Change Kapil Sibal from education!
Create two ministers, for education and the Universities!
No one Indian university in the world’s top 100 universities, you know?
Indian character is notorious to talk smooth, indulge in double speak!
Dont talk straight and seek alibis.
Indian education is vast. But all is about job seeking. Not even skills building, let alone high talks about teaching humanities!
Oxford University governing body has voted “no-confidence” in UK Universities Minister Mr.David Willets!
This is reported by none other than the very Oxford alumni magazine, Oxford Today!
Can we in India imagine anything like this happening in India?
Universities in India and in the West
What is going wrong with the Indian universities?
Official neglect. No full-time education minister!
Mr.Kapil Sibal must come forward to resign his assignment at HRD ministry!
Dr.Manmohan Singh’s many deficiencies!
Such a high academic Prime Minister must own personal responsibility for the state of affairs in the Indian university system
Should we say how fallen are the Indian universities?
Each state has its own reasons for the decay of the university system.
First comes the Central Universities. For most central universities, the President or the Prime Minister or the Vice-President is the chancellors.
Yet, we have pointed out many a time in the pages of the journal how, for instance, the Visva Bharati, the Gandhigram and other such central universities all stand neglected today.
We have written letters, covering letters to our special issues of the journal on Visva Bharati and Gandhigram, after our own visits and participating in some events there. Yet, no word of reply from the high and mighty dignitaries.
We satisfied ourselves saying that they might be busy and burdened with their public duties. But readers might see that even the many letters the state Chief Ministers write to the Prime Mini9ster don’t evoke any response.
So, this is governance and policy paralysis!
Anyway, we see the state universities decaying for various reasons.
TN was once known for its well-governed universities.
There are now any number of complaints, wrong appointment of VCs. Then, corruption. Then, other deficiencies. Caste politics, poor human resources. So, a situation has come when you find even the best, the foremost like Madras and Mysore and even Bombay universities in bad news.
Now, in the current issue we publish, as a change, some issues that are critical to any university.
What core subjects to teach in a university?
The Oxford University has come out with three professors, all experts in their fields, writing why Humanities subjects are the first priority for any great university.
Then, in the USA, Harvard University, for instance, has come out with what it calls the seven liberal arts subjects.
The Harvard College curriculum we publish for the sake of Indian students and more particularly, for the Indian Vice-Chancellors.
The role of State Governors, the role of state Chief Ministers in the selection appointment of Vice-Chancellors is becoming more and more critical. Each day we see complaints.
In TN under the previous Governor, university appointments became scandals. The Chief Minister played havoc. He, a screen dialogue writer, imagined he was a Nobel Prize material! So, all hell broke!
He selected one person for VC job and entrusted him with the task of translating his film dialogues for Nobel Prize Committee.
So, the VC did things that were foreign to his domain.
In the neighbouring Karnataka, from day one, the Governor made life hell for the BJP government.
So, where do we start cleansing the system?
Unfortunately, (yes, this is the only expression allowed in India. In the Indian discourse. No other expression, let alone any blistering attack in the UK Press/Media style you can pin down responsibility, let alone call names)
So, how can you blame Kapil Sibal, the titular head at the HRD ministry, not to speak of others in the government or in the party?
At the beginning of this UPA-II government there was much talk by everyone, from the Prime Minister to Sam Pitroda about starting a string of some 1,500 new universities!
Where are we now?
Our universities are going down.
There was (or were?) a flurry of universities convocations in Coimbatore, not long ago. There was the state Governor, there were others, mostly from Delhi officialdom (poor people, why blame them?) from UGC to National Accreditation Council and even a couple of retired bureaucrats) to come and confer degrees and give a formal convocation address.
What can you expect from a state Governor or even a Chief Minister, let alone the poor faceless and voiceless bureaucrats?
They spoke in a formal way, almost silently and even endorsing the rights and wrongs of the universities in question. There were properly constituted universities, deemed universities, some dropped all other affixes and simply call themselves, as universities (this is wrong issued an HRD circular) and yet these universities, from agricultural to medical and formal academic universities.
A new trend for these universities is to confer honorary doctorates.
The great unforeseen development in the district towns and university towns is the new doctorates!
A sweetmeat seller to an hotelier to a sugar company/masla maker to local private hospital builder turned private college promoters and others.
Once, you confer a doctorate on these individuals, they go out with an advertisement blitz! A rampage of sorts! An outrage altogether! They take full page ads in the local newspapers and this goes on for some days! The entire town is painted red, sit were! Propagating their newly arrived social status!
As soon as the state Governor went away, the very next day comes the news that the state dept of anti-corruption and vigilance policed descended on the very university on raids to probe a series of corruption!
So, what chance for the Indian universities to rise up to the international level?
So, we publish this month a series of features by such eminent persons like Martha Nussbaum, the internationally famous professor of philosophy.(Surely, she would have been given a Nobel Prize, if there is one for philosophy).Now, she is a distinguished service professor of Law and Ethics at Chicago University. She has called for teaching humanities in universities to save humanity from many of its current ills.
Inside India itself, there is not much realisation about the priority for humanities.
The reasons are party historical, an inheritance from the British education for producing clerks for the empire. Later, this middle class of course led to some renaissance of sorts, as in Bengal.
But in other cities like Delhi, Bombay and Madras new classes, educated but seeking status through government jobs as in Delhi, commerce in Bombay, again government jobs in Madras.
Even today, the preference for jobs, as salesmen, as Nussbaum terms them or as engineers, doctors, IT professionals for export or for domestic employment.
Thus, Bangalore, the Indian Silicon Valley, is both a boom and a bane! Today’s IT professionals earn huge sums but when it comes to values, call it by any other name, they are as boors as other boors can be! All about money, selfishness and a cruel narrow-mindedness, even unpatriotic and the new Yankeeism! This applies to billionaires too!
The world is becoming more and more a place of newer types of conflicts, terrorism, ethnic and sectarian killings. The latest news from Afghanistan and much of the Middle East is the unsettled conflicts.
Universities should not be degree manufacturing factories.
Unfortunately (again!)Indian universities are doing just this third rate activity!
Prof.Nussbaum firmly rejects the idea that education is primarily a tool of economic growth! She does so with a passion that you have to carefully read the School Journal where we publish the full text of Prof.Nussbaum’s interview.
NB:for subscribing to the School magazine please Visit:www.isvarmurti.icom