Crisis in Education: Evasive Posture

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By R.K Gartia

“To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities” – Bruce Lee
The failure of Indian Universities/Institutes to get into the elite club of 200 in the world ranking (Times Higher Education) 2013-14 has resulted in a piece of editorial in The Indian Express (4th October, 2013). On the same day a news item on Punjab University’s entry into the 226-250 brackets has created a flutter.
The outcome of 2013-14 world ranking is on the expected line. With practically zero participation of International students and faculty Indian University/Institutes are essentially glorified teaching organizations. They lack the very essential of a University. It is system with a body but no soul. The emergence of Singapore’s National University as an international player should be the eye opener to the leaders of higher education in India. However the reaction to the challenges seems evasive. This does not auger good to anybody including the leaders of educational organization themselves. In historical perspective they will find no place. If at all, it will be inglorious. Aggressive marketing by Global Players is argued by few, the cause of their high ranking. It is obvious. Every individual or organization has to do some marketing. We may call it PR. Governments do it. It is neither unethical nor illegal up to some point. The business of education is billion dollar activity. Business angle cannot be overlooked. It is time to forget about the top 10 or so. We must accept their excellence. Nobel Prize all these years has remained the ‘Gold Standard’ of the academic excellence. Harvard is associated with 149 Nobel Laureates and MIT with 81. Both are in USA. Amongst the Universities of UK Cambridge has 90 Nobel Laureates where as Oxford University has 58.
Top 10 countries in number of Nobel Prize winner
Rank        Country        No. of Laureates
1        USA        344
2        UK        120
3        Germany        104
4        France        65
5        Sweden        30
6        Russia        27
7        Switzerland    26
8        Canada        23
9        Austria        22
10        Italy        20
All these institutes will win hands down by anyway you measure excellence. Instead of taking evasive postures Indian Institutes in particular IITs need soul searching. Unlike Universities they have certain definite advantages. Most of their faculties have either training or exposure to reputed western oganisations. They have unusually sharp undergraduate students. IITs need to take seriously the observation of Einstein. i.e. “It is the Supreme art of the teachers to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge”. Once this is followed world ranking will certainly improve. Getting into the list of 200 is not difficult.
The honourable President of India often lamented over the failure of higher education sector. His observations may turn into despair. The message for the future is obvious: “Perform or Perish”.
(The author is the Professor of Manipur University, Imphal, Manipur. [email protected])

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