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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
Dear Mr. Sanjeev

Thanks for your positive response on my observations on the above 
subject. It is a fact that the Indian universities are right now under 
the complete control of the government of the state in which they are 
located. The government appoints the vice-chancellor and the members of 
the executive council. The Secretaries of the Departments of Education 
and Finance are the ex-officio members of the Executive Council. The 
government finds it necessary to have control over the university, as 
the government bears the entire expenditure of the university. The 
government is often forced to interfere even in the purchase of some 
major equipment by the university. In the absence of such a control, the 
government is afraid that the university might misuse the funds. Despite 
controls, the government had to face criticism from the leaders of the 
opposition parties for the lapses and allegations of financial 
irregularities faced by the universities.

Just as there is the University Grants Commission (UGC) to monitor the 
performance of the universities all over India, the State Government has 
the Council of Higher Education to tackle certain common issues such as 
bringing uniformity in the curricula and conduct of the common entrance 
tests. For example, the responsibility of conducting common entrance 
tests for the various professional courses such as engineering, 
medicine, agriculture, veterinary science, and education has to be 
distributed to the different universities on rotation. In order to sort 
out these common issues, the conferences of vice-chancellors often take 
place in the state capital, where dignitaries of the government such as 
Chief Minister, Chairman of the Council of Higher Education, and 
Education Secretary address the vice-chancellors.

Unlike the universities controlled by the states, the IITs and  
universities under the control of the Central Government enjoy greater 
autonomy and receive more funds. It is good that Prof. Subroto Roy has 
joined in an IIT. Had he joined a university run by a state government, 
he would have run away long back.

I fully agree with you that the universities should have real autonomy. 
This is possible if the government provides a fixed annual grant to each 
university and make the vice-chancellor not only responsible to generate 
other resources through various national and international funding 
agencies, consultancy to government and industry, tuition fee from 
students, etc., but also be made accountable for the entire development 
of the university. Similarly, the Departmental Heads can be made 
responsible to look after the affairs of their respective departments. 
Their performance should be judged periodically from an objective 
assessment of the achievements of the university and the departments 
through various development indices such as publications, patents, 
honors to staff, placements to students, etc. Only under such 
conditions, some good can come out of the universities.

The only way the IPI can hope to bring these radical changes in the 
functioning of the Indian universities is by having a dialogue with the 
governments at the center and the states. If the IPI has a program of 
attacking the very politicians, who are presently ruling India, on 
charges of corruption, it will not be able to play this role 
effectively. Corruption is practiced by politicians all over the world, 
including India. There is a well-establshed mechanism followed in India 
to take action on such corrupt politicians. If that mechanism is not 
properly functioning, the IPI has to work out a methodology by which 
such cases could be settled quickly. I therefore suggest that the IPI 
takes a pragmatic look to solve at least some of the major problems 
faced by India and thereby bring some quick improvement in the quality 
of life in India.


Jagadiswara Rao

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