This Pondicherry University centre's research programmes are avenues for pursuing in-depth studies on the downtrodden and excluded communities.

Studying socially excluded groups, evolving policies to bring them to the mainstream and suggesting policies for their uplift is the main objective of the Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Pondicherry University.

It was under the 11th Five Year Plan that a few universities started to establish Centres for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy following the direction of the University Grants Commission. At the Pondicherry University, the centre, set up in 2008, currently offers M. Phil and Ph.D programmes in Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy.

“This is mainly a policy research centre. It studies the socially excluded population and policies meant for them. We also look at how Constitutional provisions and rights do not reach these groups. The subject matter incorporates all disciplines and it is a transdisciplinary subject with inter-disciplinary methodology drawn from branches such as anthropology, sociology, social work, political science, psychology, history, women studies, commerce and management,” says T. Subramanyam Naidu, Director, Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Pondicherry University.

Policies for the socially excluded communities are innumerable but an evaluation or review of these policies are long overdue. “So far, there have been a number of policies for the uplift of the downtrodden and excluded groups such as the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and vulnerable population including women. These groups have been excluded from the mainstream of the society. While some of the policies are implemented, some are not. Some of the policies, though implemented, are of no use to the target population,” he says.

Professor Naidu says very few studies have been done regarding the excluded communities till today. “Studies on their living conditions and socio-economic problems have not been done. The existing policies have not been reviewed and there have been no evaluation studies. Ethnographic reports submitted by the Britishers decades ago are still being used. There has been no update despite plenty of changes, and our aim is to fill this gap,” he says.

The centre focuses on research studies of these policies and looks at developing policies for the betterment of the socially excluded groups and submits the same to the government. “The aim of the centre is to develop certain policies focusing on the uplift of the excluded communities such as dalits, SC, and ST so that they could come into the mainstream society. At present, researches on dalit studies, Muslim communities, STs, fishing communities, narikuravas are being taken up in the centre,” he says.

Students with a postgraduate degree in any of the social sciences are eligible for the programmes. “In fact, at the end of the M.Phil or Ph.D programme, the student receives the certificate in the subject of his/her PG degree with specialisation in social exclusion and inclusive policy. This is being done through collaborative work with faculty of the respective PG disciplines of students,” he points out.

The research projects taken up focus on providing guidelines to policy makers, and research on 75 primitive tribes in India such as the great Andamanese, Jarwas, Onge, Shompen, Cholanaickan and Chenchus is currently being carried out at the centre. “We are studying all primitive tribes dispersed across the country. These tribes are vulnerable population and could be termed endangered. We need to conserve such population,” Professor Naidu says.