Periyanayagi Subramaniam is a professor in the Mass Media department at St. Xavier’s College, in Mumbai, India. He began teaching at the school in 2004.
Catholic Education in India
In May 2011 undergraduate student Deven Comen conducted interviews in Mumbai, India as part of an ongoing initiative of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service at Georgetown University. She studied abroad during...
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Education and Social Justice Project
In early 2010 two Georgetown University Centers – the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service – created the Education and Social Justice Project to engage students and build knowledge about the deep connections between...
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> Vivien Amonkar
> Sangeetha Chavan
> Fleur D’Souza
> Neil Maheshwari
> Frazer Mascarenhas
> Angelo Menezes
> Abhay Mital
> Terry Quadros
> Periyanayagi Subramaniam
A Discussion with Periyanayagi Subramaniam, Professor in the Mass Media Department, St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, India
Background: As part of the Education and Global Social Justice Project, in September 2011, undergraduate student Deven Comen interviewed Periyanayagi Subramaniam, professor in the Mass Media department at St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai, India. In this interview, Subramaniam discusses the dedication of faculty and staff at St. Xavier’s to their students, the role of the Jesuit faith in education at St. Xavier’s, and the obligation of the college and its students to the people of Mumbai.
Interview Conducted on September 1, 2011
What does a Jesuit education mean to you?
It gives liberty to both the teacher and the student to pursue various line of thought within a subject area. It is not limited to academics. A lot of exposure to social involvement is provided and encouraged. The stress is on real work which will impact society positively and not publicity stunt. Teachers are more student-oriented and the interactions are not only purely academic. In spite of a student teacher ratio of 60:1 in the BMM [Bachelor of Mass Media] department, (we are 3 fulltime faculty, with at least 16 visiting faculty) the teachers move beyond curriculum to guide the students in their personal growth and development.
Excellence is encouraged in the students’ pursuits, be it academic, extra curriculum or social involvement.
What kind of values do you try and instill in your students?
Commitment: Complete Involvement in every assignment they take up (curriculum or co-curriculum). Long suffering/Responsibility: Never to give up no matter how worse the scenario may be. Just rework the method of implementation without losing sight of the objective. Earnestness: Pursue the interest of their heart and make a career of their passion not just take up a job to eke out a living or corporate growth. Value: Every pursuit should be commercially viable without being greedy. Positive attitude/sharing success: Encourage them to work in groups by managing/resolving group conflicts.
Being a doer and thereby a leader: Acting as a mentor for less involved students in their own classes and taking up department activities.
What makes Xavier's different from other colleges in Mumbai?
The Jesuit values. Every activity is not commercially motivated. There is no excessive patronizing of commercial ventures and organizations to achieve campus activities. There is a network of ex-students in each department who selflessly contribute towards programs and activities and infrastructure. The XRCVC-Xaviers Reseach Center for the Visually Challenged and the SIP- Social Involvement Program and SSL- Social Service League provide bench marks in social upliftment program implementations.
What are the three greatest challenges facing Mumbai and India? How can Xavier's play a role in addressing these challenges?
Excessive greed of corporates for profits and growth, which is passed down to the employees. There is mindless exploitation of natural resources at the expense of rural livelihood. There is public apathy to the environmental and social problems in their immediate surroundings/ neighborhood. And excessive consumerism and self-indulgence.
How can Xavier’s play a role in improving the situation in Mumbai?
The education should create awareness of rights of citizenship. Guest lectures can show how to demand rights without protest. Curriculum can promote active news-gathering of not just current affairs but the fine print and laws that governance is implemented by. Students should take up research assignments and projects to probe into the real reasons for lack of public amenities. The University should create both student community awareness and citizen awareness programs, through student engagement (like campus festivals). We should inculcate strong social values along with personal accountability (through curriculum oriented projects).
Anything else related to social justice you wish to add?
Education is the key to social justice. Children must be taught from a young age that their rights are guaranteed by the law and hence in every sphere they need to seek it, not fight for it. It is a mindset that has to be developed. When such children grow up to take up responsible positions of governance, they would hesitate to deny others their rights.
What we are now seeing is an erosion of public consciousness leading to inaction and frustration. We have taken for granted that public governance machinery is dysfunctional. We have rather been taught that. Education of the basic rights of citizens could cause an awakening.