The Sociology and Social Anthropology Seminar Series: Satish Deshpande
Within the Sociology and Social Anthropology Seminar Series we invite international and national researchers to present and discuss on-going research. Each presenter talks for about an hour, followed by about an hour's discussion.
What is higher education good for? India after the National Education Policy 2020
Two kinds of changes have coalesced in the twenty-first century to disrupt confident twentieth-century prognoses about the contribution of higher education to development. The supply-side changes that have transformed the institutional landscape of higher education in the last two decades stem from its massification within a neoliberal regime. On the demand side, the taken-for-granted causal links between higher education and "employability" on the one hand, and the advancement of "liberal values" on the other, have been severely damaged if not yet broken. Today, we are no longer sure what higher education looks like or what it is good for.
This presentation explores the specific experience of India against this background. Higher education in India has changed beyond recognition in the last quarter century. It has expanded at a phenomenal rate, while simultaneously becoming far more marketized than before. The social composition of students has changed significantly, and there is near gender parity at aggregate levels. However, as in most of the world, massification has not reduced social inequalities, as old and emerging elites have found ways to reproduce and expand their social capital. This does not mean that things are not changing, just that these changes are proving less legible than expected. The most worrisome change is that – for the first time since the coming of modern education in the colonial era – the ruling regime and the liberal intelligentsia share no common ground whatsoever.
This is a joint seminar held together with SASNET.
Satish Deshpande is an independent scholar who recently retired as a Professor of Sociology at the University of Delhi. From September 2023, he will be the M.N. Srinivas Chair Professor at the Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bengaluru.