HRD Ministry ropes Cambridge, MIT experts to help design Syllabi of Indian Institutions


MHRD calls experts from MIT and Cambridge::Prescribing the wrong medicine to the patient.
Many developments are taking place in the country. It is really difficult to choose the issue for the day. However one news that caught our eyes need extensive discussions is regarding higher education.
Yesterday most of the newspapers online edition carried out this news The news is about calling experts from MIT and elsewhere to guide NITs for syllabus reforms.
The other news that captured the attention of many was the killing of UCLA professor by an INdian PhD student sarkar. ( ).
Both the news as such don’t have any connection i.e. direct but since both of them concerns Higher education therefore in a way they are related broadly.
We would like to add one more story to this and that is regarding skill . The PM met the governing council of National Skill development mission. India. ( ).
Now some one must be wondering what skill India has to do with the other two stories. And the answer is all these stories represent one very critical and important sector i.e. education and employment. So let us take them in right earnestness and analyse.
Calling MIT and Cambridge professors as experts is not a bad idea after all all the IITs were established in collaboration with one of the developed countries. This is surely a good initiative but the question is do we really need experts from these universities to solve our problems and the answer is NO. Its like prescribing the wrong medicines for the patient who has other symptoms of disease.
Undoubtedly, The Hon’ble MHRD minister Smriti Irani is doing good job but that is limited by her understanding, knowledge and most important internal status of the field. She has tried her best to grasp the problems and put all her efforts spending hours and interacting with peers.
However, any institute / organization has two views. One that is visible from the outside to the externals and one from inside that is visible only if you are inside the building. Moreover it also depends upon the time you spent inside that will allow you to comprehend the intricacies of the system. The guide has all the privileges to show only the sides and points to the tourist that he wishes . The tourists are not aware of the various faces and facets of any building. Therefore the role of advisors all though extremely useful but is highly constrained.
Than comes the vision that is so important to take the system to another level.
The MHRD ministry has got some good advisors for sure. However everyone has a priority and despite having taken many steps it is a story of missing the Forest for the Trees.
The Higher education sector needs some bold initiatives. The sector is literally dead and unless it is revived with iron hand and insights no step will be sufficient to do the needful. In other words , its like spinning a wheel, without much forward movement. Therefore the question that can be asked what is required and what is being done.
All though this is such a big issue that a big report would have been more justified. Nevertheless to place in few words, The HIgher education sector is going big transformation world wide. While we are still in the sixties or may be eighties. We have missed the cycle from nineties or for the more conservative from the twenty first century onwards, when the world started moving to a different gear thanks to IT revolution and social network that changes the way students learnt and the teachers not keeping pace.
The purpose of this post and our organization is not just to criticise for the sake of criticizing but to analyse things in the right manner and pinpoint the weaknesses and strengths so as to be on the right track. In fact we think that the Hon’ble minister is doing a great job but it is like calling ENT specialist (the wrong doctor ) for the patient who is suffering from cardiac problems. Murli Manohar Joshi was an insider to the MHRD job. Kapil Sibal was not . Therefore one can see that higher education like finance took a heavy toll under the UPA regime. MM Joshi despite heavy media bias against him did a beautiful job. He knew the system in and out and tried to do his best by roping the right people for the right job.
So no one can deny the expertise of ENT specialist but the question is will he/she be able to help the patient who is suffering from all together different disease.
Now coming to the killing of the professor by the PhD student also merits due attention. The reason why there is a shortage of PhD students in the country is that the IIT Professors never groomed or nurtured PhD students as much they should have. They took PhD students only when they needed a promotion or to become a professor from Asso professor rank. Research was not the first motive ( yes there are exceptions ). Than the inherent sadist / dictator nature of many Indian professors have still not been checked and they enjoy the full autonomy in their respecvtive institutes where media and government are never allowed to sneak and peek into.
Its an internal world where darkest secrets never get leaked out and its a lonely world out there. well not exactly the oscar winner hollywood movie ‘Whiplash’ but something on the lines. However the system has survived despite all odds as the stakes are high and no student has really tried to revolt or spill the beans. Further being holy cows neither the media nor the government has really listened to the grievances of the students. what food is served in the mess or whether they have AC is not the type of questions that the IIT students should be asked . BUt the real problems and their solutions lie into a n all together different zone.
Finally coming to the third news story about the PM meeting the governing body of skill INdia also merits considerable attention. One ministry that has truly failed the Modi Government is the Skill India ministry. NO one knows who is being skilled and who is giving the skills. One sees full page advertisements in newspapers about skilling India , big ads on television but same situation of spinning the wheel with no output. Also wrong doctor prescribed for the job.
India really needs good skill India program no doubt about it. BUt the persons taking responsibilities need to know the system , the situation about industry and the institutes in and out . ONly than one will be in a position to deliver. Unfortunately that is not the case. So alone Narendra Modi will not be able to solve all the problems by taking review meetings . The bureaucrats are too smart to give presentations where the real issues can be made to hide behind glossy and glib power point slides.
To solve the issues one needs more than that and that is where the Modi government is unable to deliver. The Right persons for the right job. Until than ENT doctors will be treating cardiac patients and so whether the patient will survive or will be taken to ICU , is not something for which you need to know rocket science.

Asheesh Shah
Author: Asheesh Shah

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