Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Report on National Seminar on Dwindling Wetlands

In light of the deteriorating condition of the lakes in Bengaluru city and to commemorate World Wetland Day (February 2), the Department of Life Sciences, Christ University, Bengaluru organized a National Seminar on Dwindling Wetlands – Impacts on Livelihood and Ecosystem Services (DWILES – 2017) on 30th and 31st January 2017 at main campus, Christ University. The seminar brought together around 70 participants from different parts of the country, including Kashmir, Gujarat, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala etc. A total of 52 abstracts and 7 full length papers were received, which were published in the form of a Seminar Proceedings book. The inauguration of the seminar along with the book release was done on 30th January by Dr Fr Thomas C Mathew, Vice Chancellor of Christ University. Welcome address was given by Dr Antony P U, the Coordinator of the two day seminar. The chief guest of the function was Dr Dhrubajyoti Ghosh, UN Global 500 Laureate and an inspirational wetland activist, who enlightened the assembly on the pathetic condition of the East Calcutta Wetlands. The seminar was divided into five technical sessions, spread over two days. Topics for the seminar included Wetland Conservation, Monitoring and Evaluation, Wetlands for Livelihood of Local Communities, Joint Lake Management Programs, Wetland Biodiversity and Conservation, Sustainable Farming Businesses in Wetlands, Remote Sensing and GIS in Wetland Management etc. Oral presentations followed by interactive sessions with the presenters enhanced the learning experience and information exchange at the seminar. A field trip to Madiwala Lake, Bengaluru on the morning of the second day of the seminar was an activity much enjoyed by the participants. After the technical sessions and field trip, a valedictory function was held. Dr Fr S Xavier from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata was the chief guest for the ceremony. Prizes were distributed and the vote of thanks was delivered by Prof P U Antony, Organizing Secretary – DWILES 2017. 


On the whole, the seminar was an enriching experience for both the participants as well as the organizers. There was a lot learnt about the different facets of wetland issues including ecological, sociological and economic issues. The entire experience reiterated the dire need to use multi-disciplinary approaches to monitor, restore and conserve the few remaining wetlands we have today.

Report on Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC)

Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is the Indian version of the global GBBC  which is organized in about 100 colleges every year during four days in February every year. This year, GBBC was conducted on 17th to 20th February under the leadership of Dr Antony P U, Professor with Department of Life Sciences at Christ University. These forms of innovative and practical oriented learning helps a lot in field study of birds. The count of different species of birds was recorded in the bird recording platform eBird. The students of the Department of Life Sciences, especially the members of the Green Army, actively participated in this venture and made it a huge success. Birds belonging to more than 48 different species were identified and reported in the website. The count was mainly cdone in different areas of the main campus.

Report on Green Wheeling

The Green Army of the Department of Life Sciences at Christ University Bengalutru, organized Green Wheeling, a Cycle ride in the periphery of Bannerghatta National Park on 26th February 2017, Sunday. 

 The event was organized with a view to sensitize the young generation on eco-friendly approach. The motto of the event was “Life is like cycling; In order to balance, you have to pedal through”. Dr Antony P U, Professor, Department of Life Sciences at Christ University, Bengaluru was the chief organizer.

The event kicked off at 05.45 AM from the main campus of Christ University. The Dean of Science Dr Surendra Kulkarni flagged off the cycling event at 5.45 am on February 26, 2017. The route followed was Christ University Main Campus, Hosur Road – Bannerghata National Park – Kaggalipura – Jayadeva Circle- Christ University. About 40 participants , including students and faculty actively and enthusiastically cycled through the roads for Bengaluru for this cause.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Report on the Second Session of BookTalk 2017 held by the English Association

Report on the Second Session of Book Talk held by the English Association

23 March 2017

The Second Session of BookTalk 2017 chose to discuss To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, a novel that holds the sole distinction of being popular yet holding classical status too. The novel was published in 1960 and became immediately popular, and went on to symbolize the genre of American Literature. The character of Atticus Finch is one that has given rise to numerous discussions (both in the academic and the informal circles), especially after the wake of the novel’s much hyped sequel, Go Set a Watchman.

The speakers of this session’s BookTalk covered a number of problematic, misunderstood and appreciated aspects of the novel from defining who exactly the mockingbird is to unraveling the character of Atticus Finch.
Dr Priya began her discussion with personal anecdote of how the book seemed to seep into her every-day life after she had read it. She uncovered a number of contradictions within the text that supposedly was an anti-racist commentary on the state of affairs on Alabama. She also paid due attention to Go Set a Watchman and wondered at how it seemed to undermine everything that its prequel stood for. The discussion spanned on to a variety of topics, especially to the tricky question of who exactly Atticus Finch is and what he believes in. A few readings from the text also supplemented her arguments.

Akankshya from 2ENGH talked about the classical status that the book enjoys. She pointed out how To Kill a Mockingbird defies ordinary standards of what a classic should read like, with its page-turning qualities. In fact, this was one of the books that had changed her life, she said. Although she couldn’t stand reinterpretations or criticisms leveled against the novel, her subsequent higher education taught her that all texts must in fact undergo a critical analysis, but this does not change what the text personally meant to her. This is where her reluctance to read Go Set a Watchman also stems from, she feels. However, she concurs that it is indeed dangerous to put a text on a pedestal, however revolutionary or brilliant it is, and To Kill a Mockingbird, like any other text, yields the same number of contradictions within its pages- the kind of contradictions you wish you had never spotted in the first place.

Sheelalipi from 4ENGH spoke of the “Mockingbird” in the title: who exactly is the Mockingbird in the novel? She rephrased her question with an even more interesting quip saying “Who isn’t a Mockingbird?” She explored the characters of Tom Robinson, Scout Finch, Jem Finch, Dill and Boo Radley- all characters whose innocence have been shattered in the course of the book. To her personally, Jem is the real mockingbird which is also evident from his torn and erratic demeanor that we see in the novel. Indeed,as Atticus Finch says, “Shoot all the blue jays you want—but remember it is a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

Vishakha Sen from 4ENGH concentrated on the story of Scout. The speaker could relate well to the character because she lived in an almost similar society. She points out how uncolored Scout is in her observation, probably because of how young she is. Her knowledge of the world is limited, and so she doesn’t have the sword of political correctness hanging over her. To her, right and wrong are polarized and clear-cut and she finds the whole business and the whole hypocrisy surrounding the business a very sordid and confusing one.
Jagriti Jain from 2ENGH took over the discussion by pointing out various interesting scenes in the novel- such as the one where Scout and Jem accompany Calpurnia to the black church. She looks at how language itself becomes a political statement with Calpurnia switching accents and even dialect seamlessly in the presence of the two sides- black and white. She explored gender through the characters of Aunt Alexandra, MsMaudie and even Atticus Finch’s quote to Scout wherein he explains how women aren’t allowed in the jury.

Sre Ratha from 2JOUH supplanted the previous discussion by pointing how it isn’t just race alone that becomes a focal point in the novel. The issue of class is also rather jarring wherein Raymond isn’t ostracized for intermingling with the blacks purely because he is wealthy. The character of Raymond itself is a statement on how it seems that you need to be “drunk” to interact with the black community. Boo Radley’s rather tragic turn of events was also discussed in great detail, with special attention to how the children treated him, and us wondering how he would have perceived it.
The discussions spanned informal debates on various other issues that pertain to the book, such as the context in which the book was written and Harper Lee’s own experience of witnessing a similar trial in her childhood.
The session was quite a fruitful one with all the speakers engaging with very different and very relevant aspects that need to be discussed with regard to the novel. To Kill a Mockingbird was adulated and critiqued at the same time, and we all came out rather wise and knowledgeable about the novel.