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Opinion

President ‘deeply satisfied’ with IISC 

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Speech touches a personal chord

President Pranab Mukherjee said he was “deeply satisfied” while making a rather personal speech to the graduating students and faculty of the Indian Institute of Science (IISC). He was speaking at the convocation during which 625 students were given degrees and 52 awarded medals for their academic performance.

Through his speech, Mr. Mukherjee resonated his connections to the country’s premier science institution. He recalled when he was entering the teaching profession, one of his inspirations was J.C. Ghosh. And Ghosh, who after a stint as the IISc Director became the first director of IIT, Kharagpur.

He closed his speech with an apology to the IISc Director Anurag Kumar for having “deviated” from his written speech which was against convocational norms! .

President: Develop research

“For too long, academia and industry have neglected research. Unless we make investment in basic research, we cannot make further progress,” president Mukherji laid emphasis on ‘developing research’ in the country..

He warned that with time, the advantages that India possessed during the early days of the Information Technology growth, were diminishing. On the other hand, the challenges of global competition were increasing.

“We require excellent teachers, bright students, conducive atmosphere…good laboratories that keep pace with rapidly-changing technology,” said Mr. Mukherjee.

Quality of education was a recurring theme of his speech. He asserted that the youth are skilled–the country’s demographic dividend – in which, by 2020, more than 50% of the population will be below the age of 25 years – will turn into demographic liability.

Governor: “North Korea inspires”

Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala asserted, “We should take inspiration from ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation), from Israel, from Japan and any other nation, including North Korea which is progressing in Atomic Energy.”

It is noteworthy here that the Atomic energy programme of North Korea has seen the United Nations & most nations including India, impose sanctions.

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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Opinion

Innovation And Entrepreneurship | The Next Step For Growth

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Innovation And Entrepreneurship

In our modern world, technology is reaching new heights. Virtual and augmented reality are being adopted as part of new education methodology. Students need more than a degree and good marks to excel in life. To drive and ride this change instead of being pushed aside by the transforming world, the students need to gain new sets of skills that will help them prepare themselves and stay ahead in this race. And a major part of this responsibility is shared by the Indian Higher education system. The universities have to brace themselves and develop a management to have Innovation And Entrepreneurship programs along with vocational courses that focus on the real-life skills.

The first challenge that is faced by the Indian higher education is the rapid change in the kind of practices that were previously followed around the globe. The new era demands better courses, better curriculum and teaching techniques. As most people are exploring the education industry and investing in it, there is an increase in privatisation of education in India. There are many good and bad consequences of this move which we’ll discuss later in this article. One of the best things that the privatisation offers is the innovative courses. These private universities are open to new ideas and emphasis on gaining new skills and promotes entrepreneurship. The other important thing that universities can do is to motivate students to be job creators instead of job seekers. Here are some key points for the Indian education system to work on :

 

Innovation And Entrepreneurship

Universities:  Private or Government?

The status of the current Indian Higher education system is such that most students prefer a government institute over a private one. This is due to many reasons, one being the affordable education for all eligible candidates and second being the best campus placement it offers. Other than its rich culture and diverse nature, the only thing in which private universities are ahead of the government institutes is due to its innovative courses. The requirement of the youth right now is to acquire not only a degree but certain sets of skills that makes them extra talented than others. And the Central Government has realised the need of change and has now opened debates about creating worldwide universities and talk about the international curriculums, in order to make our universities stand tall beside the global ones.

A student can go to any University but the responsibility for a better future depends on the students too. Therefore,  a student should acquire an extra set of skills, whether through the help of their own university or applying for a diploma for that certain skill or subject. For Example – The University of Delhi (DU) offers each year certain diploma courses that are highly valuable to help the students develop more. Recently, it also started many new job-based skill courses called the vocational courses to focus on entrepreneurship.

Innovation And Entrepreneurship

Brain Drain: Can we stop it?

As mentioned before, the government colleges offer best placements. The IITs and IIMs have given birth to some of the prodigal brains that the world has seen, yet Indian cannot benefit from this as most of these students opt to work abroad. One of the main reasons is also the lack of employment and the pay being less. Due to which the government universities face a lot of challenges.

A lot of students go abroad for higher education as they see better prospects and more exposure in foreign universities.  Is it because they don’t trust the level of education provided in India? To combat this, the universities have to come up with innovative plans and should be willing to take risks with the new ideas. Both the government and private universities have to be competent enough to be flexible enough for this change and make a surrounding where we don’t suffer from brain drain instead people come from abroad looking opportunities in our home.

Innovation And Entrepreneurship

Research and Re-skills: Our Options

The Indian education system should also promote research programs along with entrepreneurship. The researches give an opportunity to be creative and innovative. Universities should encourage students to take up research. Instead of focusing on employability and worry tirelessly, students should let their creative juices flow and learn new things by taking up researches. Research is the basis of innovation and progress for any economy in the world. The universities should also promote new and futuristic tech courses which can come very handy for the students. They prepare students for the upcoming market trends and increase employability. Courses like Artificial Intelligence (AI) have swept the market with promising opportunities and prospects.

An university is incomplete without its teachers. The teachers should be open to new ideas and new ways of teaching instead of being stubborn about their traditional methods. With the new technologies and techniques, the teachers need to keep themselves updated. They have to re-skill themselves and be open to the constant learning process. Only then the faculty can provide the best education they always promise.

The future is here and now is the time to secure it for better. The Indian Education sector will once again witness growth if these few things are minded and worked on. Not only that, the government and universities should partner with the foreign institution and impart more knowledge to its students and learn from their teaching methods.

What do you think? Do you agree that innovation and entrepreneurship is the next big thing? Let us know in the comment section below.

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