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Freeing higher education in India


India’s higher education sector is failing. Barely 7 per cent of Indians get to college; 99 per cent of these lucky few receive indifferent teaching in decrepit classrooms; they lack libraries, labs and computers; 80 per cent are unemployable; the moneyed elite flee abroad; meanwhile, we console ourselves with the careers of the 1 per cent that go to the IITs, IIMs and a few other premiere institutions. National commissions to fix higher education have come and gone. However, entrenched interests have blocked all reforms. Radical structural reforms are urgently required that will simultaneously attack regulation, funding, capacity, faculty and admissions/access. These reforms can create an open higher education system supervised by independent regulators and funded through government scholarships. Such a system is our best hope for responding to the massive need for higher education. (via Sanjeev Bikchandani, Jayant Sinha: Freeing higher education).

Sanjeev Bikchandani is CEO and Founder of Info Edge, which operates Naukri.com and other websites; Jayant Sinha is Managing Director of Courage Capital Management, a global investment firm.

Five points to perdition

These two writers feel, that Indian education ‘requires radical action in five key areas‘.

One – all Government controls must be scrapped. Two – Taxpayers must pay for scholarships. Three – private Indian and foreign universities must be allowed freely into India. Four – the tax payer (via the Government) must fund scientific and technical research. The fifth point (not clearly defined) that they probably make is that probably affirmative action should not be compulsory – but can be tied to Government funding.

Interesting.

What these two worthies pretend to address is the problem of the Indian education system. Instead, what they end up doing, is push forward the bowl in front of the Indian taxpayer – with pre-conditions. All that they are interested in, is addressing the problem of the English speaking elite. They don’t even pretend to address the problem of non-English speaking students.

Is it possibly, that the writers think it is below them, to attempt such ‘base’ ideas? Imagine addressing the problem of Maithili speaking students of Bihar or Telugu students from Rayalaseema! (Dont push me! I can be grosser still!!)

Of course, we should not expect them to talk about how nearly 800 years of violence against Indian education system must be reversed – and the Oriya student needs help more than the elitist English speaking student.

Of course, maybe I expect too much from them! Possibly my over-expectations make me fault them for not seeing the contradiction of allowing ‘foreign’ establishments to set up indoctrination and recruiting centers in India.

Blow up tax payers money

Blow up tax payer's money

Billing address

The Indian tax payer must subsidize the education of a privileged few. But the tax payer must NOT ask any questions or raise any queries or impose any agenda. The Indian tax payer must just quietly pay up and take whatever the English speaking elite dishes out. For the last 60 years, the Indian tax payer has entrusted this English speaking elite with authority for setting the agenda in the Indian education sector – and the track record of this elite is obvious.

How many times do the writers mention Indian languages (vernacular, native, Indic, regional, etc.). Nil. How many times do they use the word exclusion, colonial, Westernized. Nil again.

Throwing money down the English education hole

But, they sprinkle their article liberally with Western examples like how, “In the US, the top 10-15 universities such as those in the Ivy League, MIT, Stanford and Chicago play a similar role” Even though India pioneered the system of reservation for the disadvantaged, and the US followed India by nearly 20 years, with their diluted system of ‘affirmative action’, these two worthies use the term affirmative action four times – and reservations (nil times).

While a weak case can be made out for funding education in India for a limited period, the ‘freeing’ that these worthies propose is interesting. Freeing. Umm! Who is likely to benefit from the ‘freeing’ that the two worthies propose? For the English speaking elite, I suspect.

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