ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Krishna KumarSubscribe to Krishna Kumar

Winning Values

The National Curriculum Framework is not merely about curriculum renewal. It marks, and it has occasioned, a serious shift in educational policy and the process of formulating national programme of education through which the role of the states has been reduced to a minimum. The euphoric response of the central government to the Supreme Court verdict is an indication of the importance that it places on establishing this new process as well as the curriculum.

Opening a Window, Just

India’s Newspaper Revolution: Capitalism, Politics and the Indian Language Press, 1977-99, by Robin Jeffrey; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2000; pp xviii + 234, Rs 545

Education Reforms: Inspired Incompetence

Professional ethics and standards are irrelevant for a dispensation concerned only with the instrumentality of education as a means of social control and ideological propagation. Why the system proved so weak and vulnerable to this kind of summary manipulation is a question that reflects on the character of the Indian state's encounter with modernity.

Colonial Modernity

Lessons from Schools by Nita Kumar; Sage, New Delhi, 2000; pp 232, Rs 200. Constructing Post-Colonial India by Sanjay Srivastava; Routledge, London, 1998; pp 257.

Looking beyond the Smokescreen

The system of primary education in India has yet to be analysed critically - a critique that would seek to probe the linkages between education and social change. This study seeks to initiate that process by looking at the District Primary Education Programme (DPED) that was subscribed to by most World Bank borrowers, including India, as a social safety net against the social and economic turmoil that followed any structural adjustment processes. In India, the reach of DPEP extended to 240 districts across 16 states, within the first six years of its existence. Despite this, surveys showed a decline in growth at the primary enrolment stage in most Indian states. More disturbing was the increasing presence of the 'para teacher' and the consequent labelling of the full-time teacher as an impediment to the system's further development.

Neighbour's Language

Language, Education and Culture by Tariq Rahman; Oxford University Press, Karachi, 1999.

Education: Noise and Design

The NCERT's discussion document 'National Curriculum Framework for School Education' brings out the professional cost that the NCERT pays directly, and the rest of us pay indirectly, on account of indifference to historical awareness.

Obituary : S Shukla

His paramount concern, which remained unchanged throughout his life, to promote the study of education for its own sake, marked Sureshchandra Shukla as an educationist different from the rest of his generation who saw in education mainly a simple tool for nationbuilding and social transformation. For Shukla the gist of education lay in its linkages and responsiveness to transformative economic and social processes.

Freire s Legacy

of 1997 remained largely unnoticed in India's academic world. That makes sense, considering how marginal a presence education has as an area of enquiry in our academia. What makes things worse for Freire's memory is the strange fact that in India the left, unlike the right, has no serious concern for education. But even the non-government organisations (NGOs) world, which owes a substantial part of its current key vocabulary and its legitimacy to Freire, paid him no major tribute. To an extent we can attribute this indifference to the general despair prevailing among those who believe that ideas ought to permeate social action. A possible parallel reason relates to the culture of activism which treats any time taken for reflection, for example, reflection on a departee's legacy, as an essentially academic exercise, implying second-rate importance. The concept of activism is a part of Freire's legacy, and though an incomplete part, it now appears to be the only form of resistance that works. Finally, one other reason for the indifference shown to Freire may be the steady decline of Freire's own distinctiveness over the last few years of his life. Freire's rise as a source of dramatic influence, and an eventual 'fair constitute a story of dramatic influence, and an eventual 'fair constitute a story of some historical value, especially from the viewpoint of colonised societies like that of India, Towards the end of the 1960s Freire was thrown into exile by the military rulers of his native Brazil. They had found the 43-year old Freire guilty of encouraging peasants to reflect on their own condition with a view to waging a collective effort towards changing it. For Freire, this was an educational engagement with the people. Out of this experience and the response it received from the people and their military rulers, Freire composed his elaborate philosophical statement which first appeared in English translation in the early 1970s under the title Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Within a short while, the book became a worldwide hit, initially competing with another popular text of the 1970s, namely Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich, but eventually outpacing it. IIIich himself described Freire's book as "a truly revolutionary pedagogy". Several other books by Freire followed, but for the vast majority of his readers the Pedagogy remained his most reliable and distinctive statement. Freire resented this fact as any writer would, but he acknowledged his readers' identification of him with his first book by naming his penultimate book as Pedagogy of Hope. Published in 1994, it provides a collection of personal narratives on the reception of the first Pedagogy, Freire's last book, published just before his death, was Letters to Christina, his niece to whom he wrote some 18 long letters explaining his life and work. The lust letter shows how anxious Freire was in the evening of his life about the threat posed to human dignity and freedom by what he called the rebirth of Nazi-Fascist ideology everywhere and the left's vacillating stance towards its own role.

Education and Society in Post-Independence India-Looking towards the Future

Looking towards the Future Krishna Kumar Three tendencies are discernible in the current scenario in education: the first is related to the drastic reduction in the number of children who proceed beyond the primary and secondary stages; the second, the preponderance of higher education, with the culturally dominant and economically stronger sections of society using the state's resources to consolidate their hold on the state apparatus; and thirdly, the inherent divisiveness in the system which protects class interests. How will these tendencies influence the future of new economic policies and will themselves change?

Knowledge and Social Control

Krishna Kumar The Transmission of Knowledge in South Asia edited by Nigel Crook; Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1996; Rs 495.
THIS book is about the relations between education and power. Religion and the media have also been included in this theme. The appearance of this volume offers some reassurance to the effect that the desire to examine factors controlling access to knowledge has not quite drowned in the din of post-modernism and internetism. It makes sense that the attempt has been made at the behest of historians. Their focus is south Asia, or rather the pre-partition territory of India; in fact, mainly northern India. This rather narrow concept of south Asia notwithstanding, the volume can be said to introduce a much-needed corrective into the remarkably parochial body of literature produced by European and North American scholars, such as Bourdieu and Apple, on production and reproduction of knowledge. At times it looks as if these eminent progressive scholars have no concern for societies less materially endowed in the prevailing international order than their own. A recent tome, entitled Education: Culture, Economy, Society, edited by A H Halsey and others (OUP, 1997), has not one among its 52 essays about the colonially exploited parts of the world. The south Asia focus of the present volume also, to a modest extent, compensates the neglect of education as an important sphere of the study of Indian history. The seminar at which the papers published here were first presented was held at the School of Oriental and African Studies in 1991. Nigel Crook's introductory essay summarises the common concern of the contributions as an attempt to conceptualise and describe the social agenda underlying the transmission of knowledge. The obvious question, whether south Asia can be seen as a single socio-cultural unit, is recognised and disposed of early, with the statement that "in this volume we are more inclined to focus on the plurality of cultures". "More inclined" is accurate, because the volume simply does not have enough contributions which might represent the demographic, geographical, religious and linguistic diversity of the Indian subcontinent, let alone the rest of south Asia. Bengal emerges as one area of focus; the Indo-Gangetic belt as another. Neither is fortuitous, because these are the areas about which some decent spade work on educational history exists. In terms of

Representing Narmada

Representing Narmada Krishna Kumar In the Belly of the River by Amita Baviskar; Oxford University Press, Delhi,
AMITA BAVISKAR provides what might well be the most succinct and unreluctantly partisan summary of the Sardar Sarovar Project given by an objective researcher to date: 'The SSP is one of India's many large multi-purpose river valley projects that seek to abrogate the riparian rights of one section of the population in order to provide water or electricity to other people, mainly elites" (p 198). For a book written with conscious sensitivity to words, and not just to problems, this is a remarkable statement of commitment indeed, especially in view of the fact that it leaves the term 'elites' in a state of undefined vagueness. In another place where Baviskar suggests that she has her ear'closer to the ground, she disaggregates the term 'elites' and finds a section of them to be among the losers in the SSP game. She claims that the interests of this section, namely the patidars of Nimar, have been downplayed even as another riparian community, that of bhilalas inhabiting the hilly vicinity of the Sardar Sarovar dam, has been 'showcased' by the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA). As the book proceeds beyond the gentle anthropology of the middle chapters describing bhilalalife, it picks up an irascible and wordy tone. This new tone remains somewhat under control in the portion portraying the conscientising efforts of the Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath (KMCS), but gets audibly shrill towards the final sections which describe the politics of the NBA. Though aware and even appreciative of the NBA's pervasive effect on the valley, the book accuses it of lacking integrity. Luckily, there are limits to what can be proved in the course of adoctoral dissertation, even one written for Cornell. The charge against NBA remains unsubstantiated, and the reader is left to wonder whether Baviskar had attempted too much, especially with her ambition to span the vast distance that any student of society should know separates the logic of enquiry from the logic of action.


Back to Top