A Study Of Backwards’ Academic Background
The book is based on findings, which are the results of empirical investigations undertaken by the writer. The major objective of the book is to know whether there is any significant change in the academic background and attitudes and aspirations of the Scheduled Castes students in higher education in the context of constitutional guarantees, developments in science and technology, access to formal education and white-collar jobs and the policy of reservation. In this backdrop, the book, which contains six chapters, has made a significant contribution to the study of Scheduled Castes youth in higher education. In the first chapter, the book deliberates on the meaning of education, by stating that it is one of the important human activities. It is through this activity that the intellect which is a special gift of God to man, gets sustenance and discipline. The book also highlights the respondents’ attitudes towards social factor such as age at marriage, choice of life partner and inter-caste marriage, and their educational and occupational aspirations. The book has made important revelations as far as the respondents’ academic profile is concerned. Most of the respondents had average and above average performance as testified by percentage of marks at matriculation and pre-university levels. The data indicated that the Scheduled Castes students are becoming conscious of the significance of education in general and higher education in particular as an instrument of social and economic mobility. Data further showed that the majority of the respondents joined higher education for acquiring jobs, status and knowledge. It was observed that access to higher education through reservation has paid dividends to the traditionally disadvantaged students.
The book on the educational and occupational aspirations revealed that Scheduled Castes students are quite ambitious in their pursuit of higher education and are aspiring for white-collar jobs. However, in another chapter the book points out that whatever be the realities of the Scheduled Castes students in higher education today, they are undeniably the resultant factors of the various forces of the days gone by. The parents and the grant parents of the respondents were subject to the traditional system of the society, whether they accepted it or not and they could not but follow the time-honoured culture and systems of the social hierarchy and carry on their caste occupations of the lowest types. The book also revealed that the attitudes of SCs towards social issue, such as age at marriage, choice of life partner etc are changing in positive directions. A majority of the respondents wanted to marry at an ideal age of 25-29 years. A majority of them also expressed their personal choice in deciding their life partner. It means the Scheduled Castes students are emerging as autonomous youth in response to the demands of modern society. On the whole, the book has made a significant contribution by succinctly demonstrating that the traditionally disadvantaged sections of Indian society can transform themselves, their styles of life and rise in social hierarchy, if opportunities are provided to them. The major finding of the book is that the Scheduled Castes students under the impact of modem forces and reservation are responding to the challenges of modernisation.
By Ashok Kumar