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Göttingen-India Forum: Day 1
University of Göttingen

BANGALORE23 Jun 2012

Venue Conference Pavilion at Indo-German Urban Mela, Palace Grounds next to Bangalore Palace
Opening Time3:00 PM
Entry Free. All are welcome!

A series of public talks organized by University of Göttingen will bring together subject matters experts from Goettingen and India, from diverse genres of science and art, and other learning curves under one roof to provoke thought that foster ideas. Students in schools and colleges/university would benefit from experiences of the minds that dared to think and live their dreams at Goettingen India Forum.

3 p.m. to 4 p.m.: The Gateway to Liberation! Through Education?

The primary aim in life is to get liberated.  Being Unconventional, Open-Minded, Free Thinking, Modern, Enlightened all of these words convey the very essence of becoming liberated.  This talk covers how one should use the unique and rather lucky opportunity of being a student in a “free world” to set out on this path towards liberation, through education.

Speaker Profile - Prof Dr Satish V Kailas

Prof Kailas is with the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore since 1997. He is currently conducting research in the areas of Tribology and Metal Forming and guides a dozen PhD Students.

4 p.m. to 5 p.m.:  Incremental Land Development as practices of Progressive Politics for Housing and Livelihood 

These are times of great social tensions – linked in part to globalised aspirations being used by powerful lobbies to accumulate state acquired land, state funded hi end infrastructures, and tax subsidies and conducive regulations. This results in a divisive politics where most of the city economy is portrayed as being ‘Informal and Marginal’, it’s territory being cast as ‘slum like and un-planned’, society to be ‘criminal’, and built around a regressive politics of ‘vote bank patron clientalism. Such negativity ascribed to the rest of the city is not just factually problematic but perpetuates elite power and their justification to mobilize the state in their image. One useful way is to unpack this power-play is to focus more closely on ‘Incremental Land Development’: how almost all of terrain is formed for housing and transformed to accommodate small firm clustering trade and manufacturing. 'Incremental' refers to how most people gradually add to their built environment as the needs and demands of life change: new space for family expansion, a space to be rented out to supplement incomes, or then a new room to start a small workshop. As economic spaces, these are also where almost all urban jobs (upto possibly 85%) are created, where people here often with very basic education level, innovate, create new re-engineered artifacts and areas where young people learn skills. These ‘incremental learning and livelihood’ spaces, are unlike the IT sector that some scholars point to providing the minimal of jobs (less than even perhaps 6% for Bangalore) and many regard as dead end professions with limited technical mobility. A closer look at the politics of ‘incremental cities’ shows this to be a progressive empowering space. It has roots being in constructive efforts to seek basic infrastructure and services, generating funds for public investments for livelihood creating economies, and in ways that the middle classes and the poor give back much more than the rich in the way of indirect taxes. There is a long tradition of planning with Incremental Cities – not just in India, but also in other South Asia urbanism, and even longer in Latin American Cities.  Most important, and unlike elitist Master Planning now morphed to facilitate subsidized Mega Projects and unwanted flyovers, this has to potential to be locally responsive and integrate large city wide infrastructure interventions to be locally responsive to neighborhood situations. 

Speaker Profile – Prof Dr Solomon Benjamin

Solomon Benjamin is Professor at the Manipal School of Architecture and Planning. Benjamin has a PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Benjamin’s main work is in the intersecting areas of urban land, economy, and politics as these shape poverty. These intersect are reflected in several recent engagements:  on the multiple logics of rapidly urbanizing small town in Coastal Karnataka; on the politics of land titling.

5 p.m. to 6 p.m.: Consciousness & Experience

Experience is too cheap to meter. We take it for granted, too obvious to be questioned. Black holes and iPads are mysterious but the fact that we experience the world is usually not seen as a mystery. At the same time, experience is almost coterminous with existence itself. The famous philosopher Descartes was clearly right when he said "Cogito Ergo Sum," I think therefore I am, since our unconscious sense of existence is tied to our experience of existence. In this talk, I will explore some of the mysteries of experience and show why the next century will be the century of experience in all its diverse manifestations: waking, dreaming, normal and abnormal, human and non-human.

Speaker Profile - Dr Rajesh Kasturirangan

Rajesh Kasturirangan is, to varying degrees, a cognitive scientist, philosopher and mathematician. He runs the cognition programme at the National Institute of Advanced Studies in Bangalore. His current work relates to applying a combination of philosophical argument, mathematical techniques and empirical observations to classical problems in cognitive science and the philosophy of mind.