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Re: Deterioration of Standards in Indian Universities

Postings not related to the writing of the Manifesto or policy chapters
are likely to be summarily rejected. Thanks for your understanding. IPI
On Thu, 14 Jan 1999, Prof. R. Jagadiswara Rao wrote:

> But things are now different. 

Rotation of Headship:

> The headship of each department is on 
> rotation for two or three years and no one is accountable for any wrong 
> in the department. 

The reason for this, as the IPI manifesto points out, is the complete
control of higher education by government. Why should every university
follow a standard policy set by a bureaucrat/ committee at the national
level? Let each univ. decide its own policy. That is the way the US
works, and that is the way for growth and innovation. I hope you will
agree with this point. This point is already in the manifesto, by the

> The entire purchase of equipment and books has been 
> taken away by the non-teaching staff and many teachers are so much 
> frustrated that they prefer not to apply for any research grant. 

Same reason as above. Let the universities become completely autonomous
and compete for students and grants. If a university is riddled with
bureaucracy and cannot motivate its professors to get grants, it will
not be able to attract good students and will die an appropriate natural
death. Indian Universities are, in the ultimate analysis, competing
against the best in the world. From what I observe around me, the best
Indian students quickly land up in USA; also I know for sure that apart
from the very committed folk, most people who are unable to get jobs in
USA and elsewhere go back to India. 

Indian universities, like everything else (including the IAS - which has
seen a massive exodus) are dying due to attempts to standardize
everything. We are not competitive any longer. We are bound in rules
that are far more Kaffkaesque than Kaffka or Orwell could have imagined.
Prof. Subroto Roy has recently joined IIT, Kgp, but in one of his mails
to me he was moaning about the politics and bureacratization in IIT. He
has seen how the world works elsewhere; it is to be seen whether people
like him will change the system in India or become absorbed in the mess,
themselves. It is very easy to give up in India.

> Irrespective of performance, most lecturers become professors in course 
> of time. 

This is a shame of a magnitude unimaginable and unfathomable to the rest
of the world. Try getting a tenure in USA, even in a relatively shoddy
university like USC (ranked below 40 in economics). I have seen Asst.
Professors being kicked out at the rate of one or two per year since I
have joined. Simply because they could not publish in top ranking
journals (journals are also "ranked"!). If you are not THE BEST, don't
try to teach, is the message in USA. No wonder the Nobel Prizes all tend
to go to USA. Such a huge level of competitiveness can only lead to good
solutions for this country in which I am temporarily staying.

You mention the decay in the educational system. I can talk about the
decay in the IAS. After decades of being kicked around, or joining the
'rat race' and automatic promotions, most members are no longer fit to
use their brains productively (I have seen some of my best and higest
quality batchmates either completely demoralized or completely rich and
'powerful' having joined the rat race. I too am unable to think clearly
now). If they think, the Official secrets act or the Conduct rules are
applied and they are kicked out. You learn early in the game in India to
stop thinking and to suck up to the boss.

> The staff once recruited can remain at the same place without 
> any transfer. Many of them indulge in politics or take up some part-time 
> work. Some coach students for various competitive examinations for 
> entrance into various professional courses and for getting into some 
> job, which may range from IAS to clerk-grade. 

You get what you ask for. We as a nation asked for greater
bureaucratization of everything. We begged and pleaded for government to
"take over" colleges and give us 'UGC' scales. Clearly, once the monster
has taken over, nothing can now be done. I do believe, too, that our
social scientists have somehow been party to the great lust for
socialism and communism that prevails till today in our country.

> Recruitment of teachers now is based on the rules of reservation spelled 
> out in various government orders (GO) from time to time. Some of the 
> reservation categories recognized include scheduled castes (SC), 
> scheduled tribes (ST), backward classes (BC) divided further into A, B, 
> C, and D sub-categories, physically handicapped, women, etc. Efforts are 
> being made to recognize four sub-categories among SCs. These GOs are 
> often so poorly drafted that rules in one GO sometimes contradict with 
> those in another GO. This gave scope for the university to implement the 
> GOs to suit its convenience and fill up a vacancy by reserving it to the 
> caste of a favored candidate. Several aggrieved parties then filed cases 
> against the universities. The whole issue became so complicated that the 
> Supreme Court evolved a formula where the reservation category of each 
> vacancy should be determined by chance and not by selection by anybody. 
> Thus if a particular post is reserved for a BC-A category, it cannot be 
> filled up even with a meritorious SC candidate. In the whole process, 
> real merit and the specialization requirements of the post are 
> forgotten.

We are working on the reservation policy on IPI at the moment. Let us
wait the results of the debate. Your point is very well made, though.
By the way, I must go. Your note is so good (the best received on IPI so
far, ever!) that I have put it up on the IPI's publication page at


I would urge members to seriously consider this piece and to comment on
it; also, I would urge Prof Rao to look at the education policy in the
manifesto and to suggest changes.

Thanks a million! It was a pleasure reading your work.


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