Nita Kumar

Education and Modernity in India

In this lecture I look at the contemporary scene of schooling in India, and briefly at its history, to discuss what kind of modernity we might desire and the role that schools would play towards achieving this modernity. I posit two perspectives on ‘modernity’: one as performance, and the other as a reality incompletely achieved. Then I am interested in two little-discussed subjects: the “technology” of modernity, comprised by a certain use of space and time, rituals and activities; and the politics of modernity: what childhood and adulthood is understood to be; and what science, history, and tradition. I discuss how schools have a mandate to create a modern citizen, and how they work towards it, and how the family works vis-a-vis the schools.

Prof. Kumar is the Brown Family Chair of South Asian History at Claremont McKenna College as well as Honorary Director of the Centre for Postcolonial Education and NIRMAN.