1 Preamble

Indian economy and society is facing several challenges like poverty, inequality, unbalanced regional development and the problems of linkages in rural and urban economies. Growing population coupled with economic development is creating problem of environment, public health and food security. Increasing population also requires more resources for educating people. Increasing urbanization is creating challenges of infrastructure, energy, water, transport and sanitation. The economic development should be based on the principles of ethics, justice and gender inclusiveness.
The proposed course is designed to increase the understanding of India’s geographic, socio and economic diversity, and using this diversity for addressing the above said challenges facing the country.

2 Objective and Expected Outcomes are to:

(a) Develop a nuanced understanding of diversity, development and dilemmas posed by diversity;
(b) Appreciate the bases of India’s geographic, socio-economic and cultural diversity;
(c) Appreciate the sources of unity underlying the diversity;
(d) Interrogate economic development, its inclusiveness and sustainability;
(e) Understand and reflect on one’s own geographical, economic and socio-cultural background vis-a-vis others; and
(f) Correlate real world observations with the above stated objectives.

Every Semester, teaching will be spread over 16 weeks including two weeks for review.

3 Organization of teaching (28 lectures plus 14 tutorials spread over a 14 week period)

The projects related to above mentioned objectives should be evolved through group discussions, formation of groups, preparation of project proposals and time-bound targets etc.

3.1 Suggestive Projects:

  • Catchment area of your college, map the native places of your classmates
  • Measuring the impact of University on the economic life of the neighboring areas.
  • Changing rural landscape: a case study of a urban village in the periphery of Delhi,
  • A case study of an urban village in Delhi
  • Physical environment and Food, dress and habitat
  • Measuring biodiversity
  • Use of Google maps
  • Mass transport (e.g., metro, bus) and changing economic landscape
  • Intermediate transport (e.g., auto, taxi) and changing economic landscape.
  • Choose any one community other than your own to study how it has changed
  • See changes in religion over time; as well as diverse readings of epic texts in different regions
  • Migration fields of Riksha wallahs/Taxi Walla in your locality
  • Differentiating lifestyles, Crime and changing social landscape
  • Increasing trends in White collar crimes and their implications
  • Minorities in Metro cities and other parts of the regions
  • Diversity and Homogenizations: Folk dances and songs
  • Distributions of socio-religious groups and adaptation to local culture
  • MNREGA and work patterns,
  • Industrial schedule and its effect on the human body,
  • Malls and Kirana shops, Shopping centres,
  • PDS, mid-day meals and their changing forms,
  • Weekly markets in cities, changing market patterns,
  • Recent trends in human development- rural and urban areas,
  • Changing food basket- rich and poor divide
  • Food , dress and habitat: Explore different forms within and between the cities; where the materials came from
  • Crafts and performance- different groups can choose particular crafts or performance and look at the materials involved, the lives of the crafts-persons or performers, how these have evolved etc.
  • Diversity as strength: cosmopolitan culture of Delhi;
  • Role of Cinema and sports as unifying factors;
  • Cultural diversity as soft unifying power.

4 Course Content:
Throughout this course, pedagogy would lay emphasis on inter-relations(both explicit and implicit) among regional and socio-economic dimensions of issues being analysed.

4.1 Recognizing, Accommodating and valuing diversity

Session 1 & 2- Regional bases of India’s diversity: regional approach to understanding diversity in terms of India’s topography, drainage, soil, climate, natural vegetation, rural and urban settlements (two weeks)

Session 3 & 4- Social diversity in India: Peopling , demography, languages, castes, ethnicity, religions, sects, family, kinship and social institutions; socio-cultural regions (Two weeks)

4.2 People, Livelihood and Occupational Diversity

Session5-6: Traditional livelihoods and their nature – agriculture, crafts, industry and services; (two weeks)

Session 7: Region, occupation and employment (one week)

4.3 Linkages between Diversity and India’s Socio-economic challenges

Session 8: Regional variations in terms of geographic and socio-economic factors- trends and emerging options; Rural Context, Urban Context (one week)

Session 9: Food insecurity, economic inequalities and poverty, environmental degradation; (one week)

Session 10: Inclusive economic growth and sustainable development (one week)

4.4 Conflicts and Unity in Diversity

Session12: Challenges and dilemmas posed by diversity and drive for homogenization; Sources of dilemma and tension—immigration, competition for limited resources; (one week)

Session13: Constitutions of India, Values, symbols; social processes and institutions; Regional and seasonal specificities and homogenization of food, dress, festivals (Two weeks)

Session 14: Media, Cinema, sports, economic challenges and potentialities, access to education; collaboration in natural resources governance (one week)

5. Teaching Style: Students will be asked to address socio-economic issues which are debated nationally, drawing on different kinds of data: academic readings, newspaper debates, ethnographic observation and interviews, court judgments, statistical data, government reports.

One issue can be picked up per week, and students can be asked to generate their own readings as well. Look at how the landscape has changed in any one area over a specific historical period; changes in fauna and flora, causes and contexts.

6. Tools and Techniques:

a. Survey of India’s topo-sheets, Forest and Soil: Maps and Atlas (interpretation), satellite imagery, remote sensing and GIS, documentaries,
b. Census, interviews, Socio-economic surveys
c. Elementary statistical tools and techniques- central tendencies, measures of dispersions, graphs and charts; Census; Annual Survey of Industry; Economic Survey; documentaries; sampling- primary and secondary
d. Mapping, Participatory rural appraisals (PRA), observations, participatory learning and action (PLA)

7. Below is a sample list of questions:

1. When does difference start becoming discrimination?
e.g. housing colonies which restrict membership to vegetarians; how should one regard the statements of khap panchayats?
2. Are roads a symbol of development? How do roads and railways change social and economic relations?
3. How does social diversity enhance or hinder food security? What are the advantages and disadvantages of national policies on food and agriculture?
4. What is the balance between industrial development and the environment? What value should society place on disappearing communities?
5. How does culture affect learning? What kind of education should we have given our socio-economic and geographic diversity?

8 Suggestive Essential Reading List

  • Bennett, C.J (1980)– “The Morphology of Language Boundaries: Indo-Aryan and Dravidian in peninsular India” in David E. Sopher ‘An Exploration of India- Geographical Perspectives on Society and Culture’. Cornell , Pages- 234-251 for language.
  • Bhatt, B. L(1980)-“ India and Indian Regions: A Critical Overview” in David E. Sopher ‘An Exploration of India- Geographical Perspectives on Society and Culture’. Cornell. Pages- 35-61 for Socio cultural regions.
  • Bose NK (1969) Unity in Indian Diversity in Desai AR (1969 ) Rural Sociology in India, reprinted 2009, Popular Prakashan, (for diversity as strength Part II chap 3 pp 134-136)
  • Economic and socio cultural dimensions of regionalization, Census Centenary Monograph number 7, Census of India, 1971
  • Gadgil and Guha Ecology and Equity: The use and abuse of nature in contemporary India. Penguin 1995
  • Kolenda, P-(1967) “Regional Differences in Indian Family Structure” in Crane R I (1967) ‘Regions and Regionalism in South Asian Studies: An Exploratory Study’ Duke Univ Press. Pages- 147-227 for family
  • Kumar, S., and Managi, S., Economic Development and Environment, in S.Kumar, and S. Managi, The Economics of Sustainable Development: the Case of India, Springer, New York (2009)
  • Nehru J (1946) The Discovery of India, OUP, chaps 4-8
  • OHK Spate and ATA Learmonth (1967) India and Pakistan: A General and Regional Geography, Metheun Pub, ( Chap 1 –for structure and relief; chap 3 for soil and Vegetation,
  • Patra AD (2010) Infrastructure development and regional disparity: An Interstate Analysis in Indian Economic Association, 2010, Inter Regional Disparities in India , Deep and Deep Publications, pp 328 -338 for infrastructure and development.
  • Patra AD (2010) Infrastructure development and regional disparity: An Interstate Analysis in Indian Economic Association, 2010, Inter Regional Disparities in India , Deep and Deep Publications, pp 328 -338 for infrastructure and development.
  • Sopher, D.E-“The Geographical Patterning of Culture of India” in David E. Sopher ‘An Exploration of India- Geographical Perspectives on Society and Culture’. Cornell, Pages- 289-326.
  • Spate OHK ( 1969 ) Diversity and Unity in the subcontinent in Desai AR (1969) Rural Sociology in India, reprinted 2009, Popular Prakashan, ( for diversity as strength-Part II chap 2 pp 131-133)
  • Subbarao B (1969) Geographical Factors in Indian History in Desai AR (1969 ) Rural Sociology in India, reprinted 2009, Popular Prakashan, ( for socio cultural regions-Part II chap 1 pp 126-130)

9 Other Suggestive Readings, Resources and Documentaries

  • SM Mathur 1991 Physical Geology of India, NBT, chap for topography- chapters 1 and 2; for drainage -chapters 5 and 7
  • Singh Jagdish 2003, India-A Comprehensive Systematic Geog, Gyyanoday Prakshan Gorakhpur, chap 5 for climate
  • Nag Prithvish and Smita Senguta (1994) Geography of India, Concept Pub, Chapters 3 and 4 for topography and drainage, chapters 5 for climate, chap 6 for soils, chap 8 for natural Vegetation
  • Bill Aitken, Seven sacred rivers, Penguin Books, 1992
  • BR Ambedkar (1936) , The annihilation of caste
  • Nag Prithvish and Smita Senguta (1994) Geography of India, Concept Pub, Chapters 14 for ethnicity and language
  • Chakravarti AK (2004) Regional Preferences for Food: Some Aspects of Food Habit Patterns In India in Grover N and KN Singh (eds) 2004,Cultural Geography: Form and Process , Concept Publishers, Delhi ( for regional specificity of food -Chap 23 pp 355 to 375)
  • Imtiaz Ahmad ed. Lived Islam in South Asia. Social Science Press, 2004
  • Efremova Irena (2004) Caste and Territory: Boundaries of Socio Cultural regions in Grover N and KN Singh (eds) 2004,Cultural Geography: Form and Process , Concept Publishers, Delhi (for caste, socio cultural regions -Chap 25 pp 392 to 400)
  • Anupam Mishra, Rajasthan ki rajat boondein (Hindi), 1995
  • Tilottama Mishra The Oxford anthology of writings from Northeast India, 2010 OUP
  • Report of the National Knowledge Commission – see also ppt by Prof. Pushpam Bhargava on indigenous knowledge
  • People of India project
  • Census of India – introductions from 1871 onwards

Documentaries that we may be used for this course are:

1. Cotton for my shroud: A film on farmer suicides in Vidarbha..it won the National Award recently.

2. Hollow Cylinder- a film on the national bamboo policy.

3. The Homecoming- a film profiling a community-based economic development project in the remote villages of Uttarakhand, in Pithoragarh- and Champawat districts..

4. Ek Kahani Jalore se- a film on Jalore, a district in Rajasthan, a best practise model under MNREGA. Jalore experience proves that if the district authorities are honest about implementation of schemes, they can turn around the lives of the people.

5. A series on best practise models under Adult Education for National Literacy Mission.

6. A series on non-farm livelihoods in rural India for the UNDP. Leather-work, soil conservation, working with locally available material can all help generate sustainable livelihoods.

7. Power to the people- A film on energy and water- on the eco-friendly micro hydels in the Himalayan regions.

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