Globalisation, IT & COVID-19 new frontier in research challenges: Tiplut Nongbri

Former Professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University and a leading Indian sociologist from the North-East, Tiplut Nongbri delivers the keynote address during the commencement of a “Ten-Day Research Methodology Course (RMC24)” at the National Institute of Technology (NIT) Nagaland on March 4. (Morung Photo)

Former Professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University and a leading Indian sociologist from the North-East, Tiplut Nongbri delivers the keynote address during the commencement of a “Ten-Day Research Methodology Course (RMC24)” at the National Institute of Technology (NIT) Nagaland on March 4. (Morung Photo)

Ten-Day Research Methodology Course kicks off at NIT Nagaland

Morung Express New
Chümoukedima | March 4
The increasing intensification process of globalisation and the unprecedented intrusion of Information Technology forces, along with the resultant impact of COVID-19, have given rise to significant new research challenges, opined by Tiplut Nongbri, a leading Indian sociologist from the North-East, on Monday. 

To meet these challenges, there is an urgent need to revisit methodology, techniques and instruments used in research, she remarked, delivering the keynote address at the inauguration of the “Ten-Day Research Methodology Course (RMC24)” at the National Institute of Technology (NIT) Nagaland.

The NIT’s Department of Science and Humanities is collaborating with the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati’s Department of Humanities and Social Sciences for the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) sponsored event being held under the theme, “Application and Relevance of Quantitative and Qualitative Methods in Indian Social Science Research.”

Nongbri, formerly a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, contended that the infiltration of globalization as well as IT, through news, entertainment, and social media into homes, has not only significantly eroded geographical, political, and economic boundaries among nations but has also subjected societies to potent new ideas and practices. 

These influences, though seemingly gradual, exert forceful impacts on every facet of life, she added. 
She further said that this has not only made life more complex but also rendered many of the things that “we consider familiar and intimate into something alien and unfamiliar.”

It is not confined to cities alone, but every corner of the country, including the North-East, a region once considered isolated and distant from other parts of the country and the world at large, she added.
According to Nongri, the problem was further compounded by the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, which also left a deep impact on every aspect of life. 

“From the societal perspective, I would say the most conspicuous impact of COVID has been in the domain of work and education,” she argued. 

These included concepts of work from home and e-learning, which had a serious effect on the battle of social relations within a family, she said. 

For a woman, it not only resulted in a substantial increase in work burden but infringement of their autonomy - whatever little space they even had during school or office hours has been eroded, she pointed out. 

"I think this is really a very important area for sociologists," she added.
Further, Nongbri said that the COVID-19 has also given a new meaning to health and disease, with both no longer seen as the prime concern of biologists or medical practitioners, but also sociologists. 

To meet the challenges, she advised scholars to be grounded in the one’s discipline; understand the perspective of the environment, and most importantly, be proficient in the art and skill of research. 

Thus, the RM course like today could not have come at a more appropriate time, she maintained. 
Scholars need to be engaged with the tools and techniques of research continuously to be able to test their adequacy and be updated in consonance with the context and situations, she said.

For starters, the sociologist batted for familiarising with the basics of research such as conceptual clarity, principles and instruments of research. 

Among other things, she cited three important components– facts or data based on empirically verifiable observation; theories –or interrelated propositions which provide direction to research; and methods or the ways by which a researcher acts on the environment through the use of certain tools and instruments.

It must also satisfy the criteria of objectivity, validity, reliability, and falsification, she added. 

The end of research ultimately is not only to solve the problem at hand but also to add to the store of knowledge and must be put up in the public domain, she added. It must not only be for professional advancement or other achievements, she stressed.

Dealing with the ethical concerns of research, Nongbri noted that as objects or subjects of inquiry, especially in social sciences, are always human beings, a researcher must also be aware of the certain negative consequences that could unfold on the subject. As researchers are also human beings and encumbered by no set of values, the role of objectivity is paramount, she said. 

Without this, we tend to look at a problem from our perspective and ignore the perspective of the people whom we study, she added. 
Such kind of an approach does not constitute ethical research where the ‘principle of parity’ or giving equal respect to all forms of knowledge is imperative, Nongbri added. Else the research might suffer from subjective bias.
She further addressed plagiarism, sources, and other ethical-related issues.

Earlier, NIT Director Dr S Venugopal also urged the scholars to focus on those subjects which are useful for society or accomplishment, not just achievements.

Social science research is important for the betterment of society, he added. 

In his welcome note, Course Director Dr A Wati Walling informed that there were 37 applicants for the course, including 17 from Nagaland while 20 resource persons drawn from reputed institutions and universities will deliver lectures, followed by interactive sessions.
A total of 33 sessions will be delivered along with a day’s exposure to fieldwork, he added. The course will look into various aspects of quantitative and qualitative research methodology and is aimed at providing advanced theoretical and practical knowledge through field visit exposure and the use of different statistical packages to those who are registered for MPhil/PhD/PDF programmes in Social Sciences, especially in the North-East, Dr Walling added. 

Prof Sambit Mallick of IIT Guwahati’s Guwahati Department of Humanities and Social Sciences is the co-director of the course.