New Education Policy: Notes from Academic Hinterlands

Published date01 December 2021
AuthorRajeshwari Deshpande
Date01 December 2021
Subject MatterTeaching–Learning Politics in India
New Education Policy:
Notes from Academic Hinterlands
Rajeshwari Deshpande1
In this edition of the Teaching Learning Forum, we initiate a conversation over the recently implemented
National Education Policy (NEP) in India (GoI, 2020a). The interventions presented here consist of two
notes from the academic hinterlands of the Indian higher education. The notes are about the glaring gap
between the policy’s ambitious agenda for the aspirational India of the twenty-first century and the
current state of higher education in India. They are also about the need to develop micro level, innovative
pedagogic initiatives that may help us inch towards what this policy aspires to achieve. We hope that the
conversation will continue in the future discussions of this forum and many more colleagues from
political science and other social sciences will contribute to it.
Pedagogic discussions in social sciences in general and political science in particular become central
to the agenda of reconfiguration of higher education in India. As per the All-India Survey on Higher
Education (AISHE) 2019–2020 (GoI, 2020b), political science is indeed a very popular subject among
Indian students both at the undergraduate and postgraduate level. In 2019–2020, around eight lakh
students were enrolled for a postgraduate degree in social sciences. Of these, more than 20% had opted
for political science. Out of the total number of students enrolled for undergraduate courses in over a
thousand Indian universities, nearly one-third (32.7%) were part of the BA programme in which political
science along with history, sociology and economics were the most popular subjects. Needless to say, a
majority of these students studied in state-level public universities and came from the marginal groups,
including more women than men. In other words, the political science/social science classrooms are the
real sites of reform in the field of higher education in India. And yet, as the two notes here indicate, these
sites are marked by multiple absences, inequalities and academic lull, which make the implementation
of the NEP a daunting task for all its stakeholders.
The notes underline numerous hurdles in the way of higher education reforms ranging from lack of
academic infrastructure in rural (and urban) colleges to the systemic inequalities producing complex
academic trajectories for each aspiring student in the social science classrooms. The new educational
policy commits itself to making of a strong and vibrant public education system that would create
engaged citizens and equitable, inclusive and plural society. The policy highlights the power of language
in creating plural and inclusive societies and recommends multilingualism as a key strategy in the
educational reforms. Interdisciplinarity also remains a buzzword in this discussion. At both these levels,
the importance of ‘doing’ humanities/social sciences is acknowledged. The present forum has often
Teaching—Learning Politics in India
Note: This section is coordinated by Rajeshwari Deshpande (
1 Department of Political Science, Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune, Maharashtra, India.
Corresponding author:
Rajeshwari Deshpande, Department of Political Science, Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune, Maharashtra
411007, India.
Studies in Indian Politics
9(2) 273–274, 2021
© 2021 Lokniti, Centre for the
Study of Developing Societies
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/23210230211043195

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