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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.

Visual Timeline

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.

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