Attempts at resolving epistemic and pedagogical dilemmas in social sciences

History and other allied social science disciplines are basically abstract and amorphous knowledge enterprises. While making it too empirical and tangible often means presenting society blanched, and leveling out much its complexities and emptying the various socio-cultural and economic processes at play. Presenting society in such encapsulated, discrete, atomistic form has its takers too and our flawed school textbooks set off such takes on society, its past and present on impressionable minds, something majority of us are unable to shake off. On the other hand attempting to make social sciences more holistic, embodied is not simply a matter of method but more fundamentally an understanding of the kind of knowledge frames required to understand society. Thus here matters of ontology and epistemology also need to be grappled with. In such a sense then philosophy and social theory play an important role in giving direction and unraveling its constitutive elements - let it be histor

Social conflict and Hindi cinema – a plea for resurrection of art and the politics of the possible

In recent years within the confines of what one sees as mainstream cinema there has been certain crop of Hindi films which have attempted to explore the seamier and often grisly side of our social existence – the world of crime, the underworld, violence, life on the margins, of the disenfranchised and the likes. Movies like Kaminey, Shanghai, Haider, Shor in the City, NH-10, comes to mind. What actually is seen distinguishing these films perhaps is not as much the themes (life of crime for example in itself has been de jure staple of popular Hindi cinema along with romance) but the treatment. Shorn of melodrama, crassness and kitschy sentimentality, many find certain refreshing use of film grammar even as they retain certain nativity (songs for instance like in Kaminey, Shor in the City or Haider). Many see in these films certain ‘realism’, where any gloss and glamour if present are viewed as more symbolic or metaphorical to build a plausible narrative – best exemplified in NH 10. I

Some problems with NCERT's history textbooks - a case in point

The NCERT history textbooks "Our Pasts" has been in effect for nearly 8 years now and it continues to be seen by many as best possible history textbook for school students written in post independent India. These particular set of textbooks from middle school (class VI) and above, themselves emerged in the context of the criticism of 'saffronization', that the preceding set of NCERT history textbooks, produced under the aegis of the then NDA government (in governance from 1998-2004) were seen to 'suffer' from. But with the NDA government back at the helm, and its education minister 'threatening' to once again review and change the educational policy, it is feared that history textbooks will be subjected to 'mytholization' , gross simplification in which large swathes of time and epochs under certain homogeneous cultural, social and religious categories will be 'lumped' together, like they were in its previous version. Indeed these