11/12/08

Unit for Madurai Studies - An Invitation to dream

An invitation to dream about the future of Madurai
I don’t know what motivated me to document the news about Madurai under the banner of Unit for Madurai Studies in MISS. But whatever it might be, it helped me to constructively engage myself and focus my energies, during the testing periods MISS have undergone.
I am proud when I look back the brochure I designed and printed to explain the purpose of the Unit. It is an invitation to dream about the future of Madurai. I will be happy if you take some time to read the brochure. I always felt that the memories associated with Madurai city can provoke a sense of solidarity not only among our students but also with others.
The atmosphere prevailed in MISS at the beginning of 2000 might have made my dreams like the dreams of a dumb, but for the cooperation of the students like Mr. Marirajan and Miss.Meeankshi. Marirajan was a great source of support with his natural interest in documentation and Meenakshi with her family background (Sri.Muthiah who wrote many books on Madras history known to her family) was the first girl placed for her field work in the Unit (along with Mr.Kumanan). (It was really unfortunate that she discontinued her studies. It is very rare to have student like her. I have a lot of pleasant memories about them to write separate posts). In the subsequent years Mr. Nisanth (now lecturer in MISS) and Mr. Karunakaran shared the responsibilities. After that, I find it very difficult to motivate students. After a major surgery in the year 2004, I could not continue the documentation as I did during the previous three years. Reading the news related to Madurai, cutting it, classifying it under 45 headings and preserving it was a great source of learning. More than the learning, insights, the laborious process generated day after day was really marvelous and we felt helpless in comprehending the issues that we documented.
Madurai city is bigger than some of the smaller countries in the world. No doubt the great city and its residents deserve better governance. But the question is whether the city is governed as it deserved? But the documents available with us for the three years (2000-2003) prove that there is an utter lack of vision in governing the city. One can see from the documents that both the politician as well as bureaucrats competing with one another to make a mess out of every thing.
Documents in the unit reveal that it is the River Vaigai, as it brought prosperity in the past also brought 150 crores in its name at the start of this century. Nothing can stand before Vaigai for its contribution in sustaining the livelihoods in Madurai.
Social work departments in the USA and in European universities usually claim that the city where the departments are located is the base for their field practicum. Social work departments in a way wield influence in the municipal governance. But social work institutions in our country, majority of them are located in the major urban ceners are alienated from the city life. This has to be changed. Understanding the settlement / place where one lives will always bring the positive transformation that we expect. Unit for Madurai Studies will help us to attach ourselves with the city life.
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No doubt the first phase in the Unit of Madurai Studies has not progressed as I expected. Even then it was a source of learning –sown the seeds for continuous life long learning. Some students have made wonderful observations about the issues and life in Madurai - Slums, Waherman, Dalits especially about Arunthathiars, Vaigai River, Secondary Mode of Transport, Foot Loose (unorganized) Laborers, Vegetable Markets, Sanitary Workers are some areas that I can proudly mention.
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The second phase, as I am seriously contemplating to use information technology to make documentation as a pleasant experience for the students so that many will volunteer in the work. I dream as I dreamt at the dawn of this century, that one day Madurai Institute of Social Sciences will serve as a Knowledge Center to guide the destiny of this great city, in partnership with others.

1 comment:

jeeva said...

Respected Prof.Rengasamy sir,

I am really happy to read your article and I am really proud of my days in MISS College and your dedicated team of professional. Really I wish to thank to DR.DVP Captain RAJA Sir,(Founder),Dr.Narayana Raja Sir. I would like to extend my special thanks to Prof.Rengasamy sir for his continuous selfless service to this community development in this world. I pray for all your team to get continuous success. Anbudan Jeeva Rethinam.S / jeevarethinam@hotmail.com