The conference focuses on the experience of the formally colonized country of India, in the field of academic psychology. The state of psychology in India is none too flattering. In fact, we find psychology in India unable to play its necessary role in our national development. It is widely believed that this unfortunate state of affairs is largely due to the fact that psychology in India is essentially a Western transplant, unable to connect with the Indian ethos and concurrent community conditions. Therefore, it has been said repeatedly that psychological studies in India are by and large imitative and replicative of Western studies, lacking in originality and unable to cover or break any new ground.
The countries which were earlier colonies of England (e.g. India, Sri Lanka) are still intellectually colonized (e.g., the blind adoption of western theories and practices in academic psychology). In the larger Indian context, this has been succinctly brought out by Pawan Varma in his recent book 'Becoming India'. In the Sri Lankan context, Susantha Goonatilake has dealt with parallel issues in his book anthropologizing Sri Lanka: A Eurocentric Misadventure'. Sunil Bhatia (2002), at Connecticut College, USA. most eloquently explicates this theme in his paper 'Orientalism in Euro-American and Indian Psychology: Historical Representations of “Natives” in Colonial and Postcolonial Contexts'.
This situation is in a significant sense surprising because classical Indian Philosophy is rich in psychological content. The culture of the sub-continent has given rise to a variety of practices that have relevance all the way from stress-reduction to self-realization. Rich in content, sophisticated in its methods and valuable in its applied aspects, Indian psychology is pregnant with possibilities for the birth of new models in psychology that would have relevance not only to India but also to psychology in general. What we have in India now is a psychology of sorts, but not Indian psychology.
By Indian psychology we mean a distinct psychological tradition that is rooted in Indian ethos and thought, including the variety of psychological practices that exist in the country. We believe that introduction of Indian Psychology as a course of study and as a basis for fundamental and applied research could awaken psychology in India from its present state of slumber to an active and enlightened pursuit for understanding human nature and for promoting our wellness and potential. We believe also that the Indian models of psychology would have enormous implications for Cognitive Science, Clinical and Counseling Psychology, Organizational management and human and social development. Emphasis on Indian psychology would provide a comprehensive foundation and a refreshing new and indigenous orientation to all other branches of psychology. Judicious introduction of Indian psychology at various levels in our universities and colleges would help (a) to promote indigenous psychology in India and (b) to develop new psychological models, which may have pan-human relevance.
We can expect over the coming years a growing influence of Indian ideas on the developing global civilization, and especially a major shift in its basic epistemological assumptions, away from materialism and in the direction of Indian spirituality.
The growth of Indian Psychology in recent years has been noted by Adrian Brock (2006) in Ireland, and Thomas Teo et. al (2007) in Toronto, both of whom have acknowledged the growing presence and efficacy of IP, in their respective areas of the history and theory of psychology. Jaan Valsiner (2011) in his recent book on the history of psychology has written about IP in the section "Maintaining spirituality in science: New psychology in India" (p. 208-10), and he concludes that “The non-linear—yet not necessarily cyclical—notion of history of a science is surely a wider scheme of things in any discipline. We can claim, for instance, that psychology in the last six decades has proceeded in directions of no progress. It does not follow that psychology needs to return to the precise state of affairs of the pre-1933 era, but rather—in line with IP—that it can develop a new pathway at the intersection of basic assumptions about the human psyche that differ from those of European and North-American beliefs” (p.210).
Against this backdrop the Department of Psychology, University of Delhi, is organizing a four day international seminar cum workshop titled "Indian Culture, Psychology and the Global Civilization: Emerging Perspectives ".
· Psychology: East and West
· The What, Why, and How of Indic Traditions and Indian Psychology
· Indic Contributions to Cognitive Science
· Organizational Psychology and Management: Eastern Perspectives
· Counseling and Psychotherapy: Eastern Perspectives
· Sanskrit And Indian Psychology
· Indian Psychology and Global Civilization: The Road Ahead
With the idea of having an intensive dialogue and sustained sharing, it is proposed to have not more than 200 participants (150 local and 50 outstation participants). The aim is to have the participation of students and faculty in Delhi, and other Indian cities, to increase their awareness about the efficacy and potential of Indian, and Indigenous Psychology to address both local and global concerns, theoretical and applied. We have invited twenty-two resource persons who are experts in the above-mentioned themes. Four resource persons have been invited from U.S.A., and three resource persons have been invited from Sri Lanka, to share their experiences of making psychology relevant in their own cultural context, and effort to include indigenous traditions (e.g., Buddhism to name just one).
Interested persons who wish to attend/participate (as members of the audience) may contact Dr. Suneet Varma at: email@example.com
Brock, A.C. (2006). Internationalising the History of Psychology. New York: NYU Press.
Thomas Teo, Paul Stenner, Alexandra Rutherford, et.al. (2007)(Eds.) Varieties of Theoretical Psychology - International Philosophical and Practical Concerns. Toronto: Captus University Publications.
Valsiner, J. (2011). A Guided Science: History of Psychology in the Mirror of its Making. Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, N.J.