“Privatisation of higher education in India is certainly a boon” —Dr Hari Gautam, Former Chairman, UGC
Dr Hari Gautam is a renowned Educationist, an eminent Administrator and a famous Medical Doctor. He has formerly held various prestigious positions such as Chairman, University Grants Commission; Vice Chancellor, Banaras Hindu University; President, National Academy of Medical Sciences; President, Indian Association of Cardiovascular-Thoracic Surgeons; Honorary Advisor/Consultant in Cardiothoracic Surgery to the Armed Forces Medical Services and Member of Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet, Government of India. He is a Doctor of Science (Hon Causa) from 10 universities and has been the recipient of various prestigious awards such as Dr BC Roy National Award, Lifetime Achievement Award and Col Pandali Oration Award from the Association of Surgeons of India, The UP Ratna Award, President of India Merit Award. He has delivered 33 convocation addresses and has inaugurated more than 50 International/National/State Academic Comferences. He is also the chairman of various prestigious institutions and a member of various governing bodies. Dr Hari Gautam, in an interview to Uday India correspondent Tulika Rattan, talks about the pros and cons of privatisation of higher education in India. Excerpts:
Is privatisation of Higher Education in India a boon or a bane?
Certainly it is a boon. It has already provided dividends. We have been able to create some of the finest institutions in the private sector. And efforts must be encouraged to create more and more of such good institutions.
Do you think privatisation is the only alternative to improve the quality of higher education in India?
A combination of state and private institutions is the best way to improve the quality of higher education in the country. What is important is to create more good institutions of higher education—whether it may be in the private sector or the government sector. We must ensure the accountability and maintenance of academics’ integrity uniformally in all the institutions, so that the combination of private and state institutions shall deliver more meaningful and effective education.
Do you support the Foreign University Bill?
It is a debatable proposition whether the foreign universities should be allowed freely to come to operate in India. There’s nothing wrong for a good foreign university to come here but we should not allow each and every institution, of varying shades, to do this. What is more important is that we should safeguard the interest of our institutions and not compromise, at any cost, in terms of their development and proper growth, to provide a quality education. The presence of foreign universities should never adversely affect the future of our Indian institutions of higher education. This must be enforced by providing a uniform play field to operate their systems, so as to encourage a healthy competition. This involves a parallel accountability, academic integrity, standards of education, salary and perks of the faculty, students’ tuition fees and mode of admissions, applied to both the Indian and foreign universities.
Do you think India lacks world standards in higher education?
India does not lack world standards in higher education. Undoubtedly, in certain sectors we are not as good as others. It is mainly because we have been denied the proper infrastructure, talented human resources and merit-valued performances in the education sector.
Do you feel the government has failed to promote the Indian education system?
No. The government has always been making efforts to enlarge the scope and quality of higher education in the country. It is a different matter that it may have not succeeded in achieving the desired results.