ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Education, Training and Refugee Rehabilitation in Post-partition West Bengal

The article studies the role of education and training in the rehabilitation of Hindu refugees in post-partition West Bengal. It shows how class, caste, and gender inflected the schemes of school education and training, the assumptions of government proposals and the belief of the bhadraloks. Schools occupied an important position in the refugee squatter colonies set up by the early migrants. On the other hand, for the subaltern refugees, depending solely on government help, schemes of agricultural and vocational training were deemed fitter, as that would help in economic rehabilitation faster. For the state, these refugees needed to contribute to the larger development projects of the period and become a labouring contributor to the society. These different experiences underline the ways through which social and cultural assumptions get reproduced even during extreme moments of crises.

This article is part of the research done as a postdoctoral fellow for the Transnational Research Group on “Poverty and Education in India,” funded by the Max Weber Stiftung. I thank all the participants of the workshops for their comments and suggestions.

This article focuses on two sites of concentration of the Hindu refugees who settled in West Bengal after the partition. First, it looks at the refugee colonies which were built and maintained by the refugees themselves, and second, the government-run refugee camps. It discusses the way schools were established and maintained in the colonies, the problems encountered by the residents, the rationale behind vocational training institutes, and the role of the government in rehabilitating the refugees. “Refugee” was not a homogeneous category; class, caste or gender identity of people often determined their status as refugees, and the government rehabilitation schemes drew clear correlation between caste and occupation. The refugees in these colonies belonged to a
distinctly different class than those who were forced to take shelter in various government camps. These internal differences among the refugee population also shaped their approach towards education. A discussion of education, vocational training and occupation leads us to the crucial link between the discourse of rehabilitation and development in the initial decades of independent India.

Education in the Colonies

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Updated On : 25th Jan, 2018
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