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Keynote Address

DIGITAL HUMANITIES: SEIZING THE INITIATIVE

Mr. Jawhar Sircar 

Chairman, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, India.

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Mr. Jawhar Sircar 

Chairman, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, India.

 

       Mr. Jawhar Sircar is currently Chairman of the prestigious Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta. This 44 year-old Centre is among the front-ranking five that leads 37 research institutes sponsored by the Indian Council for Social Science Research. He has addressed several universities and academic institutions in the world, as far apart as Brazil and Australia-New Zealand, with Europe and Asia in between.

        Sircar was educated in the universities of Calcutta, Cambridge and Sussex. He has two Master’s Degrees in Sociology and Ancient Indian History and Culture. Despite a hectic work schedule as a civil servant, he carried on academic research and publications on cultural, historical and anthropological subjects, and writes regularly in national and foreign publications. Historian Ray Chaudhuri of Oxford University commended “his exceptional analytical power and depth of knowledge in diverse fields”, while anthropologist Ralph Nicholas of Chicago University described him as "an outstanding historical and interpretive anthropologist. He is also a student of St.Xavier’s School, and the Presidency College. 

 


 

 1. Administration:

 

      Of the 41 years that he served in the Indian Administrative Service, he spent 17 in Finance and Commerce-Industries and 16 in Higher Education, Culture and Media. He was India's longest serving Culture Secretary and reported directly to the PM for half his tenure. Dr Manmohan Singh has described him publicly as "one of India's most distinguished civil servants. He was instrumental in piloting serious museum reforms in India, for which he was awarded the British Museum Medal. Jawhar Sircar led India to the UNESCO Conventions on World Heritage, Intangible Cultural Heritage and Restitution of Cultural Properties. Several of his initiatives are now part of the country's Cultural Policies and the present President of India has publicly complimented him as an "outstanding performer and visionary".

      Before retirement, he was selected in February 2012 for the statutory post of CEO of Prasar Bharati, to oversee Akashvani and Doordarshan with their 500 stations and 50,000 men. He was elected Vice President of the 72-nation international Broadcasting Union and addressed world conferences on television and media policies. As CEO, Sircar took up the battle against obsolete technologies and dull governmental programmes on DD and AIR and enforced total transparency, cost cutting and digitization despite stiff internal opposition.


 

2. Contributions to Books & Monographs

 

 2017: Reconsidering Local History: Some Facts, Some Observations in Bandopadhyay, Arun&Das Gupta, Sanjukta (ed) 'In Quest of The Historian's Craft: Essays in Honour of  Professor BB Chaudhuri, Part II, Kolkata 

 2017: Krishna's Long Journey: From Sacred Text to the Popular Arts. Victoria Memorial Hall: Krishna: Iconographic Representations, VMH Publication, Kolkata         

 2017: Appropriation & Absorption: Examples From The Dharma Cult Of Rarh-Bangla. in Shamsuzzaman Khan (ed), 'Social Change and Folklore'. Dhaka Bangla Academy 

 2016: The Hegemonic Gene: Bureaucracy and Mindless Dominance, in Danda, A.K. (ed) 'Society, State and Governance', Kolkata, Indian National Confederation of Anthropological Associations. 

 2016: (under print): The Media Revolution In India; Myth & Reality, Australia India Institute, University of Melbourne, Australia 

 2015: How Buddhism Was Re-discovered in Modern India, Kolkata, Bengal Buddhist Association 

 2014: Vividh Bharati’s Role in Unifying the Nation, Kolkata, Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture 

 2014: Role of Civil Society and Media in Combating Corruption, in the 'Golden Jubilee Publication' of the Central Vigilance Commission, New Delhi 

 2013: Prasar Bharati at Crossroads, July Issue, Yojana Journal of the Indian Planning Commission, New Delhi 

 2010: Shantiniketan in 1959, VisvaBharati (University) Publication, Bolpur, West Bengal 

 2005: The Construction of The Hindu Identity in Medieval Western Bengal: The Role of Popular Cults, Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata 

 2004: Durga: The Domestication of The Warrior Goddess: A Rationalist Deconstruction  in Jasodhara Bagchi (ed) 'Women’s Education and Politics of Gender, Kolkata: Bethune College. 

 2004: From The Aniconic To The Iconic: The Folk Gods Transform, While Dharma Resists, Journal of the Indian Anthropological Society. Nov2004, Vol. 39 Issue 3, p209-226. 

 2000: The Bengalis: A Thousand Years, Special Issue of ABP, Kolkata 

 1990: The Chinese of Calcutta, in Chaudhuri, Sukanta (ed), Calcutta: The Living City: (Calcutta Tercentenary Publication) Vol. II, New Delhi, Oxford University Press 

 1986: Evolution of District Administration, India International Centre Quarterly, Summer; pp.71-87 

 


  

3.  Board of Governors, Governing bodies and Trusts, where served, in personal and official capacity.

 

 (a)     in New Delhi: 

➢    The National Museum, 

➢    National Gallery of Modern Art, 

➢    3 National Academies of India, i.e, Literature, Song & Dance and Visual Arts 

➢    NSD (National School of Drama) 

➢    ICWA (Indian Council of World Affairs), 

➢    INTACH, Indian National Trust for Cul Heritage 

➢    SPIC Macay, India’s largest classical music promotion organization among the youth, 

➢    Consortium for Educational Communication (Inter University) 

➢    CII (Confederation of Indian Industries)

 

(b)     in Kolkata : 

➢    Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Inst. of Asian Studies, 

➢    The Asiatic Society, 

➢    Victoria Memorial & Hall, 

➢    Indian Museum, 

➢    The National Library, 

➢    Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation, 

➢    Indian Institute of Management 

➢    Children's Little Theatre: President 

➢    K-MoMA: Kolkata Museum of Modern Art

 

(c)     in Mumbai : 

➢    CSMVS ( Prince of Wales Museum) 

➢    MRUC ( Media Research Users Council) 

➢    The Asiatic Society 

 

(d)     in Other Cities: 

➢    FTII ( Film Television Institute of India), Pune 

➢    Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, 

➢    Kala Kshetra, Chennai, 

➢    NGMA, Bengaluru,  & Chancellor of Central University of Tibetan Studies, Varanasi. 

 


  

4.  Subjects of Specialization:

 

(a) Evolution of religious systems, beliefs, cults and identities in medieval and pre-modern India as responses to perceived challenges; the late emergence of popular Hinduism; the inadvertent contribution of Brahmanism to the unification of India; the stratagems of appropriation, accommodation and assimilation of autochthonous belief systems, the rationale behind religious festivals, etc. 

(b)  Deciphering Indian 'cultural genes' and how they impact on world views and attitudes and "why and what Indians do and don't". 

(c) Fragmented continuities, amnesic ruptures and collective memories in Indian history; the possible reasons thereof and utility of 'historical amnesia; the rediscovery of India's past and the retro-fitting of a linear history. 

(d) Media in India: the myths, the reality and the emergence of capitalist conglomerates and monopolies over thought; the role of Hindi films and film songs in overcoming resistance from regional cultures, with special reference to All India Radio and Vividh Bharati and television in the age of the Internet. 

(e) Contemporary India, the bureaucratic juggernaut; the role of reinventing history in the escalation of polarisation; constriction of 'the other' and systematic post-truth manufactures. 

 He has made two hundred articles and talks in India and abroad on these subjects.

 

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