The Four Lectures of Prof GN Devy Organised by Salesian College
Padmashree Prof GN Devy of After Amnesia and Indian Aesthetics, the Adivasi Academy and Language Survey of India with a score of awards and recognition to his credit was with Salesian College Sonada-Siliguri the past four days. He and Dr Surekha Devy former professors of MS University, Baroda, Gujarat and presently in Dharwad - post murder of Karlburgi, Gauri Lankesh and Pansare - came to discover the Eastern India to take a break from his Project Dakshinayan and to recover the genuine Indian Spirit of democracy and diversity. He connected with and proposed to the youth of Eastern India, in four different locations of Darjeeling and Sikkim from 21-24 November 2022, the critical need in these times for a spirit of inquiry and nurturing of imagination to salvage humanity in from the clutches of artificial memory.
Padmashree Prof GN Devy of After Amnesia and Indian Aesthetics, the Adivasi Academy and Language Survey of India with a score of awards and recognition to his credit was with Salesian College Sonada-Siliguri the past four days. He and Dr Surekha Devy former professors of MS University, Baroda, Gujarat and presently in Dharwad - post murder of Karlburgi, Gauri Lankesh and Pansare - came to discover the Eastern India to take a break from his Project Dakshinayan and to recover the genuine Indian Spirit of democracy and diversity by wanting to connect with and propose to the youth of Eastern India the critical need in these times for a spirit of inquiry and nurturing of imagination to salvage humanity in times of artificial memory.
He arrived on 20th to Siliguri and was hosted by Siliguri Campus of Salesian College where he delivered the first lecture of the tour on “Imagination in times of Artificial Memory’ on 21st morning to a packed house at Marengo Hall. He evoked nostalgia in the minds of listeners to a ‘human contact enriched existence’ slowly disappearing as a result of ‘machine directed memory and cyborg’ like living increasingly becoming the norm for a generation. The impact the lecture had is manifested in a group that is seriously mobilising a ‘mobile free day’ once a week on college campus.
In the afternoon of 21st Prof Devy left for Sikkim Central University accompanied by Fr Dr George Thadathil, Principal and were hosted by the Centre for Endangered Languages at University Guest House. The program organised at 2:00 pm in the Tourism Hall, Metro Point, Gangtok, was presided by the Vice Chancellor Prof Avinash Khare and books on Magar, Sherpa, Rokdung, Bhujel and Gurung was jointly released by Prof Devy initiator of the project, the Vice Chancellor Prof Khare, the Director of the Centre, Dr Samar Sinha, Dr Kabita Lama head of Nepali Department, Fr Prof George Thadathil sdb, Principal, Salesian College and Advisory Board Member of the Centre for Endangered Languages and Government representatives, SK Rai and JP Rai. Prof Devy lectured on “Endangered Languages, Communities, State and New Education Policy” elaborating on the sustenance of languages and the livelihood of communities as integrally related. He pointed out that while the States were formed in the 50s of the post independent India, the 5 year plans did not link the economic development model adopted then in line with the communities numbering nearly 5000 as per the survey done in the 1980s. The linguistic communities which were over a 1000 in the 1970s he noted had already declined to 800 by the time his own initiative to map the languages spoken in the country got completed in the first decade of the new millennium.
The third leg of the tour began on 23rd November morning from Gangtok to Salesian College Sonada where he delivered a lecture to a packed auditorium of stand faculty on “Diversity as the Foundation of Indian Civilisation” emphasising the loss of Indianness if homogeneity is pursued as an agenda and that all fascisms have corroded on the anvil of diversity. An evening visit to the heritage site of Darjeeling, Ghoom, Batasia and Chowrasta with local food brought the day to its close on Arriving back to Siliguri by late evening.
The final lecture took place at the Physics Department Hall organised by the English Department for the PG students and faculty besides others from neighbouring colleges at 1:30 pm on 24 November 2022. The lecture was delivered at the function chaired by Prof Ranjan Ghosh, the leading academic with his own publications and thought line making its mark in the world of literature and Dr Zinia Mitra the head of the Department. The lecture on ‘Why Literature is Needed now more than ever” was knit around a string of stories starting from Maheshwata Devi to TS Eliot and Coleridge, Keats and Milton to bring home the need to preserve and persevere in the art of unleashing the Word in its creative potential to speak Truth to Power.
Prof Devy and Dr Surekha Devy were felicitated in each of the venues of the lecture and was followed by a visual memory repository of photographs created by the participants wanting to hold on to the experience of being empowered by the person and the literary performance they had witnessed. Over the four day lecture tour he addressed a group of over 600 persons offline and many more did listen and can still access the YouTube version of the talk in Salesian TV at www.salesiancollege.ac.in