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Max Weber Foundation Transnational Research Group - India

“Poverty Reduction and Policy for the Poor between the State and Private Actors: Education Policy in India since the Nineteenth Century”

Upcoming Events


27-29 September

Poverty and Education from the Nineteenth Century to the Present: India and Comparative Perspectives

Max Weber Foundation Transnational Research Group - India “Poverty Reduction and Policy for the Poor between the State and Private Actors: Education Policy in India since the Nineteenth Century”

Venue: German Historical Institute London


Past Events


1-3 June

Sixth TRG Poverty and Education in India Workshop: PhD and Postdoctoral Presentations

Venue: Akademie Waldschlösschen und Göttingen University

Workshop programme (PDF file)

23 June

Pradip K Datta (Delhi)
A Labour of Love: The Theology of Work and Rabindranath Tagore’s Sriniketan experiment

TRG Event

Venue: German Historical Institute London

This presentation will situate Rabindranath Tagore’s commitment to work, especially physical labour, in some of the discourses of work in nineteenth century Indian thinkers. Proceeding from here, it will explore Tagore’s conception of work in terms of his theology of love which is really a conception of human existence as relational. This is a theology that begins from metaphysical premises and ends with theologizing the human. The theology frames his practical experiments in rural self-dependence or atmashakti. Tagore began some startling experiments in reorganizing labour techniques and the institutional conditions of work in his zamindari estates. While referring to these, the main focus will be on an exploration of the experiments that were conducted in the rural wing of Viswabharati, his global university. Beginning with an evaluation of the way in which Sriniketan was conceived as an attempt to reformulate the relationship between the mainly bhadralok dominated Santiniketan and its surrounding villages, the speaker will look at the interpenetration of the practices of work, leisure and intersubjective relationships and will then go on to examine the ethics and modalities of redistribution of value produced by labour especially through co-operatives and finally look at the problematic ambition of situation Sriniketan in a relationship of both autonomy and interdependence in relationship to the market and the state.

Pradip K Datta is a Professor at the Centre for Comparative Politics and Political Theory of the School of International Studies, JNU Delhi. His research interests include communal Identity formations in modern India; internationalism/cosmopolitanism; history and time. He has authored and edited a number of books and articles. These include the volumes Khaki Shorts Saffron Flags: A Study of the Hindu Right, Delhi, Orient Longman, 1993 (co-authored with T.Basu, S.Sarkar, T.Sarkar, S.Sen), Carving Blocs: Communal Ideology in Early Twentieth-century Bengal, Oxford University Press, 1999, and Volume III: Indian Political Thought, ICSSR Research Survey and Explorations, Volumes in Political, co-authored with Achin Vanaik and Sanjay Palshikar, Oxford University Press, 2013. Among the many articles he has written is “Sriniketan’s Co-operatives: The possibilities and dilemmas of Viswabharati’s Globality”, NMML Occasional Paper: Perspectives in Indian Development, New Series 21 (2013). He has also edited Rabindranath Tagore’s The Home and the World: A Critical Companion, Permanent Black, Delhi, 2002 and Anthem Press, London, 2005.

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19 July

Nandini Manjrekar (Mumbai)
Social Context and Educational ‘Reform’ in the Sanskarnagari: Baroda in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century

TRG Event

Venue: German Historical Institute London

Education was central to the imagination of Baroda as an ‘ideal progressive' princely state in the reign of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III (1875-1939). By the late nineteenth century, Baroda had a range of institutions of higher and technical education, including courses for the modernisation of artisanal crafts, public libraries and museums, institutions for teacher training, a music college, and an acclaimed Oriental Series. Free and compulsory school education for all children formed a key feature of the larger imagination of public education as a signifier of progress in Baroda. The 'Baroda experiment' as it came to be called, was widely debated in its time and also had a productive postcolonial afterlife, finding mention as a key historical referent in the debates on making education a fundamental right for all children in India. This paper explores education in the city of Baroda, often referred to by the epithet ‘Sanskarnagari’, or city of culture. In the extant discourse on Baroda’s educational ‘achievements’, we find the intertwining imaginations of education as a public good, a transformative experience that should be available to all persons across social hierarchies of class, caste, gender, region, and religion. This paper argues that education formed a key focus of the evolution of Baroda as a Sanskarnagari. However, larger questions of education of the city's public remained mired within the contradictions between a liberal ideology of equal educational opportunity and a deeply unequal social structure. The paper examines these contestations in its own time, principally focusing on the late nineteenth and early twentieth century Baroda, where the wider social imagination of its enlightened ruler Sayajirao Gaekwad and the reformist polices he attempted to put into place were set against the social structures of his times.

Nandini Manjrekar is Professor and Dean, School of Education, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Her research interests are in the areas of sociology of education, education in conflict areas, gender and schooling and women's studies. She was principal researcher and author of Textbook Regimes: A Study of Nation and Identity in Gujarat (Nirantar, 2010), and author of the chapter on education for a Report on the Girl Child in India (World of Indian Girls, Save the Children India, 2014). Her publications include Images of Hindu Girlhood: Reading Vidya Bharati's Balika Shikshan, (Childhood, 18:3, 2011), Gender, Childhood, and Work in the Nation: Voices and Encounters in an Indian School, in Geetha B. Nambissan and S.Srinivas Rao (eds.), Sociology of Education in India: Changing Contours and Emerging Concerns (Oxford University Press, 2013). In 2015, she contributed a paper for the TRG of the German Historical Institute London, The Neighbourhood and the School: Education, Marginalisation and the State in Gujarat (

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14 February

Official Opening of the Max Weber Foundation Delhi Office

Panel Discussions on Education for the Poor: the Politics of Poverty and Social Justice

Keynote Lecture by Carlos Alberto Torres (University of California, Los Angeles): Neoliberalism, Globalization Agendas and Banking Educational Policy: Is Popular Education an Answer?

Venue: India International Centre, New Delhi

Launch programme (PDF file)
Panel discussion - concept paper (PDF file)
Keynote lecture - poster (PDF file)

25-28 November

Fifth TRG Poverty and Education in India Workshop: PhD and Postdoctoral Presentations

Venue: India International Centre, New Delhi

Workshop programme   (PDF file)


8-9 December

National Workshop on Caste, Experience and Poverty of Education: Perspectives from South India

Jointly organised by the Transnational Research Group (TRG) on Poverty and Education in India and Manipal Centre for Philosophy & Humanities (MCPH)

Venue: Manipal Centre for Philosophy and Humanities, Dr TMA Pai Planetarium Complex, Manipal University, Manipal 576104, Karnataka, India

Workshop programme (PDF file)

24-25 November

Conference (part of the Winter School): Inequality, Education and Social Power

Jointly organised by the Transnational Research Group (TRG) on Poverty and Education in India and the Forum Transregionale Studien, Berlin

Venue: Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung, Reichpietschufer 50, 10785 Berlin

Education is an often ideologically charged notion that has been the object of many expectations and at times also cause for disenchantment. It is sometimes thought of as the means of reducing structural inequalities within societies. Nevertheless, access to education itself can be distributed in unequal ways, contingent on the very structures it is supposed to even out. Furthermore, the question of which forms of knowledge are recognized as education can be fundamentally contested.

This conference aims to bring together research on inequality, education and social power from various disciplinary perspectives, as well as from various countries in different world regions. It seeks to facilitate a mutually beneficial exchange of ideas and concepts among different research communities. Thus, the conference hopes to contribute to opening up new perspectives on the relationship between inequality, education and social power.

The Annual Conference of the Forum Transregionale Studien and the Max Weber Stiftung – Deutsche Geisteswissenschaftliche Institute im Ausland offers scholars from various countries the opportunity to discuss key political, cultural, economic and social themes from a transregional perspective and to have interchange about processes of internationalization in the humanities and social sciences. It is part of the strategic cooperation between the two institutions and is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Conference programme (PDF file)

16-21 November

Winter School: Transregional Perspectives on Inequality, Education and Social Power

Jointly organised by the  Transnational Research Group (TRG) on Poverty and Education in India and the Forum Transregionale Studien, Berlin

Venue (provisional) : Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung

11 November

Making Cinema `Useful’: Pedagogies and Publics in India, c 1920- 1960

Venue: German Historical Institute London

How did colonial and early post-colonial governments and film entrepreneurs use film to circulate information and engage different types of publics? This lecture reviews the variety of pedagogical projects and audience categories which went into making cinema a ‘useful’ vehicle of information. The talk will also explore how ‘useful’ cinema in South Asia was embedded in a transnational network of discussion about how to solicit and shape audiences.

Ravi Vasudevan is Professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi. He specializes in film and media history and its interconnectedness with social and political history. His publications include Making Meaning in Indian Cinema (edited, 2000) and The Melodramatic Public: Film Form and Spectatorship in Indian Cinema (2010). He is a founder–editor of the journal, BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies.

23-26 September

Session Proposal 50th German Historikertag: Winners and Losers

Making Winners? Transforming Individuals through Education in Colonial and Postcolonial Contexts (organised by Valeska Huber, GHIL)

Venue: Göttingen

Panel Proposal with Abstracts (PDF file)

21-22 July

Y-SASM Workshop

Panel on Education and the (Re)Production of Social Inequality in Colonial and Postcolonial India. Interdisciplinary Perspectives, organised by TRG doctoral and postdoctoral fellows at CeMIS, Göttingen

Venue: ETH Zürich

Panel Proposal with Abstracts (PDF file)

8 July

Textbook Controversies and the Demand for a Past: The Public Lives of Indian History

Venue: German Historical Institute London

The thriving public life of history in India is in inverse proportion to the dwindling interest in and development of academic history across India today. Recent debates and discussions about school textbooks allow us to return to the troubled relationship between these worlds of history writing, which will be critical to a meaningful response to the challenges faced by academic history, in schools and beyond.

Janaki Nair teaches history at the Centre for Historical Studies, JNU. Her research interests include the histories of law, the city, labour and gender relations, as well as visual traditions and cultures. Her recent publications include: Mysore Modern: Rethinking the Region under Princely Rule (2011) and The Promise of the Metropolis: Bangalore’s Twentieth Century (2005).

Please register by sending us an email to trg(ghi)

Download poster (PDF file) 

7-9 July

TRG Internal Workshop

Venue: German Historical Institute London

31 May

Film between colony and nation-state: information film in India 1940-1946

Organised by visiting fellow, Ravi Vasudevan, Professor of Film at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies and SARAI, New Delhi

In cooperation with The Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, The Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image and the German Historical Institute (TRG Poverty and Education)

Venue: Gordon Square Cinema, School of Arts, Birkbeck College

22 February

Oral History Workshop

Review workshop organised by the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University Delhi

Venue: Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) / Centre for Historical Studies (CHS), Delhi


28-30 December

Annual International Conference of the Comparative Education Society of India (CESI)

Section on Poverty and Education in India

Venue: Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata

Report on TRG Participation (PDF file)

14 December

TRG Internal Workshop on Commissioned Papers

Venue: Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi

12-13 December

TRG Project Partners’ Meeting

Venue: AIIS-GHIL Delhi Program Office, Delhi

10-11 December

TRG India event: Poverty Reduction and Policy for the Poor between the State and Private Actors: Education Policy in India since the Nineteenth Century

Venue: Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) / Centre for Studies in Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi

19-20 October

TRG India event: Oral History Workshop

Organised by the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi

Venue: Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) / Centre for Historical Studies (CHS), Delhi

11 June

Law, Violence and the Colonial State: India and the Colonial Modern

This lecture explores the systemic violence integral to many of the everyday practices of colonialism, and the languages in which these practices were legitimated within colonial discourse. Through this exploration it reflects on the troubled relationship between law and violence in the making of colonial modernity.

Neeladri Bhattacharya is Professor of Modern History at the Jawaharlal Nehru -University of New Delhi. His recent publications include Labouring Histories: Agrarian Labour and Colonialism (2004) as well as numerous articles on colonialism and the representation of history.

3-4 June

TRG Workshop

Internal Workshop and Business Meeting

Venue: The Centre for Modern Indian Studies (CeMIS), Georg-August-Universität Göttingen