A recent history of India shows that when India became a nation state in 1947, many prophesised its death. How could a country so tradition bound and diverse in terms of languages, caste, and religions be a democratic modern nation-state, they asked. And yet India has defied many assumptions of nation-making projects as conceived in the West. Current scholarship on India argues that India is an idea; a powerful one that stands despite, and sometimes in opposition to, claims that challenge the idea.
The program, India-ki-Khoj has been designed to help overseas students relate with this idea and the many layers that form identity in India. It communicates the many imaginations about India, and provides a flavor of its multiplicity as well as some overarching generalities. Through a combination of academic lectures and field-visits, the module takes the students through India of the past, present and future making them relate India’s ancient traditions of philosophy, science and technology to a present-day India and help identify continuities as well as shifts that India has made through centuries. The module also includes discussion on India’s economic trends, culture and history, poetry and films, caste and community structures and enable participants appreciate a country that eludes easy definitions.
This happens in Ahmedabad – a six hundred year old historic city that is also responding rapidly to modernity and globalization. Chosen by Gandhi as the centre of his political campaigns and social experiments, Ahmedabad also has a long-standing tradition of business and entrepreneurship as well as spectacular architecture. It provides to participants an unhurried view of a city that has something of the old as it embraces the new; a simultaneous view of the ‘regional’ and the ‘national’.