Friday, March 19, 2010

'Class Conciousness, Foreign Universities and Achalayatan'

While reading the - 'Interview, Eric Hobsbawm, World Distempers, New Left Review, 61, Jan - Feb 2010', the interlinkages between class conciousness and opening of foreign universities in India rose up in the upper layers of the mind. Eric Hobsbawm mentions in the article how schools, universities in the modern education system can create a class conciousness by creating a wealth divide between the people of the society having an access to the higher level of degrees (like Ph.d) and those who dont get that. Immediately, what I felt that - will with the opening of foreign universities in India (as being planned) the society in India would face a similar kind of class divide and class concious elitism seperated by a wealth divide. Will it happen - that the universities will come with a profit motive and it would allow and lead to an access to higher education for certain students from a particular segment of the society. Will it enhance the large inequity that exists in our country in today's context. While all these thoughts were coming on one side of the brain and going to the other side like a ping pong game, I decided to put a pause in the ping pong going inside my mind.

Immediately thought from the perspective of a fresh ping pong game. The thought process for the new ping pong game was driven by a behavioural agenda. I was thinking how much of this class inequity, conciousness feeling is driven by xenophobia. Or the other way round, how much of the decision of opening universities in India is driven by the feeling of being confident about dealing with pros and cons of globalisation. Is it driven by colonial hangover and politics of the philosophy of colonisation being unculcated through the new system of post modern education.

While thinking about all these, i sensed there is a sense of claustrophobia that germinates whenever i try to think that the interlinkage between class conciousness, opening of new universities could be seen through the lense of politics of the philosophy of modern education system. This is because since adoloscence, when i acted in two plays - 'Achalayatan' and 'Tasher Desh', a thought got deeply ingrained in adoloscent mind that we as a nation should always feel proud and confident to interact, mix and learn from different cultures all across the globe. When it comes to learning for humanity, the stale aspects of cultural conformist bias should not hinder us from learning.

The question in this cross road is whether the opening of new foreign universities would have such a human face and would help us to grow as a nation and society. Or will it be again creating a divide and class conciousness, elitism from profit seeking motives.

As a dreamer (often day dreamer also when i am lost in blank, stoic, lost world during the day) and optimist, I would like to feel that we as a nation would not move towards the brink of a new 'Achalayatan' but would move forward as a nation.

But really speaking time would tell and may be the great philosopher - 'Rabindranath Tagore' would have been able to enlighten us today if he would have been alive.


  1. I don't see how more universities (overseas or homegrown) could add to existing class divide among the educated.

    In my experience, class divide in educational domain in India falls under the following three main categories:
    1) in terms of higher degrees (bachelors, masters, PhD, MBA etc)
    2) degrees from prestigious institutions (ivy leagues, government universities, private institutions etc)
    3) degrees in specific fields (medicine, engineering, pure sciences etc)

    Introducing more institutions (quantity) and newer subjects (by introducing new courses and subjects) could perhaps broaden our perspective, make us receptive (to new areas of study) and give more people the opportunity to study.*

    Being an optimist, I see this as an opportunity to bridge the educational divide both in terms of quantity and variety.


    * The only concern here being that students in India should not spend a significant portion of their life about worrying as how to pay off their educational loans (e.g; students in the US)

  2. What I understood from your writeup is that the more options we have the more students will get educated. That looks to me a plus for our society. As a matter of fact the classicism due to various reasons is already there in even our modern and civilized society and hopefully this act will help in bridging the gap.