What Kapil Sibal can and can’t do?
We know Kapil Sibal somewhat. We have met him once in his earlier avatar as science and technology minister. He is of course too smart a man, a clever lawyer with a reputation for making a lawyer’s case for his brief.
Now, in his new avatar what he proposes to do in revamping higher education, university education and technical education etc are really welcome. In fact, such reforms are long overdue.
His predecessor, otherwise a powerful and even a wily politician did a different kind of job.
The Prime Ministerial material he was and he just felt wrong by the forces and so he didn’t put his mind into the HRD. That was the best case scenario.
Unfortunately, Arjun Singh’s tenure ended in a disastrous manner. So, the first few steps taken by Sibal were received with great approval. The corrupt in education has to be weeded out and what sort of corruption we saw under Singh? Too much, too bad!
Now, with doing his job with such earnestness, Sibal is introducing education reform bills one by one, not in an open manner, but in a rather surreptious manner!
Parliament is not co-operating!
The current mood of Parliament is so divided and so much in a bad mood, it seems.
The UPA is also in a shaky fashion, owing to forces and spectacles, if we can say so, beyond its control.
One scandal after other is killing the left-over goodwill for the Singh-led government. Observers are drawing parallels to the situation prevailing in 1984 to 1989!
Shashi Tharoor, then IPL and then came the Raja tapes, phone tapping etc. All this don’t hold good for a steady government.
Maoists killing the record 76 CRPF jawans were the last straw.
The Women’s bill also divided the house and though the civil nuclear deal bill is introduced it lost its shine after Barack Obama didn’t give a damn, yes, that is the right word, for the pretentions India assume to be adopting to imagine all is well in the international arena.
India has not come out as a willing partner engages Obama on his own terms.
It is a serious time for India as far as India is foreign policy agenda is concerned. We, India, has to sail with the Obama vision, a nuclear weapons free world. India must be the goal setter with our past records.
Now, as for higher education the Knowledge Commission seems to have been forgotten. So too, it seems, the foreign universities bill.
Who will come to India to set up high class campus?
No one! This is what we wanted to convey to Mr.Sibal.
For once we wonder whether Mr.Sibal has read much about the history of education! If not, we suggest, that better he read for once, the Encyclopedia Britannica (15th edition with us!).If the education minister turns to the pages concerning the history of education, there are a staggering 125 and odd pages of education history!
Education has a long history. So, each country has its own history of education, so too India!
Now, Indian education, especially university education, is what it has always been. We were imitating the British, in curriculam and exams and now we are in fact started deteriorating in our higher education.
Universities everywhere in the world are competing for the best talents, students and staff and the US Ivy League universities are almost monopolising teaching talents. May be USA and next UK would continue to attract the best faculty and the best student population.
This is the ground level reality. Now, what do we do?
Let Sibal allot the funds for the universities, either through the proposed Higher Education Council or through other channels.
As for world class universities, we in India should have them. For that, the way is not through government interference, but government support with maximum autonomy. The government regulation must ensure that the world class universities give away with the quota system, call the best students everywhere can join the world class, central universities or universities designated so, like, say Visva Bharati or Gandhigram or JNU or Delhi and Kolkata universities.
Even old universities like Madras, for instance, had fallen on bad days; the universities in TN are almost playthings in the hands of the incumbent CM whose cinema dialogues are prescribed as texts for MA courses!
So, what chance the Central government has to reform universities?
So, the Centre must ensure some universities at least are free from state governments and this is possible only for central universities.
That is okay.
In the world from ancient times to the present times, only certain centres, certain cities that had the monopoly for wisdom!
In the ancient world, Athens was the “unchallenged capital of philosophy, the true first international centre of excellence in philosophy! Plato and Aristotle ensured that status. That status still haunts our imagination, right?
So too other centres, Rhodes, Symrna, Alexandria, Beirut, Antioch, Constantinople. So, in the medieval ages there were the Italian universities, and then came the French and English, Oxford and Cambridge.
Now, the US ones. Can we, by any stretch of imagination, now compete with the already established names?
The winning of Nobel Prizes is accelerated by the funds and the eco-system that prevails in the American universities only.
That is one reason the best of the faculty; including the Indian names like Amartya Sen and Bhagwati and others still continue to teach there in the USA where there is no age bar.
In India we are still enmeshed with bureaucratic minds and so where is the hope for reforms in higher education?
So, let Sibal do what he can and let us see what the future holds for Indian higher education.
Image Source : topnews.in