Higher Education: Time for Self Regulatory Autonomy

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Higher Education: Time for Self Regulatory Autonomy

Bhagwati altash

HigherfifEducationfifinfifitsfifpresent fttatefifinfifindiafifappearsfiftofifbe fgrossly disadvantaged in keeping pace with the fast escalating global benchmarks of quality and innovativeness. It is also being said to be disjunct with our ethos, values and heritage, and not succeeding well to ingrain, requisite ethics and morals in the conduct and behaviour of the graduating youth. The quality deficit in education, places India at 60`h rank in the Global Innovations Index (Gips and keeping it devoid of any place among the top 50 international destinations for higherfiiducation.fikadiaffisitiblefilioitittractfiinly ififininisculefii.61fiffaiiiffilthe international students from abroad to study in India? Our patent filings  underthefiatentEoopeflationfirreatyftPCTffikoffiavefieenitieryfirheagerriatfi529fth 2016, against a large tally of 56,595, 45,239 and 43,168 respectively for the US, Japan, and China. In the field of nanotechnology, we have 14 international patents and 5000 research papers to our credit for all Ills together since 1970s. Whereas, the Chinese Academy of Sciences is fathoms ahead of us with 705 international patents and 29591 research publications. No Indian could secure a single Nobel Prize for his/her research conducted in India after Bharat Ratna Dr. C.V. Raman in 1930.s ThereffireitiniversitiesittithitioublefiligitiliobelftiVinners from tiny countries like Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland, having a miniscule populationfibffii0ficii0fiffecsiThefibighestfifiumberfliffifl51fisfiromfitiarvard University, though a Private University.° Moreover, 8 out of top 10 alma maters of highest number of Nobel Laureates are American private universities.’

With respect to the lacuna of education being disjunct with our heritage, one finds that till date we have been teaching the same outcast Aryan invasion theory, coined out of the European colonial politics, and altogether refuted by the present day archeological and other studies. Besides, the infinite narratives embedded into our ancient scriptures, corroborating the present-age scientific wisdom, as well as several postulates of various social sciences and humanities, includingfifthosefifbffifthefifEconomicsifGeography,fifPoliticalfifficience,fifPublic Administration, Psychology, Sociology, History, Linguistic, etc., find no place into our curricula and the suggested readings. Endeavours to ingrain values, ethics and national ethos in the conduct and behaviour of the graduating youth by means of suitable pedagogies are also very feeble to produce tangible results.


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Oneffivayfitofitemedyfithesefilimitationsfirianilbefithefibroadbasingfifthefitorafiif academicitiutonomyffiathitividerfharticipationfifithefia cademiciiraternityillor democratic self-direction and more open brainstorming. Beginning can be made with open departmental committees, accessible to all faculty members, along with participatory boards of studies to incorporate all the members of faculty in thefifilepartmentriftlirectlyfifbrfifindirectly.fifMoreover,fiffrfi tierfiftelffiftegulatory autonomous councils, democratically constituted for each subject and faculty, involving the entire academic fraternity on the lines of professional councils for selffifiegulationfifianflifferfifififbetterfitolutionifForfirmstance,fithefifirstituteilif Chartered Accountants of India, the Institute of Company secretaries of India, the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India and the Bar council of India etc. are able to continuously improve and maintain the standards, through their respectivefiltfiftierfiftelffiftegulatoryfifautonomousfiftouncilsfit com prisingfifloca I chaptersifitatefiftssociationsfifindfiftationalfiflevelfiftouncils),fiftlIfiftonstituted democraticallyfillihroughfiinefiftersonfiinefifiote.filliffibigherfiraducationfrisfifivell, beginning can be made from the teaching departments of universities as well as collegesfWorfhavingfilipenfirainstormingfiandflapreadingfittiatofthefEoardsfif Studies (BOS) by making them participatory, instead of constituting them with onlyfifirandpickedfilhominees.fiatfifivouldfifielpfitofiftwercomefithefiflimitationsfiftf inbreedingfiftfitthefifirisionfiftffifinlyfiftandpickedfilinembersfiiffithefifBOS.fiff his participatory self direction can be taken ahead, as aforesaid, by constituting subject-wise ‘self regulating multitier autonomous subject councils’. Each of the subjectfibeingfiaughtfilianfiltaveil3-tieritielffifiegulatoryfilutonomousitiouncils, comprisingfiiationalfifievelfiftouncilifitateitivelfilissociations,fifindfifthefitocal chaptersfivithitiutonomyfisitiefftienchmarksfriorfiurriculaftraming;itievelopfir prescribeftiedagogies-fthcludingfiheiliequisiteflinditielevantfieaching-learning approachesfi ficomprisingfi fithefi fiandragogical,fi fiheutagogical,fi fipeeragogical, constructivistfi ftransitoryiftransformativefifiandfiftimilartifistherfifiapproaches; evaluation patterns and practical training etc. Such self regulatory autonomous councilsfifiorfifillfiftubjects,fificultiesfihindfifffirfifihefif6verallfifttructurefif6ffihi g her


education can revolutionarise the quality of education, and place India in the league of countries known for excellence in higher education.

‘Indian higher education has suffered the brunt of over-regulation in a top heavy system.’ Higherfifiducationfikifillhdiaftisfillirgelyfifiteeredfifihfiltandemfifivithfithe recommendationsfiffiefieriesfifithdependentfliommissionsitindfliommittees, comprisingfinefirfirhorefia nd pickedfixperts,finditillfiffiihemiliadfffivariably beenfithefficademiciansfififfiNeryfifhighfifiepute.fifBeginningfifivithfilthefifSarkar Committee (1945-49) to 5.5. Bhatnagar Committee (1947), the Radhakrishnan Commission (1948-49)'”and so on, there had been around two dozen plus such committees and commissions, whose recommendations have been instrumental infihapingfiurfiducationfiinceithdependence.HYetfiertainfiectionsitiffiftheir grievancesilaboutfiautonomyfthftheffhordsfEhatftheitioliciesfiormulatedftiffihe centre by the MHRD along with a plethora of centralised regulatory authorities, keen on holding the reins, are sent as commanding directives to universities, whofithemselvesiffififtuitefifififinajorityfiliffiftasesifirefiiilosfiltavingitilumerous collegesfinderfthem? So,firioomiforfkurricularfieforms,ficopefifisrflinovating teaching-learningfiftnethods,fifthangefifinfif6valuationfifjaatternfifbrfi anyfifbther rationalizedfiffiormsfifforfifidmissionsfiftloesfiffioffifistfifinfifieveralfiftasesfifivith universities, let alone colleges? In a vast country like India, endowed with one of the largest higher education system of the world, excellence in academics, good govemance and financial well being of institutions can no doubt be achieved with optimally decentralised autonomy, along with participatory self­regulationiftoupledfifivithfiftorrespondingfiffesponsibilityfifindfificcountability.. Indeed, fiautonomy, according toilsome thinkers, has to trickle down tram the veryfifiourcefiftffifillfifitowers,fithefilliiRDfifininistryiliapitiofi thefitleliveringfifdinits, comprising fteachingfidepartments if iliniversities is then is tolleges, ficross theftiountry.. Selffilirectionalfifiutonomyfiffifitipiritifieedsitofillbefitleliberately infusedfifirvithfifWidestfifiaossible,fifandfifbptimallyfiftelffiftegulatedfiftarticipatory mechanisms, to incorporate pluralistic realities and pluralities aspirations of the vastftiategoryfibffittakeholdersfilinditifivarietyfibffiraducationfihrovidersfiffifithe country like India.



universities.ffiheitiommitteefiasfiabservedflhfitsitieportfthatffIthefionceptflif University autonomy is often misunderstood. It is not a ‘legal concept’, not even a ‘constitutional concept’. It is an ethical concept and academic concept. This concept does not question that, in a democratic society like ours, legislatures arefifilltimatelyfitovereign,fifindfihavefififitightfitofifiliscussfitindfifileterminefithe question of policy relating to education, including higher education. The concept of university autonomy, however, means that it would be appropriate on the partfiliffifilemocraticifflig islaturesfifihotfilliofithterferefifivithiffiefikidministrationfiif universityitife,fbothficademicflindfion-academic.fiffiefilaim forflautonomyfi made by the universities not as a matter of privilege, but on the ground that such autonomy is a condition precedent if the universities are to discharge their duties and obligations effectively and efficiently..

Aftelatedflasue,ftioncerningftheitiutonomy,fiftenfiriaisedffivhileftliscussingithe performs nceiliffieachersiliffitarticularlindfliniversitiesitifftjeneral,fitfthatfilf ‘academicfiffreedom’fiindfifiarofessionalismfifinfi teaching.fifAccordingfiftofiffight “academic freedom refers to the freedom of individuals in the academics to study, teach, research and publish; without being subject to or causing undue interference”.. filowever it does not finean thatfiitficonfersfiuponithe academic communityfifinyfiftnfetteredfitightsfirif factionfirindflbehaviour.fiffhefitionceptfiif academicftreedomilinjoinsfihatithefteacherfieftillowedfrio faxpressiiiisfkiews freely and openly, even though they may be at variance with the ‘official’ view, withoutfrearlikaffibeingfihenalised.fillowever,ftheiticademicfireedomfidoesfifilot extend to, for example, neglecting teaching assignments in favour of research interest. Academic freedom is a privilege that invokes with it the responsibility of ensuring that it is used only for the welfare of the academic community and the good of the parent institution..filn the views of Ramabrahmam   teaching
can and needs to be professionalized by following interventions:

(i).fi Promoting meaningful innovations in the classroom.

(ii).fi Promoting research interest among teachers.


administrative reforms of education institutions.
(v)        Promotingfkommitmentilihallengefianditiontrolftimongfieachersfihat

reinforce accountability and are reinforced by autonomy.


Theseffhterventionsffiequireffitmostriautonomy,fiampowermentfihspirationfiind facilitating culture for individual teachers and not for the universities alone as a body. The aforesaid intervention offioptimized participation of teachers fir most of the matters related to academics can be said to be the cornerstone of anyfifineaningfulfiklutonomyfiffifibigherfiraducation.fifitiliequiresfifividestfiftossible representative access to the academic fraternity in all the ‘fora of autonomy’ from the departmental decision making, Boards of studies, Academic Councils, the Boards of Management, and even the state level University Coordination Committees. Thisfifivouldfifitivefifaccessfitofifeveryfiftreativefillbrainifinayfifbefiin representativefibasisiiffithapingfiliunicula,fiftedagogicalfifandfiitheriteaching­learningitipproaches,fDracticalsitinditivalityffiffiriesearchitinditifilsofiracilitate integration and ingraining of the national ethos, values and heritage into higher education.

InfifinostribffithefiriasesithefifBOSsfifirefiliftenitiomprisingfithefifteanfifindfifil-4 handpicked very senor experts who may not be well familiar with many new developments. Moreover, as our universities are silos, incorporating hundreds of affiliated colleges under them, with thousands of teachers in each discipline; including regular as well as visiting ones, all overflush with immense subject-related ffitelligence, including latest is then asffiancientliwisdomiwhichficannot be used for lack of their participation in academic brainstorming and decision makingfratfinyflivel,fixceptfiti teachingftheffictures,fillocated,fiyitiimple lecturefifinethodifivithoutfitequisiteitiutonomyfiffifkidoptingfitightfiftedagogical, androgogical, heutogogical or peeragogical approaches and so on. So, it is no strange a fact that most of the disciplines are devoid of the latest and emergent developments,fiasifiellitisitheitiichilincientfileritagefiffiturs,fitelatediliofthat discipline. Therefore, swayed by the mythic Anglo-European narratives of Aryan invasionitheory,ffivhichfiliasfitsfiriginitinorefrromfthefEuropeanfirolitics,frahan anythingfifilseficrififindianiiiistoricalfifiecordfiferfifircheology,. whenfifixtensive explorationsfiarriedfiutftipto Northernfilesopotamiafthitheffriecentfireceding decades, including that of a joint French-American team led by H. Weiss of Yale University and several other investigations have established beyond doubt that mosthiffithefifthld-worldfitivilizationsfiliverefifieverelyfififfectedfillbyfifaiiitrolonged drought that began about 2200 B.C. and persisted for about 300 years. The


mostfiklrasticallyfiftiffifiegionfifteemsfitoittavefifbeen IffiefiEtkkadianfitivilization neighbouring India. Yet, most of the syllabi are replete with the Aryan invasion theory. It is so, inspite of scores of studies indicating that in most likelihood the drought triggered by massive volcanic eruptions had caused migration. Some satelliteffaicturesithdicatefilloodingifisflineffifftheffrieasonfforitheithigrationfif Harappan civilisations. Several independent explorations, conducted over a vast belt from southern Europe to India, clearly prove that civilizations over a large part of the ancient world were brought to a calamitous end by an abrupt climate change on a global scale..

These discoveries could help to put an end to all speculations regarding the Aryan invasion as the cause of breakup of the Harappan civilization. Now when it is beyond doubt that the Vedic civilization far from coming into existence after the Harappan civilisation, in fact ended with it. The mature Harappan civilization wasfithefrestfijlowfiffilihefiNedicfrage.fiThisfilecognitionfliasitroughtfiaboutfli fundamental change in perspective in the history and chronology of not only ancient India, but also nearly all ancient civilizations. It helps to answer several fundamental questions about the source of the Harappans – they should now be called the Vedic Harappans – and the age of the Rig Veda. Thanks to recent discoveries about the mathematics and geography of Vedic India, we are now in a position to answer both questions..fiNumerous findings of the archeological investigations are waiting to find place in our curricula and texts. Only wider access to the academic fraternity in departmental and BOS level deliberations is one of the easiest way to facilitate induction of quality and innovativeness as well as imbibing our ethos, values and heritage.

In most of the subjects of study, our rich heritage lacks, even a mere mention in curriculafi fiandfi ftexts.fi fForfifinstancefi fthefi firacticefi fisffi faupplementingfi fisf electromagnetic impulse of heart by a Silver-ion battery is corroborated by the hymns of Yajurved and hundreds of thousands of other scientific narrations relatedfliofithysics,fEhemistry,ftifefSciences,filathematics,fEeography,ifirfilhe doctrinesfifthffitocialfificiencefifire itastlyfitandfifivellfiflimbeddedfififfifiburfitincient scriptures. But they not find place in our modern university curricula. We should incorporateitillitauchfifiewilievelationsfihtofthefit urriculafiffiallfiubjectsfikom humanities to science and technology, including the social sciences.


Thisfitleafiffionstitutingithefifiationalfilivelfrandfitateflivetfifiscalflivelftind departmentfrevelfiliscretefinulti-tierftiutonomousfillubjectftiouncilsflinfifill the subjects like, Botany, Zoology councils for History, Sociology, Political Science, Economics,fEeography,fihysics,fEhemistry,flaathematicsfiindfirioffinfiorfliach subject including all professional disciplines faculties and overall all India council forfifhigherfifaducationfiftanfifbringfifififteafifthangefifivithfiftespectfiftofiftwality benchmarks, imbibing our ethos and heritage and in ingraining ethics in the conduct and behaviour of graduating students.


1.fi Issac Wolfe, India moves up six places to rank 60 in Global Innovation Index, Jun 15, 2017, www.forbesindia.com/article/special/india-moves-up/47267/1

QuamarfEurguanfKfEhallafffeena,flIfiternationa lisationfbffifilig herfEdfiicationfin ffridia,14111 2017, N. Deihl p6
3.fi Remembering C.V. Raman, Indiatoday.in, Story, November 2, 2016.

Alderfi fi jeremy,fi fi 50fi fi Unlversitiesn fi withfi fi Mostfi fi Nobelfi fi Prizefi fi Winners, bestmastersprograms.org
OutfiNiffiliopfiflOfiuniversitiesfifivithfirmaximumfilNobelfillaureatesfif8 firefilAmencanfifprivate universities having 60 to 151 Nobel laureates. These universities are, Harvard, Columbia, University of California, University of Chicago, MS, California Institute of Technology, and Stanford. In India as well some of the private universities inspite of some discrimination, are doing well and can further outshine, if given a facilitating environment. Even, to date these are 11 private universities out of total 36 universities, including the elite institutes, ranking in top 1100 universities ranked by the TImes Higher Education
Dash Sambit, What Indian higher education needs a lesson on autonomy, [Modified] https://www.dailyo.in>story, 3 Sept. 2016
Saha,f1SamirfKumar tndfEhosh,f6angita,fEommissionsffindfEommItteesfbnfifFechnicalfifn Independent India, Indian Joumal of History of Science, 47.1 (2012) pp 109-138
8.fi ibid 6

9.fi Powar KB., Accountability in Higher Education, in Edited Vol.- Accountability and Autonomy in Higher Education, edited by Veena Bhalla et al. Association of Indian Universities, New Delhi p.15

SambitfilDashfhasffalsofibpinedffisfigbove,flihoughfibffilifferent Words,fifnfithefiBbovefiiited article.
Universities and Colleges, (Gajendrahadkar Committee Report), UGC, New Delhi, 68pp.

12.ffight, M., 1988, So what is Academic freedom? In Tight, M. (Ed), ‘Academic Freedom and Responsibility’, p 114-132. Open University Press, Milton Keynes.

13.fbid 9

14.fRamabrahmamfifl,filAccountabilityfiftffiffeachingfilProfessionMfFhefittolefifmnAcademicfilbtaff Colleges, Edited Vol.- Accountability and Autonomy in Higher as.non, Edited by Veena Bhalla et al., Association of Indian Universities, New Delhi p.88.

15.1The Politics of History, Hindustan Times, Nov.28, 1993


16.Thefi fi Harappanfi fi Civilizationfi fi andfi fi Mythfi fi oft fi Aryanfi fi -Invasion” http://archaeologyonline.net/artfacts/aryan-harappan-myth