Indian History and Culture attempts to understand the historical context in which themes such as environment, urbanization and urbanism, social inequality and gender, cultural heritage and cultural forms and cultural expressions have developed and taken shape in India, and how they have impacted aspects of our society.
All around us, we see evidence of the past coexisting with the present, while much that has occurred in the past is today lost to us, there remain magnificent examples of monuments and texts and lived cultural experiences that speak of numerous histories of the past. Alongside, there are also inequalities of resources and opportunities, which make our society imbalanced. The Indian History and Culture Foundation Course attempts to straddle these complexities by interrogating certain challenges faced by our society.
Objective & Expected Outcomes
To identify the roots of some of the contemporary problems faced by our nation and try to locate possible solutions to these challenges by going into our past.
Make a student aware of today's problems such as ecological upheaval, urbanization, gender issues etc. and trace their historical origins.
Bring a new perspective towards learning by organizing the study around historical themes and not laying emphasis only on chronology of the events.
Excite and encourage the students to pursue wider and deeper historical enquiries.
Enable the students to understand the importance of our surroundings and encourage the students to contribute towards sustainable development.
Learn to keep alive the heterogeneity of our culture while becoming a part of the homogenizing processes of city life.
Create a climate of sensitivity to gender issues in colleges and the community. Understand how gender inequality creates social imbalances, and why there is a need for an equitable society.
Know what cultural heritage is. Appreciate the need for preserving cultural heritage.
To sensitize students towards issues related to 'Indian' culture and its composite character.
The allocation of lectures is approximate and will have review sessions to make 14+2 weeks.
Themes & Sub-themes
Unit-I. Environment: Culture, Tradition, and Practices (Lectures 5)
- Traditional Practices and Environment: Various representations of Nature in popular culture; Knowledge and attitudes towards nature in ancient texts - Forest and Tree Worship as their cultural manifestations.
- Water Harvesting and Management: Tradition of Rainwater harvesting in different regions of the country; impact on environmental management; lessons for contemporary times.
- Mahatma Gandhi and Environment: Contribution of Mahatma Gandhi towards the cause of environment. His inspiration for the young generation.
Unit-II. Urbanization and Urbanism (Lectures 5)
- Defining Urbanization and Urbanism. Causal and sustaining factors of Urbanization.
City: Hallmark of most cultures. Evolution of city: city-state; city within a state.
- Discussion on aspects such as the purpose of settlement, settlement patterns and sustainable factors.
- Challenges of Urban Life: Alienation and sense of belonging; spirit of living together in limited space; challenges of multiple aspirations; pressure on urban infrastructure; unity in diversity- keeping the 'local' alive while moving towards 'global' OR keeping heterogeneity alive while moving towards homogeneity.
Unit-III. Social Inequality and Gender (Lectures 6)
- Understanding Gender as a social category
- Explanation of terms such as gender, patriarchy, male centric societies, masculinity, women's 'agency'. Tracing the historical origins of patriarchy in the Indian context.
- The representation of Women in Historical traditions.
- Understanding how texts and other sources of history are male dominated and how women are kept apart from matters related to the state, and also from economic and religious institutions and how society tries to control women.
- Contributions of Women towards society.
- Exploration of issues such as the contribution of women as workers, how women's work in the domestic sphere is largely ignored, how women have unequal access to technology and resources.
- Challenges faced by Women
- Tracing the Feminist movement in order to understand how women have protested against discrimination and violence and exploring what else needs to be done.
Unit-IV. Cultural Heritage (Lectures 6)
- Cultural Heritage: its significance and its constituents. Importance of Built Heritage at the level of Locality, Region, Nation and World.
- Architecture as symbol of power, representation of society, composite culture, involvement of different strata of society, economics, aesthetics
- Discussion and Project on any one of these or any other: Cave temples of Ajanta or Ellora, Khajuraho temples or Konark Temple, Qutub Minar
- Humayun's Tomb, Imperial Calcutta or Imperial Delhi.
- Built Heritage: Destruction, Defacement, General Apathy, Conservation or Restoration, Funds, Antiquated Laws, Institutions engaged with Conservation.
- Tourism and its contribution towards infrastructure and economic prosperity.
Unit-V. Cultural Forms and Cultural Expressions (Lectures 6)
- Exploring the multiple forms of culture and understanding composite culture and its diffusion.
- The Performing Arts: Some case studies. Exploring classical dance forms and the case study of Bharata Natyam/ Kathak or any other dance form of India.
- The social context of fairs and festivals- Kumbha mela/ Pushkar mela/ Rath Yatra / Urs mela / Baisakhi mela / Goa carnival.
- Formulation of 'Mass' Culture and Public Opinion- the impact of films, television, the print media and food on our society.
Suggested Project Topics:
- Collect at least a dozen representative images of art pieces (sculpture, panel, painting, etc.) from any Indian religion in which an element of nature — river, mountain, tree, animal — is depicted. Analyze those depictions and elaborate on the message that is sought to be conveyed.
- Contact a tribal or rural community in your region and document their relationship with the land, forests, flora and fauna, and their knowledge of the ecosystem. Assess the importance of nature in their daily lives and compare with the place of nature in the lifestyle of city people.
- Visit a botanical garden. Make a list of traditional herbs which are used as home remedies. Connect this knowledge with a rekindling of interest in Ayurveda.
- Compare the attitude of Indian religions towards nature with those of Native Americans and Australian aborigines. Point out similarities as well as differences.
- Travel to the nearest sacred grove. Interview the villagers to find out their involvement in its preservation, the prohibitions in force, and the grove's condition. Assess its biodiversity by attempting a list of the main species of flora and fauna it shelters. Assess also its state of preservation. Find out villagers' logic behind involvement.
- Prepare a play / street play explaining the need to protect trees and highlighting the role of tree-protection movements such as the Chipko movement.
- Find out about the different forms of rain water harvesting prevalent in different states of India. Interview the villagers to explain the process of the rain water harvesting technique in one of the villages located around you. Connect it to governmental support for this practice.
- Gandhi used to say 'Be the change you want to see in this world'. In the light of his statement make a case for environment management from your surroundings.
- Urbanism as a way of life as opposed to rural ways of life.
- Composition of population and settlement patterns in a city: Ancient or Medieval or Modern.
- Showcase some examples of cultural homogeneity and heterogeneity in a city.
- Public spaces in a city: what people do here.
- Concept of Haat Bazar in historical times linking it to Dilli Haat
- Trace elements of continuity and change in Chandni Chowk or Chawri Bazar or Khari Baoli or Connaught Place etc.
- How have the spaces of historical gardens like Talkatora Bagh and Bagh Mahaldar Khan been utilized in modern Delhi
- Compare and contrast Chandni Chowk with Rajpath.
- How did medieval and modern cities address the issue of water or transport
- Film Industry as an important element of Bombay's economy.
- Discuss the plan and layout of the city of Mohenjo-Daro.
- How would a cosmopolitan locality differ from a locality that draws people from the same region?
- Why and how was the idea of the local trains planned in Bombay?
- On a map, plot ten towns which have now become big cities and discuss reasons for the same for two of those.
- November Fair at Pragati Maidan where all states showcase their culture, economy and products. How do people living in Delhi respond to it?
- Organizing activities that focus on women's issues- workshops, seminars, self defense classes, plays, poetry reading sessions, poster making sessions that help in creating a climate of gender sensitization in the college.
- Recording oral histories and narratives through interviews of women who have made a difference in our society.
- Tracking the contribution of women towards small scale and cottage industries, e.g. case studies of organizations such as SEWA, etc.
- Biographies of women 'leaders'-it could be the immediate community or in a historical sense, eg., Kamladevi Chattopahyaya, Aruna Asaf Ali, Sarojini Naidu, and such.
- Retrieving women's works in literature and art and tracing their impact- eg., works of Amrita Pritam, Amrita Sher Gill, Teejan Bai and other women artistes.
- Analyzing the relevance of and tracking women's rituals and cultural observances conducted by women.
- Collecting and analyzing data related to presence of women in different work spaces- women in the service industry, women in factories, women in the media and other such areas.
- Tracing women's contributions in scientific and technological works, tracking some technological changes that have had an impact on women
- Quantifying women's work in the household.
- Work on a monument of Muhalla- Importance of locality.
- Work on a building of Regional importance – Suraj Kund or Qila Rai Pithora or tomb or sarai or mosque or temple etc.
- Work on a cluster of heritage places- Mehrauli Park or Nizamuddin area, etc
- Conduct a walk in some historical site, space and record your observations.
- Which are the agencies involved in Conservation work? Write about two of these and the work they are doing.
- The socio- economic significance of a religio-historical site: Hanuman Mandir or Dargah Nizamuddin Aulia or any other.
- Fairs and festivals associated with historical places: Phulwalon Ki Sair with Dargah Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki and Jog Maya Mandir or Sant Ravi Da
- Mela in Najafgarh (Delhi) or Suraj Kund and the mela near it.
- The design of Baoli and the dynamics of water procurement and usage.
- What kind of cultural exchanges took place when people met in Sarais while travelling for trade, pilgrimage, personal or official purposes? Explore the areas of Badarpur Sarai or Julaina Sarai or Ber Sarai or Sarai Kale Khan or Katwaria Sarai or any other.
- The present state of a historical Bagh such as Talkatora garden or Jor Bagh or Gulabi Bagh or Shahlamar Bagh or Raushanara Bagh or Qudsiya Bagh or any other.
- Record observations of 'Then and Now' in Paharganj or Mehrauli Bazar.
- Sculptural representations at Quwwat- ul Islam mosque at Qutb, or Khajuraho or Delwara temples or anywhere else.
- Organize and perform a nukkad natak (street theatre) on a socially relevant theme.
- Plan a visit to a fair or site of cultural significance and make a visual report on it.
- Study the graffiti on the walls around your college or locality and try to interpret the messages on them.
- Do a study of film posters and how they have evolved over time.
- Study some eye catching advertisements and analyze their impact on a social group- eg., the Maggi ads on children in your locality.
- Make a comparative study of any one classical art form with a popular folk form.
- Take up any performative theatre and study its origins and development.
- Make projects that highlight composite culture in our society/ community eg., poetry mushairas, Phoolwallon ki Sair, the 'modernized' Durga Puja pandals.
- Take any newspaper/ magazine/ television programme and study its features and its impact on the community in which you live.
- Write a review of a socially relevant film that has influenced you personally.
- Trace the transformation of cultural forms (art, paintings, music, dance forms etc) due to the market forces
Assessment : Total 75 marks
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