Modern universities around the world have developed not only as centres of knowledge but also as catalysers of social mobility. In a hierarchical and divided society like India, university campuses have been the only spaces where students could find opportunities, and the confidence, to break social barriers.
Today, however, universities in India are facing an unprecedented crisis. They are being forced to rethink and redefine their role and are constantly under the scanner, with governments, political parties and other stakeholders questioning their ways of functioning. Can the utility of an educational institution be quantified? Is its primary task one of nation building or cultivating nationalism of a particular kind? Should universities only focus on making their students employable or should they be preparing them for a future that includes active political engagement with the state and society?
The Idea of a University examines these issues through essays by teachers and academicians located in different academic spaces. They reflect on how a university works, the historical evolution of central and state universities in India, the current state of different higher academic institutions in the country and the many challenges to academic freedom in the past, and now. A thought-provoking book that seeks to engage teachers, students and intelligent readers everywhere.