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

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Social Science Research in India

Your editorial and A Vaidyanathan’s essay on social sciences in India (January 13) are informative and should form the basis of an extended discussion on this important issue. The editorial suggests that in pre-independence India much of the “trail-blazing” research was conducted within the domain of universities that were ill-funded. I am not sure this is not the case even now. Despite the lack of basic resources, which are taken for granted in most western universities (e g, research assistance, computers and professional development funds for each faculty member), the most significant research in sociology, anthropology, political science and economics, to name a few, is still conducted by scholars who work in universities in India. Their contributions are the bases on which new generations social scientists are trained and foreign researchers working on India depend. For example, without the research by G S Ghurye, M N Srinivas, V K R V Rao, K M Kapadia, Andre Beteille, T N Madan, Deepak Nayyar, Prabhat Patnaik, and T K Ommen, to name a few, there will be little of social science that is to be applauded in India and respected abroad....

Your editorial and A Vaidyanathan’s essay on social sciences in India (January 13) are informative and should form the basis of an extended discussion on this important issue. The editorial suggests that in pre-independence India much of the “trail-blazing” research was conducted within the domain of universities that were ill-funded. I am not sure this is not the case even now. Despite the lack of basic resources, which are taken for granted in most western universities (e g, research assistance, computers and professional development funds for each faculty member), the most significant research in sociology, anthropology, political science and economics, to name a few, is still conducted by scholars who work in universities in India. Their contributions are the bases on which new generations social scientists are trained and foreign researchers working on India depend. For example, without the research by G S Ghurye, M N Srinivas, V K R V Rao, K M Kapadia, Andre Beteille, T N Madan, Deepak Nayyar, Prabhat Patnaik, and T K Ommen, to name a few, there will be little of social science that is to be applauded in India and respected abroad. What is also crucial is the recognition that researchers in university settings, unlike their counterparts in the research institutes, do their research in addition to full-time teaching and graduate student advising and often without mega-grants from agencies such as the ICSSR or the World Bank.

What I would have liked in Vaidyanathan’s essay was a critical assessment of how research done under the aegis of various institutes compares with that done by university-based researchers. In making the preceding comments I am mindful of the fact that there are over 200 universities and deemed universities as opposed to just 27 research institutes (ICSSR supported) and not all these universities are engaged in cutting-edge research. Nevertheless, in universities norms pertaining to promotion still place a strong emphasis on research publications rather on teaching performance which constitutes at least 50 per cent of a faculty member’s academic responsibilities. Consequently, academics in university settings must do some research in the interest of their career progress which coincidentally adds to the development of social sciences in India, however meagre that addition may be.

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