This book explores the role of universities as spaces where debates around social issues get transformed into social action. It focuses on Osmania University in Hyderabad (now Telangana), India where a long battle for separate statehood was fought by student activists through a series of cultural activities and political processes. It illustrates how students mobilised, networked, and strategized on and off campus to produce creative forms of social movements.
Recently, heated debates concerning food politics have erupted at some of the most prestigious institutes of higher education in India. Students demand inclusion of beef and other meat in their hostel food menu, claiming hostel canteens represent only ‘mainstream’ Hindu culture. To boycott this culture and instil consciousness of their cosmopolitan life-world, they organise campus ‘Beef Festivals’ and publicly idolise so-called ‘demons’ of Hindu mythology. Using a Gramscian framework, this article explores the activism of marginalised students as counter- hegemonic and critically examines the ideological standpoints involved. As university spaces become significant sites to reinvent caste identities, we see that in their counter-hegemonic struggles, marginalised students employ the same tools and symbols of meat and myth as their opponents. It is argued that this strategy ultimately risks contradicting the goal of their activism and may block broader visions of an equal and just society.
Privatization and shrinking free space in Indian higher education: Challenges for the inclusive knowledge society
Narender Thakur, Gaurav J. Pathania
Privatization in Indian public higher education has been expanding its size and scale through three methods: de jure privatization de facto privatization and private tuition and coaching. The University Grants Commission has adopted a critical path for privatization through ‘provision of market- autonomy’ to the colleges in the University of Delhi. Apart from being charged with double taxation, teachers are being treated as contractual labour under the neo-liberal reforms, the process of contractualization is a reality of de jure privatization but it is also promoted by the public higher educational institutions as a part of de facto privatization. With increasing de jure and de facto privatization, and expanding private coaching and tuition, there are challenges for equity and access for the non-affluent population due to expanded disparities between the lower and upper socio-economic strata of students. The role of welfare state in Indian higher education has declined under the agenda of neo-liberal economics.