SEARCH

Opinion » Lead

Updated: August 9, 2012 04:21 IST

Universities, ours and theirs

Krishna Kumar
Comment (154)   ·   print   ·   T  T  

As long as we discourage young talent, encourage an obsolete examination system and remain indifferent to research, we will continue to lag behind the West

There are four critical differences between universities of the western world and ours. The first is that they do all they can, when they recruit young faculty, to make way for excellence. We do everything to block its entry. We start discouraging talent early, but a few bright youngsters manage to come up despite our best efforts. They are the ones who face the greatest resistance from our institutions at the time of selection for vacancies. The norms and standards that western institutions apply for selecting young faculty focus on individualised assessment of potential. Senior people and administrators who make decisions make sure that the aspirants are assessed on the basis of what they have published, the quality of research they have done, and how passionate they seem about the pursuit of knowledge and teaching.

Mechanical criteria

In our case, the initial criteria applied are purely mechanical. Any hint of trans-disciplinary interest means that the candidate loses the chance to be interviewed. And those who somehow escape this fate are ultimately sized up at the time of interview in terms of the lobbies they might belong to. Someone rare enough to be independent of personal as well as intellectual lobbies is the first to be eliminated. In the semi-final act of short listing, those lacking support from the dominant lobbies get weeded out. Then, in the ultimate moment, hard bargaining takes place and the institution’s future gets sealed. If there is someone with an unusual background or achievement, you can depend on the selection committee to find a technical ground to reject him or her. The only way he or she might get appointed is if a determined Vice-Chancellor forces the person in. Democratic procedures and correctness have become incompatible with respect for quality. Our universities feel comfortable with the labyrinth of eligibility norms that the University Grants Commission has nurtured with relentless energy to issue circulars over the decades. Selection committees debate over the finest of technicalities to justify the selection of the average, allowing anyone with sheen to get stuck and lost in the maze of criteria.

The second major difference between our universities and the western ones relates to the concept of teaching. We calculate teaching in terms of periods taken. The Radhakrishnan Commission had bemoaned the fact that our colleges work like higher secondary schools. More than six decades after the commission gave its report, life in our undergraduate colleges is just the same. The UGC demands 18 periods of teaching per week from an assistant professor. “Isn’t that reasonable?,” one might ask. Of course, it is, if you ignore what the word “teaching” means. The practice of calculating teachers’ daily work by counting the number of periods they stand beside the blackboard exposes the hollowness of our system and the concept of education. It also shows how little we have progressed since colonial days when accountability was tied to crude measures. How far Britain has moved away from the procedures it introduced in India long ago became apparent to me a year ago when I was invited to serve on a course evaluation committee in a British institute. After examining the course content, the recommended readings and the description of each lecture session taken through the year, the committee met groups of students from the previous three years. We also read the detailed feedback each student is required to give at the end of each course.

Our discussion with students and — separately — with their teachers was frank and detailed. We learnt how students assessed their teachers in terms of preparedness for each class, personal interest in the subject, the pedagogic strategies used to arouse interest, and not just regularity — which was, in fact, taken for granted. In India, we worry about attendance records to keep the student under pressure to attend classes that may be altogether devoid of intellectual stimulation. Despite attendance norms being stringent, there are classes without much attendance. There are also numerous cases of attendance without classes. An obsolete system of examination helps teachers who miss classes and make no effort to relate to students. There are many who take the number of periods required, but their classes have no soul or spark.

Concept of knowledge

The third critical difference between life in an Indian university and a university in the West arises out of the concept of knowledge embedded in the system. The crude measures our regulatory bodies such as the UGC apply in the name of accountability mask the epistemic sterility of the curriculum, the pedagogic process and examination. In the West, curriculum and pedagogy both follow the teacher’s own research interests. Even smaller universities with limited resources attempt to cultivate a research environment. Topics of research reflect the university’s concern for the social and natural world surrounding it. Research is seen as an inquiry to solve problems as well as to induct the young into a community of inquires. Keeping a record of hours spent on direct teaching becomes irrelevant in such a system, even in the case of undergraduate students. To keep their research interests alive and popular, senior professors engage with young undergraduates who bring fresh questions and perspectives to ongoing inquiries. In India, you stop teaching undergraduate classes as soon as you attain professorial status. Teaching and research are seen as two separate activities. While teaching is perceived as institutional work, research is viewed as a personal agenda for moving forward in one’s career. Not surprisingly, infrastructure and administrative procedures that might facilitate research do not exist. Obstacles do, and the teacher who makes the mistake of initiating a research project has to struggle all the way to its completion and the ritual of report submission to the funding agency. No one among colleagues or in the administration cares to know the findings, let alone their implications. Teaching goes on following the grooves of preset syllabi, like the needle boring into an old gramophone record.

The fourth critical difference lies in the library. In the West, even in the most ordinary universities, the library forms the centre of life, both for teachers and students. Librarians enjoy a high status as their contribution to academic life cuts across academic disciplines. They work closely with teachers and students in the various tasks involved in procurement of books and journals, keeping the library quiet and friendly, and ensuring speedy access. Our case is the opposite. The library exists on the margins of the classroom. In many universities, undergraduate students are not allowed to use the university library. Subscription to journals and magazines has dwindled over the years, and maintenance of past volumes is now seen as an obsolete practice because e-storage is available. We forget that the library is not merely a service; it is also a physical space whose ethos induces the young to learn the meaning of belonging to a community of scholars. Our reading rooms carry an unkempt, hapless look, with clanking ceiling fans and dog-eared books waiting to be removed. Book acquisition has been saturated with petty corruption and a crowd of spurious publishers has thrived on the outskirts of the academia.

Symptomatic

These four critical differences are, of course, symptomatic of deeper problems entrenched in structures that govern higher education in India. Those who perceive all problems in financial terms miss the barren landscape of our campuses. Inadequacy of funds is, of course, worrisome, but it cannot explain the extent to which malice, jealousy and cussedness define the fabric of academic life in our country. There is a vast chasm that separates the Indian academia from society. Let alone the masses, even the urban middle class cares little for what goes on inside classrooms and laboratories.

The citizenry does not see higher education as an intellectual resource. Nor do political leaders. The only commonly understood purpose that the system of higher education serves is to alleviate — and keep under tolerable levels of discomfort — what the British economist, Ronald Dore, has called the ‘Diploma Disease’ in his 1976 classic on education in developing economies. Dore has explained why a country like ours will continue to lag behind the West in knowledge and technique so long as we keep using mark-sheets and certificates to screen the young for further education and employment. His insight that the valid goal of widening the pool of talent is defeated by bureaucratisation of selection continues to be pertinent across the colonised world.

(The writer is Professor of Education at Delhi University and a former Director of NCERT.)

More In: Lead | Opinion

This article aptly analyses the problems we face today in higher education in India. It is time now to rethink and most important is the sensitisation of the policy makers to take proper initiative to reform our entire system of higher education.We still encourage mediocrity because we are mediocres and afraid of talents ..Hence talents find their way to other developed countries...One can imagine this from a single example...Dr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam was not considered for a teaching position in one of our Indian University as he had no ' requisite qualification'(?) for that. Excellence is happenning in India not because of the existing system but inspite of this system... I fully agree with the author Krishna Kumar for his candid and bold opinions.

from:  Dr. Pradeep K.Panda
Posted on: Aug 11, 2012 at 20:23 IST

The system has taken such a shape perhaps because instinctively we as a society want to create serfs who do not have notions of individual/collective rights as well as right/wrong doing. Our feudal mind-set dictates that the common man should not have a discerning mind only but only a pair of highly skilled hands. No wonder most institutions in higher education sector are predominantly playing the role of a certification agencies rather than centres of knowledge creation and dissemination enabling self-empowerment. Ironically with abdication of responsibility of educating the common citizenry to the private sector even this opportunity of becoming highly skilled serfs would be available to only the class which can afford/ is eligible for large loans. If it is people who create wealth of and for the nations (including societal wellbeing) then education (that too of the kind Professor Krishna Kumar is alluding to) should be within easy reach of the common man.

from:  Raashid Saiyed
Posted on: Aug 11, 2012 at 14:23 IST

xtraordinary insight and very realist observation been made in the article.

from:  Aicheng
Posted on: Aug 11, 2012 at 12:24 IST

Most of the points brought out by the writer regarding our university education system appear to be relevant, though there may be exceptions like IITs and IISc which follow the modern western models more closely, especially with regard to faculty recruitment, maintaining well-equipped libraries and encouragement for faculties with inter-disciplinary expertise. However, I think the cure for these systemic problems in our educational system lies in the hands of top administrators involved in policy making. In this respect, one may note that the writer himself has served as a director of NCERT which is one of the main bodies to assist and advise the Government on academic matters related to school education. Is our school education system any better than our university system today? Though the points raised by the write are good, I see people like him more as part of the problem than the solution!

from:  Pradip Dutta
Posted on: Aug 11, 2012 at 12:19 IST

I think that author failed to understand that Indian education or Western education have their own merit and demerits. The main problem with present education system is money making with very low priority transparency and ethics. I have familiar with both systems and it's important to implement impartially, however I notice the abuse of bot system by management as well as students. The reason is very simple that both are in business of supplying and providing degree without any value or purpose!

This is how all engineering students irrespective of their major end up working in IT/Banks/Fashion!

Well Indian society treats academic field poorly and responsible for current state!

from:  Mahendra
Posted on: Aug 11, 2012 at 11:34 IST

Thank you sir for your responsible article featuring four major differences in the all-time demanding area of education.The process of learning is one of the milestone duty in one's university career.I don't understand what the library-knowledge of various formulas and encyclopediac-storage of various concepts support us in our professional life where social interaction and team working forms the basis?India is a country with enormous human intellect but the way in which they are lead is not the right way;it's a blindman's path where the steps we proceed just leave confused and rather stressful from the very beginning.It's a one way path with no chance of innovative thinking and creative applications.

from:  R.sri Rohith
Posted on: Aug 11, 2012 at 08:54 IST

As a student in both worlds, I unfortunately have to attest to every comparison
made in this article. My undergraduate education in an average Indian engineering
college left me, at best, as an unmotivated graduate with very little direction
seeking any kind of international exposure. However, my experience here brought
out in me an interest in research that neither I nor my family never knew existed in
me. Infact, everyone was shocked to learn that I could spell "library", leave alone
the fact that I spent a lot of time in one! I spent a lot of time re-establishing my
very shaky knowledge in fundamental concepts and have since gone on to pursue
a PhD in biological sciences at an Ivy League university. Indian universities need to
purge their entire system and rethink their curriculum, examination methods,
recruitment incentives and attitudes if they want to capitalize on all the raw talent
in our country that western universities are currently benefiting from.

from:  Vasu
Posted on: Aug 11, 2012 at 02:19 IST

Every Indian living in US know this - But the author doesn't understand or talk about is why in US institution and teachers/prof focus on research - The reason is as per US Law the university/professor can commercialize their research by selling their new research (good be a physical like medicine as well) to companies. This way both the professor who invented something and the university who helped him do the same make money (lots of money). Where is such kind of system in India? All the best higher universities in India are mostly sponsored and run by Goverment.

from:  Vijay
Posted on: Aug 11, 2012 at 02:17 IST

Kudos to the author of this article for bringing out the factors that
pull down the Indian education system. There is also this impression
that the quality of education can be improved by increasing the number
of teachers with PhD. This is with the assumption that the teaching
quality of faculty members with PhD is superior. Contrary to this,
with my experience as a student in a professional college I have found
that some of the non-PhD teachers were better teachers because of
their sincerity and passion for teaching. Again, we are making the
same mistake of focusing in quantity of PhDs rather than quality. Many
of the universities are just printing presses of PhD degrees and there
are places where these degrees can be bought. Some of the universities
also provide fast track PhD degrees in a year's time so that they can
show the numbers to auditing teams! We need a movement in this country
to change the current scenario.

from:  K.P.Kumar
Posted on: Aug 11, 2012 at 01:49 IST

A really unbiased assessment of the current state of college
education in our nation. Most of the issues pointed out are more or
less true. And as regards "solutions", well, I would say that both
external (policy level) and internal (student - teacher level) are
needed urgently.
At the, upper level, a more broad-minded policy framework is
required that identifies education as a means to achieve social/
technological change. That would call for impartial assessment of
the current system as well as proper execution of the
'improvements' with the right goals.
At the basic level, teachers who are more flexible and innovative
in their approach or those who want to actually learn and teach
will always be the biggest inspiration for the students. (fingers
crossed!)
May be, the alterations to course structure or the degree of
freedom in syllabus-to-be-taught at the teacher/ admin level could
happen in experimental stages instead of just being sudden 'sarkari
farmaans'. I want things to improve

from:  mohit
Posted on: Aug 11, 2012 at 01:24 IST

The system has taken such a shape perhaps because instinctively we as a society want to create serfs who do not have notions of individual/collective rights as well as right/wrong doing. Our feudal mind-set dictates that the common man should not have a discerning mind only but only a pair of highly skilled hands. No wonder most institutions in higher education sector are predominantly playing the role of a certification agencies rather than centres of knowledge creation and dissemination enabling self-empowerment. Ironically with abdication of responsibility of educating the common citizenry to the private sector even this opportunity of becoming highly skilled serfs would be available to only the class which can afford/ is eligible for large loans. If it is people who create wealth of and for the nations (including societal wellbeing) then education (that too of the kind Professor Krishna Kumar is alluding to) should be within easy reach of the common man.

from:  Raashid Saiyed
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 23:28 IST

The problem earmarked by the author and readers highlight the an
analytical observation as far as "flaws" of our higher education
system are concerned. The set of conditions or the regulatory
mechanism/s that governs the system must be addressed at the core
level which I think is the recruitment of faculty and key
administrative staff in all education institutions. If UGC or MHRD
could alone do something with regard to these two issues by taking
control of our own aspired educational standards blended up "goods"
from western system, but again the problem is that- The UGC or MHRD
does not recruit either of staff directly, these are the "so called
PROFESSORS" who recruit as a VC , Selection committee member or
screening committee member...So if their own moral and intellectual
standards are corrupt...the problem will persist as long as "SUCH
Professors" remain in the system and prof. like author may find
themselves helpless to make them 'awake' about the future of
institution or India.

from:  Shiv Mina
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 23:21 IST

Unless and until the concepts of competition and meritocracy become part of Indian thinking, it will remain an essentially backward country. Competition forces improvements - if you don't improve you will perish. Indirectly, competition also forces meritocracy as you need the best people in the right jobs to compete successfully. This also means firing people that are incompetent - something that is not going to happen in India. The Indian system is completely opposed to any fundamental changes - that is what is needed.

from:  InBan
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 22:48 IST

One more thing which is an epitome for education is updating the syllabus , which is going on from generation . The teacher training institute does not exist in our country . One criteria for recognizing any institute must be library and also who update is library ,the number of books issue to a student at a time is also important .

from:  s khan
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 22:22 IST

Being educated both in India and Abroad, I have found that Indian education, has no relevance to reality. It is due to the quality of professors and their political affiliations. When I meet the current professors from India, I find that the situation has gone worst.
First and the foremost thing is that Indian education is not practical; all theory blurted out from the books written by Western authors. Second thing I find is that Creativity is not encouraged, but supressed. Third thing I find is "Horses for Courses" approach is not implemented; approach followed in India is completely and solely dependent on the examination marks secured by rote learning. I realised this when my own daughter applied for medicine; at the time of the interview the committee tried to assess if she has compassion and spirit to serve the community; not marks alone. In India, it is a straight approach depending upon your marks. Therefore more often Indian doctors are not really "good" doctors!

from:  Kel Shorey
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 21:44 IST

No point in just blaming the government institutions. The real culprits
are Indian businesses and industry, who have no patience or money for
R&D. Tell me, even if the higher education system churns out a whole
bunch of highly-motivated researchers, are there enough opportunities
out there in the industry to put their knowledge to use and expand it?
No wonder a lot of smart people fly out. Also, except for a small
minority, the society, as a whole, doesn't respect any other humanities
discipline other than the ones that get you a job.

from:  Mukundan
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 18:52 IST

I couldn't agree more with the article. Having been educated across 4 continents and teaching as a guest faculty at an Agriculture University (Agri MBA), I am appalled at the complacency, disregard to "educate, evoke a desire to learn" and conscientiously ruin students' future of employability.

from:  Sudarshan Rao
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 18:04 IST

It is really a worrysome picture of our educational system. The reason as mentioned is not just the inadequate fund but also the least importance being given to the educational sector and reforms to update and upgrade the same with the use of the technological advancement. The system is also such that due importance is given to the marks scored, attendance in class,etc which are subsequently of secondary concern. The system should be such that the primary importance should be given to the fundamental concepts so that they can indulge in developing a reasoning aptitude towards further research.

from:  Tuhina
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 17:41 IST

1. Why do Universities in the West and East (Singapore and Australia) compete to invite Indian students to enroll in them? Are they really interested to impart knowledge to our students or do they want to earn foreign exchange by collecting considerable fees? Are there not enough students in their countries to enroll?
2. It is very difficult to get admission in an IIT. But, if one has enough money, he/she can get admission in some University (not necessarily a top class University) in the West. What is the corollary?
3. The article says that in the West, curriculum and pedagogy both follow the teacher’s own research interest. In such a case, how can a student get knowledge about fields other than the teacher’s? Will the student not become the proverbial frog in the well? How can he become employable? Today’s higher education is multi disciplinary and cannot be narrowed down to one individual teacher’s interest.
4. Many Indians who have studied in India have migrated to the West and are employed in various organizations. Then, how can we condemn our Universities in toto?
5. It is true that some Universities in India are not functioning well and our education system needs improvement in some aspects. But, this does not mean that we should degrade all our Universities.

from:  S M Jan
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 15:51 IST

Why compare only the Universities with the western counterparts? What about the school education in India and elsewhere? The present Indian school education systems produce mostly rote-learners as University entrants and they accept readily whatever is dished out as higher education. Non-commercial, egalitarian and value-based school education accessible equally and freely to all children, irrespective of wealth, religion, caste, etc of the parents, will produce ‘qualified’ and ‘curiosity-driven’ University entrants who will then demand and get the best from the University system. It will take a while for India to equal or better the West (and China?) in higher education (and Sports?) because the histories, economic and social conditions were, and still are, different.

from:  Periasamy
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 15:24 IST

The autonomy that professors at US universities have requires a certain culture to sustain it. That culture exists only in scattered nano-pockets in India. That's why only a few Indian institutions of higher education are renowned worldwide. Their number is about thrice the number of Olympic medals won by India this year.

from:  Akhlesh Lakhtakia
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 15:15 IST

rightly said : why a country like ours will continue to lag behind the West in knowledge and technique so long as we keep using mark-sheets and certificates to screen the young for further education and employment.

Atlest i am happy that i am not the only person who is worried and affeceted by such a petty system of recruiting. Am also happy that There are people in the higher authority having these concern.
hope there is light at the end of tunnel !

from:  ramesh
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 14:57 IST

The article points to some fundamental problems assailing Indian
Universities, however there is still some hope as some new
universities are trying hard to avoid such errors. Ambedkar University
Delhi (AUD) is one such university which has not fallen into these
pitfalls and is well on its way to becoming a university which is
geared towards engaged scholarship and a concern with margins. the
faculty is mostly young, the emphasis is on inter-disciplinary
research and teaching and therefore someone with an inter-disciplinary
background more than welcome. If more universities in India can take
up the AUD model, I'm sure things will improve in the Indian education
context.

from:  gunjeet
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 14:21 IST

I think it is time to move the UGC out of Delhi, and to cities with a
longer and deeper history of engagement with education-- Chennai and
Kolkata would be options. Delhi is the seat of government, and like
all seats of government remains preoccupied with power and hierarchy,
to the exclusion of other concerns. Whatever else Delhi prioritizes,
it is certainly not education. I think it is a certain Delhi attitude
of contempt, disdain, call it what you may, toward education that is
the problem, not India as a whole. I see this as parallel with the
problems with sports in this country where some sports people are
individually making an effort, to greater or lesser degree, but the
larger and more profound problem is clearly the central sports
administration.

from:  devalina
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 14:08 IST

Professor Kumar, I salute you for such a precise analysis of our rotting education system. The issues raised in the article have been recurring in my mind since I was admitted to pre-university after my high school in 1966. When, I compare these two education systems, I realize, our school teachers (in those days), along with imparting knowledge, inculcated among us, abilities of comprehending and applying the learned knowledge, and judge our abilities, strengths & weaknesses, ourselves. While at university level, at least where I studied in India, we never experienced such a teaching & learning process except very few teachers (had visited western universities), who really made a difference in our lives, and for whom we all have highest regards. After university education in India I went for higher education to Canada. There, I noticed the difference: discussed pedagogical concerns with professors of education, and discovered meaningful teaching & learning processes. Surprisingly, I discovered some similarities in teaching patterns of our high school teachers and good teaching practices that I observed there, and learned integration of Bloom’s Taxonomy (knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, judgment, affective learning, ...) in all courses that I teach, and tried to enhance my teaching process by incorporating the good practices wherever I find them, for example, ABET defined attributes (a-k). To me, the problem is with our teaching & learning process. In this regard someone has rightly said: “If you are like most university professors you were not taught anything about how to teach in graduate school or when you began in your first faculty position. All you had to go on was how your professors taught, but nobody taught them anything about teaching either. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but that’s our system.”
To improve the system, along with infrastructural improvement, we must design a strong training program for faculty for graduate school.

from:  Pervez Ahmed
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 13:44 IST

Of course, in present scenario our universities are lagging much
behind universities of west in terms of research activities. Somehow
Indian students are also responsible for that, once they get admission
in top universities of India like IIT's or NIT's, which possessed
develop labs for research works and if required AICTE and UGC can
provide lots of funds also. But students don't want to indulge
themselves in research activities and their final dreams is only to
achieve high paying jobs finally in multinational companies and they
also know they will since that college has guaranteed placement. Also,
students who are interested in doing research works doesn't paid well
from the central regulatory bodies, which also hampering research
works in India.

from:  sanjeev sinha
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 13:33 IST

I see many comments loaded with cynicism, some appreciating the writer.
The fundamental point that I take away from this opinion of Dr Krishna
Kumar is the fact that the sense of enquiry and seeking knowledge is
being killed. I do not believe that the west has a fool proof model or
something that needs to be aped to be counted as successful. This
education system is creating an indian population which is xenophobic,
narrow minded and petty which doesnt augur well for our children.

from:  Vanchy
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 13:30 IST

What a beautiful analysis? Talent has taken the back seat. Merit has to look for WEST policy or Multinationals coming to this country.

from:  a.natarajan
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 13:19 IST

I totally agree with the writer. I am well versed with the criteria
these people use for selections and I feel it really disgusting that our
potential/suitability for any course is judged on the basis of marks in
10 and 12. Many people like me have suffered from this obsolete way of
thinking. I hope something good emerges and removes this pathetic system

from:  Nikhil
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 12:28 IST

We have excellent Professors, Service Officers who can change the face of the country, but they are sidelined by Politicians. Author Professor himself can bring a big amount of change if given all the powers. Thanks for the article.

from:  Raja Pamarthi
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 12:16 IST

Great article! The universities are infact the reflection of any society.The universities in the west are the cradel for innovation and drives the society forward. Iz is self evident that innovation shall be the way to improve life quality in any country. Inview of the this truth, China has unbelivably and ruthlessly made changes and they shall benefit from it. India is not doing so and shall pay a heavy price for it. Sadly, In India the pursuit of excellence and reform is missing and may remain so in the near future. To solve the issue it is essential to invite foriegn universities to India so that a competitive and healthy enviorment is fostered.
We can only hope and pray...

from:  V Meera
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 11:45 IST

Masterpiece. From the primary classes Indian education system focuses on rot learning and reproducing the same during exams. Even the IIT-JEE does the same. Students are always graded based on the marks scored in the exams. Parents also interested in educational institutions which have better pass percentage. In India, purpose of education is to get a job with decent salary. Unless this situation changes, we cannot compete with other countries.

from:  Senthilkumar K B
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 11:41 IST

Recently in Bangalore university, post graduate students stormed the
university senate meeting. They were protesting the rule of one year
of course work for Ph. D students, and statistics as a core
requirement for Ph. D students. Students don't want to learn either.
They just want degrees, so that they can get jobs and perpetuate the
same incompetence for another generation of learners!
Professor Kumar was careful in mentioning 'lobbies' and not really
pinpointing the lobbies that are overtaking the system. In B'lore
Univ, we know what the lobbies are. Very clearly. The caste based
lobbies are killing the university. Maybe it is not politically
correct to say it.

from:  lrao
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 11:39 IST

Thanks for the article! I hope our University boards see this.
There is an issue which I thought should have been there in the article. The number of non-PhD graduates getting to teach as a full-time job. Atleast in the private Engineering colleges (especially in Andhra Pradesh, where I studied), its not unusual to see your own senior becoming your lecturer just after finishing his/her BTech. After coming to the west to study, I realized how unusual it is. A persons teaching abilities need not correlate with educational qualifications...but a fresh BTech grad?

from:  Asooryampasya
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 10:58 IST

This is in response to editorial on "Universities, ours and theirs" by Krishna Kumar.He has rightly pointed out the loopholes in our education system.For any society to move in development scale, education plays a key role.Though we have thousands of colleges/universities which has left to mere agencies of providing degrees. A educational institution should be a place for learning and developing skills. Teachers are left with job to provide attendance and marks to faciliate them to complete their degree .We cannot only find lacunae in education system or government , sometime its parents who force their children to care less about education and more about the money.This reward system has been set by parents, which ultimately lead to least interest in subject they are studying.You can find thousands of engineering not doing any job related to engineering but in IT, Sales, management, BPOs etc. I dont remember when is last time we(Indians) have really filed any patent in engineering sciences in-spite of lakhs of engineer graduating every year.. Teacher are at major fault, today they focus more filling student's mind with facts than knowledge.We should remember student's mind is not jar to be filled with facts but has to be lightened.

Vellore

from:  Dr Zaved Ahmed Khan
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 08:44 IST

All the points are relevant, although the issue is far more complex than the four points that were raised. There are many other points, such as shameless political interference and corruption in the selection of faculty. A few years ago, Madurai Kamraj University made several appointments in its iconic Departments of various Life Sciences. All appointments were substandard, although many applicants, who were eventually not selected, were highly qualified. Allegations of corruption were thick- involving people starting from the topmost level in the State Govt down to the Vice Chancellor, which are mostly likely to be true. Consequently, what has been one of the finest Universities for Life Sciences teaching, now lacks any future in quality teaching. Central Universities are not far behind- if we ever thought that State Universities are more politicised than the Central Universities. Support systems from the Govt or Pvt sources has too steadily dwindled. Where are we being led?

from:  Mande
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 07:21 IST

An excellent comparison. Recently i read an article that says about a
survey that around 25% of Indian MBA's are employable. Similar studies
needs to be conducted on Bachelor of Engineering and MBBS. I think the
results would match for MBA's too.

from:  Sreenath Chalil Madathil
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 07:16 IST

In India we only focus on salary not true knowledge .Our families wants fast settlement ,hence they didn't want their children to waste time in research activities .they want their children to focus on job oriented courses like Engineering and MBA.They think that research work does not pay off well and also consumes a lot of time ,and it is true for country like India.we have to change our thinking if we want to change indian educational system in India.we should not depend only on decision makers and politician but we have to do something to solve this problem.

from:  akash singh
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 07:14 IST

One major problem the author mentions but not elaborated and compared is the fact that our students have No proper guidance and those who are ready to enter the intermediate phase of life i.e,secondary education...are still dependent on parents or teachers and not enough matured and independent to plan and choose their subject of ever dying interest...like a student who is said a lot about doctors would choose Bi.P.C @ +2 level and imagine if he fails to secure a seat in medical college in-spite of being better talented than who succeeded in securing a seat would be left all blank about whats next??? and Here in India or in any other country a student without Credits in Maths of +2 standard are totally unseen and pushed aside...one wrong decision closes all doors to future he dreamt about... where-as in the West 10+2+3 where they take a lil more years but still come out of college with the clarity of what they exactly want to be...broadening the path to their future...

from:  Charitha surasura
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 07:07 IST

Why compare only the Universities with the western counterparts? What about the school education in India and elsewhere? The present Indian school education systems produce mostly rote-learners as University entrants and they accept readily whatever is dished out as higher education. Non-commercial, egalitarian and value-based school education accessible equally and freely to all children, irrespective of wealth, religion, caste, etc of the parents, will produce ‘qualified’ and ‘curiosity-driven’ University entrants who will then demand and get the best from the University system. It will take a while for India to equal or better the West (and China?) in higher education (and Sports?) because the histories, economic and social conditions were, and still are, different.

from:  Periasamy
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 06:44 IST

Seemingly striking article... describes 4 major problems of our education system... but beyond the horizons of once OWN knowledge about problems in education system of India there are many problems which not just make an aspiring and ambitious student to give up the thought of pursuing their studies further but also drop the idea and give up the zeal they own before they got in because of this non-student friendly education system...rather the heutagogical system its still pedagogic...rather broadening their path to a better future the Indian education system in-spite of having best of the talents in its pocket is not ready to show its universities in the list of best among the rest of world's...where are we standing?

from:  Charitha surasura
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 06:41 IST

The fundamental point is promotion the unworthy and academically untalented to teaching profession. I recall Dr PV Indiresan said decades ago that weightage to backward-community should be confined at the time of admission at school level and no further.

from:  R K Moorti
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 05:18 IST

Save the article and publish it after 50 years, again in Hindu. It will
still be relevant.

from:  Jim morrison
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 05:17 IST

Once again, the Hindu proves to be a cut above the other Indian
newspapers by providing the forum for an thoughtful article.
However, these problems are systemic and have been in existence for as
long as I can remember. They are driven both top-to-bottom (in terms of
policies and administration), as well as bottom-up (in terms of culture
and competition).
Question is - are we going to do anything about it? Typically, we are
content to make observations and assume that it is somebody else's
problem to solve.

from:  Govind
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 02:58 IST

East is east west is west and never the twain shall meet. [sarcasm]

from:  Saurabh
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 02:03 IST

Very rightly said. I know a scholar who has a PhD degree in English from a top Indian university and has research publications in books and journals of Purdue University (USA), Drew University (USA), Bordeaux University (France), Czech Republic, Germany, as well as in India, but is not eligible for faculty position in Higher Education in India because his undergraduate degree is in science. There is so much talk of multidisciplinary studies but at the recruitment stage there is no scope. ESCAPE.

from:  Amit
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 01:49 IST

The systemic limitation of Education is dysfunctional due to various
intersectional (socio-economic) factors in India. Though Prof. Kumar
has aptly quoted the well-known thesis of Diploma Disease, the
national academia should also remember about "late development
effect" of the same author R. Dore. As Prof. Kumar’s article is
timely where the coteries of Vice-Chancellors’ enter the Universities
in the name of “merit”, the civil society has to be vigilant.

from:  L N Venkataraman
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 01:46 IST

For this situation to change, there needs to be personal integrity. Each candidate and member of the selection panel must be ruthlessly honest. Is that possible in India?

from:  s m kumar
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 01:07 IST

By and large faculty members in Indian Universities are academics who have been unsuccessful in finding a job in an industry! When such is the case how good will be the imparted education? I have experienced it first hand during my engineering days. Such a situation is hard to find in the west. When survival takes precedence over passion this is all that you can get.

from:  s m kumar
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 01:03 IST

A masterpiece analysis by Prof. Krishna Kumar.But the question remains what is to be done now.Of course things are required to be changed right from teacher's appointment.Requirement of NET/JRF has although been made compulsory,but final selection is just a matter of discretion of selection board.This rotten appointments becomes a rot over n number of batches passing through University system.New pedagogy for teaching,compulsion of realistic research wherein student gets really involved needs to be encouraged.

from:  PRAVEEN KUMAR MISHRA
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 00:57 IST

Prof.Kumar's comments are mostly applicable. Dr. Chacko's comment that West is
enviable on India is not correct. Yes, we do have gene effect in math as we have
discovered only zero but not in science. We have to grow further to get a gold
medal out of our 1.3 billion people. A Korean lady excel in sword fighting and
sword fighting was our "soul" for last 10,000 years. What happened to our people,
they do not even run faster. West is radically changing and they are willing to
change all the time. With regard to state run universities in south, science
departments are so hopeless and most of their publications are not standard nor
even genuine. How can keep giving university professor jobs based upon "lower-
lower most caste preference" liberalizing even further from SC/ST (arunthathiyar). I
never heard of them. If you place these 100 professor jobs that's all they do for
their life time till they retirement and produce next generation of worthless PhDs.
Wait MOOCs is coming.....

from:  nathan
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012 at 00:31 IST

Every culture, every community and every nation has a destination and
its impossible to escape it, only it can be delayed. Though all
sensible graduates in India, know this fact thoroughly, i really
appreciate the effort of the writers comprehensive presentation of the
entire issue.Education is nothing but religion of civilization, and
unfortunately we failed to identify the importance of it. But still
good thing is that, most of the people who are affected, i mean
students, realize this fact quite early and make arrangements to leave
the country as soon as they are in pre final years of graduation. I am
not arguing it as a solution, but at least they are saved. How many of
the people who are moving to west(they are doing great academically)
are really able to change their attitudes towards education, so far i
have seen very few, and i believe this is a cultural problem. It is
what it is and east can never be west.

from:  Kiran Maddu
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 23:50 IST

Excellent analysis. In India, a university degree is essentially used as a license to restrict others without one from pursuing certain activities. A degree is seen as a terminus in the journey to gain knowledge and not as a way point in a lifelong pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. With such a view, a doctoral degree gives a good job for life requiring no further research accomplishments. On the contrary, in the US, it is actually very easy to gain admission to most colleges but the continuation depends on performance in terms of publications or generating usable knowledge for sponsors. It does not mean that the system is one hundred percent efficient or effective. But the system is geared towards higher efficiencies as enrichment of the performers and the performing organizations is directly proportional to delivered goods. Indian universities can thrive if endowed with multiple entry points, flexible performance standards, diverse evaluation methods, and versatile patrons.

from:  Som Karamchetty
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 23:16 IST

Prof.Krishna Kumar must be knowing how expensive college education is in USA and other western countries.Does the Professor think that with the paltry fees paid by graduate and undergraduate students in India any college can recruit professors and lecturers of international standard and maintain librararies and laborrtories also of similar standard?

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 23:09 IST

Here is more. India has bright people but what India needs to cultivate is creativity. Additionally having creative people without investment (maintaining and adding cutting edge technology although initially imported from west) and building an internal industry that can capitalize on the inventions and also industries that supply resources (technology) to research programs in India will allow it to be self suffcient.

Additionally there is no point in an IITians taking up work in a multinational BANK doing their outsourced low end IT work. Students whose primary criteria is only a job but no scientific interest should not be accepted into IITs as its a serious waste of public money. Identifying and cultivating a few good students with curiosity is more important than generating students who only goal is to get 99.9% marks in the JEEE as they will just end up as slave workers.

The recipe is good infrastructure+ few truly curious minds with talent.

from:  Suresh
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 22:31 IST

Writer clearly indicates that the basic problem of our higher education
system is lack of research orientation,people are judged by number of
degrees and degrees don't have any intellectual basis,in addition lack
of political will also contributes.All this leads to development of
present situation where minds are hungry but no feast to calm their
satiety.

from:  Mayank Gupta
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 22:27 IST

Very apt.... I too subscribe to the views of Prof Krishna Kumar. Too
much of bureaucracy in academics and narrow thinking on
interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research, personal biases,
short term returns and high expectations are some factors which are
killing the academics in India. Happy that Prof Kumar had the courage
to bring such issues for public discussion....
kudos.....

from:  VK Shrotryia
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 22:25 IST

Really . In prestigious Indian Institute spoon feeding is popular. Most
of teachers don't know the basic concept of his/her own subjects but in
the classes they discuss all that in such a way that they are master of
that and more interesting and surprising thing is that they ever accept
that they are teaching wrong thing etc and fully apply on the students.
I think if it will be teaching style , we never overcome west in any
field of technology.

from:  sandeep
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 21:47 IST

this is one of the best articles I have ever read so far.The writer has
very well articulated the facts of the universities of India.While
reading this article I was reminded of my past when I was in college.Now
a days,College has become a place where exams are fun,research is dream
and marksheets are impressioned.

from:  sonakshi kumar
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 21:46 IST

I am an academic that studied undergrad in India and worked in academnic setting in USA and now in UK. What India needs is not a western or eastern method. India needs to create its own system of Universities. IITs and IISc in India used be excellent organizations. While Indian economy grew, these institutions were stagnant with little enhancement of their infrastructure and making them cutting edge. Instead, India chose to just build more institutes with all fancy names. Now all are starved. Interestingly, in the west with decreasing budget, the western system of quantitating research rather than blue sky as in the past, led to publications based assessment. This is leading to researchers doing quick and dirty research that is barely reproducible. Thus, those with big mouths and with names of Harvard get the money, although the true quality of research is mediocre. India should be wary of this western process and cultivate few good people in cutting edge areas.

from:  Suresh
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 21:32 IST

Right on the target! You actually gave me a written proof what I was saying to my friends all this time.

Higher education in india is a formality thats all... we seriously need to evaluate, and I can also say the same with authority because I have experienced US university education...

from:  kgaipal
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 21:13 IST

The author forgot that Indian education cannot be compared with western education. However, it has become rotten due to vested interest of stake holders. It's well know that academic field is last option many people due to poor salary when it is compared with other profession. Academic institution are no longer temples of knowledge but serving as business ventures of rich and might. Some one commented on examination system in Indian universities, though fault lies in implementation. The same goes to western education. Both of them are becoming useless mainly because people running them have vested interests. It's important to know that pedagogical skills may help students better understanding of the subject but not the lazy current generation as many of them are studying for degrees but nothing else. I would say that even IITs have become supermarket for bachelors degree and they are known only for IIT JEE or GATE exam but not the research work done by the staff or student.

from:  M V Chilukuri
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 21:04 IST

Very true.
I remember an anecdote about someone who had gotten a PhD degree
directly after his BSc (i.e. there was no "degree" separately for
MSc).
Now this person had a PhD from a renowned institute and had a really
good CV. However, when he went to apply for tenure in one of the
better Indian universities (I think it was Delhi Univ. - not sure
though), the university created a big hurdle saying that he did not
have an MSc degree which was a requirement !! Now, here is a brilliant
person, who has much higher qualifications, but we can't give him job
as he does not satisfy a bureaucratic provision in terms of degrees.
So, he had to write to his PhD institute to get an MSc degree
certificate. Finally he did get the job, but this shows how blindly we
follow rules. I dont even know who to blame - the bureaucrats who want
to stick rigorously to rules for fear of being hold accountable for
"deviations" or the inept, unqualified ignoramuses who make such inane
rules ?!

from:  K Kumar
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 21:00 IST

Well said article. And everybody in Univ. system knows it. Unfortunately, nobody bells the cat. It requires a paradigm shift to bring a change. I'm pessimistic to foresee any change in existing framework. Like public sectors, soon all these Universities in India will melt away.

from:  Hrushikesha Mohanty
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 20:49 IST

And I believe there is another difference.. There is no age restriction for studying in the western world...Here in India it is imposed, for example you cannot study Law full time even if you are willing to afford your time and money, say after you are 35, when actually you are mature and have enough experience to understand the Law better..

from:  maazmai
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 20:47 IST

Our Universities are as good or as bad as Indian ethos dominated by narrow politics of vote
banks.In the so called progressive Kerala ,each University is assigned to cast and religious
heads to decide the Vice-Chancellor.Failed politicians not connected with education are
nominated to senates and syndicates.Research is delinked from education,syllabi are
outdated and once promoted by the yardstick of length of service,Professors are not
concerned with education or research.Trade unionism among teachers and consequent
bondage with unions of students,non teaching staff,supporting staff etc lead to utter
indiscipline.Our universities are ideal for social research on how to dampen academic
dynamism among at least a few students.Libraries are seldom visited both by students and
teachers.The concerned Minister is the Pro -Chancellor of Universities whose sole
qualification is winning election and portfolios assigned based on money power and money
gains.Only God Almighty can save Universities

from:  Dr K V Peter
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 20:44 IST

The path which Indian Universities are going will not lead into
procurement of desired results.The institutions shall strive towards
excellence by involving both teachers and students in an efficient way
in order to cultivate better research environment.Also the academic
burden on students shall be deliberately reduced in order to provide
them enough opportunity to carry out research projects rather cramming
only for futile examinations.

from:  Ashwani yadav
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 20:32 IST

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1913 was awarded to Rabindranath Tagore
“because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by
which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought,
expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the
West".
Fewer men are capable of producing purity.
Environment, in which the capability of “the mind” can be nurtured,
has eroded in India.Everything stops at the figure of 1.21
billion.What higher education does is that it gives finishing touches
in order to systematise the intellectual depth of a person. Purity in
research comes at a toll and nobody is ready to pay the price. That
price is heavier in India, reason being lack of social security nets.
Ideas won’t wait, some may come up, and rest vanish. We never,would be
able to assess the cost of those which vanished. We were able to get
Nobel in the colonial era and today we stand free...

from:  Prashant Narayan Chaubey
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 18:52 IST

A Magnum-opus. Thanks to Krishna kumar for bringing out this excellent article. The fourth critical difference explained in the article is seen in many private UG colleges. It is the time for every young student to transform education system, which inturns transforms the society and country.

from:  Bhagiradh Sista
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 18:22 IST

Wonderful article highlighting the woes of Indian system.
Then how to get over this problem with our wonderful political system
who look at Univesities also as votebanks
Bala

from:  S.Bala
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 18:15 IST

Prof. Kumar

You have showed the boldness to write about an ever existing issue in Indian academics. In research or in any top class research institutes including IITs, the faculty appointments are bare cheating. This is not based on the capabilities of the candidate but based on the lobbies. The selection committie (some lobbying old guys burden for the science in India) knows very well how to reject even if the candidate is Nobel laurate. The faciulty appointments are based on cast/personal interests/igos. They do not also want to take a faculty candidate who is super talented than them.
Afterall, There is no pressure from the government or motivation from the faculty to do something useful in research. Funding is a big problem. You have to play along the lobby or you will not get any funding. I have heard from my friend who is working in BARC that it can take more than 2 years to get some chemicals/equipments ordered. Here in netherlands they may take only 1 -4 weeks!

from:  Dr. Dileep Mampallil
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 18:09 IST

With all the "negatives" of the Indian education system, one thing should be kept in mind: the richess of the student-teacher relationship. In the west, a professor may never interact with a student on a personal level. He always keeps distance. While in India, where a professor may sit with a student doing research -- perhaps the whole night, in the West, he will leave at 5.30 and all meetings are by prior appoinment only. He may never know your family or your personal issues.

from:  Dexter
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 17:59 IST

The point on young faculty recruitment is very true. we apply for a position in
INDIA sincerely thinking that we can contribute to the research in INDIA after a Phd
Or a postdoc in reputed universities from West. But after attending the interview
and humiliation by senior professors in INDIA , makes you feel your a misfit to the
system. They do not encourage but discourage to a extent possible that you would
never apply again. They want to be safe with their few research achievements and
never encourage young faculty with very good research record. this system needs
a change. I stress that in the faculty recruitment committee there should be 30%
representation form junior faculty to streamline the system. Research is never
going to develop if the seniors on their way do not pave way for us.

from:  Renganathan
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 17:32 IST

While the author has described the major differences eruditely, as someone lived and
worked in the UK and other countries for a long time, I would like to add a key point.
The social environment in those countries is more liberal and open; both families
and the external communities treat all those who are 16 or 18 years old as adults
and independent. It is very rare for young university students to live with their
families or expect their parents to pay their bills. Having said that, I did not find
average university graduates there significantly different from graduates from Asia
and Latin America when I interviewed them for various jobs. In fact, I was shocked
by the poor analytical writing abilities of native English speaking candidates.

from:  Sathya
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 17:03 IST

The system has taken such a shape perhaps because instinctively powers that be (and this may include each one of us) want to create serfs who do not have notions of individual/collective rights as well as right/wrong doing. The feudal mindset dictates that the common man (“the other”-and each one of us is “the other” for the rest) should not have a discerning mind only highly skilled hands. No wonder most institutions in higher education sector are predominantly playing the role of a certification agency rather than focusing on knowledge creation and dissemination, thus choosing an attitudinal role of sitting on judgment rather than enabling self empowerment. Ironically with abdication of responsibility of educating the common citizenry to the private sector even this opportunity of becoming highly skilled serfs would be available to only the class which can afford/ is eligible for large loans. The rest would have to be content with being low level serfs. If it is people who create wealth of and for the nations (including societal wellbeing) then education (that too of the kind Professor Krishna Kumar is alluding to) should be within easy reach of the common man.

from:  Raashid Saiyed
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 17:02 IST

I believe the problem is with our basic attitude towards education.The
focus is on marks always(implicitly or explicitly).There
is so much pressure on getting marks and getting a job that no attention
is given to establish a creative environment in the campus.No marks for
learning and coming up with something new!. Research is seen as
something esoteric whereas each and every student should be encouraged
to learn by research rather than only studying from books.

from:  Anup Choudhari
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 16:50 IST

In US the federal government and state governments make huge contributions in the field of education. As per recent findings 57% of faculty in Indian educational institutions lack either a masters degree or a PhD. What is the share for education in the budget? It is negligible. Government allots more money towards subsidies than education. In recruitment of faculty corruption plays an important role and top posts are bought with money. Students just memorize the subjects and there is no creativity among students. Even IITs have not contributed anything in the field of research. There should be a sea change in the field of education and more importance should be there for research. I hope and pray God that better sense prevails and some fruitful actions take place to bring at least some change initially.

from:  Nathan
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 16:49 IST

May be this is why most of the people fly to West for pursuing Masters' studies. Erudite and a lucid article.

from:  Bharadwaj Sista
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 16:49 IST

The respected author has immaculately analysed the problems with the
University system in India but unfortunately his imagination is
limited by what the west is doing. To make such simplistic cross-
cultural cross-social comparisons not only restricts the author in
understanding education and learning in India but also has the
potential to lead to dangerous outcomes (by copy-pasting western
models like we have seen the horrors of copying WB/IMF led development
models and Macaulay's education model in India).
Despite being in the education domain, the author is unable to observe
the politics of knowledge systems here and western epistemic hierarchy
to which he is submitting. Once we have analyzed the problems with our
system, the next task is not look towards west for solutions but to
look within our own intellectual and educational traditions to develop
a new model. We have been Macaulay's children since 1835, we need not
become Uncle Sam's children for the coming centuries.

from:  Asim
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 16:26 IST

I would thank the writer for his thought-provoking and scholarly
article. But, it would have been good if the writer had also mentioned
the ways to overcome the four major hurdles he has pointed out.

from:  vinay
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 16:03 IST

I would add a fifth symptom ! Social pressures ! From the day u join school u are pressured to be at the top by mugging up rather than understanding concepts and challenging assumptions not only by ur teachers but also by ur family and ur friends ! Hence, this pressure is not only imposed by the educational system but is a mentality deep within the Indian Society (to "settle down" and find a government job a.k.a "sit idle in an office doing nothing" job) and is hence reflected in the institutions.

from:  Rohit
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 16:01 IST

Professor analysed correctly but i will add that not only education system is like that also the people who pass through this system behave the same way when they hold the power and position in place of amending it.

from:  Narendra
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 15:55 IST

I am reminded of what happenned to my old friend when he came to India looking for a job. He was Professor of Physics at the Pensylvania University in the USA. During the interview he was asked by the interview committee members to write the basic equations of electro magnetism by Maxwell. He wrote these on a piece of paper and it was then passed on to each member who nodded with approval. The interview was soon over and the chariman of the committee gave the customary fairwell saying "we will get in touch with you". My friend passed for a second and said I deliberately wrote all the equationgs wrongly. He enjoyed the expressions in the face of one and all in the room. He did not get the job.

from:  Dr. R. Venkataraman
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 15:55 IST

It seems that the author deliberately avoided the most glaring desease that has been plaguing Indias education since two millennia which is CASTISM. It is the meanness of upper castes who dominate the education system that is responsible for its state. As the hegemony of the upper castes has been reducing, Indian education system has been actually improving over the years.

from:  Dumir
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 15:49 IST

A bit simplistic though mostly correct. It has a black and white view of West being great and the East being all bad. While the standards and the atmosphere of universities in the West are definitely better than those in the East, there is still lack of interest and emphasis on teaching. Most Western Universities emphasise research with the motto publish or perish. A lot of poor quality research work gets published simply because the the author "knows" the Editor of the magazine. Most of the journals, even the very well known ones, lack the system of anonymous reviews. And with the shortage of money, research work is focussed on the needs of the sponsors.
Let us not ignore the great work done by people in institutions like TIFR, The Indian Institute of Science etc.

from:  Dr. R. Venkataraman
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 15:45 IST

The article is on spot...

In complete agreement with the statement 'Dore has explained why a country like ours will continue to lag behind the West in knowledge and technique so long as we keep using mark-sheets and certificates to screen the young for further education and employment.'

from:  Amit
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 15:34 IST

Sir you had written a very apt piece of education system in India.
I too was thinking of few modifications that can be done to our
grading/marking system in at-least higher education domain. I think
instead of writing grades of percentage on our degrees we must
write weather he/she had passed or failed so that if because of any
reasons a bright student wasn't able to score higher, he is not
left in the tail-enders to pick the worst jobs offered.
In the beginning it could be done like this fail, pass and
distinguished. For getting distinguished a student must score
above a particular bar or had published papers in journals of
international repute. So that the firms interested in R&D can
recruit directly from the distinguished group and firms which
require core branch specialization can go for pass group.

from:  Ankush
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 15:19 IST

This article hits the nail on the head. From my personal experiences
at a reputed (highly ranked) private engineering college in Bangalore,
I know what a sham the education process is. The first lecture in most
courses began with - "If you attend all my classes, I can ensure that
you will be able to answer 4 of the required 5 questions in the exam".
The recommended textbooks were shunned in favour of some locally
written "guides", which are nothing more than notes in the form of
question-and-answers. How can this pass for undergraduate education in
India!

The irony is that these faculty members are today Heads of
Departments. Instead of being punished, they are rewarded!

from:  Chira
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 15:16 IST

I think that author only highlighted part of the problem prevailing in Indian education system. Most of the comments posted by readers lack critical examination of the problem.

a) Indian education system cannot be compared with western education in the first place each has its own merits and flaws.
b) Education system in India has become materialistic and institutions focused quick buck(Chetan Bhagat - Revolution2020).
c) University degrees have no relevance as many end up working in irrelevant jobs - useless education
e) All Universities including IIT's have no academic wisdom and still following the British rule's in 21st century as stated by Fiona Fienman.
f) Indian education system will serve it's purpose if the all parties focus on education rather than personal agenda.

Indian constitution and universities were great once upon a time, but both of them lost value and purpose.

from:  M V Chilukuri
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 15:09 IST

I think it is the easiest thing to blame the government for everything wrong about our country :). Perhaps some self-introspection is also needed.
As for the article, I am dissapointed. We all know the problems, and have known them for long. Can we get some solutions too ?

from:  Abhinav
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 15:00 IST

Prof. Krishna Kumar has offered the readers an excellent article. Is this article another cry in wilderness? We cannot deny the grim truth that most of our classroom teaching is certainly”like the needle boring into an old gramophone record”! Our selection process is merely a “labyrinth of eligibility norms stipulated by the UGC” and does not identify “how passionate the candidate is in the pursuit of knowledge and teaching”. We have long forgotten the fact that the library “induces ethos in the young to learn the meaning of belonging to a community of scholars.” It is true that there are many who take the number of periods required, but their classes have no soul or spark. Can anyone change the Indian mindset?

from:  Suryaprakash Rao Mothiki
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 14:58 IST

Sir, very well written article. Clearly focussed the lagging elements of our
educational system in universities.number of universities are grooming
uncontrollably and its granted without analysing its quality. So it's our commonsense
is enough to analyse quality of the students.

from:  shibin
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 14:47 IST

Prof. Krishna Kumar’s critique encapsulates the ills of Indian
University system without considering the surrounding socioeconomic
environment. These ills, as also the ills of Indian society in
general, have a strong linkage with the current stage of our economic
development. When the West was at a comparable stage of economic
development, the condition (in fact exploitation) of workers in firms
owned by even Rockefellers was abysmal. The US universities were
nowhere near what they are today in terms of teaching methods and
research. The comparison, therefore, is odious, much as one wishes
that India universities quickly become as good as the US universities.
Economic development has an inbuilt force, and mechanisms, to modify
systems and procedures, educational included, so as to aid growth.
Just one example will explain the logic: corporate funding of
university research in India started only recently and is picking up.
Such funding in USA has been there for over half-a-century. The
sophisticated nature of US defence forces compels them to fund
university research to address various challenges. Indian defence
forces are progressively modernising and will, at some stage, have to
fund university research; a bit of it is already happening. It is
inevitable that Indian universities will have to change to be able to
provide solutions to funding agencies. That will also encourage
changes in the way education is delivered. It is, however, frustrating
that the change in India is slow.

from:  S N Raina
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 14:47 IST

gud one....vry enlightening .....its 21st century...still v hv d same
old archaic educational system in india...."d diploma
syndrome","marksheet effect"...no practical exposure....no
intellectual stimulation..... d frequency of score on d marks sheet
depends upon hw wel u can empty ur cache memory on dat xam
day...learning z by far a bound to "pass d xam nd get d
degree".....rather than a pragmatic approach....What really matters z
d right balance btwn pedagogy nd research ..... v hv Lack of research
environment....vry rare v find gud libraries...no "library
culture"...if india really want to excel nd shw its prominance ovr
othr developd countries...dere z a dire need for revolutionary change
in our acedamic culture...v hv d best talented human resource...bt
wat v lack z d platform to nurture it........:):)

from:  Gagan Keerti
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 14:40 IST

Indians,we are more interested to get jobs than awards or reasearch.If we somebody want to do it also so many issues.there is no proper facilities for espeacially science bank ground students even they don't get much stipend.In India most of the pouplation is middle class.If they can't get stipend again they have to depend on their parents and they don't get time to do part time job also.So If we want research oriented enviroment we should have more lecturers to maintain free time for them to do research and also good financial assitance.

from:  Divya
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 14:39 IST

The most important difference the authour failed to bring it to the notice our readers is, the cost. If Indian degrees cost 1 rupee, wetern degrees cost 1000 rupees. Hence the value of the degree also varies accordingly. If you pay nuts you get monkeys, and that is what exactly happens in Indian universities.

from:  Krishnan
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 13:58 IST

Dear Sir, you must also mention about the caste based reservation system
which is killing merit. This is one of the main reasons why our
education system is lagging behind the west. Our system doesn't
encourage creativity and original thinking. All that we try to blindly
copy the west. We seriously lack a culture of research. Knowledge
explosion has not taken place in our country. Most of the IIT graduates
leave for the US after completing B.Tech. Why are we not able to retain
that talent for our own needs ?

from:  Nachiketh
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 13:50 IST

the author has rightly highlighted corruption in the selection system . What we
need at present is to get rid of so called expert Panel . Instead we should have
National commission ( Agency ) which recruits faculty for all higher educational
Institutions .

from:  MM.SHANKARE GOWDA
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 13:50 IST

Prof. Krishna Kumar has raised certain issues pertaining to the Indian education system which we all are well aware of. But what are the remedies? Is lack of resources can still be cited as a major reason for not doing research? Today, all state/central universities have access to vast collection of primier online journals and other resources through consortia initiatives of MHRD, INFLIBNET, etc. But still it hasn't improved the research conditions in our universities. So the reasons for lack of research must be something else. Instead of blaming the system for everything, the academic community need to instrospect. I fully agree with Prof. Kumar regarding the poor selection policies which leads to filling our universities with incompetent people. High quality research will happen when we have high quality people in our academic institutions.

from:  Dr. Antony Jose
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 13:27 IST

As long as students study not because they are keen on a subject but
because they need to collect degrees in mainstream subjects either for
the job or the marriage market, and as long as teachers are held up as
reverential Holy Cows irrespective of their actual capability, this
sorry state of affairs will continue.

from:  Sucharita Sengupta
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 13:21 IST

A very thought-provoking article. But, the reality is that any organs of a society, be it's parliamentarian system, education and judiciary do reflect the very fabric of socio-economic culture of people form part of it. If that is the case, Indian Institutes do in the same way reflect the system practiced by the society. As long as the politics of education that is being practiced in terms of following rigid hierachial system, lobbying for key posts and discouraging young and potential minds from pursuing dedicated works, our Universities have to go a long way meeting the standars of their western counterparts. A few drastic measures such as introdution of tenure system and directing university departments to get funds for running graduate and PhD level courses are to be done by the regulating bodies.
A transparent procedure of selection and promotion of faculty is an utmost important for a healthy ambience in univiersities.

from:  kumar
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 13:13 IST

True, but instead of cursing the system and lamenting.....we should move on...learn to circumvent the problems....why waste energy in lamenting?! Try to gain as much as you can...After all its struggle for existence and the survival of the "FITTEST" [ definition of the "Fittest" ??!!!!]

from:  Prince
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 13:02 IST

A article after a long time seen on our indian university education
system. Good analysis by author. but here i would like to say few
things. First the basic function of university is research which is
lagging by our indian universities.Most of phDs degrees are awarded
erroneously(corruption). second our universities are not promoting
inter disciplinary courses which is the basic in applying knowledge in
research.Last but not least our political leaders should discuss the
issues and do reforms in our university education system.other wise we
will far behind in technological development when compare to western
universities.

from:  sm farooq
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 13:01 IST

It is that time of the year again when students are running from college to college ; giving entrances to get a seat be it in india or abroad .
In today's world there are so many fields open to a student . One can switch from science stream to arts n vice versa .
There are entrances like GMAT ; GRE ; SAT that qualify a student to apply abroad . However the indian and the international education system are quite different .
The indian system focus on the marks rather than the caliber of the student . The system abroad promotes the creativity .
The indian institutes are trying to adopt the international system of education . The renowned delhi university adopted the semester system in the year 2011 . However it wasn't easy to do so . Apart from the vice chancellor of the university nobody was interested in the system . The professors went on strikes to protest against the vice chancellor . However the battle was won by him .
the faculty had to accept his decision and teach .
On comparing the indian and the international system one realises that there are courses offered by the colleges abroad which are not considered as relevant in india . Just like the MBBS degree one gets from russia . One year. Post graduate courses offered by universities like cambridge and oxford do not have value in India .
Both the system has its pros and cons . So students think twice before u apply anywhere . Alll the best !!!

from:  shraddha jandial
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 12:44 IST

More you think of this country more deppressed you get. No institution is spared by corruption, incompetance, apathy and vested interests. Show me one institution including media, judiciary which is functioning in this country. The people get the institutions that they deserve. Every one in this country need to make it a personal mission to change his own environment.and stop blaming others. The institution is nothing but the collection of people. Poeple make the institutions.
Coming back to the article...the message is loud and clear. If you want good education then head to West. West is where still you find all that is beutiful and good in human endevour as author has correctly pointed out. We Indians can learn a lot from West on basic human values and responsbilities. Indians should be taught about countries like Sweden and Switzerland and how the people there have created heavenly society on the same planet earth.
India is not collective problem. It's individual issue of each on

from:  Girish
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 12:27 IST

I agree with Profesor but I want to take your attention to the fact of percentage boundation,lack of indicipliniarity in higher education.Here,if you have less marks than given criteria you are not eligible to get admission.For instance if you have a bachler degree less than 50% of marks,you are not eligible to apply for B.Ed.If you are a social science graduate You are not eligible to do M.Tec,Mathmatics,Engineering etc.In my opinion there should not be such boundaries and hierarchisation of stream.because of this our talent lost their voice somwhere which is not appropriate for them.A good artist also can be a good mathmatician.We can get higher % from different sources.I know many universities where we can buy P.H.D degree.All the examination either for job or for higher education should be based on the idea of equal opportunity for all.There should not be any criteria of percentages or stream or medium.without it Indian education system is a close system like caste system.

from:  saurabh awara
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 12:26 IST

Our policy makers neither have time to think in this area, nor they are worried about the present state of higher education in India.What a PITY ?

from:  Vipin Bhatnagar
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 12:26 IST

It is that time of the year again when students are running from college to college ; giving entrances to get a seat be it in india or abroad .
In today's world there are so many fields open to a student . One can switch from science stream to arts n vice versa .
There are entrances like GMAT ; GRE ; SAT that qualify a student to apply abroad . However the indian and the international education system are quite different .
The indian system focus on the marks rather than the caliber of the student . The system abroad promotes the creativity .
The indian institutes are trying to adopt the international system of education . The renowned delhi university adopted the semester system in the year 2011 . However it wasn't easy to do so . Apart from the vice chancellor of the university nobody was interested in the system . The professors went on strikes to protest against the vice chancellor . However the battle was won by him .
the faculty had to accept his decision and teach .
On comparing the indian and the international system one realises that there are courses offered by the colleges abroad which are not considered as relevant in india . Just like the MBBS degree one gets from russia . One year. Post graduate courses offered by universities like cambridge and oxford do not have value in India .
Both the system has its pros and cons . So students think twice before u apply anywhere . Alll the best !!!

from:  shraddha jandial
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 12:24 IST

Article is thought provoking. How can this problem be solved?
Agents who carry this problem can not be conditioned or converted into some better thinking group of people because its not a process issue. It is an attitude level issue now. Conditioning the opinion leaders in these groups if somehow they can be pressed for change, might be little useful but that has to be backed by changes in implementation and the execution when each of thesse agents feels the difference. Now that is one thing which can not be done overnight. What all these developements can achieve is a greater awareness and consensus among this group about the problem and with time when the old population of agents retires and new agents with this awareness come to fore it would be reduced - if it is backed by proper changes in the implementation and processes.

from:  vaibhav
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 11:58 IST

I differ with the author on this article. Paucity of funds for
infrastructure build up and research environment is genuine. But the
good environment for learning and education highly depends on students
and teachers' interests. It can not be created by external factors.
There should be urge from within to teach and learn. It is internal. If
everyone doing his/her duty for the sake of doing it without any
interest and enthusiasm, things'll remain as they are.

from:  Amit Kumar
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 11:55 IST

Hello, a well written column. But, the differences between our and
western universities are much more than these four points mentioned!!!
India universities lacks behind their foreign counter parts in several
ways like, in terms of quality research, syllabus, the pattern of examinations and evaluations, standard infrastructure, government
support and many more things. Most basic differences is, for majority of
the people in India: Education is for marks and money!!! instead it
should be for knowledge and better character.

from:  Dinesh
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 11:54 IST

OMG, your writing depicts the grand truth of Indian education system. I couldn't agree more with you on this.
As long as we continue to pursue mark/rank/certification/Quota based education things would never change & Indian education system will always be a global wonder for rote based education.
I have always wondered , why on earth do we have first year of engineering to include subjects from all the engineering disciplines[like mech , civil , EEE...etc] irrespective of what discipline one wants to pursue, neither are we having a clue of how this will help the engineer in future just by having one paper each nor are we becoming masters in each one of them. To me if a person wants to become a computer engineer he/she should have 95% of the subjects to be relevant to the field otherwise it makes no sense. It is like being "Jack of all trees but master of NONE". I hope Indian education system changes for good & follow the pedagogy way right from UG courses.
Keep writing ,Sir.

from:  Pavithra Rathinavel
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 11:35 IST

The educationalist who is never tired of teaching the teachers how to teach has a remarkable capacity not to learn anything from his experience. In the series of pious platitudes here, there is nothing specific except the grudge against UGC for it sends occasional circulars though it has no record of ever punishing any teacher or administrator for anything, including violations of constitution or causing deaths.
Except for a vague preference for "quality" and "excellence" and implicit demand for abolition of any monitoring of faculty recruitment and choice of syllabus, it is short of specific diagnosis or particular recommendations.
Disappointing is his refusal to see that the differences between elite and their discriminated others(both institutions and students)as the fundamental problem that made the Indian education what it is now and also the key to its reform. His secret message is, for all high-sounding words, to do away with NET as qualifying criteria for teaching posts.

from:  Chittibabu Padavala
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 11:30 IST

The article is very well conceptualised on how our education system
work today. Why our education system is anti-student these days? This
is because of our education system which does not allow 1. young and
creative people enter into the education system due to faulty
selection, 2. Our teaching are demotivating and of poor quality
(learning is measured through hours and periods rather than knowledge
acquisition), 3. Faulty system starting from Universities to UGC and
Ministry are busy in creating more barriers, regulations rather than
providing more research and knowledge ambiance and 4. Libraries are
just boring places. Apart from these four points the author raised, I
would like to add two more.5. No sensitivity to the surroundings
rather exclusiveness from the masses (no outreach). 6. Overall policy
environment in the country which are very insensitive and
undemocratic. We need good ideas and visionary leaders to bring
positive changes in every system including education.

from:  sada
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 11:20 IST

This is a wonderful article! What the professor states regarding the selection criteria for faculty is also applicable for selecting students. A more inclusive approach that encourages independent critical thinking is more important than blind conformism.

from:  G Parameswaran
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 11:20 IST

The incompetence of the proffessor can only be matched by the ineptitude of the student. This vicious circle will only lead to implosion of an already decadant educational set-up unless the Government realises that a bottom-up approach is necessary; and strengthens the standard of education from primary level onwards.

from:  Bharathan
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 11:10 IST

Sir, it is very true that our teachers in colleges and universities are more concerned about their own career and research papers giving little attention to teaching.what is more unfortunate is that they drag their research students into their own research fields by killing the instinct research taste of students and producing low quality research works.For example in India teachers proficient in one particular area of research are concentrated in some universities therefore it is very difficult for students in other universities to find out research guides in the same area. In the selection to various research programs also they favor their former students by rejecting those who have performed well in entrance tests and interviews.Indian education system need immediate attention otherwise efforts of last 65 years would be a big waste.

from:  vijayalekshmi m g
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 11:00 IST

Professor Krishnakumar has stripped naked the reality of our
Universities. In US, the universities are defined as Research
Universities or Teaching Universities in which the former or latter
will be the lead component. For e.g. Harvard is 90% Research
University, that does'nt mean that Teaching do not happen there, but
Research Echos there. Also the number of faculty in one department of
an University in Western nations will be more than 25 and it will go
more than 100. In India, having 4 or 3 faculty members in one
department and expecting them to involve in Teaching, Administration,
Research, Consultancy, and Extension (All core activities of
University) is ridiculous! How can the faculty members seggregate the
time between activities? If we don'nt improve the number of faculty
members in each department and define our university's core activity
(% of Teaching or Research) all our universities will ever remain only
TEACHING SHOPS!!!

from:  Dr. K. Jaishankar
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 10:59 IST

Mr. Kumar has taken up all the pertinent differences that exist
between the Indian Universities and the Western Universities. There
might be more of them but these are among the ones that form the
core. Research stands as next to nil in even the premier institutes
like the IITs. Interest arousal in the subjects or in any class is
zero. Very few quality teachers are present in India. India is a
land of talent. Indians are the most hard working species on the
earth. We need to builp up on our own human resource. And Quality
Education is the best start we can get.

from:  Karrtavya
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 10:58 IST

Here in India, thing that matters most is the score in examination. It
doesn't matter how you get the score, last night study or full
understanding of the course.And believe that last night study will
fetch you more score then having understanding of the subject. The
reason is, faculties expects to see on answer sheets, what has been
written in notes or books, not more then a single word extra then
that. In last, In professional colleges, during placement time
recruiters give more focus on the final grade points, not the
intellectual of candidates.
With what option a student left with !!! whom to blame!!

from:  Pardeep Bansal
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 10:53 IST

Just how our government do provide support and respect to our education system can be seen in the positioning of people with the type of their quality of education and competence in the desired field in organizations like DRDO,defence PSUs etc where it is expected to be active in frontline areas of technology!

from:  Atis
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 10:42 IST

This is an excellent analysis on what is happening in our country. I wish to add a few points of my own. According to me there are two basic reasons: (1) Accountability and (2) not learning from our past mistakes.
Accountability: Whom to be blamed for the present crisis? Very easily, we put the blame on the Government. Yes, certainly, along with the government all of us academicians, administrators and managements have to take responsibility. One mistake in this direction is lack of holistic approach. Everybody (stakeholders) have their own agenda and their points of view. What about common goal of education/research? Do we have such goals? How do we go about them? Instead of framing such goals and planning to meet them, we keep trying to regulate one another ultimately with no common goal in mind.
Question ourselvels why the so called centres of excellence (our erstwhil universities which produced excellent people) are not able to conntinue the same?

from:  C.V.K.Bhanu
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 10:26 IST

Very interesting article to open our mind and thoughts for rectification
of our education system.I suggest give challenges to students and tell
them to achieve that.I saw on you tube George Schultz driving his Nissan
Leaf car using power got from solar panels placed on his house roof,he
is not using petrol.Is there any student groups ready to take this challenge and achieve this ?

from:  Abraham Daniel
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 10:25 IST

Favoritism and ego of professors also major hindrances to the higher education. People with low talent will get high marks sometimes. Professors without knowledge in the concern subject will teach. And at the end marks matter. Comprehensive tackling of problem is needed.

from:  ratan raju
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 10:19 IST

The author has made several important observations. I believe that all those who are seriously concerned about future of university education in our country have also expressed their anguish about the state of university education on many occasions. Unfortunately, however, those who are in charge of university education today have little inclination to demand reforms; in fact they have a big stake in continuation of the existing system which produces mediocre degree holders and researchers. This can change if newly set up autonomous universities make a clean break form the existing system and establish high standards in both teaching and research. I believe that new some of the universities are in a position to bring about the desired change. Let us hope that this happens.

from:  NarendraM Apte
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 10:13 IST

An excellent analysis and potrayal of the state of our universities and centres of higher education. One hopes that the opinions voiced by the author are treated by the authorites concerned ( concerned authorites would also go here) as constructive criticism. Then we could hope for course correction.The article is a must read for all those related to the field of education.

from:  Prabha suresh
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 10:12 IST

Being a recent undergraduate from a state university in Kerala I can easily relate to all the well furnished points stated in the article. It is high time that the focus is shifted from quantity to quality when it comes to education in our country.

from:  Siby Jose
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 10:03 IST

What a timely article and apt analysis by Prof. Kumar.

from:  Nilay
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 09:58 IST

Sir, your assessment for our university system is remarkable, I hope UGC & HRD is reading your article and taking note of it. Our university system needs a drastic change and complete makeover. The whole system has been so much corrupted , mechanized, bureaucratized and nepotized that the best has been excluded and the worst has been included. The quality of teaching, research, recruitment and other basic infrastructure is so much deteriorated that our university system has failed to direct our society in the right direction rather the system itself is going back to stone age!!

from:  H Isworchandra Sharma
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 09:51 IST

It is said - Don't add years to life, but add life to your years.
Students are losing interest. So, I would urge the Indian university professors - Please add life to your teaching.

from:  Parth Kanungo
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 09:40 IST

Prof. Krishna Prasad has reflected the views of as many Faculty
members in Indian Universities, me being one among in an Engineering
College. Of late the trend of UGC et al seems to be to become member of
Washington Accord for Higher Education. My question is how we try to
be someone with this type of scenario in place, as mentioned in the
article. Managements (Universities and their controlling bodies) never
realise the situation on the Indian Ground! Let us mend ourselves and then try for to better the existing education system and throw the outdated British System, which even the British has unloaded!

from:  G Tirumala Rao
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 09:35 IST

While I agree with the author's assessment to a large degree, I would
still like to believe that there is hope for at least a few Indian
colleges.
I myself am a student of the National Law School of India University,
and I can vouch that the Library continues to be the heart of our
academic life. Further, while problems of faculty cannot be avoided
entirely, many of our professors do take the effort of doing their job
to the best of their ability. Research and free thinking are encouraged
in our institution.
Hopefully, the future of all Indian colleges will not remain as bleak as
this article depicts...

from:  Padmini
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 09:34 IST

A very well written article. Problems of limited resources not withstanding, if every one us could give our best to whatever we do, be it academic or any other activity, then no doubt our country will get much more enriched.

from:  K. T. Selvan
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 09:23 IST

I am an acdemic working in the university system abroad and want to mention two points.
1. Student attitude: In over two decades of my teaching / research experience in the university system, I have never heard of 'student strike' in universities. As an academic, I have full control over what I teach and very rarely is there a question about the marks I assign to students. The whole process is transparent. Academic also have strict norms and can easily be sacked in any misconduct is proven. In contrast, the system in India is extremely bureaucratic. With such a system, making a change or punishing an acadmic or a student is next to impossible. 2. Academic staff selection is also a major issue. With influence, money, caste, religion taking precedence, ability seems to take a backseat and result is obvious for everyone to see either in research or teaching. Indian success/reward is often based not on research output but on the powerbase one builds. Too many chiefs and very few Indians.

from:  V S Venkatesan
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 09:18 IST

This is a very balanced ,analysed and a truthful eyeopening article.

from:  Saurabh shubham
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 09:00 IST

A highly cohesive piece of analysis and writing! Very well identifies the malaise of
India's higher education. The reality is remarkably hopeless, in fact; unfortunately, the rot is now going to set even deeper, into the school-education system, via the Right to Education bill, which is completely blind to the realities of the classroom.

from:  Amarnath
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 08:59 IST

Being in a country like India,where world's greatest scientists are born
,in today's education system is really pathetic situation.the
universities are particularly aiming at making money rather than
spreading knowledge.this scenario needs to be reformed otherwise our
country's technocrats goes on migrating to foreign as such.finally we
will get a day in the world of educated countries and uneducated
countries instead of developed and undeveloped countries.

from:  naga lakshmi
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 08:54 IST

excellent article about the education in india with westerners

from:  kumar
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 08:50 IST

The author has presented an excellent analysis of what is wrong with the Indian
university education. I could not agree more with his analysis. However, the article falls short in terms of offering remedies to the malaise that plagues the system. A very good friend of mine, who is a professor of Indian origin who has
distinguished himself through his research, teaching, as well as leadership
activities at a major US University has been interested for quite some time in
helping Indian universities achieve international stature. He in fact applied for a few faculty positions at Indian universities, including some national universities
that are in the process of being established. Sadly, he was not given even the
courtesy of a response from the respective selection committees. This treatment
meted out to an Indian scholar of international stature speaks volumes about the
sorry state of higher education in India.

from:  Fiona Feinman
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 08:41 IST

No one serious about higher education.First of all why we need to go for higher education?Please ask yourself.

from:  rdubey
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 08:08 IST

Dear Krishna Kumar Sir,
I appreciate your views on the present education system of our country and its comparison with West. But at the same time, we want to admit the fact that our economy is not at all capable to bring such an institute having same standard of West. Even then, we have some IITs, National Law Institutes, and some other colleges which are striving to give us quality education. Again, the moot point is how many of our students getting opportunity to study at those best colleges in India, although they might not come within 100 top colleges of the World.

from:  Jino M Kurian
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 07:48 IST

A fine and illuminating commentary. The author delicately states that "Democratic procedures and correctness have become incompatible with respect for quality". I read this as the system of quotas, political interference, and policy making by those who are least qualified to do so have completely ruined quality and ensured that merit has no place in any endeavor. No wonder then that our best minds see the West as the only recourse left. Mediocrity is thus perpetuated.

from:  Subha R
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 07:34 IST


This article correctly captures the very sad state of affairs in India's University system.

from:  Rohan DSouza
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 06:25 IST

Sir, an excellent article. Comparing a western University and and Indian one; a subject
that I have been thinking about for a longtime.
While slowly but hopefully, also steadily, we are catching up with the Universities, but slowly in Indian terms might take a few generations.

from:  Chandru
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 05:27 IST

It is refreshing to see an article that puts the blame where it belongs rather than on students. The only issue is how to bring a nationwide awareness about the inadequate educational system and bring a change. India will remain a backward nation as long as the current educational system remains and thus robbing the future of the younger generation. It needs to become a political issue similar to corruption and then only there is some hope of change. A single professorial voice is just one voice in a billion plus nation.

from:  KVRao
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 05:03 IST

To supplement the views of the author I wish to submit that the Universities in India are funded sufficiently by the University Grants Commission. The other major sources of income are the Examination fee and fee from the Distance Education. Unfortunately, the major part of income is spent on Establishment Section. The other differences between the West and India are that persons without any aptitude for teaching and research are appointed as teachers. Most of the young teachers are not sincere. Their attitude affects the progress of students. Internal assessment of students is a failure. Evaluation in the Examination is not dependable. Students' assessment of teachers is not reflecting the truth. The purpose of research is not properly understood by the researchers as well as the supervisors.

from:  A. Sivamurthy
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 05:02 IST

In India, it is still pedagogy (teacher-directed curriculum) even in tertiary level, while the advanced curricula had moved on to androgogy (adult 'self-directed' learning) and now with web-2.0 technology, adopting heutagogy (self-determined learning). The "big-C" also plays its part in corrupting the system to suit mercenary demands of the "for-profit-education-industry". It is high time to appoint selfless ombudsmen to clean up and modernize our system of collegiate education.

from:  Poligar
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 05:01 IST

The writer has identified the core issues that plague the university system in India today. We have lost sight of the larger objectives of higher education. The decision-makers are largely bureaucrats who have no sense of what the academy is. Prof. Krishnakumar's piece must serve as an eye-opener to those presiding over higher education system in India.

from:  E. R. Krishnan
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 04:47 IST

Fantastic piece. Nothing truer than 'Inadequacy of funds is, of course, worrisome, but it cannot explain the extent to which malice, jealousy and cussedness define the fabric of academic life in our country.' But, will it ever change?

from:  Maya
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 04:38 IST

Dr Kumar
Have we not been saying this (what you have laboured to say) from the 1950s?
You have wasted your time and our time.

from:  Dr A Raman, Australia
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 04:25 IST

This the hard but its true even after we re in 21st century we still
have the same educational system - i ve spent two years in university and
the library was there in worse condition i ve never relied on library
source because they were in teared pages were missing . And after knowing
about all these facts still there are no reforms in this way is heart
breaking

from:  Amardeep Singh
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 03:58 IST

The comparison between the Western system of education and the Indian system of education as presented by the author doesn't seem to address two very important issues: a centralised system and politics in the campus. Syllabus is designed by someone; exams are set by someone else; and teaching is done by yet someone else. In addition to all these anomalies exams are graded by someone other than the aforementioned three. Campuses in India, at least in the places I worked, are manipulated by politicians to promote their agenda. Only in India students come to school to boycot school. You won't see this phenomenon anywhere else in the world. I wonder why the author doesn't highlight the autonomy enjoyed by the educational institutions in the West. To save India two things are urgently required: give autonomy to educational institutions and get politics out of the campuses. Before totally condemning our system, keep in mind that the West worries about our success in mathematics and science.

from:  Mathew V. Chacko
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 02:38 IST

A very balanced observation of our University system. universities should be at the forefront of both the scientific and humanities related subject matter. The author has argued convincingly why it is not the case in India.
No wonder even though we have so many enginerring colleges churning out software professionsls by thousands, the recenbtly conducted Google Code jam had just three Indians in the third round (having started as the largest contingentnumbers) and even countries like Belaurus, Poland or South Africa had more people at this round that India. if the standard of education in the much vaunted and demanded engineering sector itself is like this think of the natural sciences or humanities.

from:  Hari
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 02:28 IST

Very apt. Anachronistic education system. No wonder we're suffering
because of it.
Only if the politicians could find time to discuss such issues instead
of character assaults they indulge in.

from:  Rohit Srivastava
Posted on: Aug 9, 2012 at 02:10 IST
Show all comments
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor


O
P
E
N

close

Recent Article in Lead

A case for SAARC reforms

SAARC, regrettably, has yet to develop into a conflict-mediating or resolving institution on multilateral and bilateral issues. While it has succeeded in evolving as a forum, it does not have the capacity to devise instruments for consultations on bilateral and multilateral political and security problems »