The Centre will undertake research on an initial set of deeply inter-connected core themes concerning some of India’s most important but neglected public goods, critically significant for the lives and livelihoods of millions, as also for the very future of India’s much-coveted growth process: land, water, agriculture and health. This will be high quality research produced through a unique process, reflecting its ultimate goal of engaging the policy space on these issues. This process will be based on the understanding that policy is not just produced in the corridors of power but also in the farms and factories, the homes and hearths of ordinary people, through their lived experience. The research team at C-PACT will always work in this understanding and will conduct research through a deep engagement, not only with government and academia, but also primary stakeholders.
Inspired by the social science tradition of critical theory , C-PACT’s research will always be oriented towards discovering the most effective means of bringing about change in Indian society, especially one that addresses the predicament of its most deprived and oppressed people, whether they be the poor, women, Dalits, Adivasis or small and marginal farmers. We will also be guided by the essentially multi-disciplinary character of critical theory. We will seek to understand the emergence of programs and policies in their specific historical context and provide a critique through an interrogation of the fundamental, irreducible concepts of the implicit knowledge systems underlying these programs and policies . The critique of existing institutions and policies, would have a deeply self-reflective and emancipatory intent, and would try to suggest more effective and empowering alternatives for the marginalized people.
The selected core themes draw upon the research expertise of faculty at SNU, who bring their longstanding commitmen ts and experience to scholarship and public engagement in each of these areas together at C-PACT. The agenda represents an opportunity to build on and broaden these strengths by developing new projects and partnerships that dynamise and redefine the relationships between critical theory and public affairs, and in so doing, helps us reimagine the place of the university in and of the world.
A small, well-knit team of researchers will lead work on various themes within C-PACT. Each team leader will constitute teams of fellow researchers from within or outside SNU and will engage with the whole host of stakeholders relevant for the theme. They will work under the overall guidance of Mihir Shah and Ajay Dandekar, who could also lead projects to be designed by them.
This ambitious research agenda comprises an initial set of projects, each centrally related to one or more of the core themes. There are also broad, cross-cutting areas of work that will pick up on synergies across thematic areas.