Dronacharya Asks For Ekalvya’s Right Thumb Again…

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 PMNov (Friends, Media, Musings, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

From the distant past the voice came again. It was in the year 2006. The then vice-chancellor in his Independence Day speech said, “In India out of the 70 per cent youths only 7 per cent have access to education and of that only 3 per cent have access to higher education. So be happy that you are one among the 3 per cent who have access to higher education.”

I know not from where he got his statistics from. May be he was correct. Or maybe he wasn’t. But let me buy his statistics. As the audience applauded some of us there had wondered, why were we ‘celebrating.’ I remember telling the friend standing next to me, “If higher education goes more into the private sector, of the 3 per cent a minimum of 2 per cent will fall down.”

Those words came back to me, again, from the distant past. It was when I read in the newspaper about cabinet nodding for the ‘Foreign Educational Institution (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill, 2010.’ The statement by Kapil Sibal, union HRD minister saying this would be a greater revolution than the Telecom revolution, was a box item, almost projecting the bill as a torch which will brighten the future of this country. And I felt that it was time for that 3 per cent to collapse to 1 per cent or even less.

The new bill, when becomes an act, will open the gates for foreign Universities to start their campus in India. Some Universities are said to have bought land, in advance, to establish their empires in India. These Universities will enjoy the liberty of fixing the fees for the courses they offer, which makes it extremely anti-people. I call it anti-people because the fees, as a matter of common sense, will not be affordable to most of the Indian youths. But Kapil Sibal doesn’t seem to be considering this matter. All he has been stressing is on the point, “The foreign institutes in India cannot take back the profited generated from educational activities.”

An argument was put forth by a person few years ago saying higher education in private institutes was accessible to all now because of the availability of educational loans. What are the conditions of the bank to grant educational loan? How many of them can actually fulfill those needs? Yes, the major portion of the country lives in such a condition! And in some backward areas the bank officials do not co-operate with the needy, especially if of a backward caste, in providing loans. In such a condition, how can we imagine of educational loans bringing about equality in the accessibility to higher education?

On 19th March in Tilak Nagar, New Delhi one Pramod (37) committed suicide because he could not arrange money for daughter Jia’s admission to a play school! Following the suicide of Pramod, wife Sonali (35) killed Jia and a seven month old son Jatin. Her attempt to suicide was a failure. When the fees of a play school itself are beyond reach, how will the countrymen arrange money for higher education?

To please all the castists there will be no reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs, according to the bill, in the foreign institutes in India. This reflects that this bill and these institutes have absolutely no idea as to the history and sociology of this country, where reservation is necessary (though with certain changes) to bring about a balance in the social, economical and political life of the society.

Little light has been thrown on the question, “who will set the syllabus in these institutes?” This is quite a crucial question to be asked, it appears to me when we are praising the bill saying it will stop brain drain. If it is the University which will set the syllabus, without any regulation by the state or any Indian body, then the syllabus will be more and more non-Indian and would also ‘school’ the minds for the needs of the country to which the institute originally belongs. Such a syllabus will not just result in brain drain but also in re-colonizing of India, if we remember that education was a tool used by the British to colonize India earlier.

Few deemed Universities of the country were recently warned for their poor condition. With this case still fresh in the public memory there is a belief among many that when the foreign institutes come to India there would be a betterment in the quality of education due to the competition between Indian private institutes and the foreign institutes. This argument doesn’t even consider the existence of public universities in this country, probably because they are in extremely poor condition. But the majority of the countrymen cannot afford private education and to them public university is the shelter of hope. The question, why doesn’t the government think of improvising public universities, remains unanswered. More importantly the question also remains unquestioned by many.

The bill, to me, appears like the mythological guru Dronacharya who is asking for the right thumb of many Ekalvya’s of this country to favor one Arjuna!

25 March 2010

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