ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Is Social Science Research Dying?

Harsh Sethi (EPW, September 30- October 6, 2000) raises several valid issues related to the ICSSR system, which, most social scientists would agree, should have been raised long back. Though belated, Sethi’s observations, especially as from a scholar having substantial firsthand information on the working of the ICSSR, need to be taken seriously and discussed. While Sethi raises the whole issue in the context of the recent policy shifts of the council, and of the ministry of human resource development, this could have been foreseen by anybody having some sense of history. Yes, a new type of social science culture has emerged during the 1980s and 1990s, and it has been devaluing the painstaking efforts of pioneers and visionaries like J P Nayak, V K R V Rao and D T Lakdawala

Harsh Sethi (EPW, September 30-October 6, 2000) raises several valid issues related to the ICSSR system, which, most social scientists would agree, should have been raised long back. Though belated, Sethi’s observations, especially as from a scholar having substantial first-hand information on the working of the ICSSR, need to be taken seriously and discussed. While Sethi raises the whole issue in the context of the recent policy shifts of the council, and of the ministry of human resource development, this could have been foreseen by anybody having some sense of history. Yes, a new type of social science culture has emerged during the 1980s and 1990s, and it has been devaluing the painstaking efforts of pioneers and visionaries like J P Nayak, V K R V Rao and D T Lakdawala.

During the early days of the ICSSR, it was considered prestigious to get a small research grant of Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000, a short-term fellowship or a study grant, which could enable young scholars to complete their doctoral research. It was considered prestigious to quote the name of ICSSR in the preface of a PhD dissertation or a research paper. During the 1980s, many of us were proud of having got an opportunity of working in the ICSSR system involving about 14 institutions in various parts of the country, with an average faculty size of 15, which effectively meant, approximately, 210 academics at the national level. Though small, the credibility of the system was much greater than the university system in the country, where the social science faculty in a single university is itself sometimes larger than this number. The substantial credibility of the system, to a large extent can be ascribed to the vision and integrity of those social science doyens who pioneered the system.

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