The Centre for Political Studies is the leading institution of teaching and research in the field of Political Philosophy and Indian Government and Politics in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi, India. The University was constituted under the Jawaharlal Nehru University Act 1966 that came into existence in 1969. The vision and mission of Jawaharlal Nehru University as stated in its Act 53/1966 is as follows: “The University shall endeavour to promote the study of the principles for which Jawaharlal Nehru worked during his life-time, national integration, social justice, secularism, democratic way of life, international understanding and scientific approach to the problems of society”.
Located in New Delhi, India, the Centre for Political Studies is uniquely positioned to offer students, researchers and faculty diverse perspectives to the study of politics in this region. It regularly organises and hosts international workshops and conferences and receives scholars from all over the world.
In order to offer academic programmes and conduct research, the Jawaharlal Nehru University established Schools and Special Centres. Unlike other universities, the JNU’s educational philosophy is reflected in its academic structure which is broad based and has interdisciplinary functioning within the Schools/Centres/Special Centres. Therefore, the basic academic units of the University are not single discipline departments but multidisciplinary Schools of Studies. A School has been visualized as a community of scholars from various disciplines which are linked with each other organically in terms of their subject-matter and methodology as well as in terms of problem areas. Each School is made up of a number of Centres which function within the broad framework of a School.
The Centre for Political Studies is located in the School of Social Sciences in JNU. It was founded in 1970 and has since then become a major centre for focusing on issues critical to India and by implication for the rest of the world. It is also a major centre for research programmes in M.A. and M. Phil/PhD in politics. The graduate program, which has entered into an exciting period of expansion, offers several new perspectives alongside more traditional instruction in the study of politics. Long considered one of the top departments in the country, it now has one of the largest and most intellectually diverse political science programmes in the world.
In the first decade of its existence, the main concern of the Centre was to place its teaching programme on a sound footing and lay the foundation of its research activities. Accordingly, the M.A. and M.Phil. programmes were developed so as to combine the requirement of adequate training in the essentials of Political Science while retaining a multidisciplinary perspective. Over the years, the centre has emerged as a dynamic and innovative department, which has pioneered new courses and experimented with new modes of teaching and learning. The M.Phil and Ph.D. programmes have set benchmarks for other Centres of Political Science in India and elsewhere.
Building a centre of teaching-learning
Since its inception, the M.A. and M.Phil. programmes were developed so as to combine the requirement of adequate training in the essentials of Political Science while retaining a multidisciplinary perspective. Over the years, the Centre has emerged as a dynamic and innovative department, which has pioneered new courses and experimented with new modes of teaching and learning. The M.A. programme of the Centre for Political Studies encourages students to develop their skills and dispositions to actively participate in all aspects of democratic life that include the ability to think critically and to have commitment to some core democratic values. The Centre has stressed, and provided to its students, a theoretical foundation necessary to analyze modes of domination and subordination, and overt and covert forms of expressions of power.
Contribution to research
During the past five decades, the centre has contributed to advancements in its field both locally and internationally through excellence in research and teaching, and collaboration in various projects. In the initial stages, the centre emphasized a study of the working of political institutions and political processes in the Indian context. Moving away from the behavioural tradition in the study of Political Science, it soon began to focus on the complexity of state-society interactions from the perspective of political economy. The level of political scrutiny of political institutions increased to include a more flexible, dynamic and open way of studying governance and its limitations. The centre stressed, and provided to its students, a theoretical foundation necessary to analyze modes of domination and subordination, and overt and covert forms of expressions of power. It also distinguished itself as being a leading institution of the study of political philosophy and political ideas in India.
The alumni of the Centre for Political Studies occupy very responsible positions in several walks of life all over the country and abroad. Graduates from the centre go on to occupy key leadership positions in public, non-profit and private sectors. The contribution of the centre to public life in India, both through its alumni and the ideas and reflections that it has thrown up over the years, has been enormous.