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Updated: January 8, 2011 10:49 IST

Issues in higher education

S. Viswanathan
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S. Viswanathan
The Hindu S. Viswanathan

Two recent judgments, one by the Delhi High Court, the other by the Madras High Court, have paved the way for the Union Ministry for Human Resource Development to go ahead with its much-delayed scheme to revamp the country's higher education system.

All that the Ministry could do, during the first few months of the second United Progressive Alliance government, was to take a policy decision that a pass in the National Eligibility Test (NET) or State Level Eligibility Test (SLET) would be the sole, mandatory qualification for being appointed as Lecturer/Assistant Professor in colleges, irrespective of possessing any additional academic certification, other than a post-graduate degree in the relevant subject. The All India Researchers' Coordination Committee challenged the Ministry's decision in the Delhi High Court. Groups of petitioners and appellants, who hold research degrees such as M.Phil. and Ph.D., approached the Madras High Court to get the decision reversed.

Upholding the Ministry's decision, which had been made in consultation with academic experts, a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court comprising Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Manmohan observed: “The courts should not venture into the academic arena, which is best suited for academicians and experts.”

In the Madras High Court, the First Bench consisting of Chief Justice M.Y. Eqbal and Justice T.S. Sivagnanam dismissed the petitions as well as the appeals. The Judges said that the regulation and the decision of the Union Government that a pass in the National Eligibility Test or the State Level Eligibility Test would be the sole route to appointment as teachers in colleges, could not, by any stretch of the imagination, be held to be illegal, arbitrary, or whimsical. They held that the decision was rational and based on the public interest, and that it was also a national policy inasmuch as it aimed at upgrading the standard of higher education in the country.

In both the courts, the University Grants Commission figures properly as a respondent. When the NET/SLET selection was in operation, many aspirants with higher academic qualifications and a research background, were interested in opting for a teaching career. The recruitment rules were then relaxed to accommodate the researchers as teachers. Those with M.Phil. and Ph.D. qualifications were exempted from writing the NET/SLET. The UGC was involved in this exercise by framing the regulations for the recruitment scheme. The exemption was continued by the UGC for several years.

Now that the HRD Ministry was keen on raising the bar in institutions of higher learning, the UGC had to fall in line. The petitioners/appellants in the two cases challenged the new rule of recruitment on the grounds that the UGC had framed it on a direction from the Union, which is in violation of the UGC Act, 1956. Another contention of the petitioners was that the UGC and the government had been consistently granting exemption, as a matter of policy, to those with M.Phil. and Ph.D. qualification, who prefer teaching in colleges. These contentions were, however, rejected by both high courts. The argument that the grant of exemptions to those with Ph.D. and M.Phil. qualifications had given rise to “legitimate expectations” that they could succeed in getting jobs without undergoing tests did not cut much ice.

The HRD Ministry deserves praise for its firm stand on a strict recruitment policy with a view to improving the standards of higher education. However, it needs to do much more for those who sweat and toil to acquire research qualifications; they can't be left to languish without any hope of stable employment. It is clear that the recruitment of talented teachers does not automatically raise the quality of education. Unlike teachers in primary and secondary schools, who undergo a two-year or one-year course before they take to teaching, those who become college teachers generally lack training. Filling this gap must be made a high priority.

The news media can certainly play a major role in raising awareness within the teaching community of the need for instituting consistent pedagogic standards in colleges and universities across the country. There is plenty of coverage in Indian newspapers of trends and opportunities in the professional streams of higher education. There is even some discussion of quality issues and of the need for academic benchmarking. But teacher education and training, what goes into the making of a good teacher, remains a neglected area. It would certainly be worthwhile for the UGC to conduct workshops — basic as well as advanced — on this subject for journalists who wish to specialise in the field of higher education. Journalism schools can also play their part in turning the sights of their students towards the subject and the issues at stake for rising India.

readerseditor@thehindu.co.in

Correction

(The Online and Off Line column (“Issues in higher education,” December 13, 2010) had a reference to Justice Dipak Misra of the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court. He is Chief Justice Dipak Misra of the Delhi High Court.)

@ T.Subramaniam,: It is quite obvious that the problem is not exactly political in nature but the problem is created because of lack of common sense by the politicians. First they did not make NET compulsory to do PhD after Masters level. So many researchers did not appear for NET and straight away did their PhD either in India or abroad. They could easily have cleared NET after their Masters. Now after they have completed their PhD they are asked to appear for NET alongside their juniors. Thus is manifest unfairness of the regulation. The question here is not of what percentage you give to various categories of qualifications and achievements but of justice. Especially justice for those who are good and have done their PhDs from reputable institutions from India and abroad. @ S.Gayathri: I don't know how you can make such an unqualified and generalized statement that it is not a good point to consider PhDs without NET. It seems you are insulting the likes of Amartya Sen, Venkataraman Ramakrishnan and even some of your professors who may have PhDs without NET. If it is Murli Manohar Joshi and the politicians from Tamil Nadu who are to be blamed, then it is they who should be punished and not the good researchers made scapegoats. I am all for training of candidates before selection and placement in various colleges. It is shocking to hear from James Peter Raj and others much sensational news from Tamil Nadu and other places. But I fail to understand the logic behind making such statements here. Tomorrow someone may say that a PhD researcher (probably without NET) from Tamil Nadu has murdered a person, so all PhD researchers from India and abroad (probably without NET) will be hanged. I am here arguing to give exemption from NET only to those candidates who registered and did their PhD when NET was not compulsory and I am in no way arguing to abolish NET as some comments seem to suggest.

from:  Amit
Posted on: Jan 7, 2011 at 16:53 IST

The quality of education can be improved only if it attracts talented young people. I can consider Ph.Ds with NET. I can place them above NET candidates. But I don't find any good point to consider Ph.Ds without NET. Murali Manohar Joshi also made NET mandatory in 2002, then due to unknwon reasons (political pressure Tamil Nadu) it was dropped. As the author of the article has pointed out training must also be provided after selection of candidates before they place them in different colleges. It is not shocking to hear from James Peter Raj that MPhil degrees were sold for 1Lakh. Two years back assistant professor job was going for 15-20 Lakhs in Tamil Nadu. Till the HRD makes selection procedure very clear this will happen in future too.

from:  S.Gayathri
Posted on: Jan 7, 2011 at 08:44 IST

Amit,It is not a political problem; It is basically a social problem. When you are not able to clear NET you have to allow the other person to get in. The other person has to appreciate your 4-6 years hard work to get your Ph.D. When the third person could clear NET and worked for 6 years to get his Ph.D, both of you have to allow him to get in first. But things don't happen that way. If I were HRD minister, I will put marks for everything you have as follows and ask (ORDER) all state Govts to stick to it. NET- 51% Ph.D- 30% Research Publications- 15% Teaching Experience or Interview - 4% If HRD makes NET easier and produce thousands of NET candidates/year, it will be a disaster.

from:  T.Subramanian
Posted on: Jan 7, 2011 at 06:10 IST

@ T.Subramanian: Your rule 1 is fair because it is applicable to all candidates without discrimination. There is no problem with your rule 2 and 3 because it is for candidates with NET and with or without PhD under 2009 regulations. Even when you put NET with MPhil ahead of PhD in rule 4, it can also be tolerated since you give scope for the PhD researchers for recruitment in rule 5 and not shut them out en-mass as done by the HRD ministry. Only 11 candidates from all over India passed the June 2010 NET exam in English. So there is no need to limit the number of NET qualified candidates when there is a paucity of such candidates. What the HRD ministry should do is to remove the eligibility criteria for NET and allow the maximum number of candidates to appear for NET. The screening has to be done through NET and not through masters level marks because different universities have different standards of markings. But as far as we know our HRD ministry with its narrow vision, it will make the NET exam easier and compound the problem. I think it is fair to all if candidates who registered and completed PhD under old regulations should be recruited under old regulations and candidates who register and will complete PhD under new regulations will be recruited under new regulations. If this is not fair then the definition of fairness should be changed.

from:  Amit
Posted on: Jan 5, 2011 at 17:16 IST

I am not in favour of trashing your hard earned Ph.D degree. If I were HRD Minister, I will frame the rules in a such a way that hard working candidates are selected first as follows: (1) I will NOT allot any mark for interview.(otherwords I wont allow the selection panel to weigh suitcases!). (2) If a candidate has both Ph.D (Ph.D with 2009 regulations)and NET that candidate MUST be selected. In case of more than one candidate having NET and Ph.D(Ph.D with 2009 regulations), I will put marks based on number of publications with impact factor and see who wins. 3) Next, if there is no candidate available with the above said qualification, I will allow the panel to look for NET with Ph.D (Ph.D which doesnt fit 2009 regulations. In case of more than one candidate having NET and Ph.D (Ph.D which doesnt fit 2009 regulations), again I will put marks based number of publications with impact factor and see who wins. (4) If there is no candidate with the above said application, I will allow the panel to look for NET qualified candidates with M.SC and MPhil. Again I can look for publications with impact factor in case there are more than one candidates. 5) Now I will look for Ph.D candidates with publications. I will put marks based on their publications. In order to make it feasible for Ph.D candidate to get job, I will limit the number of NET candidates/year. I am sure that it may be acceptable for you. You want mark for interview. Well, that is why Ms/Mrs Gayathri pointed out those want to get easy jobs try to dilute the norms. It is not politicians, it is the people who are behind these politicians want to dilute the norms.

from:  T.Subramanian
Posted on: Jan 5, 2011 at 07:46 IST

@ S.Gayathri : We cannot make different rules for different universities but we can make different rules for different students. Those who got their PhD say a couple of years earlier were exempted from NET. Those who will register for PhD now will be exempted from NET. And only those who fall in the interim period will be made victims of blatant and manifest injustice. We cannot have different rules for different universities but we will not penalize the errant universities and reward the good ones in any way. We cannot have different rules for different universities but we will create a hierarchy through NAAC accreditation and delude students into a false sense of prestige and accountability.There may be excellent researchers in local University like Madurai Kamaraj or Ghandigram rural Institute as are in JNU or CU, but if they are not NET qualified then we will dump them as well as dump their research. NET is like a security check but a security check happens before boarding a flight and not after checking out of the airport. All over the world there are screening tests but only in India screening tests for PhD entry will happen for some after they have completed their PhD! I don't see any student wanting to do a PhD being averse to qualifying in NET but equally I don't see any researcher wanting to appear for any exam which is conducted primarily for students who are their juniors by almost ten years. How justified is it to make a young MA pass student with no research experience but with a NET qualification as Assistant Professor and discriminate against people who have experience of quality research at PhD level. If NET is the only test of knowledge then I fail to see what are BA, MA and PhD testing. Why at all put any eligibility criteria for NET? The politicians created this problem and inducted substandard people into the education system and now the politicians are ensuring that such substandard people stay secure in the system by adopting a discriminatory attitude towards good researchers. Where is the initiative to identify good researchers and give them their due?

from:  Amit
Posted on: Jan 3, 2011 at 21:15 IST

We cannot make different rules for different universities. There are excellent researchers in local University like Madurai Kamaraj or Ghandigram rural Institute. They may be even better than your JNU or CU. NET is similar to security check to find fakes and discard them. There is no absolute testing procedure to test your knowledge but it is accepted procedure worldwide to conduct screening test. Even for a driving a car there is a test to make sure you know driving rules. Why cannot we have a test the knowledge of people who want to become professors, research community of future India. The students who opt for Ph.D don't want to clear an exam specially conducted for the purpose. By some means they get their Ph.D and again they don't want to write an exam for Asst.prof post. In my opinion HRD should make NET compulsory for Ph.D entry level itself sothat quality is maintained both in the teaching and research. Then this kind of problems will not arise. Whose mistake it is? It is politicians problem and the people associated with them, who want to dilute the rules to get easy jobs.

from:  S.Gayathri
Posted on: Jan 1, 2011 at 23:34 IST

@ T.Subramanian : I also don't see Cambridge and Harvard students working for Kubban&Chubban's college in rural area. But I see them working in CU, DU, JNU, BHU etc. You have given the example of GRE but it is a compulsory exam at entry level and it was not made compulsory after the students got their degrees as has been made with NET exam. So there is no argument with foreign universities. Since NET was not compulsory at the time of PhD registration it was a matter of choice for students. The students are no fools to opt out of a compulsory exam and jeopardize their future. Many students opting for research in reputed institutes spend time preparing their research proposals because it is on the basis of research proposal PhD registration takes place. There are many NET qualified scholars who don't get to do PhD from reputed universities because they don't have a good enough proposal. In Calcutta University, as far as I know, it usually takes almost two years just to prepare a good research proposal to get registered for PhD. The exam that MCI conducts for foreign medical degree holders is not of the level of medical entrance exam that is conducted for aspiring medical students. Let UGC conduct separate exam for PhDs but don't make doctorates take an exam that masters level students take. The new PhD regulation is stringent for students of those universities which had easier norms but easier for students of those universities which had tougher norms. @james peter raj It is very difficult to decipher the meaning of your comment because of the syntax you have used. Yet the little I have understood I can vouch for it that no seats were sold in centres of excellence like CU, JNU etc. I don't find any logic behind your saying that some who have PhD in Eng. Lit. stammer. Will NET qualification cure the stammering? The capitation fee and donation that you are talking of happen in universities of ill-repute. I am yet to hear of any centres of excellence being mired in such controversies. It is grossly inappropriate to compare researchers form CU, JNU etc. with those of any less-prestigious universities. Otherwise why will researchers opt for these reputable universities when they can get their PhD degrees easily and in less time from universities which don't have five star status from NAAC. If adages like "University with Potential for Excellence" have no meaning then why put such misnomers to delude students.
I don't know why everyone is so concerned with the bad institutes and penalizing the good institutes alongside, when the reverse should be done. The good institutes should be exempted and the bad ones penalized. Moreover those who can buy seats earlier can still do so under new PhD regulation since NET is not compulsory for them. So the bad ones will continue to get into the system and the good ones will continue to stay out. Unless the good also becomes bad.

from:  Amit
Posted on: Dec 31, 2010 at 19:08 IST

mr. amit
it seems to me as if you dont have any idea how capitation fee and donation is paid in our country.don't live in ivory tower and come to reality. do you think its so easy to expose our corrupt people and bureaucrats.either you live in some developed country like Singapore or in some other planet. better know Indian politics police and policy. judges courts and our media. better read political news then educational. do you think these PEOPLE WHO are involved in 3G TO ADHRASH SCAM WILL EVER BE ARRESTED?
if you are optimistic then please try to knows Indian ethos and who it works. nothing will ever happen to these scamesters.
bye

from:  james peter raj
Posted on: Dec 30, 2010 at 22:35 IST

TO AMIT
i hope you the standard of our PHD and mphils. if not better do the research on that first. about scraping these degrees completely is like asking for abolishing a golden goose. which our universities wont do. and our universities and ministry and everyone I know the standard that's why now they have this 209 regulation. perhaps India is the only country where u cant write in first person I we cant write I, this is the research which we do or I DO....
about quality and scrapping it why don't they do it. i am only against this side and seek game . NET has been here for last 20 years then what about those who relied their faith on this exam alone. at least phd and mphil candidates at least have known for last 18 years that they have to pass NET or obtained PHD.
BUT WHEN A MECHANISM HAS BEEN MADE WHY TO TEMPER WITH THAT? about my claim how mphil seat sold like hot cake between 2006-08 better do ur survey you may get some new findings on their stranded and value. i can show many those who did PHd in English lit but stammer when they communicate.and about NETS standard to evaluation if u and others doubt the we can challenge any exam NOT JUST CAT OR JEE even IAS i know how luck time and the board favored many in the last 5 years when post increased from 320 in 2003 to 850 in 2009 in UPSC CIVIL SERVICE. hence its pure destiny sir.

from:  JAMES peter raj
Posted on: Dec 30, 2010 at 22:27 IST

Amit,
I don't have any evidence for my claim. But I don't see any Cambridge or Harvard students working for Kubban & Chubban's college in rural area. They are in top Insitutes like IITs. Myself I was kubban college student and finally IIT student for my Ph.D.

CSIR-UGC conducts an exam for JRF, you bypass the test to register for your Ph.D. That time itself you have to accept you are a sub-standard candidate for research. Well, if you have proved that you are an excellent researcher there are several available opportunities in this earth. If you dont have good GRE score can you go ahead to argue with foreign universities?. They will reject your application.

When you take exceptionally few examples among Cambridge and MIT graduate students you have to see the people getting Ph.Ds from other asian countries like Taiwan, Korea, russia and China. MCI also conducts test for medical graduates from these countries to practice in India, right?. Even if you have Medical degree from AIIMS you have to clear an exam here in USA. You want to laugh at these people.
You have a valid point, why under new regulations Ph.Ds are excempted from NET. Probably the new regulations are very stringent. I havent studied the new regulations.

from:  T.Subramanian
Posted on: Dec 30, 2010 at 21:53 IST

Can anybody tell me the case number of Madras High Court Case?

from:  Siddarth
Posted on: Dec 30, 2010 at 20:06 IST

@T. Subramanian,
The major part of you comment was on Oxford and Cambridge graduates not wanting to come back to India. Only as an after thought you mention the sentence that you point out it your last comment. So Amit was right in taking you on the basis of your major point as opposed to the after thought! Leaving that aside, the NET seems to be an additional barrier to deserving PhD holders to enter academics. A well done PhD is what tests qualities required by an academic. It teaches one how to research, read, think, write and orally communicate academic work in a sustained manner. The NET does none of these. At best it is an exam which seeks to eliminate absolutely ineligible persons, and at the same time also eliminate the huge mass of PhD holders who acquired their PhDs by non-academic and sub-standard means. Thus one should accept that the NET does not test anything which academics requires, but merely eliminates. The dangerous part is, that it will also eliminate many good candidates. If, a well established academic is asked to write an exam which tests you on information and a little analysis of materials which were a part of a course you did 5 years ago, then it is likely that the academic will fail. Especially so when there are multiple choice questions. An academic should be able to think from different angles and question established answers to generate new knowledge: the exact opposite of answering a multiple type question! (I am sure academics will do worse than the children in 'kya aap paanchwi paas se tez hain') A lot of valuable talent will be sacrificed in the name of maintaing a minimum quality. The MHRD would have done better to spend its time and resources in improving the process of granting PhDs. Like I said before, our universities are moving more towards becoming administrative units where academic posts are seen only as jobs, promotions and salaries. In my interaction with academics all over India, it seems to be inescapably the fact that the majority of teachers are below par, before and after NET. Only a few interested people in different departments keep a semblance of some academics being done.
The NET is a usual shortcut of doing the least that can be to show that something is being done. An old weapon in the armoury of the Indian bureaucracy.

from:  Pritam
Posted on: Dec 30, 2010 at 01:26 IST

@T.Subramanian

The question is not of can but of why! When researchers with PhD degrees from foreign universities get immediate placement abroad then why will they come back and spend time preparing for a low level test. It will be a setback for them and a wastage of time as compared to their peers who will soar ahead of them in the interim. Coming back home is an attraction, the pay commission has given the incentive for researchers to come back to India but the NET exam is neither attractive nor an incentive. So the brain drain will continue. I personally know a friend of mine doing PhD abroad who had resolved to come back to India after the pay commission hike in salary of teachers but is now reluctant to come back because of the NET hurdle. It is immaterial whether NET is tough or easy, it will require at least six months to prepare for it and any researcher will get behind his/her peer group by at least six months in doing so. Plus how do one motivate oneself? It is like asking a medical practitioner or an engineer or a lawyer to appear for an entrance test again after getting their degrees. Moreover those who are already in the system or those who are will enter the system under new PhD regulation are not required to clear NET and hence the blatant discrimination. Academics from all over the world will laugh at Kapil Sibal and the Indian education system if they come to know of such discriminatory policies.

Moreover it is not very difficult to judge a genuine PhD. One can make uploading of PhD theses in Inflibnet compulsory. One can seek external examiners' reports from India and abroad. Or professors from CU, JNU, BHU, DU etc. when they check the thesis can recommend the candidate for exemption from NET based on the quality of research. Or one can make a criterion of a certain number of research publications in peer-reviewed books and journals for exemption from NET.

N.B. You still haven't mentioned the source of your information regarding the intention of all the researchers who join Oxford or Cambridge.

from:  Amit
Posted on: Dec 29, 2010 at 21:46 IST

Amit,

Please read my comments completely and ask me questions. The second part of my paragraph says even if a Cambridge graduated person wants to join as a faculty in a college he should be able to crack NET in a short time preparation.

from:  T.Subramanian
Posted on: Dec 29, 2010 at 01:59 IST

Past mistakes cannot be taken as future rules. At some point we have to correct. I appreciate HRD Ministry for taking measures to correct the past mistakes.

from:  Gayathri
Posted on: Dec 28, 2010 at 23:18 IST

@ Thanagaiah Subramanian: Please clarify the source of your information about the intention of all the researchers who join Oxford or Cambridge. As far as I know, a good number of faculty members in Indian universities have research degrees from reputed foreign universities. And why should a researcher in Humanities compromise on his/her interests and go to an IIT instead of a proper university to teach? The question here is not of can but of why. When researchers grow up theorizing against discrimination of all sorts and then they themselves face discrimination, it becomes imperative to put into practice what they theorize. There are the likes of James Peter Raj who know that "in some colleges in TN M.Phil seats went for even one lakh rupees" and yet are not exposing the corruption and being faculty members themselves are in a way colluding and they are expected to teach students to become good citizens of tomorrow. But they are NET qualified so they are above morality perhaps. Moreover, if tomorrow some reports say that the standard of medical practitioners or lawyers or engineers is not good in India then will the HRD Ministry ask all these current (or just passed) students and to reappear for some tougher all India entrance test all over again? If NET is so important then all existing faculty members as well as prospective PhD researchers must also be made to pass it without discrimination. Or else the HRD Ministry must exempt the good PhD degree holders from NET and make NET compulsory for only those whose PhD degrees are of doubtful nature.

from:  Amit
Posted on: Dec 27, 2010 at 22:56 IST

Like ever the Government in this related issues reflects dual nature since oneside it assured to promote research programe study in india by encouraging the student to opt Ph.D or other else at the same time the discouraging to closing of future carrier by framing rules.
The govt should think from the grass root level, basically the 75% of the citizen are middle class family and looking for a carrier and planned according to at the time existing rule in any field. If the rule has been suddenly modified if he reaches at the goal post then what is left out for those.
If M.Phil is not essetential for any post then why M.Phil is undertaken by the university in India. (It is known to all except for the post of Lecturer M.Phil has no value)

If trend is such the Govt should abolish the Degree from India which has no value. isn't ?...........

from:  Muthu Kumar
Posted on: Dec 27, 2010 at 12:02 IST

No one joins in Cambridge or Oxford University with the intention of becoming college professor in India. Amit Shankar Saha has applied his imagination beyond the limit to get excuse from NET. After having education from Cambridge or oxford they can become faculty at any one of the IITs where they don't have to clear NET. After having a Ph.D from Cambrdge if some one wants to become college professor he should be able to clear NET in a short time preparation.

from:  Thanagaiah Subramanian
Posted on: Dec 27, 2010 at 07:47 IST

@ James Peter Raj

I know that NET is a good exam but then it should be made compulsory for everyone without discrimination. How can those who are already teaching in colleges and universities without ever passing NET be allowed to teach then? How can those who will do their PhDs under new regulation and again without passing NET be allowed to teach? Why there is discrimination only with those who fall in the interim space and dedicated full time in research without taking up any teaching post only to find all of a sudden that they have been made ineligible even after getting a PhD degree with research publications. If statistics say that 99% PhDs are fake then is it not easy to sieve out the genuine ones from the fake ones and then ban all universities that give PhDs to candidates with fake theses. If the education department cannot do this much then it is shirking of duty by them and taking an escapist route. I fail to find the logic in the argument that since 99% PhDs in India are fake then the genuine 1% has to be sacrificed for its sake.
It is moreover an insult to top universities of India like Calcutta University, Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, etc. when their PhDs are clubbed as fake. If such is the dire condition of our education system then perhaps the members of the Knowledge Commission and other experts should not be above suspicion and their credibility questioned. None of them I doubt has NET qualification but I thought they were good teachers.
I am sure the Knowledge Commission and the experts will not be happy to know that their reports are interpreted in a way by the HRD Ministry that is discriminating against quality researchers both from India and from abroad.
All those Indian researchers in Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard etc. are now going to stay abroad and will not come back to India seeking entry level teaching job in India. And we are expected to be happy about it because it will purportedly improve the state of our higher education.

from:  Amit
Posted on: Dec 27, 2010 at 04:25 IST

The basis of making NET compulsory is to make sure meritorious competitors are being observed by academia as assistant professors. If they want to give exemption for Ph.Ds they should make sure Ph.Ds with NET are observed first, then go for NET then Ph.Ds. In that case they need to limit number of NET/year. In any case no state should be allowed to conduct SLET if there are NET candidates available.

from:  T.Subramanian
Posted on: Dec 26, 2010 at 12:16 IST

A very good decision from HRD ministry.and the Hindus readers editors view too is commendable. Unlike The weak Arjun Singh( who is responsible to diluting and making a mockery the regulations for deemed universities AND NET and general standard of education in India), Kapil Sibal and HRD Ministry has stood by the regulations. Kudos to him and rightly the judges have dismissed the petitions. The contentions of M.Phil passed teachers are ill formed. Even after 20 years i.e after their M.Phil they did not complete phd or pass NET /SLET shows their competency. The present new qualifications are to maintain quality in teaching.mr. Amit Shankar Saha's view is immature and a simplistic. NET is a well balanced exam which tests all aspects of the teaching from subject knowledge teaching to aptitude. about Indian phds and mphil degree the less said the better. And if a lecturer is unable to pass a exam because he is unable to recollect or not updated his subject shows the persons knowledge and interests etc. teaching is the only job where he or she has to update his or her subject whether studied in 1985 or 2005 . How can we excuse for such a stupid or immature reason. Lucky are those who were appointed between 2006-08 .I know in some colleges in TN M.Phil seats went for even one lakh rupees. About quality it's nothing more than spending some days in library and in internet. Why are they mocking the report on which the present regulations are based? These regulations were based on the Knowledge Commission's report and Prof Yashpal's report and on Mungerkar committee's s on higher education. And moreover everyone knows in India 99 percent of PhD thesis and MPhil dissertations are cutting and pasting. The latest guideline says that all PhD should upload their thesis in UGC website but you wont find more than 2 thesis out of 1000 thesis submitted in Tamil Nadu alone. That shows they are scared of publicity because it’s nothing more than cutting and pasting. Being a Assistant Professor myself I have met many M.Phil students in Tamil Nadu who cant even explain their title. It will be the saddest day in the annals of higher education if its diluted and its standard lowered.

from:  James Peter Raj
Posted on: Dec 24, 2010 at 23:17 IST

I don't know why the M.Phil., Ph.D., holders are afraiding to get through the NET/SLET exam. whereas all the NET/SLET holders are ready to complete thier M.Phil/Ph.D. degree in a stipulated period.

from:  R. Suresh
Posted on: Dec 24, 2010 at 14:56 IST

It is true that MPhils and PhDs are not a sure test for merit in India. PhDs can be acquired without doing any rigorous research and writing in many of our institutions. That however does not mean that the NET is a solution. What does the examination test? Most of it is a test of memory. The other parts are not a test of fundamentals, but of basic, and sometimes unimportant, facts. Any body who was willing to devote a couple of months of mindless exam preparation can crack it. I agree with Amit that people who have done rigorous research and writing will never be inclined to write such an exam. The idea of the present NET is just a short cut for the bureaucracy and its cronies in the academia to show some resemblance in form and no commitment to substance. What is needed is a revamping of the irrational and mediocrity protecting structures and procedures of our education system. But as always, our bureaucrats have come up with a system which does no substantial good to the academy. It is another facade to show that they are doing something (setting an exam! as if that is the surest way to test merit!). At best the NET reflects the colonial mindset of our bureaucrats which is used in a remarkable way to keep bright, free-thinking people out and let unquestioning, subservient and mediocre people into the ranks who will never question the bureaucracy's authority. At this time we should remember how the majority of exams are to be passed in India: read substandard guide books, take coaching classes, go to the exam hall and blurt out all the mugged up answers on paper. No analysis and criticism please, that will force the examiner to think and take a position, which is a strict no no for most bureaucracy-minded academics. And all this is done in the name of values like equality, merit and fairness. I am sure our policy makers are superb political philosophers of a kind who believe that the best meaning of these values lies in the idea of continuity and constancy- of their positions, inertia and their inability to be intelligent and creative.

from:  Pritam Baruah
Posted on: Dec 17, 2010 at 18:20 IST

To exempt a PhD/M.Phil from NET/SLET for recruitment as a lecturer is an old question. It will be proper to give the new arrangement a fair chance. It is high time some semblence of uniformity is brought in the sphere of higher education.Those with a PhD or an MPhil can be given an extra increment or some such incentive.

from:  Arvind Jha
Posted on: Dec 17, 2010 at 16:28 IST

I can understand the HRD Ministry's dilemma. A PhD or MSc is not a guarantee for profound knowledge of the subject. I have come in touch with people, directly or indirectly, who have very weak fundamentals despite being highly qualified. It depends on the quality of the institution providing the degree and their own personal passion for the subject. In such a scenario, an eligibility test can help put all the aspirants on a level playing field. Granted the fact that its a little demeaning for those have toiled hard for their degree's or those from institutes of high recognition, still a test is essential to keep an optimum level of quality, a necessary evil, if you will.

from:  Sakar Arora
Posted on: Dec 15, 2010 at 12:49 IST

Mr. Viswanathan has nowhere in his article made out a case as to how a NET or SLET is the best evaluation of a candidates ability to become a lecturer. If M.Phil. and Ph.D. and post graduation has no weightage, then why not scrap them. The whole article is an apology for the ill-advised and ill argued logic of both the courts as well as the Ministry of HRD.

from:  PD Singh
Posted on: Dec 13, 2010 at 21:52 IST

The decision of the HRD Ministry to block the exemption resolution for PhDs made by the UGC is hubristic in nature and takes a narrow view of the matter. The decision is self-defeating and contradictory in itself on a number of counts. Primarily, in the name of improving the standards of higher education, what is happening is that the limited space for excellence is being blocked. Although the new regulations prevent sub-standard candidates from entering academia, since they cannot crack the NET exam, it also prevents brilliant Indian researchers from foreign universities like Oxford and Cambridge entering the sphere of academics in India since they too don't have NET qualification. Effectively these researchers are encouraged to stay abroad and not to return to India. Moreover, the current crop of researchers from reputed Indian universities too (like Calcutta University) find themselves not eligible for teaching posts in colleges and universities despite having PhD degrees and an enviable corpus of research publications. It is preposterous to ask these researchers to sit for an exam based on the syllabus that they studied more than five years ago and the syllabus of which has changed much since then. Effectively these researchers are also encouraged to leave Indian shores. It is mentally taxing and almost impossible to motivate oneself to appear for a test of a lower level with one's juniors after completing PhD when one has been made to believe all along that one is good enough to get direct admission into a PhD programme and does not need to go through NET exam as it was not made compulsory by UGC at the time of the PhD candidate's registration. Additionally, NET itself has an eligibility criterion. So when the authorities themselves acknowledge that there is no uniformity in standard of higher education how can a uniform criterion for NET eligibility be justified. A candidate from, say for example, Calcutta University, (or even an external candidate who cannot afford regular education), who gets 50% at Masters level exam is better than most first class Masters students from less-reputable universities, but the former is not eligible for NET whereas the less-talented latter are. Earlier the former group had the scope to enter academics by getting a PhD degree from a reputable university and by producing important research publications in peer-reviewed national and international journals. By narrowing the criteria for recruitment that scope is being denied. Moreover it is funny that those who are already in the system (some with only the Masters degree and neither NET qualification or PhD) have their jobs secured and those who dedicated full time to research during the same period find themselves jobless. And then those who will do their PhDs post 2009 (under new PhD regulations) will find recruitment. And the new PhD regulations are not tougher than the earlier PhD regulations of many universities. For example, Calcutta university followed rigorous PhD rules and the new UGC regulations for PhD dilutes it. Earlier the coursework part of PhD used to done by the candidate independently but now they will be spoon fed in a six month crash course. Earlier it used to take almost two years to prepare the proposal and get registered now it will be faster but there will be less of independent thinking and research and more of teaching. So if these new regulation candidates will be eligible for recruitment then why deny recruitment to researchers who registered before 2009 and some of whom have got their PhDs now. Instead of separating the grain from the chaff the authorities are excusing themselves from the very activity of sieving. It is a classic example of throwing away the baby with the bathwater and hoping for future procreation instead. But the authorities perhaps don't realize that what they are doing amounts infanticide (to use the metaphor for candidates with fresh PhDs). They are killing the dreams of the researchers as well of the nation.

from:  Amit Shankar Saha
Posted on: Dec 13, 2010 at 04:39 IST
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