India and South Asia are home to multiple languages that exist in constant overlap, and are spoken by hundreds of millions of people. In this creative and dynamic roundtable event, three speakers interact with each other and the audience in English, while moving between the traditions of their own respective languages, Malayalam, Hindi and Bengali. There is also a live audio translation audio in Hindi. The uniqueness of this concluding event of the GAIN-India workshop will be a serious engagement with Indian languages, such that the panelists not only speak about them, but in them. Given the global spread and impact of AI and the proliferation of AI narratives across cultures, do traditions of science fiction writing and narrativising AI exist in different languages in India? And if yes, what state they are in today? Are such engagements shaped by literary imaginations specific to different languages? More critically, is there a relative dearth of science fiction and fictional engagements with AI in Indian languages, compared to other literary cultures? If so, why? These challenging questions are worth asking if the public perception and reception of AI in India is to be examined. This session will have Manoj Kumar Pandey, Shiju Sam Varughese, and Samrat Sengupta coming together to offer insights into the trajectories of science fiction and AI narratives in Hindi, Malayalam, and Bengali respectively. The roundtable will be chaired by the award-winning translator from Kannada to English, Professor Tejaswini Niranjana, of Lingnan University and Ahmedabad’s School of Arts and Sciences. The session will attempt to bring together the themes and issues discussed through the two days and deliberate, with the participation of the audience, on the key takeaways of the GAIN - India workshop. In preparation for this, the panellists share videos of short extracts from works in Bengali, Hindi, and Malayalam, to give a glimpse of different science fiction traditions and imaginings in India. Please look and listen!
Dr Samrat Sengupta is Assistant Professor and Head of the Department of English at Sammilani Mahavidyalaya under the University of Calcutta. His research interests include Experimental Bengali Literature, Gender studies, Post-structuralism, Memory Studies, Philosophy of Technology and Posthumanism. He has co-edited a volume on Bengali experimental writer Nabarun Bhattacharya titled Nabarun Bhattacharya: Aesthetics and Politics in a World after Ethics. His important publications include a book chapter and a journal article on Technology and Power relating to the philosophy of Bernard Stiegler.
Samrat Sengupta reads Anindya Sengupta's Sci Fi novel Oparthibo (Unearthly) in Bangla (Publisher - Kolkata: Boibhashik Prakashani, 2017).
Manoj Kumar Pandey is a Hindi writer based in the city of Allahabad, India. He has four highly acclaimed collections of stories, namely Shahtoot, Paani, Khazana, and Badalta Hua Desh. Several of his stories have been adapted for stage and films, and his writings have been widely translated into a number of Indian languages. He has won numerous awards for his writing including Vanmali Yuwa Katha Samman (2019), Ravindra Kalia Smriti Katha Samman (2017), Spandan Kriti Samman (2015), Yuva Puraskaar of Bhartiya Bhasha Parishad (2014).
Manoj Kumar Pandey reads excerpts from the Mahabharata, an Awadhi folk tale and a Hindi novel titled Reh Gayin Dishayen Isi Paar written by the well known Hindi novelist, Sanjeev.
Dr Shiju Sam Varughese is an assistant professor at the Centre for Studies in Science, Technology and Innovation Policy in the School of Social Sciences of Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar. His primary fields of research are Science, Technology and Society (STS) Studies, and History and Philosophy of Science (HPS). He has authored Contested Knowledge: Science, Media, and Democracy in Kerala (2017) and edited (along with Satheese Chandra Bose) Kerala Modernity: Ideas, Spaces and Practices in Transition (2015).
Shiju Sam Varughese reads novelist G.R. Indugopa’s Ice -196 0 C (Published by DC Books, Kottayam, Year of publication: 2005) and excerpts from 'Prashasthamaya Oru Thala' (Chapter 10), pp. 137-140.
To join us for the panel on AI and Science Fact-Fiction language traditions in India, register for the workshop here.
The Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, University of Cambridge, and School of Arts and Sciences, Ahmedabad University, are conducting a workshop on AI Narratives in India. The virtual workshop will be held on 11-12 March, 2021. The workshop between Ahmedabad University and Cambridge University focusing on AI Narratives in India will have four speaker panels over two days. The full programme for the workshop on 11th and 12th March can be found here.