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Opinion

MAHARAJA SAYAJIRAO UNIVERSITY NEEDS A COURSE ON GST: HRD MINISTER PRAKASH JAVADEKAR

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The complexity of various taxes inspired the Indian government to devise a simple tax structure to which everyone can adhere to. Be it service class or business class. Collective efforts of officials from various departments gave birth GST. And to spread its awareness, Central GST and Central Excise Department officials joined hands in organizing an ‘outreach programme’ to understand the new tax regime and clear the misconceptions encircling it. During this special session, HRD Minister-Mr. Javadekar was the Chief Guest who was of the opinion that this tax has been designed for making India economically strong.

With taxes becoming the main topic of conversation, Union Human Resource Development Minister-Mr. Prakash Javadekar opined that Goods and Services Tax (GST) course be introduced at Maharaja Sayajirao University in Vadodara, Gujarat.

The Union Minister was of the view that such a course would prove to be a boon for Tax and Finance professionals who would have to get the GST basics right.

GST

GST Need Of The Hour

With doubts clearing the air, there has been a huge transformation to Goods and Services Tax after its July 1 launch. Now, more and more people are readily adhering to this new tax form and at the same time many universities are following suit, to make the youth understand the importance of GST and what transformation it will bring for India. They include the University of Delhi which has planned to include GST in the curriculum of B.Com (Hons), B.Com and BA programme. DU students of B.Com (Hons) will be studying GST and Customs Law in the sixth semester while students of B.Com will study it in the fifth semester and BA programme students will come across the topic in papers 3 and 4 so that they can know and deliver GST in the right format, taking India to a new economy high.

Guest Author

ACADEMIC FREEDOM: Does It Exist In India?

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Academic freedom

Dr. Kamlesh Misra

Former Vice Chancellor, Ansal University


Do you remember the times when you were little and were learning the Indian mythology or just watching Doordarshan every evening? And in one of those evenings, you learned how Eklavya cut his thumb for his “Guru” Dronacharya without even bothering to ask one question about his actions. At that age, we were also taught that our teachers or “Guru” get placed next to Gods and were indispensable for students.

That may not be the case now, though teachers still hold a distinctive place in every student’s life. They can either devise or destroy their life.

But is it exactly the case in the current scenario?

What is Academic Freedom?

Academic freedom is a term defining which is not simple despite its simplicity. This idea is designed such that the teachers are given the freedom to have different opinions or ideology in their thought processes. They are given the right to challenge the existing wisdom without any fear of being tried by the Administrator or having to face any repercussions later that may cause problems in their careers.

This was the case until the 1960s in India and the teachers around that time were very reputed and respected by all. But over the time, the Indian Higher Education system has witnessed something entirely different. Teachers have started falling from grace and their reliability is also questioned by many. And to some extent, we can blame the teachers themselves for drifting away from their missions as a teacher. But these teachers are not the only one who is wrong, the government also shares this blame. The interference of the government in the educational institutions is also a big driving force for this shift.

 

What is Academic Freedom Now in the Modern World?

In the modern world, the term “academic freedom” should be progressed simultaneously with globalization. In this process of transition, over the years, academic freedom has been misused and abused like never before. The teachers nowadays are using it not to improve the quality of education but to abuse the freedom given by the system. How does having the freedom to be in the office or not being in office relate to academic freedom? When questions are asked about their teaching they say my academic freedom is being questioned.

Read also: Why Teaching Jobs Are Considered So Underrated??

Like a good student, does their homework on time, attend every class and before every class pre-prepare for the class. A good teacher is expected to do the same routine before a lesson. Earlier the teachers used to follow this method, hence the classes were more engaging and a lot fewer students availed to tutors outside the classrooms unlike now. These days a lot of teachers don’t prepare for their lessons and just go and teach what they know. Hence the level of education is not progressing but with passing time just degrading. And if a student asks a question outside their parameters of thinking then these teachers are unfair to these students and won’t let go of their ego. As a teacher they hold a lot of powers over the student’s life, one of the major power is providing a student with their score.  They will even tell students that if they want good grades then they will have to fall in line as per their requirements.

The concept of academic freedom can be further examined in the light of globalization and new challenges posed to higher education.

Another thing that we should put light on regarding this issue is also the lack of teachers in the Indian Higher Education System. This is also a major reason for this shift. Not only this makes the system less innovative but also burdens certain teachers with the responsibility towards the development of the education sector. Coupled with this is the fact that we have a lot of people who have not been successful in the industry getting into teaching. I call this the residual impact. Furthermore, we also have teachers that only want to become teachers when they have completed their first innings in the industry.

The other challenge is the uprising privatization, hence, there is an urgent need for academic freedom as an important key to ensure the developing standards of the Higher Education in India. The state and the private sector need to recognize that the creation of knowledge and development of the higher education sector cannot take place without recognizing academic freedom only if these powers are not abused by the teachers.

If we look closely at the system then the situation is quite alarming. Only 20% of the University teacher are the ones who seemed determined to work for the betterment of the system and are real teachers. The rest of them are wearing double-faced like hiding behind the face of a teacher and playing politics in the education industry.

The freedom given to these teacher has only harmed the industry very deeply. In recent years, academic freedom has not produced any phenomenal results nor has led to any deeper knowledge than the existing. Yes in some of the centers of excellence like the IIC, BARC, TIFR there have been great levels of contribution but they are only exceptions to the rule.

The basic essence of academic freedom has been lost over time.

And if the government with the academicians make a move to create more accountability, then the teachers union protest against it.

And this abuse of power, students, and education will continue until the teachers themselves reflect on this situation. This is only a setback until the time the teachers in universities and colleges realize their responsibilities. They are not only molding the lives of the students but also the lives of the entire generation of this nation. And building a nation is the utmost important task, a task more important than a running a million dollar company. Education is not only in the interest of a teacher and a student, but it is also for everyone.

A major transformation is needed. It is the call of the hour and it only and only possible if the teachers work for it themselves. The teachers need to shoulder their responsibilities properly. The teacher has the capacity to rise against all odds and the setbacks and work for the declining standard of the education and make Indian Education system great again. What do you think? Is this the scenario right now or not?

Do you think the teachers will realize this and change their way of teaching?

More by Dr. Kamlesh Mishra: Universities: National or Local?

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Guest Author

Universities: National or Local?

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Universities

Dr. Kamlesh Misra

Former Vice Chancellor, Ansal University


India is supposed to have had the roots of higher education dating back as early as the 1000 B.C. Though at that time the education provided by the then institutes were the ancient knowledge of the Vedas. The modern education system was actually set up during the colonization of India and The Indian Higher education has gone through many transformations, some for the better while some for the worst. One of the regrettable change over the year has been the alteration of the universities from national to local.

There was a time in India where there were many universities deemed national. Now, this title has been fading away like the passing wind. Only a few of these universities have managed to keep the title that too with great struggle. Despite this many national universities who have a glorious past, unfortunately, are turning in to local universities like a rapid fire. So, what exactly went wrong which led to land these universities with such defective fate?

Education which is vital for the growth of a country and especially in a developing nation like India, it is more important that the education sector flourishes. It is considered that the universities are a micro picture of the society we live in. It is like the mirror image of the changes in our society. So whatever happens on our campuses doesn’t only affect the students, teachers and faculty but also the nation itself. Several reforms that started around the year 1975 have had a calamitous impact on the universities of India.

Around this era, one of the significant thing that happened was the formation of regional parties in India. The political dispute had a major impact on the education sector. The regional parties wanted to win elections and to have an upper hand on the national parties, these regional parties catered the needs of the local community. However, this thinking didn’t unite the nation to work forward for development instead divided it for worse into National and Regional lines. So we moved from national level thinking to regional level thinking. The cherry on the cake was the steps taken by Regional parties to have topped the political stature. To further strengthen the political hold successive regional governments pushed for admissions of local students in universities. Appointment of faculty and staff was based on regional lines. Though, some can say this was a good move and ensure employment of the locals in the long run, this move had a few setbacks hence declining the level of education. This was a very destructive move for Indian universities.

The local and regional interests were taking priority over the national interests. Although the country is divided into 29 states, in reality, it shouldn’t be divided when working for maintaining the standards of the education system at the global level. This division was made for better governance of the country, not for the destruction and loss of advantage that we had previously on the global community.

Our universities and education sector now is the reflection of this poor governance and divided behaviour. The political pressures ensured that local students got priority in admissions, local people got priority in jobs and this completely ruined the diversity within the University System. As most of the students were and the teacher was becoming then the universities started to become the breeding grounds of the political parties instead of the temple of education. This also cuts back the diverse nature that the Indian Universities usually should provide. Unions became powerful that they have support from political parties as well. These are the few ways which led us to this moment, that we have to witness the fall of the mighty National Universities of India into one with just local jurisdiction.

Only if we could travel back in time and maintain the level of education that we had before. It would be good to have these National Universities back.

 Universities

 

These are some key features of the National Universities:

The Faculty in the National University is among the best of the teachers from around the country and from different parts of the country. Hence bringing the culture and linguistic features with them. Almost all states and union territories are represented in the university by faculty members and administrators.

  • These appointments are based on merit and not the preference of being from that region or being a local of that community, hence its open for all and fair for everyone as it gives everyone equal chance of appointment and also increases the level of competition.
  • There is a fair mix of minorities among the faculty and staff and there is a place for people of different faiths. Hence, it is diverse in nature and can be a learning experience for both teachers and students.
  • Likewise the appointment, the admissions are also open to everyone from the country. Students come from all parts of the country and not just a single region.

Despite all the odds, there are few universities like JNU and University of Delhi (DU) that have been holding onto the position of being a National University. We hope that the golden days of the National Universities will be back like the 90’s fashion. And the concept of local university dissolves as quickly as venom does with blood and kills the ill factors destroying the level of education in India.

What do you think about this? Should Regional or Local benefits be given?

Do you want the National Universities of India to make a comeback?

Let us know in the comments.

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Editorial

1,00,000 crore For Research : Empowering Indian Higher Education

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Indian Higher Education

One of the largest working education web in the world, the Indian Higher Education is still in its budding stage and working its ways to improve the level of education in India. Upgrading and evolving the system has become the necessity of the hour, as it not only makes the situation better for the Indian students but will also attract foreign students. Currently, our Indian Higher Education Sector which once used to be famous worldwide for its flourishing culture and knowledge seems to be losing its touch. But to make sure we come back with a hit, the Central Government is coming up with new schemes and plans. And for every new plan, a financial support is required which seems to lacking and acting as a hindering factor for the developments. The level and amount of researches being conducted by the Education sector as a result have also gone on to become very low. To reduce this hindrance, the government plans to invest  1 lakh crore for research and academic infrastructure for the Indian Higher Education.

Indian Higher Education

Into the Past

In the recent years, the science and technology department of India has fostered a lot than before. Yet we are not standing even nearby to international standards. As one of the major obstacle on path of evolution faced by people is the lack of funding. It is not that there is an absence of funding but the provided funds are very low. In India, funding for the higher education sector is done by both government as well as the non-government organization.

The Indian Higher Education is divided into various section, each specializing for a certain sector of education. These sections are basically organisations like the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),and the Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) to name few departments that conduct and govern researches in Indian higher education sector. The funds are provided to these departments who later then allocate funds for the various researches and fellowship programmes open for all with eligible qualifications.

One must think that if different departments are allocated then each department will be conducting many kinds of research and though this is true, the funds are so less that these departments have very few options to proceed forward with. This is a major reason why India is left behind when it comes to research. Even the universities in India do not promote research that much, a trend which should be switched with the modern time. This era calls for progressive research and knowledge. And the Government seems to agree with this. In the 2018-19 proposed budget, released on February 1, The government raised its spending on India’s science and technology programs compared to previous years.

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) receives the hike of 8% in the proposed budget. The Department of Biotechnology gets an increase of nearly 7%. The Department of Scientific & Industrial Research sees a nearly 4% raise. And the cash-starved Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), which runs 38 labs, is slated to receive slightly more than a 3% increase. And Despite all this, even these fund are less to have to grace growth in research in India.

Into the Present

The Union Cabinet on July 4th made a decision that left many with the hope of a better future for the Indian Higher Education sector.  The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) which is headed by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the proposal to expand the scope the Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA). And this will be done by expanding its capital base to 10,000 crores. Not only this, the CCEA  also allocated 1,00,000 crore for research and academic infrastructure for higher education institutions by 2022.

The HRD Minister took Twitter to express his agreement and happiness for this decision. He tweeted, “Landmark decision of the Union Cabinet today, approves HEFA to mobilise 1,00,00 crore for research and academic infrastructure for higher education institutions by 2022. This  substantial allocation for research and academic infrastructure will help India compete on the world stage.”

Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA) was set up on May 31, 2017, by the Central Government as a Non-Profit, Non-Banking financing Company (NBFC) to strengthen the  Indian Higher education by providing “free loan” to the Universities if they provide a laid down plan on where they want to spend money. This was done to help progress the growth in academic infrastructure in India.

Indian Higher Education

Into the Future

If without any delay the approved plan is put into work, then the future will be brighter. This will be also the first time that schools like Kendriya Vidyalayas /Navodaya Vidyalayas will also get funding from HEFA. The education in India will go under major transformation and we hope that research will be promoted not only in universities but at the schooling level too. The IITs, NITs, IISERs and other central universities, as well as AIIMS and other medical colleges, will also get funds from HEFA. Although in the recent years there were a lot of researches and progress made yet the medical department of India was left somewhere behind. With this, the Indian Medical department will also prosper.

Surely this move of the central government have made a stand  as an undisputed and one sided opinion of people that this will act as a ladder in progressive path of the Indian Higher Education & Research. For us, we are glad that even though before the election, the central Government is finally working to strengthen the Indian Higher Education. The promotion of research in India can bring many changes and bring back the glory we used to have.

This is definitely going to be a game changer but only time will tell us as to how much effective the move would be depending on the way the research funds are utilized and executed.

 

Let us know your views about this in the comment section.

 

 

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