ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Caste among Schoolchildren

Despite the potential of the paper, "Critical Thinking on Caste among Schoolchildren in Maharashtra: Case Study of Two Schools in Chiplun" (EPW, 31 May 2014), it is reduced to a reporting of some of the views and attitudes of children on caste-related issues and leaves much to be desired. The paper does not achieve the objectives it set out for itself. It makes sweeping generalisations across sites and across respondents and holds the schools responsible for being unable to develop critical thinking among children.

I read Sameer Mohite’s paper, “Critical Thinking on Caste among Schoolchildren in Maharashtra: Case Study of Two Schools in Chiplun” (EPW, 31 May 2014) with a lot of interest. The significance of this work can hardly be under-emphasised in a country, where schools continue to be the sites of oppression, and in several covert and overt ways, condone discriminatory behaviour on part of both teachers and students. Instances of children from scheduled castes and other such disadvantaged communities being called by derogatory names, asked to clean toilets, eat in separate utensils, drink from a separate pot are not uncommon in our country.

However, the article leaves much to be desired and does not achieve the objectives which it sets out for itself. A study which had tremendous potential is thus reduced to a reporting of some of the views and attitudes of children on caste-related issues. The title also seems to be a bit misplaced as all that the article does is tell us that children think in traditional ways, reflecting and in all probability parroting societal beliefs and attitudes against each other, especially those who are placed below them in the social, more specifically, caste hierarchy.

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