Ladies and gentlemen, I will tell you all the major problems that the Indian Education System faces one-by-one and then I shall prove point by point why the proposed foreign education institution (regulation of entry and operation) bill will do no good to our existing problems.
PROBLEM 1 is that even though India has over 18000 colleges and 528 universities, breeding at a rate faster than fishes in a pond, we lag far far behind in the quality of education imparted. Will the Bill improve it?
People would argue that if foreign universities do get setup here, they would increase the competition and hence bring about a chain of improvements, a wave of improvements. To them I say that a hierarchy in higher education institutions already exists in which IIT’s and IIM’s reign at the top and the rest are at a complete standstill. If after so many years, this hierarchy is only growing stronger, the chances are absolutely thin that foreign Universities would do some good here.
PROBLEM 2 is the dearth of qualified teachers. Will the Bill provide us with an excellent faculty??
I don’t think so. Rather it will cause the migration of proficient lecturers from Indian colleges to these foreign Universities in search of better pay, better incentives and even better environment adding to the already acute faculty shortage across the nation.
PROBLEM 3 is that the reach of higher education in India is not good. Will the bill improve that?
I doubt it heavily. It will rather transform higher education into an unattainable dream for the BPL, lower class and lower middle class people through their high fee structure and numerous other tantrums. It will be a rich kids’ school, and nothing else more.
PROBLEM 4 and a very big problem indeed is that of the “Brain Drain”. Will the bill solve it?
Now, many would say that every year, our educated cream checks in on the airport and flies abroad to these Universities. So the logic follows that instead of making our students fly over there, let’s bring the Universities over here. But friends, this syllogism here falls apart. The students leaving India leave it for global exposure not just education.
PROBLEM 5 is the out flux of Indian money to foreign education providers. Will the Bill stop that?
Well, even if the bill prevents repatriating profits back home directly, then if not directly, then indirectly it can be done in numerous other ways. Friends, foreign Universities are no charitable institutions. They are for-profit organizations, de-facto commercialization institutions and they shall see to it that they do make profit wherever they invest whether we like it or not.
PROBLEM 6 is that there is a neglect of courses such as basic sciences and humanities. Will this Bill make it flourish?
The answer again would be a negative. There is a dearth of scope here in India, not a dearth of institutes.
PROBLEM 7 Is that there is an absence of research and co-ordination between the Universities and industries. Will the bill revolutionize that??
Very frankly ladies and gentlemen, I firmly believe that it shall not. See, teaching, teachers and education must be based on the ground realities of the context. To cater to the Indian needs, to cater to the co-ordination between the researches in Universities and implementation in industries, the education system must always, always be indigenous.
Let me tell you some facts here.
The University of New South Wales (UNSW) also benefited from subsidies upwards of $80 million. Even so, after just one semester, UNSW folded up from Singapore citing its “unsuitable financial model’’. The John Hopkins Centre, which received $52 million in funding since its 1998 arrival in Singapore, also closed down as it did not meet the performance benchmark. And the UK’s prestigious Warwick University, which was to set up a full campus in the real sense of the term, backed out at the last minute.
The two universities that China can boast of are Nottingham and Liverpool – no great shakes, by world standards- and both have local partners, as required by law. Even Israel, with all its close links to the US, managed to attract only the low-grade institution.
All these are stories of absolute blunders.
My father always says to me that it is foolish to wait for the apple to fall on our head and then reprove that it falls due to gravity when Sir Newton has already proved it and gone. Similarly, Friends, why do we not learn from the blunders already committed all across the globe?
We have to face up to the fact that no country has developed a great university system through imports. All great universities have always been and shall always be home grown.
Saa Vidya Yaa Vimuktyay: this has been the concept of education in our country for times immemorial. No mere knowledge but wisdom, no mere information but transformation, no mere vocation but education developing inside out.
Friends, since ancient times, this is what our educationists dreamt. This is what sir Syed Ahmed Khan and Sri Madan Mohan Malviya dreamt. An education system based not only on technicalities but also on the revival of our culture, of our ethics, of our ethos, of our values, of our age-old morals and our diverse religions. They come here to increase their own GER (their gross enrolment ratio). They come here for their own prestige enhancement. They come here for their own maximization of revenues and they come here for the maximization of their own profits.
Brothers and sisters, come with me. Let me take you to an India 50 years now. Try to dream of a sovereign India in the truest sense. Do foreign Universities fit in there?
Ladies and gentlemen, please pay attention to what the foreign universities will serve you to eat, not the pompous way in which it shall be served.
QUOD ERAT DEMONSTRANDUM