Thoughts and thought processes after visiting Rome and Greece historic sites!

chairmanIt is a strange thought and yet it is a thought that I would like to register in the minds of Indians and also for others who might be interested in the study of classical world of Greece and Rome. Classical education at Oxford and Cambridge had shaped the modern world by its civilizational values. Classics education is unique to Western European Universities. Schools in the UK, France, Germany and other countries have nurtured school systems known by various names. We had visited the British Public Schools, the French Lycées and also the schools in Switzerland and Germany.

Each of these countries had evolved their schooling systems by their own historic experiences and also by experiments and by freedoms for individual thinkers. The subject needs much study and research for the Indian education policy makers. Here is only a brief outline.

Just now, we  have ‘celebrated’ the end of the  First World War, also called the Great War, from 1914 to 1918.The one hundred year’s’celebration’ was low key in India. Great Britain, though it is no greater, very little in geographical size has very much reduced in its importance on the rest of the world. There were books and reviews lately as to how we, Indians look at the war. The thousands of men who were sent into the war as sepoys died in thousands by various estimates. One estimate of 70,500 men, mostly uneducated and rural men, largely from Punjab and other states, from the South and elsewhere perished without any trace. The total number of Indians recruited was 1.28 million out of which the high causality was among the Indians. There are various versions and view points from the books.

One book – India, Empire and First World War Culture: Writings, Images and Songs by Santanu Das, Cambridge University Press (Rs.2,145) and another volume by George Morton-Jack, called The Indian Empire at War: From Jihad to Victory, The Untold Story of the Indian Army in the First World War (Little, Brown, Rs.699).

The two books alone, if taken as representative in their view points, one hides the harsh facts, racial slurs, as the soldiers were treated at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton; the British given the times in which the War came about, in1914, kept a stiff upper lip, as though they were doing a favour for the injured and the sick and much else was hidden from the public view. Even today there is very little on the controversial issues.

The other book at least tries to say much about the unjust war and how the Indians were unwillingly thrust into the conflicts that were unsung and untalked about. This happened more so, ironically inside India, inspite of the active role played by our leaders. Morton-Jack touches upon “the glaring injustice done to the colonialized people, fighting and dying for a cause that were not remotely their own”. The total impression we get is that the Brits were unapologetically Raj apologists and even now, after the Brits had lost their empires there is no sign they feel regretful for what they did to the Indian Empire causalities.

How about in India?
The most saddening thing is that the end of the ‘Great War’ didn’t mean anything to the Indians, both the general public as well as the guilty men at the top levels. There are any numbers of monuments inside India, as they are also outside, in France and elsewhere. In Bangalore and Madras, to cite the nearby monuments, also in Delhi, the India Gate, the only monument of all India significance and that there were not anything else to mourn about the great sacrifices made by the unfortunate Indian sepoys in the far-off lands.

Do we have any history in our schools and colleges that remind us what India went through? Sadly, no! I doubt very much about the sensibilities of the Indian people for their past sacrifices from our own experiences during our freedom struggle; from 1885 when the Congress was established, from Dadabhai Naoroji or R.C.Dutt; from the Swadeshi movement; or from 1904 to 1914 when Gandhi returned from South Africa and the other events like the gruesome Amritsar massacre.

Why did the Amritsar massacre evoke a much more critical attitude towards the British treachery? Talking about the British treachery, I am not sure whether Indians know about the British own past, the rarely mentioned, let alone discussed, the British own trait of perfidious Albion. Yes, we not even felt needed the character like Robert Clive who practiced this perfidy, first in Arcot, then in Plassey. Once the British started occupying territory, they forgo their trade and became fully traitors; another like Dalhousie practiced this trait ruthlessly.

In a page by Santanu Das there is a “trenchant critique of Gandhi who had zealously participated in the recruitment campaign while continuing to preaching the doctrine of non-violence! So, we didn’t understand a thing about the Great War, right? We have to say so and it needs much debate and discussion, even the Gandhi-Tagore correspondence has much to shed light on the sensitivities displayed by the two great men of the times.

Romain Rolland (29 January 1866 – 30 December 1944) was a French dramatist, novelist, essayist - awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1915

Romain Rolland (29 January 1866 – 30 December 1944) was a French dramatist, novelist, essayist – awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1915

Gandhi’s own doctrines evolved over the years, no doubt, but the contradictions in the outlook of the Indian leaders was conditioned by their own times. Their understanding of the outside world, the past histories of mankind, in Europe and elsewhere were severely limited. The Indian awakening was all there to play roles to make Indians to exist in such dark times. There were men like SwamiVivekananda and Sri Aurobindo Ghose and others but the political awakening was very limited.

Our English-speaking classes were, it seems, were confined to a very narrow world of jobs and survival or caught in our own spiritual past and did not have the secular concerns. This was a world where Indians were not exposed to the great glories of the civilizations, from Greece to Rome and of the later times. Even the best of the Indian leaders, many of them, highly learned and scholarly, also were misled or were plainly ignorant. They did have only a limited knowledge of the outside world. Their knowledge and education didn’t touch upon the lives of great thinkers and philosophers, from Socrates to Plato or even later times to the great European thought. Hegel and Kant- no one seemed to have had any knowledge or interest. The great British Universities were very self-absorbed. Europe was cut off from India and China. The rise of sciences and the critical thinking, Voltaire and Rousseau were outside the reach of the Indians. They were steeped in total darkness.

British Empire, the Portuguese and the French and other European powers thrived on imperialist competition and land-grabbing. Of course, Indians were sinking in darkness and superstitions. Awakening came much later, Bengal Renaissance was the beginning. I was a loner at Oxford, my background was utterly different. Only after I went to Oxford in 1959, I really started to learn afresh much about the positive strengths and their weaknesses too.

An innate belief in the superiority of the British race must have contributed to overall Indian attitudes towards the ruling white race, also in the belief of the superior wisdom of the Indian official class, the ICS and why even the Indian subordinate staff in the various
government departments.

Luckily, I went to a nationalist school; ironically the foundation stone was laid by none other than the great soul – Mahatma Gandhi. Also, the Ramakrishna Mission School imbibed the ideals of Swami Vivekananda and so there was a streak of nationalist pride in us, the boys in the school. Added to this spirit was my later joining the Shantiniketan and from then onwards I was growing very differently from the rest of the Indian crowd. Now, the critical times came my way during my getting into Oxford by an unorthodox manner may be;  the Warden of New College, Sir William Goodenough Hayter, was a former British Ambassador to the then Soviet Union. He must have wanted to give India some importance and so he just admitted me once I started writing letters seeking admission to Oxford.

Now, I landed up at Oxford from a village and my background was rural gentry etc. and from then on, I wanted to learn things my way. My College was a quite well-established one, some 700 years of history and there was strong academic background. Some of my British friends were fresh from Eton, the great English Public School. And once when I mentioned the name of Thucydides, the great Greek historian who wrote the famous book on The Peloponnesian  War ( B.C.431), my British Eton College friend started to recite in chaste Greek language – the funeral speech of the great Greek statesman and general, Pericles! This surprised me and inspired me beyond description.Only then I came to learn more about Greece and, later, Rome.There are at Oxford certain academic courses about which no one in India, I am certain had even heard about.

The most rated course at Oxford is the ‘Greats’, the study of Latin and Greek languages and literatures. There are any numbers of scholarships to pursue these courses at Oxford. There are also many combinations with literature, history and philosophies. To make things easy for others, certain other courses are also there, most notably, the ‘modern Greats’, Philosophy, Politics and Economists, the famed PPE! I joined the PPE. Soon I learnt the Oxford ways. I joined the Oxford Debating Union and at the very first meeting I made a speech and got favourable reviews. I joined other student clubs too, Oxford Poetry Club, Oxford Labour Club and some others. It was a three-year course but I was given an exemption after I got First in M.A.in India, at Visva-Bharati. Otherwise, I should have had studied the French language!

The serious point here is that after I bought a pocket edition of the Peloponnesian War, translated by the famed scholar, Livingstone, I started to read more about Greece and Rome.There is a tradition in Oxford that students plan to travel to Rome and Greece over land, by travelling by hitchhiking and otherwise and I was also planning a trip while at Oxford. There was money and time and yet for some unknown reasons that trip didn’t materialize.

But now looking back, some 60 odd years, my life’s fulfillment of seeing Rome and Greece came my way, thanks to propitious circumstances. I was able to realise my dreams that I went with my family and we stayed longer than we anticipated. We spent enough time and explored almost all the historic sites and other monuments.

There were  many pleasant encounters too! Sometimes our tourist guide, a pleasant lady, used to look out for us, “the English speaking 5-member family, please wait, I will speak to you separately, as you already know more about this history”, as she was speaking to the
French, German and other European language visitors asking us to stand aside so that she could speak to us separately for she found out that we were the well-read and more eager to know more details!

The serious point I want to make here is that unfortunately, we in India, have been fed on the Macaulay system of education that limited Indians to learn English language only for becoming clerks in various British establishments. The ICS fellows too fell only in this category of obedient and subservient servants of the British colonial masters, right?

Other many more thoughts of much gravitas are: A whole lot of many generations of Indians, starting from the establishment of the East India Company in AD.1600 onwards, we the so-called English educated Indians, from the time of the great Raja Ram Mohan Roy, onwards were not even aware of what the study of Greece and Rome meant for the British ruling classes. The British, the aristocratic upper crust, imagined themselves to have cast in the ancient Greek and Roman multi-touch – Robert Clive started at the bottom of the social order, soon others, the Lords and Earls and other titled names added their own names to the ruling elite! Once the Brits learnt to grab territories in India, Robert Clive’s first victory at Arcot in Madras Presidency to Plassey battle in 1757 where, they also learnt to keep Indians’ ignorance of the great histories of the past. Greece and Rome were of no use for Indian subjects.

An educated Indian must have become an enlightened Indian. Alas! This had never happened. The more colonies the Brits occupied and ruled the more they kept the special secrets of Empire, Imperialism to themselves. Pericles, Julius Caesar and many others and the great battles of the past, the Italian Renaissance, the French Revolution, the European Enlightenment all stayed outside the concerns of the Indians. The maharajas were worse in their ignorance and self-indulgence.

They were strictly kept out of any learning processes or learning any lessons! So, readers can find now, as we submit humbly, that even our great leaders of such stature, Rajaram Mohan Roy of the Bengal Renaissance, even Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi and why even the modern-minded Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, I submit, operated in a world that was much richer and deeper in many spheres of the working of the man’s mind and reflections.

Rabindranath Tagore, FRAS (7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941), Writer, song composer, playwright, essayist, painter- the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913

Rabindranath Tagore, FRAS (7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941), Writer, song composer, playwright, essayist, painter- the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913

Alas! Indians missed the many opportunities. Robert Clive, started as a clerk in Madras, rose to become the empire’s greatest achiever! It was only after the battle of Plassey, the British had a taste of the Indian booty and the upper classes, the aristocrats started one Oxford College alone, namely the Balliol which sent out some 23 Viceroys! They were taught Plato as their bible, the one who took so much pride in such achievement was the College Warden, Benjamin Jowett. Indians remained outside their charmed circles. So, we leave the readers at this point, though it is time that we also start learning more on this Perfidious Albion and their treacherous empire-building tales with much more critical eyes than we were fed by the conventional histories descending on India.

What all destructions they had caused; the great famines and pestilence and starvations and deaths on such vast scales. Starting from Clive and ending with the bulldog, Winston Churchill. It is time we start afresh.

We have to recast our education system upside down!We have to teach classics, all the great works of great philosophers, thinkers, ancient histories to European Enlightenment.

Even the great Tagore, in his conception and articulation of a world University, the Visva-Bharati, saw West and East only in modern Europe and modern Asia. So too, others! Though Tagore invited and got great western thinkers like the French saint Sylvain Levi and other Europeans, they too didn’t see the relevance of classical education of Greece and Rome as basic foundations and the Greek philosophy and ancient democracy, Roman law and
Republican virtues.

What chance for quality education?
Commercialisation of education and the rise of private sector education are having a negative impact!  What  the money-makers-turned educators say!

indian-students-1024x576Yes, everyday there are nowadays, almost everyday, there are educational ads in the newspapers, more so recently on the TV screens as well. More and more news-turned advertisements on education coaching institutes and  programmes inviting students, young and the not so young and also more importantly the parents  who are more and more becoming vulnerable and insecure  about the future for their children’s education. What is the meaning of education? Anybody asks? Anyone thinks it important?

The way our society is transforming, more materialistic instincts and more selfishness builds up inside of us, there more simple meaning of our very life is becoming more confused and more  we become insecure in more than one way.

There are so many tempting options; it seems, in our lives. The more and more of people get split into various socio-economic groups, from poverty to some initial hope for progress, of course materially and more socially, we become aware of the various options opening up in our lives.

Politics comes in very early in our lives, with the democratic political pressures impacting on our lives. Politics too today has become more corrupt and more low-endowment sections grabbing power through all sorts of ways, from bribing the voters to the accumulation of wealth, democracy draws more into the political and election fray, the chances for breaking rules and  conventions come in handy  for spreading opportunities down the line and we see today what is happening before our eyes.

Schools and colleges have also fallen prey to this degeneration and we see the schooling system completely out of all systems and social controls and  social obligations.

It is plain robbery when it comes to upper and upper middle classes, as for instance what you see in a city like Delhi.

Some of the big business practices you see in some of the big scale secondary schooling enterprises. Some of the bigwigs in business are in the schooling business. A socio- cultural and why even   the economic segments would show how big is the education business and enterprises.

What we see in Delhi is much more politically strong, in the sense of political connections and patronage, what you see in other cities like Bangalore and Chennai, not to speak of other metropolitan cities; education today is the most corrupt social practice. Once you ignore the old fashioned ideas of  teaching education ideals, or other old fashioned concepts of ideals and idealism, values like ethical conduct, truth and non-selfishness or other concepts like “Find thyself”, etc are completely out of date!

May be education in our times is changing, we are not sure. All the world over education is now a high priority issue in their countries socio-economic development goals.

There are many millennium development goals, there are targets and the big change in our generation is this global awareness for the need for education for all. There also many new legislations to ensure there is social justice, in India we have the Right to Education and other Acts that ensure these social justice goals, education is now a fundamental right, the rights of children, the rights of girl children are all changing the very outlook and quality of life in the countries.

There are also the issues like government’s roles in promoting education. In many countries there are various incentives, free distribution of laptops is one such inducements for enrolment and retention of the children in the schools.

Of course, there  are also issues like enrolment and retainment of children by distributing noon-meals and free uniforms, why even free cycles so that the girl children are freed from some constraints. The only distortion, as we see it, is the commercialisation of education and this has led to many other new social distortions.

The very foundation of education, good and healthy growth of society, the scope for exploitation of the vulnerable sections is the new phenomenon of commerce in education. In some states in India this sort of commercialisation and distortion and exploitation of the vulnerable sections has led to total distortion and the rise of the unemployable youth.

In TN, for instance, the state is otherwise categorised as an education all advanced state, is the growth of self-financing engineering colleges. In the neighboring states like Karnataka and Andhra this menance has reached risdiculour levels where any student walking into a “College” can be accommodated.

The menance in engineering colleges has spread now into the medical colleges as well. As a result the top body in medical education, the Medical  Education Council of India (MCI) is the most corrupt body that any number of times the MCI was dissolved and reconstituted. No less corrupt in the All India Technical Education  Council.

So too high costs of education even at the LKG/UKG levels. Afor admission into LKG in some cities a capitation fee of Rs.one lakh and above is charged.

What is the end result?
Today we see routines news items that for any government job, there are many times the applicants!

Unemployment in the educated youth segment is at an all-time high. Here we are much more concerned about the total fall in education’s great  strengths in shaping a society and contributing to the transformation of a society on culturally and civilisation lines.

Education must teach good values and shape good citizens. Can we say that we can this in today’s educational environment. High teacher vacancies, lack of qualified personnel at the universities, high corruption everywhere. We see the unpleasant plight of Vice-Chancellors some in jail serving time for high corruption. India is not making any progress in the international ranking of universities.

So, what sort of society we are creating? Where are the policy makers?

The education ministries in the States and at the Centre are struggling  to make a sense in the education of the country’s development goals.

It is time for deep introspection in education and the cultural fields. It is a great irony when the new technologies, IT and Internet are here to make things easy for spreading quality education, India’s suffers from a poverty of ideas and idealism and any sense of purpose and meaning in these critical areas.

We don’t have enough public libraries even. In various States, the public libraries departments are not even functioning. It is time we wake up!

What happens when democratic governments led to many populist schemes? Is it okay when the government begins to distribute freebies, be it colour TV sets or wet grinders, cash handouts to win elections? There would be widespread corruption and mis-management of affairs. Already we have seen how the high and mighty has fallen?  The Chief Ministers have appeared in the court halls and even went to serve time in jails!

Criminalisation of democratic politics is now becoming an increasing reality. The outcome of such a public life leads to all-round deterioration. When it comes to many welfare schemes, education, healthcare and other services, be it pensions and other services the common citizens expect further ease in rules and regulations. In education, this expansion of further facilities, say, higher education in particular is seriously affected.
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The spread of primary education in the first phase of freedom, in the 50s and 60s saw very good positive developments and created a healthy society. First, opening of more schools and more infrastructure, class rooms and playgrounds etc. created an all-round good feeling and a sense of community and friendly feelings.

For instance in Cambodia a Leftist government was in power for some 30 years; even the present government is the same under the same old Prime Minister. Driving from the the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, through the countryside, some 300 and odd miles or so from the capital to the historic temple complex, Angkor Wat, we were impressed by the neat and clean primary schools in villages, all uniformly built afresh, white washed walls and tiled roofs. In contrast Indian rural primary schools were not so uniformly built or kept up. Only when you read the history of Cambodia you realise the country was ruled by the Communist regime!

The notorious Khmer Rouge regime, the ultra-Maoist group (1975- 1979) and the Pol Pot brought such havoc reminiscent of the Hitler years. Only once we know of what it means genuine freedom and democracy. We can fully understand the cultural and educational past and the present. Only in such dictatorial countries you seem to have such state-imposed discipline!

Recently two of the top leaders were given sentences to “life in prison.” India was a colonial country for long and what we had as education, in our opinion, seems a sort of uniformity, following the official line and our education even today is a sort of mechanical CBSE syllabus and there is no vitality in our education. This is about our secondary education pattern.

More and more it has become a licensing authority, we mean the CBSE. The result is that there is further commercialisation of education. Exams in Indian schools have crushed all originality and a sense of creativity. There are schools that promise 100% pass and the society has resigned to educators turned money spinners.

There are many instances; the Delhi University campus colleges, in one instance, the entire batch of students from the commerce stream are filled from one coaching school from down South! The very admissions policy of such a university like Delhi is so flawed. What is the rationale of taking only the pass marks as the entry criteria for a university course?

We in India have to look at some of the best universities in the world. At Oxford and Cambridge we see an entirely different admission process. For the whole of some 30 odd Oxford Colleges, there is only one common application form and the University has a  common test and interview to assess the aptitude of the student for pursuing a particular course, say, Philosophy, Politics and Economics(PPE) or a different course like Classics. The student must have an aptitude to pursue a particular course.

In the US still more freedom is allowed for a student to take a different combination of subjects. At least there is some screening for pursuing a higher education course.

Here in India, it is school exams and various competitive exams and marks in such exams are the only criteria for entry to a course. Just now we read that in India even an entry into, say, the agriculture university, there is only the marks and as a result, we learn that the major Agriculture University in Bangalore has admitted something like 60% girls and what these large number of girls would bring to agriculture which stands today marked by drought and large scale suicides by farmers.

Agriculture and related fields do not have conducive environment, especially for girls to pursue as careers. Maybe, even the boys who enter into agriculture universities opt for careers into non-agri sectors like banks or government jobs! We all know that how many educated youth are unemployed and for each even menial jobs; applicants come in such large numbers with even such degrees like Ph.Ds.! We need a radical thinking and mindset to radically reform the moribund education sector!

Indian education needs to know its historic context, its evolution during the freedom struggle and its future!

What are the education ideals and the current practices that grip our attention? The international rankings of universities by the London-based Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) ranks India’s higher education very low.

And the news is that this time even the usual institutions, except the Bangalore-based IISc other “suspects” like the IITs are missing from the ranks. One or two new names, the Indore-based IIT, JSS Mysore and the Amrita in Coimbatore are up for attention.

indian-education-overviewWhat about the original three of India’s past history, namely, Madras, Calcutta and Bombay? Obviously, it seems there is something wrong by the current assessment. Surely, we need some enlightenment by the authorities, right? The THES’s rankings bring in the oldest universities, Oxford first, Cambridge close to second. This ranking seems normal, given the fact that these old universities are many centuries old and the academic range is far and wide.

Even there is one Chair at Oxford for the exclusive subject of “Public Understanding of Science”.  The first occupant is none other than Richard Dawkins – the author of the book “Selfish Gene”.

It is really sad that education in India is caught up in great chaos and confusion. At the time when the rankings of universities came out there was a conference in Delhi on a very high-sounding topic – “Conference of Academic Leadership on Education for Resurgence”. This was organized by the UGC and the AICTE and ICSSR. Over 350 VCs attended and by any account this was a very powerful group indeed. The PM promised one lakh crore rupees for infrastructure in higher education by 2022.

There is no doubt that the traditional centers of learning, the Gurukulas and Pathshalas and some of the old ones still flourish in centers like Varanasi even today. But let us realize that today our education system is so corrupt that all education has become commercial. Education has been replaced by tuition and coaching centres. Even the government bodies like CBSE and UGC have become license-dispensers! It is exams after exams and there is no end to bribes in the education ladder!

The educated middle classes are the worst culprits and it is they who set the tone and tension in the education sector. Education corruption had almost ruined many families and as per some account the children today dropped out of the schools are variously estimated; 2011 Census puts the 5-13 age group at 8.4 crores, HRD puts at 60.64 lakhs, while the 71st round of NSS, one private expert team (The Hindu September 4, 2018) at 4.5 crore; which is 16.1% of children in this age group. In big States like Odisha, UP, Gujarat this percentage exceeds 20%. Bihar, Rajasthan and MP the percentage comes to nearly 18% plus! These bare facts are enough to indicate that we in India are still somewhere at the bottom of social development and when we talk of higher education we have to be much more cautious.

Just now we read through an essay (Frontline – Oct.2018) about the nationalist education movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries and there was a sense of history and a sense of our education we inherited from the British colonialist practices and how our national leaders and thinkers, from Swami Vivekananda to Sri Aurobindo Ghose to Tagore and Gandhi wanted an education system that could really regenerate a fallen nation. Today anybody has any thought on these lines? The Frontline article is written by Sabyasachi Bhattacharya (details about the author is not given) and it is essentially an attempt to analyse the latest movements in the BJP parlance about the promotion of what the author called the Sanskari  Supremacism.

Our universities must realize that only high quality faculties can attract best students. If only we can decide on a policy of recruitment of foreign faculty to teach some subjects, then such a university will draw attention and respect and recognition. Try at one or two universities like Delhi, Bombay, Madras and Calcutta there will be revolutionary change in our education outlook. Make Mr. Mukesh Ambani to start on this sort of education revolution.  Others would follow. The big Indian corporations go all the way to Harvard to institute chairs. Why not they do this inside India?

Readers might be interested to know that at one time, the largest academic faculty in the world was Oxford philosophy faculty! So too Cambridge. British colonialism has become a taint even now. Our brilliant youngsters even now want to migrate to the American shores and even if they come back they want to settle into the bureaucratic machinery!

Education must instill truth and selflessness. How many present day rich schools and self-financing colleges can produce students with these moral qualities? Please inject some morals in your students, school and college founders, and now university promoters. Please take a note!

But free movement of people! That seems a big current issue! Oxford Vice Chancellor is in India!

The Madam Chancellor wants more Indian students. But then the British government puts a cap on free entry of Indian students.The UK universities relax qualifications for the Chinese students.So, more money might come from China. How many Indian educators think of these issues? Neither the Indian government nor the private education institutions!

Professor Louise Richardson

Professor Louise Richardson

Louise Richardson, the current Vice Chancellor of the Oxford University (ranked the world’s top university this year also in terms of prestige, academic excellence) was in India and spoke about a range of education issues; the current tight visa regime for Indian students seeking admission to UK universities. Once upon a time Britain was the big draw for Indian universities. But not anymore! First, the cost of British education is going up. Second, the US universities draw more students. Also, the job prospects are much better in the USA. An American visa and also the chances to over-stay, even the illegal over-stays; let us admit it, are much brighter in the American country.

These are the realities for Indian students who want to pursue higher education.There are still lots of issues that can be debated and resolved for raising the quality of Indian higher education. Now, for the Oxford VC, she says, that according to the data from the UK’s Higher Education Statistical Agency the number of Indian students in the UK has been declining at CAGR of 5.7%, although it has risen at a CAGR of 2.7% at the University of Oxford. She said this in an interview.

EU students too might be affected said the VC because of the Brexit. But then what the Oxford VC says has lot of bearings on the Indian higher education. That is the question of the functions of universities. These places must be the sources of new ideas, new discoveries and new insights into the world. Universities should play crucial role in seeking solutions of many of the current world challenges like pollution, environment and climate change etc.

Only those who don’t have any idea of any of the larger things would talk in such narrow terms like superstitious issues like Hindustan and the sciences in ancient India etc.

It is patently wrong for politicians and businessmen, the so-called corporate heavyweights to enter into higher education world. Ideally, it is for the intellectuals, scientists and creative minds from humanities, why even artists and writers to talk about new ideas and new discoveries.

Universities, ideally, must be left to themselves, i.e. fully autonomous. Again autonomy doesn’t come at the drop of a hat! Autonomy must have a history and tradition. Perhaps, that is why long histories of universities matter. In India itself, we have three older universities at Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. We have to nurture and promote and get funds for very many new courses and departments.Sciences and humanities in these universities must have equal share in funding and, the recruitment of faculty must be, ideally, from an international pool.

There are very many talented Indian academics; also we can recruit internationally for some of the rare fields.Culture matters a lot. We were recently in Florence in Italy; Florence had a great history in arts and humanities.Why not collaborate with some of the world famous seats of learning? The PM must be a drawer of talents, ideas and must be seen talking and meeting and mingling with great minds.Politics alone is not life!

Culture of people matters.We have wonderful opportunities; with a range of online learning courses. Bring home any course, any great mind or minds to the doorsteps of our universities. Webinar etc. enables to do this at a fraction of costs! It is imagination, passion and commitment that matters at the end of the day!