Date : 15.06.2020

Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank
Hon’ble Minister of HRD
302-C, Shastri Bhawan,
New Delhi- 110001
+91-11-23382365 (FAX)

Sub: To draw up well-thought out higher education policy – reg:

Dear Hon’ble Minister,


I had not long ago written a letter to your good self regarding the activation of library system in the States where in most of the States have not attended the activation of libraries.

Also lately I had written one more letter addressed to the Prime Minister on the need for education reforms which unfortunately had not taken off in the last six years of the BJP rule, in spite of several attempts to draw up an education policy.

I have been interested in this field for a long time.

Today I read in the Financial Times of London about how the recent Indo-China issue had led to many heart-rending scenes as circulated in the China media, the Chinese Global Times and also in the social media how the Indian soldiers are treated badly. I am sure the Government of India must be aware of these humiliations.

However, what prompted me to write this letter to your good self directly is the urgency, yes I would say so, to draw up a sound education policy that would, I am sure, meet the strategic need. To draw up a higher education policy that would add strength and also reverse the current trend towards lakhs of Indian students who migrate every year to pursue higher education in Western countries, UK and USA and also other countries like Canada, Australia.

By one latest count, again published in the FT, some around 3 lakh Indian students travelled in the year 2019 alone. You must be surely aware that it costs each Indian student nearly one crore for a first degree. While the home students, UK and USA, pay only one third of the same.

Are we not wasting so much of our foreign exchange? Simply because of our poor higher education policy in our country. Our higher education strategy doesn’t contribute to strengthen our country’s intellectual base, not contribute to the self-confidence and creativity and also in sciences and technology. We don’t match with the progress made in the new technologies, in particular in the IT and software fields, as per the latest data on, say start ups and other related tech fields.

When we write to the PMO our letters are filed under some head or other, it never gets the PM”s attention.

You have to engage the best minds of the country to draw up a well-thought out higher education policy and the comparable Indian university system. How long we are going to follow the Western education priorities?

Higher education has already become mass education and the private players have already commercialised the field that no longer contributes higher research and solving problems our country badly needs.

I am sure you are seized with the issues faced by the sector and in my opinion, the humbling truth is that bureaucrats can’t draw up a courageous and independent minded approach to the issues.

I had studied at Santiniketan and Oxford and I can say with confidence that if you don’t intervene the Indian education system won’t change for another one century and more!

Let us start right now and also we have to compete with the world higher education system.

Hope this letter triggers your thoughts and cause some action!

With warm regards,


We have to wait for an opportune time for things to change for the better

Education budget is now 3.71%, dipped from 6.15% of the Union Budget
between 2014 and 2017.Not just funds can improve education.Education can be improved only if we search for intellectual debate and freedom of expression for the and public intellectuals.Education has become big business in India.It is now becoming more expensive and also more questionable in terms of quality and job market. May be the education sector is also becoming more fast growing economic sector. The only beneficiary,it seems,are the education promotors. The sheer numbers would daunt anyone engaged in this sector. From the primary level onwards, education is also becoming so expensive almost everyday.

The very pressure of numbers is such that even the States and Central Government are forced to take note of the public discontent and there are any number of education issues,from the fees fixed for the LKG to UKG and also the medium of instruction from the very beginning, at the LKG level itself and also the medium of instruction.The teaching of mother tongue is also becoming an issue.Even for admission for the LKG the capitation fees range something from one to two lakhs, if not more.That is one reason why very many new fancy names for the schools crop up.

You can call them by any name, no more such traditional names like Montessori or something else.The edge in admissions is that the new names,new promises and new franchisees and what have you. The daily newspapers carry any number of education ads, many times in a week you have full-page ads and in multicolor. And next to full-page ads, there are also ads for tuitions and also for various competitive exams for various competitive exams. Oh, then you have the American SAT and GRE, GMAT etc.

Why, don’t you know many of the State governments, may be all the States have one education programme. That is they train youngsters for the much-sought after IAS exams. Ministers do promote these programmes as one of their education policies.
Now, even the daily newspapers, in the regional languages have a regular daily pages devoted to publishing the State level competitive exams, questions are published for the State government posts. Take one recent example of the Tamil Nadu Government exams for State government jobs!

It is becoming a scandal of the first order and you have such juicy information about who played what role and every day arrests are made and the so-called accused are produced before the courts and sent to jailfor a number of days. What a waste of time and energy and what a pass we have come to! Then there is higher education.Here every thing is in a mess! There are now separate ministers for higher education. Nothing wrong! We do need ministers to tackle the mess in higher education. Given the complexity in imparting various degree courses,from professional courses,say in medicine and engineering to general degree courses in arts and sciences there is a whole new breed of educationists, administrators to teachers, from Vice-chancellors to professors, a whole new generation of academics are now in great demand.

The only latest news we read is that for instance, with 40 Central Universities there are reportedly 6,000 and odd posts of university professors, teachers whose posts are empty, remain unfilled! If you are interested in higher education (May God bless you!) then you have the problem (or headache?) to get to know the latest developments in the appointments of Vice-Chancellors.In law, the State Governors are the heads of Universities,the Chancellors,they are supposed to be the appointing authorities, the Governors’ signature legitimise the appointments. Then, as we write there are some ex-VCs languishing in jail (or, are they out on bail?). Why this happened? The appointment of VCs is guided by the search committee names. These search committees themselves are problematic.

There are any numbers of illegalities. Only recently, as we know things in TN, some Governors have taken themselves seriously and appointed some names in a bureaucratic manner.One or two good names also have come up. But given the mess in which we have run into this sector we really need to radically constitute a new committee of competent persons who can also stand up to the new types of ruthless education entrepreneurs,whom we term as real adventurers(see the people who are now crorepathis in higher education as you can see them in the Southern States, it is next to impossible to reform this sector unless you assume some extra-Constitutional powers! Education promoters amassed money and wealth through very many devious routes. They are such diverse fields like films, even a Member of Parliament and also in many other fields like media, TV entrepreneurship etc. The final point we want to make is when India would retain its foreign degree seeking craze. The Universities in USA, UK, Australia and New Zealand are minting money by charging Rs.35 lakhs and above! May be we have to raise our hands in the air and say: Helpless in education reforms!

This seems to be an ideal world. The one we live in is the bestof all possible worlds, right? So, educators have a duty and also a right to ask questions. Prof. Sukanta Chaudhuri, Professor Emeritus of Jadavpur University, Kolkatta has written a thoughtful piece in the Economic Times of 6thFebruary, 2020. We like to request someone who may be near the PMO to bring this piece to the immediate attention to the Prime Minister himself.

It won’t take more than, say some 10 minutes and so the PM can be drawn attention to this piece which elaborates and succinctly puts all the questions that might be agitating to educators, teachers, and students and why even the ones like State Governors who are now the Chancellors of the Universities. Unfortunately, as things stand inIndia the education system is not producing a greater India, instead we are all feeling like ponies, small men and women when it comes to what weread about the state of our education.Prof.Chaudhuri sums up so clearly what is wrong with our education system in which India doesn’t finda mention even in the world’ s top 100 universities.

There is dullness in the country and no one seeks to speak out their minds. This is so bad for a democracy which by definition promotes diversity of opinions and citizen must only listen to what the politicians say. The current criticisms of the ruling and Opposition parties, theirleaders, a mixed bunch no doubts, the discussions and debates havedeteriorated so much that there is no way to find out where the Indian education system stands.

Every year thousands of students compete for very limited seats be it in Delhi or in other cities.For instance, in Delhi, St. Stephen’s college is fancied very muchas the elite college but do you know that most students enter the college under several quota systems. It is a Christian denomination institution and as the governmentpolicy on reservations is such that the best not always gets in. Something like 20,000 students compete and how many can hope to get a fair chance? So too universities the world over! Now, the Indian students flock to foreign shores where the chance of staying back for work for 2 years in UK, 3 years in Australia and forother lengths of time in the USA.

So, theunemployment market is expanding and the Indian talents are being destroyed for lack of good education back in India. So, Indian education has to be reformed to retain talents in critical fields like engineering, IT, medicine and India-born citizens must live a life of dignity and self-fulfillment. To be able to live a life of freedom and dignity we have to improve our education, its philosophy and its ethics.

Prof.Chaudhuri says that first –intellectual, honest must prevail and we must know that university staff, students are thinking people. They are think tanks! They are also public intellectuals. They represent the collective intelligentsia. So, they might often disagree with bureaucrats and practical politicians. So, there could be conflicts of opinion. This is where the current protest must be seen and understood in a sympathetic manner. You see politics is always a matter of power and how the exercise of power affects the wielders of power. Everyday new problems crop up. You see that the latest Supreme Court judgment on eliminating criminalization of politics where the persons contesting elections with a criminal history must explain why he or she did involve in criminal issues, this must be uploaded on the website within two days.

Such judgments might go against the wishes of ruling party. But we have to accommodate such divergent views. As for education we have to update the quality. At Oxford too, something like 20,000 students compete and something like 7,000 students only get in. The national Educational Policy didn’t take off. Right?
Why? Simplybecause experts are uneasy with the government. The PM must invite such independentminded experts and talk with them and assure that there is freedom of expression and experts can speak out. You see that the private universitiesenter the scene for the profit motive and yet with the commitment to produce high quality students. And yet, it is the public universities that had promised independent high qualityresearch, be it the old ones and the new ones.

The innovative ideas only can make a university great. The current eruption of protests all over India and in the leading universities, some of the best 10 are the ones that came into the public attention, JNU, Jamia Millia, and others. No Indian university came in the top 300 world universities in the World University Rankings in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings. This must be our one goal. How Indian universities must aim for inclusion in the rankings. Then only other changes we might effect. So, there is genuine dissatisfaction after the higher education has become a mass-market.

In a situation when we find the Indian agriculture in debts and droughts and floods!
Why, even you can add litigation and much else!

This year’s Christmas double issues of the internationally known magazine, The Economist, has written its major editorial on Optimism vs. Pessimism.

The widely read intellectual elite journal has highlighted the radical changes now caused by the growth in technologies that are not only creating enormous wealth, also benefitting man by improving living standards, spreading education, also health by the many medical miracles that allow us to live longer and also helping us to travel thanks to revolution in aviation, not to also add the telecom revolution and the IT industry that had transformed a traditional society like India to emerge as a Superpower.

So, how can be unaware of the various revolutions in technologies should also must be causing a great revolution in agriculture?

This question is nagging in our minds when we sit down to write any editorial. As educated persons with some privileges of wealth and opportunities we have to be morally committed to the rural people, farmers and other underprivileged sections of society in which farmers occupy central place we are duty-bound to speak the harsh truths as well. This is for the rural farmers.

Agriculture is a risky activity. In distress and debt!
How the government policies work?

After Modi took over as the Prime Minister of India there have been too many new policies and too many risk taking outcomes. In agriculture and rural; development there has been a sea-change in the announcement and implementation of the various schemes. PM’s two bold decisions, demonetization and GST have really impacted the way now citizens use the banks through online transactions.

Of course there have been mixed results. Yes, the radical decisions led to some pain, some might say more pain than positive results. However, any new radical step would distort and destabilize some sections. Now, after all these years we see much positive changes only. This much if fine and fair. As for the agri sector is concerned, the new schemes from farmers personal pensions and insurance cover the scheme has been yet to show results. The various subsidies that always go with any agriculture schemes go also under the many other agri schemes.

One obvious and much discussed and much politicized schemes are farm loan waivers. The latest one is by the Maharashtra government under the new Chief Minister Uddhav Thakeray. This scheme is likely to cost Rs.50, 000 crores and can the rising NPA be sustained by the rising NPAs of banks and also the already strained deficit, fiscal position of the State government?

One simple and straightforward retort is: who cares?@Today’s political environment is such that no rational response is welcome and always some sort of shrug is welcome and people react favorable to such confrontationist political gestures. So far, the public and private sector banks had written off Rs.80, 893 crore during April-September 2019.

The government in Delhi pretends to say and maintain still that that the loan write offs continues to be for repayment. So farm loans very soon turn out to be bad loans and continue to hang around the necks of farmers, though the final and realistic outcome nobody knows! As per RBI, the rate of recovery of bad loans has come down from 18.4% in 2014 to a low of 12.45 by March 2014..And so on so forth!

We don’t believe in going into detailed data from the official sources that have become suspect in recent times! What is reliable is the ground level reality and we have to be very robust in mind and body when we talk of Indian agriculture. Agriculture in India is highly distorted, officials and ministers are known for their silence when such hot topics come for public debate. There are political priorities in drawing up agricultural policies. Unfortunately there are widening gaps between the politicians who draw up policies and the rest of the agriculture=-linked groups of people. Apart from farmers who belong to the lowest categories like marginal and small farmers who are as of today own an average one or t wo hectares, there are other categories who fall into the category of big farmers, or big corporate who also accumulate vast acres of agriculture lands.

Our humble suggestion is that the ICAR must be recast. It must be recast to bring together agriculture leaders, agriculture veterans, leaders like Sharad Pawar and Chandrababu Naidu and many others who in their tie had done much for improving agriculture after the series of radical land reforms laws were introduced soon after Independence.

What lessons we have learnt from the radical land reforms that abolished zamindari and also to the extent of tenancy reform laws. The Prime Minister must convene a meeting, why a series of such meetings to get an update of the rural reality today.

Why even a veteran like Deve Gowda who in his Chief minister days, likewise Sharad Pawar(we have met them then and interacted with them. They also sought progressive ideas as to bring in large investments.

So, we too should do now and take the agri reforms as continuity. New technologies are coming out everyday. From IT to AI. So, we can have much optimism and must be able to take forward reforms and policies that would reach out almost every single farmer So, we request farmers generation today to have optimism, the younger generation specially to help to spread the new optimism that they find in non-farm sectors. Also from urban centres, from big cities like Bangalore to remote villages.

Let us build an enlightened agricultural lobby!
An effective agricultural lobby needs much media support!

Two much bureaucracy weakens farmers-policy makers interaction. What should be done now? Give media support!

Agriculture is now in the dark. Not the crops and crop prices. The people who flood this vital economic segment. 50 people who toil in 15 percent wealth creation!

Not many know what is happening in this priority sector. Price rise and food inflation alone is not agriculture news. The rising inequality, persistence of poverty and various exploitations of the helpless farmers are also news and needs to be reported and written about. Who does these all public services?

Has the ministers recently spoken about agriculture? Has the PM spoken about agriculture issues lately?

These are not for rhetorical questions .but a pouring out of some accumulated frustrations! Give subsidies to agriculture media! Otherwise in a few years what remains would go off the attention of the policy makers forever!

Even now what do you see happening in the many established channels? Agriculture extensions services are almost weakened still old fashioned Colonial institutions prevail.
In this age and time of technological revolutions, mobile phones and Whatsup and what have you, the average villagers, need to speak of farmers, for every small official favour, be it the local thaluk or Collector’s office farmers have to make a trek, spend time travelling long distances and wait for a dharsan of the high and mighty officers!

Most of the time the so-called officials are either absent or in conferences. You can check this up every Monday when crowds gather at the Collector’s offices for pouring out their grievances. Oh, how much injustice still persists? Thus, we call every Indian farmer a debtor, litigant and a suicide-prone helpless victim. Now, lately, with a new type of political environment there is almost a near anarchy in governance practices.

As we rite there was a large scale eviction of urban shanties in Bangalore city where nearly 300 thatched huts near high rise buildings were evicted one fine day without any priority notices by the police and City Corporate engineers without the joint Commissioner of the Corporation knowing. There were screaming cries and much more. There was no adequate response and only NGOs and others were seen engaged in helping out the victims. This in time of so many other revolutions and communication techs.

We can go on talking and talking but unless there are independent media houses, more so the government controlled DD and also specific schemes and channels to give opportunities for independent interactions between the citizens and the politicians in power, there can’t be any democratic sense of security and the many freedoms promised under our Constitution would only remain on paper only. That would see the more vital organs like the DD and other government channels would become 100% government propaganda tool! Agriculture needs media support!

This, only the government agriculture strategy policy can imagine. It is not there right now! There is too much apathy and too much unconcern. That shows the many distortions and lack of articulation even in government agri policies and schemes! Crop insurance, health insurance and direct payment etc are all good initiatives but how are their implementation?
Amit MItra, the hon’ble finance minister in the West Bengal government, the other day in an interview with the NDTV revealed many instances that were not covered in the print media in many mainstream newspapers.

One or two instances here. The FM revealed to a question why the economic slowdown and what can be done etc., he said fear and trust in the government. There were some 30 odd cases, criminal and civil, against one corporate and he asked how do you expect the entrepreneurs to come out and invest and deal with such a government. Also he revealed many instances and schemes in the name of the PM, which show the allotted funds were not spent and also in schemes for which funds were shared between the Centre and the States and yet in one such instance quoted by Mitra that only the PM’s image is put to the exclusion of the State CM is not found! How do you then create trust, how do you show trust in the Federal character of the country? In fact, the State FM had many more such glaring injustices are rendered today.

Such mature and more experienced FMs are hard to find. Such facts and figures are not known widely. Oh, when you come to agriculture, the many injustices done to helpless farmers who commit suicides many more heart-rending go unreported. Is there any one newspaper or TV channel to cover the less glamouring and yet human interest stories or why, even to comment and bring to the attention of the high and mighty who hold forth on agriculture without stirring our of needing of the Lyten Bungalow zone and now, the Khan market!

The point here is that the Central government already what remains, we are told, is advised to reduce media advertisement and revert to TV channels and digital marketing. This is being told by man y of the Central government commodity boards and other such departments. The agriculture ministry, both at the Centre and the States, dont have budgets for agriculture schemes to be advertised, both in English and the regional languages.

Please spare a thought for the agri sector and the remote rural India. Thereby the democratically elected government might still make an impact on the insecure and left out segments of the population.

What more we can plead for even in this age of enlightenment?