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

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Anil Bordia: Testing the Limits of the System

Anil Bordia was a civil servant who was passionate about taking education to the masses and making every Indian literate. In this endeavour, he roped in academicians, activists, journalists and educationists who would otherwise have maintained a distance from "government work". He worked within the system to change it and subvert its regressive tendencies.

It is uncommon to find an Indian A­dministrative Service (IAS) officer being described as a “champion of education and an activist civil servant”. Yet, this is the description that best e­xplains Anil Bordia’s life and work. Bordia passed away on the night of 2 September at the age of 79.

I first met Bordiaji in the summer of 1977 at Seva Mandir in Udaipur. Bhaisaheb (the late Mohan Singh Mehta) introduced us; I was doing my fieldwork in southern Rajasthan then. He asked me to meet him in Delhi to discuss the new adult education programme that was being launched – the National Adult Education Programme (NAEP). Following extensive discussions with many of us on Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppres­sed which had just been released, he ­decided to introduce the principles of awareness raising in this first national programme of adult education. He ensured that innovations in participatory training methodology and production of critical learning materials for literacy and adult education were mainstream­ed in the NAEP. He also encouraged the large-scale involvement of voluntary agencies in the implementation of this programme. These steps were very risky then, but he followed them up with great enthusiasm.

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