Teaching International Relations in Indian Universities: Issues and Challenges

AuthorSudhir Kumar Suthar,Shailza Singh
Published date01 December 2022
Date01 December 2022
Subject MatterTeaching–Learning Politics in India
Teaching International Relations
in Indian Universities: Issues and
Sudhir Kumar Suthar1 and Shailza Singh2
Globally, it is in the recent past that the concerns for pedagogy in international relations (IR) have gained
a new momentum despite the study of the discipline being more than a century old. Teaching–learning
IR in India is also in an urgent need of one. Recently, much attention is drawn towards the necessity of
greater theoretical rigour in Indian scholarship on IR to match global standards and her increasing visi-
bility as an emerging power on the global scene (Paul, 2017).
While the appeal of IR as a discipline is increasing among students at the undergraduate, post-graduate
and research levels, evolving a robust pedagogy that encapsulates the relevance of the discipline to
students from the vantage point of this part of the world is a challenge that teachers imparting knowledge
about IR in India constantly struggle with. For long, the syllabi at the undergraduate level in various
universities across the country did not touch upon the theoretical aspects at all (Bajpai & Mallavarappu,
2005), confining the focus to Cold War history and foreign policy. Introduction to theories and theoretical
engagement with problems and issues in IR only took place at the post-graduate level in universities such
as Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), University of Delhi (DU)3, Jadavpur University and in South
Asian University (SAU) in the recent past.
While JNU has an entire school dedicated to the study of IR (including programmes on area studies,
international economy and trade), DU offered only a couple of papers in the master’s programme as
subdiscipline of political science. The SAU also has a department dedicated to IR. With successive
syllabus revision exercises in DU, the IR courses have been invested with rich theoretical content, and
also the number of papers associated with relevant themes in IR has been significantly increased.
However, the pedagogical concerns still loom large. How to navigate through the challenge of not
making the discipline look like something which makes more sense from a Western lens only, where
concerns that affect the post-colonial/global south/developing countries/non-Western countries, either
Teaching–Learning Politics in India
Studies in Indian Politics
10(2) 283–288, 2022
© 2022 Lokniti, Centre for the
Study of Developing Societies
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/23210230221135830
Note: This section is coordinated by Rajeshwari Deshpande (rajeshwari.deshpande@gmail.com).
1 Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India
2 Department of Political Science, Bharati College, University of Delhi, New Delhi, India
3 DU has also introduced sections on IR theories in the undergraduate level Political Science courses after 2009.
Corresponding author:
Sudhir Kumar Suthar, Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi 110067, India.
E-mail: SUDHIR131@gmail.com

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