Kochi

India lacks public policy on higher education: IIT-K chairman

M Anandakrishnan, chairman, IIT Kanpur, has said that the nation has failed to evolve a credible and sustainable public policy on Higher Education (HE) even after 64 years of Independence. He was delivering the keynote address at the symposium on ‘Public Policy and Governance’ organized by School of International Relations and Politics (SIRP) at Mahatma Gandhi University on Thursday.

According to press note, Prof. Anandakrishnan said that some of the persisting problems of Higher Education include the lack of competent institutional academic leadership, the lack of transparency in decision-making and the domination of government representatives in policy making. He pointed out that neo-liberal policies put in place since 1990s had stressed on privatisation in many spheres of social life, but it has also generated a lot of repercussions.

Mushrooming of private universities through state legislations is a trend that is going to affect the very credibility of the system.

Though there are apprehensions about the entry of foreign universities in the country, the system already in place through the backdoor has not come under scrutiny. The proposed Foreign Universities Bill, in that sense, might curb the unhealthy practices underway in the country, he said.

Prof. Anandakrishnan said that the State universities in India have a high level of bureaucratisation compared to Central universities. More over, in terms of budgetary support, too the State universities got very little compared to their counterparts in the Central institutions. The imbalance in the allocation of funds has already resulted in discriminatory practices. It was against this backdrop that the Yashpal Committee recommended that there should be no discrimination between the Centre and the States on the question of funds.

Referring to the distance education and open learning in the country, he said that it was “started with good intentions”, but over years, “the whole system has been vandalised” and the number of such institutions and stakeholders is mind-boggling.

Babu Paul, former administrator and policy maker, said that any discussion on public policy must address the question of sovereignty of nations. But “sovereignty of a nation has ceased to be a cartographic reality today” he said and added that “no nation is sovereign as it were 100 years ago.” He noted that “sovereignty is a highly negotiated product now as a result of the pressures stemming from global regimes of trade and arms.” Dr. Paul said that over the last 60 years, “India has succeeded as democracy without an adjective” and “it remains as strong as it were in the 1950s.” “But democracy cannot operate without its operators being honest, transparent, accountable and efficient,” he said.

David G. Baker, Fulbright Senior Specialist and former Professor of Public Policy, Duke University, United States, said that in the current scenario of governance, “growth with increasing disparities will be destabilising.” He said that time has come to have a rethink on the policies and to restore safety-net and re-distributive policies. Though the growth-model is essentially sound, it was “prone to bubbles and bursts.” Therefore, there should be “cautious state intervention,” he said.

Dr. Rajan Gurukkal, Vice Chancellor, chaired the session. Dr. Raju Thadikkaran, Director, SIRP, welcomed the audience. Dr. A.M. Thomas, Dr. K.M. Seethi and others spoke.


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Printable version | Oct 17, 2021 10:32:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/india-lacks-public-policy-on-higher-education-iitk-chairman/article3258775.ece

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