The Idea of a University : Possibilities and Contestations book cover
1st Edition

The Idea of a University
Possibilities and Contestations

Edited By

D. V. Kumar

ISBN 9781003132035
Published July 22, 2021 by Routledge India
200 Pages

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Book Description

This volume engages with the idea of a university, the importance of intellectual inquiry and research, and the articulation of diverse political views and dissent. It discusses the prominent ideas and debates around universities and their nature and contributions, within the historical and social context of India. The chapters reflect on the importance of critical thinking and the rigorous research process, the engagement of students with socio-political discourse, and academic freedom. They also examine issues around the instrumentalisation of knowledge production, commodification of education, the clash between political forces and universities, intellectual freedom in research and teaching, inclusivity and accessibility of higher education, as well as the autonomy and identity of universities.

With insightful contributions from prominent scholars and thinkers in India, this volume will be of interest to academics and students of sociology, political science, education, public policy and governance, philosophy of education and South Asian studies. It will also be useful for readers interested in the debates on universities and their relationship with politics and society.

Table of Contents



1 Some thoughts on university education

Romila Thapar

2 On the political economy of educational "reforms"

Prabhat Patnaik

3 Beyond instrumentality: restoring the spirit of higher education

Avijit Pathak

4 The idea of a university and its leader: a Gadamerian perspective

Binod Kumar Agarwala

5 The challenges that a university confronts in India

D. V. Kumar

6 UGC and JNU: a tale of exceptions told in two acts

Ayesha Kidwai

7 Higher education and the social sciences in a "smart India"

Maitrayee Chaudhuri

The idea of university in a princely state: reflections on the century-old Osmania University, Hyderabad

K. Srinivasulu

Spaces of contested nationalism

Sajal Nag

10 Universities as gendered institutions

Vijaylakshmi Brara

11 The social contract of a public university: equality, social justice and democracy

V. Bijukumar


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D. V. Kumar is Professor at the Department of Sociology, School of Social Sciences, North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong.