Minorities on Campus: Discrimination, Equality, and Politics of Nationalism in Indian HE

Minorities on Campus: Discrimination, Equality, and Politics of Nationalism in Indian HE



Project Team

Dr. Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor, Assistant Professor, CTPSR

Dr. Alison Halford, Research Assistant, CTPSR

Dr. Ashok Kumar Mocherla, Indian Institute of Technology Indore, India

Project Objectives

INTELLECTUAL PARADIGMS: The network aims to uncover and unravel the impact of existing intellectual paradigms around religion, ethnicity, and gender on knowledge production and minority student engagement on campus.

LIVED EXPERIENCE: The network will examine how wider political discussions around nationalism, citizenship and international relations shape the identity of minority students marginalised on account of their religion, ethnicity or gender and their experiences of discrimination and equality.

INCLUSIVE NARRATIVES: The network will examine the potential impact on students of inclusive narratives (including decolonized approaches, both conceptual and lived, of higher education.

SUSTAINABILITY: Aims to grow the network over two years into a multi-disciplinary, multi-nation virtual e-network of academics and practitioners interested in questions of discrimination, marginalisation, inclusivity, opportunity to progress on campus based on minority religion and gender identity. This will facilitate inter-cultural learnings, exchanges and collaborations that extend beyond the funded lifetime of the network.

Impact Statement

When students who are at university to lay the foundations for their careers are prepared to forfeit or at least compromise their career prospects by going to prison over their demands for rights, we as leaders of academia need to pay attention. This research network, at its very heart, is conceptualised as a response to students' activism for equality and rights. In doing so we address issues around sustained inequality and discrimination as experienced by minorities and women on Indian campuses.

The existing political scenario in India is characterised by rapid economic and infrastructure development on the one hand, and on the other by the marginalisation of minority religious groups, 'lower' castes and women. Glaring social differences of inequality and discrimination is deeply disturbing in nature and but at the same time motivates people to strive hard to make a difference. In citizen-efforts aimed at making India more equal, the role of universities is paramount for they educate and train people who could be potential leaders of the country. Universities reflect the societies within which they are situated but arguably also have the potential to positively improve their contexts through the facilitation of social and economic development. But the questions remain;

  • Are universities achieving their potential to build cohesive educated societies?
  • Is education realizing its fundamental developmental objective being a powerful tool for social and economic upward mobility of students on the one hand and also sensitizing them towards most compelling social issues of our times i.e. poverty, inequality, discrimination, and human rights?
  • 70 years after the Indian constitution sought to build an equal Indian society (including though the use of positive discrimination) why do minorities and women continue to face unfair treatment and discrimination?

These are 'big' questions that cannot easily be resolved. They need sustained reflection, ethical practice and conscientious action. This research network provides the first step in for such a reflective, ethical and conscientious discourse. This research network will benefit research users both on and off campus by enabling topical but difficult discussions around the roles of universities, religious and gender marginalisation, problematic histories of knowledge production and inter-religious relations on campus. Good management and infrastructural support will facilitate establishing relationships and networks across diverse stakeholders. Our workshops and symposium will use a postcolonial and positional standpoint to bring users/stakeholders together to discuss our shared responses to the questions that this network and indeed minority students on campus are asking of university leadership.

The beneficiaries of this research will include: The HE sector Indian and in other South Asian countries; academics in the UK and India who are involved in the network events and publications will benefit from the intellectual exchanges and collaborations that this network facilitates; third sector organisations working in inter-faith relations will benefit from the discourses around dialogue, understanding and respect for the different other and the international academic community that is involved in the study of religion, ethnicity and gender on campus will benefit from the theoretical and methodological narratives that emerge from the network.

Call For Papers

Call For Papers

‘Existing Intellectual Paradigms of HE and social mobility of women and minorities’

  • Outputs

    1. Two network workshops that will allow for nuanced and informed debate about the contemporary challenges being faced by the Indian HE sector. These two workshops will constitute the foundational base of the new discourses around HE, diversity, inclusion and discrimination that this network aims to forge. For each workshop participants will be invited with a range of disciplinary, methodology and subject expertise. Reflections on positionality will be a key element of the workshops’ proceedings.
    2. In addition to furthering academic discourse on discrimination and equality on campus, the purpose of 2-day symposium is to widen the scope and reach of this research network. It will involve scholars from other South Asian countries (with keynotes from Pakistan and Sri Lanka) to explore connections and contrasts with broader national and international contexts. It will also include research studies of South Asian international and diaspora students and initiate conversation about implications for non-academic stakeholders.
    3. An edited volume on inclusive paradigms of HE and their potential to bring about social and economic development will be produced as an outcome of the symposium. Although this research network relates to India we will seek to involve scholars from other South Asian countries and will include research studies of South Asian international and diaspora students.
    4. A co-written journal article on student activism in the Indian HE sector. Target Journal: Research in Higher Education which is a peer reviewed Q1 jounal
    5. A policy oriented document/report on achieving inclusive gender-sensitive campus to be prepared for the use of university leaders, civil society activists and policy makers.
    6. A digital-network of scholars and practitioners interested in HE to share and learn from each others experiences, allowing them to forge cross-border exchanges and collaborations.
    7. Blog articles in public-facing and student-facing publications will allow our discussions to be shared with students through newsletters, journals and events.
    8. Learned society conference papers – Sociology of Religion (Socrel) and the British Association for South Asian Studies (BASAS) in the UK and Indian Sociological Society Conference (ISS), Indian Social Science Congress (ISSC), and South Asian Studies Annual Conferences (SAS).
    9. The Project website will establish an online identity and space for the project. It will include a number of educational and conversational tools:
      1. A project blog will be linked to the Project website where students and staff will be invited to post personal stories and testimonials about their experience of Islam on campus. Posts will be anonymised but public commentary and discussion will be enabled to encourage a dialogue on key project questions. Posts will be moderated to ensure no offensive content is published.
    10. Two digital visual outputs:
      1. The visual timeline charting the history of minority contributions to HE in India will be produced and hosted on the project website creating a visual testament to the inherent diversity of Indian HE and the need to acknowledge these contributions.
      2. A visual mapping of student protest on campus will be hosted on the project website.
    11. Press Offices of the three host universities will maximise media opportunities.
    12. Grant Application to undertake in-depth research.
  • Advisors

    Professor Nishi Mitra, Professor in Women’s studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India, Sexuality and Gender Based Violence, Feminist Peace Theory

    Dr Opinderjit Takhar, Director of the Centre for Sikh and Panjabi Studies, University of Wolverhampton, Sikhism and everyday Sikh life, Caste and gender issues amongst Sikhs

    Professor Rowena Robinson, Sociology of religion, Sociology of HE and minority studies

    Dr Alun De Winter, Research Fellow, Centre for Global Learning, Education and Attainment, Coventry University, Intercultural education, decolonisation, Peace and Civil Disobedience

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