Claremont Graduate University (CGU) in California and the University of Kerala (Kerala) in India are proposing an Education Partnership that focuses on the departments of Political Science at both institutions. Through an exchange of faculty and students and a program that includes curricular development and collaborative research, the Partnership expects to achieve both a methodological contribution to the field of Political Science and an advance in mutual understanding of the democracies of both countries.
Departments of political science are presently engaged in a primary dispute between emphasis in teaching and research on the description of political phenomena or on the methods (quantitative vs. qualitative) used to gather and process political information. In the United Stated, the emphasis has tended to be on formal/quantitative methods; in India, on qualitative description. CGU represents the first; Kerala, the second.
The division between departments, whichever focus they espouse, has produced problems for both, and these problems have international ramifications. On the one hand, the models and quantitative analyses may have little connection with what actually is happening in political life. On the other, description of political actors, institutions, and events may be based on imprecise data and analyses. The consequence of this bifurcation has been the decline of the vitality and relevance of both types of departments and, the development of international divisions within the discipline. Now, especially, when both understanding and accuracy are so much at stake in international affairs, a program that looks at both context and quantitative analysis will make important contributions to the field and to the international community.
Partnership Objectives [back to top]
What is needed is to bring together faculty members and students who have been trained to emphasize description in their work with those who have been trained to emphasize method, especially formal/quantitative method, so that the contribution of each approach is acknowledge and integrated into teaching and research. Both India and the United States, Kerala and California, democracies which deal with the challenges of their pluralistic societies. CGU and Kerala are especially appropriate universities to examine and share alternative solutions. Most of the faculty members in the Kerala Department of Political Science were top graduate students in that same department. Although highly qualified, they need to work with faculty trained in different places. Both institutions are faced with the opportunities that electronic communication offers. Each has different needs in this area and different expertise that can complement the other. Kerala has an institute of distance education that offers, among a wide range of degrees, and MA in political science; whereas, CGU is still in the exploratory stages about the pedagogical possibilities of the internet. Every faculty member at CGU has a computer and access to library resources and the web, Political Science faculty are especially well equipped with the software for visualization and statistical modeling. The entire Kerala Department of Political Science on the other hand, has only one computer. The Partnership will, therefore, bring knowledge of distance education to Claremont and the ability to make use of electronic resources to Kerala. Clearly, CGU has access to distance learning models closer to home; but an important value on the Partnership involves an equal sharing of equally respected partners.
The proposed Partnership between the CGU Department of Politics and Policy and the Kerala Department of Political Science will achieve the following objectives:
1. Political Science faculty and students in Kerala will increase their ability to perform quantitative methods for gathering and processing political data.
2. CGU Political Science faculty and students will increase their ability to use thick description in studies of political phenomena.
3. Faculty and students at both universities will engage in regular, substantive communication and interaction to further their investigations of political phenomena.
4. Faculty and student sin both departments will increase their integration of description and quantitative methods in their research.
5. Partnership activities will be disseminated through the website and will expand beyond their universities, debates on substance and methodology, as well as report on results of research activities.
6. The Partnership will be perpetuated beyond the grant period.
Description of Activities [back to top]
To accomplish Partnership objectives, we propose a faculty teaching exchange, a student research exchange, the development of communication linkages, and vigorous dissemination efforts.
Results [back to top]
As the deficiencies of the hegemony of methods is reduced at both institutions, the Partnership will become a model for efforts to bring methods and description together in a synergistic form, i.e., in ways that benefit both. Moreover, the research findings themselves, in being widely disseminated will contribute substantively to an understanding of democracy and its challenges in both countries. Faculty and student ties created by Partnership activities will be long lasting, emulated by new generations of faculty and students at both institutions; and they will serve as a basis for making important cross-national alliances and rethinking the disciplinary orthodoxies in the two institutions, as well as at other institutions nationally and globally. Such cross-national alliances and rethinking is intended to contribute to the debate in the U.S. and India over disciplinary orthodoxies. Faculty and student ties created by Partnership activities will be long lasting, emulated by new generations of faculty and students at both institutions. They will serve as a basis for additional Partnerships between other departments at both universities.
Program Evaluation Plan [back to top]
The Evaluation will be performed by an outsider evaluator, Dr. Laurie Richlin. It will be conducted as follows:
1. Survey of each participant on current interests, current research tools, (level of competency) plans for the grant experience.
2. Department surveys to ascertain numbers of faculty and student, collective information on current research interests, competencies in research methodologies, and plans for future research.
3. Interviews with each participant conducted in Claremont at the beginning and completion of each term for deeper understanding of the problems, conflicts, and insights about the combined approach.
4. Annual survey of ongoing and completed research projects with analysis of types of tools/methods being used.
5. Final surveys of student and faculty with both departments to ascertain numbers of faculty and student, collecting information on current research interests, competencies in research methodologies, and plans for the future to compare with original states.
6. Analysis of data collected and themes developed through surveys and interviews.
Technology Recommendation [back to top]
USEFI (Fulbright program) Partnership Project
University of Kerala – Claremont Graduate University
June 4, 2003
Prepared by James Griffith and Dr.Hemachandran Nair
Technology for this project is intended to facilitate and enhance communication, collaboration, and intellectual discussion between faculty and students in Political Science at the two universities.
All faculty members at CGU are provided with a computer and access to substantial online library resources. High speed internet and intranet access is provided via fiber optic cable and a robust network infrastructure using multiple T1 lines to connect the Claremont Colleges to the outside world. Political Science faculty are especially equipped with the software for visualization and statistical modeling. Additionally, many, if not most faculty have personal computers and internet access (including access to the aforementioned library resources) at home. Use of such technology in U.S. universities is not new, hence most faculty are sufficiently competent to produce documents, exchange email, and, at least to a limited degree, conduct online research.
At the University of Kerala, only one political science faculty member has a computer on campus, and until recently, online access was not available in any faculty offices. Recent developments have introduced the opportunity to gain high speed intranet access via fiber optic cables. The university recently quadrupled internet access to 256kbps from 64kbps. University libraries in the state are scheduled to be connected at 512kbps, further increasing the ability of academics to access online resources. For the most part, this use of technology is new to political science faculty at the University of Kerala. Only one faculty member has a computer at home (not the same faculty mentioned above) and most are unfamiliar even with typing (Most prepare manuscripts with the assistance of professional typing services).
Though Kerala has a distance education office that offers, in addition to a wide range of other degrees, an MA in political science, courses are offered using traditional distance education methods such as correspondence and proctored exams. As such, both institutions are in the exploratory stages of the pedagogical possibilities of the internet.
In terms of general student access to computers and the internet, students at CGU have access to multiple free student computing labs offering workstations with high speed internet access and the latest relevant software for productivity and statistical analysis. Access in Kerala is more limited, with about six computers in the campus library available to students and faculty for a modest hourly fee. As part of the upcoming campus library expansion, Mr. Hemachandran Nair anticipates expansion of computer services to include as many as 50 workstations and elimination of the usage fee for students.
The project proposal expressed the expectation for acquiring, either by purchase through project funds or by transfer from CGU, computers for the four faculty partners and two postdoctoral students at the University of Kerala. Given the above conditions, such acquisitions, along with appropriate software purchases, will be necessary if the communication and collaboration goals of the project are to be met. Participants in Kerala will also need training on basic computer and software usage.
Possible use of technology mentioned in the original proposal and in subsequent discussions include:
- Distance Education
- Course Management
- Statistical Modeling/Visualization
- Electronic Communication: email, chat, audio/video conferencing, etc
- File sharing
- Use of contemporary productivity tools for collaborative research/writing
- E-journal production
- Dissemination of information about the project via the World Wide Web
The total allotted budget for technology on this project is $12,000.
Web Site Design and Maintenance
The web site has already been designed and published online. Maintenance and further development is to be handled by students in the CGU Politics and Policy department or staff at Kerala. Costs to the project for these services should be minimal.
It is imperative that Kerala faculty and students are appropriately equipped and trained. Part of bridging the gap between methods must involve bridging the technological gap between these two institutions to facilitate reasonable levels of collaboration and communication. Care should be taken to purchase equipment and software that is up to date and reliable. To that end, it is recommended that project funds be used to purchase six Compaq Presario 3707 computer workstations and relevant software, uninterruptible power sources, and appropriate furniture to facilitate their use. Based on preliminary exploration of Acado, it is thought that this software can better serve the communication, file sharing, and potential course management needs of project faculty and students than can WebCT or other alternatives, particularly in consideration of costs. Further description of Acado can be provided upon request. Installation of, and training on (for Kerala faculty and post-doctoral students), Acado is included in its purchase. This local training will greatly aid efforts toward reaching project goals, since Kerala personnel are likely to need more technology assistance than their CGU counterparts. It is further recommended that a portion of the remaining funds be used for basic computer training for the four faculty and two post-doctoral students participating in the project at Kerala.
Note that the above estimated costs of these recommendations does not include costs for the additional, basic computer training, printer, or web cameras. Precise costs of this training have yet to be determined. Estimates for printers do not include a networkable laser printer. Such a printer will likely provide the best solution for the personnel in Kerala since it can be used by multiple persons and kept in a central office. Additionally, laser printers print faster with better quality than do inkjet printers and toner cartridges do not need to be replaced as often as inkjet cartridges. It is recommended that such a printer be purchased, if it is possible to do so within the remaining project budget for technology. Finally, standard communication clarity difficulties involved with IP video and teleconferencing, coupled with language barriers specific to this context ( i.e. minor difficulties understanding one another's accents), make it unlikely that video or teleconferencing would effectively meet communication needs for this project. Hence, it is not recommended that funds be spent on this technology at this time.
Reports [back to top]
Reports of Participants
Dr. G. Gopa Kumar
Dr. Dean E. McHenry, Jr.
Dr. Yi Feng
Dr. J. Prabhash
Dr. Jean R. Schroedel
Dr. C. Vonodan
Dr. G. Hemachandran Nair
Mr. James Griffith
Dr. Sobha Nair
Dr. Shaji Varkey
Report [back to top]
Dr. G. Gopa Kumar
Professor & Head Dept. of Political Science,
University of Kerala.
Visited Claremont Graduate University, California during the period January 18, 2003 to February 6, 2003
The visit to Claremont Graduate University was made in connection with the U.S State Department funded international project [International Educational Cooperation Program - DOS-Award Number S - ECAAS-02-GR-282 (CS)], a three year partnership program between Claremont Graduate University and University of Kerala. The Project is mainly intended to upgrade teaching and research skills between Political Science Departments of the two Universities. The focus of the project is on the study of Local Governments, Women Empowerment and Minorities in two different states of USA and India; California and Kerala. Dr. Dean E.
McHenry (Jr.) is the Director and he serves as a Senior Professor in the Dept. of Politics and Policy, CGU, California. Dr. G. Gopa Kumar, Professor, Dept. of Political Science, University of Kerala serves as the co-Director. The project envisages exchange of teachers, post doctoral research students and library experts of the two Universities during the period September 15, 2002 to September 15, 2005.
During the nearly three weeks visit to Claremont Graduate University, I was able to comprehend as well as contribute to the strength and understanding of the Project. In fact, the Project derived a specific direction through a series of fruitful and exploratory discussions with the Director, Dr. Dean E.
McHenry (Jr.), James Griffith (Technical expert of the Project), Dr. Terry Ryan (expert on E-Governance from the School of Information Sciences ), Claremont Graduate University and Dr. Laurie Lychlin, Evaluator of the Project. I was able to discuss the details of the Project with Dr. Steadman Upham, the President, Philip Dreyer, Provost and the Vice president of Academic Affairs, Dr. Susan Steiner, Vice president (Research and Programs) of Claremont Graduate University. On January 22, 2003 , Dr. Dean E
McHenry introduced the Project details and the purpose of my visit to the Board of Visitors, School of Politics and Economics, CGU. Further, a special Lecture titled 'Development of Democracy at the Local Level in India' was offered by me to the students and faculty of the University.
I had conducted two rounds of discussion with James Griffith, the Instrumentation Technology expert for enlarging the scope of the Project and thereby linking the faculty and students of the two departments. He had agreed to visit University of Kerala, during March 2003 for a period of three weeks and train the Project members especially on Web CT. His visit is also a sequence and response to the visit made by Dr. G. Hemachandran Nair, Library expert from the University of Kerala during December 2002.
A major break through was the orientation derived through the interaction with Dr. Terry Ryan, an expert on E-Governance. He was kind enough to supply me with sufficient literature on E-Governance for reference and consultation.
The co-Directors, in addition to the Project work committed, resolved to work for achieving the following :
1. Prepare two Projects related to the (a) Nature and Functions of Local Democracy in California and Kerala, (b) Women Empowerment, Tribal Issues and Problems of Minorities with reference to California and Kerala.
2. Organize at least one International Conference every year on topics such as (a) Affirmative Action Policy in India and USA (b) Local Democracy in Kerala and California (c) E-Governance and Citizen Participation in Kerala and California (d) State, Civil Society and New Social Movements in Contemporary World.
3. Publish the major outputs of the research work. Again, one issue of the Kerala Journal of Social Sciences will be devoted for publishing the papers authored by the participants of the Project. There is also a plan to bring out a Bibliography on the works of "Democratization" in Kerala and California.
4. Introduce a Course on E-Governance and Decentralized Planning through the Institute of Distance Education, University of Kerala.
5. Provide opportunity for encouraging Internet discussion between the students of Claremont Graduate University and University of Kerala. The students can discuss on a wide range of areas including Research Methodology, Issues on Current Affairs etc. Using Online, students can also exchange their research papers.
The Calendar of activities proposed earlier will be followed generally with a slight modification. Dr. Gopa Kumar's visit for Project Implementation was originally scheduled for November 2002 but it took place in January-February 2003 only. Again, instead of teaching for the Spring 2003, he will teach an integrated two months Semester Course in Fall 2003.
A diary of events, meetings participated by Dr. G. Gopa Kumar during his nearly three weeks stay in Claremont Graduate University, California is appended.
We are going to review the Budget with the possibility of seeking extended funding to cover some of our additional activities.
Taught a special course on "Decentralization and Local Democracy: India and United Sates" during the Fall semester (August 30- October 30, 2003) at the department of Politics and Policy, Claremont Graduate University, California, as part of the project between University of Karalla and Claremont Graduate University, California.
Attended the 100th Anniversary of American Political Science Association Conference held at Philadelphia, USA during the August26-30, 2003.
Feb 10, 2003 Prof . (Dr.) G. Gopa Kumar
Dept. of Political Science
University of Kerala
Kariavattom ( P.O)
Trivandrum - 695 581
Diary of Meetings Attended
Jan 18, 2003
Leaves Kerala to California
Jan 19, 2003
Arrives in Claremont, California
Jan 19, 2003
Attends a Public Meeting in Claremont on "War : Why Now? What you may not know" by Scott Ritter, Former UN Chief Weapons Inspector for Iraq
Jan 20, 2003
First Round of Meeting with Dr. Dean E.
McHenry, Director regarding the future direction of the Project
Jan 21-22, 2003
Participates in the International Seminar on "Globalization and Self Determination Movements" at Smith Campus Centre, Pomona College, Claremont.
Jan 22, 2003
Participates in the Board of Visitors Meeting and Lunch as a Guest Faculty of the Dept. of Politics and Policy, CGU
Jan 23, 2003
Discussion with Yi Feng, Professor and Chairman, Department of Politics and Policy, CGU and the Faculty Participant who is going to teach a course in the University of Kerala during Summer 2003.
Jan 24, 2003
First Round of Meeting with James Griffith, Technical Expert on Information Technology.
Jan 25, 2003
Second Round of Meeting with Dean E.
McHenry, Director of the Project
Jan 27, 2003
Second Round of Meeting James Griffith regarding his potential visit to Kerala University during March 2003.
Jan 28, 2003
Delivers a Special Lecture on "Development of Democracy at the Local Level in India" at Burkle Hall, Peter F. Drucker School of Management, Claremont Graduate University
Jan 28, 2003
Interview with the official of Department of Marketing and Communications, CGU regarding the Project and Exchange Program for media coverage.
Jan 29, 2003
Discussion with Terry Ryan, Expert on E-Governance in CGU.
Jan 29, 2003
Discussion with Ram Roy, Senior Fellow and Adjunct Professor, CGU regarding the logistics of the integrated teaching course in Fall Semester 2003.
Jan 29, 2003
Meeting with Dr. James H. Lare, Rtd. Professor, Occidental College, Los Angels at Claremont Graduate University.
Jan 30, 2003
Meeting with Dr. Thomas Willet, Professor, Dept. of Economics, Claremont Graduate University
Jan 30, 2003
Discussion Meeting and Lunch with Laurie Lychlin, Evaluator of the Project
Jan 30, 2003
Third Round of Meeting with James Griffith and his proposal to train the Kerala University Project Participants on Web CT
Jan 31, 2003
Meeting with Dr. Jean Schroedel, a Faculty Participant from Department of Politics and Policy, CGU who is going to teach a course in University of Kerala during Summer 2004.
Feb 2, 2003
Third Round of discussion with Dr. Dean E
McHenry, Director of the Project
Feb 3, 2003
Second Round of Meeting with Terry Ryan, expert on E-Governance in Claremont Graduate University
Feb 3, 2003
Meeting with Dr. Susan Steiner, Associate Vice President (Research and Programs), CGU about the Project activities
Feb 3, 2003
Fourth Round of discussion with Dean E
McHenry, Director of the Project
Feb 4, 2003
Return flight to India from Los Angeles at 11.20 am
Feb 6, 2003
Reaches Kerala, India at 11 pm
Trip Report [back to top]
Dean E. McHenry, Jr.
Professor . Dept of Politics and Policy, Claremont Graduate University, California
Visit to the University of Kerala in June 2005
The purpose of the visit was to assess progress of the Partnership Project at the University of Kerala. In the body of the Third Year Report on the Project, I have indicated many of the activities in which I engaged and observations made. Nevertheless, a review of some of them and an elaboration of others is appropriate.
First, there was a great deal of cordiality and many expressions of gratitude for the Project. On an affective level, the Project has succeeded in changing attitudes of hesitant cooperation into enthusiasm. Gradually, I discovered the many struggles which were fought in Kerala to get the Exchange accepted and underway. The former Vice Chancellor of the University of Kerala, Dr. B. Ekbal, gave a lecture at the event at which I gave the "Keynote Address" initiating the All Kerala Political Science Association. He had been Vice Chancellor at the time our Project was presented to the University for approval. From his conversations with me at that time and conversations with others, a story took form. At about the same time as the Claremont proposal reached the Board for approval, an exchange with Montclair University in New Jersey was under consideration. Now Dr. Ekbal was a member of the Communist Party Marxist (CPM) the party which dominated the coalition governing Kerala at the time of his appointment. The Montclair University exchange got caught up in a political struggle within CPM. Apparently, the conservative faction used it as an example of the harm that would come from linking up with an institution from America. Not only was the exchange blocked, but the Vice Chancellor was expelled from CPM for his role in fostering the exchange. Somehow, Dr. Gopakumar managed to steer our exchange through this minefield. His first hurdle was the Department of Political Science itself. The Head of the department at that time, a CPM member, was opposed to the exchange but did not block it because a majority of the faculty was willing to "give it a try." Then Gopakumar managed to get the university Board's backing through careful maneuvering. During my visit, I felt a great deal of positive support for the project. Dr. Gopakumar introduced me to the new Vice Chancellor and he was supportive. But the enthusiasm is greater in Kerala than at CGU.
Second, there is a strong desire on the part of Kerala participants in the Project to publish research. Dr. Prabash argued that the teaching aspect of the Project was strong, but the research was not. He felt that the work done needed to be put together in a volume, as I have noted in the body of this report. He was backed by others, including Dr. Gopakumar. Hesitantly, I promised to try to explore the possibility of an edited volume. My hesitancy arises from the fact that I have not seen the final products of much of the research undertaken. Dr. Gopakumar contended that there were 7-8 articles, though some may need further work. This was one of the major suggestions to come out of a fairly lengthy discussion with all the project participants. It was reinforced by other smaller group discussions, too.
Third, a considerable amount of my time was occupied by the many talks Dr. Gopakumar asked me to give—talks I have mentioned in the body of the Third Year Report. These were very interesting to me, though they were not directly related to the Project. Nevertheless, it indicated to me both the desire for our presence and the interest in what we had to say. Several of my talks stimulated expressions of dissatisfaction with the U.S. role in Iraq. I did not feel that I was included in the attacks. The personal contacts were grand. At Mahatma Gandhi University in Kottayam, one of the professors in the Department of Political Science, Dr. Thomas, spent much of his early life in Tanzania. His father worked for a bank and was posted to Kigoma, a town on Lake Tanganyika where I had lived for many months. We discovered mutual friends who still live there, more than 35 years later. If one looks for the value of an exchange like our Partnership with the University of Kerala solely in the achievement of the formal objectives, one may miss the many contacts and interactions that promote what I believe is one of the objectives behind State Department funding of this Project which is building cordial links among peoples. I contacted a friend in Kigoma and asked him if he knew the Thomas family. He remembered them well and that little kid who is now a professor at Mahatma Gandhi University.
Fourth, in the Department of Political Science at the University of Kerala there is a separate room set aside for the Project with a sign indicating that it is the Project room. It has three computers hooked up to the interned and was always busy. While I was there, I was housed in the University Guest House on the "main" campus in town. It is "main" in that the top administrators and the main library is located there. It is, perhaps, a 45 minute bus ride to the Kariavattom campus where the Department of Political Science is located—and, most other departments. I took the University bus out each day. Dr. Suresh loaned me his office while I was around and I used the computer there. One could tell very easily that he used it extensively. The provision of access to the internet has been a tremendous boost to both faculty and students.
September 30, 2005
Dean E. McHenry
TRIP REPORT [back to top]
Dr. J. Prabhash
Reader, Department of Political Science
University of Kerala
I reached California, United States on 20th January,2004 and stayed there for three months, associating myself with the Claremont Graduate University.
During this brief stay, I offered a course on the Policies for the Political Inclusion of Women and Minorities in India and US for the benefit of graduate students of the University. Four students registered for the course and I met them regularly on every Tuesday from 4 to 7 PM. Classes were conducted by making the best use of modern technological devices like OHP and Power Point Presentation.
I also made extensive use of the library facility of the University both for taking classes and for collecting data for my personal research on the Role of Women in US Politics.
Besides this, I attended the City Council meetings in Claremont, participated in voluntary activities by joining with members of a local group called Active Claremont to clean up a highway under the State of California's ADOPT-A-HIGHWAY Program and attended a number of seminars, meetings and public lectures, the most important of which was the one delivered by Desmond Tuto, Nobel laureate and Arch Bishop of South Africa.
During the stay I have also the opportunity to visit numerous places and make acquaintance with a few brilliant academics like Prof. Dean
Prof. Jean Schroedel, Prof. Yi Feng, Prof. Tom Willet and others. I could also establish contacts with a number of Indian families settled in US. The visit was concluded on 28th April, 2004.On my part it was definitely a rewarding experience, both professionally and personally.
Dr. J. Prabhash
Trip Report [back to top]
Dr. C. Vinodan
Lecturer, Department of International Relations
Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam
The visit to CGU was made possible as part of a partnership project between the Department of Politics and Policy ,CGU, California and the Department of Political Science , University of
Kerala. I was invited by the CGU as a Visiting Scholar for two months to engage in research on Local Democracy. Later on , as per my request The CGU has extended my stay for another 15 days to observe the recall election of California Governor Gray Davis.
I left Kerala on July 19,2003 and arrived at CGU on July 20,2003.Professor Dean E.
McHenry, Project Director , introduced me to the various offices of the CGU to facilitate my work. These include: the Student Affairs Division , Project Evaluation Division, International Place, Preparing Future Faculty
Division, The Honnold Mud Library and the Claremont City Library etc.... I was also introduced to the Faculty and staff of the CGU .During my two and a half month stay at CGU , I was able to comprehend the unique political process in the Golden state of California. My specific study on Local Democracy and observation of the recall election in California made tremendous impact on me on the democratic process at the grass root level as well as at the State level. In fact democratic decentralization is being increasingly experimented all over the world . But the success of local democracy always depends on the
extend of participation by the community in the process of governance . My study proved that the Claremont City
Government provides a unique model in local democracy. The City Government was succeeded in bringing people closer to local governance. The regular meetings and open debates at the City meeting attracted the researcher very well. I had also developed great appreciation for this unique model and many of the findings
are valuable assets for our own system of local democracy.
My research activities at CGU were guided by Professor Dean E. McHenry. He provided me a good orientation before I started the work. His invaluable suggestions and guiding made the study much easier .Besides Professor Gopa Kumar, my research Supervisor at the University of Kerala also provided me with necessary suggestions and guidance at different stages of the study. As part of the collaborative research
programme, the CGU recruited a Co- Researcher Cheryl Van den Handel, a Scholar in the Department of Politics and Policy , CGU. Cheryl Van den Handel is well versed in quantitative analysis .My association with Cheryl helped me a lot in understanding the quantitative methodology adopted in the U.S. The study made use of a combination of both primary and secondary sources. My research activity in the CGU includes the regular observation of the City Council meeting ,sitting through the Council retreat and observing the Commission meetings in order to acquaint with the issues and institution of local democracy .I also
attended some of the important meetings of the Los Angeles County Government. My interaction with Council members ,
Officials, Public and Academics produced valuable results to the project.
I was able to collect information on a variety of issues related to local democracy in addition to the direct interaction and observation of the functioning of local
democracy. I also got a remarkable opportunity to directly observe the recall election of California Governor Gray Davis. It is a manifestation of direct democracy and has no parallels in India .The finding of the study will be published in the form of a chapter in the proposed volume to be published at the end of the project period. I had also disseminated my understanding through this project to my Students, Colleagues , Academics, Policy makers, Politicians , Media Persons, Officials and the public through participation in various seminars and discussions.
Trip Report [back to top]
Kerala University Campus Library, Kariavattom. P.O.
Trivandrum, Kerala. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Primary purpose of my visit to CGU as a Technical Expert was to facilitate the communication between the two Political Science Departments of Claremont Graduate University and University of Kerala
December. 4 Wednesday: Arrival at CGU
I have started my journey from Trivandrum to Singapore by Silk Air and reached Singapore at 6.10 am on Dec.4 . At .7.30 am was my next flight to Tokyo in United Airlines. From Tokyo at 4.30 pm was the flight to Los Angeles. I have arrived at Los Angeles on Dec.4 at 9.30 am. At 10.30 am I came out of Immigration and customs. Professor Dean McHenry was waiting for me at the Air Port. At 11.30 am we have arrived at Claremont Graduate University department of Politics and Policy office and met the department Secretary Mrs. Gwen Williams and Office administrator
Mrs. Sandra Seymour. Then we went to Claremont Inn where accommodation was arranged for two days. In the evening Professor
McHenry went to Washington for official purpose.
Dec 5 Thursday
I went to the office of Politics and Policy and met the secretary Gwen Williams and Jill Arnold International Students Coordinator and gave the copies of my passport, insurance coupon and completed the formalities. Then I met James
Griffith, my counterpart at CGU, we had a preliminary discussion about the technology tools for the communication between the two Political Science departments. One concern in the discussion was the time difference between two countries. There is a time difference of 13+ hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time. Another thing is the lower bandwidth of internet service at the University of Kerala
He took me to Honnold / Mudd Library of Claremont Colleges along with the letter from Dean of Politics and Policy and I obtained a library card, which is a computerized card. Without it one can not enter into the library. I sent letter and mails to Professor Gopa Kumar. I had lunch at Saga's Mediterranean Cuisine at Claremont Village . In the evening a shared office (217) with a PC with internet connection were provided.
With James Griffith, I went to meet Claremont Graduate University Apartments Housing Secretary Linda Roberge. I was allotted a room at Graduate Students Hall 111 (Room. No. 318) for the stay. It is very close to CGU department of Politics. Then I vacated the room at Claremont Inn and came to the CGU apartments. I had lunch at a Mexican restaurant. In the after noon we met Professor Lorne Olfman, Dean School of Information Science at the Academic Computing building.
I went to Honnold / Mudd library and examined the books stacks, Internet search center, circulation section. I spent there more than three hours in the library. I went to lunch in a Indian restaurant Delhi Palace in the Claremont Village.
Dec. 8 Sunday
James Griffith came and we discussed WebCT , MLab and video conferencing tools to communicate with each other.
Dec. 9 Monday
I came to office at 9 am. Sent mails to my wife Saraladevi, Professor Gopa Kumar, my office and friends. I read about Claremont. I went to Delhi Palace for lunch at noon.
Peter Drucker Graduate School of Management
I came to office and met Professor McHenry discussed about project. James also came to the department. At 12 pm. We attended a talk at Peter Drucker Graduate School of Management by Dr. Michael Ulhmann . The topic was "One Nation under God: A look at the pledge of Allegiance" was good.
Honnold / Mudd Library
At 2 pm me and Professor McHenry and I went to meet the Director of the Honnold / Mudd Library Bonnie J. Clemense She gave a nice picture of the library's activities and collection. She introduced me to user support mangers Mr. Matthew Gailey and the library's network specialist Yusaf Wirian. We discussed the wireless technology they are using for students coming with
Palmtops. Servers for Email, Catalogs, Proxy server for Off Campus access and server for Internet. Library web services are available for 24 hours and 7 days reference. For catalogs they use the technology of Innovative Interface Inc. It is a student resource oriented library.
The library has Interlibrary loan arrangement with neighboring 19 university and college libraries in California. Library search center's computers has a speed of 100mbps and internet backbone of 1gbps..
The Library has 240,000 books. 6000 govt. publications,
7000 journals, electronic journals web of science, Collection of CDs. DVDs,
The library has 1801 books on India. 6 books on Kerala They are :
- Kerala mid term elections 1960. Communist Party's conquest of the new position. By Bhagat
- Kerala: Past and present by A K Gopalan.
- Kerala: Problems and possibilities by E M S
- Kerala under communism. A report by democratic research service (Bombay)
- Kerala University Economic Series No.1 by V P Raman Pillai
(Land reclamation in Kerala)
6. Kerala Christian Sainthood collision of culture and word view in South India by Corrina Dempsen
Apart from the above collection of books in the library, personal collection of Professor McHenry has more than 1000 books on India and Kerala in his department.
I came to my office at 9am. I looked into all the news papers in Malayalam .
I met Professor Raman Roy of the Politics department, a visiting professor. We had a nice talk about Claremont and Los Angeles.
Meeting with Bruce Griffin Director of IT and Chris Wyatt, Manager Audio Visuals, Darrel Martinez, Network Manager and Willie Drake, System Administrator. The department supports the mission of the Claremont Graduate University through technology.
At 2 pm. We had a meeting with Bruce Griffin, Director of Information Technology CGU. A good discussion about the latest software for administration Peoplesoft 7.6 for students information, Datatel for finance, Millennium for fund raising.
In the evening I went to Scripps College and Harvey Mud College for Engineering and Science. It is one of the best campuses I have ever seen.
I have got the advance $300. Me and Professor McHenry and I went to Bank in Claremont Village and cashed it. In the evening we had a Dinner at the house of the President of CGU Mr. Steadman Upham. It was a nice memorable evening with all faculty members and staff of CGU.
School of Information Science
In the morning we worked on FDDI, ATM, MLABS, WEBCT etc..
At 2 pm. met Samir Chatterjee, Associate Professor, School of Information Science
We discussed about Protocol H.323 of ITU for multimedia communications
Secure Video Conferencing
Video / Voice over IP
Critical reliability of technology
He said America is facing worst ever crash of the Telecom Market in the history of the U S. Lucent and Nortel Networks are struggling in the market.
I went to Robinson May Shopping Mall at Montclair at 7 pm with Sue Nayar and had dinner with them . Afterwards I saw the Movie Mortal Kombat
Hollywood & Beverly Hills
I went to Hollywood with James and Liza
I saw Los Angeles Down Town in lights, Hollywood City, Beverly Hills where I saw the houses of Diana Ross and Frank Sinatra and George Michael. Also went to Universal City and Universal Studio. I saw the footprints of Stars of Hollywood and Universal City Walk, I saw a movie from Universal City Theatre: DIE ANOTHER DAY by Pears. Bronson
Dec. 15. Sunday
Came to office and went to Pomona College. Went to Burger King had hamburger saw the Movie Terminator 1 & 2.
I went to CGU faculty meeting at 12 pm. The h President and Deans and all of the Faculty Members were there. Professor Dean McHenry introduced me to the members.
Met Ali Nadeem, from Iran, who is a Professor of Mathematics at CGU.
Dec. 17. Tuesday.
James came and showed me out the technology tools
2 Via Video of Polycom, 6 machines, Web Camera, WebCT etc..
I met Mr. Robinson Roy of Claremont McKenna College .
He worked at CUSAT for 6 months in the International Studies Dept.
He showed me the college and Library.
I had lunch with him at college Cafeteria.
At.4.30 I attended the Board meeting of the United Nations Associations of USA., Claremont with professor McHenry. Talked to its President Mr. Richard Harris. He says www is work, wealth and wisdom. I met Mr. Dayari Ahmed from the Kurdish area of Iraq. We talked about Landmines in Kurd areas.
I gave official presentation at SPE conference hall at 11.30 am. I used a Big Plasma Screen with wireless equipment. It was nice. All the faculty members appreciated and asked me to mail the presentation to all of them. So I have mailed it to their list serve, email@example.com.
We had a lunch in the dept. at 12.30. Professor Ram Roy of Politics & Policy, took me.
to Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. Then went Mount Baldy up to 9000 feet covered with snow.
I met our Program Evaluator at CGU Laurie Rychlin with James in her office discussed about the technology tools for communication. She requested and we submit to her the report of the my Travel, Assessment and Recommendations of the technology tools after James' visit to Kerala
I went to James' house in the evening and took part in a Bible Class. Dinner with Liza and James.
Dec 20 Friday
I came to office and had a discussion with Professor McHenry.
I went to meet Mrs. Pati Weaver, Circulation Desk at Honnold / Mudd Library.
We had a discussion about the book lending , library policy, interlibrary, Link + and the technology behind the browsing center etc..
At noon James and I visited almost all hi-tech the classrooms of Information Technology, Information Science and the Peter Drucker Graduate Management School. All classrooms are equipped with wireless LAN, LCD projectors, Video conferencing equipments, big plasma screens and hi-tech conferencing halls.
In the afternoon I went to the Paul Gray P C Museum at School of Information Sciences, visited the advanced Informatics Lab, Information Science lab. and met Professor Lorne Olfman. We discussed about the knowledge Management Systems, Data Systems, User Data, Web Page Creations. He was very keen on asking so many questions about India, Kerala and our University.
At. 5 pm Professor McHenry and I went to Wells Fargo Bank at the Claremont village.
Thus concluding all official programs related to Partnership Program.
Dec. 21 Saturday
We have gone to Los Angeles Down Town in train. Visited Los Angeles Public Library.
It is one of the most beautiful public library I have ever seen.
Visited Downtown, then Union Station and Building of City of Hall
Preparation of Travel, and assessment reports in the after noon
Visits to Professor McHenry's house met Jackie McHenry I had dinner with them
Dec. 22. Sunday
Visit to Disney Land
Submission of reports to Program Evaluator Mrs. Lauri Richlin
Returns to Kerala University from Claremont .
Flight from Los Angeles in United Airlines at 11.20 am (Via) Tokyo > Singapore > Trivandrum.
Dec. 25 Wednesday
Arrival at Trivandrum at 10 pm by Silk Air
Finally I thank every one of the department of Politics and Policy for the help and co operation, especially Mrs. Gwen Williams and Mrs. Sandra Seymour. Thanks for Linda Roberge for arranging my comfortable stay at CGU apartment. I specially thank Professor Dean McHenry for his valuable help and suggestion.
Dr. G.Hemachandran Nair
Kerala Trip Report [back to top]
Manager, Instructional Technology
Claremont Graduate University, California.
I have tried to extract various highlights and important features about my trip and to avoid repeating discussion largely covered in the Technology Recommendations report. I have arranged these highlights into what seem to be commonsense subheadings. For those interested in reading more, excerpts from my travel journal follow this summary.
Old vs. New
There is an intriguing mix of old and new traditions and practices all over Kerala. Though the cities and most of the villages have numerous internet cafés, almost everyone has cable television, and cell phone users abound, cattle are still herded down village roads and road repairs are still done by men (and some women), often dressed in a traditional wrap (dhoti) and sandals rather than pants and boots, carrying buckets of tar and pushing rollers by hand. Though dating is generally not condoned in the culture, programs on the cable television networks are filled with depictions of Indian couples (primarily from North India) dating. This seems to be the result of fast changes in an otherwise traditional region.
The computers purchased through this project will create a similar effect in the Political Science department, at the University. It appears that this is a time of rapid change at the University of Kerala —they are erecting a new building across the street from the Political Science department for environmental science and oceanographic studies. In addition, fiber optic telecommunications lines have been run up to the outside of every campus building, though many offices within the buildings do not even have computers. Indeed, the Political Science faculty do not even have phones in their offices. Additionally, the university has been operating with an Internet connection to the outside world of only 64kbps; that's just 8kbps faster than the fairly standard home dial-up connection in the United States. Within the next month, they are expected to quadruple that speed, to 256 kbps, and the library will have a separate connection of 512kbps as part of a government initiative. The current department chair in Political Science already has a computer, and now four additional faculty members will have computers. All five will now be able to access the Internet from their office, as opposed to paying for access at the library, down the street. Finally, the library will soon be waiving the fee for internet access and computer use for students, moving into a new building, and expanding their facilities to provide more computers for student use.
Travel and Accommodations Notes/Advisories
Many of the complaints about difficulties with international travel have been exaggerated. I traveled to Kerala just before the U.S. began the war with Iraq (more on this below) and I returned to the U.S. in the midst of the SARS outbreaks. My wife and I were able to get through customs and airports in a reasonable amount of time with few difficulties. Unfortunately, some of the good news about international travel has also been exaggerated. I had been led to believe, mistakenly, that international flights afforded more legroom and larger seats.
Most Americans will need some time to get used to the driving in Kerala. Lisa (my wife) never quite adjusted. From all appearances, driving behavior is erratic, but their appear to be fewer serious accidents than we have in U.S. cities. Travel by auto rickshaw is probably the best balance of convenience and comfort with economy, though the squeamish or uninitiated might prefer to arrange for a car. Travel by bus is manageable for short rides, but not advisable for travel over any distance. Travel by train is quite pleasant, but, unless a local colleague arranges the tickets, arrive early to allow time to figure out the schedules, fares, and ticketing.
Upon arriving in Kerala, the first place we stayed was the Salvation Army Guest House. Accommodations at the Salvation Army Guest House are not unbearable, but are lacking in some of the familiar amenities Americans have come to take for granted. There is only one power outlet in the room, into which the television (which receives 100 channels—in an odd twist, cable is cheap here, and thus widespread) is plugged. This paucity (and poor location) make it impractical to use with a laptop, though I was able to use it once for work and a couple times to charge the laptop. Compounding this power outlet access difficulty is the absence of a table or desk on which to work. The shower is Indian style, a showerhead protrudes from the wall and a drain is built into the floor. There is no separate structure or partition for the shower and bathroom lighting is poor. Finally, space is limited in the room, and bugs have at least as convenient access to the room as do paying customers. Travelers concerned about this last point (because of the information about disease spreading by bug bites in India) would be advised to bring a bed net and get the appropriate vaccinations before traveling. We brought a bed net, but the only place from which to hang it is the ceiling fan, and the window air-conditioner does not work well without the assistance of the fan. For the record, Lisa did not have any problems with illness for the duration of our trip. I discovered only on my last day at the Guest House that there is a room downstairs with a computer that can be connected to the Internet for 50 Rs./hour. I was not able to take advantage of this discovery.
I had the opportunity to visit and even sample accommodations (at comparable, slightly higher, and even lower rates) in several other locations during my visit. The difference between high range and midrange accommodations is striking. It is not like the continuum that we have in the United States. With one exception, places offering similar rates to the Salvation Guest House (this is classified as midrange in Lonely Planet) also offered similar amenities and quality of accommodations. We checked out a few places in the high range class decided to transfer to one of them, South Park, for the Lisa's last week here. Hotels in this class offer rates of roughly $50/night. After Lisa's departure, I again transferred, this time to a room with a slightly lower rate, at the Hotel Residency Towers. Of the high range places visited, I would have to say that South Park was the nicest overall. The exception I mentioned above is the guesthouse located in the Technopark. Arrangements have to be made through colleagues of the Political Science faculty, but the Technopark's guesthouse offers amenities on a par with the high range hotels and midrange rates. It's location is ideal for getting work done, since it is located in the Technopark, just off campus, though it may be less appealing for those who want to explore Thiruvananthapurum in the evenings. This will require a 30 minute car or auto rickshaw ride. One other option is the guest house at the University campus of the University of Kerala (downtown Thiruvananthapurum). The guest house is not bad, though there is no phone in the room, the shower is a traditional Kerala one, I don't know about the availability of hot water, and one would need to go elsewhere for food, internet connection, and entertainment. The rooms are extremely inexpensive however (around $6 US) and each "suite" does have a separate study/work room with a nice-sized desk. Also, being located at the university's city campus is a plus, especially since there is regularly running shuttle between there and the Kariavattom Campus.
Electricity and Internet Connectivity
Electricity should not pose a problem as long as travelers bring appropriate converters and/or adaptors. I was able to plug in my laptop both in my hotel rooms and on campus. Despite the numerous Internet access sites mentioned above, getting onto the Internet, particularly at a reasonable and sustained connection speed can be challenging. Aside from some time at the University of Kerala's library and my time at the Technopark in a IIITM-K office, I was not able to do much more than view a few emails. This situation may improve if the upgrades to the Library and the Political Science offices (including the office for this project) have been completed.
Project Personnel Enthusiasm
The University of Kerala faculty, students, and staff participating in the project are very enthusiastic. I was able to meet most of these individuals the day after my arrival. An office for the project has already been created, and the computer purchase plan includes the provision of placing a computer in this office. This computer will be made available to the two post-doctoral students working on the project. I made two presentations to project personnel during my visit, one a few days after my arrival, and the other on my last day. Both presentations focused on the possible uses of technology for teaching, research, and collaboration, but the second offered a better focus, as I was able to incorporate their input and findings with regard to a locally produced software, Acado (see the Technology Recommendations report for more on this). Much of what I was able to learn about the faculty concerns and interests with regard to technology was based on the discussion following the first presentation. Though cautious about the use of the technology and their relative lack of experience, the faculty expressed enthusiasm and a commitment to learning and making optimal use of the technology made available by this project.
Meetings and Connections
As just mentioned, I was able to meet most of the project personnel within two days of my arrival. That same day, I also had a chance to meet with Dr. Achutsankar S. Nair, director of c-dit (Centre for Development of Imaging Technology). Among other things, this organization is responsible for the University of Kerala's website and is involved in the emergence of e-governance in Thiruvananthapurum. I was later able to tour c-dit facilities. A meeting with K. R. Srivathsan led to the exploration of using Acado for the project. Dr. Srivathsan's colleagues will be providing assistance in its use for Kerala faculty. As Kerala Political Science begins to make use of the new
technology, continued connections to IIITM-K and c-dit may prove valuable. During my last week in Kerala, Gopakumar, Hemachandran, and I were able to meet with the Pro Vice Chancellor of the University of Kerala. He also expressed interest in and support for the project.
Experiences of a different culture were probably my favorite part of the trip, though one should be aware of cultural differences with regard to productivity, communication, and planning one's itinerary, Keralam people work at a different pace and have a different way of doing things. Arrangements for business, or even official social, meetings are often made by holding mini-meetings. Keeping this in mind and maintaining respectful and open lines of communication will go a long way.
The travel journal excerpts below provide some detail about some of the experiences, including a description of a traditional Kerala wedding, a trip to a wildlife sanctuary northeast of Thiruvananthapurum, a wonderful tour of Cochin (guided by two charming, local students), numerous dinner invitations, a trip to the family (ancestral) home of one staff member (G. Hemachandran Nair—my counterpart in Kerala), and time spend with Jehovah's Witnesses that we met while in Kerala (My wife and I are Jehovah's Witnesses and, on my request, Hemachandran Nair arranged for us to meet them.). Something not discussed much in these excerpts is the numerous discussions we had with people we met on the street, at train stations, and in other public places. Because of the timing, many people were interested in discussing the war and our political views. At first, I was a bit nervous about this, but each person discussed the matter in a civil and respectful manner. Of course, things were easier for my wife, and me because, as Jehovah's Witnesses, we are politically neutral, and this position sits well the average person one meets in Kerala. Finally, one will most likely notice numerous protests or demonstrations while visiting Thiruvananthapurum. These appear to be nonviolent on the whole, though the demonstrators can be quite boisterous. I was admittedly nervous when an auto rickshaw driver misunderstood my directions and three times took Lisa and me through the heart of a demonstration the day after the U.S. began the war in Iraq (It turned out to be a workers demonstration.), but no harm, physical or otherwise came our way.
Monday, March 17, 2003
So far the trip has been fairly uneventful. All of the complaints about checking baggage and customs are, so far as I can tell up to this point, overstated. All I have heard about international travel prepared me to expect larger seats and legroom than what is found on domestic flights. Again, these reports were overstated. The seats and the legroom are at least as cramped, if not more. The entertainment was fine, several choices of movies looping on their own channel, TV on other channels, music and games on still others. It was good, since I didn't sleep as much as I would have hoped, and yet I was too tired to do as much work as I would have liked. I should note (though it's probably not very important) that when I began this, it was Monday in Hong Kong, but still Sunday in Claremont. The arrival descent into Hong Kong 's airport is beautiful, though I'm afraid that is all we were able to see. We (Lisa and I) took a few digital pics and have already imported them into the laptop—technology is great for some things. To my surprise, I was not able to access Hotmail, but CGU mail servers were more reliable—we were able to send friends and family an email letting them know we had made it as far as Hong Kong safely.
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
Singapore was fun, though we didn't get to do as much as we would have liked. It is a beautiful place where one would do well to spend at least a night. Though the U.S. dollar is currently worth about $1.70 Singapore dollars, prices on most goods and services are a little less than twice U.S. prices, so there is no net gain from the positive exchange rate. The Changi airport is very nice; we were able to catch showers after touring Singapore, and before catching the last leg of our flight. We are currently en route to Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapurum) aboard Silk Air MI498. We are expected to arrive just after 10pm local time.
Dr. Gopa Kumar picked us up from the airport Tuesday evening, as expected. He was accompanied by his son, Dr. Prabhash and Dr. Suresh. Gopa Kumar dropped us off at our room in the Salvation Army Guest House, and after making sure that we were not too tired from our journey volunteered to bring us breakfast the following morning and then to give us a tour of the campus.
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
The breakfast, iddli and samba prepared by Gopa Kumar's wife, was fantastic. After we ate and talked a bit about plans for the project, Gopa Kumar suggested that he return for us just after noon to introduce me to Dr. Achuthsankar S. Nair, go to lunch, and then on to campus. Achuthsankar is the director of the Centre for Development of Imaging Technology, A Scientific Research and Information-Communications-Education Centre Under Government of Kerala. Chitranjali Studio Complex, where C-Dit is located, has a teleconferencing facility that can be used by participants in this project. Achuthsankar invited me and Lisa to visit the Centre and Studio complex, next Tuesday. During our short meeting today, he discussed some ideas about e-governance, a concept that is currently being explored here in Kerala, with centres for this e-governance in three locations, Thiruvananthapurum, Cochin (Kochi), and another city the name of which I do not recall. I will revisit this issue during our meeting on Tuesday. The idea of e-governance though, could have interesting connections to this project, so the technological growth of the Political Science Department here comes at an opportune time. Lunch, at a restaurant just around the corner, was also fantastic.
I had the opportunity to meet almost all project participants and the Political Science Department Chair, Dr. M.B. Nair. We took video during our tour and we took pictures of the project participants. With the exception of the department chair, the faculty here are clearly hopeful and enthusiastic about the potential for this project. An official office has already been created for the partnership project, complete with sign over the door, two desks, maps of the U.S. and California (soon to be joined by maps of India and Kerala), and a small library. It is suggested that one or two of the computers purchased for the project should also be placed in this office. This will be an important feature for faculty and students visiting from Claremont, who are used to having easy access to computer and internet. It might be a good idea for Claremont project participants to bring along a laptop, as I have done. Currently, this is only of minimal help, since the office provided for the project does not currently have an electrical outlet or network connection, though both are to be added within the next month. Similarly, my current room at the Salvation Army Guest House has only one electrical outlet, in which the television (with over 100 channels) is plugged. I have to unplug the television in order to charge my laptop battery, and I am currently sitting close to this outlet, blocking the door, so that I can use the laptop while it is charging (it really is a "lap" top computer in this instance). It should be recommended that an extra connection for electricity and network are added for use by visiting scholars with a laptop. I suggest this to avoid, as much as possible, impeding Kerala participant access to the new technology.
That evening, we were visited in our room by a Jehovah's Witness couple, William and Susan Daniel (Don't let the name fool you, they are Keralam. It appears than Keralam Christians take on Western names.) with which we were connected, at my request, by Hemachandran Nair. It was decided that Lisa would accompany them around town on Friday, while I am busy with meetings for the project.
Thursday, March 20, 2003
At lunch yesterday, Gopa Kumar informed us that he would be traveling by train to Cochin (Kochi) for a marriage ceremony. He kindly suggested that if we wished to see the city, we could travel to Kochi with him, and that we were welcome to attend the ceremony if we would like. We, of course, could not pass up such an opportunity to experience so much of Indian life in one day, so we gratefully accepted. We traveled in the First Class, AC (fans on the ceiling) car. The total cost for two one-way tickets for this four hour trip, which includes a meal (tasty Keralan curry), a snack of sweet biscuits and chai, and "mineral" water, was Rs 260, not cheap by Indian standards, but only a little more than five U.S. dollars. Fare for the return trip was the same.
The marriage ceremony was fantastic and brilliantly colorful. The traditional rituals leading up to the ceremony take almost as much time as the ceremony itself. We recorded much of both in digital still images and digital video. The mother and sisters of the bride first prepare the marriage platform (looks similar to a richly decorated gazebo) and then prepare to welcome the bridegroom. After welcoming him, a large procession, carrying candles and incense, walks outside the ceremony hall to accompany the bride back inside. The procession circles the platform before the bride takes her position. According to Gopa Kumar and his nephew, these ceremonies typically have 1000 guests. This is quite impressive when one realizes that all of the guests are fed and what this costs the parents of the bride. Traditionally, poor persons wishing to join the marriage feast are not turned away, as this is considered a happy time. According to Gopa Kumar, this tradition is still kept today, though the poor do not often attempt to join. The marriage feast takes place in shifts (at least three for this particular marriage ceremony), as space, though ample, is limited in the dining area of the ceremony hall. The feast is served on plantain leaves and eaten with the right hand, without utensils. First, water for washing the plantain leaf is served, then a kind of rice and crispy flatbread, with a texture not unlike the typical shell for a taco salad. This is immediately followed by several varieties of curry. The flatbread is crushed over the rice and mixed with the varieties of curry. One is advised to eat quickly, so as to make space for the coming second helping of rice and additional varieties of curry. This is followed by a type of crepe and "puddings" with consistencies more like syrup in which to soak the crepe. Guests then proceed to a long wash bin to wash their hand and rinse their mouths.
After the ceremony, two post-graduate students (Robin and Biju) from the college/university in Kochi guided us throughout the city. This was arranged by Gopa Kumar, through a colleague at the school. The tour completed a wonderful "day in the life of Kerala." We first caught the public bus to the other side of town, where we chartered (only because time was limited and there was a significant wait for the next ferry) a small boat to cross the harbor to see Bolgaty Palace. From there we caught two ferries to connect to Fort Cochin, another island in the harbor, where we saw a Portugese church where Vasco de Gama was first buried (before his remains were exhumed and transported to Lisbon, and Jew Town, a small community surrounding the Pardesi Synagogue, which was built in 1568. Another synagogue, built in 1344, has since disappeared. The small Jewish community in Kochi has existed for seven centuries, but is dwindling today. A walk along the beach here, and an auto rickshaw ride from one side of the island to the other completed our experience. Our two guides accompanied us back to the train station and helped us secure the proper tickets to return home.
Friday, March 21, 2003
It was time to get back to work after yesterday's exploration of Indian culture. William and Susan picked Lisa up shortly before Gopa Kumar arrived, again with breakfast in hand. It was a productive day, beginning with a visit to the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management – Kerala (iiitm-k) at the Techno Park on what was formerly part of the University of Kerala's Kariyavattom campus. We met with the director, Dr. K. R. Srivathsan, and Ajith Kumar R., the information analyst in charge of Information Systems and Services. Srivathsan gave a presentation featuring a on . . . looks better than WebCT, and is particularly well suited for the particular context of this project. An excellent break, since it appears that it may be given to the University of Kerala, along with training, at no cost.
This was followed by lunch with the project faculty and my initial presentation to the project faculty, intended to introduce the possibilities presented by technology for teaching, research, and collaboration with colleagues at CGU, and elsewhere. I began the presentation with an explanation of the internet and its origins, and its potential for collaboration and information sharing. I went on to explain the possibilities of other technologies for research and collaboration. Finally, I discussed the potential of the software from IIIMP-K, as compared with some of the possibilities already introduced. This was followed discussion centered around a series of questions.
There are certainly wonderful things to experience here in Kerala. Still, visitors from Claremont may have a bit of culture shock in store for them, particularly if they have not previously traveled to a third world country. Travel by automobile in Kerala is quite the experience. Small, cramped roads are buzzing with buses, small cars, bicycles, pedestrians, trucks, mopeds, motorcycles, and auto rickshaws traveling at breakneck speeds, often on the wrong side of the road to get around a less speedy traveler. No one wears seatbelts or helmets, and, from what I can gather, child car seats are unheard of. This morning, I spotted a woman holding a baby riding sidesaddle on the back of a moped. As with the old and new, signs of both poverty and wealth seem to be intermixed. Much of what is seen is referred to as middle-class, though indicators for this class are very different from indicators in the U.S. Some "middle-class" members seem not to have much in the way of financial resources, wearing threadbare clothes, tattered sandals, and living in small homes. Others live in homes made with materials that would be the envy of many middle-class Americans. Few places aside from hotels targeting westerners have true air-conditioning, but the people here make far more effective use of their fans than we do. Environmental consciousness has clearly not penetrated the local psyche, as litter and signs of litter are prevalent. In a place where poverty and sanitation are already problems, this is a serious problem that could be vastly improved if people would simply dispose of their waste properly. This improper disposal of waste is one reason for the unsafe water here, of which even the locals are aware, and do not drink before boiling. This becomes habit, and explains why Hemachandran continuously requested hot water at restaurants—the Indian people have become accustomed to hot water and so cold, or, as it is called here, "chilled" water is not in fashion.
Saturday, March 22, 2003
We checked out of the Salvation Army Guest House this morning, and accompanied Hemachandran to the house that he rents locally, and then to his ancestral home in a village outside of Varkala. Varkala is beautiful, and it was wonderful to see if with a local as a guide. The economy is different here in India. These people may not have a lot of money, but one wouldn't be able to tell from the home in which they live and the property on which these homes are situated. Hemachandran's family home is a pleasant villa with marble floors, situated no more than 100 yards from the Indian Ocean, though at present the view of the ocean is obstructed by palm trees. We met most of his sisters, his mother, two of his brothers, his children, and many nieces and nephews. After eating and spending some time with the family at the villa, we took a moonlit walk across the paddy fields to the beach to get our first real glimpse of the Indian Ocean.
Sunday, March 23, 2003
This morning we again walked out to the beach, this time to witness local fisherman hauling in the nets they had dropped the previous night. We took many pictures and I even pitched in for a short time, helping to haul in the nets. We walked along the beach to Varkala and took an autorickshaw back to the villa. Later we took a two hour backwater cruise, took a sunset walk on the beach, then returned to the villa to pack and catch the train back in to Thiruvananthapurum. This brief cruise and time passing so quickly made up our minds not to take a houseboat backwater cruise. Such a cruise has the potential to be a wonderful and breathtaking experience, but it could easily be spoiled by the sight of trash dumped down the sides of the river banks—a sight we saw a great deal of during the brief two hour cruise.
Monday, March 24, 2003
Our only official business on campus today was to meet Gopa Kumar and accompany him to Prabhash's house for lunch. We decided to arrive a bit before our meeting time with Gopa Kumar, so that I could do some work in the office or take care of some email in the campus library. Upon our arrival, Gopa Kumar informed us that someone was waiting for us in the Fulbright Project Office. We found Vinodan and Sobha. Sobha was waiting to invite us to dinner at her house sometime this week. We set the date for the following evening, as we had already made plans with our friends William and Susan for that evening. Lunch, of course, was wonderful, as all meals have been thus far. I showed the digital pictures that we had taken so far and we took some new ones, of Prabhash and his family. We then returned to the campus.
Tuesday, March 25, 2003
Today, I had an appointment to meet with Achuthsankar, of C-DIT. We were to discuss e-governance and he was to give a tour of the facilities at C-dit. Gopa Kumar met me and Lisa at the hotel this morning to assist in arranging an auto rickshaw that would transport us to C-Dit, wait for us, then take us to Kovalam and back to the hotel. Since we had been invited to Sobha's house for dinner, and were expected to be in our room by 4:30pm, we opted not to visit Kovalam at this time, and instead to return to the hotel to take some time (for once during the visit) to relax and rest, and also for me to take advantage of the time to work on reports and ideas for the project, as well as to attempt to access email. So, Gopa Kumar arranged the auto rickshaw for this plan, instead. Our appointment was at 10am, the trip there took more than a half hour, and I had allotted two hours for the meeting and tour. As it turns out, Achuthsankar was on leave, and not present at C-DIT. The staff there had us waiting for about fifteen minutes, finally reached him, and had someone else give us a tour of the holography studio, video library, and animation facilities. The original idea, I thought, was that there might be some connection between the project and this idea of e-governance, in which Achuthsankar is heavily involved. Since he was not there, this potential was not realized
Dinner with Sobha and her husband and daughters was very nice. Socially, recreationally, today was enjoyable, but from a productivity point of view, it was filled with frustration.
Wednesday, March 26, 2003
We traveled to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary by regular bus, as arranged by Gopa Kumar. This made the trip 8.5 hours, since the bus made frequent stops. We were the only passengers to remain on the bus for the duration of the trip. We have since learned that no one (not even locals) travels this distance in this mode. Despite that, we were glad to arrive in Periyar and had an enjoyable evening anyway. Anyway, it was an experience, and we learned how not to travel in Kerala (and perhaps in India).
Thursday, March 27, 2003
After staying the night at Periyar, taking a two hour boat cruise on the sanctuary's lake, and having our first Ayurvedic massage, we returned to Thiruvananthapurum by hired car as far as Kottayam and by train for the remaining portion of the trip. This was far more comfortable than yesterday's bus ride. As it turns out, this (the bus) is not the preferred mode of travel, even for locals. In any case, the morning's boat cruise in Periyar was nice (we were able to see elephants swimming), as was my first professional massage experience. The return trip, via car and train was a good one. Our drive provided an informal tour along the way, even stopping on a rubber tree plantation to explain to us how the rubber is made from the sap.
Saturday, March 29, 2003
This afternoon was a productive one, having a pleasant meeting with the Pro Vice Chancellor, and even stopping in to examine the accommodations at the university's guest house before moving on to check out computers at the local shops. The guest house is not bad, though the shower is a traditional Kerala one, I don't know about the availability of hot water, and one would need to go elsewhere for food, internet connection, and entertainment. The rooms are extremely inexpensive however (around $6 US) and each "suite" does have a separate study/work room with a nice-sized desk. Also, being located at the university's city campus is a plus, especially since there is regularly running shuttle between there and the Kariyavattom campus.
William, Susan, and I saw Lisa off at the airport.
Monday, March 31, 2003
Gopa Kumar strolled into the office this morning to invite me to come in and speak to his M. Phil class—just for 10 minutes (turns into 30)—about what it is like to be a graduate student in the U.S. I return to my work to find that it is planned that I will go to lunch with Vinodan. After lunch, I again mention that I still haven't received the guest access for Acado from Srivathsan and Gopa Kumar and Hemachandran decide that we should pay a visit to IIITM-K, again (Doesn't anyone use the phone around here?). Though I disagree in principle with the necessity to make the trip over there just to inquire about the access, the meeting goes well, with Srivathsan arranging for me to work in an office at the techno park for the next two days. So, the meeting turns out to be productive, after all.
As it turns out, Hemachandran and spend the next two days at the Technopark and meet J. Joseph Thannickal, the Product Manager for the manufacturer of Acado.
Trip Report [back to top]
Dr. Sobha Nair
Lecturer, Dept of Sociology, University of Kerala
REPORT ON THE VISIT OF Dr. SOBHA B NAIR TO CGU, CALIFORNIA
Period of Stay from 1-11-2004 to 7-1-2005
Work done - A research study on Undocumented Immigrant Women in California
About the study
The objective of this study was to find out the various socio- economic and psychological problems faced by the women immigrants who have migrated to California in search of jobs from the different parts of the world and who stay there and work there without any legal documents. Because of this reasons they are exploited and ill-treated by the citizens as well as the job givers. The study also attempt to find out the dangerous ways and meansthrough which they had arrived in California cheating theINS officials.
Methodology of the study
An in-depth study was conducted among 100 undocumented women immigrantsusing an exhaustive questionnaire translated in Chinese, Spanish and English. The respondents were located through Non Profitable Organisations who are workingfor the these women toprovide them with advice and help when they face with problems of non payment of wages by the job givers,harassment at the work site, or are faced with health problems.With the help of translators, focus group interviews as well as personal talks were also conducted.
The Agencies who helped in the successful completion of this study were-
1) CHIRLA - Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles
2) Garment Workers Center
3) Christian Business Development
4) National Immigration Forum and
5) Pomona Day Labor Center
The immigrants who werestudied werewomen mostly young doing the workof domestic servants, garment stitchers in different sweat shops in and around Los Angeles, janitorscleaning offices and all under sub contractors and working in ware houses doing thepacking jobs without any properwages orovertime allowances.
The study showed that 33% of the respondents were Mexicans 20% Latin Americans 18% Chinese, 14% Guatemala, 9% Nicaragua and 6% Central America. Majority (80%) of them were staying in California as undocumented fromthe last 5to25 years. Among them more than half 56% were living here for more than ten years.
Majority of them (83%) reached here through illegal means like paying large amounts to the illegal agents or coyotes. A small section arrived here through proper channel but overstayed their visas.
They were working from morning 6-7 am to around 7 pm in the evening taking in-between short break for a simple lunch of bread sandwiches. They were not evenpaid the Federal Minimum of $6.75 or the over time allowance of 1.5times their regular rate.
Majority of them had onlyschool level education which hinders their bargaining power (80%).
Their control over English languageis alsovery limited which face athreat in their stay here.
Majority of them hadcome here to bewith their husbands who reached here long back in search ofjobs. Above all these they fear the threat of deportation by the INS officers if caught while staying here. Hence even if they didn't get minimum wages or even if they fall ill they will not seek any medical help for fear of monetary loss on one hand and the deportation by the officials.
Sobha B. Nair
MY TRIP TO THE CGU [back to top]
Dr. Shaji Varkey
Lecturer, Dept. of Political Science, University of Kerala
As part of the Fulbright Educational Partnership Project, I had taught a course on Politics of South Asia at CGU during the Spring Semester 2006. The objective of the course was to provide a basic understanding of the political process of South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal) to the graduate students in the US. The course includes an in depth analysis of colonialism and its impact on the countries in the region. It also sought to examine democracy, authoritarianism, ethnicity, regionalism and caste /religion historically and comparatively across countries. . In order to have an understanding of the economic dynamics of the region, the political economy of development/underdevelopment was discussed. South Asia's relations with its neighbours as well as with the great powers were also included for the study.
The response from the students towards the course was really encouraging. They had actively participated in the discussions and raised several doubts/comments during the class. The seminar and assignments meant for the students were above par. The course ultimately turned out to be a process of cultural bridge- building. Though the course ended and I had returned to India in May 2006, some of my former students continue to maintain contact with me.
My visit to the CGU was academically refreshing .That I found several aspects of the US higher educational system worth emulating. For those with an academic bend of mind, CGU is an ideal haven. I could even witness some political protests on the campus which shows that questions of justice and freedom have universal value and appeal among the youngsters.
The support and encouragement that I received from the CUG faculty and the administrative staff is gratefully acknowledged here. People like Dean McHenry, Jean Schroedel, Yi Feng, Sandra Seymour and Gwen Williams were always there with a helping hand during my short stay in the US.
My travels, discussions and readings during those four months had enabled me to critically situate the culture and politics of America.
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