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If India has 3 universities in the top 200, who gets the credit?

August 23, 2007

I guess no one is surprised that over a quarter (54 out of 200) of the world’s top 200 universities are American and just over an eighth (29) are British. The rest of the world trails behind, with Australia (13), Netherlands (11), Japan (11) and Germany (10) the closest to the top. These rankings were calculated on the basis of peer review, recruiter review, international faculty scores, international students score, faculty/student scores and citations/faculty scores.

This is what struck me:

1. All those in the top ten belong to either the US or the UK
2. Only four countries from the eastern world figure in the top 20 list and these are China, Australia, Singapore and Japan.
3. In both the US and the UK, more than half of the universities improved their rank over the past year (2006 over 2005), while the others slipped. In Japan, 7 out of their top 11 improved their ranking this year.
4. Only about 26 countries of the world made it to this list at all, and India is at number 14, keeping pace with Israel, Austria, Denmark and S Korea, all of whom have 3 universities in the top 200. Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand and Russia have 2 universities in the top 200 and Mexico, Taiwan, Norway and Italy have 1.

Not too bad I thought, considering that all the countries which are ahead of India [US, UK, Australia, Netherlands, Japan, Germany, France (8), Canada (7), Switzerland (7), China (6), Belgium (5), Hong Kong (4) and Sweden (4)] are developed countries, except for China and China is economically stronger than India.

Does the fact that India has 3 universities in the top 200 mean a lot?
Well, none of India’s universities are in the top 50, but I think the fact that we have 3 universities in the top 200 of the world is significant because we are a poor country. And it is our own achievement, after independence. None of these universities were started during the British Raj.

The Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata, was established as the first national institute of Management in 1961 in collaboration with MIT Sloan School of Management and it was rapidly followed by the second, The Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, which initially collaborated with Harvard Business School. Today there are all of 6 IIM’s and all are autonomous institutes owned and financed by the Indian government.

Then there are the IIT’s. The Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur (near Kolkata), was the very first IIT and was established in 1951 . Its central library is the largest technical library in Asia. Today there are seven IITs and three more will be set up in the next few years. All the IIT’s are autonomous universities, and receive government grants. Except for IIT Kanpur, all the institutes are members of LAOTSE (an international network of universities in Europe and Asia) which enables the IIT’s to exchange students and senior scholars with foreign universities.

The Jawaharlal Nehru University was established in Delhi in 1969 by the Indian government.

In fact the only university mentioned in the rankings which was not set up by the Indian government is Delhi university. Delhi university was set up in 1922 and is ranked 75 in the list of the top Arts and Humanities universities of the world. The arts and humanities universities list is dominated by the US, UK and Australia.

Although Delhi University (known for its high academic standards) does not figure in the overall list of the top 200, the IIT’s (57), the IIM’s (68) and JNU (192) do. While IIT’s rank slipped slightly this year (2006 over 2005), from 50 to 57, the IIM ‘s improved their ranking from 84 to 68 and JNU from 192 to 83.

What I am saying is that however much we may curse our government, they have done at least three good things since independence! And this gives us hope that they will fulfill their promise of adding many more such high quality institutions in the coming years.🙂

(Photo from the Wiki)

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30 Comments leave one →
  1. August 23, 2007 11:21 am

    well madame

    are our urban areas poor?? i think we can have a lot more unis in the top, if people put the effort…first of all there should be no politics concerning the people who own and yes NO RESERVATION IN TOP COLLEGES….

  2. August 23, 2007 11:33 am

    Interesting read!

  3. August 23, 2007 2:02 pm

    There must be at least 50,000 universities in the world. To rank in the top 200 is an extraordinary achievement.

    I’m convinced that an educated populace is just as crucial to economic success as sound economic policies. Moreover, I think that will become increasingly true over the course of this century. The days when a nation could sustain prosperity with a poorly educated population are almost gone.

  4. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    August 23, 2007 2:34 pm

    Nita,

    The ranking of any institution of higher learning must, in the long term, be determined by its contribution to knowledge creation. It need surprise no one that the USA today tops the world in this regard. With the amount of fundamental research happening in its universities, supported by defence and industry funds, is it any wonder that they rank way ahead of the has-been European giants such as Britain and Germany?

    The greatest service to America in this regard was done by Adolf Hitler. His atrocities drove out some of the finest minds of Europe — Jewish and non-Jewish alike — and America willingly gave them asylum. Later, when it seriously entered the War, its R&D infrastructure was already buzzing, with these European geniuses making unprecedented contributions that not only helped the Allies win the war but also firmly established the USA as the world’s preeminent engine of growth.

    Today, the best of universities in Europe are surviving mainly on fees paid by students from Asia and Africa who have the resources. In the US, too, these students account for a greater proportion of the enrolment than they used to. And although a relatively small proportion of them are blazing trails in fundamental research and knowledge creation, the few who are contribute adequately to maintain America’s numero uno status.

  5. August 23, 2007 2:44 pm

    Other reason for not being in Global top list is – Ratio of International & Domestic students in these colleges. Indian colleges are very poor in marketing their college internationally. I have seen No single student from west (US/UK) studying in any of the engineering colleges that I visited.. and I am not sure If many students from west are there in IITs & IIMs.

    I appreciate IISC & few other colleges who recently started working on Student and Faculty exchange program with west colleges.. This is really a very good move.. that helps students, faculties and also can be a very good marketing tool too.

    I am sure most of our universities (both govt. and private) in India are doing really very very well.. I can imagine their growth by seeing the level of tough competition to get into them. and I am sure none of them got any financial growth related issues.

    I wonder how Germany got into global ranking list.. Earlier they were not entertaining ranking system of universities.

  6. August 23, 2007 2:46 pm

    Nice post Nita!

    However, I do not share your hope.🙂 Apart from that, some further points to note:

    First, the government that formed these institutions was very different from the government today and what’s going to be in the future.

    Second, I disagree that these are ‘autonomous’ universities. Even the salaries of the faculty members are decided and ordained by the government – what is autonomous about that? The IIM Directors are so frustrated with governmental interference and policy controls, that they leak their frustrations out to the media from time to time.

    Third, regarding the title of your post. I think you’re saying the credit goes to the government. I disagree. Like Mark Twain (“Common sense is in spite of, not because of, education”), I think the credit goes to the current leaders and chancellors of these institutions. Despite government interference, may it be policy controls, curricula, faculty wages, etc., they’ve managed to run such world-class institutes.

    No wonder that most of the students graduating from these institutes, that teach business, capitalism, science and engineering, choose to flee away from the socialist government controls of our own country. Is this something to be proud about or give the government credit for?

  7. August 23, 2007 2:48 pm

    Oh, and notice that I didn’t mention “quotas” in my comment! That would be a post in itself!🙂

  8. August 23, 2007 5:04 pm

    Vishesh, you are right, we could have had more universities in this list if politicians didn’t run and own so many of these institutes!

    Paul, I think 3 is not a bad number either, but well, it’s not very good either considering our populace. The problem is that our politicians are getting worse by the day and that brings me to Mahendra’s point! I admit that when I was writing this post, some of the things he said flashed through my mind.

    Mahendra, what you said makes sense to me, but look at it this way – the government has given birth to them. And is providing for them financially, well to some extent. It’s like parents who give birth to kids, provide for them and then keep interfering in their life, but the kids grow into good kids inspite of that!🙂 Guess I’m joking..

    Vivek, you have hit the nail on the head. Research. Exactly. Something we are sadly lacking in. And now we have to be content with beating our chest because some Indian Americans (several from IIT’s) are adding to that vast body knowledge in American universiites! Like Mahendra said, they have fled the country. But I firmly believe that this trend will soon reverse…the rumblings have already started.

    Bharath, the point you made of some of our Indian educational institutions being good but failed to get into the rankings due to poor marketing is a valid point. Also unless you have international faculty it’s very difficult to get on to this list. It’s the lack of money power I guess. However, even the institutes which have a huge rush of students are not necessarily good. The demand is very high and the supply very low, specially for those who want to go in for higher education. That is why so many Indian students are going abroad. Not everyone trusts the scores of engineering and medical colleges that have come up in every major city in India. Though I am not sure why AIIMS was not on this list…but then I am not familiar with the place, just heard it was very good. I guess only someone who has studied in AIIMS and been to say John Hopkins will be able to tell the difference. No, I am not comparing AIIMS to John Hopkins (which is way up there in another list, the bio-med one) but just as a reference point…

  9. krenim permalink
    August 23, 2007 9:40 pm

    The rankings are to be taken with a pinch of salt because most countries do not have directly comparable systems.
    Germany for instance does most of its research in Max Plank and Fraunhoffer Institutes which are technically not universities (and therefore do not show up in rankings) but have loads of students doing research very comparable to the best.If those are included Germany is second only to the US.

    A similar problem occurs when rating closed systems like Russia which also does path breaking work but classifies practically everything significant ,they are still world leaders in magnetohydrodynamics and certain other niche disciplins but exactly who did what is still a mystery.A pity.

  10. August 23, 2007 10:04 pm

    See IISC in the comments, I am surprised it also didn’t make it. I don’t know how it is in India now, but 20 years ago, teaching was not a well paying profession. In the US, I think while it is not still like working for the industry, it is a fairly well paid profession. So you have more talent at the professor levels – also there is some sort of a infrastructure for companies to get universities to do research for them. I don’t know how it works, but I can’t see why the same cannot happen in India. That can help raise the standard?

  11. August 24, 2007 6:30 am

    In this day and age (Indian context) we should be asking why such a vast country has only two or three top univs.
    As Mahendra mentions, the State control over these institutions is like a python around your neck: you feel it loosening for a second, but you know for sure that it is only an illusion: the next second you are in a suffocating dark pit.
    Sorry for the Chinese-tortured English (not having been in a top ten Univ list, I guess will reflect in most things!) 😉

  12. Phantom permalink
    August 24, 2007 7:14 am

    Research alone, viewed in isolation is redundant when establishing the credentials and pedigree of an educational institution. Its also about the facilitation of that research into live practise and into industry. And that is where American universities come out on top, followed by British and some western european universities. It is the ability to mobilise significant research funding from public and private sources, coordiate the cutting edge research activity (by eminent scholars and keen graduate students from across the world), anf then integrating that research into live implementation…this is what these american and european uiversities do well.

    I have always believed that in India, we’d be far better off focussin on providing a medium level quality of education for the masses, rather than focus on providing world clas education for a fraction of the student body. With strong educational foundations, we can then build centres of academic excellence. Its shocking that even in prominent university systems lile Bombay Uni, Bangalore Uni, Delhi Uni…many of the top collages do not offer what I’d call decent education, as compared with global standards. In making this statement…i take into account criteria lile student-faculty ratio, educational infrastructure (research facilities, computers, labs, teaching material), assessment criteria (still heavily focussed on cramming for the final exam, as oppoed to project work that fosters the development of cognitive skills, research abilities and analytical / evaluative skills), and finally – integration of a wide variety of educational disciplines into industry (I’ve yet to see Arts or Physical sciences majors becoming well integrated into industry in India). Moreover….there is very little funding and mentorign provided by industry, to these colleges.

  13. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    August 24, 2007 7:22 am

    Nita,

    It seems wishful thinking on your part to suppose that “this trend will soon reverse…the rumblings have already started”.

    Why should any Indian scienist or technoloist with serious intentions and talent for reseearch return to India? If (s)he finds a job in a government scientific research organisation, most of the credit for the work (s)he does and publishes is appropriated by the top boss. If an independent functionary, (s)he is subject to the tyranny of corrupt babus who expect a cut out of every instalment of a grant released and every bill cleared for payment. If it is in the corporate sector, it either has to be research that will lead to rapid profits in the marketplace or will help the company avail itself of the benefits of tax breaks, subsidies etc.

    The only Indians eager to return to India are those in the business segment of the corporate sector, who are fully aware that with their unrealistically gross pay packets here (in terms of purchase parity as well as social equity) they stand to gain the best of both worlds.

  14. August 24, 2007 8:16 am

    Krenim, thanks for giving that overview.
    Arunk, you have brought out another point about why our universities are not doing well. I really am very thankful to all commentators because their comments have added greatly to my post!
    Rambodoc, I am a bit of an eternal optimist and like Vivek said, at times indulge in wishful thinking! I guess I have the same problem as you have…not having studied in the top 10 univs!🙂
    Vivek, my post today will be a sort of extension of this one…about the reverse brain drain. And after thinking about it I do realise that I had indulged in some wishful thinking!

  15. krenim permalink
    August 24, 2007 7:08 pm

    You know going to a top university anywhere has very little bearing on what you actually become in life. (Just in case I get turned down at Trinity, Cambridge🙂 )

    As for the benefits to society, in a globalized world we all benefit from top research wherever its done so when the Japanese figure out how to make yet better televisions we all can grin a bit wider.Ditto when germans figure out how to make better cars or we figure out how to make better jet engines.

  16. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    August 24, 2007 7:58 pm

    kremin,

    …and when indians learn how to make better staplers (and staples) we can figure out how to hold the global economy together.

  17. Phantom permalink
    August 25, 2007 6:20 am

    krenin : “You know going to a top university anywhere has very little bearing on what you actually become in life. ” >>>> well, depends on the parameneter ur using in ur evaluation of what one becomes in life. if ur referring to financial and professsional success – then while there are enough exmaples of successful people who have not had an elite or quality education, its also true that an overwhelming majority of graduates from leading universities do rather well for themselves, professionally, academically, commercially.

    Surely u, as someone who is getting an elite education and in england none the less (a pretty elitist country) appreciates the sort of opportunities afforded to Oxbridge grads….the doors that open up, the still existent old-boys-clubs !!!!!!! While all this is less relevant now than say 20 years ago, one can surely not deny the extra push one gets in life courtesy of a top education!!

  18. August 25, 2007 7:51 am

    Phantom, to my mind I think Krenim means eventual success. And while the initial push etc. is very much present in the begining, later on it depends a lot on the individual. In fact I know two guys (one from IIM A and another from IIT Mumbai and IIM B) who are failures in the material sense. First 5-10 years were great (to the world) as they landed plum jobs. One of them started a business and went deep into debt and the other is being supported by his wife for the past 4 years because he cannot hold down a job! Ofcourse, let Krenim answer your question, but this is what I feel he meant.

  19. krenim permalink
    August 25, 2007 5:35 pm

    Well education in the UK always has been elitist.
    But by their very definition high quality educational institutes are a tiny proportion of the whole.
    (The high quality bit being relative)

    ” its also true that an overwhelming majority of graduates from leading universities do rather well for themselves, professionally, academically, commercially. ”

    True because the west is far more egalitarian these days i.e the best and the brightest get into the best universities regardless of class backgrounds(>50% of oxbridge doesn’t attend public /independant schools)

    These very students would probably have done very well even if they went to a slightly less stately universities.

    And the English elite bit has been blown out of proportion true like all countries of Europe we have had centuries of complex class structures but nobody except perhaps the aristocracy can get a job and rise if s/he doesn’t deliver the goods so to speak.

    I myself attend Rugby on scholarship and am anything but the landed gentry image people have of public schools.

  20. krenim permalink
    August 25, 2007 9:42 pm

    {Today, the best of universities in Europe are surviving mainly on fees paid by students from Asia and Africa who have the resources}

    Really? That’s not quite how we see it. Yes the extra cash helps but governments are the chief sponsors of research on both sides of the atlantic.

    The US “private” universities/companies (Boeing/LM/Raytheon) get wagons full off dollars and subsidies disguised as research grants and defense research.

    So let us all be a a bit mature and get beyond the private is good public is bad nonsense. Besides are there any private colleges in India that can hold a candle vis a vis the 3 which made it to the list?

    There are many models of economic development and I quite frankly am all in favour of a more considerate state.The tutions in the EU for EU residents are kept low for 3 reasons:
    1.Enhance social mobility
    2.Make sure that we do not get ourselves into a situation where courses that do not have an immediate “demand” in the market liberal arts,history,music,etc are neglected.
    3.Avoid saddling young graduates(hopefully me in a few years) with a huge student loan to pay off.

  21. Phantom permalink
    August 26, 2007 5:08 am

    No doubt, the state MUST get involved in all firms posisble, to enhance the quality and depth of education provided, right from primary through to tertiary and post-graduate. Likewise, with industry. great institutons of learning are not built in thin air, today they need tens of millions of dollars to build decent facilities, recruit suitable academic staff, conduct relevant and contextual research, attract the right mixture of students and research scholars. The public sector, govt as well as prominent indystry oplayers need to be very actively involved in providing the funding, grants and mentorship to the universities.

    Its naive to think that the best western uni’s survive predominantly on exoirbitant fees earned from international students….that does help the kitty, but in large, funding from govt, public sector and industry are the main contributers, not mention funding from alumni. This is how Harvard has built up an endowment fund in excess of USD28bn.

    Its also naive to think that only private uni’s are capable of true scalability, latitude and integration with society. Look at all the uni’s in California – UC Berkeley, UCLA, US Davis….these are al public uni’s that are world class and certainly in the tglobal top 30.

    In India, the govt definitely needs to get involved, as industry may ont be mature and sophisticated enough to truly facililate much funding, research and mentorship.

  22. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    August 26, 2007 5:39 am

    Krenim,

    Thanks a lot for correcting my impression about the sources of revenue of European universities. What you have said about the “private” universities in the US holds true, no doubt, for those of them engaged in research.

    Thanks also for confirming my impression, formed in the mid-1970s (when the EU was just in its infancy and I was studying in England on an enviable American scholarship), that tuitions in the EU are kept low for EU students. Many of my friends, both European and Indian, hotly contest this when I point it out. I found it interesting that you made this point in the context of “models of economic development and…a more considerate state.

    Earlier in your post you talk about getting “beyond the private is good public is bad nonsense.” It is very heartening to read this, especially from a young person studying at Rugby in 2007, and aspiring to go to Cambridge. I was hoping someone would bring up this point about development models in the other discussion in this blog, on trying to stop large retailers in India not being in the national interest. I myself am incapable of doing it in simple language, especially to a group of people who see nothing but good in the unbridled spread of corporate capitalism. Do you feel like contributing there? Excuse me if this sounds like someone trying to pass on the dirty work; I suppose it is a trait that is common to Indians, especially Brahmins (of which I happen to be one by an accident of birth) and MBAs (which I am not).

    Finally — and for this I am most grateful — thanks for you advocacy on behalf of “courses that do not have an immediate ‘demand’ in the market. ” In a world that increasingly frowns upon anything even vaguely suggesting cultivation and refinement (pardon the elitist tone) it is good to know that people capable of such thinking exist who are still in their teens, obviously not of the plutocracy, and in all probability have the wrong colour of skin.

  23. Phantom permalink
    August 26, 2007 12:13 pm

    Vivek K : “Finally — and for this I am most grateful — thanks for you advocacy on behalf of “courses that do not have an immediate ‘demand’ in the market. ” >>> too true. True intellectual progress and pursuit can only exist if multiple disciplines are given equivalent respect in academia and among society. Indian middle class society has for too long, pandered after vocational, career orientred education, and this a serious downside as it prevents people from fulfilling their true academic and intellectual interests. I’ve always believed that a university education empower one with 2 different components of education. The first regards the actual content of the discipline…..and certain careers (law, medcine, engineering, physical sciences etc) require training within a specific domain of knowledge. However, the second component of a university education, and infinitly important, is the thought process that the student goes through, the ability to analyse, evauluate, problem-solve, research, adopt critical thinking, sythesise and hypothesise etc. And this second component is what allows one to adapt themselves to a variety of career options. Moreover, one needn’t just study engineering, medicine, computer science, business, informaitonm systsme etc to achieve the second component. Studying more traditional disciplines like classics, history, economics, philosophy, political science, physical sciences…..can also empower one with relevant skills and intellectual mindset, that can be successfully applied in indystry, business and academia. Case in point….in mature markets like western europe and north america…many leading corporated and professional services firms happily recruit graduates of art, liberal art, social sciences degrees. End of the day, what matter is HOW one thinks, which has little bearing on exactly WHAT one studies.

    t would be good to see Indians venture into a more diverse and holistic range of disciplines, dictated not just by the career opportunities, but also by their genuine intellectual interest. Of course, career considerations are and will always be an important drtiver for most, and this is where industry should pro-actively display an acceptance of more diverse academic disciplines.

  24. krenim permalink
    August 26, 2007 12:35 pm

    “and in all probability have the wrong colour of skin”

    Umm I don’t think there is any right or wrong colour of skin but I am white btw(incase you haven’t glanced at my comments on the british rule nazi rule post).

    “Do you feel like contributing there”
    Yes I will look it up at a later date when I have the time.

  25. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    August 26, 2007 8:00 pm

    Phantom,

    Thanks for your moral support on a way of thinking that most people with a modern, formal education (at least in India) would consider, at best, dreamy-eyed romanticism and, at worst, downright stupidity if not insanity.

    Vivek

  26. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    August 26, 2007 8:06 pm

    Krenim,

    That speculation on colour of skin was just a bit of facetiousness on my part. No offence meant. I totally agree with you that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ colour of skin.

    I will keenly look forward to whenever you find the time to contribute something on development models.

    Vivek

  27. September 10, 2007 1:25 pm

    I REALLY WANT TO JOIN ANY BEST UNIVERSITY IN INDIAN GOOD IN JOURNALISM. I AM A UGANDAN. CAN YOU HELP GIVE ME THE ADDRESS.

    its really under full to be connected to your website thanks. i love India more than anything.

  28. September 10, 2007 1:47 pm

    Hullow Lucy Sarah,
    First of all I need to tell you that journalism education in India is not the best in the world. You can read about it here. At the same time, many universities in India, like in Mumbai, Pune and Delhi, offer good mass media courses which teach journalism. The courses are certainly not bad, but they are average as compared to some of the others offered by the universities.
    At the same time I am giving you a web page which will give you the qualifications required to do journalism and also the list of institutes.

  29. September 16, 2007 6:11 pm

    Education in India (and elsewhere)
    There has been a lot of discussion lately about the quality of some higher education institutions in India such as the IITs and the IIMs, some of it from the US media. While it is true that some of these graduates have done well in the information technology sector and, to a lesser extent, in other parts of the corporate world, as well as in entrepreneurial activities, the key questions are whether they truly represent value in India’s growth equation, and whether they are truly the product of meritocracy. I would make the following observations:
    1. The biggest public gains from a public welfare standpoint to any society is in primary and secondary, rather than in higher education. Since there are more private gains for every additional year of higher education, this is best left to private capital to manage at market prices. Affordability and access to such higher education institutions should not be an issue as long as tax policy and access to private funding is encouraged (bank loans, etc.) since the key underwriting question will be the net present value of future earnings from such education; the “sheepskin effect”. I would venture to suggest that institutions such as the IITs should be sold to private entreprenuers (and even such institutions such as JNU whose current contribution to public welfare relative to tax spending is questionable) in order to release substantial efficiencies. The AICTE and other regulatory bodies, on the other hand, should be considerably strengthened in order to provide quality-control and oversight over privately funded institutions. Government expenditures in higher education should focus on niche areas relevant to economic growth such as biotechnology or alternative fuels research that may not attract short-term focused private funding, but even here, TATA (as in BP solar) or Suzlon and Biocon should be encouraged to fund their own future requirements in manpower and R&D (tax breaks). Also, fees in IITs should be increased substantially to reflect the true cost of education, mitigated appropriately by scholarships and loans to provide access to less-privileged students.
    2. Although there is a strong myth about the competitive nature of IIT and IIM entrance examinations, and the focus on meritocracy, there is a considerable skew towards prospects from urban, english-language schools. Go to any IIT campus, and you will see that the proportion of students from such schools is much higher than the underlying proportion of such schools in the overall geography of India. My point is not to argue that those schools have an unfair advantage since they offer better educational facilities and preparation for IIT entrance examinations, but to suggest that kids from rural schools or government schools in general have a disadvantage when it comes to understanding the real relevance of IITs and other elite institutions in their future lifetime earnings. When one looks at other publicly funded “institutions of national importance” such as the ISIs (Indian Statistical Institutes) the skew is even more pathological; why is there an overwhelming overrepresentation of Bengalis in the ISIs, is it because they are genetically predisposed to be statistical in their thinking, or is it because the ISI entrance examination notices appear next to tender notices in many national newspapers, and is more heavily advertised in Bengal newspapers? The answer is that fees (and scholarships) need to be raised in these insitutions and specific funds need to be applied to advertising and coaching for students in rural and vernacular schools. Then you will see a real meritocracy, not just meritocracy among the children of the Indian professional elite. Think of the quality of IIT graduates then!
    3. Despite the appearance of academic quality, there is a dearth of good faculty at these institutions and this is primarily due to the lack of pay but also due to the lack of quality control in faculty hiring and promotions. A lot of these issues are due to lack of autonomy and interference from government agencies, and the fact that the existing faculty and administrative bureaucracies at these institutions haave taken shelter under the pretense of lack of autonomy to subsidise large-scale inefficiencies. The lack of merit in teaching and research related income streams clearly will have downstream effects on the quality of graduates coming out of these institutions. These facts are often hidden from the taxpayers who fund these institutions, creating a classic “moral hazard” from a public welfare standpoint. The central universities, in particular, where an increasing share of taxpayer funding is diverted, are places where this kind of pathology is rampant — JNU, Jamia, AMU, Pondicherry are all excellent (!) examples.
    4. When it comes to primary and secondary education, there needs to be a sea-change in taxpayer funding, focussing large funds on rural schools, in teaching as well as in infrastructure, but also in the local control of these fund expenditures. Give local taxpayers control over schools and their governing bodies and you will see better visibility in their functioning.
    One little known fact is the skew in public tax-based funding of Kendriya Vidyalayas, which subsidise inefficiencies and restrict access to these “better” schools through the tariff barriers of admission criteria. Let me expalin this tax scandal which has been going on in India for the past half-century, which neither our media, nor tax-paying citizens have chose to make visible. Kendriya Vidyalayas are, like many other publicly funded institutions, primarily paid for by corporations and private-sector employees. However, the children of private-sector employees in effect have almost no access to these schools, who have a stated policy of discriminating in favor of government and public-sector employees as well as defence personnel. Why hasn’t someone moved the courts against such an obvious flouting of equal treatment constitutional principles? Again, taxpayers in private-sector jobs probably have written this off as yet another cess and in any case have access to other private-sector primary/secondary education options, but what about access and scholarships for children of day laborers in the unorganized sector???
    Perhaps the left leaning ideologues at JNU would wish to comment on this dictatorship of the proletariat! Why are there so many of these Vidyalayas in urban areas or in public industrial towns or in district headquarters towns rather than in far-flung rural areas?
    Enough said.
    By the way, educational access and skewness against the underprivileged is not just an Indian problem. Just see how asymmetries and inequalities are reinforced in other educational models; in the UK, how many Oxford and Cambridge graduates come from working Cockney families in relation to their proportion in the population? In the US, how are Harvard and Stanford admissions criteria different for children of alumni and donors, as opposed to the general population?
    India has a tremendous focus on education (I have benefitted) but I would argue much of it is familial and societal culture; the specific question to honestly answer is how much the government has done to unleash procutive human potential through illiteracy eradication. How much of India’s education policies are simply a function of the need to provide quality education enclaves for the children of bureaucrats, the successors of the British collectors? Are we democratic in our education policies? Think about this the next time you vote.

  30. Ritu dhiman permalink
    March 23, 2009 8:35 pm

    Its quite strange that we have No. of good uvin. but with very bad sevics that should be improve to be more student frendly & easy to undestand all term can condition to achive our good future to make a devloped INDIA.

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