Social Interventions

This course enables students to understand deliberated and strategic actions for social change by analysing the subjects, sites and modes/​modalities of social action.

Development practitioners are expected to engage with state and non-state actions that aim to intervene in the status quo, reduce inequalities and exclusions, enhance democratic space and deepen citizenship. The trajectory of social interventions in India can be traced broadly to three periods — colonial modernisation, followed by national development and thereafter, globalisation. The landscape of social interventions is broadly characterised by the state and its policies and programs, and the collective actions of communities in resistance, collaborations or petitioning the state for greater democratic participation, dignity and welfare. While the colonial moment of social reform ushered in modern education, private property rights, and modern political institutions on to India’s social and political landscape, it also saw rise of anti-colonial struggles, secularism, peasant and workers’ movements which shaped some of the critical state policies like land reform, reservations and labour reforms. In more recent times, there has been an increasing role of the non-state collective actions in demanding greater accountability and productive collaborations, which have helped shape India’s social policies and actions including NREGA, FRA, RTE, NRHM to name a few. At the same time, several non-state actions have established a legitimate space in the landscape of resistance, as evident in anti ‑acquisition, antidam, environmental, and women’s movements.

This course aims to provide a historicized understanding of India’s state and non-state social interventions with three objectives: First, it will help students understand the nature and role of social interventions in addressing inequalities, and widening and deepening democracy, through the study of selected social interventions. Secondly, the course will help students comprehend the plurality and legitimacy of various kinds of interventions in the social space. And finally, the students will be enabled to appreciate the dialectical relationship of non-state and state social action, and how they shape each other and how the present day interventions are shaped
by the experiences of the past.

The structure of the course will follow three mutually related but distinct sites’ of interventions — Subjects such as labour, women, farmers and adivasis; Policies such land reforms, green revolution, MNREGA, and the third, Modes such as yojonas (e.g. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna), missions (e.g. NRHM), social movements, philanthropies (e.g. Ramkrishna Mission). While engaging with these sites, the course will acknowledge the local social dynamics and the role of local leaders in (re)shaping social interventions. These sites’ will help the students appreciate a few key questions for engaging in social interventions as development practitioners; What are the ethical imperatives and challenges of intervening in the lives of others? How state and citizen actions deepen democracy and citizenship? How such interventions create conflicts and how do might we mediate conflict-ridden situations? Through such engagements students will gain an understanding of the historical, ethical and political legacy and dilemmas of social change that they stand to inherit as development practitioners.