Education and the Public Sphere: Exploring the Structures of Mediation in Post-Colonial India 9781138495371, 9781351024181

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Education and the Public Sphere: Exploring the Structures of Mediation in Post-Colonial India
 9781138495371, 9781351024181

Table of contents :
Half Title
Series Page
Title Page
Copyright Page
Table of
List of illustrations
Overview of chapters
PART I: Crisis, contestation and possibilities in education
1. Towards a destruction of critical thinking
The commoditization of higher education
Some clarifications
Political control
Ranking universities
2. The crisis of India’s Higher Education
Challenges of higher education
Undercutting public universities
Political control
Disregarding social sciences
Rewriting history
One ideology
Trampling academic freedom
3. Education as emancipation: reading freedom through Dalit narratives
Education in India
Education as emancipation
Hazari’s tryst with education
PART II: Mediations in academics: politics, governance and public action
4. Between prohibition of political activity and capture of political space: the predicament of student politics in Kerala
Prohibition of political activity
Strategies of control under ‘capture’
Disciplining with gender
The predicament of student politics
5. Public and private dichotomy: an empirical insight into the university governance in India
The idea of the public state university
Deemed-to-be-universities in India: a conundrum?
Expansion and university governance: insights from the ‘field’
Equity and university governance: insights from the ‘field’
Excellence and university governance: insights from the ‘field’
6. Publication or public action? Discursive spaces of disengagements in India
Collateral damages of the ideological cross-fires: case one
Scholarship in the noisy corridors: case two
PART III: Public-private borderlines: negotiations in education
7. Parental choice for schools in the changing context of the state and market in India
Data and method
Results and discussion
Empirical results: probit estimates
8. Privatization and shrinking free space in Indian higher education: challenges for the inclusive knowledge society
De jure privatization in Indian higher education
Shrinking free space in Indian campuses
Concluding remarks
9. Public sphere and educational policy transformations in Kerala
The evolution of Kerala’s public sphere
Factors for the development of education in Kerala
PART IV: Mobilisation for education: critical voices from the margins
10. Can social movements lead to educational change? Some reflections on a case study of the Adivasi Munnetra Sangam
Adivasi Munnetra Sangam
Educational intervention
Possibilities and limitations of movements
Lessons for building democratic movements
11. Everyday violence, schooling and mediating institutions in Northeast India
Life under Armed Forces Special Powers Act and its structural effects
Education in conflict zones: challenges
Civil society as mediating institutions
12. Pedagogic settings and pedagogic deterrence: a treatise on tribal education and social exclusion
Notes from the field
Capitals, cultural reproduction and the public sphere
PART V: Teaching and learning: everyday engagement in education and research
13. Silent public and speaking selves: locating ‘public sphere’ through classroom practices
14. Everyday engagement with social issues: prospects of liberal arts and engineering students in the institutions of higher learning
Research procedure
Understanding of social problems
Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IITD)
Delhi University (DU)
Harcourt Butler Technological Institute, Kanpur (HBTI)
Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Maharaj University, Kanpur (CSJMU)
15. Researcher, field and caste encounter: critical reflections on fieldwork
16. Education, self and society: a contemporary reading of (integrated) ‘Science of the Absolute’ in the philosophy of Narayana Guru and Nataraja Guru
Self, knower and humanity
Self, humanity and caste
Alternative education, critique and transformation of self
Knowledge and consciousness
Colonial governmentality, self and education
Conclusion: education and the public sphere: conceptions and
their mediations
Education and the public sphere
Education as social metabolism
Notes on contributors

Citation preview

Education and the Public Sphere

Education and the Public Sphere conceptually and empirically investigates and unfolds several complexities embedded in the educational system in India by exploring it as a site of transforming the public sphere. Bringing together a range of contributions from education and the social sciences, this volume analyses and reflects on structures in education and how these mediate and transform the public sphere in post-colonial India. Drawing on fresh research, case studies and testimony, this book debates issues such as the crisis in higher education, privatisation and politicisation of education, the reciprocal relationship between marginalisation and education, and the lasting impact that modern pedagogical practices have on the wider world. It critically reflects on the direct engagement of people, institutions, various cultural sensibilities and public debate to animate how these combined structures affect the teaching and learning process. From a unique interdisciplinary perspective, this book initiates an analytical enquiry into teaching and the culture of learning, generating critical discourses on the system as a whole. This book will be vital reading for researchers, scholars and postgraduate students in the field of international education, education theory and social justice education. Suresh Babu G.S teaches at the Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Previously, he was working with the Department of Sociology, University of Jammu (2005–2013). His research focuses on the post-colonial debates of subaltern communities in India through the critical lens of education as a tool of cultural politics beyond the normative logic of social mobility. He is trying to situate how the marginalized, the displaced, the migrants and the mountainous communities negotiate with a democratic institution and cultivate new habits and aspirations for (higher) education in the citadel of the knowledge society. He holds a doctorate and a master of philosophy in sociology from JNU and a master’s from the Loyola College of Social Sciences. He has undertaken field-based research in Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Kerala on education, development and ecology. Recently, he has taken up a new research project to study the political culture of the university campus in India for ICSSR. His numerous publications include Engaging with Modernity and Development in India, research-based articles, chapters in books and monographs. As a member of the collaborative project under DAAD, he has been visiting scholar at the University of Cologne, Germany, in 2015 and 2017.

Routledge Research in International and Comparative Education

This is a series that offers a global platform to engage scholars in continuous academic debate on key challenges and the latest thinking on issues in the fastgrowing field of International and Comparative Education. Titles in the series include: Higher Education and China’s Global Rise A Neo-tributary Perspective Su-Yan Pan and Joe Tin-Yau Lo Actionable Research for Educational Equity and Social Justice Higher Education Reform in China and Beyond Edited by Wang Chen, Edward P. St. John, Xu Li, and Cliona Hannont Cooperative and Work-Integrated Education in Asia History, Present and Future Issues Edited by Yasushi Tanaka and Karsten E. Zegwaard Reforming Education in Developing Countries From Neoliberalism to Communitarianism Izhar Oplatka Social Justice Education in European Multi-ethnic Schools Addressing the Goals of Intercultural Education Cinzia Pica-Smith, Rina Manuela Contini, and Carmen N. Veloria Education and the Public Sphere Exploring the Structures of Mediation in Post-Colonial India Edited by Suresh Babu G.S For more information about this series, please visit: Routledge-Research-in-International-and-Comparative-Education/bookseries/RRICE

Education and the Public Sphere Exploring the Structures of Mediation in Post-Colonial India Edited by Suresh Babu G.S

First published 2020 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2020 selection and editorial matter, Suresh Babu G.S; individual chapters, the contributors The right of Suresh Babu G.S to be identified as the author of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record has been requested for this book ISBN: 978-1-138-49537-1 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-351-02418-1 (ebk) Typeset in Bembo by Taylor & Francis Books


List of illustrations Acknowledgements Introduction

viii ix 1



Crisis, contestation and possibilities in education 1 Towards a destruction of critical thinking

15 17


2 The crisis of India’s Higher Education



3 Education as emancipation: reading freedom through Dalit narratives




Mediations in academics: politics, governance and public action


4 Between prohibition of political activity and capture of political space: the predicament of student politics in Kerala



5 Public and private dichotomy: an empirical insight into the university governance in India CHETAN SINGAI


vi Contents 6 Publication or public action? Discursive spaces of disengagements in India




Public-private borderlines: negotiations in education 7 Parental choice for schools in the changing context of the state and market in India

107 109


8 Privatization and shrinking free space in Indian higher education: challenges for the inclusive knowledge society



9 Public sphere and educational policy transformations in Kerala




Mobilisation for education: critical voices from the margins


10 Can social movements lead to educational change? Some reflections on a case study of the Adivasi Munnetra Sangam



11 Everyday violence, schooling and mediating institutions in Northeast India



12 Pedagogic settings and pedagogic deterrence: a treatise on tribal education and social exclusion




Teaching and learning: everyday engagement in education and research


13 Silent public and speaking selves: locating ‘public sphere’ through classroom practices



Contents vii 14 Everyday engagement with social issues: prospects of liberal arts and engineering students in the institutions of higher learning



15 Researcher, field and caste encounter: critical reflections on fieldwork



16 Education, self and society: a contemporary reading of (integrated) ‘Science of the Absolute’ in the philosophy of Narayana Guru and Nataraja Guru



Conclusion: education and the public sphere: conceptions and their mediations



Notes on contributors Index

281 283


Figures 7.1 8.1 14.1 14.2

Reasons for attending private schools, 2014 All-India average private expenditure per student by type of education in 2007–2008 and 2014 Social category of students Household income distribution

113 136 220 220

Tables 7.1 7.A1 7.A2 7.A3 7.A4 7.A5 8.1 9.1 9.2 11.1 14.1

Determinants of participation in private schooling: probit estimates 115–117 Distribution of enrolment by types of schools and gender for rural and urban India 124 Distribution of enrolment by types of schools and educational attainment of the head of household 125 Distribution of enrolment by types of schools and asset quintile of the household 126 Distribution of enrolment by types of schools and social group 127 Notation of the variables used in the probit model 128–129 Declining public spending in education sector under the central government of Modi 132 The growth of literacy in Kerala 151 Growth of Malayalam education in Travancore 151 Impact of violence on school education 182 Number of students explaining social problems on the basis of individual experience and larger social context 221


The suicide of Rohit Vemula, research scholar at Hyderabad Central University, on 17 January 2016 not only shook the entire nation, but also questioned the integrity of public-funded educational institutions, their internal cultural practices and their intellectual honesty. The series of public debates that followed is a clear reminder of how the potentials for human civilisation can be collectively lost because of prejudiced reformist minds. Since then, for obvious reasons, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has become a site of protest, sustaining the debate and defending the autonomy of the educational institutions to be inclusive and egalitarian. In fact, the media trials of the campus debate have been polarised into national/anti-national binaries for instantaneous political consumption. But the social conditioning of structural problems in the fast-changing education landscape of the nation and its political languages of inclusion were somehow lost in the public discourses. Yet, it has prompted the academic community to deeply engage with critical issues that the educational system will encounter today. This volume is the result of such intellectual engagement initiated in JNU in the form of a national seminar held in March 2016. The seminar was organised under the aegis of the Centre of Advanced Studies (CAS) at the Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies (ZHCES), JNU, by the University Grants Commission (UGC). The ecosystem that is collectively endowed with the faculty, research scholars and office staff at ZHCES has been immense. First, I thank my colleagues at the Centre, especially chairperson Prof. Saumen Chattopadhyay and CAS coordinator Prof. Minati Panda, for extending all the logistic support. The research scholars at the Centre deserve special mention as they have always been equal partners in sharing and exchanging the academic ideas and arranging all the technical assistance needed for organising this event. I am indebted to the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR), North-Western Region and National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA) for their generous support in organising the seminar. I am obliged to the scholars who agreed to participate, share their views in the seminar and write the chapters that have immensely contributed to this volume. My ideas in weaving the critical thought process in education are largely due to my mentor Prof. Avijit Pathak (Centre for the Study of Social Systems, JNU). I



am grateful to my friend Dr Amir Ali (Centre for Political Studies, JNU) for his critical comments on the draft, which helped me to reshape the Introduction of this volume. I had a chance to prepare the Introduction to this volume during my time as a visiting scholar at the University of Cologne, Germany, in 2017. Prof. Michael Bollig at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology has been an invaluable interlocutor in arranging this collaboration. Thanks to the company of the lovely couple Ms Gabbie and Mr Tuber at Zurat who made my stay in Cologne most comfortable. I owe special gratitude towards the student coordinators of the seminar Steen Pagan (ZHCES) and Tashi Lundup (CSSS), and the student volunteers Nivedita N, Chandra Lekha Singh, Anushila Baruah, Sukanya Menon Shweta Sheel, Pushpanjali Bhagat, Anupama, Amit Kumar and Megha Dadhwal, Kumud Ranjan, Aparna Joshi and Mizaj KV for providing excellent reporting, coordination and cooperation throughout the seminar. Devinder Singh, my close associate and previous colleague at Jammu University, has been a wonderful human being and a great source of inspiration for the kind of research I wish to do. With humility, he accepted my invitation and reported the entire proceedings of the seminar with the assistance of scholars at ZHCES. His untimely demise is irreparable and caused his family members, colleagues and friends, including me, a deep grief. I wish to thank Emilie Coin and Will Bateman of Routledge Publishers for their editorial support of this project from its inception. Last, but not least, let me recall that Sheena has been a great companion in both my academic and personal life ever since we began to live and lead our lives together. Suresh Babu G.S Jawaharlal Nehru University

Introduction Suresh Babu G.S

Perhaps no single theoretical lens, other than education, can tentatively predict what is inevitable for the human future. Education, therefore, is integral to the process of socioeconomic and cultural transformation. Sustaining its autonomy as a unique cultural entity, education can engage at multiple levels in restructuring society by cultivating diverse cultural sensibilities. Illuminating the collective memories of such practices can also generate educational history in order to shape the future past. The post-colonial state of India has set the educational goal of visualizing and acquiring diverse cultural sensibilities as a common good for its citizens. The historical absence of enlightened public opinion because of the heavy burden of the traditional and the colonial past has impeded the modern education to imagine as a public domain in the post-colonial India with new modes of consciousness. But every stage of these structural transformations in education is tested by how the reflexive process of teaching and learning has succeeded in making a body of knowledge system required for opening our minds and widening our horizons. The trends and directions of education in India have been in deep crisis for quite some time and the contributors to this volume explain the various structural factors and forces that make up its inner critical function. This volume, apart from the normative deliberations, raises certain intellectual concerns, especially the current crisis in the educational sphere against the backdrop of the neo-liberal intrusion of the market, the diminishing role of the state and the retreat of public funding for education. These structural changes, in fact, have affected the inner fabrics and functions of the educational system. The introduction of market-oriented courses, the reorientation of research and field studies, drastic changes in the curricula to restructure pedagogical practices, etc. have privileged the market logic in education in ways desired by the knowledge economy. Consequently, critical disciplines such as art, humanities and social sciences have been sidelined. By reminding us of the critical function of education, this volume reinforces the indispensability of effective mediation of education between different systems and agencies as key constituencies of the public sphere to create the discursive spaces of democracy and social justice in education. As a discursive construct, the public sphere can be defined as an open conversation carried out through a variety of media in order to shape public


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opinion. As the conversations are deliberate and purposeful, it can articulate issues that are significant to many and formulate multiple options for collective action. It has grown in our times, in less structured, but sharply articulated in cultural terms, and now mediates and adapts multiple strands in order to engage with diverse contexts and circumstances. The modern educational system has been one of the important sites of mediation and adaptation, depending upon the extent of the crisis the system confronts. The crisis does not mean that the end/death of the system, rather it is an opportunity for critical reflection and thereby possibilities for transformation. The ‘public’ is an imaginative construct of a social world in the regime of education as an autonomous sphere. No doubt, education has profound effects on the public sphere as the latter shapes the former in the changing dynamics of critical thinking and public reasons for collective mobilisation. Educational pursuits are primarily to broaden the ontology of the social1 structured around the modes of modern knowledge systems, filtered through the universal values like scientific, secular and egalitarian world views. The institutional structures of learning embedded in these knowledge systems and its legitimate functions performed by a variety of pedagogical practices appraise the quality of public discourses. Trust in the public conception of the educational system by the citizen, and confidence in the discursive spaces evolved from the pedagogical activities by the young learners, are vital forces for sustaining education. In democratic societies, the expectations and involvement of all sections of society are paramount to achieve educational goals despite being closely governed by the state. It is a shared responsibility in terms of the circulation of the new ideas and their reflexive responses that forms the basis of imagining public sphere in education. There are two ways to make sense of educational institutions: the centrality of geography and the universal ideas of knowledge. If the former was propelled by the spatial mobility of people amongst the localities of communities, city, nationstate, and beyond, the latter was enabled to practice varieties of epistemologies which are beyond their immediate conceptions. As the educational institutions have an inherent logic of universalising varieties of knowledge through the intersubjective communication across a wide spectrum of the population, it can potentially contribute to expanding the meaning of the public sphere. But the recent expansion of the educational landscape in India has coincided with the ever-growing knowledge economy and hence, educational knowledge has generated a series of political ramifications. In fact, policy discourses on education and evocative political language, such as access, quality and quantity seem to create enabling conditions for expanding the educational landscape. Similarly, more and more people, communities, institutions and civil society organizations have been creatively engaged in education, assuming that it is the best possible medium for social transformation. The idea of education that percolated into the public imagination and discourse through the Right to Education Act (RTE) became a new reference point of education policy in which all ideological, pedagogical, administrative and social questions are salvaged (Mehendale, 2018).



These visualizations aim to serve the public utility of education and thereby redefine the terrain of the public sphere. This volume aims to critically engage with the question of how the education system, as a particular domain of intellectual and organized activity, has led to generate, shape and transform the public sphere. As a location of discursive space, the regime of education with its reflexive processes like learning and teaching can fundamentally generate critical discourse to problematise social realities that are significantly beyond immediate pedagogical consumption. There are external forces that keep impinging upon the very processes of education internally in one form or another. There are extraordinary commentaries on linking effectiveness of schooling with productive and economic forces. But hardly any investigation has found how education invents, expands and critical responses to the public sphere through diverse structures of mediations. Is it plausible to argue that the present status of education plays a significant role in shaping an authentic public sphere against the backdrop of globalization that tends to reduce discursive spaces of autonomy, critical thinking and the emancipatory role of education? As the public benefits of education have moved toward achieving long-term externality, quantification may not be useful, precisely because of their qualitative nature. But certainly, they manifest and exist in different forms. Hence, educational processes are not only a public good in the first place – it also shapes, produces and helps realising other public goods (Tilak, 2008). The education system in the post-colonial India was imagined as the critical domain of the nation-building process. Since then, educational initiatives have brought about tremendous transformations in the lives of people across the nation. Instead of fixing the concept of standard codes of right conduct as a passive acceptance, there is a conceptual shift in public opinion in the light of critical thinking (Taylor, 1992). It entails a reflection of the collective engagement of people emanates from constant and open discussions which subsequently lead to reflexive action. In fact, ‘the most important definitional shift in the historical sociology of concept formation is away from thinking about a concept as a singular categorical expression to regarding concepts as embedded in complex relational networks that are both inter-subjective and public’ (Somers, 1995: 136). Theoretical conceptions in this volume, are laid out in mediating structures which comprise analytical, hermeneutics and critical perspectives. Analysing a common mental process signifies the indispensability of education and alerts the conscious mind. It is a direct intellectual impulse where knowledge seeker gain knowledge (Winch, 1958) and predict the future to suggest remedies for institutional deterioration (Mannheim, 1943). But the causal regularities often undermine the power of people acting differently (Shilling, 1992). The hermeneutics in education seek to establish universal methods for textual interpretation and thereby understand the social conditions of human beings (Negru, 2007) The hermeneutics conception, as against the mental and intellectual operation, contemplates the eternal essences of human life altered by the process of education. Advancements in theoretical innovations of Deweyan


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pragmatism, post-structuralism and critical pedagogy can conceptually find a place for education in contemporary situations. Critical insights from cultural studies engaged in gender, caste, tribe and religion are the new semantic field in education, exploring critical pedagogical practices. As a meta-theoretical formulation, social transformation guided by normative conditions of education can criticise and reconstruct education in a variety of contexts. Here the democratic systems and their practices have the potential to shape education and create new conditions for achieving social justice and social transformation both in pedagogy and practice (Kellner, n.d.). Recovering the hidden meaning of democracy is only possible by constantly asking the questions about how different structures mediate in education. Hence, sensing the actual operation of mediation guides interpret the symptoms of the actual scenes on the ground (Kerdeman, 1998). Considering education as a process against this backdrop, the pertinent questions are: how do the state and the non-state players engage in the public policies in order to make the system of education inclusive? How does the education system negotiate the democratic public spheres in order to expand the meaning of citizenship as a discursive project of political emancipation? Since the civil society initiatives were directed towards education today, how are their alternative pedagogical practices critical for sustainability? Although access to education was restricted for few, formation of a class among them in the colonial interest led to reproduce the dominant culture in the public sphere. True, its unintended consequences have been a critical juncture in understanding the way post-colonial India and its welfare state grappled with the questions of expansion, equity and quality in the educational system on the one hand and participation of diverse estranged communities in the intellectual activities on the other. Today, because of the political and ideological ramifications, governing structures in educational system have complicated the conceptions of the ideals it visualizes and eventually, its social implications for social justice. Similarly, discourses on public vs. private are central issues in the citadel of political economy. In this context, can the ideology of the market and consumer culture mediate the nature of the public good like education and can we evaluate the traits of public sphere based on these determinants? At a time when the state and its ideological apparatuses have begun to void the autonomous spaces for intellectual engagement, the institutions of learning embedded in the practices of public reason and critical thinking seem to be in a state of crisis. There are hidden operations of mediated structures in the public sphere which tend to reproduce similar kinds of systems in education. This volume seeks to gather intellectual responses to debate on the contemporary process of education in India by specifically examining the structures of mediations that engage in expanding/construing the conceptual spaces of the public sphere in our times. Its objective is to explore the operations of the mediating structures and the super-structures that shape education and public spheres to visualize a society based on the normative principles of equality and democracy.



The discourses and their practices centred on academic spaces to inspire not only adapt the desirable structures of mediations to reflect upon emancipator intent, but also expose and negate the hidden operations of discursive powers to bring about the prevalence of social justice. An inquiry of this kind can possibly begin by examining the generic aspects of educational regime, its effects and expansion – with the active interplay of historical mediating structures of disciplines, cultures, power, and economy – as key constituencies of the public sphere.

Overview of chapters The chapters in this volume are organized into five unified sub-themes. Apart from discussing and elaborating the nature of the crisis and identifying different locations of contestation, the first theme describes the possibilities of education amidst the deep-rooted crisis. The second topic debates the mediations in academics by operationalising three competing structures: politics, governance and public action. For more than three decades, there has been a debate on the public nature of education in the wake of privatization of education. It is in the borderlines of private and public that education is being negotiated as a public good in the third sub-theme. An attempt has been made in the fourth sub-theme to deliberate upon the pattern of mobilization from the bottom of society for education that gets articulated as critical voices. As educationists are in pursuit of learning, teaching and researching, the last set of chapters reflects on how the teacher/researcher negotiates in education as a complex field of investigation. The last section of the volume concludes with a chapter conceptualizing the linkages between education and the public sphere and their mutual operations and contestations. Crisis, contestation and possibilities in education The unprecedented political interference obliterates serious intellectual debate and critical thinking in higher education. In the opening chapter, Prabhat Patnaik identifies and elaborates two fundamental measures: commoditisation and political control, which implicate the present state of higher education. Instead of considering these measures as oppositional/diverse trajectories, he sees them as complementing each other to achieve the destruction of critical thinking in the education sphere. The educational policy of the day is to accelerate the process of the commoditisation of knowledge by establishing profit making universities. This produces a self-centered educated youth devoid of social commitment on the one hand and the exclusion of the poor from accessing education due to high fees on the other. The educated under the profit-making systems orient towards commanding returns in terms of money driven by the market economy. Furthermore, the political control over the educational institutions has been here for some time that discourages the students’ politics, indoctrinate parochial ideologies of the ruling elites and


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impose bureaucratic order to homogenous diverse forms and practices of education. Coercive adaptation of these mechanisms to rank and grade the universities, based on common global norms, produces a standard trained labour force for the global market. The changing scenario of the education system completely terminates the possibilities of creating organic intellectuals needed for Indian masses and the nation’s development. The state of education under the new circumstances of polity and economy, argues Patnaik, is antidemocratic which destroy the innate capability of critical thinking. In the second chapter, Zoya Hasan discusses the ongoing reform strategies of the government of the day, which is deepening the crisis in higher education. Lack of institutional capacity to meet the growing aspiration of a large number of eligible young population is the real problem of the nation. Moreover, in the backdrop of structural changes the government has ceased the scholarship schemes meant for the inclusion of the marginalized sections in education has suspended the mobility scale. This will adversely incriminate the social fabric of the university. The reform strategies figured as a withdrawal of public finance in higher education, political interference in the governance process and erosion of institutional autonomy. Its solution was to facilitate the standardisation, ranking and segregation of institutions based on the criteria of performance. A standard parameter of performance has produced a hierarchy among the universities. In a culturally diverse society like India, these artificial segregations shake the institutional autonomy, creativity and diversity which are essential for sustaining cultural diversity as a distinct source of quality. Creating such a deliberate crisis inflates the commoditisation of education as a potential site for profit making. Mobilising adequate state funding and its regulation can widen access, guarantee inclusion of disadvantaged communities and create political space for critical thinking and dissents that are essential for healthy democratic polity. With the onslaught of private educational institutions these critical ideas are consciously suppressed. An educated person is expected to accomplish great things, and might if the outcomes of education were not dictated by economic logic. An educated person can meaningfully engage with the circumstances which she comes from, without undermining the uneducated. Instead, what is significant is to describe and elaborate what is ‘political’ in education. By evoking the Dalit biography of an educated person, Raj Kumar in the third chapter introduces a political act of reading freedom through narratives. Though Dalits have suffered because of the cumulative deprivation of material and social conditions, they have never given up their fight against the caste system, as reflected through their creative expressions. Since literacy was not available to them earlier, because of cultural exclusion, they have mostly given vent to their repressed anger through oral narratives. It is only since India’s Independence that education has been made compulsory for every citizen. This helped Dalits get educated and thereby achieve occupational mobility. Since then, educated Dalits have been able to use literacy as a weapon to mobilise resistance against various forms of caste oppression. Now protests against oppression have come out in the public sphere in the form of



‘Dalit literature’. In this context, this chapter seeks to understand the role of education in Dalit lives by evoking the questions like, what does education mean for them? Through narratives, Kumar here describes how the marginalised sections have taken up education as a political weapon to challenge oppressive forces and discriminatory practices and gain self-respect and dignity. Mediations in academics: politics, governance and public action Educational institutions are closely associated with the idea of nurturing citizenship values as essential to participating in the public sphere. The history of students’ movements and the nature of campus politics in post-colonial India has scripted a new language of politics in educational institutions. Student politics have widely affected the lives of students and involved student activism in the campuses. Learning spaces in India have been seen as political institutions as well as educational, since the politicisation of education is directly concerned with students and their academic activities. Here the political space is conceptualized as a space for students to come together to debate, disagree and organise in diverse and contending ways, the basis of political education. Of late, with the high surge in the privatisation of education, the political spaces permissible for the associational freedom for the students have contracted. This has given rise to competing terms and conditions to define on what constitute political space in the campus. There are polarised views in response to the desirability of students’ politics on what deem to constitute political space in the campus. Evidence shows that the educational institutions prohibited political activities, belying the expectation that higher education is a key site of political education where students learn to participate in the formal processes of representing their interests through associations and democratically elected student unions. In the fifth chapter, Praveena Kodoth explores the possibilities of associational freedom students and students’ bodies embody in the private aided educational institutions in the state of Kerala. This chapter unravels into the implications for associational freedom on campuses of rival tendencies: prohibition of political space by college managements, bolstered by court judgments, and capture of politics by student organizations that use dominance to eliminate counter mobilization by other students. The prohibition and capture are not representative of politics in the educational institutions but they are not aberrations either. Praveena sees them as political expressions of the possibilities within the system. The university system, since its inception, has evolved into complex structures, resulting in a series of changes in content, form and functions. Given such transformation, studies on the academic engagement in this field are not much theorized. Our effort is further complicated by the significant reform strategies of the last two decades aimed at excellence, equity and expansion. Following this, the discourses on the public and the private have brought about a newer debate coinciding with the market or absence of the state. The idea of private, or ‘new’ private, designates a clear dichotomy of ownership and responsibility. These new experiences and the expertise gained under these


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reform strategies can be useful for assessing the actual effects of reforms at different stages. However, these assessment methods overlook the insider’s view precisely because of the top-down approaches. The agencies who are actively engaged in academic governance are hardly known outside of their institutional structures despite the fact that their views and perspectives are vital to initiate any types of reform strategies for higher education. Moreover, the diverse political strategies being adopted in the governance systems of higher education in India have complicated further. In the fifth chapter Chetan Singhai offers a critical view of governance structures in the university system. Governance in the university system, as Chetan argues, encompasses the internal and the external environments, and the intersection between the inner world of the university and the larger social milieu in which it exists. The liberal intellectuals directly engaged in education and research in public funded universities have gradually moved away from what they actually practice in real life. In other words, there is a disengagement among liberal intellectual circles which has created a gap between public voices and personal choices. The ‘critical’ voices of the liberals often take pro-state positions to differ on market logic in education. However, when it comes to the question of personal choices, the same group prefers private schools in order to secure ‘quality’ education as an identity marker. In other words, by virtue of being liberal in outlook, the liberal intellectuals in the institutions of higher learning internalize and reflect critically on everyday life, especially when making choices. Drawing from a general observation, Venkataraman in the sixth chapter demonstrates how the ideologies of free-market have forced a restructuring of the norms and values which are necessary conditions for shaping the public sphere. The global imaginaries of knowledge society also signal how universities across the world have increasingly become new sites for neo-capitalism. In contrast, the ‘organic’ intellectualism of the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSoS) is known for its un/critical critique of crass capitalism in developing a society like India. There is an increasing trend of self-imposed silence on the immediate realities by these nihilistic corners. As a result, professionals have failed to generate new and competitive ideas to grapple with new challenges at the national scale. This can be observed in the vigilante academics’ continuing abilities to impart un/updated radical theories that purport to answer the universal problems of humanity. This underscores the mutual mistrust between the developmental triad of the state; the market and the civil society. The politics of scholarship is entangled with much of such preoccupations demand academic freedom and silence accountability. Venkataraman proposes that the participatory scholarship has the potential to move beyond the public posturing as it happens at present towards greater social action. Public–private borderlines: negotiations on education as public good Expanding India’s educational landscape has been coincided with the significant growth of private schools since the 1990s as a marker of marketplace in



education. This has changed the institutional framework within which India’s households take decisions on school choices. In this context, Pradeep Kumar Choudhury (see Chapter 7) provides an econometric analysis of the factors that shape parental choice in an expanding school market in India. He addresses two critical issues that merit deeper inspection in the context of school choice in India. First, the choice sets faced by rural households, given the fact that private provision of schools, with low cost schools catering for the needs of the poorest families, is uneven. With the existence of a pro-male bias in household investment in education, particularly in rural India, the second issue examines the influence of gender on parental decisions concerning school choices. This demonstrates that the probability of attending private schools increases with the rise in household income and the highest adult education of the household. These coefficients are positive and significant across location and gender. The households belonging to low socioeconomic settings have less chance to enrol in private schools than the households with better socioeconomic set-up, the effect being more for the households belonging to rural area. The changing dynamics of higher education in the wake of neo-liberal policies have changed the nature of education from a public good to a private good. Narender Thakur and Gaurav J. Pathania critically examines the process of commoditisation in the Indian higher education system (Chapter 8). They investigate the process of commoditisation by exploring the macro-pictures such as increasing number of private institutions, de facto privatisation in Indian public universities and colleges, and rising coaching and tutoring expenses. The de facto privatisation is explained by an increasing number of private sources of finance, contractual teachers, adopted top-down approach for the curriculum, exclusionary admission policies, and the promotion of ‘market-autonomy’. They also raise concerns over free space for discussion and debates on the public stake on India’s education system that is shrunken under the present ruling dispensation. The already excluded and alienated sections of students and teachers belonging to marginalized groups are the greatest sufferers in this scenario. As a critical policy analysis, this chapter summarises certain key policy concerns about education to imagine an inclusive knowledge society in India. Educational processes have increasingly become discursive spaces for recasting public sphere. Apart from its grant narratives of structural transformation, there are micro-dynamics and multiple trajectories of evolution of the public sphere. Community mobilisation through education is one such observed site through which one can explore how the idea of the public sphere comes to being. Widespread educational landscape, social reforms by different social groups, anticolonial struggles and the Left movements have together provided a solid ground for the creation of public spaces and public voice in the state of Kerala. A historical account of the evolution of the public sphere in a specific context demonstrates how education becomes instrumental in transforming communities. This may not hold true as education is no longer viewed as an area for public intervention in the wake of market economy under globalisation. Increasing private investment, commoditising education and profit accumulation become


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the new order of things. In this context, Kabeer (Chapter 9) critically examines the relationship between the influence of the public sphere and the advancement of private sector in education, especially self-financing professional colleges in the neo-liberal era. He explores how the public sphere has defined the social characteristics of the state and society at the formative stage and the very public sphere is redefined by the neo-liberal forces in the era of globalization in the later stage. Because of this shift, the state of higher education had undergone extensive changes internally because of external structural transformations. Kabeer argues that the key roles played by the middle and upper class are evident in shifting the public texture of education for profit accumulation. Mobilisation for education: critical voices from the margins Other than formal functioning, education by its nature has an innate capacity to innovate and discover hidden qualities embedded in people. Realisation of such potential facilitates people to mobilise collectively. Today, capabilities gained through education become tools to produce counter narratives to restructure the existing power relations and thereby critical consciousness. In other words, the educational field is one such power structure evolved to mobilise people by cultivating their innate abilities and critical faculties. Explorations of critical theory in new social movement studies inform how new traditions can be invented by mobilizing people through education. In developing societies, social movements have been playing a constructive role in education, especially in the most backward regions where the institutions per se have yet to show educational effectiveness. However, there is a paradigm shift in the minds of policy makers in recognising the potentials of the local people to mobilise for education. In doing so, education can be more participatory and meaningful to all. No doubt, mobilizing local people for education and recognising their critical voices would inscribe a new grammar in both polity and education. By introducing a case of Action for Community Organisation, Rehabilitation and Development Amman and others open up the questions of how such mobilisation can change the balance of power, everyday functioning and pedagogical practices in education systems especially in the tribal regions of India. The authors of the view that the mobilisation for education is likely to be more relevant among the marginalised sections and hence it deserves adequate attention from researchers as well as those agencies who wish to improve education systems. On many accounts, state and civil society often get entangled if the situation is circumscribed by violence. The state’s transgression of democratic norms in the name of democracy and upholding the true spirit of the constitutional authority cannot leave any option other than collapsing the movement for public action. Under the surveillance of armed ethnic militias and the violent state, state machineries and civil society cannot perform their everyday function. Education is one such critical area continuing to be severely punctured by a series of violence orchestrated in the bordering regions of Jammu and



Kashmir and north-eastern state of India. Chapter 11, by Jeebanlata, gives a detailed account of the long-standing violent conflicts in the north-eastern India, which posed a great challenge to access education for all children. The violent conflict results to rampant human rights abuses of civilians because of the unrestrained terror tactics used by both the state and the armed ethnic militias. In the midst of sporadic violence often encountered by school children and school communities, the right to schooling is denied to the students. The daily functioning of the schools is affected by violence due to ethnic clashes, economic blockades, and counter insurgency movements by the armed forces which destabilise learning opportunities. Ceaseless violence implicates the children of poor households. Similarly, those who live in far-flung areas are affected the most. Under these circumstances, the state has failed to provide any safeguards for children living in armed emergencies guaranteed by the existing laws on educational rights. Recent studies on tribal education have emphasised the importance of the mother tongue at the elementary level in order to recognize the heterogeneity and diversity entrenched in the tribal regions. Despite the effort to include tribal language into pedagogical practices ,coupled with the demand for changing the content and curriculum in the policies for tribal education, the reality on the ground reveals that the required conditions to realise such visions remain in limbo. Because of the language barrier, it is alleged that tribal children are unable to establish communication links with the teacher, which obviously results to drop out. Added to this, hardly any studies show that educational contents are in tune with the natural pedagogic setting. Here, the tribal ecology is the immediate site of natural pedagogical setting for the tribal students to get into the vistas of learning. Evoking the idea of pedagogic setting based on the reflection of the fieldwork carried out in the tribal settlements, Babu C.T. Sunil discusses two interconnected theses: the natural setting and artificial setting (Chapter 12). Learning in the first stage of education can be effectively held in a natural setting. But the artificial pedagogic setting imposes a situation whereby tribal students are forced to learn things which are alien to them. This, according to Sunil results to a situation of ‘non-continuity’, both in terms of the learning process and the cultural setting. At one level this leads to de-capitalisation of the tribal culture and on the one insists to learn the existing order of the hegemonic structures. As the process of alienation begins soon after the elementary education, the tribal students no longer hold their cultural resources. As a result, they will be socially excluded from engaging in the public sphere. Teaching and learning: everyday engagement in education and research Pedagogical acts as an essential element of learning and teaching are central to the educational process. Their perpetual involvement in generating and shaping modern education system has let to multiple perspectives and theories to assess its processes, validates its significance and measures the actual effect beyond the


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boundary walls of classroom teaching. Today pedagogical ideas have inflated into a new complex terrain of public spheres of education where identity and culture get a new meaning and fluidity in the field of education. Educational institutions are seen as preliminary sites where discursive practices among its participants shape the public sphere. The onus lies with the students, who will constitute the ‘future public’. Classroom interactions act as a mediating structure that prepares them to be a part of the public sphere. Pedagogical practices, Pranta Pratik Patnaik (Chapter 13) argues, are central to recast the minds of the students, which ultimately has its consequences in the public sphere. Informal class classroom interactions, debates and discussion among the students, etc. form a distinct version of ‘public sphere’. He recognises the existence of different responses guided by student’s social background and identities. In this context, the public sphere as a space for debating common interest ceases to exist and instead is a site for negotiating different interest groups and raising their critical voices along the lines of caste, class, religion and gender – the speaking selves. At a time when public opinions and consents are ‘manufactured’ on crucial social and political issues by the media and social networking sites, serious doubt is raised about the nature of knowledge being cultivated and propagated through the formal education system as a legitimate space for intellectual and political awakening. In the era of neo-liberal educational policies, it is salient that the spaces for critical thinking and open debates are shrunken. Moreover, certain forms of knowledge are, in fact, promoted and valued by the neo-liberal forces which claim to help with growing knowledge economy and as a result, other forms of knowledge are discouraged and diminished. Sarvendra Yadav explores how students in the higher educational institutions responded to the social problems that society confronts (Chapter 14) and whether course outlines, contents and pedagogy prepare them to cope with emerging challenges. He makes the case that humanities and social sciences inculcate more sensitive, in-depth and critical understanding of social issues compared to technical knowledge. Based on extensive fieldwork in institutions of higher learning, Sarvendra concludes that the determinants of articulating and relating the issues of equality and social problems with a perspective are largely conditioned more by the institutional spaces than academic training. Doing fieldwork is a vital component in social science research practices, especially in anthropology. Researchers often encounter a multitude of problems while carrying out their field investigations. It is true that training in methodological orientation instructs them to devise strategies for fieldwork, i.e. to collect first-hand information. But this may not strictly follow in actual fieldwork because whatever the researcher has learned from the fieldwork is not a mere collection and representation of facts being observed objectively and methodologically. In other words, the epistemic basis of both types of training – the conventional methodological orientation and the new learning from the fieldwork – are detrimental to the structural factors embedded in society. India’s caste system is one such structural determinant which Ajay Chaudhary (Chapter 15)



describes to elucidate how the researcher and the research field are obfuscated in the field and everyday life. Studies on caste inform us that both orientalist and native Indian scholars framed a top-down model to understand and explain caste as a master narrative. It was the upper caste/class who became the first-generation social scientists in India to study caste. Despite their access in order to study the lower caste groups objectively, they never changed their top-down approach. Once scholars who belong to the lower sections of caste began to study caste, especially after independence, the top-down approach is applied to epistemological problems in the field of research and objectivity. As Ajay discusses in this chapter, it is the everyday functioning of caste hegemony that not only challenges the social epistemologies of objectivity, but also forecloses new perspectives, for instance, a perspective from below. Moreover, instead of maintaining the researcher’s status of being a professional, her social identity is always evoked by the informants belonging to the upper castes in the field. It is a tough time for the scholars belonging to the lower caste, as this chapter demonstrates, to study upper castes with new perspectives, the perspective from below. Post-colonial approaches, beyond the meta-narratives of qualifying education as a colonial invention, foreground alternative modes of learning in India’s traditions. The invention of tradition in education offers formidable space for developing alternative perspectives which began to produce counter narratives to modern education. In the league of the perspectives on alternative pedagogy the contribution of Indian icons such as Gandhi, Tagore, Aurobindo, Krishnamurti etc. have been immense. Shareena Banu provides alternative perspectives on education that tends to inculcate a new humanism and ethics as central to the idea of nationalism during the anti-colonial struggle (Chapter 16). For a detailed investigation, Shareena revisits the aim of the educational and philosophical movement started by Nataraja Guru, the disciple of the social reformer Narayana Guru in colonial South India. To impart ideas of ‘Science of the Absolute’ to the world, he established the educational institution ‘Narayana Gurukulam’ in Kerala. Its pedagogy was focused on three inextricable concepts embedded in the Guru’s thoughts: self, humanity, and knowledge. In the process of education, the application of these concepts with renewed meaning and sustained engagement, as Shareena argues, is fundamental for developing pure consciousness. In order to build a theory of ‘an integrated science of the absolute’, Nataraja Guru has attempted to integrate western science and eastern philosophy with the influence of the idea of integrating physics and metaphysics, especially after Bergson’s critique of Einstein’s theory of relativity. These educational discourses eventually led to a global movement as well. Revisiting the vernacular traditions of educational discourses, Shareena explores the possibilities of revaluing modern education at a time when the monolithic learning of nationalism is questioned. To summarise, our effort here is not to write commentaries on the role, function and characteristics of education, as they have already been discussed, undoubtedly at length, elsewhere. Our aim is to encourage readers to make sense of the nature and texture of crisis and transformation of education today. By locating the crisis in education as structural implications of society, this


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volume seeks to debate the neo-liberal encroachment of the market in education which diminishes the public funds for education as public good. Considering the crisis as a critical moment of transition, the chapters in this volume promise glimpses of the future direction of education.

Note 1 Disciplinary practices in humanities and social sciences expand the scope and meaning in the educational system. In fact, it can unify a common future beyond institutional structures of education because of the public characteristics embedded in it. For instance, science and its innovations cannot escape from the public opinion as it fundamentally needs legitimacy and wider acceptance from the public. In other words, ontology of social in the realm of education is to humanize agencies, actors and institutions.

References Kellner, Douglas. n.d. “Towards a Critical Theory of Education.” Available online at (accessed November 20, 2018). Kerdeman, Deborah. 1998. “Hermeneutics and Education: Understanding, Control and Agency.” Educational Theory 48(2): 241–266. Mannheim, Karl. 1943. Diagnosis of Our Time: Wartime Essays of a Sociologist. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Mehendale, Archana. 2018. “Compulsion to educate.” In Routledge Handbook of Education in India: Debates, Practices, and Policies, edited by Krishna Kumar, 13–26. Oxon: Routledge. Negru, Geodor. 2007. “Gadamer_Habermas Debate and Universality of Hermeneutics.” Culture 1: 113–119. Shilling, Chris. 1992. “Reconceptualising Structure and Agency in the Sociology of Education: Structuration Theory and Schooling.” British Journal of Sociology of Education 13(1): 69–87. Somers, Margaret R. 1995. “What’s Political and Cultural about Political Culture and the Public Sphere: Towards an historical sociology of concept formation.” Sociological Theory 13(2): 113–144. Taylor, Charles. 1992. Modernity and the Rise of Public Sphere. Stanford University. Available online at C3%A1nea/Taylor,%20Charles/Modernity%20and%20the%20Rise%20of%20the%20 Public%20Sphere.pdf Tilak, Jandhyala B. G. 2008. “Higher Education: A Public Good or a Commodity for Trade? Commitment to Higher Education or Commitment of Higher Education to Trade.” Prospects 38(4): 449–466. Winch, Peter. 1958. The Idea of a Social Science and its Relation to Philosophy. New York: Routledge.

Part I

Crisis, contestation and possibilities in education


Towards a destruction of critical thinking Prabhat Patnaik

A momentous shift is occurring in the sphere of higher education in India. While this shift covers all its aspects, from its organization, to its student composition, to its financing, to its structure of disciplines, and its academic priorities, its essence consists in a substitution of the acquisition of skills by students for pecuniary purposes for the practice of critical thinking. And since all thinking that breaks new ground, and hence qualifies as “thought”, must be critical, the current shift in our higher education system is in a disturbing direction, namely towards a wilful eschewing of thought. This may appear as hyperbole, but the plethora of measures being adopted, we shall see, is towards this end. These measures have two main thrusts: commoditization of higher education and political control over higher education. These two are not in conflict; on the contrary they complement one another in achieving a destruction of critical thinking, which is as much opposed by globalized capital advocating the commoditization of education, as it is by the political establishment, interested in asserting political control over this sphere, which presides over the neo-liberal regime of globalized capital.

The commoditization of higher education The commoditization of higher education entails the sale and purchase of higher education in commercial establishments. Such establishments, in the form of private, profit-making universities and other “educational” institutions, are coming up rapidly in the country and the avowed objective of educational policy is to accelerate their growth. These establishments, of course, would object to being called commercial on the grounds that the profits they make are all ploughed back into the institutions themselves. But just as a corporate firm does not cease to be commercial if it ploughs back its profits into investment for its own expansion, likewise an educational establishment does not cease to be commercial if the profits it makes, whose size it continuously seeks to enhance, are ploughed back for its own expansion. But, what, it may be asked, is wrong with having such commercial establishments that sell higher education for a profit? After all, if those who are the products of higher education earn large amounts of income because of such


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education, then why shouldn’t the “input providers”, i.e. those running establishments that provide such education, whether these are privately owned or publicly owned, charge high fees, in order to take away, beforehand, a part of such incomes, so that the profits they make can be used for further expanding these very establishments that provide higher education? And if higher fees ought to be charged for higher education, whether by public or private educational institutions, then what is wrong with the privatization of higher education? One answer commonly given to this question, which is perfectly correct, is that higher fees exclude students from economically deprived backgrounds, and hence serve to perpetuate the socio-economic divide in the country which is fundamentally anti-democratic. The claim that impecunious students will be provided with adequate scholarships, so that essentially there would be cross-subsidization within the educational institution rather than any actual exclusion, carries little conviction. After all if the institution is to be profitmaking then such cross-subsidization cannot possibly be very large; it must perforce be a minor phenomenon, no more than just a fig-leaf. The more substantive argument advanced against the claim that high fees would lead to the exclusion of impecunious students is that even impecunious students can pursue higher education by taking loans which they can pay back afterwards. This argument might make some sense in an economy which is at full employment, and where every student coming out of such institutions of higher education is assured of a job. But in an economy characterized by rampant unemployment among the educated, where employment prospects moreover are governed by unpredictable market movements, studying on the basis of loans can cause large-scale student distress, leading even to suicides, much the way we have peasant suicides in contemporary India. And this very fear, of being driven to the wall because of being unemployed and hence unable to pay back the loan, would prevent students from impecunious backgrounds from accessing higher education on the basis of loan finance. The current crisis around student loans in the United States is a pointer to the kind of social disruption that this would engender. The exclusion of impecunious students from higher education because of its commoditization therefore is indubitable. In addition, commoditization will change the very nature of higher education in several crucial ways. First, a commodity is necessarily a finished, well-packaged thing, the more finished and well-packaged the better. The commoditization of higher education therefore will convert it into an activity whereby well-packaged capsules called “education” are distributed among students who are then expected to swallow and regurgitate these capsules in examinations; such an activity would no doubt encompass the imparting of techniques and skills to students, but it would never inculcate in them the habit of questioning whatever is imparted. Commoditization is fundamentally antithetical to questioning, and hence to critical thinking and originality. Second, the commoditization of education derives its rationale from the commoditization of the products of education. What it produces in other words are persons who are themselves commodities, exclusively interested in selling

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their services for the highest possible price. This entails the creation not only of a set of exclusively self-centred individuals with no social awareness, and little concern for others, especially for marginalized and excluded groups, but also of persons who are completely devoid of any sense of the grandeur of ideas, who see education not as a means of gaining entry into the exciting world of ideas but merely as a means of enhancing one’s income in the job market. All this may appear rather dire. The point here, however, is to underscore a tendency immanent in the commoditization of higher education, not to suggest that it necessarily gets realized with immediate effect. The fact that it is not just a wild conjecture is borne out by the current growth in anti-minority communal prejudices in our society, where even significant numbers of “educated” persons appear to subscribe to, or at least remain indifferent to, such prejudices, instead of fighting against them. A system of higher education that converts its products into self-seeking and self-absorbed individuals has this effect.

Some clarifications Two questions may be raised immediately about the argument advanced above. First, if commoditization results in such a denouement then how can we explain the fact that universities in the advanced countries still appear to produce original ideas (though we may not agree with them) even in the humanities and social sciences where the deadening effects of commoditization should be at the maximum? The answer lies in the paradoxical fact that commoditization has not gone as far in advanced capitalist countries (though the tendency is clearly discernible there too) as it has in India and the other so-called “newly emerging” countries of the third world. In the US, for instance, institutions of higher education are in general either state-owned or run by philanthropic agencies. All prominent private institutions there like Harvard, Stanford or Columbia are not commercial profit-making bodies but are set up by bequests as philanthropic bodies, and run by trusts towards this end. Private philanthropic institutions which also have a long history in India, and among which are Christian missionary institutions, must be distinguished from commercial institutions of higher education. It is these latter that represent the process of commoditization, and private institutions in advanced countries like the US belong to quite a different category. This proposition, however, would be contested by some. They would argue that institutions like Harvard and Stanford, notwithstanding their origin as philanthropic institutions, are as much concerned with making a surplus (no doubt for ploughing back into their own expansion) as any commercial institution, through the exorbitant fees they charge and through their utterly mercenary investment policies. There may be some truth in this – nonetheless, the distinction I am drawing between these institutions and purely commercial institutions can be sustained


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with reference to two facts. The first of these is the enormous subsidization of graduate research that these institutions undertake from the surpluses earned by them from their undergraduate programmes. In fact, in most front-ranking American institutions of higher education, graduate students rely very substantially upon scholarships, teaching assistantships and research assistantships. What this means is that graduate studies where creativity and originality count for the most are kept substantially out of the baneful consequences of commoditization. As a result, these institutions continue to generate original and significant ideas, including ideas that are extremely critical of the existing socioeconomic order. The second fact is that if we compare the US to, say, India, then, relative to either the fees charged by government institutions at a comparable level, or even to the average income of the country’s poor, the fees charged even in the most prestigious private American institutions are much lower than in India; and this is perhaps true of other “emerging economies”. The annual fees, including tuition, board and lodging, in a prestigious university like Harvard for undergraduate students would not be more than three times what a state university in the US would charge; but in India, the fees for all these expenses in private universities of the sort that have come up around Delhi would be at least 30 times the fees charged in Jawaharlal Nehru University. Likewise, the annual fees of Harvard to cover tuition, board and lodging for undergraduate students would be, say, three times the annual income of an employed poor person, while in India the fees to cover these expenses in a private university in the neighbourhood of Delhi would be almost ten times the income of a person working 300 days at a daily wage of Rs 300. (Both figures incidentally overestimate the actual numbers that confront the employed poor in India.) There can be little doubt, therefore, that the new institutions of higher education that are growing rapidly in India are in a league of their own; they cannot be compared to the private institutions in the advanced countries. They represent commercialization and commoditization of an order that certainly does not exist even in the US. The second question that may be raised against our argument above is this: since commoditization refers to sale and purchase in the market, and since the products of the higher education system have always worked for a salary by offering themselves for employment in the job market, we can say that they have always been commodities. What is so special, then, about the current scenario for us to say that the products of higher education are being turned into self-seeking, self-absorbed individuals with little concern for society and negligible interest in knowledge. Why in other words do we date the commoditization of the products of higher education to the current conjuncture when salaried employment has always been the goal of these products of education? To answer this question we have to look closer at the meaning of the term commoditization. A commodity is not just something that is bought and sold in the market or just something that is an object of exchange. It is in addition an object, which constitutes for the seller not a use-value but a pure exchange value. 1 In the

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eyes of the seller, in other words, the commodity is not an object of desire but a mere command over a certain sum of money (which is why the jajmani system in India cannot be considered to be commodity production). The fact that the products of the education system have always offered themselves on the job market does not per se make them into commodities in the proper sense of the term. Commoditization in the proper sense occurs only when they see themselves, and by inference the value of the higher education that they have imbibed as an input into their own formation, exclusively in terms of the amount of money they command on the market. This true commoditization is what has been occurring now, under the regime of neo-liberal capitalism. The commoditization of higher education that we have discussed earlier is thus a new phenomenon, quite distinct from what existed earlier.

Political control A parallel process to commoditization is the exercise of political control over the institutions of higher education. While such political control is meant to be exercised over the world of higher education as a whole, encompassing both the public and private institutions, its main target is the public education system, because the private one in any case actively discourages political awareness and activity among students, and thereby implicitly endorses the ideological control of the ruling political parties, especially of the Hindutva party that avidly seeks such control. The public education system, in contrast, has, over the years, produced a culture of critical thinking and of free political discussions, and, as the excluded and marginalized groups are better represented there thanks to low fees and the policy of reservations, a certain tradition of non-conformist political activity. It is this which political control by the government seeks to eliminate. The instrument for such elimination is the subversion of the autonomy of universities, the removal of academics from positions of decision-making in university matters and the bringing in of the government directly into such decision-making. This tendency towards political control has been there for quite some time. It has characterized most political parties and has been discernible both at the state government and at the central government levels. But two factors have played a prominent role of late. One is the shifting of education from the State List to the Concurrent List of the Constitution, and the primacy that the centre has acquired in deciding on matters belonging to the Concurrent List itself. The centre therefore has virtually taken over the sphere of higher education as its exclusive prerogative, in contrast to the original vision of the Constitution, a process of centralization that has paralleled similar developments in other spheres, including the fiscal sphere where the rights of the states have been greatly constrained (through the introduction for instance of the Goods and Services Tax). This tendency towards centralization has been also aided by the second factor, which is the relentless drive by the Hindutva forces to acquire hegemony in educational institutions, in contrast with the liberal bourgeois political parties


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whose dissatisfaction with the freedom enjoyed by academia gets expressed only when the latter becomes a source of “too much trouble”. What we are witnessing in India today in the sphere of higher education is parallel to what is occurring in the polity, namely the acquisition of hegemony by a corporate– Hindutva alliance. The twin processes of commoditization and political control, which are complementary, are the means for achieving this hegemony. A specific instrument for advancing political control is the proposed legislation that seeks to abolish the University Grants Commission. The role of the UGC in disbursing funds among universities will be taken over by the Ministry of Human Resource Development while its supervisory role will be taken over by a Higher Education Commission of India which, however, will have vastly greater powers than the UGC ever had. Its powers will include de-recognizing universities and even prosecuting heads of universities and other institutions for non-compliance with its directives; such prosecution can lead to imprisonment of up to a period of three years. The composition of the proposed HECI is noteworthy. It will have a chairperson, a deputy chairperson and twelve members, of whom two will be professors, two vice-chancellors, one industrialist and the rest officials, from the central government, from regulatory bodies of education and from accreditation bodies. Of the 12, in other words, only two would be functioning academics. Matters relating to higher education in short are proposed to be decided largely by non-academics. Of course since higher education draws public funds, it needs to be publicly supervised. But public supervision can only be parliamentary supervision, not ministry supervision. And above all, it must be supervision, in the sense only of a general oversight. For instance, Jawaharlal Nehru University has had a university court with outside members, including members of parliament from different political parties, of which the university’s chancellor is the presiding officer and which meets periodically to discuss the university’s functioning. Its jurisdiction, however, is limited to general supervision. The proposed Higher Education Commission’s jurisdiction in contrast is not restricted to general supervision alone. It will “lay down standards of teaching/ assessment/research”; it will “evaluate the yearly academic performance of higher educational institutions”; it will specify minimum eligibility criteria even for the appointment of deans and heads of department, posts that currently rotate among faculty in several universities; and it can, as already noted, order the “closure of institutions” and impose penalties for violating its “norms”, even prosecution leading to imprisonment. The Higher Education Commission is thus visualized as an executive council-cum-academic council for the university system as a whole, with some additional powers thrown in. As if this was not enough, the HECI will itself have an advisory council presided over by the central HRD minister which will meet regularly to advise the HECI on how it should proceed. What is being visualized, in short, is the institution of political control over academia through the HECI (since control by government officials basically means control by the political bosses whose

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biddings they are supposed to carry out) and even more explicitly through its advisory council. True, all this is just a proposed legislation, but the direction of policy is clear. Political control has been exercised increasingly in the past, with the UGC officials and vice-chancellors being reduced to the status of mere functionaries of the government. The government’s whims have been sought to be implemented even against the overwhelming opinion of the academic community in a university, as in the case of the four-year undergraduate programme of Delhi University. But now the effort is to institutionalize such political control through legislation, whose obverse is the devaluation of academia, reducing the academic community to the role of mere supplicants in the corridors of power. Clearly, independent and creative thinking is impossible to generate in such conditions when the autonomy of academic institutions gets so seriously undermined. Paradoxically, however, all these changes are being introduced in the name of improving the quality of higher education in the country, of putting Indian universities among the top so-many in the world where they scarcely figure at present. But quite apart from the fact that these changes will have precisely the opposite effect of reducing the quality of higher education in the country, of converting Indian universities into second-rate clones of metropolitan universities, the very idea of paying heed to such rankings of universities is fundamentally wrong.

Ranking universities The proposal to eliminate the University Grants Commission and to tighten political control over the higher education system in India has been mooted reportedly at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, concerned apparently about the dearth of Indian names among the top-ranked universities in the world. This concern, however, is not confined to Modi alone; it is shared by large numbers of persons in the country’s political establishment, and by many in the general public. This concern is, to an extent, understandable, akin to the concern over the lack of medals for India at the Olympic Games. At the same time this concern is naive and misplaced – it betrays a lack of understanding about the role of higher education in the life of a country. Higher education has a crucial social role, a role in “nation-building”, because of which treating it on a par with winning a sprinting race or a hockey match is wrong. This is not to say that winning a race or a match is without any social significance – it can have an impact on the morale of many people in the country. But the rules by which a race or a match are governed do not have to be necessarily any different for social reasons for one country as compared to another, the way these rules for judging universities have necessarily got to be. Ranking universities across countries according to a common set of criteria, as all these rankings (such as by The Times Higher Educational Supplement) do, amounts to detaching them from their respective social contexts, and hence denying the social role of education. This denial is not just an oversight. It also has an ideological function.


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Consider a simple example. An Indian student must know about the impact of British colonialism on the Indian economy. A student of economics at least, therefore, must know of the work of Dadabhai Naoroji. But no student of economics at Cambridge, Oxford or Harvard ever gets to hear of a person called Dadabhai Naoroji. Hence the trajectory of research and teaching in an Indian university must never be identical with that of a British or American university. Any common criteria for ranking universities, such as the number of publications in certain recognized journals, or the number of citations received by articles and books written by the faculty, in a world dominated by Western academia, would necessarily therefore underestimate the value of work done in Indian universities. To be worried about it is in fact to succumb to Western academic hegemony, to give up the idea that what is taught and researched in Indian universities must be rooted in the Indian social reality. When Mahatma Gandhi urged Indian students to give up studies in colleges and universities and join the Civil Disobedience Movement, Rabindranath Tagore had asked him how he could do so in a country where the extent of higher education was so limited. Gandhi’s answer was that the higher education being imparted to students under the Raj was meant only to produce official servants of the Raj, and that Indian students would do well to come out of that system.2 If one can rephrase Gandhi’s reply by using a concept advanced by Antonio Gramsci, the colonial higher education system was meant to produce “organic intellectuals” for British imperialism and not the “organic intellectuals” for the people of India. Gandhi was rejecting the idea of higher education as a homogeneous activity irrespective of its social context, and underscoring the social role of higher education. That rejection still remains valid today. And if higher education is not a homogeneous activity, then judging institutions of higher education across different countries by one standard yardstick is illegitimate. Two points must be made here immediately. Even if we accepted the logic of these rankings and felt the need for improving the ranks of Indian universities, we would never succeed in doing so under the current policy dispensation for two reasons, one very obvious and the other less so. The obvious reason is that no university in the world can possibly aspire to any kind of excellence, no matter by what criteria, if students and teachers within it are regimented, are not allowed to think and talk freely or to raise questions, because of political control over academia. The tendency of all potentially good-quality academics would be to run away from such a system, rather than be drawn towards it. It is utterly naïve to believe that greater political control is a means of improving the quality of higher education, when precisely the opposite is true. The more subtle reason is that the very acceptance of a ranking devised by a metropolitan body, no matter how well-meaning, in a world marked by metropolitan intellectual hegemony, dooms all imitative Third World institutions to mediocrity. They live out the parody with which the arch-imperialist Rudyard Kipling had pilloried the colonized middle class through his creation of the banderlog in The Jungle Book, whose main desire, expressed to the man-child Mowgli, was: “we want to be like you” – they obviously could never be. The

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reason why institutions like Jawaharlal Nehru University acquired world renown, which is a fact irrespective of whether they figure in any list compiled by The Times Higher Educational Supplement, is precisely because they never tried to imitate institutions of the West. And that is a necessary condition for excellence. The second point is that not bothering about the rankings prepared by bodies like The Times Higher Educational Supplement where Indian universities do not figure in the top so-many, must not be taken to mean that everything is right with Indian higher education. Everybody knows their abysmal state, which has been produced by a whole lot of factors. These include: political control which brings sycophants to the top in university administration; utter niggardliness in allocating resources to them, because of which teaching positions are deliberately kept vacant and institutions forced to make do with ad hoc faculty as a means of saving money; and the agenda of commoditization of education mentioned earlier which entails that private universities run on commercial lines are actually favoured by the government compared with public universities. To reject the rankings of metropolitan bodies, therefore, is not to be smug about the state of higher education in India, it is simply to suggest that the criteria by which we judge them must be sui generis not those devised by metropolitan bodies. The reason why they produce such lists based on a set of common criteria irrespective of the social context of the universities is not just ideological, not just to trap these institutions within the metropolitan conceptual discourse. There is an additional, more directly economic, reason as well. And that has to do with the fact that in the era of globalization, globalized capital cannot simply carry personnel from its home country to serve its needs internationally. It must recruit local personnel, which, for capital originating in the metropolis, works out to be cheaper as well. Globalized capital, therefore, wants institutions of higher education everywhere to produce students who are more or less identical across the globe. Whom it recruits would then depend upon how “good” the institution in a particular country producing such students is supposed to be. It requires therefore a ranking of such institutions across the globe. Globalized capital in other words, precisely because it is globalized, requires a ranking of institutions of higher education across the world, the same way it requires a ranking of countries’ “credit-rating” by specialized credit-rating agencies. Putting Indian universities among the top so-many in such rankings, therefore, is part of the agenda of making them produce “organic intellectuals for international finance capital”. It is to convert them from institutions charged with producing “organic intellectuals for the Indian people” to those required to produce “organic intellectuals for international finance capital”. They may not be doing very well in discharging the former task, but that is an argument for improving their functioning for this task, not to change their task to one of producing fodder for international finance capital, while turning their backs to the people. It may, of course, be thought that not producing fodder for international finance capital would reduce the employment prospects of the students in a neo-liberal world dominated by such capital. But that is essentially an argument


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for changing the economic regime of the country rather than for changing the education system. Besides, it is not even clear that the products of an education system that does not just kow-tow to international finance capital would remain unemployed. Students coming out of Jawaharlal Nehru University or Jadavpur University after all do not remain unemployed at present. On the contrary their employment prospects even within the current economic regime are far better than those from other universities that go all out to produce students in the form of well-packaged commodities for the market. The colonial education system in India was geared to producing servants for the Raj which Gandhi had objected to. Seven decades after independence we are now once again in the process of making our educational system produce servants for international finance capital. This is a tragedy. Today, the education system in India must be geared to producing the organic intellectuals for the Indian working people.

Notes 1 For an elaborate discussion of the issue see Patnaik (2015) 2 The correspondence between Gandhi and Tagore on this issue can be found in S.Bhattacharya (1997).

References Bhattacharya, Sabyasachi (ed.). 1997. The Mahatma and the Poet: Letters and Debates between Gandhi and Tagore 1915–1941, NBT, Delhi. Patnaik, Prabhat. 2015. “Defining the Concept of Commodity Production”, Studies in People’s History 2(1): 117–125.


The crisis of India’s Higher Education Zoya Hasan

Public universities are important everywhere in the world, but their importance in India cannot be overstated because education in private universities is expensive and beyond the reach of most students. Public universities provide access to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, but they are still facing the brunt of government blowback – budgetary cuts, political interference and erosion of institutional autonomy. This is not to say that all is well with India’s higher education. The abysmal state of higher education over the years has been a matter of great concern. An investigative series on the state of Indian universities, broadcast on NDTV India in 2018, showed that numerous colleges had no teachers, no exams for years and windowless rooms in derelict buildings in the midst of grimy surroundings (Punwani, 2018). There is no doubt, state universities are worse off than central universities; several of them do not have adequate funds to even hire temporary faculty which are paid a pittance, much lower than permanent faculty, and are deprived of all benefits including pensions (Patnaik, 2018). There has been virtually no attempt to address these structural issues which have plagued Indian higher education for the past several decades. Given the persistence of these problems we are unlikely to find any Indian universities figuring in global rankings of universities and yet many in the political establishment and the general public lament the dearth of Indian names among the top-ranked universities in the world. Ranking universities across countries according to a common set of criteria is in any case illogical and irrelevant to the promotion of the social role of education; nonetheless, India’s poor global ranking has reinforced in official circles a growing sense of crisis in higher education and everything that is wrong with Indian universities. This perception has been used by the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government to drastically change the policy priorities with regard to higher education. A slew of executive proposals which include the elimination of the University Grants Commission (UGC), the body regulating higher education for decades, and its replacement by a new body called the Higher Education Commission (HECI) (repeal of UGC Act) Act, 2018, granting autonomy to 60 universities and colleges and designating a few institutions as Institutes of Eminence (IoE) is part of a concerted effort to change


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India’s education system to the detriment of millions of students who are enrolled in these institutions across the country. These sweeping reforms have in fact created a crisis of massive proportions in the higher education system which can subvert the constitutional objective of ensuring access and equity in the educational system. The paradigm changes in the policy of education have not been well thought through; as a result, these changes will exacerbate the crisis in the system of education and can damage the future of democratic education that promotes national development.

Challenges of higher education India’s university system as it exists today started with the Universities of Madras, Calcutta and Bombay more than a hundred years ago. There were 864 recognized universities and 40,026 colleges in the country in 2016–17, while the gross enrolment ratio of students was only about 26 per cent. To put this in perspective, there were only 20 universities and 500 colleges at the time of Independence. As of February 2017, there were 789 universities, 37,204 colleges and 11,443 stand-alone institutions in India. These numbers would have gone up further by now. Many of these colleges are not adequately funded, and are increasingly dependent on student tuition for survival. Over the past three decades laissez-faire expansion of higher education has been pursued purely for profit. Many of them have been established by politicians or business people. Despite this huge expansion, higher education confronts a crisis. One set of problems that confront higher education pertains to the dualistic and disparate structure of education in India with a few front-ranking institutions at the top and a whole lot of state universities below them which are short of funds; the problem is compounded by the low rates of enrolment, unequal access, poor quality of infrastructure and lack of jobs after education. According to the 2016 All India Survey on Higher Education, enrolment in higher education in the relevant age group (18–23 years) has increased from less than 5 per cent in the early 1990s to nearly 25 per cent in 2016–2017 as higher-education degrees are increasingly considered to be essential for achieving upward social mobility. Despite the increase, India’s GER (23.6 per cent) is the lowest among major emerging economies such as Brazil (46 per cent), China (30 per cent), Russia (78 per cent) and South Africa (20 per cent). Nearly 22 million students (65 per cent) are enrolled in private institutions which underlines the dominant role of these institutions because there are not enough publicly funded institutions of higher education (Panigrahi, 2016). At the same time, the public university system has witnessed an expansion with the creation of many new institutions. Several new universities and technological institutions were established by the central government alongside an increase in the intake capacity of existing institutions after the introduction of reservations for OBCs during the term of the first United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government which led to a massive increase in enrolment in central universities and institutions. Enrolment in higher education has increased from

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10 per cent in 2004 to 23.6 per cent in 2014. As many as 34.2 million students were enrolled in these institutions in 2014–2015 (Panigrahi, 2016). The other major problem, however, is that despite rising enrolment there is stagnation in public expenditure on higher education as a proportion of gross domestic product (Rajalakshmi 2018). Far from increasing funding of public universities, there has been a general decline in higher-education funding under both the UPA and NDA governments. The budget allocations do not match the objectives regarding expansion, growth, access or quality of higher education. The overall allocation in the last decades has not increased, it has not gone beyond 3.5–4 per cent of the total expenditure. The decline in state funding of higher education has increased the private sector’s involvement in higher education. This is now an irreversible trend as a majority of the institutions have been established by the private sector. From 2008, more than 15 private universities were created every year with more than 30 universities starting in 2013. The private sector accounts for more than 76 per cent of total institutions of higher education.1 The commercialization of education has led to the conversion of education into a sphere of profit-making. Most private institutions offer education in only a few disciplines – engineering, medicine and management. The humanities and social sciences do not receive the attention they deserve in these institutions. Also, private universities by and large exclude those belonging to non-affluent households. These institutions have reservations but these are for payment seats. The student who gets into payment seats looks at education as a way of making money in future and not with the commitment to learning and widening one’s horizons. Despite the rapid expansion of private institutions, it is public universities that over the decades have contributed to the democratization of higher education. Treating the higher-education system as a public good, publicly funded institutions have provided access to groups which were hitherto unable to access it. Public universities are criticized for poor infrastructure, ranging from overcrowded hostels to stinking toilets to inadequate and technologically under-equipped class rooms. However, that does not seem to deter students from across the country flocking to take admission in public institutions. The role of publicly funded education in widening access to higher education is indisputable. Thanks to the continued expansion of reservations in higher education, the class, caste and gender profile of students has changed and is much more heterogeneous and diversified. Social diversity also brought in new strands of thought to politics on university campuses. A new generation is coming up from subaltern ranks, gathering some of its intellectual and political resources from leading public universities. This has helped in building cultural and intellectual capital among the ranks of the marginalized communities, especially Dalits. This is undoubtedly a source of major worry for the Hindu right; they want to control and discipline this process as it can pose a direct challenge to upper-caste dominance of educational institutions. Despite acknowledgement and pronounced emphasis on equitable access, inter-group differences in access to education, especially in terms of economic


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class, gender, caste and ethnic and religious belonging, persist and remain a major challenge. It is particularly important to remedy the poor access especially of Muslims and tribals to higher education. This can be done through the creative application of affirmative action strategies.

Undercutting public universities The BJP government in 2018 announced some of the most far-reaching changes in the higher-education sector which have a long-term bearing on higher education in India. It is taking further the neoliberal approach to highereducation policies started by the UPA government. In other words, deregulation of the education sector has been accelerated by the Modi government. Even though both governments have been remarkably similar in their desire to introduce changes in the higher-education system, most of the UPA’s major proposals were drowned in the Parliament logjam which continued until the last session of the 15th Lok Sabah. Also, there was some opposition and disagreement within the UPA government on the proposed education reforms – this could be another reason why the government couldn’t implement its agenda. There is no indication of any opposition within the NDA government to the sweeping reforms of the education system. In the event, the NDA government is pursuing the reform agenda much more aggressively through privatization of the education system which has intensified under this government as expensive private universities are selling themselves as alternatives to public universities (Singh, 2018). The proposal to set up a Higher Education Financial Agency (HEFA) that could leverage funds from the market and supplement them with donations from the corporate sector to finance infrastructure development in higher-education institutions is an indication of the keenness in pushing the agenda of privatization and commercialization of higher education. Under the HEFA financing scheme, institutions have to take loans to build their infrastructure and government grants can only be used by institutions to pay interest on the loan. To repay the principal the institution will be required to raise its own resources which would only be possible by charging higher fees and commercializing research undertaken in them (Rajalakshmi, 2018). This will lead to further privatization of higher education in India which is already dotted with private institutions and will in fact encourage the privatization of public universities.

Political control Repealing the UGC Act of 1956 and establishing the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) marks a complete overhaul of the higher-education system in India. Though the government has justified the UGC’s scrapping in the name of according greater autonomy to higher-educational institutions, the academic community and a prominent section of the political class as well have argued that the move will ensure the very opposite of what the government

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claims it is going to achieve. The replacement of the UGC with HECI is essentially an attempt to tighten government control over the higher-education sector. Though most would agree that there was a serious need to reform the UGC and its functioning, the proposed solution is much worse than what is being discarded (Arora, 2018). The UGC needed to be revamped and restructured in a manner that would ensure that its autonomy is strengthened without any scope for patronage politics and political interference (Radhakrishnan, 2018). But this was not done by this or previous governments; instead a one-size-fits-all academic administration model has been introduced which goes against ‘the ethos of academic freedom, diversity, and knowledge production, and will help attempts to corporatise the education sector’ (Radhakrishnan, 2018). If implemented, ‘it will vest more powers in the Union Government, rob institutions of their autonomy and skew higher education in favour of the market place’ (Kidwai, 2018). For all its flaws, the UGC was a body that distributed funds to public universities based on certain criteria which ensured a separation of funding decisions from political considerations. Despite its problems of over-bureaucratization and government interference, the UGC operated on the basis of financial autonomy and offered democratic space, which now appear threatened. The job of distributing funds to universities will be directly taken over by the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD). The HECI will focus on quality but its jurisdiction is not restricted to general supervision; rather, to ensure quality it will have the authority to shut down institutions and non-compliance with such directives could result in fines or jail sentences that were hitherto unthinkable (Radhakrishnan, 2018). Also, universities will have to take the approval of the HECI for the courses to be taught in the universities – a prerogative which only the academic bodies of universities have had till now. This restricts the freedom of a university’s board of studies to decide on what is taught in the universities and colleges and how it is evaluated. Entrusting grant-giving powers to ministers is a sure way of ensuring corruption and ideological subservience. The concentration of grant-giving powers in the MHRD shows the government’s willingness to dispense with even the semblance of financial autonomy for universities and higher-educational institutions (Deshpande, 2018). There are legitimate concerns that government will use its discretion to reward and punish institutions according to its ideological preferences. In the circumstances, the dangers of political interference in the running of these institutions increase manifold and the marginalization of academics in decision-making will also be greater. The composition of the HECI indicates that the powers to regulate universities and colleges would shift from academics to bureaucrats and other appointees of the central government in various bodies. The bill gives tremendous power to MHRD officials. In fact, this legislation marks a complete sidelining of academics in the process of decision-making relating to academic matters. The structure of the commission and its advisory council that will be headed by the Union Human Resources Development Minister shows that


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HECI will be dominated by the government as the commission is duty-bound to implement the advice rendered by the councils. By contrast, the UGC Act, 1956, explicitly limits the strength of government officers to less than half to ensure that academia plays a major role in shaping higher education, and not the bureaucrats or politicians (Santhosh, 2018). The bill is designed in a way that would enhance complete control of the centre over the HECI, greatly increasing political interference in the HECI’s regulatory functions on higher education and as a consequence furthering the regime’s political agenda (Ramachandran, 2018). Moreover, the HECI cannot be viewed in isolation as it is a component of a larger design that also includes the proposed Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA), Graded Autonomy and National Ranking Framework, all of which were background developments leading up to the proposed HECI. Simultaneously, universities are also being compelled to generate their own resources. The 60 higher-education institutions that have been granted complete autonomy from the oversight of the UGC would have the freedom to start new courses, recruit foreign faculty and students, and so on (Ghosh, 2018). Autonomy has been granted to universities that didn’t even apply for it. For example, Aligarh Muslim University, Banaras Hindu University and Jadavpur University were granted ‘graded autonomy’ without applying for it (Chowdhary, 2018). This would mean that these institutions can now start new courses, offcampus centres, hire foreign faculty, enrol foreign students and give incentivebased emoluments to the faculty, among other things. But these institutions have to generate their own funds to add infrastructure, launch programmes or initiate collaborations with others without taking permission ‘provided no demand for fund is made from the government’ (Chowdhary, 2018). Autonomy means that the government abdicates its financial responsibility towards universities and colleges. This would lead to the commercialization of public education and the neglect of academic disciplines less immediately connected to high economic growth and industry (Bhattacharya and Ramdev, 2018).

Disregarding social sciences Disregard of social sciences is evident from the policy of Institutions of Eminence and the selection of IoEs under this scheme. A committee headed by former Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswamy was tasked to identify 20 institutions, ten each from the public and private sectors, to be granted the status of institutions of eminence. On 9 July 2018, the MHRD announced the names of six institutions of higher education – three each in public and private sectors – that had been granted the status of IoE. The selected public institutions will be given public funds to the tune of Rs 10,000 crore. The private institutions will get academic and administrative autonomy. These institutions can raise their own funds and will be allowed more or less to do what they like, which implies another dose of massive privatization of higher education. All selected institutions, set free from all other higher-education regulations and even state university legislations, will be governed only by the

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regulations defined in this scheme (Bhattacharya and Ramdev, 2018). One of these six eminent institutions is Jio Institute, promoted by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Foundation, which didn’t exist at the time of selection. The Jio Institute has no faculty, no student body, no campus, no actual courses; this is because it doesn’t exist except on paper. It is bewildering that this institute, which is notional, was given that status solely on a ‘drawing board’ projection, while existing private universities with a proven track record, such as the Azim Premji University, were overlooked (Chowdhary, 2018). This shows the extent to which the MHRD and the government are willing to pander to the private sector and big business involvement in higher education. However, the decision to confer eminence on the non-existent institute would have a debilitating effect on the entire sphere of higher education. Not one central university has been recognized as an institute of eminence. But an institute that does not even exist yet has been given the tag. This socalled eminence list suffers from a serious lack of credibility (Balakrishnan, 2018). The selection of Jio Institute generated a huge controversy – consequently, the public debate has largely been overtaken by its entry into the fray. What should really be a cause for concern is the fact that in a nation with more than 800 universities, not a single central or state university is included. But there’s no discussion regarding the exclusion of universities from this selected list of IoEs despite the government’s avowed objective to rectify the low presence of Indian universities in the global rankings of universities. Even a university such as the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), which has consistently received the highest ranking according to the government’s own ranking system, was not selected. Clearly in the government’s view not just JNU, but no central or state university, has the potential to become a world-class institution. The majority of institutions selected are engineering and science institutions which are well funded and there is little interference in their day-to-day functioning, teaching or research activities. More than 50 per cent of the central government’s funds for higher education in the last three years (2015–18) has gone to just 3 per cent of the country’s students who study at the 97 IITs, IIMs and National Institutes of Technology (NITs); in fact the single biggest chunk of government funds – 26.96 per cent of the total – has gone to the IITs, which have just 1.18 per cent of the students (Sharma, 2018). The remaining 48.9 per cent of the highereducation funds have gone to the 865 institutions that have 97.4 per cent of the country’s students (Sharma, 2018). Various reports have pointed out that almost 80 per cent of engineering graduates are unemployed or unemployable and yet the government is pumping more money into engineering education. There can be no question that IITs and the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, are outstanding institutions that deserve the IoE status, but they are not universities – which by definition are multi-disciplinary which none of these are. The hierarchy within the education system will be reinforced by the IoEs scheme, with more funds being given to technology institutes which are already very generously funded while others are being left high and dry.


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Unlike universities, they are focused on a narrow domain. This list totally disregards universities and social sciences in particular because they are seen as less useful in a world where economic calculations matter most but also in part because they are seen to be more critical and therefore more trouble for university administrations and governments at large. Ever since it took office, the Modi government has been actively trying to snuff out criticism in the country, and excluding social-science institutes from gaining recognition goes a long way in achieving that end. It is hardly surprising that the social sciences and humanities are losing their place in policy priorities and curricula and are being cut away in favour of subjects more clearly linked to economic growth – a process that has been encouraged and propelled by the economic pressures to stay competitive in the global market. This model of education is concerned with education for economic growth and it places heavy emphasis on the skills associated with science and technology. ‘By de-emphasizing the liberal arts, we are devaluing and weakening democratic citizenship.… A healthy democratic society needs independent-minded and creative individuals, who have the character and confidence to resist arbitrary authority and hierarchical attitudes’, argues Martha Nussbaum in Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities (Nussbaum, 2010). The social sciences provide a crucial source of critical reflection and concern for the lives and interests of others that simply cannot be provided by an education system concerned only with technical skills that have immediate economic application.

Rewriting history Unlike the social sciences, history doesn’t suffer from neglect under the Modi government. History has been a prime target of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which is the ideological fountainhead of the ruling BJP whose selfprofessed aim is to establish a Hindu nation. A critical component of the RSS agenda is to control the direction of education. Rewriting history is an essential element of the plan to impose a singular ideology in academic institutions so as to make Indians understand their glorious, ancient Vedic Hindu heritage (Jaffrelot, 2017). This was premised on the idea of correcting historical wrongs such as the construction of a Rama temple at the site where the Babri mosque stood before it was demolished to supposedly righting this wrong (Hansen 2001). This sentiment has become the fuel for a new type of politics, the politics of grievance, mistrust and religious chauvinism (Pannikkar, n.d.). Hindu consolidation and mobilization are the main objectives of the communal construction of history in stark contrast to Nehru’s writing of Indian history, for example, which as David Kopf states was done in a way ‘to preclude even the slightest nationalist bigotry and distortion’.2 However, these forces lack the intellectual expertise to produce an Indian history that will meet even minimum disciplinary standards of historical research; hence it is attempting to produce history by administrative fiat and by reorganizing educational syllabi and changing textbooks to reflect a view

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of history gleaned from mythology and religious texts or appropriating conservative icons from the nationalist pantheon to compensate for its conspicuous absence from the freedom struggle (Habib, 2016). While the rewriting of history has always been the centrepiece of the Hindutva project (Hasan, 2007) the Modi government after 2014 has more aggressively pushed new historical narratives to bring it closer to the Sangh Parivar’s ideas of the past and to depict India as a Hindu society (Sengar, n.d.). In several states, changes in school and college textbooks have been pushed through that emphasize Hindu nationalist interpretations of India’s ancient history which is being remodelled to bring it closer to the Sangh Parivar’s grandiose myths about India’s glorious past. Acutely aware of the failure to provide a credible account of India’s past and present, the Sangh has attempted to reorient educational syllabi to reflect a historical narrative perceived to be a composite of mythology and Hindu religious texts, as well as appropriating conservative icons from the freedom struggle to compensate for its own lack of participation in the anti-colonial struggle. In the same manner that ancient and medieval Indian history is being rewritten to suit the political demands of the present, so modern Indian history must also be rewritten; for example, to portray Nehru as a leader who failed India because of the decision to declare that a Hindu-majority India would be governed by a secular state defined by equal citizenship and not religious considerations even after the creation of Pakistan as a homeland for Muslims.

One ideology The substantive changes introduced by the government reflect the importance of controlling education in the RSS–BJP schema. For the RSS education is a key instrument for the Hinduization of state and society. The principal objective is to infiltrate institutions of higher education in the name of nationalism, culture and indigenous knowledge. The larger agenda includes substantive changes in the content of education and making key appointments of people ideologically close to the Sangh as heads of institutions and as members of important decision-making bodies and committees across educational institutions. As part of this endeavour, it has appointed individuals favoured by the RSS to head institutions like the Central Board of Film Certification, the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, and the Indian Council of Historical Research, Indian Council of Social Science Research and appointed vice-chancellors who are ready to act at the bidding of the central government. These were not the first instances of questionable appointment of persons in positions of power and influence with proximity to the ruling party. Still, the Modi government’s approach appears to be different because in the past government nominees had a semblance of professional attainment to their credit, whereas the record of most individuals appointed by the present government was dismal in the absence of academic credentials or achievement, and seems driven by a mix of loyalty to the RSS and intellectual downsizing by a mediocre regime.


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Trampling academic freedom One of the principal issues at the centre of public debate concerns academic freedom and academic independence of institutions of higher education. The key issue is academic freedom which is especially important because that’s the best way for intellectuals to engage with society, to understand, to think, write and teach. The government has been active in trying to impose its own views on many academic institutions and consequently academic independence has been compromised. It is eager to control universities both at the central and state level with a premium on conformity and obsolete knowledge. This approach has no place for liberal thinking and values, and educational institutions that question such knowledge are an anathema to them. With this objective it is busy trying to take over institutions and reorganizing educational syllabi to suit the cultural agenda of establishing a Hindu state. The main intellectual challenge to hyper-nationalism has come from universities and academia, hence the concerted attempt to control critical academic freedom. Universities are perceived as a threat to the political agenda of the regime because they are raising inconvenient questions that it feels need to be silenced. Opposition to the imposition of the regime’s ideological agenda is clearly visible from the widespread student unrest in universities since early 2016. That is why the government has been active in trying to control political activism on campuses and in most cases activists have been accused by authorities of ‘anti-national’ behaviour. This systematic conflict was clearly visible starting with the unrest in the Film and Television Institute of India, University of Hyderabad, leading to the tragic suicide of Rohith Vemula, the controversy over the Ambedkar–Periyar Study Circle in the IIT – Madras, the furore over a film screening in IIT – Delhi, and the protests in Jadavpur University and Ramjas College, Delhi University, TISS – Mumbai, Aligarh Muslim University, Banaras Hindu University and Panjab University. These protests have been the most widespread since the self-immolation of a young student in 1990 after the government’s decision of providing affirmative action to the Other Backward Classes in higher education. A common factor in all these disruptions and conflicts is the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) which has become the instrument for political deradicalization of various campuses which emerged as major sites of conflict and direct confrontations between students and university administrations as well as between student organisations of different political persuasions, the broadly secular left and the Hindu nationalists, and the severe restrictions sought to be imposed by the latter on what can be said or taught. Consequently, the intellectual spaces in universities and centres for higher learning have been compromised to make the environment hostile to dissent and questioning. Student activism spread across campuses after the arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar, president of the JNU students’ union, on charges of sedition under a colonial-era statute that is now often used to discipline government critics. JNU because of the pre-eminence it enjoys has emerged as the prime battleground for control of

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academic space between the RSS and students and faculty of the university. The attack on JNU is a blatant attempt to destroy one of India’s best universities; it is also the most egregious example of the attempt to push the Hindutva agenda among the youth by presenting it to them in the guise of nationalism. By constructing the university as a space for anti-national thinking was crucial for it gave this project a famous address and a justification to step in to show its constituency that it can eradicate such ‘anti-national’ people. From its inception, JNU has been home to critical ideas, questioning the dominant ideologies of power or mainstream nationalism. For this very reason, it was chosen to send a message to all those who disagree with this regime that dissent is unwelcome. It was an attack on critical thought to silence voices that do not conform to its ideological agenda. Public universities produce a critique that does not always conform to the national consensus on major issues – capitalism, nationalism, caste, class, community or gender. From time to time, that critique has taken protest to the streets, confronting the regime’s notions of national and anti-national and academic freedom (Economic and Political Weekly, 2017). As arguably India’s most anti-intellectual and regressive government, keen on eliminating the dissenting voice, it is afraid of intellectuals and universities and their students who think independently. However, this is not the first time that universities are facing government interference nor is this the first time that academic independence has been attacked in universities. The record of interference of the previous Congress government is too well known to be ignored. And yet the extent of intervention has become both unprecedented and often politically extreme under the present regime which has branded anyone opposing the government as a terrorist, hence irresponsible and delinquent. On social media, a troll army regularly labels JNU students who disagree with the current political regime as ‘anti-national’ and urban Naxals. By deliberately using words like urban Naxal, the idea is to stigmatize the university as an antinational site and to pronounce protests in the university as illegitimate and illicit (Roy, 2018). Except for the period of the Emergency in 1975–1977, a national campaign that asserts that certain political questions cannot even be talked about in the university and students being charged with anti-national behaviour for asking these questions is unparalleled. One would have thought that debates on nationalism, democracy and dissent were the very essence of public life, and the university campus is the most important arena where free speech is the foundation of a vibrant intellectual life. Far from nurturing humane enquiry and critical thinking, there seems to be an attempt to dismantle institutions where our faith in the importance of critical enquiry and discussions could be renewed. Events during the last few years have shown that most universities won’t easily back down despite the ongoing attempt to transform publicly funded universities into government departments. The new direction of education will end up stripping public higher-education institutions of their autonomy and intellectual vibrancy rather than enhance it by granting them more powers. Every attempt is being made to encourage private


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universities and discredit public universities. But what we need is less profit making in education and more public funding, greater autonomy and studentships for a more inclusive university education, and, above all, cultivated capacities for critical thinking and the freedom to think and talk freely or to raise questions, without the fear of being branded ‘anti-national’ and ‘seditious’.

Notes 1 Data from the All India Survey on Higher Education 2014–15 reported in Sushree Panigrahi and Jeet Singh, IndiaSpend 2 David Kopf, cited in Roychowdhury (2017).

References Arora, Balveer. 2018. Replacement of UGC with HECI: on the wrong track. India Legal, 8 July. Available online at f-ugc-with-heci-on-the-wrong-track-51391 (accessed 20 July 2018). Balakrishnan, Pulapre. 2018. A list of questionable eminence. The Hindu, 13 July. Bhattacharya, Debadita, and Rina Ramdev. 2018. Autonomy in higher education: a Trojan Horse for privatisation. The Wire, 23 March. Available online at https://the (accessed 8 July 2018). Chowdhary, Shreya. 2018. The Union government has granted autonomy to universities that say they did not apply for it., 31 March. Available online at https://scroll. in/article/873803/the-union-government-has-granted-autonomy-even-to-universitiesthat-did-not-apply-for-it (accessed 10 July 2018). Deshpande, Satish. 2018. Worse than UGC. Indian Express, 6 July. Editorial. 2017. University as Battleground. Economic and Political Weekly 52(8). Gabriel, Karen, and P.K. Vijayan. 2018. Why ‘autonomy’ in higher education is a socially exclusivist enterprise. The Wire, 30 April. Available online at https://thewire. in/education/why-autonomy-in-higher-education-is-a-socially-exclusivist-enterprise (accessed 30 June 2018). Ghosh, Saikat. 2018. ‘Autonomy’ for universities: government’s move to privatise is exclusionary. Economic and Political Weekly 53(13). Hansen, Thomas B. 2001. The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Hasan, Mushirul. 2007. The BJP’s intellectual agenda: textbooks and imagined history, edited by John Mcguire and Ian Copland, Hindu Nationalism and Governance. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Jaffrelot, Christophe. 2017. Why the BJP rewrites history. Indian Express. 7 June. Kidwai, Ayesha. 2018. The HECI Bill: liquidating the state’s stake in higher education. The Hindu Centre. 17 July. Available online at uthor/Ayesha-Kidwai-21666/ (accessed 29 July 2018). Mahaprastha, Ajoy Ashirwad. 2016. Interview: Irfan Habib debunks RSS’s nationalism and their attempts to rewrite history. The Wire, 9 October. Available online at https:// (accessed 14 November 2017). Nussbaum, Martha. 2010. Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

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Panigrahi, Sushree and Jeet Singh. 2016. Private higher education is burgeoning in India – but millions can’t afford it., 12 December. Available online at https:// s-cant-afford-it (accessed 20 July 2018). Pannikkar, K.N. n.d. Outsider as enemy: politics of rewriting history in India. Frontline. Available online at (accessed 14 November 2017). Patnaik, Prabhat. 2018. The proposed abolition of UGC will increase political control. Newsclick, 6 July. Available online at crease-political-control (accessed 8 July 2018). Punwani, Jyoti. 2018. Ravish Kumar’s magnificent obsession. The Hoot, 16 July. Available online at cent-obsession-10370 (accessed 16 July 2018). Radhakrishnan, P. 2018. The problems with the HECI draft Bill. The Hindu, 12 July. Rajalakshmi, T. K. 2018. Perils of privatisation. Frontline, 17 August. Available online at (accessed 11 November 2017). Ramachandran, R. 2018. Higher education in peril. Frontline, 17 August. Available online at (accessed 11 November 2017). Roy, Vaishna. 2018. Divide and fool. The Hindu, 10 July. Roychowdhury, Adrija. 2017. Jawaharlal Nehru, the historian who wrote about the past for the love of his daughter’s future. Indian Express, 14 November. Santhosh, J. 2018. Is the Modi government’s Higher Education draft Bill an attempt to consolidate the Centre’s powers? The New Indian Express, 15 July. Sengar, Shweta. n.d. From erasing Nehru to claiming Akbar lost to Maharana Pratap, here’s how BJP is saffronising history. India Times. Available online at www.indiatimes. com/…/from-erasing-nehru-legacy-to-claiming-that-akbar-lost (accessed 11 November 2017). Sharma, Kritika. 2018. IITs, IIMs, NIITs have just 3% total students but get 50 % of government funds. The Print, 30 July. Available online at nce/iits-iims-nits-have-just-3-of-total…but…/89976/ (accessed 30 July 2018). Singh, Vikram. 2018. Dismantling the UGC: a design to put higher education under the absolute command of capital and Hindutva. 3 July. Available online at www. nd-capital-and-hindutva (accessed 7 July 2018).


Education as emancipation Reading freedom through Dalit narratives Raj Kumar

Dehumanization, which marks not only those whose humanity has been stolen, but also (though in a different way) those who have stolen it, is a distortion of the vocation of becoming more fully human. This distortion occurs within history; but it is not an historical vocation. Indeed, to admit of dehumanization as an historical vocation would lead either to cynicism or total despair. The struggle for humanization, for the emancipation of labour, for the overcoming of alienation, for the affirmation of men and women as persons would be meaningless. This struggle is possible only because dehumanization, although a concrete historical fact, is not given destiny, but the result of an unjust order that engenders violence in the oppressors, which in turn dehumanizes the oppressed. (Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 26; italics in original)

The caste system in India is an unjust social order. Though Paulo Freire’s observations cited above are made in different contexts, they are equally applicable to Indian caste society. The dehumanization of the Dalit population due to the caste system has been a living example of how more than 16 million people became the victims of an unjust social order. Together with material deprivation, as well as social alienation, Dalits have been struggling for a long time to assert their civil rights, identity and humanity in the face of brutal violence perpetrated in the name of custom, religion and culture. They have been systematically denied rights to live with dignity and self-respect by the caste society. Chinnaiah Jangam’s recent work titled Dalits and The Making of Modern India (2017) documents how Dalits throughout Indian history have been systematically denied their rights to subjecthood. Even after India’s independence they are not fully free to exercise their freedom. They continue to remain the “Other” in their own country. It is true that Dalits have suffered caste humiliations all through these years. But they have never been silent. Indian history is replete with instances of how Dalits have been engaged in waging wars against caste. Their everyday fights with the caste system are reflected through their creative arts: song, dance, music, painting and storytelling. Since literacy was not available to them earlier due to exclusionary Hindu laws, they gave vent to their repressed anger mostly through oral narratives. It was only after India attained independence that

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education was made compulsory for every Indian. This constitutional compulsion helped Dalits to get education and government jobs. Now a good number of educated Dalits are able to use literacy as a weapon to mobilize resistance against various forms of caste oppression. Their protests against caste have come out in various literary forms, collectively known today as “Dalit literature”. This chapter focuses on understanding the role of education in Dalit lives. What does education mean for Dalits? Does it have any emancipating values? What is the role of the Indian state so far as education for Dalits is concerned? I will try to seek answers to these and other related questions while critically analysing a number of Dalit autobiographies. It may be important to state here that Dalit autobiographies began to come out only after India’s independence. The Dalit autobiographies, in fact, give a new dimension to the study of autobiography. Apart from being marginal, Dalits have been denied education for quite a long time in Indian caste society. But now that they are getting educated, some of them have been using writing as a weapon for their social assertion. Thus, writing autobiographies is a special act for the members of the Dalit community who use the genre to achieve a sense of identity and mobilize resistance against oppression. This phenomenon has been largely understood when we critically analyse Dalit autobiographies which are written in English as well as Indian languages. Some of the famous Dalit autobiographies are: Hazari’s Untouchable: An Autobiography of an Indian Outcaste (1951), Sharankumar Limbale’s Akkarmashi (Marathi, 1984), Bama’s Karukku (Tamil, 1992), Omprakash Valmiki’s Joothan (Hindi, 1997), Baby Kamble’s The Prison We Broke (2008), Urmila Pawar’s The Weave of My Life (2008) and Daya Pawar’s Baluta (2015). What is significant in studying Dalit autobiographies is that they cannot be appreciated or properly evaluated in terms of the existing modes of evaluating autobiographies written by the educated upper-caste writers. Many of these narratives have not, in fact, been written down. They have been orally communicated and then recorded by others. For instance, the moving life-story of an unlettered ex-untouchable Muli titled Untouchable: An Indian Life History (1979) has been recorded by the American anthropologist James Freeman. Work like this demands a new critical orientation. Due to limited space, it may not be possible to analyse all the autobiographies mentioned above. Therefore I will choose Hazari’s Untouchable: An Autobiography of an Indian Outcaste, which was the first Dalit autobiography to be published, immediately after India became a republic. Hazari, while writing about his life and the life of his community, deals with several issues which he thinks are important. Though caste discrimination, poverty and conversion are some of the issues he writes about in great detail in his autobiography, his yearning for education is the central focus of the narrative. But before analysing the autobiography in more detail, it is important to understand the background in which Dalit autobiography can be read. That is because Banarasidas’s Ardhakathanaka (Hindi, 1641) is considered to be the first Indian autobiography. It is, therefore, necessary to stress here that


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since Dalits had hardly any scope to be literate in Hindu society, it took them three more centuries than their upper-caste counterparts to write in the same genre. Therefore, it must be kept in mind that the autobiographies written by Dalits cannot be evaluated by the norms set by educated upper-caste men and women. This condition prompts us to necessarily understand the way Indian caste society has been grappling with the idea of education over the years.

Education in India It is a well-known fact that modern education in India remained an exclusive domain of upper-caste men until the British came and upset the power structure of Indian society. While writing the history of education in India, Suresh Chandra Ghosh states that learning in ancient and medieval India was always the monopoly of the upper castes. He writes: Learning among the Hindus had been the monopoly of the high, especially of the priestly castes. The learned Brahmans gathered students from various parts of the country and in the homely atmosphere of their Tols and Chatuspathis as these were known in Bengal and Bihar, imparted knowledge.… The course of studies extended from fifteen to twenty years and the hours of study were long and severe. There were also larger education establishments in various religious centres, the most famous of which in the Ganges Valley were Nadia, Tirhut (Tirabhukti or Mithila) and Benares. These were conducted by learned pandits, who were liberally patronized by the rulers and the aristocracy. (Ghosh 2009, 7; italics in the original) Since the Indian education system has been dominated by the upper castes the main thrust has always been spiritual rather than practical and hence lacking in scientific knowledge. In order to pursue spiritual learning it was communicated through the sacred classical language of the Hindus, namely Sanskrit. The subjects taught were the scriptures, grammar, logic and the classics which included codes of law. This has resulted in a lack of development in science subjects. In ancient times, apart from monopolizing state power and property, the upper castes also made sure that learning and use of the Sanskrit language were exclusively their privilege. The untouchables, the Sudras and women were barred access to this language. Thus, the Sanskrit language, which was the repository of knowledge and wisdom, became a closely guarded terrain, where no outsiders were permitted. Knowledge and power are closely linked, Michel Foucault has stressed. For him, knowledge of all sorts is thoroughly enmeshed in the complex activity of domination: What makes power hold good, what makes it accepted, is simply the fact that it does not only weigh on us as a force that says no, but that it traverses and produces things. It induces pleasure, forms knowledge, and

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produces discourse. It needs to be considered as a productive network, which runs through the whole social body, much more than as a negative instance whose function is repression. (Foucault 1984, 119) This is precisely what happened in the history of Hindu society. The hegemony of the high castes became pervasive because all knowledge was generated and processed by them. People who enjoyed the fruits of knowledge and power did not let it go out of their hands. Some of the immediate effects of this policy were the non-proliferation of the Sanskrit language and the creation of an outer group, the Shudras and the untouchables, whose sole purpose of existence was to serve the interests of upper-caste people. As a result, for centuries a community remained permanently at the periphery of society, even though they very much participated in the production process. Thus, the people at the lowest stratum were considered untouchables, but not the goods they produced. Indian caste society witnessed several changes during British rule. One of the most important events during British rule was the introduction of English education in schools and colleges in 1835 which is famously known as Macaulay Minutes. Thomas Babington Macaulay was the man who was responsible for introducing English into India. With the introduction of English, a new hierarchy was established among the Indians to assert their social status with economic security. The new opportunity made available by the colonial government was grasped largely by those who were already at the top of the traditional social structure. In other words, people who had earlier studied Sanskrit and Persian now began to avail themselves of the benefits of English education. Krishna Kumar comments on the outcome of the British education in the following words: The little civil society that education helped to form consisted of the higher castes, particularly the Brahmans, of the major towns of British-controlled India. Facilities for English education were quickly exploited by the better-off families of Brahman and other higher castes to equip their children with the new skills, knowledge and certificates required for employment in colonial administration. This was nothing new in the history of Brahmans and other castes of high status. Their capacity to renovate their repertoire of skills for maintaining status and power had manifested itself many times earlier … (Kumar 2006, 37) Thus, caste Hindus who had easy access to higher education in the new dispensation also obtained higher jobs in the British administration. Naturally, Dalits and other constituencies such as Adivasis, Shudras and women could not avail themselves of such opportunities like their counterparts. This situation compels the critics to comment that even though the British officials wanted to introduce a modern and secular education, finally they had the sanction of caste. Santosh Dash, for example, writes:


R. Kumar The British sought to organize a modern, secular system of education for the natives despite resistance from the missionaries. In this they were propelled by the nature of the colonial rule itself to manufacture native consent. The “modern” and “secular” form of education which they put together had to pass through the native gaze of caste. Therefore, I operate with the assumption that what came to be instituted as a modern and secular form of education under the British had the sanction of caste. For example, the case for female education was resolved only through due respect to the native principle of exclusion and, more important, within the limits of patriarchy. It is, therefore, arguable that Indian modernity, much like Indian secularism, has caste as one of its constituents. (Dash 2009, 17)

What was dangerous for the untouchables in British India was that the Brahmans were appointed by the British to translate old Sanskrit law books for the guidance of the judges and lawyers of the British colonial judicial system. It is said of Sir William Jones, a judge of the Supreme Court and the founder of the Asiatic Society, that every day he used to discuss with Sanskrit pandits the contents of the old Sanskrit manuscripts. The learned judge felt so much enthusiasm for the Brahmanical ideas that he himself translated the Manushastra into English. Thus the early English administrators and judges were sympathizers of Brahmanism and in a way helped the caste system to continue. The Christian missionaries were an important agent in changing the lives of the untouchables. The missionaries were pragmatists: they gave the untouchables only such things that would immediately give them social status and self-esteem. They built as many churches as they built schools and hospitals in unheard of and remote tribal areas. Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and the whole of the North-East came noticeably under the influence of the missionaries. As in Africa, the coastal regions in India also became their centres of activity. As a result, the coastal states such as Kerala and the coastal part of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu saw immediate social, educational and economic changes. Duncan B. Forrester, one of the experts on conversion, writes: New educational opportunities gradually (be)came available to converts, and changes in life-style became accepted. Converts were accepted to give up the eating carrion and drinking alcohol, were encouraged to show their greater cleanliness, and soon found it possible to enter a variety of occupations which had hitherto been closed to them, such as school teaching, or work in one of the mission industries. (Forrester 1980, 78) It is now not a secret that the different policies introduced by the British government brought several changes in the social structures of caste society. All through the nineteenth century, the building of roads and railways, the introduction of postal and telegraph, printing press, and many industries by the

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British helped India organize itself in new ways through improved communication networks. Besides this was the influence of the Enlightenment in incorporating new secular and democratic ideas in a reformation movement in Indian society. This reform movement, which is also known as the Indian Renaissance, attempted in a major way to rid society of its old orthodox systems of caste and patriarchy. Women’s education, widow remarriage, equality before God, and so on, were some of the issues taken up by the upper-caste leaders in different parts of the country. The liberal education introduced by the British had a major role to play in this regard. Thus, it took a long time for Indian caste society to embrace the discourse of modernity and let Dalits, Adivasis and women have secular education. Strangely enough, secularization of education in India started during British rule, which brought remarkable changes in Indian society, culture and literature as well. Since our concern is to study how Dalits accessed education in India, let us go back to the pages of history and find how education was made available to them.

Education as emancipation As stated earlier, it was during British rule that untouchables got the opportunity to access formal education in school. It was the Christian missionaries who for the first time helped the untouchables, women and Shudras get access to education. As a result, an elite class emerged among non-Brahmans who became the leaders of their struggle for equality. The emergence of non-Brahman leaders like Jotiba Phule and later B.R. Ambedkar in Maharashtra and many others in other parts of India can be cited as the outcome of British education. The effects of British education were really many. One of the outcomes was the beginning of a long struggle by the members of the lower castes. The movement initially started in Maharashtra. For example, getting inspiration from the Christian missionaries, Jotiba Phule and his wife Savitribai opened up a school especially for the untouchable boys and girls. The Phules believed that education would finally emancipate the oppressed Indians because education, as they rightly thought, would bring a kind of consciousness that had the potential to finally bring a change in society. Muktabai, a Dalit girl, studied in one of the schools set up by the Phules in Pune. The eleven-year-old Mukta wrote a fascinating essay in Marathi titled “Mang Maharachya Dukhvisayi” (“About the Grief of the Mangs and Mahars”) which was published in 1855 by Dyanodaya, an Ahmednagar-based journal. This essay is, perhaps, the earliest surviving piece of writing by a Dalit woman. In the essay Mukta openly attacks the way Brahmanic culture and religion, oppress the lower castes, especially the untouchables. She condemns the upper castes, saying: These people drove us, the poor Mangs and Mahars, away from our own lands, which they occupied to build large buildings. And that was not all. They would make the Mangs and Mahars drink oil mixed with red lead


R. Kumar and buried, wiping out generation after generation of our poor people. The Brahmans have degraded us so low; they consider people like us even lower than cows and buffaloes. Did they not consider us even lower than donkeys during the rule of Bajirao Peshwa?… Under Bajirao’s rule, if any Mang and Mahar happened to pass in front of a gymnasium, they would cut off his head and play “bat and ball” with their swords as bats and his head as a ball, on the grounds. When we were punished for even passing through their doors, where was the question of getting education? (Mani and Sardar 2010, 72–73)

Muktabai, like the Phuley and many other non-Brahman leaders, believes that education will bring them back their freedom. She explains how knowledge will give them power to question the status quo of Indian caste society and eventually bring a social revolution to the advantage of the untouchables. She writes: Oh, the Mahars and Mangs, you are poor and sick. Only the medicine of knowledge will cure and heal you. It will take you away from wild beliefs and superstitions. You will become righteous and moral. It will stop your exploitation. People who treat you like animals will not dare to treat like that anymore. So please work hard and study. Get educated and become good human beings. (Ibid., 75) Because of the intervention of the Christian missionaries, the lower castes could access formal education which was earlier not available under Hindu rule. Secular education via missionaries gradually helped them to interrogate their caste status. Thus, from the middle of the nineteenth century, we hear caste questions raised frequently in the public sphere. These questions often came from the leaders of the lower castes who initiated the anti-caste intellectual tradition in India to fight against caste. It may be recalled here that during the freedom movement while the uppercaste reformism and “Renaissance” wanted to modify and update Hinduism, there was another movement going on at the same time but in a different vein, organized mostly by lower-caste leaders, which is known as the “Non-Brahman Movement”, or “Enlightenment”. The leaders of the Enlightenment talked about creating a new society with new religion based on the universal ideas of “liberty, equality and fraternity” as put forward by the French Revolution in 1789. Jotiba Phule, E.V. Ramasamy Naicker (known as Periyar), Narayan Guru and B.R. Ambedkar were the prominent figures of this movement who made great efforts to fight against the caste system and untouchability, mostly through education. Like Phule, Ambedkar believed that education would bring liberation among the masses. Therefore, his slogan was “educate, agitate and organize”. Apart from waging political battles, Ambedkar set up several educational institutions so that Dalits, Adivasis, Shudras and women could access education and become self-sufficient. The other leaders of non-Brahman movements also gave

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priority to various educational projects. It was due to their sustained struggles that education was made available among the lower castes, Dalits and women during India’s freedom struggle, even though in a limited way. It is only after independence that Dalits in large numbers went to study in schools and colleges and a few in universities. Since formal education was not available to Dalits earlier, they could not have a genuine untouchable literary movement to protest against the monopoly of the established literature in India which was dominated by the upper castes. It is in the post-independence era that those educated Dalits, who tasted the fruit of modern education, realized the need for an alternative mode of thinking and launched a new literary movement. It is no surprise that the movement incidentally started in the homeland of B.R. Ambedkar who fought for the rights, liberties and equalities of the downtrodden throughout his life. Becoming literate, Dalits tried to articulate their voices which were silenced under the caste system. Thus, modern secular education in post-independent India not only helped Dalits to articulate their voices, but it also gave them opportunities to write their personal stories as well as the stories of their communities. Hazari’s attempt to write an autobiography in English is an example of how, given an opportunity, Dalits can be as articulate as their upper-caste counterparts. This makes it imperative to study Hazari’s autobiography in more detail.

Hazari’s tryst with education Hazari in his autobiography neither spells out his original name, name of his parents and immediate family relations, nor his community’s name. This seems to be unusual as well as unconventional because almost all the non-Dalit autobiographers generally start with their genealogy emphasizing their castes or communities. By doing so, they take pride in their births. None of these things can be found in Hazari’s autobiography. In fact, the name Hazari is also not real; it is a pseudonym. Such a name was probably adopted by the author to conceal his identity as an untouchable in public space. Born into one of the scavenging communities whose traditional duties were to sweep the roads, clean the latrines and salvage dead animals, Hazari at times declares himself to be a Christian, if the situation demands so. During the course of his autobiography, Hazari actually converts to Islam to bring an end to his untouchable life. But whether he was able to achieve his goal is a matter of doubt. Hazari says that he was born in one of the villages in the district of Moradabad, in the United Provinces, the present-day Uttar Pradesh. The exact year of Hazari’s birth is not known since his illiterate parents had not maintained any record. However, there are certain indirect references to some events from which we can infer his age. Once Hazari mentions that he might have been eight or nine years old in 1914, the year when the First World War began. The events Hazari mentions in his autobiography took place before India attained independence in 1947. There are references to India’s freedom struggle, the roles of the Congress Party and the Muslim League, and so on. Hazari was


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around 30 when he left India for France for higher study getting financial support from Mr Newman, one of his English patrons. The story of his life ends then and there. Interestingly, Hazari’s autobiography was published in English in America first in 1951 by the Baennisdale Press and then in 1969 by Praeger publishers. Hazari must be praised for being the first Dalit to write an autobiography and that too in English. By writing his autobiography Hazari thus challenged the autobiographical tradition accepted and propagated by leaders like M.K. Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, and broke the culture of silence. Considering that Hazari came from a poor and illiterate untouchable family, his going to study in France opened up a new vista in his life. Nobody knows what kind of struggle Hazari would have gone through in that foreign land. There is, as such, no information on what happened to Hazari thereafter. But Hazari seems to be optimistic when he concludes his autobiography: The sea was rough, the boat was small, and I had never sailed before. Already I felt that I was part of a new world, encircled by the mighty ocean, which knew no creed or caste, and as I gazed toward the wide horizon, I prayed that one day I might find the peace of soul I had never known but had always sought. (Hazari 1970, 192–193) Hazari left India for France in pursuit of education. His struggle for education seems to have given him some hope to achieve freedom and equality which he finally achieves by writing his autobiography like his upper-caste counterparts. It may be important to emphasize here that by writing his autobiography Hazari starts a tradition which was never there in the history of Dalit communities. Of course, after Hazari’s autobiography we do not come across many Dalit autobiographies until the 1980s, written mostly in Marathi. Hindi Dalit autobiography from Uttar Pradesh, the state Hazari comes from, came to be written only in the 1990s. But Hazari by writing his autobiography also performed an important cultural act which was hardly available to Dalit masses. As discussed, yearning for education is the central focus of Hazari’s autobiography. Hazari’s struggle for education has a larger implication for the entire Dalit communities who are otherwise known as the oppressed Indians. Hazari’s yearning to cherish some sort of hope against hopelessness can be read along what Paulo Freire talks about “pedagogy of hope”. Freire while elaborating his pedagogy explains that without hope people cannot think of starting a struggle. To quote him: Without a minimum of hope, we cannot so much as start the struggle. But without the struggle, hope, as an ontological need, dissipates, loses its bearings, and turns into hopelessness. And hopelessness can become tragic despair. Hence the need for a kind of education in hope. Hope, as it

Education as emancipation


happens, is so important for our existence, individual and social, that we must take every care not to experience it in a mistaken form, and thereby allow it to slip toward hopelessness and despair. Hopelessness and despair are both the consequence and the cause of inaction or immobilism. (Freire 2005, 3) Hazari’s action in life perfectly matches with Freire’s idea of hope. Hazari’s conscious decision to pursue an education, even in the face of adversity, finally brings some sort of hope he can assert himself as an equal part of humanity. Whatever Hazari does, as his autobiography reflects, he does it consciously. For example, being educated he is thoroughly able to critique traditional Hindu society. It is therefore important that his autobiography starts with a protest note, which has a subtitle “Karma”. The traditional caste order (varnashram dharma) is not just a conspiracy against the Dalits by the upper caste to make them social slaves forever as Hazari notes; it has a series of economic consequences as well. Since the untouchables do not have any option other than doing menial jobs, they have to entirely depend on the upper caste for their survival. As a consequence, they suffer health hazards and from various deadly diseases. Born to a rural, poor family, Hazari remembers how each and every baby of his community suffered on several counts. Due to poor economic conditions many children died in infancy. Those children who survived immediately shouldered family responsibility within a few years of their birth. They helped their parents in several ways and thus equally shared the joys and sorrows of their families from an early age. Hazari describes the burdensome untouchable childhood in a most realistic sense. He sums up, “the child of an untouchable is a father before he is a child” (Hazari 1970, 51). It is a well-known fact that the untouchables do not have many options available to improve themselves. Poverty is so rampant that they can hardly afford to send their children to schools and colleges for an education which will obtain them a secured job. Those who struggle to get an education face a hostile environment from upper-caste teachers, fellow students and society at large. Thus, the untouchable dream to become someone other than an untouchable never materializes. Since there is no alternative available to them, Hazari and his community are forced to perform varieties of menial jobs assigned to them by the upper caste. Out of sheer necessity, Hazari’s family somewhat broke the community bond by going out of their village to seek odd jobs. Hazari’s parents, thus, moved from one place to another, mostly in hill stations, such as Dehra Dun, Mussoorie and Simla, mostly serving British families. It was during that time that Hazari’s family came into contact with liberal English men and women like Mrs and Mr Mason, Mrs and Mr Rhodes, Miss Joan and Mr Newman, to name a few. Working with them, Hazari soon realized that the British, unlike the Hindus, never discriminated against their servants on the basis of their caste. Rather, they encouraged them to be educated so that they could improve their civic senses. Such an environment encouraged Hazari to study. But for an


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untouchable boy like Hazari, going to a formal school during the early part of the twentieth century was unthinkable. The upper caste never allowed him to join any school. So he joined a madrasa run by a mosque. There he continued to do well in his studies. After two years in the madrasa Hazari was finally forced to drop out because his poor parents could not afford to pay his fees there. But two years of schooling equipped Hazari sufficiently to read the Ramayana, the legends of Prithiviraj and of course, the Koran. Since Hazari was the first literate person in his community he made use of his learning skills to read some scriptures and write letters for his community members. This benevolent act of Hazari earned him a respectable position in his community. But no change came from the upper-caste people from his village. Instead of acknowledging Hazari’s determination to change himself through education, they insulted him: Though I was treated with great respect in my community, when I went into the shopping center of the town, I was still the same untouchable who must give way to those of higher caste. The shopkeepers still threw the goods I bought into either my basket or the piece of cloth that I might carry for that purpose, and, when they heard that I could read and write, they were horrified. To them, it was abhorrent that untouchables should become Christians or refuse to work as sweepers, or that sweepers’ children should learn to read and write, and, above all, that they should read books like the Ramayana and actually know much of the Koran by heart. (Hazari 1970, 73–74) It is no surprise that Hazari’s struggle to get an education is the main theme of his autobiography. To achieve this he worked hard and bore all insults that came his way. Once he realized the value of education, he was determined to have it by any means. The political conditions of his time also helped Hazari to realize his dream. Hazari remembers that his hope to study rekindled when both the Congress Party and Muslim League declared they would open up schools for the untouchables as part of their social agenda during India’s freedom struggle. That was long before M.K. Gandhi came to the scene. Though Hazari found both the main political parties vied with each other in opening up educational avenues for the untouchables, their promises seemed to be hollow because they simply politicized the issue. Hazari felt betrayed thinking that the entire country was against his community. But Hazari still supported the Congress Party. He wore a Gandhi cap, joined in a demonstration and even got arrested along with a group of people. He explained his participation in the freedom struggle by saying that he was a child of India and he must join the movement. He hoped that the Congress Party would work earnestly for “the breaking of the barriers between castes” (Hazari 1970, 127) so that in a new India there would not be any caste problem. But seeing the trend he realized that caste was getting more and more politicized day by day. He thus left his political activism and returned to his own work. His

Education as emancipation


critique of the Congress Party reminds us of the charges once made by B.R. Ambedkar in his famous book What Congress and Gandhi Have Done for Untouchables (1945). Hazari succinctly puts it, “I knew that something deeper than the words of Congress must happen to change our Karma” (Hazari 1970, 127). In fact, it was not the Congress Party or the Muslim League but the coming of Mr Newman from England to Aligarh Muslim University on a teaching assignment that changed the life of Hazari. On Newman’s insistence Hazari left his parents and relations and came to Aligarh. Newman appointed a teacher for Hazari at 20 rupees every month to help him in his studies. It was during this time that Hazari, who was already an adult, considered changing his religion. Since no Hindu teacher was available to teach him – Aligarh having predominantly a Muslim population – Hazari after much hesitation decided to embrace Islam. His change of religion seems to have been purely for practical purposes: I had to think hard what I really wanted to do. Did my life lie in the pursuit of education, or in a change of religion? I realized that education without religion meant nothing to me; my studies must be related to my spiritual life. It seemed I would have to turn to Islam, where the community is a true brotherhood and not a merely formal system. (Hazari 1970, 181) Before his conversion to Islam, Hazari studied Christianity and Sikhism comparatively but did not like some of their practices, hence he rejected them. The idea of fraternity in Islam attracted him. But he was also critical of certain beliefs and practices inherent in it which he criticized openly. In his autobiography Hazari observes that the everlasting hellfire for all unbelievers did not fit into his ideal view of religion. He also wondered whether it was conceivable that a Muslim could kill an unbeliever, just because the other happened to be a non-Muslim. Hazari was as critical of Hinduism as of Islam. He condemned Hinduism as “everlasting hell on earth” and wanted to be redeemed from this holocaust by changing his religion. After getting converted to Islam, a conscious Hazari tried to evaluate himself in relation to his fellow Muslims. After Newman left for England making all arrangements for Hazari’s study, Hazari left Aligarh for Lucknow. Now as a follower of Islam he made friends among Muslims who in return reciprocated his friendship. Some of the lower-middle-class Muslim families even went to the extent of promising to give their daughter to Hazari for marriage. The changes in attitude did not seem to have a practical bearing for Hazari because he felt that he was still an untouchable. Hazari frankly confessed this strange feeling in the following passage: In spite of all my new friendships and associations, I still felt that I could never take a real part in the life of Lucknow. There was something I could never erase – the fact that I was born an untouchable. At times,


R. Kumar this kept me away from the more exclusive society, as I could never discuss either my family or my childhood. I could never tell a friend that when I was young I did this and that. I could not tell anyone why and how I was receiving an allowance from an Englishman. I tried to live as they did, yet I had no background and no social foundation on which to stand. I confided in no one since I dreaded sympathy and condescension, with the result that, in the midst of all these friends, I was lonely and homesick. (Hazari 1970, 188–189)

Conclusion With his conversion and an education in English, Hazari’s untouchable self should have acquired a new identity. However, Hazari remains non-committal regarding his liberation until the end of his autobiography. Unlike his uppercaste counterparts – like M.K. Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Nirad C. Chaudhuri and others who celebrate their glories and achievements in their respective autobiographies – Hazari has nothing to celebrate. Born into a degraded family the old untouchable self does not leave him wherever he goes. Small bits of achievement here and there only cause him worry. That’s why, perhaps, he is still an untouchable, even if he has changed his religion and feels threatened by the quagmire of the caste politics which directly affects his day-to-day life. Thus, while his upper-caste counterparts are well settled at the end of their autobiographies, Hazari is still unsettled, indecisive. This may be the reason why the title of his autobiography is Untouchable like several other Dalit autobiographies. But by writing his autobiography Hazari started a tradition which was later followed by several Dalit autobiographers to interrogate the status quo of the caste society. Thus, it can be said that even though Hazari started his struggle at individual level, it has a bearing on the entire Dalit communities. In this context Paulo Freire’s following profound words seem relevant: Throughout history, we men and women become special animals indeed, then. We invent the opportunity of setting ourselves free to the extent that we become able to perceive as unconcluded, limited, conditioned, historical beings. Especially, we invent the opportunity of setting ourselves free by perceiving, as well, that the sheer perception of inconclusion, limitation, opportunity, is not enough. To the perception must be joined the political struggle for the transformation of the world. The liberation of individuals acquires profound meaning only when the transformation of society is achieved. (Freire 2005, 85) Finally, one wonders what could have been the impact of Hazari’s autobiography. Since Hazari’s autobiography was published in America in English few Indians would have had the chance to read it. There is no known document

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that shows the Dalit readers who would have read Hazari’s autobiography. It is to be recorded here that Hindi Dalit literature in general, and Hindi Dalit autobiographies in particular, started coming before the public in the 1990s. Between then and now, Hindi Dalit literature has become established as a distinct voice with more and more Hindi Dalit autobiographies written by Dalit men and women. One would hope that, with more and more Dalit writings coming into the public sphere, there will be debate and discussion on Dalit human freedom.

References Ambedkar, B.R. 1945. What Congress and Gandhi Have Done for Untouchables. Bombay: Thacker and Co. Banarasidas. 1981. Ardhakathanaka (1641). Translated as Half a Tale by Mukund Lath. Jaipur: Rajasthan Prakrit Bharati Sansthan. Dash, Santosh. 2009. English Education and the Question of Indian Nationalism: A Perspective on the Vernacular. Delhi: Aakar. Forrester, Duncan B. 1980. Caste and Christianity. London: Curzon Press. Foucault, Michel. 1984. Power/Knowledge. Edited by Paul Rabinow. New York: Peregrine. Freire, Paulo. 1996. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Translated by Myra Bergman Ramos. London: Penguin Books. Freire, Paulo. 2005. Education for Critical Consciousness. London: Continuum. Freire, Paulo. 2005. Pedagogy of Hope. Translated by Robert R. Barr. London: Continuum. Ghosh, Suresh Chandra. 2009. The History of Education in Modern India 1757–2007. New Delhi: Orient BlackSwan. Hazari. 1970. Untouchable: The Autobiography of an Indian Outcaste. New York: Praeger Publishers. Jangam, Chinnaiah. 2017. Dalits and the Making of Modern India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Kumar, Krishna. 2006. Political Agenda of Education: A Study of Colonialist and Nationalist Ideas. New Delhi: Sage Publications. Kumar, Raj. 2010. Dalit Personal Narratives: Reading Caste, Nation and Identity. New Delhi: Orient BlackSwan. Mani, Braj Ranjan and Sardar, Pamela. 2010. A Forgotten Liberator: The Life and Struggle of Savitribai Phule. New Delhi: Mountain Peak.

Part II

Mediations in academics Politics, governance and public action


Between prohibition of political activity and capture of political space The predicament of student politics in Kerala1 Praveena Kodoth

Introduction A judgment of a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court in 2003 that educational institutions may prohibit political activities on their campuses belied the expectation that higher education is a key site of political education, where students learn to participate in the formal processes of representing their interests through associations and democratically elected student unions.2 It set off a fractious debate in Kerala but did not generate meaningful reflection on the nature of associational freedom that existed on college campuses. Student politics in Kerala is identified strongly with the Left, corresponding to the spectacular gains made by the Students Federation of India (SFI) after the emergency and the waning influence of the Kerala Students Union (KSU) across colleges and universities. But it has gained a reputation for violence and has generated hostility among a vocal section of the public.3 The judgment did not ban student politics altogether but subjected the associational freedom of students to the discretion of college administrations. In this essay, I seek to unravel the implications of rival tendencies witnessed in arts and science colleges in Kerala for the associational freedom of students; that is, prohibition of political space by college managements bolstered by the judgment, and capture of politics by a single student organization that uses its dominance to eliminate counter mobilization. Political space is defined as space for students to come together to debate, disagree and organize in diverse and contending ways around issues of importance to civil and political life which is vital for generation of awareness of power relations and the conditions that define it in everyday life. The 2003 judgment came in a case filed by Sojan Francis, a second-year BA student of St Thomas College, Pala, against the principal of the college for refusing him permission to write the examination because he lacked the minimum attendance. Francis, a college union member and a member of the area committee of the SFI, alleged that the principal had acted in a politically motivated way so as to curb the activities of the SFI on campus. The judge ruled that the principal had acted in accordance with the rules regarding


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attendance that were made known to all through the college calendar but went further in upholding Clause 9 of the guidelines on General Discipline of the college, which banned political activism on the campus.4 The judgment culminated in the appointment of the Lyngdoh committee in 2005 on the basis of a Supreme Court directive to the MHRD to ‘frame guidelines on students’ elections in colleges and universities’ (Government of India, 2006). Critics argued that the judgment negated the view that colleges were forums for serious political debate and that it opened the doors to the communalization of politics.5 Judicial intervention brought to the fore an existing polarization of views on student politics. But the Lyngdoh committee submitted that [i]t is not appropriate to permit the level of interference being exercised by political parties at present, as the primary function of a university is, after all, education, and not political indoctrination, especially when such political influence brings with it all the indiscretions that political parties are known for. (GOI, 2006: 46) In this chapter I focus on the scenario of capture of power by a student organization (henceforth SO) in a government-run arts and science college in Kerala (henceforth the Government College) where the SO exercised a monopoly and prevented counter-mobilizations. The case of prohibition by college managements is drawn into the discussion to establish similarities in the mode to suppression of political space and I draw on in particular the strategies used by the management of an aided college (the Catholic College) to eliminate associational freedom. I found that student organizations that capture political space vie with the administration to be the principal enforcers of discipline. In the Government College, virtually all activities, be they blood donation camps under the National Service Scheme, sports, debating societies or even codes of everyday conduct, not to speak of the routine ‘political’ demonstrations, were subject to the control of the SO. There were uncanny similarities with the exercise of authority by the SO in the government college and by the Catholic College management which had prohibited politics in the college. In both cases authority was exercised in a familiar social-cultural idiom of familial patriarchy and order was achieved through surveillance. In both cases, the exercise of disciplinary power through the enforcement of the gender norm served to produce legitimacy for interventions into the intimate details of everyday life on campuses. I argue that actions based on polarized perspectives on student politics led to the suppression of political space on campuses, whether or not politics was actually prohibited, stifling associational freedom of students and eliminating space for questioning of normative gender. The scenarios of prohibition and capture are not representative of politics in arts and science colleges in Kerala but they are not aberrations either. They are expressions of the possibilities within the system because I found that private managements aspired to eliminate student political activities even

Political activity and political space


when they are not powerful enough to do so, and student organizations aspired to a monopoly over politics on campuses. This chapter uses material on student politics generated through a larger study of higher education in Kerala focusing on arts and science colleges.6 Fieldwork was conducted in six colleges that were run by different managements. Student politics resonated in strikingly different ways in these colleges but was explored in depth in the government college where it seemed to have an excessive and overpowering presence.7 The following section explores the perspective that underpins prohibition in private aided colleges. The discussion of the capture of political space in the Government College spans two sections which details the strategies of control used by the SO and probes the use to the gender norm to enforce a heterosexual marriage complex in accordance with social morality. The conclusion directs attention to the predicament of student politics in the context of growing hostility towards it reflected in the tenor of successive court judgments.

Prohibition of political activity Private aided colleges are marked frequently by student organizations being in a state of strife with the college administration over issues ranging from student discipline to larger issues of academic governance. Private managements had pleaded with the Kerala High Court to direct the state government to ‘depoliticize’ campuses as a necessary condition for maintaining order. In 1999, a prominent aided college managed by a Catholic diocese got a High Court order allowing it to shift to the parliamentary form of elections or direct election of a student council which precluded the need for student organisations. In the parliamentary mode, class representatives elected the student council. This college had quelled a 120-day strike by the SFI, demanding the reinstatement of two students who had been dismissed for breach of discipline, by appealing to its parish community. A teacher of the college recounted the event thus, [T]he CPI (M) sponsored the strike. It was a tussle between the Catholic management and the CPI (M). The High Court supported us but they [the CPI (M)] were not willing to listen to the court. Then people from 25 to 30 parishes came here in groups. It was a show of strength. They physically removed the structures erected by the striking students, banners and all and broke up the strike. This was possible only because the staff, students and the general public stood together in support of the college. (Conversation, November, 2008) Here mobilization of the local community was integral to the ability of the management to break the strike and impose discipline. The official profile of the college notes that several colleges had followed its example by prohibiting student organizations within their campuses – all this some years before the


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2003 judgment. It recounts the termination of the 1998 strike on its premises in an idiom of conquest. ‘The striking students came around and virtually bowed to the terms and conditions laid down by the management. It was a moral victory for the college and the management.’ Describing the student organization as self-serving and acting to destroy the education process, the teacher said, ‘in the last five years not a single working day has been lost to strikes’. Such statistics cement the perspective that it is necessary to contain student politics in order to unshackle the education process. The Catholic College (where I did fieldwork), also a diocese-based college, banned political activity and switched to the parliamentary form of elections to the students’ union in 2007. When the ban was announced, the students agitated and the college was closed for two days. The management quelled the strike by suspending the leaders and mounting vigilance against possible agitation. In the aftermath of the prohibition, students reported that any demands by them or attempts to mobilize even in sporadic and contingent ways around issues were seen as suspect and branded as politics by the management. Students resented the refusal of the management to allow them to mobilize but resistance was snuffed out by the management because it was able to use the threat of summoning parents, most of who belonged to parishes under the same diocese. In a group discussion, students expressed disapproval of what they referred to as ‘violent politics’ (akramarashtriyam) and sought to distinguish it from ‘friendly politics’ (sowhridarashtriyam). In this college, the manager is a constant and active presence. Speaking to us, he said: [w]henever you have come I am here. Because, my job requires it.… When I have to travel I take leave for a couple of months. I don’t expect everybody to work like I do but in this field commitment is essential. In education, we shoulder the major responsibility of moulding the next generation and there should be awareness of this. The students were subject to rigid disciplining. Once inside the college, they could leave early only with permission from the principal. During class hours, their movements were closely monitored by the system: breaks were short, the longest being the lunch break of 45 minutes. Relatively small infringements that would go unnoticed elsewhere were punished and they were referred to in exaggerated terms, apparently to instil awe. Thus, students who entered class even a minute after the bell were suspended. This meant that they could rejoin the class only after meeting the principal and it evoked a sense of a major indiscipline. Students were loath to have to take the detour through the principal’s office and were rarely ever late. At exactly 3.00 p.m. after the last class, the students could be seen trooping out of the college, even as the teachers went into the principal’s room to sign out before leaving. In less than half an hour the college was emptied out except for the principal and the staff. On the annual day of the college, the noise and excitement generated by the students

Political activity and political space


did not mask the close patrolling that was in place. A short distance away from the students who put up various activities, the teachers kept a close watch. Aided colleges frequently specify a dress code in their college calendars or on their websites as part of their code of conduct. The dress regulation of an elite women’s college run by Catholic sisters read as follows: ‘Students are expected to dress modestly. Tights, minis, flimsy clothes, short tops, sleeveless and deep necklines will not be allowed.’8 In the Catholic College, girls wore only the salwar kameez accompanied by a shawl. There was no explicit restriction on girls and boys interacting but they were watched and, as time spent on campus was highly structured, personal interactions were limited mainly to the lunch break. The manager’s task was not confined to enforcing order among the students. He expressed his suspicion that the staff and teachers were shirking their responsibilities. He had his ways of getting information about them. There were students, he said, through whom he kept track of classroom discipline and teaching. He was sharply critical of trade unions saying that they encouraged shirking. The management also ran self-financing colleges adjacent to the aided college. ‘In the self-financing sector, I will make them work and will pay them only if they work. Everybody knows this. I will ensure they work well. In the aided segment, we are not fully in control.’ He blamed the state protection accorded to the aided sector for making way for politics, which, according to him, spelt the death of a ‘work culture’. To promote a work culture, he had planned to introduce biometric punching in the college (he had already introduced it in a self-financing college under his management which was located adjacent to the aided college). His office was already fitted with cameras. Before I went to New York, I had introduced the system here. When it is early morning in New York, it is 3.00 p.m. here. I woke up early, got connected and then called the office. I asked the person who picked up why Molly was not at her desk. Then they realized, wherever I am, using this camera I can watch what is going on here. He told us of his plan to install cameras in the office of the aided college during the coming vacation. Surveillance such as this was expected to strengthen his hand and thus enable the college to provide quality higher education. The students had invested time and resources in education ‘if they do not get jobs then it is useless, a waste of time’. To the manager, there was no place for politics in education and it is the task of education and not of politics to mould the next generation of citizens, who according to him should be characterized by their productive capacity and their responsibility to successfully provide for families. The manager’s views go to suggest that state protection provides perverse incentives that breed irresponsibility as against which surveillance could keep politics at bay and ensure greater commitment to the education process. Since the High Court judgment, however, the social environment in Kerala has turned perceptibly hostile to student politics.9 But not all private managements


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are able to rid their campuses of political activities even with the support of successive court judgments. The Principal of a Catholic mission college, under a corporate management, pointed out that the student organizations routinely indulged in acts of violence but the college had not prohibited political activities. According to the principal, ‘[w]e do not want to face an agitation as we do not have the local support necessary to overcome it’ (interview, June 2009). The Nair Service Society management banned politics in 2007, after a policeman was killed in a clash between ABVP and SFI cadres on one of its campuses.10 The NSS College where I did fieldwork had been unable to enforce prohibition and a stalemate endured with the student organizations refusing to constitute the students union in the parliamentary mode.

Strategies of control under ‘capture’ A few hundred metres from the gate of the Government College is a board announcing that ragging is prohibited in the college, signed not by the principal, not even by the students’ union, which is an elected body of student representatives that is part of the governance structure in the college, but by the unit committee of the SO; that is, the highest level of the organization’s structure in the college and the lowest level of the federated structure of the state organization. This is a small but significant indication of who exercises regulatory authority in the college. The Government College is a case of an SO with a full-blown monopoly and there had been few overt threats to the SO’s status as the only student organization in the college in the past three decades. The unit committee of the SO oversees discipline and has committees at the department level to act against any lapse from its writ. It wields disciplinary power in the institutional sense of setting the norms of personal conduct in the Government College and in the everyday sense of producing order. Students referred to activists of the SO as ‘leaders’ (nethakanmar) and to the SO interchangeably by its name, as the union or as the unit committee. When a student said, ‘I am in the SO’, it meant an active involvement; that is, a position within the committee structure or in the union. As against this, all students were expected to take membership in the SO, hence membership per se carried little meaning. For instance, a student referred to enrolment in the SO derisively as the ‘two-rupee membership’. ‘I was in the SO, so I know about this. In your own locality you may be working for another party. Because there is a rule like this here, you have no choice but to take the tworupee membership.’ But students do not necessarily experience compulsory enrolment as a violation.11 We are all in the first year then. Even if we do not know anything about the party, we feel an enthusiasm when we hear it’s the party. So we take membership. It’s only membership, not party work or anything like that. I don’t know anything about those things nor am I interested.

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Here being in politics is not viewed as entailing any specific form of awareness. The SO’s exercise of authority ranged from dictating what was the appropriate dress code for students, defining the boundaries of personal interactions, forceful mobilization of students for blood donation and for public demonstrations or hauling students out of classrooms to participate in the weekly ‘show of strength’ within the college. Kala, who was one of only six women members of the 26-member SFI unit on the campus, explained the SO’s approach to discipline on campus: This campus to speak of it is an anti-ragging campus. Because of that seniors do not tease juniors. Then we have said you cannot wear vulgar dresses, those things that we think are good for their future. We say this without invoking the senior–junior relation, with affection, in a friendly way. The union has given an ultimatum that there should be no ragging. And that is how things are here. The freedom that is necessary for students, the union gives them that. Unnecessary freedom will do harm, they have said. If a person from outside sees a girl and boy sitting together and talking, that person could interpret it in many ways. So if they sit and talk for a long time we will tell them off, nicely not harshly. Kala’s claim that the SO exercised benign authority over a wide expanse of personal freedoms evokes paternalism even as she throws into confusion civil and political rights and their infringements stringing together seamlessly ragging, specific kinds of clothing and personal interactions between boys and girls under the label of ‘unnecessary freedoms’. Her rationalization reveals how legally binding injunctions such as against ragging may have been channelled into providing legitimacy for surveillance. Students and teachers justified surveillance by the SO repeatedly invoking the need to contain problems such as ragging or drug abuse. Kala said: If you go to other colleges you will see, people driving vehicles after removing the silencer, smoking, using drugs – many things like that. But because of our college union’s continuous interventions this has become a drug-free campus. Very rarely do people from outside manage to enter this campus. If people who are not studying or working in this college come here, the union will pay particular attention. If they spend some time and are moving around, the union will ask what their business is. They [the union] are doing a lot of good things here. Here surveillance is instrumental in producing order though we can see that the SO usurps the position of the administration to decide who may have access to the campus. The views of student activists resonated with the views of a section of students and teachers in the college. Rani, a teacher, the coordinator of the women’s cell, commended the SO for checking expressions of personal intimacy between boys and girls on campus. Here she narrates an


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incident where she had censured a student couple for being together because it would send the wrong message to an outsider: I said, I know both of you so it is not awkward but to an unfamiliar parent who sees this, this is very awkward. There will be a big misunderstanding. But I said, I will not object if you are in love, I will accept it. But you are not of an age where you can proceed in life. So study. After some time if you come back married, I will be happy. That is what I said. I did not object to that even. I asked him, are you serious or is it just the dirty business. Rani justifies social morality suggesting that flouting it is akin to unlawful conduct. She went on to commend the role of the SO in curbing such ‘unhealthy relationships’. A newly recruited young philosophy teacher credited the SO’s vigilantism with the fact that students from this college did not elope unlike the women’s college she studied in, pointing out approvingly that the SO was alert and a warning from them was sufficient to deter students from such acts. In the Government College, the SO which had seized the space of the administration was not unlike the management of the Catholic College, which was at the forefront of enforcing discipline. But unlike the Catholic College management which was accountable for its actions, the SO’s exercise of regulatory authority was informal. Students in the Government College were acutely aware of stipulations regarding the appropriate dress code or gender segregation in open spaces in the college. Girls in the Government College were uniformly attired in the trademark salwar kameez though there was no formal prohibition by the college authorities against other forms of attire. A group of teachers suggested that it was most plausibly because most of the students were from rural and not so affluent backgrounds hence they were less likely to use ‘Western’ attire. But students revealed otherwise. One morning, as I waited to meet a teacher, a group of girls all wearing the trademark salwar kameez trooped out of the department after collecting their hall tickets for the upcoming examinations. I asked a girl who was seated close to me why girls of the college did not wear other kinds of attire. ‘We are not allowed to wear anything else’, she replied. I was aware that there was no written injunction against any form of attire so I sought to probe how students came to know this. I asked, does the principal or some other authority declare this in a meeting or do the teachers reprimand girls who come in other kinds of attire. ‘Oh no’, she replied, ‘the leaders go on rounds and if they see a girl in jeans, they will go up to her and say, “Don’t try to be modern, dress neatly”.’ To dress ‘neatly’ meant to wear the salwar kameez with a shawl draped across the chest and over the shoulder. In the absence of codified rules information circulated discreetly. A girl pointed out that ‘There are restrictions on many things.… When I came here I heard, don’t use jeans. I have heard that the union is against boys and girls mixing together. When we sit together like that, they have come and threatened

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us.’ Girls said they had learnt about restrictions from their seniors, their classmates or because they were chastened by the ‘leaders’. Surveillance was rendered visible also from the perspective of those who recognized and resented it. Salma, a teacher who was in the principal’s chair on the day I met to her, spoke agitatedly about how the SO maintained supremacy on this campus through intimidation of students, which included violent suppression of dissent. As she spoke, the office worker who was stationed outside the door kept intruding. One such time, when he had just exited the room, she broke off the narration, gestured towards the door said, ‘Have you noticed the way he strides in and out of the room.… He is a spy. He has been told to watch what goes on here and to report to them [to the student leaders].’ The feeling of being watched was not novel to Salma teacher; her narration merely underlined its eerie character. The SO was believed to use its network on campus including its supporters and adherents among the staff to watch over the campus. However, order had very different connotations here, especially when compared with the Catholic College. In the Government College, while there was stringent moral policing, students did not feel any compulsion to attend class. During class hours, boys are ubiquitous in the open spaces on campus, roaming around or hanging out in small groups but the girls when they are not in the classrooms could be seen crowded together around the common room allotted to them. In a group discussion, a male student pointed out that they deliberately avoided attending the classes of teachers who came ill prepared. ‘They think however they teach they will get their salaries.… We cut that type of class and roam around outside. Girls cannot roam outside, so they tolerate it [the class].’ A female classmate added that when they cut classes, it was only possible to go to the waiting room. ‘If we came out and are seen talking to the boys, then because the union people will interfere and it will make the problems worse so it’s the waiting room for us.’ Barriers to interaction between students at different levels – seniors and juniors, girls and boys or students of different departments – served to mute resistance to the SO and contributed to its stranglehold. This is not to suggest that students do not speak to one another across these divides. There was a discreet flow of information that ensured that restrictions on personal freedoms were made known to students but interactions were subject to clear limits. A group of English literature students had learnt to their cost that sustained conversations of the kind that led to joint initiatives could be detected through the web of surveillance and nipped in the bud. This group had made an effort to form a drama club which, according to them, was intended to create social capital and improve their creative skills. Harish was part of this group. When we came here there was very little interaction between students. Mingling between classes and cooperation was very little. The reason is the union. They will not allow any of that. They are afraid. If there is good mingling, the students may turn against them. They fear that.


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Harish explained that initially only students from their class were involved. ‘A drama club is not just a place to stage a drama. We knew the students in our class are at different levels mentally and socially. To strengthen their capabilities, that was another reason for starting this club.’ They changed its profile to a literature club in order to accord greater importance to the need to develop communication skills. With guidance from some teachers, the club grew and students from many departments expressed interest in joining it. Some departments even tried to copy it. We were happy. It was working well; that was when the union people messed it up. They spread a canard that in the name of the literature club we are involved in a conspiracy. They frightened many students and made them withdraw. Harish said the principal buckled under pressure from the union. He recalled the principal saying. ‘You have come here to study. Study and go. Don’t divert your attention to anything else.’ A fledgling effort to advance a critique of politics, the drama club’s fate also shows the threat perception of the SO to activities that may undermine its ability to dispense patronage. Disruption of communication between different segments of the college contributed to the SO’s ability to maintain its stranglehold in the college. This came to the fore when a senior leader of the Left teachers’ organization in the college sought to rationalize forceful mobilization of students by the SO for public demonstrations. Most students who come here do not wish to join agitations. If they learn of it, they will not come. The organization forces them. During a UDF government they may strike against the police, there is no assurance that they will come back.… There are demands from parents also. Influential parents can act on their demands. These are poor parents and politically they belong to the same group even so they do not like it. The SO is a democratic organization. They have committees in the departments and hold department meetings where students raise their issues like loss of classes. Whatever people outside may say, SO is very well organized. Even we refer to them when we need something. If I want all the students to attend a meeting, it is better I approach the unit committee. If I ask the students directly, they may not come … the students listen to them more than they listen to us. We should be making use of them. The significance of the SO, that it served as a bridge between students and teachers, is possible here not because it represented the interests of students but because it could use force to ensure that students comply with its dictates. Aware of the SO’s use of coercion, this teacher is at pains to justify it in terms of its organizational structure and its network. He shows unmistakably how it is through the fragmentation of students, which the SO fosters systematically, and

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not through its associational character that the SO is transformed into an effective channel of communication. Not surprisingly, SO offers no space for criticism even internally as Anu, a political science student who had served on the unit committee and was passionate about politics, discovered. She chose to join the Government College having heard about the SO being a dominant force but grew critical of the methods used by the SO, especially the use of coercion. On one occasion she publicly criticized the unit committee for forcefully mobilizing students for a public demonstration that she says had been very ‘successful’ because of the large student turnout. As a result she was sidelined by the organization. During the year that she was active in the organization, she had suggested that the unit committee should organize ‘study classes’ and provide a context of ideas for their political activity on the campus. The idea was shot down, she says, as ‘outdated’. She recalled being told that ‘today even the CPM is not like that. We need practical politics. Students must be directly exposed to practical politics. That is how we make them political.’ Practical politics emerges as a useful metaphor for the predicament of student politics in the Government College for the SO advanced protests, demonstrations and the everyday violence of surveillance as the very practice of politics. Thus student politics in the Government College provided little space for political education. The imposition of conventional social morality suppressed the conditions necessary for generating awareness of power relations in everyday life. Devoid of an environment that could foster political consciousness, students experienced student politics either as benign paternalism or as highly oppressive and depoliticizing.

Disciplining with gender The exercise of monopoly power by the SO in the Government College illustrates vividly how normative gender at the service of student politics seeks to beget adherence to a heterosexual-marriage complex and to reproduce patriarchy relations in everyday life. The manner in which the SO curbed personal freedoms – by imposing a dress code or preventing the development of personal relationships – closely resembled the exercise of familial patriarchy authority. In group discussions, students explained that the dress code was imposed as a part of the normal gender socialization in the college. Girls concurred that when they were in their first year in college, the seniors and union members had told them that girls must wear only ‘respectable clothes’ because it was ‘our culture’. Mehrin, who participated in one of the group discussions, had been an activist in the SO. She explained that attire is part of the larger ensemble of discipline that girls must observe if they want to protect themselves in the face of the increasing prevalence of sexual harassment. Fifty per cent is not in our control. Now when the three of us girls go, we will hear plenty of comments. If one of us wears a vulgar dress, the


P. Kodoth vulgarity of the comments will increase. So if we behave badly, people will comment. If they comment when we behave respectably, then we can protest.

Mehrin uses the familiar justification for punishing a girl for defying social morality but also seeks to delegitimize a girl’s right to protest against infringements of personal freedoms unless she submits to the prevailing morality. Mehrin went on to say that being co-educational, the Government College presented grave dangers for girls who had not been exposed to such an environment before. The SO maintained that its vigilance was directed at protecting girls from coming to harm. Mehrin described the kind of harm that girls were exposed to by narrating an incident where a girl became entangled in a messy relationship and was forced to leave the college. This girl had hung out with a group of friends and through them met a boy from outside the college. The boy developed an interest in her and the girl continued meeting him though she had claimed that she was not interested in a relationship. According to Mehrin, her friends led her on saying that ‘this is just time-pass’. But things took a serious turn when the boy, unable to cope with his emotions, ‘cut his vein at a public place, the stadium, and made a scene’. The girl who was exposed to adverse publicity following this incident had told Mehrin that she was left with no choice but to discontinue her education. Reflecting on this incident Mehrin said, ‘When you say you are from this college, love is easy, isn’t it?’ If apparently girls from all girls’ schools lack the socialization necessary to interact with boys without coming to harm, Mehrin explained that gender socialization in a co-educational setting allowed girls to ‘know’ what is on a boy’s minds and to ‘protect’ themselves. Thus, as within a patriarchal perspective, girls are perceived as constantly under threat of being preyed upon. Like the patriarchal family, the SO inserts itself into this space as the patriarchal protector of young unmarried girls. The SO’s strictures against personal freedoms go to the very core of the problem of student politics, their failure to distinguish civil and political rights from patriarchal forms of ‘protection’ in a family or community. The positioning of the SO as a benign patriarchal authority underlines the fears of permissive sexual relations that could breach the heterosexual-marriage complex. This was underlined in Kala’s assertion in the previous section that ‘unnecessary freedoms’ do harm to students and that the SO chastens students ‘nicely not harshly’ as well as in Mehrin’s reference to ‘easy love’ which tied up neatly with Rani’s strictures against ‘dirty business’. Gender norms positioned girls and boys very differently with respect to their ability to exercise personal freedoms but also spawned a distinct form of vulnerability for boys. Boys were not prevented from hanging out in the open spaces on campus and did not have to comply with a dress code but suffered much more than girls from forceful mobilization for protests and demonstrations especially when they were likely to stretch beyond working hours. Boys were had been forced by the SO to donate blood. A charitable activity like

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blood donation, for which the college had earned high praise and awards in the preceding years, was ironically a source dispute about the methods used by the SO to mobilize volunteers. In group discussions, boys vented their frustrations in having to comply with the organization’s demands. They who do not allow us to think independently, they who say big, big things, it is they who go on protests. Those who suffer the most are the boys because they force the boys to go for everything (ellathinum vilicheerakki kondupokum). There is blood donation. They take us forcefully for that. They come here [to the classroom] and say, ‘You have to give blood. Quickly leave for the hospital.’ Then they forcefully put us into an auto and take us. If we say our HB count is low or that only last week we gave blood, they will not let us off. When we reach the hospital, we inform the doctor and they let us go. An older teacher expressed surprise at how often requests were made in the six months she had spent in the college. She said she had noticed that when someone came looking for donors, students would shrink in their seats and avoid his eyes. She also expressed displeasure at how students were mobilized. If a student is taken away from my class for blood donation and then nothing is heard about him, it will be known that he was in my class before he left the college. This is not how it should be done. In other colleges such requests would have to get the sanction of the principal. Girls were able to manipulate gender norms to their advantage and use restrictions on their mobility to evade forceful mobilization. A girl from the Malayalam department pointed out: For us time is a big factor. Many of us travel a long distance to get here. If it’s late when they come looking for a person [to donate blood], we can’t go. We say so and they leave us alone. But the boys can’t use such excuses. The reason being even if the boys get home late, it is not a problem after all. Aware that the SO would be reluctant to use physical force against them, girls had room to manoeuvre. Girls had expressed their resentment against forceful mobilization directly and openly. A girl from the Zoology department spoke of how she had defied the SO. Students come to ask for a particular blood group. They mean to ask us for a favour. But if you hear them you will not think so. They don’t make a request. We like donating blood but get angry when we hear the way the SFI speaks. They [the student leaders] will say, ‘dai (hey you), we need A+ blood’ [to the SFI worker]. The whole situation changes when the budding comrade who hears this sets out [to find a volunteer]. They act as if


P. Kodoth they have just received some power. They do not respect anybody. It is because of this that we say ‘no’ looking right into their faces.

Boys bore the brunt of defiance of the SO’s strictures. Clement underlines how punishment by the SO was fashioned in the ways of familial patriarchy. Clement introduced himself as a rebel saying he chose to study English literature in order strengthen his ability to think independently. He said the SO spread the word that parents would object to more liberal gender relations on campus as a ruse. ‘It is the student leaders who think that if a girl and boy talk they will lose their way [a euphemism for flouting sexual morality].’ Having been beaten up and vilified for openly defying the SO, Clement asked, ‘Do we have the freedom to fall in love? Even if a boy and girl are just talking to each other they will be warned and if possible malicious gossip will be floated about them, such is our society.’ He illustrated how the SO sought to isolate and marginalize defiant students by branding them as of dubious character. They come to collect money from us without even telling us why.… At first, it was when we were sitting in class that they used to pull us out and force us go. I don’t give money nor do I join the protests. For that they got together once and beat me up. Then they spread the word that I was a useless fellow, told girls not to speak to me and said that I am someone who promotes free sex. I am a marked person (notapulli) for them. Vilification of defiant students in sexual terms is instructive. It could occur irrespective of gender. A girl pursuing a degree in political science who fell out with the SO was labelled a prostitute.12 The SO tried to implicate her in a case of ragging and backed off only because she threatened to approach the Women’s Commission. Young women could, if they were bold enough and had sufficient support structures, use the increased legal infrastructure against violence against women. But most of the girls we spoke to feared adverse publicity, which could potentially end their hopes of a higher education because it harms their marriage prospects. The strategy of vilification of students in sexual terms affirmed the SO’s investment in a marriage-centred social morality. In an oppressive social milieu where open defiance could invite physical violence and vilification, boys and girls were left to negotiate freedoms either by accessing or manipulating spaces within conventional social morality.

The predicament of student politics Prohibition of politics on college campuses is based on the perspective that political activity is inimical to the education process, which openly refutes the need for associational freedom on campus. Student organizations have hitherto resisted this view but their practice of politics informs that they have contributed to shaping political awareness. Under the scenarios of prohibition and capture, the suppression of political space was a pre-condition for the establishment of

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‘order’ irrespective of who enforced discipline – a college administration or a student organization. But the similarities went further into the manner of exercise of power through surveillance and the adoption of an idiom of familial patriarchal authority to restrict personal freedoms on campuses. The social context in Kerala resonates with renewed aspirations of people for better livelihoods across social and economic divides and the public has increasingly grown restive about student politics. Are political parties feeling the pressure to rein in a monster of their own making? On 11 April 2014, the UDF government assured the High Court, through an affidavit, that it would take additional measures to see that discipline was maintained on campuses.13 On the other side of the political divide, E.P. Jayarajan, a member of the CPM central committee and an MLA, caused a stir by urging student organizations to eschew a politics based on the disruption of education. Claiming that fee rise which had been the focus of past struggles was rendered irrelevant by changes in the general economic circumstances of society, Jayarajan outlined new goals for student organizations. Government should enable students to hold political views and provide them the freedom to engage in political activities. Caste, religion, class, these lunacies should not been given space on campuses. The expansion of education should become the goal. The priorities of student movements must change. They must be able to inspire a student society that achieves high scientific temper and thinking and to encourage artistic and sport talent. A practice of politics having become the tail of some political party, this must cease. (Jayarajan, 2014; emphasis added)14 This view may signal emerging Left perspectives on education policy and identity politics. The transformation of aspirations in Kerala embodies inherently contradictory impulses – towards the expansion of higher education that carries the possibility of reckless commercialization and the growing demands for justice from the marginalized groups. Student organizations are poorly equipped strategically and politically to engage with these challenges.15 Yet this may be an opportunity for student organizations to initiate a new politics.

Notes 1 The study from which this essay draws material was funded by the Sir Ratan Tata Trust through the Centre for Studies in Culture and Society, Bangalore. I would like to acknowledge able research assistance from G. Rini and Alice Sebastian. 2 Judgment, Sojan Francis v. Mahatma Gandhi University, 25/3/2003. It was upheld against appeal in Kerala Students Union v. Sojan Francis and others (2) KLT 378, Order, 20February 2004. 3 There is a sense that students are out of sync with politics on campuses growing increasingly indifferent or hostile to it (Menon, 2012). The repeated resort to judicial intervention to restrain student organizations is one indication (Council of Principals’


4 5


7 8 9



12 13

14 15

P. Kodoth of … v. State of Kerala on 24 June, 2004; S.N.M. College v. S.I. of Police on 15 December 2006). Fifteen college managements and the principals’ council challenged legally the decision of Calicut University to conduct elections in the presidential format in 2012 as a means to eliminate student organizations (Rajeev, 2012). Judgment, Sojan Francis v. Mahatma Gandhi University, on 25/3/2003, p. 3. Prominent intellectuals Sukumar Azhikode, O.N.V. Kurup, B. Ekbal, K.N. Panikkar and Balamohan Thampi came down strongly on the implications of the judgment (Desabhimani, 2003; Mary, 2003). Expressing strong dissent, Iyer (2003) was confident that it would be recalled. Four colleges were in the private aided sector – a women’s college and a mixed college under Catholic diocese managements, which do not permit political activities on its campus, a college managed by an independent Muslim trust, which had student organizations tied to several of the mainstream political parties and a college managed by the Nair Service Society, a caste organization, that was struggling to enforce a ban on political activities – and two in the government sector – a city-based college where an SO had a monopoly and a rural government college with several student organizations in what is considered a backward region. Fieldwork was conducted in 2009–2010. Interviews with two women students were conducted in 2011. (accessed on 19 May 2010). It is alleged that students have grown indifferent or hostile to politics on campuses (Menon, 2012) even as there has been repeated resort to judicial intervention to restrain student organizations (Council of Principals’ of … v. State of Kerala on 24 June 2004; S.N.M. College v. S.I. of Police on 15 December 2006). Following this the NSS approached the Kerala High Court and received sanction to conduct elections according to the parliamentary system when Calicut University passed an order requiring all affiliating colleges to conduct elections in the presidential format (The Secretary v. University of Calicut, The … on 26 November 2007). A sample survey of students showed that over 85 per cent in the Government College thought that student politics addressed student problems, including issues of discipline within the college as well as issues related to the cost of education, but only 35 per cent thought it raised awareness (Kodoth, 2010: 148). She was a victim of factional conflict between two groups owing to her parents’ allegiance to rival factions. The affidavit was in response to a contempt of court petition filed by a student of the Government Law College, Ernakulam, against the government’s failure to implement the judgment. In it the government declared that student organizations like the SFI, KSU and ABVP are not recognized by any university CCTV cameras that may be used to maintain discipline (The Hindu, 14 April 2014, 27 April 2014). His views have been widely discussed in the Malayalm press with the SFI responding in defence of the use of strikes to protect the interests of student. The response of student organizations to the Lyngdoh committee recommendations underestimates its import. For instance, an SFI leader from Kerala wrote that committee’s comments on politics owed to misuse ‘especially in many north Indian campuses [where] student politics is manifested with muscle and money power’ (Ragesh, 2006) though the committee took note of Kerala and Kolkata as places where political parties prevented candidates not belonging to a particular ideology from contesting the student union elections (GOI, 2006: 46).

References Council of Principals’ of Private Colleges v. State of Kerala. 2004. (2) KLT 995, 24 June. Desabhimani. 2003. ‘Widespread protest against stricture against college politics’, 29 May.

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Government of India (GOI). 2006. Report of the Committee constituted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, as per the Direction of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India to frame guidelines on the Students’ Union Elections in Colleges/ Universities. New Delhi: Ministry of Human Resource Development. Iyer, Krishna. 2003. ‘A case for campus politics,’ Frontline, 20(14), 5 July. Jayarajan, E. P. 2014. ‘Disruption of education should not be an organization’s goal: don’t look away from change’, Malayala Manorama, 19 July. Kerala Students Union v. Sojan Francis and others. 2004. (2) KLT 378, Order, 20 February. Kodoth, Praveena. 2010. Globalisation and Higher Education in Kerala: Access, Equity and Quality, Report submitted to the Sir Ratan Tata Trust. Mary, John. 2003. ‘Politics in Peril: Emotions spill over after the HC rules that colleges can ban political activity’, Outlook, 23 June. Menon, A. 2012. ‘Politics? Sorry, not interested’, The Hindu, 12 July. Ragesh, K. K. 2006. ‘Lyngdoh Committee recommendations and the inevitability of student politics’, People’s Democracy, 30(49), 3 December. Rajeev, K. R. 2012. ‘Majority of Calicut University colleges give cold shoulder to campus politics’, Times of India, 30 September. Sojan Francis v. Mahatma Gandhi University. 2003. Judgment of the Kerala High Court, 26 May. Available online at S.N.M. College v. S.I. of Police. 2006. (1) KLT 282, 15 December. Sreejan, B. 2014. SFI to step up college autonomy protest despite past compromises, The Times of India, 13 January. St Berchman’s College. 2007. Changanassery: a profile, Changanassery. St Teresa’s College. 2010. Available online at (accessed 19 May 2010). The Hindu. 2014. ‘Supreme Court frowns on rising campus violence: student unions have a role in this, says judge’, 14 June. The Hindu. 2014. ‘Government firm on campus politics ban’, 27 April. The Hindu. 2014. ‘Kerala will ban campus politics: HC told by state government’, 14 April.


Public and private dichotomy An empirical insight into the university governance in India1 Chetan Singai

Indian higher education has witnessed unprecedented growth in the last few decades. The expansion in higher education is impressive, but the system is exposed to unique challenges and opportunities. Universities in India have evolved over time into diverse typologies enabling equally diverse functions and priorities because of its institutional diversity and the heterogeneity of students and teachers associated with the universities. However, the rhetoric of world-class universities has posed new challenges to these institutions to sustain their ‘unique’ characteristics against common ‘benchmarks’ for the world ranking. Under this structural change, this chapter examines the core idea(s), functions and objectives of the system and its constituent entity, namely universities. The complex typology of universities with a diverse set of objectives and prioritization of their functions has enabled a system which is characterized with ‘significant islands of excellence – and the system overall is a sea of mediocrity’ (Altbach, 2014). But the reform strategies aiming at expansion, equity and excellence have transformed the foundations of the Indian higher education system and its institutions (Tilak, 2013). The priorities and interpretations of these ideals became the base for studying higher education. This chapter captures such shifts in the governance structures of the university system in response to these changing conceptions. The university since its inception has evolved into complex structures, resulting in a series of changes in its form (public or private), functions (teaching, research and service) and impact (individual, social and economic). Given such transformation, academic engagement with the idea of the university remains limited hitherto. According to Naidoo (2007), the university is under-theorised, and the existing theorisation suffer from two contrasting defects: either the university is imagined as an institution that is essentially determined by the external environment: as cultural or scientific superstructure that rests on something more fundamental, such as the market and the state. Or the university is imagined as a closed system, its disciplinary cultures insulated from external environment/social forces. Today ‘universities suffer from poor governance, insufficient autonomy and often perverse incentives’ (Aghion et al. 2007: 101). Governance is defined as ‘system by which decisions are taken (or not taken) at the system and/or institutional levels, which covers the bodies concerned, their

Public and private dichotomy


composition and competences, and the formal as well as actual decision-making processes’ (Jayasuriya, 2001:1 5). In the university system, it is ‘based upon a separation of powers among its faculty, administrators, and legislative bodies. This separation of power is the university’s central organizing idea and the universities version of an unwritten constitutional principle’ (Pardy, 2007: 373). Governance in the university encompasses the internal and the external environments, and the intersection between the inner world of the university and the larger milieu in which it exists (Marginson and Considine, 2000; Salter and Tapper, 2000; Ordorika, 2003). The internal environment is the cultural, social and organizational foundation and processes of the university and the socio-cultural profile of the agents (students, faculty, administrators and so on) and their negotiations that persist within the university set-up. The external environment is the influence of the local, regional/state, market, national and international domain. It is necessary to understand how universities operate and change, not in isolation, but as they interact with and are influenced by the outside world. Decisive reforms towards excellence, equity and expansion have transformed the Indian higher education system and its institutions, particularly in the last two decades. The shifts in the profile of these ideals could be attributed to changes in the meaning and practice of governance across several types of universities and vice-versa. The ideals of reforms, the governance strategies and their actual practices in universities are deeply intertwined. There exist expertise and experience in examining these reforms at the national, regional and international level. However, the insider’s view about governance is hardly known; that is, empirical studies at the level of the university to understand the response to these reforms. Studies have observed that universities’ internal governance structures are reflective of the external political and economic environment in which universities function. This chapter presents empirical insights on the shifts in the policy ideals, meaning and practices of university governance in the public state university (University-I) and private-deemed university (University-II) in the state of Karnataka, as the case in point. Along with the transformation of the idea of the university, the discourse of the public and the private has witnessed a conceptual transformation in education. The ‘public’ meant public schools constituted by the people and today it is associated with the state and/or government as the ‘new’ public. Traditionally, the concept of ‘private’ included the individual, personal or the family; today we engage in the concept of market or absence of state and/or government as representation of private or ‘new’ private, providing a clear dichotomy between ownership and responsibility. The privately run professional colleges, popularly known as self-financing or ‘capitation fee’ colleges (Tilak, 1997), had set a new trend in the southern states of India, pioneering a revolution in the private sector. Despite their active presence in education, these institutions have suffered in their expansion and growth because of the hurdles they encountered from their respective affiliated universities (Varghese, 2015). To overcome these limitations, many of them


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sought the status of the deemed-to-be university from the University Grants Commission (UGC). Now the private-deemed universities have emerged as one of the popular institutions in terms of their outgrowth which caters to two-thirds of total enrolment in higher education (AISHE, 2017).

The idea of the public state university The public state university (hereafter state university) means the type of universities that are established by an act of the state legislature and hence governed by their respective State Universities Acts. In the state of Karnataka, the Karnataka State Universities Act, 2000 has laid down statutory provisions for the powers and functions of the actors and the university. In the past, universities were elite institutions providing access to the privileged. With limited access, the universities emerged as homogeneous entities with learners and teachers representing a certain section of society. As a result, any change was gradual and not disruptive as such. In the last few decades, universities have expanded and the clientele is heterogeneous, representing a wider spectrum of society. The ‘publicness’ of the erstwhile ‘elite’ universities is an outcome of an increased number of public universities and gradual backing from the government. Such is the scenario in most of the developing societies in the global south, including Brazil and China (Carnoy et al., 2013). In India, the National Policy on Education of 1986 states that the universities should be ‘open for all’, with special provisions for the marginalised sections of the society. It underlines roles of the state and society to perceive higher education, not as a burden on federal budgets but as a long-term domestic investment for economic prosperity, cultural development and social cohesion. Public universities in India are characterized by myriad types and exhibited as specialized research institutions – Institutes of National Importance viz., Indian Institute of Technologies (IITs) and Indian Institute of Management (IIMs); Public Deemed Universities like the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru followed by Central Universities. However, the majority of them are state universities, engaged in teaching, research and extension, with teaching being the major component. Most of the state universities are ‘affiliating universities’; there are about 310 such affiliating universities in India, and 25 in the state of Karnataka (AISHE, 2016). The affiliating university model is based on the University of London, wherein there is a central campus for the postgraduate studies and research with several affiliated colleges spread across the stipulated jurisdiction of the university by regulatory bodies. Affiliating universities provide academic and administrative support to colleges under their jurisdiction. Scholars and experts in the field of higher education suggest that the ‘ills’ of higher education can be attributed to the system of affiliation. While the system of affiliation ensures effective outreach to the learners and standardized teaching and learning processes set by the affiliating university, the system has a few challenges. Most of the state universities have approximately 200 colleges affiliated to them. The

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affiliated colleges have common syllabi and examination systems. Coordinating syllabi and examinations is the most important administrative function of the state university, vis-à-vis other teaching, research and extension functions. Policy-makers devised the affiliating model to regulate and standardize the quality of education in colleges. As a matter of fact, with the tremendous increase in the number of colleges, and lack of proportionate increase in the state universities, the affiliation system has become counterproductive. Studies have analysed the unprecedented challenges in sustaining the agenda of the state while keeping pace with the changing needs and demands of society (Ministry of Human Resource Development, 2015; Roy, 2015; Heslop, 2014; Chattopadhyay, 2009; Bhushan, 2008). The last few decades have witnessed the entry of private actors, juxtaposed with the monopoly of the government historically. Today, both private and public actors constitute the landscape of higher education, almost on an equal footing. Among several reasons, inadequacy of funding by the state (Tilak, 2008) and growing demand for higher education (Agarwal, 2009) are highlighted for initiating the private sector. Higher education as a public good has sustained the state’s investments, but signalled a limited scope for expansion (Tilak, 1997).

Deemed-to-be-universities in India: a conundrum? While recommending the expansion of the university system, the University Education Commission (1948) shared an idea that the universities of India should be the sites of a new kind of learning and social life. However, in contrast to such ideals, the objectives, scope and governance (management and resource provision) of universities have changed, but the core functioning of universities remains the same – teaching, research and extension, though the priorities across public and private universities differ. In addition to quantitative expansion, the varieties of universities have complicated the higher-education landscape. The UGC Act of 1956 delegates power to the central government to declare by a notification stating that any institution of higher education, other than a university, shall be deemed to be a university for this Act. With such a declaration, all the provisions of this Act shall apply to such institutions as if they were essentially universities under Section 2(f). Paragraph 2 of the UGC guidelines succinctly conveyed the objective of Section 3. It states that: provision has been made in the Act to bring under the purview of the UGC institutions which for historical reasons or for any other circumstances are not universities and yet are doing work of a high standard in specialised academic field comparable to a university and that granting of the status of a university would enable them to further contribute to the cause of higher education which would mutually enrich the institution and the university system.


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Hence, it is important to note that the idea of a deemed university is quite different from other types of universities – state and central universities and private universities. It operates under the purview of the guidelines laid down by the UGC under Section 3, but it has a certain degree of autonomy that other universities seldom have. The public and the private deemed universities, according to the UGC Act, exercise administrative autonomy, autonomy in curriculum and evaluation and awarding degrees:   

Administrative autonomy: The university can set its rules and regulations and not follow the norms of any of the other universities as directed by the UGC. Academic autonomy: Autonomy to design its courses, assessment and methods for imparting education to its students. Autonomy in awarding degrees: The university can award its degrees to its students. Such an opportunity encourages them to increase its ‘brand-value’.

For at least three decades, the government used Section 3 of the Act only in very deserving cases to confer the status of deemed university upon select institutions. Up to 1966, only eight institutions had been notified as deemed universities. Among them were the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi conferred deemed university status in 1958, the Gujarat Vidyapith in Ahmedabad, established in 1920 and conferred deemed university status in 1963, and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, which came into existence in 1936 and was conferred deemed university status in 1964 and so on. Post-independence, as discussed earlier, inclusive education along with the expansion was the core agenda, i.e. appreciating the supply-side of the higher education system. However, the post-liberalisation (post-1990s) phase, policy directives indicate a programme for reform that reflects expansion, equity, and excellence – an elusive triangle – of the higher education system. The proliferation of state-private and private-deemed universities demonstrates one of these directions. The National Policy on Education, 1992 and the Punnayya Committee of 1992–1993 suggested certain solutions to overcome the perceived crisis in higher education - structured by a tension between questions of accessibility and concern for quality. While there is a crisis, there is considerable disagreement about the nature of this crisis and its solutions. The privatisation and ‘democratization’ of higher education were perceived to be as one of the potential solution to the crisis along with reforms in the education management processes within the university. As a result of this proliferation of Private Universities and Government and Private Deemed Universities has been the order of the day post-1990s. Policy towards privatisation not only increases the growth and scope of privately funded deemed universities, but there is growing diversification of

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Deemed Universities across specific subject areas (Planning Commission, 2012). These institutions have expanded the base of higher education in the country and are offering education and research facilities in various disciplines such as Medical Education, Physical Education, Fisheries Education, Languages, Social Sciences, Population Sciences, Dairy Research, Forest Research, Armament Technology, Maritime Education, Yoga, Music and Information Technology, etc. (Planning Commission, 2012: 45) Though the 11th Five-year plan (2007–2012) indicated that the selected Deemed Universities should be provided grants for infrastructure development, it has underlined an appropriate balance in the number of state-supported universities and privately managed deemed universities. Despite many challenges regarding the status of the deemed-to-be-universities, the private deemed universities are popular among the aspirants since they provide current curriculum, in many cases, the entry requirements have been relaxed for prospective students availing ‘payment’ or ‘management’ quota by-passing the entrance tests (if any). Further, these institutions offer state-of-the-art infrastructure along with almost hundred percent job placement. However, with limited or no scholarships available in these universities unlike in the state universities, enrolment in the private institutes witnessed phenomenal growth, because of increasing preference amongst educational aspirants, in the last decade. Between the 1990s to 2017, 79 private deemed universities and 33 government deemed universities have been established or conferred the status by the UGC (AISHE, 2017). Moreover, during the 12th Five-year plan (2012–2017), enrolment in private higher education institutions was higher (12.8 million) than public institutions (8.9 million). The government saw in Section 3 a possibility to provide autonomy in the higher education sector in the guise of establishing and conferring deemed university status to colleges engaging in quality teaching, research, and service. Hence, the novel intention of Parliament in enacting Section 3 – to confer deemed university status on higher education institutions was diluted considerably (Venkatesan, 2009). Deemed university status enables greater autonomy in operations, syllabus, admission, and fees than allowed by the UGC for other types of universities. They were eligible to seek funds from the UGC. Jurisdiction of deemed universities was Pan-India and worldwide with certain conditions laid out by the UGC. For example, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani has an offshore campus in Dubai. The private deemed universities, are owned by family-led trusts, have unlimited freedom to determine their fee structure, expansion and the size of the capitation fee they seek from students. Though the UGC provides statutory support for such practices, this often becomes a potential source for profit making. The rapid expansion and diversification of


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teaching programmes under this sector, and the exploitation through charging exuberant fees, have raised serious concerns. The conundrum ‘All is not well’ with private deemed universities in India, maintains the Committee for Review of Existing Institutions Deemed to be Universities (2009), popularly known as the Tondon Committee report, while examining malpractice. The findings of the committee indicated the gross violations in the governance structure of the university sounded like ‘undesirable management architecture’ – where families rather than professional academics controlled the functioning of institutions. Several agencies were engaged in the thoughtless introduction of unrelated programmes and the proliferation of degrees beyond the mandate of the original terms of the grant of deemed-to-be-university status under the UGC Act. It also found very little evidence of outstanding efforts by some institutions regarding evolving areas of education and research. With the notable exception of some publicly funded institutions, very few institutions could produce evidence of ‘quality’ research regarding publications in leading high-impact journals in respective fields. In addition to this, some of these universities had inadequate infrastructure for the minimal functions of the university – teaching, research, and extension. The committee raised concerns about the overall academic culture and intent among actors in the University – lack of commitment towards research, and irresponsible exercise of power about admission, intake-capacity, programmes, and fee structure was found to be other attributes of such institutions. In several institutions, undergraduate and postgraduate programmes had been fragmented with concocted nomenclatures. Further, many private deemed universities have prescribed fee structures considerably higher than those recommended by the official fee structure committees. The Tondon Committee (2009) has highlighted the Issues on quality, performance and exclusionary practices which challenged the integrity of the UGC having engaged in malpractices in conferring private colleges/ institutions as deemed-to-be-university or deemed university status. The structure, function, and processes of the deemed university were discussed in Section 5 of the UGC (Institutions Deemed to be Universities Regulations, 2010) which lays down certain rules for governance. Some of the key criteria suggested by the UGC are: (1) among the authorities of the university, there shall be a Chancellor who shall be appointed by the sponsoring Society or the Trust. He/she shall be an eminent educationist or a distinguished public figure other that the President of the sponsoring Society or his/her close relatives; (2) there shall be no position of Pro-Chancellor(s); (3) the highest governing body of the Deemed University shall be a Board of Management, to be headed by the Vice Chancellor or a distinguished academic with minimum of 10 members;

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(4) The Board of Management shall be independent of the Trust/Society with full autonomy to perform its academic and administrative responsibilities. The number of nominee of the trust/society on the Board of Management shall be limited to a maximum of two; (5) the Board of Management consists of: Vice-Chancellor (Chairperson), Pro Vice-Chancellor, Deans of Faculties not exceeding two (by rotation based on seniority), Three eminent academics as nominated by the Chancellor and one eminent academic to be nominated by the Central Government in consultation with the UGC, two teachers (Professor, Associate) by rotation based on seniority, a nominee of the sponsoring society and the Registrar, as the Secretary. Further, it underlined the guidelines for admission and fees structure: (1) the fee structure for various programmes of study be fixed in accordance with the Fee Regulations framed by the Government or by the Commission; (2) the level of fees being charged for the courses offered shall have a reasonable relation to the cost of running the course; and (3) every institution declared as a Deemed to be University, public or private, shall ensure that there is no commercialisation of education. Further, every such institution shall guarantee equity and access to all deserving students. In addition to governance system and fees structures, the Act lists out criteria for infrastructure facilities within the deemed university by underlining the necessary financial and infrastructural viability for administering and maintaining the institution as deemed-to-be-university. The management, in fact, should contribute it abilities to realise the university ideals by enhancing a tradition of maintaining quality of teaching, research and extension activities.

Methodology As discussed earlier, our attempt here is to examine the governance structure and experiences of the stakeholders in University-I and University-II, to unpack the dichotomy in governance practices and its impact on the stakeholders. Open-ended interviews with administrators, faculty members, students, faculty administrators, alumni and students along with observations during field visits are discussed to develop narratives on expansion, equity and excellence and its interaction with the governance mechanisms. The descriptive analysis followed here and conclusions drawn have provided a detailed account of the university governance of two kinds of institutions: the public and the private deemed-to-be-university. The following section of the chapter illustrates the scenarios of the two sample universities substantiate a point that the idea of university governance


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emanates from the meanings and practices regarding expansion, equity and excellence; the policy ideals being visualised in each of the universities. The actors in a university construct myriad meanings and practices while responding to the authorities and structures which enable an environment of contestations and uncertainty. In fact, reform strategies followed in the last few decades have reshaped the internal dynamics of cultural process and external dynamics of academic process. In the backdrop of the emerging discourses such as ‘new’ public and the ‘new’ private, I examine the intersection of the policy ideals – expansion, equity and excellence.

Expansion and university governance: insights from the ‘field’ Expansion has been a perennial question in the policy circle in the educational field since Independence. To begin with, the Kothari Commission (1968) envisaged ‘a direct link between education, national development and prosperity which we have emphasized and in which we deeply believe, exists only when the national system of education is properly organized, both qualitatively and quantitatively’ (NCERT, 1971: 7). Similarly, the National Knowledge Commission (2007), recommended creation of 1500 universities across the country by 2015, in order to meet increasing demand in higher education. Policy on expansion is closely associated with democratization of education. Despite we have lengthy policy prescriptions and their structural implications on the state of higher education in the public domain, hardly found empirical evidences to show the internal dynamics of the institutions. The following descriptions give an insider’s account of complex meanings and practices embedded into the governance of the university in both the public and the private institutions. In University-I (the state university), expansion associated with university actors and its governance system are illustrated with multiple aspects which are different from University-II (private-deemed university). For instance, a senior faculty-member of the Social Sciences opined that: The primary function of the state universities is teaching and conducting examinations. Since they have a social responsibility to cater to the majority of the aspirants coming from diverse background and interests, the university’s reach and composition are vast and diverse. This university has seen a massive expansion in terms of students’ enrolment and in several colleges affiliating to this University-In the last few decades.… [t]he practice of affiliation has continued for many years, no administrator or leader is willing to reform the system. A faculty-member, earlier associated with an affiliated college, has expressed that: Affiliation system expands the horizon of the university, as result of this there is an increase in a number of student enrolment, which is good. But

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increasing the horizon via affiliation without rationalizing the impact on university resources is problematic. The university does not want to do away with the affiliation system, because the revenue generated by this system is large and hence one of the main lifelines of the university. Further, a few students currently enrolled in the university expressed their discontent with the unplanned expansion in terms of enrolment by introducing new programmes. For some of them, the university has been facing pressures to increase enrolment in the last few years. The university has taken up massive infrastructure overhaul, to accommodate the increasing enrolment rate. This has led to the creation of more infrastructure such as new classrooms, hostels and laboratories. The student bodies charged that the infrastructure development has reduced the open spaces needed for recreation. In University-I, the objective of expansion means access to education for the first-generation learners. It enables the affiliating colleges as major points of access; generate revenue and expand infrastructure facilities with administrative changes. But, in University-II, expansion was construed as an opportunity to harness its brand for commercial purpose and market expansion in education. It has brought about the link between top management and their commitment towards expansion with excellence. The vice-Chancellor of this university stated that: I have been associated with this university (then it was college) since 1980. The university has expanded from a couple of constituent units to 21 units in the last 15 years. This growth is due to the vision and commitment of our chancellor and other members of the top management and the sense of ownership employees have shown towards this university. The expansion is because of its excellence. Similarly, another officer in the finance department, shared his views about the growth trajectory of the university in the last decade as a ‘transformation’ of the top management of the University. For him: For the last 16 years, the university has undergone rapid transformation. This transformation is visible across all aspects of the university – first, it becomes a University – a private deemed university in 1993. Secondly, the rapid expansion regarding students, faculty and administrative personnel intake was very high and finally the infrastructure and the overall campus development expansion have been very impressive. The top-management … has been very enthusiastic to bring in series of reforms to ensure state-of-the-art infrastructure services, which have been the priority in the university. A few actors within the university expressed their discontent at some of the concerns with such loop-sided expansion, in particular for students. A senior faculty of communication remarks that:


C. Singai According to me there is no doubt, the university has witnessed and is witnessing expansion in terms of student and faculty enrolments and in a number of off-shore campuses, at the same time the leadership could engage actively in ensuring social equity measures, in addition to what it offers.

While sharing his recent experience about changes in the administrative processes in the context of growth, a faculty member of Pharmacy, made an interesting observation: With expansion in the last few years and anticipated expansion in the next few years, the university has become more ‘rule’ bound organisation than ‘principle’ oriented one. Rule and standards are the only way that the university can govern such huge numbers of students and issues related to them. Against this backdrop, it is important to reflect on private university that are driven by the forces of the market, make limited or no attempt to harness social inclusion and equity as such. The emphasis is on ‘managing’ the university and its resources i.e. ‘do more with less’ (Hood, 1991: 5). According to the registrar of the university, ‘the agenda of expansion is not merely internal but external too’. He stated that the success of internationalisation at University-II has been achieved through dedicated and committed leadership of the university which established four international branches and thousands of international students enrolled on the main campus in the state of Karnataka. The expansion is attributed to leadership quality and excellent infrastructure. Such an approach suggests that the expansion in University-II is as a top-down, panoptic and equity insensitive organisation, whereas University-I is reaching out to the ‘un-reached’ especially in the periphery through the affiliating colleges as their mandate, not an overseas enterprise.

Equity and university governance: insights from the ‘field’ Higher education is a field where equal access is hard to define, and policies for equalising access are always contentious. Higher education inherently presupposes accessibility and hence a highly desirable asset as it offers a possibility of social mobility for material and non-material facets in society. Hence, demand for higher education surpasses its supply, very often. Proliferation of private institutions as the result increasing demand could be an implicit justification, but most of these private institutions are ‘elitist’ in their admission policies. There is a need to increase number of public-funded universities, providing access to those who consider higher education critical to ensure social mobility. Private institutions are ensuring another form of ‘discrimination’ because of their entry requirements such as academic-merit, score in entrance test and high fee structure. For more than a few decades there has been a growing concern about the limited opportunities for higher education

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for the socially marginalised and economically deprived sections of the society (Deshpande, 2009). Such marginalization is manifested in: rural and urban disparities; male and female enrolments; economically weaker sections; baffling admission procedures; limited support from the government and moreover lack of social and political sensitization on campuses. Such manifestations of inequity are reflected in public and private universities. As a public institution, University-I is expected to ensure accessibility for students across a wide spectrum of society and its members who are in need of higher education. Such a mandate aligns to the democratic ideals of social justice espoused in the country’s higher education policies. However, mere policy enactments do not achieve these objectives due to ‘complexity of structural issues’, those that are culturally rooted in university structures and processes (Ovichegan, 2015). This is further substantiated by the fact that, stratification in Indian society is reflected in inequalities in education attainment across caste, religion, and ethnic boundaries (Dreze and Sen, 1999) further reflected in institutions of higher learning. Following are some of the insights from one of the oldest state university in the state of Karnataka. It is interesting to note that University-I has students enrolled from various sections of society on campus and in the university’s affiliated colleges (having wider reach) – the marginalised and the mainstream; the urban and the non-urban; the first and the third-generation learner; the haves and have-nots and so on. The dean of the faculty of social sciences of University-I, shared his views on equity as follows: It has been noticed that despite the facilities made available for the students coming from the marginalised communities there is limited enrolment, the problem of excluding them persists, and a large section remains deprived, as a result of social, political, economic and psychological barriers. Also, those who were fortunate to overcome the barriers and sought access to higher education, are still struggling to compete with ‘high achievers’ most of them belonging the mainstream communities of society. Such a problem exists within university structures and the very attitude among the members of the university … here in our university, I have witnessed such loopholes and hence, strongly recommend a complete overhaul of the system and its processes along with the change in the attitude of the members of the university. We need to internalise the meaning and relevance of equity in practice and not merely as an instrument of policy or ‘things-to-do’ for the members of the university. However, some of the narratives from the field signal limitations in ensuring appropriate university governance mechanisms to integrate and/or assimilate the marginalised with the mainstream on campus and in other affiliated institutions. For instance, one student from the faculty of science and technology contends that:


C. Singai Displaying of social affiliations in public constrains the identity associated with specific caste and quota which dismisses the real status being a student or an achiever in the academic field. Our department notice board lists out the names of those students who avail scholarship under the special schemes provided by the government … similar categorization is done in the library while issuing books (book bank) such display of our affiliations often makes us uncomfortable … on the campus.

Discriminations are not just limited to gender or caste but extend to regional and linguistic aspects. A senior faculty of arts exclaimed her experience of discrimination because of her regional affiliation: The caste dynamics and caste-based favouritism within faculty and administrators are very evident here. In addition to this, I have also seen linguistic and regional biases being practiced in this university… I have been exposed to such biases many times. Such experiences can be very demoralizing. The public university, in this case at the level of policy appreciates the importance of inclusivity and outreach. However, myriad meanings and practices amongst the actors within the university suggest nuanced interpretation of equity, within the university. Most of the actors experience exclusion embedded into the overall structures and processes of the university – the inner world of the university. In University-II, the pro-vice-chancellor, while discussing equity, firmly remarked that: In our university there is no reservation policy as such, here we value only merit, in admitting students and in recruitment of faculty-members. In support of what pro-vice-chancellor said, the Registrar of University-II reinforces that: appointment to top administrative positions in the university is based on performance and merit. There is no reservation at all.… Performance is the only criteria … the idea is everybody should get an opportunity to come to such top managerial positions. These remarks are evident that the admission of students, recruitment of faculty and career advancement, merit and performance are the key parameter in University-II. Such an approach echoes the core principles of New Public Management (NPM) i.e., ‘doing more with less’. In other words, the NPM approach demands accountability by the actors at the cost of autonomy, hence, ensuing an outcome and results-oriented university governance system. This aspect is further linked to the issue of excellence, discussed in the subsequent section of this chapter.

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An associate professor of Life Sciences, points out some of his experiences during admission. According to him, irrespective of no reservations or quota for the socially marginalised and economically challenged sections, he claims that the demand for enrolment in this university is very high. According to him: During admission, we interacted with the parents and we found that a majority of them have sound knowledge about the course and preferences. … I have hardly witnessed parents complaining about the fee structure here. They are clear about what they want from the course and the university. Also, they are happy about the hostel and other services offered for the amount remitted for the same to the university. One of the senior most faculty members, commenting on the ‘no reservation policy’ practised in University II, pointed that there is a policy at place for the economically challenged. He commented that: Yes, we do have policies augmenting equity in the university – for instance, our department and other departments across the university, provide meritcum-means scholarships to economically weaker sections (EWS) of the society, i.e., students whose parents have an annual income less than 3 lakh, approx., are eligible to apply for the scholarship. Among the applicants, based on merit we shortlist the candidates to encourage the applicant who has the potential to grow in the academic world, but due to financial constraints cannot avail such quality education. The award of scholarship for selected candidates covers course fee for the first year. Scholarship for subsequent years will be based on the performance of the candidate in the university examinations.… [s]cholarships are usually, limited to this region and certain specific population – there is a limited reach to the needy and deserving. However, these are some of the concerns in the recent past … in this university; faculty appointments are made on performance and no reservation/quota system exists. A student enrolled in the MBA program opined that: The fee for the MBA program is very high. Recently, the university has initiated scholarships for students belonging to economically weaker sections of society, those with less than Rs. Three lakhs, income annually. My parent’s income is higher than Rs. Three lakhs, but not sufficient to pay huge amounts as fees. We had to take a loan to pay my fees. While asked to share the experience about any forms of discrimination on the campus, one of the students pursuing an undergraduate programme at University-II said that: Hitherto, I have not experienced any issues related to caste-discrimination. … [t]here are regional groups thriving on the campus. The Telugu group


C. Singai is the most popular group in the campus who often gets into quarrels with their counterparts, the Punjabi group.

The core policy ideal for equity in higher education is characterised by the merit-cum-means scholarship being extended for the economic weaker section (EWS) of society at University-II. EWS is determined mainly by income threshold but does not take into account the caste-based marginalisation as such. The logic and the overall mandate of equity driven inclusive education envisioned by policy-makers is limited to economic, merits and performance at University-II. Beyond its unique feature, the catchment area of merit-cum-means scholarship is limited only for the EWS category students. However, the experiences of few students on campus unpacks the hidden nature of marginalisation and mobilisation.

Excellence and university governance: insights from the ‘field’ The terms such as ‘quality’ and ‘excellence’ may have satisfactory explanations in a glossary of higher education, but they remained relatively elusive in the Indian higher education system. The discourse of quality or excellence in India has remained entirely at the quantitative level used for assessment, accreditation, rating and ranking. A qualitative measure of excellence, can harness the importance of the context and heterogeneity across institutions vis-à-vis a quantitative metric aiming to standardise and homogenise the diversity of institutions and their functions. The ideal aspires to achieve ‘excellence with relevance’, relevant to ‘all’. Among the public universities, one of the dilemmas is to ensure excellence with equity, which for most of the actors in such universities is ambiguous. Arguably, accessibility, equity and expansion are more appropriate policy ideals for state universities, since most of the students enrolling in these universities belong to the marginalised sections or are first generation learners. Hence, some of the faculty-members in such institutions consider this as a barrier to achieve world-class teaching, research and extension. Further, some of the faculty-members expressed their discontent on preferential considerations from the university leadership and administration in accessing funds/grants. One of the faculty member expressed his discontent as follows: In the arts/social sciences faculty of studies, there have not been many contributions as compared to the natural sciences … excellence is attributed to individual faculty members (individual centric) particularly in social sciences rather than the department (department centric). Individual faculty members or faculty from specific departments get priority or preferential treatment in the overall administrative system. From individual faculty and department belonging to a specific faculty of studies. The preferential treatment to certain faculty depends on his/her caste affiliation and social capital within the university, whereas similar

Public and private dichotomy


treatment for certain departments within the faculty of studies is due to administrative pressures. In University-I, apart from Academic Performance Index (API) and National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), there is no other standardized mechanism to assess quality or excellence as such. However in University-II, excellence appears to be core of the university and its existence. It has internal system to measure in addition to API, NAAC and World Ranking/Rating agencies. While commenting on significance of governance for achieving excellence, the director of European Studies Centre, University II expressed that: Commitment to quality is not just of our aspirational value, but it is question of how we can witness this in practice. The University top management has streamlined the internal mechanisms to coordinate, monitor and evaluate quality parameters, across stakeholders and their performance in the university. The university has established a full-fledged quality and compliance department, towards coordinating all and any quality related matters in the university. The quality and compliance department collects and collates data across all the constituent institutions and the departments. Such internal quality assessment mechanisms are directly linked with the actual performance of the actors within the university. The Dean of Management Studies substantiates this as follows: Faculty members are assessed on their performance through the Performance Management System (PMS) which is evaluated by the head of the institution. The PMS system is assessed based on the certain parameters: Personal Qualities (loyalty, self-motivation, communication skills …); Academic Activities (work ethics, course plan, student evaluation of faculty …); Professional and Allied Competencies (Teamwork, involvement in department activities …) and Continuous learning and self-development (organising conference, initiatives for acquiring higher qualifications, participation in seminars …). Outcome-based performance management is linked not only to ensuring excellence, but also to gain national and global reputation. For instance, the university has made holding doctorate mandatory for all entry level facultymembers. To this end, the registrar at University-II, was of the view that ‘obtaining doctorate is one of the visible outcomes of excellence in research. It is a safety valve which guarantees research output, and hence provide global visibility especially in the world ranking system’. To conclude, the existing linkages between the internal and external environment of the university are increasingly being organised by the logic of governance. But, interestingly, interpretation of policy ideals in the


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universities – expansion, equity and excellence-are internally differentiated depending upon their typology, namely the public and the private. With the proliferation of private universities, there is a perceived anxiety in performancedriven, outcome-based and accountability-centric ecosystem. Their governance often ignore the question of equity, accessibility and autonomy for the actors. Whereas, in the public university it is evident from the above discussions that equity and accessibility along with autonomy are the core elements of university governance. It demands the growing need for enhancing collegiality among the actors within the university. At one level such demands by the public funded universities were threatened by the regulatory bodies and on the other rapid mushrooming of private higher education institutions make such demands meaningless in field of governance in higher education.

Note 1 I am thankful to my PhD advisor Professor Anitha Kurup, National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Indian Institute of Science campus, Bangalore, for her inputs for the ideas discussed in this chapter. I extend my gratitude to Dr Shivali Tukdeo, NIAS, for providing critical insights on analysing my field notes.

References Agarwal, P. 2009. Indian Higher Education: Envisioning the Future. Delhi: Sage Publications India. Aghion, Phillipe, Mathias Dewatripont, Caroline Hoxby, Andreu Mas-Colell and Andre Sapir. 2007. ‘Why reform Europe’s universities?’ Bruegel Policy Brief 2007/04, September. All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE). 2016. ‘Report of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD)’, New Delhi: Department of Higher Education, Government of India. All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE). 2017. ‘Report of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD)’, New Delhi: Department of Higher Education, Government of India. Altbach, Philip G. 2014. ‘India’s higher education challenges.’ Asia Pacific Education Review, 15(4): 503–510. Bhushan, Sudhanshu. 2008. ‘Financial requirements in higher education during XI plan period.’ Higher Education in India, 215. Available online at upload_files/mhrd/files/statistics-new/AISHE2015-16.pdf Carnoy, Martin, Prashant Loyalka, Maria Dobryakova, Rafiq Dossani, Katherine Kuhns, and Rong Wang. 2013. University Expansion in a Changing Global Economy: Triumph of the BRICs?Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Chattopadhyay, Saumen. 2009. ‘The market in higher education: concern for equity and quality.’ Economic and Political Weekly, 44(29): 53–61. Deshpande, Satish. 2009. ‘Inclusion versus excellence: caste and the framing of fair access in Indian higher education.’ South African Review of Sociology, 40(1): 127–147. Dreze, Jean, and Amartya Sen. 1999. India: Economic Development and Social Opportunity. New Delhi: OUP.

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Heslop, Lynn. 2014. Understanding India: The Future of Higher Education and Opportunities for International Cooperation. New Delhi: British Council. Hood, Christopher. 1991. ‘A public management for all seasons?’ Public Administration 69(1): 3–19. Jayasuriya, Kanishka. 2001. ‘Globalization and the changing architecture of the state: the regulatory state and the politics of negative co-ordination.’ Journal of European Public Policy 8(1): 101–123. Marginson, Simon, and Mark Considine. 2000. The Enterprise University: Power, Governance and Reinvention in Australia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ministry of Human Resource of Development. 2009. ‘Report of the Committee for Review of Existing Institutions Deemed to be Universities.’ New Delhi: India. Available online at RepoRevCom-DmdUniv.pdf Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Higher Education (MHRD). 2015. ‘Themes and questions for Policy Consultation on Higher Education (Annexure-II).’ Available online at files/upload_document/Themes_questions_HE.pdf (accessed 23 March 2018). Naidoo, Rajani. 2007. ‘Higher education as a global commodity: the perils and promises for developing countries.’ London: The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education. National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT). 1971. ‘Education and National Development: Report of the Education Commission, 1964–1966.’ Kothari Commission. National Knowledge Commission. 2009. A Report to the Nation 2006–2009. New Delhi: Government of India. Ordorika, I. 2003. Power and Politics in University Governance: Organization and Change and Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. London: Routledge. Ovichegan, S.K. 2015. Faces of Discrimination in Higher Education in India: Quota Policy, Social Justice and the Dalits. London: Routledge. Pardy, Bruce. 2007. ‘Separation of powers within the ivory tower – an organizing principle for university governance.’ Rutgers Journal of Law and Public Policy, 5: 373. Planning Commission. 2007. Inclusive and Qualitative Expansion of Higher Education – 11th Five-Year Plan (2007–2012). New Delhi: Government of India. Planning Commission. 2012. Inclusive and Qualitative Expansion of Higher Education – 12th Five-Year Plan (2012–2017). New Delhi: Government of India. Ramaprasad, Arkalgud, Chetan B. Singai, Tanveer Hasan, Thant Syn, and Mohan Thirumalai. 2016. ‘India’s national higher education policy recommendations since independence: an ontological analysis.’ Journal of Educational Planning and Administration, 30(1): 5–24. Roy, Kumkum. 2015. ‘Decoding new education policy.’ Economic and Political Weekly, 50(19). Available online at ding-new-education-policy.html Salter, Brian, and Ted Tapper. 2000. ‘The politics of governance in higher education: the case of quality assurance.’ Political Studies 48(1): 66–87. Slaughter, Sheila. 1988. ‘Academic freedom and the state: reflections on the uses of knowledge.’ The Journal of Higher Education 59(3): 241–262. Tilak, Jandhyala B.G. 1997. ‘The dilemma of reforms in financing higher education in India.’ Higher Education Policy 10(1): 7–21. Tilak, Jandhyala B.G. 2008. ‘Higher education: a public good or a commodity for trade?’ Prospects 38(4): 449–466.


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Tilak, Jandhyala B.G. (ed.) 2013. Higher Education in India: In Search of Equality, Quality and Quantity. Orient Blackswan. University Grants Commission. 2010. Institutions Deemed to be Universities Regulations, 2010. New Delhi: India. Varghese, N.V. 2015. ‘Challenges of massification of higher education in India.’ Research Papers Series 1. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan. Venkatesan, V. 2009. ‘Behind the Clamour.’ Frontline, 26(14). Available online at http s://


Publication or public action? Discursive spaces of disengagements in India L.N. Venkataraman

Global realities of the knowledge society signal that universities are becoming a service station for neo-capitalism. In contrast, the “organic” intellectualism of the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSoS) is known for its un/critical critique of crass capitalism in India. This can be observed in extreme ideological stands where even the language of a free market has become the eschewed norm. This highlights a tradition of vanguardism where engagements with ideological opponents are considered unnecessary. However, one notices an increasing trend of self-imposed silence to the immediate realities from these nihilistic corners. These areas are known for their disengagement. For instance, “critical” voices often take pro-state positions in opposing the market in education. In practice, private schools are the medium of education for “quality”. The separation between their public voices and personal choice has increasingly widened over the years. The professional protestors and the esoteric underscore scholarship’s failures to generate new, compelling ideas to grapple with complicated national realities. This can be observed in the vigilante academics’ continuing abilities to impart un/updated radical theories that purport to answer the universal problems of humanity. This underlines a dual complexity. On the one hand, there is a reality of deep-seated political and economic forces that have come to shape syllabuses; mainstream scholarship, on the other hand, is known for its limited role in the possibilities of free thinking without ideological baggage. As this highlights the mutual mistrust between the developmental triad of state, market and civil society, the politics of scholarship underscores the mixed forms of academic freedom and accountability. The under-representation of alternatives can be seen regarding groupthink and the lack of political diversity in the profession where uncomfortable questions get suppressed. Groupthink dissuades some questions, and some answers are not overly scrutinised. Anyone who has concerns about the advancement of knowledge should care about this problem. In this knowledge regime, an educated student is redefined as an employable one, where learning becomes a process of alienation.


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Collateral damages of the ideological cross-fires: case one Education is a contested site of politics in the knowledge economy. The neoliberal democracy in India has been witnessing the changing colours of ideologies. Consequently, one can observe a polarisation of scholarship getting consolidated according to political convenience. HSoS, given its focus on the everydayness of the society, is the first victim of these partisanships. This has not allowed the opposing camps to engage with each other critically; even mainstream academic narratives are not interested in intervening between these two groups. Against this backdrop, the controversy of the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC) at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-M) in 2015 raised the complexities of higher education. Analysis of diverse sources underlines the intensities of those complexities. The Institute’s administration had targeted the student activists of the APSC through the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). Against this backdrop, the political contestation of the government can be observed in its rush in appointing institutional leaders from the right-wing ideologies over the past few years. For instance, the way the Indian Council of Historical Research and the Indian Council of Social Science Research have been restructured must be a case in point. Though some intellectuals have expressed their concerns about this restructuring, the critical point is their self-imposed silence when the previous “secular” Governments appoint the left-leaning intellectuals to lead the very same institutions. Though rightist forces are notoriously dangerous for HSoS, due to their divisive political agenda, the pressing concern is the nature of scholarship itself. Why are the “argumentative Indians” failing to detach their political affiliations in the formal space of scholarship? How are these contestations often polarised as right and wrong in the name of academics? Why is the HSoS persistently failing to theorise these complexities over the years? Moreover, will the HSoS allow one to have an impartial scholarship? The partisan manoeuvring by diverse political affiliations, including the ruling and opposition parties, continues these normative standpoints. The obsessive ideologies often negate organised scepticism where the deliberative democracy becomes a victim. That this uninspiring activism has usually been done under the banner of free speech fails the hopes of the commoner in whose name the drama is enacted. This is similar to the scholarships on gender justice in public, and illtreatment of the women in privacy. Misadventures Educational governance in general, and administration, are historically known for their trailing the governments of the day. This submissiveness is often performed without any doubts. A cursory analysis of the functional relationship between the apex bodies of educational bureaucracy (or the educracy) like that of the University Grants Commission (UGC) and MHRD among

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others underlines their political conformity over the years. The present misadventure to curtail the rejuvenation of intellectualism by the Government can be underlined, considering the recent crackdowns of left-leaning activists in the name of anti-national activities. The MHRD’s proactive steps to deal with an anonymous letter, though annoying, shall be seen in the light of the parliamentarians’ rhetoric and superfluous talks. Furthermore, the ministerial muddle was being displayed in the recent controversies in the Four Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP) in the University of Delhi. The UGC exposed its “abilities” to manoeuvre the policy decision with the alteration of Governments. This is like other arms of educracy where the nature of policies is swiftly ‘rationalised’ according to the mood of the Ministers. Thus, the role of educracy over the years confirms that they are the administrative arms of the political party in power rather than doing public service. Their inability to even record the note of dissent to the majoritarian ministers set the wrong precedent. This should be understood in the light of the new managerialism where educational institutions are often left with senior academics without leadership acumen. The result is the emergence of educrats who practically mis/handle the political complexities. In the present case, the Dean of Students’ confidence to decide who and how one can use the Institute’s name raised concerns than finding a solution to the issues. For instance: if educational institutions are managed by diverse stakeholders including academics, educrats, students and parents, how can one of them unilaterally decide the “code of conduct” to control others? The unilateralism highlights the absence of democratic deliberations. Though institutions are re/fashioning themselves for democracy, the actual realities are hierarchical. This raises the very definition of guidelines: if the institution idealises the equality of stakeholders, it is pertinent to conceptualise who and how does one decide the nature of guidelines? Moreover, how does one define campus discipline when the truth is multidimensional? Thus, the way the educrats derecognised an independent student body underscores institutional inabilities. These inabilities are further complicated by the self-imposed silence of HSoS scholarship in Tamil Nadu. What can one expect from the faculty members when they are not critical of their immediate lifeworld? This raises the concerns of what is “social” in HSoS scholarship. In this, it is pertinent to quote Scraton (1976) here: Your clever academics befriend us for a few months, they come down to our site, eats our food and drinks our tea. Some of them even lives among us. Then they disappear to their nice homes and university libraries. Next thing we know they’re giving lectures on us, writing books about us … what do they know about our struggles? How can they know our pain? We live it all the time. Our persecution lasts a lifetime, not just a few months. Give us the tools to say it right, and we’ll tell you like it is. You know what we call them on our site? Plastic gypsies. (As quoted in Bhopal & Myers 2008: 36)


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It seems that the exploitation of the poor in the name of equality and justice over the years has become the academic reality. At institutional levels, most of the universities in south India are known for uncritical scholarship in HSoS. Consequently, one often finds a stereotypical understanding of social complexities. This shall be seen in the light of the increasing powers of the educrats in higher education. In the present case, the Institute was silencing the spirit of inquiry instead of re/producing fearless dissents. Though this was being done in the name of non-partisan administration; the misadventure was taken on the behest of the Ministerial “directions”. Therefore, the pertinent question is about the nature of non-partisanship of educracy. In this backdrop, the nature of student movements must be conceptualised. Firstly, one must mention the trend of studentship in HSoS at present. Generally, the quality of scholarship is not promising as it is usually carried away by ideological rhetoric. Consequently, organised scepticism is a faraway dream where the HSoS scholarship is Eurocentric (Alvares 2011) and unidirectional. Though there are critical voices which fearlessly question the status quo in line with the traditional professoriate; students are often submissive to their realities. At times, the criticality to the immediate lifeworld becomes a luxury which the postcolonial student movements cannot afford (cf. EPW 2015). Also, the oversimplification of caste complexities can be seen regarding their self-assurance to criticise IITs as Iyer Iyengar Technology, which provides an instance of these stereotypes. This is often followed by a rush to analyse the social profiles of the IIT faculty members in bracketing all the higher castes as Iyers and Iyengars to “prove” the point of caste discrimination in the social media. These “plastic gipsies”, however, are often absent in real life activism in speaking truth to the powers (cf. Dreze 2002). Furthermore, if the MHRD’s version of the necessity of asking the IIT-M “to take cognisance of the complaint filed by other students of the same campus” is genuine, this demonstrates the educrats’ zealousness and the Institute going overboard. Thus, the IIT-M incident portrays how the dilutions of public institutions are happening in the name of self-righteous standpoints. The unfortunate twist is that these adventurist activists are supposedly performed in the name of the common good. Though concerned stakeholders argue from their respective perspectives, it is important to note here that these are often non-deliberative, where fixed positions are exercised from the vantage point of “democracy”. As a result, the controversy highlights how collateral damage can take place in the ideological cross-fire. This underscores the churning of ideological warfare in the name of national interests where neither the educracy nor even the APSC is the victim. The very spirit of HSoS inquiry falls flat to the partisan scholarships.

Scholarship in the noisy corridors: case two Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) was in the news again recently. The unfortunate death of a research student J. Muthukrishnan of the Centre for

Publication or public action?


Historical Studies in 2017 underscored the nature of scholarship in the noisy corridors of the ivory towers of India. His tragic death resulted in the struggle between the Blue and Red colours in their fierce opposition to the Saffron on the university campuses. Parliamentary debates, predictably, extended this. Though homage from different fraternities highlighted structures of wellbeing at the institutions of higher learning, it is pertinent to deconstruct the complexities (Venkataraman 2018). The systemic limits of the ivory tower underscore that neither we must cultivate institutions for human flourishment (Nussbaum 2011) nor do we have the necessary support structures even at the institutions of “higher” learning. This collective failure is prevalent in the intellectual, social formations despite the seven decades of independence. Specific to this sad incident, one notices academia’s desperation to find a solution to a complex issue by rushing to advocate support structures. However, it is distressing to note their inability to appreciate the importance of contemplation, where individuals must enhance their agency freedom. In the absence of this, one cannot expect creative contributions, even from the institutions of excellence. Though one agrees with Mr Raja Vemula’s assertion, calling this incident an “institutional murder” (Zargar 2017), one can notice our inability to deconstruct the intersecting structures. For instance, it is not sure how long we provide contradictory political narratives of dismissing mythologies in tooth and ideological nails with the victimhood narratives of reducing Dalits as the descendants of Ekalavya. This self-defeating progressive narrative should offer fresh perspectives and theoretical possibilities. Identity markers of the theoretical Brahmins Indian universities are seemingly failing to create scholars who question uncritical identity markers. These markers are misleading and students are falling prey to the out-world appearances of the available academic leadership without working like them even in their initial years. The result is the “plastic gipsies”, where it is difficult to find a contemplative intellectual comradeship. The rhetoric of sloganeering, without the traces of fieldwork even in the progressive campuses, reduces intellectual spaces, including that of the JNU Student Union (JNUSU), over the years. Although scholars rightly occupied the University Grants Commission (UGC) in 2015, in similar lines to the Wall Street movement, the demands have mostly been for the monetary rise of fellowship. One hardly notices them for enhancing scholarship regarding improving the quality of standards either through pedagogic applications or expanding the library facilities and other intellectual infrastructures. Peculiarly, scholarship is simplistically understood at times as the amount one receives from the UGC. It is not just a limitation of the pedestrian lexicon – some of the teachers who misuse university platform for furthering their ideological standpoints overlook the everyday responsibilities of intellectual honesty. Adding to these identity markers, one can see the incredible rush of politicians across the spectrum in paying homage along with competing demands for


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compensation to the victim’s family. Though this should not be correlated with the unstable electoral politics of Tamil Nadu; one must theorise the nature of the state which has historically been that of a “crisis manager” (Mendelsohn & Vicziany, 1998, p. 147) in India. In this management, competitive demands of non/monetary supports shall be seen. For instance, the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee President Mr Thirunavukkarasar’s demand for 25 Lakhs rupees to be paid to the deceased family had been surpassed by Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi Leader Mr Thol. Thirumavalavan’s insistence on one Crore rupees. These emotional appeals failed to deconstruct the complexities. Furthermore, one can see their collective agreement for a government job to anyone in the family with a constant probing on the death only by the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI). Though this may give considerable political tone to the pedestrians, one failed to counter the pitfalls of identity markers. Though the demands for a CBI inquiry, for instance, may be acknowledging the Bureau’s efficiencies, could it not demoralise the ongoing investigation by the Delhi police? How confident are these justice assertions to ensure the public institutions from further falling? Also, how long do we leave the socioeconomically backward to compensatory mercies? Aren’t we worried about these temporary solutions? These questions are pertinent as we are increasingly comfortable with symbols and gestures. Though reducing social complexities into useful identity markers may launch a few desperate political careers, we need to be cautious of the deepening cleavages out of this aggressive rhetoric. For instance, although demanding a statutory rule is essential to address campus discrimination, it is an ideological quicksand to name it the Rohit Act. Consequently, these symbolic gestures may be indirectly encouraging generations of failure. This is like the usual academic fashions, where it is easy to notice the mindless desperation to look like celebrated scholars without working like them. The standard identity markers – like that of sporting a beard with the customary costumes like Jhola bag – are comfort zones. It is surprising that we are failing to be inspired by genuine commitments with the contemplation of celebrated scholars. If one talks about empirical Shudra, it comes out of insightful analytical brilliance (Guru 2002: 5003). Instead, aping him in appearance and tone, without genuine egalitarian commitment, may prevent us from deconstructing the social complexities. Whispers in the noisy corridors The diverse range of media outlets with intersecting corporate and political controls creates anonymity. The result is the alienation of learning where we lack the calmness to contemplate. Listening to the diversity of opinion from news, discussions become a luxury amidst the artificial screams. How shall we create public discourse amidst these auditory assaults? While this cacophony in the public sphere is being played out by the diverse realpolitik, we are furthering the institutional complexities without any intellectual trajectory. In

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this noise pollution, the media feeds the politicians and they, in turn, ensure the life-lines of TRPs (Television Rating Points). In this backdrop, witnessing Parliamentary discussions on the JNU incident (Indian Express 2017) signal the level of standards we are heading. Member of Parliament, Ms Kanimozhi has been forced to speak even before the unprepared filibuster of Trichy Siva where one can also hear the interventions of Ram Gopal Yadav in Hindi. Mr Yadav’s insistence on having the Minister for Human Resource Development has not been taken seriously where Kanimozhi began her speech. It was instantly cut short strictly within a minute with the sympathies of the Chair. The next Speaker Mr Ali Anwar Ansari started to his complaints without knowing that the deceased was from Tamil Nadu by his casual referencing of Kerala! This was furthermore shocking where even the veterans like D. Raja and Yechuri were unimpressively intervening. Their failures to outsmart the usual realpolitik pandemonium were discouraging. Thus, neither members were prepared enough to speak in the given minute, nor was the institution providing an adequate space as the Chair was giving one minute to each one of them. What kind of discourses are we developing? It is giving an impression of reactionary discussion instead of setting informed discourse. Amidst this filibuster, one witnesses the Indian National Congress’s desperation to stall the House over its inabilities to form the governments in Goa and Manipur. Overall, one notices the falling standards of public institutions. This begins with the conceptual reduction of idealism with the arrogance of realism where in standards of governance are consistently falling. This can be paralleled by academics who behave like uncritical ideologues, by Governors who behave as political agents of the Centre and even a High Court Judge who played the caste-card in defending his alleged misdemeanours. Thus, democracy is reduced to elections which are left to the manipulative power brokers supported by psephological sophistications. Here consents are manufactured and intellectual images are artificially portrayed. Political craftsmanship is increasingly being drafted regarding instrumental reasons of electoral winnings. Leaders’ abilities to flirt with diverse ideologies without any qualms is the reality where a former cricketer’s exit from the Bharatiya Janata Party to Congress on the way to his brief “discussion” with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) underscores the emptiness of ideological reality. Unsurprisingly, Mr Sidhu got a Ministerial role in the new government after the successful election in Punjab. Thus, we are stooping to the level of bloopers to humiliate the Central Minister even during the sad moments of a funeral in an extension to the axe-attacks and the catastrophic cultures of the campus. As we have lost “the art of being in silence” (Sarukkai 2016), neither do we appreciate subtle sounds nor are we even willing to listen to the whispers in university corridors. Though this underscores the diverse ideological desperations, what is worrisome is the inability to deconstruct the possible factor like that of the after-effects of the Holi celebrations where one cannot rule out Bhang in JNU. Though it is unclear how we will aspire for a meditative

100 L.N. Venkataraman state of scholarship (Pathak 2017) amidst our constant immersion in noise, one can hope avoidable errors will at least be limited by the progressive forces of the ivory tower. Vicious intersections: case three It is an open secret that the market “rate” for the position of Assistant Professor in Tamil Nadu is estimated to be 20 Lakhs of rupees based on the reputation of the University. The collective conscience often institutionalises the “estimates” for the price of Vice-Chancellorship which reportedly can go up to 30 Crores. These calculations are based on potential revenues institutions may generate in their tenures. Though presently the public discourse is analysing these shambolic estimates in the wake of the then Vice-Chancellor (VC) Ganapathy’s arrest in February 2018 in Coimbatore, stakeholders have been familiar with the realpolitik in Tamil Nadu. Although the estimates and price-tags could be shocking to outsiders, the systemic arrangements at present stand on the principles of competitive bidding. These principles, however, cannot be reduced to the usual rhetoric of commercialisation where any careful observer can connect the dots in education. The nexus of corruption and conservative politics over the past three decades has ensured that almost all positions in the universities in Tamil Nadu can be bought. This contrasts with the universal norm where the Vice-Chancellorship may not be applied for as “Search Committee” find them. As these norms are based on the lofty expectations, the reality makes sure that even deserving candidates must pay the gatekeepers. While corruption is seemingly the primary conversion factor for human capabilities, there is a process of rationalisation for this. In these rationalisations, one must note that the public institutions like that of the Bharathiyar University, are seemingly living off their past glories. Consequently, the state has not nurtured any intellectual leadership in the postReform periods. Also, systemic regulations are audaciously tweaked in such a way that no one can question them. The leadership positions are, therefore, predominantly based on purchasing power, often proficiently brokered through political nexuses. Also, the adaptive preferences (Khader 2009) of the “academics” place them nearer to power and privilege. In this system, there is no visible difference between academics and administrators due to the weak boundaries in the educracy. Considering this peculiarity, academic administrators often wield extraordinary powers to establish their fiefdom. In this cycle, institutions are neither autonomous nor even know the ideals of academic freedom. The implications can be visible in the chain-of-command where even the syllabus, curriculum and pedagogies of the colleges are officially dictated. This produces meek human agents where creativity becomes a luxury. While the Affiliation System was established on the principles of governance for postcolonial conveniences, the legacies are continuing in education. This historical trajectory is stabilising the new public management where institutions are increasingly standardised instead of promoting heterogeneities.

Publication or public action? 101 Though the governance narratives are context dependent, the unique model rationalises the audit culture for promoting the academic performance indicators at the national levels. This, in turn, percolates down to the system where the performativity regimes (Ball 2012) of the complex mixture are reduced to monitoring and control from the Centre, which in turn are increasingly tweaked through the publications in the predatory journals. This is a widespread practice in the HSoS in Tamil Nadu. The majority of the “scholars” at all levels are proudly displaying a huge list of pseudoscience publications and shambolic conferences. The HSoS system is suffering from intellectual laziness. As there are very few exceptions, it is not a challenging task to identify them amidst the mediocre mafia. However, it is astonishing to note that the public rationality is unable to see this as an indecency. In this moral disengagement (Moore 2008), even the voting rights are for sale where the realpolitik teaches us the fact that the dishonest politicians are hand in glove with the supportive educrats to broker the powers. In most cases, the VCs’ quality time is naturally spent on retaining the position for the second term as well as to get the “investment” back with profits through all possible means. Since the size of the Affiliation System decides the rate for the VCs position, their appointments are “contractual” with quid pro quo arrangements. As no one will accuse the Search Committee of being irresponsible in their choice when it turns out to be corrupt like Ganapathy, the intersectional contestations of the castes combined with class factors do play a part in these arrangements. Out of these contestations, the natural outcome interacts with the opaque norm where Doctoral candidates are expected to pay lakhs of rupees for the completion of viva-voce. This is naturally exclusive of flight tickets with token gifts and accommodation arrangements for smooth examinations in Tamil Nadu. Against this backdrop, it is essential to look at the Myrdalian thesis of underdevelopment. The corrupt system of peripheries is “centrally” controlled, based on the complex web of stakeholders. They are often intersected across political, bureaucratic and social networks. The hierarchical educracy is based on the centralisation of powers and privileges. This trickle-down model of decision-making should be observed considering the regional political economy. While corruption is the conversion factor, the intersections of caste and class identities decide status and institutional roles at present. For instance, if some of the colleges are renowned in the Affiliation System, they often sponsor their candidates for the race of Vice-Chancellorships. This is moderated through the channels of Syndicate and Senate members. The political economy of universities in these complex channels confirms the essential fact that any position can be bought. For the past three decades, the leaderships of most Universities have been accused of various immoralities.1 For these reasons, anyone can become an educationist, and the honorary doctorates are conferred when interests are in the intersections (Yadav 2018). In this chain of management, professors often become the professional brokers where vicious circles entangle the Vice-Chancellors. The sham appointment

102 L.N. Venkataraman processes are another known secret where neither the appointments of diverse officials by the VCs nor even their selection seems to care. For these reasons, no vigilant observer is surprised about the VC’s arrest as a professional embarrassment in Tamil Nadu. This symbolises the ailing system as neither stakeholders nor even the Teachers Associations in the state have protested against the corrupt elements so far. One needs to notice the presence of the in/formal caste associations existing in the “Temples of Modern India”. As these Associations also compete for their candidates for the Vice-Chancellorship, the rates are often negotiated along the primordial identities as well as subject-specific factors. In this intersection, education is commerce as people bid for employment. Though these bargains lack the principles of transparency; the appointments will be known as sham only when there is a fall-out between the stakeholders. Against this backdrop, the public discourse meekly awakens cultural pride where these vicious intersections could increase our understanding of social structure (Merton 1940: 568). Entrepreneurial academics and the ailing humanities Thus, these three different cases underscore the systemic complexities. The painful transition of universities from being merely an examining body to a teaching institution can be observed in the balancing acts between diverse academic demands, including research. These acts can be contextualised within the systemic realities of new public management. As a result, the optimistic vision of perceiving the universities only through original research seems impractical in the heightened market capitalism. An obvious outcome of these balancing actions can be seen in the inabilities to produce new knowledge in humanities where even understanding the old established truths is mixed. At systemic levels, recapturing the lost grounds of HSoS in the heightened market capitalism is an ambitious but an essential concern, it is unclear how it can be bailed out when they are also imprisoned in narrow disciplinary strictures. For instance, Apoorvanand’s recent criticism of the Massive Online Open Courseware (MOOC) as dehumanising seems to be idealistic in the neoliberal democracy (Apoorvanand in Miri 2018). The central arguments appear ambitious when he refers to Spivak’s prescription of the critical teaching regarding the teachers’ knowledge of students. However, one may find it as a utopian even in the collectivist social order like that of India today. Also, it is ambiguous to note how he is successfully providing the learning environment to infect his pupils with novel ideas. The contemporary realities of the University of Delhi remind merely about its past glories. However, Apoorvanand’s concern for Indian institutions is valid as they have “absolutely no idea about the future that is being planned for them.” Thus, the creative turmoil and self-destructive journey of the universities must be analysed in the context of the near exclusion of courses. The overwhelming domination of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) for instance could be seen alongside the complete neglect of the HSoS.

Publication or public action? 103 Though the mainstream scholarship has been raising pertinent questions; the prescriptions are generally pro-state. In this backdrop, it is interesting to note how the surplus-drives of the market often convince them to justify irrationalities of the state in India. To the mainstream galleries in HSoS, this is a “received idea” for the political correctness of the egalitarian ideals. What we are witnessing in India is complex. An increasing trend in management culture of the intellectual traffic between disciplines, consolidates the human capital version of education. Cost-benefit analysis in this version drives the rationale of systemic reform. This involuntary rationale has an instrumental vision of education where the intellectual horizon is increasingly narrowed regarding cognitive capitalism. In the case of India, with its lopsided growth of HSoS scholarship, one finds a complex picture. On the one hand, the eminence of academics in Delhi is primarily based on publication and research. In the rest of the country, with very few exceptions like some pockets in Kolkatta and other regions, the status of HSoS is limited to teaching. Though this could be a self-imposed limit, there are systemic factors which play an instrumental role in underdevelopment. Against this background, the issue is not the application of the human capital approach (HCA) by the UGC but the involuntary internalisation of the HCA ideals by mainstream scholars. This is paradoxical as most of them are professionally opposing capitalist world-views. Though the entrepreneurial trend of the mainstream is marginal in contrast to the size of HSoS, the “organic” process of academic re/production is mainly being influenced by this minority in the country. In the new managerialism, the entrepreneurial minorities seemingly do not have collegiality. The regime competing through the patriarchal social structure often re/produces a hegemonic order even within the egalitarian world-views in India. Though there are exceptions, mainstream academic positions are visible mainly due to the adherence to the simple metrics of academic performance indicators. Alternatives are glaringly absent. At the systemic levels, emerging entrepreneurial pressures can also be seen in the increasing recognition for collaboration drives of both institution and individual academics. This is in addition to the conscious efforts being made towards frameworks of research excellence. The systemic trends of performance assessments at the national level, and the increasing managerialism of the international HSoS, changes academic identities. The adaptive preferences of these identity formations in India generally have proMarxist positions with very few exceptions. However, these preferences must be understood in the international context where research-only contracts are increasingly emerging in countries like South Africa and others. To elaborate, outcome-oriented scholarship is being pushed by governing bodies like the National Research Foundation in South Africa, where institutional funding and university subsidies are determined mostly by publications and research. Hence the scholarship is tweaked mainly for publication often without any public actions. This is like in Germany, where senior academics generally deputise their junior colleagues for their teaching responsibility so that they can spend quality time on research. As research brings funds and develops reputations for career advancement, most of them do not engage in active teaching. Consequently,

104 L.N. Venkataraman scholarship is increasingly oriented towards research for publications. Junior colleagues usually accept this outsource arrangement due to the systemic power relations. Thus, the trajectory of change in HSoS can be explained regarding the move towards research-led teaching from the teaching-led research. This has academic implications, preferencing the applied nature of scholarship at the cost of others in higher education. Managerialism is often known for its systemic demands on accountability. This demand on academe in recording the value of the public expenditure are mostly expected through publication drives. Why teaching is generally not being measured is the concern. There is a similar trend across the globe where similar arrangements are visible. Though everyone is striving for impact factors, no one is seemingly deconstructing definitions. Does this have an impact on broader society or is it just an addition to the scholarly debates based on the peer review? With very few exceptions, India’s scholarship drivers are seemingly going in the direction of the latter.

Note 1 See for instance ge-assistant-professor-arrested-for-luring-girls-tn-governor-orders-probe-into-immoralhappenings/articleshow/63787912.cms

References Alvares, Claude. 2011. “A Critique of Eurocentric Social Science and the Question of Alternatives”, Economic & Political Weekly, 46(22): 72–81. Ball, S J. 2012. “Performativity, Commodification and Commitment: An I-Spy Guide to the Neoliberal University”, British Journal of Educational Studies, 60(1): 17–28. Bhopal, Kalwant and Martin Myers. 2008. Insiders, Outsiders and Others: Gypsies and Identity, Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire Press. Dreze, Jean. 2002. “On Research and Action”, Economic & Political Weekly, 37(9): 817–819. Guru, G. (2002). “How Egalitarian are the Social Sciences in India?” Economic & Political Weekly, 37(50): 5003–5009. Indian Express. 2017. “Two Days After JNU Student’s Death, Echo in Both Houses”, 16 March, 5. Khader, Serene J. 2009. ‘Adaptive Preferences and Procedural Autonomy’, Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 10(2): 169–187. Merton, Robert K. (1940): “Bureaucratic Structure and Personality”, Social Force, 18(4): 560–568. Mendelsohn, O. and Vicziany, M. (1998). The Untouchables: Subordination, Poverty and the State in Modern India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Miri, Mrinal (ed.). 2018. The Place of Humanities in Our Universities. Abingdon: Routledge. Moore, Celia. 2008. “Moral Disengagement in Process of Organizational Corruption”, Journal of Business Ethics, 80(1): 129–139.

Publication or public action? 105 Nussbaum, Martha. 2011. Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach, Harvard, MA: Harvard University Press. Pathak, Avijit. 2017. “From JNU to Ramjas, Where Has the Spirit of Studentship Disappeared?”, The Wire, 4 March. Available online at jnu-ramjas-college-spirit-studentship-disappeared/#disqus_thread Sarukkai, Sundar. 2016. “Can We Have Some Silence, Please?”, The Hindu, 23 June. Available online at ce-please/article14395542.ece Sen, Amartya. 1999. Development as Freedom, New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Teltumbde, Anand. 2015. “In the Name of Ambedkar”, Economic & Political Weekly, 50(23): 8. Venkataraman, L.N. 2016. “New Education Policy and the Continuing Contentions in India”, Economic and Political Weekly, 51(35): 47–50. Venkataraman, L.N. 2018. “Entrepreneurial Academics and Ailing Humanities”, The Book Review, 42(7): 21–22. Yadav, Shyamlal. 2018. “An Express Investigation: Want an Honorary Doctorate? Will Help if You Are in Power”, Indian Express, 6 February. Available online at http://indian (accessed 10 February 2018). Zargar, Safwat. 2017. “JNU Dalit Scholar’s Death Not a Suicide But an Institutional Murder, Says Rohith Vemula’s Brother”, ScoopWhoop, 14 March. Available online at ulas-brother-on-jnu-dalit-scholars-death/#.t4h7xjy1s

Part III

Public-private borderlines Negotiations in education


Parental choice for schools in the changing context of the state and market in India Pradeep Kumar Choudhury

Introduction Education, especially school education, plays a critical role in human development. It enables individual freedom and empowerment that further yield significant societal development and makes an individual self-reliant. School education contributes to the prosperity and stability of democratic societies (Friedman, 1955). It helps to achieve higher social mobility for deprived sections, released from the bondage of serfdom and inequality (Singh, 2016). Considering school education as a major driver of development, India has declared elementary education1 (Class 1 to 8) as a fundamental right. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE), enacted in 2009, provided citizens with a justifiable fundamental right to education in India. It guarantees free and compulsory elementary education to children in the age group of six to14 years. In addition, there is a high demand for school education in India today due to population growth, improvement in the access to schooling and greater awareness among parents of the importance of education for their children. Growing demand coupled with policy changes has resulted expansion of the school education market in India in the last three decades. There are around 1.7 million schools (1.45 million elementary and 0.25 million secondary) in India with enrolment of more than 260 million students (196 million in elementary and 64 million in secondary) in 2015–2016 (NUEPA, 2017; NUEPA, 2016). However, this massive expansion of school education after 1990s is mostly in the private sector. The share of private schools (both aided and unaided) in elementary education has gone up from 19.49 per cent in 2007– 2008 to 23 per cent in 2015–2016 and the share of enrolment of children (in six to 14 age groups) in these schools has increased from 19.30 per cent to 37.95 per cent in this period (NUEPA, 2009; NUEPA, 2017). Therefore, currently private fee-charging schools increasingly cater to a substantial portion of the population. The world’s largest experiment in private education is being run in India today as large shares of its population are attending private schools. The shift to private education in India has been rapid and is still continuing (Tabarrok, 2013).

110 P. Kumar Choudhury Why do poor parents send their children to these fee-paid schools when government schools are available with less cost or freely? Several studies have highlighted that a range of socio-cultural factors interface with mobility strategies and mediate parental decision-making on schooling for their children. The aspiration for English medium instruction among poor households is considered as a key factor that drives demand for private schooling and it is largely due to the linkage they draw between the English knowledge, middle class jobs, social distinction and elite status (Dixon and Tooley, 2005; Srivastava, 2008; Tabarrok, 2013; Singh, 2015). Figlio and Stone (2000) argue that parents who send their children to private schools regard other outcomes, such as discipline, extracurricular activities, religious matters and strengthening the social capital by interacting with peer group. The other significant factor is the inflexibility or non-responsiveness of the government schools towards parental demands (Desai et al, 2009; Karopady, 2014). Kingdon (1996), argues that the rising income of the households and the breakdown in the quality of government schools are two possible reasons for the growth of private schools. Similarly, Thorat (2011) has pointed out that teacher absenteeism and negligence in government schools have led to this trend. Parents believe that private schools can provide a better future for their children, which motivates them to make the necessary investment (Galab et al., 2013; Bhattacharya et al., 2015). The involvement of the private sector along with several other important policy changes in the school education sector in India (RTE Act in 2009) has brought changes in the parental choice for schools. The parental decision is changing from just attending school to obtaining quality education that works as a reliable input for higher education as well as the job market and this holds true even in rural areas and among the urban poor. There is also changing institutional space within which households make decisions about school choice. The private schools that were earlier catering to the need of elites and the middle class are now expanding to meet the demand from poorer households. In an expanding school education system, market forces encourage schools to adopt different strategies and make an entry into the public sphere in order to make the parents as consumers and children as products. However, we have very limited understanding of the effectiveness of the private sector’s intervention into education and how it shapes parental choice for schools in a complex social and institutional context. Despite the ubiquitous and growing presence of private schools in India, the contours of this change remain poorly understood (Desai et al., 2009). Until recently, the literature on private schools in India has been dominated by mapping its expansion across states and studies on parental demand for private schools are quite limited. Therefore, it is critical to understand the factors that parents consider important in making their choice for schools and, more importantly, how it varies for households living in different socioeconomic settings. For example, while the expansion of private schools was largely an urban phenomenon (in the early 2000s), its presence is visible in rural areas and, therefore, it is important to understand the ruralurban variations in parental choice for schools.

Parental choice for schools 111 This paper examines the recent dynamics of school choice by the households in the context of an expanding private education market in India. The study has used the India Human Development Survey (IHDS) data – a nationally representative panel household survey dataset collected in two waves (2005 and 2012), jointly by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and University of Maryland. It focused on two issues that merit deeper inspection in the context of school choice in India. First, to examine the potential changes in the school choice basket among rural households (vis-a-vis urban households), particularly in the context where private players are making an effort to reach them. With the existence of a pro-male bias in household investment in education (and therefore the choice of schools), especially in rural India, the second issue examines the parental decision on school choice by gender and family income. This study investigates the factors that determine the demand for private schools and also how it differs across gender, in rural and urban regions and also among poor and rich households. Specifically, discussion in the paper brings out the complexities of the school education market and how parents as consumers (and children as products) are adapting to these changes in different socio-cultural settings in India.

Data and method We use individual-level unit record data of India Human Development Survey (IHDS) collected in two rounds (2004–2005 and 2011–2012) jointly by the researcher from University of Maryland, USA and the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), New Delhi. These are nationally representative, multi-topic surveys of the households located in both rural and urban areas. It covered 33 states and union territories of India with the exception of Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar. The 2005 survey (IHDS I) extends to 41,554 households located in 384 districts out of 593 districts identified in 2001 census and covers 1503 villages and 971 urban blocks located in 276 towns and cities. Around 83 per cent of the households were re-interviewed in 2012 (IHDS II) for the second round and the response rates were more than 90 per cent for both the rounds. This chapter also used some information from National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) to substantiate major arguments. In this study, the sample is restricted to the children who are currently enrolled in elementary education (Class 1 to 8) in either government or private schools. This includes 47,195 children in 2005 and 48, 021 in 2012. The original IHDS data in both the rounds classify schools as Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS), government, government aided, private, convent, Madrassa and other/open schools. The descriptive analysis takes into account the three broad types of schools that are available in the survey: government, government aided and private. The private schools also include convent schools for the analysis. However, for the empirical exercise we do not differentiate between government and government aided schools, instead we combine them as government schools and the rest as private schools.

112 P. Kumar Choudhury There are three different school management types in India: government schools, private-aided (also referred as government-aided schools) and private unaided schools. The government schools are owned, funded and managed by the government. Teachers are hired and allocated to individual schools by the department of education. The private aided schools are essentially quasi-government in nature – run by private management, but have teaching staff funded by the government and follow Grant-In-Aid codes. They are akin to government schools in many respects, following the same curriculum, syllabus, textbooks, and eligibility criteria for teacher appointment (Mehrotra and Panchamukhi, 2007). The private unaided schools are fee charging schools run by private management and receive no grants or aid from the state, but they might receive public subsidies in the form of tax concessions and rebates in tariffs including land, building and electricity. These schools are entirely self-financing but are recognised and follow regulations laid down by the state. The fully-private unaided schools have complete autonomy in management, hiring of teachers and non-staff, etc. Besides these three broad categories, there are also private unaided schools that are ‘unrecognized’ and do not comply with government regulations. Unlike earlier studies, this chapter makes a clear distinction in the state of private unaided schools in India as they seem to open up school choices beyond public funded schools as well as a new destination of market for education. Parental choice of schools and its variations across different socioeconomic groups in India is examined in the chapter using both descriptive statistics and the probit model. The results are presented for gender, region (rural/urban) and income of the households. Whether the child has enrolled in government or private school serve as the dependent variable in the analysis. The set of explanatory variables includes individual characteristics, household factors and few school related factors2.

Results and discussion The parents were asked to state the reasons for sending their children to private schools in the 71st round of NSSO (in 2014), and the findings provide some interesting results. As expected, around 55 per cent children had been in the private schools because of the better learning as compared to government schools. Also, 20 per cent of the parents have reported that the quality of education in government schools is not satisfactory (Figure 7.1). Similar to this finding, Nambissan (2012) had observed that the parental aspiration for quality education has played an important role in the shifting of children from government to private schools. The predicted performance of children in private schools is higher than the performance in government schools (Alderman et al., 1996). That teachers are often absent in government schools, and do not work hard when present, raises questions about the quality of public schools (Desai et al., 2009). The study by Epple and Romano (1998) who model the education

Parental choice for schools 113 Could not get Admission in Govt. Schools 0.70%

Cannot Say 3.10%

Quality of Education in Govt. Institution is not Satisfactory 20.20% English is the Medium of Instruction 10.10%

Govt. Institution not Avialable 6.90%

Better Environment of Learning 55.20%

Figure 7.1 Reasons for attending private schools, 2014 Source: Author’s calculation from the 71st NSSO Round, 2014.

market as a stratified hierarchy of school qualities, finds that private schools are doing systematically better than public schools. Therefore, the aspiration of parents to access quality school education is one of the important reasons for the recent shift from government to private schools, including the increasing demand for low-cost schools. Parents consider private schools as the alternative to the government schools in getting quality education. But English-medium schooling is often equated with quality education by low-income parents (largely due to the information asymmetry) and these are exploited by players in the private sector (Nambissan, 2012). Private schools that cater to the poor exploit the parents from marginalized sections of the society who are not capable of assessing the learning level of their children (Alderman et al., 1996). Faced with a low-quality public school system in India, more and more parents choose to send their children to private schools. However, there is a considerable debate on whether the better performance of the children in private schools is a function of school-related factors or the characteristics of parents and other home-related factors the child possesses. In particular, two dimensions of private school enrolment (school and home related factors) pose a challenge to the current debate that children attending private schools learn more than those in public schools (Desai et al., 2009). The other important reason cited by the parents for sending their children to private schools is the English medium of instruction. Particularly, the aspiration for English medium instruction among poor households is considered as a key factor that drives demand for private schooling. Providing education in the medium of English is a very important factor for the poor parents in sending their children to Low Fee Private (LFP) schools in India (Dixon and Tooley, 2005).

114 P. Kumar Choudhury

Empirical results: probit estimates Major factors determining parental choice for schools in India are discussed here using probit regression. Five different probit equations are estimated to capture the heterogeneity in the choice of schools. The results are shown in Table 7.1. Covariates are included for gender, social group, location of the household, household asset, occupation of the household, education of the household head, sibling composition (number of male and female child in the age group of 0–14) and the grade child is enrolled in the school. Though the discussion of results mainly highlights major findings of the profit estimates, the descriptive figures are quoted in a few places and detail tables are provided in the Appendix (Table 7.A1 to Table 7.A4) The first thing to note that the largest single factor affecting child’s probability of attending private school is paying capacity household wealth which is measured by the household asset. The effects of top and bottom asset quintiles are modelled separately to get a better picture on the issue. The students from richest families (quintile 5) have higher probabilities in access to private schools than the students belonging to the poorest households (quintile 1). In 2011–2012, only about 12 per cent of the students from the poorest households were sending their children to private schools while it was more than 72 per cent for the richest households (top asset quintile). In 2004–2005 these figures were eight per cent and 60 per cent respectively (see Table 7.A3). Similar result was also found in the study by Woodhead et al. (2013) in the context of Andhra Pradesh. Interestingly, the rich–poor gap in the probability of attending private schools is found to be higher for boys than girls. Among the richest households, the probability of sending boys to private schools is 52 percentage points as compared to 47.8 percentage point for girls. Similar is the case even among poor households, though the difference in the probability of accessing private schools is relatively less. Surprisingly, not much difference is found in the choice pattern of rich and poor households between rural and urban areas. For example, the intra-regional variation in the probability of attending private school between poorest and richest households is 3 percentage points. The second largest factor affecting likelihood of attending private school is education of the head of household, in this case the highest educational level of the adults (more than 21 years old) in the household. Higher educated parents may be concerned about the quality of education, so enrol their children in private schools, given the common understanding that private schools provide better quality education. The results reported in Table 7.1 show that the probability of attending private schools increases with the rise in the highest adult education of the household. The households with the highest adult education level of graduation and above are 17 percentage points more likely to send their children to private schools than the households whose highest adult education is below primary. The effect of this is greater for girls than boys. It reveals that the likelihood of attending private schools among girls increases faster

-0.0534*** (0.00518)

0.110*** (0.00645)

-0.0220*** (0.000957)




0.172*** (0.00739)

0.333*** (0.00884)

0.500*** (0.0108)




-0.0113 (0.00726)

-0.0286*** (0.00636)



HH Head Occupation

0.0838*** (0.00618)


HH Asset Quintiles



-0.0351*** (0.00909)

-0.00280 (0.0103)

0.520*** (0.0147)

0.347*** (0.0124)

0.193*** (0.0106)

0.0902*** (0.00894)

-0.0220*** (0.00136)

-0.0219** (0.00882)

-0.0214** (0.0102)

0.478*** (0.0159)

0.320*** (0.0125)

0.152*** (0.0101)

0.0772*** (0.00842)

-0.0219*** (0.00134)

0.103*** (0.00899)

– 0.116*** (0.00915)



Table 7.1 Determinants of participation in private schooling: probit estimates

-0.0378*** (0.00884)

-0.00975 (0.00881)

0.500*** (0.0141)

0.310*** (0.0107)

0.161*** (0.00795)

0.0829*** (0.00594)

-0.0174* (0.00972)

-0.0344* (0.0208)

0.505*** (0.0256)

0.376*** (0.0244)

0.206*** (0.0245)

0.0627** (0.0255)

-0.0295*** (0.00187)

– -0.0187*** (0.00109)

-0.0487*** (0.0104)


-0.0559*** (0.00584)


– –

– —

-0.0235 (0.0188)


-0.0143 (0.0125)

-0.00819 (0.0184)

-0.00176 (0.0189)

-0.0247*** (0.00236)

0.103*** (0.0142)

-0.0310** (0.0131)

5th Quintile

-0.0103*** (0.00163)

0.0970*** (0.0210)

-0.0530*** (0.00812)

1st Quintile


-0.0417*** (0.00869)





0.0418*** (0.00613)

0.0888*** (0.00813)

0.130*** (0.00908)

Primary or UP


Higher Secondary

HH Head Education


-0.0656*** (0.0110)


0.127*** (0.0129)

0.0885*** (0.0116)

0.0365*** (0.00864)

-0.0429*** (0.0125)

-0.0583*** (0.0154)

-0.0959*** (0.0105)

-0.0984*** (0.00742)


-0.0150 (0.00968)


-0.0138** (0.00687)



Social Groups


Table 7.1 (Cont.)

0.133*** (0.0128)

0.0896*** (0.0113)

0.0490*** (0.00866)



-0.0384*** (0.0120)

-0.0737*** (0.0155)

-0.0990*** (0.0103)

-0.0104 (0.00970)


0.131*** (0.0105)

0.0773*** (0.00910)

0.0326*** (0.00632)



-0.0234** (0.0108)

-0.0440*** (0.0119)

-0.0876*** (0.00856)

0.00137 (0.00808)


0.137*** (0.0190)

0.120*** (0.0178)

0.0680*** (0.0154)



-0.0703*** (0.0150)

-0.102*** (0.0266)

-0.121*** (0.0145)

-0.0557*** (0.0130)


0.109*** (0.0240)

0.0645*** (0.0187)

0.0141* (0.00737)


-0.0208 (0.0184)

-0.0356** (0.0167)

-0.0471*** (0.0154)

0.0237 (0.0155)

1st Quintile

0.210*** (0.0493)

0.163*** (0.0495)

0.0826* (0.0500)



-0.0647*** (0.0211)

-0.0706* (0.0392)

-0.185*** (0.0198)

-0.0569*** (0.0139)

5th Quintile

0.174*** (0.0102)

-0.0115*** (0.00234)

-0.0207*** (0.00211)

-13993.37 0.31 31,387




Log-pseudo likelihood Pseudo R2 Observations

-7717.27 0.30 16,517

-0.0150*** (0.00314)

-0.0114*** (0.00332)

0.158*** (0.0143)


-6219.48 0.32 14,870

-0.0260*** (0.00284)

-0.0104*** (0.00330)

0.192*** (0.0144)


-9071.08 0.28 22,006

-0.0187*** (0.00233)

-0.00823*** (0.00255)

0.144*** (0.0124)


Notes: (a) Estimation gives the marginal effects; (b) Figures in parenthesis are standard errors

Source: Author’s calculation from the unit level record of IHDS II



-4742.98 0.26 9,381

-0.0270*** (0.00444)

-0.0255*** (0.00495)

0.225*** (0.0193)


-1849.06 0.23 6,666

-0.00907*** (0.00337)

-0.00443 (0.00367)

0.0560 (0.0407)

1st Quintile

-2332.77 0.20 5,129

-0.0216*** (0.00562)

-0.00215 (0.00600)

0.266*** (0.0489)

5th Quintile

118 P. Kumar Choudhury than boys with the increase in the education level of the adults in the household. This may be due to the increase in the awareness level of the household that minimizes the discrimination in the choice of schools between boys and girls. Further, it matters more for rich households as compared to poor households. The descriptive results show that in 2011–2012, around 68 per cent of children attended private schools whose highest adult education level was graduation and above while it was 15 per cent for the households whose highest adult education level was below primary. There is not much change on this trend since 2004– 2005 as these figures were 60 per cent and 12 per cent respectively in this year (Table 7.A2). A positive relationship between education level of the parent and demand for private schooling is also found by Tilak (2001). While there are several studies on gender discrimination in girls’ schooling, very little is known about girls’ access to private schooling in India, despite its rapid growth. It is argued that private schools are costly and thus may increase the discrimination against girls in India where the preference for sons prevails widely. Relatively, the literature on gender-based discrimination in private schooling is limited in both its scope and methodology, particularly in the context of India (Maitra et al, 2016). In India, daughters receive less investment in human capital than sons as parents inherently place a low value on females (Sahoo, 2017). It is often argued that accessing private school is a mark of social privilege and, because of that, rural schedule caste girls are very unlikely to find themselves in private schools (De, Norhona and Samson, 2002). Many studies have confirmed that the variation in household investment in education by gender is also due to the parents’ preference for better quality education for boys (by investing more) over girls (Aslam and Kingdon, 2008; Himaz, 2009; Azam and Kingdon, 2013; Saha, 2013). Parents may send only boys to private schools as they have son preferences (and likely to provide quality education to boys) because of underlying socioeconomic and cultural factors in India. Gender inequality in private school enrolment is typically attributed to a selection bias towards boys – that is, lowresource households that cannot afford to send all of their children to private schools choose to enrol boys over girls (Mcloughlin, 2013). Some studies show that girls are consistently less likely to attend private schools than boys in India (Mehrotra and Panchamukhi, 2007). Azam and Kingdon (2013), using IHDS (2005) data, finds a difference in education expenditure by gender. Boys are more likely to be sent to private schools and therefore invest more on them to provide better quality education. Poor families who were trying private schools at the bottom end of the spectrum, initially often sent all their children to a government school. When they found they were making little progress, they might take one or more children out and put them into private schools. The gender gap in attendance in private schools was evident in a study by Woodhead et al. (2013) in Andhra Pradesh. These findings bring out ‘gender equity’ as a matter of serious concern in private schools. The present study finds the similar results. Female are 5.3 percentage points less likely to be enrolled in

Parental choice for schools 119 private schools than boys and this difference is more in rural areas and also among poor households. The households belonging to rural areas are 5.6 percentage points less likely to send girls to private schools as compared to 4.8 percentage points in urban areas, an intra-regional gap of 0.7 percentage points. The results reveal pro-male bias in the choice of private schools in India and this difference is more for rural and poor households. This result confirms the descriptive statistics shown in Table 7.A1. There is a striking difference in the choice for private schools among rural and urban households. The findings show that urban households are 11 percentage points more likely to attend private schools as compared to rural areas because the parents of the former are well aware about the importance of education as compared to their counterparts in rural areas. The private schools are found more in urban than in rural areas, making physical access more challenging (Kingdon, 2017). Woodhead et al. (2013) finds that the largest single factor affecting a child’s chance of attending the private school is living in an urban area. The probability of attending private schools also varies by gender and region, though the differences are not much. The social characteristics such as caste and religion are also associated with school choice in India. As private education is regarded as a symbol of social prestige, one can expect that higher the caste hierarchy higher would be the probability of demand for private schools and vice versa (Tilak, 2001). The results show that upper caste Hindu students are more likely to attend private schools as compared to the students belonging to low socioeconomic settings such as scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and Muslims. However, students of other minority religions have fair chances to attend private schools as compared to upper caste Hindus. As expected, the effect of the social groups on the choice of private schools is higher in rural areas than urban. This confirms the descriptive results shown in Table 7.A4. In 2011–2012, around 62 per cent of the students of Other Minority Religion (OMR) groups (49 per cent among upper caste Hindus) attend private schools while this figure is only about 16 per cent among STs. In 2004–2005 more or less similar trend is visible across different social groups. Several other studies in India, particularly in the context of Andhra Pradesh, using Young Lives’ data have found similar results (Woodhead et al., 2013; Bhattacharya et al., 2015). The study by Tilak (2001) in rural India also finds that the probability of enrolment in private school is less if the child belongs to lower social groups. The relationship between the current grade of the child (may be considered as a proxy of age) and school type are also studied. Children in the lower grades have higher chances of going to private schools. With the increase in the enrolment of one grade the probability in enrolment in private schools declines by 2 percentage points. This may be due to the fact that households prefer to send their children to private schools in the early years as there is hardly any pre-schooling in government schools. Also, it suggests that parents enrol their children in private schools in lower grades and may transfer them to government schools as they reach higher grades. However, a detailed analysis on this (particularly looking at the grade-wise participation in government and private

120 P. Kumar Choudhury sectors) may reveal some interesting results, which is outside the scope of this paper. A larger household size might indicate lower levels of participation in private schooling as it is more expensive (Tilak, 2001). Kambhampati and Pal (2001) found that the numbers of children in the family has a strong impact to access private schooling. In this study total number of children in the family (0 to 14 age groups) is taken and the effects of male and female children are modelled separately. The results find that the number of children in the family is inversely related to the probability of attending private schools. Interestingly, the presence of more female children in the family affects the choice of private schools more as compared to the presence of male children in the family. It is well argued that with the presence of more children in the family the resource is distributed among them and also there is a pro-male bias in the sharing of household resources in India, particularly in providing them with education and health care. But a detailed discussion on this would call for looking at the effect separately for older brothers, younger brothers, older sisters, younger sisters etc.

Conclusion Education as a fundamental right is widely acknowledged across the globe. However, the proliferation of private schools and their role in providing access is a contested issue. The dominance of private players in the school education market has made the system more stratified and hence achieving ‘equality in education’ is a distant dream. With the RTE Act 2009, more debates have started which criticize and evaluate the regulation and accountability of private schools in India. Though there are few studies on the expansion of private schools, the choice between private and government schools is of relatively recent origin and need further investigation. Using two rounds of individual level unit record IHDS data this chapter has examined the factors shaping the parental choice in an increasingly privatized schooling context, particularly by gender and among rural households. The study finds evidence of gender variations in school choice among parents. Female are less likely to be enrolled in private schools than boys, and this difference is more in rural areas and also among poor households. It has also shown that students from richest families have higher probability of access to private schools in urban areas than their poor counterparts in rural areas. The rich–poor gap in the probability of attending private schools is found to be higher for boys than girls. But not much difference is found in the choice pattern of rich and poor households between rural and urban areas. For example, the intra-regional variation in the probability of attending private school between poorest and richest households is found to be only three percentage points. We also find a striking difference in the choice for the private schools among the rural and urban households because the parents in urban areas are well aware about the importance of education. Private schools are found more in urban than in rural areas, making physical access more challenging.

Parental choice for schools 121 Achieving equality and improving quality of school education in the country through the intervention of private sector is a failed story. The ongoing policy intervention of 25 per cent enrolment in private schools under RTE Act, 2009 has revealed enough for us to learn and therefore the strategy should be greater intervention by the state in providing quality schooling to all children. There is also much to be achieved in the fronts of regulation and accountability of private schools. As can be seen, various loopholes and loosely defined rules give private schools the scope to run for their benefit, which in turn is detrimental for the parents. Moreover, information asymmetry plays a critical role in the choice of schools in India. Therefore, an attempt should be made to regulate the expansion of unrecognized private schools catering to the need of poor students. It will stimulate or stifle the market for private education and also affect the quality of educational provision, especially for the marginalised sections of society. Elementary education being a fundamental right, the state should protect the interest of the children, particularly the students belonging to lower socioeconomic groups, including girls and students from rural areas. For meaningful education policy making, it is important to understand the changing trends and dynamics of the public and private school sector in India. Given the heterogeneity in the expansion of private schools in India, further engagement on this issue is needed to understand the debate on parental choice for schools. It is important to understand parental choice within private schools and also the dynamics of the shifting of children from government to private schools. Also, looking at the expansion of private schools in the sub-national level (in state, district and even in Taluka level) is required to arrive at a more nuanced understanding of the issue. For example, this may help us to understand why there has been exponential growth of private schools in Uttar Pradesh but not in Bihar. There is also a dearth of research in the school choice of disadvantaged sections of the society, particularly those who access low-fee private schools and therefore, specific studies targeting these groups need to be undertaken. These specific discussions will provide a deeper understanding on the entry of private schools into the public sphere and their operational strategies.

Notes 1 The elementary stage consists of a primary stage comprising Classes I-V (in some states I–IV), followed by a middle stage of education comprising Classes VI –VIII (in some states V–VIII or VI –VII). 2 For details on the variables used in the regression, see Table 7.A5 in the appendix.

References Alderman, H., Orazemb, P. F., and Mukherjee, A. 1996. “School quality, school cost, and the public/private school choices of low-income households in Pakistan.” The Journal of Human Resources 36(2): 304–326. Aslam, M. and Kingdon, G.G. 2008. “Gender and household education expenditure in Pakistan.” Applied Economics 40(20): 2573–2591.

122 P. Kumar Choudhury Azam, M. and Kingdon, G.G. 2013. “Are Girls the Fairer Sex in India? Revisiting IntraHousehold Allocation of Education Expenditure.” World Development 42: 143–164. Bhattacharya, S., Dasgupta, A., Mandal, K. and Mukherjee, A. 2015. “Understanding the ‘sorting hat’: The role of family and caste network in school choice decision.” PERI ESP Working Paper Series 2015, 69. Available online at uk/sites/ 20et%20al.pdf (accessed on 24 June 2018). De, A., Noronha, C., and Samson, M. 2002. “Private schools for less privileged: Some insights from a case study.” Economic and Political Weekly 37(52): 5230–5236. Desai, S., Dubey, A., Vanneman, R., and Banerji, R. 2009. “Private schooling in India: A new educational landscape.” In India Policy Forum 5(1): 1–38. Dixon, P., and Tooley, J. 2005. “The Regulation of Private schools serving low-income families in Andhra Pradesh, India.” The Review of Austrian Economics 18(1): 29–54. Epple, D. and Romano, R. E. 1998. “Competition between Private and Public Schools, Vouchers, and Peer-Group Effects.” American Economic Review 88(1): 33–62. Figlio, D. N. and StoneJ. A. 2000. “Are Private Schools Really Better?” Research in Labor Economics 18: 115–140. Friedman, M. 1955. “The Role of Government in Education.” Available online at http s:// (accessed on 24 June 2018). Galab, S., Vennam, U., Komanduri, A., Benny, L. and Georgiadis, A. 2013. “The impact of parental aspirations on private school enrolment: evidence from Andhra Pradesh, India.” Working Paper No. 97, Young Lives: An International Study of Childhood Poverty. Oxford: Department of International Development, University of Oxford. Himaz, R. 2009. “Is there a boy bias in household education expenditure? The case of Andhra Pradesh in India based on Young Lives data.” Working Paper No. 46, Young Lives: An International Study of Childhood Poverty. Oxford: Department of International Development, University of Oxford. Kambhampati, U.S. and Pal, S. 2001. “Role of Parental Literacy in Explaining Gender Difference: Evidence from Child Schooling in India.” European Journal of Development Research 13(2): 97–119. Karopady, D.D. 2014. “Does school choice help rural children from disadvantaged sections? Evidence from Longitudinal Research in Andhra Pradesh.” Economic & Political Weekly 49(51): 46–53. Kingdon, G.G. 1996. “Private schooling in India: Size, nature, and equity-effects.” Economic and Political Weekly 31(51): 3306–3314. Kingdon, G.G. 2005. “Where has all the Bias Gone? Detecting Gender Bias in the Intra-Household Allocation of Educational Expenditure.” Economic Development and Cultural Change 53(2): 409–451. Kingdon, G.G. 2017. “The private schooling phenomenon in India: A review.” IZA Discussion Papers, No. 10612. Bonn, Germany: Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA). Kosteckl, M. 1988. “School between the state and the market.” A Journal of Comparative Education 18(1): 3–9. Kumar, S. M. 2018. “Comparing private and government schools in India: the devil is in the maths.” Applied Economics Letters 25(6): 409–414. Mcloughlin, C. 2013. “Low-cost private schools: Evidence, approaches and emerging issues.” University of Birmingham: Economics and Private Sector Professional Evidence and Applied Knowledge Services.

Parental choice for schools 123 Maitra, P., Sarmistha, P. and Sharma, A. 2016. “Absence of Altruism? Female Disadvantage in Private School Enrollment in India.” World Development 85: 105–125. Mehrotra, S. and Panchamukhi, P. R. 2007. “Universalising elementary education in India: is the private sector the answer?” In Private Schooling in Less Economically Developed Countries, edited by Prachi Srivastava and Geoffrey Walford, 129–152. Oxford: Symposium Books. Nambissan, G. B. 2012. “Private schools for the poor: Business as usual?” Economic and Political Weekly 47(41): 51–58. NUEPA (National University of Educational Planning and Administration). 2009. Flash Statistics for Elementary Education 2007–2008. Available online at Downloads/Publications/Publications%202007-08/Flash%20statistics2007-08.pdf (accessed on 20 February, 2018). NUEPA (National University of Educational Planning and Administration). 2016. Flash Statistics for Secondary Education 2015–2016. Available online at loads/Publications/Documents/Secondary_Flash_Statistics-2015-16.pdf (accessed on 20 February, 2018). NUEPA (National University of Educational Planning and Administration). 2017. Flash Statistics for Elementary Education 2015–2016. Available online at Downloads/Publications/Documents/U-DISE-SchoolEducationInIndia-2015-16.pdf (accessed on 20 February, 2018). Saha, A. 2013. “An Assessment of Gender Discrimination in Household Expenditure on Education in India.” Oxford Development Studies 41(2): 220–238. Sahoo, S. 2017. “Intra-household gender disparity in school choice: Evidence from private schooling in India.” The Journal of Development Studies 53(10): 1–46. Singh, A. 2015. “Private school effects in urban and rural India: Panel estimates at primary and secondary school ages.” Journal of Development Economics 113: 16–32. Singh, A. K. 2016. Education and Empowerment in India. New York: Routledge. Srivastava, P. 2008. “School Choice in India: disadvantaged groups and low-fee private schools.” In The Globalisation of School Choice? edited by Martin Forsey, Scott Davies and Geoffrey Walford, pp. 185–208. Oxford: Symposium Books. Stern, J. M. B. and Heyneman, S. P. 2013. “Low fee private schooling: the case of Kenya.” In Low Fee Private Schooling: Aggravating Equity or Mediating Disadvantage, edited by Prachi Srivastava, pp. 105–128. Oxford: Symposium Books. Tabarrok, A. 2013. “Private education in India: A novel test of cream skimming.” Contemporary Economic Policy 31(1): 1–12. Thorat, A. 2011. “Private education for the poor in India.” Commonwealth Education Partnerships 2011. Available online at (accessed on 12 March 2018). Tilak, J. B. G. and Sudarshan, R. M. 2001. “Private schooling in rural India.” Working Paper Series No 76. New Delhi: National Council of Applied Economic Research. Woodhead, M., Frost, M. and James, Z. (2013). “Does growth in private schooling contribute to Education for All? Evidence from a longitudinal, two cohort study in Andhra Pradesh, India.” International Journal of Educational Development 33(1): 65–73.

3.62 3.38 3.51

7.54 7.62 7.58

4.63 4.5 4.57

76.22 80.89 78.38

40.93 45.81 43.21

67.08 71.68 69.21

28.28 23.82 26.22

51.53 46.57 49.22

20.16 15.72 18.11

100 100 100

100 100 100

100 100 100

Source: Author’s calculation from the unit level record of IHDS I and II

Rural Male Female All Urban Male Female All Total (R+U) Male Female Total


59.34 67.06 63.03

35.86 41.31 38.41

68.34 76.44 72.24




Govt. Aided



3.97 3.6 3.8

6.05 6.83 6.41

3.17 2.43 2.82

Govt. Aided

Table 7.A1 Distribution of enrolment by types of schools and gender for rural and urban India


36.69 29.33 33.18

58.1 51.86 55.18

28.48 21.13 24.95


100 100 100

100 100 100

100 100 100


124 P. Kumar Choudhury

2.61 5.05

6.51 6.32


84.88 74.01

57.58 48.37



35.91 45.32

12.51 20.94


100 100

100 100

Source: Author’s calculation from the unit level record of IHDS I and II

Illiterate Up to Upper Primary Secondary Higher Secondary Graduate and Above



52.11 44.32

82.58 68.95




Govt. Aided




6.43 5.18

1.87 3.59

Govt. Aided


41.45 50.5

15.54 27.46


Table 7.A2 Distribution of enrolment by types of schools and educational attainment of the head of household


100 100

100 100


Parental choice for schools 125

89.85 82.96 73.42 56.8 30.3

1 2 3 4 5

Govt. Aided

2 3.1 4.4 6.92 7.71

8.15 13.94 22.18 36.28 61.99


Total 100 100 100 100 100

Source: Author’s calculation from the unit level record of IHDS I and IHDS II


Asset Quintile

2004–2005 86.48 76.22 61.24 42.35 20


2011–2012 1.31 2.04 5.19 6.59 6.6

Govt. Aided

Table 7.A3 Distribution of enrolment by types of schools and asset quintile of the household Private 12.21 21.74 33.57 51.06 73.39

Total 100 100 100 100 100

126 P. Kumar Choudhury

56.34 69.94 80.07 81.31 68.15 25.81


5.18 4.33 3.94 4.5 3.18 18.17

Govt. Aided 38.48 25.73 15.98 14.2 28.67 56.02

Private 100 100 100 100 100 100


Note: HUC = Hindu Upper Caste; OMR = Other Minority Religions

Source: Author’s calculation from the unit level record of IHDS I and II


Social Groups


Table 7.A4 Distribution of enrolment by types of schools and social group

47.15 60.23 74.32 79.99 63.99 20.19


2011–2012 3.75 3.6 3.88 3.55 3.06 18.16

Govt. Aided

49.1 36.17 21.79 16.45 32.95 61.64


100 100 100 100 100 100


Parental choice for schools 127

128 P. Kumar Choudhury Table 7.A5 Notation of the variables used in the probit model Notation

Name of Variable



School Choice

1, if an Individual has participated in private school; 0, otherwise (Dependent Variable)


Male Female

0, if an individual is male 1, if an individual is female


Urban Rural

1, if an individual resides in an urban area 0, if an individual resides in a rural area


UC Hindus



SC ST Muslim OMR

SC ST Muslim OMR

1, if an Individual is upper caste Hindu, 0, otherwise 1, if an Individual is OBC Hindu; 0, otherwise 1, if an Individual is SC; 0, otherwise 1, if an Individual is ST; 0, otherwise 1, if an Individual is Muslim; 0, otherwise 1, if an individual is Christian/Sikh/Jain etc.; 0, otherwise

Social Group

Highest Adult (>21 age) Education of the HH HAE_BP* Illiterate or below 1, if the HAE primary 0, otherwise HAE_UP Primary or UP 1, if the HAE 0, otherwise HAE_SEC Secondary 1, if the HAE HAE_HSE Higher Secondary 4, if the HAE otherwise HAE_graduate Graduate 4, if the HAE otherwise HH Assets Index


1st quintile (poorest) 2nd quintile


3rd quintile


4th quintile


5th quintile (richest) Grade enrolled


Grade_level HH Head Occupation Salaried_employees*

is illiterate or below primary; is primary or upper primary; is secondary; 0, otherwise is higher secondary; 0, is graduation and above; 0,

1, if the student belongs to HH asset 1; 0, otherwise 1, if the student belongs to HH asset 2; 0, otherwise 1, if the student belongs to HH asset 3; 0, otherwise 1, if the student belongs to HH asset 4; 0, otherwise 1, if the student belongs to HH asset 5; 0, otherwise The current grade of the student

quintile quintile quintile quintile quintile

1, salaried, regular and businessman; 0, otherwise

Parental choice for schools 129 Notation Agri_allied Wage_labor_others NCHILDM NCHILDF

Name of Variable

Definition 1, Agriculture and Allied, rural labor; 0, otherwise 3, Others; 0, otherwise Number of male child in the family (0–14 years old) Number of female child in the family (0– 14 years old)

* used as reference category in the probit model; UC = Upper Caste; OBC = Other Backward Caste; SC = Schedule Caste; ST =Schedule Tribe


Privatization and shrinking free space in Indian higher education Challenges for the inclusive knowledge society Narender Thakur and Gaurav J. Pathania

Privatization in Indian public higher education has been expanding its size and scale through three methods: 1) de jure privatization 2) de facto privatization and 3) private tuition and coaching.

De jure privatization in Indian higher education The process of de jure privatization has increased under the current political regime of National Democratic Alliance under the prime-minister of Narendra Modi, during 2014–2019, through promotion of numbers and growth of private colleges and universities in the Indian higher education system, making education more expensive and inequitable and leading to privatization and commoditization of education (Patnaik, 2016; Thakur, 2016b). In 2015–2016, the percentage share of private higher educational institutions in total opened up in was 84%. The private institutions do not assure reservations or affirmative, reflecting an inbuilt-inequity of the private players in the market. In 2015–2016, the total number of private universities (79 deemed private and 197 state private universities) in India was 276, which constituted 35% of the total number of Indian universities (799). As per GOI (2018), in 2017–2018, the percentage share (number) of private universities in total of 902 universities is 38% (total private: 343 of which 80 are deemed private, 262 state private and 1 state open private). Over the two years (2015–2016 to 2017–2018) of the Modi regime, the number of private universities has increased by 67, from 276 to 343, showing a growth rate of 24%. This surge in growth of private universities is mainly bulldogged by the highest number and growth of the state private universities, reflecting promotion of de jure privatization by the state governments. In 2015–2016, out of 35,667 colleges in India, the number of private colleges was 27,679, which had a higher share of 78% (GOI, 2016a). In 2017–2018, the number of colleges was 38,061, the number and percentage share of private colleges are 29,073 and 78% respectively. The percentage increase in private colleges over the two years has been 5%. Out of the total number of enrolled students (25.73 million) in Indian colleges during 2015–2016, the number and share of enrolled students in private colleges were 17.25 million (67%). In 2017–2018, the number of total students in colleges are 26.55 million and the total number and share of enrolled students in private colleges are 17.87 million (67%). The growth

Privatization and shrinking free space


rate of enrolment in private colleges over two years has been 3.6%. The pace of privatization in Indian college education has been greatly expanded. Out of the total number of colleges (850) opened only in 2015–2016, the number and percentage share of private colleges were 717 (84%). In 2017–2018, the number of colleges opened up are 1,147, out of which the share of private colleges is 82%. The total number of enrolled students in these colleges were 112,000 and their share in the private colleges was 82% (92,000). In 2017–2018, the total number of enrolled students are 326,729, out of which 71.69% (234,216) is in private colleges. The numbers of private colleges and universities have increased over the two years and enrolment in colleges is also increased. This implies that the increased numbers of institutions and enrolment in private colleges and universities have expanded the cost of higher education significantly due to de jure privatization.1 An expanded scale of de jure privatization in Indian college education, is critical to expand access of higher education and opportunities for all in the age group of 18– 23 years, as the average number of colleges per lakh population was only 28 during 2017–2018. Not only the number and the share of private colleges has increased but public higher education institutes are also made to function on self-sustaining mode to generate private resources in the context of market-principles in the name of granting them autonomy and promoting privatization and commoditization (Thakur, 2016a).

De facto privatization in Indian public higher education De facto privatization has been adopted by the government in Indian public higher education through the following methods (Thakur, 2016b): Increasing private sources of finance The role of welfare state in Indian higher education has declined under the agenda of neo-liberal economics. In the neo-liberal policies, government spending on education as a share of the central government’s total budgeted expenditure has been falling for the past three years under National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government for the period 2014–2019 (see Table 8.1). In 2014–2015, the share of education budget in central government budget was 6.15%, which declined to 5.44% in 2015–2016, 4.68% in 2016–2017 and 3.71% in 2017–2018 (Table 8.1). The share of education budget in Gross National Income (GNI) has also declined from 1.06% in 2014–2015 to 0.86% in 2015–2016 and 0.77% in 2016–2017 and it has further fallen to 0.62% in 2017– 2018. It is a big challenge in times of increasing private expenditure in education for a hierarchal society, not only economically but socially as well that too in a more regressive way of having upper and lower caste associations. The Ministry of Finance issued a memorandum to the public higher educational institutions in order to arrange at least 30% of the total amount of private financial sources to fund the increased salaries of teachers and staffs under the 7th Pay Commission (2006–2016).2 After the protest of teachers’ associations at all India

132 N. Thakur and G. J. Pathania Table 8.1 Declining public spending in education sector under the central government of Modi Year

MHRD Budget (Rs. Billion)

Total Central Budget (Rs. Billion)

Gross National Income (GNI) (Rs. Billion)

Share of Education Budget in GNI (%)

Share of Education Budget in Central Budget (%)

2014–2015 2015–2016 2016–2017 2017–2018

1104 967 927 797

17,949 17,775 19,781 21,467

104,123 112,463 120,347 128,350

1.06 0.86 0.77 0.62

6.15 5.44 4.68 3.71

Source: BS (2018)

level, the government was forced to withdraw the diktat of private financial resource generation, as the first means of alternative private resources is the student-fees. This privatization is not only a case of central government-funded public universities and colleges but also the state universities. This year has witnessed several protests against the fee hike in many universities, like in Panjab University. In the same protest, police filed sedition charges against more than 50 protesting students of the university, although the charges were dropped later after receiving criticism for using unnecessary coercive methods to control students. Thus, private sources of finance are being promoted by the central and state governments at the all-India level by increasing student fees, examination fees, hostel fees, rents from the playgrounds and institutional buildings, and an extra income from the projects and consultancies undertaken by teachers. These alternative sources of private funding in the public universities and colleges lead to the commoditisation of higher education, as students and teachers are treated as commodities and as revenue-generating sources of income. In the process of de facto privatization, the MHRD has been forcing universities and Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) to sign memoranda of understanding (MoUs) to seek loans from the newly launched Higher Education Funding Agency-HEFA. This introduction of the loans system to HEIs will gradually replace the public funding system and will ignore the equity and social justice objectives in and through higher education. This amounts to double taxation on both parents and teachers who pay direct taxes, like income and property taxes; they also pay indirect taxes, for instance, sales tax, value-added tax (VAT), or service tax and Goods and Services Tax (GST) at the time of the purchase of goods and services. Now, the government has been asking students and teachers to become revenue-generating units with the added burden of bearing the costs of education. This double taxation is unfair as most citizens do not have access to free public higher education, especially when payments are already paid in terms of direct and indirect taxes.

Privatization and shrinking free space


Contractual teachers Apart from being charged with double taxation, teachers are now being treated as contractual labour under the neo-liberal reforms, the process of contractualization is a reality of de jure privatization but it is also promoted by the public higher educational institutions as a part of de facto privatization. The working and living conditions of contractual teachers are not descent or humane. More than 50% of teachers are ad-hoc or contractual in the University of Delhi, and these ad-hoc teachers get a fixed salary per month without an annual increment in salaries and no social security allowances, like pension, insurance, health facilities, maternity and child leaves, etc., yet they have a fixed salary for ten years. With increasing cost of living, especially during these times of increasing privatized health and education systems, contractual teachers suffer specifically on three accounts. First, they are paid low salaries. Second, they are not treated as equals of permanent teachers in terms of the higher number of teaching hours, lesser choices of timings of classes, subjects and numbers of periods. Third, at the time of absence of social security allowances and no increments, contractual teachers also pay more private health and educational expenses for themselves and their families, etc. There is another category of contractual teachers in the University of Delhi, ‘Guest Faculty’, who are paid Rs. 1,000 per class, and they can take a maximum number of 25 classes per month, implying that they can earn Rs. 25,000 per month, which is a very low income in a megacity like Delhi. In states other than Delhi, teachers are recruited on a daily basis, and the salaries are even lower than those who work at the University of Delhi, which lead them to face more adverse working conditions, resulting in the violation of the ‘decent work agenda’ of the International Labour Organization (ILO).3 This contractual system of teachers creates instability and insecurity in their careers and shatters their self-confidence and self-esteem; these are crucial indicators of the well-being or capability of teachers. This contractual process has adverse effects on students’ capability through teaching by the unstable and insecure teachers. Thus, contractual teachers are treated as private commodities both through de jure privatization and de facto privatization. The contractualization system has critical ramifications of the knowledge formation in the Indian higher education system. This process of contractualization of teaching further has critical ramifications on the knowledge formation in the Indian higher education system, via creating unstable teaching learning environment for learners and in-secured livelihood for teachers. It in other words the contractualization results in lowering of human capabilities of students and teachers through creating insecurities and instability among the teachers due to the de facto privatization of public HEIs and expanding private HEIs via de jure privatization. It should be noted that the percentages of the disadvantaged sections in contractual teachers in Indian higher public education system are lower in comparison to their percentages in the population as well as their constitutional shares in

134 N. Thakur and G. J. Pathania affirmative actions. The Modi regime is hampering the social justice assured in the constitution of India through reservation policies for disadvantaged sections of India society, Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Backward Castes (OBCs). On March 5 2018, Allahabad High Court announced that recruitment of SC, ST and OBC teachers in the public funded higher educational institutions should be done on the basis of the department as a unit under the 13-points roster, rather than by taking college or university as a unit under 14-points or 200 points roster. The 200-point roster system takes care of more number of seats and assures progressive recruitment process for SC/ST/OBC teachers in the caste-driven society in public institutions. During the month of September, 2018, in parliament, the MHRD minister announced that he had postponed the recruitment process in the public funded institutions. As he referred to the Allahabad high Court’s decision on changing the process of recruitment from 14-points or 200 points roaster system to 13-points for recruitment of SC/ST/OBC teachers through reservation, which was upheld by the Supreme Court. MHRD/UGC also appealed against the High Court decision in the Supreme Court to change the decision for the cause of social justice in the recruitment of teachers. But this process leads to stagnation in the recruitment of teachers in colleges and universities resulting contractualization of teachers and increasing educated unemployment. However, after the resistance of opposition political parties, students and teachers’ organizations, the central government was forced to withdraw the changes in the roster and re-implemented the 14-point roster system for the employment of underprivileged categories in central funded higher educational institutions. But the shortage of teachers still prevails due to delayed appointment by late withdrawal of the 13-roster system by the Modi regime. The scale of the problem about shortage of teachers has now also caught the attention of the NDA government in its second term after getting huge mandate in the recent parliament election, as the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) issued a circular to fill up the vacant posts of teachers lying in the central funded HEIs, within 100 days of the second term of Modi regime (The Wire, 2019). The Member of Parliament (MP), Jairam Ramesh of Congress – the opposition political party – raised the issue of the shortage of teachers in the Indian higher education system and asked how the government is addressing this issue. Interestingly, on the question of teacher shortages in Indian higher education, the MHRD minister responded that the government is also working on the issue and stated that he has requested the Indian diaspora or non-resident Indians to help us find good quality teachers to be recruited in Indian HEIs. This shows the State’s sincerity in ensuring secured employment to teachers with social justice and equity in and through higher education in India. Provision of ‘market autonomy’ The UGC has adopted a critical path for privatization through ‘provision of market-autonomy’ to the colleges in the University of Delhi. The principal and the governing body of St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi passed out the UGC resolution to grant autonomous status to the college. This move has

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neglected discussion with students and teachers of colleges, academic community, and society at the large. The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) and all the left, right and centre-affiliated teachers’ organizations criticize the lopsided policy of ‘autonomy’ undertaken unilaterally by the body and the principal of the college. DUTA’s president was teaching in St. Stephen’s College. There are three surreptitious agendas of the UGC behind granting the ‘autonomous’ status to colleges: (i)

to reduce the collective spirit and bargaining power of colleges, teachers and students against biased policies like privatization, contractualization of teachers; (ii) to provide market freedom for public funded colleges and universities to adopt de facto privatization methods (with hikes in student fee and other price-driven methods for revenue generation) and the contractual system of appointment of teachers and staff; (iii) a reduction of DUTA power as the present president of the DUTA is from St. Stephen’s College; she has been leading the movement against the de facto privatization in the University of Delhi and has been coordinating with other organizations at an all-India level for a long time. The two surreptitious agendas of privatizations and reducing collective spirit of the teachers are witnessed in a recent step of a hike in college and residential fees by the administration of St. Stephen College. For the academic season 2019–20, the administration hiked college fees by 6% and residential fees by 9% (TOI, 2019). The MHRD is also trying to improve in quality of its educational institutions for increasing the world rankings, finds no coherence with the administrative actions at college and university level, like neglecting discussion and debate with the stakeholders of the public higher education system, viz., students, teachers, educationists and parents. According to the MHRD minister, the present government is trying to improve the quality of 10 public higher education institutions and 10 private higher education institutions in coming years. The MHRD minister’s assurance on granting “full autonomy” to the institutions for improving quality as well as world ranking so that Indian HEIs can come in the top-200 world institutions that too at the cost of encouraging private educational institutions and blocking public funding to public educational institutions. The government is promoting the private institute of the top most industrialist – Mukesh Ambani – JIO institute (one of the ten private institutions in MHRD list), to upgrade its status of “world-class universities” by the public funds. The MHRD offered Rs. 1,000 crores to the non-existence private JIO institute for its tag of “Institution of Eminence”. For improvement in quality of education, the Modi regime in its second term, MHRD expanded its list of “Institutions of Eminence” from 10 to 20 (The Wire, 2019). Half the institutions of eminence would be private, showing use of central government funds for private benefits of bing-industrialist owned HEIs. Thus, the Modi 2.0 regime signals for promotion of de jure and de facto privatizations.

136 N. Thakur and G. J. Pathania Increasing private costs of education: a significant portion in coaching and tuitions With increase in de jure and de facto privatization in the education sector under the Modi regime one and these privatization policies to be continued in Modi 2.0 regime, which have been implemented since early 1990s after the implementation of liberalization, privatization and globalization (LPG) policies to expand the reach of capitalism, there has been also an increasing trend in private tuition and coaching. Private tuition is mainly aimed at getting higher marks in ongoing classes of study of schools, colleges and universities, under cut-throat competition. The private players are getting profits from selling the informal and uncontrolled private tuition and coaching to the students and their parents. This uncontrolled market of private tuition and coaching is entangled with the market and government failures in the education and employment sectors (Thakur, 2016a). Private coaching is generally taken for ‘cracking entrance examinations’, for getting seats in the public higher educational institutions, like Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) and medical colleges like All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and to crack the competitive examinations of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and Staff Selection Commission (SSC), thereby getting central governmental jobs in the public sector. In 2013, a study on ‘Business of private coaching centres in India’ revealed that the size of private coaching industry in India was about $23.7 billion in 2013 and projected to be nearly doubled to $40 billion in 2015. By 2018 it had further increased to $103 billion.4 The study, based on the sample survey of 5,000 students and parents in 12 Indian cities, revealed that 86% of students in primary and secondary schooling relied on private tuitions (ASSOCHAM, 2013). With increasing de jure and de facto privatization, the private cost or expenditure of education including higher education has been increasing for students and their parents. At an all-India level, the average private expenditure per student in general education (primary education to simple graduation degree levels) has increased by Rs. 4,300 from Rs. 2,500 during 2007–2008 to Rs. 6,800 in 2014 (Figure 8.1). Over the same years, the average expenditure per student in technical and professional education has increased by Rs. 30,700 from Rs. 32,100 to Rs. 62,800 and the average expenditure in vocational education has increased by Rs. 13,200 from Rs. 14,900 to Rs. 27,700. Twenty-five per cent of the 70.0 52.5 35.0 17.5 0.0 General

Technical/professional (except vocational) 2007-08



Figure 8.1 All-India average private expenditure (Rs. thousand) per student by type of education in 2007–2008 and 2014 Source: Thakur (2016a)

Privatization and shrinking free space


total number of students in schools and higher education at an all-India level took private coaching and tuition in 2014. This suggests the cost of education on private tuition and coaching for covering the syllabus of the students studying in private and public schools and higher educational institutions. Students and graduates also incur private costs in preparing for entrance and competitive exams for their further admission in the higher courses of studies and for their employment in the Indian or global labour market. With increasing de jure and de facto privatization, and expanding private coaching and tuition, there are challenges for equity and access for the non-affluent population due to expanded disparities between the lower and upper socio-economic strata of students. In India, there is a greater income inequality, as the income share of the bottom 20% population comprised only 8% of the Indian national income during 2011 and the top 20% population comprised more than 44% of the Indian national income in the same year (WB, 2017). The participation of SC, ST, OBCs, Muslims, including females are relatively lower than the upper socio-economic status students. The percentage shares of SC, ST, OBC, Muslims and female students in the Indian higher education system during 2015–2016 were lower in comparison to the higher strata of the Indian population (GOI, 2016a). Since middle of the first decade of the twenty-first century, under the 11th Five Year Plan (2007–2012), Indian education policy makers have been focusing on greater enrolment in Indian higher education, which resulted in a double increase in the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in the Indian higher education from 12% in 2007–2008 to 24% in 2015–2016 and to 25.8% in 2017–2018 (GOI, 2016a; 2018), which is also known as the process of massification. The total number of enrolled students in Indian higher educational institutions (HEIs) was 30.2 million in 2012–2013, and these increased to 34.6 million in 2015–2016 and 36.6 million in 2017-18. With these higher enrolment figures and GER in Indian HEIs, the participation of SC/ST/OBC/Muslims/women has also expanded, but their shares have remained lower than that of upper caste males in Indian universities. In 2015– 2016, the percentage shares of SCs, STs, OBCs, and Muslims in Indian HEIs were 13.9%, 4.9%, 33.8% and 4.7% respectively, which added up to 57.3% (GOI, 2016a). In 2017–2018, these respective shares of SCs, STs, OBCs, and Muslims are 14.4%, 5.2%, 35% and 5%, summing up to 59.6%, show increasing shares of the disadvantaged sections in the Indian HEIs (GOI, 2018). These shares of the students belonging to the disadvantaged sections in 2012–2013 were lower at 12.8%, 4.4%, 31.2% and 4.2% respectively, adding up to 52.6%. Thus the percentage share of these enrolled students from the disadvantaged social categories in Indian higher education had increased by 4.7 percentage point from 2012–2013 to 2015–2016 and 2.3 percentage point from 2015–2016 to 2017–2018, showing a lowering growth rate of enrolment of students, it is signalling a trend towards stagnation of massification in Indian HEIs due to increasing cost of education in the times of expanding privatization as it is further elaborated. The percentage share of female students in the total number of enrolled students was 44.9% in 2012–2013, also increased to 46.2% in 2015–2016 and 48% in 2017–2018, showing an increase mere 1.3 percentage point from 2012-

138 N. Thakur and G. J. Pathania 13 to 2015–2016 and only 1.8 percentage point from 2015–2016 to 2017– 2018 (GOI, 2016; 2018). In 2017–2018, the percentage shares of male and female enrolled students are 52% and 48%, implying gender-gap is 4%. As per the recent data of All India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE) 2017–2018 (GOI, 2018), the number of teachers is 12.9 lakhs, the respective shares of SC, STs, OBCs and Muslims are 8.6%, 2.3%, 32.3%, and 5.3%, adding up to 48.5%. In the same year, the respective shares of male and female teachers in India higher education are 58% and 42%, showing a gender-gap of 18%. In 2017–2018, the respective shares of students and teachers from these four disadvantaged categories are 59.6% and 48.5%, implying a gap of student-teacher shares of 11.1%.The shares of assistant professors in 40 central universities from SC (12.02%), ST (5.46%) and OBC categories (14.38%) are very abysmally lower in comparison to the upper caste or ‘general category’, which is 66%, as reported by the Indian Express – the daily newspaper published in New Delhi on 15 January, 2019 (Yadav, 2019). The constitutional reservation shares for assistant professors of SCs, STs, and OBCs are 15%, 7.5% and 27% respectively. The shares of professors of these three social categories are 3.47%, 0.7% and 0%, showing under-representation of the lower social strata. The shares of these three categories in the posts of associate professors are also lower at 4.96%, 1.30 and 0% respectively. Therefore, a higher presence of the disadvantaged strata of students and researchers – that is, SCs, STs, OBCs, Muslims and women – are also being confronted by the biased minds of upper stratified castes teachers, creating alienation, fear and despair in the psychology of the lower stratified population. On 22nd May, 2019, a Dalit girl student, Payal Tadvi in post graduation of Gynecology in a medical college of Mumbai, committed suicide due to slur and caste-discrimination by her three upper caste classmates and hostel-mates (Indian Express, 2019). This current incident is a reflection of entrenched and prevailing caste driven hate and discrimination in Indian higher educational institutions. On the next day after this suicide, 23rd May, the prime minister Modi, on the occasion of his victory of his second term in the parliament, called upon the abolition of caste in India and elaborated that the two castes prevail in India: (i) poor and (ii) people working for alleviation of poverty (Indian Express, 2019). The lower shares of the disadvantaged teachers increase chances of caste-discrimination in the Indian campuses, thus there is dire need to assure implementation of constitutional reservation policies in the teachers’ recruitment from assistant to associate to professor levels to reduce the probability of caste-discrimination both for teachers and students. With increasing three modes of privatizations and higher costs of private education, the number of loans for private education increased among students, in domestic and foreign private HEIs, as students were not successful in securing admission in reputed public institutions of their choices in India (Thakur, 2016a). The perils of debt-trap hover around many students primarily due to the rising cost of higher education during the liberalization period, especially after the entry of private investment in higher, professional and technical education during the 1990s and 2000s. There is an increasing number of students who take loans from banks, and also those

Privatization and shrinking free space


whose parents finance education from their savings. In the 2014–2015 budget, the finance minister of India provided moratorium on interest payments for educational loans taken before March 2009. The interest moratorium was estimated to cost Rs. 2,600 crore for the Indian central government and nine lakh students were supposed to get benefits. At the end of December 2013, public sector banks had 2.57 million student loan accounts and the outstanding amount was Rs. 57,700 crores.5 On 13 August 2016, State Bank of India (SBI) – the largest commercial bank in India – increased the limit of education loan for overseas study from Rs. 30 lakhs to Rs. 1.5 crores. The repayment can be paid after one year of completing the education degree, during which the search for jobs in the labour market is on and there is also a scope of one-year extension for the repayment by the students. However, graduate unemployment in India is higher at 65% (Thakur, 2016a), which reduces the chances of employment in the Indian labour market and creates a debt trap for students and their families. The expensive education and increasing educated unemployment create stress, anxiety and uncertainty to the students and forcing them to taking extreme steps of suicides. The number of suicides by students in India reported by national Bureau of Crime Records (NCRB6) increased from 8068 in 2014 to 8934 in 2015 to 9474 in 2016. After 2016, the government stopped to release the data on the number of students’ suicides. Patnaik (2015) voiced concerns about the deteriorating conditions of students and their families: Neo-liberal spokesmen advocating commoditization and privatization of education suggest that even those belonging to non-affluent households can access education by taking student loans; but in a society with no guarantee of employment, education financed by student loans can be the precursor of mass student suicides caused by loan default, exactly the way that there have been mass peasant suicides over the last decade and half.

Shrinking free space in Indian campuses Neo-liberalism has its own structure of domination that works closely with state power. Rampant privatization and commoditization have drastically changed the higher education landscape. On the one hand, there is a mad rush of achieving international standards of quality, excellence and ranking; on the other, there is a severe assault on freedom of speech as well as the academic freedom by the state-led market ideology. The state constantly establishes the notion that students are there to study, and not to do politics. The word ‘politics’ is given a very negative connotation. With the growth of private universities, students or youths are part of the ‘market driven commodified culture’ (Giroux 2009: 24). Giroux calls it ‘the bio-politics of neoliberalism and disposability, examining it not only as an economic system, but also an educational, cultural, and political discourse’.

140 N. Thakur and G. J. Pathania The only current signs of resistance can be seen in the public institutions of higher education which have been on the target of the government. In 2016, the suicide of a Dalit scholar at Hyderabad Central University led to country-wide student agitation. The same year, India experienced a series of student protests in favour of freedom of speech, culminating in the Azadi campaign (for details see Pathania 2018: 3). Students’ dissent was projected by the media and the government as ‘anti-national activities’ on the campus. As a result, students and public intellectuals led a series of lectures on campus at an open space to discuss and debate the issue of nationalism. Recently, the vice-President of India has also raised his concern about the shrinking free space for debates and discussions in HEIs (The Hindu, 2017). Several student activists were rusticated by the administration. Students showed their dissent by rallying together against the authoritative attitude of the university saying that “such action would kill the spirit of an inclusive university”. A recent episode took place at Ramjas College, a constituent college of the University of Delhi, where the ABVP-RSS student body physically attacked the students and teachers in order to stop a seminar on the ‘culture of protest’. The staging of Mahashweta Devi’s Draupadi at the Central University of Haryana was opposed by right-wing organisations, who considered the play to be anti-national. Sanjay Kak’s documentary Jashn-e-Azadi, at Symboisis University and Anand Patwardhan’s Ram ke Naam at Indian Law Society College; and the University of Hyderabad, laid down new rules regarding protests. Such rules not only ban the freedom of expression but also attack the democratic ethos of the university (Pathania 2018). Democracy, in Erich Fromm’s view is a system that creates ‘the economic, political and cultural conditions for the full development of the individual’ (Fromm 1994: 272). To be ‘anti-national’ is to be illegal and, with such official language, the state also renders such activities as criminal or terrorism. Such terms are used by the state as a tool for the criminalization of politically unwanted people, who stand against the state hegemonic ideology. It is worrisome for the growth of knowledge in a free society in Indian universities, where the government wants to make India a knowledge economy through higher ‘quality education’ in schools and HEIs. The protesting students and teachers against de facto privatization in Indian public higher education, including the biased admission policy under UGC Gazette 2016 – especially Dalit students in JNU and other Indian public universities – are being removed or excluded from the campuses. These measures for tackling the students and teachers by the university administration have shrunk the democratic open space of debate, discussion and protest. Students, researchers and teachers are not properly engaged in the discussion of their differences, dissent and reservations about the education policies and actions of the university administration. The most affected are those that are victimized by these biased education policies and actions of the administrators at university campus are first-generation learners from disadvantaged marginal communities; they are cruelly eliminated and forced to take extreme measures, for instance, committing suicides. Even the reasons of these suicides are not identified and are diverted towards

Privatization and shrinking free space


unnecessary debates: one prominent example of this kind of political distraction is Rohit Vemula’s suicide, after which the NDA government investigated into his Dalit identity. The delay tactics of the justice undertaken by the present NDA government created more fears, exclusion and alienation in the minds of students/researchers. On 17 January, 2016, Rohith Vemula expressed his unease and distress in the university campus in his last letter before committing suicide in Hyderabad Central University (HCU): [t]he value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing. Never was a man treated as a mind. As a glorious thing made up of star dust. In very field, in studies, in streets, in politics, and in dying and living. (Quoted from his last letter before his death) On 10 March 2017, Rajini Krish, a Dalit scholar in JNU before committing suicide, shared his anguish and distress in reference to the Indian higher education system and policy makers as was perceived from his last post on Facebook There is no equality in MPhil/PhD Admission, there is no equality in Vivavoce, there is only denial of equality, denying Professor Thorat Committee recommendation, denying Students protest places in Ad-block, denying the education of the Marginal’s. When Equality is denied everything is denied. Students from the marginalised community expressed their feelings of alienation and distress which ultimately pushed them as a commodity or a thing into an exclusive education system and indifferent policy makers. Moreover, there are issues of caste-based stigma and humiliation that students from marginalized section have to face in everyday life on campus. The hallways of elite institutions do not transcend existing prejudices and stereotypes (Pathania and Tierney 2018: 10). One cannot ignore the fact that higher education in the present context is an expensive commodity and market decides who can access this product. ‘In a radical free-market culture, when hope is precarious and bound to commodities and a corrupt financial system, young people are no longer at risk: they are the risk’ for the state, according to Henry Giroux (2009: x). With increasing privatization and growing fascist tendencies leading to shrinking spaces for free discussion, debate and learning in Indian campuses, the Indian central government has recently implemented a regressive policy of 10% reservation to the economic poor for the upper castes or ‘general category’ strata of population in Indian public educational institutions and public sector jobs, which defined as cynically election stunt taken by the central government under PM Modi, by Deshpande (2019). This policy is also creating a further divide and it is contradicting the constitutional provisioning of a ‘reservation policy’ for socially and educationally backward classes rather than economically weaker classes. It is public knowledge that there is higher educated unemployment in India and the constitution quota of reserved seats and jobs of SCs,

142 N. Thakur and G. J. Pathania STs and OBCs could not be properly filled up the educational institutions and public departments as explained in the case of assistant, associate and full professors in the Indian 40 central funded universities. Prior to recent parliamentary elections, the Modi government at the centre has taken the decision of the EWS reservation in haste to lure upper caste voters, in the times of increasing shares of private educational institutions and departments in Indian economy, under LPG policies. With expanding the three modes of privatizations, it would be a great challenge for the Modi 2.0 government in its second term (2019–24), to ensure socio-economic equity through proper implementation of the reservation policies in the Indian higher education.

Concluding remarks The three modes of privatization in Indian higher education have resulted in adverse effects in terms of increasing cost of education for students and their parents and contractualization of teachers, especially for the already excluded section of students and teachers, that is, SC/ST/OBC/Muslims and women. With privatization, fascist tendencies have grown leading to uncontrolled violence of the right-wing groups on Indian university campuses, which results in shrinking free space for learning and teaching. These adverse effects have also caused alienation and distress for the students and teachers, especially the marginalized population and is hampering their creativity and capability, eventually reducing them to a ‘thing’ or a commodity, as also expressed by the two Dalit students in HCU and JNU who are no more (Singh, 2016; The Wire, 2017). In times of privatization and shrinking free-spaces in Indian higher education system, there are five specific policy implications to build an inclusive knowledge society: (i) expand public funding in higher education to meet access and equity for first-generation learners; (ii) ensure the implementation of the decent work agenda of the ILO through the permanent employment of teachers; (iii) direct monitoring and regulation of private institutions of education and private tution and coaching by the government; (iv) implement the Thorat Committee’s recommendations for taking care of disadvantaged students on the campuses; and (v) ensure a democratic open culture and an atmosphere of free thinking, debates and discussion in Indian colleges and universities.

Notes 1 However, the declining shares of the private HEIs and their declining shares of enrolment; are showing a change of massification process that is moving towards a stagnation or saturation of market demand due expensive private education, increasing graduate unemployment and increasing burden of education loans in Indian society.

Privatization and shrinking free space


2 ris-protest-against-mhrd-circular-1810407 3 ‘Decent work has become a universal objective and has been included in major human rights declarations, UN Resolutions and outcome documents from major conferences including Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the World Summit for Social Development (1995), World Summit Outcome Document (2005), the high level segment of ECOSOC (2006), the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2008–2017), Conference on Sustainable Development (2011) and in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2015)’ (ILO, 2017). The main purpose of the decent work agenda of ILO is to ensure socio-economic security and stability of workers and their families, by employers. 4 5 ‘Education loan interest moratorium benefits 9L’ by Mukesh Ranjan, 18 February, 2014, available at (accessed on 22 February, 2014). 6

References ASSOCHAM. 2013. Available online at (accessed 13 April, 2017). Deshpande, S. 2019. “Quotas, theirs and ours”. Available online at https://indianexpress. com/article/opinion/columns/reservation-general-category-bill-parliament-modi-quota s-theirs-and-ours-5532691/ (accessed 15 January, 2019). Fromm, Erich. 1994. Escape from Freedom. New York: Henry Holt. Gintis, S. and Bowles, H. 1975. “The Problem with Human Capital Theory: A Marxian Critique”. The American Economic Review, 65(2). Giroux, Henry. 2009. Youth in a Suspect Society: Democracy or Disposability?New York: Palgrave Macmillan. GOI. 2016a. All India Survey on Higher Education 2015–16. New Delhi: Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India. GOI. 2016b. UGC Notification. New Delhi: University Grants Commission, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. ILO. 2017. Available online at (accessed 13 April, 2017). MHRD. 2017. Educational Statistics – At a Glance 2016. New Delhi: Ministry of Human Resource Development. Newsclick. 2015. “Double Commoditization of Education System”. Available online at (accessed 19 March, 2017). Pathania, Gaurav J. 2018. The University as a Site of Resistance: Identity and Student Politics. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Pathania, Gaurav J. and William G. Tierney. 2018. “Ethnography of Caste and Class at an Indian University: Creating Capital”. Tertiary Education and Management, 24(3): 221–231. doi:doi:10.1080/13583883.2018.1439998 Patnaik, Prabhat. 2014. “Learning as Commodity – The dualistic structure of Indian higher education”. The Telegraph, 17 April. Patnaik, Prabhat. 2015. “Double Commoditization of Education System”. Available online at (accessed 19 March, 2017).

144 N. Thakur and G. J. Pathania Patnaik, Prabhat. 2016. “The commoditization of education”. Available online at www. (accessed 16 April, 2017). Sen, Amartya. 1983. Commodities and Capabilities. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Singh, R. 2016, 23 January. “HRD ministry fails to implement Thorat committee recommendations ”. Available online at try-fails-to-implement-thorat-committee-recommendations-2169141 (accessed 19 March, 2017). Thakur, Narender. 2016a. Globalization of India’s Human Capital: Inter-linkages between Education, Migration and Productivity (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). New Delhi: Jawaharlal Nehru University. Thakur, Narender. 2016b, 27 February. “A Transition from FYUP to CBCS: De Facto Privatisation in Indian Public Higher Education”. Economic and Political Weekly, 51(9): 21. The Indian Express. 2019, 29th May. “Payal Tadvi’s suicide highlights, once again, discrimination in medical institutions”. Available online at https://indianexpress. com/article/opinion/columns/payal-tadvi-mumbai-doctor-suicide-caste-5753378/ (accessed 29 May, 2019). The Hindu. 2017, 2 April. “Let’s not be described as intolerant, says President”. Available online at ys-president/article17759146.ece#! The Wire. 2017, 14 March. “Suicide of Dalit Student at JNU Turns Spotlight on Environment at Indian Campuses”. Available online at lit-student-jnu-associated-rohit-vemula-movement-found-dead-suicide-suspected/ (accessed 19 March, 2017). The Wire. 2019, 25th May. “Centre’s 100-Day Education Agenda: More Institutions of Eminences, Recruitment”. Available online at -100-day-education-agenda. (accessed 29 May, 2019). TOI. 2019, 25th May. “St Stephen’s hikes fees, amid criticism”. Available online at https:// 69489484.cms (accessed 29 May, 2019). WB. 2017. World Development Indicators 2017. The World Bank. Yadav, Shyamlal. 2019. “Reservation candidates are under-represented in Govt’s upper rungs”. India Express. Available online at tion/reservation-candidates-are-under-represented-in-govts-upper-rungs-5540310/ (accessed 16 January, 2019).


Public sphere and educational policy transformations in Kerala Ahammedul Kabeer AP

This chapter explores the role of the public sphere in creating new conditions for the growth of the private sector in education in Kerala. Following the new trend set by the private management in the state, education is no longer viewed as an arena for public intervention. Today, the education sector has begun to lose its privileged position as a social site, which was otherwise considered as critical for the overall progress of the state. The challenges in education that the state confronts are not merely because of the resource crunch and quality as has been highlighted in the rest of India. Instead the problem here is the lack of attitudinal change on the part of both the state and society towards higher education. This chapter investigates the reciprocal relationship between community organizations and political parties and how these agencies influenced the public policies in promoting privatization of education, specifically in the context of globalization and commercialization of the knowledge system. The policy changes, in fact, have brought about radical changes in the field of education since the nineties and one cannot rule out how the public sphere reinforced the indispensability of private investments in the education sector. The social, educational and economic spheres of Kerala have widely been acknowledged by academia for their tremendous achievements in human development indices. The civic engagements in the form of reforms and protest movements spearheaded by the diverse communities in the formative stages and the proactive role of the state in post-independent India were vital in creating and expanding a distinctive public sphere. Of late, the community organizations who stood for social transformation through education began to emerge as strong pressure groups in the affairs of educational policy. While the dominant communities began to prepare the ground for privatization, they have implicitly demonstrated shifting cultural priorities. Instead of imagining the overall socioeducational progress with active and collective engagement, the communities became pressure groups with profit motives in the post-reform period. On the other hand, leading political parties, both the Congress and the Left in the state have succumbed to pressure from community organizations, particularly by pushing policy changes in education. It was quite clear that questions of social equity and justice in education were overlooked or redefined while the state laid out the reform strategies under a neo-liberal framework. No doubt, on questions

146 A. Kabeer AP of equity, the performance of the state and its policy towards education was relatively better than the rest of India. However, the policy shift towards privatization was motivated by profit making. As a result, educational mobility eventually became the instrument of protecting individual’s vested interests rather than collective transformation. The kind of public sphere that was shaped against the backdrop of globalization in the state was detrimental in creating narrow individual perceptions coupled with the policy shift in education. The growth of the public sphere and its historical formation in Kerala was largely to do with the economic and political aspirations of elite social groups who had easy access to educational facilities. Education has redefined the status and role of the privileged groups who were under the clutches of the feudal system driven by the caste hierarchy and created common spaces for constant free interaction. Universalization of education was practically impossible in the state historically because these privileged groups of the upper strata in the caste hierarchy continued to dominate education. The persistence of domination that has been continued from the past is dispossessed into the modern spaces like education, politics, literature and the media despite the way education has brought about political and social transformation. In other words, the elite groups who enjoyed the benefits of education in the state belonged to the upper strata of society, for instance, the Brahmins and the Nairs among Hindus, the Cyrian Christians among Christians and the local elites among Muslims. Eventually, other inferior caste groups such as Ezhavas and Latin Christians have also become part of the transformation. It was the mobilized communities under the social transformation that continued to play key role in articulating the political aspirations of the community and thereby redefined the politics of the state. Moreover, it was the same politically motivated communities that pressurized the state into taking a policy decision on the privatization of education. The overwhelming pressure was the result of a sea change in the attitude of civil society, community organizations and political parties, driven by vested powerful elite groups. Because of the impact of reform policies of the state – such as land reforms and reservation in education and employment – there was political recognition and upward mobility among the depressed groups. This led to the evolution of the middle class and subsequently migration of members of the same class from the state. The foreign remittance, in fact, restructured the class positions, especially the dominant communities who brought about a new culture in the state both in the economic and social sectors. Emigration was a major reason for the emergence and growth of vocational and technical training institutions in various trades (Mathew and Nair, 1978). This also led to the attitudinal changes among the emigrants towards the education for their children. Being exposed to the new life, the emigrant community valued and regarded education as something essential for their childrens’ prospects of employment and social status (Nair, 1983). It was the gulf migration that led to the growth of English medium schools in the private sector. The emigrant households spend more on education compared to non-immigrant households, irrespective of the type of schools they prefer. Similarly, at the college level, emigrant households

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preferred the private colleges to a greater extent than non-migrants. The emergence of self-financing institutions was the result of foreign remittance and a sizeable proportion (37 per cent) of the enrolment in professional colleges was accounted for by self-financing institutions (Zachariah, et al., 2000). The exponential growth of international labour migration has had a positive effect on the social development initiated by the state (Kannan, 2005) especially through its popular measures like education. The emigrant class who gained economic security and prosperity abroad has generated a new interest in investing back home in the state. Alongside this, a new group of education entrepreneurs, from the upper class, has entered into the scene and pushed education into a new site for marketing and profit accumulation. To begin with, this chapter gives a detailed account of the evolution of the public sphere and its major constituencies. Although the public sphere defined the nature of the state in transforming society at the formative stage, it is the neo-liberal framework that redefined the state and reinvented the public sphere in the era of globalization. The state of higher education had undergone spectacular changes internally because of the structural transformations which took place externally. The key roles played by the middle and upper class are evident in the changing nature of the public sphere, reshaping the ruling elites and political parties. In the final section, this chapter offers formidable conclusions.

The evolution of Kerala’s public sphere During colonial as well as post-colonial times, the nature of the public sphere in Kerala was quite different and unique from the rest of India although they share certain common traits. As in the case of feudal societies, the public sphere hardly existed until the advent of modern education. The introduction of education was a major factor that has brought private individuals together on a common platform. Education has pulled individuals from the clutches of caste, which was fundamentally feudal on account of caste rigidity being rooted in the agrarian economy. The compounding effect of education upon the existing social structures was further amplified by the political upsurge, community mobilisation and social transformation that occurred simultaneously in the state. As a result, new ideas of the political imagination germinated into the minds and the public space across the caste and religious communities. Kerala’s public sphere is broadly understood as a widespread radical social transformation being undertaken amongst the caste communities. The widespread educational landscape, the social reforms of these social groups, the anti-colonial struggles and the Left movements were instrumental in creating solid foundations nurturing ideas of the public sphere in the state. It was also marked by the voices of social reform movements and community reform organizations such as Nair Service Society (NSS), Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Sangam (SNDP) and Kerala Pulaya Maha Sabha (KPMS). These community organizations, in fact, consistently raised the demands for equality, justice and freedom from oppression as political questions. In other

148 A. Kabeer AP words, it is the protracted struggles waged by the communities that led to the characterization of the public sphere. Subsequently, communities have followed various reforms and initiatives to expand public spaces by establishing schools and libraries in the hinterland. These public spaces have eventually brought together private individuals for a common cause. In fact, the schools and libraries have not only created a distinctive literary public sphere, but also become sites of imagining the political in articulating dignity, equity and justice against discrimination. Extended public spaces and socio-political demands resulted in the conglomeration of public mediums like mass petitioning, journals, newspapers, pamphlets, youth and arts clubs, reading rooms etc. It reminds us of the fact that bringing individuals to a common platform, even during the freedom struggle, was not realized in its real sense on account of the ambiguous place of the community organizations who retained their hold on society through educational institutions and restricted public action by its members. In other words, community was kept alive as inward looking as a realm of the private despite a public sphere that was evolving at the end of nineteenth century. Consequently, it was consolidated in the first two quarters of twentieth century in the vicissitudes of freedom, democracy and equality characterized by occasional resistance from community organizations. The significance of publicness lies in the centrality of democratic practices among citizens as distinct from both the state apparatuses and economic markets. ‘Publicness’ is the general consciousness of individuals as citizens, who are ready to lose their private interests for the common good. The political dynamics of Kerala was made in such a way that it exhibited complex linkages between various castereligious groups represented through community organizations like Nair Service Society (NSS), Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Sangam (SNDP), Kerala Pulaya Maha Sabha (KPMS) as well as political parties such as the Muslim League and the Kerala Congress. These community organisations have also displayed political reassertion whenever their rights have been threatened. Education has been a medium to restructure socio-economics and cultural life. Other than its normative functions, the effect of education can also be seen in how the social inequality and discrimination embedded in caste have been openly being challenged to create an egalitarian social order. Education has the potential to reshape society in a desirable direction and thereby create the public sphere. The political function of education designates a particular notion of power in correcting and maintaining the public sphere. Subsequently, the nature of public sphere too undergoes change, depending upon the nature of power, its distribution and effect across the different organs of society. Once the state, as a political system, holds power to maintain and advance educational system, the ideology of the former influences the latter and its function. Moreover, in the wake of globalization, the education system too is subject to change. Ironically, the shift towards privatization in education was expressed most vociferously among the community organizations. The community organisations like Inter Church Council, Muslim Educational Society, Nair Service Society and Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Sangam have been directly

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engaged in managing most of the education institutions in the state. It was the same management that pressed the state to introduce professional education under self-financing modes and readily made a huge private investment in education. The reassertion of the private was pronounced by the spontaneous thirst for power, resources, skills and opportunity that the individual members, who found the state policies inadequate in a global context, constantly expressed through the political parties and community organizations in the post-reform period. In the case of the massification of privatization in the educational sector, the political parties used mass media not only to generate public discourses on the indispensability of expanding educational landscape, but also to garner collective pressure in favour of privatization. Undoubtedly, the development of communication technology and mass media has opened up a new space of publicness in the state that has expanded and redefined the existing conceptual terrains of the public sphere. An overview of the development of education in Kerala The evolution of education in general, and subsequently higher education in particular, had a strong Western imprint in the state. It is a fact that modern education began in Kerala with the advent of Christian missionaries who were encouraged by the progressive rulers of the native state. The contribution of Christian missionaries was to popularise free modern education and provide education to the lower caste in order to break the monopoly of the upper castes over education (Eapen, 1985). Various caste organizations were inspired by the work of Christian missionaries and followed their foot prints in establishing education institutions with the help of the state support. Kerala has accomplished spectacular achievements in education through various social and economic struggles (Salim and Nair, 2002). The expansion of educational avenues was one of the major political agendas of the state and the elected governments because of the consistent demand being articulated by the civic collectivities and community-based social organisations. The community and the state have played complimentary roles in promoting education in order to uplift the backwardness of the depressed communities. The state has initiated various policy measures in education, including concessions and reservations, in order to lower disparities based on caste, religion and gender. Despite showing an overall progressive trend in education, their effect was not same across the regions of the state. Malabar region, for instance, was trailing far behind Travancore and Cochin during colonial rule. But the quest for improving and expanding the education system continued to be a major agenda item for various social organizations. Thus, Kerala has witnessed a constant negotiation between the state and other social forces to occupy the educational sector as an effective instrument to realise certain desirable goals. If the state was in pursuit of a secular agenda in education, which led to a high literacy rate and education status across several communities, community initiatives under the aided-system kept exclusivity for their

150 A. Kabeer AP own betterment. It eventually became clear that exclusivity of the community pressurised the state to privatize and commercialize education. As a result, community organizations turned out be prominent agencies in the private education sector (ibid.).

Factors for the development of education in Kerala In the eighteenth century Kerala, the communities were subjected to caste brutality. Jenmis (landlords by birth right) were entirely Nambudiris (Kerala Brahmins) who were the sole custodians of society’s wealth and income, as well as having ritual status. This led them to hold high social status and power in society. When modern education was introduced, it was the hegemonic caste groups who got access first and gradually trickled down to the rest of the caste groups. Education had lasting effect on restructuring the socio-cultural and economic factors which transformed the states in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It includes changes in land ownership, commercialisation of the economy, state intervention, communal pressures for educational expansion, agitations for social reform led by missionaries, social reform movements and agrarian changes (Aiya, 1906). An assessment of education in the state must include its outstanding achievements such as total literacy, universal enrolment of children at primary level, a rapid decline in the number of dropouts at the secondary level, and the availability of educational institutions in the immediate neighbourhood of most households in urban and rural areas. Its educational achievements received national and global attention so much so that parallels have been drawn with the developed countries like China (Mitra, 1999). Kerala Education Commission, constituted by Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP), reported that the educational achievements have diversified skilled labour force in the state. This also facilitated the out migration of the labour force both outside of the state and outside of the country. There is no doubt that the rise of democratic aspirations has accelerated educational progress in the state (ibid.). The following table depicts the progressive trend of acquiring literacy by the population since 1901. The social history of the state in general, and the historical role of reform movements led by the communities in particular, were the major factors in shaping education development in Kerala. But it does not undermine the decisive role played by the missionaries during colonial rule. Though education was considered as a mechanism for the development of the intermediate classes, it facilitated the educated to directly engage with civil administration under the British raj. It was the intermediate classes who were almost certain to hold key positions in different modern professions, such as lawyers, doctors and teachers. In addition to this, the initiatives taken by the missionaries and princely states were instrumental in promoting education through the indigenous language, which eventually led to the expansion of reading and writing in Malayalam vernacular. The following table shows the growth of vernacular learning centres and students enrolment rates in the state since 1873. The concomitant gains in social progress were substantial, and served to establish the fact that a breakthrough in education leans heavily on the use of the

Public sphere and educational policy transformations


Table 9.1 The growth of literacy in Kerala Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001 2011

Literacy rate (Male) 19.15 22.25 27.88 30.89 49.79 54.97 66.62 87.74 93.62 94.20 96.11

Literacy rate (Female) 3.15 4.43 10.26 11.00 31.41 38.90 54.31 75.65 86.17 87.86 92.07

Total 11.14 13.31 19.02 21.34 40.47 46.85 60.42 80.42 89.81 90.92 94.00

Source: Economic Review, Kerala State Planning Board, 2004 and Population Census of India, 2011.

Table 9.2 Growth of Malayalam education in Travancore Year 1873–74 1883–84 1893–94

Number of Govt. Schools 177 223 255

Number of Aided Schools 20 440 1,388

No. of students enrolled 9,637 35,588 57,314

Source: Report of the Kerala Education Commission, Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad, 1999

mother tongue as the medium of instruction (ibid.). The KSSP reported that based on the foundation laid in the latter half of the nineteenth century; further advances took place in the first half of the twentieth century, have witnessed a steady rise of the formal schooling system and high rate of literacy. The so-called private parties are the community-based organizations who were torchbearers in the initial stages to achieve universal education. The state had a track record of enabling subsidized education through an effective network of institutions spread almost evenly across the state territory (Tharakan, 2005). The effect of such universal policies has led to mass literacy, which internally expedited the social, cultural and political renaissance (ibid.). It is these structural and cultural changes that led to the evolution of the public sphere in Kerala. The gradual improvement in the economic condition of the people of all religious/ caste groups was due to the cultural capital these groups acquired through education. Education has also made the state one of the richest pools of human resource and enabled it to dispense its surplus human resource overseas. As a result, a wide range of workforce was developed with highly professional

152 A. Kabeer AP competencies in the fields of science, medicine and engineering. It was the new aspiration of such social groups, irrespective of caste and religion, that once again transformed and redefined the public sphere in the post 1990s. In the welfare model of the state, a reverse application of economic logic was pursued in order to create more social welfare infrastructures. It emphasized special protection of tribal communities, human resource management and other social security measures. it is notable that, irrespective of their ideological differences, all successive governments led by the mainstream political parties have backed the Kerala Model of Development. With the introduction of land reforms, the model facilitated the organisation of the labour force and small farmers to achieve equality in the primary sectors of the economy. The second step was the massification of the education program, where emphasis was given to universal education. There was a shift towards higher education, especially professional and technical education, in the later stage. This period was characterized by an overall increase in the number of engineering and medical institutions across the state. However, provision for free elementary education and subsidized education at higher levels were kept alive (ibid.). Since 1990, the state in general, and its economic programmes in particular, had to cope with a wave of neo-liberal policies. With the advent of globalization, it was made clear that the state is withdrawing from the public functions it used to perform. The retreat of the state, as its advocates suggest, is inevitable in the new world economic order. Developing countries become the targets of global economies, subverting the existing functions of the state and attacking its domestic economy. A serious implication on the Indian economy was also seen once it had adopted the principles of new liberal policies as guidelines for the public policy. This has created the federal structures of the economy and the states in India. Being a role model in its outstanding socioeconomic output, Kerala was in a dire need of long-term investment in human capital to keep its systems sustainable. Crisis in the agricultural sector, followed by a fall in the share of agricultural production and the absence of a strong industrial sector were all compulsions for the political parties and developmental thinkers to revisit the Kerala model. The long gestation period required to get a return from the money invested in education has prompted the state to re-consider its welfare policies (ibid.). In brief, the lack of resources along with increasing fiscal pressures made the state drop its previous welfare model. The educational sector has been critical in the trajectories of development. Its basic features inform the sharp difference with the rest of India, especially the state’s highest literacy rate (90.92 per cent) against the national average (65.84 per cent). Achievements in education were recognized as a public good, as they were under the social welfare schemes led by the state. This was evident from the fiscal expenditure on education, which was nearly 27.4 per cent in the Fifth State Plan. However, there has been a substantial change in the state policy, which led to a heavy fall in education expenditure. Furthermore, in the Eighth State Plan, it came down to 21.9 per cent. This downward trend was part of the general policy in the public expenditure in the social sector. The state’s

Public sphere and educational policy transformations


allocation for the social and community services among which education formed an important part stood at 91 per cent in the Fifth Plan. However, in the Eighth Plan, it was further declined by 84.7 per cent (Sankaranarayanan, 2005). This clearly shows how the state retreats from the welfare measures, especially in the educational sector. The vacuum created by the withdrawal of state in the education sector was replaced by self-financing private institutions which announced a paradigm shift in the public education system in the state. The gradual withdrawal of state was clearly visible in the entire education sector. At the secondary level, the private sector share was 54 per cent of schools. The aid to these institutions amounts to 56 per cent. The state share in the sector was nearly 34.4 per cent. The active participation of the private, the local and the community has helped the government save its capital for other purposes. But the impact of globalization was strongly felt in higher education as the state failed to meet the growing demand of it and laid out the policies to encourage privatization in education. The policy for promoting private was intended to meet the demand for higher education, especially in the field of skilled/technical knowledge (ibid.). The policy shift should be seen against the backdrop of the changing political economy, even if there were reasons to believe that increasing physical pressures and lack of resources forced the state to cut down the expenditure on social welfare measures including the education sector. In India, both academia and policy makers hold contradictory views about the privatisation of education, especially higher education. Those who support privatization were of the view that the state has insufficient funds to meet the growing educational aspirations and hence private participation was found to be the solution. It is argued that, with the private participation, the quality of education will be improved (Patel, 2004). Similar views were expressed by the ‘Ambani-Birla Committee’ set up by the Prime Minister’s Office, which recommended the UGC curtail public financing in higher education by promoting private investment. It was proposed private universities should focus on professional courses such as engineering, medicine and management education. If professional courses were credited with high demand in the private institutions by commercialising degree programmes, the conventional disciplines such as art, humanities and social sciences were pushed aside. Another debate around privatization is whether higher education should be treated as a merit good or non-merit good? In 1997, the state of India identified a large set of social and economic services, classified them into public goods, merit goods and non-merit goods, and proposed reducing subsidies on non-merit goods. As these new terminologies explained and classified, education up to elementary level was considered as a merit good and education beyond elementary level, i.e. secondary and higher education, were labelled as non-merit goods (Tilak, 2004). Primary education, public health, social welfare schemes etc. are called merit goods, as their benefits cannot be reduced to individual consumption alone. Policy makers contended that subsidizing higher education, unlike other social welfare schemes, would not meet the values of equity because the recipient and beneficiary in this case were the same (Yadav, 2004).

154 A. Kabeer AP The state of higher education generated wider debates in Kerala on problems of commercialization in education and the changes of social values embedded in education. The collective mobilization of people for educational transformation and its structural impact on society became a memory from the past. With the advent of privatization, there is a dismissal of the collective memory of education as public good. Party politics and community politics in the private sector The reform movements led by the communities and developmental aspirations articulated by the political parties and their participation in governance are the key constituencies of the public sphere in Kerala. The eventual proliferation of public spaces in the state was the result of the concerted efforts of these two political and cultural entities. It was their consistent political initiative that brought about a programme for universal education and thereby development of the literary public sphere in the state. It was quite obvious that the social movements led by the communities in Kerala were part and parcel of the struggles for gaining social recognition. But, at the same time, they continue to retain their identity as separate communities by articulating their specific needs and aspirations vis-à-vis with the state. The agenda they set forth was to progress the community and its members. The public spaces that are formed with the effort of community organizations are represented as instances of unstructured public spheres. But, at the same time, these public spaces were also shared spaces as other community organizations, too, engaged with similar interests. The connecting linkages that the community organizations established with mainstream political parties is unique in the state and evolved its public sphere. In the case of education, these specific linkages served to be the most important factor in devising a language for public policy. Parties like the Muslim League and the Kerala Congress worked closely with the community organizations on the one hand and engaged in the political governance of the state. In fact, the Muslim League has direct links with the concerns of Muslim community organizations. Similarly, the Kerala Congress stands for Christian Community organizations, which directly manage a large share of the educational institutions in the state. Because of their hegemonic position in the state, the community organizations and the dominant political parties could garner public opinions to create new conditions in favour of the privatization of higher education. This approach erased the immediate memories of how the welfare policies of the state have functioned as an instrument for uplifting the backward and depressed communities through developmental programmes, especially through education (Sankaranarayanan, 2005). Moreover, the pace and progress of education had been unevenly distributed across the three regions of Kerala, with Malabar trailing far behind Travancore and Cochin during British rule. However, the Malabar region today doesn’t seem to be lagging behind the rest because of the variety of special political measures which were undertaken. The state and

Public sphere and educational policy transformations


political parties have, at times, experienced heavy pressure from strong community organizations. It was the same pressure groups that spearheaded the new reforms in education (Jacob, 2004). The ideological differences that are found among the political parties have influenced the nature of the state’s politics. Political parties in the state are generally divided into two; the United Democratic Front (UDF) led by Indian National Congress and the Left Democratic Front (LDF) led by CPI-M. From its inception, the two fronts have been ruling the state alternately. The Muslim League, an ally of UDF and a few Kerala Congress factions, which are known for their direct link with private managements, are the major political partners of the UDF. Obviously, the support of these parties is crucial to the existence of UDF. Hence the UDF, from the very beginning, maintains tacit support for education institutions run by private managements (Vijesh, 2008). The first attempt to establish a self-financing professional college was initiated when the UDF was in power (1991–1996). Permission was granted for a cooperative self-financing medical college at Pariyaram in North Malabar. The left parties protested against this move by the state. Their direct fight with the police force caused the death of five activists belonging to the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) Koothuparamba in Kannur district. However, since the LDF came to power in 1996 they have followed the same policy of the earlier government (Kumar, 2006). The Left parties in principle agreed to establish self-financing education with a condition that preference be granted to the governmental and semi-governmental agencies, for instance, universities and cooperative bodies. In doing so, the left parties were of the view that selffinancing education should be under ‘social control’, an experiment followed by the left ruled West Bengal. The liberalization process in higher education reached its zenith when the UDF once again came back to power. Since the UDF gained a thumping majority in the state assembly (101 out of 140), it issued NOCs to all the applicants who sought for the state permission to establish self-financing colleges with a condition that 50 per cent of the seats should be earmarked for government. The reason for such a policy was to ensure that the two self-financing colleges would be equal to one government college, as half of the students to be enrolled would be from the merit list prepared by the state (Rajanbabu, 2006). The UDF has a logical reason in supporting such policies as it would help check the money outflow into the neighbouring states of Kerala for education. The new professional colleges were founded to be necessary to create professionals in order to arrest unemployment. By reserving 50 per cent of seats in self-financing colleges under government quota, UDF expected that it would help the poor students receive professional education at reasonable fees (Kumar, 2006). The contextual factors which compelled the political parties to adopt policies for privatization in the educational sector are summarized by Kapur and Mehta (2007) as: there are three key reasons for the expansive stance of political parties from all ends of the ideological spectrum: fiscal exhaustion; diffusing the

156 A. Kabeer AP reservation conundrum by expanding supply; and, with earlier sources of patronage exhausted, the search for new sources of patronage. Similar conditions continued to restructure the education sector in Kerala as well. It is thus interesting to explore how the political parties intervened in the self-financing educational sector. The major challenges of privatization in education and its direct implications on the younger generation were not only well articulated but also brought to the centre stage of public debates by political parties of the Left (CPI and CPIM) and their student’s organizations (SFI and AISF). However, their internal unity on this issue gradually diminished when the Left parties abandoned their staunch opposition to self-financing education. The strategic relationship with the pressure groups was the main reason for the political parties to compromise their earlier position. The LD-led government (1996–2001), for instance, faced criticism on the grounds of the indiscriminate allocation of two schools in private managements (Shankar, 2004). But the same government has shown an inordinate interest in giving NOCs for self-financing colleges. A close look at the policies of the LDF and the UDF reveals that there are subtle differences in their approach to self-financing education. First, the LDF government sanctioned the selffinancing institutions in the public and cooperative sectors (Mohanakumar, 2006–2007). This led to the establishment of the Institute of Human Resource Development (IHRD), the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), the Lal Bahathur Sasthri Center for Science and Technology (LBS) and the new courses under the state universities (Kumar, 2006). Second, they have a solid stand on the necessity of social control in the self- financing education. It is very clear that the left parties who were voiced against the privatization and commercialization of education in the 1990s have shifted their political stand (Shankar, 2004). Ironically, the conditional approval of the Left for self-financing education was exposed by the rival political parties and the popular media. In fact, it was a large part of the propaganda for creating public opinion in favour of the self- financing professional colleges in the private sector. The new legislation brought in by the government evoked a legal battle between the government and the private managements and the court has struck down so many vital provisions of the Act it has been rendered toothless (Panikkar, 2006–2007). This has forced the political parties to initiate congenial dialogues with the managements. As the minority constitutes almost 40 per cent of the total population of the state, it was their constitutional right to establish educational institutions of their own. Hence, any attempt to alter such rights not only complicates cultural politics, but is also counterproductive to constitutional safeguards. Furthermore, the independent commissions constituted for periodically regulating the admission and fee structure proved to be ineffective.

Public sphere and educational policy transformations


Conclusion The privatization process as we have discussed above has created a new market space in education. This process has created a modern myth that the private sector is the only way to access high quality education with affordable fees. The circulation of this myth has been one of the reasons for the mushrooming of self-financing colleges in the state. The private sector has further been facilitated to reinforce globalization in the state by generating skilled manpower in the labour market. However, the reality is that the private institutes hardly contribute at all to overall social development. The self-financing educational sector has two implications. It has kicked off a race to achieve more profit. As the economic status becomes the base of accessing education under the private sector, there is a serious problem with the quality of education being imparted. Economic status has become the main criteria for accessing higher education. Students willing to pay huge fees under the self-financing system are motivated by the economic returns. The logic of investment and return in education has further pushed for the commodification of education. Thus, a change was inevitable to make education available for the common man. The private managements with their commercial intent could only make education expensive and as a result the poor get excluded. The entry of the private sector into the field of education and the subsequent expansion of the educational landscape in the state restricted the conception of education and its contribution to shaping the public sphere of Kerala. Because of global networks, the demand for education is no longer decided by immediate domestic circumstances. Instead, it is much integral to the circulation of foreign remittance in the state, private investment patterns in education and the private return from education. This trend indicates that it is economic logic that largely played out in the entire process of privatization in education. The highly acclaimed development model has made Kerala a popular destination for private investment, especially in professional education, in order to integrate its skilled labour force with competitive global markets. Thus, its educational commitment seems to be to keeping a place in the global market economy, not just for a socially productive activity.

References Aiya, Nagam V. 1906. The Travancore State Manual. Vol. II. Trivandrum: Government Press. Eapen, K. V. 1985. Church Missionary Society and Education in Kerala. Kottayam: Kollet Publication. Jacob, Aneesh. 2004. “Strange Ways of Self Financing Education.” Mathrubhumi (Mal), August. Kannan, K. P. 2005. “Kerala’s Turnaround in Growth: Role of Social Development, Remittances and Reform.” Economic and Political Weekly, 40(6) 548–554. Kapur, Devesh and Pratap Bhanu Mehta. 2007. National Council for Applied Economic Research. Available online at 20Kapur%20and%20Pratap%20Bhanu%20Mehta.pdf

158 A. Kabeer AP Kumar, K. N. Ajoy. 2006. “Self Financing Colleges and Public Consensus.” Malayalam (Mal), June. Mathew, E. T. and Nair, P. R. Gopinathan. 1978. “Socio-Economic Characteristics of Emigrants and Emigrants Households-A Case Study of Two Villages in Kerala.” Economic and Political Weekly 13(28): 1141–1153. Mitra, A. 1999. “Report of the Kerala Education Commission.” Commission Report, Kochi: Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad. Mohanakumar, R. 2006–2007. “Professional Self Financing Act that Gave Emphasis to Merit and Social Justice.” Marxist Samvadam (Mal) 27(8): 48–49. Nair, P. R. Gopinathan. 1983. “Asian Migration to Middle East: Emigration from India.” Working paper 180. Thiruvananthapuram: Centre for Development Studies. Panikkar, K. N. 2006–2007. “Kerala’s Self Financing Bill: A Model for the Nation.” Marxist Samvadam (Mal) 27(8): 21. Patel, Sujata. 2004. “Higher Education at the Crossroads.” Economic and Political Weekly 39(21): 2151–2154. Rajanbabu, K. 2006. “Swasrayajathiyude Rashtreeyakkali.” Kalakaumudi (Mal). Salim, A. Abdul, and Nair, P. R. Gopinathan. 2002. Educational Development in India: The Kerala Experience Since 1800. New Delhi: Anmol Publications. Sankaranarayanan, K. C. 2005. Education, Health and Housing. In Kerala Economy: Trajectories, Challenges and Implications, by D. Rajasenan and Gerard de Groot. Cochin: CUSAT. Shankar, M. 2004. “Wrong Education Policies and Resistance that Needs to be Rectified.” Malayalam (Mal), 9–10. Tharakan, P. K. Michael. 2005. Evolution of Economy and Society in Kerala – A Long Term Perspective. In Kerala Economy: Trajectories, Challenges and Implications, by D. Rajasenan and Gerard de Groot. Cochin: CUSAT. Tilak, Jandhyala B. G. 2004. “Public Subsidies in Education in India.” Economic and Political Weekly 39(4): 344–359. Vijesh, T.P. “Privatisation of higher education in Kerala: A study of self financial professional colleges”. M.Phil Dissertation, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad: Unpublished, 2008, 90. Yadav, Bhupendra. 2004. “Higher Education: New Dilemmas.” Economic and Political Weekly 39(9): 880–882. Zachariah, K. C., E. T. Mathew and S. Irudaya Rajan. 2000. Socio-Economic and Demographic Consequences of Migration in Kerala. Working paper 297. Thiruvananthapuram: Centre for Development Studies. 25–26.

Part IV

Mobilisation for education Critical voices from the margins

10 Can social movements lead to educational change? Some reflections on a case study of the Adivasi Munnetra Sangam Amman Madan, Rama Sastry and B. Ramdas Debates on making Indian education more inclusive and egalitarian tend to revolve within two kinds of paradigms: (a) educational content and method, viz. improving the curricula, textbooks and teaching methods, bringing them in line with educational goals which may variously range from creating skills and human capital at one end of the spectrum to an emphasis on self-discovery or good citizenship at the other; (b) enhancing organizational and systemic processes, which may range from improving teacher colleges to privatization of schools to strengthening the roles of leaders. These two paradigms are popular with both the state as well as with the NGOs which are increasingly active in this sector. They are also interconnected, though relatively few organizations work upon all of these together. In contrast with the above two, a voluble but smaller group of voices has emphasized the role of politics as an independent force for improving education in India and elsewhere (Saxena, 1998; Bowles and Gintis, 2011/1976; Anyon, 2005; Apple, 2000; 2007; 2008; Aronowitz and Giroux, 1987; Aronowitz, 2008). It is argued that the key and primary factor missing for educational change is the lack of political will and not technical abilities and resources. Social movements are one of the main ways of creating that political will. It is through social movements and shifting the balance of power within the political system that the normative orientations of key actors will change. Only then shall strategic institutions generate the will to pull attention and effort away from competing demands and put them into improving the education system instead. The political perspective would say that the disadvantages faced by adivasis and other marginalized groups in education are because of the presence of interest groups in a systemic relation of domination over them. So long as education’s personnel, processes, curricula and pedagogy continue to be controlled by groups in oppressive relations with the rest of society, there is little hope for change. Sometimes critics of this approach balk at the conspiracy theories which appear to underwrite it. However, if one picks out from this theoretical perspective the suspicions of conspiracy and allegations of vindictiveness and replaces them with the concept of just plain simple indifference on the part of the elites, the consequences of a structure of impersonal domination upon education remain still much the same. The result would still be bad or non-existent schools for the marginalized.

162 A. Madan, R. Sastry and B. Ramdas The proponents of this power-centric approach would say that a shift in the orientations and character of the key decision makers will lead to better schools, more relevant curricula and so on. The education establishment has within it entrenched interests for whom the improvement of adivasi education is not a priority and who may even look down upon them as second-class citizens. The consolidation of power in the hands of elites of developing countries is so daunting that even influential international bureaucracies like the World Bank, UNICEF and others avoid directly targeting these interests and try to manoeuvre through supposedly apolitical spaces. While international bureaucracies and large NGOs are themselves part of politics or a balance of power, they find explicit tugs of war and confrontations difficult to negotiate, preferring instead to use the methods of bureaucratic decisions and backroom lobbying. There is also the feeling amongst them that activism and confrontationist talk is self-defeating. It does not achieve anything and only alienates the very people one is wanting to change. It is well known in comparative education that political processes have a significant role to play in the expansion and improvement of education systems. The examples of communist countries like Cuba (Gasperini, 2000, Carnoy, 2007) and the USSR (Zajda, 1980) show how a strong dictate from centralized command systems led to a dramatic growth of access and an improvement in average quality. For all its problems with the US embargo and the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba still managed to have the highest levels of achievement scores in South America (UNESCO, 2008). Similar evidences of the key role of politics in improving schooling for the lower classes comes from Western Europe. For instance, in the second half of the twentieth century the growth of comprehensive schooling and the decline of streaming in UK was driven by changes in the ideologies of the rulers, a culture of greater egalitarianism and new social and political alliances which expanded the bases of power (Lawton, 2004; Aldrich, 2002). Combined with a change in the economic structure, it was this shift which led to the opening of new universities and increased social mobility (Heath et al., 1992), though recent decades and further policy shifts may have seen a reversal of that trend (Themelis, 2008). It is not unusual that the way power is configured in a social and education system may lead to results that go against that particular society’s own avowed goals of spreading education to everyone. Every organization, be it a state education bureaucracy or an NGO or a revolutionary party, runs the risk of starting to ignore its larger goals. Organizations are, after all, driven by balances of power and it is common to see those in control trying to hold on to their positions of privilege to the detriment of their original objectives. It may even be that the very purpose of the organization is to maintain the domination of a class or group. The resulting imperviousness of bureaucracies and other powerful institutions has been the context within which social movements have played a constructive role in education as well as other sectors. The significance of social movements, specifically, is that their energies come from outside the establishment. They do not primarily operate through the state’s

Can social movements lead to educational change? 163 machinery or through the command and control systems of NGOs. This, in principle, permits them to act outside the formal structures of power, which often get controlled by the dominant actors in a society. Social movements across the years have proven to be an important process for challenging and transforming the establishment. By operating outside concentrated forms of control by mainstream institutions they give a chance to speak and be heard to those whose voice gets lost in the corridors of bureaucracies. This is also why established institutions usually find social movements awkward to work with. The eventual institutionalization of many social movements does not weaken this pattern of the radical significance of social movements, since these institutions may now have embedded in them new sources of legitimacy and membership. Within their institutional structure may lie a new configuration of social relations. In a country where educational change seems to be going at a snail’s pace and one repeatedly meets students who have had only a fraud perpetrated on them in the name of schooling and college, it is reasonable to wonder whether there are indeed vested interests which are disinclined to promote the expansion of education for the poor and marginalized. It is this which leads one to examine the possibilities and limitations of social movements as a source of transformation of the education sector. This paper is about the Adivasi Munnetra Sangam (AMS), a social movement for adivasi empowerment which emerged in the Nilgiri hills of Tamil Nadu and the impact it has had on local education. An analysis of its work is hoped to be able to give some insights on what one can expect social movements to achieve in the south Asian context and also what they cannot be expected to achieve. Among the questions which will explore through this case study are: can social movements change the balance of power in education systems? Can they transform the daily functioning of educational institutions? Do they really have primacy over curricular, pedagogic and organizational changes?

Adivasi Munnetra Sangam ACCORD (Action for Community Organisation, Rehabilitation and Development) is an organization which began work in 1985 in the Gudalur block of the Nilgiris district in Tamil Nadu, abutting the border with Kerala and Karnataka. This is a region with a significant Scheduled Tribe population. The Scheduled Tribes are a motley group of communities across India whose common feature is, perhaps, only their relatively low level of integration with the caste system. The colonial and then the Indian state deals with them through an administrative term which merely defines them by their presence in a bureaucratic listing. ACCORD prefers the term adivasi – the ancient dweller – to emphasize the historical claim of these highly marginalized peoples to respect and the resources of the region. ACCORD built here a cadre of adivasi youth who in turn formed a communitybased organisation, the Adivasi Munnetra Sangam. The AMS has led protests for the recovery of land for adivasis which had been taken over by outsiders. Over the years it has established itself as an important and effective voice for the protection of adivasis. This mass base is significant since it has led to a different trajectory in its

164 A. Madan, R. Sastry and B. Ramdas educational work than that seen in NGOs which work directly with the state and government schools. Their educational work was studied through extensive interviews of teachers and activists, classroom observations and by drawing upon various documents generated by ACCORD and the AMS. The Gudalur block lies in a valley of the Nilgiri hills and has a mixture of forest, plantations and homesteads. It is home to five adivasi communities – Paniyas, Bettukurumbas, Mullukurumbas, Kattunayakas and Irulas. They number around 20,000 people and constitute about 10% of the population of the Gudalur and its adjoining territory. The Paniyas, the single largest tribe and who constitute around 40% of the tribal population, were mostly bonded for a few centuries to a landowning group called Chettis, migrants from Karnataka. The Mullukurumbas have small landholdings which they supplemented by hunting and the rest have been primarily hunter-gatherers. Gudalur has been growing tea and coffee since the mid-nineteenth century. British planters started the process of clearing the forest and this compelled the adivasis who lived in them to constantly stay on the move. There was no protest as the forests in which they dwelled stretched into Kerala on the one side and Karnataka on the other. The 1960s saw the forests coming to be occupied by migrants from Kerala who became small land owners. The 1970s saw another wave of migrants – Tamils from Srilanka. Both these migrants were, unlike earlier occupants, quite aggressive in seeking control of land. This compelled the adivasis to move again, withdrawing deeper into the forest even as the boundaries of the forest itself shrank. The passing of the Gudalur Janmam Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act in 1969, to acquire land from a Raja in Kerala resulted in almost the entire land area of Gudalur coming under litigation which remains unresolved to this day. This in turn meant that unoccupied land was up for grabs, including forests, and the adivasis’ habitat came under further pressure. Then came the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980, which eventually led to the declaration of the forests as wild life sanctuaries and prohibited human entry into them. Overnight, adivasis had become trespassers and encroachers in their own homes. They were denied access to livelihood, water, fish, firewood, medicinal herbs, housing materials and above all their Gods. Some adivasis did get land titles in their names when the British were around but not knowing what to do with them had kept those documents in safe keeping with the landlords under whom they now worked. When the clamour for land grew, it became difficult to recover those land titles, too. It was this context that triggered ACCORD’s work. The adivasis were on the brink of starvation and there was endemic hopelessness and despair. Activists tell of visiting villages where individuals just sat slumped over, not knowing what to do next. ACCORD’s work took off in 1985, initiated by Stan and Mari Thekaekara and an adivasi youth leader KT Subramani and aimed to build a cadre of youths who could get back the land the people had lost. These youths set up groups called sangams in each of the hamlets, which were later federated into the organisation called the Adivasi Munnetra Sangam.

Can social movements lead to educational change? 165 The AMS was able to bring all the different adivasi communities under one umbrella. The adivasi culture and its festivals were important for cementing this partnership. The AMS activists would often visit a hamlet and, over two or three days of interactions there, would develop a dance-theatre performance on the injustices of their existence. This had a dramatic effect on the local community and helped to mobilize them. Adivasi festivals were a time for dance and the effervescence of togetherness. They easily lent themselves to becoming sites where the conditions of the adivasis could be discussed, leading to further consolidation of their political force. Thus, adivasi identity and revival of their culture became as important as the land issue as sites for political action. In 1988 the AMS called for its first major demonstration in the town of Gudalur. Several thousand men, women and children came together. This shocked not only the local people but the adivasis as well as they themselves had no idea that so many of them existed. The efforts of the AMS within the community led to redeeming over 1,500 acres of land from landowners, estates and the forest department, giving every family some land. This was the most pressing need since all other sources of livelihood had been cut off from them. Subsequently work on agriculture, health, education and housing cooperatives was also initiated. All of these were built on the substratum of the highly decentralised organisation of the AMS. The adivasi activists had a decisive voice in what was needed and how it was to be operationalised. There was a conscious decision not to centralize power and thus avoid the fate of most NGOs. It meant keeping alive a culture of grassroots democracy and never becoming just service delivery personnel for the government. This implied continued and deliberate efforts to enhance the adivasis’ decision making powers, their culture, their unity and their values. This was in marked contrast with many NGOs’ trajectory of consolidating power within a narrow bureaucratic structure and building firm-client relations with their beneficiaries, which eventually debilitated the local community and its sense of agency. The emphasis on the community and its culture as a political strategy came at least partly from the previous experiences of some of the non-Adivasi activists. They had been exposed to community-based mobilization while at college in Chennai and Bangalore in the 1970s and from their student days had been involved in working as equals in and amongst the rural and urban poor. When they came to Gudalur they had several years of experience in bonding with local communities and identifying in a participative manner their main concerns and building community-based organizations through which they could negotiate with state functionaries and create networks with allies.

Educational intervention Given the importance of adivasi identity, culture and language to AMS’s methods of mobilization, it was inevitable that education draw its attention. The first challenge was that of how to straddle two worlds – that of the adivasis and that of the region’s dominant cultures. The elders insisted that if the

166 A. Madan, R. Sastry and B. Ramdas children went to school, they would lose their language and culture and end up with low self-esteem. Yet they knew that without modern education they could not survive in the world. The second challenge was what kind of education could they get that would not dump them again at the bottom of the social and economic heap. They wanted instead an education which could set them up as independent self-respecting community members. In 1999, a survey conducted by ACCORD showed that only 27% literacy existed among the adivasi community and the rate among women was as low as 17%. There were only 737 adivasi children whose names were enrolled in the school registers, which was 25% of the total children of school-going age. There were 14 Ashram Shalas or government run residential schools for tribal children in the block, but the state of affairs there was pathetic. Non-adivasi teachers and staff showed little empathy or concern for the adivasi children. An investigation into reasons for children not going to school or dropping out showed that language itself was a huge issue as each of the four tribes spoke a language different from Tamil, which was the medium of instruction in most local schools. This created a serious mental block to any kind of learning. Language, it was realized, was the vehicle for the carrying forward of a culture and so the fear that the next generation would not speak their language and therefore not respect their culture was reason enough for the community to either not send their children or to actively encourage dropping out. One of the first programmes the movement took up was to work with the Central Institute of Indian Languages to develop a script for each of the tribal languages. Along with community elders they have used this script to bring out a primer, a book of stories and songs and so on. Given the fact that the community’s own systems of transmitting knowledge had collapsed with the destruction of their homesteads and environments, the school was rapidly becoming the only space for their education. The question that arose was what kind of education would they get? The support of sympathisers within the state led to an early initiative which demonstrated the political strength of AMS. Adivasi volunteers were selected and placed inside the government’s Ashram Shalas, to try and get them to function properly. As an activist said, they had thought that anyway the principals of these Ashram Shalas only rarely showed up. It should be possible to take over the Ashram Shalas and get them to improve. However, it did not work out like that and there was a sharp reaction from the staff of the government run schools against the class 10th graduate adivasi volunteers. As the volunteers began to expose malpractices the resistance to them began to stiffen even further. In one incident volunteers caught a truck with food meant for the Ashram Shala which had been diverted to a local shop. The staff members complicit in this became even more determined opponents of the AMS. While it had been possible to get support from higher levels of the education bureaucracy, getting the lower levels of the same system to cooperate was proving to be a much more difficult proposition. The AMS volunteers found themselves in a fix. They felt unequipped to teach the children by themselves and also stonewalled by the government staff

Can social movements lead to educational change? 167 and blocked from instituting any reform. After a while they withdrew for a two-year intensive course on teaching and education run by ACCORD and then moved to focus on an alternative school which had been taken over by AMS. The penetration of the AMS volunteers right into the power structure of the school was a remarkable feat, helped by the support the movement had garnered even within the government bureaucracy. However, the local structure of the school blocked them from being able to achieve all that they wanted. This is an indicator of some general limitations of the social movements approach to interventions, to which we shall return later. The alternative school taken over by the AMS was Vidyodaya school, which had been started by Rama and Ramdas for the children of the staff of ACCORD. They were aware of current literature on progressive education and had had experience in running a similar school in Pondicherry. In 1995, at a Mahasabha meeting of the adivasi leaders, it was asked for Vidyodaya to be handed over to AMS. This, the activists felt, would be a space where they could model the kind of education they wanted. The taking over of the school led to the entry of a number of adivasi youth into it who began to learn to teach and to manage educational spaces. A teacher training curriculum was set up which introduced them to the history of adivasis in India. It also established why they were at the bottom of the social and economic ladder and that it was no fault of theirs. It discussed ways of getting out of the cycle. Into the school curriculum for children were introduced the history of the land rights movement, the geography of their villages, their food and living practices. Elders from the community came into the class room to talk of their experiences, their rituals, customs, values and the way forward. They taught their origin stories, their songs, stories and dances. These became part of the daily routine of the school, breaking some of the barriers between home and school. Today, it is the adivasis who run the school and they have been able to further develop curricula which integrate their lives into the school context – not just in terms of content, but also in terms of values. Among other things, in keeping with the ethos of the adivasi community there is a very non-hierarchical system of functioning in the school. For instance, there is no principal’s office and in the room in which visitors meet school teachers and administrators there is no desk across which they must talk. The symbolism of bureaucratic power is avoided to create a more egalitarian space for the parents of adivasi children to come into and feel comfortable. AMS’s political stance of the centrality of adivasi culture underwrites and encourages pedagogic innovations that support that culture. The respect and compassion of the teachers, para-teachers and activists for adivasi students has led to several remarkable practices in Vidyodaya school which go a long way to help adivasi children make the best of school life. For example, when children join in the first grade, they are not compelled to speak in the state’s official language. As the teachers say, Tamil is anyway a foreign language for them at this point of time. Nor are the new entrants compelled to sit in class. The

168 A. Madan, R. Sastry and B. Ramdas teachers call the youngest children of the school “wanderers” as they are not used to sitting and focusing on an instructor for long periods of time. They are therefore allowed to move from place to place. The school’s design deliberately has no doors separating the classrooms so that children can move in and out freely from one space to another. It is after about six months that teachers begin to get them to start sitting to learn for an increasingly longer period. This approach of the teachers is very effective in getting the children to integrate painlessly into the school environment. It can be contrasted with the bewilderment and increasing irritation of teachers in conventional schools at children from marginalized social groups who arrive in Grade 1 but seem to find it difficult to pay attention or even sit quietly at one place. Along with the school, AMS has set up an extensive network for supporting children to get into and then stay in school. A common problem was that the local adivasis found it very difficult to get a child to school at the right time. The mothers often had to themselves leave for work in the plantations by 7:30 or 8:00 am. Getting children ready, organising their meals and then ensuring they reached school by 10 am was a task which called for strange new logistic and time management skills. AMS organised elder members of the local community who took up the responsibility of getting the children out of their homes every day and escorting them to school and then bringing them back in the afternoon. AMS now ensures that every adivasi child goes to school and so over 3,000 children are now in various panchayat, tribal welfare and private schools. They continue to train at Vidyodaya what are called para teachers through an intensive residential two-year course. These para-teachers teach in the government schools or in Ashram Shalas or in study centres of the Sangam. AMS’s activists in the government schools no longer seek to seize control of them, but instead try to work as partners with the local government teachers. One of the important programmes of the Sangham is conducting regular camps for adivasi children during holidays and weekends. These camps are used to motivate the children, discuss their problems in the school and at home and to bring in an assertion of adivasi culture so that their self-esteem is not lost in the schools they go to. A recent development in the increasing trust of AMS by the state has been that Sarva Shiksha Abhiya has asked the AMS to run a residential school for tribal children. The processes involved in all these educational activities by ACCORD reaffirm local democracy and participation, thereby avoiding the passiveness which could come up by handing over agency to the bureaucratic machinery of an NGO or the state. Empowerment and mobilization is deliberately cultivated and protected. Each cluster of villages decides what they want for the year and this is sent to the various educational, livelihood, etc. bodies under ACCORD. For instance, if they want an anganwadi or a study centre or a teacher or scholarship for a student, this is put up at the cluster level meeting and after approval sent to the relevant AMS body to implement. The institution does not have a veto power. All school and para-school staff are selected by AMS leaders and sent to Vidyodaya for training. AMS leaders also have a say in the admission of students

Can social movements lead to educational change? 169 to the school. The cultivation of a substantive democracy with continued participation of the people is a keystone of AMS’s work.

Possibilities and limitations of movements AMS and its work present an opportunity to reflect upon the possibilities and limitations of the social movements approach over the nowadays more familiar approach of working directly upon curricula, pedagogy, school organization and teacher education through state institutions or NGOs. There are obvious difficulties in generalizing on the basis of just one case study. And yet the benefit of a case study is the insights it may offer for generalization building and subsequent testing. The AMS study does seem to support the notion that a substantial change in the nature of political control over educational institutions is very important for moving them into more egalitarian directions. This political change must include relevant shifts in the normative orientations and cultural beliefs of the elites who control the education system. It may or may not actually be a change of classes or groups or in the composition of the elite, but at the very least their ideas and culture must change for significant improvements in a static education system. Social movements offer a way of achieving such a political change. In consummation of the ideology that it is committed to, perhaps the greatest achievement of the AMS movement has been its affirmation of adivasi identity and dignity. In their educational work they have propagated a narrative of oppression rather than backwardness. This emphasizes a belief by the adivasis that they have been unfairly treated and have indeed the capacity to be an equal of all others. This is something which a movement could achieve much more easily than, say, a teacher education institution, because of its reach within the community. The origin myths, stories, the respect for the community’s dress, ornaments and food practices and so on, all these become sites for the movement to act upon, where it can debate and reinterpret meanings. The drama and emotional energy of these cultural elements is sometimes conveyed through demonstrations and meetings and much more frequently produced and reproduced through myriads of daily interactions. The effect upon the ideas of selfhood and self-esteem of adivasi teachers and students is considerable. This is much more difficult to achieve through bureaucratised processes of teacher education and conventional schooling, with their impersonal and formal structures, with fewer spaces for the enactment and participation in powerful cultural narratives. The cultural message of the movement carries through with ease into all of its institutions, particularly into its model school, Vidyodaya. Adivasi dignity is in the air and affects many aspects of the school’s functioning. Clear messages from the school authorities convey a tone of support for adivasi identity and strengthen its legitimacy. This makes a sharp contrast with the way most other public institutions in the region operate. Vidyodaya clearly illustrates the effects

170 A. Madan, R. Sastry and B. Ramdas of political control on school functioning. Many of the pedagogic practices of the school bear the mark of the values and beliefs of the movement. However, the limits of what social movements can achieve are also suggested by this case study of AMS. A key role in implementing the school’s innovations was played by pedagogic knowledge and expertise which came from outside the movement. This was brought in by individuals who gained relevant theoretical and practical knowledges at other locations before they came in touch with the adivasi movement of Gudalur. It is difficult to say that the movement alone could have created the same pedagogic innovations from within, if these individuals had not been present. Perhaps social movements cannot be the answer to everything. The cultivation of educational knowledge and practices may need to be done through various institutional processes that do not necessarily follow the logic of movements. Organizational structures that give primacy to knowledge cultivation and building of professional teacher and researcher identities rather than to activism and political mobilization may yet have a constructive role to play in educational change. Another limitation seen here is in the degree of control the movement was able to achieve over the educational institutions of the region. The impact of the movement on the local education bureaucracy is far less than what can be seen in the institutions directly under its control. The initial attempt to take charge of the government tribal residential schools had to retreat in the face of resistance from the government teachers and staff members. ACCORD volunteers presently work alongside teachers in local government schools in a much more collegial manner. Vidyodaya runs as a model school but there is not much that it can achieve by itself. Considering the numbers and distances involved, it is to government schools and now the burgeoning low fee private schools where a large number of adivasi children must necessarily go. But the movement has not been able to assert high levels of control over them and without that there are sharp limits on what can be achieved. The AMS has responded by working intensively outside the schools, but that does not lead to transforming the school system itself. The SSA’s asking AMS to run a tribal residential school does show an increasing trust between the state education bureaucracy and AMS, but the transformation of the state bureaucracy is still a distant goal. From the difficulties of AMS in transforming the entire local school system two further inferences may be drawn regarding the place of social movements in creating more egalitarian educational systems. Firstly, the inability to transform all the government/private schools in its region may not be a limitation of the social movement approach itself, but that of the specific conditions within which this particular movement has emerged. It represents the voice of a small number of people within the block and they in turn are just a tiny drop inside a large state. The political muscle it is able to command is quite limited outside its immediate neighbourhood. Its resources are rather sparse, even getting an adequate number of graduate tribal teachers is a challenge. The demographic constraints merge with the cultural politics of the larger world to make it quite difficult to gather a sufficiently large number of people needed to work at the

Can social movements lead to educational change? 171 scale needed to touch each and every school in the region. Decision makers at the district, state and national levels control many aspects of schooling. Influencing them is way beyond the resources of this small group. That social movements can at least in principle still resolve or shift these obstacles is shown by American efforts to impact schools through community mobilization (Reneé et al. 2010, Shirley 2010). They display intensive networking and interconnecting of different local movements which then become regional and national forces. These were then able to collectively exert pressure at the top of education bureaucracies. Lastly, it may be suggested from the AMS experience that quite distinct efforts from within the logic of bureaucracy and organizations to improve school organization and the administrative system still continue to be important. While political movements may be able to lean upon them, the resistance by school teachers reaffirms that bureaucratic organizations are remarkably resilient and resistant to external pressure. Transformation from within must also go hand in hand. This may mean all the usual processes of organizational reform – getting better people, building cultures of putting organizational goals before other things, having sufficient resources, acquiring the required technical knowledge, having effective feedback loops and so on. Social movements may not be able to replace education bureaucracies and efforts to improve the latter from within their own logic must still be made.

Lessons for building democratic movements Meanwhile, building social movements still does emerge as an important and under-emphasized component for changing educational systems, particularly for tilting their activities in favour of the weak. There are several lessons ACCORD’s work holds for those who may want to build movements that seek to empower the powerless. The first thing is that any intervention has to be clear as to whose interests lie at the centre of the intervention. If it is the community’s then the intervention must be conducted according to their ideas and the decisions taken by them. In the present case, most community members will not have heard the names ACCORD or Vidyodaya. The school is Sangam school and all the activities are Sangam activities. People’s participation should not be to carry brick and mortar, but to imagine, design and plan. Second, it is important that people who have been historically marginalised realise that they are where they are because of others and not because of themselves. The sense of failure and oppression that has been internalised has to be brought to the fore. For this, one must use what Freire calls the material that life offers and make it into their learning materials. Third, one must recognize that people in such situations have never been in decision-making positions and therefore have to learn to do so and often by making mistakes. This space must be available to them. They have to learn to be unafraid of making mistakes. Having been physically and psychologically assaulted for the least mistake in order to keep them in line, fear is a very, very real factor.

172 A. Madan, R. Sastry and B. Ramdas Finally, AMS’s experience of working with adivasis has shown that even the least educated people are capable of handling institutions and difficult challenges. One only needs to make available to them the necessary inputs. In the final analysis, a highly motivated person can self-learn anything. Motivating them and getting them to believe that they are not marginal to anything but are subjects creating and recreating history is the most important facet of the work. At the level of educational systems as a whole, the present case study supports the idea that shifts in the composition of or at least in the cultures of those holding the reins of power are important to ensure that substantial educational change takes place in the direction of greater equality. Trying to improve participation in educational systems without that runs the risk of remaining at the level of just tinkering here and there, becoming only a token gesture towards education reform. If political cultures change to permit greater voice to weaker sections, then it seems reasonable to expect that the new equation of power would insist on at least some selfexpression. However, the AMS and Vidyodaya experience also points to the importance of cultivating technical expertise along with political strength. Pedagogic knowledge and the ability to formulate new curricula are key abilities for changing the education system and these may be developed at sites other than social movements alone. While social movements can give them momentum, the cultivation of teachers requires more effective teacher education institutions. Social movements for greater democratisation have the capacity to change the overall climate within which institutions function. Without such a change the cultural milieu and goals of institutions may continue to remain under the influence of entrenched dominant groups. And yet, it would appear that “institutionbuilding” continues to be important, whether it is for strengthening of teacher education institutes or the effective functioning of school bureaucracies themselves or improving teaching and research in the higher education system which generates potential teachers who know their subjects well. For those who want to work for egalitarian education systems, it is worth asking whether democratic social movements may well be a necessary ingredient for educational change that empowers the oppressed. At the same time, it also seems plausible that while necessary, they may not be sufficient to ensure that such change takes place.

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11 Everyday violence, schooling and mediating institutions in Northeast India Jeebanlata Salam

Northeast India, consisting of eight states, lies on the geopolitical periphery of India. In India, the region is ethnically the most diverse, with a vast diversity of languages and dialects. Despite its tremendous multiplicity in terms of language, caste, race, religion and ethnic groups, they share common features distinctive from the rest of India (Ahmed and Biswas, 2004), but having cultural affinity with Southeast Asia. Scholars powerfully argue that the stark sense of lack of contacts both physical and cultural with the Indian subcontinent is the main underlying factor for underdevelopment in the region. Lack of development, compounded with multiple ethnic differences poses severe constraints on the possibility of attaining legitimate political and economic aspirations towards which ethnic mobilisation is directed to, with increasing military grip on economic and political governance of the region today. The radical political integration of Northeast India into the Indian union, starting from the 1940s, was not a smooth process. Even today many ethnic insurgent movements such as the Naga rebellion of Nagaland, People’s Liberation Army of Manipur that opposed accession to India went on to form separatist movements, while several ethnic insurgents demand autonomy within the region, with a common claim ‘right to self determination’ from the Indian nation state (Oinam, 2003). Violence and conflict in the region gain momentum when inter-ethnic conflicts spread in the entire region; for example, the conflict between Naga and kuki tribes, Nagas and Meiteis in Manipur, Karbi and Dimasa, Karbi and Naga tribes in Assam, Khasi and Bengali in Meghalaya are few to site (ibid.). These conflicts arise mainly due to the emerging trend of ethnic assertion by numerous ethnic armed insurgents, often working in their own ethnic interest, translating ethnic differences into violence. The root of these conflicts cannot be divorced from the discourse of development policy in the region. In the discourse of underdevelopment of the region, scholars argue that the economic underdevelopment of the region can be attributed mainly to the British colonial legacy of the Indian state, describing Northeast India as a militarily secured frontier zone on the grounds of ‘national security’, which became heightened by the Sino-Indian War of 1962. Because of its geo-strategic location, there have also been cross border crimes such as the illicit trafficking of drugs, arms and weapons across the porous boundary between India, Myanmar,

176 J. Salam Bangladesh and Bhutan. Pakistan and China are often blamed for supplying weapons to these insurgents in order to weaken the Indian political establishment. This has further complicated dealing with ethnic insurgents in Northeast India. More often than not, insurgent movements in the region are dealt with by repressive state forces, using the infamous Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958, that granted Indian armed forces extraordinary powers to enter and search premises without a warrant, the right to detain and arrest any suspected person, and shoot and kill civilians with impunity. Today, unlike other Northeastern states, ethnic conflict and ethnic insurgents in Manipur have grown more than ever before. The state has been torn apart by conflicts and violence among various ethnic groups on the basis of exclusivity, domination, integration – all of which encompasses political power, symbolic, cultural and ideological values. As Bhagat Oinam (2003) observes, Manipur in terms of ethnic composition of more than 30 communities and tribes can be described as a miniature Indian state, having a multi-ethnic, multi- lingual, multicultural, multi-religious, and multi sub national identities. More than half a century of bloodshed has marked the life story of the people of Manipur. In Manipur, intermittent violence levels continue to remain very high. Ethnic violence in the region exists alongside inter-ethnic contestations over limited opportunities and resources, in which the state finds itself pulled in different directions, with little capacity to find solutions and govern. As a result, political unrest in the state has moved to street protests, public curfews and blockades by various social organisations with the support of armed factional groups. Ethnic violence and secessionists contestations exist alongside many experiments of selfrule and political autonomy. The unstable social basis of the state and the competition it faces from various powerful factional groups pushes the state to compromise its autonomy and its ability to govern society and provide security for itself and its people. For example, ethnic armed insurgents collect taxes from public transport at check points and from individuals. Sajjad Hassan (2006) in his observation on the breakdown of Northeast India, observes the complete failure of state agencies in performing their basic functions including the protection of ordinary citizens and influencing economic and social behaviour. This creates a situation where the security of ordinary citizens, and economic and political affairs, fall into the hands of warlords and gang leaders. The state, with little social basis of the legitimacy of governance, has entered into a power sharing nexus between powerful ethnic factional groups. In a civil war-like situation in everyday life, resorting to militaristic and coercive control of everyday behaviour becomes an easy weapon for the state while giving rise to regular political instability. Governmentality, in the words of Michael Foucault, where human behaviour and actions are systematically controlled in ever wider areas of social and personal life, has become an integral part of the structure of governance in the state of Manipur. Thus, while living under democracy, when a democratic political culture collapses a crisis of legitimacy is created and loss of faith and acceptance by members of society. Conflict and violence continue to contribute to the maintenance of the status quo of those in power. This observation draws

Everyday violence, schooling and mediating institutions 177 one to Michael Mann’s powerful discourse on the sources of the autonomy of the state that are derived from force, as in despotic state and the infrastructural state, where the state increases its power by negotiating its administrative relationships with shadow states (who are not legally a part of the formal state, but play a powerful role in state policies) to develop its capabilities for intervening in particular areas of policy. State actors and their interests develop in relation to groups in a society, not with the general members of society. In effect, the state finds itself constantly hemmed in by opposing powerful forces in discharging the key state functions of security and welfare projects. This further encourages corruption, extortion and diversion of development funds. The threat of armed, violent insurgents routinely influences decisions about infrastructure and social policy implementation in the state of Manipur. Collusion between the armed forces, politicians, high officials, contractors and businessmen is the lifeblood of corruption in the state. The situation has created a war economy that feeds on conflict and violence, often resulting in sporadic civilian street protests, public curfews, institutional closures, economic blockades etc., perennially locking down everyday life. Violence perpetrated by the state and other armed numerous groups have contributed to an increasingly pervasive Hobbesian state of disorder, often risking the life of common people.

Life under Armed Forces Special Powers Act and its structural effects Living under AFSPA, one often encounters military and paramilitary forces equipped with deadly weapons patrolling towns and villages, conducting search operations in an attempt to flush out insurgents – suspected or real. These operations are regularly followed by fake encounters, disappearances, torture and rape. Deaths in such encounters have been reported as higher than in open combat with insurgents. The excesses committed by the state under the act have hardened insurgency movements in the state, and there is continuous call from the public in the region to repeal the act. Insurgency in Manipur is higher than in other Northeastern states. The heavy deployment of armed forces to counter insurgency movement is like a springboard for hardening the insurgency movement in Manipur, with more than 30 different ethnic insurgents operating in the tiny state. According to Ben Hayes (2012) Manipur is currently the most heavily militarised state, with more than 60,000 military and security personnel and over 300 security checkpoints spanning the state while dozens of ethnic insurgent groups control various small swathes of the state. Schools, universities, historical sites, sacred places, children’s playgrounds and grazing grounds have been converted to army barracks. The sight of armed forces with weapons all over the streets, agricultural fields, and market places causes psychological discomfort, feelings of insecurity and irritation and can be inflammatory for youths in particular. Strategic usage of violence as a form of protest by the insurgents and as an instrument to contain violence by the state has created a situation of an ‘army of occupation.’ Ben Hayes further observed how counter-insurgency operations in

178 J. Salam Northeast India, including the long and brutal repression of uprisings in Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Assam by the Indian army, have left an indelible scar on the indigenous populations to an extent that physicians speak of a collective post-traumatic stress disorder passed down through generations, while sociologists speak of communities inured to acts of violence after decades of conflict. Large-scale violence and conflict in the region has displaced thousands of children out of school, while disconnecting displaced victims from their social and economic capital. One can recall the infamous Nelli massacre in Assam, killing more than 1,600 and displacing thousands. Manipur, too, witnessed substantial internal displacement and ethnic relocation in the wake of the Kuki-Naga clash and Kuki-Paite feuds in the early 1990s that led to nearly 17,000 deaths and much destruction of property while displacing thousands of villagers. Internally displaced persons constitute one of the largest groups of excluded victims in society. How education for children in armed conflict and emergency situations can be kept alive remains a big challenge that has seldom received academic attention.

Education in conflict zones: challenges Manipur has been continuously gripped by a series of violent uprisings, bringing enormous challenges to the education system. Loss of the academic year and school closure through violent public eruptions are often related to abuse by state forces and insurgents. The lock down of the Imphal valley through endless protest demonstrations, the death of nine people and a young student in the early summer of 2015 prompted me to remember several violent eruptions in the state and how these episodic violent eruptions had killed protesting young students, destroying learning opportunities for children and youths. Let me recapture few of these momentous eruptions and its consequence on education and students. In the winter of 2000, ten civilians, including an 18-year-old student while waiting for the bus at the Malom bus stop, were shot down in cold blood by the Assam Rifles after an explosion. The massacre sparked widespread protest in Manipur and Delhi, led by the iconic Irom Sharmila, supported by a large number of students and human right organisations. Sharmila observed long hunger strike against the infamous ASFPA (1958). Manipur plunged into endless flames in the year 2001 after Naga insurgents signed a ceasefire agreement with the NDA government, extending the cease-fire in Naga to inhabited areas of Manipur. The ceasefire extension was viewed as an attempt to legitimise Naga insurgent control over the Naga inhabited districts of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. During the ceasefire extension, thousands of school children held a protest demonstration, burning school textbooks and reading materials. During the protest, 14 youths died in police repression while several were injured. Schools and educational institutions were closed down indefinitely. In the middle of summer 2004, the Assam Rifles, after brutally raping and torturing a young woman, Manorama was shot dead in a fake encounter. In shock and disgust, Manipuri Mothers of Women Torch Bearers protested naked in front of Kangla

Everyday violence, schooling and mediating institutions 179 Fort, Imphal where the Assam Rifles were stationed. Huge numbers of students and civil society groups protested for months, while a young student committed self-immolation with a pleading message of repealing AFSPA. In 2009, the coldblooded murders of a youth in a fake encounter at Imphal market and of a bystander pregnant woman in broad daylight was followed by a widespread condemnation and protest that resulted to educational deadlock, shutting out lakhs of students for more than three months. In the same year, the Indian army conducted Operation Summer Storm to root out insurgents from Keibul Lamjao, a National Park, located at Loktak Lake. During the operation, besides displacing thousands of villagers, children near and around the region were prevented from going to school. The Sangai Express, a local newspaper, reported that during the nine-day operation, schools located in Nongmaikhong and Khordak, near the Keibul Lamjao Park were shut down, withholding the regular functioning of schools and denying the right to education to more than 1,168 children. These children belonged to the four government schools operating near and around the Park. The operation created panic among parents and children about whether the situation would necessitate the repetition of an academic year. This incident demonstrates that the conflict zone(s) of India are far from safe havens for school children. Militarisation during Operation Summer Storm displaced communities, including teachers, students and parents who were forced to take shelter in safer places. Due to the incessant fighting and heavy guns and mortar fire, the villagers were unable to plant rice and were prevented from fishing, the main source of their income. Guidelines for continuing education in times of emergency and post-emergency have not been drawn up either by the state or by the civil society sector. This is despite the fact that the Indian state became a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of Child in 1992, wherein Article 28.1 of the Convention states that state parties must recognise the right of the child to education with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, directing the state to intervene as and when children’s educational rights are violated. The valley has been gripped by violent eruptions, death and destruction for more than a decade, with students in large numbers taking centre stage in the protests. My interviews of students of Class 7 from Don Bosco school, Imphal reveal that 70% of them participated in various forms of protest demonstrations against violence in the state. However, they were unhappy with insurgent organisations that used them as frontal weapons of protest. While episodic violence becomes historic, capturing public attention, the everyday violence that inflicts physical and psychological pain on individual victims becomes routine and hard to notice. In the early 80s, insurgents acted like Robin Hood and earned societal respect. Lately, insurgents have started committing rampant human rights abuses in the form of kidnappings, killing individual teachers and students and extortion. Teachers and officials are forced to pay taxes to insurgents by surrendering a part of their salary. During my field investigation, I discovered that school head teachers bargain hard with different armed groups regarding the payment of taxes and surrendering part of school funds. From school accounts, I also discovered

180 J. Salam funds and school materials are partly handled by insurgents. This speaks a lot about societal polity, economy and the state that draw its legitimacy from various factional powerful groups. From the narratives of state-run schools, I discovered that funds and school materials are partly handled by insurgents. There are also reports of insurgents throwing grenades and firing at schools, threatening teachers in cases of non-compliance. Right-thinking people are not allowed to speak up for justice, let alone freedom of speech! The murder of Professor Islamuddin within the Manipur Central University campus is a chilling reminder of what happens when individuals stand up for what is right. Failure in extorting from parents leads to the killing of innocent students, as the case of Elizabeth Nunglila of Little Flower School, Imphal reminds us. And if this is not enough, insurgents abducted more than 20 school children in the summer of 2008. Ethnic insurgents often target small boys from their ethnic group to recruit them as child soldiers. This cruelty has added to the woes of parents who have had to stop sending their children to school. The stories of parents and teachers about their anxiety, their worry about their children’s safety and educational loss are also reflected in my ethnographic study in the Imphal district during 2007–2009. Describing how present-day Manipur has become a zone of terror, parents have echoed their concerns on the quantum of violence and educational loss of children in the state. Reflecting his poignant experience of the changing times in the state, a parent stated: With the increase violence in public places, children are really unsafe. Certainly, their attendance is also on the decline. Syllabus to be completed remains incomplete. This encourages private tuition system. There is insecurity all over the places as every time, we are disturbed thinking of unprecedented violence. On children’s stress and difficulties in coping with schooling in the continuously violent situation, another parent sadly reflected: Whirling violence has caused tremendous loss; exams are postponed due to sudden violence. Destruction caused by violence is beyond my words. Violence has become a trend of the present Manipuri society. When there is violence and sudden blockade, everything is shut down. Children can’t attend school. Sadly, despite all these, teachers compulsorily complete the syllabus and naturally children find it difficult to cope up. Recalling the most infamous widespread incident of a ceasefire in the state of Manipur on June 18, 2001, a mother of three school age children recounted her sad tale: The ceasefire incident has caused great education, emergency to children. During the incident, there was an emergency called for law and order

Everyday violence, schooling and mediating institutions 181 situation, followed by mass protest and bloody deaths of youth. Bandhs were immediately called for, creating tremors, anxieties and distress us. In such volatile situation, school children are critically affected ’cause they were forced to be a part of mass protest. Having witnessed a series of emergent conflicts, a mother who runs a fast food stall recounted those unforgettable, bewildering incidents of widespread violence in Imphal during the ceasefire: I wish all sorts of violence get over before the school session begins. Every parent has the same wishes. The death of Chitarajan and Manorama keep a social life under seige, heated and burning. Such violent incident flares up emergencies, anxiety and tension. We are always in civil war. An English literature teacher recounted: Given the climax of violence, I always start my classes with peace education and practical moral science lessons; it’s necessary. Depending on the nature and degree of violence, the school remains closed. In an assertive, high-pitched tone of condemnation and concern over the growing violence in Imphal valley, a literature teacher observed: More than anywhere else, Imphal valley is gripped by violence all the time. In the year 2004, a student, Lungnila Elizabeth of Little Flower School was killed. Immediately after her disappearance, all children observed protest march. Such a case occurred three times in the recent past as the students are soft targets of violent insurgents. Two young boy students disappeared from our Don Bosco School mysteriously. Later on, they were found dead. Another teacher condemned the violent acts, claiming: The time has never been a healer; we have never forgotten the horrors of the murder of our young students by insurgents. Whenever violence erupts, students are used as tools of protest. In case our children refuse, these insurgents dictate us to close the school or pay a fine to them. From a case study of three schools located in Imphal district, teachers unanimously agreed that conflict and violence continuously sabotaged learning opportunity for children in multiple ways as shown in Table 11.1. Apart from the occasional educational emergencies faced by children, parents and teachers were equally alarmed about the growth in psychological trauma in children brought up in a violent and conflict-ridden society. In a society gripped by violence, one can notice how youths go astray and get estranged, how

182 J. Salam Table 11.1 Impact of violence on school education Violence/conflict/blockades/strikes in the state affect school education


It demoralises both the teachers and the taught It undermines the regular functioning of schools The School remains closed when violence occurs in the region School infrastructure is destroyed It affects transport and communication system It creates a sense of insecurity among children It forces young children to protest in the street It creates psychological stress among children It affects the general academic performance of children Parents are apprehensive about sending their children to school

Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Source: Primary Survey, 2009

children are being traumatised and deprived of childhood. Schooling and the educational rights of children, therefore, cannot be treated in isolation from the dynamics of operations of the larger system. Education as a matter of right relates to other rights, most importantly the right to life, feeling safe and secure and the relatively peaceful existence of citizens. The study also reveals that in a situation of long-drawn conflict and violence, children of poor households in government schools are the hardest hit in unique ways: by stripping of only the limited learning opportunity available to them through school, regular closure of schools encourages the private tuition system (that children of only rich parents can afford) and it is difficult for children to start afresh after a gap of learning opportunity at schools. The difficulty can grow for children when there is a lack of academic and learning support at home. Deprivation of learning opportunity can affect a child’s life chances in multi-dimensional ways that can be counterproductive. Violence has contributed to the deterioration of state-run schools with serious implications for children of poor families. In an environment of systemic violence, death and destruction, where there is no value for life, children and young people are forced to live with a glut of commodified violence, casting a dark shadow on their lives and aspirations. Constant exposure of children to a violent environment makes them fearless and want to handle destructive weapons, instead of seeking happy moments in the company of beautiful toys and games. Teachers and students alike confront periodic educational emergencies, stripping of teaching-learning opportunity, due to which students loose learning opportunities, academic year, self-esteem, confidence, values and a life of immense possibility. The Right to Education Act is an act that values social justice, promotes democracy and the creation of a just, humane society that can be achieved through the provision of inclusive quality education for all children. Deepening democracy and upholding human

Everyday violence, schooling and mediating institutions 183 rights play a crucial role in realising this goal. However, with the pervasive crimes of systemic violence, death and destruction, where there is no value for life, crucial issues such as access, equity and quality of education never arise in the political agenda of the state. Budgetary expenditure by the state on military and police is more than its social expenditure which fell by 21.1% during the year 2000–2001. Of all the administrative expenses of the state, policing consumes up to 70% of total expenditure. The failure of the state in the social sector is evident in the extreme scarcity of good education, good infrastructure, job opportunities (though there is generous recruitment of local police commandos) and the increasing impoverishment of people. Today, Manipur has the second highest incidence of poverty at 46.7% unlike in 1980s when it enjoyed the distinction of being categorized as the lowest poverty state among all the states in India. The availability of various basic facilities in schools is a reflection of public initiatives and allocation of resources by the state. However, these facilities are missing in many state-run schools. Studies reveal that many government schools are crippled and operate without basic conveniences. According to the report of the Situational Analysis of Children in Government Schools conducted by the Institute of Social Work and Research (2009), it was found that students studying in government schools in Imphal east were deprived of basic conveniences – an absence of toilets or unserviceable conditions – even if some schools had such facilities. The study found that only two out of 50 schools had toilet facilities. In my case study of a government school, Phoijing Junior High School located in Imphal west district, it was discovered that the toilet is a brick wall and a tin roof with mud holes dug as pits, which is used both for latrine purposes simultaneously. In the same school there was no water facility available. Rice for midday meals were reportedly transported to individual private homes of high-ranking officials while funds were not properly sanctioned for the purchase of other items. Materials kept in the midday-meal kitchen were stolen by unknown miscreants. Despite the tangible benefits of midday facilities for school children, these irregularities sap the enthusiasm of the school community, teachers and children, most of whom belong to families below the poverty line. My study further reveals that, as a result of the widespread downfall of government schools, many parents and children abandon government schools by shifting their allegiance to private schools in search of betterquality education. More than 80% of parents choose private schools as against 15% parents choosing government schools, while the Annual Status of Education Report (2015) reveals that more than 73% of children in the 6–14 age group attend private school. The phenomenon of parental school choice and the structural shift of school children to private schools in the state reveals the collapse of the very structure of schooling opportunities in government schools that have provided a successful road map for many private schools – mostly catholic model private schools, of different levels – resulting in different learning outcomes and achievements in children. This development is against the vision of the right to education agenda. Further, according to Selected

184 J. Salam Educational Statistics (2011), going by the gross enrolment ratio of more than 114.9% in grades 1–8, schooling in the state has acquired a social norm. However, only 20.8% of the student population of higher secondary education in the age group of 18–23 are retained, a drop of almost half the population of senior secondary level of 16–17 age group. This indicates a failure of the public policy initiatives, including SSA (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan), RMSA (Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan) and the allocation of resources by the state in providing quality education for children and adolescent youths to achieve a meaningful level of education. Without suffering, there is no compassion. Feeling let down by the violent elusive state, the Democratic Students Alliance of Manipur (DESAM) (alleged to have links with an insurgent outfit), was formed to do justice to students of government school by taking the law into their own hands and intervene in school operations. None of the DESAM members are from private schools. In the present scenario, it’s the highly privileged children who are able to be educated at select elite private schools, a phenomenon suggestive of the Darwinian law of natural selection, devoid of human compassion and magnanimity. This is, indeed, a tragedy for Manipuri society, where a humanistic and liberating education system for all has deep social roots. It is only this educational agenda that can compensate for a fallen society.

Civil society as mediating institutions The long-drawn violent conflict in the region has raised serious questions about the character of the democratic state. As argued by Neera Chandhoke, the state is the principal actor in political, cultural, social and economic norms in society. Hence, any issue raised anywhere invariably returns to the state to provide an explanation for that particular phenomenon. Over the last decades, the state of Manipur has witnessed the growth of various civil society movements addressing weak state performance in providing basic social securities or overriding the misuse of state power. The existence of civil society in the state has inherent linkages with promoting democracy, citizenship rights and state accountability. Viewed like this, civil society is seen as constituting the core value of political participation and state accountability for citizens. This concept of civil society was espoused by Alexis de Tocqueville. For de Tocqueville, state tyranny can be checked through civil associations. To him, democracy has two sides, the social and the political; the one cannot grow without the other. He envisages that, in a democracy, the state requires support from civil society for its own health and well-being. Without the rule of law, civil society in its truest sense cannot be sustained. For Adam Fergusson, the development of civil society meant a movement from barbarism. Civil society pulled the man out of the state of nature, meaning a state of nature can be abolished with the emergence of civil society. As Thomas Pain observed, a legitimate state is one that is guided by the principles of natural rights and the active consent of the governed. These natural rights cannot be annihilated, transferred or divided. To him, legitimate states are constitutional

Everyday violence, schooling and mediating institutions 185 governments empowered by the active consent of naturally free and equal citizens. Pain’s argument supposes that it is in the realm of civil society that there is a natural propensity to celebrate democratic space with common goals and aspirations, including security and emancipation from conflict. This brief discourse on state–civil society suggests that civil society can display a remarkable capacity to deepen democracy with emancipatory zeal. This concept of civil society, which became quite popular in nineteenth century Europe, can thrive in liberal democracies. However, the contemporary intellectual revival of state–civil society discourse is related to the rise of new social movements, of which the important ones are the black and civil rights movements, feminism, the peace movement, etc. Some of these movements have roots in the American War of Independence (1776) and the French Revolution (1789) and its core messages are spread across the globe with huge support. Of late, civil society is also vigorously promoted by academicians and state and international agencies as a medium for the consolidation of democracy. However, the validity of these observations, such as state–civil schema relationship in the context of strengthening and consolidation of democracy, is contested in the context of Northeast India, where the dynamics of civil society operations do not seem to enjoy democratic space and citizenship rights as these organizations operate under the constant surveillance of the violent state and ethnic armed militias. In the state of Manipur, one would find a multitude of civil society organizations (representing a wide spectrum of issues) as the fore-bears of promoting an agenda of justice and democratic rights for people. While the genesis of civil society in the state can be traced to the famous anti-colonial movements of 1904 and 1939, waged by women against the semi-feudal state and the British colonisers, the formation and functioning of today’s civil society organisations is mostly a response to the socio-economic and political experience of various social groups, ethnic communities and the larger Manipuri society as a whole – for example, Naga Mothers’ Association, Manipur Human Rights Alert (HRA), Co-ordination for Human Rights (COHR), Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights (CSCHR) and Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights etc. These organisations work mainly on issues related to human rights violations committed by the military, paramilitary and police personnel. Organisations such as the United Committee Manipur (UCM) and All Manipur United Clubs Organisation (AMUCO) are ethnic identity-based organisations that play a watchdog role against the possible alliance between the GOI and NSCN (M) for creating Greater Nagaland. Kuki Inpi Manipur, an identity-based organisation, was formed as a response to counter the offensive drives of the Naga secessionist insurgents, who had begun an ethnic war against the Kukis in the early 1990s. There are also a host of voluntary organisations such as Prevention of Drugs and Substance Abuse, HIV/AIDS, Rehabilitation Centres, Women’s Welfare Organisations, Children Adoption Centres and Destitute Homes for Children, Old Age Homes etc. Other civil society organisations operating in the state include Christian Missionaries, the International Society for Krishna

186 J. Salam Consciousness (ISCKCON), the Madrasas, Shree Digambar Jain Society, individual private run schools, All Manipur Elementary School Teachers Association (AMESTA), Democratic Students’ Alliance of Manipur (DESAM) and All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU) to name a few. DESAM’s main endeavour is to make education a ‘free zone’ by bringing reform to the education system, mostly in the school education sector, in a radical way. Similarly, AMSU intervenes in education-related issues as well as engaging in cultural integration of the Northeast region, by organising and participating in cultural festivals and workshops. In Manipur, traditionally, it is common for communities to contribute to school education in terms of material, moral and human resources. The emergence of various civil society movements (establishing private schools) in the education sector in Manipur is attributed to the failure of the state in responding to the educational needs of children, most of whom belong to poor, rural households. Yet, the goals of these civil society organisations are self-limiting, with shifting visions on the course of their journey and where the provision of their education agenda is more likely to operate, according to their own ideological mandates, making the guidelines provided by the state a secondary priority. Hence, the education project provided by the schools run by different private bodies is not accessible to children from all backgrounds. Nonetheless, these schools, too, are under constant surveillance by various armed ethnic insurgents, with constant threats to the operation of these schools with unreasonable demands often infringing upon their autonomy, which is indeed a sine qua non for their accountability. When autonomous operation is under threat, accountability is seriously compromised while autonomy and accountability are the main pillars of operational strength and success. Occasionally, these schools, too, are shut down as they are unable to compromise with the demands of armed militants. The Right to Education Act has been associated with the expansion of citizenship rights. However, in a political culture, where the democratically elected state deploys terror as a systematic mode of governance, with strong illicit links with armed militias, civil society fails to become a site in which society enters into relationship with the state as the provider of universal justice for all and the protection of citizenship rights. The right to education agenda, rooted in the universality of human rights, requires a sea change in governance, forcing the state to be highly responsive in translating its welfare policies into legislation, under which citizens have legal recourse. But, in a political set up where the constitutional state no longer derives its authority from constitutional law, civil society too fails to live up to its expectations in playing a critical role by intervening in the area of education for the promotion of citizenship rights.

References Baruah, Sanjib. 2009. Beyond Counter-Insurgency: Breaking the Impasse in Northeast India. New York: Oxford University Press. Benei, Veronique and Fuller, C. J. 2000. The Everyday State and Society in Modern India. New Delhi: Social Science Press.

Everyday violence, schooling and mediating institutions 187 Bhaumik, Subir. 2007. Insurgencies in India’s Northeast: Conflict, Co-option & Change. Washington: East-West Center, 18–24. Biswas, Prasenjit and Ahmed, Raifiul. 2004. Political Economy of Underdevelopment of North-East India. New Delhi: Akansha Publishing House. Chandhoke, Neera. 1995. State, Civil and Society: Exploration in Political Theory. New Delhi: Sage. Foucault, M. 1977. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. London: Penguin Books. Hassan, Sajjad M. 2006. “Explaining Manipur’s Breakdown and Manipur’s Peace: The State and Identities in Northeast India”. In Explaining Manipur’s Breakdown and Mizoram’s Peace: The State and Identities in North East India. London: Crisis States Programme. Development Studies Institute, 1–9. Hayes, Ben. 2012. The Other Burma? Conflict, Counter-Insurgency and Human Rights in Northeast India. Netherland: Transnational Institute. Jayaram, N. (ed.). 2005. On Civil Society: Issues and Perspectives. Delhi: Sage. Keane, John (ed.). 1998. Civil Society and the State: New European Perspectives. New York: Verso. Khelen, Thokchom. 2009. “Operation Summer Storm Stumps Students”. The Sanghai Express, 20 April. Mann, Michael. 1988. States, Wars and Capitalism: Studies in Political Sociology. Oxford: Basil Blackwell Ltd. Oinam, Bhagat. 2003. “Patterns of Ethnic Conflict in the North East.” Economic & Political Weekly 38(21): 2031–2033. Pratham. 2015. Annual Status of Education Report. New Delhi. Rajagopal, Krishmadas. 2014. “AFSPA in Manipur: Manorama Mercilessly Tortured”. The Hindu, 14 November. Salam, Jeebanlata. 2013. State, Civil Society and Right to Education. Jaipur: Rawat Publications Selected Educational statistics 2011–2012. New Delhi: MHRD. Singh, N.Somendro. 2011. “State of Education in Manipur.” Economic and Political Weekly 43(23): 12–13. Singh, Sarjan Kumar. 2009. Situational Analysis of Children in Government Schools. Imphal: Manipur Alliance for Child Rights.

12 Pedagogic settings and pedagogic deterrence A treatise on tribal education and social exclusion Babu C. T. Sunil The 573 Scheduled Tribes (STs) living in different parts of the country constitute about 8.2% of the Indian population, i.e. 84.32 million (Government of India, 2011). Still the cardinal attributes to the tribal identity is no doubt their language and most of the tribes are having their own languages, which are different from the mainstream language of the State where they live. There are more than 270 such tribal languages in India (ibid.). Out of 193 million belonging to the school-going age group of 6 to 14 years, there are 16 million ST children (10.87 million of 6–11 years and 5.12 million of 11–14 years) (Government of India, 2001). It is clear that the position of tribes in terms of their representation in higher education and government/private sector are less. The root cause of this underrepresentation can be attributed to the pedagogy and pedagogic settings. Bruner (1996) points out that there are four dominant models of pedagogy prevalent in the modern world1, but stresses: Modern pedagogy is moving increasingly toward the view that a child should be aware of her own thought process, and that it is crucial for the pedagogical theorist and teacher alike to help her to become more metacognitive – to be as aware of how she goes about her learning and thinking as she is about the subject matter she is studying, achieving skills and accumulating knowledge are not enough. (Bruner 1996: 64) A child should be aware of his/her thought process because, as he points out, human functioning is always situated in a social and cultural context. It involves the shared symbols of a community passing on one from one generation to another. Can a tribal child situated in artificial pedagogic settings be aware of her/his thought process? This chapter suggests the argument that the tribal student begins their formal education within the artificial pedagogic setting which is a process of non-continuity. In order to contextualise the idea of noncontinuity, at the outset one needs to conceptualise what has been referred to as pedagogic settings. Pedagogic setting is the total situation in which the pedagogic practice occurs. For immediate conceptualisation, the pedagogic setting can be divided

Pedagogic settings and pedagogic deterrence


into two: the natural setting and the artificial setting. The learning in the first stage of education, the elementary education, can be effectively held in the natural setting. That is, the total situation should be conducive to social and life-world of the student. However, the pedagogic setting is made from above; for the educationalists who compile the setting it appears natural, whereas for the tribal students it remains to be an artificial setting. Put it in a different way. The first stage of learning needs a natural setting in which the child learns by relating not only to the content of the book, but his/her total setting. ‘Imagined learning’ can occur only in the latter stage. The setting made from above, which is conducive for non-tribal children/ mainstream children, is an artificial setting for the tribal children, which results in non-continuity from their informal education and natural pedagogic setting; that is, their formal education begins with non-continuity. Let us elaborate by taking the components of pedagogic settings. The crucial one is the cultural component, especially the language. Much of the research on tribal education has pointed out the importance of the mother tongue at the elementary level. For instance, the NPE-1986 and the Programme of Action (POA)-1992, recognized the heterogeneity and diversity of the tribal areas and underlined the importance of the mother tongue for instruction. It also emphasised the need for preparing teaching/learning materials in the tribal languages. Taking the policy into consideration, most of the states are acquainted with the need to address the issues related to language or the medium of instruction, attitude of teachers, content of textbooks or the curriculum and pedagogy. Evidently, researchers strongly advocate the use of the mother tongue or home language as medium of instruction in the elementary education. Since the accent or mother tongue of tribal children is quite distinct from the prominent languages of the state, using tribal language as the pedagogic language receives greater importance in the context of tribal education. Tribal children face problems wherever teachers do not speak their dialect (Jha and Jhingran, 2005). Although research evidence has attested the positive consequences of bilingual/ multilingual schooling on the cognitive development of marginalised sections, the Constitution of India allows the use of tribal dialect (mother tongue) as the medium of instruction only when the population of the tribe is more than a lakh (Nanjunda, 2008: 135). Further, Midatala Rani (2000) observed that due to the language barrier, tribal children are unable to establish communication links with the teacher, thus leading to the termination of their education at some point or the other. Certainly, the demand for changing the content and curriculum to suit the tribal context is an old one. However, no serious effort has been made in this direction in any state/UT. One has to look critically at the fact that the content is not changing in accordance with the natural pedagogic setting. Every policy tends to emphasise the need to address the question of the mother tongue and content, but in practice it remains unaddressed. Before we address the question of content, symbolic and inter-subjective components are to be analysed. Symbolic and inter-subjective components include the aural and visual encounter spaces including the family members

190 B. C. T. Sunil who stand as the symbol of education, especially the beneficiaries of education. Out of 37 students interviewed in the Talasari area,2 only two students had one family member working in the government sector. Interestingly, both of these students scored better marks than the other students. It is through symbolic representation that one tries to relate what modern education is all about. The geographical location of schools and the roads and playgrounds are also not only important visual representations, but constitute an arena of the intersubjective world. Often tribal students share their cultural inter-subjective meanings at their home and home-playgrounds, but soon detach themselves as they enter into school. A sudden replacement of the inter-subjective world makes them passive not only in the classrooms but in the school playgrounds also. Crucially, there is a lack of communication between the teacher and student. Both of them lack in sharing a common inter-subjective world which also leads to dissatisfaction of the teachers working in tribal areas as Ambasht (1970) observed. Not only is the cultural component of tribes absent in the content of the textbooks, there is also an absence of whatever they encounter in their visual experiences. The visual experience is crucial for any child to relate to the content. Here the point is that the tribal visual encounter is often held in the natural setting. Since schools in the tribal areas are few in number and the students have to cover great geographical distances to get to school (Rathnaiah, 1977),3 this site is important one in terms of pedagogy. While they walk to school, they encounter totally different visual experiences. This is the site or the pedagogic corridor where they come to a situation of self-learning within the ‘free atmosphere’. There is non-continuity again in the school from their self-learning that they have in between their family and school. That is, the tribal formal education has also non-continuity from the second pedagogic setting, the pedagogic corridor, where the learning is based on child-centric pedagogy. Both these sites – that is family and the path to school – come under their natural settings and these should have a relation with the third site of pedagogic setting which includes the school, playground, the book and its content, the holidays of school, the language etc. There is a continuity to all these three sites for mainstream students whereas the school becomes an artificial setting for the tribal students. Since the artificial setting is made from above, it is coded with professional ones drawing from the mainstream educational sites. This contradiction can be understood when we look at the administrative relation of implementation of tribal education. Sujatha (1994) notes that the perspective adopted for the educational development of tribal communities fails to adequately address the specific disadvantage characterizing the tribal population. One of the major constraints of tribal education at the planning level is the adoption of a dual system of administration (ibid.). The Tribal Welfare Department deals with tribal life and culture and administers work at the local level including education. But the Tribal Welfare Department lacks expertise

Pedagogic settings and pedagogic deterrence


in educational planning and administration and also academic supervision and monitoring. On the other hand, the Education Department is the sole authority for planning educational development at the state level. The department tends to formulate uniform policies for the entire state. Under the dual system of administration, there is an absence of coordination and complementarily between the two departments (ibid.). In addition, Sujatha found that most of the tribal schools lack basic infrastructural facilities and the tribal students are forced to have rigid system of formal schooling which emphasizes discipline, routine norms, teacher-centred instruction, etc. This is often against the culture of free interaction and absence of force, often embedded in tribal cultural values. She notes that little effort has been given to understanding cultural peculiarity in pedagogic practice. She (Sujatha, 1994; 2000) also notes that one major cause behind the high drop-out rates of tribal students is their inability to establish communication links with the teacher. In short, the pedagogic settings remain to be natural for the mainstream students and there is continuity in all the three major settings in terms of the mainstream education. In the positive sense, the tribal students had a muchfavoured situation in the second site (the pedagogic corridor) where they have a space of self-learning which has to be continued in the school in terms of its pedagogy. But often such continuity is absent and therefore non-continuity is created because of artificial settings implemented by the experts who work within the relatively autonomous mainstream professional training with a set of professional codes. But this is again related to the mainstream educational training which includes the teacher’s training, administration, the professional games to be taught in the school etc. This background argument on noncontinuity leads to formulate two interconnected theses. The first thesis needs to be elaborated here in order to link it with the next one. Mainstream students start their learning from a natural setting at the elementary level and only enter the stage of imagined learning later. But for tribal students, the artificial setting makes a compulsive situation where the child from the very beginning is forced into the stage of imagined learning through imagined imitation. That is to say, the non-continuity in terms of pedagogic sites leads them to non-continuity in formal education. To put it in a different way, the continuity of three pedagogic sites on the one hand and continuity of informal learning to formal learning is required for successful imparting of education. This has to be understood along with the idea of imagined learning, which will be elaborated now. A child starts her/his learning through imitation. The imitation can occur in two ways: imitation of what they see in reality (the actual representation) and what they imagine (the imaginary representation). A child imitates what they immediately encounter visually. And at the later stage a child may be able to relate to some imaginary ideas when they began to develop linguistic categories at the time of the development of language. In this period, a child will begin to perceive ideas through linguistic categories. For better development of language and cognitive development, then, ideas need to meet with experience. The

192 B. C. T. Sunil verbal sounds and ideas used in mainstream society will also have a space of immediate experience. So, when a child hears the idea or concept of television, then s/he will also have an atmosphere to experience it. Similarly, for students in mainstream education, at the beginning of their school, they are able to relate to major content because it is a part of their natural setting, whereas for the tribal students whatever they are encountering in the school is not a representation of their reality; instead they are imaginary symbols. That is, from the first standard a tribal student starts learning by imaginary relation which is the second stage for a mainstream student. Thus, he/she begins with the second stage of learning, an instance of non-continuity. Our second thesis is that this non-continuity leads to a situation where tribal students end up believing that their relative performance and cultural positions are an outcome of continuity. This way, they become active agents in the reproduction of the existing hegemonic structure which further capitalises the existing cultural hegemony through a process of de-capitalising tribal resources, culture, values etc. De-capitalisation leads to a situation where it becomes difficult for the tribe to employ their capital as a rational tool in the public sphere. The artificial pedagogic setting creates two important impacts on the tribal students: pedagogic deterrence and reverse learning. The learning of tribal students, right from the beginning, is that of non-continuity. That is to say, generally all knowledge acquisition or learning starts with informal education and then goes on to formal education and there is certain continuity between these two; that is, formal education is a continuity of informal education. As against this, in the case of tribal students, although their informal education begins before formal education, it soon gets reversed. This happens when students are forced to learn content which they find alien to them, especially the religious symbols and stories that belong to the mainstream, non-tribal community. As a result of this, these students gradually get proselytised. Such a proselytization leads to a situation where formal education starts shaping the nature of informal education. Those students who get proselytised would go back home and rectify their elders in terms of the stories that they have said on the basis of what they have learnt from school. Going back to our field, one could easily say that the story of Ramayana that prevails among the Warali4 or Wynad tribe is quite different from what the children have learnt from their textbooks. The upper-land story of Ramayana is taught in school and the child who learns the textual story goes back home and rectifies the existing oral story of a particular tribe. Thus, the proselytised student makes corrections in the content of informal education by explaining to others what was taught in schools and as a result, in the long run, the entire tribal family gets proselytised. At the end of this process, the tribal gods/goddesses get replaced by the gods/goddesses whom they learn about in their schools. This situation creates multiple problems: first of all, the tribes gradually get converted into the mainstream Hindu religion. Such a religious conversion from tribal religion makes a situation in which the caste burden is imposed

Pedagogic settings and pedagogic deterrence


upon the tribe, an additional one. The proselytised tribes were never given higher status in the varna or local jati hierarchy. This leads not only to re-perpetuation of the hegemonic cultural ideology but also results in the de-capitalisation of the tribe.

Notes from the field Though the data for this study has been collected from the tribal belts of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, it mostly uses the data from the Talasari taluka of Maharashtra. In Maharashtra, two talukas had been chosen for data collection. Primarily these two are tribal talukas, sharing the border of Gujarat, Daman and Dadar Nagar Haveli, where the medium of instruction is either in Marathi or in Guajarati even though the tribes have their own language. Talasari Block was formed in 1962. The inhabitants are Warali, Kokana, Dhodi and Dubla. These all tribes have their own languages in the name of their own; the same as the name of tribes, but without script. The Warali and Kokana languages have some similarity to the Marathi language but the sentence structure and their accent are different. The medium of instruction is Marathi among the tribes who stay in the border of Maharashtra, and Guajarati in the border areas of Gujarat. The total strength of tribal student in the first standard of Dhanu taluka is 13,188, but in fifth standard its only 6,074 – it should be approximately the same number of students in fifth standard but is not. As the sex ratio of this taluka is 1:1, there should be a corresponding ratio in all classes. But the number of girls is less compared to that of the boys in almost every school. For instance, in Kochai Patil Pada the ratio was 52:23, Samba Tanka Pada 28:16 and in Ambeswari 42:28 etc The teachers’ explanation is that the students in the first standard fail and as a result, the high strength of the first standard won’t be seen in further classes. One of the facts was that it is not merely drop-out but after the first or second standard students chose to go to Ashram schools. But the sex ratio is again the same. For instance, Jamphi Pada Ashram School’s ratios are as follows: 14:6 in first standard, 13:6 in second, in third 17:7, in fourth 13:4 and in fifth 52:16. It is obvious that there is a cultural discontinuity as tribal students speak their mother-tongue within their family and then later, in school, have to learn everything in Marathi or Gujarati medium, which are both alien languages to them. It is striking that even the fifth standard students are not able to understand, without help, the text which is being covered by teachers. Out of ten students in fifth standard in Samba Tanka Pada School, only three were able to read the textbook though they were all taught Marathi language from first standard. A teacher told me: We know that this language is different from their language. But I love my kids and I am concerned about their future. If they don’t learn Marathi, how will they go for higher studies? How will they get a job?

194 B. C. T. Sunil It is also striking that no non-tribal teacher in these schools is able to understand the tribal language even after 20 years of teaching in the tribal area. In terms of teaching, all teachers were using only the conventional methods. All teachers who were interviewed told me that there is always pressure upon them to complete the syllabi and it is strictly exam-oriented. Coming to the content of the textbook, in both Gujarati and Marathi medium schools the cultural identity and cultural components of the tribes are not recognised. Most of the content is not familiar to them including things related to urban areas, description about other countries like Britain, photos and descriptions related to different dances – the poem related to Lord Krishna which is usually sung during Navrathri, the Dindu Dance, the Gharba Dance (Gujartahi) or the Bhangda dance of Punjab. There is only one tribal dance included in the textbook which is related to the tribes of Madia Gond. There are no descriptions about the culture of any of the tribes who belong to these particular areas. There is some description regarding the formal legal system, but Waraly culture still has their own judicial system known as kadi mod. Most of the religious symbols are adopted from the Brahmanic Hindu religion. The head master of the Kochai Patil Pada School told me that our culture is also similar to the mainstream Hindu culture. Each tribal man knows about Rama and Sita and their story. We know Shiva and Parvati. The only difference is that the names we use are different. In our story Parvati is called Himai. He suggested that the story should use only the names that students can understand. Coming to our concern, what we had been stressing is that the contents of the pedagogic setting, especially the textbooks, are a reflection of the upper class, upper caste and elite cognitive schema because they are on the helm of making the text books for the tribal children. A student from the mainstream can easily relate the contents to his/her life experiences whereas a tribal student is totally lacking this experience and is unable to relate to the setting and the content – thus it remains artificial. Therefore, the cognitive development of tribal children will obviously be different, but not inferior. The aggregate knowledge of the tribal students seems to be much higher than that of the other students, even though they are not well acquainted with the contents of the school textbooks, the reason being that they possess both knowledge of their own as well as that of the others. This is not the case with the students from mainstream who only possess knowledge of their ‘own’ and knowledge of ‘others’ is lacking in them. However, the cognitive development, as understood by the modern educational evaluating system, is not in favour of the tribal students. As a result of this situation, they are evaluated with lower marks. The creation of these pedagogic settings by the cultural elites ensures the reproduction of the hegemonic culture and a school system that will suit the

Pedagogic settings and pedagogic deterrence


elites. Therefore, it is a deliberate ideological act. Such a setting leads to a situation of pedagogic deterrence; a communication that makes the tribal communities afraid of trying something out by instilling fear in them. This pedagogic deterrence results in two types of exclusion. As we have mentioned, most of the tribal students takes teachers’ voice as the truth and goes back home where they rectify the so-called errors (differences from what is taught in school) of their parents. This is how Rama and Sita enter into their narration of stories and gradually they come within the fold of Hinduism by internalising the Brahmanic values. However, once they become part of caste order, they fail to attain a high status in the caste hierarchy present and are forced to be a part of the varna system. Therefore, the school system in India is an agent of varnisation process.5 This inclusion to varna based caste fold is the first type of exclusion. Schools in modern time in different nations, depend upon the kind of modernity and the constructed self of the nation, contribute inequality by making and allocating the marginalised into the required position that the cultural and economic productive system of particular time and space demands as Apple and King (1979) observe: Schools seem to contribute inequality in that they are tacitly organized to differentially distribute specific kind of knowledge. This is in larger part related both to the role of the school in maximizing the production of technical cultural ‘commodities’ and to the sorting or selecting function of schools in allocating people to the positions ‘required’ by the economic sector of society. (295) Due to pedagogic deterrence, a tribal student either withdraws from schooling or struggles to overcome this. Even after this struggle there will not be much improvement in terms of recognised cognitive development since s/he often fails to relate the textbook content with his/her own experiences and cultural setting. This results in the tribal students scoring fewer marks than their counterparts. Since the knowledge market and corporate employers believe in the so-called meritocracy and are not in favour of any kind of affirmative action, it becomes almost impossible for these tribal students to gain employment. This is the other type of exclusion.

Capitals, cultural reproduction and the public sphere As it has been mentioned, tribal education is a non-continuous process from the natural setting which leads to a reverse learning, from formal to informal education, and thereby proselytization. Proselytization results in decapitalising their cultural resources on the one hand, and on the other, they are unable to understand their non-continuity, both in terms of culture and education. Therefore, often the educated tribes may lack the ability to employ their rational tools drawn from their cultural resources and end up being an agent of the existing structure only.

196 B. C. T. Sunil Within critical pedagogy, studies have explored how school plays an important role in reproducing the existing dominant culture and structure. Carnoy (1974) observed that development of rapid schools in US were to prepare the students to fit into the modern industrial society. Similarly, Bowles and Gintis (1976) critiqued the school system on the grounds that it was designed to produce surplus labour for serving emerging capitalism. In order to fit into the managerial capitals of capitalism, the culture and language of cultural elites became objective, scientific and classic knowledges. The selection of a particular knowledge is not based on its intrinsic worth, but it acquires importance because of the prevailing power structures (Kumar, 1992). Kumar notes that after independence the ‘educated Indians’ or the cultural elites who controlled their own masses while the ‘enlightened outsiders’ were controlling the natives during the colonial period. Apple (Apple, 1990: 63) clearly points that schools have a history and that they are linked through their everyday practices to other powerful institutions in ways that are often hidden and complex. This history and these linkages need to be understood if we are to know the real possibilities for our own action on schools. It is through government mechanism, like school curriculum, that the dominant economic and cultural groups make the knowledge related to their life-world the official one. Thus, the hidden curriculum is that ‘the tacit teaching to students of norms, values, and dispositions that goes on simply by their living in and coping with the institutional expectations and routine of schools day in and day out for a number of years’ (ibid.: 13). In discussing hegemony, central to his educational thinking, Apple (2000) makes the point that the dominant sections of society do not use their physical forces to make their world view the legitimate and valid one, but through mechanisms like the curriculum, which brings together different divergent points and perspectives on education while favouring the dominant one. Therefore, school serves as an ideological apparatus for the cultural elite. Language, therefore, is not just a medium of communication but an ideology in itself. Language has played an important ideological role in both colonial and postcolonial time. Introduction of English in modern education helped in creating the cultural authority of western knowledge, science, literature and style (Praksh, 2000; Young, 1935). Similarly, favouring ‘formal Hindi’, which was vehicle of upper caste intellectuals during the nationalist movement, over ‘Hindustani’ had its cultural politics embedded in it (see Kumar, 2005). Making Sanskritised Hindi as a formal medium and language helped the upper caste students to score high in Hindi and other subjects since they use almost similar language, the elaborated code, in their home. Out of the two speech patterns, for Bernstein (1973), the working class mostly uses restricted codes since it communicates with people who share same inter-subjective world though the type of speech is simple and often shortened and unfinished. The meaning is conveyed through a combination of verbal expressions with contextually and culturally understood expressions such as gestures and intonations

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or voice modulation. Since, working-class language is an outcome of their lived experience, an inner articulation, the language doesn’t stand apart from their life. However, elaborated codes are based on verbalisation of meanings and, therefore, they enhance the ability of conceptualisation. Elaborated codes are considered to be universalistic, capable of expressing all ideas. This achieves ‘universalistic meaning’ because through different discourses it establishes its objective status. Bernstein notes that the working class uses restricted codes because their manual work demands precision and not the managerial ability that requires elaborated code, or to say, the working class are not encouraged to develop an elaborated code. As is indicated, the language of tribal children is cultural; a kind of restricted code, wheras the official languages of the States/UTs and the medium of instruction are based on elaborated code. Up until fifth standard, tribal students and teacher are not able to develop good communication links. In the Talasari area, 20 frequently used words in Class 5 (from three schools with three different teachers) were identified and 20 students were encouraged to explain the meaning of them. Only two students were able to understand the meaning of 80% of these frequently used words. Six students were able to understand only four words. Once tribal students are able to overcome the language barrier and begin to grasp the content of the textbooks/pedagogic settings in schools, they do not see any content from their culture. Since school and contents are equated with knowledge and truth, the knowledge of dominant one becomes objective and valid one. Following Bourdieu’s (1986; see also Bourdieu and Passeron, 1990) concept of cultural capital, Apple (1990) remarks: They take the cultural capital, the habitus, of the middle class, as natural and employ it as if all children have had equal access to it. However, ‘by taking all children as equal, while implicitly favoring those who have already acquired the linguistic and social competencies to handle middle-class culture, schools take as natural what is essentially a social gift, i.e. cultural capital.’ … Cultural capital … is unequally distributed throughout society and this is dependent in large part on the division of labor and power in that society. (Apple, 1990: 32–33) Every symbol in schools is ideologically embedded. If anything from the margin is presented it is presented in such a distorted way that cultivates negative feeling about the culture of the marginalised. Analysing textbooks in West Bengal, Timothy Scrase (1993) found that the textbooks are reflection of middle class or Bhadralok culture. Along with the class question, he notes that there is no inclusion of any lower caste culture. Those jobs associated with the lower castes were assigned to the lowest rung of civilisation and the pre-modern while the upper caste jobs were pictured as civilised, modern, advanced etc. (ibid.). When the culture of the oppressed is devalued through the knowledge or school system, it is difficult for them to capitalise her/his cultural resources; it decapitalises the culture of the oppressed/marginalised.

198 B. C. T. Sunil When the marginalised is unable to acquire the objective/dominant cultural capital and the culture of marginalised is decapitalised, it become a question of how the marginalised get an access to public sphere even though it guarantees access to every citizen. The public sphere, for Habermas, means ‘first of all a realm of our social life in which something approaching public opinion can be formed. Access is guaranteed to all citizens’ (Habermas, 1974: 49). Though the public sphere guarantees access, it requires valid capital. Due to pedagogic settings in schools, the marginalised are neither able to acquire valid, objective cultural capital of the dominant one, nor able to employ their decapitalised cultural resources as a rational tool in the public sphere. The marginalised, especially the tribal, end up becoming passive agents reproducing the existing dominant culture. In short, through banking education, the culture of silence is created and maintained; the dispossessed or oppressed are deliberately kept submerged in ignorance. This would, as Paulo Freire (1970/1993) notes, curtail critical awareness among the oppressed leading them to not act against the oppressed system: The more students work at storing the deposits entrusted to them, the less they develop the critical consciousness.… The capability of banking education to minimize or annul the students’ creative power and to stimulate their credulity serves the interests of the oppressors. (Ibid.: 73).

Notes 1 The first views the student as imitative learner and focuses on passing on skills which emphasises on talent, skills, and expertise than knowledge and action. The second views students as learning from didactic exposure based on the idea that learners should be presented with facts and rules of action to be learned remembered and applied. The third sees children as creative thinkers and focuses on the development of inter-subjective shareability based on discussion and collaboration. And the fourth one treats children as knowledgeable and able to manage objective knowledge which stresses teachers are facilitator help children to grasp the distinction between personal knowledge and cultural knowledge and perception (Bruner 1996). 2 The first round of fieldwork in Talasari taluka of Thane district of Mharashtra was carried out in 2005. The second round was in 2015 when Talasri and Dhanu talukas were separated under the newly formed district Palghar in 2014. This study is a longitudinal one and the data used in this paper is from 2005 fieldwork. 3 Sujatha (2000) observes that even if some schools are located within one kilometre but to cover one kilometre in many tribal areas are difficult due to the landscape in many hilly areas. 4 In this paper I have used the spelling Warali instead of Warli as the natives pronounce it. The language of Warali/Warli is spelled as ‘Varli’. Similarly, in academic writings ‘Wynad’ is used instead of ‘Wayanad’. 5 Varnisation is a process. Through various tactics (for instance, schooling) those who were not part of the caste system are brought into varna system.

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References Ambasht, Nawal Kishore. 1970. A Critical Study of Tribal Education. New Delhi: S. Chand. Apple, Michael. 1990. Ideology and Curriculum. New York: Routledge. Apple, Michael. 2000. Official Knowledge: Democratic Education in a Conservative Age. London: Routledge. Apple, Michael and Nancy King. 1979. “Economics and Control in Everyday School life”. In Sociological Perspectives in Education, edited by Sureshchandra Shukla and Krishna Kumar. New Delhi: Chanakya. Bernstein, Basil. 1973. Class, Codes and Control. Applied Studies towards a Sociology of Language, vol. 2. London: Routledge. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1986. “The Forms of Capital”. In Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education, edited by John G. Richardson, 241–258. Westport, CT: Greenwood. Bourdieu, Pierre and Passeron, Jean-Claude. 1990. Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture. London: Sage. Bowles, Samuel and Gintis, Herbert. 1976. Schooling in Capitalist America. London: Routledge. Bruner, Jerome. 1996. The Culture of Education. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Carnoy, Martin. 1974. Education as Cultural Imperialism. New York: David McKay. Freire, Paulo. 1970/1993. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum. Habermas, Jurgen. 1974. “The Public Sphere: An Encyclopaedia Article”. New German Critique 3: 49–55. Jha, Jyotsna and Jhingran, Dhir. 2005. Elementary Education for the Poorest and Other Deprived Groups: The Real Challenge of Universalization. New Delhi: Manohar Publishers. Kumar, Krishna. 1992. What is Worth Teaching?New Delhi: Orient Longman. Kumar, Krishna. 2005. Political Agenda of Education. New Delhi: Sage. Nanjunda, D. C. 2008. Thoughts on Redesigning Tribal Education: The Why and What? Delhi: Kalpaz. Praksh, Gyan. 2000. Another Reason: Science and the Imagination of Modern India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Rani, Midatala. 2000. “Tribal Languages and Tribal Education”, Social Action 50: 414–419. Rathnaiah, E. V. 1977. Structural Constraints in Tribal Education. New Delhi: Sterling Publishers. Scrase, Timothy J. 1993. Image, Ideology and Inequality: Cultural Domination, Hegemony, and Schooling in India. London: Sage. Sujatha, K. 1994. Educational Development among Tribes: A Study of Sub‐plan Areas in Andhra Pradesh. New Delhi: South Asian Publication. Sujatha, K. 2000. Education of India Scheduled Tribes: A Study of Community Schools in the District of Vishakhapatnam. Paris: UNESCO. Young, George Malcolm (ed.). 1935. Speeches by Lord Macaulay with his Minutes on Indian Education. London: Oxford University Press.

Part V

Teaching and learning Everyday engagement in education and research

13 Silent public and speaking selves Locating ‘public sphere’ through classroom practices Pranta Pratik Patnaik

In contemporary times, understanding pedagogy as an act of teaching and discourse in association with learning, teaching and curriculum has become a matter of central concern. Associated with the traditional critical stance initiated by Paulo Freire (1973), it has shifted and branched out to a multidimensional approach. Teachers were called to work against the grain and resisted dominant constructions of knowledge thereby producing critical citizens. It is a uniquely human device responsible for both the production and reproduction of culture which necessarily revolves around power relations (Bernstein 2004). This kind of pedagogy also includes a complex terrain of ‘culture and classroom, policy and practice, teacher and learner, knowledge both public and personal’ (Alexander 2008: 3). Any discussion on pedagogies requires one to look into the ways in which certain powerful discourses and practices intersect the mundane classroom. The paper looks at such evolving pedagogical practices within the concrete institutional contexts of education, here college, where one finds a kind of engaged public that requires the support of a socially transformative public sphere. According to Habermas (1989), private citizens engage in a ‘rationalcritical debate’ in the bourgeois public sphere to constitute a public opinion. In contrast to this, Nancy Fraser (1990) proclaims the public sphere as a site for the articulation and negotiation of cultural and political differences. The oppositional discourse that finds its expression in Fraser’s model of the public sphere occurs due to the gap between the political ideal of equality and justice and lived social relationships. Though Fraser’s model finds immediate application in several classroom situations discussed in this chapter, the main idea is to go beyond such understanding of public sphere towards a more nuanced interpretation of it. Classrooms can be seen as a space within which various ‘counter publics’ express conflicting interests and opinion. My argument is to look into classrooms as models of the public sphere where engaged discursive activities take place and empower those with diverse backgrounds to participate together within common social projects. It enables traditionally excluded political communities to achieve a sense of incorporation and active involvement in the classroom. The present study locates itself in what Rege (2010) terms ‘new

204 P. P. Patnaik times’ in the university, where students from hitherto historically disadvantaged sections of the society challenge to the social homogeneity of the classroom (Rege 2010: 88). This warrants a need to democratise the very processes of teaching and learning. This chapter, written in the spirit of enquiry and not traditional argumentation, is based on my teaching experience during the discussion and sharing of ideas with my students. The focus is on how students engage with structural problems of gender relations, religious rules, caste-based reservations and aspects of their everyday lives. The observations were not limited to revealing the constraints of such structures upon the everyday lives of students; instead it explores the possibilities of transgressing and thereby disturbing the given social and cultural order of things made by the structures. The intention is to draw on an auto/biographical approach, looking at the ways in which classroom interaction informs a critical space for the making and re-making of identities among students and its effect on the teacher–student relationship. As the notion of stable identity itself is in a state of fluidity, this chapter examines the gradual construction, movements and the complex processes taking place in the classroom, which would eventually form or negate the identity in context. The empirical material collected for this chapter consists of repeated group interviews and focus group interviews with the students. There were certain problems attached to the organization of group interviews, such as group pressure and the issue of anonymity. Interviews held with the students were informal in nature to avoid limitations of formal interview process. This paper also takes classroom interactions, and even outside the classroom discussions, into consideration. Without too many generalisations, the chapter recognises the existence of uniquely different responses, which gradually unfolds the respondent’s social background. The sample size for this exercise was 30 college students, who were prepared to be a part of this academic exercise. Though the small samples taken in this study are of limited value (Oakley 1998), they can be useful in highlighting and valuing the ‘subjective, emic and ideographic’ (Sikes 2000: 263). Another dilemma relates to reflexivity. Most qualitative work ‘purports to “tell life as it really is”’ (Walkerdine et al. 2001: 85). Thus, many feminist researchers have stressed the need for self-reflexivity (Reay 1996; Stanley 1990). Studies also show the extent of how researcher’s own biography, their reading and reworking on data, detract from the authentic voice of the respondent(s) or merely reflect their own voice (Wolf, 1996). However, as Walkerdine et al., (2001: 84) recognize, there is no ‘Holy Grail of the perfect method’. An act of conducting interview is also an art of reconstructing, retelling and remembering. There is the possibility that the researcher and the researched may share certain common interests upon which some meaningful conversations may take place. Considering these methodological issues, this paper explores not just how students learn, but also what they learn. This chapter emphasises the constraints students encounter because of structural location, cultural deprivation and

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institutional neglect. It also talks about the relationship between social class and educational advantage, which intersects with caste, religion and gender affecting the pedagogical process in the classroom interaction. A few years back I had been teaching in one of the colleges under the University of Delhi (India). As a new entrant, I was given the task of teaching the first-year sociology graduate students. The college was managed by an organisation, the members of which were staunch devotees of a deity of Hindu mythology. The college had a temple within its premises with the idol of that deity. The students and teachers abstained from eating non-vegetarian meals in the college premises, as it would otherwise pollute the ‘sacredness’ of the institution. The college drew students from various backgrounds, mostly upper caste and upper class. However, the country’s policy of reservation in educational institutions for minorities on the basis of caste and religion drew a large number of students from Scheduled caste, Scheduled tribes and Muslims.1 The classroom was, in a sense, multicultural in terms of caste, class, region and religion. The task of teaching the course titled ‘Sociology of India’ was given to me. The first section of this dealt with the colonial, nationalist and the subaltern perspective of looking into India as an object of study. The rationale behind teaching these three perspectives to understand the construction of Indian society through texts was to show the concealed relations between culture, knowledge and power in the making up of a discourse about Indian society. The colonial discourse put forth the view of a ‘spiritualistic East’ contrasting it with the ‘materialistic West’. The text by Louis Dumont was the main reading for this portion on colonial discourse. Dumont’s study of Indian society is based on ancient Sanskritic and Brahmanic texts.2 Other scholars’ and travellers’ accounts also misrepresented Indian society, mostly Britishers, on account of their strategic interest in ruling over the country. It was, in a way, debunked by the nationalist discourse through their glorification of the Indian freedom struggle and reminded us of the cultural richness of the nation, which had been suppressed by the British Raj. However, the ‘biases’ of the nationalist discourse, brushed under the carpet in the name of ‘patriotism’ were questioned by the subaltern perspective. Rege (2010: 93) mentions that the formation of knowledges in post colonial India turns the national movement into a ‘form of historical, mythological movement and ancestor worship, thereby reducing other movements to a secondary status’. The ideology of nationalism worked as a cloak to cover the nakedness of Indian society. The history of Indian freedom struggle tried to provide a monolithic concept of a ‘Nation’ whereas there existed different communities divided from one another in terms of language, religion, region and caste. Communal nationalism, another term was used for Indian nationalism. It is communal not only vis-a-vis other religious communities but equally so vis-a-vis the large mass of lower castes within the Hindu fold (Aloysius, 1997: 2). Subaltern history or ‘history from below’ viewed the nationalist historiography as elitist, false and insensitive to regional variations.

206 P. P. Patnaik The subaltern perspective consisted of, among many, a reading of Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste. Ambedkar proposed that a caste-ridden society like India encourages other evil systems of Hindu practices like child marriage, sati, commensal restrictions and the unnatural division of labourers based on the notion of purity and pollution of bodies. He argued that Indians could unite not only to get rid of the British but also the evils of Indian society. He lamented that the Indian National Congress (INC) had turned a blind eye to the problems inherent in Indian society. He believed that a truly democratic country should have the three basic principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. He formed a parallel political party called the ‘Social Conference Party’. Many political leaders of the INC considered it to be a threat to the unity that was building up among the masses during the freedom struggle. Ambedkar was doubtful that the situation of the lower castes and the poor would improve, even after India got independence. He, therefore, demanded a separate electorate for the ‘Dalits’. This was not seen as a welcome step by Mahatma Gandhi. According to Gandhi, Ambedkar’s fear was irrelevant, and his demand for a separate electorate would further divide the Indian society along caste lines. For Gandhi, all are Indians, and they should fight for a bigger ‘noble’ cause like freedom for the nation and not be solely engrossed in the selfish upliftment of their own society/community. The debates associated with Ambedkar and Gandhi polarised the classroom in terms of pro-Gandhi and pro-Ambedkar. It further unintentionally led to the discussion on the issue of reservation of seats in educational institutions for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward classes (OBCs). The students who supported Gandhi believed that the nation was a greater cause at that moment, with gaining freedom as the most urgent and immediate concern. At that moment, demand for a separate electorate for the lower castes by Ambedkar was seen by them to be going against the nation. The students from lower castes were initially silent and did not take part in the discussion. It was an out of control situation during the discussion when a student uttered something that I had not anticipated – ‘Sir, Ambedkar was anti-national’. What this upper caste student said about Ambedkar was an instance of what I would say ‘dysconscious casteism’.3 This reminds one of Rege (2010: 93) who asserts that ‘the nationalist labelling of the dalit discourses as anti-national was specific to certain castes and such British rule of divide and policy resonated in the practices of higher education in postcolonial India’. One of the lower caste students raised his hand to speak and I let him to do so. Responding to the student who said Ambedkar was anti-national, he said: Ambedkar’s fear came true. After independence, ‘we’ (lower castes) have not got our dues yet. Still, in villages, untouchability is practised, lower caste people are not allowed into the temple premises and we suffer from much discrimination. Ambedkar was, therefore, correct in demanding for a separate electorate and was a leader in the true sense, far better than Gandhi.

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To this, Rahul, another upper caste male student said: But lower castes have got their dues after independence through reservation in educational institutions, government offices and other service sectors. Initially, it was meant for ten years but it keeps on increasing with every passing year. Due to this reservation policy, many meritorious students from the non-reserved category do not get admission to schools and colleges. However, a lower caste student, who is poor in studies, gets admission on the basis of his/her ascribed status in a reputed school or college. Mitali, another upper caste female student joined him: Educational institutions should not compromise on merit while giving admissions. Aparna, another low caste female student questioned her: Do you mean to say that lower caste students are not meritorious, and they get admission only because of their caste status? I sat speechless in surprise as the class erupted around me. I thought it to be my failure to anticipate how the particular subaltern reading in the syllabus would be experienced by various class and caste members because of their cultural positioning. While I was lost in my thoughts, one of the students wanted to know my opinion about it. I said: Reservation should be there in educational institutions for admissions, but it should not be there in government jobs. I explained to them why I said so, by introducing the notion of cultural capital by Bourdieu (1976). I explained how upper caste and upper-class people possess the necessary skills required to get admission in educational institutions, which is denied to the lower caste and lower-class people. Through reservation in educational institutions, they are able to compete equally with upper caste students in the job sector. This explanation by me, as expected, did not go well with the upper caste students, who were visibly disappointed. The students from the lower caste, stillpuzzled, queried why I said no to reservation in government jobs. Most of the research has centred on the issue of objective economic location where the question of teachers’ class identity has focused on whether teachers are members of the bourgeoisie and/or the working class. (Wright, 1985). However, there is no recognition either of the way in which the classed subjectivity of the teacher might play a part in any struggle or contestation. I became aware that my own ‘privileged’ position as a middle class, upper caste, male academic had led me to make a statement for reservation in an educational institution and not in government sector jobs. It came out, because

208 P. P. Patnaik I was struggling to get a permanent job and had a problem with reservation in the job sector. I was dissatisfied as I saw low caste fellows with an average percentage getting selected for permanent jobs whereas I, with higher scores than them, was being left out because of my upper caste status. I felt myself to be unconsciously or dysconsciously casteist! My statement in the classroom carried the risk of contributing to the reproduction of stereotypes and prejudices about reservations for lower caste people. So, I admitted in the classroom that more reservation should be there in educational institutions and comparatively less percentage of reservation in the governmental job sector. This does not necessarily mean that the students agreed with my position or accepted the dominant ideology, but like colonial subjects, they were faced with a choice of mimicry or resistance in their response to authority. Moreover, I couldn’t fool myself into believing that, as a teacher, I was truly empowering my students to stand up against the dominant culture’s construction of them as the ‘Other’. The discussion of the subaltern perspective did not remain confined to the lower caste alone – rather it extended to discussion on Muslims. Ambedkar was compared to Jinnah, another figure of Indian history who demanded a separate country for Muslims, named Pakistan. The news about terrorism purportedly spread by the Muslim community in India found its place in the discussion among the students. Vivek, one of the Hindu lower caste male student, who had lost his brother in the Delhi Bomb blast in 2009, said: Muslims should leave India and settle down in Pakistan. They always keep complaining that Indian government is neglecting them. First they divided the country along religious lines, created Pakistan, and now they want that Kashmir should also become a part of Pakistan. This is ridiculous. Religion was a sensitive issue to be discussed in the classroom, as there was only one female student belonging to Muslim community in a classroom of 35 Hindu students. I purposefully tried to avoid such kind of discussion, but my conscience did not allow me. I told students in the class that the purpose of learning sociology in general, and about the subaltern perspective in particular, is to understand the power relations involved in the structure of society. It will enable us to reveal and question the relationship between the dominant and the dominated. I felt I had got this right as the students didn’t react to this statement. I have no illusions about necessarily changing the feelings and biases of the students. The goal of the educator should be the transference of information and expansion of perspective. I confronted the myth of the classroom as an apolitical space. I was clear about my commitment to carrying on this kind of discussion but, more importantly, I wondered how to position myself as a teacher in such a situation. After the class had finished, the female Muslim student met me and thanked me for ‘supporting’ the Muslim community. I told her that she should speak

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in the class whenever such things come up for discussion. She narrated one of the incidents that took place in the college hostel, where she was watching a cricket match between India and Pakistan: One of my friends asked me who I am supporting in the game – India or Pakistan. I said India, of course. She said that since I am a Muslim, she thought I would be supporting Pakistan. Such questions are never asked to Hindu students but to Muslim students. I don’t understand why our loyalty towards the nation is always questioned and why is it that every time a cricket match takes place between these two countries, we have to prove our loyalty to the Indian team. Aren’t there Hindu goons who are equally bad as the Muslim terrorists? It is one of the many examples that show that Muslims are often subject to prejudice and on many occasions they feel vulnerable. Time and again they have to defend themselves against verbal abuse regarding their identity. They get to hear conversations among the non-Muslim students doubting their loyalty towards India. My student heard some students talking among themselves about her – ‘since she is a Muslim, she must be supporting the Kashmir issue, although secretly.’4 The point I want to emphasise here is that the processes that take place within and outside the educational institution should be understood in relation to segregation, identity politics and youth culture. Religion does influence the discourses in the classroom situation. It also implies and contributes to the development of a certain lifestyle and ways of relating to central issues in and around the college, such as food, dress codes and gender relations. Muslim men are considered to be more patriarchal than their Hindu counterparts in the classroom. This is because the practice of purdah/burqa/veil among the Muslim women. Hindu students consider veiling to be imposed on the Muslim women whereas the Muslim female student would respond that it is less of an imposition and more of a choice. For them, it is an assurance that signifies their socio-cultural identity. The low caste Hindu student and the Muslim female student share a similar position, that of being belonging to a marginalised section of the society. Their silences, at times, speak volumes of the symbolic violence and humiliation they might have to undergo whenever discussions about reservation on the basis of caste and religion takes place in the classroom. During my teaching years in the college, I would encourage them to come out, open up, speak and take part in the discussions. This would lead other upper caste and non-Muslim students knowing the basic realities these students face in their everyday lives. However, as Olson (1998: 48) says, Even when we try to facilitate our students’ ‘empowerment’ in a cross-cultural classroom by helping them find ‘their’ voices to speak, we construct students as Other, reinforcing their position in the margins where it is doubly difficult to gain the kind of empowerment we ostensibly wish to encourage.

210 P. P. Patnaik My classroom might not be cross-cultural as Olson found in his study, but it represented a fairly cross-cultural nature. Though all the students were Indian, they were still segregated in terms of caste, class, region and religion. It is essential to remember, particularly in such a classroom setting, that hybridity is not necessarily a progressive strategy that inexorably leads to overt political resistance. In fact, it can be a space of profound alienation, as it was for the low caste Hindu students and the Muslim female student. Outside the classroom, the college canteen provides a contrasting landscape where the subtleties of identities are enacted and where the dismantling of ideologies and beliefs takes place. As mentioned earlier, the college being run by a Hindu organisation and having a temple within its premises, non-vegetarian food was prohibited inside the college campus. However, students secretly use to sneak with non-vegetarian food items, mostly chicken and egg rolls, available in the shops outside the college campus. They did not want anyone to interfere with what they ate, as it is a matter of personal choice. The same students, who were against the Muslim community and were staunch believers of Hinduism in classroom discussions, would be against the prohibition of eating non-vegetarian food items by citing it as a matter of choice. There exists a distance between the Hinduism they believed in and the Hinduism that they practised in their everyday lives. For the non-vegetarian Muslim and Hindu students, they had to confront the ideology of the college as representative of the dominant culture, which they did not identify with, in eating habits. The views on integration, identity and independent religious institutions varied within the students. A strong identity is a prerequisite for integration. As several students pointed out, a strong and self-confident identity may be achieved through the strengthening of a feeling of sameness. However, for some others, the notion of a strong and stable identity is not necessarily seen as a tool for creating integration and cultural meetings. For the upper caste Hindu students, religion and caste are the greatest drawbacks of Indian society. ‘India is a developing country. We need to shed off the religious and caste identities. We should be “modern”’, said one of the upper caste Hindu students, to which another replied, ‘Yes sir, we should be modern but not “western”’. For some of them, it had a different meaning: We all are Hindus, and this is something that binds us together, gives us some stability in our identity. It might be difficult to do away with religion. (Ranjan, Upper caste student)

Being Hindu does not mean idol worship rather it is a way of life, and we should not be ashamed in claiming that we are superior to Muslims. (Mitali, upper caste student)

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It was an altogether different story for the low caste Hindu students: How can we feel to be a part of this religious group when we have been segregated and marginalised on the basis of caste? (Digvijay, Scheduled Caste student) Even though ‘they’ (upper caste Hindus) become our friends, whenever they come to know that our admission to this college was on the basis of caste-based reservation, they think of us to be ‘inferior’ in studies. (Aparna, scheduled caste female student) Similarity on the basis of religion does not prevent the students of low caste from Hindi medium schools from perceiving themselves to be ‘different’. They see themselves through the gaze of other upper caste/class, English medium students. In this way, the other remains the other, no matter how one seeks to accommodate them. The classroom, the college canteen and the hostel are not normative spaces existed as the objective vacuum without any emotion. Casteism is the violence that underlies our entire Indian culture. As it surfaced in the classroom, anger, grievances, silences, and unheard voices surfaced as well. In one of the discussions on marriage, the students who professed to be ‘modern’ shared their idea that they would prefer to marry a member of the opposite sex from their own caste and religion. The reason for such endogamous union was the pressure they often get from the family, as they are not prepared to go against the wishes of their parents. The views expressed in the classroom discussions have a link with the socialization process, which begins at home. One, therefore, needs to see a space in more critical ways: as social, real, produced and socially constitutive. The idea that the classroom is a form of power not only between teacher and student but also among the students is implicit. The need is to move beyond classroom situations/interactions and to follow it up with the surroundings – like the college canteen and their place of residence as well – constitutes their habitus. Though habitus allows for individual agency, it predisposes individual towards certain ways of behaving. The students from upper class and caste families pretend to cast off their primordial identities, but they are unable to ‘deviate’ in matters of ‘personal choice’, like marriage. This implies the active engagement of the students in creating their social worlds, the structure of which is predefined by broader gender, caste and class relations. In the classroom discussions on women as a subaltern category, there were differences of opinion between the male and the female students, irrespective of religion and caste identity. The invoking of Hindu symbols during Indian freedom struggle associated with the image of ‘Bharat Mata’ and consideration of women to be the repository and upholder of Indian culture were some of the issues that came up during discussions.

212 P. P. Patnaik Girls have started wearing jeans and mini-skirts. This is not our culture. They have become economically independent, have got education and are equal to men, why do they still need women quota in educational institutions and employment. (Digvijay, scheduled caste male student) However, when I asked them to locate the differences between caste-based reservations and gender-based reservations, the female students preferred only the gender-based reservation in educational institutions irrespective of caste or religion. We do not want unemployed husbands, said one upper caste female student, implying that due to caste-based reservations, she would be losing the chance of finding a suitable groom within the same caste. And if the low caste men would be getting the jobs due to reservations, they cannot be potential husbands! Why can’t we wear what we like? Wearing jeans does not mean we are not Indian, or we have forgotten our culture. Another male student interrupted: It is because of the revealing clothes girls wear that there are incidents of eve-teasing and girls get molested and raped. Men are not to be blamed; rather women provoke men by wearing such clothes. Citing herself as an example of how even though she wears a salwar kameez, which is not revealing and completely covers her body, she still becomes an object for the male gaze, one of the female students said: A woman wearing a saree is equally prone to eve-teasing and sexual harassment at workplace/public place as a girl wearing jeans and mini-skirts. I travel by bus to the college; men brush against my body knowingly; it has become a daily routine. I cannot complain in the crowded bus, and it gives the men an excuse to touch our body and make it appear as if it has happened accidentally. In the class, the subaltern perspective was taught so we could discuss how women as a subaltern category were underrepresented in the writing of Indian history. The discussion subsequently was taken out of the text to the everyday context of trouble, fear and humiliation that the female students face while travelling. The low caste male students were silent about this issue as they felt their condition was somewhat similar to that of the female students. They also face humiliation because of their merit being put into question now and then

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by the upper caste students. It was not a situation of male students vs. female students; rather it was the upper caste male students vs. the rest of the female students. It made me wonder how we could create pedagogies that are deeply connected to the daily realities of people’s lives, to overcome exploitation and domination. In this regard, Rege (2010: 95) argues for adopting a ‘trutiya ratna’ (three precious) model of progressive pedagogical practices: first, the teacher understands the relations of power and disseminates it to the students; second, the teacher needs to involve them in a dialogical mode and encourage the students to speak; and third, the teacher needs to empower and enable the students to question their own history. The discussion shifted to the empowerment of women, where low caste women occupying positions of power was brought to the forefront. One of the upper caste female student asked: Sir, why are we reading the misrepresentation or under representation of women in the writings of Indian history? We should read something in the context of contemporary India. Now, women are equal to men. Take the example of Ms. Mayawati, who is a Dalit woman and is the chief minister of the most populous state. A Dalit woman is occupying the position of power, and she is also equally corrupt like any other politician. So what good has come out with the participation of Dalits in mainstream politics and the empowerment of women?. A low caste Hindu male student replied, before I could say something: At least she has carried out many developmental programmes for the Dalits and the poor people in the state of Uttar Pradesh [looking at me for what I have to say regarding this matter] I answered: We should know how women were subjugated earlier and also how this subjugation has taken different forms with the changing times. In regard to Mayawati, she has no doubt done a tremendous job for the upliftment of Dalits. She has also been in media for wrong reasons like making her own huge statues besides the statue of Ambedkar in different parks in Uttar Pradesh. Corruption has become a part of Indian politics, and she is not an exception. To this, the low caste Hindu student (seemingly disappointed) said: It’s a big thing for a Dalit, and that too, for a woman to become a part of Indian politics that is so casteist and is monopolised by the upper caste people. We should look at her plus points, the good work she has done and everything about her being corrupt is a politics of media.

214 P. P. Patnaik Some students laughed and giggled, astonished to hear the statement that the media are trying to frame Mayawati as corrupt, despite the images of bureaucrats carrying expensive birthday gifts for her, bowing before her and touching her feet, as shown on television. I agreed with the low caste Hindu student’s view to some extent: I am not appreciating the way she has managed to break the monopoly of upper caste people in Indian political scenario but we cannot deny the fact that she has also become a party to the prevailing rampant corruption in Indian politics. While teaching the subaltern perspective, peasants and farmers as a subaltern category were also discussed, and the exploitation they faced by the landlords, zamindars and the money-lenders in the village. One of the students asked: Sir, should the zamindars be held responsible for exploiting the farmers? It was because of the British who collected tax from the Zamindars that they had to collect it from the farmers, so the zamindars should not be blamed for it. I replied: Zamindars took much more from the farmers to pay the tax so that they do not have to pay it from their pocket and it led to a series of exploitations and struggles. One of the female students interrupted: Another dimension was the sexual exploitation of the peasant women by the Zamindars. And another student added: The irony of the description of Indian freedom struggle was that they highlighted the peasant movement as a resistance to the colonial rule whereas in reality they were in protest against the exploitation of the zamindars. Is such classroom discussion democratised? My individual case suggests that the answer is not simply the teaching of multicultural studies or the opening up of the canon, for the problem of how to teach remains. Rege (2010, 95) points out that the problem is ‘not only about teaching the canon but canonising whatever we teach and the challenge is to make the learning process always uncertain and contingent’. Rather than forcing the students to adopt my

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concepts of knowledge unreflectively, I let the students speak out their experiences and knowledge in the classroom discussions. I wanted them to be able to speak as authentically as possible about their lives and feelings as a way of valorizing their experiences and, by extension, their cultures of origin. Assignments were designed to empower the students through their use of writing as a means of individual agency. Later in the course we moved from more ‘personal’ writing to more conventional ‘academic’ assignments connecting the common rhetorical strategies of reflection, detail and focus. Merely avoiding the traditional pedagogical stance was not enough. I needed, as a teacher, to find a new position of authority as well – caring and open. How much of that position would derive from the identity(ies) which I carried outside of the classroom? How much of it should be performance and how much should it, or could it, be real? The classroom interaction that was taken up as a case study for this chapter, no doubt, forced me as a teacher participant into a much closer relation – one that crossed the careful boundaries of teacher/student distinctions. My difficulties in effectively negotiating a suddenly antipathetic class forced me to think about my own internalised and/or unconscious prejudices. My identity as a teacher became a constructive force in the classroom. Over two years of teaching sociology in a college, I have come to realise that conflict among the students in a classroom situation does not necessarily have to always be destructive. It can be productive, creative and provide opportunities for a constructive exchange of ideas. It has the potential for an improved understanding of the differences that transcend a relative reductionism. However, I was equally concerned to see the lower caste students keeping silent in the discussions, with their heads down, eyes fixed at the floor as if they are ashamed to have got admission in the college not because of their merit but due to their caste status. The role available to the teacher, to draw on Spivak (1988: 129), is not to retrieve ‘democracy’ or the voice of the silenced student but to interrogate the teacher’s position within the colonial structure and discourse as a way of beginning an immanent and deconstructive critique of the discourse and ideology. If we truly want to help students grasp any kind of power, we can model for them in our own critique of our position and privileges in the dominant culture a way of considering how culture and ideology create and often silence them as postcolonial subjects. We can help them to discover how the academy as an institution of the dominant culture can operate as a disciplining force rather than a liberating one. We may offer models of our critiques, yet we must encourage and recognise their ways of conducting their critiques. This will encourage them to lead their own paths of resistance, discovery, and creation, on their terms. In a diverse classroom like the one discussed above, there will always be students who may be afraid to assert themselves. hooks (1989) prescribes a confrontational style of dealing with this through processes of democratic persuasion that enable them to speak about their selves in a way that is silenced in public. Classrooms provide a kind of public sphere that

216 P. P. Patnaik is facilitated by the teacher, not necessarily through critical pedagogies alone but by developing micro-level pedagogical practices that encourage dialogues in and across classrooms, that celebrate different voices and experiences.

Notes 1 The Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribes enumerated in the Indian Constitution have been recognised to be the depressed classes, whose interests needs to be safeguarded by the State. 2 These texts consist of ancient scriptures which justify the caste order placing the Brahmins at the top and the lower caste/untouchables at the bottom in terms of hierarchy, social and ritual status. 3 I borrow this term of dysconscious from Joyce. E. King’s notion of dysconscious racism, where he defines dysconsciousness as ‘an uncritical habit of mind (including perceptions, attitudes, assumptions, and beliefs) that justifies inequity and exploitation by accepting the existing order of things as given’ (1991: 135). 4 Kashmir has always been a site of contention between two countries – India and Pakistan since partition in 1947.

References Alexander, Robin. 2008. Essays on Pedagogy. London: Routledge. Aloysius, G. 1997. Nationalism without a Nation in India. Delhi: Oxford University Press. Bernstein, Basil. 2004. “Social class and pedagogic practice”. In The Routledge Falmer Reader in Sociology of Education, edited by S. J. Ball, 196–214. London: Routledge. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1976. “The school as a conservative force: scholastic and cultural inequalities”. In Schooling and Capitalism: A Sociological Reader, edited by R. Dale, G. Esland and M. MacDonald, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Fraser, Nancy. 1990. “Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy”. Social Text 25/26: 56–80. Freire, Paulo. 1973. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Habermas, Jurgen. 1989. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, trans. Thomas Burger with Frederick Lawrence. Cambridge: MIT Press. hooks, b. 1989. Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black. Boston: South End Press. King, Joyce E. 1991. “Dysconcious Racism: Ideology, Identity, and the Miseducation of Teachers”. Journal of Negro Education 60: 133–146. Oakley, Ann. 1998. “Gender, Methodology and People’s Ways of Knowing; Some Problems with Feminism and the Paradigm Debate in Social Science”. Sociology 32(4): 707–731. Olson, Gary A. 1998. “Encountering the Other: Postcolonial Theory and Composition Scholarship”. JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory 18(1): 45–56. Reay, Diane. 1996. “Dealing with Difficult Differences: Reflexivity and Social Class in Feminist Research”. Feminism and Psychology 6: 443–456. Rege, Sharmila. 2010. “Education as Trutiya Ratna: Towards Phule-Ambedkarite Feminist Pedagogical Practice”. Economic & Political Weekly 45(44): 88–98. Sikes, Pat. 2000. “‘Truth’ and ‘Lies’ Revisited”. British Educational Research Journal 26: 257–270.

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Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. 1988. “Can the Subaltern Speak?” In Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, edited by Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg, 271–316. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. Stanley, Liz. 1990. Feminist Praxis: Research, Theory and Epistemology in Feminist Sociology. London: Routledge. Walkerdine, V., H. Lucey and J. Melody. 2001. Growing Up Girl. Psychosocial Explorations of Gender and Class. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Wolf, Diane L. 1996. Feminist Dilemmas in Fieldwork. Oxford: Westview Press. Wright, Erik Olin. 1985. Classes. London: Verso.

14 Everyday engagement with social issues Prospects of liberal arts and engineering students in the institutions of higher learning Sarvendra Yadav Introduction In recent years we have witnessed public opinions are formed on general assumptions rather than any critical engagement. This has phenomenally affected the quality of open debates in the public sphere. Opinions and consents are “manufactured” on crucial social and political issues on media and social networking sites. This has raised serious concerns over the nature of knowledge being imparted through the education system. Certain forms of knowledge are promoted by neo-liberal educational policies which help in the knowledge economy by the cost of other knowledge forms. This has led to the creation of two kinds knowledge systems. First, knowledge of a market which is driven by the logic of demand and supply and is largely dictated by techno-centric education. Second, knowledge for critical learning which is imaginative, sensitive, in-depth and, socially responsible but less popular, and is advocated by humanities and social science education. These two streams of knowledge systems are derived from different academic cultures. Practitioners of the scientific knowledge system lack humanitarian sympathies. On the other hand, humanities develop an apathetic attitude towards scientists. It is assumed that scientists, although pragmatic and optimistic, have no concern for the humanities. Scientists believe that literary intellectuals totally lack foresight and are not forthcoming towards their fellow men in terms of social commitments (Snow, 1959). The practitioners are different not only in their disciplinary practices in terms of a respectful designated universes of study, methodologies and approaches to viewing reality, but also acknowledge the two different levels of attitude. On a societal level, it is believed that scientists generally employ a common sense perspective or temperament to understand social reality – they are seen as pragmatic and optimistic but shallow in matters of general human and social concern. However, in the case of social scientists, it is expected from them to employ their imaginative temperament to probe reality in a larger social context. There are two types of assumptions about common sense: it is individualistic and/or naturalistic. An individualistic explanation is one in which an event or phenomenon can be readily understood and explained solely through the

Everyday engagement with social issues 219 behaviour of the individual(s) involved in it. Whereas a naturalistic explanation of behaviour rests upon the assumption that one can readily identify natural reasons for certain kinds of behaviour (Bilton et al., 1981). Sociologists reject them both, as these assumptions lack an explanation in terms of larger social contexts/forces. Contemporary philosophers like Martha Nussbaum describe a third ability in people, apart from factual knowledge and logic, which enhances the ability to think while in the shoes of a person different from oneself. It makes one understand the emotions, wishes and desires of others, just like an intelligent reader. The cultivation of this narrative imagination, which is not only important for those who study humanities but also those in other disciplines which take place in the family and educational environment. The narrative imagination refines the individual’s capacity to see the world through another person’s eyes (Nussbaum, 1997). Common sense knowledge is different from other forms of disciplinary knowledge. For instance, C. Wright Mills advocated sociological imagination to extricate an individual from the false consciousness of social positions in modern society. More precisely, Béteille (1996), while distancing sociology from common sense knowledge, argues that sociology not only emphasizes a careful examination of the empirical facts, but also the links between different domains and systems of society. This chapter examines variations in students’ responses and their views on the social problems they encounter. Are they really sensitized enough to identify real social problems in their surroundings during their studies? Will disciplinary training benefit them to identify and locate social problems with new insights?

Research procedure This field study was conducted in higher educational institutions located in the two northern Indian states namely Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. In Delhi, two premier elite institutes, i.e. Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT D) and University of Delhi (DU) were selected. In Kanpur, Harcourt Butler Technological Institute (HBTI) and Chatrapati Shahu Ji Maharaj University (CSJM) were chosen. A sample of 100 students each from social science and technical backgrounds was set to give equal representation. Choosing the entire sample only from a single place does not consider regional variations in the socioeconomic profiles of the students. Therefore, out of 100 students from each of the groups, they were further divided into 50 students from Delhi (a metropolitan city) and 50 students from Kanpur (a regional, non-metropolitan city). Hence, this distribution of the sample ensured 50 students with social science backgrounds from Kanpur and Delhi each, and the same pattern was followed in technical background as well. It was assumed that the students oriented in different disciplinary backgrounds would have their subjective experiences and opinions, and hence, an attempt was made to segregate their responses in order to get diverse meanings and their patterns.

220 S. Yadav 100% 90% 80%

86% 78%










24% 18%

30% 14% 2% 6%

20% 10%

4% 4% 2% 4%


30% 22%

0% 0%

ST No Response

0% 0%

0% IIT Delhi

Delhi University

CSJM Kanpur

HBTI Kanpur

Figure 14.1 Social category of students

90% 78



70% < Rs.3 Lakhs/Year

60% 50%


Rs.3-6 Lakhs/Year 40

40% 30%



20% 10%

Rs.6-9 Lakhs/Year

30 32

> Rs.12 Lakhs/Year

10 10

6 2

Rs.9-12 Lakhs/Year





0 0 2

CSJM Kanpur

HBTI Kanpur

0% IIT Delhi

Delhi University

Figure 14.2 Household income distribution

Understanding of social problems The student respondents of the all four colleges were asked a probing question: What are the three biggest problems you see in the society around you? There were varieties of social problems reported with detailed descriptions. The answers were useful to know how academic training and orientation help the students in understanding, explaining and finding out a solution to the social problems or social phenomena. Moreover, does such training helps them to place and visualize societal problems in the larger social-structural context? As the study revealed, the students from the social science background appeared to be more critical towards social issues, contextualizing social problems in the larger social context. Each student’s narrative gives interesting insights. These responses, in the form of individual narratives are discussed and analyzed in the following section. The responses from the field show the different approaches that the students adopt to analyze societal problems. Table 14.1 presents the frequencies of the students’ responses across the four colleges. A Chi-square test shows that the

Everyday engagement with social issues 221 Table 14.1 Number of students explaining social problems on the basis of... (bracketed values are percentages) IIT D





1. Individual Experience 2. Larger Social Context

30 (60) 20 (40)

17 (34) 33 (66)

30 (60) 20 (40)

42 (85) 8 (15)

135 65


50 (100)

50 (100)

50 (100)

50 (100)


Note: χ2 = 8.82, df = 3, p = 0.031782.

differences in the responses across the colleges were statistically significant. It is clearly visible that the responses of students from DU and CSJM were extreme. On the one hand, 66% of the DU students explained social problems by keeping the larger social context in mind, on the other, only 15% of the CSJM students followed the same pattern. A detailed analysis of the responses has been presented while taking into account the respondents’ institutional affiliation.

Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IITD) Of the respondents of IIT Delhi, the majority of them hold middle-class status and their answers were driven by typical middle-class values embedded in the consumerist culture which justifies every individual interests without bothering much about the plight of others. They blame the corrupt political system and its inefficiency, because of the lack of well-researched government policies, and they remain uninterested in the substantial questions of social equality and justice. About 50% of them identified corruption as one of the biggest social problems of India and it has trickled down from the top to the bottom of the entire government machinery. Corruption results to the failure of all development schemes. One student commented that if all the money involved in corrupt practices was used properly, India would have overcome from the problems related to the shortage of resources. Corruption … it cannot just go away. If we remove corruption, that black money can be utilized in some useful work. Just imagine if we can use this black money for welfare activities like education of the poor children. I guess, that only then, maximum of the problems of our society would be solved, like unemployment, poverty, etc. (Jaiprakash) Jaiprakash seemed to focus on corruption and black money but was unaware of or, at any rate, silent on the wastage of money on hare-brained initiatives, the improper implementation of developmental schemes, etc. He not only commented on how corruption works, but also suggested that by taking individual actions in not paying bribes, we can overcome the problem of corruption.

222 S. Yadav On the other hand, his classmates Divya, Aditya, Mohit and Anmol described the problem of corruption in different ways. Divya pointed out that corruption is a forced activity in which people get involved because of the societal pressures. She said: We see corruption at every level, and even if a person is not corrupted, he is forced into corruption because he wants things to get done. People don’t get that which are their rights … and all this leads to the unequal distribution of resources. (Divya Gupta) Divya also suggested the remedy and stated that: Corruption is because of our acceptance. If we stop accepting things as they are and start thinking that it has to stop somewhere…These problems are individualistic…it’s just about how an individual wants to live his life. (Divya Gupta) Similarly, Mohit and Anmol viewed it as a chain reaction, which starts with the scarcity of government jobs and comparatively lower wages in government jobs. Corruption starts when somebody gives a bribe to get a job. Then, after getting the job, he wants to earn back more and more money out of that job. This is a chain reaction. (Mohit Kataria) Corruption happens so as to earn easy money, and in government jobs, you don’t get a good salary. So, to compensate that, government servants take bribes. (Anmol Khurana) The above descriptions reveal a narrow view of corruption as confined to corruption in the government sector only. None of them talked about corruption in the private sector or even in community life; for instance, corrupted value systems. People who adulterate milk, cement, oil, etc., should also be considered as corrupt. But these issues were not being reported. Moreover, a few students like Aditya related this problem to wrong electoral choices by the people. Citizens elect greedy politicians as their representatives in the parliamentary system, and the politicians’ concerns lie only in moneymaking. Actually, it starts with a wrong electoral choice most of the time people don’t make good informed choice because of lack of proper education. Muscle and money power decides the election results. In this process those who got elected to focus mainly on their personal financial gains to compensate their election expenditure. (Aditya Srivastava)

Everyday engagement with social issues 223 He seemed to have missed out on a serious Indian social problem vis-à-vis politics: there are no good enough people. Individual greed and individual apathy sum up to an objective reality. The second problem being highlighted by the respondents from IIT Delhi was that of poverty. About 40% of the students counted poverty as one of the major social problems. But their explanations for the causes of poverty were associated with other problems, like population explosion, government inefficiency, and an exploited colonial history. For instance, Manish Mandal and Shekhar Yadav found the problem of poverty not only in Indians’ exploited history, but also in corrupt practises which generate unequal opportunities: The roots of poverty go back to the British rule in India. They made India backward because the British plundered all the resources while returning back to England. That can be assigned as one of the reasons for poverty in India. Nowadays, corruption is a big hindrance to development of the nation: the rich are becoming richer and the poor are becoming poorer. Mostly, the opportunities are for those who can afford IIT coaching1, etc. So, everybody doesn’t get equal opportunities. (Manish Mandal) Another student Jivesh, mentioned the lack of general public efforts to eradicate poverty. Poverty is the one of the main social problem in our society The government is not able to help the poor, and we are also not doing anything to change their life condition. (Jivesh) Exploitation by the colonial rulers was found to be the main reason for poverty in today’s Indian society, most of the respondents reported. Such a strong view regarding the cause of corruption is a consequence of popular nationalistic culture, which blames the tragic past for all present misfortune. A significant number of students (about 30%) were also baffled by the current problems in the Indian educational system. They not only showed concern about the lack of quality primary education in rural areas and the uncalled-for rotelearning educational system, but also criticized the reservation policy which, they believe, would dilute higher educational scenario of the centrally funded elite academic institutions. These responses are largely associated with the way castebased discrimination is perpetuated in the current educational system. For instance, Avinash Pandey, a passionate student studying philosophy and literature revealed his personal life-experience: The problem of clarity, it is because there is a scarcity of opportunities and life is so difficult in the age of competition. Then, it becomes

224 S. Yadav difficult for us to think properly. Even before we are able to think about our futures, we are forced into this race (like me, when I was preparing for JEE). I wanted to study literature, philosophy, something like that, but I never had the chance. I had to do this because this was expected from me. People said that these are the most desirable things in life and that I had to do it. (Avinash Pandey) He found problems in the current capitalist structure, wherein people are not sure about their life-goals. He identified three causes problem of clarity, effects of religion and undermining of equality are the main reasons behind social problems. Individuals remain blind followers because of the lack of education which promotes self-examination and critical thinking. This confused state of mind is the outcome of suppressed creativity and narrow-mindedness. His friend Nikhil also endorsed the idea that rote-learning in the educational system generates passive citizens who lack vision and independent thinking: Corruption, narrow-mindedness and suppression of creativity are three major social problems. Primarily, people are not willing to think freely and rationally. It’s something like narrow-mindedness. For example, if Sania Mirza2 wears shorts, how does it matter to you? She is playing brilliantly for the country. She has to wear shorts because firstly, it is accepted in tennis, and secondly, it is more comfortable to play in. If you are in that profession, you have to follow these things. (Nikhil Dhingra) Ankit and Ravi Kant were of the view that people are not open-minded and can’t accept new ideas because of their rigid cultural upbringing. They felt that the traditional values system of a culture sometimes does not allow individuals to think critically. The way society has been built up since hundreds of years. It is such a complex thing … like, right from birth, we are made to endorse such a kind of system. A person is not allowed to think freely. (Ankit Rawat) People are still not leaving the old values of the caste system in rural areas, although in the metro cities, caste is losing its ground. All educated people behave like illiterates in caste matters. Education does not open the mind of an individual, whereas it is promoting only rote-learning. We cannot think independently. I don’t like the caste discrimination. We never think of a category student3 as to what his/ her background is and where he/ she comes from. As soon as we come to know that this person is a category student, we start differentiating and looking at him/ her as inferior. (Ravi Kant Bhargava)

Everyday engagement with social issues 225 Apart from showing their concern regarding corruption, poverty and poor educational standards, a few other students like Ravi Kant also noticed the problem of discrimination in its different forms as a big societal problem. Shakshi talked about discrimination based on the rural and urban spaces, and gender discrimination: Prejudices are based on various notions, basically discrimination, which is based on caste and sex. The cause is deep-rooted in our culture, and the very accepted notions that men are supposed to earn for the family and women are supposed to take care of their children and sacrifice anything else for their families. It is deep-rooted, and noticed rarely that husband and wife both take equal responsibility for their children and give equal time to family affairs so that both can have equal career-growth opportunities. (Shakshi Bhatia) It is evident from the above narratives that the IIT Delhi students discussed social problems in depth, according to their understanding of various issues. They were able to articulate and describe what was happening around them. Definitely, they were not academically trained to deal with such issues, but they were well-informed and conscious about several issues. They tried their best to dissect and understand issues on the basis of their individual experiences. Only 40% of the students explained the causes of social problems after contextualizing them in the larger social structure. It was also noticed that a few students were not interested in the degrees that they were pursuing, but, due to family pressure and expectations, they were still continuing with their present state of affairs. Most of the student respondents had questioned the type of education is being imparted to the younger generation. They had major concerns over the way the current educational system fails to cultivate open-mindedness or self-reflection. Apart from this, they were also concerned about the rising self-centredness in people due to the competitive environment. Overall, the students of IIT Delhi have successfully identified and articulated social problems and their causes, both in considerable detail.

Delhi University (DU) DU students were very much aware of contemporary problems in society. Their sound social science backgrounds helped them to articulate problems splendidly. They were more concerned about the problems of law and order, as compared to the students of other three sample colleges. Being from the elite or upper middle-class background, their topmost priority was reflected in their concerns, especially security issues. They were least concerned about civic problems. Their ways of analyzing problems were very sophisticated, but sometimes lacked insight. They were good at articulating the problems of their society that were primarily related to discrimination in the name of caste, class and gender, all of which create different types of inequality. The

226 S. Yadav DU students understood better the historical origin of a few problems than their counterparts. This group did not raise issues about systemic problems, largely because they were little affected by them. However, the problems associated with access to quality education were major concern to them, because they were highly motivated to preserve and maintain the status quo. Amongst all four academic institutions, the maximum number of students who identified social problems being located in the social structure were from DU. Their concerns were about systemic problems such as the failure of the state to counter the social and structural inequalities deeply rooted in society. Most of the students condemned natural inequalities, like gender, which are socially constructed. Abhishek, a third-year graduate student from St. Stephen’s College elaborated below the problem of inequality and proposed possible solutions for it: Inequality, I think, Amartya Sen’s book, on India, where he compares the violence in the US to Bihar … it is probably because of the high levels of inequality that people resort to this kind of violent act.… It is not only because of economic deprivation itself, but also because of the perception of fairness … like, if you take Naxal violence,4 for instance, existing because something unfair is happening. That conception is coming up in the first place because of the existing inequality. Now, Obama has won, people are putting posters expecting different things to happen.… I am not so optimistic, but that again shows why there is such a hope for change only for symbolic things. Obama being the president, the system would probably not allow him to do it. So, I think it’s a systemic problem which perpetuates inequality. Imperialism, as I said, goes on to perpetuate inequality, and inequalities help imperialism to go on … it’s like a circular thing. Education is also part of it. Education, I mean to say, is being aware of these deceptions and this is seriously lacking. You have to deceive the people to make them believe that the present order is the best way to go about it … how the Shining India campaign5 kind of epitomizes the BJP. Nothing has happened, but it’s as if like India is shining. (Abhishek) It is clear from the above narrative that Abhishek was not just contextualizing inequality on the basis of common sense, but also through well-constructed arguments which reflect his critical mind. His friend Ankan Kazi had more or less similar opinions. He emphasized social inequality and pointed out that it is very much in the sub-structure of society: Social inequality, it’s been around for almost forever. It is the widening gap between the haves and the have nots, especially in the 21st century … it’s a shame, because the Indian economy is supposed to be booming, and yet you can see that the percentage of the impoverished is just increasing. There are also causes which are linked to political opportunism. For example, no kind

Everyday engagement with social issues 227 of politics can exist without commercial interests, and commercial interests are necessarily established through politics. The causes of social inequality are at the very sub-structure itself. However, the grip of these overbearing MNCs6 and neo-capitalist ventures are just too strong to accommodate everyone. (Ankan Kazi) Shaveer and Shameer viewed the problem of inequality as the outcome of a divisive culture and governance deficit in India, respectively. For Shaveer, the real cause of inequality is the divisive culture of India which fragmented castes and communities. It never let these groups and communities coexist and cohabitate. On the other hand, Shameer pointed out the lack of proper governance structures: Because of divisions in the Indian society, we have the inequality problem. These divisions are kept alive by the people. Nobody is making a move to do away with it. Instead of creating “we” they are creating “us” and “them”. (Shaveer Ahmad)

Inequality is a big problem in our society and, basically, it lies in our governance system. Whatever welfare program the government undertakes, it does not reach the poor. Lower caste people suffer the most; they do not get the benefits of welfare measures. (Shameer Chaturvedi) Madhushree and Neha described gender discrimination as another form of inequality which has survived in society for a long time. To them, it is because people do not want to shed their old mentalities. Their personal accounts of discrimination being women are as follows: Gender discrimination between men and women is due to men being given much more responsibility. (Madhushree)

Gender discrimination exists in society because of some legacy which has been handed down since ages. Male superiority is there in our culture … our patriarchal culture is there as it always has been … even in parts of South India,7 which, according to what we have studied, have matriarchal societies. Women have property rights, but in reality there is nothing which is there. In Rajasthan, if they have to fight in the Panchayati Raj8 election, even after there being reservation for women, they face several problems. (Neha Ghatak)

228 S. Yadav The second-most cited problem with DU students was education. Their concerns were not confined to the access to education, which is considered to be limited to a very few privileged ones. Instead, the quality of education in order to foster better human values and create a conscious human being. For Angdawnsaang Khaling, the problem associated with education was the widening gap between the rich and poor. He argued that the failure of the educational system is the cause of all problems in society: I think we can start with educational problems. Besides these, we have other political, socio-cultural, geographical and historical problems. Everything stands just because of the failure of the educational system. (Angdawnsaang Khaling) A classmate of Abhishek, Anushka Susan Mathew responded that the current educational system gives preference only to a few forms of knowledge. These forms of knowledge have the capacity to contribute to the knowledge economy, which treats skilled human labour as capital. It is believed that this human capital approach accelerates the economic growth of the country. But she had her own subtle take on this. She pointed out the local influences on this approach, such as when people start grading or judging a person’s capacity through his/her expertise in certain spheres, and his/her credentials are constructed on the basis of their economic value. She perceives that historical circumstances especially British rule in India was instrumental in this kind of thinking. She says: The mental conditioning is such.… Ask graduates to think about life. They think about jobs only. Definitely the problem is with the way our educational system works. The entire focus is on medicine and engineering, which are considered the best fields to work in. Only graduates in these disciplines would be recognized as respectable. I had to face a lot of nonsense from my relatives because I chose to study English for my graduation. “Oh! What happened? Did you fail your Boards9?” I said, “No, I didn’t” … and I wrote my state entrance exams for engineering to prove that I could get a seat … but I did not choose to do this just to shut my relatives’ mouths. The problem of the educational system is definitely a colonial hangover. We are still keep on following a 200-year-old educational system which definitely needs to be relooked. (Anushka Susan Mathew) On the other hand, Punyasil had the opinion that a lack of education makes people ignorant about any concrete knowledge and vision for the future, so they understand and judge things with their common sense.

Everyday engagement with social issues 229 Indian government is giving preference to education, but corruption is rampant every where. So, the funds allocated for the education do not reach at right place and, this hampers the educational structure which ultimately leads to poor quality education. It get reflected in people’s worldview when they analyse the things and give very commonsensical interpretations of everything. (Punyasil) Sharique Zia, another student, commented that the crux of the problem in education lies with the politicians who hardly encourage education for all. Moreover, he says that the erosion of the values system of students lies in the biased curriculum. This happens because of the imitation of Western ways, rather than valorizing traditional values: If you see the educational system, the curriculum that we are following does not give us any education. It is just passing on information. It merely makes us money-making machines. It doesn’t teach us morality or values. As students of Sociology, what we are studying are only theories. We are merely following the West. So, these institutions do not create knowledge but rather follow old paths. (Sharique Zia) The third-most cited social problem narrated by DU students was not limited to one issue. They identified several social problems, like terrorism, communalism, poverty, sexual orientation, political opportunism, unemployment, corruption and prejudiced conceptions. Ankan Kazi blamed the politicians for their parochial approach, which goes against the secular principles of the constitution/state. He is of the view that social problems like communalism are interrelated with other major problems, like political opportunism. All the problems are very much inter-linked. They cannot exist without the others.… I mean without political opportunism, there would be no communal violence, so the greatest problem is the non-secular politics practiced in India, which leads to communal violence, then totalitarianism and an authoritarian government. (Ankan Kazi) Bidisha and Nikunj recognized three different problems, namely, poverty, sexual orientation and the lack of freedom to think independently. Bidisha disapproved of the authoritarian hold of the state vis-à-vis the private sector and favoured the distribution of responsibilities amongst the private sector for a better utilization of resources which would eradicate poverty. Poverty is because of the improper utilization of resources. There are a lot of resources, but the utilization is not done properly. Government policies

230 S. Yadav are very restrictive; there should be more private-sector development. The government sector should give away certain responsibilities which should be taken by the private companies and firms. (Bidisha Hazarika) Nikunj indicated a social problem associated with sexual orientation and choices. Nikunj argues that an individual’s sexual orientation cannot be imposed upon or defined by the prevalent normative order. In other words, he tried to figure out how an individual makes choices when they are part of a group which seldom accepts the prevalent normative order. For instance, a few years ago, gay and lesbian matters were taboo subjects. But, over time, we have seen a major shift in the discourse, which was earlier considered as individual problem. Now, it is not unusual to converse about these subjects. Gay and lesbian rights are legalized and publicly spoken about. Sexual orientation is one’s choice. You cannot force someone to be heterosexual or homosexual. How can anybody be penalized for his/her sexual orientation? If somebody wants to have a different sexual orientation, wants to have sex for pleasure, what’s wrong in it? (Nikunj Gupta) The critical narratives above testify to the extent to which the students of DU not only identify and locate the social problems they encounter very well, but also discuss their causes using good reasoning skills. The narrative capacity of the sample students of DU was the best amongst those interviewed across all four sample institutions in this study. The explanations given were not just commonsensical or natural but often contained a clear-eyed realism without much moralistic tones. Amongst all four institutions, DU had the maximum percentage of students, i.e. 66%, who explained social problems while keeping in mind the larger social context.

Harcourt Butler Technological Institute, Kanpur (HBTI) Though HBTI does not offer any Humanities or Social Science courses among their degree programs, the awareness level of its students about social issues was noteworthy. It was found that the students felt uncomfortable in describing issues in detail. They seemed to offer commonsensical explanations of social problems instead of conceptualizing them within a context. Moreover, most of their responses were limited to small statements. Systemic problems – like red-tapeism, corruption, black-money laundering and the misuse of power by bureaucrats and politicians – worried a large number of students from this institution. They argue that systemic loopholes could be addressed easily by strong political will power, but no political party ever shows their willingness to confront the existing structures which hamper

Everyday engagement with social issues 231 the system. Any strong actions from the political leadership can collapse government machinery, it discourages any action. Added to this, a student stated that people are ignorant and less aware about their rights, which gives a free hand to our politicians. She said: People are lacking in confidence, and they are not able to think rationally. (Shivangi Tripathi) As we have seen earlier, the responses of the students follow a pattern in that most of them blame politicians for all the misdeeds of society. Politicians were not even exempted from responsibility for population growth. An engineering student expressed this as follows: Religion is responsible for population growth. For example, in certain communities, children are considered as gifts of God. Due to the very high population, the government is not able to provide even good primary education. (Anurag) A few others also expressed their displeasure; for instance, the views of Monika and Pratima are given below: Politicians just think about themselves. (Monika)

All this existing corruption is due to bad politicians. (Pratima) Another student pointed out our inability to elect honest leaders in the democratic system. Our political system has degraded to the extent that even illiterates and criminals are getting easy entry and access to top political positions. After citing systemic problems, the second most raised problem was education, especially higher education. Students seem to be unhappy with the way higher education is dispensed in our university system. Many degree holders remain without employment because of the poor quality of education being offered to them. On the other hand, engineering colleges are growing in numbers every year with no mechanisms to guarantee quality education. Consequently, the degrees that are being awarded by these institutions remain without any value. Although the new engineering colleges, and thereby high enrolment in the engineering courses, somehow keep rising, there is a deeply felt insecurity about engineering job prospects in the near future. A student explained this phenomenon as follows:

232 S. Yadav Engineering colleges are mushrooming without any clear-cut aims. (Shailendra) Students are of the view that there are many things in our universities which are taught unnecessarily. They neither have significance in the current job scenario nor create any spark in the students’ minds. It was pointed out that course contents are filled with theories and students cannot connect and apply such theories in their lives. Apurba calls this kind of system an “improper educational system”. And, she is also concerned about the quality of education for all. Those who are rich are giving good education to their children, but children from rural areas are struggling for even a bare minimum education. (Apurba) Interestingly, the HBTI students were able to identify capitalism as one of the root causes of all the problems around them. With a growing concern about the income disparity between the rich and poor, the students noted that the blind rush for profit or money by corporations or individuals have provided the ground for capitalism to flourish. This blind race for huge profits has created severe environmental problems. Citing an example from Kanpur’s industrial setting, the students pointed out that all the hazardous chemicals substances were dumped into the river Ganga is the result of the blind rush for profitmaking. A third-year BTech student described the nature of a capitalist economy as follows: Proper incentives are not available for the lower strata of society. People don’t hesitate to commit highly unethical crimes, and good moral values are not rewarded. (Rohit) A few students like Umesh had the opinion that the “unequal distribution of wealth in our society” is creating the gap between the rich and the poor, subsequently it became cause for all forms of crime in our society. He stated that: The capitalist social structure is responsible for it. (Umesh) Although Umesh did not elaborate further, he conveyed his displeasure over the state of affairs in the current economic system by citing a drawback of this system. He stated that in the current system all decisions are taken according to the interests of the rich people. As a consequence, it will give little room

Everyday engagement with social issues 233 for the pro-poor policy-making processes. Friends of Umesh, too, explained the same: The gap between the rich and the poor is becoming wide, and everything is in the hands of a few people. Hence, capitalism is growing. (Tarun)

After occupying a good position, people start thinking only about earning money. This causes money to accumulate in a few hands, which generates poverty. (Sourabh) The above three problems were the most discussed ones during the field investigation. Systemic problems were the main issues, followed by the problems associated with education and capitalism. Other problems – like poverty, pollution, population explosion, and discrimination on the basis of caste, class and gender – were also subjects in the discussions. A few responses signalled philosophical and religious explanations for all the wrongdoings of man, some pointed out the behavioural problems attached to an individual personality trait such as selfishness. These kinds of explanations did not touch upon the sociological sensibilities of these problems, yet in finding causes for the major social problems, nearly 40% of the HBTI students explained them through social contexts and showed their understanding of the larger societal concerns.

Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Maharaj University, Kanpur (CSJMU) The students of Christ Church College affiliated with CSJM University were drawn as sample respondents in this session. It was found that most of the students were from a lower socioeconomic background and their association with this particular class background and discipline was self-evident in their responses. As with the HBTI students, the students here were worried about their job prospects. Nearly all of them were very much conscious of their future prospects after graduating from liberal arts. Therefore, most of the students from this college felt that unemployment was the most worrisome social problem. The second-most discussed problems during the interviews was population growth. Several students attributed the population explosion as the root cause of unemployment. The third-most cited problem was related to the quality of education. Amongst all the selected four institutes, students from Christ Church College were found to be the least articulate. However, they were quite vocal while describing the civic and educational facilities in their neighbourhoods. It is not surprising that their comments concerning the social problems that they experienced reflected the locations they come from. For example, being inhabitants of prominent industrial towns in the state of Uttar Pradesh, students were very

234 S. Yadav much dissatisfied with the current state of affairs regarding civic facilities like electricity, drinking water, roads, the public transport system and traffic. A few students from neighbouring districts were really annoyed with the deteriorating civic amenities. They considered civic problems as social problems: We came here for higher education with lots of expectations, but after college hours, we usually have a power cut of 8 hours daily in the city. This hinders our preparation for competitive exams very badly. It is a very serious problem in Kanpur. (Sarvesh) They considered questions about social problems in a very loose way, without giving them enough thought. A few students were so quick in giving their responses, it was as if they were living in a society which was full of problems only, and hence, they could identify numerous problems. But these responses seemed to lack well-thought processes and personal insights. It was interesting to note that most of the students showed concern about the existence of corrupt politicians. But their understanding of problems associated with the system was confined to the politicians. A general perception drawn from the field was that the politicians were blamed for everything. In other words, it is the politicians who are manipulating and making our society corrupt. Furthermore, it was noticed that, despite being social science students, only a couple of them were able to identify social problems in relation to the dysfunctioning of social structure and institutions. For instance, the persistence of several problems is subject to the way the modern democratic structure, its mechanisms and organizations, function. Problems of population, unemployment and education were the most discussed problems during the interviews. When asked about what the causes of these problems are and how one could solve them, most of the responses were one-liners linking one problem with another. For example, when the students were asked to explain the causes of, and remedies for, social problems, their responses were: People are illiterate and they don’t understand the importance of a small family. To get an extra helping hand in the family and, sometimes, because of their desire for a boy child, they keep on having more and more children, which increases the population, and ultimately, this high population level leads to chronic unemployment. These layman responses hardly inhibit any reflective ability of the students studying social science subjects. These kinds of responses have been embedded in the cultural common sense and so more in the consciousness of the social spaces. This study also reveals that the students were aware about the different forms of discrimination in society, especially caste-based discrimination. In fact, during the interviews, it was found that several students mocked each other by pointing

Everyday engagement with social issues 235 out their caste affiliations. There were a few absurd “social problems” that were identified. For instance, a student sharing her personal experience said: The feeling of being ideal is a problem. (Nilisha Yadav) Not being able to articulate terrorism as a social menace, a student described it as a defense-related problem. The financial crunch that his family was in was identified as a social problem by a student. Regular engagement in religious activities was problematic for another student – he was unhappy with the way people waste time on spiritual activities. One girl showed her distaste for the way in which people play with others’ emotions. Most of Christ Church College students (approximately 85%) gave answers on the basis of their individual experiences, without giving enough thought to the larger social processes. In fact, it was hard for the majority of the students to identify three social problems. During interviews, when they were asked to explain the reasons or causes behind social problems, with the exception of a few students, a vast majority of them were not able to explain themselves adequately.

Conclusions There are clear differences in the responses of the students across different academic streams and institutions. The students who belong to those institutions which teach social sciences and cultural studies articulated their responses exceptionally well. It shows how disciplinary training and institutions cultivate new attitudes and world-views in their students. In all the four institutions taken up for the field investigation, it was found that, except the Delhi University students, all responses were more or less the same. Although it was presumed that, being a liberal arts institute, the students of CSJM Kanpur would have wider perspectives on articulating problems, the responses and views were not reflected critically. In most of the cases, the students were not able to answer the questions or were not able to articulate their opinions. The disciplinary training, as this study indicates while examining the qualitative narratives of all 200 students, was not often a key factor in finding and articulating social problems. Differences in their respective disciplinary trainings, has shaped the approaches of the students differently. In other words, training in a particular discipline does not significantly change the perception of a person and her identity. Similarly, while interpreting social problems, the location becomes salient. As a consumerist space, the metropolitan cities have got an altogether different set of problems from subsistent spaces, like small towns/villages, which encounter problems due to the lack of basic civil amenities. These structural factors do influence and condition the imaginations of the young learners. The patterns that is being set in the students’ responses are more varied across the educational institutions than disciplinary training or academic culture. Relatively poor responses were reported amongst the CSJM, Kanpur

236 S. Yadav students. They neither properly identified nor discussed social problems and their causes. Their responses to the causes of social problems had either moralistic or naturalistic overtones. If the students of HBTI Kanpur were able to identify social problems and their causes, the students of DU were excellent in narrating, explaining and locating the problems in the larger context, utilising perspective. On the other hand, the students of IIT Delhi, though they identified certain social problems and discussed their causes in detail, could not place the problem in question in a broader perspective. It indicates that, beyond identification of the social problems and explanation, students, especially in the institutions of higher learning, need to cultivate a critical mind instead of applying their common sense.

Notes 1 Every year, thousands of students appear for the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) to get admission into the 23 IITs set up by the Government of India for higher education in Engineering. JEE is considered to be the toughest entrance examination in the world. So, to crack this entrance examination, students enrol in expensive private coaching institutes. 2 Sania Mirza is female Indian tennis player who was issued a fatwa in 2005 by an Indian Islamic organization for wearing shorts during her tournament games. 3 In the IITs, the non-General Category students are colloquially referred to as Category students. 4 Violence perpetrated by a more than 40-year-old extreme left movement whose members call themselves Naxalites or Maoists. 5 A political campaign started by the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) during the 2004. Parliamentary elections which glorified its success when it was in power two terms earlier. 6 Multi National Corporations. 7 Certain communities in South India, e.g. the Nairs, have always been strongly matriarchal. 8 The lowest and most decentralized tier of India’s three-tier administrative system which encourages local governance. 9 The Senior Secondary Board Examinations are colloquially referred to as the Boards (just like Intermediate).

References Baker, John, Kathleen Lynch, Sara Cantillon, and Judy Walsh. 2004. Equality: From Theory to Action. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan. Béteille, Andre. 1996. “Sociology and Common Sense.” Economic and Political Weekly, 31 (35/37), 2361–2365. Béteille, Andre. 2005. “Individualism and Equality.” In Anti-Utopia: Essential Writings of André Béteille, edited by Dipankar Gupta, pp. 330–361. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Bilton, Tony, Kevin Bonnett, Pip Jones, Michelle Stanworth, Ken Sheard, and Andrew Webster. 1981. Introductory Sociology. London: MacMillan Education Ltd. Mills, Charles Wright. 1959. The Sociological Imagination. New York: Oxford University Press.

Everyday engagement with social issues 237 Nussbaum, Martha C. 1997. Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defence of Reform in Liberal Education. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Sen, Amartya. 1982. “Equality of What?” In Choice, Welfare and Measurement, edited by Amartya Sen, pp. 353–372. Oxford: Blackwell. Snow, Charles P. 1959. The Two Cultures. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Young, Iris Marion. 2001. “Equality of Whom? Social Groups and Judgments of Injustice.” The Journal of Political Philosophy, 9 (1), 1–18.

15 Researcher, field and caste encounter Critical reflections on fieldwork Ajay Choudhary

For quite a long-time caste has been a key concept for social scientists studying Indian society. Although caste is understood as a shared experience across all sections of the Indian population, it provides different meanings subject to the contextual properties of the situation that the research demands. But, the compounding effect of caste makes the task of the researcher more complex to test the cultural practices of Indian society and problematise the complex matrix of stratification in the political, social and economic lives of people. Caste is organised around the binary opposites of purity and pollution, which define and fix the status of people in the hierarchical order. Moreover, it is the structure of caste that conditions and regulates power and status in society. Textual interpretation of caste under the Indological perspective has legitimised Brahmanism and the rest of caste groups below of them as inferior. Subsequently, the structural and functional views on caste, advanced by field views, has debunked caste as a key source of knowledge formation. Emulating the life styles of the upper castes by the lower castes, as a process of sanskritisation, was also observed as a counter protest in favour of equality. Moreover, the effect of colonial modernity internalising western ideas has moved caste beyond its rigid structures. Various social movements, especially anti-caste movements, have contributed to establishing democratic principles against the prevalence of caste domination. To Ambedkar, caste as a system is not just a division of labour but is a division of labourers based on the logic of graded inequality to maintain the rigidity of caste. Despite multiple levels of observations and explanations offered by social scientists, caste appears to be a deeply rooted and dominant force in everyday life of people even today. It amplifies the fact that many methodological perspectives have been established in caste studies and most of them have appeared to be top down in approach. But hardly any effort has been made to look at how an objective investigation can be carried out by social scientists coming from the lower caste groups to study the upper caste. Being a researcher, in this chapter I explore the testimonials of respondents during the fieldwork carried out on the caste question. It seems to me that field information is called for into the social (caste) location of the researcher by the respondents. Here the field, fieldwork and the respondents constantly encounter caste not as an objective fact, but as an instrument to evoke the subjective location of the researcher.

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Social scientists employ various methods – especially participant observation, direct and indirect interviews – to objectively assess the work of caste in the village life, religion, gender and diverse identities. Participant observation, unlike other methods in the research field, not only allows close observation but also facilitates a detailed account of the socio-cultural life of the community. It provides a detailed description, illustrating the way in which caste operates in the lives of people and defines the nature of society and culture. The first-hand information on caste gathered through participant observation within extensive and intensive fieldwork can be a base to compare, as well as to contrast, the textual representations of caste. In the world of empirical research, fieldwork-based approach appears to be more realistic than the written text. The representation of caste in the written text is found predominantly in the historical research. The written history of India is mainly centred around the ancient Aryan past to defend the natural order of caste and accept the Brahmanical tradition of Hindu religious doctrine (Bagade, 2011). In other words, the field view and the book view on caste are fundamentally different, precisely because of their approaches to the nature of the problem in question. Both of these methods privilege theory of caste as a perfect functional order through the cost of experiencing subtle ways of humiliation. They do not unpack the subjective experiences of caste, especially when the researcher meets her respondents during the fieldwork. For a meaningful research investigation, fieldwork can become a new space to explore the actual act of caste. Apart from these two approaches in the mode of investigation, latest developments in social theories, especially phenomenology, illuminate not only the significance of intersubjectivity as a device to understand shared meaning, but also register the location of the individual in the context of meaning making. Inter-subjectivity, as a method to study a complex system like caste in India beyond the researcher’s objective standpoint, is contingent upon the researcher’s subjective position evoked by respondents during fieldwork. That means a research investigation on caste does not end with describing what constitutes caste, instead caste itself sets its own field in which the subjective positions of both the researcher and the respondents are laid. The temporal status occupied by the researcher and her respondents to engage with the caste question will no longer keep their position outside of caste as an objective reality. What is being highlighted in this chapter is the reporting and accounting of the subjective dispositions of the researcher while studying caste. Here the researcher’s subjective experiences become significant in exploring the ways in which the researcher draws meaning of caste through intersubjective communication with her respondents during the field investigation. The research field in social science generally begins by raising certain generic questions such as on what, where and how to study. But it barely finds any discussion on who is studying whom or by whom the study is deemed to be undertaken. Methodological sophistication in social sciences, especially the development of interdisciplinary research, has incorporated many new methods and has seldom introduced mixed methods to deeply engage with the research question under study. Exploration of inter-subjectivity in language, meaning, learning and identity have stimulated the social sciences in which an individual

240 A. Choudhary senses his ‘self” while interacting with others’ ‘self”, given the socio-cultural context, where the vantage point of social structure emerges through interaction (Given, 2008: 468). One of the riddles in social science research is whether social scientists are free to study their own society. If so, how can they maintain value neutrality in research? In order to avoid preconceived notions and maintain objectivity, a large number of scholars have pursued their studies in other societies where the geographical location, language and rituals are different from their own society. A similar pattern has been followed in India, too, especially among the social anthropologists who empirically investigate the caste system. Upper caste social scientists have studied the caste system in general, and the lower caste groups in particular, to report first-hand information and to report it as a body of anthropological and sociological knowledge. If the theological and Indological literature has become the reference point to construct the idea of caste and to define its structures and functions in society, empirical observation based on extensive fieldwork among the lower caste has become the new facts to produce objective knowledge. In fact, as empirical objects the life world of the lower caste becomes rich ethnographic material in the hands of the upper caste. However, serious doubts arise on the methodology being applied to produce factual evidences of the lower caste, especially the untouchable communities. As long as the upper caste sustains the notion of untouchability and pollution among the lower caste, participant observation on the latter group by the former is near to impossible. Even if the upper castes could access to fieldwork, the evidences collected from the field may not be factually correct. It fundamentally questions whether the upper castes can uphold the objectivity principle in studying the everyday life of the lower caste. In order to overcome the problems of objectivity, the dominant paradigm developed under Indological and ethnographic accounts on caste not only give privilege and high status to the upper caste, but also create ample intellectual space to study caste as objective reality. No doubt, the social circumstances of the time and intellectual privilege led the Hindu upper caste scholars to study Hindu scriptures and puranas in detail. Although the upper castes have challenged these scriptures as they were against equality and justice, their social privilege in society remains unshaken. So, sociologists and social scientists could only study the phenomena of caste as strong empirical evidence of exclusion and discrimination. Because of the fear of losing the privilege of being at the top of the caste hierarchy, upper caste social scientists have never initiated the theoretical discourse to deconstruct caste system (Illaiah, 2009). It means that upper caste social scientist, especially the sociologist, has glorified the Hindu society driven by the Brahmanical scriptures and order. At one level this shows the inadequacy of the scriptures to interpret the social in social science research. On the other hand, the prejudiced intellectual minds of the upper caste are pitted against the ideas of egalitarian society. Following the Indological method, to a large extent, is held responsible for normalising Hinduism and the social order of the caste system, driven by concepts of chaturvarna, purity and pollution. This, by implication, has led to

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the continuance and perpetuation of the caste system consciously or unconsciously. The investigation that validates the discourse on the lives of Dalits in castes studies often contradicts the social reality depicted by the social scientist belonging to the upper caste groups. Social scientists place Dalits at the bottom of the caste hierarchy as the fifth Varna, despite the fact that the ancient Hindu religious scripts mention only four Varna. It means that the fifth Varna was the invention of social scientists. But in teaching and research, the fifth Varna has to be continued to referred without any factual basis (Kumar, 2016). The academic construct of the fifth Varna continues to remain an unresolved issue in social science practices. Because of ambiguity among social scientists in the historiography of caste, there is no logical conclusion as to how to locate, analyse and explain the phenomenon called untouchability. Moreover, the objective meaning imposed upon the life-world of untouchable caste groups by social scientists has not taken into account how the untouchable subjects locate themselves in society and derive their own subjective meaning. Though reporting and accounting the subjective meaning is critical and indispensable for social science practices, particularly under the interpretative tradition, there has been no effort to comprehend this new terrain in social science practices. It is in this context that the subjective experiences of untouchability become imperative. One needs to ask the question of what untouchability means and how it creates its own historicity. The dominant narratives that define the characteristics of untouchability, and thereby object formation, not only involved a group of people and their imaginations but also pushed them into a dark phase of the modern age. An approach of this kind, possibly, would reveal the tacit assumptions in the perspective of the social scientists who continued to pursue with their prejudiced minds. This no way suggests that intellectual activity is devoid of politics, but it is negative politics that was consciously played out by objectifying certain groups of people who were placed at the bottom of society in order to privilege the caste placed on the upper strata of caste hierarchy. In other words, upper caste social scientists used scientific principles and methods to protect their vested interests. In fact, the way social science is being practiced becomes problematic in defining principles, methods and objectivity in research. Hence, subjective experiences become significant sites for any meaningful research enquiry. The caste of mind that builds into the intellectual genre of the upper castes, those responsible for the way the notions of caste discrimination and exclusion scripted in the mind of the lower castes, is a new form of mental slavery. The privileged, twice born researchers, because of their academic training and theoretical orientation, gained the legitimacy to frame the life world of lower castes, especially the untouchables. The narratives that are built to describe untouchability inform what constitutes untouchability and who falls into the category of being in the untouchable caste groups. Historically, the so-called untouchables were denied theoretically orientation. As a result, for them, the past remains an unmoving history and their language of everyday life becomes an unspoken/unwritten idiom in the public sphere. Moreover, the denial of access to modern education has not only

242 A. Choudhary shuttered their ontological status to define and defend themselves but also imposed restrictions and prohibitions on labelling and marking them out as untouchables. Given perpetual negation in identifying one’s own agency because of the rigid caste rules and punishments, the untouchables could only exhibit themselves as objects of psychological disorder and social inferior. What is generally observed and described as the caste system in the public sphere allowed social scientists to explore the same in research and teaching practices. Since research studies, pedagogical practices and curriculum frameworks are driven by the prejudiced upper caste mind, students of the lower caste had to grapple with the learning process using gut feeling. It means the descriptions that announce untouchability are exclusionary devices to deny the lower castes the opportunity of learning other imaginary concepts and acquiring human dignity. The perspective from above would debate the existence of untouchability among the twice born, especially among the Brahmins, with normal features of purity and impurity. Here the notion of untouchability being practiced among the Brahmins is a temporal phenomenon and the same can easily be overcome by performing some purifying rituals. On the other hand, for lower caste groups notions of untouchability and impurity will continue to remain with them as permanent markers for generations and will never be taken away, as the Brahmins could easily do. Although a temporal notion of untouchability is associated with Brahmins, their high social status in the caste orders has preserved and sustained the status quo. In other words, the structural ordering of caste and ascriptive identity keep the social position of Brahmins unmoved. The notion of untouchability is played out in two extreme poles either to consider oneself as ‘pure’ being upper caste or ‘impure’ being untouchable. On the contrary, the perspective from below contradicts the given conception of untouchability and alleges that the enforcement of a structured order of caste hierarchy is wrong. With the arrival of modernity, the untouchable caste groups sought to deconstruct their cognition and reacted powerfully against the notion of untouchability as a process of reflectivity. For them, the question is from what perspective does the explanatory aspect of untouchability emanate from? Who is untouchable for whom? Usually, untouchability means upper castes keeping their distance from the so-called polluted caste. But it is quite possible that an untouchable does not like to be touched by the twice born and that upper castes are untouchables for the former. Studies in the Sothern part of India show that the Brahmins were considered undeserving by the other caste groups: ‘untrustworthy Brahmin, before killing snake one should kill the Brahmins’, and ‘seeing Brahmin in the street was considered to be bad omen’ (Pillai, 1976: 130). The narratives in the social sciences for objectifying untouchability are interpreted from the sources of Brahmanical religious texts, but nothing from the Buddhist or Jains. Believers who follow Buddhist tradition denounce any forms of inequality based on caste and the practise of untouchability. With a deeper understanding of the history of Buddhism in India, Ambedkar came to the logical conclusion that in the Buddhist period these so-called untouchables regarded Brahmins as inauspicious, hesitated to

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employ them as their priests and never allowed them to enter into their quarters (Ambedkar, 1990). One can find evidence and expressions of this in Buddhist historiography, but not in Jain archaeological or Brahmanical religious texts. It is true that no effort has been made to explore how the untouchables feel the notions of untouchability from their own perspective. In this regard, a perspective from below can be developed with the assistance of two methodological reference points: phenomenology and ethnomethodology. Because of their stigmatised identity, lower caste social scientists are not well received in the research field. For instance, respondents in the research field, instead of accepting the social scientist simply as a researcher, often label them as lower caste people. The caste system provides plausible narratives to locate and explain how the lower castes are constituted. In Maharashtra, the nuances in the behaviour of upper castes are associated with the behaviour of lower castes. For example, if the behaviour and action of the upper castes are found in the lifestyle of the lower caste, then they pose questions like “Why you behave like the child of Mahar, Matang [ka re mahara matanga sarka wagtoye]” or “Are you the child of Mahar? [tu kay maharachay potash ahey kay?]”. These are the symbolic gestures manifested in the behaviour and the body language of superiority or inferiority. Thus, the self-proclamation of one’s dominant identity implies other identities are inferior. On the other side of the spectrum there are constitutional safe guards protecting excluded communities through reservation policies. Such policies are designed to promote social recognition and remove stigmatised identity based on caste. But the persistence of stigmatised identities being untouchable led to the formation of a new identity called “Dalit”, which is almost identical with the traditional pattern of caste identity. Because of the constitutional safeguards extended to them, Dalits openly question all forms of discrimination embedded in caste system. Furthermore, they relate to the common constitutional identity of citizens. However, the dominant perspectives of the upper castes continue to refer lower castes with old nomenclatures associated with low status like Shudras, Dalits, Panchamas or Harijan. Though the dominant perspectives on caste and the justifications for caste hierarchy are basically derived from the Indological approach, the upper caste do not consider or reflect on the field view on caste or examine the nature of domination and subordination, or the acceptance and rejection of caste hierarchy by the lower caste. It clearly shows that the perspectives are distinct depending upon the vantage point of the observer and the social milieu she comes from. This could create tensions between theoretical and practical views on the subject matter. In other words, the book view and field view in social sciences are often different. As a result, the caste Hindus, especially the upper castes, conceptualize perspectives from the logic of Indology to depict their dominant position and completely dismiss the lower castes. They also dismiss academic terms like Dalit being popularised by the educated among the erstwhile untouchable communities. Mainstreaming of such knowledge systems is under the scrutiny by some social scientists who observe the hegemony of the upper castes still continues as they

244 A. Choudhary utilise their caste authority to define and characterise the oppressed communities through the former’s prejudiced mind. The definitions and objectifications suffocate the oppressed caste groups because of their political awakening and new levels of consciousness under the democratic system. To understand the current transition, the social construction of reality of the lower strata needs to be empirically investigated and interpreted. Introspection is one device which opens the mind of the researcher to move beyond the usual approaches in the research methods, to locate herself with other possible approaches and methods of other people in the field. As a matter of fact, academic training on research methods and techniques may not discuss much about the tacit assumptions of the ideological undercurrents that the researcher may encounter in the field with interviewees. In fact, in the actual application of methods during fieldwork the researcher, instead of restricting to report the observation as it is, can also reflect upon practical experiences from the field. In other words, what the researcher acquires during fieldwork is a never-ending process of learning, something which is absent in classroom learning. Given the nature of research methods, and the possibility of opening new spaces of learning, my basic contention is that whether social scientists or researchers attach their stigmatised identity could precede their research project in a hierarchal society like India. Being a member of a social group, my field experience as a researcher seems to suggest that notions of caste have not changed much. I can sense the transformative nature of society, but the caste system continues to manifest itself in new forms to accommodate new circumstances, including globalization. Numerous studies indicate the changing nature of caste or theories related to caste origin or the functional view of caste, but these are mostly created by the so-called upper caste researchers. Being placed in the upper strata of caste hierarchy, the privileged caste groups have made research processes easy and viable during field investigations. It does not mean that the so-called upper caste did not face exclusion in the research field. Depending upon the researcher’s social background, a feeling of exclusion may get reduced, but the actual practices of exclusion will continue on the ground because of the complex nature of caste. It implies that beside being a researcher, the caste background of the researcher has a profound effect upon the kind of interaction that takes place during a field investigation. This chapter explores how the religious identity of the researcher gets reified in the research field. The fieldwork was conducted in two cities of Maharashtra; Nagpur and Kolhapur. Historically, Maharashtra has been known for its anti-caste movement led by luminaries like Mahatma Phule, Shahu Maharaj and B.R. Ambedkar. In modern history, this movement in Maharashtra was comprised of touchable and untouchables, who fought against the caste system to restore human dignity in society. Nagpur was selected as a field site because Ambedkar was converted on 14 October, 1956 and Kolhapur was the princely state of Shahu Maharaj, who was the king of

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Kolhapur during the British rule. Under his regime, Maharaj constructed hostels for all section sof people across caste, class and he was the first ruler who implemented reservation for untouchables in 1902. He is therefore often described as a pillar of social democracy. While comparing two cities, I found that lower castes of Kolhapur, because of their structural location in the caste hierarchy, are dependent on the upper caste. Shivaji was the symbol of pride and Shahu was the instrument to show emancipatory attitude towards the subordinate caste. However, in Nagpur, a city of Buddhist conversion under the leadership of Dr. Ambedkar, strong stratifications existed between upper caste and lower castes. At the peripheral level, that is in face to face relationships, all the castes are very polite with each other. I decided to interview not only those prominent castes which are dominant politically and socially, but also the subordinated castes. The sites of the field investigations were chosen for their very nature in terms of caste and its manifestation. Along with caste identity, both of the cities had sizable populations of Buddhists belonging to different caste groups. I conducted personal interviews with converted Buddhists (i.e. neo-Buddhists) and non-Buddhist (i.e. upper caste). In the field, I encountered problems in collecting and validating the respondents’ information because of their prejudiced attitudes. Being a researcher, my research questions usually created anxiety, doubt and suspicion in the interviewee’s mind. As a result, the interviewee often showed her curiosity, wanting to know my social background so as to locate me in caste. During fieldwork, the ascribed status of the researcher was evoked instead of the researcher’s achieved status. Revealing your social background to the interviewee can have two possible consequences, depending upon the identities of the interviewer and interviewee. It can provide either a feeling of association or a feeling of indifference in the form of social distance or nature of responses. This means that my objective assessments in this caste study have been influenced by the very nature of caste itself. The social identity of the researcher is one of the problems that the researcher encounters in the research field. According to Franks (2002), negotiating identity follows three “ethnographic positionalities”: 1. given by the system; 2. selectively chosen; or 3. worked and enforced. As the positionality of the researcher rests on the power of discipline, that identity of the interlocutor is laid down as someone capable of doing fieldwork objectively. But while conducting fieldwork, the researcher would also get the choice of outrightly conceding or reveal her cultural identity. However, there is also the possibility of negotiating the identity of the researcher so as to work out a contingent positionality. While conducting this fieldwork, I thought of portraying myself as a so-called upper caste man despite my actual positionality of being so-called lower caste. In doing so, I might harm my position as a researcher if I were not aware about certain upper caste rituals, customs and traditions. It is imperative to suspend one’s own identity for the time being to achieve the research objectives. These are the structural constraints that the researcher often confronts while carrying out field-based research.

246 A. Choudhary It is a well-known fact that, in social science research, the responses of the respondents often speak of the social background they belong to. As a caste ridden society like India is internally fragmented and hierarchically arranged, it rules out various avenues to engaging in the public sphere on equal footing. Thus, the conceptualisation of caste in light of the data collected from the field observation cannot fully comprehended. Instructions were given to researchers to keep maintaining value neutrality by erasing pre-conceived notions. But even if the researcher intends to maintain value neutrality, it becomes problematic to relate the theoretical reflections of public sphere and empirical reality of caste due to their misplaced locations and dialectical perceptions. While doing research “value neutrality” is emphasised and the researcher has to keep her consciousness devoid of bias. This question of value neutrality arises as there is a high chance that the researcher carries her underlying ideologies and beliefs with her. But one cannot completely deny the benefits of the researcher being an insider. In an ideal situation, the researcher should be detached from enslavement to her own society so as to account for and report observations with value free judgements (Srinivas, 1960: 5). In the Weberian sense, one should not accept value judgements as the social scientist is deemed to make social science value free. Considering Weber, it is a tough task to explore the reality of Indian society as the respondents in the field are not only conscious about their caste but also more curious to know the background of the researcher. In such a situation, how and what kind of the social enquiry will be carried out? By keeping in mind value neutrality, I began to initiate my research investigation. In my first field visit to Kolhapur and Nagpur, it was found that the people from the upper castes were not ready to share their experience or give valid information. The responses I could gather were unsatisfactory unless and until I was forced to disclose my social background before my respondents. It was hard to know that whether their responses were credible or not. Instead of focusing on what I was looking for in my research, the respondents were very eager to know the geographical location I came from, the name and surnames I carry etc. In other words, the social background of the researcher was somehow evoked in the field by the respondents. What I sense is that it is the research field that defines the researcher’s place in the field. Because of the immediate circumstances of the field, the researcher has to locate her place on a particular cultural location. Here the researcher has to express her identity either in the caste strata or the spoken language. In this order of things, the researcher gets excluded from the status of being a social scientist, particulalrly if the so-called lower caste is conducting research among the upper caste in Kolhapur or Nagpur. The following conversation with upper caste Hindu reveals how such impressions were generated. INTERVIEWEE: “What is your name?” ME: ‘I am Ajay’ INTERVIEWEE: [again]: what is your full ME: Ajay Choudhary


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Do you belong to Lava Patil caste (Maratha Caste in Maharashtra) of Jalgao or some other part of Maharashtra? ME: Nagpur. INTERVIEWEE: [further]: What is your background? ME: Buddhist. INTERVIEWEE: What you like to ask? [I could see the confusion, disappointment and doubts in the interlocutor’s face and voice] ME: My studies are related to the perception of Non-Buddhists towards Buddhist Identity. [I could see the interviewee’s continued disappointment] ME: It is nothing to worry about, all your response would be kept secret and your name would not appear at all in my studies. INTERVIEWEE: Everything is fine and we have cordial relations with them [the interviewee, after recommending me to meet a Buddhist person, said that the Buddhist could explain better than him. Then he quickly disappeared from the scene].Carrying out my research with a lower caste identity, the same happened during my encounters with the Buddhist community. As usual, my social background was dubious for them because of my surname (Choudhary) which is somehow attached to upper caste names. Hence, they were hesitant to reveal anything to me. On another occasion, it made me realize the fact that the monster of caste has haunted lower-caste Buddhists. In the company of a Buddhist community member, I was travelling by bicycle to conduct an interview with a Buddhist. While introducing my research subject, the interviewee asked the first question INTERVIEWEE: What is your name? ME: Ajay Choudhary. [The interviewee became anxious at hearing my surname] INTERVIEWEE: O!! You are Choudhary! [for him Choudhary appeared to be the surname of a dominant caste] INTERVIEWEE: [suddenly]: Please get down from my bike, I have some work [and he directed some other person to assist me with my fieldwork] INTERVIEWEE:

I could see my interviewee’s sense of insecurity, doubts and un-trust on me. It gives a general impression me that I belong to the “Upper Caste”. Once again, I was not taken as a researcher because of my social background. The above conversations may not directly conclude that the ascriptive and achieved status have no place to structure research process and outcomes. Instead what I sense that it depends on how one practices reflexivity in the field. One of the possibilities of overcoming such constraints is to creatively exercise a dual identity. This disclosure may be useful for an objective outcome of my research rather than the subjective understanding of my cultured self. Caste reflexivity in the field consciously disturbed objectivity. Methodological orientation and its devices appear to be irrelevant as soon as the interviewee got annoyed when I disclosed my research topic; religious identity and caste. The interviewee became furious and said,

248 A. Choudhary You people come and study on caste, you abuse the Brahmin and made the responsible for everything. Don’t feel that we not get angry, we get!! But because of constitution we keep our self-mum and put our angriness under our belly or else we would have shown you the worst consequences of it? [shouting] What is your name? ME: Ajay. INTERVIEWEE: Where you from? ME: I am from New Delhi and I don’t know the Marathi. INTERVIEWEE:

When he heard of my Delhi and non-Maratha identity, he became very polite. He was convinced and provided the relevant information for which I was looking. Field reflections of this kind show that earning the upper caste’s trust is most important for my research. Since then I have made up my mind that I should not behave in a manner that will betray my caste identity before the upper castes. This positioning of the researcher poses the question of ethical neutrality where researcher has to promote or apply research techniques useful for research. The learned research methodologies become less useful at times when the cultural identity of the researcher is disclosed to the interviewee. The assertion of being researcher is a new identity which guarantees a comfort zone and a status. Hence, disclosing the researcher’s cultural identity – such as gender, ethnicity, caste – becomes a challenging question in the field. But, on other side, disclosing identity can be beneficial to the researcher when both the researcher and her respondents share a common identity. Such types of benefit are often sought to achieve effective communication. In order to maintain the objectivity of the study, the researcher has to find out appropriate persons of either the same class or other status (caste) with whom the researcher can co-operate. This becomes imperative to access various type of information. It indicates that social structures influence the social existence of the researcher, consciously or unconsciously. The researcher has to use strategies (network) to negotiate her relationship with the interviewees she studies. In this regard, it is found that most social scientist belongs to the upper strata and could establish such networks with members of the community. Majumdar, too, expresses the same idea when he says that an exzamindar family provided accommodation and occasionally acted as the host for him. This contact helped him to work with understanding and confidence and hence little effort was needed to establish rapport (Mujumdar, 1958: 5). Similarly, A.M. Shah, while conducting fieldwork, adopted a strategy of staying with upper caste households in the sample village he studied. Shah states that: the village headman arranged a house for our stay during our first visit to the village. We could not exercise our choice in this matter. When we had to vacate this house and find another, again we could not exercise our choice. The latter house was also located in the same ward as did the former … this ward was populated mostly by three upper castes, Brahmin,

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Rajputs and Patidars and most of the village leaders, including, lived there. Our living in this ward gave us certain advantages as well disadvantages. The main advantage was that we could observe the village leaders more closely (upper castes) … the main disadvantage was that we could not observe as closely the untouchables. (Shah, 1979: 35). The researcher’s preference of staying with the upper caste household during fieldwork in the village was mutually beneficial and encouraging for the researcher and the upper caste groups as they were both privileged to be Brahmins. But it can become detrimental and distressing for the researcher and lower castes as both of them are from different caste groups. This complicates things for the researcher in the research field. It is not surprising that India’s pioneering anthropologist, M.N. Srinivas, also had problems during his field study where his upper caste identity, being Brahmin, made him acceptable to all dominant caste men who became his friends. The same did not apply with lower caste groups (Srinivas, 1976). As the narratives given above show, conducting fieldwork was a thorny task and difficult for me to be reflexive in capturing the perception of Mahar’s Buddhist conversion. The relationship between the researcher and the researched become obvious in my study as I could clearly see the distinction between ‘insider’ versus ‘outsider’ or ‘self’ and ‘other’. This indicated who is going to study whom. It is generally argued that an outsider can study and reflect better than an insider because the latter’s identity may influence the research outcome. But what I argue here is that despite being an insider, the researcher’s identity may not influence his interpretation much because in every stage of the field investigation the researcher has to count multiple layers of observations. Soon it becomes obvious that such revealed observations during fieldwork are unknown to him as a researcher despite being an insider. Therefore, just being an insider may not be a natural qualification in accessing the insiders’ world. What I focused on instead was the contextual relationship between me as a researcher and my informants belonging to Buddhist and non-Buddhist groups. Being a researcher, I had to negotiate my identity in different contexts. As reflexivity is an essential aspect of research, the researcher places himself in public with an open mind. It is the researchers’ empathy that guides them to overcome prejudice. There were areas that were restricted spheres, not available for research investigation. But it is worth noticing that the process of modernization has broken down many of the restrictions. However, the perspectives deployed on these socially and culturally restricted spheres have been dominated from a particular direction, i.e. the perspective from above. In the Indian context, the upper strata have used their own perspectives to frame and locate the problems of the lower castes. This privilege was disallowed for the lower castes – they cannot study the upper caste from the perspective of below because of the rigidity of caste hierarchy that restricts the former from accessing the world of

250 A. Choudhary the latter. In other words, the socially unequal are also kept unequal in the world of research and knowledge production. This asymmetrical relationship amongst scholars of different cultural backgrounds reproduces cultures of hegemony in knowledge production. As a result, researchers belonging to the upper caste acquire more legitimacy than the rest of the caste groups below them. The perspectives from above by the upper caste scholars only legitimise their domination in the world of academics, but also negate any attempt to build a perspective from below by the scholars who come from the bottom layers of the caste hierarchy. Here, methodological orientation or research competency, though necessary, do not adequately explain the intricacies of caste in evolving perspectives in the research field. In the spheres of knowledge production in social sciences, caste hierarchy is detrimental to framing perspectives, depending as they do upon the location from which the researcher comes. It is the structural operations of caste that consciously or unconsciously place the researcher as insider and outsider. The epistemological foundation of knowledge basically relies on the empirical and the theoretical domain. But the exploration of the knowledge system has always remained with the academics belonging to the privileged castes. This has led to the perpetuation of the cultural hierarchy in epistemological spaces – the empirical and the theoretical. It is obvious that upper caste academics are privileged to be more theoretical than empirical as seen earlier in designing perspectives from above. By domesticating theories, the upper caste shows their intellectual superiority over the others. By implication, doing theory for the lower caste academics remains near to impossible as they lack the capacity to comprehend social reality. Historically, studies on caste, notably by Brahmins scholars, contributed to the body of sociological knowledge because of the forces of modernity. On the other hand, the denial of education to the lower castes for decades mean they could not acquire the theoretical knowledge required to change the empirical realities for them. Because of their stigmatised identity, social scientists from lower caste groups could not do much empirical research on their own. Because of the cultural location of the lower caste, they were not able to study upper caste groups and build a perspective from below. This hidden operation of caste in the domain of epistemology bifurcated social science research into theoretical Brahmins and empirical Shudras (Guru, 2002). It is very clear that the process of modernisation and epistemological bases conceal the hidden operation of caste in the research field. This has led to perpetuate discrimination and the exclusion of stigmatised caste groups from the world of research. It is going to be a long journey for the intellectual voices of these groups to gain a legitimate space in the public sphere. Even if the public sphere recognises their physical presence, liberating spaces to shed the centuries of old stigmatised identity continues to remain a big challenge in the public sphere. Preventing the use of the creative and intellectual energy of the researchers belonging to the lower caste is to deny them the possibilities of transforming their life world. However, the gradual influence of Ambedkar’s thought processes in the academic field has instilled new

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confidence in them, challenging the given degraded identity of caste. Subsequently, the hegemony of the elites’ social sciences as a perspective from above has been challenged by the deprived section of academic elites. Generally, there are two types of knowledge emanating from the oppressed groups, due to their levels of consciousness and their location in the caste system. First, knowledge that makes them remain, and locate their identity, within the oppressed system. Second, knowledge that also enables them to construct new identities based on their specific ethnic norms. The anti-caste struggles and political mobilisation of the lower caste against caste oppression, for instance, offer new analytical frameworks to produce sociologically relevant knowledge as well as to challenge the hegemony of the existing dominant forms of knowledge. It implies that transformative energy is possible in modernity, leading to opportunities to contest the domination and cultural hegemony through the critical understanding of human relations. It is textbook knowledge that research always revolves around two methodological traditions i.e. objectivity and subjectivity. But what I propose in this chapter is that the process of research enquiry can systematically objectify social reality with the careful assistance of subjective sensibilities. The subjective sensibilities of the researcher are susceptible to the circumstances, especially of her cultural location. If the researcher lets her structural location triumph over the problems under investigation, only a prejudiced mind can guide to act and observe social reality. In our case, I found that upper caste researchers were vulnerable to their structural location in the caste hierarchy. With prejudiced minds, they first positioned other caste groups below them as research objects and subsequently produced a kind of knowledge which could only privilege the upper castes. In other words, by virtue of being privileged in the caste hierarchy, upper caste scholars could objectify the social reality. At the same time, similar chances are denied to lower caste scholars. What I experienced from my fieldwork was that my upper-caste informants always wanted to know my caste background, in the first place, and then they articulated their answers in response to my research questions. Such information, collected from the upper caste in this way, may not qualify as valid facts in order to produce objective knowledge. In other words, because of caste hegemony the researcher who belongs to the lower caste is not allowed to contribute objective knowledge from her own perspective, especially perspectives from below. The research field, too, reflects how the social mind has been conditioned by caste. In such a situation, the social identity of the researcher gets highlighted more than her professional identity. This structural conditioning lets caste reproduce static structures instead of structural change. It raises the question of whether one can maintain objectivity by strictly following methodological protocols. Are these approaches adequate enough to capture the structural problems of caste, that themselves are deeply rooted in the minds of people in one form or other? Are we so lacking sociological imagination in the research field, and able to ignore caste phenomena, that we cannot produce knowledge that is relevant for Indian society?

252 A. Choudhary

References Ambedkar, B. R. 1990. Writing and Speeches, vol. 7, Education Department. Mumbai: Maharashtra Government. Bagade, Umesh. 2011.“Ambedkar’s Historical Method: A non-Brahmanic Critique of Positivist History”, Journal of Polity and Society 4(1): 60–90. Franks, Myfanwy. 2002. “Feminism and Cross-Ideological Feminist Research: Standpoint, Situatedness and Positionalities-Developing Cross-Ideological Feminist Research”, Journal of International Women’s Studies 3(2): 38–50. Given, Lisa M. 2008. The Sage Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods. New York: Sage. Guru, Gopal. 2002. “How Egalitarian Are the Social Sciences in India?”, Economic and Political Weekly 37(50): 5003–5009. Illaiah, Kancha. 2009. Post-Hindu India: A Discourse on Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution, New Delhi: Sage. Kumar, Vivek. 2016. “How Egalitarian is Indian Sociology?”, Economic and Political Weekly 51(25): 33–39. Mujumdar, D. N. 1958. Caste and Communication in an Indian Village. Bombay: Asia Publishing House. Pillai, Devadas S. 1976. “The Dravidian Milieu”. In Aspects of Changing India: Studies in Honour of Prof. G.S Ghurey, edited by S. Devadas Pillai, pp. 129–135. Bombay: Popular Prakashan. Shah, A. M. 1979. “Studying the Present and the Past: A Village in Gujarat”. In M. N. Srinivas, A. M. Shah and E. A. Ramaswamy (eds) The Fieldworker and the Field: Problems and Challenges in Sociological Investigation, pp. 29–37. Delhi: OUP Srinivas, M. N. (ed.). 1960. India’s Village. Bombay: Asia Publishing House. Srinivas, M. N. 1976. The Remembered Village. Delhi: OUP.

16 Education, self and society A contemporary reading of (integrated) ‘Science of the Absolute’ in the philosophy of Narayana Guru and Nataraja Guru Shareena Banu C. P Education consists of all those actions and ideas which fundamentally alter or have the potential to bring about personal and social transformation. In this chapter, I evaluate the core principles of a new educational movement whose value is derived from a new philosophy of man as propagated by Narayana Guru.1 In particular, we focus on three inextricable concepts central to his teachings and writings: self-instruction, humanity and knowledge. For him a holistic mind/pure consciousness (chit) that sees everything should be the ultimate aim of education. This idea was later developed by his successor and disciple, Nataraja Guru (also an educationist), into the theory of ‘an integrated science of the absolute.’2 He in turn more often employed the term ‘unitive consciousness’ and referred to central and peripheral aspects of it, in context of ‘personal factor,’ which is concentric in nature (Guru, 2017). In this context, he quotes from Henry Bergson’s Creative Evolution, ‘The route that we trace in time is scattered over with all that we began to be and all that we could have become.’3 We revisit both Guru’s social theory and educational movement, which are seen as covert counter educational mobilization and institutionalization (Oommen, 1985) during the national movement, which are against modern colonial education and colonial governmentality. This is in order to explore the possibilities of revaluing the modern education system. It is a movement in terms of ideational exploration rather than a mass people’s movement, unlike some other social movements, for example, the SNDP movement. I have tried to expand the meaning of Nataraja Guru’s educational movement by reconstructing their structural premises. In Kerala, during the turn of nineteenth century, there was the remarkable influence of Narayana Guru (1854–1928) who was a sage, poet and social reformer. He started as a school teacher teaching Sanskrit and religion, and later transformed into a jagad guru or World Teacher. He was primarily disposed towards the philosophy of Advaita. While living in the social context of casteism and colonialism, and hailing from the lower caste, he influenced many prominent political figures, social reformists and freedom fighters of the time. We consider here his thoughts as commencement of an alternative public pedagogy in Kerala.

254 S. Banu C. P. His direct disciple Nataraja Guru (1895–1973) initiated a philosophical movement while embracing Narayana Guru’s holistic and global education philosophy called Brahmavidya (Science of the Absolute). Narayana Guru’s social thoughts were widely preached during the period of nationalist movement especially the slogan ‘one caste, one creed and one god for all humanity (Guru, 2008: 276).’ Nataraja Guru spread this value through the newly founded Narayana Gurukulam Movement (NGM), a worldwide educational movement started in 1923, comprising of a contemplative community of learners, having around 20 branches inside and outside India, including Europe, and America. It promoted the idea of One World Education for world citizenship. The goal of his World Education Manifesto (Guru 2017) is stated as peace on earth and goodwill for men/women, a political ideal for future world citizenship, ‘the universal and human basis of education that should prepare him to lead a better life, with which we are concerned in this manifesto, must remain the same’ (ibid.: 164). In the manifesto, he asserted that the ‘content of consciousness’ remains fundamentally the same, for both sexes. Their discussions centred on the notion of ‘self’ vital to Advaita philosophy. Nataraja Guru has used the concept of ‘self-instruction’ drawn from Narayana Guru’s One Hundred Verses on Self-Instruction (Atmopadesasatakam), (Guru 2008) in his interpretations. The book is on the instruction or advice to oneself by oneself.4 Nataraja Guru writes: The text is entitled Atma-Upadesa, which means ‘teaching about or of the Self.’ The subject of the work is contemplative self-realization or knowing oneself as better understood in the Socratic context as pertaining to the central problem of wisdom itself.5 The ‘contemplative community of learners’ of NGM under the guidance of Nataraja Guru, of yellow fellowship, sought intelligibility on what it means to educate the self, in the Indian tradition. The epistemological premise of their study is to search for original points of interaction between the Indian and western traditions. It has been observed that, in the contemporary period, this alternative pedagogic movement has lost much of its influence and its ideas are now mostly confined to the group of learners living in the Narayana Gurukulam in Varkala, who mostly live the life of brahmacharis. This is the central locus of their activity, having other branches elsewhere. Understanding his intellectual milieu and content, and reading of western texts, especially of Henri Bergson, gives a contemporary context. It is not a truism to argue that the cultivation of self-ethics or the culture of the self has its origin in the Greek philosophical tradition, as seen in the writings of the French philosopher Michel Foucault. Here the particular reference is of his writings on ‘the care of the self’ a tradition which he traces from Socrates up to Christianity (Foucault 2005). In Foucault’s lectures on subjectivity, 1981–1982,

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he discussed this and suggested subject and truth are related to the techniques of self. I intend to explore the same line of thought, but by deploying the selective recall of Indian history. Philosophical debates are well embedded in Indian tradition – the Eurocentric/ oriental perspective ignored this eastern tradition and thereby its philosophical roots. The culture of the self-instruction could be seen as an ongoing practice or technique of the self which was also present and practised in recent Indian history at the time of anti-colonial agitations and emerging nationalist spirit. The true culture of the self was practiced at a time when the search for the true meaning of humanity/human nature was explored. The question of self and personal freedom has been in existence from time immemorial and was also manifested during Indian nationalism. Hence, it could be truly vindicated from the places where they spoke, whether Indian or western. In India, during the later colonial period, there was a gradual modern revival of this knowledge of the ‘care of the self.’ This spirituality was also the language of politics. Contemporary postcolonial and subaltern writings in India attempt to counter the influence of colonial knowledge practices (Pannikar 1998). However, the core of post-colonial writings on education in contemporary India has a template from the pragmatic knowledge or quantitative aspects for ‘instrumental reason’ (Adorno and Horkheimer, 2002) without laying much emphasis on quality or holistic education. Alongside this, many argue that the Indian education is still under the influence of colonial modes of education. Against this, from the perspective of an alternative pedagogy, Gandhi, Tagore, Aurobindo, Krishnamurti etc. have already produced a counter narrative to modern education which gets further enriched by conjoining the alternative education perspective of Narayana Guru. Apparently, it inculcated a new humanism and ethics during and after the peak of nationalism (Prasad, 2009). Guru was not a nationalist in the specific sense of the term. Indirectly, he has contributed against the formation of a colonial subjectivity by way of inculcating a new awakening of the eastern tradition of education. The current school curriculum of Kerala has acknowledged his contribution by including his visions on humanity.

Self, knower and humanity Narayana Guru’s pedagogic involvement was felt in initiating the social process of the education of the self. His main aim was social transformation through self-instruction. Human beings have to constantly engage themselves with larger questions concerning the self. For a knower, the qualities have to be noble and one should surrender to one’s Guru. He goes beyond the conventional notion of age of a knower. Only those who really seek the truth strive to achieve higher knowledge and enlightenment as their ultimate goal. In his work Atmopadesasatakam [One Hundred Verses of Self-Instruction] he describes the process of learning as follows:

256 S. Banu C. P. Attaining the core reality that Transcends all ordinary knowledge, Requires the turning inwards of all five senses Accompanied by repeated prostration, reading, Chanting and mastering scriptures. (Ibid.: 235). He observes that real realization of truth would be achieved by way of contemplation. (ibid.: 236) The knower should merge with the ‘unconditioned conscious substance’ and ‘remain simply as That’. (ibid.: 236). From an ordinary sense of self one has to go to a higher sense of Happiness in life lies in this awareness. Action performed to ensure happiness of oneself Should secure happiness of others as well. (Ibid.: 240). The ethics of humanity are thus secured with this philosophical notion of happiness based on equality. Everyday philosophy and ethics have to be based on this wisdom of human action which would have a larger impact on social life. Such higher values make a society and individuals selfless. As the primordial self (Athma) is same in everyone, one’s happiness is same as of the other. Unconditioned self has the strength to unite with other self. It also describes his deep sense of moral equality. Any action performed by one has the corresponding effect upon the other. One’s action has to be in accordance with the collective welfare of all. The duty of each one to the other here resembles the modern sense of moral equality. We could critically compare it to Emmanuel Levinas’s idea of ethical encounter with the other, as the first principle of philosophy in the west (Levinas, 1991). For Levinas, unlike Guru, otherness was a reality which should be dealt with according to one’s ‘responsibility’ to the other. Levinas upholds the irreducibility of the other. Self and other in relation to caste is a question of identity politics in. He wrote of ethics as a spiritual self encounter with the other not in conflict with anything outside it. I contend that he conceptualizes ethics as mutual rather than in conflictual encounter which influenced Nataraja Guru to take a philosophical self-introspection on ‘experiencing one-world’ without any parochial or caste hatred (the core of Nataraja Guru’s personal factor in education is also reflected in this idea of absolutist ethics). He interprets Narayana Guru’s Verse 36 in Atmopadesasatakam, on higher reasoning or wisdom as follows:

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Guru indicates summarily that the goal of the contemplative is not to give primacy to the one or the other of these rival aspects, but to transcend them both through the neutral point of intersection of the two axes of reference, which he names as ‘anya-samya’ (the other-sameness) aspect.6 Dissolving the cultural relativism and substituting ethics as value of the ‘time,’ Narayana Guru’s thoughts, on the self, have a universal appeal. Mental time of man is discussed here. In An Integrated Science of the Absolute he deliberates on two forms of time: relative and absolute. This is in relation to the relativity principle of Albert Einstein and Henri Bergson’s expansion of time as duration. Nataraja Guru considers the latter’s notion of multiplicity coming close to Narayana Guru’s time. He observes that Einstein talks for physics and Bergson on the contrary responds ‘in the name of a unique and universal time of common sense, free from the mere world of particular physical distances and events mechanistically understood in multiple time’ (Guru, 2001: 250). Narayana Guru developed, in Apavada –Darsanam of Darsana Mala, nonnotion of time. The world is both subtle and gross (sthula-suksma-atmakam). ‘How can a non-existent world have an origin? In other words, it never originated at all … that is, in the absolute this universe has no being at any time (either) in the past, present or future’ (ibid.: 326). Only happiness (ananda) or bliss remains as value of time. Apparently, happiness is central to his conception of both ethics and time. His aim is towards spiritual happiness (AthmaSugam). Only pure consciousness exists. Everything else which exists in corresponding forms is only a part of reality. Pure consciousness cannot be actualized through thinking or inferences. ‘The knowledge by which reality is perceived’ (Prasad, 2009: 244) is the unitive understanding. The one reality which is manifested is the sameness of the self (ibid.: 244). The opposite of it is the otherness which brings no symmetry. The self is unitive and holistic. All that really exists is only earth Likewise, all the countless apparent-yet unreal entities (that constitutes the world) Are nothing more than various Functional modes of expression (prakrtisvarupam) Of one and only pure consciousness (or atma). (Ibid.: 256) The universal determinant of earth as object of knower brings a larger sense of consciousness. Everything is existent indeed. Only those with real philosophical vision Perceive all these as One. Unless intuitively perceived Delusions, immense in dimension

258 S. Banu C. P. Are caused by maya, the great enemy. (Ibid.: 256) This unitive and non-dual self is what is unfolded as the actual experience of happiness. Knowledge and self are the same for one who has overcome illusion. The self cannot be separated from pure consciousness. The basic message in all belief is one. It is common to see one believer disbelieving in the faith of another (ibid.: 246). This mistake is repeated until one is enlightened. The religious secret is known only to the wise one who has exited religious prejudice. To Narayana Guru, any kind of argument in the name of religion is a futile act. The aim of Brahmavidya, therefore, is to cultivate a pure unitive mind, which is also reflected in Nataraja Guru’s attempt to develop a theory of the integrated science of the absolute (Guru, 2001). He refers to it as the Science of sciences, following a structural methodology. The problem of modern education is that it created fragmented faculties without enabling the learner to have a complete understanding of the whole or the absolute. He integrates different sciences,7 new and old, and, I add, it is an old Indian indigenous integrated science practice. For instance, Kerala had a long tradition of integrated science (Joseph, 2009). Nataraja Guru observed that Narayana Guru had one world-teaching in his mind when discussing ‘AN INTEGRATED SCIENCE OF THE ABSOLUTE8 in which he brought together all the loose ends of the conclusive teachings of religion, science, philosophy, psychology, art and literature’ (Guru 2011). Unitive science, as he suggested, is found in classical educational thinking, for example, as propounded by Aristotle, based on virtue in relations with excess and defects in human action. From this basis he critiqued Mills’s utilitarianism as well as the idea of instrumental reason (Guru, 2001) of modern education. Nataraja Guru’s awareness of an integrated science provides us a new alternative approach to modern education especially from the perspective of holistic education of J. J. Rousseau, P. Freire, and J. Krishnamurti etc.

Self, humanity and caste In this section we deal with humanity and caste. Way back in 1914, Narayana Guru had written against caste system under the rubric Jati Mimamsa [A Critique of Caste]. India was a caste-ridden society, especially during Narayana Guru’s life time. Hierarchy was considered as natural in human society. But in the writings of Narayana Guru we see a new categorization of human beings, based on a new taxonomy. He regards human beings as of one kind or species. At a time when everyone believed caste was a norm of society, his formulation was to treat it as a false logic which went against humanity. The general assumption at that time was to see caste as a social reality, hence to be accepted as an inevitable evil. But Narayana Guru remarked that it is a false notion to assume it as a first principle in understanding society. There is some basic natural order that is common to human beings as a whole.

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One of kind, one of faith, and one in God is man Of one womb, of one form; difference herein none (Guru 2008: 276). He further writes: Within the species, is it not, that offspring truly breeds? The community of man thus viewed, to a single caste belongs. (ibid.: 276) He moves away from traditional discourses on the caste system. The perspective of humanity based on species had not been articulated so potently before in Indian tradition. People believed in caste order as an ascribed status. One is born in a caste and hence cannot be changed as it was assigned by birth. He instead tried to reinstate faith in humanity. It was suggested by him that contemplating on caste was a futile exercise. He, as a critique of caste, had become a great inspiration in the fight against untouchability. Caste has distorted man’s relation to man. He attempted to build a new consciousness in man as single species. According to Bose (2015), ‘reconstructing the social,’ under modernity, would then mean to organize a community of all humans. Caste determines whom one should marry. The complex caste order determines all deeds of an individual from birth till death. But there are ample examples to prove that caste as a mode of representation did not exist during ancient period. He says: Of a pariah woman Was born the great sage Parasara in bygone days And even the sage who Condensed the Vedic secrets Into great aphorisms, Was born of the daughter Of a fisherman. (Prasad, 2009: 332) Instead of a complex caste order, he suggested a simple natural unity between human beings. It is more sensible to regard man belonging to one kind. In short, ‘he dealt with a question bearing upon or implying social justice or equality’ (ibid.: 277). He had been constantly facing caste discrimination in his life and also came across the sufferings of lower caste and untouchables. Despite being a saint, his reason compelled him to address the issue. His wisdom later inspired many modern reformers to mobilize against this social evil. Hence, he is one of the pioneers of the anti-caste movement. It became an era of a new emancipatory pedagogy of the oppressed (Freire 2007) section of society. It is the natural duty of every man/woman to educate himself/herself as to the

260 S. Banu C. P. correct meaning of self and society. Oppression is an impediment to a holistic conception of the idea of humanity. Spiritually and politically, his teachings had a decolonizing effect. He was against caste-based mobilization and instead thought of disintegrating the caste system at its roots. In India, during this period, colonial rulers were following a policy of divide and rule and used caste and religion for the aggrandizement of power by casteism and communalism. According to Nicholas Dirks (2001) the caste system had received wide acceptability and encouragement from the British. They tried to protect the caste system instead of critiquing it. Their policy of non-interference in the ‘private sphere’ of India in the later years of the 1980s deterred them from producing and disseminating anti-caste discourses. Narayana Guru maintained a distance from caste-based organization such as the SNDP in his later part of life. In present day Kerala, against his ideas, there are many subaltern/Dalit movement stands for the affirmation of caste identity and its consolidation. There are many confusing notions of modernity and caste. Perhaps Narayana Guru bore the real spirit of modernity and humanity which was non-contradictory. Modernity and its value are visible in the universalizing humanism in his writings especially in his critique of caste. The genealogy of caste was never critiqued or rather rejected before Narayana Guru with such vehemence. ‘True humanity and unitive solidarity,’ is common to all and to realize that the ‘terms like “Brahmin” and “Pariah” are ideas superimposed on reality.’ Human nature can be understood in terms of ‘one single sameness’ (Guru, 2008: 278). ‘Caste distinction has no basis in actuality’ (ibid.: 280). According to Nataraja Guru, ‘It is founded neither on subjective nor objective fact or reality’ (Guru, 2012: 257). He finds a common root of caste and chastity.9 ‘Caste is a word of Portuguese’s origin currently used in India. It is derived from the same root as “chaste”’ (ibid.: 259). Anthropologically, it refers to the purity claimed by a clan because of the chastity of its women. Caste is a form of fear of the collective subconscious, a fear of violation of boundary. Hence, it is imperative to question the utility of this, which is deeply imprinted in the minds of Indians. He reiterates Narayana Guru’s idea of caste as a false science of man. Against this, Narayan Guru developed a new philosophy of man. Nataraja Guru, his disciple, writes on human value: ‘When such values are not clearly stated, or not clarified, there is a state of confusion, a kind of smoke-screen wherein injustice and all manners of human wrongs begin to thrive’ (Guru, 2008: 282). ‘When inter-marriage and inter-dining between castes in India are prohibited … Guru steps into and says this is a mistake which must be abolished from the reasoning mind’ (ibid.: 282). Thus the scope of the Narayana Guru’s postulate is wider. Even Bhagavad Gita does not promote Brahminhood (ibid.: 282). Hence such analysis in the mind of man about men of lower caste is deplorable. The caste system is a threat to human dignity and identity as a species. He asked, how many could realize this truth of sama-darsin? Narayana Guru is known for bringing momentum to the anti-caste movement of the period of National movement (Prasad, 2009). He said: ‘If someone likes to treat us (me) as a god-incarnate (avatar), it could rather be as the one born to kill the demon

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called jati (casteism)’ (ibid.: x–xi). ‘Kerala is one state in India where casteism has lost much of its teeth, thanks to Narayana Guru’ (ibid.: xi). He used Advaita Vedanta to exorcise caste (Guru, 2012). However, we can see that it still exists in the minds of some, as an ideal notion, who are more, if we calculate it in terms of coming of the new values of being and equality, that have emerged in opposition to old. Nataraja Guru further argues it persists as … non subjectively. The outer marks and names that persons employ give reality to it and when group mind takes the name and form of caste for granted and uses these for regulating human affairs in everyday life, caste attains a rigidity. (Ibid.: 268–269) He was against caste markers used in names and his social philosophy was that the fragmented self, which is a feature of modern society, still struggles to be humane.

Alternative education, critique and transformation of self Our existing education does not build either good human beings or good citizens. The goal of the education philosophy of Narayana Guru is that thinking and action in actual practice are unified. Correct and scientific contemplation should go hand in hand with ‘its application in actual human affairs’ (Prasad, 2009: x). Narayana Guru was instrumental in opening new schools and considered it more relevant for eradicating poverty and backwardness. He declared that freedom was possible only through education. He preferred building schools to temples. Following this idea, Nataraja Guru started ashram-like schools on an experimental basis. In the later part of his life he had wished to introduce an ‘Institute of the Science of Absolute’ as part of Narayana Gurukulam (Guru, 2011 498). It was introduced under a different name after his death as ‘East West Universe of Unitive Sciences,’ under the auspices of his successor, Guru Nitya Chaitanya Yathi. In the American branch of Narayana Gurukulam it was named as East West University of Unitive Science. It represents the spirit of Guru’s idea of education. Nataraja Guru, based on Guru’s philosophy, advanced a new theory of One World Education. He developed a strong critique of modern education. He observed that science, in modern times, has replaced the humanities especially in those subjects which lay emphasis on human values. ‘Thus, educational progress in its outward march goes from one technocratic victory to another, producing heroes interested in exploring other planets than our own, and forgetting values nearer home, residing within the Self of man himself.’10 In 1932, he received a Doctorate of Letters from Sorbonne University, Paris (after he had been asked by Narayana Guru to go for higher studies abroad). ‘The Personal Factor in Educational Process’ is the English translation of the title of his thesis, originally written in French. He observed that Rousseau rightly said, in Emile (1993), that it was difficult to educate a citizen and a man simultaneously. Neither Montessori nor Pestalozzi nor Froebel is ready to find a solution to this paradox.11

262 S. Banu C. P. As Nataraja Guru recounts, in his autobiography, the experience of his childhood muddling through secondary school: Between the English and the American methods … at that time, pragmatic ideals in education were sometimes mixed with naturalistic and even negative ones … making a good citizen for the Empire and a good Christian … made of the educational programme a hodgepodge. (Guru, 2011: 20). There was no theory suited to address this paradox except unitive education. ‘To love India is not necessarily to hate Pakistan, and this neutral attitude is a patriotism that belongs to the non-relativistic context of the Absolute’ (ibid., p., 20). Nationalism and other loyalties have to be given vital character through education. His view is similar to rational man of Socrates, who has innate feelings about world. In Alcibiades, Socrates says that he was asked by God to take care of Alcibiades. The latter held that, ‘I would rather die today than lead a life that will bring me no more than what I have already’ (Foucault 2005: 32). He considers power and glory as worth the education, the same as contemporary youth expect from education, but Socrates corrects him and explains, through a dialogue, that he ought to first take care of himself (even to be a public man). In a similar fashion, for Nataraja Guru, education should address ‘values nearer home residing within the self of man himself’ (Guru, 2017: 157). In the modern context, innate brotherhood of all, across countries, is what he aimed for through his education philosophy. Necessities and freedom are the twofold aim of the same man who is a world citizen. Perhaps Nataraja Guru looked at his value in society, for the future of society, which has a new generation of children, who have no idea of world, to which s/he is invited beyond boundaries of nationalist values. Education should be considered as four stages in life: childhood, adolescence, adult and old age. For these four stages he suggested four kinds of education: 1 2 3 4

The negative education of Rousseau, The naturalistic education of Herbert Spencer, The pragmatic education of John Dewey and The idealistic education which covers spiritual and contemplative disciplines such as Yoga.

In each stage education is a bipolar process where the teacher and the taught closely interact with each other. Two basic figures, who could help one to develop One World Education, are Rousseau and Kalidasa. The bipolar relation or process between the educator and the educated is paramount in the new education manifesto, inspired by Rousseau’s Emile. For Rousseau living in seclusion with the support of a tutor, that non-interference of culture is necessary (ibid.). He considers three modes of education which are

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nature bound as mentioned above, and ‘that which belonged to things, with which the educator could not do much even if he wanted to; and the education that man could give, where the full role of the personal factor as a bipolar relation was recognized by him’ (ibid.). It is also clear from this that Rousseau laid emphasis on the personal factor which, according to Nataraja Guru, dissuaded many from following him. For the mainstream public, impersonal education is what they are interested in and not in private education – an education which prepares future citizens. According to Nataraja Guru, Rousseau is a contemplative idealist. He is similar to a contemplative yogi who practices a life of non-desire and peace. Rousseau prescribes innate goodness. Even at the loss of everything else he values, the self is something to be gained out of education. Rousseau’s idea of negative education during childhood in Indian parlance is known as ‘nivrittimarga.’ ‘The Gita doctrine of Nishkama Karma or dispassionate action is what Rousseau is also striving to achieve’ (ibid.). ‘Negative education consists in bringing up the child protected from the evils of society … brought up in solitude, as in the forest schools of India of ancient times … till it attained full manhood or womanhood’ (ibid.). Rousseau’s idea of nature is compared to the ‘categorical imperative’ of Kant and to the original ‘elan vital’ of Bergson (ibid.). The bipolar relation between the tutor and the student is similar to the Guru and Shisya in the ancient Indian education. It is the personal factor in education. The life he visualized for the student is similar to that of a Brahmacharin living in the Gurukula. It is a solitary life mediated only by the teacher. The following are the synthetic features of learning the personal or individual factor in education. The teacher should know the personality structure of the student. The student should be entertained to make healthy reactions. The student’s natural rhythm of learning should not be disturbed. ‘Analytical intellectual exercise must occupy the morning hours, and such subjects as history and light literary studies taken during the reminiscent, reposeful mood of the evening hours’ (ibid.). Work and play should happen side by side. Personification should be allowed to enable learning dry subjects like grammar. Even if there are few students who are taught by an individual teacher, what is important is the lasting impression it leaves on the student. A spiritual and intellectual communion with the student would enable him/her to overcome many hurdles later. It is neither a western nor an eastern philosophy of education that Nataraja Guru is concerned with but a unitive philosophy of education borrowing from both sides. ‘The Advaita (non-dualist) philosophy in India aims at avoiding this duality by a neutral, unitive approach in the name of absolute’ (ibid.). According to Nataraja Guru, in order to achieve an integrated or unitive philosophy of education one has to have an integrated form of knowledge on self (ibid.). It is the self which does all actions. Again, it is the self which accomplishes all through maya or illusion (Guru, 2001). Thus, the Self exists in the beginning and in the end. Nataraja Guru interprets that the self consists of the living Self (Jivatma) and the Supreme Self (Paramatma) (ibid.). It is only a misunderstanding

264 S. Banu C. P. to consider that self as acting. It is the superimposition which makes us believe that self is acting. ‘[S]elf is pure and otherworldly, transcending time and place, as well as pleasure and pain, and that it is ultimately superior to all things’ (Ibid.: 200). ‘The absolute self of Vedanta is never an actor but resembles the unmoved mover of Aristotle’ (ibid.: 200). There is a four-fold dimension of the self. ‘[T]he Self neither as a cause nor as an effect but rather as a central absolute combining existence, subsistence and value without contradiction’ (ibid.: 200). ‘Narayana Guru says the three functions of the Self as an instrument are desire, knowledge and activity’ (ibid.: 207). ‘Narayana Guru includes such typical instances of activities as, thinking, speaking, grasping and hearing’ (ibid.: 207). Self is the unifying principle in each individual. The ascending order of the self includes the living self, the senses, self of pure reason, and the Supreme Self. All maya or illusion is abolished once one has reached the pure absolute self. It is a move from the neutral to the positive self. Self has many forms and it is self-luminous. The final aspiration is for the Supreme Self. ‘The Absolute cannot tolerate the duality of the subject and the object’ (ibid.: 223).

Knowledge and consciousness Narayana Guru observes that what is known by way of knowledge is ‘this.’ ‘This’ consciousness substance, in both the known and the knower, is one. Any being in existence would mean standing for this same one consciousness. The known or the knowledge has no meaning independent of the knowing subject or the knowing consciousness (ibid.) This is integral to knowledge. It is similar to Deleuze’s conception of the idea of subject. In his book Empiricism and Subjectivity he writes: ‘The subject who invents and believes is constituted inside the given in such a way that it makes the given itself a synthesis and a system’ (Deleuze, 2001: 86). ‘The construction of the given object makes room for the constitution of the subject. The given is no longer given to the subject; rather the subject constitutes itself in the given’ (Ibid.). The subject is the knower. Similarly, Narayana Guru emphasizes the fact that the process of knowing cannot exist independent of the knowing consciousness (Prasad, 2009). But at the same time, pure consciousness is what exists in all things. This consciousness, which can be known, exists not as an externality but as an interiority of the being. It is not easy to attain pure consciousness but once it is known then one realizes that consciousness and the world are one. As Radhakrishnan argues ‘if the existence of self were not known then everyone would think “I am not,” which, however, is not true. The self is prior to the stream of consciousness, prior to truth and falsehood, prior to reality and illusion, good and evil’ (Radhakrishnan, 2009: 476). If consciousness is what exists then everything else vanishes. The subject has to ascertain this knowledge (Arivu). Being has the capacity to know one self. For example, he popularized the non-idol worship of mirror in order to

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expound this (but many do not take it seriously or understand its real intended meaning and make others to lay emphasis on to idols as well). Thus the notknowing does not happen. The subject is submitting to self-knowledge. No object is other than consciousness. In the absence of a knowing subject, knowledge has no being. Narayana Guru develops a new epistemology which is the integration of the knower and the being. The knower is both being and the subject of the known. The being becomes one through the knowing consciousness. Here we see a striking balance between being and the question of knowing. If Heidegger asked in Being and Time on ‘being there,’ Narayana Guru asks the question what is ‘this.’ ‘This’ is nothing but the consciousness in essence (Prasad, 2009). When one finally realizes what exists is the pure consciousness then the consciousness and world become inseparable (ibid.). One realizes, through knowledge of nothingness, it is also knowing. The consciousness exists and it becomes known to oneself. This awareness that is known through knowledge, becomes submitted to ourselves. Things or objects which appear to be outside the bounds of consciousness when known are part of the same consciousness. The world in itself does not have being. What is countable has being only when one realizes that pure consciousness is one. Is there a situation where pure consciousness exists as one reaches out to an object? The answer is no. The pure consciousness is already present in each object. The object is nothing other than consciousness. Once it is known that everything gets merged into one consciousness then there is no requirement for specific knowledge (ibid.). Once it is known, we never ask: what is the object of the knowledge? We human beings, in essence, hold that consciousness. One gets enlightened when s/he actualizes the non-dual oneness. Such knowledge happens as a self-unfoldment. It soon becomes the known to which one is aware of. It could also be known as something which is beyond the reach of someone (ibid.: 273). The knower’s consciousness is dispersed into five sense objects. Now, seen from the perspective of the known it is eight-fold. They are the knowledge of consciousness as one, the knower, the five sense objects and the last, which is unknowable.

Colonial governmentality, self and education According to Foucault (1991), governmentality is the rationality, practice and art of governance over a population. It influences the conduct of the people, their life (self-reflection also), as discourses of power (Banu, 2014). Colonial governmentality is a subject not much looked at, in the context of Kerala, especially in association with Narayana Guru, except by a few, who did not see it, from the perspective of the educational critique of modernity. Did he subscribe to, what Avijit Pathak (1998) calls as Indian modernity, located in the changing Indian intellectual climate today, with reference to the theory of humanity? According to him, modernity, and, I think, notions of humanity,

266 S. Banu C. P. have contradictions and paradoxes. Narayana Guru clarifies for us the real meaning of humanity. Both Guru(s) seem to have an anti-modern and antitraditional, but alternative, agenda for education in their thinking and they had a deeper understanding of the colonial self-contradictions of modern Indians. It could be argued that they may have indirectly produced a counter narrative against colonial ‘civilizing mission’ (Kumar, 2005) to critique the purpose of colonial education to civilize Indian society. Modern education was propagated by colonizers to materialize this agenda. It is necessary for us to appraise here whether the Guru(s) pivotally produced a counter reform of modernity or were supporters of modern education. Arguably, we can sense that there are multiple modernities, and that their thoughts belonged to a new line of thinking, different from others. They may be viewed as neither against modern education nor in favour of it. They dialectically engaged with both eastern and western alternative modes of education. History shows that they maintained loyalty to modern education, but only to a certain extent. For instance, Narayan Guru after a point, becomes critical too; for instance, he withdrew his moral support from the SNDP, which has an educational movement towards the orientation of modern education. Man is perfect from within; the inner self, without education, is a concept both Narayan Guru’s and Socrates engage with. What is required is to draw the best out of the self.

Conclusion Narayana Guru’s pedagogy was a praxis which integrates his theory of society and the practice of his philosophy. The new philosophical and political movement benefited society in building up a new culture of the self-theory for learning and thinking. It also includes the conduct of the self. His thoughts were all encompassing and brought a new theoretical insight to colonialism and casteism. In search for a new alternative pedagogy for the present, I stumbled upon Narayana Guru. Combining this-worldly knowledge and transcendental thoughts he builds up a new episteme of being and thinking. It stands for an integrated approach to education for mankind. Educating the self and educating a nation seems to be still the main debate in education, as dualistic and non-dualistic education debate continues in holistic education. The dualistic seems to limit the idea of self and humanity, where the absolutist approach intervenes. Narayana Guru could be treated as an educator of humanity rather than reducing him in relational frames such caste, society or nation. Self and education remain the central concerns of Indian tradition and historical context determines its third dimension, whether it should be the nation or man. Plato, like the Guru had reasoned absolute goodness. To quote, When a person starts on the discovery of the absolute by the light of the reason only, without the assistance of the senses, and never desists until by pure intelligence he arrives at the perception of the absolute good, he at last finds himself at the end of the intellectual world. (Turnbull, 2007, 241)

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For Nataraja Guru and Narayana Guru, education stands for the creation of world citizens, universal ethics and compassionates selves, which will build a peaceful society on earth. The idea is to shift from a relativistic education to a unitive science of education of mankind to strive for Absolutist education. He seems to stand for an Indian culture – which is re-evaluated without a mind occupied with caste, and is free of political obligations – to see the truth of his education philosophy. Integrated science education’s accomplishments lie in its attempt to evolve a grand, harmonious common cultural language spoken by all human beings. This alternative tradition of thinking, on the integration of sciences (and the integration of science, self and humanity) is in its nascent form and needs to be critically evaluated in order to be integrated into mainstream educational thinking.

Notes 1 The study expounds the unique educational trajectory of Narayana Guru’s thoughts separated from the famous dictum ‘strengthen through organization and liberate through education.’ It is not Narayana Guru’s own saying but is from T.K. Madavan’s (Organizing Secretary of Sree Narayana Dharma ParipalanaYogam, SNDPY, in 1927) original words, later approved by Guru. The context is not known, whether it was community mobilization or educational movement from an absolutist perspective. Source: Head of the Narayana Gurukulam, Munni Narayana Prasad, September 2018. 2 Guru, Nataraja, An Integrated Science of the Absolute, New Delhi: D.K. Printworld, 2001, Vol.1 and 2. His other books are: ‘Unitive Philosophy,’ ‘One Hundred Verses of Self Instruction (Commentary),’ ‘Experiencing one World,’ ‘Wisdom,’ ‘The Word of The Guru,’ ‘The Autobiography of an Absolutist,’ ‘The Bhagavad Gita (Commentary),’ and ‘Saundaryalahari (Commentary).’ 3 Ibid, p. 189. It is Nataraja Guru’s translation from French edition of the book entitled L’Evolution Creative, Payot, Paris, p. 166. 4 Kumar, Udaya, ‘Self, Body and Inner Sense: Some Reflections on Sree Narayana Guru and Kumaran Asan’ in Studies in History, 1997, August 1. 13, 2, pp. 247–270. This article discusses, in detail, the self as a practice in Narayana Guru. 5 6 7 Integrated science has a long legacy in Kerala. See Banu, Shareena, ‘Science, Education and Society in Contemporary Kerala,’ Islam and Muslim Societies: A Social Science Journal, Vol. 8, No. 1, 2015, pp. 74–89,, ISSN 0973–2802 8 Highlight is original 9 His sociological argument could be employed to explain the hidden motive of upper caste violence against Dalit women. 10 Guru, Nataraja, ‘One World Education,’ content/4-content/shorter-works-by-nataraja-guru/287-the-philosophy-of-a-guru (accessed 20 March 2016). 11 Guru, Nataraja, ‘One World Education,’ content/4-content/shorter-works-by-nataraja-guru/287-the-philosophy-of-a-guru (accessed 20 March 2016).

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References Adorno, T. W. and Max Horkheimer. 2002. Dialectic of Enlightenment. Trans. Edmund Jephcott. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Banu, Shareena. 2014. Population, Governance and Discourses: Education and Contemporary Kerala Society. Germany: Lap Lambert Academic Publishing. Deleuze, Gilles. 2001. Empiricism and Subjectivity: An Essay on Hume’s Theory of Human Nature, translated by Constantin V. Boundas. New York: Columbia University Press. Dirks, Nicholas. 2001. Caste of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India. United Kingdom: Princeton University Press, 2001. Foucault, Michel. 2005. The Hermeneutics of the Subject. New York: Picador. Foucault, Michel. 1991. “Governmentality.” In Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon and Peter Miller (eds), The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Foucault, Michel. 2005. The Hermeneutics of the Subject. New York: Picador. Freire, Paulo. 2007. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum. Guru, Narayana. 2008. Atmopadesasatakam. Commentary Nataraja Guru, Trans. Nitya ChaitanyaYati and Muni Narayana Prasad. Varkala: Narayana Gurukula. Guru, Nataraja. 2012. “The Sociology and Psychology of Caste.” In Wisdom: The Absolute is Adorable. New Delhi: D.K. Printworld. Guru, Nataraja. “One World Education”. Available online at uk/index.php/content/4-content/shorter-works-by-nataraja-guru/287-the-philosop hy-of-a-guru (accessed 20 March 2016). Guru, Nataraja. 2001. An Integrated Science of the Absolute. New Delhi: D.K. Printworld. Guru, Nataraja. 2011. Autobiography of an Absolutist. New Delhi: D.K. Printworld. Guru, Nataraja. 2017. Experiencing One World. New Delhi: D.K. Printworld. Guru, Nataraja. 2008. Word of Guru: The Life and Teachings of Guru Narayana. New Delhi: D. K. Printworld. Joseph, George Gheverghese. 2009. A Passage to Infinity: Medieval Indian Mathematics from Kerala and its Impact. New Delhi: Sage Publication. Kumar, Krishna. 2005. The Political Agenda of Education: A Study of Colonialist and Naturalist Ideas. New Delhi: Sage. Levinas, Emmanuel. 1991. Totality and Infinity, An Essay on Exteriority. London: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Oommen, T. K. 1985. From Mobilization to Institutionalization: The Dynamics of Agrarian Movement in Twentieth Century Kerala. London: Sangam Book. Pannikar, K. N. 1998. Culture, Ideology, Hegemony: Intellectuals and Social Consciousness in Colonial India. Delhi: Tulika. Pathak, Avijit. 1998. Indian Modernity: Contradictions, Paradoxes and Possibilities. New Delhi: Gyan Publishing House. Prasad, Muni Narayana. 2009. Narayana Guru: Complete Works. India: National Book Trust. Radhakrishnan, S. 2009. Indian Philosophy. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. 1993. Emile. London: Everyman. Bose, Satheese Chandra and Shiju Sam Varughese (eds). 2015. Kerala Modernity: Ideas, Spaces and Practices in Transition. Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan. Turnbull, G. H. 2007. The Essence of Plotinus: Extracts from The Six Enneads and Porphyry’s Life of Plotinus. Oregon: Wipf & Stock.

Conclusion Education and the public sphere: conceptions and their mediations Suresh Babu G.S

The social arrangements that are made to nurture intellectual activities in modern societies are rarely explored in order to establish their relationship to education and the public sphere. With the differentiation in modern societies, a relatively independent cultural life framed in modern theories and in the critical tradition has discussed at length the (un)coupling of the structures of public and the characteristics of the modern world. Modern institutions have provided a space for the cultural expertise needed for the general public. Modern educational systems are one type of cultural institution that have supported the intellectual voices of people through constant discussions and other forms of expression (Goldfarb, 2012). Ever-growing expansion of the educational landscape to include different cultural communities with diverse qualities of intellectual disposition informs the critical relationship between education and the public sphere. In addition to intervention by the state, the contributions of civil society organizations in strengthening education are appreciated widely for the mobilisation and institutionalization of education. Exploration of such a wide range of perspectives in education can fortify democratic institutions. In other words, democratic institutions in developing societies are in a dire need of a good public education system. Today, educational practices are guided and organized around well-regulated institutional structures. The actual function of these structures shapes and transforms education towards achieving a desired goal. The structural and cultural problems in education are subject to continuous public scrutiny. Studying education, from this perspective, shows us how certain discursive political processes obscure the functioning of education today. Academic values and its organization efforts in education appear to have diminished more than other structural transformations suggest. A critical examination of them illustrates how specific forms and relations of power are deeply implicated in education. The liberal educational system, for instance, defines and establishes a particular kind of freedom, propagating normative ideas such as nation and citizenship. The freedom given enables society to govern the educational system in the name of freedom, as a method of liberal rationality which acts as a tool to create structure and order in the public domain. The power wielded by the ruling class, though agreeing with the educational process and institutions of learning, often

270 S. Babu G.S tacitly encodes a hidden agenda for education. For the ruling class, the ideological apparatus of the state is a viable tool to define the minds of young learners in order to reproduce invisible spaces of domination, including market forces.

Education and the public sphere There are multiple ways to define, articulate and relate the public sphere and its actual operation and effects on society at large. In the public sphere, no doubt, the structural implications of education have been well articulated and voiced differently. The catastrophic transition of imposing a mindless bureaucratic system has subverted whatever democratic ideas were left in the education system as an autonomous space for learning, thinking and raising critical voice. The public policies of privatization in education, pushed aggressively in line with the logic of the market economy, have undermined ideas of public education. The crisis led by the intrusion of undesirable structural factors in the educational landscape has weakened democratic culture and its practices. This book has examined the constituting elements and their structural transformation in the educational processes. Fundamentals to this book has been an investigation of the mediating structures which outline the content, context and conduct of the educational system today. It has sought to explore how these structures engage, negotiate and challenge the political culture in education. In so doing, we have attempted to unpack the inherent crises of the system and to reflect upon new possibilities which would evolve education as a critical part of democratic practices. The mediating structures are significant in shaping and transforming the texture of education. The institutional foundations of the educational system in post-colonial India are embroiled in the diverse cultural sensibilities of the nation-state on the one hand and the subjectivities of citizenship on the other. It reminds us that the cultural diversity of the nation has potential in the field of education and that can be better explored to generate public discourses which enable us to combine openness with teaching and learning instead of using it as a tool for selectivity and exclusivity. The major function of modern educational system is to provide an institutional framework for young learners to take part in debates and deliberations with open minds. In so doing, it opens up discursive spaces for conversation in order to imagine common features and, thereby, public action. Throughout this book we have attempted to broadly locate, understand and explain the complex linkages of education and the public sphere and how such linkages are mediated through the different organs of society. At one level, we have asked the question of how educational discourses seek to converse with multiple strands to shape and transform the public sphere. On another level, we have explored how theoretical conceptions of the public sphere critically engage within the state of education as a distinct system, which has evolved and developed historically. Recently, educational systems the world over have been implicated in structures operating at the local, national and global scale. These



assumptions have led us to rethink the problem of social and educational change, questioning whether it is contingent upon the structures of power relations and the dynamics embedded in curricular and pedagogical practices. Public life in educational institutions occurs by virtue of the collective act of learning and teaching with diverse epistemologies at different layers of our cognitive sensibilities. The modern educational system has overshadowed traditional public spaces, formerly confined to city spaces. Public discourses are not the monopoly of educational institutions; instead they are aimed at creating critical spaces for open conversations that are fundamentally public in nature. More than this, public education is conceived of as egalitarian and accountable to the public at large, beyond the narrowly defined functions of education. For instance, across many societies face to face, fearless public conversations take place in classrooms, between many instructors and students, as part of a wellstructured educational process. Similarly, the curricula that are developed and taught in educational institutions – on specialized as well as general subjects, and the skills that are imparted – encourage young people to participate in public life. Such consistent engagement would eventually translate into public benefit. Educational systems also take part in the process of information, knowledge production and the circulation of new ideas for public understanding. With a well-defined institutional logic on the part of the nation-state, the primary purpose for the development of the educational system is to prepare its citizens to engage in, and speak on, public issues. By governing the education system, the state, in an ideal situation, seeks to maintain, sustain and expand its public character. Bringing citizens closer to the political system through education cultivates the ideas necessary for shaping democracy. Here power relations are seen not only as arenas of control, regulation and domination, but are also significant in enabling new conditions, through pedagogical and curricular practices, which help in maintaining the public nature of education (Smith, 2003). Though the ideological differences between public and private goods1 are well established, there is still a need for a generic approach to the concept of the ‘public’. The articulation of public goods is more normative and collective in orientation as well as subject to many claims. The types of benefits that are generated and distributed across a wider spectrum of the population, and are not diverted to a particular individual or group, are public goods. This deifintion embodies certain qualities which are non-rivalrous and nonexcludable. It also accounts for those public benefits which are created in privately owned institutions, especially philanthropical. As a generic concept, the public good is maintained and nurtured by the modern state. Considering education as a public good, the state not only expands its landscape across time but also works to achieve the significant levels of equality desirable for shaping democratic functioning. It seeks to use every available public resource to improve human capabilities, both qualitatively and quantitatively. Improving human capabilities through expansion and intensification of education by the state is significant for each individual’s growth as well as for the

272 S. Babu G.S public good (Sen, 2000). The nature of public education informs the stateowned and the state-sourced funding institutions which are intended to transform socio-political structures and develop self-determining citizens. For Marginson (2012), publicly-owned institutions are more open to democratic policy intervention and more likely to pursue a collective agenda. The public goods that are being produced, disseminated and circulated in the educational institutions can help form universal knowledge. As a public good, educational systems and their practices become a necessary condition for shaping modern social life. Studies in the public sphere reveal that concept formation, and contours and explanatory devices, are constantly being mediated, at multiple levels. As an analytical construct, social structure signifies a web of human relations with a disembodied form of the human mind. It not only exhibits the function of mediation, but also induces agencies and their actions. As a critical space, mediation interrogates power relations and institutional contradictions to reconstruct social relationships. The self-interpretation of subjectivities by moral beings is contingent upon historical forces and the location of individuals. For the purpose of analysis and to reach logical conclusions, mediation in this volume has broadly been discussed in two domains: first, the forces that continue to influence the internal dynamics and cultural forms of the education system; and, second, being a constituent part of the social system, the educational system is mediated through prevailing structural forces. In other words, the educational system is both constitutive of, and constituted by, the cultural process within, as well as by structural forces outside the system. Formal education system in the established democratic societies is more of a consequence than a precondition for a mode of keeping social status (Habermas, 1962). As a cultural institution modern education continues to visualise and construct common horizons. Hence, it is not enough just to search for ideals in education (though this is necessary), but we need to unpack the desirable traits that are critical to the sustenance of social life. Also, we must always criticize and challenge the undesirable features that inhibit new directions of change.

Education as social metabolism The deep-rooted historical factors of regionalism, communalism and caste have touched many modern institutions, including educational systems (Altbach, 1969). Through studying history and the inherent dynastic narratives, colonial historians drew on texts which encapsulated upper-caste perspectives and extended them to the whole of society. Indian historians followed the same path, as most of them came from upper-caste families and regarded these texts as sacred (Thapar, 2016). This caused a different history to evolve. In fact, the history of education has illuminated the structural forces which have affected the quality of human life, through the ideas espoused by the social thinkers and educational practitioners of the past. Thus, education has been an appendage to historical forces and processes, as well as being a key device for instilling new



cultures into young minds (Ghosh, 2013). The basic structure of knowledge and the mode of transmission that were essential for educational purposes in colonial India continued to exist in the field of education, even after independence. The kind of knowledge disseminated through large-scale educational spaces in post-colonial India was confined to the narrowly defined role of teachers’ perception ‘on order and discipline’ rather than the history of ideas, especially political ideas of education. Krishna Kumar (2014) argues that although colonial resistance developed political ideas around education – the justice question, self-identity and as a symbol of progress and development – as critical in constituting and shaping civil society, they were hardly operational under the colonial regime. Despite building stable institutional structures to guide a new educational culture as part of development after India’s independence, today the political and dominant cultural forces have drained the vitality of the academic culture needed for the democratic process. Unprecedented political interference has led to the systematic erosion of the public purpose and institutional logic of education. The democratic state has failed to establish the desired form of life through the educational process, structured according to egalitarian standards. These are not just the technicalities of education, which may develop theories of knowledge or consider the diverse nature of society, but is fundamentally a form of life that evolves and nurtures individuals within the system (Visvanathan, 2013). As the dominant narratives of power have dispersed from the colonial to the post-colonial landscape, multiple relations of domination and its cumulative effects have subverted educational ideals in the academic field. This exemplifies the complexity of the power-knowledge nexus (Apple, 1995) and the history of subjugation. There has been a contestation between colonial and nationalist ideologies on the relative importance of the policy-makers in education versus the recipients of education. Though this has generated a number of narratives on the discourses of nationalist education, there were multiple sites of contestation during British rule in India between the privileged minority class and the marginalized majority communities which continue even today (Bhattacharya, 1998; Rao, 2019). In fact, colonial modernity ignored the diverse cultural learning sites and their educational practices in the provinces and the hinterland (Kumar, 2007) The dominant cultural tradition of Brahmanical learning not only narrowly focused learning, intellectually, but it was also socially exclusive (Beteille, 2010). In other words, power and domination have been intrinsic to the way in which educational system has been organized, expanded and practiced and, as a result, the majority have been excluded from the ambit of education. The power exercised by the governing regime has not been used to develop new ideas that realize the goals of education but instead has been used to utilize and modify the educational system and inscribe its own views on the history and development of education. Because of the historical domination of education by certain sections, the inner ability to develop a new history of education was thwarted. The post-industrial order, distinguished by a technocratic workforce, has brought about the centrality of the knowledge economy. The goals of

274 S. Babu G.S innovation and adaptation in education have been diverted to upgrade skills and cultivate new values offering competencies in establishing the market economy. Paying for education in order to acquire new knowledge, to guarantee a job, is viewed in the same way as any other paid service. This creates a self-drained consumer-student logic in the private education sector, which is not bothered by the public demand for the public financing of education. As the new educational landscape has been expanded by huge private investors with economic motives, there is no room left to object to privatization in education (Newfield, 2008) because such investments in developing societies are considered as positive signs of economic progress (Tilak, 1991). Indian educational policies stress the expansion of the educational system in order to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend of 140 million young people. The massification of education on the demand side is intended to scale up the growth rate. Though expansion is inevitable, the welfare state has begun to reduce financial investment in higher education from the 11th Plan onwards to encourage the private investment sector, enhancing the capacity of the unaided sector to meet this growing demand (Planning Commission, 2008; Tilak, 2013). This implementation of neo-liberal policies shows a clear ideological shift in the educational field by the apparatuses of government (Velaskar, 2016). These new perceptions of the social imaginary, reconstituting subjectivities through new modes of networks and transactions, are appropriate in terms of market forces, but completely side line questions of social justice (Lall and Nambissan, 2011). The market-driven audit culture that dominates present ideas of education not only restructures the institutions and technicalities of education, but also redefines the role and status of students. The mode of teaching, learning and assessment has undergone structural change internally because of the influence of market forces. Thus, the act of learning is converted into a rigorous and continuous mode of assessment, seen as surveillance in the minds of both students and teachers. Far from treating education as a condition for shaping its future citizens with public support, market logic pushes student agencies and their families into a huge debt trap by raising the cost of education. Today, education has become a big business outlet offering value added to education services in India (Kapur and Mehta, 2017). Harnessing the private sector in the public good in this context will be problematic, even though India has a tradition of excellent non-profit educational institutions (Altbach, 2018). It is not surprising that planners do not regard public investment expenditure in education as a social investment, one which will yield a constant future income flow as well as qualitative transformation of the distinctively advantaged demographic conditions of India. Therefore, there is a large reduction in public expenditure on education and a heavy social cost for the public at large. One cannot guarantee that the new economic arrangements under privatization will bring about benefits for the nation’s highly-hyped demographic dividend nor it can facilitate equality across unequal groups. In many domestic economies, it is a



proven fact that private investment in education does not produce a reasonable economic return (Gurukkal, 2018). Therefore, privatization of education, in the long run, will be bound to create its own internal problems as a high rate of return is forecast against the rate of investment. What we see today is that the gradual retreat of the state from public funding, and new offers of ‘better’ education being offered in the private sector, are leading to ever-growing household spending on private education. The relationship between the state and education are more complicated today because of the complex assemblages of the new regulatory mechanisms which diminish the legitimacy of the state in directly reforming education (Swing, 2001). This has directly affected the knowledge transactions of teaching and research in educational institutions. There are diverse ways in which education, knowledge and research interact with each other. Ever-growing physical expansion, the participation of a variety of cultural communities and the practice of diverse epistemologies have created a new form of knowledge landscape and space for research. This has affected the social organization of education. Because of its intrinsic relationship with other factors, educational organizations and knowledge brokers, in some sense, are arbitrary and are culturally shaped. The knowledge brokers navigate a large, mobile, knowledge landscape independently of educational institutions, which breaks with conventional ideas of education and knowledge. However, the quality of education is always determined by the nature of advanced research, teaching and thereby knowledge dissemination. As the world’s third largest educational infrastructure – with 30 million students, over 700 universities and 36,000 colleges – India’s advancement in the educational sector is internally diversified because of the institutional arrangements with interlocking responsibilities, each with accountability to the state. Though one may agree with the spatial expansion, there is no sign of an improved quality of output, either in education or in research. Delivering poor-quality education and research are due to the internal problems of the governing structures of the institutions, coupled with inadequate infrastructure, meagre research funding and the lack of qualified teachers and researchers (Hatakenada, 2017). Quality in education not only constrain whatever left in the public institutions, but also conditions new systems by inviting private investment in education and research. A perceived high-level skill shortage in the labour market justifies the logic of improving the quality of education through privatization. The development of a social science perspective in the educational field is seen as a body of knowledge which defines a specific territory, methodology and institutional logic (Kumar 2018). Moreover, the empirical details of the actual practices in the everyday life of education – a vast educational landscape, organizational structure, agencies and discourses in India – have become a new area of inquiry in education with an interdisciplinary approach (Thorat and Verma, 2017). However, such perspectives have not been appreciated as sites of a distinct intellectual discipline. In fact, the ethnographic and sociological

276 S. Babu G.S mapping of the educational landscape is instructive in characterizing the social texture of education in post-colonial India. As it has matured into the stature of a profession since independence, the field of education for the sociologist has become both a site of vocation and a pedagogical aid (Thapan, 2015). As part of the nation-building process, educational studies have dealt with equality of opportunity and social justice to counter structural inequalities such as caste, gender, tribes, religion and new forms of discrimination and the reproduction of inequality observed in formal educational spaces (Nambissan and Rao, 2013). Moreover, studies into the institutional cultures of campus politics have signalled new sites of structural transformation among the mainstream political parties of India (Altbach, 1974; Oommen, 1987). What is political in education and the theories of knowledge will continue to resonate in the research field of education in India. Equal access to public institutions, especially to educational institutions in India’s culturally and socially unequal society, has been a challenging question for policy makers because of the complex nature of social inequality, injustice, discrimination, and exclusion. At one level, it raises the question of representation and participation in the process of education and, on the other, it advances the epistemological exclusion of marginalized groups (Devi, 2017). Though the formal guarantee of equal access is necessary in the first place, substantial issues such as enabling conditions, such as institutional responses, and such as social arrangements for support systems in the educational system for realizing inclusion and equity have also been explored (Bhushan, 2016). The implementation of affirmative action policies to overcome the effect of structural inequalities in education, though appreciated, has not addressed the persistence of problems such as questions of equalizing access, diverse strategies of inclusion (Deshpande and Zacharias, 2013) and the categorical inequalities in education (Samaddar, 2016). The compounding structural effects of the factors discussed above decimate the public education system. They contribute significantly to the development of social science perspectives by illuminating different forms of social and political practices. Furthermore, as analytical devices, the constituting elements of structures and their mediation characterize an institution and its practice. The distinctive nature and operation of mediating structures, for analytical purposes, inform a relatively independent cultural sphere. Differences unfold analytical frameworks to expose the hidden operations of traditional authorities, market forces in the field of education and the hegemony of the state. Such an approach should not to overlook the internal tensions in education and its cultural practices. As the structures are formed based on epistemological and ethical relativism, ideas around subjectivity and the reformulation of the self do not find their place in educational theory. It is obvious that one cannot rule out the possibility of prejudiced minds, but they often insulate themselves from the public and make themselves inaccessible. Under this situation, the public purposes of education cannot be fully defined or comprehended.



Conclusion There have been attacks on the dissenting voices emerging from institutions of learning, especially higher educational institutions, as a legitimate space of democratic thinking by the decision-making bodies and centres of power. Fundamental forces (the right wing Hindutva forces led by the present BJP government), with the tacit support of the ruling establishments, have downsized the public reputation of the leading academic institutions across the country. Similarly, attempts have been made to curtail the freedom of expression and other democratic rights of university teachers by imposing rules that are framed by a controlling bureaucracy. Any forms of criticism against the ruling classes, under this rule, invite legal action. Recently, the universities, educational institutions, research centres and other public places have been turned into war zones of competing ideologies, unleashing multiple forms of violence.2 Educational spaces have become sites of protest to protect public education as central to India’s democracy. To divert public attention, the ruling party has taken away the legitimate rights of universities and offered ‘granted’ autonomy to a selected group of institutions by making others inferior (Sundar, 2018). The academic decisions collectively taken by the teaching communities, including what to teach and research, have been dictated to them by outside forces and disputes have been taken to court (Kapur and Khosla 2017). The reflexive and critical minds, who had been enjoying their vocation as academics, have broken their silence to voice public concerns, yet have retained academic logic in order to ensure that educational spaces do not become the propaganda machine of the government of the day. The public intellectuals who are directly engaged in the parliamentary democratic process have stimulated a political vendetta on the part of the ruling establishment against public-funded institutions (Tharoor, 2018). On the other side of the spectrum, with the new measures like Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) and Higher Education Empowerment Agency (HEERA), the ruling regime has subverted the public importance of education. With the pretext of reform, commercialization is being enforced at a time when the educational aspirations of marginalized sections are beginning to be recognised through the equal opportunities guaranteed by the constitution. Questions of autonomy and inclusion are intrinsic to the body politics of India’s education today. As political pressures impinge upon the freedom of educational agencies and institutions, the weakness of constructive theories on education becomes obvious. Leaving everything to absurd political pressures is the very negation of the idea of education itself. Making sense of the accidents of circumstances creates an impasse in the crisis as well as the chance to regenerate the very education system through creating new conditions. Though we can spot many causes and consequences of the crisis, this book has focused on three broad propositions: first, the realities of education in India and its historical processes in light of the numerous empirical studies demonstrating its institutional deterioration; second, under the democratic system of governance, the public plans of education, aimed at the social transformation of independent India, have not

278 S. Babu G.S only failed to deliver the needs of changing circumstances, but also failed to cultivate a culture of imagining new horizons because of the parochial mindsets of the implementing agencies; and, third, in replacing public education by privatization, the state has frozen the incalculable significance of education for the future mobilization of its citizens and their critical civic functions. As a corollary to the above, the social structures of the established order have led it to reproduce itself by manipulating the instrumentalities of the educational system.

Notes 1 Here the distinction has been made between public versus private on a narrow account of the characteristics of the goods being conceived, produced and consumed. 2 There is deep-seated discrimination based on the ascriptive identities and ideologies of the students and teachers in educational institutions across India. For a detailed account see Parthasarathy (2012), Singh (2013), Azad et al. (2016) and Kumar (2016).

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Shareena Banu C.P. teaches Sociology at Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi. Ajay Choudhary teaches Sociology at Hislop College, Nagpur, Maharashtra. Pradeep Kumar Choudhury teaches at the Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Zoya Hasan is Emeritus Professor at the Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Ahammedul Kabeer AP teaches at the Department of Development Studies, Central University of South Bihar. Praveena Kodoth is Professor at the Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram. Raj Kumar is Professor of English at University of Delhi. Amman Madan is Professor of Education at Azim Premji University, Bangalore. Gaurav J. Pathania teaches Sociology at George Washington University, Washington, DC and is a visiting scholar at the College of Education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Prabhat Patnaik is Emeritus Professor at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Pranta Pratik Patnaik teaches at the Department of Culture and Media Studies, School of Social Sciences, Central University of Rajasthan. Bhaskaran Ramdas is a social activist and a trustee of Viswa Bharati Vidyodaya Trust, Tamil Nadu. Jeebanlata Salam teaches at the School of Social Sciences, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore. Ram Sastry is a trustee of Viswa Bharati Vidyodaya Trust, Tamil Nadu. Chetan Singai is Deputy Director of Ramaiah Public Policy Centre and faculty at Ramaiah College of Law, Bengaluru.

282 Contributors Babu C.T. Sunil teaches Sociology at the Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi. Narender Thakur teaches at Ambedkar University, New Delhi. L. N. Venkataraman is a faculty member at the Department of Policy Studies, TERI University, New Delhi. Sarvendra Yadav teaches Anthropology at Dr Harisingh Gour Central University, Madhya Pradesh.


Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) 99 affirmative action policies (reservation system in India): 21, 28, 29, 86, 87, 130, 134, 138, 140, 141, 146, 149, 204–12, 223, 227, 243, 245, 276 Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) 36, 62, 140 academic culture 80, 218, 235, 273 academic freedom 8, 31, 36–37, 93, 100, 139 academic governance 8, 59 access to education 4, 27–30, 43, 45, 83, 146, 228; to higher 29, 43, 85; to private schools 114, 118, 120 accountability 90, 93, 184, 186; silence 8; demands 86, 104; for citizen 184, of private school 120, 121; to the state 275 Adivasi Munnetra Sangam (AMS) 161, 163, 164; political strength of 166, 172 Agarwal, P. 77 aided college 58, 59, 61 see catholic college aided schools 111–12, 151 Aiya, N. 150 Aldrich, R. 162 Alexander, R. 203 alienation 138, 140,142; feeling of 141; process of 11, 93; of learning 98; overcoming of 40; profound 210; social 40 Altbach, P. 74, 272, 274, 276 Alternative education 261–265 Alvares, C. 96 Amartya Sen 226 Ambasht, N.K. 190 Ambedkar, B.R. 45, 46, 47, 51, 206, 208, 213, 238, 242, 243, 244, 245 Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle 36, 94

Ambedkar’s thought 250 anti-caste: discourses 260; intellectual tradition 46; movement 238, 244, 259; struggles 251 anti-colonial movements/struggle 9, 13, 35, 147, 185, 255 see freedom struggle anti-national 36, 37–38, 95, 139, 140, 206 Anyon, J. 161 Apple, M. 161, 195, 196, 197, 197, 273 Aronowitz, S. 161 Ashram School 193 ashram shala 166, 168 see residential school autonomy 31, 32, 90: of academic institutions 23; complete 32; cost of 86; degree of (ademic, administrative, awarding degree) 32, 78–81; erosion of institutional 6, 27; financial 31; full 81; fully-private unaided schools 112; grab institutional 27 30–32, 37–38; graded 32; granted 277; granting 27, 131; greater 30, 79; insufficient 74; market 9, 134–135; political 176–177, 186; recruit foreign faculty 32; subversions of 21; spaces of 3; shake institutional 6; sustaining 1 Ball, S.J. 101 Bagade, U. 239 Bernstein, B. 196, 197, 203 Beteille, A. 219, 273 Bhattacharya, D and Ramdev, R. 33, 42 Bhattacharya , S. et al. 119 Bhattacharya, S. 24, 273 Bhushan, S. 77, 276 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) 27, 30, 34, 35, 99, 226, 236 Bourdieu, P. 197, 207

284 Index Bowles, S. 161, 196 brahmacharis 254 brahmanism/brahmanic 44, 238; culture 45; ideas 44; learning 273; religious texts 205, 242, 243; scriptures 240; texts 205, 35; tradition 239 Bruner, J. 188 Buddhism in India 242 Buddhist 242–247, 249 buddhist conversion 245, 249 campus and politics: 29–37, 57–71, 76, 79, 83–88, 95–99, 180, 210, 276; shrinking free spaces 139–142 capital 153, 192 37, 136 196, 232, 233; cognitive 103; crass 8, 93; cultural 151, 197–98, 207; finance 25; globalised 17, 25; human 103, 161; intellectual 29; international fiance 26; neo 8, 21, 93; skilled human labour as 228; social 65, 88; social and economic 178 see neo-liberal capitalism 37, 136, 196, 232, 233; cognitive 103; crass 8, 93; market 102; neo 8; neo-capitalist 227; neo-liberal 21 capitation fee 75, 79 capture of political space 59, 62–70 Carnoy, M. 76, 162, 196 caste: affiliation 88, 235; association 102, 131; brutality 150; caste/class 13, 211; hegemony 13, 251; hierarchy 119, 146, 195, 240–51; humiliation 40, 141; identity 211, 243, 245, 247–49, 260; mobilization 260; order 49, 195, 242, 259; oppression 6, 41, 251, 253; organizations 149, rituals 245, rules 242; upper caste researcher 244 catholic: college 58, 60, 61, 64, 65; diocese 59, 60, management 59, mission 62 Census of India 151 chattopadhyay, S. 77 civil society 8, 10: citizenship and rights 2, 4, 7, 34–35, 161, 184–86, 254, 269, 270; constitutional right 156; human right organization 178; Non-governmental Organisations (NGO)161–65, 168–69; political rights 63, 68; public action 7–8, 103, 270; restricted public action 148; values 7 classroom 12, 61, 63, 65, 69,83, 164, 168, 190, 244; discussion, practices and setting 203–16

coercive methods to control students 132 cognition: deconstruct 242 cognitive: development 189, 191, 194–95; meta 188; sensibility 271; of tribal children 194 colonial and post-colonialism: anti- 13, 35, 147, 185, 255, british raj/rule 43, 44–55, 150, 154, 205, 206, 245; british education 43, 45; eurocentric 96, 255; governmentality 253; hangover 228; history 223; modernity 238, 273 college: aided 58, 59, 61, 62; catholic, autonomous, affiliated 76–77, 85, private 80, 130, 131, 147; engineering 231, 232, government 58–59; medical 136, 155; women’s 61, 64 college hostel 209 college managements 7, 57, 58, 64 see catholic commercialization 19–20, 29, 30, 32, 71, 154, 156; enforced 277; of knowledge 145; research 30 commoditization of higher education 6, 17–19, 21, 25, 130; of knowledge 5 communalism 229, 260, 272 communalization of politics 58 communal prejudices 19; pressures 150; violence 229 communication networks 45; technology 149 community based mobilization and organization: through education 9,145–57, 163–65; of learners 254; Action for Community Organisation, Rehabilitation and Development (ACCORD) 163–77; Kerala Pulaya Maha Sabha (KPMS) 148; Nair Service Society 147–48; Narayana Dharma ParipalanaYogam, (SNDPY) 147, 148, 253, 260, 266 see social movements constitutional identity 243; scheduled caste (SC) 116, 119, 127–28, 134, 137–38, 141, 142, s205–56, 211; schedule tribe (ST) 116, 119, 127–28, 134,137–38, 141, 163, 188, 205, 206; other backward classes (OBC); 28, 36, 116, 127–29, 134, 137–38, 141–2, 206, 220 see affirmative action conversion, religious: 41, 44, 51, 52, 192; Buddhist 45, 249 corruption and corrupt practices 31, 100, 101, 177, 213–14, 221–5, 229–31; black money 221, 230; corrupt

Index 285 politicians 234; of Indian politics 213; practices 213 costs of education 132, 136, 137, 141, 274 counter-insurgency 177 christian missionaries 44, 45, 46, 149, 185 crisis of education 1, 5, 13, 27–37; accessibility and quality of education 78, agricultural sector 152; cause and consequences 277; consumerist culture 221; political instability 176; private investement 9; privatization 78; privatization and democratization 78; profit making and commoditisation 17; legitimacy 176; structural factors 270 see student loan critical pedagogy 4, 196; counter-mobilizations 58; critical learning 218; cultivating technical expertise 172; informal education 189, 192, 195; informal learning 189, 191 critical thinking and critical voices: 10–12, 27–28, 198; critique of modern education 261; critique of modernity 265; free speech 34; for education 10; public reason 2; self-examination 224; speaking selves 203–215; un/critical critique 93 see critical pedagogy Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Maharaj University (CSJMU) 233–235 cultural exclusion 6 cultural festivals 186 cultural practices 238 cultural resources 11, 195, 197, 198 cultural setting 11, 111,195 cultural values 201 culture: consumer 4; and ideology 215 curriculum 9, 11, 78, 79, 100, 112, 167, 189, 196, 203, 229, 242, 255 curriculum and pedagogy 189 curriculum framework 242 curriculum of Kerala 255 Dalits 203–213, 241–4; movement 260; women 45, 213 see Scheduled Caste/ Schedule Tribe deficit: divisive culture and governance 227 degraded identity 251 democratic deliberations 95; citizenship 34; education 28; ethos 140; ideals 85, ideas 270; movements 171–72; organization 66; polity 6; principles 238; rights 185

Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) 155 depoliticize 59 democratization of (higher) education 29, 78, 82 Deshpande, S. 31, 85, 141, 276 development of education in Kerala 149–154 Devi, G.N. 276 Disciplining gender 67–70; caste and patriarchy 45; dress code 61, 63, 64, 67, 68, 209; dress regulation 61; gay and lesbian rights 230; norm 58, 59; patriarchy 44, 58, 67, 70; womens’ college 61, 64; women’s education 45; women’s welfare organization 185 discrimination and exclusion: caste based 233–34; social 41, 84, 86, 87, 96, 98, 118, 148, 148, 198, 206, 223–27, 240–41, 250, 259, 276; gender 118, 225; stigma 141 disengagement of liberal intellectuals 93, 101, 103, 114; upper caste intellectuals 240 Dreze, J. 85, 96 dropout 150, 191, 193 Eapen, K. V. 149 educated among the erstwhile untouchable/dalits 6, 41, 47243 educated unemployment 134, 139, 141 education 2–13, 17–25, 27–35, 42–52, 145–52, 189–92, 265–7; adivasi 162; critical function of 1; english 43; effect of 147–8, democratic 28; elementary 11, 109, 111, 121, 152, 189; higher secondary 184, in conflict zone 178–184; in India 42–52; market 109–11, 120; political function of 148; process of 3–4, 13, 276; reforms 31, 172; tribal 11, 188–198; vocational 136 education and the public sphere 270–272; cultural reproduction 195–198; discourses in the classroom situation 209; discourse on the lives of Dalits 241; self, humanity and caste 258–261 education as emancipation 45–52 education market: higher education 131, 134- 35; school 109–11; shifting cultural priorities 145; technical knowledge 12, 153; technical skills 34; technical training 146; techno-centric education 218

286 Index educational: achievements 150; development/progress 145, 150, 190–91, 261; knowledge 2, 170; mobility 146; mobilization 253; movement 253–54, 266; opportunities 44; process 3, 9, 11, 261, 269, 271, 273; teachers training 191 educational institutions: upper caste dominance of 29; impersonal domination 161 educational policy 145–157; on great enrolment 137; Left perspective 71; making 121 educational philosophy: Narayana Guru and Nataraja Guru 253–278; epistemology(ies) 2, 13, 250, 265; community of learners 254; cultural hierarchy 250; diverse epistemology 271; integrated science education 267; methodological tradition 251; social science education 218; social science practice 241; teaching and learning 204; what is “social” 95 equal access 28, 84, 197 equal citizens 35, 185 equality and justice 96, 203, 221, 240 equal opportunity 179 family income 111 fieldwork 11, 12, 59, 60, 62, 97, 238–251 Financial autonomy 31 see grant-giving power Fraser, N. 203 freedom of expression 140, 277 freedom of speech 139, 180 freedom on campuses 7 freedom struggle 35, 47, 50, 148, 205, 206, 211, 214 see colonial/postcolonial Freire, P. 40, 48, 49, 52, 171, 198, 203, 258, 259 Fromm, E. 140 Gandhi, M.K. 13, 24, 26, 48, 50, 51, 52, 206, 255 gender discrimination 118, 225, 227, gender justice 94 Ghosh, S.C. 32, 42, 273, 274 Gintis, H. 161, 196 Goldfarb, C.J. 269 governmentality 176, colonial 253, 265–6 government policies 221, 229 grant giving power to minister 31 Guru, G. 98, 250 Gurukkal, R. 275

Habermas, J. 198, 203, 272 Hasan, M 35 Hassan, S. 176 Hatakenada, S. 275 Hayes, B. 177 Hazari 41, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52 Heslop, L. 77 heterosexual 59, 230 heterosexual marriage 59, 67–68 hidden operation 4, 5, 250, 276 hierarchical order 238 hierarchy within the education 33 higher education 17–25, 27–33, 74–89, 130–141, 218–235 higher education commission of India 22, 27, 30 hooks, b. 215 human rights abuses 11, 179 human rights violations 185 humiliation 40, 141, 209, 212, 239 ideology in academic institutions 34–35 ideological preferences 31; ramifications 4; subservience 31 ideological undercurrents 244 identity: adivasi/tribal 165, 169, 180; ascriptive 242; based organisation 185; Buddhist 247; caste 211, 243, 245, 247, 248, 249, 260; class 207; common, 248; constitutional 243; cultural 194, 245, 248; disclosing 248; Dalit (see dalit) 140; degraded 251; dominant 243; dual 247; ethnic 185; immediate 140; negotiating 245; new 52, 243, 248; non-Maratha 248; own 245; professional 251; religious 244, 247; researcher’s 249; self 273; self-confident 210, 209; social 13, 245, 251 socio-cultural 209; stable 204, 210; stigmastised 243, 244, 250 identity politics 71, 209, 256 llaiah, K. 240 inclusive education 78, 88 inclusive knowledge 9, 142 indian economy 24, 141, 152, 226 Indian indigenous Integrated Science 258 Indian Institute of Management (IIM) 33, 76 Indian Institute of Science 33, 76, 78 indian institute of technology (IIT) 33, 36, 37, 76, 93, 94, 96, 132, 136, 219, 220, 221, 223, 225, 236 indian modernity 44, 265

Index 287 indian national congress 99, 155, 206 indian nationalism 205, 255 Jadavpur University 26, 32, 36 Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) 33, 36, 37, 96, 99, 140–2 Jawharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) 97 Jha, J. 189 Jotiba Phule 45, 46, 244 Kanimozhi, Ms 99 Kannan, K.P. 147 Kapur, D. 155, 274, 277 Kerala Education Commission 150 Kerala Model of Development 152 Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP) 150, 151 Kerala Students Union (KSU) 57 Kerala’s public sphere 147–149 Khader, S.J. 100 Kingdon, 110, 118, 119 knowledge society: ideas 2–3; challenges (see neo-capitalism) to 8, 94; creation and consciouseness 264–265; inclusive 9, 142; knowledge cultivation 170 knowledge economy 1, 2, 12, 94, 140, 218, 228, 273 Khosla, M. 277 Krishnamurti, J 13, 255, 258 Kumar, K. 196, 266, 273 Kumar, K. N. A. 156 Kumar, V. 241 Lawton, D. 162 learning 93, 188, 203, 239,263; act of 274; alienation of 98; among hindus 42; assessing the 113; autonomous spaces for 270; better 112; Brahmanical 273; classroom 244; collective act of 271; commitment to 29; continuous 89; critical 218; culture of 1, 273; destroying 178; environment 102, 133; first stage of 189; gap of 182; higher 8, 12, 36, 85, 97, 236; by imaginary relation 192; imagined 189, 191; through imitation 191; in Indian campuses 141; informal to formal 191; institutions of 4, 269, 277; limited 182; materials 171; mental block to 166; modes of 13; monolithic 13; from natural setting 191; natural rhythem of 263; new 12, 77, 244; opportunity of

11, 182, 242; outcome 183; process 11, 214, 242, 244, 255; purpose of 208; pursuit of 5; rote- 223, 224; reverse 192, 195; sabotaged 181; self 190–91; shrinking free space for 142; skills 50; spiritual 42; structures of 2; support at home 182; synthetic features of 263; and thinking 266; vernacular 150; vistas of 11 liberal arts 34, 233, 235 Manipur 99, 176–77, 78, 80, 83–86; People’s Liberation Army of 175 Marginson, S. 75, 272 media: politics of 213; outlets 98; social networking sites 12, 218 mediating institutions 175–86; mediating structures 3–5, 270–276 Mehta, P.B. 155, 274 Mendelsohn, O. 98 Merton, R. 102 Mills, C.W. 219, 258 Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) 22, 31, 58, 77, 94, 95, 96, 132 134–35 Miri, M. 102 Mitra, A. 150 modernity and education 195 Moore, C. 101 Mujumdar, D. 248 Naidoo, R. 74 Nair, P. R. Gopinathan 149 Nambissan, G. 112, 113, 274, 276, 276 Narayana Guru and Nataraja Guru 253–66 Narayana Gurukulam 13, 254, 261 National Assessment and Accreditation 89 National Council for Educational Research (NCERT) 82 nationalism 1, 13, 35–37, 139, 205, 255, 262 hyper 36 national knowledge commission 82 National Policy on Education 76, 78 neo-Buddhists 245 neo-capitalism 8, 93 neoliberal/neoliberalism: aproach 30; capitalism 21; contractual system 133,135; contractual teachers 9, 133–4; democracy 94, 102; educational policy 12, 218; economics 131, encroachment (intrusion) 1, 14; era 10, force 10, 12; framework 145, 147; policy 8, 131,

288 Index 152, 274; reforms 133; regime 17; spokesmen 139; world 25 Newfield, C. 274 non-secular politics 229 NUEPA 109 Nussbaum, M. 34, 97, 219 Oakley, A. 204 Oinam, B. 175, 176 Olson, G. 209 Oommen, T.K. 253, 276 Ovichegan, S.K. 85 Panikkar, K.N. 156 Pardy, B. 75 parental choice 9, 109, 121 Patel, S. 153 Pathak, A. 100, 265 Patnaik, P. 27, 139 pedagogy/pedagogic: activities 2; child-centric 190; corridor-190, 191; deterrence 6, 188, 192, 195; hope 58; language 189; movement 254; practice 170, 188, 191; settings 11, 187–192, 94; sites 191; teacher centered 191; textbook 189–95; see teaching and learning phenomenology 239, 243; inter-subjective communication 2, 239 Pillai, D. 242 place of subjectivities in education: classed subjectivity 207; cultural identity 194, 209, 245, 248; cultural position(ing) 156, 192; internal tension 276; inter-subjectivity 239; socio-cultural profile 75 Planning Commission 79, 274 political activism 36, 50, 58 political activity 21, 59–70, 73 see campus and politics political agenda: divisive 94; regime’s 32; threat to the 36; of the state 149, 183 political control 5, 17, 21–25, 30–32, 98 169, 170 political education 7, 57, 67 political establishment 17,23, 27, 176 political interference in education: ideological crossfire 94–95; government 31, 37; political 5,6, 27, 31, 32 273 political opportunism 226, 229 political participation 184 political reassertion 148 political recognition 146

political resources 29 political rights 63, 68 political space 6,7, 57–59 70, 162, 208, political system 148, 161, 221, 231, 271 political unrest 176 private schools 8, 9, 93, 109–15, 118–21, 128, 146, 161,168, 170, 183–86 private sector in higher education: commercialization 30, 156; deemed-to-be-universities 77–79; education-loan 18, 138–39, 152; higher student fee 133; politics in the private sector 59–62, 154–57; private coaching/cost 136–139; private return 167; private source of funding 9, 131–132; market capitalism 102; from public good to a private good 9 see commoditization of education and also crisis probit model 112, 115, 128, 139; estimate 114 prohibition of political activity in the campus 59–66 public and private 21, 32; dichotomy 74–90, 121, 271 publication 24, 93, 101–104; politics of rewriting history 34–35 public good 3, 4, 5,9,152, 123, 271–72. 274 public opinion 1, 3, 12, 154–56, 198, 203; manufactured 218 public space 9, 47, 147–49, 154, 271, public sphere: 1–13; 46, 53, 98, 110, 121, 143–157, 192, 196, 198, 203, 215, 218, 241, 242, 246, 250, 269–278; civil society (see mediating institutions) 2, 4, 8, 10, 43, 93, 146, 179, 184–6; collective action 2; counter publics 203; inter-subjectivity 239; modernity 195, 242, 250, 251, 259, 260, 265; hegemony 13, 21,22, 24, 43, 192, 196, 243, 250–1, 276; 13; private and public actors 77 see campus; public opinion Rabindranath Tagore 13, 24, 255 Rani, M. 189 Rathnaiah, E.V. 190 Reay, D. 204 Rege, S. 203, 204, 205, 206, 213, 214 religious conversion; 41, 44, 51, 52, 192, 245, 249; converted buddhists 245;

Index 289 into the mainstream Hindu religion 192; proselytization 192 religious indoctrination in education: corporate-Hindutva 21–22; hinduism in classroom discussions 220; hindu nationalism and nationalist 45, 48; hindu scriptures 240; hindutva 35, 37, 277 research and knowledge production 31, 250, 271 see knowledge society and publication research and teaching 24, 242 cultural studies 4, 214, 235 Reseacher and fieldwork: 238–251; field encounter 12; social scientist 218; status of the researcher 245; stigmatized identity 243–244 see upper caste intellectuals Right to Education Act 2, 109, 182 Salim, A. Abdul 149 Samaddar, R. 276 Sankaranarayanan, K.153, 154 Saxena, S. 161 Scrase, T.J. 197 secular/secularism/secularisation: 44, 45 agenda 149; education 43, 45–47; state 34 Shah, A.M. 248, 249 Shirley, D. 171 Smith, D. W. 271 Snow, C. 218 social inclusion 84 social inequality 148, 226, 227, 276 social justice 1, 4, 5, 85, 132, 134, 182, 259, 274, 276 social mobilization for education: contradictory political narratives 97; ethnic mobilization 175–77; mobilisation 170, 251; political education 7, 57, 67; movement 171, 266 see civil society social movement 10, 154, 161–63, 167, 169–72, 185, 238, 253 social networks 12, 101, 218 social organisations 149, 176 social recognition 243 social revolution 46 social science practice 241 social science research 12, 240, 246, 250, social sciences, arts and humanities: disregarding social science 32–34,

humanities and social sciences (HSoS) 8, 102–104; understanding social issues 220–35 see education as emancipation; and also disciplining gender 18 social scientists 13, 218, 238–250 social world 2, 211 Spivak, G.C. 102, 215 Srinivas, M. N. 246, 249 Stanley, L. 204 students: activism 7, 36; body 33, 83, 140; council 59; distress 18, 28, 141, 142, 181 249; fees 132–33, 135; leaders 65, 69, 70; loan 18, 138, 139; movements 71, 96; organisations 17, 36, 59, 67–70; studentship 38, 96, 115; tribal 11, 188–97; union 7, 36, 57, 60, 62, 97, 186 students’ responses to societal problems: of Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Maharaj University, Kanpur (CSJMU) 233–35; Delhi University (DU) 225–230; Harcourt Butler Technological Institute, Kanpur (HBTI) 230–233; Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IITD) 221–25 students’ politics 5, 7, empowerment 209; predictament of 57–67, organizations 156; student union 7, 97 subaltern 29, 205–8, 211–12, 214 Sujatha, K. 190, 191 Sundar, N. 277 teaching and learning 1, 76, 204, 270; process of alienation 93; teaching the subaltern 214 Thapan, M. 276 Thapar, R. 272 Tharoor, S. 277 Thorat Committee 141–142 Thorat, S 110, 275 Tilak, J.B.G. 3, 74, 75, 77, 118, 119, 120, 153, 274 tribal education 11, 188–198 see education tribal language 11, 166, 188, 189, 194, tribal regions 10, 11 tribal schools, lack of infrastructure in 191 tribal teachers 170 Tribal Welfare Department 190 unequal distribution 222, 232 UNESCO 162

290 Index university 6, 8, 21, 23, 24, 28, 29, 31, 32–38, 58, 74–78, 80–90, 95–103, 134–40, 204, 277; affiliating 76; Aligarh Muslim 32, 36, 51; Azim Premji 33, Banaras Hindu 32, 36; Bharatiyar 101, central 33; Chadrapati Sahu Ji Maharaj 219, 233; deemed 78, 79, 81 Delhi 23, 36, 95, 102, 133–140, 205, 219, 226, 235; Haryana 140; Hyderabad 36, 139, 140; Jadhavpur 2, 32, 36; London 77; Manipur 180, Maryland 111, private 20, private deemed 82, public 28, 86; Punjab 36, 132; Symbiosis 140; state 33, 76, 77, 82 see JNU university administration 25, 34, 36, 140 university campus 29, 37, 97, 140, 142, 180 university as a site of research field 82–89 University Grants Commission (UGC) 22, 23, 27, 30–32, 76–80, 81, 94–95, 97, 103, 134–35, 140, 153 university system 7, 8, 22, 28, 74, 75, 77, 231

untouchable in public space 47; literary movement 47; subjects 241 see public space urban poor 110, 165 Varghese, N.V. 75, Varna (jati) 193, 195, 241 see caste varnisation 195 Velaskar, P. 274 violence 10–11, 40, 57, 62, 67, 70, 142, 175–183, 211, 226, 229, 277; by the state 177; and humiliation 209; and symbolic 209; of surveillance 67; Ramjas College 140 Vicziany, M. 98 Visvanathan, Shiv 273 Walkerdine, V.H. 204 Wolf, D. 204 Wright, E.O. 207 Yadav, B. 153 Yadav, S. 101, 138 Young, G. 196