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

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Practice of Caste in Higher Education

Beyond Inclusion: The Practice of Equal Access in Indian Higher Education edited by Satish Deshpande and Usha Zacharias (New Delhi: Routledge), 2013; pp 356, Rs 415 (hardback).

For many centuries in China, India, as well as in the West, it was an accepted idea that only a few should get a higher education. Louis Dumont reminds us that a world view of hierarchy has been far more widespread and deeply entrenched than those who believe in equality usually imagine. Most people today live in states which formally accept a principle of universal equality. As Satish Deshpande says in his introductory essay to the volume under review, this is a paradoxical situation of a legal guarantee of equality in societies which are actually structured so as to maintain and reproduce inequality. The resolution of this profound contradiction between our beliefs and our personal and institutional practices may be a long-drawn struggle.

It was only as late as the middle of the 20th century that ideas like those of socialism, social democracy and equality of all within the nation state came together in western Europe to create an explosion of new universities and enrolments. An alliance of powerful trade unions with industry created political coalitions that led this change, which asked that the majority should benefit from higher education, rather than stay with a situation where the majority was left out.

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