Who talks about it? Who cares about?
The field is open to serious violations and corrupt practices!
Indian university education is vibrant and also in a mess!

Why vibrant? There is a great growth of private universities, deemed universities and very many other higher education colleges, engineering and medical colleges in recent years.

This very numbers, the quantity is welcome for India needs more education opportunities for the great growth in student numbers. Why then we say it is in a mess?

There are simply no international quality universities in India. Recently, the new Japanese Prime Minister. Shinzo Abe, a political veteran, patriot, his grandpa was also a Prime Minister. Abe is into this office for the second time.

This time he sounds very earnest as well as aggressive. He wants to life Japan into a growth path. Japan was once an innovative economy; its products like Sony were world-beating innovations.

Some of these icons fell by the way, even Honda auto company. Now, after five years of stagnation and also fall, the Japanese economy is looking up. It cheers not just Japan, but the whole world.

Japan, once number two economy is now left behind by such neighbours like China and South Korea. So, the new Prime Minister puts one of his priorities is to create two more world class universities. Now, Japan’s two universities are in the international class top 100 universities.

What about India? Indian universities? Not one Indian university are in the Times Higher Education international ranking of top 100 universities. What about the brave talks of the Prime Minister and Sam Pitroda who talked of creating 1,500 universities?

We are all very innocent people as a nation. We excuse our leaders’s false promises when they make them without batting an eyelid!  Now, the point is that we have to welcome the private universities whether they are set up with much thought, or under any law or even “illegally”! Why illegally?

There are any numbers of universities that are blasting your imagination with almost brain-washing advertisements! The TV channels are now chosen ad medium for some of the names.Can they really set up so many campuses even in London?

If so, hats off! Then, there are no strict regulations at the level of the government. The HRD ministry is poorly manned. There are some green horns in charge. We dot hear anything from them by way of articulation. It is a great pity. The higher education sector, the university education field is now open for any number of violations of norms, laws and prone to serious corruption and corrupt practices.

To take two recent cases: The 85 year old private university, namely, the Annamalai University in Tamil Nadu was recently taken over by the TN government on allegations of so many malpractices and a near crisis of non-functioning of the university. Then, there is the issue of almost near anarchy in the running of the universities.

Again, take the case of TN universities. One university in Coimbatore, the industrial city, the Vice-Chancellor and his staff got an income of Rs.5.5 crores by conducting an entrance exam by way of fees. What to do with the Rs.5.5 crores?

They decided to give themselves some luxury. The VC wanted to buy a Mercedes Benz car! The others, the Registrar and the Controller of Exams and others decided to buy the latest cars, Innova, each costing Rs.7 lakhs!  Wise or unwise?

There was a hue and cry among the teaching staff. The matter was suppressed and everyone denied the moves! Why? Coimbatore is a city of luxury cars; the Merc has a special showroom! If your car, Merc we mean, goes wrong in South India, perhaps, the nearest showroom to call the mechanics is perhaps only in Coimbatore!

So, the poor fellows, the very hesitant academics who found themselves in the lap of some new jobs, that too for shorter periods of three years or so, imagined themselves: why not lives the life of fellow industrialists of the town!

So, in TN, such undeserved ambitions crop up in the minds of academics.  In TN, university education is in the doldrums for quite a long time. The rot started under the earlier regime when the open talk in the academic circles is how many crores money changed hands to bag the VC job! One or two VCs we have knowledge of, got the VC job not once but even twice, one got the second time! In another prestigious university in the state.

Let not the outsiders or the new comers forget TN once boasted top class universities. Now, in the latest write-ups on Indian universities, a random selection of ten top ones, TN doesn’t figure at all. Why, no South Indian universities are mentioned.

The top ten, as per the latest media eports, writing, are: Delhi, JNU, Calcutta, BHU, Hyderabad, Osmania, Aligarh, Jamia Milia and Pondicherry.

In what fields these universities excel?
We don’t know for sure. Anyway, there are serious issues now. Deemed universities are no more deemed to have got any permanent recognition.

You drive through TN and you suddenly come through name boards announcing a “university”. In recent times even such modern university like Bangalore is riddled with so many issues.

One former VC calls the Chancellor, who is always the state’s Governor, “the worst Chancellor the state (Karnataka) has got!”  Time has come to change the Chancellors from being only the state Governors. Governors often play politics. Again TN was an example when a previous Governor indulged in commercial activities; his family used his clout to sell some lab materials to colleges!

So, Governors need not be the Chancellors of Universities. Nor the Prime Minister need not be Chancellor of Visva Bharati as is the practice now. Morarji Desai wisely changed that in his time!

Nor the selection of Vice-Chancellor is through a panel of three names.  In fact, it is time there must be some rule that the VCs be chosen on an all-India basis. Why? Even there can be invitations from universities from foreign, reputed universities, reputed names for say, three years on a contract basis.

Also, the university faculty chairs needn’t be all for a lifetime. There can be new chairs for, say, one year tenure, as in foreign universities, as in LSE for example. We can invite very reputed names for brief terms. Also, another Indian phenomenon.  Some great Indians are now professors in Harvard and Columbia and other US universities. UK universities don’t have the funds now. These US universities give lifetime tenures. So, you find names like Prof.Amartya Sen and other comes here once a while, on holidays and lord it over on all topics! And go away!

This impacts the psychology and confidence of native academics. Indian university education needs to be pulled up. You need a strong leader. At the PMO or at the HRD!

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