The IFP researchers from the Social Sciences Department (Venkatasubramanian, Hélène Guetat-Bernard) and the Ecology Department. – K.Anupama, N. Balachandran, S. Prasad, J. Lazar) together with colleagues from INRAE (Adam Vanbergen), MNHN (Emmanuelle Porcher, Colin Fontaine), CNRS (Elisa Thébault), IRD (Romain Simenel), The University of Nanterre (Frédéric Landy) and Science Po (Nicola Gallai) will work for one year on a pilot project funded by the Mission for Interdisciplinarity of the CNRS (MITI) in the framework of the POLLIN project (Pollinator protection and agro-ecological transition in a territory of South-East India).
The project analyzes in Pondicherry and nearby countryside, the pollination services offered to crops by two local honeybees (A. Cerana and Trigona) and, jointly, the knowledge and practices of beekeepers and farmers regarding the relationship between pollinating insects and agro biodiversity. The project is multidisciplinary: it combines ecological, socio-economic and anthropological research to understand, measure and disseminate the contribution of pollination to agricultural yields, a step towards an agro-ecological system resistant to climate change. The science-society platform for a territorial food project, supported by IFP for 3 years, will promote interactions between ecologists / social science researchers and farmers / gardeners, in order to understand their expectations, develop a model for observing pollinators in their agro-ecosystem and propose avenues for public policies.
An important dimension of the Śivadharma project (ERC grant n° 803624) headed by Florinda De Simini (“L’Orientale”, Naples) is the study of the localised diffusion of the ideas and practices of the lay Śaiva religion preached in the Śivadharma corpus. So while some scholars in Pondicherry are editing the Sanskrit text of some parts of the corpus — notably chapters of the C7th Śivadharmottara (R. Sathyanarayanan, Dominic Goodall) and an undated Sanskrit commentary (S.A.S. Sarma) — others are focussing on a C16th translation into Tamil, the Civatarumottaram, by Maṟaiñānacampantar, or Vedajñāna I (d. 1563 CE), and on its echoes through later Tamil literature.
Those used to the notion that Sanskrit, wherever it spread, was invariably the dominant language of intellectual expression — the “hierolect” —, may be surprised to learn that the Tamil translation is more consciously literary and considerably more difficult to read than the seventh-century Sanskrit original, which has only modest stylistic pretensions. Some of the more intricate Tamil stanzas seem unintelligible without hints from the prose commentary, purportedly by the translator’s nephew Vedajñāna II.
While the Sanskrit text has only recently attracted attention, there are at least four editions of the Tamil one, the first dating to 1867. Nonetheless, it proves useful to consult manuscripts, found for instance in Paris, Pondicherry, Chennai, Tiruvāvaṭuturai, Trivandrum, Kolkata, and in the libraries of Thanjavur and Chennai.
We proceed by weekly online sessions where a large team (of scholars from Naples, Pondicherry, Paris, Jerusalem) discusses the English translations drafted by T. Rajarethinam (ch. 1, 10 & 11), S. Saravanan (ch. 7), Margherita Trento (Naples/Paris, ch. 2), and K. Nachimuthu (an C18th digest incorporated in Kacciyappa-Muṉivar’s Taṇikaippurāṇam).
The Tamil departs widely from the Sanskrit, particularly in sections about doctrine and about ritual pollution related to social hierarchy, where it adds digressions drawn from āgamas. Why such liberty? Although the Śivadharmottara was not considered as a scripture of the Mantramārga when it was written, it came to be incorporated in extended lists of the canon of tantras of the Śaivasiddhānta. So we hypothesize that the translator saw no reason not to supplement its teachings with those of a corpus to which he believed it to belong.
Since December 2020 Dr. Tista Kundu, under the supervision of Prof. Nicolas Gravel, commenced a project titled "Doomed since birth? The role of predestined social backgrounds in measuring well-being in India'', funded by the AXA Research Fund Post-Doctoral Fellowship. The central topic of the research project is to evaluate the extent of inequality of opportunity as an alternative measurement of well-being in India that prioritizes the assessment of inequality generated from factors beyond individual control (like caste, race, sex, parental backgrounds). The philosophy behind this research theme is to provide a level playing field for everyone in the society irrespective of their caste, creed or color.
In spite of demonstrating a highly stratified social structure and the active practice of casteism (which is a century old hierarchical social division primarily based on occupation that eventually became hereditary), India is severely under-studied in this axis of research. Physical brutality against lower caste students in educational institutions or deliberate denigration of colleagues from religious minorities or lesser educational investment for girl children, are not uncommon in popular media as well as in academic research. In this aspect the assessment of inequality of opportunity gives these various forms of social discrimination a special character by opening up an alternative definition of social egalitarianism that is internationally comparable.