Monday, December 28, 2015

The Orientation Session: An Excellent Resource for Research

The main purpose of this blog post is:
  1. To summarise the Kumaran City Idols Challenge Orientation Session.
  2. To provide inputs for students to conduct research on roads/ parks/ circles named after people.
The Orientation Session

Finally after what seemed like "forever", the time for the orientation had arrived. At around 1:00 pm at the High School AV Room, at Kumaran - CBSE (Mallasandra campus), were seated a good 40 people, all of whom had registered for the Kumaran City Idols Challenge. 

The programme began with a concise introduction to the two eminent professors, Prof. Sharmadip Basu and Prof. Chandan Gowda who had come to talk to us about how to conduct research on famous people after whom public places are named. It was great Ms. Juwairia Mehkri from I Change My City (ICMC) was also with us.

Prof. Basu is a professor at the Azim Premji University. His focus lies in the fields of History, Cultural Studies, and Cultural Anthropology. He also has a PhD from the Social Science Program at the Syracuse University. 

Prof. Gowda is a professor of Sociology at the Azim Premji University. He has two doctorate degrees, one from the University of Pittsburgh in Cultural Studies and another from the University of Michigan in Sociology. 

Prof. Basu began with ease and caught the attention of everyone in the room with his captivating speaking style. He touched upon a plethora of important points with regard to the subject of the orientation. 

The talk began with a short introduction to what historical research actually implied, and how it needed to be done. This was an important foundation for the rest of the conversation. 

Some of the main points discussed in this context were:
  • Historical records are of utmost importance to historians whilst they conduct research. These resources can be categorized into two: Intentional records and Unintentional Records
  • Intentional records: These are records that have been left behind purposely with an intention to be found later in the future. These can include diaries, books etc.
  • Unintentional Records: These are essentially records which have been left behind without any purpose of future reference. Fragments of pots, small bronze sculptures are some examples of such records.
From here on, Prof. Basu spoke of documented resources. These resources can be used for mainly more intensive research. These documented resources are mainly contained in libraries and archives. In these libraries, one can obtain a lot of information about many things in great detail. Some of these libraries/ archives that are in Bangalore, which were mentioned by Prof. Basu are: 
  • Karnataka State Archives Department
  • State Central Library (This is the largest library in the state of Karnataka)
Next, was the crucial part, where Prof. Basu spoke of "Digitization of content". This essentially refers to content or information being uploaded on the Internet for easier access. This immensely gargantuan task has been taken up by several global companies/ organisations such as Google and Microsoft, and institutions such as universities. Even some governments are trying to do this.

Coming back to one important point outside of the orientation, conducting research about roads/ parks/ circles named after people in Bangalore can be extremely challenging, because very very little information can actually be obtained about these people through the "Internet Resources" that "we know". In this orientation, Prof. Basu very brilliantly enunciated the "Internet Resources" that "we don't know"!!

In the orientation, Prof. Basu mentioned two golden "Internet Resources". These are:
  • - This is the Google Advanced Book Search link. Here one can search for any information available on Google Books. And if one enters in the right key words, it is highly probable that the search results will contain the required information.
  • Another very vital way to extract information, is to open the relevant Wikipedia Page (if it exists) and see the references section at the bottom of the page. These references can provide a lot more resources for research.
At this stage Prof. Basu wanted to perform a live demonstration of conducting research using the Internet tools that he had just then discussed. 

Prof. Basu used Google Maps, and allowed the students to select a road in Bangalore, named after a person. This turned out to be "Langford Road"

Prof. Basu then used the Google Advanced Book Search tool, and was able to find information on Langford. Similarly he did a couple of other such demonstrations before winding up his session.

Prof. Gowda's talk focused on understanding how roads are named. He also took live examples as he talked to us. 

One of these examples was Pehlwan M. Krishnappa Road which is named after a wrestler - Pehlwan M. Krishnappa. The interesting thing is that there are several small "Dhabas" on this street which serve heavy food in the mornings. This is actually a continuation of a requirement which existed in the past, when wrestlers living and training in large numbers on this street, needed huge breakfasts early in the morning. One can find out about this, not through the Internet, but only by meeting an old "Dhaba" owner, or an old resident who has lived for a long time on this streetThis is a very crucial form of conducting research commonly called "Oral Research". This basically involves physically going to the road/ place and inquiring about its name and history.

Another interesting example stated by Prof. Gowda was that of a hotel name which in English literally translates into "God save us"!! Similarly there is also a village near Wipro's Bangalore office which is extremely long and complicated to pronounce. Yet, its name has remained as is, despite a lot of people wishing for it to change. 

These three instances exemplify a unique and interesting naming process that one can observe in the city of Bangalore. And it is equally important for us to understand this.

With that, Prof. Gowda wrapped up his talk.

Then, Ms. Juwairia Mehkri spoke about the importance of this City Idols Project.

With a brief vote of thanks, the Kumaran City Idols Challenge Orientation Session concluded.

It was also great that a number of Kumaranites were involved in making all this happen under the guidance of Ms. Jayanthi Sridhar. Sripad Atri, Nikhil Harish, Saujas R, Raghuveer R M, Siddharth V, Raghav Mangalapalli, Anirudh T, Aniketh A and Shyam S. are just some of the Kumaranites who made all this possible. 

All in all, this ultimately useful orientation session went on extremely well!!

The YouTube link to this orientation session can be accessed here: The audio quality is not very good.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Kumaran City Idols Challenge

Very excited that the "Kumaran City Idols Challenge" has been announced on Pupilpod on the Kumaran school intranet. I hope a number of Kumaranites will sign up and benefit from this.

I paste below the full text:

Kumaran City Idols Challenge

We are happy to announce the hosting of “Kumaran City Idols Challenge” in our school.

There are many roads named after prominent personalities. It is unfortunate that many of us do not know and are not able to find information on the internet about these eminent personalities.

This challenge invites contributions from interested students on personalities, after which roads have been named.

This is an excellent opportunity for select high school students to learn and develop research skills, and their knowledge about Bangalore. The research contributions of participating students will be duly recognized by publishing them on the City Idols blog as well as on the Facebook page.

To sign up for this Challenge, please contact Ms. Jayanthi Sridhar (ICT teacher) at the earliest.


An orientation will be conducted for the registered students.
This challenge is open till Jan 31, 2016.

Mrs. Jayanthi Sridhar

Computer Department