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Month: August 2015 (Page 1 of 3)

Theoretical contribution of Karl Marx

Marx believed that he could study history and society scientifically and discern tendencies of history and the resulting outcome of social conflicts. Some followers of Marx concluded, therefore, that a communist revolution is inevitable. However, Marx famously asserted in the eleventh of his Theses on Feuerbach that “philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point however is to change it”, and he clearly dedicated himself to trying to alter the world. Consequently, most followers of Marx are not fatalists, but activists who believe that revolutionaries must organize social change.

Marx’s view of history, which came to be called the materialist conception of history (and which was developed further as the philosophy of dialectical materialism) is certainly influenced by Hegel’s claim that reality (and history) should be viewed dialectically. Hegel believed that the direction of human history is characterized in the movement from the fragmentary toward the complete and the real (which was also a movement towards greater and greater rationality). Sometimes, Hegel explained, this progressive unfolding of the Absolute involves gradual, evolutionary accretion but at other times requires discontinuous, revolutionary leaps – episodal upheavals against the existing status quo. For example, Hegel strongly opposed the ancient institution of legal slavery that was practiced in the United States during his lifetime, and he envisioned a time when Christian nations would radically eliminate it from their civilization. While Marx accepted this broad conception of history, Hegel was an idealist, and Marx sought to rewrite dialectics in materialist terms. He wrote that Hegelianism stood the movement of reality on its head, and that it was necessary to set it upon its feet. (Hegel’s philosophy remained and remains in direct opposition to Marxism on this key point.)

Marx’s acceptance of this notion of materialist dialectics which rejected Hegel’s idealism was greatly influenced by Ludwig Feuerbach. In The Essence of Christianity, Feuerbach argued that God is really a creation of man and that the qualities people attribute to God are really qualities of humanity. Accordingly, Marx argued that it is the material world that is real and that our ideas of it are consequences, not causes, of the world. Thus, like Hegel and other philosophers, Marx distinguished between appearances and reality. But he did not believe that the material world hides from us the “real” world of the ideal; on the contrary, he thought that historically and socially specific ideologies prevented people from seeing the material conditions of their lives clearly.

The other important contribution to Marx’s revision of Hegelianism was Engels’ book, The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844, which led Marx to conceive of the historical dialectic in terms of class conflict and to see the modern working class as the most progressive force for revolution.The notion of labour is fundamental in Marx’s thought. Basically, Marx argued that it is human nature to transform nature, and he calls this process of transformation “labour” and the capacity to transform nature labour power. For Marx, this is a natural capacity for a physical activity, but it is intimately tied to the human mind and human imagination:A spider conducts operations that resemble those of a weaver, and a bee puts to shame many an architect in the construction of her cells. But what distinguishes the worst architect from the best of bees is this, that the architect raises his structure in imagination before he erects it in reality. (Capital, Vol. I, Chap. 7, Pt. 1) Karl Marx inherits that Hegelian dialectic and, with it, a disdain for the notion of an underlying invariant human nature. Sometimes Marxists express their views by contrasting “nature” with “history”. Sometimes they use the phrase “existence precedes consciousness”. The point, in either case, is that who a person is, is determined by where and when he is – social context takes precedence over innate behavior; or, in other words, one of the main features of human nature is adaptability. Marx did not believe that all people worked the same way, or that how one works is entirely personal and individual. Instead, he argued that work is a social activity and that the conditions and forms under and through which people work are socially determined and change over time.Marx’s analysis of history is based on his distinction between the means / forces of production, literally those things, such as land, natural resources, and technology, that are necessary for the production of material goods, and the relations of production, in other words, the social and technical relationships people enter into as they acquire and use the means of production. Together these comprise the mode of production; Marx observed that within any given society the mode of production changes, and that European societies had progressed from a feudal mode of production to a capitalist mode of production. In general, Marx believed that the means of production change more rapidly than the relations of production (for example, we develop a new technology, such as the Internet, and only later do we develop laws to regulate that technology). For Marx this mismatch between (economic) base and (social) superstructure is a major source of social disruption and conflict. Marx understood the “social relations of production” to comprise not only relations among individuals, but between or among groups of people, or classes. As a scientist and materialist, Marx did not understand classes as purely subjective (in other words, groups of people who consciously identified with one another). He sought to define classes in terms of objective criteria, such as their access to resources. For Marx, different classes have divergent interests, which is another source of social disruption and conflict. Conflict between social classes being something which is inherent in all human history: The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. (The Communist Manifesto, Chap. 1) Marx was especially concerned with how people relate to that most fundamental resource of all, their own labour-power. Marx wrote extensively about this in terms of the problem of alienation. As with the dialectic, Marx began with a Hegelian notion of alienation but developed a more materialist conception. For Marx, the possibility that one may give up ownership of one’s own labour – one’s capacity to transform the world – is tantamount to being alienated from one’s own nature; it is a spiritual loss. Marx described this loss in terms of commodity fetishism, in which the things that people produce, commodities, appear to have a life and movement of their own to which humans and their behavior merely adapt. This disguises the fact that the exchange and circulation of commodities really are the product and reflection of social relationships among people. Under capitalism, social relationships of production, such as among workers or between workers and capitalists, are mediated through commodities, including labor, that are bought and sold on the market.

Commodity fetishism is an example of what Engels called false consciousness, which is closely related to the understanding of ideology. By ideology they meant ideas that reflect the interests of a particular class at a particular time in history, but which are presented as universal and eternal. Marx and Engels’ point was not only that such beliefs are at best half-truths; they serve an important political function. Put another way, the control that one class exercises over the means of production includes not only the production of food or manufactured goods; it includes the production of ideas as well (this provides one possible explanation for why members of a subordinate class may hold ideas contrary to their own interests). Thus, while such ideas may be false, they also reveal in coded form some truth about political relations. For example, although the belief that the things people produce are actually more productive than the people who produce them is literally absurd, it does reflect the fact (according to Marx and Engels) that people under capitalism are alienated from their own labour-power. Another example of this sort of analysis is Marx’s understanding of religion, summed up in a passage from the preface to his 1843 Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. Whereas his Gymnasium senior thesis argued that the primary social function of religion was to promote solidarity, here Marx sees the social function as a way of expressing and coping with social inequality, thereby maintaining the status quo. Marx argued that this alienation of human work (and resulting commodity fetishism) is precisely the defining feature of capitalism. Prior to capitalism, markets existed in Europe where producers and merchants bought and sold commodities. According to Marx, a capitalist mode of production developed in Europe when labor itself became a commodity – when peasants became free to sell their own labor-power, and needed to do so because they no longer possessed their own land or tools necessary to produce. People sell their labor-power when they accept compensation in return for whatever work they do in a given period of time (in other words, they are not selling the product of their labor, but their capacity to work). In return for selling their labor power they receive money, which allows them to survive. Those who must sell their labor power to live are “proletarians.” The person who buys the labor power, generally someone who does own the land and technology to produce, is a “capitalist” or “bourgeois.” (Marx considered this an objective description of capitalism, distinct from any one of a variety of ideological claims of or about capitalism). The proletarians inevitably outnumber the capitalists.

Marx distinguished industrial capitalists from merchant capitalists. Merchants buy goods in one place and sell them in another; more precisely, they buy things in one market and sell them in another. Since the laws of supply and demand operate within given markets, there is often a difference between the price of a commodity in one market and another. Merchants, then, practice arbitrage, and hope to capture the difference between these two markets. According to Marx, capitalists, on the other hand, take advantage of the difference between the labor market and the market for whatever commodity is produced by the capitalist. Marx observed that in practically every successful industry input unit-costs are lower than output unit-prices. Marx called the difference “surplus value” and argued that this surplus value had its source in surplus labour.

The capitalist mode of production is capable of tremendous growth because the capitalist can, and has an incentive to, reinvest profits in new technologies. Marx considered the capitalist class to be the most revolutionary in history, because it constantly revolutionized the means of production. But Marx argued that capitalism was prone to periodic crises. He suggested that over time, capitalists would invest more and more in new technologies, and less and less in labor. Since Marx believed that surplus value appropriated from labor is the source of profits, he concluded that the rate of profit would fall even as the economy grew. When the rate of profit falls below a certain point, the result would be a recession or depression in which certain sectors of the economy would collapse. Marx understood that during such a crisis the price of labor would also fall, and eventually make possible the investment in new technologies and the growth of new sectors of the economy.

M arx believed that this cycle of growth, collapse, and growth would be punctuated by increasingly severe crises. Moreover, he believed that the long-term consequence of this process was necessarily the enrichment and empowerment of the capitalist class and the impoverishment of the proletariat. He believed that were the proletariat to seize the means of production, they would encourage social relations that would benefit everyone equally, and a system of production less vulnerable to periodic crises. In general, Marx thought that peaceful negotiation of this problem was impracticable, and that a massive, well-organized and violent revolution would in general be required, because the ruling class would not give up power without violence. He theorized that to establish the socialist system, a dictatorship of the proletariat – a period where the needs of the working-class, not of capital, will be the common deciding factor – must be created on a temporary basis. As he wrote in his “Critique of the Gotha Program”, “between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.”

In the 1920s and ’30s, a group of dissident Marxists founded the Institute for Social Research in Germany, among them Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Erich Fromm, and Herbert Marcuse. As a group, these authors are often called the Frankfurt School. Their work is known as Critical Theory, a type of Marxist philosophy and cultural criticism heavily influenced by Hegel, Freud, Nietzsche, and Max Weber.The Frankfurt School broke with earlier Marxists, including Lenin and Bolshevism in several key ways. First, writing at the time of the ascendance of Stalinism and Fascism, they had grave doubts as to the traditional Marxist concept of proletarian class consciousness. Second, unlike earlier Marxists, especially Lenin, they rejected economic determinism. While highly influential, their work has been criticized by both orthodox Marxists and some Marxists involved in political practice for divorcing Marxist theory from practical struggle and turning Marxism into a purely academic enterprise.Other influential non-Bolshevik Marxists at that time include Georg Lukacs, Walter Benjamin and Antonio Gramsci, who along with the Frankfurt School are often known by the term Western Marxism. Henryk Grossman, who elaborated the mathematical basis of Marx’s ‘law of capitalist breakdown’, was another affiliate of the Frankfurt School. Also prominent during this period was the Polish revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg.In 1949 Paul Sweezy and Leo Huberman founded Monthly Review, a journal and press, to provide an outlet for Marxist thought in the United States independent of the Communist Party.In 1978, G. A. Cohen attempted to defend Marx’s thought as a coherent and scientific theory of history by reconstructing it through the lens of analytic philosophy. This gave birth to Analytical Marxism, an academic movement which also included Jon Elster, Adam Przeworski and John Roemer. Bertell Ollman is another Anglophone champion of Marx within the academ.


According to Karl Marx in all stratified societies there are two major social groups: a ruling class and a subject class. The ruling class derives its power from its ownership and control of the forces of production. The ruling class exploits and oppresses the subject class. As a result there is a basic conflict of interest between the two classes. The various institutions of society such as the legal and political system are instruments of ruling class domination and serve to further its interests. Marx believed that western society developed through four main epochs-primitive communism, ancient society, feudal society and capitalist society. Primitive communism is represented by the societies of pre-history and provides the only example of the classless society. From then all societies are divided into two major classes – master and slaves in ancient society, lords and serfs in feudal society and capitalist and wage labourers in capitalist society. Weber sees class in economic terms. He argues that classes develop in market economies in which individuals compete for economic gain. He defines a class as a group of individuals who share a similar position in market economy and by virtue of that fact receive similar economic rewards. Thus a person’s class situation is basically his market situation. Those who share a similar class situation also share similar life chances. Their economic position will directly affect their chances of obtaining those things defined as desirable in their society. Weber argues that the major class division is between those who own the forces of production and those who do not. He distinguished the following class grouping in capitalist society:

The propertied upper class
The property less white collar workers
The petty bourgeoisie
The manual working class.


Talcott Parsons believe that order, stability and cooperation in society are based on value consensus that is a general agreement by members of society concerning what is good and worthwhile. Stratification system derives from common values it follows from the existence of values that individuals will be evaluated and therefore placed in some form of rank order. Stratification is the ranking of units in a social system in accordance with the common value system. Those who perform successfully in terms of society’s values will be ranked highly and they will be likely to receive a variety of rewards and will be accorded high prestige since they exemplify and personify common values. According to Kingsley Davis and Moore stratification exists in every known human society. All social system shares certain functional prerequisites which must be met if the system is to survive and operate efficiently. One such prerequisite is role allocation and performance. This means that all roles must be filled. They will be filled by those best able to perform them. The necessary training for them is undertaken and that the roles are performed conscientiously. Davis and Moore argue that all societies need some mechanism for insuring effective role allocation and performance. This mechanism is social stratification which they see as a system which attaches unequal rewards and privileges to the positions

Caste system in India

Main features of caste system

    • Functions of the caste system
    • Dominant caste
    • Purity and Pollution
    • Sanskritization

Caste is closely connected with the Hindu philosophy and religion, custom and tradition .It is believed to have had a divine origin and sanction. It is deeply rooted social institution in India. There are more than 2800 castes and sub-castes with all their peculiarities. The term caste is derived from the Spanish word caste meaning breed or lineage. The word caste also signifies race or kind. The Sanskrit word for caste is varna which means colour.The caste stratification of the Indian society had its origin in the chaturvarna system. According to this doctrine the Hindu society was divided into four main varnas – Brahmins, Kashtriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras.The Varna system prevalent during the Vedic period was mainly based on division of labour and occupation. The caste system owns its origin to the Varna system. Ghurye says any attempt to define caste is bound to fail because of the complexity of the phenomenon. According to Risely caste is a collection of families bearing a common name claiming a common descent from a mythical ancestor professing to follow the same hereditary calling and regarded by those who are competent to give an opinion as forming a single homogeneous community. According to Maclver and Page when status is wholly predetermined so that men are born to their lot without any hope of changing it, then the class takes the extreme form of caste. Cooley says that when a class is somewhat strictly hereditary we may call it caste.M.N Srinivas sees caste as a segmentary system. Every caste for him divided into sub castes which are the units of endogamy whose members follow a common occupation, social and ritual life and common culture and whose members are governed by the same authoritative body viz the panchayat.According to Bailey caste groups are united into a system through two principles of segregation and hierarchy. For Dumont caste is not a form of stratification but as a special form of inequality. The major attributes of caste are the hierarchy, the separation and the division of labour.Weber sees caste as the enhancement and transformation of social distance into religious or strictly a magical principle. For Adrian Mayer caste hierarchy is not just determined by economic and political factors although these are important.

Caste system hierarchically divides the society. A sense of highness and lowness or superiority and inferiority is associated with this gradation or ranking. The Brahmins are placed at the top of the hierarchy and are regarded as pure or supreme. The degraded caste or the untouchables have occupied the other end of the hierarchy. The status of an individual is determined by his birth and not by selection nor by accomplishments. Each caste has its own customs, traditions practices and rituals.It has its own informal rules, regulations and procedures. The caste panchayats or the caste councils regulate the conduct of members. The caste system has imposed certain restrictions on the food habitats of the members these differ from caste to caste. In North India Brahmin would accept pakka food only from some castes lower than his own. But he would not accept kachcha food prepared with the use of water at the hands of no other caste except his own. As a matter of rule and practice no individual would accept kachcha food prepared by an inferior casteman.The caste system put restriction on the range of social relations also. The idea of pollution means a touch of lower caste man would pollute or defile a man of higher caste. Even his shadow is considered enough to pollute a higher caste man. The lower caste people suffered from certain socio-religious disabilities. The impure castes are made to live on the outskirts of the city and they are not allowed to draw water from the public wells. In earlier times entrance to temples and other places of religious importance were forbidden to them. Educational facilities, legal rights and political representation were denied to them for a very long time. If the lower castes suffer from certain disabilities some higher caste like the Brahmins enjoy certain privileges like conducting prayers in the temples etc.There is gradation of occupations also. Some occupations are considered superior and sacred while certain others degrading and inferior. For a long time occupations were very much associated with the caste system. Each caste had its own specific occupations which were almost hereditary. There was no scope for individual talent, aptitude, enterprise or abilities. The caste system imposes restrictions on marriage also. Caste is an endogamous group. Each caste is subdivided into certain sub castes which are again endogamous.Intercaste marriages are still looked down upon in the traditional Indian society.

Functions of the caste system

The caste system is credited to ensure the continuity of the traditional social organization of India. It has accommodated multiple communities including invading tribes in the Indian society. The knowledge and skills of the occupations have passed down from one generation to the next. Through subsystems like Jajmani system the caste system promoted interdependent interaction between various castes and communities with in a village. The rituals and traditions promoted cooperation and unity between members of the different castes.Caste system promoted untouchability and discrimination against certain members of the society. It hindered both horizontal and vertical social mobility forcing an individual to carry on the traditional occupation against his or her will and capacity. The status of women was affected and they were relegated to the background. The caste system divided the society into mutually hostile and conflicting groups and subgroups.

Dominant caste

Purity and Pollution

The notions of purity and pollution are critical for defining and understanding caste hierarchy. According to these concepts, Brahmins hold the highest rank and Shudras the lowest in the caste hierarchy. The Varna System represents a social stratification which includes four varnas namely- Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Shudras.The Shudras were allocated the lowest rank of social ladder and their responsibilities included service of the three Varnas. The superior castes tried to maintain their ceremonial purity. Dumont holds the notion of purity and pollution interlinked with the caste system and untouchability.The hierarchy of caste is decided according to the degree of purity and pollution. It plays a very crucial role in maintaining the required distance between different castes. But the pollution distance varies from caste to caste and from place to place.

Dipankar Gupta observes that the notion of purity and pollution as Dumont observed is integrally linked with the institution of untouchability .But unlike untouchability the notion of purity and pollution is also a historical accretion. Over time this notion freed itself from its specific and original task of separating untouchables from the others and began to be operative at different planes of the caste system.

The concept of purity and pollution plays a very crucial role in maintaining the required distance between different castes. But the pollution distance varies from caste to caste and from place to place.


Prof M.N Srinivas introduced the term sanskritization to Indian Sociology. The term refers to a process whereby people of lower castes collectively try to adopt upper caste practices and beliefs to acquire higher status. It indicates a process of cultural mobility that is taking place in the traditional social system of India.M.N Srinivas in his study of the Coorg in Karnataka found that lower castes in order to raise their position in the caste hierarchy adopted some customs and practices of the Brahmins and gave up some of their own which were considered to be impure by the higher castes. For example they gave up meat eating, drinking liquor and animal sacrifice to their deities. They imitiated Brahmins in matters of dress, food and rituals. By this they could claim higher positions in the hierarchy of castes within a generation. The reference group in this process is not always Brahmins but may be the dominant caste of the locality.Sanskritization has occurred usually in groups who have enjoyed political and economic power but were not ranked high in ritual ranking. According to Yogendra Singh the process of sanskritization is an endogenous source of social change .Mackim Marriot observes that sanskritic rites are often added on to non-sanskritic rites without replacing them. Harold Gould writes, often the motive force behind sanskritisation is not of cultural imitation per se but an expression of challenge and revolt against the socioeconomic deprivations.

Women representation in Indian politics

  • Increase in the representation of backward castes resulted in an escalation of demands for political representation from other excluded groups, notably women.
  • Changing the social composition of the legislature may have a minimal effect on the structure of party politics, policies and outcomes for the disadvantaged groups.
  • The space available to women within the political system has not been significant (though we had a woman PM for many years)
  • Contd…
  • From 1952 to 1999 over 1400 women have contested elections and over 365 have been elected to Parliament.
  • Proportion of women in Parliament – less than 10 %
  • Parties give low preference to women candidates, even though voters are not disinclined to support their candidacy.
  • Political parties often give tickets only to attract ‘women’s votes’ or appeal to ‘women’s constituency’.
  • Women’s Reservation Bill (WRB) pending despite strong pressure from women groups
  • Interestingly, one-third reservation for women in Local Bodies
  • Challenges for political representation in India’s diverse democracy… (1)
  • To ensure a link between representatives and those represented (pave the way for substantive democracy)
  • Backward caste mobilization has successfully challenged upper caste/class domination, the experience of the north Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar
  • However, over-emphasis on descriptive representation could weaken the basis for political accountability.

With this also mention about the beginning of women liberalization in pre independence India. Women in politics idea were first initiated by liberal Indian men who received the western education and compared Indian scenario in its light. This led to help these learned few Indians raise a voice against the age old suffering women and was perhaps the first positive seed in the representation of women in India.. inspire of stances from the medieval period of Rani laxmibai (bravely lead her people against the British removing political instability in Jhansi), jodha bai (with her marriage helped to bring settlement between the rajputs and mougals) the real step towards women representation began by the socio religious reform movements that began in the early 19 century.

  • Raja ram mohan roy – helped bring law against sati, child marriage and widow remarriage
  • Vidyasagar- education for women, widow remarriage

Then later in 20th century reformist like Anne Beasant, Bal gangadhar Tilak, Gandhi made way for women to reach a representative platform.

Post independence with likes of Indira Gandhi, Sarojini naidu, Vijaylaxmi the stigma and stain of no women representation finally faded away.

At present women in the parliament have positively made their space and this has been possible due to the liberal policy and a national univocal attempt for women to be at shoulders with men.

With likes of Ms Sonia Gandhi, Ms Jayalaitha, Ms Vijayraje Sindhia, Ms Mamata banerjee, etc etc the women have definitely created a ever increasing activity centre for them in walks of social life especially in indian politics and have proved their merit.

Indian Nationalism in Contemporary India

Institution of society preceded and limited the state authority in modern India. Explain Indian nationalism in the light of this statement.( Indian Nationalism in Contemporary India)

India proclaims itself to be a nation state were by every member of it is inculcated with the feeling of nationalism and stands as one body, India is a land of diversity be it in flora and fauna or geographical and the most vivid the ethnic and racial diversity. Nehru the first prime minister of the independent dreamt of an independent and united India in due course with the lack of unifying interest the term nationalism is being challenged. India though got her independence in the year 1947 it only can proclaimed itself as a nation state in the year 1950 after the enactment of the constitution which happens to be the fundamental law of the land which governs all relationships of the people and the state. The constitution is also said to be the manifestation of nehruvian vision.

But Nehru failed to see the forth coming differences as the power came into the people of the country as India is a land where the stratification in the social aspect is inherent and inalienable and the practices were of the ruling majority  may upset the ruled minority and discontent was seen rising rampantly therefore the catastrophic  demise of nehru’s vision when the legacy that had to be continued by his heir Mrs. Indira Gandhi imposed dictatorship to subjugated the federated nationalist feeling aroused out of the discontent with the whole idea of a centralized democratic nation state were the majority ruled but in due course the interest of the minorities interest were underpinned.  

India with its founding fathers ideology of secularism that was actually a manifestation of the one sections ideal was being challenged and critic went to the extent of calling India as a pseudo secular nation to stand up to the expectation of the international norms India adapted to a ‘layered ,plural political self definition’ this happened in the year 1964 , this then became difficult for the people to accept then the state was also accused of using secularism as an “instrumental  ideology” That legitimated the action of modernist and elites and camouflaged their ventures to power. The Hindu Nationalism which the Founding Father grounded on the soil and called it secular with these found serious discrepancies. Secularism as a doctrine of state slowly lost credibility and created distrust in the society. By the year 1970 the nationalist heritage created in the times of Nehru Was no longer historically viable.

At this point of crisis the nationalist epitome the congress party also could not cushion the discontent of the people and now the prominent differences of Caste / Class rose up and many regional parties rose with local solidarity and group we feeling which were the greatest threat to the Nationalist feeling then the problem got critical and the group demanded for separatism and therefore in the mid 1970’s the things went out of hand and emergency was imposed and the whole concept of democracy succumbed to the rule of a dictator then after thing got so called to normal. Congress as a national party had lost its ground therefore the party no more stood to the principle of “internal Federalism” and the vote bank politics and coalition rule concept was brought in as the state was such that no single ideology could cater to needs of the people. Therefore this time the Congress lost it majority.

Then on the later phases nationalism was no more on the bassis of being a part of the country  but being part of certain sect., region, race, gender etc. The concept of Hindutva , Ramjanma BHumi, Indian Mujhadeen all extremist and pro self came into being the pillars of nationalism were upturned, different states gave rise to various regional parties and today is a state were no govt. Is formed with th actual consent of people but it is a result of the foul play of the ruling.

Therefore the whole definition of Nationalism has changed from :

Common Interest to group interest

National solidarity to Regional solidarity

General interest to specific interest

National norms to Religious norms. Etc

The whole concept of national integration was succumbed to the foul play of ism’s there fore  today we stand as one nation and talk about nationalism and we feeling but are we really that united is some thing that corners every Indians hearts, if we are so united then why do we still have AFSPA in the North Eastern States and we scape saying there is fear sessceion if we r so united as the constitution proclaims why so many incidents such as the Babri Masjid, Kandhamal etc.

We Indian still stand as one nation and Indians proudly assert the they are the best example of unity in diversity.

Kerala Model of Development

Regional Development of Kerala

The reasons why states are poor – cannot be attributed to just income but also low human development.

Kerala, actually stands out because it has low per capita income and yet has a high human development and it figures higher on the social indicators list.

Trickle down hypothesis says that only when you have high levels of income can the State invest in social development. So a State cannot do the latter without the former.

Kerala is an exception because it shows that a region need not wait for income to rise and for a state to intervene and invest

major features of Kerala’s developmental achievements

1. Health Achievements

Demographic indicators

In Kerala, health and demographic transitions have been achieved within a single generation, i.e. after the formation of Kerala state. Four indicators which represent the outcomes of the health and demographic transitions in Kerala are life expectancy at birth, the infant mortality rate and the birth and death rates.

Life expectancy at birth in Kerala is similar to the corresponding figures for developing countries classified as having achieved high human development in Human Development Report,1993.

The birth rate in Kerala is also much lower than the birth rate for all of India. The decline in birth rate in Kerala was particularly substantial in the 1980s. Kerala’s low birth rate is associated with comparatively high rates of birth control.

The death rate in Kerala has declined steadily since the beginning of this century, and more rapidly than the Indian average.

The infant mortality rate of kerala in 1993 is better than the average for developing countries with ‘high human development’.

Food consumption and nutrition

According to the NNMB ( National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau) data, Kerala was the only state in which consumption improved over the 2 periods ( 1975-59, 1988-90) in terms of both anthropometric and intake indicators

Literacy in kerala

Literacy – and in particular female literacy – is an essential facilitator of kerala’s achievements in the spheres of health and of demographic change

Sex ratio

A key indicator of the historical status of women in Kerala and of the influence of the culture of old kerala on socio-economic development is the sex ratio, measured here as females per thousand males in the population. The sex ratio was 1040 in 1991 and has been more than 1000 at every census since the formation of the State.

The economy

 Kerala’s achievements are an outstanding example of the power of public action even in conditions of low production growth. However, Kerala faces an acute crisis in the spheres of employment and material production. People at large and political parties perceive the problems of unemployment and production as the major economic problems of the immediate future. The question also been raised is whether the development achievements of Kerala’s people can be sustained if the employment and production situations are not transformed.

 Net state domestic product per capita in kerala is below Indian average.

 Kerala’s agriculture is characterised by the existence of a series of agricultural micro environments suited to different kinds of mixed farming and by a substantial proportion of perennial crops in total agricultural output.

 The manufacturing sector grew at 2.8 % per annum between 1970-71. and 1986-87; the corresponding growth rates in Tamil nadu and Karnataka wee 5.3% and 6.0%

 Productive capita per capita in the factory sector has been consistently lower in kerala than in the neighbouring states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

The state govt spread its invst thin ; most units were small with low absolute levels of invst. Their small sizw has made many of these enterprises financially and technologically unviable

Capital industrial entrepreneurship in Kerala is ill developed. One reason for the slow development of large and medium scale industries is  perhaps the lack of entrepreneurs interested in their development. There is only one big capitalist industrial house from Kerala.

Kerala kas the highest rate of unemployment in the country. Unemployment is high particularly among educated persons.

Kerala has a history of labour migration and remittances from outside the state influence disposable incomes significantly. From the 1970s the migration of workers to countries of West Asia particularly Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and UAE has been a major feature of social and economic life in Kerala.

 Despite the stagnation in per capita domestic income, per capita consumption expenditure registered a steady increase.

 Market forces will not ensure that productive invst appears spontaneously; transformation in the spheres of production and employment requires public intervention. State supported infrastructural invst is crucial for industrial and agricultural growth in Kerala. The potential for the expansion of skilled employment in Kerala is extraordinary. Any plan for rural economic growth in kerala must consider the very promising opportunities for growth based on the mixed cultivation of diverse crops that require skilled crop management and that involve new forms of production organisation.  

2. Historical aspects

a) Aspects of caste and gender relations in kerala

Among the worst forms of untouchability in the country were practiced in kerala, and the oppression of people of the oppressed caste took savage forms

At the top of the traditional caste hierarchy were the Namboodiris, Malayalam speaking Brahmans who were patrilineal. At the bottom of the caste- Hindu scale were the Nayars, who were matrilineal. Below the Nayars in terms of ritual status were the Izhava caste.

The diversity in the traditional caste calling of the people of the Izhava caste was to have important consequences for the Izhava social reform movt.

In traditional Kerala, matrilineal systems of inheritance were followed by an important section of people. The Nayars were matrilineal and so were some sections of Ambalavasi and Izhava caste and sections of Muslim population.

The matrilineal system influenced social and cultural development in kerala in general. It contributed to changing social attitudes and it contributed to creating social conditions in which women made real progress in health and education. Progressive social attitudes towards female survival and female education are a precondition for the health and demographic transition. In the case of Kerala, a set of historical and sociological conditions – inclusing systems of marriage and matrilineal inheritance that were specific to the region – contributed to the establishment of such attitudes.

b) Literacy expansion in the nineteenth century

Mass literacy requires mass schooling, and the history of literacy in Kerala is closely linked with the history of modern schooling, introduced in the region in the first part of the nineteenth century.

Modern schools were first established by Christian missionaries and later by the state. Protestant missionaries were pioneers of modern school education. The importance of Protestant missions for education lay in their leading role in giving a new direction to schooling in the early 19th century.

  • First, the mass base of the Protestant missionaries, such as it was, came from the oppressed castes , the Shanars, the Pulayas and Izhavas.

  • Secondly, there was a clear perception among the early Protestant missionaries that educational work was a necessary pre-requisite for their religious work.

  • Thirdly, it followed that missionaries asserted the right of people of oppressed castes to modern education, and mission schools were the only new style schools to which the people of oppressed castes had access.

  • Fourthly, conversion and primary education were linked with missionary led movements against other features of Hindu Society : against untouchabilty and distance pollution; against agrarian slavery, against upper caste prohibition on women of ritually impure castes wearing clothes above the waist, and against other caste-taboos.

  • Fifthly, missionary education brought girls from oppressed castes to schools.

  • Sixthly, the school courses though biased towards Christian theology, also had a secular component to school studies (arithmetic, geography).

  • Seventhly, instruction in these schools was in the vernacular i.e Tamil and Malayalam.

  • Eighthly, missionary schools were the first institutions of elementary technical training or craft schools.

The rulers of Travancore, under the influence of missionaries and British, took significant initiative in spreading mass education and mass literacy.

Education was linked to employment, and schooling a pre-requisite for a government job

c) Caste based reform movements

The well known caste reform movements were among the people of the Izhava and Pulaya castes and among the Nayars and Namboodiris. Caste movts were active in the movt for social reform and for changes in social practices, particularly the practice of untouchability; they also made efforts to reform internal caste rules and to alter, by means of state intervention through legislation, inheritance laws and rules of family organisation.

The Izhava social reform movt: For all the advances in the economic status, the Izhava people continued to be victims of different forms of caste discrimination. The emerging Izhava elite demanded the right to be full participants in the modernisation that began in the 19th century. Their main movts were against untouchability

for literacy and education, for employment in govt jobs, and for greater representation in the restricted franchise legislature.

The Pulaya social reform movt : Demands for education and against caste discrimination and civil disabilities were important to the agenda of the movt.

Nayars :.Nayar caste movts aimed at increased access to higher education and at large scale Nayar entry into the professions and the bureaucracy. Two important features of reform among Nayars were the reform of marriage law and the reform of property law.

Namboodiris : There were reform movts against reactionary marriage practices within the caste, and for the right to modern education

3. Agrarian change

Agrarian relations

A foundational feature of Kerala’s development experience and of social and economic progress in Kerala, is the transformation of agrarian relations in the state. The history of this change is a history of public action – which took the form of mass struggle and of legislative action – against some of the most complex, exploitative and oppressive rural social formations in the country.

Agrarian movements

Agrarian rebellion was fiercest in Malabar, and the organised peasant and agricultural worker movt in Kerala began there.

Three main currents in the movement to transform agrarian relations in Malabar have been identified.

The first was the movt of Mapilla tenants and agricultural labourers against ‘lord and state’

The second major current was the organised effort of kanakkaran intermediaries to acquire occupancy rights on land over which they had kanam rights

The third current was the most radical current, the movement of peasants and working tenants that culminated in the land reform of contemporary Kerala

The independent class demands of agricultural workers involved the right to organise, demands against social oppression, for higher wages, for payment in standard measures and against arbitrary exactions from landlords.

Land reform

Land reform was crucial to the transformation of agrarian relations in Kerala. The land reforms had 3 major components.

The first involved that burdensome, complex, and rampant affliction of Kerala agriculture tenancy

Second main component of land reform involved homestead land occupied by the rural poor. Occupants of such land were to be given ownership rights

3rd component – concerned the imposition of limits on land ownership and the distribution of land identified as surplus to the landless.

The agrarian movement has played a crucial role in creating an awareness of people’s rights, in democratising rural life, and in creating conditions favourable to the spread of mass education and facilities for improved conditions of public health.

4. The role of the Left

The Communist party and the organisations of workers, peasants, agricultural labourers, students, teachers, youth and women under its leadership, have been the major organisers and leaders of mass political movts in Kerala since the end of the 1930s, and have been the major agents of the politicisation of the mass of Kerala’s people. The different movts included the freedom movt, movt of workers, peasants and radical intellectuals

The first govt. in Kerala was a Communist govt and the major features of its agenda and of later communist ministries in the State were, among other things, land reform, health, education and strengthening the system of public distribution of food and other essential commodities.

5. Women’s agency

2 issues regarding the place and the role of women in Kerala’s development achievements are worth emphasizing. First Kerala’s women have made outstanding gains in the fields of education and health and are more equal participants with men in education and health achievements than in any other part of India.

Secondly, Kerala’s experience is a dramatic example of the role of women’s agency in advancing the social and economic development of a society. Female literacy and education are crucial determinants of child survival, general health and hygiene. These, in turn determine progress in other demographic and health indicators

6. State Governments

The areas of State govt intervention in Kerala that have been most significant for the people have been land reform, health and education, and the public distribution system. It also introduced measures to provide protective social security to persons outside the organised sector, who are not usually covered by such schemes. Throughout the post independence period, health expenditure as proportion of total expenditure has been higher in kerala than in any other state

Education was also an early concern. The proportion of total govt expenditure spent on education in Kerala is much higher than the corresponding proportion spent by all the states.

The 2 tier public distribution system was established and strengthened in the 1970s and the 1980s

Kerala has social security measures that cover most sections of rural workers


There has been a progressive transformation in Kerala of the health and demographic conditions characteristic of less developed societies, and the state is far ahead of the rest of India with respect to these conditions

Idea of India

The Indian state after 1947 was left in control of a population of incomparable differences – Hindu castes and outcastes, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Christians, Buddhists, Tribes, speakers of more than a dozen languages, thousands of dialects and myriad ethnic and cultural communities.

Where did the commonality lie? There was no common identity, unity, ideology or symbol or an emperor to rally around.

For a few decades after independence, Nehru’s conception of a tolerable, common Indianness seemed to suggest a basis for itself. It was a political conception and to sustain itself, it had to constantly persuade.Today, with Ayodhya and other related incidents, this has given way to a more exclusivist ideas of India and political community. Definitions of India were again fiercely contested by Hindu nationalists trying to create a homogenous, exclusive and Hindu states and others fighting to escape the state altogether, creating their own smaller, homogenous and equally exclusive communities.

Rise of Indian nationalism:

Indian nationalism arose in parallel and oblique currents in the late nineteenth century. It began before Nehru and before the Congress, imaginatively described in places like Maharashtra and Bengal (places exposed to the British longer) In these places, the sense of regional identity came only while defining the larger Indian community. Nationalism is therefore not only about uniting and subordinating regional identities, the sense of region and nations emerged parallelly. The way different identities were explored was neither uniform nor consistent.

We cant reduce all the projects – anti colonialism, patriotism, nationalism – happening at this time to nationalism alone. However, one intention running across all the projects was to rebut humiliation inflicted by colonial views. John Strachey declared that there never was an India nor any country of India, possessing any sort of unity – physical, political, social, religious, no nation, no people of India we hear so much about.

Three responses to this emerged:

  • Nationalist Hindus said that we can find Indian unity out of common culture derived from religion

  • Gandhi settled on religion as a source of interconnectedness among Indians but came out with his own eclectic and pluralistic morality born out of different religious traditions

  • Nehru turned away from religion and based unity on a historical past of cultural mixing and a future project of common development

How was India before?

Before the 19th century, no resident of the continent would have identified themselves as an Indian. Inhabitants of a space called ‘India’ have been of interest only to outsiders – greeks, travellers, traders, invaders and the British. It was British interest which converted India from the name of a cultural territory to one with precise geographical boundaries. But they scorned at the idea of India having ‘natural’ frontiers.Thus colonial administrative techniques brought about a unified and bounded space called India.

India is however not just pure invention. There does exist a civilisational bond – epics, myths, folk stories etc, connecting us from Persia to Indonesia. The caste system is uniformly seen, imposing itself on all new comers, excluding the British. This bestowed a certain unified coherence on the lives in the subcontinent.There was also a sort of political community which existed. Pilgrimage points, epics and sub continental empires led to the creation of this. If India was weakly united, it was also weakly divided. No politically significant religious identities were formed to either obstruct unification or direct it. So basically, moments of unification were achieved only under imperial rule.


Rewriting history:

There were attempts at summoning up common historical pasts. James Mill wrote A History of British India, an outsiders view of how India will benefit from subjugation to the British. The colonial subjects began to question this and a need was identified to write our own histories. However this ended up dividing nationalism. Three periods were identified – Hindu, Muslim and British. The starting point was in the classical Vedic period, followed by the ‘dark’ Muslim period which left us vulnerable to attack. Hindu resistance was seen as brave but floundering. They couldn’t depict Hinduism as a unifying force so it was tailored to emphasise broad cultural commonalities rather than ritual practices, caste exclusivities and particular gods as this could exclude people.


Savarkar came out with this concept in his search for a seamless Hindu past. Using the genealogical equation of hindu = Indian, he said that members were united by geographical origin, racial connection and a shared culture based on sanskritic language and common rules and laws. These formed the core majority community. Others – muslims, tribes and Christians were relegated to secondary positions. These ideals can be seen in the modern definition of Indianness as well. Hindutva has moulded India’s political history throughout the years and was an important part in the agitation for Pakistan. Direct action by Hindu organisations and the influence of hindu nationalism in the congress, led Jinnah to question democracy as proposed by the congress as not adequately representing the interests of Muslims in Muslim minority states. His fear was of a large state with an undivided electorate and one religious community holding a numerical and potentially permanent political majority. These fears have surfaced now as well.


He refused to separate religion from politics, trying to refute the charge that religion must keep India divided. He also recoiled from the vision of nationalist Hindus. He inverted their image of a khaki shod fatherland and invoked an older anguage of feminised patriotism, making himself a demonstration of the message that strength was with the victims of history.He rejected the idea of using history as a source to determine future action. He wanted to abandon the imitative history of religious nationalists. He preferred the legends and stories of popular religious traditions. SO in place of an Indian unity with a common historical bond, he substituted a religious morality with elements of folk and Bhakti traditions as well as Christian morality. He tried to create a larger Indian identity by appealing to pre-existing local beliefs and identities through the idea of swadeshi – respect for the everyday material world inhabited by most in the subcontinent.Gandhian Vision receded in the 1940s, with partition and his assassination. His idea of anarcho-communitarianism (pluralist defn of India as well as his faith in the everyday tolerances of ordinary people) was helpless in the face of communal mayhem which threatened India.


Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s intervention in the political discourse of modern India was an attempt to answer the following questions: Is India a Hindu nation? If it is not, then what are the ways in which Hinduism could be equipped to live with other faiths? Can Hinduism cope with the ever growing pressures exerted by democracy, liberal institutions and modern technology?Ambedkar was a modernist who was deeply influenced by Western ideas of personal freedom and equality. He believed that Dalits had no place within Hinduism. The very foundation of Hinduism rested on caste, a system which he evocatively formulated as one constituting an “ascending scale of reverence and a descending scale of contempt.” This was graded inequality. Emancipation therefore lay in a total rejection of Hinduism. Because of these beliefs, he remained torn between the imperatives of giving Dalits an identity and a voice independent of Hinduism on the one hand, and his fidelity to the fundamental principles of constitutionalism and citizenship.Ambedkar’s held allegiance to the idea of India as one nation often came into conflict with the place of Dalits within this nation at a practical level. As a legal idealist, Ambedkar believed that the formal devices enshrined in the Indian Constitution and strict adherence to them would take care of primordial identities and resolve all latent conflicts.


Nehru managed to persuade the country that his was the only possible definition of Indianness. He came up with a compelling and imaginative story of the Indian past told as a tale of cultural mixing and fusion, a civilisational tendency towards unification which would realise itself within the framework of the modern nation state. He was influenced by Gandhi and Tagore, however, seeing the nation state as neither one emerging out of community and common citizenship nor one of shared cultural and ethnic origin. He sees India emerging only within the territorial and institutional framework of the state.

His model committed to protecting cultural and religious difference rather than imposing a uniform India. He discovered India using history – defining his sense of political possibility and made him vigilant about the future also spurred by his insight into Indian culture. To Indians, the past was as valuable as language/religion, valuing it themselves and seeing the world through it. He introduces the language of accommodation and acceptance. India appears as a space of ceaseless cultural mixing, its history like a document on which layers after layers had been added and inscribed, yet with no succeeding layer hiding or erasing that which had previously been written. He was not trying to chronicle fact but producing ‘living history’ an enabling fiction that bound a variety of pasts of immeasurable successions of human beings into one shared history of a single political community.

However, we also needed to coexist with a modernist, self critical way of looking at our past which acknowledged its immense failures as well. He saw India as neither a society of liberal individuals nor exclusive communities but of interconnected difference. This guided his practice post 1947. Besides using the institutions of the army and civil services, he added that of economic planning as well, to impart cohesion drawing Indians into a shared project of development. Not attempt was made to impose a single uniform identity upon the new nation. (example, language)This brings out an important part of the way Indianness has been defined. It recognised atleast two other aspects – citizens as members of linguistic and cultural communities. He saw no need for internal partition into States. But to make governance easy, states were created on the basis of language. This was not for any other reason but for administrative efficiency. This showed that indianness can be revised and wasn’t static.He opted to tackle the threats of religious identity formation through democracy – universal suffrage and a single electorate not divided into communities. The focus was on winning the trust of the people. Protections were instituted for the oppressed and minorities. These were however subject to change.

Also important was to establish indianness as an international identity – a way of being in the wider world. To become a world player, the country would have to create its own opportunities and chances, which it did by speaking the language of morality and justice. Nehru created an image that was not a martyr of colonialism but a self confident actor in international politics.Nehru’s conception of India did not monopolise or simplify the definition – India, an ungainly, inelegant combination of differences, still exists as a single political unit even after sixty years. This would have been impossible without Nehru.

New social movements in India

In the 1960s and 1970s, European and American Societies witnessed the emergence of large-scale movements around the issues which were basically humanist, cultural and non-materialistic in nature. The goals and values of these movements were essentially universalistic. The NSMs rejects the idea of revolution, and in the revolutionary overthrow of the system of governance of the state. The goals and strategies of the new social movements have little in common with movements of past which struggled for the issues such as raising labour wages in industry, and against economic injustice and class exploitation.

It is assumed that with the expansion of state and market force, civil society is getting diminished and there is some kind of invasion of these institutions into every aspect of a citizen’s life. Consequently, the NSMs raise the issue of self defense of the community and society against the increasing expansion of the state apparatus; agencies of surveillance and social control. In other words, NSMs are action by civil society against the increasing encroachment of the market and state on the private spheres of life of individuals in society.

The sites of the NSM struggles go beyond the traditional workplace of industries and factories and fields and farms. The core concern of NSM struggles is post –bourgeois, post- patriarchal and democratic civil society. Unlike the classical movements, the sites of NSMs are generally transnational. The field of their action, strategy and mode of mobilization is transnational. These movements articulate, project and struggle for human issues and for issues relating to the conditions of human existence, possibly for a sensible existence in the future. A number of their goals and targets are therefore, located at the trans-societal global human site. Their conception of conflict and tension are international, and their overarching width and spread cover the entire human kind. NSMs seek answers to question relating to peace, disarmament, nuclear pollution, nuclear war, relating to the defense of the planet, ecology, environment, and human rights.

Most of the NSMs, are defined by their non-class, non-materialistic focus and emphasis. Their ideological articulation of goals and values go beyond the Marxist method of explanation in terms of class and class formation. Marxism saw all forms of struggle as class struggle and all forms of human groupings as class groupings. The social actors of the NSMs are generally drawn from the non-segmental, broadly generalized social base cutting across the social categories of gender, education, occupation or class. The actors are not confined to such divisions such as the proletariat, the labor class, the industrial workers and the peasant. NSMs struggles such as anti-racism, disarmament and feminist movement are not class struggles, nor do they reflect a movement of classes. In the case of NSMs the site of struggle is not the political economy of a nation but the very existence of the humans, irrespective of their nationalities and their varying systems of political economies.

Generally NSMs evolve a grass root politics, grassroots actions, often initiate micro-movements of small groups, targeting localized issues with a limited institutional base. They produce horizontally organized democratic associations that are loosely federated on national level. The struggles against nuclear war, arms race, and for ecology and environment, peace and civil liberty, individual identity, freedom and personal dignity are struggles which bring people of different nationalities, culture and political system together. Issues relating to patriarchy, gender, state, culture, language, and identify are major concerns of the NSMs


The word chipko means to stick to or to hug and refers to the method used to protect the trees of the Himalaya from commercial timber cutters who have devastated the forests. The movement’s activists embrace the tree trunks to interpose their bodies between the trees and the axemen. The Chipko movement is located in the mountainous northern segment of Uttar Pradesh, immediately west of Nepal.

Uttarakhand was a relatively inaccessible land of precipitous slopes, thin and fragile soils, and ample water and forests, populated by subsistence farmers who derived a secure livelihood through their diligence and skills in a combination of terrace agriculture and animal husbandry. After the Indian-Chinese border conflict of 1962 an extensive network of roads was built throughout the region. The motive was clearly strategic, but a significant consequence was the sudden opening of the region to traffic of all kinds, which made its rich supply of natural resources accessible to entrepreneurs in the resource-hungry plains of India. Timber and other products, ranging from limestone for use in cement, the principal building material in India, magnesite, and potassium to rare metals, became the objects of intensive exploitation and removal by corporate contractors.

When the roads came, other opportunities for profit presented themselves to outsiders. Land previously cultivated by local farmers for subsistence crops or devoted to pasture and fodder for livestock suddenly became accessible for cultivation of luxury and commercial crops. Accordingly, large industrial firms vied with lesser capitalists in buying up and exploiting the newfound agricultural bonanza at the expense of local people. The shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, Jumnotri, and other places sacred to Hindus became accessible to pilgrims and tourists in a day or two of travel by bus and taxi from the plains rather than the weeks or months of trekking formerly required. This new form of mass tourism taxed the capacity of the Himalayan environment heavily by populating the pilgrim- age routes with hotels, restaurants, shops, and other businesses. At the same time and often on the same routes secular tourism flourished, attracting plainspeople and foreigners alike to areas featuring snow views and wildflowers, trekking, hunting, fishing, and mountain climbing. The effects of the tourists on the environment and local people receive little or no attention.

The Chipko movement began under the leadership of C. P. Bhatt and other male Sarvodaya (Gandhian movement) workers, organized as the Dashauli Gram Swarajya Sangh (later, the Dashauli Gram Swarajy Mandal, or DGSM); initial demands were for the limiting of commercial exploitation of the forests and for local participation in their management. The Sarvodaya workers lectured the local people on the importance of ecological balance, citing the frequency of floods and the consequent soil erosion that made cultivation more difficult.

In 1973 protests by the DGSM were successful in preventing the Forest Department from allotting rights to a set of ash trees to a tennis racket company from the plains, and in persuading the department to grant rights to a smaller number of trees for the manufacture of farm tools to the DGSM. Following this, the movement spread to three other districts. Still, in 1974, the government made plans to allow the cutting of 2,500 trees in the Reni forest. C. P. Bhatt suggested that, when the time came, the people hold on to the trees (chipko means “to hug”) to protect them. When the lumber company arrived at the forest, the men of the community were nearly all away and it was the women who quickly mobilized, confronted the contractors’ men, and forced them to back down.

Seeing the active role women played, it was decided to build their capacity and to empower them to take action. Women, who had never before done so, began to attend village meetings and to demand a voice. The confidence and motivation of the women grew. This was particularly evident in an incident in 1980 in Dongri Paintoli village. Here, the members of the all-male village council agreed to a deal with the U.P. government whereby a local forest would be given to the Horticulture Department for felling, in return for which the government would provide the village with a new road, secondary school, hospital, and electricity. The women of the village, who lacked formal political power, declared that they did not accept the decision of the village council and would fight the felling of the trees. They were, in turn, threatened by the men. Nonetheless, when the tree cutters arrived in February 1980, the women came out in large numbers and succeeded in driving the workmen away; the government, within a month, acted on the recommendation of its own committee and banned the felling of trees in the area. The Chipko movement added a new dimension to the perception of what constitutes “women’s issues.”

The concept of sustainable economic development and the importance of ecological conservation were introduced as issues of central concern to women. While the movement raised problems, particularly the sharpening of disagreements between women and the men of their communities, it also heightened women’s participation in public forums and their awareness of their own potentialities. Both in its expression of empowerment of women and in the public issues it proclaimed as being of concern to women, the Chipko movement was an important inspiration to further organizing. As can be seen, the movement was not a class struggle but rather an ecological and empowerment one. It clearly dealt with the community defending itself against state forces. The movement also generated a lot of international attention as it was something which anyone could relate to. The movement largely emphasized on equity and justice in the context of ecology.

Politics of representation in India

There has been a historic shift in the forms and modes of political representations available to the people who seek to take up the representation of their interests and social claims. There are two significant changes with respect to this:

  1. In the early 20th century, there was an upsurge of social relations formed in workplaces, getting organized into trade unions and then linking it to political parties. Now the new politics are more focused on social movements, voluntary associations and NGOs amongst other forms. The issues which these movements take up are more local than national.

  2. There has been a change in the process of representation which is marked by a greater emphasis on descriptive representation and participation in decision making. This means that even if there is a policy which is equitable and just, it can be objected to on the grounds that it did not include minorities like women for example in its formulation. There is a focus on the entire process being democratic.

These global trends provide an important context to the discussion of the politics of representation in India. Representative democracy in India is largely connected to a deepening of the concept of democracy and places a large emphasis on the role of electoral politics in providing space for the expression of rights and claims by disadvantaged groups. Some political scientists even go on to say that the electoral politics in the 1990s is the second democratic upsurge after India’s independence movement. This politics of representation has bought leaders from the grassroots and from the historically backward and lower castes to the focus. A significant percentage of the voter participation is also from the poorer classes, the uneducated and the socially underprivileged castes in India. This is in contrast to industrialized democracies where participation is biased towards better educated, wealthier and advantaged citizens.

Even though political parties are not institutionalized so as to speak, it is through them that there has been an increased participation of marginalized groups in politics. Contrary to popular belief, the needs and interests of the poorer groups are met by the political parties rather than by the NGOs and other social movements. Available evidence so far highlights a substantial increase in political participation and continuing importance of parties, both of which underline the strength and legitimacy of the political system. But this also poses a challenge with regard to political representation as it does not deal with the status of political equality and citizen’s abilities to produce change unless we accept the standard formulation that everyone’s vote should count as one vote, which implies that all are equal.

Political equality implies that there needs to be a proportionate distribution of political activity. While there is an increase in the participation through public meetings, demonstrations and rallies, this has not translated into real participation through involvement in critical decision making which happen in such events. There is no real political equality in that sense.

There are two types of political representation broadly. In the first one, a person becomes a representative of the people by virtue of a contract or mandate. In this he is expected to deliver some set targets and responsibilities. In the second one, a person is selected from the people itself. He belongs to the community or group and is selected in any way to represent the needs and issues of the community. In other words he is a part of the community which he represents.

In most cases the representative does not represent persons as such; rather the representative is charged with the responsibility of seeing that the interests of the constituents are adequately represented in decision-making, and is obliged not only to represent interests, but also to ensure that something is done about the pressing problems of the constituency, in terms of production and implementation of appropriate policies, for instance. In short, the representative is accountable to her constituency.

The political representation can be assessed in two ways. Firstly, by the process of representation and secondly by the quality of representation and responsiveness. The three groups which have been historically underrepresented in politics are: Other Backward Classes (OBCs) up till recently, women and minorities.

The major change in representation has been a switch from the ‘politics of ideas’ to the ‘politics of presence’. The politics of ideas means that a person would support an ideology he believes in. For example, a person would vote for the BJP if he believes in their ideology alone. Politics of presence implies that a person who represents the larger community or group one belongs to would be supported. For example, simplistically, a Dalit would choose to vote for a Dalit candidate no matter what the candidate’s political ideology is.

But the politics of presence is also questionable as it does not necessarily bring out a resolution for the problems of under-representation or to the larger issue that the representation of interests of the constituents, especially the most vulnerable may not be met. Having a larger number of representatives of one group does not necessarily translate to a change in policy for that group. Additionally, simply changing the social structure of a party would not change the party’s ideologies and its focus on issues for the disadvantaged or even for that group.

There are three major challenges in the politics of representation. They are:

  1. It could over-politicize group differences, thereby disrupting political stability, weaken the basis for political accountability, and undermine representation aimed at promoting the general interests and shared concerns, which might also have policy implications. Such a shift towards identity politics has exacerbated social conflicts and advanced the politicization of social cleavages. Indeed, the most overtly conflictual aspects of Indian politics have in recent years been those related to identity politics, variously, Punjab, Assam, Kashmir, Ayodhya and Mandal. It has reduced accountability and damaged responsiveness because presence becomes a value in itself at the expense of interests, principles and ideas.

  2. The second concerns proportionality in the process of representation and the varied processes of gender and minority as categories/groups in enhancing their presence in decision-making structures. The different groups cannot harness their numbers in the absence of political mobilization and readiness of political parties to give them nominations. But when we look at the problem in a larger time-frame then we can see that reservations do play the role of a catalyst in the construction of political identities. In other words, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBCs have become political categories through reservations.

  1. The third argument pertains to the substance of representation. While much of the justification for electoral reservation revolves around the need for marginalized groups to have a voice within the legislature which will otherwise get submerged, there is little systematic evidence to show that representatives elected from these seats have performed this role with effectiveness. Special representation in governing institutions may not benefit the whole community, and it invariably results in promoting personal empowerment of middle classes and elites and transfer of resources to them. It may just create a new elite group among the disadvantaged who participate with society’s elite.

To conclude: By its very nature representation as presence does not have a broad transforming agenda. It is a politics of positional change, not structural reform.

Essence of Indian constitution as a social text

The Preamble to an Act sets out the main objectives which the legislation is intended to achieve.’ It is a sort of introduction to the statute and many a times very helpful to understand the policy and legislative intent. It expresses “what we had thought or dreamt for so long”. The Constitution makers gave to the Preamble ”the place of pride”. The Preamble declares and secure to all citizens justice, social, economic and political.

The preamble serves the following purposes namely,

1. It indicates the source from which the Constitution comes

2. It contains the enacting clause which brings in to force the Constitution

3. It declares the great rights and freedoms which the people of lndia intended to secure to all citizens and basic type of Government and the quality which was to be established.

The 42nd Constitutional Amendment has inserted three new words in the preamble: Secularism, socialism and integrity. Socialism is implicit in the Preamble and the Directive Principles of the Indian Constitution. The term “Economic Justice” in the Preamble denotes nothing but India’s resolve to bring socio-economic revolution. The Directive Principles, particularly Art, 39 (b) & (c) of the Constitution are Charters of social and economic liberties of the people. The word “socialism has, however, no definite democratic and communistic. Generally, the term implies a system of government in which the means of production is wholly or partially controlled by the State. India’s socialism is, however a democratic socialism and not a “communistic socialist.”

In the Constitution of India, the Preamble (as amended in 1976) declares the State to be “Secular”, and this is of special relevance for the Religious Minorities. Equally relevant for them, especially, is the prefatory declaration of the Constitution in its Preamble that all citizens of India are to be secured “liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship and “equality of status and of opportunity.” The Constitution of India has provided two types of safe-guards -general and specific to safeguard various interests of the minorities. In the first category are those provisions that are equally enjoyed by both groups. The provisions ensure justice- social, economic and political equality to all. The second category consists of provisions meant specifically for the protection of particular interests of the minorities.

1. People’s right to “equality before the law” and “equal protection of the laws”.

2. Prohibition of discrimination against citizens on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.

3. Authority of State to make “any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens” (besides the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes)
4.citizens’ right to “equality of opportunity” in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State – and prohibition in this regard of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
5. Authority of State to make “any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State.

6.People’s freedom of conscience and right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion – subject to public order, morality and other Fundamental Rights;
7.Authority of State to make law for “regulating or restricting any economic financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice”, and for “providing for social welfare and reform”;
8.Authority of State to make laws for “throwing open” of Hindu, Sikh, Jain or Buddhist “religious institutions of a public character to “all classes and sections of the respective communities;
9.Sikh community’s right of “wearing and carrying of kirpans”

10.Right of “every religious denomination or any section thereof – subject to public order, morality and health – to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable proposes, “manage its own affairs of religion”, and own and acquire movable immovable property and administer it “in accordance with law”.
11. People’s “freedom as to payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion”.
12. People’s “freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in educational institutions” wholly maintained, recognized, or aided by the State.
13.Right of “any section of the citizens” to conserve its “distinct language, script or culture”
14.Restriction on denial of admission to any citizen, to any educational institution maintained or aided by the State, “on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them”.
15. Right of all Religious and Linguistic Minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
16. Freedom of Minority-managed educational institutions from discrimination in the matter of receiving aid from the State.

Part IV of the Constitution of India, containing non-justifiable Directive Principles of State Policy, includes the following provisions having significant implications for the Minorities:
1.Obligation of the State “to endeavor to eliminate inequalities in status, facilities and opportunities” amongst individuals and groups of people residing in different areas or engaged in different vocations;
2.Obligation of State to “endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”;
3.Obligation of State “to promote with special care” the educational and economic interests of “the weaker sections of the people” (besides Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes)
4.Obligation of State to “take steps” for “prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle”.

Part IV-A of the Constitution, relating to Fundamental Duties, applies in full to all citizens, including those belonging to Minorities and of special relevance for the Minorities are the following provisions in this Part:
1.Citizens’ duty to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India “transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities
2.Citizens’ duty to “value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture”.
Some other provisions of the Constitution having special relevance and implications for the Minorities are:
3.Official obligation to pay out of the consolidated funds of the States of Kerala and Tamil Nadu 46.5 and 13.5 lakh rupees respectively to the local “Dewasom Funds” for the maintenance of Hindu temples and shrines in the territories of the erstwhile State of Travancore-Cochin
4.Special provision relating to the language spoken by a section of the population of any State
5.Provision for facilities for instruction in mother-tongue at primary stage
6.Provision for a Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities and his duties
7.Special provision with respect to Naga religious or social practices, customary law and procedure, and “administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law.”
8. Identical special provision for the Mizos
9.Provision relating to continuation in force of pre-Constitution laws “until altered or repealed or amended by a competent legislature or other competent authority”

Part III of the Constitution gives certain fundamental rights. Some of these rights are common to all the citizens of India including minorities. These rights are enshrined in:
Article 14: This ensures equality before law and equal protection of law
Article 15: This prohibits discrimination on any ground i.e. religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth.
Article 21: No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except the procedure established by law.
Article 25: This ensures freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion.
Article 26: This ensures a right to manage religious institutions, religious affairs, subject to public order, morality and health.
Article 29: Gives minorities a right to conserve their language, script or culture. It provides for the protection of the interests of minorities by giving them a right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. The State is directed not to discriminate against minorities institutions in granting aid.
Article 350A: Directs the State to provide facilities for instruction in the mother tongue at the primary stage of education.
Art 164(1): According to this article in states of Bihar, MP and Orissa there shall be a Minister in charge of tribal welfare who may in addition be in charge of the welfare of the scheduled castes and backward classes.
Art 244(1): Regarding administration of scheduled areas and tribal areas – (1) The provisions of the Fifth schedule shall apply to the administration and control of the Scheduled areas and Scheduled tribes in any state other than the state of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. (2) The provisions of the sixth schedule shall apply to the administration of the tribal areas in the state of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
Art 244(A): Formation of an autonomous state comprising certain tribal areas in Assam and creation of local legislature or Council of Ministers or both thereof. Parliament may by law form within the state of Assam an autonomous state comprising (whether wholly or part) all or any of the tribal areas.
Art 275: Provided that there shall be paid out of consolidated fund of India as grants-in-aid of the revenues of a state such capital and recurring sums as may be necessary to enable the state to meet the costs of such schemes of development as may be undertaken by the state with the approval of the Govt of India for the purpose of promoting the welfare of the scheduled tribes in that state or raising the level of administration of the scheduled areas therein to that of the administration of the rest of the areas in that state. Provided further that there shall be paid out of the consolidated fund of India as grant-in-aid of the revenues of the state of Assam sum capital and recurring.
Art 330: Reservation of seats for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in the House of People.
– Seats shall be reserved for scheduled castes
– The scheduled tribes except the scheduled tribes except the scheduled tribes in the autonomous districts of Assam
– The scheduled tribes in the autonomous districts in Assam.
Art 332: Reservation of seats for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in the Legislative Assemblies of the states.
– Seats shall be reserved for the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes (except the ST’s of autonomous districts of Assam) in the Legislative Assembly of every state.
– Seats shall be reserved also for the autonomous districts in the Legislative Assembly of the state of Assam.
Art 334: Reservation of seats and special representation in Legislative Assemblies and House of People to cease after fifty years.
Art 335: Claims of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes to service and posts-The claims of the members of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes shall be taken into consideration consistently with the maintenance of efficiency of administration in the making of appointments to service and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a state.
Art 338: National Commission for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes
Art 339: Control of the Union over the administration of Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribes.
Art 340: Appointment of a commission by the president to investigate the conditions of backward classes.
Art 341: Power of the President to specify the castes, races or tribes or posts of or groups within castes, races or tribes as scheduled castes.
Art 342: Power of the President to specify the tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within tribes or tribal communities as scheduled tribe.
Art 350(A): Facilities for instruction in mother tongue of a minority group.
Art 350(B): Special officer for linguistic minorities.


Primary Education

The Millennium development goals aims at eradicating poverty and improving the welfare if their people by the year 2015. The second of its gaols is achieving universal Primary Education, with a specific target of ensuring that by 2015 everyone, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of Primary Schooling.

Primary Education develops the capacity to learn, read and use mathematics to acquire information and to think critically about the information. Micro-economic research has shown that education improves individual income. Research also indicates the contribution of primary Education to better natural resource management and more rapid technological adaptation and innovation. And the returns to Primary Education are higher than returns to higher levels of Education. When a large number of children do not complete primary education, the productivity of the labour force and the human potential from which the society can draw declines. It has been found those mothers who have completed Primary Education are 50 percent more likely to ensure that their infants are immunised than illiterate ones. But, in several developing countries, average level of schooling is still less than primary Education.

Compulsory primary Education

Compulsory primary Education is a Policy Instrument by which state effectively removes children from Labour force, thereby protecting both against parents and would be employers.

Indian Scenario

Since Independence the country has witnessed phenomenal educational development both in quantitative and qualitative terms. But the Nation goals of Universal Elementary Education (UEE) and the total eradication of illiteracy still remains elusive. Some of the relevant features are:

  • Primary Education is still not compulsory
  • Child Labour is not illegal. Law prohibits employment of children in factories but not cottage Industries, restaurants, agriculture or households
  • Children often stay at home to care for cattle, tend young ones, collect firewood, work in field or are employed elsewhere as above.
  • Children are economic asset to Poor Families. Thus, sending them to schools involves explicit opportunity costs

Today India is way behind in decreasing Illiteracy Rates. It is the single largest producer of Illiterates in the World. The literacy rate stands at 65.38% (2001 census). Percentage of Primary Students Enrolment for boys is 63.6% while for girls is 50.3%. Still startling is the Gross drop-out rates, 38.4% for boys and 39.4% for girls (2001 census).

Is is not surprising then that right since independence, the government of India, every commission appointed by the government and every ruling Congress party, all opposition parties have advocated abolishing child labour and establishing compulsory primary education for children up to the age of fourteen. This commitment is reflected in preceding and succeeding efforts by the major parties and then the government.

Some of such developments on Primary Education in India’s past and present are:

  • Gopal Hrishna Gokhale, then president of Indian national congress unsuccessfully urged the British to establish free and compulsory elementary Education
  • In 1930s Indian National Congress passed Legislation authorising local bodies to introduce compulsory education
  • In 1950, Indian constitution declared that the state shall endeavour to within a period of ten years from the commencement of Constitution for free and compulsory education to all children until they attain the sage of fourteen years.
  • Thus in the Indian Constitution of, school education was put in the State list. As such, it was responsibility of the state to provide universalisation of Primary Education
  • In 1964, Kothari Commission was set up to formulate a coherent education Policy for India. It proposed Indian Education Policy to aim at free and compulsory education for all children up to the age of 14.
  • The compulsory primary education acts were passed by most of the state governments and the number of primary schools 2.1 lakh in 1950 to 5.2 lakh in 1986.
  • In 1976, School education was put in the concurrent List. Thus UEE became a shared responsibility of the central and the state government.
  • In 1979, International year of Child, commission appointed to probe into stat of children in India also padvocated universal primary education for ending child labour
  • In 1986 after the adoption of National Policy of Education proposed by Rajiv Gandhi government, the 1968 policy goals had largely been achieved: more than 90 per cent of the country’s rural population were within a kilometre of schooling facilities and most states had adopted a common education structure

  • In 1987, as step towards NPE, Operation Blackboard was started as as to provide ceratin minimum essnetail facilities in all Primary Schools

  • In 1987 Policy on Restructuring and Reorganization of Teacher Education created a resource for the continuous upgrading of teachers’ knowledge and competence as a result of which

    • The Shikhsa Karmi Project was started in Rajasthan for universalisation and qualitative improvement of Education in very backward villages. The mobilisation and participation of the community in the functioning of Primary Schools is an important feature of this project.
    • Another project, Lok Jumbish project has made a profound impression on the Primary Education in Rajasthan.
  • In 1994 was launched, The District Primary Education Programm (DPEP) for overhauling the Primary Education System. This was done to follow a decentralised approach to planning and community participation for achieving UEE. The main goals of DPEP were, increasing enrolment rate, decreasing drop out, provide primary education to all chiledre thorugh formal and informal means.
  • In 1995, The School Meal Programme was started to increase enrolment, retention attendance in Primary Schools by providing supplementary nutrition to all children in Primary Schools

  • In 1997, United Front Government introduced 83rd Constitutional Amendment Bill to make Schooling Compulsory. Proposed to amend Article 21 by adding the clause ‘The state shall provide free & Compulsory Education to all citizens of 6 to 14 yrs age. Tamil Nadu is the only state to have passed the law (yet to be implemented)

  • Movement to Educate All (2000) aimed to achieve universal primary education by 2010 through micro-planning and school-mapping exercises, bridging gender and social gaps. Elemetary School within 1 km under Education Guarantee Scheme

  • Fundamental Right (2001) involved the provision of free and compulsory education, declared to be a basic right for children aged between 6 and 14 years

  • Sarav Shiksha Abhiyan is a flagship program of the national government in the new Millennium. It seeks to achieve the goal of Universal Primary Education (5 years of Primary Schooling) by 2005 and the goal of UEE (eight years of Elementary Schooling) by 2010.

What holds them back?

Despite, all these efforts, why has state not take a legislative action on when Indian Constitution calls for ban n Child labour and Compulsory Primary Education. The reason behind this problem of backwardness in this regard is more complex to understand than the problem itself

  • The Poverty argument: India’s Low per capita Income and economic backwardness forces households to send their children to school. Children are and economic asset to poor people.

  • Education as a means of maintaining differentiations in Social Class: A set of belies widely shared by Educators, Social activists, trade unions, academic researchers, Indian middle class, government, non-government etc, all see Education as a means of differentiation among social classes..

    • Excessive and inappropriate” Education would disrupt existing Social Order

    • Does not train children of the poor to work (service/white collar jobs)

    • They should work with hands (ruled) than heads (ruler)

    • Parents and not state are the ultimate guardians of Children


  • Problem of Poverty: Sending children to School involves an explicit opportunity cost. The free education available right now still remains out of reach f the Poor sections of society. This brings in a major affordability issue in light. The cost of Education is high expenses on textbooks, uniforms and stationery around Rs 318 per year which is very high for the poorest brackets.

  • Problem of Quality: Quality of Education remains a major deterrent. Poor Infrastructure, absences of a functioning school, incompetent teachers provide less incentive to an Education which doesn’t even ensure a job

  • Problem of Motivation: People living in long years of Deprivation, with no tradition of Literacy and inadequate availability of Information find no motivation to send their children to school.

  • Inadequate Expenditure in Education: Kothari Commission proposed that 6.2 % of GDP should be spent on Education as compared to current spending of 4.2%. India’s expenditure on Elementary Education was 2.02% of GDP in 2001-02. Human development Report states than India spent much less than other East Asian Countries as Korea, Thailand, and Malaysia

  • Teacher performance: PROBE report found widespread problem of teacher Inertia due to a de-motivating environment, lack of accountability, single-handedly managing several grades, lack of teaching material, low monetary incentive

  • Religious Systems: None of the religious systems in India be it Hinduism or Islam propagate Mass Education and state intervention. In many other countries theologies or secular ideologies have stood for a system of national education aimed at social equality


Primary education imparted at the most formative years of any child will form the foundation on which any child would develop his/her cognitive abilities. Strangely, the socio-cultural and linguistic background of the child is of no consequence to curriculum planning and classroom interaction. Children coming to these schools often speak different languages, wera different clothes, eat different kind of food, live in different geographical conditions.

  • Professor R.C das remarks that primary Education Package should be designed so as accommodate for Cultural diversity, local needs and local resources.

  • There should be enough space for Teachers to grow or to develop innovative programmes

  • Children often come to school with empty stomachs, adequate provision for good quality food can be good motivation to come to school

  • Affordability issue should be addressed by not only providing free education but the concept should be extended to uniforms, books and other related expenses.

  • The curriculum should accommodate for the vernacular backgrounds of children so as to not distant children from the materials and methods used in the schooling system

  • Alternative Channels of Education such as the Non-Formal Education (NFE) System

Non-formal education has become an accepted alternative channel of education for children who cannot attend full-time schools due to various socio-economic constraints. To reach this large segment of marginalised children, we in India have been running, since 1979-80, a programme of NFE for children in the 6-14 age group, who have remained outside the formal system. These include drop-outs from formal schools, children from habitations without schools, working children, children who have to remain at home to do domestic chores, and girls who are unable to attend formal schools for a variety of reasons.

The enlarged and modified version of the NFE programme now in operation visualises NFE as a child-centred, environment-oriented and flexible system to meet the diverse educational needs of the geographically and socio-economically deprived sections of society. Non-formal education is designed to overcome the shortcomings of the formal school and make education a joyful activity. Decentralised community participation through village education committees (VECs) in planning, running and overseeing the programme has been considered crucial for its success.

Minimum Levels of Learning (MLL)

The need to lay down minimum levels of learning (MLL) emerged from the basic concern that irrespective of caste, creed, location or sex, all children must be given access to education of a comparable standard. The MLL strategy is an attempt to combine quality with equity. It lays down learning outcomes in the form of competencies or levels of learning for each stage of elementary education.

The focus of the MLL strategy is development of competency-based teaching and learning. Preliminary assessment of the existing levels of learning achievements has revealed that they are quite low across several districts. Minimum levels of learning in respect of three subjects, namely language, mathematics and environmental studies, have already been laid down for the primary stage. It has been stressed that the emphasis should be on concept formation rather than on content.

Revamping the Scheme of Operation Blackboard (OB)

Recognising the unattractive school environment, unsatisfactory condition of school buildings, inadequate physical facilities, and insufficiency of instructional materials in primary schools, which function as demotivating factors for enrolment and retention, a scheme symbolically called Operation Blackboard was introduced in 1987-88 to bring all existing primary schools in the country to a minimum standard of physical facilities. Under this scheme, each school is provided with: (i) at least two reasonably large all-weather rooms along with separate toilet facilities for boys and girls; (ii) at least two teachers (one male and one female); and (iii) essential teaching and learning materials including blackboards, maps, charts, a small library, toys and games, and some equipment for work experience.

External evaluation of the scheme indicated the lack of training of teachers in using the teaching materials, specification of a large number of uniform facilities to be provided without modification according to local needs, and lack of provision for breakage of equipment. Effective steps have since been taken to remove these drawbacks. The scheme of Operation Blackboard has also been modified and expanded to provide a third room and a third teacher to primary schools where enrolment exceeds 100, and it has been extended to upper primary schools. The scheme is concentrating on rural areas and SC/ST areas, and girls� schools are being given the first priority.

Establishing Linkages between Programmes of early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), Primary Education, Literacy and UEE

  • Early childhood care and education (ECCE) is viewed as a crucial input in the strategy of human resource development, as a feeder and support programme for primary education, and as a support service for working women of the disadvantaged sections of society. Since the age-span covered by ECCE is from conception to 6 years, emphasis has been given to a child-centred approach and play-way and activity-based learning in place of formal methods of teaching including introduction of the 3 Rs. Keeping in mind the role of ECCE as a support service in UEE, it is deliberately directed to the most underprivileged groups, those who are still outside the mainstream of formal education. The aim of ECCE is that every child should be assured access to the fulfilment of all basic needs. It involves the total development of the child in every aspect including the physical, psychomotor, cognitive, language, emotional, social and moral. The present ECCE programmes include:
  • the integrated child development service (ICDS)
  • the scheme of assistance to voluntary organisations for running early child education (ECE) centres
  • balwadis and day-care centres run by voluntary agencies with government assistance
  • pre-primary schools run by state governments, municipal corporations and other agencies
  • maternal and child health services through primary health centres, sub-centres and other agencies

The ICDS is today the biggest programme of early childhood development, serving about 15 million children and 3 million mothers.Appropriate linkages are being established between ECCE programmes, primary schools, NFE centres and other related schemes of UEE.

Promotion of Access to Girls and Disadvantaged Groups

As with all educational indicators, gender disparities are conspicuous in regard to enrolment and retention. Over the past 25 years, enrolment of girls at the primary stage has grown from 5 million to 47 million and at the upper primary stage, from 0.5 million to 16 million. But disparities persist. Today girls account for only 46 per cent of the enrolment at the primary stage and 38 per cent at the upper primary stage. The drop-out rates of girls at the primary and upper primary stages are higher than those of boys. Regional disparities are also conspicuous. The very low female literacy (20 to 29 per cent) in some of the major north Indian states causes grave concern. The rural girls are doubly disadvantaged by non-availability of educational facilities and by their domestic chores.

Concerted efforts are now on to reach out to the girl child in rural and remote areas and urban slums by designing special NFE programmes with a view to getting them back into the formal stream. The NFE programmes are being dovetailed into the total literacy campaigns (TLC) to reach out to the girls in the 10-20 age group. Programmes for continuing education are being designed to ensure that neo-literates and school-going girls have access to reading materials.

An important constraining factor for female education is the lack of women teachers in rural areas. Therefore, special efforts are being made to recruit women teachers and to augment teacher training facilities for women so that adequate numbers of qualified women teachers are available. Co-ordinated efforts are also on to provide the necessary support services to enhance their participation and performance.

We in India are unambiguous about removal of disparities and attainment of equality of education opportunities for SCs, STs and other backward sections including girls. A number of strategies aimed at accelerating their rate of enrolment and retention have been detailed and are being implemented. Because of the affirmative policies of the government, the enrolment of these categories has increased considerably at the primary stage. The participation of SCs and STs at the primary level is more or less in proportion to their share in the population. Drop-outs, though declining, continue to be significantly large [primary stage (classes I-V), SC 49 per cent, ST 64 per cent; upper primary stage (classes VI-VIII), SC 68 per cent, ST 79 per cent]. Gender disparities are conspicuous among SCs and STs.

To ensure universal access and enrolment of SC children in rural areas, priority is given to the needs of SC habitations and hamlets in opening primary and upper primary schools. For SC children access and enrolment are assured primarily in the formal schools. Where they are not able to attend these, provision is made for non-formal and distance education centres. Every ST habitation is being provided with a primary school or other suitable institution. In tribal areas, the educational plan is being implemented in an integrated manner. Pre-school education, non-formal education, elementary education and adult education are being organically linked and integrated to ensure achievement of total literacy of the entire population.

Adequate incentives are given to the children of SC, ST and other backward sections in the form of scholarships, uniforms, textbooks, stationery and midday meals. All schools, NFE centres, and pre-school centres in SC/ST habitations are being equipped with necessary infrastructural facilities in accordance with the norms laid down for Operation Blackboard and for achieving MLL. Operation Blackboard has already covered almost all schools in tribal areas. Indigent SC/ST families are given incentives to send their children, particularly girls, to school.

Restructuring of Teacher Training

Teacher performance is the most crucial input in the field of education. In the ultimate analysis, the national policies on education have to be interpreted and implemented by teachers as much through their personal example as through teaching-learning processes. With a view to improving the quality and competence of teachers, a centrally sponsored scheme of Restructuring and Reorganisation of Teacher Education (RRTE) was launched in 1987.

During the period 1987-90, nearly 1.8 million teachers were trained under the programme of mass orientation of school teachers (PMOST). Most of them were primary and upper primary teachers. The main objective of the programme was to orient teachers in the main priorities and directions envisaged in the NPE 1986 and to improve their professional competence.

Among the other main components of the RRTE, as far as elementary education is concerned, are:

  1. setting up of District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs) in all districts to provide good quality pre-service and in-service training to elementary school teachers and adult education/non-formal education personnel and to provide resource support to these systems
  2. organising Special Orientation Programmes for Primary Teachers (SOPT) with a view to providing training to teachers in the use of OB materials and orienting them towards MLL strategy with a focus on teaching of language, mathematics and environmental studies

More than 300 DIETs have already become operational and have started conducting training programmes. The SOPT launched in 1993-94 is now going on in almost all states and more than 115,000 teachers have already been trained. A National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) was set up in 1993 with statutory status for the effective implementation of all teacher education and training programmes and to achieve planned and co-ordinated development of the entire teacher education system throughout the country. The regulation and proper maintenance of norms and standards in the teacher education system is the responsibility of the NCTE.

Availing of External Financial Support for Basic Education

As a matter of policy and principle, India had not been seeking financial support from external agencies to implement its programmes of basic education. This situation changed in 1991-92, when a conscious and strategic decision was taken to avail of external assistance to achieve the goal of Education for All (EFA).

Today a number of agencies including the World Bank, Unesco, Unicef, Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), International Development Association (IDA), and the British Overseas Development Agency (ODA) are sharing our concerns in this area. A new phase has, therefore, emerged � a phase of partnership between the inherent potential of the country and financial and other support from external agencies.

Launching the National Elementary Education Mission (NEEM)

With the objective of mobilising all the resources � human, financial and institutional � necessary for achieving the goal of UEE by the year 2000, a National Elementary Education Mission (NEEM) was set up in August 1995 with the District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) as its core. This Mission will monitor and implement all the meticulously formulated strategies based on microplanning, and will ensure that free and compulsory education of satisfactory quality is provided to all children up to 14 years of age by the turn of the century.

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