Caste relations in student diversity: Thinking through Dr Ambedkar’s perspective towards a civic learning approach in higher education

Nidhi Sadana Sabharwal

Abstract


The chairman of the drafting committee of the modern Indian Constitution, Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar, emphasized that education cultivates democracy in society, strengthens the roots of democracy, and brings about social transformation. The social transformation includes a way of life that will promote liberty, equality, and fraternity, which are Dr Ambedkar’s “key elements of an ideal society”. This paper discusses the implications for higher education campuses for achieving an ideal society in light of the emerging evidence on peer group formation around identities and issues of discrimination associated with caste in the context of increasing student diversity. The paper also emphasizes the important role of a civic-learning approach to higher education; meaning an active engagement with values of liberty, equality, and fraternity. There is a shared belief that higher education has a great potential to be a social laboratory for civic learning and to inculcate democratic values and foster peaceful interactions among members of diverse groups.


Keywords


B R Ambedkar; higher education; caste; student diversity; socially excluded groups; civic learning; India

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