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

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In Search of a Knowledge Society

Making India Great Again: Learning from Our History by Meeta and Rajivlochan, New Delhi: Manohar, 2020; pp 299, `1,495 (hardcover).

What explains the contrast bet­ween India’s chronic poverty and its vast resource reserves? How instrumental was colonialism in amplifying this mismatch? What prevents present-day institutions from maximally leveraging India’s talent pool for overall growth? These are some of the guiding questions that Meeta Rajivlochan and Rajivlochan field in the book under review. They delve into India’s past and offer two possible explanations: first, a failure to standardise knowledge production and retention systems; and second, a lack of evidence-based and institutionalised decision-making processes steered by competent state power. The authors, a civil servant and a historian, bring into dialogue outstanding insights from their areas of expertise to formulate correctives that ensure accessible and transparent knowledge creation-retention systems in public as well as private institutions.

Knowledge creation and sharing inhabit a terrain of dynamic sociopolitical change. As debates over curricular (re)-framings show, validity ascribed to both knowledge and processes of knowing proceed by way of constant “contestations, disagreements and negotiations” (Sunny 2014: 34). In these debates, knowledge systems are as much an ingredient as an outcome. It is this centrality of knowledge practices in social and political formations that the authors foreground within the context of India’s history. Referring to colonialism in particular, they attribute European triumph not so much to economic or military asymmetry as to key advances in knowledge proce­ssing systems. Even though the phrase itself finds mention only once, a “knowledge society” built around equitable acc­ess to information is their antidote to India’s systemic lack in this field (p 243).

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Updated On : 20th Feb, 2023
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