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

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Teaching and Researching History in India

This article takes a look at different aspects to do with teaching and studying the discipline of history in the light of some recent developments, which by and large echo what has happened in the past. Though there are a few positives, there is not much to be sanguine about unless there is a radical overhaul of policies keeping in mind academic objectives and values.

The problems of teaching and researching history in India, a huge country with incredible diversities, are manifold. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly difficult to be involved with the discipline of history as a teacher (at the BA or MA level), or even as a supervisor of research, in a leading university in the country – University of Delhi (DU). Though history has developed serious interdisciplinary roots in India, it has been facing rough weather for a decade or so. Too often discourses about history’s “marketability” are invoked to question its relevance. Beyond this sort of language, what also influences its teaching and research is the mindless policies framed by short-sighted policymakers.

What we see today in DU is a consequence of the “unparalleled autonomy” extended to it by the government and the neo-liberal state. Thus, in the name of democracy, openness, and reforms, the semester system and a four-year BA programme is being pushed through in an anti-academic and anti-democratic manner. Interestingly, the establishment assumes that all those opposing the four-year BA programme are “leftists” despite their ranks including some Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders. If this can be done in the DU, which has a long tradition of debates, discussions, and resistance, one can well imagine what the fate of other universities in India will be.

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