Dr. Pushkar grossly misreads the central arguments of our article. First, we do not argue “that vast disparities in wealth between the West and the rest explains why third-rate institutions are found in poor countries.”
We clearly state, “while resources are crucial, they should not become an excuse for the abysmal standards of Indian universities.”
We then discuss the crucial contributory factor of “academic culture” which he has completely ignored. Second, if we believe, as Dr. Pushkar thinks, “India must wait to get rich before dreaming to build world-ranked institutions”, certainly, we would not have cited the example of JNU, or pointed to the “degenerating commercialisation of education” in the wealthy Western countries. Wealth is important, but not the only determinant. Hence we argued the need to reflect on the “ends of education” while seeking academic excellence. Third, India and China might have emerged as global players, but that cannot, yet, wish away a First versus Third World divide in education — Dr. Pushkar does not tell us why there are only four Third World universities in the Times top 200.
Finally, we do not “concede that representation has come about at the cost of quality,” instead, we argue, reservations should be used to create new “new knowledge systems.”
(Ajay Gudavarthy and Nissim Mannathukkaren are with Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Dalhousie University, Canada, respectively.)