Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Indian Universities - Transfixed in old world

President of India - Pranab Kumar Mukherjee - during the fourth convocation of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University (BBAU) at Lucknow told,

"... there is a need to change the mechanics of rendering education and the time for it is now... our universities must deliver education of international standards... Every university should identify one department that can be developed into a Centre of Excellence".

India has a very long and successful history in University education. Many of our universities are more than a century old and churned out (still churning out) a large number of students every year.

However, world went through a lot of revolutionary changes in between. However many of our universities, remain transfixed in the old world. Instead of providing qualitative, dynamic as well as contemporary education, slowly but steadily they became places for mass production of graduates and post graduates. In short, when many other prestigious universities invested more funds in research in basic sciences, churning out research papers etc we missed the train. Number of Indians, studied in Indian Universities and found their place in Nobel laureates list tells a shocking story.

In this situation, president's suggestion to identify a department (say, Biotechnology) in a university (say, University of Pune) and transform it into a centre of excellence should get more attention. This will help it to focus (and specialize) more on a chosen field and produce concrete results.

However, just providing suggestions won't transform anything. Along with providing funds, we need to create an environment were taking research as a career path should be more rewarding, bringing accomplished teachers (from India and abroad), direct collaboration with industry, focusing on research to find answers for practical problems as well as theoretical conjectures, more exchange programs with international universities etc need to be implemented.


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