Shillong, May, 16: The U Kiang Nongbah Guest House (Old Guest House) at North Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong, transformed into a mini galaxy of academic luminaries as academicians, scholars and experts from across the northeastern region and other parts of India descended on the university campus for scholarly discourse and intellectual fervor as the two-day ICSSR-sponsored national conference on “Indigenous Knowledge, Culture, and Media in North East India” kicked off today (May 16, 2024).

The inaugural session commenced with a warm welcome address by Prof. Manash P Goswami, the Head of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at NEHU, followed by the SEMIS Dean’s address by Prof. Moses M. Naga. Prof. Naga highlighted the relevance of the conference theme, emphasizing the importance of documenting and legally protecting indigenous knowledge in the face of industrialization’s encroachment on traditional wisdom.

Delivering the keynote address, Prof. Streamlet Dkhar, Head of the Khasi department, NEHU, underscored the multifaceted nature of indigenous knowledge, particularly emphasizing the crucial role of mother languages in the cultural fabric of the north-eastern region. Prof. Dkhar emphasized the need to document and archive indigenous knowledge, advocating for media’s pivotal role in preserving and promoting indigenous wisdom through various forms of storytelling, mentorship, and knowledge exchange.

“Even the world has advised to document the Indigenous knowledge and also archive them. Media plays a vital role in promoting Indigenous knowledge and also entertain and educate people, bridging the gap between modernity and tradition,” she said. She further stressed that Media can play a vital role in preserving the Indigenous knowledge through visual narratives and art. She suggested to conserve and preserve the Indigenous knowledge through knowledge exchange, through media, storytelling, mentorship, among other ways.

Noted author and former Director of Centre for Northeast Studies and Policy Research, Prof. Sanjoy Hazarika, who was present at the inaugural of conference as the Guest of Honour, highlighted the rich tradition of passing down knowledge through generations and stressed the importance of oral history in preserving indigenous knowledge. He lamented the contemporary journalistic focus on daily events, urging for a more profound engagement with indigenous knowledge and its dissemination to the wider public.

Acting Vice-Chancellor of NEHU, Prof. Nirmalendu Saha, emphasized the role of media in disseminating indigenous knowledge and called for its proper documentation, especially in the scientific domain.

The session culminated with the release of a seminal book titled “Indigenous Knowledge, Culture, and Media in North East India,” edited by Prof. Manash P Goswami, Kamaljit Chirom, Barath N., and Karen L Donoghue. The book promises to be a significant contribution to the discourse on indigenous knowledge preservation and dissemination in the region.