Need to build idea factories, says former RBI chief Raghuram Rajan

Raghuram Rajan, former RBI Governor, left, and Raghavan Srinivasan, Editor,The Hindu BusinessLine, at the discussion.  

Although India is already among the top five economies, and will soon be among the top three, the country doesn’t have a single university that is ranked among the top 100 in the world, said Raghuram Rajan, former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India.

Speaking at an event organised by The Hindu BusinessLine , he said it was important for the country to create top-class universities and idea factories by utilising its own strengths. He was in conversation with R. Srinivasan, Editor, BusinessLine, on ‘Leveraging India’s Human Capital’ at the Taj Coromandel hotel.

Mr. Rajan, now an adviser to Krea University, a new-age multi-disciplinary liberal arts and sciences facility that is readying to open in Sri City, close to Chennai, maintained that India could make strong strides on the education front through a credible certification framework, co- ntinuing education system and combining technology and available manpower.

Discussing gaps in certification processes, he felt that accreditation bodies should support the entry of new institutions and start-ups while staying focussed on doing proper evaluations on institutions. He pointed out that there was a need to make the certification process more credible and that more micro-degrees should be encouraged.

On continuing education, he highlighted the example of the National University of Singapore, which allows students to come back, again and again and take courses over a 20-year period. “This kind of continuing education is something the modern world needs,” he added.

He maintained that India has strengths in three vital areas that can help the country build world-class institutions. “Historically, we have had an environment of tolerance and that is our strength. We have to maintain that. Because in an atmosphere, that tolerates dissent, you can exchange ideas and have new ideas created…this strength will carry us going forward when we build top universities because scholars will be able to debate without fear of voicing their views,” he said.

The second strength, according to him, was diversity. He said different States have different educational policies and frameworks, and this naturally leads to competition, which could encourage the process of improvement and adoption of best practices.

Finally, he said, there was the diaspora. “We intend to ignore this some times. But more than 5 lakh students go abroad to study. Some of them become Ph.Ds and some of them run Artificial Intelligence in Silicon Valley. There is a tremendous reservoir of talent and we should keep our options open for them,” he said.