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Student’s Initiatives

Student’s Initiatives

Film Club (FC)
Within the context of Jawaharlal Nehru University, an institution characterized by its division into two principal spheres of knowledge acquisition — student activities encompassing politics, literature, and culture- and the structured classroom system — the need emerged to harmonize formal and informal learning spaces. This harmonization became a crucial endeavor, fostering an environment where both domains seamlessly interweave.
The objective was to develop a platform where young scholars and seasoned experts could congregate, exchanging perspectives and delving into the intricacies of socio-political, economic, and public health issues through the medium of cinema.TheCentre had a film club, which had gone dormant long back and need to have a fresh start.
This aspiration led to the conception of the film club, a concept that was presented during a pivotal General Body Meeting (GBM). The aim was to position films as a unifying force, a place where diverse minds could convene and embark on insightful discussions. The club's inception stemmed from the desire to transform cinema into a meeting ground, facilitating meaningful conversations that transcend the traditional boundaries of knowledge dissemination.
On February 26th, 2019, a General Body Meeting (GBM) was held at the center, during which a resolution was passed to establish a film club for fortnightly movie screenings. The primary objective of this club is to provide an open platform for students to engage in discussions and interactions regarding socio-political and health-related issues. The initiative commenced with the voluntary coordination of three members and was later joined by somemore. Presently, the film club boasts an active membership of over twenty-six students, with dedicated support from a group of volunteers. Since 2019, Dr. Vikas Bajpai has taken on the role of faculty advisor for the film club. He has been an immense source of support for the club, consistently encouraging its members to curate film screenings and engage in subsequent discussions. 


  1. Film Screening and Discussion
The Film Club has curated a diverse selection of movies spanning various languages, each contributing to the rich tapestry of cinematic experiences. Among the notable screenings (Detailed list of films in Table) are:
"Sairat" (2016, Marathi): A poignant Marathi film that touched upon powerful themes of love and social divisions, resonating with audiences across linguistic boundaries.
"Ganashatru" (1989, Bengali): This Bengali film, directed by the renowned Satyajit Ray, critically examines issues related to religious rituals and the healthcare system. Sayan Das and Ujjaini, both students at the centre, took charge of the discussion, delving deeply into the realms of science and religion.
"Virus" (2019, Malayalam): Hailing from the Malayalam film industry, "Virus" delves into the gripping narrative of a deadly epidemic outbreak and its impact on a community.
"Aani Mani" (2019, Hindi): This Hindi film explores intricate human relationships and societal dynamics, offering a thought-provoking viewing experience. Sheran Raj led the discussion and connected it to the ongoing debate about minority issues in India.
"Parasite" (2019, Korean): The South Korean masterpiece "Parasite" captivated audiences worldwide with its layered storytelling and incisive commentary on class disparities.
"A Twelve-Year Night" (2018, Spanish): Hailing from the Spanish language, this film offers a poignant portrayal of the struggles endured by political prisoners during Uruguay's dark days of dictatorship.
"Kadvi Hawa" (2017, Hindi): The Hindi film "Kadvi Hawa" confronts the harsh realities of climate change and its consequences on marginalized communities.
"Article 15" (2019, Hindi): A significant milestone, the screening of "Article 15" on campus proved to be a resounding success. The presence of director Anubhav Sinha himself on the panel elevated the experience, and it was complemented by insightful discussions led by esteemed discussants Dr. Harish Wankhede and Dr. Bimal Akoijam from JNU that were moderated by Prof. Sanghmitra Acharya.
The film club's commitment to presenting films from various linguistic and cultural backgrounds not only broadens horizons but also fosters meaningful discussions around pertinent social issues. The presence of directors and experts in these discussions further enhances the depth of engagement and enriches the overall cinematic experience for the campus community.
  1. Online Lecture Series During Pandemic
The pandemic has significantly impacted our culture of film screening and cinema discussions. As digitalization continues to reshape our cultural landscape, we have endeavored to adapt our approach to film discussions. We have transitioned to online platforms to facilitate discussions on films and related subjects. In this evolving landscape, the first online discussion organized centered on 'Mental Health during the Pandemic and in Films.' For this discussion, the club invited two accomplished mental health professionals, namely Dr. Sunaina K. from the Department of Psychology at AUD, and Ms. Anindita Biswas, a Dalit Psychotherapist associated with OSTEM (Online Support Team for Every Mind). Additionally, Professor Sanghmitra Acharya, a distinguished faculty member from our center, CSMCH, JNU, New Delhi, also participated.
The second online discussion took place on December 8th, 2021, with the theme of 'Liminality as an Ethnographic Method in Documentary Filmmaking.' This enlightening discussion featured contributions from Dr. Alisson Kahn, the Director of the Oxford Documentary Film Institute in the United Kingdom, and Dr. Sunita Reddy from CSMCH, JNU.
  1. Post-pandemic Film Screening and Discussion
While the pandemic has necessitated changes in our approach, our commitment to fostering meaningful dialogues on cinema remains steadfast. By leveraging online platforms, we have been able to continue our tradition of engaging discussions, broadening perspectives, and exploring the diverse facets of film and culture.
In the aftermath of the pandemic, the club reinitiated its activities, resuming film screenings that encompassed a diverse array of cinematic experiences. Noteworthy screenings included: "Barkley in the Sixties" (1990, English Documentary): This documentary provided a unique glimpse into the tumultuous student movements of the 1960s, particularly at Berkeley. Dr. Vikas Bajpai, an esteemed presence, joined as a discussant, broadening the film's scope by connecting the Berkeley University student movements in the US to student issues within the broader socio-political context of India.
"Brazil" (1985, Multi-lingual): This multi-lingual film, engaged audiences with its intricate narrative and thought-provoking themes. The students discussed the diverse themes of the film and contextualized them with the current forms of revolutions.
"Shab-e-Firaq" (2022, Short Film): This recent short film, "Sham-e-Firaq," contributed a contemporary perspective. The dynamic presence of Mr. Kamil Saif during the discussion of his film "Shab-e-Firaq" added vibrancy to the session. As a student of the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI), Kolkata, he shared his valuable experiences in the filmmaking process, along with insights into the underlying story's conception.
"Homecoming" (2018, Centre's Documentary): The documentary "Homecoming," crafted within our own centre, held a special place in the lineup, offering a unique exploration of themes close to the centre’s memories.
"Astitva" (2000, Hindi): The Hindi/Marathi language film "Astitva" invited introspection into societal norms and individual identity. The post-screening discussion involved students and was skillfully moderated by Ajit, a student from the centre.
"The Great Indian Kitchen" (2021, Malayalam): By screening "The Great Indian Kitchen," the club initiated a discourse on gender dynamics. To deepen this conversation, Prof. Rama Baru was invited to provide insights and perspectives.
"Samskara" (1970, Kannada): The screening of "Samskara," a cinematic gem from the 1970s, was complemented by an insightful discussion led by Prof. P. Bilimale and moderated by Prof. Rama Baru. The central theme of the discussion was the exploration of rituals and the caste system.
"Boxed" (2019, Multilingual Documentary Film): The documentary "Boxed" introduced an additional layer to the varied selection of screened films, enriching the discourse with thought-provoking discussions led by Zayan, who is associated with Nazariya: A Queer Feminist Resource Group. Swati, a student from the center, adeptly moderated the discussion.
The club's commitment to fostering meaningful discussions remained unwavering, as evidenced by the invitations extended to experts and professionals from various fields. These discussions enriched by diverse perspectives, explored themes ranging from gender issues to cultural rituals, and societal challenges. As the club adapted to the evolving landscape, it continued to uphold its role as a platform for cinematic exploration and engaging discourse.
4. Publications:
The film club created concise summaries derived from the post-screening discussions, aiming to disseminate these notes within the centre's community, thereby enriching the knowledge ecosystem with diversity. Leveraging these very notes, the club authored an article for Economic and Political Weekly, focusing on the film 'A Twelve Year Night,' which had been showcased at the centre. In addition to distributing notes and facilitating discussions, the club maintains its own YouTube channel, where a majority of the discussions are available for viewing.
CMCH Film Club (2021), Prisioners of Conscience: Reel and Real, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 56, Issue 48


Table 2 List of Films Screened (2019 to 2023)


Name of Movie




Date of Screening


Guest Discussant




Nagraj Manjule



Asrarul Haque Jeelani





Satyajeet Ray



Sayan Das, Ujjaini Aich





Ashiq Abu



Sreekumar NC



Article 15


Anuvabh Sinha



Prof. Sanghmitra Acharya

Anubhav Sinha (Director), Dr. Bimal Akoijam, Dr. Harish Wankhede




Bong Joon-ho



Sharan Raj (Student)



Kadvi Hawa


Nila Madhav Panda



Sumanto Roy



A Twelve-Year Night


Alvaro Brechner



Shaswat, Shilpi and Barnali

Dr. Vikas Bajpai


Aani Mani


Fahim Irshad



Sheran Raj



Shab-e-Firaq (short film)


Kamil Saif



Sumanto Roy

Kamil Saif


Homecoming (short documetary)


CSMCH Students



Sumanto Roy





Terry Gilliam



Ajit Kumar



Berkeley in the Sixties


Mark Kitchell



Asrarul Haque Jeelani

Dr. Vikas Bajpai


The Great Indian Kitchen


Joe Baby



Ujjaini Aich

Prof. Rama V Baru




Tikkavarapu Pattabhirama Reddy



Prof. Rama V Baru

Prof. P. Bilimale




Mahesh Manjrekar

Marathi & Hindi


Ajit Kumar





Sameeksha Zia & Sumit Rana

Hindi, English, Kannada and Telugu




Scholars’ Voice (SV)
This is a group of the students for conducting, initiating and convening, discussion and other academic activities.


CSMCH Scholars’s Forum [CSF]
This is an initiative by the students to invite experts/schoalrs working in the current issues for a talk/discussion. The Forum was started by the students in 2008-09 but went dormant to be resurrected in last one year or so. The following lectures/workshops were organized as given in Table 3.


Table 3- Activities of CSMCH Scholars’ Forum







“What Diversity and Inclusion has got to do with Science”

Ankur Paliwal,

Dr. Pradeep Shinde

Prof. Achala P Tondon




Global Nursing Chains and Struggles of Health Workers:A Case Study of Indian Nurses in Germany

Dr Christa Wichterich

Sociologist and Lecturer at the

Centre of Gender Studies,

University of Basel



Urbanisation and Health in India

Prof. Bikramaditya Chowdhury, Centre for the Study of Regional

Development, CSRD JNU



Challenges in Nutrition and Programmatic Initiatives in


Dr. William Joe

Population Research Centre,

Institute of Economic Growth



Healing through art: Drawing Connect Workshop

Sarita Chauhan,

Visual Artist & Art Educator, Mumbai

(d) Public Health Connect [PHC]
This group has also been actively involved in organisng discussions regularly with experts from varied field.
Starving NREGA
16th February, 2023
As hundreds of MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) workers protested at Jantar Mantar New Delhi with demands to save NREGA, scrap the digital attendance app and Aadhaar-based payment system,  a public discussion "Starving NREGA" was organised in Sabarmati lawn, JNU, Delhi on the 16th February, 2023 by the Public Health Connect. Nikhil Dey, from Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan and from MNREGA Watch put forth the major issues that ail NREGA and what it means to the workers’ future. Three major concerns raised as per the press conference organised by NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (NSM) on the 16th Feb, 2023 - The Budget allocation for NREGA was reduced to just Rs 60,000 crore in 2023-24 (less than Rs 50,000 crore if wage arrears from 2022-23 are deducted). Thus making this year’s allocation the lowest as a proportion of GDP (0.2%) in the history of the programme. The NMMS (National Mobile Monitoring System) digital-attendance App which was made compulsory from 1 January. The Aadhaar-Based Payment System (ABPS) which was made compulsory from 1 February. Along with the above issues, the delays in payment of wages of the NREGA workers across states with delay in some places being more than a year was also highlighted. Moreover, social audits which are mandatory to evaluate the scheme in all states are absent. Sanjay Sahni discussed at length on the various ways through which the introduction of digital attendance app and Aadhar-based payment system cause grievous injury to the workers’ rights. Workers’ photo is supposed to be uploaded as part of this attendance system twice a day and although a worker has completed a day’s work, due to technical issues, their attendance is not digitally recorded or they are told that it is recorded but doesn’t reflect during the time of payment of wages. Thus resulting in loss of wages. A study reports that workers have lost 50% of their wages due to these technical glitches. This, the talk, and the struggle itself are a call for us as responsible citizens to join hands in this fight to save NREGA! Further the announcement by MoRD regarding Aadhar-based payment system being mandatory brings a second blow to NREGA. As Jean Drèze writes how this will result in the majority of workers becoming ineligible for payment (only 43% of workers are eligible according to a study). All these violations of NREGA workers’ rights has inevitably pushed workers to organise a 100-day dharna at Delhi demanding for corrective measures - providing adequate budget, scrapping the NMMS and the ABPS, timely payment of wages. The charter of demands from NREGA Sangharsh Morcha for complete implementation of NREGA can be found here. Workers have travelled with much difficulty but determination to set things right. Pinky, Sudha and Phoolkumari, who are NREGA workers from Bihar, fondly called NREGA didi, along with Ranjan and Rajkumar sang songs to show solidarity and strength. They also detailed how the app is causing them to lose wages due various technical glitches as well as its inappropriate-ness for the workers.


The Wellbeing of Women
1 March, 2023
In view of the International Women’s day 2023, Public Health Connect, organised a discussion on “The Wellbeing of Women”, on 1st of March, in front of SSS-2. Distinguished women from different walks of life joined us to discuss the health status of women in India with a lifecourse approach. Wellbeing of women was discussed in a comprehensive sense where the role of autonomy, livelihood, identity, social security, food, access to health services, were explored in determining the status of health of cis and trans women. The four speakers included Dipa Sinha (Economist), Simran Arora (Consultant, Transgender division, NBCFDC, MoSJE), Radha (Anganwadi Worker) Nancy Pathak (Pension Parishad campaign).


While speaking of how women are categorised and looked at from a public health perspective, Dipa highlighted the issues of government programmes being narrowly focussed on reproductive and child health, sexual health. Hence there is a pressing need to focus on women’s wellbeing not just considering needs in a comprehensive way but also taking into account the multiple intersectionalities of vulnerabilities. Currently all our policies, schemes look at gender in a binary way as underscored by Simran (thus excluding transgender individuals). Even within cis-women, the needs of a woman construction worker with TB for example may not be represented in the health system. Another major issue echoed by Radha is the conditions faced by Anganwadi and ASHAs, large cadres of women within the health system human resource. Radha and other Anganwadi workers are having to continue their fight against loss of jobs due to bureaucratic procedures, delay in salary payments, and low salaries. AWWs continue to work for stipends and fight for regularisation. Their demands include having better resources in Anganwadi centres- water supply, toys to engage the children, better and nutritious meals for children, and ending corruption. These issues continue almost since the inception of the program itself.  


Simran mentioned how the recent medical camps conducted through government measures towards the health of trans persons has brought up issues that go beyond sexual health and these need to further be addressed. While schemes and programs are being slowly implemented after the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, people continue to face roadblocks in accessing the schemes, including applying for transgender certificates and thus there is a need for support to address these gaps.


Access to education was highlighted as one of the most important pathways that can bring about better status of girls and women in our society, where even in a large city like Delhi, girls are having to walk several kilometres to access government schooling risking their security, or a trans person is having to drop out of education. Moreover employment schemes like NREGA and pension schemes, however small the amounts are, have been of significant support for women’s security, survival, and reducing their dependency. It indirectly also contributes to their child care. Nancy from her experience pointed out how women are having to pay multiple visits in order to receive their pension either because of not receiving on time or due to technical issues like finger tips not matching etc.


Towards the end, there was an unanimous agreement that for our country to develop politically, economically, and socially, women’s wellbeing, education, nutrition, and employment play a key role. Thus all the policies, programs have to be looked at with a critical gender lens. Whether they advance the goal of gender equality, women’s health, and wellbeing is a question that cannot be bypassed.


Discussion on the Right to Health Bill
11th April, 2023
In light of the recently passed Right to Health Act in Rajasthan, Public Health Connect organised a discussion on the Right to Health at SSS-2, JNU. The speakers on the panel were Richa Chintan, a member of Jan Swasthya Abhiyaan, and Dr. Vikas Bajpai, professor at CSMCH, JNU. Richa started by telling the audience about the RTH Act, which has been passed in Rajasthan. The bill in Rajasthan focuses on patients’ rights; it provides legal sanctity to exercise the rights of patients, the obligations of the government listed in the Acts can be called progressive, but it has some lacunas like, lack of clarity on appropriate budgeting, Human Resources policies. She elaborated that health bodies have been diluted with no representation from civil and elected bodies. Community participation has been removed from the act, and instead of glorifying the act, the collective effort should be towards making it better for the people.


Dr. Bajpai talked about truisms- that it is true that health services should be provided free of cost to the patients, mentioning that while the act is good and progressive, it is also a fact that doctors are much less political and radical now, and the neoliberal economy will make it difficult to translate the intent of act into the action. He talks about previous attempts like Bhore Committee Report, Alma Ata etc. which had similarly good intentions, like RTH Act but cannot be converted into success. He said the RTH act is bound to fail - and points out the hypocrisy of governments. The government continued to provide resources and freedom to the private sector while starving public health schemes and facilities. He points out that the National Health Policy of 2016 says that the private sector should not be disturbed as it generates revenue - how a government can provide the Right to Health without controlling the private health sector. Implementing the Right to Health Act will be difficult in this profit-aimed, neo-liberal regime. For RTH, the basic things needed are health institutions with facilities and human resources, and these facilities should be accessible to the poor- and that requires budget expansion, but the Act is suffering from different contradictions and interests of different classes.


Richa addresses the question of why Doctors in Rajasthan are opposing it. She elaborates that doctors’ opposition is almost resolved since their demands are now heard. She retaliates the point made by Dr. Bajpai that it is very important to place the debate in the context of the larger political economy, and there are different concepts and stakeholders involved. She says that while it is a small victory, there is a lot that needs to be done and mentions that Jan Swasthya Abhiyaan is trying to form a campaign for the Right to Health in Delhi too.


Dr. Bajpai insists that for action on any right-based movement, one must learn to organise them and fight with them. The direction of revolution and how to fight oppression are important, along with not losing sight of the goal. It is important to know how to carry a movement forward, more than the movement itself.


Both the speakers pointed out that one must also be careful and pointed out that the Right to Health is not limited to just healthcare and emergency healthcare as this bill provisions, and that privatisation of healthcare is the opposite of providing the right to health. The bills and acts appear before elections- the reasons for lots of these rights-based acts like the right to education, and the right to food are political and not technical.


Rights and agendas are important for healthcare provisioning in this country- and neoliberal governments have been limiting it for a long time. While RTH can be seen as a small step forward, it is limiting in many ways and a lot more needs to be done before Health becomes a truly democratic right. The notion of health being limited to Doctors, nurses, and emergency access works as a “delusionary tactic” which just provided limited health services in name of the Right to Health.

A warm welcome to the modified and updated website of the Centre for East Asian Studies. The East Asian region has been at the forefront of several path-breaking changes since 1970s beginning with the redefining the development architecture with its State-led development model besides emerging as a major region in the global politics and a key hub of the sophisticated technologies. The Centre is one of the thirteen Centres of the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi that provides a holistic understanding of the region.

Initially, established as a Centre for Chinese and Japanese Studies, it subsequently grew to include Korean Studies as well. At present there are eight faculty members in the Centre. Several distinguished faculty who have now retired include the late Prof. Gargi Dutt, Prof. P.A.N. Murthy, Prof. G.P. Deshpande, Dr. Nranarayan Das, Prof. R.R. Krishnan and Prof. K.V. Kesavan. Besides, Dr. Madhu Bhalla served at the Centre in Chinese Studies Programme during 1994-2006. In addition, Ms. Kamlesh Jain and Dr. M. M. Kunju served the Centre as the Documentation Officers in Chinese and Japanese Studies respectively.

The academic curriculum covers both modern and contemporary facets of East Asia as each scholar specializes in an area of his/her interest in the region. The integrated course involves two semesters of classes at the M. Phil programme and a dissertation for the M. Phil and a thesis for Ph. D programme respectively. The central objective is to impart an interdisciplinary knowledge and understanding of history, foreign policy, government and politics, society and culture and political economy of the respective areas. Students can explore new and emerging themes such as East Asian regionalism, the evolving East Asian Community, the rise of China, resurgence of Japan and the prospects for reunification of the Korean peninsula. Additionally, the Centre lays great emphasis on the building of language skills. The background of scholars includes mostly from the social science disciplines; History, Political Science, Economics, Sociology, International Relations and language.

Several students of the centre have been recipients of prestigious research fellowships awarded by Japan Foundation, Mombusho (Ministry of Education, Government of Japan), Saburo Okita Memorial Fellowship, Nippon Foundation, Korea Foundation, Nehru Memorial Fellowship, and Fellowship from the Chinese and Taiwanese Governments. Besides, students from Japan receive fellowship from the Indian Council of Cultural Relations.