Wednesday, September 18, 2013

SHaPE of India

Just finished teaching the second frequency of the course - SHaPE (Social, Historical, and Political Economy) of India. This was for undergrad students and pretty soon, I'd start a variation of the same course for doctoral students. The basic idea emanated from wide-spread ignorance and misinformation about Indian history, polity, and economy. The focus is, although, India and Indian economic development particularly post 1947 and post 1991 reforms, we have discussed things as varied as Yom Kippur, Sun Yat Sen, Lohia, Sikhs, Marathas, Hijarat, Ambedkar, Marx, Daahir, World Wars, Mongols, Incas, Brettonwoods and what not...

It was heartening to see great response from the undergrads as well as from doctoral students. Interestingly, this year, the post-graduate (MBA) students have also demanded the same. I hope for an equally wonderful experience with their class as well. meanwhile, here is some more information on the course - one may use the same for academic and any other non-commercial purposes, with due acknowledgement of course!

Course Modules
Module 1: History - A historical look at the economics, politics, and society of India
Module 2: Economics – A select sectoral and industry level analysis of Indian economy
Module 3: Socio-Political – Analysis of social and political issues from an economic perspective

We started with the very basic argument - as a business management student, why should one study history? That too social or political history! We also spent some time of how to read history and why Indian history is not linear but more complicated than most other civilizations. Then, we took a cursory look at the ancient and medieval era, British era, and the struggle for independence. Thereafter, we talked for most portion of the course about the interaction of economics and politics during 1947 to 1990, including our foreign relations, development experience, and the underlying ideological / philosophical underpinnings of the economic policy framework. Finally, we analyzed reforms in some detail and also took a leap of faith in predicting / posing future scenarios for India - social, political and economic as well.

The analysis perspective has been driven more by approach, philosophy, and impact-assessment; whereas, facts and figures remain a fringe motivator and guide to the discussion. It was expected that by the end of the course, the participants are aware of evolution eras of India’s social, political, and economic structures and are able to provide an informed commentary on relevant topics. The students made life miserable for me by asking reading too much and asking too much... as a result, I had to study even harder. But at the end, I am glad that all of us were left more informed and more curious to understand the SHaPE of India. 

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