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Article

Gender and School Reform in India  

Nandini Manjrekar and Indumathi Sundararaman

Policy discourses on education in all countries are historically shaped by a range of regional, national, and global factors and dynamics. In the Indian context, ideological and structural contexts have influenced the policy visions and practices of gender and schooling, particularly in relation to the education of girls. Mapping historical shifts over the colonial and post-colonial periods up to the present, the early 21st century, reveals the intersections of ideologies and structures associated with both gender as a social category and education as a state project. Such a discursive cartography reveals certain key moments that point to how these intersections have impacted practices and processes within school education. From the early 2000s, the intensification of neoliberal economic reforms has been marked by an ideological shift that sees education as a private good and the operation of discourses of school choice. The ascendance of majoritarian nationalism and its presence in state power has also seen an undermining of the gains in women’s education. At the same time, India passed a historic legislation, the Right to Education Act (2009), making education a fundamental right of all children. These somewhat contradictory and competing discourses and practices have had critical implications for the education of children of marginalized communities like the lower and former untouchable castes (Dalits), marginalized ethnicities like the Indigenous communities (Adivasis), and a marginalized religious minority community (Muslims). Within an intersectional perspective, it emerges that girls belonging to these communities face the greatest challenges in accessing and participating fully in schooling, even as recent policy initiatives are silent on many of the critical issues relating to promoting gender equality within the education system as a whole.

Article

Muziris papyrus  

Dominic W. Rathbone

The “Muziris” papyrus (PVindob. G40822) provides unique details about the trade between Roman Egypt and India. It was purchased in 1980 for the Austrian National Library, and first published in 1985, and has been much discussed since then.1 Its provenance is unknown, but was probably middle Egypt. It preserves parts of two texts, one on its front (recto) and one on its back (verso), written in two different hands which have both been assigned to the middle decades of the 2nd century ce.The first text is part of a contract, from near the contract’s end, between a merchant (“I” in the text) and a financier (“you”), who was apparently based in Alexandria; this contract accompanied a separate contract between them for a maritime loan “to Muziris.”2 Muziris was a port in the Malabar region of soutwest India (Kerala), which Periplus of the Red Sea, ch.56, from the mid-1st-century ce, says was visited by large ships from Egypt to acquire pepper and malabathrum (a cinnamon-like plant, whose leaves were pressed to make a perfume), and also pearls, ivory, silk, nard, and gemstones.

Article

Language Policy and Reform in the Indian School System  

Rupanjali Karthik and George W. Noblit

India is a linguistically diverse country and supports this with its Language Policy based on the “Three Language Formula” (every child is taught three languages in school). However, its implementation has exhibited monolingual bias as multiple languages are offered as subjects of study and not as media of instruction. The medium of instruction in the majority of government schools is the concerned state’s regional language. Due to a rise in the demand for English medium instruction, governments in various states have started introducing all English medium instruction in schools. It is unfortunate that in a multilingual nation, a monolingual mind-set has dominated the language-in-education policies and effective pedagogical reforms have largely remained side-lined in such policy debates. There is no denial of the importance of learning English for the children in government schools in India. However, the success of any language-in-education policy in India will depend on a flexible multilingual approach that recognizes the languages existing in the ecology of children (which will vary from state to state as media of instruction), acknowledges the importance of learning the English language, and ushers in effective pedagogical reforms.

Article

Indian Merchant Migration within the British Empire  

Alexander Persaud

Millions of Indians migrated internally within the British Empire during the 19th and 20th centuries. While some migrated as labor migrants, many others did so as merchants and other businesspeople. By the start of World War II, more than 200,000 Indians worked in trade outside of India. These merchants played key roles in the British Empire within India and the larger Indian Ocean economy. Several conditions facilitated and perhaps caused Indian merchant migration within the British Empire. First, precolonial Indian commerce continued and adapted to imperial trade patterns. Second, within India, British rule lowered transaction costs and opened markets. Third, British rule brought preferential access to British colonies outside India, access that was denied to merchants from outside the British Empire. Internal merchant migration within India shows the importance of distinct religious, caste, and linguistic groups, many of which were active before British control. Gujarati-speaking merchant migrants and Parsis were bulwarks of Bombay’s commercial class. Specific merchant communities migrated within trading networks across India as railroads connected the subcontinent. Outside India, merchants—often from these same groups—accompanied British expansion in Asia and Africa. In Burma and Malaya, Chettiars from the south formed banking and trading networks that tied these colonies closer to the Indian economy. Chettiar finance was crucial in the development of industry in both Burma and Malaya. Indian businesspeople dominated commerce in East Africa and played key roles in commerce. Indian businesses in Uganda developed local commercial agriculture and industry, and Indians in South Africa played a large role in commerce before legal restrictions reduced their involvement. Distant colonies in which indentureship was the dominant form of migration experienced a transition from labor to trade, with merchant migration playing a smaller role. These colonies do not fit the pattern of merchant migration seen in India and the larger Indian Ocean economy, but they illustrate the role of Indian tradespeople outside India.

Article

The Emergence of Marketing in 20th-Century India  

Douglas E. Haynes and Tirthankar Roy

Business historians of colonial and postcolonial South Asia have not sufficiently studied internal trade and commercial institutions, a glaring omission considering that trade was one of the fastest-growing economic activities during the 20th century. While the historiography of the merchant has grown steadily, it remains focused on international trade or on non-economic issues like the relationship between ethnicity and commerce. One area that clearly requires more research is marketing. The involvement of producing firms in marketing activities, like sales and advertising, became much more extensive during the late 19th and the 20th centuries. Significant changes in the costs of transportation and communications made these tasks easier. Producers of goods, however, possessed imperfect information and needed to rely on intermediate figures—either various kinds of local actors or marketing “experts” who claimed local knowledge—to reach consumers. Sales and advertising in postcolonial India built on the legacy of this transformation in colonial India, rather than breaking sharply from it, even as technological change enabled more direct communication between the producer and the consumer.

Article

Elephant Management in the Brahmaputra Uplands and Beyond: An Historical Approach  

Nicolas Lainé

Drawing on the history of human–elephant relationships in Brahmaputra uplands in precolonial, colonial, and contemporary periods, this article highlights at least long-standing two elephant management systems: the dominant power of each period with its corresponding war, imperialist, or conservation purposes and that of the local populations for whom elephants represent an essential part of their daily life and a source of livelihood, even though they simultaneously remain at the service of the dominant power. Through the ages, the local inhabitants’ relationship with elephants has evolved, and the presence of these animals alongside human societies has shaped the culture, identity, and ecology of the region. In the six centuries of the Ahom kingdom, and the two centuries of British rule, local knowledge of elephants has always played a role in state policy, often by force. However, after independence, international norms of conservation have tended to remove human settlements from elephant habitats and exclude consideration of local knowledge of elephants, to the detriment of all parties. The interests and knowledge of local people need to be engaged if elephant populations are to survive. At the same time, exploring the extensive literature on the connection between humans and elephants could provides fresh perspectives on the region’s history, social structures, and geopolitical significance between South and Southeast Asia.

Article

The Dutch East India Company and Slave Trade in the Indian Ocean and Indonesian Archipelago Worlds, 1602–1795  

Matthias van Rossum

Slavery and slave trade were widespread throughout the empire of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in Asia. The VOC was not only a “merchant” company but also functioned as military power, government, and even agricultural producer. In these roles, the VOC was involved in the forced relocation (and forced mobilization) of people in direct and indirect ways. This entailed commodified slavery and especially slave trade, in which persons were considered property and sellable, but also a wider landscape of forced relocations (deportation, non-commodified transfers) and coerced labor regimes (corvée, debt, and caste slavery). Much more research into the histories of slavery, slave trade, and wider coercive labor and social regimes is needed to shed light on the dynamics and connections of local and global systems.

Article

The Opium Trade  

Amar Farooqui

For more than a hundred years, from the end of the 18th century to the eve of the First World War, opium was the main commodity exported from India to China. During most of this period, it was the second largest source of revenue, after land revenue, for the British Indian Empire. The article was sold for narcotic use in the Chinese market. Opium was produced in Gangetic eastern and northern India, and the central Indian plateau region of Malwa. The produce of the former zone was a monopoly of the colonial state. The production, processing, and sale of the drug was directly controlled by the government. Malwa was entirely under princely rule. Princely states were administered indirectly, had a measure of autonomy, and were subject to the overall authority of the British. Indirect rule made it difficult for the colonial government to regulate the opium trade of central and western India effectively. It pursued a different policy with regard to the opium produce of Malwa, permitting transit of the commodity for export from Bombay on the payment of a duty. The worldwide campaign against the opium trade that gathered momentum in the late 19th century contributed to the decline of the trade. Between the first decade of the 20th century and the end of the First World War, the British withdrew from the trade. International agreements for drug control led to rigorous imposition of restrictions on production and sale, terminating official involvement in the export of opium other than that for medical use. This brought to an end the career of Indian opium as a major colonial commodity.

Article

The Dutch East India Company in South Asia  

Guido van Meersbergen

The Dutch East India Company (VOC, 1602–1799) developed into Europe’s largest commercial and colonial power in 17th-century Asia. Within its extensive intra-Asian trading network centered on Batavia (Jakarta), the Indian subcontinent and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) occupied a pivotal position. The VOC’s desire to tap into the exchange of Indian cloth for fine spices from the Maluku Islands first drove the Dutch to the Coromandel Coast, while Surat’s position as the preeminent maritime hub of the western Indian Ocean and Bengal’s status as a major exporter of silk and cottons attracted the Company to the Mughal Empire. Between 1638 and 1663, the VOC also displaced the Portuguese from their colonial holdings in Ceylon and the Malabar Coast, the world’s only source of high-quality cinnamon and an important producer of pepper, respectively. In Mughal India, the Dutch presence was limited to trading posts from which it conducted trade on conditions set by the imperial authorities, whereas along the Coromandel and Malabar Coasts the VOC possessed fortresses, and in Ceylon it acted as a territorial power exercising colonial rule over several hundred thousand Sinhalese and Tamil inhabitants. In all parts of South Asia, the Company’s position relied on and was maintained through diplomatic relations with local rulers. The various commercial, diplomatic, and colonial interactions gave rise to important forms of cultural exchange and knowledge production in the realms of art, religion, language, and botanical science, which testify to significant cross-cultural connections and mutual influences. The VOC maintained a dynamic trade in South Asia until the final quarter of the 18th century, when its Indian possessions were captured by the British first during the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780–1784) and again in 1795 to 1796 during the French Revolutionary Wars.

Article

Modern Science and Technology in India  

John Lourdusamy

Modern science and technology (S&T) has been present in India almost as long as it has anywhere else in the world. But the nature of its blossoming in India was substantially different, due to the huge (if not sole) role played by India’s colonial experience—especially the British colonial rule. The colonial state used modern S&T in practical and ideological ways to control the territory and its resources, and to keep colonial subjects in awe and submission. Correspondingly, the local intelligentsia’s interest in science was marked by ideological and instrumental concerns. The compulsions of colonialism did not allow for an easy flow of knowledge and expertise. Yet, with limited openings in education and scientific professions, Indians were able to acquire a measure of proficiency that could even lead to a Nobel Prize. The engagement, however, was not marked by one-way diffusion and passive acceptance, but by active appropriation and redefinition according to local imperatives. There was also an active critique of modern S&T—especially in its “big” forms and violent faces. After independence, the new nation state opted for a path of massive development of industry and agriculture through deployment of modern S&T, whereby world-class institutions, infrastructure industries, and research laboratories were opened in different parts of the country. While these have produced remarkable results, the meeting of science and state has led to stark ironies and difficulties. Also, continuing critiques of the authority of modern S&T, the undesirable economic, social, and ecological effects produced by it, and the renewed interest in “traditional alternatives” pose serious challenges to any uncontested or triumphalist march of modern S&T in India.

Article

Environmental Education for Climate Justice: An Indian Perspective  

Deborah Dutta

Climate change as a global crisis looms large in the public imagination, along with a widespread acknowledgement of a need to develop educational interventions and strategies that can help people engage with the climate emergency. However, conventional environmental education (EE) for a large part has remained focused on climate literacy and techno-scientific determinism, thus lacking the conceptual tools to engage with the sociopolitical, cognitive, and normative aspects of climate crises. Given the abstract, temporally stretched, and geographically diffused and distributed nature of the issue, the challenge for educators goes beyond an epistemic framing to encompass value-laden ideas of social justice, ecological sustainability, and collective well-being. Pedagogical efforts need to radically expand their reach to include context-specific, historical trajectories and development narratives that have shaped the current debates in climate mitigation and adaptation. The environmental discourse around climate change has been problematic in the Global South given that those discussions tend to eclipse the more pressing, local issues of pollution, soil degradation, water scarcity, or waste management. However, a growing understanding of the complex linkage between climate and other environmental issues has prompted newer forms of discourse and engagement. India faces daunting challenges as a large agrarian economy poised to bear the brunt of climate related events, alongside the material aspirations of a growing middle class. Nevertheless, numerous grassroots experiments are offering pathways for an alternate view of development and well-being through examples of resilience and adaptation. A historical and spatially grounded discussion of the climate change debates along with an exploration of promising initiatives can guide the design of EE for climate justice.

Article

Shaping Sustainable Inclusion Policy Through Practice  

Richard Rose

The challenge of providing education that is inclusive and seen as equitable for all children is one that has exercised policy makers and education professionals in most countries throughout the late 20th and early 21st centuries. International agreements such as UNESCO’s 1990 Jomtien Declaration and 1994 Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education were instrumental in promoting debate about the rights of children who were denied access to an appropriate schooling and who, in some instances, had no opportunity to obtain any formal education. The Education for All Goals, which were used to prioritize the development of universal primary education, and more recently the 2015 United Nations Sustainable Education Goals, which reiterated a commitment to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” (Goal 4), have increased the focus upon developing inclusive education. This has encouraged governments around the world to re-examine the ways in which they provide schooling for their children and young people. With such a plethora of initiatives, agreements, and advice, it is only to be expected that most national administrations have felt it necessary to respond and to demonstrate that they are taking action towards improving educational opportunities for all. However, the relationship between policy and practice is complex; and in some instances, the development of legislation has failed to provide increased equity in the manner that was intended. This article considers two distinctly different routes towards achieving inclusive education and discusses those factors that have either supported or inhibited success. In drawing upon examples from current developments in India, it additionally proposes that researchers who conduct investigations in international contexts should invest time in understanding underlying policy and cultural and historical factors that may impact upon the ways in which we interpret meaning from data.

Article

Tagore’s Perspective on Decolonizing Education  

Mousumi Mukherjee

Decolonization is a historic process that picked up momentum in the second half of the 20th century, whereby several countries of the Global South in Asia, Africa, and Latin America successively gained independence from European colonial rule and became sovereign modern nation-states. However, territorial independence from an external ruling power alone could not bring an end to all the social, political, and economic problems ushered in by hundreds of years of imperialism. This fact was realized long before independence from colonial rule by Rabindranath Tagore within the context of British colonial India. Hence, even before territorial and political decolonization, Tagore sought to decolonize the minds of people through education reform by first setting up his own school in 1901 and then establishing Visva-Bharati University in 1921. In fact, Tagore, who is the author of the national anthems of two independent modern South Asian nation-states, never saw independent India. He died in 1941 as a British colonial subject, six years before the independence of India from colonial rule in 1947. While many indigenous intellectuals of his era adopted violent and nonviolent methods to fight against British imperialism, Tagore devoted much of his adult life to the pursuit of freedom through pedagogic reforms. Tagore’s philosophy and practice of pedagogic reform sought to “decolonize education” in British colonial India. Tagore’s own writings on education beginning in 1892 reveal that his philosophy and practice to “decolonize education” was based on the memory and critical reflections on his own experiences as a student in mainstream schools during the British colonial era in India. Tagore’s philosophy of education, institutionalized through his decolonizing pedagogic reform work in his school and university at Bolepur, Shantiniketan, were concrete responses of a highly creative and critical-thinking indigenous intellectual to the problems of the mainstream education system during his time. Hence, studying Tagore’s perspective on “decolonizing education” can provide us with a deeper understanding of the educational problems posed by British imperialism in India, as well as the evolution of these problems in the colonial metropole, which became global in nature through the process of colonialism, as has been argued by a number of academics, including modern British historian Michael Collins and postcolonial Indian academic Sanjukta Dasgupta.

Article

Preparing Student Social Workers to Support Inclusive Education in an Indian Context  

Sandhya Limaye

Children with disabilities have a variety of needs that require the expertise of several individuals. Multidisciplinary teams include professionals such as teachers, psychologists, social workers, physiotherapists, and resource teachers, who provide support services that help children with disabilities in inclusive educational environments. These teams often include social workers, but in India the role of the social worker is often overlooked and social workers have to struggle to prove their value. Historically, very few social worker education programs have offered specializations or training in inclusive education, and most social workers who worked with children with disabilities in inclusive settings learn the requisite knowledge, attitudes, and skills on the job. Many used the traditional model of social work rehabilitation, which focuses on the individual without relating to social and environmental contexts. The Center for Disability Studies and Action at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, India, designed a full-time master’s program in Social Work in Disability Studies and Action, which trains social work professionals to work holistically with people with disabilities, including children with disabilities in inclusive educational settings. The master’s program combines the professional skills and knowledge components for social workers with the core values of inclusive education.

Article

The Teaching of English in India  

Usree Bhattacharya

In India, the teaching of English, a British colonial import and imposition, occurs within an ideologically contested, socioeconomically stratified, and politically charged terrain. Several centuries after its first arrival on Indian shores, English remains a minority, elite language, accessible mostly to urban dwellers and those in the middle and upper classes. Therefore, its present-day circulation helps reproduce and sustain colonial language hierarchies. Significantly, ideologies about English span a wide spectrum, from the language being cast as an illness, to its being seen as a necessary evil for progress, to its being heralded as a vital instrument for uplifting the poor and marginalized. Furthermore, the idea of an indigenized “Indian English” holds sway in the scholarly imagination, even as it is unclear what shape its porous boundaries take within the national consciousness. In perpetual dialog with other Indian languages, English is constantly negotiating a role in India’s rich multilingual networks. Crucially, it functions as the most powerful medium of instruction in the country, firmly regulating access to socioeconomic mobility and higher education. English instruction in India was established to serve colonial interests, and the traces of this past remain in contemporary pedagogical practices. Further, English instruction faces a variety of challenges in India today, including infrastructure constraints, complexities of multilingual pedagogy, rigid grammar translation pedagogy and rote-learning practices, teaching to the test, widespread use of inappropriate and culturally insensitive textbooks, and inadequate investment in teacher training. English controls access to power, prestige, and privilege in modern India; these factors, among others, play a determining role in perpetuating educational inequality across classes. Shining a light on the context in which English instruction occurs in India is thus both an educational and a social justice imperative.

Article

Teacher Education in India  

Sunil Behari Mohanty

In the last part of the 19th century, the consecutive model of teacher education followed in England was introduced in India by the English rulers. In the 1960s, the concurrent model-integrated teacher education program found in the United States was started by a private college at Kurukshetra, Haryana State. After 2 years, admission to this course was closed. In 1963, the National Council of Educational Research and Training launched pre-service teacher training program through this integrated B.A./B.Sc. and B.Ed. course meant for school leavers along with a 1-year B.Ed. for graduates in its four Regional Colleges of Education. The concurrent model for secondary school teacher training could not even draw the attention of the governments of the states in which these colleges are located. In spite of the efforts of the central government to bring uniformity, after-school education came under the concurrent list of the constitution of India, could not be successful. The complexity found in the school system is also reflected in the teacher education system. Central government schemes to improve quality of a certain number of state government teacher training colleges could not succeed. Transferring the task of controlling curricula for secondary school teacher training from state governments to universities also did not succeed, as some universities utilized B.Ed. courses for untrained teachers as a source of revenue generation. The Indian central government tried to regulate teacher education by having a statutory body-National Council for Teacher Education. This body increased the duration of the B.Ed. course through correspondence to 2 years, while face to face mode B.Ed. course continued to be of 1 year duration. In 2014, this body replaced 1 year B.Ed. course by 2 year B.Ed. course without increasing appropriate duration of B.Ed. correspondence (distance mode) course. The new education policy of 2020 has suggested implementing a 1-year B.Ed. course for postgraduates to be delivered by multidisciplinary institutions. The policy has made the future teacher education scenario more complicated by hoping that by 2030 all teacher training shall be provided through integrated teacher training programs.

Article

Sex Workers and HIV/AIDS in India  

Sunny Sinha

The risk of HIV infection looms large among male, female, and transgender sex workers in India. Several individual, sociocultural, and structural-environmental factors enhance the risk of HIV infection among sex workers by restricting their ability to engage in safer sexual practices with clients and/or intimate partners. While most HIV prevention programs and research focus on visible groups of women sex workers operating from brothels (Pardasani, 2005) and traditional sex workers, for example, Devadasis (Orchard, 2007); there is a whole subgroup of the sex worker population that remains invisible within HIV prevention programs, such as the male, female, and transgender sex workers operating from non-brothel-based settings. This paper provides an overview of the different types and contexts of sex work prevalent in Indian society, discusses the factors that increase a sex worker’s risk of HIV infection, describes the varied approaches to HIV prevention adopted by the existing HIV prevention programs for sex workers, discusses the limitations of the HIV prevention programs, and concludes with implications for social work practice and education.

Article

HIV/AIDS in India  

Shrivridhi Shukla, Sneha Jacob, and Karun Singh

India has witnessed a substantial decline in the rate of new HIV infections in the past decade. Despite the reduction in incidence, the social determinants of health, such as poverty, gender inequality, and stigma, have made tackling the disease challenging for medical practitioners, health educators, and social workers, among other stakeholders. This article describes social determinants of HIV/AIDS and provides a brief history of shifts in the HIV/AIDS policies in India, with an overview of the current policy that is complicated by regional variations in HIV prevalence and transmission. In addition, it discusses the nature and impact of HIV in different communities vulnerable to the infection, major interventions supported by the Indian government, and the diverse roles played by social workers in combating the epidemic and providing services to people living with HIV/AIDS.

Article

Unfree Labor in Colonial South Asia  

Andrea Major

Various forms of labor obligation, coercion, and oppression existed in colonial India, but the supposed dichotomy between “free” and “unfree” labor was rarely absolute. European slave-trafficking, internal trades in women and children, domestic slavery, caste-based obligations for agricultural and other labor, and capitalist systems such as indenture represented distinct but overlapping forms of “unfree” labor in the South Asian context. Enslaved Indians were exported to various European colonial possessions in the 17th and 18th century or provided domestic services within the homes of both the European and Indian elites. Meanwhile, various preexisting local labor relationships such as begar, caste-based obligation, and debt bondage involved elements of coercion, control, and ownership that mirrored some of the characteristics of slavery. These underwent significant changes in the colonial period, as the colonial state both tapped into and sought to reshape the Indian labor market to suit the needs of the imperial capitalist economy.

Article

The Creation of Pakistan  

Ayesha Jalal

The All-India Muslim League first voiced the demand for a Muslim homeland based on India’s northwestern and northeastern provinces in March 1940. Seven years later at the moment of British decolonization in the subcontinent, Pakistan emerged on the map of the world, an anomaly in the international community of nations with its two wings separated by a thousand miles of Indian territory. Over a million people died in the violence that accompanied partition while another 14½ million moved both ways across frontiers demarcated along ostensibly religious lines for the first time in India’s six millennia history. Commonly attributed to the age-old religious divide between Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs, the causes of Pakistan’s creation are better traced to the federal problems created in India under British colonial rule. Despite sharing a common identity based on religious affiliation, Indian Muslims were divided along regional, linguistic, class, sectarian, and ideological lines. More Muslims live in India and Bangladesh than in Pakistan today, highlighting the clear disjunction between religiously informed identities and territorial sovereignty. Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the leader of the All-India Muslim League, tried resolving the problem by claiming in 1940 that Indian Muslims were not a minority but a nation, entitled to the principle of self-determination. He envisaged a “Pakistan” based on undivided Punjab and Bengal. Since this left Muslims in the Hindu-majority provinces out of the reckoning, Jinnah left it an open question whether “Pakistan” and Hindustan would form a confederation covering the whole of India or make treaty arrangements as two separate sovereign states. In the end Jinnah was unable to achieve his larger aims and had to settle for a Pakistan based on the Muslim-majority districts of Punjab and Bengal, something he had rejected out of hand in 1944 and then again in 1946.