Poverty Reduction and Education Policy in India

Max Weber Foundation Transnational Research Group in India

The Max Weber Foundation supports the work of the first Transnational Research Group (TRG) in India for a period of five years (January 2013 to December 2017). The TRG Poverty Reduction and Policy for the Poor between State and Private Actors: Education Policy in India since the Nineteenth Century resulted from two key research subjects of the German Historical Institute (GHI) London dealing with the history of the British Empire and its colonies and with the history of solidarity and public welfare. 

Supported by the GHI London, this joint German-British project was set up as a co-operation between

  • the King’s India Institute at King’s College in London,
  •  the Centre for Modern Indian Studies (CeMIS) in Göttingen,
  • the Centre for Historical Studies and the Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University and
  • the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) in New Delhi

The Indian capital New Delhi was chosen as the principal place of business. The TRG office located there is responsible for administrative matters, event planning and mentoring scholarship holders.

The members of the research group study the reciprocal influences of poverty and education in India since the nineteenth century. Despite impressive economic growth, much of the population of the Indian sub-continent continues to live in poverty. Creating access to education is one of the most important strategies in poverty reduction. The TRG contributes to this current debate by studying education in India in a historical context. New knowledge about the connection, or the reciprocal relationship, between poverty and education is expected to result from studies under the perspectives of social science, educational-social science and history. Particular attention is to be given to problems such as how to shape and impart knowledge.

Apart from answering relevant questions relating to the background subject, a major aim is to develop a network between the participating countries beyond the period of this project. Fellowship programmes, summer schools, workshops, conferences and lecture series are to be held to establish and promote an international network of this kind.

Aspiring to produce innovative results within a timeframe of five years, the Transnational Research Group mainly concentrated on a number of projects within the wide scope of its main theme, „Poverty Reduction and Policy for the Poor between State and Private Actors: Education Policy in India since the Nineteenth century“. The research group’s sub-projects take an interdisciplinary approach and elucidate the problems from various perspectives. Thereby researchers can contribute their expertise from different specialist areas such as educational sociology, economics, history of education, as well as cultural, religious and social history.

Seven fields of research have emerged in the Transnational Research Group:

  • Nineteenth and twentieth-century global educational reforms and their impact on general schooling in India
  • The introduction of  universal elementary school / school education between the private sector and the education business
  • Caste discrimination and education policy
  • Industrial restructuring and informalization and their consequences for access to elementary education
  • Adult education and the popularization of practical scientific knowledge
  • Industrial and technical institutions and the significance of manual labour for revitalization
  •  The impact of schooling on life histories

The funding format of the Max Weber Foundation’s Transnational Research Group was set out in 2012. The format aims to create cross-border humanities networks, above all with regions where German institutions have until now been underrepresented. In addition, the Transnational Research Groups are meant to help develop sustainable research infrastructures even beyond the project period. To achieve this, an institute of the Max Weber Foundation can receive financial support in the amount of EUR 500,000 per year for up to five years. The Transnational Research Group in India is the first research group of that type. In January 2017, the second Max Weber Foundation Transnational Research Group started work in Dakar, Senegal.