Towards Sustaining the Interdisciplinary Character of Area Studies Programmes in India

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Area studies tradition has existed all through the period of history, with its main focus on providing a comprehensive understanding of the foreign lands/ area. Obviously, such a perspective seeks the participation of several disciplines, what came to be known as academic pluralism. This interdisciplinary orientation of Area Studies seeks co-ordination with a wide range of traditional disciplines in the domain of social sciences. In as much as the Area Studies being considered as the treasure of knowledge of the world regions, the Area Studies concept has of late found its place in the academic curriculum of universities. Area Studies programmes thus typify the principle of mutualism and serve as ‘laboratories’ for processing the ‘raw materials’ of discipline-based knowledge. But, on the contrary, the UGC (University Grants Commission) – sponsored Area Studies Centres in India have been confronting with a host of problems, on account of the conservative attitude of traditional disciplines characterized by aloofness, indifference, suspicion and resistance. The traditional disciplines which have bogged down in the crisis of intra-discipline specializations do scarcely subscribe to the much needed principle of commensalisms. As the much expected interdisciplinary cooperation is elusive, the research in Area Studies tends to centering on international politics and/or bilateral relations. As a faculty member of the Area Studies Centre in my own university and a member of the UGC Standing Advisory Committee on Area Studies Programme for three years, I have long innings of association with research trends and organization of Area Studies Programme in India. The resultant experience has often reminded me of the imperative need for conferring on the Area Studies Programme faculty status and institutional framework on the lines of other multidisciplinary catering to the multiple needs of the society and the nation at large.

Keywords: Academic Pluralism, Interdisciplinary Orientation, Traditional Disciplines, Intra-Discipline Specializations, Interdisciplinary Cooperation
Stream: Research Methodologies, Quantitative and Qualitative Methods
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Prof. Yagama Reddy Yadamuri

Professor, Centre for Southeast Asian & Pacific Studies, Sri Venkateswara University
Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, India

Prof. Y. Yagama Reddy (born in 1952) has been a faculty member since 1985 and is currently the Director of the Centre for Southeast Asian & Pacific Studies, a UGC sponsored Area Studies Centre established in 1976 at Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati. Besides associating himself with the teaching programme on regional geography and geopolitics of Southeast Asia and South Pacific, he is involved in multidisciplinary research encompassing strategic, security, economic and demographic aspects of Southeast Asia and Australia. He has to his credit five books and twenty seven papers published in national and international journals. He has also presented twenty nine research papers at various national and international conferences/seminars and delivered lectures at the Refresher Courses on Southeast Asia and Australia as well as during his visit to Australia in 2005 on the topics concerning India-Australia bilateral relations. Prof. Reddy has also served as the Chairman of the Board of Studies in Southeast Asian and Pacific Studies at S.V. University (2001-2004) and currently a member of Board of South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of Madras, Chennai as well as a member of the UGC Standing Advisory Committee on Area Studies Programme (New Delhi). He is a Life Member of various professional bodies including the Indian Association for the Study of Australia, the Indian Congress for Asia and Pacific Studies, the Indian Association for American Studies, the South Indian American Studies Network, and International Association of Asian and European Studies as well as a Member of Indian Association for Asia and Pacific Studies. In connection with his project, Trends in India – Australia Relations (since 1947), he visited some of the Australian Universities in November 2003. Prof. Reddy, as a part of his research project, Australia – India Partnership: Towards a Paradigm Shift, visited various Australian Universities / Institutes under Australia-India Council (AIC) Fellowship Programme during September-November 2005.

Ref: I08P0387