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

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Crisis in Indian Universities

Towards Education for Liberation

Liberal Education and Its Discontents: The Crisis in the Indian University by Shashikala Srinivasan, New Delhi: Routledge, 2019; pp 246, `995.


Shashikala Srinivasan’s book Liberal Education and Its Discontents: The Crisis in the Indian University (2019) is a critical intervention in the ongoing debate on the “crisis” of universities in India. The question she raises is about the nature of the crisis in ­India, and is part of the larger global ­debate on decolonising the university in different parts of the world, especially in South America and the African continent—though its repercussions are felt strongly in the global North too.1 Her central question is straightforward—what is the fundamental cause of the crisis of the modern liberal university in India and whether it is similar to that in the West? By only addressing this fundamental cause of the crisis, can we have a flourishing education system that will suit our needs?

In the introduction, Srinivasan claims that this debate in the West and India is different. In the West, at least, there was a “golden” period when liberal education and the modern liberal university captured the best ideals of intellectual inquiry and good life for the society; however, this stands compromised due to the neo-liberal transformation of the university (pp 4–8). The responses to this change have been either revivalism or transformation in order to change the aims of education for the 21st century. However, in India, Srinivasan claims that liberal education was never able to do the job for which it was established, that is, to morally uplift the “natives” to become truthful and “civilised” in taste and manners (Chapter 3). Since independence, we have not been able to make these liberal education institutions “our own” (Chapter 4).

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Updated On : 20th Mar, 2022
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