Nandini Manjrekar (Mumbai)
Social Context and Educational ‘Reform’ in the Sanskarnagari: Baroda in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century
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 (www.perspectivia.net).
Download flyer (PDF file)