Dr. Deepika Papneja, Fulbright Scholar from the University of Delhi, spoke at Snow College Convocations on Thursday, March 13th. She is fellow Professor at Thomas College in Maine and Assistant Professor at Lady Shri Ram College in New Delhi, India.
Her presentation was entitled, “Diversity in India: Weaving a Tapestry of Community,” and focussed on a sociological history of India. It detailed social ramifications for the impoverished and underprivileged, especially cultural traditions that impacted conditions for Indian women.
Though she stressed that India was a very diverse country with many different levels of economic and social opportunity, she explained that one’s placement within society was closely related to cultural beliefs about lineage and gender.
Referring to her native India as “the world’s largest democracy, and the world’s oldest civilization,” her lecture gave the history of Indian society, cultural values, the early caste system and governmental structures based on the Hindu religion, the repercussions of British colonialism, and how all of these conditions affected the nature of social belonging in relation to vocational and gender roles in India, over many preceding centuries.
Her presentation then shifted to the history of social reformists and revolutionaries over the last century with an emphasis on women leadership in the country. These strong personalities and their efforts shifted the perception of women’s roles and abilities in an age old-culture of biases.
She closed her lecture with the contemporary state of India’s social conditions and how modern individuals and organizations are working to continue with the improving of these conditions for the future. Papnaja herself, is one of these individuals.
Dr. Papneja has been accredited as a Fulbright Scholar in the disciplines of Sociology and Education and has assisted with many non-profit groups that advocate for women’s rights and social equality in her native India and around the world.
Being a Fulbright Scholar in fellowship with Thomas College, Dr. Papneja is lecturing and presenting workshops about sociology, gender, education and Indian culture at her associated University and doing research on Sociology of Education in India and Gender and Schooling. She is also an Assistant Professor at Lady Shri Ram College for Women (L.S.R.) in New Delhi, India.
Lady Shri Ram is known and “recognized as a premiere institution of higher learning for women in India,” and “is committed to nurturing and creating women who are equipped to be world citizens,” in order to empower women to assume leadership and contribute to higher learning on a global scale, according to L.S.R.’s website.
Snow College currently hosts another participating Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Of chemistry Nagwa Nawar, from Egypt. The Fulbright Scholarship was created in 1946 under legislation introduced by Senator J.William Fulbright of Arkansas. Fulbright studied and travelled across Europe in his early life and was impressed by the importance of intersecting international cultures. After attending law school and being elected a U.S. Senator, Fulbright recognized the importance of an international cultural exchange to encourage international understanding in the post World Was II era.
He pushed for an educational program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The program was created with the purpose of increasing mutual understanding and supporting friendly and peaceful relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Scholarship Program was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman.
The Fulbright Program “awards approximately 8,000 grants annually. Roughly 1,600 U.S. students, 4,000 foreign students, 1,200 U.S. scholars, and 900 visiting scholars receive awards, in addition to several hundred teachers and professionals. Approximately 310,000 “Fulbrighters” have participated in the Program since its inception in 1946. Currently, the Fulbright Program operates in over 155 countries worldwide,” according to cies.org.
For more information, watch Dr. Papneja’s lecture in full on youtube: Snow College Convocation: Dr. Deepika Papneja 3-13-2014.