Saturday, 19 December 2015

Conf on Mass Violence & Memory under SSRE Holocaust Awareness Campaign

Society for Social Regeneration & Equity (SSRE) in collaboration with Jindal Global University and the Middle East Institute New Delhi and in association with the US Holocaust Memorial Museum organised a two-day-multidisciplinary-international Conference on Mass Violence and Memory as part of its Holocaust awareness campaign with the objective of generating Indian scholarly interest in Holocaust (Shoah) studies. The conference was held at the Jindal Global University in Sonipat, Haryana, near Delhi, on 18th and 19th May 2016 and was jointly convened by:
The conference attracted participants from thirteen countries. 

Mass Violence is an ineluctable truth of world history, in fact there has never been a time without it. While the international community continues its efforts to prevent it till today, its deterrence has varied immensely from one decade to another and from one geographical region to the other. What causes mass violence and how it can be prevented are questions that continue to trouble us. The varying scales and magnitudes of mass violence have attracted a range of definitions and nomenclatures, like genocide, ethnic cleansing, pogrom, etc., and triggered debates about their usage. The aftermath of mass violence is just as troubling as mass violence itself for it raises the questions of acknowledgement of the event, rehabilitation of the survivors, reconciliation between the perpetrator and the victim, and coming to terms with the harsh reality of memory politics.  Papers from different academic disciplines were presented at the conference to help us comprehend mass violence and memory with reference to the sub-themes listed below, but certainly not limited to them. Papers that underscore the need for Holocaust and Genocide Education in India were in sharp focus. The sub-themes covered at the conference were the following:

Warning Signs
State’s connivance or inaction
State’s response
Hateful or Inflammatory Speech
Role of the Press and Mass Media
Conflicting Narratives
International Response
Role of the Academia
Cinematic Responses
Literary Responses
Judicial Response
Justification of Violence

Comparative Studies
Denial or Minimization
Genocide Education/Mass Violence Studies
Resistance to Genocide Education/Mass Violence Studies
Holocaust/Shoah as point of reference
Mass Atrocities
Challenges of Definition and Nomenclature
One can read more about the conference on its blog.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Holocaust Memorial Day commemorated by SSRE

International Holocaust Memorial Day (as declared by the United Nations) was commemorated by an intern of the Society for Social Regeneration & Equity (SSRE), Akshay Saroha, a First Year Student of MA (Political Science & International Relations), by screening the documentary film, I'm Still Here on 27th January, 2015 at his institution Gautam Buddha University, to make his fellow students aware of the Holocaust and stimulate a discussion on what can be done to prevent the occurrence of mass violence.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Call for Applications for SSRE Internships under its Campaign for the Promotion of Cross-Cultural Understanding

Society for Social Regeneration & Equity (SSRE) invites applications from postgraduate students for unpaid non-residential internships as part of its campaign to promote cross-cultural understanding. Interns would be expected to rope in foreign students enrolled at institutions in India to volunteer to speak about their culture, values, family life and their experiences in India, at campuses across the country, and entertain questions, with the aim of breaking the stereotypes and dispelling the misconceptions Indians often have of foreigners, which sometimes lead to violent clashes. Each intern would be expected to organize at least two or four such events involving foreign students every month at their campus.

Every intern will be expected to submit a detailed report at the end of each month and a six-month report at the end of the fellowship tenure. At the completion of the six-month internship, the intern would be awarded a certificate and a testimonial.
Application should include the following:

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • A scanned image of the Student Identity Card
  • Essay explaining why the applicant is interested in promoting cross-cultural understanding and what they intend to achieve by it and how. The applicant should explain their plan of action clearly with a tentative schedule.

The shortlisted applicants would be asked to come with their original documents for a round of interviews. Following which the selected candidates will be informed through email.

Applications should be emailed to with the subject heading “SSRE Internship Application”.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

The First Ever Hindi Play on the Holocaust staged by an SSRE Intern

As an intern of the Society for Social Regeneration & Equity (SSRE), Rajat Prajapati, a final year student of BTech+MBA dual degree programme, staged a play set in the backdrop of the Holocaust, written and directed by him, at his institution, Gautam Buddha University, on 15th January, 2015, under the auspices of the SSRE’s Holocaust Education Project. Rajat Prajapati, who played a Nazi commander, says that he was inspired to write the play by the the Executive Director of the Youth Outreach Programme of the SSRE, Dr Navras Jaat Aafreedi, a committed Holocaust educator. What makes this play so significant is the fact that it is perhaps the only play on the Holocaust in Hindi and extremely relevant to India given the absence of Holocaust education in the country despite the frequent occurrence of mass violence there. The paradox of the popularity of Hitler in India in spite of the absence of anti-Semitism there, except in certain sections of its Muslim minority, makes the play even more significant.

The play is the story of the horrors of the Holocaust as witnessed by one of the soldiers of the Indian legion of Hitler, which had been raised by the Indian nationalist leader Subash Chandra Bose by recruiting soldiers from the Prisoner-of-War camps in Germany which, at that time, were home to tens of thousands of Indian soldiers of the British Indian army captured by Rommel in North Africa. Bose intended to use this army to liberate India from the British rule.

In addition to this Indian element in the story, the Roma also figure in the play. The Roma are a people of Indian origin, resident in Europe for the last six hundred years. Seventy per cent of their population was eliminated during the Holocaust along with six million Jews (2/3rd of the European Jewish population and 1/3rd of the world Jewish population). The protagonist, the Indian PoW, Gurudas Singh, played by a graduate student, Aakash, finds refuge among them after his escape from prison, but is later mistaken for a Roma and sent to a concentration camp along with the Roma and Jews.

It is commendable that students succeeded in staging this play despite all odds. Driven by a strong desire to raise awareness of the Holocaust and counter the popularity Hitler has come to enjoy in India because of yearning for a strong leadership, the students themselves took care of all the expenses of costumes and props.

The play was accompanied by a poster exhibition on the Holocaust. The SSRE will be helping the students stage this play at institutions of higher education across India, for it believes that Holocaust education is required in India more than any other education because of the frequent occurrence of mass violence there. It would be easier for Indians to retain their objectivity while studying the Holocaust and draw lessons from it as to what leads to genocide and how it can be prevented, than any other episode of mass violence that took place in India, because Holocaust was a genocide that neither involved any section of Indian society nor any of the two major religious communities of India, viz., Hindus and Muslims. Considering the above mentioned factor and the fact that no other genocide can match the scale and magnitude of the Holocaust, it serves as an ideal case for the study of genocides and their prevention. 

Photos: Aditya Saxena, Gautam Buddha University