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NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.


Special Programs

Paul G 5th Memorial Lecture

Re-reading of the Indian constitution - Prof. Shiv Visvanathan

Dr. Shiv Visvanathan advocated for a re-reading of the Indian constitution while speaking at the Fr. Paul de La Gueriviere 5th Memorial Lecture organized by Indian Social Institute on Friday, 3rd February 2017. Dr Sonajharia Minz, Professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University was the chairperson for the programme.

Shiv Visvanathan elaborated  on the topic “Self and the Other: A tribal reading of the constitution". He  questioned the association of tribals with a past culture and the concept of their being a backward looking community and its primordial nature. Mentioning the role of Jaipal Singh who talked about rights of tribals but did not get his due in the Constituent Assembly as Ambedkar did mainly because he was not appreciated by other members like Nehru and Patel. He emphasized on a tribal re- reading of the constitution because unlike Dalits and Muslims whose voices are heard, tribes are relegated to museums.

Alternative ideas appear into the scene once there is re-reading of the constitution. The concept of plural constitution will come to fore with the accumulation of the tribal theory of knowledge. In addition, Constitution needs cognitive justice as we need to accommodate other alternative knowledge systems and epistemologies. Emphasizing on the need to develop a new theory  to curb the alienation of the tribes Shiv felt the need of building a tacit Constitution based on plurality that acknowledges new cosmologies, ontologies, epistemologies. To complement India’s constitutional ideals of liberty equality and fraternity the concept of sustainability and plurality must be incorporated.

A tribal re-reading of constitution would include multiplicity of time rather than linearity of time, recognizing oral tradition rather than written tradition and nature considered as commons rather than resource.

 Survival of any democracy depends on its acceptance of plurality. In fact in the tribal worldview there is no lack of pluralities among tribal communities. Sustainability will enhance peace with nature and others.

Development and economy that is part four of the constitution representing the Directive Principles of the State Policy can only challenge the idea of nation state. The recent trend of witch hunting people talking against state compromises with the idea of plurality. The present development paradigm is a war against informal economy and creates a genocide of peoples and cultures.

Indian Social Institute which was founded in 1951 is actively engaged in research, training, action and advocacy pertaining to socio-economic development and protection and promotion of human rights of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Most Backward Castes, Minorities, Unorganized and landless labour and women.  Fr Paul G was the conscience of Indian Social Institute and worked for the marginalized sections throughout his life. He passed away on 21 December 2011. Since then every year Indian Social Institute organizes memorial lecture in his fond memory.



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