Food For Thought
Education in India has always been assumed a larger than life role in the society. Whether it be the â€œGuru Gobind Dono Khadey, Kaakey Laagun Paayeâ€¦â€ of Kabir or the twiceborn doctrine in the Vedas, education has always had that spiritual connection and the business of imparting education was never considered a business at all. Perhaps out of this conceptualisation only, education has always received the patronage of the taste and the wealthy through our history and was never a financial burden on the students. Whether it be the Kumaragupta founded Nalanda, or the Gangai
Konda Chola Mandap mentioned in the Anaiyyavaram inscription of Rajendra Chola, or the madarassas founded by Sher Shah, the students and the teachers were always comfortably maintained out of the donations and India maintained its distinction of being one of the most sought destinations for higher learning.
In recent years, the Indian higher education system has expanded in both the private and public sectors. Today in this globalised world, we need universities that meet global standards and produces students that are acceptable to the entire globe. Although students from some institutions are accepted all around the world, the majority are unemployable. This is mainly because universities have mushroomed all over the country, not with the intention of imparting better education to our youngsters but primarily with the objective of making money. Quality is the last item on the mind of those who are setting up universities using political clout and unaccounted money. No wonder, India does not have a university which can be ranked in the top one hundred in the world. Higher education is a complex subject. It needs knowledgeable policy makers who lay down new policy consistent with new developments. Honest and non-corrupt administration that executes the laid down policies. Unfortunately, this has not happened as we frequently hear about the poor policy decisions made by the politically appointed heads. The universities also need dedicated teachers who are good at delivery. Nothing can substitute the human interaction in teaching and discussion that good teachers cultivate in the classroom. The students also cannot escape their responsibility. Higher education system need students who are responsible for their education. Sad it may sound, all these things are at a minimum in Indian universities.
The book Thoughts on Higher Education, authored by A.S.Rao and P. Tauro, is a collection of thoughts expressed by the authors from time to time in the past, on our higher educationâ€™s status and related matters. The articles bring out the various problems that mire our educational system. The problems are of long standing nature and attempt to correct and bring about improvement through various committees and commissions have met with little success. The system needs overhaul from the top but unfortunately, this has not been possible. Selection of persons to different posts is mired with corruption and political interference, which are highlighted in the book in its various articles. Despite having lots of printing and grammatical mistakes, this book should be of interest to both administrators and academics involved in higher education.
By Nilabh Krishna