Prof. GJV Prasad, discusses life and literature at Jawaharlal Nehru University, where he is Professor of English. His major research interests are Contemporary Theatre, Indian English Literature, Dalit Writings, Australian Literature, and Translation Theory and he has published extensively in these areas. He is also a poet, novelist and translator. His novel A Clean Breast was short listed for the Commonwealth Prize for best first book from the Eurasia region in 1994. He is the current editor of JSL, the Journal of the School of Language, Literature & Culture Studies, JNU, and Vice Chairperson of the Indian Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies. In this interview he shares his thoughts about interdisciplinary approaches in higher education with focus on English studies.
Rachna Sethi(RS): Interdisciplinarity seems to be among one of the new directions that academia is moving towards in India. Yet there seems to be lack of clarity in defining the term itself. It is often confused with multidisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity. How does one differentiate between these terms?
There is a requirement for qualified and capable business professionals who can sustain India’s economic growth. This is perhaps the reason that the number of students seeking admission to the MBA (Masters in Business Administration) has escalated over the years. According to a report by MBAuniverse.com, the number of MBA seats in India has grown four fold, from 94,704 in 2006-07 to 35, 2571 in 2011-12. While there is no dearth in the number of management graduates in the market, employers claim that only a small percentage is actually employable. A survey of 2,264 MBA graduates carried out by MeritTrac, an Indian Assessment and Testing Company in 2012 showed that only 21% were employable. Graddol observes that ‘a part of the unemployment problem emanates from the mismatch between the skill requirements of the market and the skill base of the job seekers’(Graddol, 2009, p.106).
National Curriculum Framework (2005) quotes, ‘English in India is a global language in a multilingual country’ (p. 38). Today no one can deny the reality of this statement. Whether it is the corporate world or the government sector, the value and importance of English language is widely acknowledged. Due to its increasing importance every person aspires to be fluent in English.
India is one of the developing countries that has been contributing in large measure to migration of people to foreign countries, particularly the developed West, and Punjab is one of the States that stands ahead of others in this respect. It is estimated that there are about 1.5 million Punjabis in Europe and North America from Punjab’s Doaba region alone. Among these, many are now well-off in business and other professions and have earned a name for themselves in the host country. A large majority of these migrants is from the rural areas. In fact, migration from rural areas of Punjab to West goes on vigorously if the number of candidates from rural areas appearing in International English Language Testing System (IELTS), and in similar other tests of English, is any indication.1 Cambridge IELTS is conducted by the British Council and the IDP Australia for the benefit of those seeking to go abroad. As proficiency in English happens to be an essential requirement for issue of visa, even a student visa, a large number of candidates appear in these tests of English with a view of going abroad.