As I scrolled through the front page of todays TOI with my eyes half open and myself still in half slurry sleep ,one headline was enough to get me wide awake.Our respected and most talented babus at the Ministry Of Human Resources and Development have done it yet again,the MHRD has decided to stop the funding for labs,infra setup ,sponsoring faculties to present their research at international forums and sponsoring national and international seminars.The news might just be the last nail in the coffin of public higher education system in India.
India specially successfully congress governments have prided themselves on the Nehruvian vision of setting up higher education institutions of excellence like the IIT's and IIM's.The main building of IIT Kharagpur has an old marble slab with the wordings of Pandit Nehru inscribed on it "Here in the place of that Hijli Detention Camp stands the fine monument of India, representing India's urges, India's future in the making. This picture seems to me symbolical of the changes that are coming to India."
And now 50 years hence a government run by his own party decided to end it all and the reasons.Well the MHRD argues that all the above are merely "operating expenses" and "wasteful"(you mean like providing the contingent of our babus and netas luxury tickets to see the world every year..Mr Sibal we take your point)and its necessary to remove them to improve "efficiency"(oh really wouldn't one think improving efficiency would be frst reducing your motley percentages in the contracts ministry doles out but no we are foolish morons...aam aadmi)
Stupid as the reasons are even worse would be the consequences.To understand the consequences first let us see the problems facing all IITs and IIMs today.With opening up of economy and global MNC's recognising the talent of IIT and IIM grads with ever inflating pay checks it has been so difficult for these institutions to maintain the minimum student faculty ratio.Add to it the fact that Mr Arjun Singh had a foolish idea of implemention 27% OBC quota with no decreasae in general seats and the picture becomes so grim.World over the best universities work hard to mantain a minimum level of student faculty ratio...typically abot 4:1 for research universities (which the IITs and IIMs hope to become rather than just a world class provider of quality education programs)and to mantaun these level the faculties are provided with best facilities including those which MHRD terms "inefficiencies" and "operating" expenses.
If the MHRD indeed goes on to implement these proposals we would not only have fewer than ever bright students deciding to take up a career in academics but even most faculty members at these institutes deciding to look for better prospects abroad or to private institutes across the country.As a student at IIT Kgp I know the passion that drives all faculty members at Kgp...it certainly goes beyond pay checks but then even they are humans and you cant just go on treating the people who played such an important role in building this "new India" for us as second rated citizens.
The MHRD proposes increases an increase in tuition fees to fund the expenses related to seminars,library etc.Well let me point out the ineffectivness of the above:
1)A typical MBA and engineering course in a private institute with facilities nt even comparable to IITs costs about 6 lacs/2 lacs ...hw many ppl can afford this..has the govt forgotten we are a knowledge driven economy requiring increased and better quality graduates.....unlike developed countries we can hardly afford to decrease the penetration levels of higher education
2)we got in the IT bandwagon by mistake but other countries are catching up...losing our technical edge would be the biggest folly our govt would ever make
3)India grew at an avg rate of about 7% pa ..with such increased growth shouldn't we have govt spending more on higher education ..where are all the funds going?on stupid wage increases to babus and the most inefficient govt. employees across the country
4)We are competitive today because of our low cost advantage but most countries lose this edge within about 15-20 years...only a strong technological and research capability can keep us going...its time to prepare for future rather than blindly following west.Even US despite its cost disadvantage continues to remain at forefront of world economies because its the provider of latest technology in the world.
5)In the new era we would need new technology for industry but space exploration,strategic defense...if govt. calls research and academic expenses wastage...hw will it survive..also some of the most breath taking research in world took place by accidents in universities in programs which were "deemed failures" not in specialised research institutes like CSIO or DRDO...research is an investment nt an expense
So all those bureaucrats sitting in their comfy offices in south block ..wake up..if you cant do any good for the country at least don't spoil what already is good