New Perspectives in the History of Indian Education
Parimala V. Rao
140 x 216 mm
Year of Publishing
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New Perspectives in the History of Indian Education brings together essays on the milestones in the development of modern education in India since the mid-nineteenth century. It offers readings on a wide range of interconnected themes and the debates which have shaped the contours of the educational policy of contemporary India.

The essays critique the existing anti-imperialist, postmodern and nationalist historiographies of Indian education, and bring forth the shortcomings of these approaches. Basing themselves on archival sources, they overturn the existing myths created by these historiographies and shed new light on the role of the colonial state, missionaries and Indian nationalist leaders.

The empirically rich essays focus on the initiatives to promote education among the socially and educationally backward Dalit communities and the status of Dalit institutions. The authors argue forcefully about the centrality of education in fostering social mobility and change. The essays on women’s education discuss how intensely controversial it was to educate girls, and how women struggled to establish their identity and make their voices heard in a traditional society undergoing a transition to modernity. The essays also critically examine the colonial state policy and the attitude of nationalist leaders towards the introduction of mass and compulsory education.

This volume will be immensely useful for students and scholars in departments of education, history and sociology. It will also be of interest to educationists, policymakers and the general reader who wants to understand the evolution of modern education in India.

Parimala V. Rao is Associate Professor, Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Introduction: Perspectives Old and New (Parimala V. Rao)

Part I: Forms of Discrimination in Education

  1. Dalit Initiatives in Education, 1880–1992 (Eleanor Zelliot)
  2. A College of One’s Own: An International Perspective on the Value of Historically Dalit Colleges (Laura Dudley Jenkins)
  3. Silent Voices: Women’s Perceptions about Self and Education in Late Nineteenth-century India (Radha Gayathri)
  4. Contested Domains: Restructuring Education and Religious Identity in Sikh and Arya Samaj Schools in Punjab (Mahima Manchanda)

Part II: Political Context of Education

  1. Compulsory Education and the Political Leadership in Colonial India, 1840–1947 (Parimala V. Rao)
  2. Education, Missionaries and the Indian Nation, c. 1880–1920 (Hayden Bellenoit)
  3. Re-defining Work and Education as a Means to National Self -determination: A Comparative Study of Gandhian India and Peronist Argentina (Simone Holzwarth and Verónica Oelsner)
  4. The Genesis of Curzon’s University Reforms, 1899–1905 (Suresh Chandra Ghosh)
  5. The Transformation of Schooling in Colonial Punjab, 1854–1900 (Preeti)

Consolidated Bibliography

Notes on the contributors


‘This is landmark volume, not only for the history of Indian education but for so many parts of the world where the voices of those excluded are still waiting to be heard…It provides a most cogent, convincing and sophisticated critique of the old perspectives and reaffirm the commitment to true historical method, actual history writing.’

-Richard Aldrich, Historian of Education , Institute of Education, London

‘Parimala Rao rightly advocates dismissing fashionable theories and going back to actual history-writings which does not create a past to suit a theory but is a faithful recording of historical facts’.

-Aparna Basu, Historian of Education, University of Delhi

‘The volume indeed offers refreshingly “new perspectives” to our current understanding of education in colonial India.  

-Paedagogica Historica

‘This volume uncovers the relationship between the nationalist political elites, the attempts to deny education to marginalized groups such as women and Dalits and the continuing social oppression of these groups.’

-Economic and Political Weekly

Photographs from a talk by author Parimala V. Rao at Bangalore International Centre on 11 June 2023.
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