The inaugural session of the two-day international seminar on Religion and Social Identity in Punjab,organised at ICSSR Complex in Panjab University on Thursday,highlighted the importance of religion in the 21st century.
During the seminar,Dr Navtej Purewal of Manchester University underlined the ideological contours of the seminars theme and said the world is experiencing a tremendous revival of religion in public spaces.
Professor T N Madan from the Delhi University,in his keynote address,raised several issues of critical importance he spoke about the challenges and threat from double-edged technologies such as stem cell research and nuclear energy.
These can be a boon for mankind if used constructively,but unfortunately,at present they pose a great challenge to the very existence of human beings as some of these technologies have the potential of being misused by religious fanatics, he said.
Professor S L Sharma,former Dean,Social Sciences,highlighted the peculiarity of the Punjab region,especially in terms of plurality of faiths. He underlined that this multiplicity of religious identity should not be understood only through a structuralist perspective,but requires a constructivist approach as the processes are still in flux. He argued that the culture of Punjabiyat has to be studied in depth to bring out its extraordinariness.
The second session of the conference was chaired by Prof T N Madan,Professor Emeritus,Institute of Economic Growth,New Delhi. Anne Murphy,University of British Columbia,Canada,spoke on the problem of ownership rights of Sikh religious sites in form of Gurdwara Reform Movement from the pre-colonial to the colonial era.
Prof Surinder Singh,Department of History,Panjab University,brought up the issue of Muslim revivalism in constructing new social identities during the medieval India.