Symbiosis Vimannagar New Campus (SVNC) on 16th September ‘2019. At the camps, blood tests and cervical cancer screenings were conducted. Awareness campaigns about cervical and breast cancer were also held. Cervical cancer screening was conducted for 50 women in Bopkhel and 90 women at SVNC. Blood tests were conducted for 113 women at Bopkhel and 87 women at SVNC. A team of 8 doctor-volunteers was present on both days to collect the sample, perform the screening and note the patient history. The format of the camp was such that first the women were made aware of what is cervical cancer.
Dr Joshi from Prayas explaining to SSLA Housekeeping staff the basic information regarding importance of Cervical cancer screening on 16th September 2019.
III. Workshop on Gender Sensitisation :On 13 August 2019 Ms Renuka Mukadam (Independent Consultant on POSH, trainer and external member on IC under sexual harassment law) discussed the various factors revolving around the subject of sexual harassment. She began by defining it as a breakdown of four ideologies: understanding of gender, power, the role of patriarchy and the expression of sexuality. Views over the new law, Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act- 2013, were exchanged. She mentioned the tools and ideologies which supported women to wield the law to their advantages.
IV. Revanta Sarabhai (critically acclaimed male Bharatnatyam dancer) was invited for a lecture demonstration at SSLA in April, 2019 by the Performing Arts Faculty
Revanta Sarabhai at SSLA in April 2019
V. 2021 Global Big History Conference: Special Panels On Gender
The first panel in the 2021 Global Big History Conference featured SSLA’s Gender Committee members and was on the theme ‘Engendering Big History and Envisioning Common Futures’. Prof. Richa Minocha presented in the panel along with students Aishi Mitra and Neha Dadke. The panel abstract was:
Gender is integral to all dimensions of human life. Environment, religion and cultural aesthetics intersect with gender to create vulnerabilities, taboos and marginalization, along with identities, roles and knowledge. Can we represent and re-present gender so it addresses the synergies and symbiotic relationships of the cosmos as well as for conservation of ecology and heritage? Can the modalities of daily living be articulated within a gendered landscape? This panel engages these questions in the context of Big History so as to enable us to develop an understanding of the gaps that need to be bridged and the significance of peace, along with diversity and sustainability.
Panel on Engendering Big History and Envisioning Common Futures
The three individual themes were 1) Living Spaces, Gender and Aesthetics in Big History: Politics of Place 2) Livelihoods and Food: Contexts for Big History and 3) Big History Futures: Women’s Reproductive Health and Religion.
In addition, third year SSLA students Kartik Anilkumar and Diviya Makhija presented a panel through the Gender Committee by using the Little Big Histories Approach on ‘A Little Big History of the Body: Tracing its Separation from Nature.’
What is ‘body’? The idea that my ‘self’ stops at the boundaries of my skin leads to a notion of the individual being separate from the environment. This reduction of bodies to their biological bases has led, among other things, to a controlling of sexuality in law and the fetishization of queer identities. While Gender Studies allows a reclaiming of identity, Big History expands space and time by allowing for an origin story. This paper addresses the question – when did our bodies start to be seen, structured and studied as being separate from nature and the cosmos that produced them? The subject of ‘body’ today constitutes a state of map-lessness across disciplines, owing to the hierarchical position assumed by medicine and the life sciences. Although a new field of study, Big History is a vehicle of older ideas, such as the observation by 16th century historian Jean Bodin that ‘those who study the maps of regions before they have learned accurately the relation of the whole universe and the separate parts of it to each other and to the whole are going wrong.’ Big History signifies a return to this unified understanding of reality and gives us an opportunity to adapt society to that reality.
VI. Uma Chakravarti, a well-known feminist historian, interacted with the Women in India class on 31 March, 2021 on the topic of ‘Caste, Sexual Violence and Impunity.’ She spoke about the close nexus of caste, sexual violence, and the cycle of impunity generated. The insights from her long engagement with the women’s movement in its historical context as well as the references to contemporary situations provided a relevant and critical lens to understanding the topic. Prof. Uma’s lecture was interactive and designed to stimulate our contemplation of patriarchal aggression and effective resistance to it.
VII. Professor Indrani Mazumdar of the Centre for Women's Development Studies, New Delhi, spoke to students in the course on Women in India on 5 April 2021 about ‘Women and Migration.’ She emphasised that there is a male bias to migration, while feminisation of the migration process is taking place as well. Women migrate to find employment in sectors where they are preferred. An anti-trafficking discourse is linked to the anti-immigration discourse and it takes it away from foregrounding of women's contributions as migrants. The need is to understand and address the conditions of extreme poverty at home and the vulnerabilities of women as migrants.
Indrani Mazumdar of the Centre for Women’s Development Studies Interacting with students
VIII. Professor Lata Singh of the Centre for Women’s Studies, in the School of Social Sciences at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, invited Dr. Richa Minocha to attend a webinar on ‘Writing about People’s Resistance’ on 28 April 2021. Prof. Minocha’s students from her course, Women in India, were invited, as well as those in her Seminar on Gender, Culture and Development. Researcher and social activist Ranjana Padhi was the prime speaker, along with eminent faculty, such as Prof. Uma Chakravarti (feminist historian), Prof. Vasanthi Raman (Centre for Women’s Development Studies) and Prof. Anagha Tambe (Department of Women’s Studies, Savitri Bai Phule Pune University).
JNU webinar where Prof. Richa Minocha and SSLA students were invited
IX. Dr. Richa Minocha participated in a Webinar on Gender Equity and Covid
19 along with students from her courses. The Webinar was organised by Women’s
Development Cell, University of Mumbai in association with Nirmala Memorial Foundation College of Commerce
& Science Kandivali (E) on 14th May 2020.
X. Professor Meenakshi F. Paul, Professor of English and Principal at the Department of Evening Studies,
Himachal Pradesh University, spoke to the students of the Women and Gender Studies minor programme on 27
July, 2020, on gender and intersectionality.
XI. Professor Vasanthi Raman from the Centre for Women and Gender Studies interacted with students from the
course, Introduction to Women and Gender Studies, and Seminar students of Gender Culture and Development on
28 September, 2020.
XII. Prof Lata Singh, from the Centre for Women's Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, interacted with the
Women in India class on the theme of ‘Foregrounding Courtesans in Feminist History’ on 3 March,
XIII. Professor Sudha Mohan, former Head of Department, Civics and Politics, University of Mumbai, interacted
with the Women in India students on the theme of ‘Mobilisation, Empowerment and Participation Case
Studies of Women’s Organisation on 12 April, 2021.
XIV. A special series of lectures on feminist research methodology was conducted on 17 July, 2021. The topics
and facilitators were as follows:
XV. Professor Rukmini Sen of Ambedkar University interacted with Symbiosis students on 25 September, 2021. The talk was in honour of renowned sociologist and social activist Dr. Gail Omvedt and the Woman’s Question in the Indian Women’s Movement.
XVI. Seema Kulkarni, Senior Fellow of Society for Promoting Participative Ecosystem Management spoke to students in the Women and Gender Studies course on 14 October, 2021 about ‘Gender and Environment.’
XVII. On 17 December, 2021, SSLA organized a session on sensitizing staff and housekeeping on the sexual harassment of women in the workplace. Staff members of SSIS, SSLA, and Housekeeping attended the session. Dr. Richa Minocha was the resource person for the session. She discussed the background of the issue, including what constitutes sexual harassment, the Vishakha Guidelines (1997), and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act (2013). The method of lodging complaints and the conduct of inquiry were highlighted, as well as provisions related to deterrents and punishments.
Gender sensitisation workshop conducted by Richa Minocha for SSLA staff on 17 December, 2021
XVIII. A gender sensitization workshop was organised on 26 March, 2022 for SSLA faculty. It was organised by SSLA, the Symbiosis Teaching Learning Resource Centre and conducted by Symbiosis Centre for Emotional Well Being. The main issues identified and discussed were understanding gender fluidity and how many attributes are stereotyped and gendered.
XIV. As can be seen, many SSLA faculty members are invited as resource persons to gender-related seminars and webinars.
XX. Workshop Organised by the Community Outreach Cell - The COP Module on Gender
Dr. Sneha Gole who teaches at the Krantijyoti Savitribai Phule Women's Studies Centre conducted a teaching module on Thinking and Doing Gender for SSLA students. The module was conducted three times during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 academic years between 5th June, 2020 - 30th June, 2020, and 9th December, 2020 – 29th December, 2020 and 14th June to 29th July, 2021. The module’s focus was on creating an understanding of gender, which moves away from the focus on 'men' and 'women' as homogenous and mutually exclusive categories to understanding gender as a structure and an analytical tool which will help us make sense of the world around us, from wars, pandemics to our everyday life experiences to understanding debates from bois locker room to how we romance and love. The project work can be undertaken individually or as a group and will involve picking an issue/ everyday phenomenon and analyzing it through a gender lens, as well as developing an intervention to address common-sense ideas around it. The nature of the project and the intervention will be highly personalized for each student, helping them identify areas that are of concern and interest to them and allowing them to develop analytical and conceptual skills to address the same.
Professor Uma Chakravarti, well known feminist historian, author, and film director visited SSLA campus on 13 April, 2019 and interacted with students and faculty. Her film, Ek Inquilab aur Aaya, was screened on this occasion.
Professor Lata Singh of the Centre for Women’s Studies, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University visited SSLA on 12–13 April, 2019. She interacted with students of the course Understanding Feminism. She was also a discussant at the screening of Prof. Chakravarti’s film.
Professor Roderic Owen of Mary Baldwin College (USA) and a Fulbright Scholar at SSLA, spoke to the students in the Understanding Feminisms course on 5 April, 2019 about ‘Feminism and Global Justice.’
Penelope Markle, R.N., N.P., USVA (ret.), interacted with students in Dr. Minocha’s course, Women and Work, on the theme of ‘Negotiating Motherhood and Workplace: Women in the Caregiving Sector’ on 12 August 2019.
A lecture on Prevention of Sexual Harassment and Regulations and Policy in Higher Education Institutes was conducted by Mr. Gaurav Sharma on 14th September, 2019, for Law students at SSLA. The nuances of the law governing sexual harassment at workplaces in general and educational institutes, in particular, were discussed. Also, legal provisions regarding the nature and constitution of the Internal Committee at an institute were discussed.
Special Lecture organised at SSLA in Blended Learning Mode : Gender and Global Learning Experience
Inaugural GLE Lecture in Blended mode: Dr. Richa Minocha presenting to DePaul students and faculty and Symbiosis students on the theme: Gender, Livelihoods and Food Security, 12 April 2022.
SSLA students visited Savitribai Phule Pune University on 5 March, 2019 as feminist scholar and writer V. Geetha was delivering the seventh Mukta Salve lecture on the theme of ‘Religion and the Feminist Subject: Thoughts on a Possible History.’
Women and Gender Studies students, accompanied by Prof. Richa Minocha, went on a day excursion on 15 March 2022, to explore sites associated with Savitribai Phule in Pune.
EVENTS RELATED TO GENDER ORGANISED BY STUDENTS
The Natak Society
The body is a story, was organised as an online theatre movement workshop on 26th June, '21 by the Natak Society at SSLA. There is a way in performance to build empathy, to connect with people, and to connect with our own bodies-- something that performers, had lost since bodies had become limited to the boundaries of a screen during the lockdown. To try and compensate for this loss, to reconnect with our bodies, to let our bodies tell stories, Natak Society organized an online theatre movement workshop along with Queer Qrew for their pride week in June ‘21. Facilitated by filmmaker and theatre practitioner Gillian Pinto, and theatre practitioner and gender educator Hina Siddiqui, this workshop included close readings of texts from Bhakti poetry and discussions on personal experiences after each activity to understand ways in which the body has been perceived away from the modern markings of gender.
Silence the court is in session - An audio adaptation for the BITS WAVES fest: (27th October to 2nd November, '21). In their submission for the BITS Goa annual WAVES fest, the Natak society worked on an audio adaptation of Vijay Tendulkar’s ‘Silence! The Court is in Session’ (Originally, ‘Shantata! Court Chaalu Aahe’). They played around with the characters and reimagined the story with Samant and Miss Benare as a queer romance. This became a key point in the play since it helped explore Miss Benare’s motivations as a character. It was easy to imagine Miss Benare as queer because the way her character is written in opposition to a dominant patriarchal discourse. One of the most important ways for her to respond to this dominant discourse is by expressing her sexuality and agency freely. The play builds up to an important question about her agency over her body and her unborn child – a very important question that the world is struggling with and going back and forth on today. Miss Samant, initially confused about Miss Benare’s flirtatious passes at her, later accepts and reverts to them, and the other characters of the play don’t recognize it as a romantic encounter.
Traditional Day performance: (12th April, '22)
For SSLA’s traditional day in April themed ‘90s Bollywood’, the Natak Society put up a play showing an audition setting where aspiring actors play 90s Bollywood actors, with tones of nostalgia from the 90s in the music and dialogues. The two central characters built a queer intimacy which comforted one of them who was nervous about their audition and they ended up expressing themselves in the clothes they liked. To make a character comfortable in a role is something realized through these plays, when they are exposed to the public gaze in the clothes that they like to wear, which is often treated as a spectacle. The Natak society hopes to have more conversations about the comfort and care that can be shared with each other through these plays as acting on the other hand also exposes students to vulnerability.
‘Stories by women, about women, for everyone’, an outing: (24th April, '22)
The Natak society students went for an outing to watch an experimental play, a rehearsed reading of 3 stories by Gingertea Drama Productions. Three stories (in Marathi, Hindi and English) written by women were read out and performed, while giving the audience an immersive experience of the three stories by engaging our senses (smell, sound, taste even) with elements of the stories. Gingertea Drama Productions picked out stories of love, desire and labour, followed by questions that the audience was supposed to answer anonymously and the answers were read out in the end, forming stories of their own. This was a great experience for the members who attended in understanding how theatre can be used as a political tool to tell important stories and bring them to life.
‘How I learned to drive’, a play reading: (24th June, '22)
A collaboration with the Thought Project under their key initiative 'Curtain Call', a play reading was organized by Natak Society open to everyone at SSLA. Thought Project is an organization that works at the intersection of theatre, gender, sexuality and mental health.
Present student members of the Natak Society include Diviya Makhija, Zitin Kaul, Khushi Tulsyan, Ribhav Singh, Evina Lakra, Sheuli Banerjee, Trisha Chandra, Nayanika Shome, Sakshi Ramesh, Ali Mahmud, Lakshmi Pillai, Adithi Bhat, Rohail Shekhar, Anushri Shah, Alex Shah, Angela Sabu, Dharshini Kannan, Kompal Zinta, Keerthana Menon, Diya Nayak, Samikshya Panda, Ipshita Roy, Adya Sharma, Muskaan Narwani, Vatsal Khajuria, Kartik Nair, Simran Naik, Subarna Maitra, Urvi Ganjoo, and Gunreet Marwah.
SSLA Presents is the annual theatre production put up by the faculty and students of Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts. Each year students from across four batches along with the faculty get together and create a theatre collective. The faculty members and students try to create a space where creativity flourishes. Gender has been one of the common themes that the makers have tried to explore over various productions. SSLA Presents performed A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare (2016), The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui by Bertolt Brecht (2017), Oedipus Rex by Sophocles and Medea by Euripides (2018), Hayavadan and Boiled Beans on Toast by Girish Karnad (2019), Adaptations of Fear and Misery of the Third Reich by Bertolt Brecht and Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People (2021).
Four plays that were produced and directed in the first three years of SSLA Presents were chosen keeping in mind intersectional issues of gender, race, and class- questions of power and violence and resistance. Conceptualised by Ananya Parekh and Nikhil Narkar, the plays tried to highlight the above mentioned issues through the aesthetics and the performance. Almost the entire team consisted of women- as assistant directors, production in charge at various levels, as well as actors. In midsummer nights dream, the plot itself addresses questions of gender and power. Many of our women actors took on male roles. As Ananya Parekh recalls, the dialogues of the women characters, especially those about being a woman in a man’s world were highlighted. In the second play, The resistible rise of Arturo Ui all major male characters were played by women actors. Ananya and Nikhil deliberately highlighted male friendships by using a variety of songs and tried to ask actors to play roles in a gender neutral manner.
The third play, Medea is about women’s conflict and it was an entirely women led production and cast. Many songs were used to universalise certain issues, an all woman chorus was deployed and the play was set in the modern context. Ananya Parekh expressed similar sentiment for the fourth play Oedipus Rex and Suchetana Banerjee who directed Hayavadan and Boiled Beans on Toast echoed Ananya’s thoughts when she said that women actors took on male roles and that she worked hard along with student Tanmay Guha Neogi as Co- Director to help female actors bring in their own ways of performing and feel comfortable with their bodies.
Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts (SSLA), Pune and DePaul University, Chicago, have been collaborating on the International Gender Conference (IGC) since 2019. An annual event now hosted by SSLA, the conference has become an important space for voices from across the globe. The details of the IGC, where important conversations around various issues related to gender were held, is given below.
I) ‘Revisiting, Reviewing, and Restructuring Spaces for Urban Women: A Dialogue Between Sectors for Empowering Urban Women Across the Globe’ IGC 2019: Hosted by the Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts (SSLA) on the 1st and 2nd of March 2019, was a dynamic gathering of academia, the corporate sector, community-based organizations, researchers, and the development sector to discuss issues faced by Women in Urban Spaces, specific to the middle-class population. At this conference, ideas, concepts, and stories of transformation and success were exchanged through several discussions, panels, workshops, exhibitions, and papers with a view to creating a network for all concerned with issues faced by women in urban spaces. The conference began with the SSLA-Sage Public Lecture, (co-hosted by Sage Publications) on 28 February 2019. The two-day conference on March 1-2, 2019 worked towards revisiting and reviewing the socio-cultural challenges faced by urban women. This helped in realizing our responsibility and will enable us to act towards restructuring these spaces as we progress.
II) 'Identity: Breaking Ground' IGC 2020: The Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts (SSLA), in collaboration with DePaul University, conducted the second edition of the International Gender Conference on the 7th and 8th of February 2020. The conference was held at the SSLA Campus, Viman Nagar (near Pune International Airport), taking forward from last year’s successful conference which tackled the theme of Women in Urban Spaces, IGC 2019. A multitude of disciplines define the term ‘identity’ in the context of their own knowledge base through terms rooted in the experience, accounts and evidence that is unique to each of them. Identity can be understood as a concept, a framework, determinant, a restriction, appealing to the context that it finds itself used in. The world politics in the present day has been organized around defined identities - a nexus of socio-economic and political structures, norms, and responses. With speedy globalization, digital growth, rise in violence, and construction of new cultural meanings, how one defines and contextualizes identity is questionable. Gender plays an important role in defining and contextualizing identities. This conference attempts to understand the way gender is experienced against the backdrop of burgeoning urbanity fuelled by industrialist-capitalist modernity and by post modernity resulting from globalization. Along with the growing need to consume, compete, and develop, a form of alienation is enveloping the society in a global order that does not nurture, but only squeezes, to ensure the survival of the fittest.
III) ‘Pandemic: A Gendered Experience’ IGC 2021: SSLA organized its first virtual edition of the International Gender Conference on 25th, 26th, and 27th March 2021. One of the highlights of the academic year, IGC was held in collaboration with SSLA’s international academic partner, DePaul University. The conference brought light to how the pandemic has drastically increased the already- existing gap of gender-inequality and its effects. While the pandemic has brought distress to all our lives, it has put migrants, older persons, sex workers and other minority groups at further risk. The three- day conference addressed issues affecting these groups and focused on the economic, social and legal ramifications of the pandemic from a gendered perspective.
IV) Men, Masculinities and Gender Equality 2022- Fourth Annual International Gender Conference hosted by SSLA was held in collaboration with SSLA’s international academic partner, DePaul University. It aimed to take a multidisciplinary approach to the theme of ‘Men, Masculinities and Gender Equality'. The conference was held from the 3rd to the 5th of March, 2022.Contemporary gender theory underscores the importance of relationality in the production and maintenance of gender – relationality of men to women, between men, and between women. Studies of men and masculinity have provided rich and thoughtful inroads into theorizing and analyzing gender as relational. ‘Men and masculinity’ has subsequently become the subject of intense theorization. Recent theoretical developments have challenged stereotypes by showing how myriad masculinities are produced within specific historic and cultural domains, and have replaced monolithic notions of men’s power by demonstrating that men wield and access power differently, depending on their racial, class, caste and sexual locations. Through this conference we aim to explore theoretical/social conceptions of masculinities from multiple disciplines and also examine how masculinities (of men and women) intersect with other structural locations including sexuality, class, caste, country, etc.
The Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts (SSLA), in collaboration with DePaul University, will be conducting the second edition of the International Gender Conference.
III. Workshop on Prevention of Sexual Harassment, Regulations and Policy in Higher Education: The session on sexual harassment law and practices, focused around explaining the nuances of the law governing sexual harassment at workplaces or colleges. The conductor of the workshop began with exploring the legal and social background to the law (POSHA). This entailed understanding Vishakha vs. State of Rajasthan (1997) which eventually culminated in POSHA and is borrowed by the UGC Sexual Harassment Prevention Act, 2015. This was followed by dwelling into what actually constitutes sexual harassment and who can get harassed. This included the promise of preferential treatment, implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment, promise of future employment and creating an offensive or hostile work environment. Towards the next part of the session, the TV instructor explained how and who can file a complaint with the Internal Committee and under what circumstances will the complaint be governed.
IV. Workshop on Gender Sensitisation :On 13 August 2019 Ms Renuka Mukadam (Independent Consultant on POSH, trainer and external member on IC under sexual harassment law) discussed the various factors revolving around the subject of sexual harassment. She began by defining it as a breakdown of four ideologies: understanding of gender, power, the role of patriarchy and the expression of sexuality. Views over the new law, Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act- 2013, were exchanged. She mentioned the tools and ideologies which supported women to wield the law to their advantages.
The registration charge for IGC 2020 is Rs. 500 (for both the days)
The registration charges will take care of participation in the conference, lunch and tea on both days of conference as well as dinner on Day 1.
On the spot registrations also available.
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