“Liberal Democracy turns into ethnic democracy” Seminar on State, Civil Society and Empowerment in India, at AMU

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Aligarh: The changing role of civil society, its complex relations with the state and issues of socio-economic empowerment, democracy, culture, identity and vulnerability among others have come in for a detailed discussion in a two-day National Seminar on “State, Civil Society and Empowerment in India”, organised by the Department of Sociology, AMU, under UGC (DRS-II) programme today.

Presenting his keynote address, Prof Surinder Singh Jodhka (Centre for the Study of Social Systems, School of Social Sciences, JNU, New Delhi) said, “we are in a phase of globalization where liberal democracies are transforming into ethnic democracies and the term “civil society” is losing its significance in some way”. “Empowerment is no longer a legitimate agenda and we have to deal with this reality that is unfolding at different levels in our milieu” he said.

Critiquing the “development project” carried out by the colonial rulers and delineating the pros and cons of the planned development taken up after the independence, Prof Jodhka said in the late 80s with the emergence of a new kind of neo-liberal economy, India became a different country. “State protectionism ended, a new liberal market emerged and infusion of corporate capital in the economy resulted in a socio-economic structure in which rural social structure disintegrated and urban boursougeoisie class expanded” Prof Jodhka said.

“The role of civil society and concept of empowerment has to be analysed in the backdrop of the new idea of citizenship with globalised nation state taking shape, a new regime of surveillance in place with majoritarian backlash, and vulnerable sections of society becoming disempowered” he added.

Earlier, Prof Abdul Waheed (Chairperson, Department of Sociology, and Convenor of the seminar) presented the welcome address and introduced the theme of the seminar. “The role of civil society has increased many fold after retreat of the government from welfare services and its various dimensions will be discussed during the seminar” he said. Prof Waheed added that the seminar is part of the series of academic and cultural events taking place in the centenary year of Aligarh Muslim University.

Prof Nisar Ahmad Khan (Officiating Dean, Faculty of Social Scinces) said curtailment of funds has impacted the working of the civil society and non-governmental organisations.

In his presidential remarks, Prof Noor Mohammad (former Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences) analysed the economic progress of the country and its social impacts. He said economic liberalism, privatisation and globalisation have increased the role of Civil Society, and the seminar is an opportunity to discuss various dimensions of the theme.

Prof Mohammad Akram (Deputy Coordinator, DRS-II, and Co-Convenor of the seminar) proposed the vote of thanks. The session was conducted by Dr Sameena.

A book of abstract of the research paper received for the seminar, and a book by Dr Razdha Parveen were also released on the occasion.

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