ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Creating a New Marginality: Politics, Policies and Pedagogy in India


Narayana Sukumar - University of Delhi, Department of Political Science, Delhi, India


18 – Deviant Bodies, Prohibited Territories and Academia in South Asia


 In a deeply hierarchical society, many marginalized groups-tribals and dalits in India were able to access education only because of the constitutional policies. For more than seven decades, despite various hiccups, these policies enabled a vibrant, conscious, academic community to emerge from within these groups who gradually took over as the vanguard of various epidemic spaces.

This journey led to multiple contestations as the control over education was being democratized. The dominant social groups found it difficult to accept the presence of ‘deviant bodies’ in academia which challenged their epistemic power. This became more obvious when India adopted the roadmap of economic liberalization which altered the perceptions around education. From a social good, it transformed into a marketable commodity. In the last couple few years, the change has become more drastic when public education institutions are being steamrolled and private and foreign universities are being welcomed.

This paper focuses on the politics of education polices and its impact on the pedagogy which is neglecting social concerns and progressive ideas. Dalit and tribal students are finding it more difficult to access education as the input costs have increased. The space for liberal discourse has shrunk and only few predetermined ideas are being accepted. The paper will critically evaluate official policies and data to substantiate the above arguments.