The Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group popularly known as the Calcutta Research Group (CRG) is a public policy forum by a group of researchers, trade unionists, feminist thinkers and women's rights campaigners, academics, journalists, and lawyers. As a centre of mostly young public activists and socially committed researchers, CRG is now well known for its research, dialogues, and advocacy work in India and in the region of South Asia as a whole. It has carved out a niche for itself in the scholar-activist world for its policy studies on autonomy, human rights, women's dignity, issues of forced displacement and migration, peace and conflict resolution, citizenship, borders and border-conflicts, and other themes relevant to democracy.  

The Winter Course on Forced Migration is an outcome of the ongoing and past work by the CRG, and other collaborating groups, institutions, scholars, and human rights and humanitarian activists in the field of refugee studies and more broadly, the studies on displacement, human rights and humanitarian work for the victims of forced displacement. Policy analysis of laws and administrative measures in this field also inform the course. The duration of the course is three months.  A two and a half month long distance education programme precedes the fifteen-day Kolkata workshop. For the last nine years, the workshop was held between December 1 and December 15. However, this year the workshop will take place between October 1 and October 15 and the course will be called Annual Orientation Course instead of Annual Winter Course. 

The course is supported by the UNHCR, the Government of Finland and the Brookings Institution.  The Media segment of the programme is supported by Panos South Asia. An advisory body guides the programme.  

The Winter Course is a certificate course. It has already resulted into several follow up initiatives such as short courses, public lectures, follow-up researches, informal networks of activists and placement of participants in crucial posts and responsibilities relevant to this field.  The programme demonstrates CRG's reputation as a top class research and training centre. It has also strengthened its links with several universities in South Asia and abroad.  

Structure of the Course 

Although this course is called in short a course on forced migration, it discusses the root causes for migrations/displacements (both internal and cross-boundary). Issues such as racism, immigration and xenophobia in the context of displacement thus fall within its purview and are discussed in some details. The major thrust area of this course is South Asia though examples from other regions are also brought in for purposes of comparison and analysis. The course, as has already been mentioned, is an outcome of the ongoing and past work by the CRG, and other collaborating groups, institutions, scholars, and human rights and humanitarian activists in the field of refugee studies and studies on displacement and human rights. The course structure is intended to take cognisance of the gendered nature of forced displacement in South Asia.  It pays special attention to victim's voices and their responses to national and international policies on rehabilitation and care. The course builds on CRGs ongoing research on forced displacements in the region and hence each year the syllabus adds to its corpus new material grown out of research, deliberation, and experience. 

The course includes analyses of mechanisms, both formal and informal, for empowerment of the displaced. It pays particular attention to different forms of vulnerabilities in situations of displacement and looks at the hierarchies that are created by social and political processes even within such situations.  

The Ninth Annual Winter Course (2011) had four themes. Each of the themes conceptualized in the form of a module was structured around a workshop, a theme lecture, a lead paper on CRG’s research for discussion in the workshop, some assignments relevant to the workshop theme and rapporteurs’ presentation on the deliberations. Each workshop had two days devoted to it. The resource person under each module was intensely involved in the workshop for the entire period. In place of the earlier module notes, we had concept note under each module to be discussed in the relevant workshop. The workshop identified certain key problems relating to the theme.


 The Four Modules

1.  Refugees and IDPs: Definitions and New Issues in Protection

      2.  Gendered Nature of Camps

      3.  Environment, Resources, and Displacement

      4.  Statelessness in South Asia

Besides the research assignments, the course activities included film screenings, a day-long media workshop, field trip to Darjeeling (West Bengal) and interactions with resource persons. 

Duration and Activities 

The course is divided into two segments. During the distance education phase of the course compulsory reading materials as well as additional reading materials are sent to each participant. The distance education based on regular interactions between the course desk and the participants and faculty forms the platform on which the Kolkata Workshop is based. During the Ninth Annual Winter Course (2011) CRG organized two chat sessions under each module, where the participants could engage in one-to-one conversations with their module tutors. Participants are expected to submit research report/research article/review of literature based on any of the sub-themes under any one of the four modules during the distance education segment. Participants present their research findings at the workshops held at Kolkata.

The abstracts of the introductory notes to the modules are available on the following link - http://www.mcrg.ac.in/winter.htm

Public Discussions and Events 

·          Public Lectures  

·          Workshops  

·          Roundtable Discussions  

·          Film Sessions  

·          Field Visits  

Through these events and activities, which are integral parts of the orientation programme, the course has been able to raise quite a few significant issues and themes relating to forced migration in the public agenda.  These such as border management policies, shared lives across the borders, immigration and control norms, racism and discrimination in norms and practices of protection, international humanitarian community, various best practices of the states and communities, etc. The public lectures, films, workshops, and roundtable discussions have brought before public attention in particular the issues of: 

·          Partition and forced displacement in the state of Jammu and Kashmir  

·          The right to return and the right to resettlement  

·          Labour and sex trafficking  

·        Statelessness as a political phenomenon and the non-state persons in South Asia 

·          Ideology and practices of care and humanitarianism  

·          Resource politics, internal displacement, and gender  

The course has produced a number of research writings, publications, and public discussions on these issues. Moreover, individual experiences of displacement through these public discussions make the programme participatory, and contribute to the strength of the programme in a unique way.


Twenty participants are selected from applications received through public notifications and are drawn from varying backgrounds such as law, social and humanitarian work, human rights work, and academic and research career. Nominations come from several universities and research centres with whom CRG has strong collaboration.  Participants come from all the countries of South Asia as well as other regions such as Europe, North America, Australia, and the Israel-Palestine regions. Selected participants with varied backgrounds, nationalities, and experiences bring with them wider perspectives of refugee-hood, rehabilitation and care. Participants are also trained to be come trainers, and co-ordinators of similar orientation programmes. 


The faculty is likewise drawn from people with recognised expertise in refugee studies, studies on internal displacement, university teaching and research, legal studies, UN related activities, particularly UNHCR and ICRC work; public policy analysis, journalism, and human rights activism and humanitarian work. Attention is paid to diversity of background and region, and to the requirements of the syllabus. The faculty is also involved in developing on a permanent scale a syllabus, a set of reading material, evaluation, and follow-up activities. The resource persons also help in harmonising the syllabus of this course with the requirements of the participants, and similar syllabi in various universities, workshops, and courses. The faculty has on its roll several famous personalities, frontline activists, and scholars who have volunteered to help the course or have responded to CRG's call to enrich the faculty and the programme. 


One of the remarkable aspects of the course is its follow up programmes such as holding short courses in collaboration with willing centres and departments of Universities, public lectures, research assistance, wide range of publications, small research grants to ex-participants to help them to continue their work, and strong collaboration with relevant universities abroad. About fifteen institutions in India and about the same number of institutions (including universities) abroad are CRG's partners in related and follow up activities. 

How to Apply 

CRG posts the notification for the course in the website. The course is intended for younger academics, refugee activists and others working in the field of human rights and humanitarian assistance for victims of forced displacement. The curriculum deals with themes of nationalism, ethnicity, partition, and partition-refugees, national regimes and the international regime of protection, political issues relating to regional trends in migration in South Asia, internal displacement, the gendered nature of forced migration and protection framework, resource politics, environmental degradation, and several of the issues related to the forced displacement of people. The course will have emphasis on the experiences of displacement, creative writings on refugee life, critical legal and policy analysis, and analysis of relevant notions such as vulnerability, care, risk, protection, return and settlement. The course includes fieldwork and other exercises. 

All applications reaching before April 30, 2012 will be considered for this year. Applications reaching after that will be considered for the following year’s programme. 


Applicants must have (a) 3 years experience in the work of protection of the victims of forced displacement, or hold post-graduate degree in Social Sciences or Liberal Arts, and (b) proficiency in English. Besides giving all necessary particulars, an application must be accompanied by two appropriate recommendation letters and a 500-1000 word write-up on how the programme is relevant to the applicant's work and may benefit the applicant.  

Selected candidates from South Asia will have to pay INR 7000/ US $ 150 each as registration fee (from outside South Asia US $ 1200). CRG will bear accommodation and other course expenses for all participants.   

Applications, addressed to the Course Coordinator, can be sent by e-mail (mcrg@mcrg.ac.in or forcedmigrationdesk@mcrg.ac.in) or by post, and must reach the following address by 30 April 2012; - Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group, GC-45, First Floor, Sector-III, Salt Lake City, Kolkata - 700106, West Bengal India. For details visit our web site http://www.mcrg.ac.in. Inquiries relating to application procedure and recommendations are welcome.  

Some of the Participants in our Past Courses 

Participants come from all parts of the world with a variety of backgrounds, though this is primarily a South Asian course. Participants have benefited from the course in several ways. Year after year the participants get an opportunity to meet and converse with the most profound thinkers, activists, and UN functionaries, which serves as a source of inspiration to these outstanding group of young men and women. Here is a glimpse of some participants of the earlier years. 

Abdur Rashid is a Senior Programme Officer at the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) in Dhaka, Bangladesh. 
Aditi Bhaduri
is a linguistic interpreter, she used to work at the Consulate of Turkmenistan in Kolkata, now she is a freelance researcher. 
Ala Azzeh
is a Research Officer with the United Nations Relief and Work Agency in Jerusalem, Israel/Palestine.
Barbara Keller
is pursuing her degree at Geographical Institute at the University of Berne
Dilip Gogoi
is a lecturer in Political Science at Cotton College, Guwahati.
Elizabeth Snyder
is a lecturer of International Relations at University of North Carolina, USA.
Elizabeth Williams
is working as an intern with Immigration Advisory Service in UK.
Eva Saroch
is a Research Scholar at the Center for the Study of Geopolitics, Department of Political Science, Punjab University, Chandigarh, India.
Fatme Qassem Agbaria
is a PhD. Student at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.
Helen Hutchinson
is a research scholar at University of Tasmania, Australia 
Hina Shahid
is a Program Officer with Action Aid, Pakistan.
Jason Miller
is a researcher monitoring human rights in Burma.
Judith Macchi
is pursuing her Master’s degree in Human Geography at the University of Berne and working on her Master’s thesis on the Sri Lankan immigrants in Switzerland.
Khaleel Ahmed
is an Assistant Registrar (Law) with the National Human Rights Commission of India.
Kabita Chakma
is a Researcher on Women in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and an activist. She is the Ex-President of Hill Women’s Federation, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh.
K.M. Parivelan
is working as Information Officer with UNDP/TNTRC Chennai.
Ksenia Glebova
is a freelance journalist specialising in refugee and displacement issues.
Maria Ahlqvist
is currently working as the coordinator with National Committee for UNIFEM in Finland.
Munawwar Rahi
is Editor of Sanwad Sangam and works with several human rights organisations.  He is also the National Secretary, Bharatiya Dalit Sahitya Academy, New Delhi and Convenor of All India Muslin Youth for Action.
Nir Prasad Dahal
is a researcher working for the Nepal Institute for Peace.
Oluwatoyin Oluwaniyi
is a lecturer in Political Science at the Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria.
Om Prakash Vyas
works for the Investigation Division of the National Human Rights Commission of India.
P.S. Rao
is the Deputy Superintendent of Police (Investigation), Senior Investigation Officer in the National Human Rights Commission of India.
Radha Adhikari
is the President of Gender and Legal Equality, Bhutanese Refugee Organization, Kathmandu.
Shahzada M. Akram
is a Research Associate at the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Shiva Kumar Dhungana
is a Research Officer working for a Kathmandu-based NGO Friends For Peace.
Sriram Haridas
is working as a repatriation assistant, UNHCR, Afghanistan.
Sudeep Basu
is a Researcher on Tibetan refugees. He is currently teaching at National Law School, Bangalore.
Thinley Penjore
is President Druk National Congress.  He is a leader of the Bhutanese Refugees.
Uttam Kumar Das
used to work in UNHCR Bangladesh.  Now he is with International Organization for Migration, Bangladesh
Walid Kenzari
is a research scholar from Tunisia.  

Some of the Past Members of Faculty and Speakers at Roundtables 

A.F. Mathew Faculty, Mudra Institute of Communication at Ahmedabad (MICA), India.
Ariella Azoulay
Faculty of visual culture and contemporary philosophy at the Program for Culture and Interpretation, Bar Ilan University.
Asha Hans
. Director, Sansristi, Bhubaneswar.
A S Panneerselvan
Executive Director, Panos South Asia.
Ashok Swain
Associate Professor in the department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University, Sweden, and serves as director of the Uppsala University programme of International Studies and Co-Ordinator of the Southeast Asian Programme.
Benedict Anderson
, renowned political thinker, retired professor, Cornell University, U.S.A.
B.S. Chimni,
internationally renowned legal scholar. Currently, he is Chairperson of the Centre for International Legal Studies (CILS) at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
Carol Batchelor
Chief of Mission, UNHCR, New Delhi.
Cynthia Cockburn
is an Eminent Feminist Thinker, Visiting Professor, Department of Sociology School of Social and Human Sciences, City University London, UK.
Dana Clarke
is Member/Researcher, International Accountability Project, Berkely, USA.
David Fisher
is a Jurist, Consultant/Researcher in support of the mandate of the Representative of the UN Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva, Switzerland.
Elizabeth Ferris
Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy and Co-Director of Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement, The Brookings Institution, Washington DC.
Erin Mooney
Deputy Director, Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement. Senior Adviser to the United Nations Representative of the Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons.
Hari Prasad Adhikari
(Bangaley) Bhutanese Refugee and Activist.
Heikki Patomaki
Faculty, World politics, University of Helsinki, Finland.Research Director of NIGD, Network Institute for Global Democratisation, and Vice Director of the Centre of Excellence in Global Governance Research in Helsinki, University of Helsinki, Helsinki.
Jan Breman
Social Anthropoligist and faculty, Amsterdam School for Social Science Research. He is also the Director of Centre for Asian Studies Amsterdam.
Jagat Acharya
Bhutanese Refugee and Activist, Nepal Institute of Peace, Kathmandu.
Jeevan Thiagarajah
Executive Director, The Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies (CHA), Sri Lanka.
Khassim Diagne
Senior Policy Advisor, UNHCR Geneva.
K. M. Parivelan
Information Officer UNDP/TNTRC Chennai.
Meghna Guhathakurta
Director, Research Initiatives Bangladesh.
Michael Cernea
Research Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs, George Washington University, Senior Adviser, GEF / World Bank .
Monirul Hussain
Faculty, Department of Political Science, Guwahati University.
Mushirul Hasan,
eminent historian, Director of the Third Worls Academy, Jamia Milia University, New Delhi, India.
Oren Yiftachel
is an eminent peace activist and thinker, Faculty, Department of Geography and Political Science, Ben Gurion University, Israel.
Patrick Hoenig
Currently Visiting Faculty at the Academy of Third World Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.  Prior to that he worked in the UN Mission of the Congo and at UN Headquarters.
Paula Banerjee
Historian and women’s rights activist, member of the Calcutta Research Group, Faculty, Department of South and South-East Asian studies, University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India.
Pradip Phanjoubam
Editor, Imphal Free Press, Manipur.
Pradip Kumar Bose
Professor of Sociology in Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata and member of the Calcutta Research Group, Kolkata.
Prasanta Ray
Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata and member of the Calcutta Research Group, Kolkata.
Ranabir Samaddar
Political thinker and Director, Calcutta Research Group, Kolkata, India.
Ritu Menon
feminist thinker, publisher, editor, and founder of Women Unlimited, New Delhi India.
Roberta Cohen
Director, Internal Displacement Project, Brookings Institution, Washington D.C., U.S.A.
Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury
Secretary of the Calcutta Research Group and Professor, Department of Political Science, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata.
Samir K. Das
Political analyst on the North East and member of the Calcutta Research Group, and Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India. 
Sanjay Barbora
Regional head of Panos South Asia's (PSA) "media and conflict" thematic concern and also the programme manager of PSA's "peace building and media pluralism" project.
Shee Mulay
is the Director, McGill Centre for Research & Teaching on Women, Mc Gill University, Montreal, Canada.
Som Nirula
Nepal Institute of Peace, Kathmandu.
Subhas Ranjan Chakraborty,
Senior Member, CRG, and Additional Director, Police Archival Wing, West Bengal State Archives.
Subir Bhaumik
Eastern Indian Correspondent, BBC and member of the Calcutta Research Group.
Urvashi Butalia
Dedicated women's and civil rights activist and founder of Zubaan, Delhi, an independent non-profit publishing house. It grew out of India's first Feminist publishing house, Kali for Women.
Walter Fernandes,
 Director, North Eastern Social Research Centre, Guwahati.
Wei Ming Lim Kabaa,
Deputy Chief of Mission, India, UNHCR, New Delhi, India.
Willem Van Schendel
is Professor, Department of History, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands. 

Partnerships and Collaborating Institutions 

The Government of Finland, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, New Delhi, and the Brookings Institution, Washington DC are the sponsors of the programme. With their un-stinted support and goodwill, the programme has become one of the most well known events in South Asia in the field of forced migration studies.  

One of the salient features of the course is its public dimension, made possible with the cooperation of several institutions. Apart from the classes and other sessions, the course has public lectures, discussions, and round tables. In Kolkata the collaborating institutions are the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies, Calcutta University, the Department of Political Science, Rabindra Bharati University, the Department of History, Presidency College, the Refugee Studies Centre, Jadavpur University, and the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences. Detailed reports on these interactive events are to be found in the Annual Reports of the courses. Another highlight of the course is the field visit by the participants to distant locations of forced displacement  a programme made possible only due to the support and assistance of local human rights bodies and government officials. Various agencies contribute to making the educational visit a rewarding experience and a success. 

The collaborative nature of the programme is underlined from the beginning by the participatory nature of the programme. Experts belonging to several institutions and bodies such as the Guwahati University, Manab Adhikar Samiti of Assam, Presidency College, Calcutta University, Jadavpur University, Rabindra Bharati University, Jamia Milia Islamia University, Indian Council of Social Science Research (NorthEast Regional Centre), Punjab University, Utkal University, North Eastern Hill University in Shillong, the Naga Mother's Association from Nagaland, members of the State Women's Commission of Tripura, the Malaviya Peace Research Centre of the Benaras Hindu University, Mumbai University - all have contributed to the planning process in one way or another. Besides these institutions, eminent and committed individuals have also contributed their inputs. Ex-participants are also key advisors.  

The ex-participants have been unanimous in their view that the course helped them get an overall perspective of the phenomenon of forced migration in South Asia. They appreciate the wide diversity in the background of selected participants as each tries to contribute to the discussions on the basis of his/her own experience.  This diversifies the discussions and makes it richer. They also appreciate the human rights thrust and the critical nature of the course. They give various significant suggestions towards improvement and continuity of the course.  

Other suggestions also emerge as a result of seeking cooperation. Scripts, documentaries, collective assignments, system of participants working as reporters and producing a collective report on the programme that reflects its participatory nature  are some such proposals now put to practice. 

Several faculty members come without full or any travel support and offer to contribute their knowledge and expertise for the benefit of the course. Many institutions such as the National Human Rights Commission have supported the course by sending participants. Finally, the cooperation from various quarters in circulating the announcement on the course is critical. CRG remains indebted to all for making the course a success. 

Due to the growing popularity of the course the programme has now developed short courses in collaboration with willing centres and departments of Universities in India as follow-up activity. Several universities are already involved in that planning. Besides, the programme has facilitated the development of links with institutions and universities abroad, such as institutions and universities in Finland, Britain, Canada, and France. Besides as reported earlier the CRG has collaborated with a number of institutions to institute public lectures and discussions as part of its follow-up activity. CRG remains grateful to all the organisations that have showed willingness to collaborate on programmes on forced migration. 

The Advisory Team 

Sanjay Chathurvedi  (Punjab University, Chandigarh)
Sanna Selin (Embassy of Finland, New Delhi)
Montserrat Feixas Vihe (Chief, UNHCR, New Delhi)
Monirul Hussain   ( Gauhati University, Assam)
Jyrki Kakonen   (University of Tampere, Finland)
Ritu Menon (Eminent publisher and feminist thinker)
Itty Abraham   (East West Centre, Washington, USA)
Asha Hans   (Director, Sansristi, Bhubaneswar)
Elizabeth Ferris (Co-Director, Brookings Institution Washington, USA)
Kalpana Kannabiran (NALSAR Law University, Hyderabad)
Khesheli Chishi Sema
Pradip Kumar Bose (Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata)
Paula Banerjee (University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India)
Ranabir Samaddar (Director, Calcutta Research Group, Kolkata, India)
Subhash Ranjan Chakraborty (Senior Member, CRG, and Additional Director, Police Archival Wing, West Bengal State Archives)
Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury (Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata )
Samir Kumar Das (President, CRG, University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India)  

A Centre of Excellence 

One of the aspects of the winter course programme is that it is being offered by a center of excellence, as the Calcutta Research Group has now come to be recognized on a wide scale in research and training activities on forced migration, democracy, citizenship, justice, gender rights, globalisation and rights, and other related themes. This recognition has come after six years of hard work, path-breaking research by the members of the research group, high standard publications, regularly published research paper series, and innovative research methods, and a strong culture of collective exercise. 

All these qualities are reflected in the course, which is therefore thorough, demanding, and highly participatory. The faculty consists of eminent scholars and activists who are in the frontline of forced migration studies. The programme is based on collaborations with several other institutes within the country and in many places outside.  

Members of the faculty of the Calcutta Research Group are hence often invited to several forums abroad to take classes, give public lectures, participate and head study groups, contribute articles to reputed journals, participate in their editorial boards, assist local initiatives, and help similar courses develop in other institutions and universities.    

  • For our Registration Form Click Here

  • For our Reports of Past Courses Please go to Archives



Home      Justice