Thursday, June 19, 2014

Abstract 2014 Sumeet Mhaskar

Sumeet Mhaskar, Centre for Modern Indian Studies, Göttingen University


Schooling in the Times of Industrial Decline: A Study of Mumbai’s Mill Workers’ Household Decisions on Children Schooling

During the last two decades of the 20th century large scale industrial closures took place in major Indian cities such as Ahmedabad, Kanpur, Kolkata and Mumbai. The industrial closures resulted in  the retrenchment of a large amount of workforce as well as a sharp decline in the employment opportunities in the formal manufacturing sector. The implications of industrial closures on the workforce and to a certain extent on their families have received significant scholarly attention. However, there remains a major gap in the literature that investigates the effects of industrial decline  on workers’ children’s education. This paper attempts to fill this gap by examining the case of Mumbai’s mill workers’ household decisions on children’s schooling. The focus on children’s education is important as it determines in a significant way their future occupational preferences. In the context of Mumbai this issue becomes particularly significant as the city has transformed from an industry to a service sector economy which as a result requires a workforce with altogether different skills and knowledge. More importantly there has been a massive reduction in the better-paid employment opportunities for less educated rural labour migrants as well ex-millworkers children who could have worked in the textile mills like their predecessors. In former times despite attaining less education mill workers children managed to obtain better paid employment in the textile mills. Since such possibilities have shrunken in a significant way it is even more important to study their educational attainment. Against this backdrop, this paper addresses the following research question. How did the industrial decline and the eventual closures influence worker’s household decision-making with regard to their children’s education? To answer this question this paper relies on quantitative and qualitative data collected during August 2008 to August 2009 and December 2010 to January 2011. Interviews with ex-millworkers, trade unionists, school teachers will be used. Along with the archival documents this paper will also use a survey data of 924 ex-millworkers households collected during July-July 2009.

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