Why do Indian higher education institutions take pride in being elitist?

I recently read a Facebook post by a boy, ranting about the arrogant prospectus of St. Stephen's College where one is advised to “apply to other institutions as well because only about 2 per cent of those who apply to this College succeed in securing admission.” Well of course, it was not the first time I had heard that admission into St. Stephen’s meant much more than joining just any college in India – it meant joining “the exclusive Stephanians’ club”.

“But then why should this ignorant boy complain” you ask? Because this boy is a part of Harvard’s 2017 batch.

To put things in perspective, Harvard University in Massachusetts, USA is ranked number one on this year’s World University Ranking published by Times Higher Education for the top 100 schools to study, in which not even a single Indian university features.

So now a few angry readers would accuse the poll (and maybe me) for being biased towards the US, but at closer inspection, I found, it even contains universities from South Korea, Israel and Turkey!

So why is it that a country which prides itself for being an enlightened part of the world from ancient times, does not feature on today’s education map?

This is because our top universities believe that if they want to remain on top, they must form exclusive communities where they can brag about how they are better because they are a part of some ridiculous “2%” rather than analysing how useful the pedagogy is. Whereas, its global counterparts take pride in reaching… well, anywhere with a decent internet connection to educate people free on a variety of topics through platforms like coursera.com.

Though Right to Education is now a fundamental right, the right to quality education continues to elude the masses.

We continue to take pride in such elitist institutes which admit students on primarily one criteria —scoring 95% in their board exams which in turn just requires rote learning from an outdated syllabus.

(Venika Menon is a grade XII humanities student at Amity International School, Noida. She had the privilege of attending the 12th and 13th Annual Global Classrooms International Model United Nations. In 2012, she won the Best Delegate Award in the General Assembly hall at the United Nation Headquaters in New York.)