Center for Global Studies




8:00 – 8:45am            Breakfast and Sign In

8:45 – 9:00am            Welcome note

9:00 – 11:00am          Panel I (Troubling the discourses of education, development, and progress)

                                   Moderator: Dr. Supriya Baily (Assistant Professor, George Mason University)
                                   - Ms. Usree Bhattacharya (PhD Candidate, University of California, Berkeley)
                                   - Ms.
Jessica Mason (PhD Student, University of Pittsburgh)
                                   - Dr. Amy Bhatt  (Assistant Professor, University of Maryland Baltimore County)
                                   - Mr. Chaitanya Ravi (PhD Candidate, George Mason University)

11: 15 – 12:30pm       Keynote Address: Mr. Chidanand Rajghatta, Foreign Editor, The Times of India

12:30 – 1:30pm          Lunch  and informal discussion with keynote speaker

1:45 – 3:45pm            Panel II (The neo-liberal state: People, policy, and practice)

                                   Moderator: Dr. Bhavani Arabandi (Assistant Professor, Ithaca College)
Madhumanti Sardar (PhD Candidate, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
                                   - Dr. Surupa Gupta (Assistant Professor, University of Mary Washington)
                                   - Mr. Vasu Mohan (Deputy Director, Europe & Asia, IFES, Washington, DC)
                                   - Ms. Nayantara (Tara) Sheoran (PhD Candidate, George Mason University)

4:00 – 4:30pm            Tea Reception

5:30 – 8:30pm            Movie (Three Idiots)

                                   “3 Idiots” is a 2009 Indian comedy film directed by Rajkumar Hirani. Upon release, the                                        film broke all opening box office records in India. It was the highest-grossing film in its 

                                   opening weekend in India and has the highest opening day collections for a Bollywood   


8:30pm                       Closing and thank you note.

Panels and Keynote location:
Dewberry Hall, Johnson Center, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA.

Movie Viewing location:
Georges, Johnson Center, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA


Panel I: Troubling the discourses of education, development, and progress in contemporary India
The nature of India's development has been one that has relied on the narrative of extremes to survive.  From the opulence of the new rich to the abjection of the poor, the grandiose beliefs of regional and international influence live alongside the marginalization of those whose place in new India are still far from clear.  The papers in this panel seek to nudge these misalignments along - whether it is the notion of language learning and the role of education as a tool for middle class growth as seen in the press, or if it is the ways in which public spheres and the evolution of "scapes" dominates the efforts of government to be seen as a growing regional and international powerhouse.  These papers shed some light on the duality of the narratives while also highlighting the troubling nature of policies and deeply held beliefs on India's current state.

Ms. Usree Bhattacharya
PhD Candidate,  Graduate School of Education
University of California, Berkeley 
Locating "Globalization": Mapping the notion in the local language ideologies and literacy practices of multilingual learners at a suburban Indian orphanage

This study maps out the unstable, shifting socio-cultural linguistic landscape of eight young language learners in fast-developing and multilingual India, excavating deep anxieties at a time when discourses of a homogenized “global imaginary” (Appadurai, 1996) prevail in literacy scholarship. Through participant observation spanning four years at an anathashram (orphanage) in a New Delhi suburb, this ethnographic case study illuminates how competing language ideologies at the national and local level influence the children’s multiple language socialization in school and at the anathashram. The children’s immediate universe, I show, functions as a microcosm of a nation frequently at odds with its own multilingualism. In the Indian context, in-depth qualitative examination of the differential valuing of languages by different stakeholders in education, and its impact on which languages are acquired, in what ways, by whom, and why, has yet to be conducted. Beyond contributing to contemporary scholarship, the study investigates whether and how the supposed flows of “globalization” interact with the “local” and examines how they impact language education in developing contexts.

Ms. Jessica Mason
PhD Student, Social and Comparative Analysis in Education
University of Pittsburgh 
Succeed and compete: Portrayals of education in the Indian print media.

Education has been long been touted as a panacea for economic underdevelopment worldwide, and has become especially visible in recent years as nations struggle to remain competitive in the globalized market. Today, education in India receives a great deal of international attention, as students outperform their international counterparts. Advances in technology and trade liberalization at the end of the twentieth century led to widespread consumption of print media, with newspapers developing the capacity to influence public opinion and policy makers. With the current policy environment as a backdrop, this paper will use content analysis of three major English language daily newspapers, The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, and The Telegraph, within the theoretical framework of Habermas’s public sphere to examine how the value and purpose of education is perceived by elites in India and the relevance of this media framing to education policy and the general public. As the analysis will show, education is viewed as a tool for economic advancement, with emphases placed on technology, internationalization, and preparing “industry-ready” graduates to represent India’s future as a major power in the global market, perpetuating the reproductive nature of the education system as it exists in its current form.

Dr. Amy Bhatt
Assistant Professor, Gender and Women's Studies
University of Maryland Baltimore County
From NRI Zero to Indian Hero: The Indian ITer as Development Worker

In recent scholarship and popular representations of the new Indian middle class, this demographic has been conceptualized as a transnational formation that aspires to participate in a global economy (Fernandes 2006; Radhakrishnan 2008) and also as social reformers dedicated to eradicating corruption and poverty in the postcolonial nation (particularly in light of the “Anna movement”). Drawing on interviews with Indian technology workers moving between Seattle and Bangalore and Hyderabad who are representative of this new Indian middle class, I demonstrate how workers adopt these discourses by engaging in activism directed toward the advancement of the Indian nation while working abroad. The Indian government fosters these discourses through national celebrations of the diaspora and the extension of partial citizenship opportunities aimed at increasing economic, political and social ties between the nation and its “non-residents.” At the same time, the desire to give back to India has emerged as a reason motivating migrants to move back to India permanently and also inspires their participation in social organizations in the United States focused on uplifting the Indian nation. I argue that these discourses position the circulating middle class worker as the vanguard of development and entrepreneurialism and work by collapsing scripts of global corporate capitalism with apolitical notions of empowerment and anti-corruption. Analyzing these discourses has implications for understanding how the new middle class supplants the liberal welfare state as harbingers of modernity in an era of increasing neoliberalism, globalization and eroding national responsibility in contemporary India.

Mr. Chaitany Ravi
PhD Candidate, Environmental Policy
George Mason University
The Factors Underlying India’s Constricted Nuclear Discourse

India’s development of an extensive nuclear infrastructure stemmed out of the firm conviction of its leaders that the  “capacity to master the atom represented modernity, potential prosperity, transcendence of the colonial past, individual and national prowess, and international leverage” (1). Nuclear expert M.V. Ramana has suggested that one of the reasons why it is so difficult to attack the discourse of progress underpinning the Indian nuclear project is because the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) “tries hard to maintain its position as the sole repository of nuclear expertise…Few academic institutions offer courses in nuclear engineering, and their graduates necessarily have to seek employment with the DAE. Therefore, the government is compelled to seek the DAE’s advice on all nuclear matters" (2). My study uses Gabrielle Hecht’s concept of technopolitics (“strategic practice of designing or using technology to constitute, embody or enact political goals)” (3). to better understand the organizational structures, strategies and practices that have helped the DAE remain the sole arbiter of nuclear expertise. Preliminary conclusions indicate that the DAE’s centralization of knowledge and knowledge generating institutions coupled with its enormous financial clout constricts the space for a democratic debate by preventing challengers from accessing information, acquiring expertise and the necessary financial wherewithal to develop an alternative imaginary of progress and development. 

1. Perkovich, George. India's Nuclear Bomb. London: University of California Press, 1999.p 13

2. (p. 6)

3. Ibid, p 91


Panel 2: The neo-liberal state: People, policy, and practice in contemporary India

The contemporary moment in India is rife with discussion about the nation-states’ neo-liberal aspirations in the garb of “development;” alongside, conversations about sustainable growth that can be shared equitably between the rural and urban.  This panel engages the issue of how people, policies, and everyday practices are mobilized by and in service of particular policy changes in India in regards to farmers and women. Two of the papers, look at the agrarian policy reforms in India and their implications for everyday lives of farmers and suggest effective alternatives based on fieldwork. The next two papers looks at women in India and how globalization and neo-liberalization have impacted their daily lives. These papers intend to unpack the implications of a globalized India on differently situated women, and how a future can be imagined where these women get to participate equitably. All four papers aim to provoke discussion about policy and practice in everyday India with the hope to imagine a contemporary Indian state where the people (all people) are allowed opportunities as equal stakeholders in a rapidly globalizing India.

Ms. Madhumanti Sardar
PhD Candidate, Development Studies
University of Wisconsin-Madison
The Neoliberal State, Agrarian Modernization and Resultant Farmer Suicides in Maharashtra

The paper challenges the widespread assumption that agrarian indebtedness is the sole cause of farmer suicides in India and therefore debt waiver is the solution. It is argued that the suicides are rather endemic to a larger process of agrarian dispossession precipitated by the twin concomitant processes of the capitalist project- capital-intensive agrarian modernization and state withdrawal under neo-liberal reforms. Based on content analysis and primary research conducted in six villages across three suicide hit cotton growing districts of Vidarbha, Maharashtra the paper while unpacking both, concludes that unless these processes are addressed in their entirety and their forward march retracted, farmer suicides cannot be arrested permanently. It makes a case for a stronger, welfarist and market regulatory role for the state, along with a gradual adoption of a low capital-intensive agricultural model as effective responses to the crisis.

Dr. Surupa Gupta
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science and International Affairs
University of Mary Washington
Politics of Contract Farming: Ideas Collide with Institutions
Both domestic and international political economy considerations led the Government of India to begin rethinking agricultural policy in the late 1990s. After more than a decade of reforms attempts, the policy framework in agricultural marketing remains fairly unchanged. If all-powerful international financial institutions colluded with the state to bring about change, where did they meet their match? This paper seeks to explain the mixed outcome of agricultural policy reform in India. Scholars of economic policy reform use an interests, institutions and ideas framework to explain policy change. Adopting that framework, this paper argues that while the ideas came from liberal economics and its advocates outside and within the government, the policy process met with two institutional hurdles, one political and one economic. On the political side, complex politics at the state level has stymied marketing reforms. States’ own financial interests as well as existing vested interests within the state constrained state policy-makers’ ability to bring changes. A further problem arose in the economic realm – the marketing models did not account for the problem of aggregation at the supply level, where a large number of small-holders are the producers. The paper is based on interviews, newspaper accounts, and documents produced by governments, international and non-governmental organizations.

Mr. Vasu Mohan
Deputy Director, Europe & Asia
International Foundation for Electoral Systems, Washington, DC
Globalization and India's Missing Women
"We confront here what (female feticide) is clearly one of the more momentous, and neglected, problems facing the world today."  - Amartya Sen
The future of India will be in how it values and capitalizes on its people. But this future is under threat while a large number of those people continue to disappear. India is missing upwards of 30 million women from its population through sex-selective abortion, infanticide and/or neglect, and globalization has inflamed this phenomenon in three critical respects: Motivation - daughters are considered even more of a financial liability in a globalized, consumerist environment where illegal dowry demands are escalating. Access - with increased access to medical technology, sex selection is expedited and commercialized. Impact - the burgeoning gender gap is leading to wider social impacts that pose a challenge to India's democracy and continued economic development- such as an increase in violence by unattached men who face poverty and unemployment. Drawing on an intervention by the International Foundation Electoral Systems (IFES) and its partners in Rajasthan, India, (specifically the district of Sri Ganganagar) this paper will argue that India's leaders must recognize that globalization has magnified the issue to a critical juncture, but that it must also be part of the solution. The paper concludes that the steady decline of females can be reversed by harnessing the benefits of globalization: international and internal exposure; improved research and understanding; access to education and employment; and corporate social responsibility.

Nayantara (Tara) Sheoran
PhD Candidate, Cultural Studies
George Mason University
Imagined cosmopolitanism versus lived tangibility: Contraception and contemporary India. 

While conducting fieldwork on emergency contraceptive pill (ECP) advertising in contemporary India, it became evident to me that there are within India (and the Global South in general) spaces that replicate the luxuries and privileges of the Global North.  These range from air-conditioned malls and luxury movie theaters with plush seating, to high-end cars and lavish dance clubs. These material conditions, I suggest, are replicated when it comes to contraception as there are hubs of women consumers of contraception and contraceptive advertising that participate in an “imagined cosmopolitanism” within the Global South and that in close proximity there indeed are “contraceptive ghettos.” Limited in its scope, this paper focuses on how media and medical privileging of ECP’s advertising in India, in reality contributes to creating within certain parts of urban India small segregated sections of the first world global contraceptive consumer reality that exists less than two kilometers away from debilitating contraceptive limitations (like issues of access, quality, quantity, nutritional and medical supplements to support those contraceptives). Drawing on in-depth interviews with women, this paper looks at the widening gap between the have and have-nots in India and its implications for women’s reproductive and contraceptive choices.


Co-sponsored by The Office of Global and International Strategies at George Mason University

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