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Archives on Contemporary History

A new website has been designed for the Archives on Contemporary History (also known as the P.C.Joshi Archives). It showcases some parts of this very rich and unusual collection of materials on the history of the Communist Party and the Indian left generally, carefully assembled and catalogued by the first General Secretary of the Communist Party of India, P.C.Joshi. It currently hosts two small virtual exhibitions of photographs, most of the P.C.Joshi Memorial lectures that have been delivered over the last decade or so, some of the indexes that are available for consultation by scholars, and links to related websites. Please do visit the ACH at: http://www.jnu.ac.in/Academics/Schools/SchoolOfSocialSciences/Archive/default.html

This year, the ACH organized, in collaboration with Ambedkar University's Centre for Community Knowledge, an Oral History Workshop for students chosen from JNU and AUD. Held over five weekends, the students were addressed by several oral historians of note, such as Nonica Datta, Suroopa Mukherjee, Chitra Joshi, Pradip Kumar Datta, and Shahid Amin. They presented the oral histories that they collected on the last day of this workshop on March 31, 2012. These interviews will form part of the ACH and CCD. The response to the workshop was very encouraging, and hopefully it will be repeated in the years to come.

The P.C. Joshi Memorial lecture for 2012 was delivered by Nikhil Dey, renowned founder member of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, and principal force behind the Right to Information Campaign. His well-attended lecture, 'Participatory Democracy and the Future of Dissent', was presided over by the Rector Prof Sudha Pai and chaired by the lawyer-activist Usha Ramanathan.

ACH is making every effort not only to digitize existing materials in the archive, but also to expand the collection by inviting donations from members and activists of the Indian left, of all affiliations.  It is planned to organize a seminar and exhibition towards the end of the year on left cultural activism, ranging from writing and poetry to drama and cinema, in the period from the 1940s to the 1960s.

Janaki Nair, Chairperson
Archives on Contemporary History


International Food Festival

26 January – Republic Day of India – has significance as well in JNU. It is now a tradition for all foreign students of JNU to assemble at Jhelum lawns and cook their national food. This year 19 countries participated in this appetizing event: Vietnam, Laos, Palestine, Tajikistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Tibet, Armenia, South Korea, Nepal, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, China, France and India. The NGO "Unnoticed children of JNU" had its stall too.  The event witnessed the graceful presence of Vice-Chancellor, Prof. S K Sopory as chief guest, and Rector Prof. Sudha Pai, International Student's Advisor Prof. Alka Acharya and Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh Mr. Mahboob Salleh as special guests. Vice-Chancellor noticed the huge popularity of the festival and promised to help ISA finding a new venue for the International Food Festival next year. Guests from inside and outside JNU enjoyed delicacies made by international students as well as colorful country presentations following the event.

Surajkund Fair & Akshardham Temple Trip

A one-day trip to the highly acclaimed annual national handicraft fair – the 'Surajkund Mela' – and the magnificent temple, 'Akshardham', was organized by the ISA on 5 February 2012. Around 40 international students in JNU visited both places. Needless to say, the participants were absolutely mesmerized by the immense cultural diversity of India as displayed in the range of the handicrafts, cuisine and textiles. The vibrant colours and energetic folk dances were also fascinating and captivated the international students. The architecture of the famous Akshardham Temple had us all spellbound. The high point of this excursion was the fountain-show in the the temple.

Freshers Welcome Party

To welcome the new entrants to the campus this semester, ISA organized a welcome party at the ISA office on 12 February. Students hailing from different corners of world came in large numbers to the get together. 'Freshers' were welcomed with flowers and the 'tika' – the traditional Indian practice of putting a dot of vermillion powder on their forehead. This event combines the objective of familiarizing the new entrants to the campus and building contacts, with loads of fun and laughter. The delicious Indian sweets, cakes and snacks were loved by everyone. Some enthusiastic students put up a show consisting songs and dances which helped in promoting camaraderie and friendship.

Bikash Kumar Mishra
President, ISA, JNU

JNU's Eco-Warriors

The next time you throw a used cup, a plastic wrapper or a piece of paper anywhere inside the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus, you might find the guy standing next to you pick it up and put it in a dustbin nearby. The JNU Eco-Club, a students' initiative to make the campus cleaner and greener, has been running cleanliness drives since February this year at major get-together points in the university premises to discourage littering. The initiative with the larger aim to encourage the habit to reduce, reuse and recycle has since been joined by nearly 200 people from the university fraternity, mostly students.

The Club has held three cleanliness drives since February. In the first phase a popular open-air eatery inside the campus, 24*7; Sabarmati hostel lawns and Godavari Dhaba were cleaned with the help of nearly 30 volunteers. The second phase took place in March at 24*7, Sabarmati lawns, KC Market and Ganga Dhaba. The third phase was run in early April in the surroundings of the following hostels – Tapti, Mahi-Mandawi, Koyna, Shipra, Lohit and Chandrabhaga apart from 24*7 and Sabarmati lawns. 

The Club's president Phakharuddin Ansari, himself a Masters final semester student of CCFS/SLS says, “Over the last four years I have seen a drastic reduction in the green environ of JNU. Many new buildings and hostels have been accommodated on patches covered with green trees earlier. Unfortunately, the loss has not been compensated adequately.” He adds, “We want JNU to be a role model of a green and environment friendly campus.”

The Club, however, has not limited its activity to the campus alone. In the sixteen months of its existence since being formed on November 14, 2010, the club has to its credit three cycle rallies, one of which went all the way to Sariska in Rajasthan. In the last cycle rally to Dahoj village in Haryana, the club members shared the villagers' concerns about the ecological degradation in the Aravallis. The club also ran an Earth Hour campaign last March and has orgnaised many a plantation drive.

Next on the Club's 'To do list' apart from the cleaning up campaign is the water issue. The nearly 1000 acre campus which is home for around 7,000 students from various corners of India and abroad has hardly any water source of its own. The campus suffers deep water scarcity during summers. Mr. Ansari says, “We intend to run campaigns to create awareness among the university community. Through such campaigns our goal is to make people sensitive about not only water but other environmental concerns as well.”

Talking about Club's future plans, he says, “Coming monsoon we are planning to launch a massive tree plantation program and engage every single student to do their bit. The campus can easily become a lush green and beautiful eco friendly zone if we all associate with the campaign.” How will the Club do it, and Ansari says that they expect cooperation from the JNU administration and the student community.

The Club has got a few active sympathisers in the teaching fraternity. Dr. Abhijit Karkun of School of Language, Literature & Culture Studies has been particularly active in joining all the eco-club initiatives since the very beginning. The club's president Ansari says, “Whenever I felt down it was Karkun Sir who always encouraged us to keep the ball rolling.” Another senior faculty member of School of International Studies, Dr. Alka Acharya, participated in the 3rd campaign with the young students.

“It's amazing to find our teachers, despite their busy schedule and high profile commitments, join hands to shout slogans and pick up waste that many of us throw carelessly,” said one student volunteer.

The club has many silent supporters. A student said, “Whenever I am about to throw anything, the JNU Eco Club's cleanliness drive comes to my mind and I walk up to the dustbin.”

Change doesn't come easily; not even in one of India's top universities where everyone is educated. Even people who are aware of the importance of cleanliness and greenery are not in the habit of actually doing something. Old habits do not change easily; not when civic sense is not a social norm. The inertia of sticking to habits, however, can be used in favour to clean JNU by creating environmental consciousness.

Md Phakharuddin Ansari, President
JNU Eco-Club


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