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.