World scholars’ meet on tribal issues begins

ITANAGAR, Oct 29 : The Rajiv Gandhi University, the only university of the State, achieved a milestone by hosting its first international conference at its premises that began here today on the subject ‘Identity and Cultural Dynamics: Tribes of South Africa, Nigeria and North East India’. The three-day conference is being attended by scholars and experts from South Africa, Uganda and Kenya, besides those from Chennai, Tezpur, NEHU, Nagaland, Tripura universities and TISS Mumbai. All of them are expected to present their papers on the subject.

Setting the tone of the conference, RGU Vice Chancellor K C Belliappa stressed the need for striking a balance between tribal tradition and modernity and creating the right ambience in which the tribes of the North-east stopped feeling alienated from the national mainstream.

“Despite its strategic importance, the North-east has been, more often than not, sidelined. Only recently the Centre has come up with the ‘Look East Policy’ as if earlier it was an in significant issue,” rued Prof Belliappa.

Introducing the seminar, Shreya Bhattacharji from Department of English, RGU, placed before the participants the various topics based on the theme that would be dwelt on during the conference. The seminar would try to find answers for questions like - why tribal institutions are facing extinction, why tribal languages cannot withstand the onslaught of mainstream languages and what is the solution to the tribal women dilemma.

Professor Emeritus, University of Stellenbosch, Cape Town, South Africa, Annie Gagiano, while giving the keynote address dwelt at length on engagements between tribalism and modernity in South African Literature under the title ‘Uneasy oscillation or mutual accommodation?’

The three-day conference will deliberate on 27 papers presented by host as well as visiting scholars on numerous issues related to the tribes of the world with particular focus on those of the African continent and India’s North-east.

Showcasing north-eastern tribal costumes to the visitors, students of the university came dressed in traditional attires for the function.

Sahitya Akademi awardeee Y D Thongchi and former RGU Registrar Tai Nyori were the distinguished guests of the session. The conference is being conducted in collaboration with Sahitya Akademi and ICSSR, New Delhi.