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Institute of Political Science and Sociology

Würzburg Academics and Students in India 2012

Würzburg Academics in India

In the Spring of 2012 three Institute staff members traveled to India for research. Philipp Gieg, Michael Melcher, and Stefan Schwaneck used the semester break and did research in March and April as visiting Scholars at the Jawaharlal-Nehru University (JNU). 

All three worked on their PhD in New Delhi. They focused on, for example, Indian Foreign Policy, British-Indian Relations, and lobbying in the biggest Democracy in the world. 

The trip was financed by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), which as a part of its Initiative A New Passage to India, granted Würzburg University two lines of funding. In addition, Mira Hassan, a student in the Master Program Political and Social Sciences as well as a student assistant at the Institute, was also able to travel to India and take advantage of valuable research opportunities for her Master Thesis. 

Prof. Dr. Gisela Müller-Brandeck-Bocquet also spent a week in New Delhi in the middle of March. She spoke on the topic “Bye Bye to European Integration and the EU of 27 Member States?” (see photo) at the Centre for European Studies. Also on the agenda were meetings with Politics Professors and the JNU President. Vice-Chancellor Prof. Sudhir Sopory emphasized that the cooperation between Würzburg and New Delhi was the most active international cooperation agreement that JNU had worldwide. 

After the return of the Würzburg Indian Travelers, Prof. Dr. Ummu Salma Bava and Dr. Shaji Sadasivan Nair, along with two other Indian academics, taught at the Institute for Political Science and Sociology in the area of International Relations in the Summer Semester 2012. 

Research Visit in India: Würzburg Master Students spent Winter 2012 in New Delhi

In winter 2012 a group of Master students from the program “Political and Social Sciences” traveled to India in order to do research on their project “Secularism in a Time of Social Change”.

The six Würzburg students spent many weeks in New Delhi beginning in October 2012 and gained access to almost unparalleled Indian sources and valuable contacts. The group held numerous interviews with Indian academics, which led to the participants viewing the trip as an immense academic enrichment. This notably led to the refinement of the research project’s profile. 

The group focused on the theoretical aspects of a cross-cultural comparison of political theory with the particular form of Indian secularism. It was first mentioned during the Constitutional Convention and then became part of the Indian Constitution. The description of India as a secular State was first incorporated into the Constitution in 1976 but was already defined as a de facto state policy. The first Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, admitted after the Constitution came into force, that it was the biggest obstacle to turn a religious country into a secular state. The Master research project focused therefore on secularism in the Constitution, with the (hindu) nationalistic threat to Secularism, and finally with the new Indian middle class and its voting potential and as a result potential influence on the secular state policy. 

Philipp Klein, a Master student and one of the six who traveled to India commented on the visit, “Without our stay in India and the corresponding interviews, as well as the access to Indian primary and secondary sources- among them uncountable original documents regarding the Constitutional Convention and Constitution- it would not have been possible to reach the required in-depth knowledge for the research project.” He added, “Our, for the most part independently researched project in New Delhi, made it possible to establish the foundation for specific questions connected to the project.” 

The stay was made possible through the funding initiative A New Passage to India, which is financially supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) with funds from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Out of the initiative arose the interdisciplinary Centre for Modern India Studies at Würzburg University. As a part of “A New Passage to India” the Institute for Political Science and Sociology has been able to welcome visiting academics from India for three years now. In return, Political Scientists and Sociologists travel to India as well as Institute staff members and students.