Salesian College Siliguri Campus, India - News - Research Scholars’ Workshop

11 September 2015
Salesian College Siliguri Campus, India - News - Research Scholars’ Workshop

Research Scholars’ Workshop

Research - Policy Interface & Social Transformation

Past experiences and research on policies and laws have shown disconnect between the research on policy and the formulation and implementation of policy. This is also seen as one of the major reasons for most policies not being able to meet the desired end.

With an objective to find the reasons for this disconnect, the Department of Political Science organised a day’s workshop on “Research - Policy Interface and Social Transformation” on 29th August 2015. The purpose of this workshop was to provide a platform to both, policy makers and policy researchers to share their ideas and find ways in which a connection between both i.e., research and policy can be made. To find why research does not translate into policy? What are the problems faced by those responsible for its implementation? What according to them are the reasons for this disconnect? What do policy researchers feel about this disconnect and how can it be bridged?

The workshop had participants from both campuses of the college that is Sonada and Siliguri, faculty members from North Bengal University, Prof Milindo Chakraborty from Sharda University New Delhi participated in the workshop. Mr. Dhawal Jain IAS, ADM Darjeeling, represented the administration and participated in it as the Chief Guest.

The first session was the inaugural session which began with the lighting of the lamp by Fr. Mathew Pulingathil(Rector), Fr. George Thadathil(Principal), Prof. Milindo and others. On behalf of the college the guests were welcomed by Fr. Mathew and were presented khadas followed by a welcome by Fr. George Thadathil drawing on the history of the workshop series and the uniqueness of the present one in which for the first time researchers academicians and administrators were brought together to give mutual feedbacks. The Head of the Dept. Mr Biju Mathew explained the concept to the gathering.

There were four speakers in the first session Prof. Sanjay Roy, Prof. Milindo, Prof Rajendra Dhakal, Principal Kalimpong Government College and Mr. Dhaval Jain IAS. The first speaker was Prof. Sanjoy Roy who spoke on the theme and gave the thematic address which was a theoretical perspective on the topic. The next person was Dr. Rajendra Dhakal from govt. college Kalimpong, he expressed concerns over policy issues. He cited an example where he as head of an institution helped nearby school children to access the laboratory in his college to perform experiments as their schools did not have any facility of labs. With this example he showed the flaw in the education policy implementation besides highlighting how far sharing of resources can be of benefit to disadvantaged children.

Prof Milindo gave his model by which any policy could be successful. He stressed on the need of participation of civil society in formulating policies. He also stressed that educational institutions and institutions of higher learning could fill the gap and showed how they had an important role to play.

Mr Jain spoke on behalf of the administration and highlighted the problems faced by the administrators. According to him, one of the reasons for the disconnect between policy and research was the inability of a researcher to present a well drafted document in a format that suited policy drafts. Most of the researchers have suggestions which are difficult to implement. If they are given in form of a policy it would be easier for the administrators to implement it. He also spoke about the responsibility and accountability administrators have towards any policy unlike researchers who are exempted from it.

In the next session there were seven presentations on various topics like disaster management in which Dr. Punam spoke about the compensation paid to the tribals in Tsunami affected areas and how it changed the social relations and the entire society. She also spoke about the devastation done by Tsunami and that there have been many before but it was the media which gave attention to Tsunami and it became popular unlike others which are not known to common people.

The other presentation were related to diseases, tourism in Darjeeling, old age problems, role of civil society in organising the unorganised sectors like domestic work and waste picking, psycho social intervention in the upbringing of deprived children and the low enrollment in higher  education among the tribal communities of Doars in North Bengal. The presenters were George Chempakathinal, Babu Joseph, Kalpana Prasad, Ranjini Roy and Sukanto Banerjee.

The workshop ended with many unresolved issues, yet it exposed the participants to new areas of research and left them with questions that had no definite answers. The suggestion that a policy paper is what an administrator looks for and also its proper implementation with positive results was not acceptable to all, yet it in some ways was able to bring a better understanding of the problems faced by both the researchers and the policy makers. It provided new areas of research that could be undertaken. It triggered the thoughts of the participants who would look for answers and in doing so will contribute in exploring new ways to bridge the gap and also to test if research in form of a policy is what the administrators want and whether it will be able to bridge the gap. The future research would test this. It was suggested that the researchers who presented their findings could follow it up with an action research under the leadership of Salesian Research Centre, which co-organized the event.


Kalpana Prasad

Department of Political Science, Siliguri Campus