Venue: Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata
Date: April 21-23, 2023
Organisers: IIM Calcutta, Kolkata; MWS Delhi; University of Glasgow
This conference addresses some of the recently emerging debates in Indian education combining both granular sociological analyses as well as broader historical perspectives. Many of these debates were once thought to have been settled; yet, the contemporary moment in the educational landscape in India are re-animating these debates fomented by strong ideological currents and sharp intellectual fault-lines. Just to take the most recent example, the National Education Policy of 2020 (NEP 2020) has strongly foregrounded the contending visions of Indian education in the public domain. Whereas there is a concerted effort to implement the policy in its entirety at the national level, and in most of the states, the NEP 2020 has also attracted criticisms regarding its inherent ideals, and implementation strategies from a multiplicity of quarters. In effect, the NEP 2020 has animated multiple discourses and debates regarding the scope, nature, content and future of education in India. More often than not, such debates have remained intensely polarized, foregrounding irreconcilable ideological contentions and institutional templates. This is perhaps not surprising, as the field of education in India, remains in essence an ideologically fraught domain consisting of conflicting visions of nation, state, citizenship, good life and secular emancipation.
For a post-colonial society like India, the quest for an ideal education policy and future direction necessarily broaches more expansive questions about the nation’s vision for belonging in a broader international community. Should the nation aspire to be ‘Viswaguru’ on the terms inherent in the contemporary configuration of global geopolitics? Should we question the misplaced universality of global knowledge in relativistic nativist terms? Or should we aspire for strategic autonomy in terms of knowledge production and dissemination by drawing upon indigenous traditions in non-parochial ways? How do we reconcile the demands of global standards of excellence with the expectations of national relevance? In any case, the already fraught terrain of education in contemporary India is rendered exceptionally complex by the institutional presence and demands for inclusion of a wide array of aspirational groups and communities.
The contemporary Indian educational landscape has, thus, become a force field offering provocative ways of thinking about pervasive ideals of national belonging, social identities, public-private antinomies, civilizational claims as well as tropes of inclusion/exclusion. Ultimately what seems to be at stake is the re-imagination of the future under India’s unfolding modernity, even if that re-imagination is often propelled by the headwinds of history.
Against this backdrop, this conference invites papers to address the contemporary configurations of Indian education along with its past trajectories and future pathways. Contributors are free to bring in any disciplinary and methodological perspective as long
as their papers illuminate some aspects of the larger question of education: institutional practices, ideological contestations, nationalist designs, identity issues, access, equity and justice, social transformation, evolving notions of sovereignty and spaces of democratisation, withdrawal of the state and the increasing hold of private capital. We invite conference presentations on the following broad themes. They are merely indicative, and not exhaustive.
- Public Policy Debates on Education in Post-Independence India
- Institutional Changes in Indian Educational Landscape
- Education, Citizenship and the Refashioning of Identities
- Education, Skill Development, Employability and Employment
- Education, Empowerment and Social Justice
- NEP 2020 and the Idea of India