Education Hub in Sonipat : Exploring the Land-University Nexus
While education studies and urban studies have flourished as rich areas of research in South Asia, the interface between education and the urban has received little scholarly attention. My paper attempts to address this gap by drawing attention to issues such as land and locality in the study of higher education. I argue that from the early 2000s, the domain of higher education in India witnessed a phenomenal shift which fostered a very specific relationship between education, land acquisition, and urbanization. In the post-liberalization decades, the rhetoric of urban policy and education commissions converged and echoed each other, thus paving the way for enclosed elite private education zones. Education hubs were now projected as the prime mover for urbanizing a region and providing a boost for speculation on the real estate market. By focusing on the conception, planning, and acquisition of land for the Rajiv Gandhi Education City in Sonipat, I explore how universities were now being conceived of as part of a larger zone of corporate investment. Could we conceptualize education as infrastructure that engenders a specific kind of urban space? The present paper wishes to raise this question and initiate a conversation on the university-land market connections.