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

A+| A| A-

Studying Childhood in India

A look at the various ideas of childhood that have been dominant in India over the past century or so, and what they mean for parenting, pedagogy and politics in the new century.

This article is based on a keynote address delivered at the seminar on Contested Sites: Construction of Childhood held at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, on 26 November 2015.

Our ability to use childhood as an analytical term depends on the amount and type of knowledge we possess about parenting, teaching, childrens literature, and children themselvesboth past and present. These are distinct areas of scholarly endeavour, and none of them is particularly well-developed in our academic institutions. So, when we discuss childhood, we must recognise the limitations set upon our aims by the availability of knowledge. A major dimension of the limitations relates to the diversity of circumstances in which childhood unfolds in our country.

Diversity is a deceptive term; it highlights attractive differences arising from geography and culture, while seeking to keep out of view the differences arising from inequality rooted in economic conditions and the caste hierarchy. When applied to childhood, diversity also tends to place under a cover the sharp differentiation induced by culture over gender. It may not be all that untrue to say that when it comes to poverty and the female gender, childhood in India is not all that diverse. We will also have to recognise rural and urban as categories relevant to the study of childhood. Their relevance is, in fact, growing as Indias modernity passes through into increasingly impatient phases of economic development.

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here


To gain instant access to this article (download).

INR 59

(Readers in India)

$ 6

(Readers outside India)

Support Us

Your Support will ensure EPW’s financial viability and sustainability.

The EPW produces independent and public-spirited scholarship and analyses of contemporary affairs every week. EPW is one of the few publications that keep alive the spirit of intellectual inquiry in the Indian media.

Often described as a publication with a “social conscience,” EPW has never shied away from taking strong editorial positions. Our publication is free from political pressure, or commercial interests. Our editorial independence is our pride.

We rely on your support to continue the endeavour of highlighting the challenges faced by the disadvantaged, writings from the margins, and scholarship on the most pertinent issues that concern contemporary Indian society.

Every contribution is valuable for our future.