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Nature, Processes And Politics of Education

S. Srinivasa Rao

By Krishna Kumar
Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2005, pp. 224, Rs. 295.00

VOLUME XXIX NUMBER 10 October 2005

During the period after 1991, several waves have attempted to erase the earlier notions of what the Indian state stood for. Most importantly, neo-liberalism as a state policy has called for a new framework to understand society and the role of education in it. Neo-liberal policies threw up some contradictions such as ‘should education facilitate reproduction of elitism’ or ‘should it facilitate inclusion of a large number of non-literate masses’, or ‘should it attempt to achieve excellence at the cost of the goal of equality’ in the Indian society and education system. Similarly, the wave of religious revivalism with the active involvement of the state machinery has also demanded a new set of tools to understand the implications from a socio-historical outlook. Further, the post-1991 period also symbolized the rise of various movements for self-assertion and identity from the lower strata of the society. The book Political Agenda of Education by Krishna Kumar includes a discussion of all these aspects and produces a brilliant account of the nature, processes, and politics of education in the colonial and postcolonial backdrop.   The book under review is a second edition of the book that was first published in 1991. Though the book largely retains the focus, contents and concerns of the first edition, it also adds a few changes to the chapters to address certain shortcomings perceived by the author in the first edition. The most important change is the inclusion of a section on girls’ education in a discussion of equality in Chapter V. The author elaborates and extends the discussion of caste as a crucial factor of equality in educational opportunity. Moreover, the resurgence of Hindu revivalism as a major political force finds place in Chapter VII. These changes strengthen the arguments put forward by the author in analysing and presenting a critique of the colonial and postcolonial agenda of education. The changes are also necessitated and justified by the post-1991 developments in Indian society in general and the education system in particular.   The book is organized into two parts. The first part deals with what the author claims are the ‘dynamics of colonization’ and situates knowledge within the socio-cultural life of Indian society at that point of time. The author grapples with the question of how the concept of knowledge confines the teacher’s perception of ‘order’ and limits his/her worldview that in turn is transacted to the child in a ...

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