Focusing on issues affecting equity in school education among economically-underprivileged communities in and around Hyderabad city.
, Associate Professor, Department of Religion; Faculty Director, Duke Center for Civic Engagement
, President and CEO, Vivékin Group; Visiting Professor, Management & Humanities, Indian Institute of International Technology [IIIT] Hyderabad
Our program is called The Loom & the Wheel: Equity in Education in Hyderabad, India. The hand-loom (magga) and the spinning wheel (charkha) are both considered central symbols of Gandhian political and social philosophy that underlies this project. Gandhi’s rejection of western machine-made cloth that came out of the exploitation of Indian land and labor accompanied his adoption of the spinning wheel to make yarn out of indigenous cotton, and the hand-loom to weave Khadi cloth of this yarn. To the team of DE-Hyderabad, the phrase “the loom and the wheel” translates to “together we must weave the fabric of a just society.”
The Loom & the Wheel focuses on issues affecting equity in school education among economically-underprivileged communities in and outside Hyderabad city. Some of the work we do will be hands-on with children, and some will be policy-oriented research. Our overarching partnership will be with faculty of the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) and local NGOs that are working on/with children who are deprived of access to basic education and health. Students in this DE program will participate in service delivery and applied policy-centered research that focuses particularly on issues of gender, economic background, and nutrition.
Students will be housed at Tagore International House at the University of Hyderabad. The University of Hyderabad is a top-tier university in the country with strong and renowned research programs in the Humanities, Life Sciences, and the Social Sciences. It has about 400 faculty members and about 5000 post-graduate students. Tagore International House is part of the University of Hyderabad’s popular Study India Program.
The Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) is an independent, autonomous, self-supporting public-purpose institution. ASCI is a policy research, advising and capacity-building institute that works closely with government bureaucracy, industry and civic instititutions on a range of policy-relevant concerns including gender, health, education and human development; urban poverty and governance; public policy' environment; and public finance. Its eight centres work closely with a range of central, state and local governments in designing, implementing, and evaluating policies and development interventions. Website: http://www.asci.org.in/.
Working with faculty at ASCI and with local NGOs, students will:
• participate in preparing questionnaires, case-studies, literature reviews, and in conducting interviews—these activities will enable students to gain grounded perspectives on issues affecting education in underprivileged communities
• work with children in after school programs
• help plan and attend multi-stakeholder workshops and meetings in select districts
• help document processes of service delivery and participate in preparing research reports
Program Requirements & Environment:
Language/Other Prerequisites: No Indian language knowledge is expected. Spoken language classes (Hindi) will be held daily to aid communication with school children. Coursework in India or South-Asia is required prior to start of program
Reflection Sessions: Professor Leela Prasad, Dr. Baba Prasad and our collaborators will lead regular discussion sessions to reflect on experiences, explore strategies, and receive specific feedback. Students will be required to post daily & weekly (as per assignment) on the program blog under guidelines.
The University of Hyderabad is located on a vast 2000-acre campus in Gachibowli very close to what is now the most active commercial district of Hyderabad—Hi-Tech City. Hi-Tech City houses most of the multinational software and biotech companies that have establishments in Hyderabad (from IBM and Microsoft to Novartis and Dupont). All the Indian technology-based companies have campuses here—including the top software giants Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys, and Wipro. The fast growing upstart Cognizant Technology Solutions (which is positioned to become the #2 Indian IT company after TCS) has several campuses in this area.
The students will work on projects guided by faculty from the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI). Established in 1956, the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) is a prestigious institute that is involved primarily in the training and development of mid-career managers mostly from government institutions, but also sometimes from the private sector. ASCI has two campuses both in a broad area that could be called “center” of Hyderabad, although in recent years, the city’s “center” has become increasingly diffuse. ASCI’s main offices are housed in a building that used to be a palace of the Nizam family, the princely family that used to rule Hyderabad in pre-Independent India. The palatial mansion and the surrounding garden on a multi-acre campus make for a great setting.
Housing and Accommodations: You will share a room with another DE student of the same gender. Housing will be US dormitory style in the Tagore International House, a dormitory which houses international students
Meals: Breakfasts and dinners (and lunches on off-site days) will be provided at Tagore. Lunches will be provided on site either as packed lunches or in the ASCI cafeteria.
Communication: 24/7 wireless internet access from Tagore International House. Please bring a laptop. Cell phones for local use will be provided.
Transportation: The program will hire a rental van (with a driver) for daily project work and program-related fieldtrips and engagements.
Volunteer Placement Logistics: As mentioned in the earlier sections, we will work with local NGOs and with ASCI faculty. Work will involve both hands-on contribution and research support—together, these will provide the student a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of the practical realities of civic engagement.
Opportunities for Autonomy / Private Space: Free time is built into the program’s daily schedule. Our daily fieldwork routine will be coordinated with ASCI faculty and community needs. The day will include “a Hindi hour.” Post-dinner in dorm, each student can blog, prepare for project work, or just relax. On pre-announced days, we will have group reflection. Most weekends we will attend cultural events (like a Sufi musical performance) in town, or travel to historic and other places in and around Hyderabad, such as visit the extraordinary 1000-pillar Rammappa temple in Warangal or the Nizam-period Charminar and so on.
Miscellaneous: Hyderabad is a beautiful and intriguing city that expresses—in its arts, foodways, and performance traditions—its connections to centuries of Islamic rule as well as to a strong Hindu-oriented Telugu culture. It is today a modern high-tech hub, with a flourishing IT and Biotech industry. In Hyderabad, you will also find a busy, bustling cosmopolitan environment and a thriving pop youth culture.