MHRD’s assault on institutions of excellence


It is not very hard to see why those who loved Modi before elections are quickly disillusioned.

It is sad that both NDA and UPA governments found most incompetent people to be appointed as MHRD. First it was MM Joshi who tried to make Astrology a science. Then it was Arjun Singh with his reservations bomb. After it was Zero-Loss Sibbal with his RTE disaster.

Higher education in India is in an urgent need of reforms. Large regulatory bodies should be totally abolished or if that is not politically feasible at least their role in education needs to be reduced to minimum.

Not only private colleges should be freed from the clutches of Universities but even for-profit players should be allowed to make a business out of higher education.

Here is Mr. Arvind Panagariya talking about what is wrong with our Higher Education and what needs to be done.

And here is a piece of  Prof Swati Sarkar that tells us how Smriti Irani is playing with our Higher Education.

Now, either her inexperience or her limited regard for this core area is showing in her decisions. IISc had a prestigious FYUP operational since 2011. There was no report of student or faculty resentment. One fine morning, UGC (read HRD as UGC was fine so far and follows the diktats of the regime of the day) orders that it be scrapped. Growing up in a left regime, I have seen how higher education in Kolkata, which used to be a premier center of learning once upon a time, was decimated through such abject political interference from the left. I have also seen how academic freedom and lack of (or at worst limited) political interference has ensured that higher education in US is where it is. Thus, I am appalled by the fact that GoI is following the left on this core issue and in the process may well ensure that few academic institutes that India can be genuinely proud of bite the dust. To be fair, even the despicable Sonia regime did not actively undermine higher education in India, just didnt care about it.

I am willing to admit that government might get itself into creating a set of “bare minimum” standards that all institutions must adhere to till the time independent private organizations can come up with accreditation systems that are values by industry.

But there is absolutely no sense in trying to curtail those institutes which are exceeding those standards. If teachers and students are happy with a 4 year program I do not see why government should put its nose the affairs of the university.

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