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Professional Identity Constructions of Indian Women Priti Sandhu

studies in narrative 23

John Benjamins Publishing Company

Professional Identity Constructions of Indian Women

Studies in Narrative (SiN) issn 1568-2706 The subject of SiN is the study of narrative. Volumes published in the series draw upon a variety of approaches and methodologies in the study of narrative. Particular emphasis is placed on theoretical approaches to narrative and the analysis of narratives in human interaction. For an overview of all books published in this series, please see http://benjamins.com/catalog/sin

Editor Michael Bamberg Clark University

Advisory Board Susan E. Bell

Rom Harré

Jerome S. Bruner

David Herman

Jennifer Coates

Janet Holmes

Bowdoin College New York University Roehampton University

Michele L. Crossley

Edge-Hill University College

Carol Gilligan

New York University

Linacre College, Oxford Nort Carolina State University

Allyssa McCabe

University of Massachusetts, Lowell

Eric E. Peterson

University of Maine

Victoria University of Wellington

Catherine Kohler Riessman

Charlotte Linde

Deborah Schiffrin

Dan P. McAdams

Margaret Wetherell

Institute for Research Learning Northwestern University

Volume 23 Professional Identity Constructions of Indian Women by Priti Sandhu

Boston University

Georgetown University Open University

Professional Identity Constructions of Indian Women Priti Sandhu University of Washington, Seattle

John Benjamins Publishing Company Amsterdam / Philadelphia

8

TM

The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences – Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ansi z39.48-1984.

doi 10.1075/sin.23 Cataloging-in-Publication Data available from Library of Congress: lccn 2016026250 (print) / 2016039902 (e-book) isbn 978 90 272 4936 4 (Hb) isbn 978 90 272 6653 8 (e-book)

© 2016 – John Benjamins B.V. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, by print, photoprint, microfilm, or any other means, without written permission from the publisher. John Benjamins Publishing Company · https://benjamins.com

Table of contents Transcription key chapter 1 Introduction 1.1 Late modernity in the western, industrialized world  4 1.2 Late modernity and postcolonial India  6 1.3 Discourse  9 1.4 Narratives  13 1.5 Identity  17 1.6 Narratives and identities  21 1.7 Gender and gendered identity performances  26 1.8 Power and its intersectionality with discourse  28 1.9 Discursive empowerments and disempowerments  34 1.9.1 Positionings between interactants  41 1.9.2 Positionings emanating from the storied world  42 1.10 Enactments of discursive empowerments and discursive disempowerments  43 1.10.1 Stylization  44 1.10.2 Reported speech  46 1.10.2.1 Direct speech  47 1.10.2.2 Indirect speech  47 1.10.2.3 Quasi direct speech  47 1.10.2.4 Choral dialogue  48 1.10.2.5 Choral thought  48 1.10.3 Mock languages  49 1.10.4 Emotion-indexing devices  50 1.10.5 Negative self- or other-labeling  50 1.10.6 Similes and metaphors  51 1.10.7 Laughter and laughing tone  51 1.10.8 Stress and intonation variations  52 1.10.9 Irony and sarcasm  53 1.10.10 Lexical and syntactic choices  54 1.11 The ensuing chapters  55

ix

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 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

chapter 2 Contextualizing the study 2.1 English in India  58 2.1.1 English in British Colonial India  59 2.1.2 English in post-Independence India  62 2.2 Current linguistic educational policy: The ‘Three Language Formula’  64 2.3 Schools  66 2.4 Ongoing discourses and debates about the position of English  70 2.5 Patriarchy in India  75 2.6 The current project  78 2.6.1 Research sites  79 2.6.1.1 Delhi  80 2.6.1.2 Dehradun  81 2.6.1.3 Mussoorie  85 2.6.1.4 Haridwar  86 2.6.1.5 Rishikesh  86 2.6.2 The participants  87 2.6.3 Data collection  89 2.6.4 Data analysis  91 2.7 Conclusion  92 chapter 3 Job advertisements 3.1 Ridhima’s story: Changing directions  95 3.2 Mrigya’s story: Implicating gender  119 3.3 Krutika’s story: Is the answer another degree, this time in EME?  127 3.4 Deepika’s story: Restricted domains  136 3.5 Conclusion  144

57

93

chapter 4 Job interviews 147 4.1 Jeevika’s story: The consequences of speaking in Hindi during job interviews  148 4.2 Hetal’s story: The negative consequences of revealing a Hindi medium background to interviewers  161 4.3 Aarushi’s story: Small, private companies and sexual harassment  174 4.4 Sarika’s story: When an EME school certificate trumps an HME BA degree  185 4.5 Lavanya’s story: When a lie gets you the job  192 4.6 Conclusion  200



Table of contents 

chapter 5 On the job 5.1 Chetna’s story: Medium of education and professional, workplace relationships  204 5.2 Dhara’s story: Building strategic partnerships at the workplace  218 5.3 Gargi’s story: Conscripting established paternalistic norms  233 5.4 Vinita’s story: Emulating EME speech styles  243 5.5 Yukti’s story: ‘Good’ English vs. ‘bad’ English  250 5.6 Conclusion  256

203

chapter 6 Personal domains 257 6.1 Romantic relationships  258 6.2 Brishti’s story: The importance of having the ‘right’ degree  259 6.3 Nalini’s story: Potential fallout of not having the ‘right’ job or the ‘right’ MoE  263 6.4 Kavita’s story: The cost of accepting a not quite ‘good’ enough job  269 6.5 Tanvi’s story: Essential requirement for marriage – an MBA degree  275 6.6 Arranged marriages  279 6.7 Falguni’s story: Medium of education and lifestyles  280 6.8 Ishanvi’s story: No full-time job, no marriage  286 6.9 Familial and social positionings  293 6.10 Upasna’s story: Family taunts  294 6.11 Eshita’s story: Society’s sarcasm  302 6.12 Conclusion  307 chapter 7 Reiterations and implications 311 7.1 Theoretical underpinnings and their salience  312 7.2 Methodological iterations and implications  318 7.3 MoE, professional opportunities, and urban North Indian women  324 References Index

327 347

Transcription key CAPITAL words articulated louder than surrounding text Underlined words articulated with greater emphasis than surrounding text :: indictaes stretched out elongation of preceding sound ↑ indicates rising intonation of the following sound ↓ indicates falling intonation of the following sound ↑↓ indicates a rising-falling intonation of the following sound < > words within these symbols are articulated at a slower pace than surrounding text > < words within these symbols are articulated at a quicker pace than surrounding text 0 0  words within these symbols are articulated softer than ­surrounding text (.) indicates a short micro pause (( )) used for author notes, e.g., to indicate elements like laughter, to provide brief English gloss of Hindi words, to make comments about the nature of the articulation, etc. Italics are used for Hindi transcription throughout

chapter 1

Introduction The aim of this book is to engage with female identity construction vis-à-vis ­professional opportunities in the interactional narratives of urban North Indian women. Using narrative analysis as the methodological orientation, this book examines the participants’ wide ranging work-related identity constructions and associated positionings during qualitative research interviews. These work-­ associated identities are not confined only to incidents that occur at the workplace. Instead, the stories that are told deal with broader professional spheres such as searching for jobs, job interviews, workplace relationships and, finally, the personal implications of being unemployed. Few book-length studies have examined female professional identity constructions in interactional narratives in late modernity. Of the few that have studied the intersectionality of professional identity development, narratives and interviews, a noteworthy study is that of Arar, Shapira, Azaiza and ­Hertz-Lazarowitz (2013) who examine female professional identity development of Arab women located within Israel’s patriarchal indigenous Arab community. Another work that scrutinizes both professional and personal dimensions of female identity construction is the work of Flynn (2013). This is a historical narrative of the Black Canadian and Black Caribbean nurses in Canada where the author analyzes the identities and subjectivities of the participants through school, church, family, migration and profession related interviews and narratives. There is, however, a dearth of such work from South Asia and especially from India where, on the one hand, a surging economy has opened previously closed professional doors to ­millions of urban, educated women while, at the same time, firmly entrenched patriarchal structures and language ideologies continue to severely constrain access to these professional opportunities. I examine these contrary processes through analyses of work-related identity constructions within narratives of medium of education (MoE) of young, urban North Indian women. The MoEs under analysis are Hindi medium education (HME), English medium education (EME), or a combination of Hindi and English medium education. The participants narrated their MoEs as impacting several aspects of their professional lives ranging from a search for work, actual



Professional identity constructions of Indian women

job interview experiences, specific workplace associations, and the impact of their professions, or lack thereof, on extremely personal realms of their lives such as arranged marriages, romantic relationships, and familial positionings. The analysis focuses on how the women narrators construct identities and worldviews as they tell profession-related stories about their MoEs within the context of qualitative research interviews. Such a comprehensive analysis of their identity constructions necessarily entails a close examination of the socioeconomic worlds within which these narratives are situated. These social worlds are analyzed to examine how the storytellers connect professional opportunities and work place relationships with language ideologies and gender in their narratives and how these complex, enmeshed f­ actors are utilized in the construction of their profession-related identities. My aim is to examine the many nuanced ways in which, through their narratives, these women maintain or interrogate social practices that privilege English and EME at the expense of Hindi and HME in urban professional landscapes, and the diverse ways in which they construct their gender as being implicated in these processes. All interrogation of hegemonic social relations are referred to as discursive empowerments while instances in which dominant power relations are left ­un-interrogated are labeled as discursive disempowerments. These constructs are discussed below. The connection between gender, identity and languages has always been salient especially in the transnational lifestyles afforded by late modernity. A significant body of research examining the entwined relationships between g­ ender, language, and identity exists within linguistic anthropology (Bucholtz & Hall, 2004) as well as within the field of applied linguistics. These interconnections have been examined from various perspectives (Norton, 2010) including the interface between identity and second language acquisition (Norton, 2012; Norton & Toohey, 2004, 2011; Pavlenko & Lantolf, 2000; Pavlenko & Norton, 2007). Another major perspective within this body of research has examined immigrant women whose translocation to western, English-speaking countries led to the depreciation of their linguistic, socio-cultural, and economic capital (e.g. Menard-Warwick, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009; Norton, 1995, 1997, 2000; Pavlenko, 1998, 2001, 2004; Vitanova, 2004, 2005; Warriner, 2004). Other studies that investigate immigrant experiences of women in relation to identity include work by Cumming and Gill (1992), Ehrlich (1997), Goldstein (1997, 2001), Gordon (2004), Langman (2004), Losey (1995), R ­ ockhill (1993), Schecter and Bayley (2002), and Valdes (1996). Language and identity studies within western societies have also examinded gender-related language and identity practices in school communities (Bucholtz, 1999). Language and identity research in non-western contexts has also been conducted. Noteworthy works include the study of Lan (2003) who examines Filipina maids’ empowered identity constructions to enhance their status with their Taiwanese employers, while



Chapter 1.  Introduction

Macpherson (2005) studies how Tibetan refugee women in the Indian Himalayas reconcile a traditional philosophical Buddhist curriculum taught in Buddhist language with a modern secular bilingual curriculum taught through English and Tibetan. Kobayashi (2002) and McMahill (2001) look at Japanese women and their experiences of learning English in their home contexts. Park and Abelmann (2004) examine the intersectionalities of ­English language learning with class and cosmopolitan aspirations in the narratives of Korean mothers. Applied linguistics research related to second language learning, gender, and identity has also been carried out with immigrant students (e.g., Lam, 2004a, 2004b; McKay & Wong, 1996; Miller, 2004a, 2004b; Norton, 2013; Pavlenko, Blackledge, Piller, & T ­ eutsch-Dwyer, 2001), bilingual immigrant writers, inclusive, amongst others, of Pavlenko’s previously mentioned work (e.g., Desai, 2003; De Courtivron, 2003; Djebar, 2003; Dorfman, 2003; Driscoll, 2000; Lin et al., 2004; Lvovich, 1997; Mancuso & Rodgers, 2000; Marx, 2002; Mora, 2000; Mori, 1997; Ogulnick, 1998; Venkateswaran, 2000), on returnees or students who have spent time in western contexts before returning to their home countries (e.g., Kanno, 2000, 2003), and on sojourning abroad which looks at visits of women to foreign countries in relation to their second language learning (e.g., Jackson, 2008; Kinginger, 2004, 2008, 2009; Marx, 2002; Piller & Takahashi, 2006; Seigal, 1994, 1996; Takahashi, 2013). Race, ethnicity, age, and status have been other elements examined in conjuction with these in study abroad research (Kinginger, 2013; T ­ alburt & Stewart, 1999). Scholarly work examining the varied intersectionalities of English, commodification, and globalization (e.g. Cameron, 2012; Heller, 2010, 2013; Rahman, 2009; Rajagopalan, 2010; Rubdy, 2008; Rubdy  & Tan, 2008; Pennycook, 2010; Saxena & Omoniyi; 2010; Tam  & Weiss, 2004; Y ­ amgami & Tollefson, 2011) as well as the interrelations between the local and the global on the one hand, and language and identity on the other (e.g. Rubdy, 2013; Rubdy & Alsagoff, 2013) continue to emerge. The current book adds to this growing body of work. This book is salient as female participants, without experiencing geographical translocation across national borders, nevertheless narrate the inequitable impact of their linguistic educational backgrounds on their lives. Another manner in which this book provides a fresh insight into the intersectionalities between language, work, and identity is through its focus on all dimensions of work-related experiences which, as specified above, encompass job searches, job interviews, workplace relationships, and the impact of professional work and, even more significantly, of its absence, on personal spheres of women’s lives. An especially salient feature of the present work is that it examines language- and work-based identity constructions of well-educated urban women located at a salient, somewhat turbulent moment in the socioeconomic history of their country rather than focusing only on individual histories and trajectories. At this current moment of late ­modernity, India,





Professional identity constructions of Indian women

e­ specially urban India, is rapidly experiencing immense economic and social shifts with far-reaching consequences being felt by its urban denizens, especially its women, who have been historically burdened by patriarchy in the North Indian sites of this study. The analysis therefore focuses on how the participants narrate their language and work-related experiences as being uniquely mediated by their location within these swift economic and social developments presently underway across urban India. Rapidly transforming local, national, economic, and gender-related ‘realities’ in combination with linguistic ideologies are implicated by the participants as providing multiple new professional and personal opportunities for city-dwelling, EME Indian women. However, of far greater concern is the implication of these processes in the further marginalization of large segments of urban HME women. In the rest of this chapter, I first briefly discuss the condition of late modernity in the industrialized, western world followed by a description of how this era in time is playing out in modern-day, postcolonial India. This is followed by a detailed discussion of the theoretical concepts that underpin this book. I outline how the current work draws upon theorizations of discourse, narratives, identity, identity and narratives, and gender and gendered identity performances. This is followed by a discussion of power and its interconnections with discourse. Then, I discuss how this book conceptualizes the notions of discursive empowerments and discursive disempowerments. After that, I describe the direct and indirect articulations of these empowerments and disempowerments and then engage with the multiple ways in which these enactments are accomplished in the data set. Finally, I provide a brief ­summary of the ensuing book chapters. 1.1  Late modernity in the western, industrialized world The term late modernity, accepted by many social theorists as an apt label for the current ongoing changes, has been long-debated with several scholars using ‘postmodernism’ to mark a radical shift or break from modernity (Jameson, 1984). Postmodernism, or the break from modernity and its aftermath, has been described as the condition “you have when the modernization process is complete” (­Jameson, 2003, p. x). Other scholars argue that while there has been a drastic shift from the conditions of modernity, the current epoch is characterized more by an intensification and radicalization of the characteristics of modernity rather than their complete termination (e.g. Fornäs, 1995; Giddens, 1990). Following this latter group of scholars, I adopt late modernity as the term most suited for labeling the current, rapidly evolving sites of this study as my aim is to discuss the complex ramifications of these incessant, ongoing socio-economic changes, reflecting both



Chapter 1.  Introduction

modernistic and postmodernist characteristics, which are implicated within the narratives of women located in present-day, postcolonial, urban North India. Modernity, concomitant with the industrialization of the western world, was characterized by its destabilization of ‘universal’ truths or ‘meta-narratives’ governing philosophy, science, culture and aesthetics and with its enhancement of differentiations (Lyotard, 1984). Late modernity, again, most typically within this western industrialized world, is accepted as being marked by changes traced to the shift from the mass production of the industrial era to more diverse, flexible, and technology-driven production practices (Harvey, 1990). These ‘Post-Fordist’ shifts in production practices are understood to be irreversibly impacted by neo-liberal, transnational, and globalizing forces (Giddens, 1990). The resulting socioeconomic changes have been variously labeled ‘post-industrial’ (Bell, 1976), ‘liquid-modernity’ (Z. Bauman, 2000), ‘reflexive modernity’ (Beck, Giddens & Lash, 1994), ‘late modernity’ (Giddens, 1990), ‘postmodernism’ (Jameson, 1984, 2003), ‘the age of cosmopolitization’ (Beck, 2012), etc. It has now been widely accepted that late modernity with its radical economic changes in production techniques, its globalized socioeconomic trends, its instantaneous worldwide communications, and radically amplified mass transportation has resulted in diverse, often contradictory, consequences leading to unprecedented social and cultural transformations (Chouliaraki & Fairclough, 1999, p. 3; Jameson, 1984). Technological advances in communication media have contributed to novel ways of knowledge production and to new experiences and relationships that transcend traditional time/space barriers (Z. Bauman, 1998). The ease of sound and visual communication has led to “knowledge” becoming “the principle force of production” (Lyotard, 1984, p. 5), so much so that knowledge and power are now understood to be inextricably entwined (Lyotard, 1984, pp. 8–9). Concomitant with these new ways of communication and knowledge production are the potentially infinite possibilities of relationships with “faraway others” (Chouliaraki & Fairclough, 1999, p. 3). Although increased global mobility and technological developments in electronic media have created new possibilities, it is widely accepted that they have also resulted in new crises in social relationships and identity formulations (Fornäs, 1995, p. 35) in what has been described as “a general rupture in the tenor of intersocietal relationships” (Appadurai, 1996, p. 2). Greater social reflexivity has ‘detraditionalized’ (Giddens, 1994, p. 6) social structures such as social class, gender roles, nuclear family structures, professional occupations, and business practices (Beck, 1994, p. 2). Concepts of “gender”, “family”, “local communities” and so on are increasingly a matter of public debate (Beck, Giddens and Lash, 1994, p. vii). Such interrogations are accompanied, in varying degrees, by the ability to effect changes upon these social constructs, resulting in new permutations





Professional identity constructions of Indian women

between “knowledge and control” (Giddens, 1994, p. 7). In short, the present times are most typically characterized by what Harvey (1990) calls a “total acceptance of (…) ephemerality, fragmentation, [and] discontinuity” (p. 44). At the same time, globalization, a typifying characteristic of late modernity, has made available a plethora of socioeconomic processes which often interact in contrary ways causing struggles and disjunctures, and creating new stratifications (Giddens, 1994, p. 5). While producing “new possibilities and opportunities for many people”, they “also cause considerable disruption and suffering for societies, communities and individuals” often resulting in a loss of meaning, identity and a sense of self (Chouliaraki & Fairclough, 1999, p. 3). Such a “polarization” rather than “homogenization” of the “human condition” is selectively advantageous (Z. Bauman 1998, p. 18). One example being the differentiated access to the highly desired commodity of mobility allowing some the almost unlimited facility to take actions from a distance and thus be freed of physical restrictions of time and space; while portending for others the “impossibility of appropriating and domesticating the locality from which they have little chance of cutting themselves free in order to move elsewhere” (Z. Bauman 1998, p. 18). Although it must also be acknowledged that while “multiple sources of oppression” are in operation, so too are “multiple foci of resistance to domination” (Harvey, 1990, p. 47). 1.2  Late modernity and postcolonial India This ever-shifting state of fragmentation, disjuncture, and discontinuity, characterized simultaneously by new possibilities and new oppressions and by resistances to these fresh forms of domination, is playing out in even more complex ways in postcolonial contexts like India. Here, the shift to economic development is widely differentiated and disparately experienced based, to a large extent, on urban or rural location, gender, social class, education, and, increasingly, on ­variations in professional domains and industrial sectors. One salient reason is that the traditional development trajectory of western societies has not been replicated in India. Instead, industrial and economic growth has taken its own unique path leading to an even greater socioeconomic fracturing and structuration than experienced in the western, developed world. In the last two and a half decades, the Indian economy has undergone rapid growth. This process was put into high gear by the systematic economic reforms undertaken by the central government in the early 1990s when India faced a major foreign reserve crisis and was on the verge of defaulting on its foreign debt obligations (Khan & Vivek, 2007; Nayar, 2007; Panagariya, 2008; Tendulkar & Bhavani, 2007). The situation became so dire that the federal government’s gold



Chapter 1.  Introduction

reserves had to be shipped to London. To overcome this crisis and prevent similar occurrences, major changes were made in economic policies in the areas of industrial ­licensing, foreign trade, foreign investment, exchange rate management, and the financial sector with other areas undergoing reforms in subsequent years (­Rangarajan, 2004). Since then, successive governments have sustained both the reforms and the consequential economic growth and the country has experienced several resulting benefits. Amongst the most easily identifiable is the increase in the GDP ­figures which have been rising annually at the approximate rate of 6% to 7.5% (or ­approximately US $200 billion) (Luce, 2006; Tharoor, 2007). Although the post-2008, global economic crisis considerably slowed down this upward ­trajectory by decelerating the economy to 4.7% in 2012. However, since the change of central government following general elections in 2014, which was accompanied by a flurry of further reforms and tightening of central fiscal policy measures, the GDP figures have once again resumed their upward motion. Current estimates hover around 7% with future upward projections widely acknowledged not just by national politicians and economists but also by their international counterparts. An upshot of this economic escalation has translated into the amelioration of poverty for millions in the country. For example, Indians who lived on less than US $1 a day, the World Bank’s estimation of absolute poverty, were 36% of the population in 1991. While it is a matter of considerable debate whether such minimal cut off amounts can comprehensively demarcate poverty levels, nevertheless, in 2001, this figure had shrunk to 26%. Taking into account the rise in population to over 1.2 billion, approximately 94 million people have been pulled above absolute poverty since the reform and growth process began. In 2006, the percentage of people living below the poverty line had decreased further to 22% (Tharoor, 2007). In addition to the growth in GDP and the decline in poverty, this economic growth has led to greater urbanization, expansion in foreign trade, growth in industry, especially in the services sectors of information technology (IT) and in the back-office processing and call centers (BPO) (Acharaya, 2007b). A related consequence has been the rapid growth in the Indian middle class. This class has been identified as comprising of people with annual incomes ranging between Rs. 200,000 and 1,000,000 (approx. US $3000–15,000). Their numbers have expanded from approximately 15 million in 1991 to about 100 million in 2005 (Acharaya, 2007b). This group has been growing rapidly with more recent estimates putting the number of middle class Indians at 250–300 million (Luce, 2006; Rothermund, 2008). While all these and numerous other advantages have been recorded, it is important to note that the growth in the Indian economy has been highly skewed





Professional identity constructions of Indian women

(Luce, 2006). Unlike most nations, e.g., the majority of the developed, western countries, that went through predictable stages of economic development starting with agricultural reforms, moving to low-cost manufacturing, climbing up the value-added chain, and finally breaking into internationally tradable services on a larger scale, India’s growth started at the other end with the services sector accounting for more than half of its economy in 2006 (Luce, 2006, p. 38). Accordingly, since the mid-1990s, while the service industries have grown at the approximate rate of 8.5 percent annually, industrial growth as a whole has averaged 6 percent, while agriculture, which is the mainstay of the majority of the population, grew at the low rate of 2–3 percent (Acharaya, 2007a). Additionally, within the services sector, the areas that experienced the most rapid growth were IT industries, communications, financial services, hotels and restaurants, community services, and trade and business services (Acharaya, 2007c). In short, a factor peculiar to the Indian expansion story is that its growth has been capital intensive rather than labor intensive (Luce, 2006). In other words, the focus has been on generating wealth through hiring a minimal number of highly skilled professionals rather than on hiring vast numbers of semi-skilled people in labor intensive sectors like manufacturing or agriculture-based industries. A  direct result of this has been that some of the economically most productive sectors of the Indian economy such as IT, software, BPO, and call centers provide direct employment to a little over one million people, or approximately 0.25 per cent of the total labor pool of the country (Luce, 2006), and indirect employment to an additional two to three million people (Acharaya, 2007c). Similarly, foreign companies employ anywhere between one to two million people (Luce, 2006). Furthermore, in the near future, despite the prognosis of continued rapid development of these industries, it is unlikely that these sectors will be able to provide jobs for the entire or even the majority of the Indian labor force especially when viewing the sheer scale of new job entrants – current estimates peg new entrants to the job market at 10–12 million annually. This is especially true in light of the fact that these industries require college graduates with highly-skilled professional and technical qualifications and, often, fluency in English, which in the multi-lingual Indian context has emerged as the lingua franca of business (Acharaya, 2007b; Nobrega  & Sinha, 2008). These English-educated and highly-qualified college graduates are now earning salaries many times over the amounts that their parents earned or even retired at (Luce, 2006). And therefore, while it has been claimed that India is currently undergoing the transition from a ‘survival economy’ to that of a ‘consumption economy’ (Murthy, 2009, p. 96), the consumption is most evident amongst those elements of the society who have been able to access the socioeconomic benefits of the surging economy; for the majority of others, basic issues of survival remain at the forefront of their daily lives and struggles.



Chapter 1.  Introduction

The capital-intensive economic growth has therefore not helped the majority of the over 1.2 billion Indians. This state of affairs is highly problematic since the labor force continues to grow at the rate of 2 percent annually whereas employment has been growing only at the rate of one percent per annum (Nobrega & Sinha, 2008). It is estimated that of the approximately 10–12 million new entrants who will be entering the job market annually for the next ten years, only half this number are likely to secure jobs (Nobrega & Sinha, 2008). Thus, millions of people do not and will not find jobs and even for those who do, the discrepancy in salaries across the different industries is glaring, and might continue to remain so. Recognizing the magnitude of the problem, the current government is working towards expanding the manufacturing base of the country with initiatives like “Make in India” and “Digital India” as well as implementing large scale ‘skilling’ initiatives aimed at imparting basic skills to vast swathes of the populace. Related initiatives of planning the setting-up of skill-based universities are under discussion at the moment of writing. While much-needed and therefore commendable, the results of these initiatives, if successful, will take considerable time to translate into actual job creation. The current state is that within one country, there now co-exist multiple classes and socioeconomic structurations. Those who have the ‘right’ academic, professional, and linguistic qualifications are the ones who reap the maximum benefits of India’s much vaunted economic growth, while those without this capital are still struggling to make ends meet. This divide between the haves and have-nots is particularly conspicuous in urban India in light of the extremely consumer-oriented lifestyles that the economically well-off city-dwelling Indians are rapidly adopting, which are easily visible in the densely populated urban areas. As might be expected, the resulting differentiation is all the more keenly experienced by those who aspire to similar lifestyles but do not have the educational or linguistic capital to make the transition from their current socioeconomic statuses. This picture is further complicated for urban women by the patriarchal nature of north Indian society which has historically discriminated against women and which continues to subjugate them in multiple ways either through blatant or subtle means on the basis of their gender. 1.3  Discourse This book uses narrative analysis as its methodological orientation, theorizing narratives as discourse. In this section, I present a brief discussion of how discourse is conceptualized in this book utilizing an eclectic understanding of the term. I lean on the social constructionist understanding of the world which holds



 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

that ­knowledge and individuals are both the products and producers of discourse (Jørgenson & Phillips, 2002). From a critical discourse analytic perspective, ­Chouliaraki and Fairclough (1999) posit that the cultural and socioeconomic transformations of late modernity occur both within discourse as well as in processes outside of it, but that the latter are centrally shaped by these discourses. However, while they underline the social importance of discourse, they caution against reducing all of social life only to discourse, advocating a dialectical relationship between discourse and structures in the world (p. 4). This relationship is also made in the work of F ­ airclough (1992) and Harvey (1996).Thus, there is the understanding that the world and it social structures and discourse are closely interconnected and, to a certain extent, mutually constitutive. Another important understanding about discourse that underlies this study is garnered from social psychologists who, adopting a discourse analytic framework, hold that discourse analysis focuses foremost on the social and linguistic rather than on the cognitive or psychological and view experience as being ­constituted through language while in the process of being represented rather than seeing language as a means of reflecting experiences (Wetherell, 1995, p. 134; also see, Gergen, 1990; Harré, 1986; Potter & Wetherell, 1987; Shotter, 1993). Such a viewpoint problematizes a straightforward representative theorization of discourse and thereby subverts a purely linguistic understanding of language as a mere and transparent means to depict reality. Instead, reality is here viewed as being partially constructed in the process of being represented via discourse. This understanding of discourse as more than a simple representation of reality is elaborated upon by Sunderland (2004), who distinguishes between two types of discourse: (a) descriptive discourse or what she describes as either “a stretch of written or spoken discourse” as well as the combination of linguistic and paralinguistic discourse encompassing the interaction between people in specific contexts; and (b) interpretive discourse which she describes as “broad constitutive systems of meaning” (p. 6). In this second poststructuralism and critical theory inspired category, she also includes Talbot’s (1995, p. 43) postulation of discourse as “knowledge and practices generally associated with a particular institution or group of institutions” as well as Fairclough’s (1992, p. 3) theorizing of discourse as “different ways of structuring areas of knowledge and social practice.” Connected to this understanding of discourse as a site for constructing social meaning is the view that there is a struggle for the creation of this meaning, which is instantiated within discourse. Blommaert (2005), setting forth a sociolinguistic viewpoint, defines discourse as “all forms of meaningful semiotic human activity seen in connection with social, cultural, and historical patterns and developments of use” (p. 3). Of great salience to him is the notion



Chapter 1.  Introduction

that discourse can become a site of struggle wherein social differences become manifest with resulting sociocultural consequences. This is so because it is only through discourse that all aspects of our social, cultural, and political lives are rendered meaningful (p. 4). This meaning-generating capacity of discourse and how it operates is wellelaborated in Gee’s (1992, 1996, 2008) theorization of capital ‘D’ Discourse. Discourse is explained as the social and cultural means of constructing meaning so that certain perspectives are viewed as normal while others are looked upon as deviant or marginal.1 Gee (2008, p. 3) explains that, “Discourses are ways of behaving, interacting, valuing, thinking, believing, speaking, and often reading and writing, that are accepted as instantiations of particular identities (or ‘types of people’) by specific groups.” In his view Discourses are “ways of being in the world,” of “socially situated identities” and are always “social and products of social histories” (p. 3). He elucidates that each person is a member of several Discourses with each Discourse representing one of multiple identities. Discourses do not represent the same values and so, as people act out various Discourses they engage with the conflicts and contradictions that inhere to them. Furthermore, Discourses integrate everyday taken for granted ideas or ‘theories’ about “what counts as a ‘normal’ person and the ‘right’ ways to think, feel, and behave” (Gee, 2008, p. 4). These theories and ideas are based upon specific beliefs about “the distribution of ‘social goods’ like status, worth, and material goods in society (who should and shouldn’t have them)” (p. 4). He calls these everyday theories that inform Discourses ideologies, and argues that language is inextricably linked with ideology and cannot be understood separate from it. From a CDA perspective, Wodak and Meyer, (2009, p. 8) set forth similar views which use the label of ideology instead of Discourse. In their estimation, dominant ideologies appear neutral, instantiating unchallenged assumptions whereby the existence of the status quo remains unopposed due to an absence of alternative possibilities which results in hegemony. To sum up, Gee (2008) views Discourses as inherently ideological, resistant to self-criticism, as being constructed in relation to other Discourses, as valuing certain perspectives over others, and as closely related to the “the distribution of social power and hierarchical structure in s­ociety” (pp. 162–63). These understandings of multiple and conflicting Discourses prevalent in society is how I view discourses connected to medium of education and to Hindi and English in my work.

.  I use this understanding of discourses synonymously with words such as societal norms, social orders, beliefs, customs, conventions, etc.



 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

Gee’s (2008) notion of discourses that operate at the societal level can be connected to Bakhtin’s (1981) notions about authoritative discourse.2 For Bakhtin (1986, p. 62), all language is realized in the form of concrete utterances or speech genres, either as primary speech genres of everyday unmediated speech, or as secondary genres that are comparatively more complex, highly developed, and organized modes of cultural communication, e.g., novels, dramas, and scientific research. Bakhtin (1981) further maintains that the everyday speech of people is made up to a large extent of the words of others. These others’ words play a large role in the formulation of a person’s consciousness or ideological becoming and can perform dual roles as authoritative discourses or internally persuasive discourses, played out either simultaneously or in conflict with each other. Authoritative discourses can be religious, political, or moral, and are the words of figures of authority such as adults, fathers, teachers, etc. and are not always internally persuasive. The discourses that are internally persuasive are those that are “denied all privilege, backed up by no authority at all, and [are] frequently not even acknowledged in society (not by public opinion, nor by scholarly norms, nor by criticism), not even in the legal code” (Bakhtin, 1981, p. 342). He argues that it is the dialogic relationship between these two categories of ideological discourses that are foundational in the construction of an individual’s ideological consciousness. It is this demarcation between authoritative discourses and internally persuasive discourses that enjoy no social authority and the often conflictual relationship between them that I believe are connected to Gee’s notions of Discourses. The difference being that for Gee the conflict and struggle for primacy between multiple discourses is played out at the societal level, while for Bakhtin (1981), this intricate dialogical relationship can be traced in the daily unmediated utterances of people’s speech which is largely built up of the authoritative words of others and is concerned both with the manner of their transmission and with providing an interpretive frame for understanding them. The latter is accomplished through a r­ e-conceptualization and re-accentuation of these authoritative discourses which can vary significantly with new semantic meanings being embedded in them at the very moment of their transmission. Thus, using Gee’s notions of multiple, often conflicting societal Discourses and Bakhtin’s conceptualization of authoritative discourses at the level of the utterance allows me to

.  Translators Emerson and Holquist (1981) state that while Bakhtin more often uses the term discourse to signify the primacy of speech and utterance in all aspects of the language, he also uses it in the sense of its corresponding western meaning as a way to refer to the ­divisions that are determined by social and ideological differences operating within one ­language (p. 427).



Chapter 1.  Introduction 

investigate how ­macro-societal, hegemonic ­discourses related to MoE, English, and Hindi are utilized, resisted, or perpetuated at the micro-discourse level of the oral narratives of my participants. The theorization of how discourse and power are interconnected is a salient analytical focus of this study and further below I present a discussion on how this relationship is conceptualized in this book. 1.4  Narratives Narrative analysis is the central methodology used in this book, ­necessitating an engagement with how narratives are conceptualized in this work. Narratives are conceived as a form of discourse and, following the arguments thus far, are not viewed as mere external representations of internal states, an issue that has been debated at length by narrative theorists (e.g, Bruner, 1990, 1991, 1997, 2001, 2002; Carr, 1997; Polkinghorne, 1988, 2005; Ricoeur, 1990). Consequently, while acknowledging the influential work of Labov and Waletzky’s (1967) event-­ centered conceptualization of narratives as chronologically ordered recounts of specific past experiences lived by narrators, this book does not theorize narratives as straightforward linguistic representations of lived phenomenon. Narrative scholars have postulated narratives as being impacted by the social, cultural, and historical conventions within which they are produced (Garrett & Baquedano-Lopez, 2002; Ochs, 1997; Pavlenko, 2002, 2007) and as being discursively fashioned and situated within and intimately entwined with the local societal contexts in which they are produced (Bamberg, 2005). Building upon these conceptualizations, in this book the relationship between narratives and these larger societal features is understood to be dialectic – grounded in a social constructionist perspective as explained above. Consequently, while narratives are acknowledged as being impacted by the macro-structural contexts within which they are embedded and recounted, they are simultaneously understood to be devices through which these worlds are constructed. In other words, narratives are understood to both constitute and be constituted by the world and are viewed as sites where narrators engage structure and agency. This, often contentious, dialectical relationship makes narratives an extremely productive site for the assembly and performance of various identity enactments. Narratives thus become locations where several types of agentive constructions, (albeit, often structurally constrained), take place: of selves, of others, of ideologies, and, in general, of all aspects of the social worlds inhabited by the narrators. In fact, narratives are here understood to be the means through which worldviews and selves are constructed by narrators. A productive corollary of conceptualizing narratives as a form of discourse allows for an action-oriented understanding of stories told in talk. Discursive

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

­sychologists understand discourse as carrying out rhetorical actions makp ing language action oriented, rather than a descriptive medium of cognitive states that might exist outside of the interaction (Edwards, 1997, 1998, 1999; Edwards & Potter, 1992; Potter & Edwards, 1990). Antaki (1994), elaborating on this discourse as action model, posits that an explanation (or the discourse of which it forms a part) is not so much a thought that has merely found expression in words, but is rather an ‘action’ in its own right…as such it goes actually to ‘constitute’ the reality rather than merely describe it. Descriptive discourse is therefore conceptualized as a “situated activity” instead of a decontextualized description of opinions, beliefs or values, necessitating an analysis of the action that the description accomplishes (Potter & Edwards, 1990, p. 407). Discursive productions are viewed as an intricate amalgamation of discursive and social processes (Edwards, 1999; Edwards & P ­ otter 1992). Conceptualization of discourse as socially-oriented, rhetorical practice raises the possibility that there could be alternative ways of describing things ranging from descriptions, summarizations, arguments, agreements, contentions, etc. (Edwards, 1998, p.16; Edwards & ­Potter, 1992). Within this tradition, the work of the discourse analyst is not only to answer questions about what is being said or how it is being said but analysis must also incorporate answers to the questions of why this particular thing is being said at this specific moment in the interaction. These questions are best answered by examining what that piece of spoken discourse is accomplishing in terms of interactional achievement at that moment in the talk. These understandings of discourse are extended to narratives within this book as narratives told within oral interactions are understood to instantiate all these features of actionoriented discourse. Therefore, the analysis here attends to why the analyzed narratives are recounted at that specific moment within the interaction, what they accomplish in it, how the compulsions of the interactional moment impact the content and form of the narrative, in addition to also examining how these interactional features impact the discursive empowerments and disempowerments enacted by tellers within and through their stories. A closely related aspect pertaining to the theorization of narratives is the issue of the ownership of narratives. De Fina and Georgakopoulou (2012, p.151) argue that the primacy of ‘experiential ownership’ is all too often accorded to the narrator on the basis of her having undergone the recounted experience and of being the main character in the story being told. While according legitimacy to the narrator’s experience, they argue, such theorizations of narratives, conceptualize them as a straightforward account of what ‘really’ happened. This privileges narrative data by accepting it at face value and thus according undue advantage to it over other forms of ethnographic data (also see Atkinson & Delamont, 2006). Therefore, at the micro-level of production, narratives are here understood to be locally, that



Chapter 1.  Introduction 

is, interactionally embedded in ongoing talk as has been demonstrated by scholars working within Conversation Analytic traditions (e.g., Garfinkel & Sacks, 1970; Sacks, 1970; Sacks, Schegloff, & Jefferson, 1974). Jefferson (1978) demonstrated the local occasioning of narratives, that is, the understanding that narratives are recounted in talk to manage ongoing talk and to accomplish specific purposes. These interactional functions of narratives can range from the negotiation and mitigation of trouble in the talk to portraying specific images of selves and others in response to ongoing interactional contingencies (Bamberg, 2005, p. 222). They can accomplish the telling of troubles (Jefferson, 1984a, 1988), account for conduct, or even be used to make fun of someone (Mandelbaum, 2012). Additionally, Jefferson (1978) argued that once narratives have been recounted in a specific interaction, they become sequentially implicative, in the sense that they, in turn, impact the ongoing interaction. Analysis of narratives told in interactions must therefore take into account their local embeddedness within their interactional environment rather than treating the resulting narrative as “self-sufficient” and free of the local contingencies of the interactive environment (Freeman, 2006, p.  133). This interactional conceptualization of narratives contributes to their associated theorization as being co-constructed by the interactants, that is, by both the narrators and the listeners, rather than solely produced by the tellers (­Bamberg, 2005; DeFina & Georgakopoulou, 2012; Mishler 1986). In this book, analysis will incorporate an examination of the interactional occasioning of narratives, although saliency will be given to the enactments of discursive empowerments and disempowerments within and through them. Inextricably connected to the arguments made thus far is the related conceptualization of interviews as speech events (Talmy, 2010a), rather than as direct conduits to the ‘true’, ‘inner’ feelings, beliefs, attitudes, values, etc. of interviewees (Mann, 2011; Roulston, 2010; Talmy, 2010a, 2011; Talmy & K. Richards, 2011). Interviews are viewed as interactions and thus governed by interactional concerns. Additionally, they are theorized as ‘active’ (Holstein & Gubrium, 1995, 1997, 2003), whereby both the interviewer and interviewee are understood to collaborate in the production of knowledge and meaning within an interactional event. In other words, the interviewer’s questions and responses at each stage of the interview makes her (i.e., me in this dataset) a collaborator in all that is generated within the interview (Holstein & Gubrium, 1995, 1997, 2003; Mishler, 1986; Silverman, 2001). Such an understanding necessitates analysis of both the content (i.e., the ‘what’) of the interview data and, equally importantly, an analysis that focuses on the processes by means of which this data is constructed (i.e., the ‘how’). Such ­re-specifications of interviews have significant impact on the analysis of interview data, and, by extension, of narratives recounted within them with analytical attention being paid to how interactants construct situated meanings while engaged

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

in the act of ‘doing’ the interview (Mishler, 1986; Silverman, 2001; Talmy & K. ­Richards, 2011). Therefore, the role of the interviewer is deemed salient and in need of analysis (Potter & Hepburn, 2005; K. Richards, 2009, 2011; Talmy, 2010a). This necessitates examination of the co-constructed nature of interviews, the role of the interviewer, and of the specific interactional context of each interview where every utterance is linked to something within the local environment of that interview (Briggs, 1986; Mann, 2011). Extending these understandings to narratives recounted within interviews means that all such theorizations of interviews are applicable to such narratives. Analysis, therefore, attends to these interview-based understandings of narratives occurring within research interviews. Another aspect that needs mentioning here in connection with the theorization of interviews as speech events and the subsequent implications for the analysis of narratives recounted in research interviews (as opposed to those told in everyday conversations) is the highly prescribed institutional nature of interviews. Interview talk has been demonstrated to be governed by the restrictions and exigencies of completing the ongoing task of asking and answering questions (Heritage 2005, pp. 104–105); in other words, of collecting relevant information. Besides, interactants are understood to be occupying routinely ascribed institution-relevant identities so that interviewers can claim the right to ask questions while interviewees have the concomitant obligation to answer these questions (Drew & Heritage, 1992; Heritage, 2002). These institutional identities are especially clear in press conferences where interviewers, unlike interactants in everyday conversations, can ask varied types of direct and even adversarial questions. For example, in an analysis of the press conferences of two U.S. Presidents, Clayman and H ­ eritage (2002) showed the subcategories of interviewer questions, which they classified in terms of complexity and elaborateness, as follow-up questions, as question cascades (i.e., following the completion of a question with a second or even third question), and as displaying varying degrees of directness or hostility. Although qualitative research interviews are normally less adversarial than such high-profile press interviews, research has shown that the institutionally-relevant identities of interviewer and interviewee still govern research interview talk and impact both the occasioning of narratives in interviews as well as their form and content. For example, Sandhu (in press) demonstrated how the interviewer’s utterances focused on her research agenda of eliciting information about medium of education. This was treated as insufficient emotional engagement on the interviewer’s part with the content of the interviewees’ assertions, leading them to tell related narratives in attempts to elicit properly affiliative responses from the interviewer. In another study, Sandhu (2014a) revealed how the interviewer’s selection of one of a list of several interviewee responses (about the teller’s emotions pertaining to ­English and English-speaking people), not only



Chapter 1.  Introduction 

steered the direction and content of c­ onsequent talk, but also how the researcher’s repeated challenging of interviewee assertions (of feeling inadequate in the presence of English ­speakers) resulted in the telling of a hypothetical narrative which served the interactional purpose of defending the interviewee’s claim. A universally accepted aspect of the theorization of narratives is the evaluative function ascribed to the narrator (Polyani, 1989). Storytellers are viewed as discursively constructing relationships between themselves and larger social orders (Bamberg, 1997). Labov and Waletzky (1967), in their influential work, had examined this evaluative function through the analysis of individual clauses constituting the narratives. Edwards (1997b), on the other hand, had suggested that the entire narrative worked as an evaluation as well as an emotional reaction of the teller to the narrated events because, in his view, since all narratives were representations of lived experiences, the narrators were at liberty to select the narrated event, to emplot them at will, and to select the manner of their telling. Other narrative scholars have also highlighted the evaluative function of narratives pointing to the moral evaluations of people, expectations and worldly conditions embedded within stories which narrators can enact through their narratives (e.g., Garrett & Baquedano-Lopez, 2002; Ochs & Capps, 2001). In so doing, tellers are viewed as possessing the agency to reproduce or critique existing relationships of power and knowledge (Mumby 1993; Peterson & L ­ angellier, 2006) and with the facility to construct evaluative stances vis-à-vis social structures (Ochs & Capps, 2001). These evaluations act as cues guiding audiences’ comprehension of how to understand the narrative (Elliot, 2005). They allow listeners to perceive the stance narrators adopt vis-à-vis the events, characters, positions, and discourses they narrate. Narratives are therefore conceptualized as sites within which new meanings can be inscribed, where critiques of dominant status quos can be conducted, or conversely, where such hierarchical structures can be passively reproduced and perpetuated. These understandings of the evaluative implications of narratives are adopted by this study with the additional understanding that the interactional concerns delineated above contribute to the extent to which such evaluations are performed by storytellers. Analysis, therefore, examines how narrators’ evaluations of social structures and discourses are responded to by the interviewer and also to what extent the ongoing interview provides spaces for such enactments. 1.5  Identity The understanding of identity that I adopt in my work is drawn from several fields: feminist, postmodern, poststructural, social constructionist, and

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

­ ostcolonial. Within these areas of inquiry identities are theorized as multiple, p fluid, n ­ on-essentialist, fragmented, and impacted upon by intersecting, often oppositional discourses, and language is often construed as the site within which identities are constructed. Thus, feminist social psychologists Wilkinson and ­Kitzinger (1995, p. 3) posit language as an interactive activity which mediates both linguistic as well as sociocultural knowledge and is the location for the production of identities and subjectivities. The multi-faceted nature of identity construction is also postulated by feminist scholar Butler (1990), who views identities as being multiple and located in the intersections of cultural vectors such as social class, age, ethnicity, gender, etc. The non-essentialist and dynamic aspects of identity have also been highlighted by the well-known postcolonial scholar Edward Said (1993, p. 315), who argues that “‘identity’ does not necessarily imply ontologically given and eternally determined stability, or uniqueness, or irreducible character, or privileged status as something total and complete in and of itself ”. Similarly, Hall (1996) summarizes postmodern conceptualizations of identity in the following words: …identities are never unified and, in late modern times, increasingly, fragmented and fractured; never singular but multiply raised across different, often intersecting and antagonistic, discourses, practices and positions. They are subject to radical historicization, and are constantly in the process of change and transformation (p. 4).

This fluid and dynamic aspect of identity formation is espoused by other scholars as well. For example, Derrida’s (1972) notion of differance which governs language, inspired in part by Saussure’s structuralist linguistics, whereby meaning is understood to be a product of difference between signifiers but is also always subject to deferral, holds that meaning can never be absolutely fixed. This understanding of the transience of meaning lends identities their dynamic characteristic. Poststructuralist scholar Weedon (1996), speaking in terms of subjectivity rather than identities, also highlights the idea that the individual’s sense of the self is “open to continuous redefinition” and “is constantly slipping” (p. 102). Similar views of the multiple, dynamic, hybrid, and fragmented nature of identities have been adopted by numerous other scholars (e.g., Giampapa, 2004; James & Woll, 2004). Therefore, the aim of this book is to examine each woman’s locally situated articulation of identity/ies rather than assign any pregiven identity to them. A salient aspect of the theorization of identities within these strands of theoretical inquiry is the relational dimension of their construction. Scholars who write about relational formations of identity have emphasized the notion that identities



Chapter 1.  Introduction 

are constructed through difference. Stuart Hall (1996) posits this notion of difference in identity formation through the conceptualization of the “other”: It is only through the relation to the Other, the relation of what it is not, to precisely what it lacks, to what has been called its constitutive outside that the ‘positive’ meaning of any term – and thus its ‘identity’ – can be constructed (p. 5).

The relational dimension of identity construction is also to be found in narrative scholar Bakhtin’s theory of dialogism whereby the self is viewed not as a self-sufficient construct but as dialogic and always in relation with another (Holquist, 2002, p. 19). The theory of dialogism states that “nothing can be perceived except against the perspective of something else: dialogism’s master assumption is that there is no figure without a ground” (p. 22). “Being” for Bakhtin is a shared event; it is always “a simultaneity; it is always co-being” (p. 25). Dialogism can be understood as comprising a minimum of three elements: “an utterance, a reply, and relation between the two. It is the relation that is the most important of the three, for without it the other two would have no meaning. They would be isolated, and the most primary of Bakhtinian a priori is that nothing is anything in itself ” (p. 38). Thus, “[d]ialogism is a way of looking at things that always insists on the presence of the other, on the inescapable necessity of outsideness and unfinalizability” (p. 195). At the same time, it is important to remember that “[i]n Bakhtin there is no one meaning being striven for: the world is a vast congeries of contesting meaning, a heteroglossia so varied that no single term capable of unifying its diversifying energies is possible” (p. 24). This insistence on the presence of the ‘other’ for the creation of the self is also found in the work of Said (1979) as he talks about the construction of culture: the development and maintenance of every culture require the existence of another, different and competing alter ego. The constitution of identity (…) involves the construction of opposites and ‘others’ whose actuality is always subject to the continuous interpretation and re-interpretation of their differences from ‘us’ (pp. 331–332).

For Said, this process of the simultaneous construction of the self and the Other is subject to “historical, social and intellectual” processes and is instantiated as a “contest involving individuals and institutions in all societies” (p. 131–32). He explains that far from being “mental exercises” these processes are “urgent social contest[s]” which involve individuals and institutions in all societies (p. 331–332). Of particular note is his argument that all these processes of identity formation are inescapably “bound up with the disposition of power and powerlessness in each society” (p. 331–32). Therefore, not only a relational dimension in identity formation becomes the focus of analysis but so does the operation of power in s­ ocieties

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

that governs this process. In this book, it is precisely these elements of identity formation that are closely analyzed. The notion of identities as being constrained by existing power hierarchies underlines the apprehension of how women in this study form their identities. An important means of understanding how power and identity intersect has been addressed through theorizing the tensions between structure and agency. The social constructionist approach to discourse and knowledge (Jørgensen & Phillips, 2002) adopted in this book perceives identities as being fashioned within discourse and as simultaneously being impacted upon by the social contexts within which they are situated. This approach is also found in early work within the field of discursive psychology, (see for e.g., Potter & Wetherell, 1987), wherein scholars see discourse as both constituting and being constituted by the world. Edley and Wetherell (2008) write that these early discursive psychology approaches “attempt to situate the local production of gender identities within a broader ideological or cultural context for it was assumed that these two levels (the micro and the macro) were closely entwined” (p. 163). The notion of the discursive construction of identities influenced by the constraints of local social hierarchies and structures finds an echo in the work of Hall (1996, p. 4), who elucidates that identities are discursively crafted but that these constructions are carried out “within special modalities of power” and are “produced within specific historical and institutional sites within specific discursive formations and practices, [and] by specific enunciating strategies”. Similarly, in her discussion of subjectivities, Weedon (1996) explains “[d]­iscursive practices are embedded in material power relations” (p. 315). Pavlenko and Blackledge (2004), combining poststructuralist and social constructionist frameworks, also view identities as being discursively formed yet impacted upon by power relations. Numerous other scholars engage the notion of identity with existing power hierarchies (e.g., Blackledge, 2004; Kanno, 2004; Kiesling, 2006; Miller, 2004a; Moita-Lopes, 2006). Examining the positive ramifications of these tensions, applied linguists Canagarajah (2004a, 2004b) and Egbo (2004) demonstrate how coercive power relations can shift to collaborative ones. In accordance with this strand of research, I situate and analyze participants’ narratives as being generated in juxtaposition to dominant societal discourses regarding MoE in India such that established power hierarchies can either be uncritically reproduced in the form of discursive disempowerments or, divergent worldviews can be created wherein hegemonic power structures are interrogated and destabilized in the shape of discursive empowerments. The empowerments (or disempowerments) enacted by the participants are discursively assembled either in the act of narration in the here-and-now of the interactional plane or located, also discursively, as specific incidents occurring in the



Chapter 1.  Introduction 

narrated world where their narrated characters are presented as i­nstantiating some form of resistance to authoritative structures, discourses, and practices. These notions are discussed more in depth below. 1.6  Narratives and identities Narratives have long been perceived as fertile sites for situated identity constructions as narrators are viewed as engaging in agentive representations of the self in their stories (e.g., Archakis & Tzanne, 2005; Bamberg, 1997; R. Bauman, 2005; Bruner, 1987, 1990, 2001, 2002; Riessman, 1993, 2002, 2008). Consequently, investigations of identity within narratives have been an extremely productive area of research (e.g., Bamberg, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011; Bamberg, De Fina, & Schiffrin, 2006; Bamberg & Georgakopoulou, 2008; Bamberg & McCabe, 2000; Brockmeier & Carbaugh, 2001; De Fina 2003, 2006, 2008, 2009; De Fina & ­Georgakopoulou, 2008, 2012; De Fina, Schiffrin, & Bamberg, 2006; De Fina & King, 2011; De Fina & Perrino, 2011; De Fina, Schiffrin, & Bamberg, 2006, 2011; Georgakopoulou, 1997, 2002, 2003a, 2003b, 2005a, 2005b, 2006a, 2006b, 2007; Schiffrin, De Fina, & Nylund, 2010; Wortham, 2000, 2001). Amongst other theoretical frameworks, Positioning Theory (PT henceforth) postulated by Davies and Harré (1990) and Harré and van Langenhove (1991, 1999) and insightfully developed by narrative scholars (e.g., Bamberg, 2004; Deppermann, 2013, 2015; Harré, 2005; Harré & Moghaddam, 2003; Harré, Moghaddam, Cairnie, Rothbart,  & Sabat, 2009; Lucius-Hoene, 2013; Lucius-Hoene & Deppermann, 2000) has had a particularly long and well-respected tradition of being productively harnessed for examining narrative identity formations. Deppermann (2013), in a comprehensive review of research on narrative identities using PT, traces this theory’s antecedents to Foucault’s (1969) formulation of subject positions which social structures and discourses about power, knowledge, and legitimate action make conditionally available for constructions of self, others and the world, and also to Hollway’s (1984) introduction of ‘positioning’ to psychoanalytic social psychology. Hollway, while acknowledging the power of hegemonic discourses to legitimize action, argued against discursive determinism by emphasizing the agency of individuals to select amongst discourses. Davies and Harré (1990) theorized positioning at the interactional level as a “discursive process whereby selves are located in conversations as observably and subjectively coherent participants in jointly produced story lines” (p. 48). They described two types of positioning – interactive positioning which is effected through what the speaker says about another and reflexive positioning whereby one positions oneself. Neither of these processes need be intentional. Deppermann (2013, p. 3) describes

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

the basic tenets of PT as including three elements: (a) story lines – these are used by tellers to position actors as belonging to specific categories within narratives, (b) social acts – these are understood with regard to their illocutionary force as specified by Speech Act Theory (Austin 1962; Searle, 1969), and (c) positions – these ascribe rights and duties to actors within storylines and are mutually organized based on socially categorized relationships such as ‘mother/father/child’ or ‘doctor/nurse/patient’. These positionings are the means by which: (a) speakers assign specific subject positions to actors, (b) these positions can be compound, ambiguous, dynamic, evolving and subject to change within the interaction, and (c) they can be taken up or resisted within the interaction (Davies & Harré, 1990). Bamberg (1997, p. 336) commenting on Davies and Harré’s (1990) model, explains that this model of positioning analyzes language from the perspective of how people attend to each other within interaction rather than focusing on what the language of the narrative is ‘about’, as was the case with the more structural focus of narrative analysis proposed by Labov and Waletzky (1967). Deppermann (2013) and De Fina and Georgakopoulou (2012) present a cogent commentary of PT as posited by Harré and his colleagues, pointing to some of the ways in which its tenets are problematic. The first point they make is the absence of a fine-grained attention to actual interactional and linguistic analysis as their theorizations are based largely on hypothetical examples. This precludes a sequential analysis of real interactional data and so is unable to attend to the emergent interactional concerns that impact the emergence and negotiation of positions within interactional narratives. Deppermann (2013) also points to the fact that narratives within PT have conflated epistemological differentiations between the telling of a story and the plot of the story (pp. 4–5). In other words, this version of PT does not adequately attend to the different and unique reasons which drive the storied world and the story-telling world of narratives recounted in talk. This has led to conflating the representation of the world within the narrative with the ‘real’ world (ibid, p. 5), which, as discussed above, is problematic as it fails to take into account the interactional occasioning of the form and content of narratives. De Fina and Georgakopoulou (2012) further argue that in this version of PT there is an assumption that people cognitively store “sets of roles and rules, as a sort of non-discursive moral order, which can then be realized and traced [by analysts] in discursive environments” (p. 162). This, they argue, conceptualizes positions as pre-existing entities and therefore as precluded from attending to current theorizations of positions as emergent and discursively constructed. Michael Bamberg (1997), whose work on PT has been hugely influential, addressed some of these concerns by positing a three-fold theorization of PT which takes into account the interaction-oriented, performative aspect of storytelling rather than solely focusing on its representational characteristic as a



Chapter 1.  Introduction 

­ eaning-making device lending coherence to lived experience. At the first level, m positioning deals with the narrated world and examines how narrated characters are positioned in relation to each other within the story. The analysis could thus examine protagonists, antagonists within the story, examine who is prescribed the agency to enact actions, over whom, or see who is depicted as being the non-­ agentive receiver of the actions of others. At the second level of positioning, the analytical focus shifts to the ongoing interaction, that is, to the talk within which the story is told, and examines how the story teller positions herself vis-à-vis her audience, attending to how the tellers’ actions and self-image are linguistically presented to the audience, considering for example, if the storyteller attempts to ascribe blame for her actions to others. The third level of positioning examines the larger ‘who am I?’ question, seeking to answer how storytellers understand themselves as relatively more permanent, constant subjects with more enduring identities that are transportable beyond the current interactional moment (­Bamberg, 1997, p. 337; see also, ­Bamberg, 2011; Deppermann, 2013, pp. 5–6; De Fina & G ­ eorgakopoulou, 2012, pp. 163–164). Bamberg’s (2011) further theorization of PT called for a need to empirically investigate the agentive aspects of embodied positioning within narratives and acknowledges the synchronic, interactionally-situated, temporary, constantly permutable, unfinished construction of identities juxtaposed against a more stable and coherent diachronic sense of self. De Fina and Georgakopoulou (2012), praising the advancements in PT in Bamberg’s (1997) development of PT, point to the significance he attaches to the action-orientedness of the participants rather than to the represented or reflected aspects of the stories. De Fina and Georgakopoulou (2012), however, also point to the challenges of examining the third level of positioning as formulated by Bamberg (1997) due to the assumptions about a stable, coherent identity, which makes it open to critique caused by postmodern understandings of identity as multiple, temporary, fragmented and conflicted. However, Deppermann (2013) explains that Bamberg together with Georgakopoulou (Bamberg & Georgakopoulou, 2008; Georgakopoulou, 2006b, 2007) have increasingly turned to the second level of PT through the theorization of small stories. The conceptualization of small stories has provided important insights for both the analysis of narratives in talk and for examinations of identities within these narratives. Small stories have been posited as a contrast to canonical narrative from which they differ in four salient ways (­Georgakopoulou, 2010, p. 124). First, small stories lay emphasis on breaking news stories, hypothetical stories, future happenings, and shared events rather than on personal stories of past events unshared by present interactants. Second, small stories emphasize the co-constructed and interactional features of narratives rather than their ­representational characteristics, especially highlighting the local interactional embeddedness of small stories (Bamberg & Georgakopoulou,

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

2008; Georgakopoulou, 2008). Third, small stories lay a great deal of emphasis on the identity claims for others rather than for the self and analyze the discursive constructions of others (Georgakopoulou, 2007). Finally, small stories examine the historic and shared nature of stories rather than treat them as single events. These shared events are part of a trajectory that can be used for argumentation in various ways (Georgakopoulou, 2007). This aspect is not normally seen in interview ­narratives in which a single event is the focus of analysis (for an extended ­discussion, see Georgakopoulou, 2010). Additionally, in keeping with the theorizations of the fragmented, dynamic, partial, and conflicted nature of identity and of narratives recounted in talk as being contingent on the dynamics of the ongoing interaction, identities within narrative talk are treated as specific social actions constructed and performed for the accomplishment of specific interactional goals. This action-oriented perception of identities in narratives makes their construction a complex process, because as Korobov and Bamberg (2004) point out, not only do narrators need to attend to the ongoing interactional conversational concerns, but identity claims have to be managed in such a manner that they appear authentic, complex, and reportable. These considerations also apply to investigations of identity in qualitative interviews as storytellers position storied characters with relation to each other in the narrated world while also being cognizant of varied positionings between themselves and their interviewers at the interactional level at which the stories are told (Lucius-Hoene & Deppermann, 2000; Wortham, 2001). Wortham (2001) has used the Bakhtinian (1981) concept of voice to discuss tellers’ position enactments, arguing for the importance of analyzing linguistic as well as paralinguistic cues such as: (a) reference and predication, whereby tellers situate characters as socially recognizable people while enacting evaluative stances in connection with them, (b) metapragmatic descriptors, or reporting verbs which serve to define and limit characters’ voices, (c) quotation, including direct and indirect quotes as well as “quasi-direct discourse” (p. 72), which enables storytellers to put words into the mouths of characters while also enabling them to adopt evaluative stances vis-àvis them, (d) evaluative indexicals, which can either be ascribed to narrated characters or used by the teller to describe them, and (e) epistemic modalization,which can be variously claimed by the narrator or can be attributed to narrated characters to present them as specific types of people (pp. 70–75). Another important elaboration of PT has been proposed by Lucius-Hoene and Deppermann (2000), who have posited a communicative model to examine identity positioning within narratives. Building upon Bamberg’s (1997) first two levels, these scholars have posited the following levels of positioning: Level 1: (a) positioning of narrated characters in relation to each other, (b) positioning



Chapter 1.  Introduction 

of narrated characters through narrative design; and Level 2: (a) self-positioning of the narrator both in the interactional and storied planes through extra- and meta-narrative self-reflexive moves, (b) interactional positioning by narrative design whereby tellers position themselves interactionally towards their audience through their story design, e.g., as a victim or a preacher with a message, (c) interactional positioning by metanarrative activities whereby the listener is variously positioned, and (d) interactional positioning by the story recipient’s factual activities – here through questions and answers the recipient co-authors the story while also negotiating interactive positions (Deppermann, 2013, pp. 7–8). This complexity, they argue, results from the fact that different levels of positioning are related to each other in highly-nuanced ways. Yet another iteration of Positioning Theory has been proposed by Wortham and Gadsden (2006), who established four layers of positioning that lead to narrative self-creation: (a) how narrators position themselves as having experienced the narrated events in their past, (b) how narrators voice or position the characters in their stories, including themselves, as socially recognizable types of people who are associated as having a particular type of character, (c) how the narrators, while voicing the characters in their narratives, including their own selves, adopt particular evaluative stances towards these characters, and (d) how the narrators adopt particular positions vis-à-vis their interlocutors in the story-telling event. The current book builds on this scholarship, focusing mainly upon the first two levels of positioning as posited by Bamberg (1997), that is, I examine how narrated characters are positioned vis-à-vis each other in the storied world and examine how on the interactional plane the storyteller positions herself in relation to the audience. I develop these two levels of positioning further to include examinations of how the storyteller positions herself in relation to prevalent linguistic hierarchies, social structures, and practices. In this extended analysis, I analyze if narrators position themselves in alignment with or resistant to authoritative discourses and hierarchical social structures and practices. However, I change the order in which I examine these positioning levels. While the interactional level is examined initially, the second two levels are examined together in line with the theoretical assumptions of this work that narratives are constructed in interaction, including within interviews, to manage ongoing interactional concerns. 1. First, in keeping with the social constructionist approach adopted in this book, I examine how the interactants position themselves with regard to each other. Here, I also examine the interactional occasioning of the narratives. 2. Next, I examine how the narrator positions herself vis-à-vis the characters in her story, either as opposing characters such as oppressor and oppressed, oppressor and resistor or, as collaborators.

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

3. Closely connected to the second level of positioning, I examine how the narrator positions herself with regard to dominant discourses, social structures and practices. For example, I analyze if the narrators depict themselves as being subjugated by authoritative professional or social practices, or conversely, if they interrogate and destabilize these. All these three levels are understood to be entwined and discursive empowerments  and discursive disempowerments are conceptualized as occurring in all these three planes. I discuss how I operationalize the analysis of these three levels of positionings below. Furthermore, also as discussed in the previous section on the theorization of identity, the identity analysis assumes as its starting point that  all  identity constructions are relational. One such analysis of the relational dimension of identity construction was demonstrated by Sandhu (2014b) where I examined how a HME woman, Sanjana, constructed a marginalized self simultaneously and in relation to EME narrated characters while recounting a failed romance. A close analysis of Sanjana’s narrative demonstrated this relational dimension of identity construction. It was only through the portrayal of the difference between her linguistic and class backgrounds from that of Pradeep, the man she loved, articulated through an intricate tapestry of multiple voices from her narrated world, that Sanjana constructed herself. Her selfhood was shown to be produced in conjunction with the production of Pradeep, his family, their aspirations, and linguistic and class-based ideologies about EME and HME people articulated as the opinions and attitudes of narrated characters. This study thus demonstrated both self and other identity constructions as being relational and co-dependent.

1.7  Gender and gendered identity performances Since this book analyzes the stories of women, in this section I engage with how gender is conceptualized in this work. Informed by an eclectic, though coherent, combination of social constructionist, postmodern, poststructural and feminist theorizations, gender is not straightforwardly equated to dichotomous sex bifurcations but is viewed as a social construct. It is not assumed to be an innate, given property but a social “accomplishment” (Eckert & McConnell-Ginet, 2013, p. 1). Additionally, I see gender as being subject to social, historical, cultural, and linguistic influences (Hall & Bucholtz, 1995; Norton & Pavlenko, 2004, Pavlenko & Blackledge, 2004). As such, the intersectionalities of age, class, education, ­ethnicity, race, and sexuality are understood to impact upon gender (Hall & Bucholtz, 1995; C. Mohanty, 1995, 2003; Moraga, 2001; Nicholson, 1995). Therefore, ­constructions



Chapter 1.  Introduction 

of femininities and masculinities are viewed not only as embedded in specific contexts, but are understood to be a consequence of these local social structures (Cameron, 1998, 2005). Gender is not viewed as a static possession of the individual but is conceived of in terms of enactment. In other words, gender identities are understood to be dynamically performed (e.g. Cameron, 2005, 2012; West & Zimmerman, 1987, 2009). This association between gendered identities and performance has been most persuasively expressed by Judith Butler’s (1990) performativity theory which conceptualizes gender identity as being discursively produced and performed. In line with the discussion in the previous sections, she views discourse as a social practice within which gender identities are accomplished and maintains that these identities are assembled inter-discursively, in that one discourse is always imbued with traces of other discourses in the same way that one text is interwoven with another text (Baxter, 2008). For Butler, gender identity is therefore both a discursive practice which individuals inhabit and employ and a performance that is transitory and versatile and which incorporates elements of masquerade. Importantly, for her, gendered identities are assembled within the specific local contexts of the speakers. Butler (1990, 2004) has been at pains to clarify that her theory does not mean an endless freedom to deploy limitless gender. Instead, she specifies that the subject is constrained by the gendered discourses within which she is situated (see e.g., discussions of Butler’s work in Benwell & Stokoe, 2006; Eckert & ­McConnell-Ginet, 2013). As with theorizations of discourse and narratives described in previous sections, people are consequently not understood to have unrestricted freedom to perform any variation of gender identity, instead, all such performances are governed by highly nuanced, locally contingent constraints (Butler, 1990). For example, societal structures most commonly try to impose biologically-matched dichotomous sex assignments on people to “accomplish the differentiation that constitutes the gender order” (Eckert & McConnell-Ginet, 2013, p. 6). In other words, all societies have locally constructed prescriptive understandings of how women and men ought to speak, dress, act, etc. These understandings are all too often couched in terms of what is appropriate behavior for women and men and, deviations, if any, are variously sanctioned in different local cultures. However, Butler’s (1990) theory accommodates the concepts of both structure and agency. She explains the connection between the two by specifying that while the subject is constrained by the gendered discourses within which she is situated, at the same time, there is no essential ‘true’ gender identity behind the performance of gender. Subjects can therefore deploy agency through the process of iteration or “stylized, conventionalized gender performances which are informed by the authority of historical, anterior voices” which g­ uarantees the

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

possibility of change because each new performance may incorporate the “introduction of new elements: intertextual borrowings, resignification, reflexivity and disruptive tropes such as irony” (­Benwell & Stokoe, 2006, p. 33). Butler’s theory has been compared to Goffman’s (1959) work on the presentation of self or ‘impression management’ whereby narrators are viewed as possessing the agency to create and present specific aspects of their identities within ongoing interactions. However, unlike Butler, for ­Goffman the performance is “unproblematically agentive, premised on a rational, intending self, able to manage carefully an often idealized, consistent persona or ‘front’ in order to further his or her interpersonal objectives” (Benwell & Stokoe, 2006, p. 34). Such unlimited agentive freedom does not align with the theoretical underpinnings of this work; in its place, as has been explained in earlier sections, a broadly social constructionist approach that acknowledges a balance between structure and agency is utilized here. I thus subscribe to Foucault’s (1977, 1980) notion of power as not being an absolute, all-powerful, all-determining entity, but as providing a counterpoint to resistance; thereby crediting human subjects with the agency, however modest, to resist inequitable power relationships. (An extended discussion of the intersectionalities between power and discourse is ­provided below). In line with these theorizations, instead of focusing my work on the examination of what it means to be some ‘generic’ Indian working woman in modernday India with a specific type of education, I adopt C. Mohanty’s (1995) strategy to study how each participant narrates having experienced her own locally situated meanings related to MoE and professional opportunities. Furthermore, the notion of performance of gendered identities informs my analysis as I examine how the woman narrators assemble and perform specific instances of discursive empowerments or disempowerments as they construct and position themselves and others in particular relationships with each other and with larger societal discourses within their narratives. These theorizations allow me to examine the performance of multiple gendered identities and positionings as well as their juxtaposition with class, age, and cultural, historical, and educational backgrounds and geographical locations. 1.8  Power and its intersectionality with discourse In this book power and discourse are conceptualized as inseparably interconnected. I incorporate the theorization of power and its connection with discourse as delineated by social theorists such as Bourdieu (1977, 1991), Foucault (1980) and Gramsci (1971) and the nuanced theorizations of scholars working within the domain of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), such as Blackledge (2005),



Chapter 1.  Introduction 

­ lommaert (2005), Chouliaraki and Fairclough (1999), Fairclough (2001), Van B Dijk (2008, 2009), Weiss and Wodak (2003), and Wodak and Meyer (2009), and of scholars working in the broader field of Discourse Analysis (DA), such as James Gee (2008, 2014a, 2014b). While the work of the social theorists helps provide a foundational understanding of the treatment of power in this study, that of CDA and DA scholars furnishes the study with some useful tools to examine the workings of power within discourse (and narratives) leading to understandings of the specific ways in which power and discourse are mutually constitutive. This view is embedded within critical social science theorizations that view social life as simultaneously constrained by social structures and engaged in the processes that transform these social structures (Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992; Chouliaraki & Fairclough, 1999) thus fitting in with the broad social constructionist understanding that underpins this study. Foucault’s (1980) theorization of power is productive for this study as it provides a backdrop to understanding how discourse and power are closely entwined – in the sense that it is through discourse that power finds an expression. Foucault’s work also throws light on how discourse can either perpetuate or destabilize existing power structures and is therefore crucial to the theorization of discursive empowerments and disempowerments which are the analytical focus of this work. Foucault’s (1980, p. 88) theorization of power was formulated in opposition to traditional understandings of power both within classical juridical theory and in Marxist conceptualizations. The former holds that power is a right which can be possessed by individuals. Its conceptualization as a commodity allows it to be alienated or transferred to another entity either wholly or in part through a legal act or an act that establishes such transference, e.g., a contract. Hence, power within this theory is understood to be a concrete commodity possessed by everyone whose cession leads to the establishment of political or sovereign power. This legal model of transaction establishes analogies between power and commodities and power and wealth. The Marxist theory, in opposition to which Foucault (1980, pp. 88–89) established his work, conceives of power in terms of economic functionality. Here power is viewed foremost as instrumental in maintaining relations of economic production as well as of class domination with the latter being a consequence of the former. Hence political power finds itself driven by the needs of the economy. Thus, under these two approaches, power is political but in the first instance, it is located in the process of exchange, while in the second, it is situated within the economy. While acknowledging that relations of power continue to be deeply intertwined with economic relations, in Foucault’s conceptualization, power is not something that can be given, exchanged, or recovered, rather it can only be exercised and, as such, its existence is to be found only in action (p. 89). The analysis of power within this book is centered round this issue,

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

that is, an ­interrogation of how participants exercise power through discursive constructions of empowerment as well as an analysis of the instances where such ­empowerments are not carried out. While discussing the exercise of power, Foucault (1980, pp. 89–92) states that historically it has been seen either as a repressive force or viewed as a site of struggle between oppositional forces. The juridical theory sees power being exercised within the equation of contract-repression, while the Marxist position locates it within the schema of domination-repression. However, in his own theory, power is not something that is merely restricted to “the maintenance and reproduction of economic relations, but is above all a relation of force” (p. 89). He explicates how rules of right provide an understanding of power and how this power then produces and transmits truth through discourses, which in turn generates more power: …in any society, there are manifold relations of power which permeate, characterize and constitute the social body, and these relations of power cannot themselves be established, consolidated or implemented without the production, accumulation, circulation and functioning of a discourse. There can be no possible exercise of power without a certain economy of discourses of truth which operate through and on the basis of this association. We are subjected to the production of truth through power and we cannot exercise power except through the production of truth (pp. 93–94).

Therefore, for Foucault, the relationship between power and discourses of truth is symbiotic. It is through power that discourses of truth are established within societies and it is in the articulation of such discourses that power itself finds expression and existence. This demonstration of power and the manner in which it finds articulation or materiality is the object of analysis in the present study. Many participants, especially the HME-only and EME-only women, through their narratives display how authoritative discourses and social structures and practices about MoE are deeply entwined with the professional opportunities or barriers they experience, with most emphasizing the importance of EME as a criterion of success in these areas. In Foucault’s terms such narratives are illustrative of how power finds an expression through these “economy of discourses,” that is, through hegemonic discourses about MoE. It is at their moment of articulation that such discourses are further reinforced as dominant ‘truths’ or, on the other hand, when narrators interrogate them, that their authority is destabilized. Furthermore, Foucault (1980, pp. 96–98) believes a system of rights is deeply implicated in the exercise of power since such arrangements are the instruments of creating relations of domination. This domination extends beyond that of the sovereign or state over its citizens to include the multiple ways of subjugation which exist within the organization of societies. He states that in order to study such



Chapter 1.  Introduction 

s­ ubjugations which are emblematic of the exercise of power, one needs to examine the extreme points of its exercise. That is, instead of looking at how power is exercised in legal laws, one might study how it is located and wielded in instances that are less legal in character. My study concerns itself with such examinations. It is in the narrated realities of the lives of the female storytellers that I analyze the existence of power. Foucault (1980) additionally holds that instead of trying to speculate on the intentionality, conscious or otherwise, of those who wield it, one needs to examine power in its external manifestation, i.e., “at the point where it is in direct and immediate relationship with that which we can provisionally call its object, its target, its field of application…where it installs itself and produces its real effects” (p. 97). Hence, for him, instead of an examination of why people wish to dominate and what their goals might be, a more fruitful exercise is to scrutinize how things work at the level where subjugation is actually played out. This can be achieved by examining how “subjects are gradually, progressively, really and materially constituted through a multiplicity of organisms, forces, energies, materials, desires, thoughts, etc.” (p. 97). He argues that instead of studying central locations of power at the level of the state, there is the need to examine how people are constituted “as peripheral subjects” due to the effects of power (p. 98). This idea finds an echo in the work of Blommaert (2005), who argues that an analysis of power is most productive when examining its effects; in other words, in the analysis of what power does, not only to individuals but to groups and societies. Thus, for Blommaert the most consequential impact of power is inequality which is manifested through processes of selection – both inclusion and exclusion (pp. 1–2). Wodak and Meyer (2009), situated within the CDA tradition, make the additional point that discourse is a means through which social domination or the power-based abuse of one group over subordinated groups is discursively constructed. However, they simultaneously acknowledge the discursive power that dominated groups have to discursively resist such ­domination (p. 9). My work demonstrates how the discourses about MoE, HME and EME that are in circulation within the immediate environments of my participants, as well as related social practices and structures, are the fulcrum round which they constituted the causality of the professional successes and failures of their lives. I establish that for the HME-only women these discourses are deployed to explain the almost insurmountable barriers they experience as they attempt to achieve desirable professional goals in their lives. In this process, they perform their own peripherality through the presentation of their disempowered selves at the level of the narrated world of their lived realties in so far as at this plane they recount very few instances of discursive empowerment. In contrast, the EME

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

only women, for the most part, ply these very discourses that elevate EME to assemble s­ ubjectivities that are empowered and thus situate themselves within the center of desirable sites. A crucial element in Foucault’s (1980) theory of power is that he views it as operating through a mutually constituted network whereby people “are always in the position of simultaneously undergoing and exercising this power. They are not only its inert or consenting target; they are always also the elements of its articulation. In other words, individuals are the vehicles of power, not [just] its points of application” (p. 98). Hence, one can study the workings of power not only in terms of how particular individuals are subjugated by it but also how they exercise it in turn. So, for Foucault, individuals are constituted as effects or results of power while also being the medium through which it is exercised. In my work, the concept of Discursive Empowerment takes this aspect of Foucault’s theory as its guiding principle. Thus, I examine not only how the participants discursively construct themselves as being empowered or disempowered by discourses regarding the intersectionality of MoE and professional matters but also how, in doing so, they either unproblematically repeat and thus reinforce them, or how they use their narratives as sites to problematize these hierarchies and thus begin the admittedly arduous process of dismantling their authority. The point is that in either case, these women exercise power to either replicate or challenge and, occasionally, to overturn these discourses. In doing so, their discursive narratives became the vehicles through which power is exercised. In those instances where these discourses are challenged, e.g., in the narratives of the combined HME and EME background women, the participants are able to utilize their agency to re-constitute, or at the very least, to re-assemble social structures (Giddens, 1979). Canagarajah (1999) describes such resistance as the renegotiation of power to resist domination. Bell hooks (1989) calls this “talking back” or making room within existing discourses for one’s own voice. Said (1993) defines such instances as “appropriation” or the hybrid condition a postcolonial subject occupies as she makes heterogeneous discourses and cultures her own by ascribing to them personal values and meanings that serve her interests and aspirations. In this study, such destabilizations and interrogations are defined as discursive empowerments. Fairclough (2001) in his exposition of Critical Language Studies (CLS), a precursor to his later work on Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), has formulated a cogent theory of language, discourse, social practices, and power. He first argues for the need of language to be understood as social practice or discourse and then states that while discourse is determined by social structures, it also has the power to influence society through a reproduction of these structures. He further argues that power is exercised through discourse in the manner in which, for instance, a powerful interactant might determine the content of her own or another’s



Chapter 1.  Introduction 

discourse, or in the process by which social relations and subject positions are assigned, accepted or resisted in discursive interactions. This aspect of his theory of power is comparable with Foucault’s conceptualization of power, explicating that the effects of power can be traced to the production of truth or knowledge and that this latter is also the site where power finds a material existence. This understanding of power is understood to be at play as my participants narrate stories related to MoE and professional opportunities. However, for Foucault, power itself cannot be examined or even have an existence outside of such an exercise whereas for Fairclough, power can be traced to social structures other than discourse, to what he calls power “behind” discourse rather than only “in” it. The aim of his CLS is to analyze both these manifestations of power which often, in his estimation, are unconsciously perpetuated and acceded to by those who are subjected to it. While power ‘in’ discourse is the site of  struggle, power “behind” discourse is the struggle for a stake in controlling “orders of discourse” which are the mechanisms of controlling societal structures (Fairclough, 2001, p. 61). In my study, I have undertaken to trace these power struggles at the level of discursive narration of lived events as I examine how my participants assemble stories vis-à-vis societal discourses about MoE and how these stories and their tellings become the site where these larger discourses are either performed as all-powerful mechanisms or as objects that can be challenged and dismantled strategically. Apart from outlining the current state of the Indian economy, the positioning of EME and HME, and the traditional patriarchal nature of the Indian society as a backdrop to my participants’ narratives, this study did not engage in any further analysis of power “behind” discourse. However, since the general approach adopted for the work is social constructionist, the mutual constitution of discourse and social structures is treated as a given and the analysis makes explicit the ways in which these are manifested in the narratives of participants. Fairclough’s (2001, p. viii) overall interest is to demonstrate how language maintains as well as changes power relations in society and how an analysis of language can make these processes evident so that people become aware of them and thus become better equipped to resist and change such inequities. My aim is not to conduct critical discourse analysis to see how my participants change societal inequalities vis-à-vis MoE, yet through my data and its analysis I wish to demonstrate the awareness that both the HME-only and the combined HME and EME women demonstrate about the unfairness of professional practices that elevate EME above HME. I show how certain participants narrate manipulating unfair social structures to gain their goals and through such recountings they weaken the all-pervasive authority enjoyed by these discourses. At the same time, I also demonstrate how EME-only women, for the most part,

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

­ nquestioningly duplicate and perpetuate these hegemonic discourses. Giddens u (1979) while explicating his Th ­ eory of Structuration, explains such phenomenon stating that it is individuals who occupy a subordinate position in society that are more able to critique the “conditions of social reproduction than those who otherwise dominate them” (p. 72). He explains this using the concept of the “dialectic of control” found in operation in social systems and argues that those who unquestioningly accept dominant perspectives are “more imprisoned within them” than others even if such dominant discourses help them to maintain their authoritative positions (p. 72). From this viewpoint, the EME-only women in my study certainly seem to be subjected to the power of dominant discourses regarding MoE and professional opportunities to a much greater extent than the other two types of participants who constantly interrogate and negatively evaluate these ­societal arrangements demonstrating the symbiotic relationship between power and discourse. Any discussion of the operation of power in society would be incomplete without reference to Gramsci’s (1971) notion of hegemony. Broadly, hegemony may be understood as “the ‘spontaneous’ consent given by the great masses of the  population to the general direction imposed on social life by the dominant fundamental group” (p. 12). This consent is produced to safeguard the prestige and position which the dominant group occupies. In extreme cases, Gramsci argues, this domination may be imposed by force, but in more normal circumstances, it results from the “intellectual and moral leadership” of the dominant group (p. 57). Another important aspect of Gramsci’s notion of hegemony is the incorporation within it of economic elements. In other words, economic benefits of hegemony accrue to the dominant group. 1.9  Discursive empowerments and disempowerments I posit the concepts of discursive empowerments and discursive disempowerments to examine how the participants construct empowered or disempowered identities in their narratives of MoE and professional opportunities. Discursive empowerments are viewed as articulations of resistance to dominant discourses and practices that position EME above HME in professional and personal spheres. Discursive disempowerments, on the other hand, are theorized as instances when such discriminatory discourses and practices are hegemonically and unproblematically reproduced as normative within narrative data. While discursive ­empowerments contribute to the process of interrogating and destabilizing inequitable linguistic practices and attitudes, discursive disempowerments contribute to the maintenance of these hierarchical structures and positionings.



Chapter 1.  Introduction 

These discursive empowerments and disempowerments are further conceptualized as occurring either in the narrated world of the stories or on the interactional plane where these stories are told. The analysis focuses both on the ideological content of the women’s narratives with regard to macro-societal discourses and their lived experiences, and the discursive, micro-level of narrative performance. The unquestioning reproduction of dominant discourses and social structures and practices has been explicated by Giddens (1979) as the “dialectic of control” of social systems in so much as those who articulate such dominant discourses, even if these are to their advantage, seem more firmly imprisoned by them than those who are subjugated by such discourses and are able to problematize and articulate challenges towards them (p. 72). Within my work, I differentiate between those who benefit and those who are oppressed by these dominant discourses by using the categories of discursive empowerments and discursive disempowerments. The comprehensive social constructionist perspective (Jørgensen & ­Phillips, 2002), detailed in the previous sections, that holds that knowledge and the individual are both the product and producers of discourse, is foundational to the ­theorization of discursive empowerments and discursive disempowerments, as are the conceptualizations of discourse, narratives, identity, gender and identity ­performances and power discussed earlier in this chapter. Together, these theorizations allow for an understanding of the dialectical relationship between structure and agency. Further support for this is provided by Bakhtin’s (1981) conceptualization of the heteroglot nature of language, which understands language and discourse as a struggle between centripetal and centrifugal forces. Also utilized are Bakhtin’s (1981, 1984) notions of polyphony, voice, and double voicing. Writing from a broad social constructionist perspective, Jørgenson and ­Phillips (2002) say that knowledge cannot be viewed as an objective truth. Instead, reality is seen to be produced and thus accessed through discourse, thus defining the relationship between structure and agency. However, the manner in which the world is represented and understood is viewed as contingent and situated within specific historic and cultural contexts. Such perspectives do not assume that social life is not governed by any restrictions. In fact, while being contingent in principle, both knowledge and identities are viewed as being relatively inflexible, as specific social contexts exert particular constraints both on the identities people can assume or the statements they can articulate. Thus, specific worldviews make certain actions normative while severely limiting others (pp. 5–6). Jørgenson and Phillips (2002) explain that different approaches to social constructionism attribute greater or lesser significance to structure and agency and thus to the manner in which knowledge, discourse, and identity can be conceptualized and analytically studied. These different understandings are situated along a continuum, with one end of this continuum signifying discourse as constitutive of knowledge and,

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

so, of the world. At the other end, is the notion that it is discourse which is constituted by the world. In the middle, they posit a dialectical relationship between discourse and knowledge. For my purposes, I borrow their understanding of a social constructionist viewpoint which falls roughly towards the middle of their continuum that views the individual as being both the product and producer of discourse. This social constructionist view of discourse finds a parallel in Bakhtin’s concept of language or discourse. Bakhtin, a Russian literary theorist whose ideas emerged as a response to the early Russian formalists, views language not as a set of “closed abstract systems of normative forms” but rather as consisting of “dynamic constellations of sociocultural resources that are fundamentally tied to their social and historical contexts” (Hall, Vitanova, & Marchenkova, 2005, p. 2). This perspective views social interactions as continuously replenishing language, whereby language is not only an instrument to represent the social world but is also the means “by which we bring our worlds into existence, maintain them, and shape them for our purposes” (Hall et al., 2005, p. 2). In alignment with these theories, my study adopts the view that societal structures exist, an example being the positions that are ascribed to EME and HME in India, but, at the same time, these authoritative structures can be resisted and new ‘realities’ created in narrative tellings. It is the enactment of these new realities that I call discursive empowerments in my study. The notion of discursive empowerments as the articulation of resistance to authoritative discourses is enriched by Bakhtin’s notion of the heteroglot nature of language, which holds that “at any given moment of its historical existence, language is heteroglot from top to bottom: it represents the co-existence of socioideological contradictions between the present and the past, between different socio-ideological groups in the present, between tendencies, schools, circles, and so forth” (Crowley, 2001, p. 182). Thus, Bakhtin formulates this conflict between opposing forces as a continuous dialogic struggle “between centripetal forces whose aim is to centralize and unify, and centrifugal forces whose purpose is to decentralize” (p. 182). He further writes that at different social, political, and historical moments in time the relations between these forces differ. Thus, when centripetal forces are dominant, they try to “organize a certain form of discourse as the centralized, unified, authoritative form,” and so attempt to bring about monoglossia and monologism (pp. 182–3). When centrifugal forces prevail, then any such unifying attempts are unsuccessful. Language or discourse in such instances embodies polyglossia or heteroglossia. In this manner, “all forms of discourse and representations of language become dialogized” and the specific relations between the opposing centripetal and centrifugal forces are determined by the historical moment within which they are situated (p. 183). In order to identify these centripetal or authoritative discourses within my data set, I use Bakhtin’s (1984) notion



Chapter 1.  Introduction 

regarding polyphony, which suggests a non-unitary vision of discourse wherein exist multiple autonomous voices. In my study, centripetal forces are identified as the powerful social structures and discourses (which I variously label as hegemonic discourse, authoritative ­discourses, powerful discourses, patriarchal discourses, societal discourses, etc. based on local meanings indexed by narrators) that elevate the position of English, EME, and people who possess EME above Hindi, HME, and people with an HME. Within these discourses, I also include all patriarchal discourses that ascribe a lower position to women compared to men in various areas of their lives. I recognize centrifugal forces as all those instances when my participants enact discursive empowerments through articulation of resistance to these dominant discourses. My purpose is to identify the formulation of authoritative discourses within the narratives of my participants and to analyze how these are resisted through enactments that manifest the tellers’ agency against these forces, or conversely, how they are unquestioningly accepted as the norm and perpetuated within the narratives. This relationship between structure and agency, or the struggle between centripetal and centrifugal forces, also finds expression in the work of Said (1979) and Bhabha (1994) in their discussions on Orientalism and culture. Similar to the Bakhtinian viewpoint of the contested and hence polyglot nature of language and discourse is Said’s (1979) argument that no community is immune from an “interpretive contest” (p. 332). In other words, “no one person, authority, or institution has total control over” the final definition of a culture, a self, or a national identity (p. 332). This idea that no discourse, however powerful, is uncontestable, also finds a voice in the work of Bhabha (1994) where he writes: the ‘right’ to signify from the periphery of authorized power and privilege does not depend on the persistence of tradition; it is resourced by the power of tradition to be reinscribed through the conditions of contingency and contradictoriness that attend upon the lives of those who are “in the minority” (p. 3).

Bhabha’s argument is in accordance with the views expressed thus far that no structure, centripetal force, community, or, in the case of my study, authoritative discourse, is unalterable. However, he extends this argument further by stating that the ‘right’ to re-inscribe these authoritative discourses with new meanings lies with the people who dwell in the periphery. According to him, these are the people who dwell in locations outside of “authorized power and tradition.” In other words, it is the marginalized and disempowered who can, from the very sites of their exclusion, reinscribe authoritative discourses. At the same time, Bhabha also points out that such reinscriptions do not always have to be conflictual and so can be affiliative as well. In this study, I identify those instances where

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

­ arrators ­articulate resistance to these overarching discourses and thus construct n an alternate, ­resistant view of the world. It is in these creations of alterity, in these enactments of resistance that discursive empowerments occur. Whereas, when my participants narratively construct the normativity of hegemonic discourses are instances when discursive disempowerments take place. The notion of the polyphonic nature of language as delineated by Bakhtin (1984) provides further scaffolding for the analysis of discursive empowerments and discursive disempowerments. The previously described heteroglot nature of language, with the constant struggle between centripetal and centrifugal forces, manifests itself as polyphony. Thus, polyphony suggests a non-unitary vision of discourse which is understood to be the site where multiple autonomous voices exist. Bakhtin defines voice as “the speaking personality, the speaking consciousness. A voice always has a will or desire behind it, its own timbre and overtone” (Bakhtin, 1981, p. 434). As such, each voice represents a specific character with its fully valid and independent consciousness. Thus polyphony is the presence of multiple, independent voices in discourse with each voice representing an independent perspective. In other words, this interpretation of discourse allows for the unity of a discursive event within which there exist multiple autonomous participants, each with their own voice and point of view (Bakhtin, 1984). In my study, I treat the unity of discourse that Bakhtin writes of as the acts of narration performed by my participants. And the polyphony of voices that Bakhtin explicates I understand to be the voices of different characters that people these narratives, including those of the narrators. Further, adopting Bakhtin’s understanding that each voice is independent and represents a unique will, desire, and autonomous consciousness, I view these characters as voicing ideologies, attitudes, opinions, desires, and wishes from their individual perspectives. Relating these to the presence of centripetal and centrifugal forces that exist within discourse, I view these unique voices as representing authoritarian and hegemonic discourses, or conversely, as symbolizing decentralizing centrifugal forces that question and resist. The distinction between two narrative planes, that is, the narrated world and the narrating world, has been made by several narrative researchers (e.g., ­Bamberg, 1997; Wortham, 2001, Wortham & Gadsden, 2006). In fact, this demarcation is viewed as a distinctive characteristic of narratives which separates them from other types of discourse and necessitates an analytical lens that focuses on the manner in which these differentiations impact the stories told (DeFina & ­Georgakopoulou, 2012). Building on the foundational work of these scholars, in the present study, I propose a third plane as being relevant for narratives. These three planes correspond to: (a) the larger societal context, (b) the local i­ nteractional context of the interview, and (c) the narrated world of the story. Each successive



Chapter 1.  Introduction 

level is ­embedded in the previous one. All these three levels are understood to be operational during the telling of narratives in interviews (see Fig. 1.1). 1. Societal discourses, contexts, structures, and practices: It is within these that the local interaction occurs 2. Local interactional context, i.e., the Interview: This is peopled by the interviewer/audience and the interviewee/narrator; the site where authoritative discourses are either constructed as normative or are challenged (This is also the narrating world). Interviewer/Audience/CoInterviewee/Narrator: narrator: – answers questions – asks questions – narrates stories – selects aspects of – refutes challenges response for further – accedes discussion – voices challenges – is an audience – co-authors 3. Narrative: narratives – proves claims – resists or perpetuates societal discourses and practices (This is also the narrated world).

Figure 1.1  The three narrative planes

The first level is that of the larger societal context where multiple and differentially realized, authoritative discourses and social structures and practices hold sway, as do various known and unknown instantiations of resistance towards them. In the case of this study, this level includes the North Indian context of the study, specifically the five urban locations. Each of these locations has its own hierarchies which govern the relationship between HME and EME, the tiered positionings of EME and HME people vis-à-vis each other, the available professional opportunities as well as the required qualifications for these opportunities, and the positioning of women (in addition to infinite related discourses, ­practices, and structures).

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

The second level of embeddedness is more limited and comprises the immediate, local context of the interview interaction. This is also the narrating plane; synonyms used in the book are narrating world, interactional world, and ­interactional plane. It is within this interactional plane that the narrative is recounted. This plane is peopled by the interviewer and interviewee (since the interviews were dyadic in this study), with both performing multiple, shifting identities. For example, in my data set, the interviewer (i.e. me) also enacts the identities of the audience of narratives as well as the co-author of these stories. While instantiating the identity of the interviewer, I wield the institutional authority (see discussions above) to ask questions, pursue specific responses, ask for clarifications, ­challenge interviewee responses/stances/perspectives, and basically direct the course of the interview. I also enact the identity of an audience for the narratives told by the interviewee – either as a believing or disbelieving audience. Finally, through the manner in which I direct the ongoing talk and whether I perform a credulous or challenging audience identity, I play an active role in co-authoring the narratives told by the participants and thus become a co-narrator with greater or lesser authorial input. Similarly, each participant enacts the identity of an interviewee, whereby she occupies her institutionally mandated role of answering questions put by the interviewer. However, she also has the autonomy to enact resistance to any of the stances, responses, etc. of the interviewer or to justify any of her own stated positions, stances, beliefs, attitudes, etc. At the same time, she also performs the identity of a narrator whose stories are told for multiple purposes – to answer a question, to illustrate a statement, to justify a point of view, to refute the ­interviewer’s interpretation or articulated stances, etc. This plane is also where societal discourses, ­practices, and structures find discursive manifestation and where interactants agree, disagree, or negotiate their stances, attitudes, and beliefs about these. The third narrative plane is that of the storied or narrated world which consists of the narrative or the story itself. This world is peopled by characters within the narrative, their relationships with each other, their actions, their voices, the language varieties used by them, their accents, stylizations, etc.; in other words, the overall plot of the story. It also contains societal discourses which might be voiced as opinions of the narrated characters, through their actions or through the story line. In this plane, the narrator has the authority to present the characters in her story as specific types of people who might (or might not) be instantiations of socially recognizable types of people. Through the words, actions, ideologies, and attitudes ascribed to these people in the storied world, the narrator wields the power to present them in positive or negative lights. In the narrating world, the participant enacts multiple identities, those of the interviewee whose narrative is open to evaluation by the interviewer and, therefore, she might need to elaborate or defend her narrative stance or point of view if



Chapter 1.  Introduction 

contradicted. At the same time, she as the narrator is also the expert who can claim first-hand, insider knowledge and therefore, the authority to narrate the stories of her life. Additionally, she has the flexibility of moving between the narrated and the narrating worlds and of using both these sites to evaluate the narrative and all it comprises. Thus, within the narrated world, she chooses the characters, their speech and actions, i.e., the plot and, in so doing, she can present her subjective evaluation of the incident/s narrated as well as the characters within it. It is in these moments of evaluation that discursive empowerments and discursive disempowerments get enacted. These three narrative planes allow for an understanding of how macro-societal structures, discourses, and practices are related to the interactional or narrating world and the narrated or storied world. The arrows in the Fig. 1.1 represent the back-and-forth constant negotiation and movements between the three planes. It is important to point out that all these levels are viewed as being constructed by the interactants through discourse. Thus, even the first macro-level of societal structuration is viewed here as being the product of a dialectical relationship between structure and agency which is variously balanced by individual participants and is impacted by the ongoing interactional concerns of the interview. It is this social constructionist understanding that furnishes the discursive space for interactants to articulate discursive empowerments and disempowerments. These three narrative planes are understood to inform the three levels of ­positionings mentioned above: (a) positionings between the interactants, (b) positionings between the narrator and other narrated characters and (c) positionings between the narrator and the dominant discourses and social structures and practices. While acknowledging the almost inextricable nature of these three levels of positioning, for ease of analysis I divide the analysis into two stages which are conducted for each included narrative excerpt in the book: (a) Positionings between interactants and (b) Positionings emanating from the storied world. 1.9.1  Positionings between interactants The analysis of positionings between interactants focuses upon the interactional identities enacted between the interviewee and myself as the interviewer. I specifically examine how we (i.e. the two interactants) enact our institutional identities as interviewee and interviewer, and because each analyzed excerpt contains a narrative, as a narrator and audience. Related interactional identities, for example those of challenger and defender, troubles-teller and sympathetic listener, and the like, are also examined. The implications of these identity performances on the ongoing interview are also examined. In some instances, these identity enactments spill over into the narrated world with either the interviewer’s or the interviewee’s

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

interactional identity being co-constructed alongside those of narrated characters. This level of positioning is also informed with the manner in which interviews are conceptualized in this book (See discussion above in Section 1.4 on Narratives). Briefly, interviews are understood to be speech events (Talmy, 2010a) and not theorized as a straightforward conduit into the inner cognitive states of interviewees. Furthermore, the institutional nature of interviews (Drew & Heritage, 1992; Heritage, 2002, 2005) is kept at the analytical forefront. Interview talk is accordingly theorized as governed by the exigencies of completing the ongoing task of asking and answering questions (Heritage, 2005). Interactants during interview talk are additionally understood to occupy institution-relevant identities whereby the interviewer can claim the institutional right to ask questions while the interviewee has the parallel obligation to answer these questions (Drew & Heritage, 1992; Heritage, 2002). These understandings inform the analysis of the positionings negotiated between interactants at this level. Also examined are any related identities such as enactments of culturallyrooted intimacies. Examples of this are occasions when the interviewee injects greater intimacy into the ongoing interview than such a formal interaction between  strangers might require through using address terms such as “didi” (‘­sister’). Such conversational practices are common in North Indian conversational exchanges between two women – a younger and older one – when the younger wishes to accord respect due to the older one’s age and, potentially, her social ­status. Each such instance is analyzed where it occurs in order to examine its impact on the ongoing interaction. 1.9.2  Positionings emanating from the storied world At the second level, I combined both the second and third levels of positionings outlined above; that is, how the narrator positions herself with regard to the characters in her story as well as how each narrator positions herself with relation to dominant discourses, social structures, and practices. In other words, I examine the specific worldviews which each interviewer constructs in her stories. Analysis specifically focuses on the plots or storylines by examining how narrated character are presented in juxtaposition to each other, that is, as either aligned or non-aligned with each other. The varying degrees of agency and resistance accorded to those characters, especially to their own narrated selves, are examined. Similarly, analysis is brought to bear on how the narrator presents societal discourses and social structures and practices: as all-powerful and therefore impossible to resist; or as being amenable to resistance and transformation, however minor. D ­ iscursive empowerments and disempowerments are understood to be located both in the storied and story-telling worlds and are conceptualized as emanating from the stories told in



Chapter 1.  Introduction 

the interaction. For example, the narrators are seen as enacting discursive empowerments within the story they tell by representing their storied selves as overturning, in some way, powerful social discourses, structures or practices. In the interactional plane, discursive empowerments are understood to occur when narrators formulate critiques of inequitable hierarchies. The absence of such resistance to dominant linguistic ideologies can also occur in the narrated or narrating worlds and all such instances are treated as discursive disempowerments. Additionally, these empowerments and disempowerments are understood to be dynamic and constantly shifting from one moment in the interaction to the next. The devices used to enact discursive empowerments and disempowerments are described in the next section. 1.10  E  nactments of discursive empowerments and discursive disempowerments The primary lens by means of which the interactional narratives of this project were analyzed was through the identification of instances where the participants enacted either discursive empowerments or discursive disempowerments. As described in the previous section, discursive empowerments occurred when authoritative discourses or established, dominant societal structures and practices were discursively challenged by the participants. Discursive disempowerments took place when such authoritative and discriminatory discourses, structures and practices were unproblematically reproduced. These processes occurred in two ways within the dataset: (a) direct articulation and (b) indirect articulation. Direct articulations of discursive empowerment were accomplished through explicit evaluative statements such as, “I think what she did was wrong” or, “It is unfair that English enjoys such a high position in our country.” An absence of such direct negative evaluation (or of any type of indirect articulation described below), most frequently instantiated in this dataset as an unquestioning replication of authoritative discourses or hierarchical social structures and practices in the narrator’s discourse, was treated as an instance of discursive disempowerment. Indirect enactments of discursive empowerments took many shapes and forms within this dataset. While narrators could employ a choice of several devices to accomplish indirect discursive empowerments (as described below), all such instances were subsumed under the broad category of double voiced discourse (Bakhtin, 1984). Double voicing, according to Bakhtin occurs when the author (or, the narrator, in this case) uses someone else’s discourse for her own purposes. This is done by inserting new semantic intentions into a discourse which already possesses an intention of its own. So this discourse while perceived as belonging to the original person is now also imbued with the author’s additional meaning.

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

Thus, in one discourse two semantic intentions and, as a result, two voices appear. There is a refraction of the author’s intention through the words of the other and the discourse becomes double voiced. Conversely, when the author/narrator fails to imbue voices that articulate authoritative discourses with alternate resistant meanings, then discursive disempowerment takes place. Any absence of such indirect destabilization of powerful discourses and hierarchical social practices and structures in the narrator’s discourse was treated as an enactment of discursive disempowerment within the current dataset. The interactional devices through which indirect discursive empowerments or, conversely, indirect discursive disempowerments were accomplished within the data analyzed in this book are as follows: –– –– –– –– –– –– –– –– –– ––

Stylization Reported speech Mock languages Emotion-indexing devices Negative self- or other-labeling Imagery and metaphors Laughter and laughing tone Stress and intonation variations Irony and sarcasm Lexical and syntactic choices

1.10.1  Stylization Bakhtin (1981) describes stylization as “the artistic representation of another’s ­linguistic style” (p. 362, see also Bakhtin, 1984). Explaining this Bakhtinian concept further, Coupland (2001a) defines stylization as the artful introduction into an ongoing speech event of socially recognizable identities and speech styles that are distinct from those currently operational (p. 345). Through stylization, stereotypical “semiotic and ideological values” customarily associated with “other groups” are interpolated into the interaction in knowing and affected ways (p. 350, emphasis added). While an extensive discussion of speech styles is beyond the scope of this chapter, I wish to emphasize that linguistic styles within specific speech communities are systems of differentiation which exist in contrast to each other (Irvine, 2001) and are inextricably bound to cultural ideologies and social values (Eckert, 2001; Gal, 1992). Importantly, style, whether related to different prose styles or distinctions connected to specific social, sexual, or generational class, exists “only in relation to agents endowed with schemes of perception and appreciation that enable them to constitute it as a set of systematic differences, apprehended syncretically” (Bourdieu, 1991, pp. 38–39). Although linguistic



Chapter 1.  Introduction 

styles index social and ideological values, these relationships are not necessarily stable and are therefore capable of being reformulated over time (Gal & Irvine, 1995; Irvine, 2001) as well as in local interactions by forging previously unconnected links between linguistic forms and specific social groups (Coupland 2001a, 2001b, 2007; Eckert, 2000). Consequently, while the interactional use of specific linguistic styles indexes ideological and social values and identities, the connection between style and styling is nuanced and multi-layered as often speakers, in addition to styling themselves as certain types of people through their choice of linguistic style, also introduce others’ linguistic styles into their discourse. These other voices are often accomplished through stylization. Stylized discourses therefore utilize normative understandings of the speech styles of specific communities and prompt audiences to engage in social comparisons and re-evaluations of both the ‘real’ and metaphorical identities of the performers. Consequently, they disrupt ongoing interactional frames and insert within them other contexts, identities, and values whose dissonance introduces an element of ambiguity and prompts re-examinations of their normative value. ­Stylized speech consequently carries within it a dual linguistic awareness: one of the speaker and the other of the person being stylized. This enables the stylizer to strategically construct the other for the attainment of specific goals (Bakhtin, 1981, p. 362). This dual linguistic consciousness, according to Bakhtin, is important because stylized speech depicts not only that which is stylized but also the stylizing language since the stylizer has the freedom to highlight certain aspects of the other’s language, ignore others and also to add elements which might not be present in the ‘real’ speech being emulated. Stylized speech is invariably targeted at specific listening audiences and often takes the shape of exaggerated and peculiar iterations of the speech style it emulates, leading it to be analyzed as “strategic inauthenticity” (Coupland 2001a, p. 350). Since stylized utterances are not mere imitations of another’s speech but depict the stylizer’s subjective interpretation of how the other speaks, stylization has been described by Bakhtin (1984) as an example of double voiced discourse. As explained earlier, such discourse contains two semantic intentions – the original semantic meaning of the ongoing discourse and a second one introduced through the interjection of the other’s discourse. The insertion of a subjectively stylized discourse credited to another enables the speaker to utilize the stylized speech for her own purposes (Bakhtin 1984, p. 189). In other words, the speaker has the option to adopt different stances towards the stylized other voice; she can either align herself with it or adopt an oppositional stance towards it by using devices like irony, sarcasm, laughter, etc. (Coupland 2007; Rampton 1995). The ability to infuse stylized speech with nuanced connotations makes it a unique locus for meaning making and therefore, a forceful interactional resource permitting speakers to

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

position themselves in highly nuanced and complex ways towards the performed speech and the social identities, ideologies, and values normatively associated with it (Higgins, 2015; Sandhu, 2015a). Through the accomplishment of such intricate interactional work, stylized utterances enable speakers to portray themselves as witty, cognizant, and even ingenious ­individuals (Coupland, 2007, p. 174). Research on stylization has demonstrated the rich identity-implicative work this linguistic device can perform in ongoing interactions such as Rampton’s (1995) iconic work on the stylization performed by British schoolchildren, his work on diasporic people in Britain (Rampton, 2013), and Coupland’s (2001a, 2001b, 2007) studies of dialect stylization in radio and TV shows. I demonstrate that stylization is an equally potent tool in narratives told within interaction and that this discursive tool can be skillfully wielded by speakers to produce ideological and identityindexical stances in highly performative ways (see also, Sandhu, 2015a). 1.10.2  Reported speech Reported speech by itself is a rich locus for creating multi-layered meanings in discourse, written or oral, as has been delineated at length by Bakhtin’s (1984) theorizing of literary narratives. Grammatically, distinctions between direct and indirect reported speech are normatively made. Direct speech is understood to be an exact replication of what another said, while indirect speech is also a report of another’s words but it is paraphrased. Reported speech is understood to consist of two clauses: the reporting clause which contains a reporting verb and the reported clause which consists of what was spoken by the original speaker. However, these distinctions often become fuzzy in both spoken and written discourse as has been explicated at length by Voloshinov (1986). While such a distinction is of grammatical interest, of greater salience for this study is the argument made by Bakhtin (1984) about the usage of reported speech in narratives. He convincingly argues that whenever reported speech is used in a story as a particular character’s speech, two speech centers and two speech unities exist within one context: the unity of the author’s utterance, and the unity of the character’s utterance. The character’s utterance is therefore not self-sufficient but is subordinated to the author’s utterance and makes up one of its components so that the ultimate semantic and stylistic authority of the character’s utterance resides with the author. Thus, ultimate semantic authority, or the author’s intention, is realized not just through her discourse but through the speech of other people which the author specifically creates as the words of these other people. This understanding of how direct speech attributed to specific characters within a narrative reveals the author’s or narrator’s intention allows me to investigate the phenomenon of reported speech within my dataset as the site where distinctive identities



Chapter 1.  Introduction 

are p ­ erformed, where particular ideologies find form, and where nuanced positionings can be negotiated both between characters as well as between people and established social structures. In other words, the narrator through voicing certain characters as saying particular words can formulate an identity for that character, can present specific ideologies as being in operation in specific situations or instances, and can, in so doing, negotiate complex positionings. Reported speech can be used to assign affiliative or resistant identities vis-à-vis dominant societal discourses. I investigate how narrators used reported speech to position characters in relation to each other and in relation to discourses about HME and EME and professional opportunities. Reported speech therefore became an important locus for the instantiation of nuanced discursive empowerments and disempowerments within this dataset. Acknowledging the afore-mentioned challenge of distinguishing between direct and indirect reported speech, I made a close examination of all instances of such discourse within the narrative tellings in my dataset. This led me to identity five types of reported speech. Before explaining these, I would like to reiterate the point that irrespective of the forms used to semantically and syntactically shape these five types of reported speech, I consider all of them as examples of what has previously been described as double-voiced discourse wherein the ultimate stylistic and semantic authority resides with the narrator (Bakhtin, 1984). The five types of reported speech identified in the dataset are discussed below. 1.10.2.1  Direct speech Here the narrators represented the ‘actual’ words spoken by the narrated character, for example through the use of present tense verbs within the reported speech, e.g., “and then she said, ‘You will not be able to manage without English’ and I could say nothing.” 1.10.2.2  Indirect speech Here speech was attributed to a character by the narrator through the use of past tense verbs and a paraphrase of the character’s words, e.g. “And then she said that I would not be able to manage without English and I could say nothing.” 1.10.2.3  Quasi direct speech This type of reported speech is described by Bakhtin (1981) as an intermediate term between direct and indirect reported speech. This is discourse that is formally authorial but its emotional structure belongs to a represented character. So, it is represented as the inner speech of the narrated character which is, however, transmitted and regulated by the author. Within my data, this was constructed through verbs indicative of internal feelings and thoughts such as, “He must have

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

felt that, ‘I’ll never get a job’,” or “She thought that, ‘Their English is so much better than mine.’” From a Conversation Analytic perspective, Haakana (2006) demonstrated that reported thoughts allow tellers to portray a multilayered picture of reported events which was clearly evidenced when quasi reported speech was used by participants in this study. This important indexical device was wielded by narrators to formulate specific identities for storied characters through the attribution of particular feelings, intentions, attitudes, ideologies, values, opinions, desires, goals, etc. to narrated characters, including to their own narrated selves. 1.10.2.4  Choral dialogue Tannen (1989, 2007) describes as choral dialogue the phenomenon whereby the speaker reports on opinions expressed by a group of people. Through this device, the collective voices of a group of people is presented as one unanimous one. For example, the participant might say, “All the interviewers said, ‘You won’t be able to manage without English.’” Since people do not normally speak in unison in this fashion, the use of choral dialogue enables the narrator to portray something as a collective opinion of a particular group of people and hence it instantiates their opinions, beliefs, values, etc. rather than directly representing what was spoken by these people. The importance of this interactional device is that it allows the narrator to depict the reported idea as the sole and undisputed opinion of the people being reported, and even though people do not usually speak in such a fashion, the narrator uses her authorial power to depict such discourse as having being spoken by all the people being referenced which performs the interactional work of adding salience and legitimacy to the ideas represented in such reported speech. Often this device was used by the participants in my dataset to give voice to authoritative and subordinating discourses which were frequently attributed to people occupying positions of power, in most cases, over the narrator. By attributing such marginalizing discourses as the collective and unambiguous opinions of ‘powerful’ people, narrators were able to convey both the pervasiveness of the authoritative discourses as well as depict their firm entrenchment within corridors of power. This, in turn, enabled narrators to implicitly convey the immense challenges that might be involved in any attempts to subvert such subordinating discourses and practices. 1.10.2.5  Choral thought I found this reporting device to be present in my dataset as well. Choral thought combines elements of choral dialogue and quasi direct speech. Through this tool, narrators often reported the collective thoughts or feelings of specific groups of people. For example, a narrator would say, “I felt nervous because I knew the interviewers were thinking, ‘This woman won’t be able to do the job.’” As in the instance of choral dialogue, choral thought also represents the collective thoughts



Chapter 1.  Introduction 

of a group of people and can be used for similar though diluted effect, as here the thoughts and feelings ascribed to the narrated characters are depicted as precisely that instead of being narrated as actual words spoken by them. Through the use of these five types of reported speech, the participants in this study were able to portray the words, opinions, feelings, thoughts, values, beliefs, etc. of various narrated characters, including their own narrated selves. Discursive empowerments or discursive disempowerments were enacted directly either through the use of evaluative reporting verbs used for depicting reported speech or through explicit statements about the reported speech. Narrators also used multi-layered, complex interactional tools to enact nuanced, indirect discursive empowerments or disempowerments vis-à-vis such reported speech. 1.10.3  Mock languages An important interactional device which the narrators used in this study was the insertion of mock language within their discourse. Mock language has been extensively theorized and researched by scholars who have worked with a variety of languages, such as, mock Spanish (Hill, 1993, 1995, 1998), mock Ebonics (Ronkin & Karn, 1999), mock Asian (Chun, 2009), mock Filipino (Meek, 2006), mock ESL (Talmy, 2010b), mock Indian South African English (Mesthrie, 2002), and mock HME English (Sandhu, 2015a), amongst others. Mock languages are stylized performances and are constructed through the manipulations and distortions of linguistic features like morphology, syntax, phonology, and pragmatics. These manipulations are most commonly conducted on languages and varieties spoken by marginalized groups by out-group speakers located in more elite spheres. Mock languages enable people occupying positions of socioeconomic power to “revoice stereotypical discourses of those in less powerful positions” (Chun 2009, p. 262). In locally situated interactional contexts, stylizing a mock language showcases the speaker’s, often idiosyncratic, interpretation of how speakers of these languages use the language. Research has demonstrated that mock languages can be used to stigmatize, racialize, or otherwise marginalize speakers primarily associated with the language or variety being mocked. In fact, they perform the dual indexical work of subordinating the group primarily associated with them while elevating the speaker who performs the mock language (Hill, 1998; Talmy, 2010b). In my dataset, mock languages were recurrently used by speakers with an EME background as a tool to subordinately position speakers from HME backgrounds. For example, one EME educated woman disparagingly used mock HME English as an ‘imperfect’ English variety ascribed to people educated in Vernacular or Hindi medium schools to construct HME graduates as incapable of being ‘understood’ universally. I categorize such instances as examples of talk disempowering ­others since such discourse unproblematically reproduces hierarchical structurations,

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

practices, and discourses. However, in several instances, participants from an HME background or combined HME and EME backgrounds also utilized the tool of mock language to present their own idiosyncratic interpretations of how EME people speak with the added element of derision for these speakers. Such instances are categorized as enactments of discursive empowerment as they serve to destabilize normative societal discourses and ideologies that position English speakers from EME backgrounds as speaking a superior variety of English and as occupying higher social and professional positions in comparison to Hindi medium educated people. 1.10.4  Emotion-indexing devices The dataset revealed numerous emotion-laden displays. In line with the broad social constructionist and performative theoretical underpinning of this book, emotions are not treated as cognitive states that are made transparent through discourse. Instead, emotion (or affect) is viewed as a socially constructed and publicly displayed affective stance (Goodwin & Goodwin, 2000). Scholars working within these theoretical understandings have demonstrated that affective talk comprises a rich bricolage of verbal and non-verbal interactional tools such as, specific emotion-implicative lexical choices, laughter tokens, prosodic variations, facial expressions, postures, and gestures (Ruusuvuori, 2012; Stivers & Sidnell, 2005; see also Sandhu, in press). Therefore, narrators are viewed as being able to accomplish emotion-laden talk through the utilization of one or more of these resources. Such an interactional conceptualization also takes into cognizance how these emotional displays are utilized and treated in the interaction by interactants and what is accomplished through such deployments (Peräkylä & Ruusuvuori, 2006). In my dataset, emotion or affect displays consisted of emotion-indexing semantic choices, for example, “I felt very unhappy and frustrated when they ended the interview abruptly.” Other affect-indicative devices used were laughter and prosodic variations (discussed below). Narrators creatively utilized these to construct both discursive empowerments and disempowerments. 1.10.5  Negative self- or other-labeling An interesting device that participants made frequent use of in the dataset was the ascription of explicit negative labels to themselves, to others, and in the case of HME women, of denigrating labels used by others for them. Research adopting a Critical Discourse Analytic perspective has shown that certain descriptors carry and reinforce ethnic prejudice (e.g., van Dijk, 1987, 1991, 1992, 1997; van der Valk, 2002, 2003). Such research has examined how political discourse in North America and Europe accomplishes prejudice and discrimination especially in r­ elation



Chapter 1.  Introduction 

to refugees, immigrants and minorities (e.g., van Dijk, 1997) or, anti-Semitic racist discourse (e.g., Reisigl & Wodak, 2005; Wodak, 1997). This research has demonstrated the utilization of rhetorical strategies of public figures to accomplish prejudicial and discriminatory talk. It is salient that van Dijk (1991) has further established that since explicit, ethnically discriminatory talk can potentially be publically criticized, such discourses now tend to use specialized negative vocabulary vis-à-vis ethnic and racial minorities or otherwise marginalized groups. Such constraints about using explicit negative labels were missing from the narratives of some of the participants. Consequently, a few of the EME women participants explicitly utilized negative labels to describe the limited linguistic competency of HME graduates and thus discursively disempowered these women. On other occasions, HME educated women as well as those from a combined HME and EME background used negative self-labels for themselves and other HME people to either unproblematically perpetuate discriminatory social positionings or to ­interrogate them, thereby enacting discursive disempowerments and ­empowerments respectively. 1.10.6  Similes and metaphors In this dataset, participants often used similes and metaphors in their narratives. Metaphors, or the indirect comparison between two objects or things, were used by HME women when they spoke of the lack of professional opportunities or narrated work-related incidents where they felt isolated from their colleagues. The interesting point about the usage of similes and metaphors was not that they were used, but which objects were compared to each other and for what purposes. As Antaki (1994, pp. 101–107) cogently argues, the use of one rather than another metaphor and simile is significant for the type of narrative or arguments being assembled by the speakers. Consequently, depending on the narrative and the specific contexts being described, similes and metaphors were used by participants to enact either discursive empowerments or discursive disempowerments. 1.10.7  Laughter and laughing tone Often the narrators within this dataset made extensive use of laughter and laugh tokens. Laughter within interaction has multiple purposes: (i) as a display indicative of affiliation, friendship, intimacy, humor, even nervousness, or as token which serves to accompany others, or (ii) as a means to deride, disparage and put down people. Laughter can thus be cruel and triumphant or affiliative and friendly; people can laugh with someone or at someone (Glenn, 2003, p. 1). Additionally, the use of laughter has been analyzed as a possible invitation to laugh (Glenn, 2003; Jefferson, 1979), which can be taken up or rejected by other

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

interactants. Affective stances make extensive use of laughter (e.g., Peräkylä & Sorjonen, 2012; Ruusuvuori, 2012; Stivers & Sidnell, 2005). Recipient interactants can use laughter or laugh tokens to exhibit affiliation or disaffiliation with tellers’ expressed stances and positions (e.g. Lindström & Sorjonen, 2012; see also, Sandhu, in press). With regard to expressing affiliation through laughter, Jefferson (1979, 1984b) and Haakana (2001) have demonstrated that a properly affiliative recipient response to a laughter-infused troubles-telling is the recipient’s declination to laugh. Especially salient for narrative analysis has been the work of Jefferson (1984b) who found that troubles-tellers frequently use laughter after their complaints to signal a troubles-resistive stance (i.e., that they are not taking their troubles too seriously). Elaborating on this work, Haakana (2001), in a study on medical interaction in Finnish, demonstrated that patients used laughter to index the delicate or problematic nature of the ongoing activity. This signaling of problematic aspects within ongoing talk was also found by Sandhu (in press) within qualitative interview data where narrators told of experiencing problems caused by their medium of education. Within the present dataset, narrators for the most part, made multiple, context-embedded utilizations of laughter and laugh tokens to problematize and destabilize existing linguistic hierarchies and social discourses, structures, and practices and hence to enact discursive empowerments. 1.10.8  Stress and intonation variations The narrators made extensive use of intonation variations to emphasize certain words or phrases and to heighten the semantic meaning of their utterances. Some examples of these were the stretching or elongation of words which are indicated through colons. For example, “He was quite ru::de when I spoke to him in Hindi.” At other times, speakers used louder volume than surrounding talk to interactionally heighten the meaning of words or phrases which are indicated through the use of ­CAPITALS. For example, “I felt very SMALL in front of all those English-speaking candidates.” Still other examples were the use of softly articulated speech indicated as “0ashamed0”. At other times, speakers laid greater stress on words, phrases or parts of these which are indicated by underlining. For instance, “Are we not part of this country? Is Hindi not the national language? So why this discrimination?” Speakers also used speeded up or slowed down articulation. An example of the former “We also have all qualifications >good academic records, good degrees, willingness to work< so why this differentiation?” Slowed down speech is depicted as: “And sometimes I sit and think about my life Or will it be just like this?” Speakers also used upward and downward intonation patterns simultaneously to add salience to specific words or phrases (marked by



Chapter 1.  Introduction 

upward and downward arrows prior to the marked word), e.g., “He used to say to us, ‘You will never be any good at this language. You ↑↓ people will never be able to speak English.’” These intonation variations were used both in the interactional plane when the speaker was speaking in her own voice as well as in the narrated world when she was reporting the speech of narrated characters, including her own narrated character. Tannen (1989, 2005) points out that while reported speech allows the teller to dramatize the story and convert the recipients into an interpreting audience of that drama, speakers can use variations in tone, intonation, and voice quality to articulate reported speech. Another important aspect of tonal variation, especially of a rising intonation, is its use in what Schegloff (2007) describes as “try-marked” upward intonation which is used by speakers to refer to a person who the speaker is uncertain might be known to the listener, hence a reference to this person is made in a rising intonation followed by a pause which can be filled with some sign of recognition by the listener. This might be repeated several times. In the absence of recognition, further elicitation might be abandoned by the speaker. This try-marked upward intonation pattern was used by participants for objects as well as social discourses and hierarchical societal structures and practices mostly in ­pursuit of affiliation for their locally indexed stances regarding these phenomena. In sum, narrators made varied uses of all these prosodic features, either in ­isolation or in diverse combinations, to enact discursive empowerments and discursive disempowerments. 1.10.9  Irony and sarcasm The narrators often made use of irony and sarcasm while telling their stories both in the interactional plane of the here-and-now of telling as well as in the narrated world of the story. Irony, or the use of language which connotes the opposite of what is expressed, was used by participants to destabilize authoritative discourses and hierarchical practices and structures and thereby to enact discursive empowerments. For example, a postgraduate HME participant would say something like, “And you know she [EME woman] was given a lot of preference. She only had a school leaving certificate but of course her English was very good. So she had to get the job, right?” Through this ironical evaluation of a past experience, HME and combined HME and EME participants often performed discursive empowerments in the narrating plane. On the other hand, sarcasm, understood here as sharp, cutting expressions used  to taunt or belittle others, was most often noted in the speech of EME ­participants in their comments about the abilities and social positionings of HME people. For example, a professionally successful EME participant

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

c­ ommenting on the motives of job hiring committees said, “Of course, they will prefer to hire ­English medium people. ‘What you want?’, ‘No here’, ‘Go there’ is all they [Hindi medium people] can say.” The ridicule and mockery in such talk was heightened by attributing to the HME speakers marked, mock HME English (see above) which served to represent the language of HME speakers as deficient and inaccurate. Through such devices, EME narrators discursively disempowered HME people both in the interactional and narrated planes. 1.10.10  Lexical and syntactic choices An important characteristic of the dataset was the resourceful use narrators made of lexical and syntactic choices to construct various evaluations of dominant discourses as well as tiered social structures and practices. One aspect of the lexical choices made by the narrators was the use of creative, evaluative, and connotatively-loaded words and phrases. This was alluded to in the discussions of negative labels and the use of similes and metaphors above. These semantic choices were further reflected in unique collocations; for example, participants coined ingenious juxtapositions by combining oxymoronic elements such as ‘padhe-likhe gavaar’ or ‘educated illiterate people’ (see Sandhu, in press) to ironically refer to HME graduates who face numerous hurdles in obtaining suitable jobs. Through such creative and ironical lexical constructions, HME narrators were able to enact powerful discursive empowerments by destabilizing established, discriminatory attitudes and practices. Other instances where lexical choices accomplished discursive empowerments or disempowerments was in the use of reporting verbs which varied according to differing levels of forcefulness, authority, and positive and negative loading (Halliday & Matthiessen, 2014, p. 64). This was especially salient when narrators reported the speech of others (also widely discussed by Wortham, 2001). Syntactical choices also encoded discursive empowerments and disempowerments. I examine how particular sentence patterns serve to build specific locally-situated, resistant meanings. Lists were one salient device through which participants added to the semantic strength of their utterances. One example of a list-like formation was the following HME participant’s description of her feelings of inferiority in comparison to EME job candidates: “When I saw those  English–speaking girls, I thought they were . I felt that I did not have any chance in front of them.” In this instance, she enacted discursive disempowerment at both the narrated and interactional levels. In another example, an EME participant also used a list-like syntactic structure to interactionally lend force to her contention that HME candidates were uncompetitive in the job market, “They (HME ­people)



Chapter 1.  Introduction 

have 0no:: style, no:: class, no:: confidence0. How can they be selected?” Through this syntactical list-like construction, this ­narrator discursively disempowered the HME job candidates she was referring to both in the narrated and narrating worlds. Additionally, as depicted in these examples, these lists were often accompanied by a variety of prosodic variations which leant additional force to the syntactical structures. 1.11  The ensuing chapters In Chapter 2, I contextualize this study by furnishing information about the history of English in India both in colonial times as well as post-independence. This chapter also has a section on the current linguistic policy in the country, which is followed by a discussion of the diverse types of schools which co-exist in India where different MoEs are utilized. Discussions and debates regarding the position of English in India are presented to afford readers a glimpse into the contentions that continue to engulf this issue in the country. This chapter also has a section on the skewed industrial development experienced by India since the early 1990s which has led to a highly differentiated economy where MoEs have ended up playing a crucial role in professional domains. This is followed by engaging with patriarchy in India. The final sections of the chapter describe the research project which includes a description of the five research sites: Dehradun, Delhi, Mussoorie, Haridwar, and Rishikesh, a description of the twenty-two participants, data collection, and data analysis. The next four chapters are organized thematically. Chapters Three to Five each analyze narratives about a single aspect of the professional lives of the participants. Chapter Three examines the narratives of four women – three from HME ­backgrounds and one from an HME and EME combined one – where the women speak of the scarcity of jobs for Hindi medium people in job advertisements. In Chapter Four, the narratives of five women are considered as they tell stories related to job interviews. Three of these women are from HME backgrounds, while one is from an EME and the other from a combined HME and EME linguistic and educational setting. Chapter Five studies the narratives of five women about their workplaces and how their MoEs mediate their relationships and positionings in these professional settings. Of the five participants, three are from HME backgrounds, while one each is from an EME and a combined HME and EME educational upbringing. Chapter Six analyzes narratives where the participants connect their MoEs and professional standings (or lack thereof) with highly ­personal domains of their lives, which include romantic relationships, arranged marriages, and familial positionings. The stories of seven women are scrutinized

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

in this chapter. Two of them have a combined HME and EME background, while the remaining five are from HME settings. The final chapter engages with the ­methodological implications of using discursive empowerments and disempowerments as an effective tool for narrative analysis as well as with the complicated professional and personal consequences of diverse MoEs for urban Indian women in the current rapidly evolving socioeconomic times.

chapter 2

Contextualizing the study In this chapter I provide contextualizing information about the project on which this book is based. The foundational issue under examination in this book is how the twenty-two participants narrate the impact of their medium of education (MoE) on their lives. The MoEs under consideration are Hindi medium education (HME), English medium education (EME) or a combination of HME and EME. Hindi medium was selected for this project because Hindi is the dominant local language across the five sites of the study and therefore government schools use it as their MoE. English was chosen because of the unique, pre-eminent position it occupies within postcolonial, modern-day India. Furthermore, in three of the five sites – Delhi, Dehradun and Mussoorie – there is a proliferation of EME schools, many with prestigious national reputations. Haridwar and Rishikesh, the other two sites, also have EME schools. In addition to HME and EME K-12 schools, the five sites also have a judicious mixture of the various other types of schools extant in the country (See Table 2.1), making them fruitful sites for the examination of diverse MoEs on the lives of women. In the pages below, I first discuss the position of English in India by tracing its introduction to India by British colonialists and then examining its treatment by the independent Indian government. This is followed by a discussion of the linguistic educational policy enacted after independence with a focus on the Three Language Formula. This discussion illustrates both the continuation of the presence of English in Indian schools as well as the variety of options regarding MoE available to different states. In the next section, I present a brief description of the different types of schools in India which is followed by a segment on the debates and discourses about the position of English in India. This book is particularly topical as it deals with the issues of women and professional opportunities, the intersectionalities of which have been in a state of flux since the opening up of the Indian economy which has led to an interrogation, albeit limited, of the processes of patriarchy. These issues are discussed in a section on patriarchy in India. The final part of the chapter contains a description of the project where I provide background information about the five research sites, the participants, and data collection as well as analysis.

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

2.1  English in India In this section I present a brief history of English in India, tracing the journey of this language in India from its initial introduction to the present position it holds in society. I look at the reasons behind its introduction by the British colonialists and examine the reasons it has continued to occupy such a prominent position since the Indian Independence of 1947. I provide the historical background of the complex ways in which language policies have been formulated and enacted at particular moments in time. This discussion reveals that English was not just unidirectionally imposed by the British colonial rulers on India but that this language was actively sought and appropriated by certain sections of Indian society under colonial rule for a variety of reasons. These ranged from the desire to access economic benefits attainable under the rising British Empire to the desire of social reformers to use western knowledge to change what they considered to be ‘undesirable’ aspects of Indian society. English was also sought to be appropriated by local leaders in their struggle for independence as a means to communicate amongst themselves as well as to negotiate with the British colonialists. This discussion also reveals that despite its local appropriation, English, from the moment of its introduction has been available to only a select, mostly urban, segment of the Indian population who, from the colonial time onwards, has been able to use their proficiency in this language to garner a considerable amount of economic and cultural capital. This historical knowledge is important background information for the present book because it provides the foundations on which post-independence linguistic policies were based. Many of the leaders of the first independent Indian Government under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru belonged to this elite category of Indians with access to and proficiency in English with the result that they believed in the many ‘modern’ benefits that the continuing presence of English in India would have for the newly formulated nation state. This perception of English together with other local political pressures led to the establishment of English as the associate official language of the country. This, in turn, had a direct impact on the educational language policy, that is, the Three Language Formula, which decreed that English be one of three languages taught at school without, however, specifying a uniform system for teaching this language. This has resulted in the current situation where there are many different types of schools in India vis-à-vis the medium of education (MoE) which provide students with remarkably different types of English instruction. This has the consequence of students graduating from school with very different proficiency levels in English. The fallout of the diversity in the current schooling system is directly related to the present study which examines how women who have graduated from schools with



Chapter 2.  Contextualizing the study 

different MoEs – either Hindi medium education (HME), English medium education (EME) or, a combination of HME and EME – construct profession-related narratives in relation to this aspect of their education. This section provides rich ethnographic information garnered from published sources that helps to situate the present study in the current historical moment of late modernity vis-à-vis ­English language policies that have been enacted for more than two centuries in India. 2.1.1  English in British Colonial India This section chronologically traces the British colonial language policy in India with special attention paid to the diverse factors implicated in these decisions. ­English was first introduced into India in the early seventeenth century but it did not impact the everyday lives of the people until much later (Krishnaswamy & Burde, 1998). The British started taking an interest in education only after 1813 when the British Parliament made it mandatory for the British Government to undertake responsibility for education in India (Annamalai, 2001; ­Krishnaswamy & Burde, 1998; Sridhar, 1989), and for this education to be funded by public revenues (­Pennycook, 1998). This legal enactment also permitted Christian missionaries to enter India in the pursuit of their evangelical goals (Annamalai, 2001). 1813 thus signaled the start of a state system of education in India (Sridhar, 1989). Despite the Act of 1813, for the most part, education in the initial part of the nineteenth century was funded by private initiatives and was mostly in local languages, although the local demand for English education had begun to grow (­Pennycook, 1998). One such locally-funded institute was the Hindu ­College, which was established in Calcutta in 1817 by the Bengali bourgeoisie and Indian aristocrats to provide so-called modern, liberal, English education to their children (Rahim, 1986). This college emphasized the study of English language and literature, western philosophy, economics, sociology, science, and technology (Rahim, 1986). Additionally, social reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy and educationist Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar also promoted the study of English and western education (Agnihotri & Khanna, 1997; Gandhi, 1984; Khubchandani, 1983). Partly as a result of these efforts, English language learning slowly began to be established in India albeit in urban centers and for elite segments of society. This pattern was to be frequently replicated in the colonial era. In addition to private initiatives, Christian missionaries set up elementary schools in which the local vernacular languages were used as the medium of instruction (Sridhar, 1989). They also established a number of English medium ‘mission’ or ‘convent’ schools for the upper and middle classes in towns and cities in an effort to garner the influence of these segments of society for the dissemination of the Christian faith to the masses (Annamalai, 2001; Sridhar, 1989). These

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

schools soon became well-reputed and well-patronized by the upper echelons of Indian society (Sridhar, 1989). Like the privately-funded, educational institutions which imparted English, these English medium convent or missionary schools from their inception were geared towards urban elite segments of Indian society. This situation continues in the present day and is of significant importance to this study because the class-based access to English medium education (EME) is clearly evident in the narrative data analyzed in the book. In addition to the privately funded institutions and the missionary schools, a large part of the schooling system came under the purview of the British colonial government. While deciding on an education policy for India, the British were confronted with a choice between an Oriental system and an English or western system of education (Gandhi, 1984; Khubchandani, 1983; Sridhar, 1989). The ­Orientalists wished to preserve traditional institutions, provide instruction in local languages like Persian, Sanskrit, and Arabic, and promote indigenous literatures; while the Anglicists advocated the use of English, the imparting of Western knowledge, and of an overall western-style curriculum (Sridhar, 1989). It would thus appear that the Orientalists valued the local knowledge and culture of India while the Anglicists believed in the superiority of Western knowledge. This interpretation is found in a number of texts on this topic (e.g., Gandhi, 1984; Sridhar, 1989). However, Pennycook (1998) sets forth an insightful opinion on this matter. He uses Said’s (1994) theorizations whereby Orientalism is interpreted as a means through which the west dominates, restructures and exercises authority over the Orient to provide a compelling explanation of the Orientalists’ goals in India. He convincingly argues that their efforts to learn the language, literatures, culture, and traditions of India were part of an effort to better control and govern I­ ndians and to classify their civilization in a hierarchical order in relation to western civilizations, and that their support of certain individuals and institutions was aimed at producing subjects that supported British rule in India. Hence, Orientalism in India served the dual purpose of furthering colonial rule and of creating Indian Otherness. Orientalists never ceased to believe in the superiority of Western knowledge over Oriental knowledge. They simply believed that the latter would better support colonial rule (Pennycook, 1998). Similar to the Orientalists, the Anglicists also firmly believed in the superiority of western knowledge (Pennycook, 1998). They viewed local Indian languages, literatures, culture, and knowledge with contempt (Agnihotri & Khanna, 1997; Sridhar, 1989), condescendingly reiterating the need to ‘correct’ Indian beliefs and customs through the dissemination of western knowledge via English which they believed would develop ‘rational’ thought among Indians (Khubchandani, 1983; Pennycook, 1998). This line of thought was undoubtedly arrogant and was founded on the liberal humanist intention of ‘ameliorating’ the lot of the Indian



Chapter 2.  Contextualizing the study 

masses, and was the basis of the ‘civilizing mission’ accompanying the justifying rhetoric of colonialism whereby European or, in this case, British culture was perceived to be the only civilized culture thereby making its spread amongst the colonized, ‘uncivilized’ Indians a moral imperative (Pennycook, 1998). This line of thought gave rise to Macaulay’s infamous Minute of 1835 which, after heavily critiquing and dismissing Indian thought and culture, pragmatically argued that as the B ­ ritish could not educate all Indians, they should endeavor to “do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions we govern – a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect” (cited in Pennycook, 1998, p. 80). Thus, while Anglicism has long been taken to be the stereotypical position of colonialism, there was not much difference between the Orientalists and the Anglicists. Both believed in the superiority of the western knowledge and thought, they simply disagreed on the language through the medium of which this knowledge needed to be disseminated (Pennycook, 1998). The debates between these two positions continued until the 1854 Dispatch from the Court of Directors of the East India Company to the Governor General of India in Council was enacted (Pennycook, 1998). This finally resolved the matter. It rejected hard line views of both these positions. Western knowledge was still considered the primary goal of education in India but it was acknowledged that while this could be best achieved through English, the utilization of vernacular languages would be more pragmatic and cost-effective. This Dispatch had many important consequences: emphasis was placed on vernacular education, an Education Department with school inspectors was created, and the Universities of Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras, which used English as a medium of education and taught western scientific knowledge, were established in 1857. Provisions were also made whereby private and missionary schools could apply for state funds, which were conditional on school inspections, and teacher education schools were set up (Pennycook, 1998, p. 90). However, despite the official policy, individual administrators preferred to allocate funds to English medium, secondary schools in cities at the expense of vernacular medium schools in villages (­Khubchandani, 1983). Additionally, the three universities of Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras which had been set up in 1857, held entrance examinations for English and some other subjects in English medium together with a classical and a vernacular language (McCully, 1966, cited in Annamalai, 2001), which made English medium education a pre-requisite for entering these universities (Annamalai, 2001). The introduction of English education between 1813 and 1857 variously impacted on the lives of Indians in fields as diverse as bureaucracy, communication, the printmedia, and creative writing. However, its impact was felt most keenly in the urban centers of Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras (Krishnaswamy & Burde, 1998). This

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

urban, minority use of English, a foundational characteristic of English in India from its earliest colonial roots, has prevailed to the present times (Agnihotri & Khanna, 1997; Krishnaswamy & Burde, 1998). Due to the various policies subsequently enacted by the British colonial government between 1882 and 1902 there came to be three types of educational systems in India: (a) English medium from the primary stage, in urban centers, mostly for the elite; (b) a two-tier system, with vernacular at the primary stage and English for the advanced stage in towns; and (c) primary education in vernacular medium in rural areas. Thus, Macaulay’s policy of selective higher education became a reality (Khubchandani, 1983, p. 121) and English continued to be unequally accessed by Indians. The selective education for the elite segments of society was heavily critiqued during the country’s freedom struggle from colonial rule by influential leaders of the Indian National Congress like Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Gopal Krishna Gokhale and by luminaries such as social and religious reformer Dayanand Saraswati and literary giant Rabindranath Tagore (Agnihotri & Khanna, 1997; Dua, 1994; Khubchandani, 1983). Despite these criticisms, by the time India gained its Independence in 1947, English had become firmly entrenched in educational institutions, offices, judiciary, journalism, and legislative bodies (Agnihotri & Khanna, 1997; Gandhi, 1984). English medium schools mushroomed in the twentieth century although the urban elite had the maximum access to them and to all the material and social benefits associated with them (Sridhar, 1989; Phillipson, 1992). English thus came to be firmly embedded within the privileged, urban segments of India and this status quo continued in the post-independence phase. 2.1.2  English in post-Independence India The language policy after Indian Independence was as hotly debated, contentious, and complicated as under the British rule. According to political scientist Selma Sonntag (2002, 2003), three positions on English and Hindi emerged within the ruling Congress Party immediately following Independence: the Nehruvian, the Gandhian, and the Hindu revivalist/traditionalist positions. Both the Gandhian position, set forth by the revered leader of the freedom movement Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, and the Hindu revivalist position opposed English as a national language, perceiving it as a symbol of British colonialism and therefore an obstruction to the development of an Indian cultural and national identity. Instead of English, both these positions advocated the use of Hindi as the national language (Sonntag, 2000, 2003). Hindi at that point was the Indian language with the maximum number of speakers – approximately 40%, mostly located in North Indian states (Sonntag, 2002; Tickoo, 2006). The two groups, however, differed in



Chapter 2.  Contextualizing the study 

the variety of Hindi they proposed. Gandhi supported spoken Hindi, also known as Hindustani, which incorporates elements of Persian, Urdu, and Sanskrit, whereas the traditionalists advocated Sanskritized Hindi found in the ancient texts of the Hindus (Sonntag, 2000). Gandhi, who looked upon English as a barrier to equality and as a continuation of class-based privilege and hierarchical status, saw the commonly spoken Hindustani as overcoming these impediments (Sonntag, 2000). The Hindu revivalist group, on the other hand, held that the common-variety Hindustani was not appropriate for serious discourses in the field of education or within parliament (Kumar, 1990, cited in Sonntag, 2000). Their advocacy of Sanskritized Hindi also contained a communal element which had been fed and augmented by the partition of India at the moment of independence into the nations of India and East and West Pakistan along religious lines, creating enormous hostility and tension between Hindu and Muslim communities. The inclusion of Persian and Urdu, languages associated with the Muslim community, within Hindustani made it undesirable to the Hindu revivalist group (Sonntag, 2000). Additionally, the advocacy of Sanskritized Hindi was a move by the upper caste groups, some with considerable land holdings, to establish their political identity and protect their traditional, caste-based, privileged status (Kumar, 1991, cited in Sonntag, 2000). Sonntag (2000) asserts that Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India, represented the third position vis-à-vis English. She maintains that to Nehru, who was committed to the modernization and technological development of India, English represented an important means of achieving this aim. In fact, Raina (1991, cited in Sonntag, 2000) argues that the ideological, causal relationship between a secular modern India and a neutral English, which has found wide acceptance in India, was established during Nehru’s era. Additionally, the Congress party was committed to the reorganization of Indian states along linguistic lines since the pre-independent 1920s. This process was begun in the 1950s and was encoded in the State Reorganization Act of 1956 (Sonntag, 2002) whereby Indian states were re-formed along linguistic lines, albeit amorphous, with each state having a dominant regional language (Annamalai, 2004). Immediately following independence, however, Nehru, fearful that this process once begun might lead to the disintegration of India, perceived and promoted English as a link language that would cement the country. Another factor that increased the appeal of English for Nehru was that he wished to co-opt the southern, non-Hindi speaking Indian states into the nation building process – a process that might be smoother if English was present as a link language instead of the imposition of the North Indian Hindi (Sonntag, 2000). No doubt as a result of these concerns, Nehru, according to Kumar (1991, cited in Sonntag, 2000), entered into an implicit ‘contract’ with the Hindu revivalist group within his party whereby they agreed to mutually support each other’s linguistic positions, thus marginalizing the Gandhian per-

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

spective. As  a consequence, in a closely contested vote, the Indian Constituent Assembly in 1950 voted for Hindi to be the official language of India while English was enacted as the associate official language (Sonntag, 2000, 2002, 2003; Tickoo, 2006). Austin (1966, cited in Sonntag 2002) called this a weak compromise in that instead of being created as a national language, Hindi was deemed to be the official language of the country. Article 343 of the Indian Constitution limited the associate official language status of English to a period fifteen years, after which it was to be replaced by Hindi (Tickoo, 2006). This Article also directed the central government to develop Hindi during this period. Scholars funded by the center set about trying to “enrich and intellectualize Hindi” using Sanskritized vocabulary in order to make it “fit for higher learning,” “scientific discourse,” and “creative expression” (Tickoo, 2006, p. 168). However, this made the already Sanskritized Hindi yet more academic, and a “high Hindi”, far removed from its spoken form, started to take shape. This made it even less appealing to non-Hindi speakers as a link language suitable to replace English (Tickoo, 2006). As the time approached for the removal of English as the associate official language of India, there was increased anxiety amongst non-Hindi speaking states about the imposition of Hindi on them. The youth in the southern states had long seen English as a means to acquire the highly-coveted, central government jobs and feared that if Hindi was made a pre-requisite for these jobs, they would be at a disadvantage compared to the North Indian, Hindi speakers (Sonntag, 1995). In an effort to ameliorate this anxiety, Nehru, in the early 1960s, had reassured South Indians that English would continue to be the associate official language of the country for as long as they desired (Sonntag, 2003). However, following Nehru’s death, this anxiety took the form of large-scale, anti-Hindi riots in the southern states, especially Tamil Nadu, and in the eastern state of West Bengal resulting in a number of deaths of the activists (Sonntag, 2003; Tickoo, 2006). As a consequence, the Central Indian Government, conceding to the anxieties, protests, and demands of the Indian population opposed to the imposition of Hindi as the sole official language, passed the Official Language (Amendment) Act in 1967, whereby English was to continue to be the associate official language of India for an indeterminate period together with Hindi as the official language (Agnihotri & Khanna, 1997; Sonntag, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2003; Tickoo, 2006). English continues to occupy this position to date. 2.2  Current linguistic educational policy: The ‘Three Language Formula’ In this section I present a brief outline of the Three Language Formula (TLF), a linguistic educational policy that the central government adopted in the 1960s.



Chapter 2.  Contextualizing the study 

This policy, which eventually came to be adopted by most of the country albeit not uniformly, provides important contextual information for this book. The result of the ad hoc nation-wide adoption of this policy has had a direct impact on schools, especially since they have the constitutional power to choose their MoE. Therefore, schools across India have different MoEs, including at the five north Indian sites where my research was conducted. The consequence is that students graduating with a high school degree do not all have the same proficiency level in the official and associate official languages of the country, that is, in Hindi and English. These varying levels of proficiency are deeply implicated in the professional, educational, social, and personal opportunities available to people from diverse schools, including the women participants of my study. Simultaneous to the activities regarding the negotiations for the official and associate official languages for India discussed in the previous section, work proceeded to decide upon a linguistic policy for education. A number of committees had worked on this issue and after a long process of consultations and deliberations the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) recommended a Three Language Formula (TLF) in 1956 (Dua, 1985). This was approved with certain modifications at a meeting of the Chief Ministers of Indian states in August 1961 and finally incorporated into the National Policy of Education by the Indian ­Parliament in 1968 (Aggarwal, 1991; Annamalai, 2001). The TLF states that s­ econdary school (i.e., Grade 10) graduates must be trilingual in a regional language, Hindi, and English. These languages are meant to fulfill instrumental and integrative needs at the regional, national, and international levels (Annamalai, 2001). The TLF recommended that: (a) the regional language or the mother tongue be used as the medium of education for the first five years of schools, (b) Hindi in non-Hindi speaking areas and another Indian language in Hindi-speaking areas be taught as a second language for three years from grades 6 to 8, and (c) English as a subject should be taught from the third year onwards (A. Mohanty, 2006, p. 273). According to the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT, 1999 cited in Annamalai, 2004), there are a total of forty-one languages available for study in the Indian school curriculum and the three languages of the TLF need to be from this list. However, the TLF does not mandate that the three languages must be taught in a particular order, which allows individual schools, especially private institutions, to select any of the three languages as the MoE, the grades in which the second and third languages are introduced, and the duration for which they are taught (Annamalai, 2001). Due to all these ambiguities, the TLF faced considerable criticism. Another major critique leveled against it was that it placed an undue burden on students to learn three languages at school even though most Indians pick up more than two languages informally depending on their home environments. Still another critique was that students of minority l­ anguages

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

whose mother tongue was different from the local state language had, in effect, to learn four languages (Dua, 1985; Sonntag, 2002). Not surprisingly, the TLF was unable to achieve the goals it set itself. An important aim was, as LaDousa (2005) puts it, “to achieve national unity by creating multilingual citizens, specifically, ones equipped with languages of other regions in the nation” (p. 461). The TLF also wished to ensure mother tongue instruction, as well as the learning of the official and associate official languages of the country. But because of the ambiguous nature of TLF and due to the fact that individual states have jurisdiction over their own education policies, the TLF was differentially implemented in different Indian states (Sonntag, 1995). For example, the southern states, especially Tamil Nadu, resisted the imposition of Hindi for political reasons and, in effect, followed a two language policy of teaching the regional state language Tamil and English (Dua, 1985). The non-Hindi speaking states of Karnataka, West Bengal, and Maharashtra also resisted the TLF (Aggarwal, 1991). Some northern states chose to teach the classical Indian language of Sanskrit, or the North Indian language of Urdu instead of a modern Indian language from a South Indian state to fulfill one of the three language options. These northern states were Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh. (The last of these is the state from which the new state of Uttarakhand was carved out in 2000. Uttarakhand is the location of four of the five sites of this study). These linguistic choices of individual states subverted the spirit of TLF which had sought to promote intra-national communication through encouraging the learning of not only Hindi and English but also another modern Indian language from another part of the country (Dua, 1985, Sonntag, 2002). South Indian states resented the imposition of the North Indian Hindi on them especially since the northern states refused to incorporate the learning of a south Indian language in their state language policies (Sonntag, 2002). In addition, pedagogical debates and concerns related to the sequencing of learning a second and a third language, compatibility between different language courses, the structure and development of the language curriculum, gaps between the instructional objectives of teaching in the mother tongue and the syllabi used to achieve these objectives, gaps between syllabi and textbooks, and a general lack of adequate teacher training have led to numerous other problems in the implementation of the TLF (Dua, 1985). 2.3  Schools In this section, I discuss the types of schools vis-à-vis MoE that are present in India today. This description aims to demonstrate the extremely diverse nature of schooling available to Indian students and that their selection of schools is ­dependent on



Chapter 2.  Contextualizing the study 

economic considerations. My aim is once again to provide as much background information as might help my readers to reach a nuanced understanding of the rather unique schooling situation that exists in India today. As explained in the previous section, due to the federal nature of the Indian political system and the considerable political and constitutional power that individual sates possess, the latter can and do exercise extensive control over their language and education policies and, therefore, on the extent to which they implement the TLF (­Annamalai, 2003). A direct consequence of this is the presence of a variety of extremely diverse schools in India today. These vary in ownership and management, affiliation to examination boards, prescribed curricula, the quality of education provided, the medium of instruction, the length of instruction in the second and third languages as per the TLF, and, importantly, the tuition they charge (Dua, 1985, 1990, 1994, 2001; LaDousa, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2014; A. Mohanty, 2006; Sikand, 2005; Srivastava, 1990; Tickoo, 2006). The main categories of schools are shown in Table 2.1 below. Table 2.1  Types of schools Type of school

Characteristics

Residential Private Schools

privately owned; high tuition; affordable to the extremely affluent segments of society; difficult to obtain admission; English as MoE from K-12; usually Hindi and Sanskrit taught as 2nd and 3rd languages in northern states; affiliated to prestigious central examination boards; high quality of education; elite extra-curricular activities

Missionary or Convent Schools

run mostly by Christian missionaries; affordable to upper middle class society; most admissions require entrance exams; usually day schools; English as MoE from K-12; usually Hindi and Sanskrit taught as 2nd and 3rd languages in northern states; affiliated to prestigious central examination boards; high quality of education; substantial extracurricular activities

Private Day Schools owned and run by individuals, families or private organizations; tuition more than state schools and can be equivalent to or more or less than public or convent schools; depending on tuition structure, open to the children of the upper middle class unable to secure admission in missionary schools, or the emerging lower middle class unable to afford residential private or convent schools; English as MoE from K-12; quality of education dependent on resources, management, and organization – the better funded schools provide ‘good’ education comparable to those of missionary and convent schools, while those not so well funded are generally unable to provide education comparable to convent or missionary schools but are usually better than local state government schools Kendriya Vidyalayas (Central Schools)

run by the Central Government; subsidized tuition; restricted to children of central government employees with transferable jobs; uniform system throughout the country; full or partial use of English as MoE; affiliated to prestigious central examination boards; good quality of education (Continued)

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

Table 2.1 (Continued)  Types of schools Type of school

Characteristics

Sainik Schools (Armed Forces Schools)

run by the Central Government; subsidized tuition; restricted to children of armed forces personnel with transferable jobs; uniform system throughout the country; full or partial use of English as MoE; affiliated to prestigious central examination boards; good quality of education

Navodaya Schools

run by the Central Government; subsidized tuition; residential schools for talented students; proposed as model schools to promote national integration – as 16 students from each school are to be relocated to schools in other parts of the country; ideally meant to be well-equipped; English as MoE; represent the penetration of EME into rural areas for the rural elite

State Schools

run by the local State Governments; minimal tuition; provide day schooling to the majority of Indian students; normally poorly staffed and equipped; state regional language as MoE; English taught as a subject (starting at different grade levels in different states); affiliated to state examination boards; quality of education generally not comparable to EME schools delineated above

Schools with run by local religious institutions; some madrasas are affiliated to religious affiliations: State Madrasa Boards of Education; students in these institutions get e.g., Madrasas instruction in religion as well as some modern subjects; MoE is usually the local vernacular language

Altogether, only about 8% of primary schools in India offer instruction in the medium of English (Annamalai, 2004). The majority of Indian children are educated in state schools which use a local Indian language as the MoE. Dua (1994, p. 65) correctly sates that the types of schools present in India “indicate the social and economic stratification in Indian society.” Broadly speaking, the privileged social classes educate their children in the expensive English medium (EM) private schools, the less privileged members of the middle class educate their children in the less expensive private EM schools, while the financially disadvantaged segments of society educate their children in the regional or vernacular medium state schools (A. Mohanty, 2006), a pattern often replicated in other postcolonial countries (Annamalai, 2004). This stratification becomes particularly salient when one looks at the variation in the tuition charged by the schools described in Table 2.1, from Indian rupees 15,000 (approximately US $225 at current exchange rates) or more per month to Indian rupees 15 (approximately US $0.23) per month, with the former being charged by the most expensive private English medium schools and the latter charged by the state run regional language medium schools (A. Mohanty, 2006). (The figures for the expensive private EME schools have substantially increased in the interim between Mohanty’s study and the publication of this book.) With the low annual per capita income of the average Indian family, it is unsurprising that only a small affluent segment of the Indian population



Chapter 2.  Contextualizing the study 

can afford the expensive English medium public and convent schools, resulting in unequal access to English (Ramanathan, 1999, 2006, 2007, 2013; Vaish, 2005, 2008). The schools can be ranged along a continuum as shown in Figure 2.1. As can be seen, there is a rich contrast in the types of school education available to Indians in urban areas, ranging from some of the most elite private residential EME schools to the most inexpensive (vis-à-vis tuition structures) government run HME schools and those with religious affiliations. In the middle can be found the different types of schools described in Table 2.1. EME

Elite Private Residential Schools (EME)

HME

Missionary Schools (EME)

Private Day Schools (EME)

Kendriya Vidyalayas, (EME), Sainik Schools (EME)

Private Schools (HME)

State schools (HME)

Madrassas (HME with Urdu/Arabic)

Figure 2.1  The range of different types of schools

According to the linguistic anthropologist LaDousa (2006, 2014), the economic liberalization of India, begun in the late 1980s, has led to a rapid expansion of the middle class, although this class is not homogeneous, ranging from urban professionals, entrepreneurs, and white and blue-collar workers to affluent rural landowners (Kumar, 1998; Chakravarty & Gooptu, 2000). Members of these segments of society increasingly look upon education as essential for upward class mobility, motivated by the belief that EME is instrumental for professional and economic success (LaDousa, 2006, 2014). This has led to a proliferation of privately owned English medium schools (A. Mohanty, 2006). However, not all English medium schools are successful in imparting fluent English to their pupils (Bhatt, 2005). For the most part, the less well funded and relatively inexpensive English medium schools are unable to teach their students fluent standardized English, while the state schools that teach English as a subject accomplish this to an even lesser extent (Bhatt, 2005). This can be attributed, in large part, to the limited resources, lack of well-trained teachers, and a home environment where English is not present that characterize these schools and their students. While such a diverse education system has led to the proliferation of numerous hybrid forms of Indian Englishes, the variety of English that enjoys the highest status in India approximates Standard British English imparted in only the elite private and convent EME schools by Indian teachers who themselves are products of such schools (Bhatt, 2005). Consequently, only students from the higher socio-economic strata acquire this privileged variety, as is also the case in similar post-colonial contexts (McKay, 2002). Consequently, these top-end schools are associated with linguistic capital

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

in Bourdieuan (1977, 1991) terms which is valued as being much higher than that provided by the lesser EME private schools or the state run vernacular medium schools. This phenomenon has worked to further deepen the already existing classbased divide in Indian society (Ramanathan, 2005, 2013; Sandhu, 2010, 2015b). 2.4  Ongoing discourses and debates about the position of English In this section I engage some of the discourses about English and EME that enjoy current parlance in India. This discussion is of consequence as participants in this study often construct their identities in relation to these or similar discourses prevalent in their local contexts. Some aspects of the discussion that has preceded this section about the different MoEs adopted by varied schools is common knowledge across the five sites of this study, in the sense that the common person on the street is aware that both HME and EME schooling are available and also of the fact that the elite private EME schools are beyond the reach of the majority of the economically constrained Indian population. In light of the history of English in the country together with this language’s present position vis-à-vis higher education and professional opportunities, it is not surprising that many of the discourses that surround English fashion it in an extremely positive light. A. Mohanty (2006) highlights the important point that the power of English can be seen in the fact that this language is perceived to be more influential than the official language of Hindi. Thus, in many political, economic, official, and educational spheres English is believed to be more valuable and useful than the regional languages, including the official Hindi. This position of English has been politically supported by large segments of the non-Hindi Indian speakers who do not wish Hindi to be imposed on them as MoE (A. Mohanty, 2006). Despite differential access to schooling and thus to different MoEs, the longrunning presence of English in India has ensured its percolation in some hybrid form or another and at varying degrees of range and depth to almost all segments of the Indian population, so that even people with minimal education have some English vocabulary at their command (D’Souza, 2001). Consequently, English language ability amongst the population can be conceived as ranging across a continuum. At one end of this continuum are the products of the elite private EME schools who speak grammatically accurate and fluent English (D’Souza, 2001), while at the other end of it are people with little formal education who have picked up some form of English through its presence in their local environments, perhaps only to the extent of knowing and using a few words. And all along this continuum is a range of Englishes which are used for varying intranational and international purposes (B. Kachru, 1986), depending a great deal on the type of



Chapter 2.  Contextualizing the study 

educational and professional backgrounds of the users. Despite the existence of so many varieties of English, or perhaps because of it, grammatically good English is considered especially desirable (Khubchandani, 1983, 1997, 2003). But, as the discussion above has made it clear, this ‘good’ English is taught and learnt only in the elite EME schools (McKay, 2002). Given the fact that English has been supported by large segments of Indians at the political level and because it continues to occupy the status of the associate official language of the country, this language is widely perceived to be “the language of power and opportunity” in India (B. Kachru, 1986, p. 90). This perception is based on the fact that it is used for central government jobs, administration at the central level, higher education in prestigious national universities, the judiciary, journalism, and in the rapidly proliferating multinational companies where high English language proficiency can result in good jobs and quick professional growth (Agnihotri & Khanna, 1997). Many leading national newspapers are in English and this language also has a considerable presence in radio and television. In fact, English newspapers comprised 22% of the total newspapers printed in 1987, which was a rise of 15% from 1971, and this growth of English readership has continued steadily since then (Annamalai, 2004). It is accurate to say that since Indian independence, English has steadily grown in demand amongst the masses especially in modern urban areas (Crystal, 2003; Khubchandani, 1983, 1997, 2003; A. Mohanty, 2006). The last few decades have seen a mushrooming of English schools in smaller towns, semi-urban and some rural areas with the result that there are “more English teachers, more English students and more Indian English writers, a stronger English press and more powerful English media than when the British left the country” (Khubchandani, 1997, p. 63). English has assumed the role of a lingua franca in the highly educated segments of Indian society (Tsui & Tollefson, 2004) both for inter-regional communication as well as for a variety of social interactions. However, access to these rapidly growing EME schools is still limited to those who have the means to pay for private schools. In the sphere of education, as in many other countries round the world, ­English is projected as a global language and therefore as most appropriate for the study of science, technology, and commerce (A. Mohanty, 2006). This language plays a powerful gate-keeping role because the most elite national universities in the country as well as the globally recognized institutes of technology (Indian Institutes of Technology – IITs) and management (Indian Institutes of Management – IIMs) use English as MoE. Graduation from these institutes and universities ensures professional success in higher level government jobs as well as in the increasingly more desirable private sector professions. National newspapers over the past few years have carried reports of national and multi-national companies recruiting graduates directly from the IIM and IIT campuses at premium sala-

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

ries. The importance of such recruitments and the discourses that surround this ­phenomenon is further highlighted by the fact that one of the impacts of the recent global economic meltdown and the ongoing recovery on the Indian economy was extensively represented in the national dailies through reporting first the decline and then the resurgence in the number of such on-campus recruitments. In fact, at the moment of writing in December 2015, reports in the national Indian press indicate that at least 40 graduates of IITs had received job offers of more than $100,000 from international firms such as Google, Microsoft, Oracle, etc. on the first day of campus recruitments itself, with further indications that domestic companies would offer a substantial increase in salaries from previous years as well. As might be expected, admissions into these institutes is an important goal that a majority of undergraduate students set for themselves. However, such admissions are fiercely competitive and entail passing the toughest national level entrance examinations, the final component of which are group discussions and interviews where students are expected to use English. Such a gate-keeping examination system has led to a proliferation of coaching centers that prepare students exclusively for these examinations. Apart from being very expensive vis-à-vis the average income of the Indian populace, the most successful of these coaching centers use English as their MoE. Thus, once again, those with HME backgrounds, (which almost exclusively go hand-in-hand with economic hardships), find themselves firmly shut out from higher educational options that serve as a bridge leading middle class Indian youth to extremely affluent lifestyles. This is a matter of concern not only because students from schools with regional or vernacular languages as MoE find it extremely difficult to gain admission to these English strongholds but also because even for those who do manage to get such admissions, the English MoE in higher education proves to be particularly challenging (LaDousa, 2005). For example, Ramanathan (1999, 2002, 2005) in her work in the West Indian state of Gujarat has found that vernacular medium schools, wherein English is taught as an additional language, are unable to completely prepare students for full participation in English medium institutions of higher education, thus seriously hampering their college success. One oft-cited justification for the use of English as a MoE is that English is no longer an alien language for Indians and that “functionally, pragmatically, and grammatically” it has been “indigenized” (Annamalai, 2004, p. 179). It is also, and this is an extremely important point especially for a multilingual country like India and in light of the discussion so far, perceived as “ethnically neutral” (p. 187). However, as Annamalai correctly makes the distinction, English in India is not “class neutral” as it is clearly the language of the moneyed middle and elite classes (p. 187). English is associated with power, wealth, and status in present day India and it is perceived as disseminating ‘scientific knowledge’ and ‘modern



Chapter 2.  Contextualizing the study 

values’. Therefore, today EME controls the propagation of such knowledge and continues to contribute to the division of the Indian society between elites and those without access to English (Annamalai, 2004; Ramanathan, 2005, 2013). The children of the elite, through a process of early selection, are thus separated from the vast majority of the underprivileged Indian children and are educated in EME schools providing them with an important linguistic and educational foundation that contributes to their success in life. This breeds elitism and reinforces the already existing inequalities in the society (Kumar, 1989). Unsurprisingly, certain political parties have actively campaigned for the removal of English from the Indian schooling system. They have critiqued the ideologies that connect English to the elite classes that have traditionally controlled the power and wealth of the nation. The 1980s saw political upheavals which led to the weakening of the dominant national party, the Congress, to the point that it lost the national elections in 1989 (Sonntag, 2000). The Congress Party has traditionally comprised of alliances between the urban, English-educated, professional elite and the upper-class rural elites in the North Indian, Hindi-speaking states of Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Bihar. After a brief period, in which a coalition government came to power at the center, the right wing Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) assumed the mantle at the central government level in the 1990s due in large part to the anti-Muslim communal sentiments they were able to exploit (Sonntag, 2000). In the meantime, the weakening of the Congress in their traditional Hindi-speaking strongholds led to the political rise of small land-owning farmers who had benefited from the land reforms and technological advancements of the 1950s and 1960s (Sonntag, 1995, 2000). The largest of these ‘backward classes’ were the Yadavs who mobilized and came to power in the states of UP and Bihar through garnering the support of the ‘backward classes’, dalits, and Muslims. The political rise of this community was a reaction against the elitism of the Congress Party and the communalism of the BJP (Sonntag, 2000). As part of this campaign, the Chief Minister of UP, Mulayam Singh Yadav, launched a campaign of “angrezi hatao” or “remove English” in reaction to the commonly held perception of a nexus between English and the urban, elite segments of the population represented by the Congress. He also initiated efforts against the hegemony of Sanskritized Hindi associated with the Hindi-speaking elite both in the Congress and the BJP (Sonntag, 2000). Interestingly, at the same time, in the neighboring state of Bihar, another Yadav Chief Minister, Laloo Prasad Yadav, sought to incorporate English as a compulsory subject in the school curriculum. Although this move might seem contradictory to the ideologically anti-elite policy against English in UP, Sonntag (2000) persuasively argues that it was, in fact, consistent with an anti-elite ideology in so far as it sought to appropriate English for the masses and thus allow them to access all the benefits that resulted from owning this language. However, Laloo Prasad

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

Yadav’s proposal was turned down by his party members who refused to change their anti-English stance. On the whole, this anti-English stance has had limited impact, as in most states today the state education policy mandates that English be taught as a compulsory subject by Grade 6, with many states now making this mandatory by Grade 1 (A. Mohanty, 2006). Thus, these political movements that sought to undermine, if not totally eradicate, English from India have been largely unsuccessful, especially in light of the current rapid economic progress which is creating unprecedented economic opportunities for the Indian population. However, the connections that they made between English and elitism are discourses that are still present in India and across the five sites of this study, with almost all the participants making similar links in their narratives. Pennycook (2003) in his cogent discussion on the worldliness of English emphasizes the need to investigate how local histories of English in individual contexts have been enacted and to study these in light of larger global histories of the spread of English. These, he says, echoing Canagarajah (1999), are the sites of resistance, struggle, change, reformulation, and adaptation. He argues that what is important is not to see how and to what extent English has been rejected but rather how it has been reconstituted to become more inclusive, ethical, and democratic in these local contexts (Pennycook, 2003, p. 15). Looking at the ways in which ­English has been appropriated by Indians and reconstituted as almost another Indian language would be one way to provide support for Pennycook’s argument. Examinations of popular culture where English is regularly mixed with Hindi and other vernacular languages such as Bollywood movie songs, advertisements, and even the ­English–mixed language of many urban denizens would undoubtedly prove the many forms such local appropriations and adaptations have taken. But such an examination would of necessity have to incorporate a discussion of the other side of the coin and attend to the numerous ways in which English still remains a language that deepens chasms within an already divided country through the deeply divisive educational system (Ramanathan, 2005, 2013; Rubdy, 2008, 2013; Sandhu, 2010, 2014a, 2014b, 2015a, 2015b; Vaish, 2005, 2008). Despite insightful critiques which problematize EME as a continuation of the colonial endeavor in that EME graduates are viewed as providing a vast, skilled, yet cheap and docile, labor force to capitalist multinational corporations (Advani, 2009, p. 12–13), the fact remains that within India, EME continues to reinforce socioeconomic stratifications. And while in everyday language use practices, English is being increasingly adapted, reformed, appropriated, localized, and put to varied innovative uses which allow for its percolation into the spoken language of the masses, the ‘desired’ standard English which plays gatekeeping roles in education and professional opportunities continues to remain beyond the reach of vernacular or Hindi medium educated masses. Such people possess varying degrees of facility with English, allowing



Chapter 2.  Contextualizing the study 

them to use an English-mixed spoken language and to appreciate and popularize such English–mixed language usage in popular culture, yet when it comes to the life-changing arenas of education and profession, standard English still continues to hold sway. The discussion in this and the preceding sections has shown that in the case of India, while the appropriation, reformulation, and adaptation of English can be seen as impacting the masses, standard English continues to be limited to certain elite segments of the population. In the colonial era, these were the people who derived all economic, political, and social benefits associated with this language. Since independence, although English, in its multiple varieties and forms, has spread to many more Indians, the fact remains that the schooling system which reflects the class-based nature of Indian society has continued to replicate this colonial pattern. English and all its associated educational and professional benefits continue to be restricted to the relatively small, albeit rapidly growing, elite segments. Also noteworthy is the fact that, ‘good’ education, which in the present Indian  context seems to mean an EME combined with the ‘right’ professional degrees, is increasingly being viewed by Indians as a direct pathway to success and prosperity (Nobrega & Sinha, 2008; Rothermund, 2008). The almost inevitable consequence of such a phenomenon is that in most urban areas there is a mushrooming of EME schools and privately owned colleges that offer the degrees deemed most ‘desirable’ in the current economic scenario, e.g., MBAs and technical degrees like software engineering. This is especially in evidence in Delhi and Dehradun (as in other highly urbanized areas across the nation) which are two of the five sites of this research project. Another consequence of this wild rush for the ‘right’ education is that parents and employers demand that teachers teach in English so that their children and students can maximize their English language fluency and thus enhance their employability. It is hardly surprising that in such a climate where the ‘right education’ seemingly provides a direct route to lifestyles far in excess of what are available to most ­Indians, English is now viewed as a highly desirable commodity (Rubdy, 2008). The narratives of my participants seem to be situated within these economic realities and discourses that have c­ ommodified English in India. 2.5  Patriarchy in India Traditionally, Indian society has been, and still remains to a large extent, patriarchal, with men enjoying much greater privileges than women in all fields of life, encompassing health, nutrition, education, politics, and the labor market,

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

­(Dhanraj, Misra, & Batliwala, 2004). Numerous studies have established that there has been a steady decline in the position of women post-Indian independence (Drèze & Sen, 1995, 2002; Menon, 2004). Indian men are accorded a much higher status compared to women both within their families and in society at large (A.  Kachru, 2006; Sharma & Gopalakrishnan, 1999; Subramaniam, 2006). An openly patriarchal Indian society blatantly positions men as more desirable than women (Dréze, Guio, & Murthi, 1996; Dréze & Khera, 2000; Höling, 2011; Mies, 1998; Murthi, Guio, & Drèze, 1995). This tradition-bound, gender-biased phenomenon is explicitly instantiated in the current historical moment across numerous parameters: (a) in the appallingly high rates of female feticide and infanticide and of female child mortality which have resulted in skewed sex ratios in many Indian states; (b) in the limited presence of women in the workforce accompanied by lower female wages; (c) in inadequate female representation in nationaland state-level politics; (d) in patrilineal property inheritance customs; (e) in the wide-scale prevalence of dowry and dowry-related female homicides; (f) in the custom of patri-local post-marriage residence; (g) in limited female freedom of movement; (h) in the excessive and horrific violence, both domestic and external, against women (e.g. the shocking increase in the phenomenon of gang rapes, the most notorious example being that of the medical intern who was gang-raped and murdered on a moving bus in the national capital in December 2012 which garnered national and international headlines, highlighted the abysmal public safety record for women in India, and led to nation-wide, highly passionate, and volatile activism); (i) in unfair laws on rape, marriage, and the custody and guardianship of children; (j) in lower female literacy rates; (k) in the distinctly skewed and often highly sexualized representation of women in popular media; and finally, (l) in comprehensive female dependence on male family members (Derné, 1995, 2008; Drèze & Sen 2013, pp. 224–29; Menon, 1999). This problematically unbalanced gender situation persists despite the fact that there has been organized feminist activism at the national level since preindependence which has succeeded in bringing about some change at both the social and political l­evels in the form of women’s suffrage and limited reforms in personal and family laws, including those allowing widow remarriage and prohibiting child marriage. Changes in law have also granted an equal status to women and men by making special allowances for women in employment, education, and politics (Kapur, 2012, p. 335). Despite these legal mandates, patriarchy continues to thrive in India due to varied, long-established, traditional local values, customs, and practices. One salient reason is the firmly entrenched, localized notion of an ‘ideal’ Indian womanhood. An example of this is the way in which an ‘ideal’ Indian mother is portrayed in literature, popular culture, and societal discourses as noble and selfless, negating herself, her needs, and even her welfare in the care



Chapter 2.  Contextualizing the study 

of her ­children (Gokhale 2010; see also, Poonacha, 2010, p. vii). Similarly, there are highly prescriptive ‘ideal’ roles for each relationship in a woman’s life, spanning the entire gamut from her birth to death – be they of a daughter, a sister, a wife, a sister-in-law, an aunt, a grandmother, or any other – which are all based on deepseated, essentialist, and conservative ideas. As is evident, and to be expected in such a conventional society, all these relationships fall within the parameters of a heterosexual family. Any deviations from what is deemed ‘appropriate’ are almost always penalized in some form or another. Adding to this condition, Kapur (2012) argues, is the dilemma which Indian feminists continue to experience as they try to distance themselves from the common conception of being under the influence of capitalist, Western-centric feminism by claiming a separate identity of an essential Indian feminism. The only problem with this, as Kapur explains, is that such a feminism is based upon the notion of the Indian woman as a victim of oppression and violence (pp. 335–336). This tends to subdue discussion of women’s choice, especially so in sexual matters such as sexual pleasure. This has led to the paradoxical situation where Indian feminism finds itself tied, on the one hand, to the afore-mentioned notions of conservative Indian womanhood while trying to negotiate the radical initiative of attaining gender equality. This patriarchal nature of Indian, especially North Indian society is salient to this study, as almost all participants narrate stories that incorporate their various negotiations and struggles with local instantiations of patriarchy which they experience within their families, social milieus, and ­professional spheres. In such a society it is not surprising that women face numerous challenges in acquiring well-paid employment which is deemed ‘acceptable’ by societal and family networks since patriarchal structures have traditionally been used to exercise control and limit the freedom of women. One manifestation of this control are societal structures mandating ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ professions. Such stipulations narrow down the types of employment opportunities ‘permitted’ to urban women, inclusive of many participants in this study. The women in this study repeatedly pointed out the limited types of jobs they were ‘allowed’ to undertake by their families as only these were deemed ‘respectable’ and therefore socially ‘acceptable’. The list of such jobs varied according to the geographical location of the women with those living in Delhi, the capital of the country, being ‘allowed’ a much wider variety of jobs. These options became particularly limited in the three smaller towns of Mussoorie, Haridwar, and Rishikesh. Dehradun, which is not a metropolitan city like Delhi, but being the capital of the state of Uttarakhand and with its long history as an education hub, fell mid-way between Delhi and the three less urbanized sites of the study. An accumulated list of ‘permissible’ professions ranged from teachers, clerical or executive workers in

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

offices, doctors, nurses, engineers, and service sector employment such as in banks and well-­established retail outlets (international call centers were frowned upon because of the late/all night working hours). Factory work was unacceptable as were any jobs that necessitated overnight trips or even day trips in the company of male colleagues. As might be expected, the women with HME or combined HME and EME backgrounds were thus doubly marginalized – both by societal control of the types of professions deemed ‘respectable’ for them and the gatekeeping imposed upon them by prospective employers on account of their limited fluency in English. It is from their situatedness within these multiply confined sites that many women in this study told their professional narratives. 2.6  The current project This book draws on data from a larger project carried out in phases between 2005 and 2013 over several field trips to north India. The data were collected from the urban sites of Dehradun, Haridwar, Rishikesh, and Mussoorie in the state of Uttarakhand and from Delhi, the capital of the country. The aim was to examine how the women participants narrated the impact of their medium of education (MoE) on their lives. Three types of MoEs were included: Hindi medium education (HME), English medium education (EME) and a combination of HME and EME. These two languages were chosen because across all the five sites of data collection, Hindi is spoken as the dominant local language, while English is the MoE of the elite private schools, colleges, and universities located there. Therefore, Hindi is the main language spoken by the majority of people in these urban locations, while English is found in the spoken repertoires of privately educated people. English is found in public domains in varying proportions across these sites. The use of Hindi is more prevalent in government offices in Dehradun, Haridwar, Rishikesh, and Mussoorie, although English is also used on official forms. In Delhi, a great amount of government work is conducted in English. Other vernacular languages are also used in these areas such as Punjabi, Urdu, and Garhwali, although schools generally do not use these as MoE. The initial leg of this project was conducted between 2005 and 2008 in which I interviewed nineteen women located in my hometown of Dehradun. Between 2011 and 2012, I interviewed an additional fifteen women from Dehradun. Subsequently, in 2013, I expanded the research sites to four other North Indian urban locations: Delhi, Mussoorie, Haridwar, and Rishikesh, in addition to collecting fresh data from the original location of Dehradun. In this final stage of the study, I interviewed an additional thirty one women from across all the five sites. My purpose was to see if women in these new places, which have varying degrees



Chapter 2.  Contextualizing the study 

of urbanization, would narrate stories about the impact of their MoE on various aspects of their lives as women located in Dehradun had done earlier. I wished to see if MoE was deemed as being relevant in 2013 across all the five sites. I was particularly interested to examine if these women would connect their MoEs to professional opportunities as had been done by the women I had spoken to earlier. Portions of the earlier datasets have been analyzed elsewhere (e.g., Sandhu, 2010, 2014a, 2014b, 2015a, 2015b, in press). I made the decision to use data only from the last phase of this long-ranging project for this book as the earlier data has already been extensively examined elsewhere. Additionally, I wished to examine how in this most recent round of data collection women who had graduated with their BA or MA degrees in the two to three years prior to data collection spoke about the intersectionalities between MoE and their professional and personal lives. Another feature unique to the current project is that I selected the stories of only single women for analysis, as I wished to examine how they narrated the impact of the intersectionality between their MoEs, professional lives, and aspects of their personal lives such as romantic relationships and ongoing arranged marriage negotiations. Therefore, in this book, I examine the narratives of twenty-two such women interviewed in the final round of data collection. 2.6.1  Research sites Five North Indian cities and towns served as the research sites for the current study. These were Dehradun, Mussoorie, Haridwar, Rishikesh, and Delhi. While the first four are cities and towns in the northern state of Uttarkhand which was carved out of the larger state of Uttar Pradesh in 2000, Delhi is the national capital. Dehradun, which is my hometown, was selected for the initial legs of the study because it was where I grew up and was educated and where I lived for the first twentyseven years of my life. In 2013, I decided to expand this research site to include the three smaller neighboring towns of Dehradun. These were selected because they have similar local languages and MoEs but have varying degrees of urbanization. Dehradun is the state capital and an educational hub for neighboring states. Mussoorie is a hill station established by the British colonialists and attracts tourists from across North India, most extensively in the summer months. Haridwar and Rishikesh are of religious importance to the dominant Hindu population of the country as the Hindu sacred river, Ganga, flows through the two towns, making both sought-after destinations for religious tourism. Delhi, as the capital of the country, is the most highly developed. On a continuum of most to least developed Delhi would be situated first, followed by Dehradun, Haridwar, Mussoorie, and Rishikesh. These variations in urbanization make these sites d ­ iffer from each

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

other in terms of the availability of professional opportunities for women and of the position accorded to women in general. I wished to examine if these differences emanating from their geographical locations would impact the narratives of the participants. This was found to be the case, as is illustrated in the following chapters. Brief descriptive information of these five sites is provided below.1 2.6.1.1  Delhi Delhi is the capital of the Republic of India. It has a population of approximately 16.3 million and is the second most populous urban metropolis in the country. Its growth post Indian Independence has been exponential, spilling beyond its borders. If one were to take into account its satellite towns in neighboring states, which together with Delhi are known as the National Capital Region, the total population of this region would be about 25 million residents as of 2014. The per capita income of Delhi residents was Rs. 230,000 (approximately US $3,430) in 2013, which is one of the highest in the country. Delhi is a multilingual ­metropolis and an important educational center. Together with Hindi and English, ­Punjabi and Urdu have official language status. Hindi and Punjabi are most widely spoken in the city while English is the primary written language and is most frequently used for official work. The city has an average literacy rate of 86.34%. Delhi has had a long and turbulent history. It has been continuously inhabited since the 6th century BC, during which time it has served as the capital of various kingdoms. During its tempestuous historical past, Delhi was captured, ­ransacked, and rebuilt several times, especially in the medieval period. It came under the direct control of the British colonialists in 1858 and was made into the capital of the ­British territories in India in 1911. During the bloody partition of India in 1947, millions of Hindu and Sikh refugees from the West Punjab region

.  The information about the five research sites is garnered from various websites. It has been augmented by my personal knowledge of having lived the first twenty-seven years of my life in Dehradun with brief periods in Delhi. Additionally, I have been a regular visitor to the three other sites of Mussoorie, Haridwar, and Rishikesh all my life. Even after I left India in 1993, I have continued to visit Dehradun, my hometown, annually, during which time I spend two to three months in the city and often travel to the other sites. My family has lived in Dehradun for four generations. The websites I used are: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delhi https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dehradun https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mussoorie https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haridwar https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rishikesh



Chapter 2.  Contextualizing the study 

of ­Pakistan fled to Delhi. This city continues to absorb migrants from other parts of the country. Delhi is of significance both because of its political and economic importance. It is the seat of the central government and houses the Indian Parliament as well as the Supreme Court of India. It is the largest commercial center of North India and has one of the biggest and swiftest-growing retail sectors of the country. It houses important service industries such as information technology, telecommunications, hotels, banking, media, and tourism. Other industries which contribute to the city’s economy are construction, power, health and community services, and real estate. The city also contains manufacturing units of numerous consumer goods companies. Its significant consumer market as well as the availability of skilled labor continues to attract foreign investors. Delhi houses thousands of schools. Each type of school enumerated in Table  2.1 above can be found here. Private schools use either Hindi or English as the medium of instruction. These schools are affiliated to one of three administering bodies: the Council of Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE), the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), or the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS). In 2004–2005 about 1.52 million students were enrolled in primary schools, 0.82 million in middle schools, and 0.66 million in secondary schools. 49% of these were female students. As of 2006, Delhi houses 165 c­ olleges, five medical colleges, eight engineering colleges, seven major universities, and nine deemed universities. It is estimated that in 2008, about 16% of all Delhi residents possessed a college degree. Delhi is unfortunately also infamous for its crime figures. In 2005, it accounted for 16.2% of all crimes reported in the 35 Indian cities with a population of one million or above. It also accounts for 15.4% of all reported crimes against women in Indian cities. 2.6.1.2  Dehradun Dehradun is the provisional capital of the newly formulated northern state of Uttarakhand which was carved out of the northwestern regions of the larger state of Uttar Pradesh in 2000. The city is 236 km north of Delhi. According to the national census of 2011, the population of Dehradun was approximately 569,578. The average per capita income of its residents is approximately US $2400. Hindi and Garhwali are the primary spoken languages of the city. Other languages spoken there are English, Punjabi, and Kumaoni. Most official work is conducted in Hindi. The average literacy rate of the city is 89.32%. Like Delhi, the region surrounding Dehradun has also had a long and checkered history. Ruins of ancient temples and relics of idols dating from 2000 years ago have been discovered in the area. Edicts of the ancient Indian ruler Ashoka, who ruled from 304–232 BC, have also been found in the region which hint at the

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

wealth and importance of the region during ancient times. In the seventh century, this city, known as Sudhnagar, finds mention in the writings of the famous C ­ hinese traveler Huen Tsang. Over the centuries, Dehradun, like Delhi was invaded several times. The British East India Company finally acquired Dehradun as part of a treaty in 1816. Since 2000, when Dehradun was made the provisional state capital, the city has expanded rapidly and has undergone a series of swift economic transformations. The present state government is headquartered there. This has resulted in numerous improvements in basic infrastructure facilities together with an increase in the importance of the city at the national political level. Of special significance is the growth in the areas of commerce and information technology which has been aided by the establishment of Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) and of Special Economic Zones (SEZs). Dehradun also houses the regional offices of numerous I­ T-based national companies. Its satellite town of Selaqui is home to an everincreasing number of manufacturing units. The opportunities provided by all these establishments, combined with a rapid increase in retail and service outlets, have led to a rise in the number of jobs available to the local youth. Earlier, most of the younger generation had to leave the city to find similar employment. Furthermore, the national highway that connects Dehradun to the capital Delhi is at the present moment being turned into a major four-lane highway. It is estimated that, once complete, this will translate into further economic development for Dehradun. Dehradun is famous for the high caliber of EME schooling it provides and is also known as the ‘City of Schools’ or the ‘School Capital of India’. Several national and international celebrities have attended EME K-12 schools in Dehradun. All the schools enumerated in Table 2.1 are to be found in Dehradun. The city also houses many institutions of higher education in the areas of engineering, medicine, law, management, Himalayan geology, remote sensing, and wildlife. These are in addition to college campuses that provide undergraduate and graduate degrees in traditional areas like the arts, commerce, and the sciences. The city also hosts training institutions of national importance such as the Indian Military Academy while housing organizations institutions such as the Ordnance Factory, Forest Research Institute, and Wildlife Institute of India. Despite all these changes, Dehradun is far from being a metropolitan city and remains one of the lesser urban centers at the national level in terms of size, facilities, infrastructure, development, and jobs. In fact, it is listed as a Tier 3 city.2 Although it boasts of several excellent, national caliber schools, tertiary

.  In India today, cities are divided into three tiers. Tier 1 cities are Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Calcutta, etc. These are the ones with the maximum number of population and the highest



Chapter 2.  Contextualizing the study 

level education is not comparable to that imparted in the more prestigious universities like Delhi University or Jawaharlal Nehru University, both housed in nearby Delhi, or other well reputed universities round the country. Most of the students who graduate from the EME schools in Dehradun, especially those from middle and upper-middle class backgrounds, aspire to study in colleges and universities outside of Dehradun. Entry into the most prestigious national ­universities is highly competitive and is based, in most cases, on the grades acquired in the school-leaving examination. Most EME schools in D ­ ehradun are affiliated to one of two prestigious national boards of education, the Council of Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) or Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). However, the more prestigious EME schools which comprise the elite residential schools, the well-established Christian missionary day schools, and some of the well-known, privately-owned day schools (see Table  2.1) are the institutions whose students consistently graduate with the highest grades in the school-leaving examinations. Students from the lesser EME schools, that is, the less well-reputed privately owned EME schools, do not get similar high grades. This is mostly because the quality of education provided in these schools is not of the same high academic standard. The tuitions of the more elite EME schools are much higher and admission into them is controlled strictly through a series of tough entrance examinations. The most elite residential schools are further restricted to students from the ‘right’ family backgrounds. Thus, only students from the elite EME schools normally manage to get admission into prestigious universities outside of Dehradun. Students with lower grades often attend lesser universities outside of the city or colleges within it. The state schools are affiliated to the state board which enjoys far less prestige at the national level. ­Students from these schools normally either go to local ­colleges or do not study further. Most of the students who do go outside of Dehradun for higher education do not take up jobs within the city after they graduate as their education in prestigious universities gives them the cultural capital to compete for jobs in the best national-level public and private sectors. This picture gets a little more complicated for female students as, traditionally, many conservative parents, both from the more and the less affluent segments of society, prefer not to send level of development in terms of business, housing, infrastructure, education, etc. After this level are the Tier 2 cities, which have developed rapidly in the recent years, e.g., Pune, ­Chandigarh, etc. The last in this category are Tier 3 cities, which have the least population and urban and economic development. Dehradun falls in this category. In addition to these three tiers, numerous towns deemed less than Tier 3 cities also exist. The other three sites of ­Mussoorie, Haridwar, and Rishikesh belong in this category.

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

their daughters out of station to study. However, this way of thinking is changing quite rapidly with the economic growth of Dehradun and many parents with low-paid, white collar jobs are cognizant of the future potential of imparting a good education to their daughters. This view is not universal by any means, therefore ­parental beliefs and choices and societal pressures are crucial and serve to expand or curtail the possible life paths of many women from the city. This is generally true for women in all the five sites of this study as well as across the country. Due to the rapid expansion of higher education in Dehradun, students who cannot afford higher education outside the city, or those who do not get good enough grades to get into more prestigious universities now have a number of opportunities to get tertiary level degrees and gain reasonably well-paid employment within the city itself. Though the pay-scales do not match similar jobs in the metropolitan or Tier 2 cities, competition for them is severe because such jobs are quite limited. This competition constantly increases because Dehradun, though not geographically large, has many adjacent semi-urban and rural areas within easy reach of the city. People from these areas often study or work in the city and add to the pool of people competing for a limited number of jobs. Additionally, in the last two decades there has been a large-scale dislocation of people from the neighboring Tehri Garhwal region due to the construction of a massive hydroelectric dam on the River Bhagirathi. Estimates of people displaced number approximately 100,000. Many of these indigenous Garhwali people have migrated to Dehradun. This influx has increased the population of the city and the number of people competing for jobs within the city limits. Furthermore, ever since the city became the provisional capital of Uttarakhand, it has witnessed inward-bound migration from surrounding areas and states. All these factors make for a complex situation vis-à-vis schools and higher level education, professional opportunities, and the differential access to all of these for Doonites (i.e., the people of Dehradun). The picture becomes even more complex for women because, as explained above, their education is often governed  by  factors  other than competition for limited resources and socioeconomic class. Nevertheless, the last two decades have changed the opportunities accessible to women in Dehradun. With the opening up of higher institutions of education and the increase in the local jobs currently available, many more women than previously are now in a position to gain higher level professional education and employment, which was not possible for local women earlier. Today it is very common to see young women ­working in the retail, banking, and service sectors in the city whereas in the past, the most common job that women had was



Chapter 2.  Contextualizing the study 

that of teaching, mostly at the school level. However, from personal experience of having lived there and from my annual visits to the city, I can say that despite the educational and economic opportunities now available to women, Dehradun remains quite conservative in its outlook towards women, like other parts of the country. Many patriarchal traditions such as arranged marriages, single women living with their parents rather than independently, and taboos related to pre-marital dating and sex are still widely prevalent and often monitored by society. I can say this because on almost every social occasion, I continue to be questioned by family, friends, and even perfect strangers on my unmarried status, my living on my own, and even on my relationships with men. 2.6.1.3  Mussoorie Mussoorie is a hill station within the larger Dehradun District in Uttarakhand. It is located at a distance of 35 km from Dehradun and about 290 km from Delhi. Situated in the foothills of Garhwal Himalayas, Mussoorie is commonly called the ‘Queen of Hills’. It had a population of 30,118 according to the 2011 Indian National Census. The main languages spoken in Mussoorie are Hindi and G ­ arhwal. Others include English and Jaunsari. Its average literacy rate is 86%. The town saw significant development under the British colonial rule as it was used extensively during the summer months. The main promenade in Mussoorie, as in other hill stations across the country, is called the Mall. During British colonial rule, racist signs reading “Indians and dogs not allowed” were commonplace on the Mall. These were regularly flouted by freedom fighters like Motilal Nehru, father of the first Prime Minister of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru, who is said to have broken the rule daily whenever he was in Mussoorie, choosing to pay the fine imposed by the colonial government. The mainstay of the economy is tourism and Indians from surrounding plains congregate to Mussoorie in large numbers during the summer months. Consequently, Mussoorie is now overdeveloped with hotels and tourist lodges, which creates severe problems of water scarcity, parking shortages, and garbage disposal during the tourist season. Mussoorie houses many nationally renowned EME residential schools such as Convent of Jesus and Mary, St. George’s College, Woodstock School, ­Wynberg-Allen, Mussoorie International School, etc. These are elite EME schools and students from across the country and from Indian families settled overseas study here. This town also houses numerous government-run, HME state schools. In addition to K-12 schools, the town is home to the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, which trains officers of the Indian ­Administrative Service and other civil services. It also houses the foremost academy of the

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

I­ ndo-Tibetan ­Border Police Force, which is an elite Police Organization belonging to the C ­ entral Government of India. 2.6.1.4  Haridwar Haridwar is a city and municipality in Uttarakhand. It is located at a distance of 52 km south-east of Dehradun. The holy river of the Hindus, the Ganga, flows through  it. Haridwar is considered to be one of the seven holiest places for ­Hindus. According to the 2011 India census, Haridwar district had a population of 1,890,422. The most common language spoken in the area is Hindi. English is also spoken while Sanskrit is used for religious ceremonies and rituals. It has an average ­literacy rate of 70%. Haridwar is one of the oldest living cities of the country, with a rich ancient and religious cultural heritage and has been variously known as Kapilasthana, Gangadwara, and Mayapuri over the centuries. Earliest mentions to it can be traced to ancient Hindu scriptures. Terracotta cultural artifacts dating from 1700 BC to 1200 BC have been discovered by archeologists in the region. Written accounts of the city have also been found in the writings of the Chinese traveler Huen Tsang who visited India in 629 AD. Ruins of temples and a fort dating from that period are to be found south of the modern-day city of Haridwar. Today, Haridwar is the largest city of the district of Haridwar and is developing swiftly as an industrial township due to the establishment of the State ­Development Corporation of Uttarakhand (SIDCUL) in 2002. This estate houses many manufacturing units. Also contributing to Haridwar’s industrial growth is the nearby township of Baharat Electricals Limited in Ranipur. H ­ aridwar houses both HME and EME schools as well as some universities. One of the oldest universities is the Gurukul Kangri University founded in 1902. More recent ones include Dev Sanskriti Vishwavidyalaya, Uttarakhand Sanskrit University (dedicated to the study of ancient Sanskrit scriptures and books as well as ancient Hindu rituals, culture, and tradition) and Chinmaya Degree College (a  ­science college). 2.6.1.5  Rishikesh Rishikesh is a town in the state of Uttarakhand. It is located in the foothills of the Himalayas and has been called the ‘The Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas’ and ‘The Yoga Capital of the World’. It is located approximately 25 km north of Haridwar and 43 km south-east of Dehradun. According to the Census of 2011, Rishikesh has a population of 70,499. It is a holy place for the Hindus and, like Haridwar, a famous pilgrimage town. In 2015, the current Central Government announced plans to give Rishikesh and Haridwar the title of the first ‘Twin H ­ eritage Cities’



Chapter 2.  Contextualizing the study 

of the country. Hindi is the most widely spoken language in the town. Other languages include English, while Sanskrit is used for religious ceremonies and rituals. The literacy rate of the town is 86.86%. While religious tourism is the mainstay of the economy, Rishikesh is fast becoming a popular destination for Indian and foreign white water rafting ­enthusiasts as the River Ganga has rough rapids rated class 3 and 4. Other adventure sports such as rock climbing, rappelling, kayaking, bungee jumping, mountain biking, hiking, backpacking, etc. are increasingly being offered to tourists. In addition to EME and HME K-12 schools, Rishikesh also houses degree colleges, an industrial training college, a management college, a dental college, a few paramedical institutes and several Sanskrit universities. 2.6.2  The participants A total of twenty-two women’s narratives are analyzed in this book. (See Table  2.2 below for details about these participants). These women are from three types of linguistic educational backgrounds: HME only (14), EME only (2) and a combination of HME and EME (6). As stated at the start of this section, thirty one women were interviewed in the final leg of the project in 2013 from the five sites of Delhi, Dehradun, Mussoorie, Haridwar, and Rishikesh. Of these, twenty-two were included in this book due to the many similarities they shared. First, they were all single women in their early twenties who lived with their parents. Second, they had all graduated within three years of data collection and, upon graduation, all had immediately started searching for work. This meant that their experience of job searches were much more recent than those collected from the earlier participants or from women during this round who had graduated earlier and had been working or married or both for several years. These twenty-two women’s stories were therefore comparable to each other with regard to the timeline within which they were situated, lending their stories a certain urgent topicality consequent to them being situated in the most current professional, linguistic, socioeconomic, and patriarchal intersectionalities. Thirdly, all of them stated that their parents were looking to make arranged marriages for them. Some had already had their marriages arranged while ­others were experiencing ongoing negotiations, even the ones who had had clandestine, unsuccessful romantic liaisons. Fourthly, all the HME and combined HME and EME women narrated the many ways in which their MoEs had negatively influenced their professional lives. Finally, all these women ­narrated their jobs or search for jobs as having had some impact on their arranged marriage discussions or on their romantic relationships.

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

Table 2.2  Background information about the participants Name

Educational ­background

Age Educational ­Qualifications

City

Profession

1.

Aarushi

HME only

22

BA in economics

Haridwar

Unemployed

2.

Brishti

Combined HME and EME

24

BSc in engineering

Delhi

Engineer in a small, private firm

3.

Chetna

4.

Deepika

HME only

23

BA in Sociology

Dehradun NGO worker

Combined HME and EME

25

MA in Commerce

Delhi

Clerk in accounting department of a small, private firm

5.

Dhara

HME only

25

BA in Hindi Literature

Delhi

Elementary school teacher in EME school

6.

Eshita

Combined HME and EME

22

BA in Fashion Designing

Delhi

Unemployed

7.

Falguni

HME only

23

BA in Hindi Literature

Mussoorie Part-time, private tutor for elementary school children

8.

Gargi

Combined HME and EME

23

BA in Commerce Haridwar

9.

Hetal

HME only

24

BA in Economics Dehradun Part-time teacher in a high-school coaching center

10. Ishanvi

HME only

24

BA in Sociology

Haridwar

Part-time, private tutor to elementary school children

11. Jeevika

HME only

24

MA in Economics

Haridwar

Elementary school teacher in HME school

12. Kavita

HME only

23

BA in Economics Delhi

13. Krutika

HME only

23

BA in Commerce Dehradun Unemployed

14. Lavanya

Combined HME and EME

23

BA in Economics Dehradun Administrative assistant

15. Mrigya

HME only

23

BA in commerce

Mussoorie Unemployed

16. Nalini

Combined HME and EME

23

BA in commerce

Dehradun Receptionist in a small, private hospital

17. Ridhima HME only

24

MA in Political Science

Dehradun Part-time, private tutor to elementary school children

18. Sarika

EME only

18

High School

Rishikesh

Part-time receptionist in an upscale hotel

19. Tanvi

HME only

23

BA in Sociology

Delhi

NGO worker

Clerk in a private firm

Clerk in a private firm

(Continued)



Chapter 2.  Contextualizing the study 

Table 2.2  (Continued) Name

Educational ­background

Age Educational ­Qualifications

City

Profession

Rishikesh

Part-time, private tutor to elementary school children

20. Upasna

HME only

23

BA in Hindi Literature

21. Vinita

HME only

22

BA in Commerce Delhi

Receptionist in a small, private firm

22. Yukti

EME only

23

BA in Sociology

Salesperson in an upscale mall

Delhi

Greater individual details about each of these women are provided in the following chapters prior to the analysis of each woman’s narrative. 2.6.3  Data collection The participants for this study were located either through placements of advertisements in the local newspapers and classified sections or through word of mouth. In the former case, prospective participants called me on my phone to inquire about the project. In the latter, certain women were recommended to me by other participants who, after acquiring consent, gave their cell phone numbers to me. I then rang the women and introduced myself and the project. In both cases, I only met with the participants once I had answered all their questions about the project over the phone. Once they expressed an interest in participating in the project, we had our first meeting during which time I answered any further queries they had. It was only after obtaining written consent from them that data collection was begun. I interviewed each participant three times and each interview lasted approximately two hours. The interviewees were given a choice between the use of Hindi, English or a combination of both for the interviews. For the most part, HME and combined HME and EME background women chose to speak in Hindi, although there was more of English mixed in the speech of the combined participants. The EME-only women chose to speak in English. All the interviews were audio-recorded. In this leg of data collection, we always met in public places such as coffee shops, restaurants, public libraries, parks, etc. The places and times were arranged by mutual consent. The interviews were active in the sense that the participants were understood to be constructing a situated understanding of the world as they were in the process of describing it (Holstein & Gubrium, 1995, 1997, 2003). My questions were formulated to encourage participants to expand on their answers (Hatch, 2002; J.  Richards, 2003). Thus, I adopted a constructionist view of interviews where

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

the data produced is viewed as co-authored and co-produced by the research ­participants and the researchers (Kvale, 1996, 1999; Mishler, 1986). The intention was not to reach some ‘truth’ outside of the interview situation, but rather to see how within the context of the interview both the participants and the researcher collaboratively created a particular meaning. I found that conducting interview research in this setting using these methods was an effective means to encourage the women participants to talk about their lives openly with the inclusion of numerous narratives. While I did not have any set questions that I used with all the participants, I did follow a somewhat semi-structured pattern for the interviews (Kvale, 2007; Kvale & Brinkman, 2009). In the first interview, I would begin by asking the women to let me know about their familial and educational backgrounds. I also asked questions about what their parents did, how many siblings they had, the educational and professional backgrounds of themselves and their siblings, their age, marital status, and if they had any children. I would intersperse their responses by furnishing similar information about myself every now and then. However, the amount of information about myself that I shared often varied with the amount of interest they expressed in me; some would outright ask me questions about my personal, academic, and professional experiences. Others seemed less interested. While following this semi-structured pattern for the opening of the initial interviews, my follow-up questions were almost always in response to the information they had volunteered in that I would ask for more details or for clarifications of what they had already told me. This elicitation and exchange of initial background information about them worked very well to establish the start of a comfortable rapport between us. In all the cases, I felt that this part of the interview allowed both the participants and me to begin to get to know each other a little and thus build the foundation for more meaningful discussions as we continued to talk. Another usefulness of this initial discussion of their backgrounds was that it allowed my participants the space to formulate certain identities for themselves and, often, for the people in their lives. The nature of the information I asked for ensured that these identities were multi-layered, consisting of familial, social, economic, academic, and professional elements. Often these initial disclosures were used by the participants to narrate related stories in the same or following interviews. Almost all would refer back to something they had said in these initial stages while expanding on particular subjects later. Once this initial background information had been asked for and relayed, I would shift the talk by asking the women what their feelings and experiences were in relation to their medium of education. From this point onwards, each of the interviews took a different shape based on what the participants would say.



Chapter 2.  Contextualizing the study 

Often they would volunteer stories from their lives to illustrate the points they wished to make. In a few instances I would ask them if they had actually experienced something similar to a statement they made. For example, if a woman said that EME provided many more opportunities in the present day context, I would ask her if this was the case in her own experience. Or, I would ask if she could recount some instance when she found this to be particularly true. Such queries would often lead to the telling of rich narratives. On a few occasions, when I expressed doubt about a general claim being made by my participants, some of them would fortify what they had said by narrating experiences from their lives which were then used to prove the veracity of their initial claims. Occasionally, I would steer the conversation towards something they might have said earlier that day or in a previous interview. In all cases, my questions would be based on what the participants themselves said. At the end of each interview, I would review the conversation and take notes on the topics that had been discussed. Occasionally, I would identify a narrative or reference mentioned by the participant for further questioning. Then, in the next interview I would ask the participant to explain or elaborate on this issue. Here I followed the precept laid down by grounded theory (Charmaz, 2006; Glaser & Strauss, 1967). 2.6.4  Data analysis Once data collection was complete, all the interviews were transcribed. These transcriptions were reviewed in detail and I identified all instances where the participants told stories about their MoEs. These were then transcribed in greater detail and each story was classified according to its general theme, for example, if the story pertained to searching for suitable job advertisements or whether it was about some on-the-job experience. All participants told stories in which they connected their MoEs to their professional lives. These stories fell under one of three broad themes: (i) job advertisements, (ii) job interviews, and (iii) on the job experiences. In addition, a majority of the participants recounted stories in which they not only associated their MoEs with their jobs (or the failure to obtain suitable appointment) but also with personal spheres of their lives such as romantic relationships, arranged marriage negotiations, and positionings within their ­families and social networks. After this categorization, I reviewed all the stories and transcribed them in detail. This enabled me to attend to the specific interactional devices utilized by the participants for accomplishing discursive empowerments and disempowerments: (i) Stylization, (ii) Reported Speech, (iii) Mock Language, (iv) Emotion-­Indexing

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

Devices, (v) Negative Self- or Other-Labeling, (vi) Imagery and Metaphors, (vii) Laughter and Laughing Tone, (viii) Stress and Intonation variations, (ix) Irony and Sarcasm, and (x) Lexical and Syntactic Choices. (See Chapter 1, Section 1.10 for detailed descriptions). The selection of stories for analysis in this book was guided by the need to include stories of all these twenty-two women while ensuring that all themes as well as interactional devices for the enactments of discursive empowerments and disempowerments were represented within them. Chapter Three discusses narratives on the theme of job advertisements, Chapter Four deals with job interviews, Chapter Five with on the job experiences and Chapter Six with the impact of professional placements as well as their absence on personal dimensions of women’s lives. 2.7  Conclusion In this chapter, I provided a brief history of English in India, incorporating its introduction in the country by the British Colonialists and its treatment in independent India. These sub-sections were followed by discussions of the linguistic educational policy of independent India with a focus on the Three Language Formula and its unequal implementation and a section on the variety of schools which exist in India today. Then there was a presentation of the multiple debates and discourses about the position of English in India followed by a section on the patriarchal nature of Indian society. The final part of the chapter detailed a description of the five research sites and provided information about the twentytwo participants and of the data collection and analysis procedures adopted.

chapter 3

Job advertisements In this chapter, I analyze the narratives of four women as they tell stories about looking for jobs in classified sections of newspapers. Three of the women, ­Ridhima, Mrigya, and Krutika were from HME-only (HME henceforth) backgrounds while the fourth, Deepika, had a combined HME and EME education. From a thematic perspective related to medium of education (MoE), all the four stories speak of the exclusionary practices at work in job advertisements in classified sections of printed news media. These preferences are reported as being instantiated as direct or indirect requirements for English speaking candidates from E ­ nglish medium education (EME) backgrounds at the expense of Hindi medium education (HME) background people and as taking two forms. The first is by limiting jobs to candidates with “good communication skills”. This expression, according to the participants, is a euphemism for ‘good’ spoken English language skills. The women also said that such language proficiency could be obtained only if one has attended EME schools because while HME or combined HME and EME school graduates might possess varying degrees of proficiency in the grammatical aspects of English, their spoken abilities in the language are not a match for EME graduates. The second way in which job advertisements are reported as signaling their preference for EME candidates is by directly soliciting only EME candidates. Thematically, the four stories in this chapter deal with different aspects of marginalization connected with job advertisements. In the first story, which is also the longest in the chapter, Ridhima from an HME background narrates her unsuccessful attempts to find a job advertisement to match her academic qualifications. Her failure to do so eventually results in her changing her professional direction and she shifts from searching for a job commensurate with her master’s degree in political science to starting a small tutorial service for elementary school children at her home. The second story is that of Mrigya, another HME woman from the small hill station of Mussoorie. Her story, while also ­highlighting the discrimination evidenced in job advertisements against HME background people, is additionally significant as it showcases how gen-

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

der and the precarious state of women’s safety in public places are implicated in the ­professional ­marginalization experienced by HME women. The third story included here is that of Krutika, who is also from an HME background. Her story is salient because while she depicts the same linguistic biases in professional hiring practice as the others, she tells of trying to subvert these by applying for jobs despite their specification of English proficiency. Her failure to succeed is depicted as motivating her to study for an additional degree in EME so that she might better fit into the existing system. The last story is that of Deepika, from a combined HME and EME background. Her story instantiates that while a combined HME and EME background woman can leverage her mixed linguistic background to obtain a job requiring ‘English fluency’, the professional domains open to her are restricted vis-à-vis geographical location and the size of the ­hiring firm. The analysis focuses on the manner in which these four women report being disempowered by professional gatekeeping. At the same time, the narratives included here also showcase the multiple ways in which the participants interrogate some of these exclusionary practices. These interrogations take various forms and are located in either the interactional plane of the narrative tellings where the participants adopt and perform resistance, or in the narrated world of the stories, where they report having enacted resistance. From a narrative analytical perspective the four stories examined in this ­chapter are first examined according to two broad categories: (a) positionings between interactants and (ii) positionings emanating from the storied world. As explained in Chapter 1, the first type examines the varied positionings negotiated between the interviewee and interviewer (i.e. me), such as, those of interviewer/interviewee, story-teller/audience, etc. Here, I would also like to refer readers to the section on Narratives in Chapter One where I provide a discussion of how interviews are conceptualized as speech events (Talmy, 2010a) rather than as direct conduits into ‘true’ or ‘inner’ cognitive stances of interviewees. Also of analytical importance is the institutional nature of interview talk (Drew & Heritage, 1992; Heritage, 2002, 2005) whereby interview talk is understood to be governed by the agenda of completing the ongoing task which is the asking and answering of questions (Heritage, 2005). During this talk, interactants are understood to occupy institution-relevant identities whereby the interviewee can claim the right to ask questions and the interviewee has the associated obligation to answer these questions (Drew & Heritage; 1992; Heritage, 2002). These understandings provide the foundation for analyzing the positionings between the interactants. Where relevant, I also show how the narratives (and the interview talk) are, to a large extent, directed by the questions and follow-up queries which I as the interviewer direct at the interviewees/participants. The second



Chapter 3.  Job advertisements 

level of positioning examines how the narrators position themselves with relation to other narrated characters in their storied world as well as with respect to established societal discourses, structures, and practices. I further analyze if participants enact discursive empowerments or disempowerments against subordinating discourses and practices. Analysis reveals that such enactments are located in the narrating world as well as in the narrated worlds and often there are shifts and bridges from one to the other. Additionally, the analysis shows the dynamic and constantly shifting nature of these enactments from one moment of the interaction to the next. Special attention is paid to the various ways in which the narrators enact discursive empowerments and disempowerments with the analytical lens being fixed on the various devices which participants utilize to enact these empowerments and disempowerments. Both direct and indirect discursive empowerments are manifested. Indirect discursive empowerments are realized through varied devices including double-voiced discourse using specific devices such as (a) stylization, (b) reported speech, (c) mock languages, (d) marked lexical choices including connotatively rich idiomatic language, (e) stress and intonation variations, (f) laughter and laughing tones, and (g) vivid imagery. 3.1  Ridhima’s story: Changing directions Ridhima was twenty-four when we spoke. She was from an HME background and had an MA in Political Science. She was single and lived in D ­ ehradun with her parents. At the time of data collection Ridhima worked as a part-time private­ tutor to elementary school children. Her father had a clerical post in a government bank while her mother was a housewife. She had one older sister who had had an arranged marriage the previous year. According to Ridhima, her parents had to spend a lot of money on this wedding, and she was worried that they would have to arrange for a similar amount of money for her marriage, which they wished to conduct within the next year. They were actively searching for a ‘suitable’ match for her when we spoke. In addition to the frustration of not being able to find a job commensurate with her academic qualification, Ridhima also connected her desire for a ‘good’ job with her wish to help her parents with her wedding expenses. In the series of interconnected stories analyzed below, Ridhima tells how her futile search for a suitable job eventually led her to open her own coaching enterprise for neighborhood, elementary school children in her parents’ home. In the process of telling these stories, Ridhima enacts ­several discursive empowerments and disempowerments both in direct and indirect forms.

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

Excerpt 3.1. 1. P: Toh aapne bataya ki apko MA complete kare 2. hue ek saal ho gaya hai. So you said that it’s been one year since you completed MA. 3. R: Haanji Yes 4. P: Aaj-kal aap ↑kya kar rahin hain What are you doing these days? 5. R: Ghar pe houn (.) Dupehar ko colony ke bachon ko 6. tuition deti houn (.) Din mein Mummy ka haath 7. bataati houn (.) Ghar ke kaam-kaj mein. I am at home. In the afternoons, I tutor the children from my colony. In the daytime, I help my mother. In housework. 8. P: Apne kabhi ghar ke bahar naukri ke baare mein 9. nahin ↑socha Have you never thought of a job outside your home? 10. R: Haan (.) Bahut baar socha tha (.) Aur koshish bhi 11. bahut ki thi (.) Lekin kuch ho nahin paya. Yes. I thought about it many times. And I tried a lot for it as well. But nothing was accomplished. 12. P: ↑Kyun nahin Why not? 13. R: Ab mein apko ↑kya:: bataoun (.) Aap nahin jantey 14. lekin yahan Dehradun mein zyada jobs nahin hain. Now, wha::t do I say to you? You don’t know but there aren’t too many jobs here in Dehradun. 15. P: Lekin yeh ↑kaise ho sakta hai (.) Yahan par toh itni 16. development ho gayi hai (.) Shops, malls, offices, 17. banks, businesses (.) Kitna kuch toh khul gaya hai 18. (.) Toh phir jobs ↑kyun nahin hain. But how is that possible? There has been so much development here. Shops, malls, offices, banks, businesses. So many things have opened. So then why aren’t there any jobs? 19. R: Sahi kaha apne (.) Yeh sab kuch toh ho gaya hai 20. ((laughs)) Lekin BAAT yeh hai ki in saari jaghaon 21. pe English aani bahut hi zaroori hai. What you say is correct. All this has happened ((laughs)) But the THING is that in all these places English is very necessary. 22. P: ↑Kya mutlab. What do you mean? 23. R: Jaise mein aapko batati houn. Like, I’ll tell you.



Chapter 3.  Job advertisements 

24. P: Haan bataaiye. Yes, please tell me. 25. R: Pichle saal meine bahut saare ishtihaar dekhe the 26. (.) Jab meri MA khatam hui thee (.) Socha tha koi 27. naukri toh mil hi jayegi (.) Ki meine MA ki hui hai. Last year I looked at many job advertisements. At the time when my MA was completed. I had thought that I would get some job for sure since I had completed an MA. 28. P: Haan yeh toh theek socha tha aapne. Yes, you thought correctly. 29. R: Aur ghar mein bhi Mummy-Papa ki help karna 30. chaahti thi. And I also wanted to help my mother and father at home. 31. P: Achcha. Okay. 32. R: Kyunki pichle saal meri badi didi ki shaaadi mein 33. Papa ka bahut kharcha ho gaya tha (.) Aur ab woh 34. meri shaadi ke liye tayaari kar rahein hain (.) Toh 35. mera bhi toh FARZ banta hai ki mein unki help 36. karoun. Because last year for my older sister’s marriage my father had to spend a lot of money. And now they are making preparations for my marriage. So it is my DUTY too to help them as well. 37. P: Haan yeh toh sahi kaha apne. Yes, what you say is true. 38. R: Haan (.) Aur hum logon mein toh kafi len-den hota 39. hai (.) Sasural walon ke liye bahut samaan jaata hai 40. (.) Aur ladki ke gehne, kapde, ghar ka furniture 41. (.) Aur nakad paise bhi dene padte hain. Yes. And in our community, a lot of dowry has to be given. Many things are sent for the husband’s family. And there is the bride’s jewelry, her trousseau, furniture for the house. And money in cash has to be given as well. 42. P: Haan mujhe malum hai kitni mushkil hoti hai ladki 43. ke mata-pita ke liye. Yes, I know how difficult this is for the parents of the bride. 44. R: Toh yahi sab soch ke mein har hafte classifieds 45. mein ishtihaar dekhti thi (.) Lekin pehle toh MA 46. Political Science ke liye koi naukri nahin hoti thi 47. ((laughs)) Aur doosra (.) Joh kuch thein bhi (.) Un 48. logon ko convent waali ladkiyan chahiyein thein. So, thinking about all these things, I used to look at job advertisements in the classifieds every week. But, first of all, there would be no jobs for candidates with an MA in Political Science ((laughs)). And the second thing was that the few that were there, those people needed convent girls.

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

49. P: Convent wali ladkiyon se apka ↑kya mutlab What do you mean by convent girls? 50. R: Mutlab joh aap ki tarahan English schoolon se 51. padhi huin ho (.) Au::r jo >dhada-dhar< badhiya 52. English mein baat kar sakein (.) jaise I mean those women, who like you, have studied from English medium schools. And who can speak >rapidly< in good English like53. P: 0Achcha0 ((laughs softly)) 0Okay0 ((laughs softly)) 54. R: “ 56. [((laughs)) 57. P: [((laughs)) Achcha. ((laughs)) Okay. 58. R: Aur joh aadmiyon se bhi kar sakein [((laughs)) And those who can also say to men [((laughs)) 60. P: [((laughs)) Achcha. Okay. 61. R: Hum log toh aise nahin kar sakte ↑nah We people cannot do this, right? 62. P: Hum log ↑mutlab What do you mean by ‘we people’? 63. R: Mutlab hum Hindi school waale (.) Na toh hum 64. English aise TEZ-TARAR bol sakte hain (.) Aur na 65. hum aadmiyon se is tarhan KHULLAM-KHULLA 66. baat kar sakte hain.. I mean we people from Hindi medium schools. Neither can we speak such RAPID English, nor can we speak so OPENLY to men. 67. P: Achcha. Okay. 68. R: Haan (.) Toh phir mein har hafte dhoondhti thi 69. calssifieds mein pichle saal (.) Lekin kahin pe mere 70. liye koi job nahin tha (.) Sabko bus English bolne 71. waale log hi chaihiye the. Yes. So I used to search the classifieds every week last year. But there was no job for me anywhere. Everyone only wanted English speaking people. 72. P: Achcha. Aapne unme se kahin koshish ↑ki Okay. Did you try for any of those jobs? 73. R: Nahin (.) Apply karne ki HIMMAT hi nahin hui 74. ((laughs)) No. I didn’t have the COURAGE to even apply for them ((laughs))



Chapter 3.  Job advertisements 

75. P: Achcha. Woh ↑kyun Okay. Why was that? 76. R: Lagta tha “↑Kya:: fayada (.) Yeh log MUJHE 77. ↑kyun naukri deinge” (.) Lagta tha ki woh sochenge 78. “↑Kyun aayi hai yahan (.) Jab isse English bhi 79. nahin aati” I used to feel, “Wha::t’s the point? Why would these people give ME a job?” I used to feel they would think, “Why has she come here when she does not even know English?” 80. P: ↑↓Oho:: 81. R: Roz yahi sochti thi ki “Ab ↑KYA:: karoun” (.) Kuch 82. bhi soo::jh hi nahin raha tha (.) Charon taraf 83. andhera-hi-andhera dikh raha tha. Every day I used to think, “WHA::T should I do now?” I was unable to think of any solu::tion. I could see only darkness all around me. 84. P: ↑↓Oho:: (.) I’m so sorry apke saath itna sab ho 85. raha tha. ↑↓Oho:: I’m so sorry that all this was happening with you. 86. R: Haan (.) Bahut hi pareshan rehne lagi this (.) Apne 87. kamre se bahar bhi kam nikalti thi (.) Ghar ke 88. bahar bhi aana-jaana chod diya tha (.) Jaise kehte 89. hain nah (.) Depression sa ho gaya tha. Yes. I had started to remain very upset. I used to seldom come out of my room. I had also stopped going out of the house. Like they say you know, something like depression had happened to me. 90. P: I’m really very sorry ke aapke saath aisa hua I’m really very sorry that this happened to you. 91. R: Haan (.) Ek din toh mein itni pareshan ho gayi ki 92. rone lagi. Yes. One day I became so upset that I started to cry. 93. P: ↑↓Oho:: 94. R: Haan (.) Aur itna roi ki Mummy ne sun liya (.) 95. Woh mere kamre mein aayein aur mujhe chup 96. karaya (.) Unhone poocha, “Beti kyun roh rahi 97. ho?” Meine kaha ki “Mein tang aa gayi houn (.) 98. Itni mehnat ki hai meine apni degree ke liye (.) 99. Lekin ↑KYA fayada (.) Mere liye koi naukri hi nahin 100. hai” (.) Mummy bhi bahut pareshan ho gayein 101. mujhe aise dekh kar. Yes. And I cried so much that my mother heard me. She came to my room and made me stop crying. She asked me, “Daughter, why are you crying?” I said, “I’m fed up. I worked so hard to get my degree but WHAT’S the point? There is no job at all for me.” My mother also ­became very upset when she saw me like that.

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

102. P: I’m so sorry. Mein samajh sakti houn. I’m so sorry. I can understand. 103. R: Thank you (.) Us din shaam ko Mummy-Papa dono 104. ne baith kar mujhse baat kari ke “Theek hai beti (.) 105. Aap ko koi naukri nahin mil rahi hai (.) Isme 106. pareshan mat ho (.) Joh yahan ke halaat hain (.) 107. Woh toh nahin badal sakte ↑nah (.) (.) Lekin aap ghar pe bhi toh bachchon ko 109. tuition padha sakti ho ↑nah” (.) Pehle toh mujhe 110. yeh baat bilkul bhi ACHCHI nahin lagi (.) Mujhe 111. laga ki “Meine toh MA Political Science mein ki hui 112. hai (.) Meri degree ke layak kaam karna chahiye (.) 113. Bachchon ko toh koi bhi padha sakta hai.” Thank you. That evening both my mother and father sat down and spoke with me saying, “It’s okay daughter. You are not being able to find a job. Don’t get upset about this. We cannot change the prevailing conditions, right? . But you can tutor children at home as well, right?” At first, I did not LIKE this suggestion at all. I felt, “I have done MA in Political Science. My work should fit my qualifications. Anyone can teach children.” 114. P: Achcha (.) Phir ↑kya hua Okay. Then what happened? 115. R: Phir ek-do hafte jab aur nikal gaye aur meri 116. qualifications ke hisaab se koi naukri nahin aayi (.) 117. Toh maine socha, “Papa-Mummy theek kehte hain 118. (.) Lekin aise toh ghar pe khaali nahin baith sakti” Then after a couple of weeks during which no jobs suitable for my ­qualifications appeared, I thought, “Mother and Father were correct. But I can’t keep sitting idle like this at home.” 119. P: Achcha. Okay. 120. R: Toh phir meine aas-pados ki logon se baat karni 121. shuru kari (.) Aur colony ke 122. bachche mere paas tuition ke liye aane lage (.) Ab 123. mein dupehar ko school ke baad do batches 124. padhaati houn (.) Teen se chaar aur phir chaar se 125. paanch (.) Mere paas lagbhag baranh bachche 126. padhne aate hain. So then I started talking to the people in my neighborhood. And the children from the colony started to come to me for tuitions. Now I teach two batches of students in the afternoons after school; from three to four and then from four to five. About twelve children come to study with me.



Chapter 3.  Job advertisements 

127. P: Yeh toh bahut achchi baat hai (.) Kaunse subjects 128. padhati hain? This is wonderful! Which subjects do you teach? 129. R: Woh KG se paanchvi kaksha ke bachche hain toh 130. zyadatar mein unhe saare subjects hi padhaati 131. houn. The children are from kindergarten to fifth standard so I mostly teach them all the subjects. 132. P: Bade bachchon ko (.) Mutlab high school ke 133. students ko nahin padhatein aap? Older children- I mean don’t you teach high school students? 134. R: Woh log toh apne school ke teacheron ke paas hi 135. jaate hain. Those children go to study with their own school teachers. 136. P: Apne kabhi school mein naukri karne ka nahin 137. socha? Did you never think of working in a school? 138. R: Itna aasan nahin hai (.) Achche school mein naukri 139. chaihiye toh wahan bhi English aani chahiye (.) 140. Meine ek-do ishtihaar dekhe the (.) Lekin English 141. ka padh ke apply nahin kiya (.) Aur cho::te 142. schoolon mein salary bahut kam hai (.) Usse zyada 143. toh mein ghar pe tuition de kar kama leti houn (.) 144. Toh meine socha ki ghar pe hi kaam karna behtar 145. hai (.) Yahan pe mein apne hisaab se sab kuch karti 146. houn (.) Kissi aur ki sunini nahin padti. [((Laughs)) That’s not so easy. If you want a job in a good school, then even there, you need to know English. I looked at a couple of job advertisements but when I saw the English requirement, I did not apply. And in sma::ller schools, the salary is very little. I can earn more than that by tutoring children at home. So I thought it was better to work at home. Here I can work as I please. I don’t have to obey anyone [((laughs)) 147. P:  [((Laughs)) Yeh toh sahi kaha aapne. ((Laughs)) What you say is correct.

3.1.1  Positionings between interactants From lines 1–7, relevant background information is exchanged between Ridhima and the interviewer (i.e., me) in a fairly typical institutional interview pattern with me asking the questions and Ridhima answering these by explaining her current occupation. During these initial lines and in the rest of the excerpt, both Ridhima

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

and I enact our institutional identities of interviewer and interviewee, with me posing questions, in some cases, especially direct ones (e.g., lines 8–9, 12), followup questions (e.g., lines 22, 49, 62, 75, 114, 127–28) and even some that openly challenge what Ridhima says (e.g., lines 15–18). In turn, Ridhima readily answers all these questions. Throughout, it is clear that I, as the interviewer, am in charge of the conversation and am steering the conversation and also that I am focused on eliciting information or generating discussion about medium of education (MoE) and job opportunities as these are instantiated in job advertisements. Reciprocally, Ridhima enacts her institution-relevant identity as an interviewee obligated to answer my questions by responding to all my queries unhesitatingly and by following in the direction that I set. It is therefore clear that in our exchanges, both of us enact our institution-relevant identities of interviewer and interviewee with their corresponding and hierarchical interactional responsibilities. At the same time, Ridhima also negotiates for herself the identity of a narrator (e.g., line 23) when she offers to tell me what happened the previous year after she had completed her Masters’ degree, and I agree to enact the identity of her audience (line 24). At the same time, it must be mentioned here that this negotiation occurs as a result of the challenging question posed by me (lines 15–18) where I interrogate her claim about the paucity of jobs in Dehradun (lines 13–14). Subsequent to my challenge, she furnishes more information about the importance of English, thereby bolstering her claim (lines 19–21) and then offers to tell her story (line 23). The narrative that follows does the interactional work of justifying R ­ idhima’s assertion. In fact, there are several interconnected stories – the first about helping her parents because of wedding expenses (lines 29–30, 32–36, 38–41) which is used as a compelling justification for her search for a job which ultimately proves unsuccessful, leading her to become withdrawn and depressed (lines 23, 25–27, 44–48, 50–52, 54–56, 58–59, 61, 63–66, 68–71, 73–74, 76–79, 81–83, 86–89). This is followed by a specific event narration – the episode where she breaks down and cries, whereupon she is consoled first by her mother (lines  91–92, 94–101) and then jointly by her parents who also offer her some constructive professional advice (lines 103–113). She later accepts their advice and starts her tutoring work from home (lines 115–118, 120–126, 129–131). Finally, there is the narration of events leading her to decide against working in a school (lines 138–146). These narratives, except the penultimate tutoring-related one, can be categorized as troubles-telling where speakers recount some trouble or problem which they encountered (­Jefferson, 1984a, 1988). During their telling, I, for the most part, enact the identity of a sympathetic, supportive listener (e.g., line 28), especially during the story about the wedding and dowry expenses (e.g., line 37, 42–43). In other instances, I ask for specific information, for example, it is my question in lines 136–137 that leads to the final narrative.



Chapter 3.  Job advertisements 

During the telling of these stories, Ridhima enacts various other identities. For example, in lines 13–14, she assumes an insider’s position who has knowledge which the interviewer does not possess (“Aap nahin jantey lekin yahan…” (‘You don’t know but…here…’), and again in lines 19–21 when she acknowledges the accuracy of my refutation (lines 15–18), but fine tunes the local context depicted by me through the use of “Lekin BAAT yeh hai ki…” (‘But the THING is that…’), thus inserting the salience of English into the local situation. After a clarification question (line 22), I accede to Ridhima the right of greater insider knowledge by agreeing to hear her upcoming narrative (line 24). Then, when Ridhima narrates the embedded story of the dowry-related expenses her parents had incurred for her sister and their preparations for the same for her, she connects her job search with the desire to help her parents financially (lines 29–30, 32–36) and reinforces this desire by formulating it as her “FARZ” or ‘DUTY’ which is loudly articulated thereby marking it interactionally (line 35). She thus projects herself very explicitly as a dutiful, thoughtful daughter and I acknowledge this identity through my response in line 37. Another interesting identity play which Ridhima engages in at the interactional level is the interplay between her and me in lines 47 to 67 during which she positions me within the category of “convent wali ladikiyan” or ‘convent-educated girls’. Since I am placed here in the same category as other narrated characters in her story about her unsuccessful job search, I discuss this identity interplay and her related discursive empowerments and disempowerments in the next section. Ridhima and I enact another set of identity performances which are played out on the interactional plane when she narrates her unsuccessful story of searching for jobs in classified sections of newspapers (lines 68–102). While Ridhima enacts the persona of an unsuccessful job applicant, I perform the identity of an empathic listener to her troubles, especially through my response cries of “↑↓Oho::” (lines 80, 84, 93). Response cries are articulations with minimum lexical content (e.g., ‘Oh::::’ or the example cited here) and are used by speakers to directly index their stance (Goffman, 1981). Within the tradition of Conversation Analysis, Heritage (2011, p. 173) has convincingly demonstrated such cries to be resources for recipients to fully affiliate with the tellers. He also argues that non-lexical response cries are most amenable to sound stretches (p. 173). An important feature of such cries, according to Heritage is that they do not differentiate between the “report of an event and the event itself as the target of response” (p. 174). This lack of differentiation allows speakers who articulate such cries to affiliate very empathically with tellers. Because non-lexical response cries are pliable to sound stretches, they express empathy primarily through prosody (Heritage, 2011). My response cry of “↑↓Oho::” is both non-lexical and marked for its prosody through the risingfalling pattern and the stretched vowel sound. In Hindi usage, such a response cry

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

indicates both an acceptance of the truth-content of the trouble being related while working also as an empathic utterance which aligns the listener with the affective stance portrayed by the troubles-teller (also see Sandhu, in press). By articulating these response cries thrice during the telling of Ridhima’s tellings about her unsuccessful job search and especially during the most emotion-laden moments of the story, I enact the identity of a recipient of troubles-talk capable of making culturally-appropriate responses to such tellings. Later, when Ridhima describes her tutorial work (lines 120–26), I also act as an appreciative audience “Yeh toh bahut achchi baat hai” (‘This is wonderful!) (line 127). Ridhima and I thus enact diverse identities during the telling of her interconnected narratives. The dynamic and constantly-shifting nature of these identities is inextricably connected to the ongoing question-answer interview format, the telling of locally-contextualized stories, and the characters and situations described within these narratives. 3.1.2  Positionings emanating from the storied world As described in the previous section, Ridhima tells several interconnected narratives in this excerpt. In this section, I examine how she positions herself vis-àvis other narrated characters and also in relation to dominant societal discourses and social structures and practices in her stories. The longest narrative is that of her unsuccessful search for a suitable job in classified sections of various newspapers over a period of several months. But, as also elucidated previously, she attributes the urgency of this job search to the expenditure her parents incurred in her older sister’s wedding and their additional financial burden in preparing for her wedding. In this story of wedding expenses starting from line 29 and culminating in line 41, Ridhima mentions herself, her parents, and her older sister. Throughout, she positions herself and her family members as passively and unquestioningly acquiescing to the social practice of dowry. In India, especially in the openly patriarchal, North Indian site of this study, the bride’s family is expected to pay a significant amount of dowry to the groom’s family. This can take the form of gold jewelry, cash, car (or some other motor vehicle such as a motorcycle or a scooter), a house, furniture, expensive presents of jewelry or clothes for the groom’s family members, the brides’ trousseau, etc., many of which Ridhima mentions (lines 40–41). The fact that her family and she herself are presented as accepting these practices as customary positions all of them as compliant of the gender-based hierarchical structuration of a patriarchal society where the groom’s family enjoys a higher social status than that of a bride, and where the woman’s family is supposed to not only meet the financial demands of the man’s family but where she and her



Chapter 3.  Job advertisements 

family are forever positioned as subordinate to the husband and his family (also demonstrated in Sandhu 2010, 2014b). In this narrative, prevailing social genderbased hierarchies are thus unquestioningly accepted and perpetuated, making this narrative an instantiation of discursive disempowerment. Furthermore, this disempowerment is enacted both in the storied world through the behavior of the narrated characters as well as at the interactional plane where this story is recounted without the use of any linguistic or non-linguistic devices that might interrogate these practices. In other words, Ridhima makes no attempt to problematize either the actions of her parents in giving dowry or those of the parents of grooms for asking for it, or even the social conventions that make this practice normative. Through the enactment of this discursive disempowerment, Ridhima portrays herself and her family as being passive victims of patriarchal oppression. Such a portrayal depicting the unavoidable financial hardship of her family in the past (through her sister’s marriage) and a similar upcoming future situation (because of her own prospective wedding), lends further interactional urgency to her need for a job and also does the work of connecting this narrative with the next one. The second and longest narrative is about the unsuccessful search through classified sections for a suitable job, although the wedding-expenses story is embedded within it (lines 23, 25–27, 44–89). After she negotiates her ­story-telling rights (line 23), she tells about her job search following her graduation (lines 25–27) and then branches off to narrate the story about wedding expenses. In this job-search narrative, Ridhima once again peoples it with other characters in juxtaposition with herself. The first among these are the unspecified generic collection of prospective employers who place job advertisements in newspapers whom she labels as “Un logon” (‘those people’) (lines 47–48). The institutional power that such prospective employers possess over job applicants is made clear throughout this narrative and is especially explicit when Ridhima speaks of their authority to grant or withhold a job on the basis of English proficiency, e.g. “Un logon ko convent waali ladkitan chahiyein thein” (‘those people needed ­convent girls’) (lines 47–48) and again at a later point in the narrative, “Sabko bus English bolne waale log hi chahiye the” (‘Everyone only wanted English speaking people’) (70–71). In the first example, she uses “convent” to index English medium education (EME) and articulates “convent” with additional stress. This meaning is negotiated and explicated at length in the intermediating lines (lines 47–67) and is analyzed below. Following this exchange, Ridhima reverts to the story about searching through job advertisements and explains the failure of it through the second instance quoted above (lines 70–71). In this second explication, Ridhima directly indicts the employers’ requirement of English–speaking candidates. These collective employers are thus portrayed as adamant and inflexible regarding this linguistic requirement. Their

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

absolute power is juxtaposed with her narrated character’s helplessness and lack of courage when, in answer to my query, she reports that she did not have the “­HIMMAT’ (‘COURAGE’) to apply for jobs which made an explicit demand for EME background candidates (lines 73–74). On being quizzed about this, Ridhma uses reported speech to formulate an answer: “Lagta tha ‘↑Kya:: fayada (.) Yeh log MUJHE ↑kyun naukri deinge’ (.) Lagta tha ki woh sochenge ‘↑Kyun aayi hai yahan (.) Jab isse English bhi nahin aati’” (‘I used to feel, “Wha::t’s the point. Why would these people give ME a job?” I used to feel they would think, “Why has she come here when she does not even know ­English?”’) (lines 76–79). In the first example of reported speech here, R ­ idhima utilizes quasi direct speech (Bakhtin, 1981) to depict the emotional state of her narrated self ’s feelings. As described in Chapter 1, quasi direct speech, while being formally authorial, represents the inner speech of the narrated character. Reported thoughts (and feelings) enable storytellers to portray a multi-layered depiction of the events being reported (Haakana, 2006). Such a nuanced depiction is constructed here by Ridhima who clearly indexes her inner feelings by using the reporting phrase “Lagta tha” (‘I used to feel’) to opine the futility of applying of posts with English requirement. The pointlessness of such attempts is signaled both through the use of the rhetorical question construction “↑Kya:: fayada” (‘Wha::t’s the point?’) and through marking the first wh-questioning word with an elongated articulation as well as a rising questioning pitch. One use of this rhetorical questioning phrase in Hindi is in exactly such contexts, that is, to signal the futility of taking any action in a situation when nothing that one can do could possibly lead to a positive outcome. Having used this connotatively rich rhetorical question, Ridhima follows-up with another rhetorical question where she interactionally marks “MUJHE” (‘ME’) through a louder articulation to stress her unsuitability to meet English-speaking job requirements. These feelings of futility and low self-esteem attributed to her narrated character are explained by wielding what I described as choral thoughts, in Chapter 1. This is a combination of quasi direct speech (Bakhtin, 1981), used by a narrator to represent the feelings of a reported character, and of choral thought, drawn from the notion of choral dialogue (Tannen, 1989, 2007). Choral dialogue has been described as the reported opinions expressed by a group of people while choral thoughts are theorized here as representative of what a group of people might think at some given moment. Choral thoughts can also be representations of the collective opinions, attitudes, beliefs, etc. held by a group of people. And, as with all reported speech, two speech centers and two speech unities (Bakhtin, 1984) are present here as well – that of the narrated character and that of the narrator. The former, although presented as the independently articulated words, thoughts, feelings, etc. of the represented character are in reality subordinated to the n ­ arrator’s



Chapter 3.  Job advertisements 

intention and authority, who also holds the power to select the manner and content of such representation. Through attributing this as the collective opinion of the group of prospective employers, Ridhima succeeds in presenting them with the power to not only reject her but also negatively evaluate her for her limited linguistic abilities. This latter is projected through the use of the emphasis marker ‘bhi’ (‘even’): (“↑Kyun aayi hai yahan? Jab isse English bhi nahin aati?” or ‘Why has she come here when she does not even know English?’) (lines 76–79). Through the use of these two types of reported speech, Ridhima successfully portrays the relationship between these collective employers and herself as power-laden in favor of employers who can not only reject her candidacy but can fault her for her lack of English proficiency. This power-saturated, skewed relationship is further portrayed as having being hegemonically accepted by Ridhima’s narrated character who is portrayed as lacking the “HIMMAT” (‘COURAGE’) to even apply for such positions, that is, jobs where English fluency was a required criterion. These identities and relationships between the generic groups of employers and herself as an HME background job candidate efficaciously deploy societal discourses and practices that construct English fluency as necessary for employment procurement in urban spaces. Simultaneously, her other academic achievements such as her Masters’ degree, through their absence in these reported representations are indexed as being of far less importance than English speaking ability. Taking another analytical step, it may thus be surmised that as the author of these reported scripts, Ridhima in effect portrays a narrated self who is the helpless victim of employer demands with no agency to negotiate on her own behalf. In addition, her narrated character, as also the storied characters of this collective group of employers, is portrayed as being under the comprehensive influence of ideologies and practices that deem English fluency as essential for urban employment. Ridhima’s discursive disempowerment in the narrated plane of the story is thus clear through the plot of her story. That this disempowerment continues to the interactional plane can be deduced from the manner in which Ridhima fails to interrogate or problematize either the authoritarian views of the represented group of employers or the social practices and discourses that elevate English fluency to such high levels through any interactional devices such as irony, sarcasm, or even laughter. On the contrary, her narrating choices exemplified by the use of lexical items and the interactional marking of connotatively laden words and phrases through a louder, stressed, or elongated enunciation, serve to extend her enactment of discursive disempowerment from the narrated plane to the interactional plane. However, this enactment of discursive disempowerment does not extend uniformly through this narrative. Earlier, when Ridhima and I engage in a lengthy exchange about what she means by “convent waali ladkiyan” (‘­convent

 Professional identity constructions of Indian women

girls’) (lines  47–67), in the context of this educational background being a required condition laid down by prospective employers, she enacts discursive empowerment both in the narrated and narrating planes through the use of extensive stylized speech (Bakhtin, 1981, 1984; Coupland, 2001a, 2001b, 2007) and explicit commentary. In other words, Ridhima performs both direct and indirect discursive empowerment during this segment of the talk. As discussed in Chapter 1, stylization is a creative representation of someone else’s linguistic style (Bakhtin, 1981, p. 362). Through the use of this device, a speaker can introduce into an ongoing speech event identities and speech styles that are socially recognizable as belonging to people other than the current speaker (Coupland, 2001a, p. 345). These additions are introduced in deliberate and exaggerated ways and the semiotic and ideological values associated with these groups or individuals are simultaneously injected into the talk (Coupland, 2001a, p. 350). Stylization is a particularly rich identity-constructing device because the speaker has the authority to strategically represent the stylized others’ speech through selective highlighting, addition or deletion of particular linguistic elements which do not necessarily duplicate the ‘real’ speech of the stylized other (Bakhtin, 1981). Ridhima’s stylization of convent-educated, that is, of EME ‘girls’, serves all these purposes. First, on being questioned by me (line 49), Ridhima clarifies the meaning of her convent-phrase as referring to ‘girls’ who have studied in English medium schools like me (lines 50–51). My inclusion into this category is presumably an acknowledgement of my EME background though not of my age, as being in my mid-forties at the time of the data collection, I was much older than Ridhima and would not normally be called a ‘girl’ despite the fact that in Hindi-speaking North India it is customary to call even women in their mid- to late-twenties ‘girls’ rather than ‘women’ if they are unmarried. Generally, one must experience marriage to be accorded the status of ‘woman’ by this society. Being single, and in my late forties, I am almost always addressed as Mrs. Sandhu. Seemingly, there is no place for single women of middle age in the social imaginary in these North Indian locations. Such labeling practices are yet more instantiations of the patriarchal nature of North Indian society. Therefore, it seems fair to surmise that my inclusion into this “­convent waali ladikiyan” category by Ridhima is MoE- rather than age-based. The fact that I had not explicitly disclosed to Ridhima that I was from a EME background prior to her statement (although this could probably be inferred from the facts that I had shared with her, i.e., my higher education in UK and USA and my current post as an Assistant Professor in the English Department of a North American University) reinforces findings of researchers such as LaDousa (2014) and myself (Sandhu, 2010, 2014a, 2014b, 2015a, 2015b, in press) that MoE, especially EME, has become an important identity marker in North India and further



Chapter 3.  Job advertisements 

suggests that it is used to categorize not only oneself but also others along vectors other than one’s known MoE. Having explicitly referenced the EME category of ‘girls’, Ridhima elaborates further by attributing to its members the ability to converse in rapid and “badhiya” (‘good’) English (lines 50–52). The use of the idiomatic “>dhada-dharWHAT YOU WANTWHAT YOU WANT