Tag Archives: higher education

Online Education, the Latest Stage of Educational Apartheid: Maya John

Guest post by MAYA JOHN

Given the rampant social and economic inequalities in our society, education has been seen by majority of the common masses as a tool for moving up the social ladder. Their aspirations for higher segment jobs and status constitute the largest component of the growing demand for higher education.Nevertheless, the opinion of the dominant classes that the state cannot pay for the education of all has come to enjoy hegemonic status, resulting in the lack of adequate development of educational infrastructure to meet the rapidly growing demand.In response to the widening gap between the demand and supply for education, successive governments have pushed through measures that allow for greater penetration of private capital in higher education, and its corollary, the persistent decline in per capita government allocation of funds towards education. Consequently, private colleges and universities have mushroomed across the country. Likewise,the expansion of the open and distance learning (ODL) mode and mainstreaming of e-learning have been consistently projected by policy makers as credible alternative routes to accessing higher education when higher educational institutions (HEIs) are not within reasonable distance, or when students do not have the marks or financial condition to enroll in formal education.

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Education on Education – Reclamation, and Other Mediations: Sasheej Hegde


A thought is a tremendous form of excitement. [Alfred N. Whitehead]

We are concerned with the imagination, and the vaguely functionalist remarks we noticed before are not the sketch of an explanation, but an aid to the imagination, to make a different practice a more familiar idea to us, and hence to make us more conscious of the practice we have.  Seen in this light, … [t]he imagined alternatives are not alternatives to us; they are alternatives for us, markers of how far we might go and still remain, within our world – a world leaving which would not mean that we saw something different, but just that we ceased to see. [Bernard Williams]

This is an extended essay working off two official documents, and public ones at that: one, the voluminous draft of the National Education Policy 2019 (henceforth Draft NEP) authored by the K. Kasturirangan-led Committee appointed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, (MHRD) Government of India and, second, the brief report on ‘Promoting and Improving the Quality of Research in Indian Universities/Colleges’ headed by P. Balaram under the auspices of the University Grants Commission (UGC) [accordingly, UGC-Balaram report].  My interest is as much with the former as with the latter; and, although they can be commented upon independent of each other, it is the combined resonance of these two policy suggestions that I am interested to examine (especially as they bear on the higher education [HE] space in India).

Continue reading Education on Education – Reclamation, and Other Mediations: Sasheej Hegde

Where Judges Lead Societies Astray: Bobby Kunhu

This is a guest post by BOBBY KUNHU


That subjective morality influences judicial interpretation of law is a given. But, this influence has to remain within the paradigm set by the law and cannot operate outside it or breaking it. So there are two moralities that effect the outcome of any case, one the morality of the law itself and second how the morality of the judge works in the interpretation of the law. It is in this context that judicial attitude towards sexuality has to be analyzed. And for this first the entrenched patriarchy of the legal profession has to be acknowledged. The best evidence for this is the representation of women at every level of the profession from the bench to senor advocates to advocates on record to the lowest echelons of the bar and judicial bureaucracy.
Indian law with respect to sexuality is in a Victorian time warp. It continues to criminalize any sexual activity that is not penile-vaginal penetration, so much so that till recently when the definition of rape was amended and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act was enacted this was the paradigm of penalizing non-consensual sexual predation. Add to it the ingredients of individual judges’ patriarchy and accumulated religious and social conditioning.

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Allahabad High Court Order on Government Schools in U.P: Devanik Saha

This is a guest post by Devanik Saha

The judiciary in India can be highly unpredictable. Either it is accused of not doing enough to provide justice to victims or it is hailed for giving landmark judgments. In a recent controversial decision, the Allahabad High Court ordered that all children of government servants and elected representatives in Uttar Pradesh should mandatorily send their wards to government schools. It noted that “Only then would they be serious enough to look into the requirements of these schools and ensure that they are run in good condition”.

While the decision has evoked sharp reactions from UP legislators, it has been fiercely debated in the media fraternity, with mixed responses. The wretched condition of government schools (in every state) in India isn’t a hidden fact. While India has achieved impressive rates of school enrolment – the quality of education and learning outcomes – have been extremely dismal.

An analysis by data journalism portal IndiaSpend revealed that Rs 5,86,085 crore has been spent on primary education in the past 10 years and 80% of the expenditure on education is spent on teachers, but the state of affairs continue to be dreary, which has led to the mushrooming of low income private schools. The number of students enrolled in private schools in UP has risen from 32.2% in 2006 to 52.8% in 2014, according to the Annual Survey Education Report (ASER) by Pratham, an education NGO.

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Position Paper on Higher Education: Academics for Creative Reform

“The manner in which the state is intervening in higher education is causing concern and even alarm in the academic community. Both the unlamented UPA—II regime and the current NDA government have been remarkably similar in their authoritarian impatience to introduce wholesale changes without adequate or careful preparation. This position paper is the collective product of roughly six months of discussion among teachers of several central universities in Delhi. It is an attempt to participate in the process of critical self evaluation of the university system as it is today. It is also our considered response to the many policy statements and directives issued by the MHRD and the UGC recently”

Please click on the link below for the complete position paper on proposed reforms in higher education, prepared by Delhi-based Academics for Creative Reform and released at a press conference today:


Rushed Reforms in Delhi University: Akshita Nagpal

Guest post by AKSHITA NAGPAL

It was only in 2012 that we got a subtle whiff of the broth brewing in the minds of the bosses of Delhi University. While this isn’t the first time that authorities have attracted opposition from everyone on the other side of the ideological fence, the repercussions of the present push for hasty implementation of the Four Year Undergraduate Programme(FYUP) might be much more damning. Refuting change is not what the displeased body of teachers and students mean to convey. The opposition is against the hasty implementation and lack of insight sharing on the workings of the new system. Keeping up with the absurd pace of implementation, procedural requisites as pivotal as UGC approval have been done away with! Continue reading Rushed Reforms in Delhi University: Akshita Nagpal

The Golchakkar of Premier Institutions: St. Stephen’s College as a Public Concern: N P Ashley

This is a guest post by N P Ashley: For a teacher, it feels strange to defend one’s workplace in public against the experiential remarks of an individual who happens to be in some ex-student capacity in the same college. “I didn’t like X’s classes” or “I found academic excellence in St. Stephen’s College a myth”  are statements that need no attempt to be disproven precisely because the writer, Thane Richard, makes no attempt to prove them in the first place. The narrative is anecdotal and validation is through “personal experience” which can only be countered, rather weakly, through other anecdotes. Hence, I won’t get into it. But there are certain methodological problems with the entire exercise, which, if not countered, will wrongly define the concerns of the readers.   Continue reading The Golchakkar of Premier Institutions: St. Stephen’s College as a Public Concern: N P Ashley

Academic Excellence and St. Stephen’s College: A response by Thane Richard

This is a guest post by THANE RICHARD

I recently read an article in Kafila – more like an angry, reflective rant – written by some students from St. Stephen’s College in Delhi.  To quickly summarize, the piece criticized the draconian views of the Principal of St. Stephen’s College regarding curfews on women’s dormitories and his stymying of his students’ democratic ideals of discussion, protest, and open criticism.  More broadly, though, the article’s writers seemed to be speaking about the larger stagnant institution of Indian higher education, overseen by a class of rigid administrators represented by this sexist and bigoted Principal, as described by the students.  The students’ frustration was palpable in the text and their story felt to me like a perfect example of what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.  Except Indian students are not an unstoppable force.  Not even close. Continue reading Academic Excellence and St. Stephen’s College: A response by Thane Richard

Is India’s HRD Ministry Barking Up The Wrong Tree?


HRD Minister Kapil Sibal seems to be getting a lot of flak from so many quarters on Jan Lok Pal Bill, HRD Computer Tablet Aakash and now his backing of ISEET, one common national entrance exam for science and engineering. Now as HRD Minister he has inadvertently attracted the wrath of over 1,75,000 IIT alumni globally; as also faculty and students of all IITs who are opposed to his idea of killing IIT-JEE and replacing it with a common national exam called ISEET.

Yes, Kapil Sibal is the HRD Minister but he is a lawyer and a politician and is not a technologis. It appears that he is being advised by technologists who are misleading him and telling him what he wants to hear, as opposed to giving him solid advice in the interest of the nation.

Let us just look at IITs and JEE alone.

Let us see what truly is wrong with IITs & JEE and what recommendations the HRD Minister has received and from whom.

If we were to simplify the problem with JEE as it is administered in 2012 they can be listed as follows (not a comprehensive list):

Continue reading Is India’s HRD Ministry Barking Up The Wrong Tree?

‘The Quality of Mercy’: Kindness and Compassion in Higher Education: Prasanta Chakravarty


There is a moral compass that every freshman must inculcate, says Harvard College Dean Thomas Dingman. To that end, Dean Dingman has asked incoming Harvard students to sign the ‘Class of 2015 Pledge,’ a solemn testament that reflects a set of distinctive values: “That message serves as a kind of moral compass for the education Harvard College imparts. In the classroom, in extracurricular endeavors, and in the Yard and Houses, students are expected to act with integrity, respect, and industry, and to sustain a community characterized by inclusiveness and civility.” The document goes on to hope that entryways and yards will be places where everyone can thrive and where the “exercise of kindness holds a place on a par with intellectual attainment…we want to have an environment in which people can flourish academically.”

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An appeal against infringement of university autonomy in Sri Lanka

The Ministry of Higher Education has issued a directive that all state universities should hire the services of Rakna Lanka Ltd for provision of security services. The undersigned of the University academic community considers that directive to be in complete contravention of the norms and conventions by which universities are expected to function.

The letter issued by the Secretary to the Ministry of Higher Education seeks to bypass standard procedures that are followed in the university system in the hiring and outsourcing of services. That process requires tenders to be called for and for a suitable company to be selected in a transparent and independent manner. The Secretary’s instruction therefore is in violation of established processes and is contrary to the underpinning principles of governance and the autonomy of academic institutions.

Read the whole article here.

It’s Here, The Privatisation of Higher Education In India

I do not exaggerate. I am not being hasty. The writing is on the wall. What started as a glimmer in the eyes of the IIC-frequenting bureaucrat, the industrialist with profit-making dreams and the politician with an obscenely large government house in Lutyens’ Delhi is now a raging reality. Pick up any newspaper or magazine and check out the number of advertisements for private universities. Do a google search for the latest news reports on committees on higher education. If you have the time and patience, go through all the government documents on higher education in the past five years, almost neatly coinciding with the exit of Arjun Singh as Human Resources Minister and the entry of Kapil Sibal. Speaking of Mr. Sibal, if his cheerfully unapologetic blundering on the 2G scam is anything to go by, we should have an idea of the kind of subtle and layered approach he has in mind when he speaks of ‘reforming the education system.’

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Teacher-Veacher, Union-Shunion…Kya Bakwaas Hai Yaar?

(To translate for non-Hindi speakers, “teachers…unions…what nonsense is this, my friend?)

Terrible translation, but you get the gist. Those who have spent any time in Delhi University will immediately recognise the picture I paint now…imagine a long-haired, loose-jeaned youth of about twenty, casually lounging against a wall, sipping a banta (lemon soda) and occasionally scanning the horizon for that pretty girl from his business studies class…his friends will agree, “teacher-veacher union-shunion, kya bakwas hai yaar?” These are serious students lets assume, with dreams of MBAs post-graduation and eight-figure salaries. One of them might then say, “Mittal sir, he is the best, yaar; he never goes on strike, and his notes got us first divisions.”

I mean lets face it; as stereotypes of the teaching profession immortalised on screen we have the hot teacher (Main Hoon Na, and millions of others – usually involves a seemingly prim woman suddenly taking her glasses off, and shaking her bun open in slow motion), the radical teacher who inspires his students to question the system (Dead Poet’s Society), the truly inspiring teacher who turns students’ lives around (To Sir With Love) and the cool teacher, who is the students’ best friend (too many to recount). But the teacher who is an employee, joins a union and goes on strike?? Continue reading Teacher-Veacher, Union-Shunion…Kya Bakwaas Hai Yaar?

Divide in higher education in India: Vrijendra

This guest post has been sent to us by VRIJENDRA, who teaches at a college affiliated to Bombay University


Of late, higher education in India has been in the news for many reasons. The new HRD Minister Kapil Sibal has been busy drafting new bills and formulating new policies to give a big push to higher education and to open up the higher education sector to foreign universities and their affiliates. In this scenario, two issues have been the major focus:

(a) The need to improve the enrolment ratio from the present, dismal ratio of about 10 percent – that is, only 10 percent of eligible young students enrol in colleges in India – to about 15/20 per cent in the next decade to catch up with the rest of the world in some ways. (Though the official enrolment ratio in India is about 11 per cent, if we go by how many of these students are really learning anything in reasonably well–equipped colleges, my guess is that the ratio will be down to alarmingly low level of about 5 per cent.)  For example, in the US and Europe, the enrolment ratio is more than 60 percent. Even in China, our favourite competitor these days, the ratio is about 19 percent.

(b) The need to urgently improve the quality of higher education in the country to make it more competitive globally and to emerge ‘global knowledge hub’ in the near future.

However, any meaningful discussion on these two issues has to recognize two alarming features of higher education system in the country.

Continue reading Divide in higher education in India: Vrijendra

Yashpal Committee and The Future of Ideas:

The Yash Pal report argues for autonomy in higher education, both from the state and from private commercial interests.

It is only appropriate that the report of the Yash Pal Committee on higher education is being discussed by the Central  Advisory Board On education ( CABE) before being implemented. The Yash Pal Committee makes a very bold appeal for the revival of the state universities and asks the planners to bridge the huge gap that exists between them and the centrally created universities. One can only hope that the state ministers are not daunted by the report’s call to grant real and substantive autonomy to the centres of higher learning. Such autonomy would effectively mean leaving educational matters to  academics and cessation of interference by the ruling party or ideology of the day, not only in matters like selection of vice-chancellors and faculty  but also curriculum and syllabi.
Continue reading Yashpal Committee and The Future of Ideas: