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Practices, Contradictions and Implications


A.R. Vasavi

EDUCATIONAL REGIMES IN CONTEMPORARY INDIA
Edited by Radhika Chopra and Patricia Jeffery in collaboration with Helmut Reifeld
Sage Publications, Delhi, 2005, pp. 346, Rs. 380.00

VOLUME XXIX NUMBER 10 October 2005

At last we have on hand a book that provides a comprehensive review of the existing macro factors and micro structures and practices of education in India. Although framed within the idea of identifying the different practices and institutions as ‘educational regimes’, in which the definition of an education regime remains inadequate, the book will enable us to raise questions through which the range of educational practices and their contradictions and implications for the larger society and nation can be reviewed and understood.   In an otherwise comprehensive introductory essay, Patricia Jeffery fails to note the key contradiction in India where the integration of educational institutions into the globalizing market economy under the aegis of international aid agencies has meant not only increasing privatization but also the stipulation of inclusive elementary educational opportunities for the low-ranked caste groups and girls which the state itself had not bothered to insist upon. But the key trends and pressures that Patricia Jeffery identifies, that of the demand for inclusion by the low-ranked caste groups, the growing Hinduization and the criticisms against westernization (or the growing demand for indigenous education) and the increasing globalization are representative of some of the growing strains and fissures of our education structures. The fact that these demands and preferences are marked by structures and processes that thwart or distort them are highlighted in a number of essays in the book. For example, Ramya Subramanian indicates how the constitutional obligation of equality of educational opportunity is lost in the context of a ‘school ethos’ in which the educability of low-ranked children is challenged by upper caste teachers in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Similarly, Sarada Balagopalan highlights, in a socially nuanced and theoretically rigorous essay, the contradictory impact of an education project for poor children in Kolkata. Questioning the objectives and impact of such universalist agendas, she indicates that given the everyday reality of being working children, and the conditions of such schooling (with poor facilities, inadequate and inappropriate pedagogies) results in the failure to ‘successfully transform…working children’s identities into schooled subjects” (p. 94). Vicariously, her essay also highlights for us the failure of a so-called Communist Party in the state to have negated the existence of such deprivation. Addressing the issue of girls’ opportunity to elementary education, Elspeth Page indicates the continued failure to enhance girls’ rights to education and the problematic gender-based differences in opportunity which are compounded ...


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