National Seminar on “Gandhi in India’s Literary Imagination”


To commemorate Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, a two-day National Seminar titled Gandhi in India’s Literary Imagination was organized by the Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia in collaboration with Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti, New Delhi on October 22-23, 2019. The seminar began with a welcome address by the Convenor of the seminar and Head, Department of English, Prof Nishat Zaidi.
Prof Zaidi in her retracing the march of history elaborated Gandhi’s long association with Jamia Millia Islamia spanning from the politically turbulent times of the 1920s to times of financial crisis with Gandhi himself endeavouring to beg on the streets to stem this crisis. Prof Zaidi highlighted that for Gandhi, Jamia represented the vision of a nationalist university in terms of embodying the pluralistic ethos.
While testifying to the singular status of Gandhi in the history of Jamia as can be seen in the letters of Gandhi to the founding fathers of Jamia and his own son, Devdas Gandhi, having taught in the Department of English in its earliest years, Prof Zaidi believed that this Seminar would enable us to rethink, assimilate, manifest and critically interrogate Gandhi’s philosophy, his vision and ideals so as to reconstruct them in our cultural and social imaginary.
The convenor of the seminar and Head, Department of English, Prof Nishat Zaidi welcomed the gathering. Smt. Geeta Shukla, Research Officer GSDS also spoke on the occasion. Prof Alok Bhalla, Prof (retd.) English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad and Jamia Millia Islamia chaired the session. Prof Harish Trivedi, Former Head, Department of English, University of Delhi, delivered the key note address.
Over the course of the two days of the seminar, around 40 delegates from across the length and breadth of our country presented papers on Gandhi in thematically varied academic sessions. The papers presented investigated the Gandhian myth, sensibility and political philosophy in fictional representations and varied cultural representations offering wide ranging insights into the various debates of nation-state, women’s role and agency, the contours of history, reconfiguring tribal movements, transforming Dalit consciousness, violence and praxis.
The different sessions included:
1. Women’s participation and assimilation within the Gandhian movement;
2. Varied literary articulations of Gandhi;
3. Gandhian philosophy and its resonance within the nation-state and the discourses of shining developing India;
4. Gandhi’s multiple trajectories in fictional imagination traversing secular and religious domains;
5. Gandhi’s significance in terms of the nation-state and the Partition discourse
6. Interrogating the ecological crisis, Tribal and Peasant resistances through the exploration of Gandhi’s philosophy;
7. Adapting Gandhi for popular consumption and fashioning self;
8. Cinematic representations of Gandhi
9. Gandhi’s configuration within pedagogical practices, Dalit discourses and world literatures
10. Gandhi’s political and cultural significance in the contemporary world as resonating from an attitude of fearlessness and an unwavering quest to explore truth in all its naked tenacity