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

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Reimagining India’s Social Science Research Policy

A pioneering study by 31 social scientists, across nine research institutes, on the status of social science in India revealed progress as the country ranked 13th in research output among the 26 most productive countries. But it also revealed weakness in respect of research capacity, quantity, quality, and funding. In research output, India was ahead of China and Brazil in 1995, but China took over in 2007. In quality, although ahead of China, India remained short of Brazil. It revealed that the improvements through the national policy are imperative if the social sciences are to play their emancipatory role in knowledge creation and enlightenment.


Renowned American psychologist Gordon W Allport had, in his book Nature of Prejudice (1954: xv), observed, Social science cannot catch up overnight. It required years of labour and billions of dollars to gain the secret of the atom. It will take a still greater investment to gain the secrets of man’s irrational nature. It is easier … to smash an atom than a prejudice.

Allport made us aware of the challenge before social science, engaged in a search of the truth of human behaviour, as compared to the natural sciences (henceforth the sciences), engaged in disclosing the truth about nature. He was referring to the unfortunate tendency on the part of the state to accord less priority to investment in social science research as compared to the sciences. Priority to investment in scientific research is often justified on the ground that research in science brings gains through new technologies and evident benefits to humankind, which is less visible in the case of social sciences. It is true that scientific knowledge results in newer technologies whose gains are immediate and visible. However, knowledge generated by social science research also results in social technologies which have helped develop solutions that brought positive changes in human life. In this sense, exploration in social science becomes

an emancipatory project, a project to enlighten, and educate and inform. Social science knowledge provokes critical thinking and the powers of imagination, to speak truth to power in their engagement with various questions, affecting the society and country. (Embong 2010: xi)

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Updated On : 5th Dec, 2021
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