ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Rethinking Higher Education

The Idea of a University: Possibilities and Contestations edited by D V Kumar, London: Routledge India, 2021; pp 200, price not mentioned.

Nurul Hasan, union minister of education from 1971 to 1977, once described India’s universities as flickering lamps on a dark sea. The metaphor carried many connotations not all of which were positive, but now, half a century later, a deep irony surrounds the minister’s description. One by one, the stronger among the flickering lamps are disappearing, and the dark sea looks darker. Who or what is extinguishing these lamps?

Since 1986, when a national policy was formulated, a number of committees have deliberated on the deepening crisis of higher education. So did the somewhat unusually named National Knowledge Commission (2005). Looking back at these attempts, one becomes aware of the ideological divide between state-centric reformers and their rivals who advocated “opening up” the higher education system for private initiative. The latter did not have to wait for a formally declared victory. Private enterprise steadily expanded and the state acquiesced to a regulatory role. Even this limited role it could not perform with dignity. And now, a new national policy has recommended a stronger and larger architecture for the state’s supervision, firmly in the centre’s domain. How it will gain provincial acceptance is something for the policy writers to worry about in future. But then, India’s diversity was not their major concern.

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Updated On : 5th Jul, 2023
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