“Do We Know India?”
An exploration of India beyond descriptions like “Backward”, “Casteist”, and “Patriarchal”!
Venue: SDM P.G. College, Ujire - 574240, Karnataka (India) Date: [Edition 1] 10-14 May 2017 & [Edition 2] 22-26 June 2017*
Re-conceptualising India Studies
A look at newspaper headlines and the global representation of India at large, and here are the impressions we are left with: India is the rape capital of the world, where women are treated worse than cattle; India is ridden with inequality — it has a terrible caste system which sidelines a large section of its population and ensures that they remain poor and marginalised; India is an extremely hostile environment for its minorities; Indian religions force people into superstitious practices of all kinds; and so on and so forth.
If India sidelines women, ‘lower castes’, and minorities in the ways described, this would mean that at least 85 percent of its population suffers some form of discrimination. Here is a logical question for us to figure out in the face of such descriptions: How did India manage to survive as a society and culture, and become the fastest growing economy in the world when it actively keeps 85 percent of its population oppressed and marginalised?
Questions such as these pose challenges to the dominant narrative about India. For this narrative to remain intact it must ‘answer’ this challenge. If it cannot do so, we have good reason to (i) question whether this narrative at all helps us to understand India, and, (ii) to explore and generate new descriptions and new narratives about India.
Why a Summer Course? Why THIS Summer Course?
Our education system today gears us towards mastering the reproduction of information rather than helping us understand our world. Additionally, it alienates students from their social context whilst giving them no tools to understand and think critically about the world around them. As a result,
1. By the time students finish their master’s programmes, especially students in social sciences, they do not have any wish to continue studying since they find that such an exercise would be meaningless. Students (and Indian society in general), feel that the more “sophisticated” a study of a social phenomenon, the less connected it is to their “real life experience”. For students in social sciences, psychology, social work, journalism, etc., higher studies become a matter of learning how to produce certain kinds of jargon which are, in fact, useless in and unrelated to the social contexts in which they live and work.
2. The Social Sciences do not raise new questions or generate any fresh answers to old questions. Instead, they simply reproduce entrenched ideological positions and students are either brow-beaten or morally ashamed into accepting these positions. The implications of this spill over into all fields and all levels of education. Right from primary school onwards, we are taught to look at and describe everything from Indian history to human interactions to national and international conflicts through the lens of these ideological positions taken by the social sciences.
3. The impact of this is evident on those who wish to understand and contribute to society in general and to their own social contexts in particular. Our education does not train them to raise problems and develop solutions. Instead, it offers only one option — to become moral critics and vigilantes of Indian culture and society.
Considering that India is poised to become a leading force in the world in the coming decades, if we cannot produce an education that will allow us to understand ourselves and solve our problems, what can we hope to contribute to the world? In such a scenario, it becomes very important that young people, students and professionals, be given opportunities outside prescribed syllabi and the confines of their jobs to learn to think about issues that shape our contemporary reality.
The course will combine lectures with exercises and activities geared towards teaching you how to think and not just what to think. The course will focus on issues such as caste, the status of women in India, the way the West sees India, etc. The course introduces participants to a few elements within the research programme of the comparative science of cultures, an international research programme which seeks to transform the contemporary social sciences.
We recommend participants stay on campus since rigorous individual and group work will be expected from you.
– Who can opt for the course?
The course is open to anyone who has a serious interest in learning how to think about India in a manner that reconciles our everyday experiences with our understanding of India.
– Who will conduct the course?
The course is offered by core faculty at SDM CIRHS, Dr. Dunkin Jalki and Dr. Sufiya Pathan, in partnership with scholars who have expertise in the particular issues being tackled by the course.
– Fees, Accommodation, and Food
The course fee is Rs. 1800/- (residential, with accommodation in the SDM Student hostel). All participants will get a certificate, course material, snacks, tea and lunch (in the SDM Student hostel) for 5 days.
– How to apply?
Send us an email with your name, institutional affiliation, educational qualifications and current occupation/educational pursuit to CIRHS@sdmcujire.in or CIRHScourses@gmail.com The duration of the course is 5 days. The number of seats for each course is limited to 20. We encourage you to apply as soon as possible.
For updates about the summer courses and other activities, watch this space and subscribe to our Facebook page!