The list of the top 200 universities of the world has been declared. Not a single Indian university finds place in this list. After sixty seven years of independence India has not been able to nurture even a single university which can be considered world class. What a great fall in standards for a country which had the distinction of setting up the first global university at Nalanda, centuries ago.

Today Indian universities have become like factories producing large number of graduates and a handful of post graduates and doctorates, almost all of whom have received knowledge only to be retained as information. It is a telling comment on our educational system that it promotes learning by mugging and does not promote hunger for the unknown by inculcating an intense desire in the learner for seeking out the mysteries of the unknown.

The country's premier institutes like the IIT's produce technocrats many of whom have gone and done MBA and risen to high posts in a very limited number of global firms. This is enough for every one in the country to shout from rooftops that Indian education is world class. Nothing could be far from the truth. In fact even the IIT's have nothing to show on the Research and Development front. They have become islands of relative excellence in a sea of mediocrity. Even IIT graduates need MBA degree to become employable. What can then one say of non IIT engineering colleges.

Till a few years back cracking the IIT or IIM entrance exams was considered to be very tough. However coaching institutes in Kota have successfully coached hundreds of students to crack the entrance exams and secure admissions. The IIT's are now finding that these students are really good at not studies but cracking entrance exams. Once in they are finding it very difficult to cope with their curriculum and the IIt's are worried at the poor quality of their intake.

In order to keep pace with the vast number of students seeking admissions in colleges, the government has permitted the setting up of colleges in all disciplines by the private sector. It has also a system of giving deemed university status to many private institutions. A noble idea indeed to impart education to the teeming millions who emerge from schools.

However the Indian politician and corporate sector was just waiting for this opportunity. In no time practically a large number of private colleges and universities have come up in almost all states. Needless to say that the quality of education in most of them is wide off the mark.  In fact they are seen as money minting ventures. Facilities are not provided although they exist on paper. On the day of  inspection teachers and administrators are brought in for a few days and they go away after the inspection is over. Every one except the  inspecting authority knows about this. I have been once approached to accept an offer by a private institute to come to the office only for a period of twenty days in a year during period of inspection and sign certain papers. For this I was offered a sum of thirty grand every month. 

I once interviewed sixty engineers from a newly established government engineering college. I and my colleagues ere shocked to see that not a single student could even answer basic questions in their field and all of them had scored very high marks in almost all subjects. It turned out that the college had no laboratories,nor a library and not even full complement of teachers. They were taught by a handful of teachers and to cover up given marks liberally. I am pretty sure none of them must have got a job in their field of engineering. So much for integrity in our educational system.

The mushrooming of management colleges has lowered the value of the MBA degree. Except the top fifty or so colleges, MBA graduates from other colleges are being employed at Rs 4-5,000 per month salaries, after having paid hefty amounts of fees. However one must also not fail to appreciate the burning desire in almost all Indian families nowadays to get their children educated so that they can lead a better life. For this they are prepare to undergo economic hardships and make sacrifices if required.

Instead of recognising this noble desire, private enterprises are out to make money and churn out low quality graduates into the job market.  a hapless government can do nothing but watch this decay of educational standards. Graduates today are not able to write proper sentences nor are they able to express themselves. It is common to see college students attending coaching classes and not their university classes. The teachers are now paid good salaries but a majority of them are not sincere to their profession. 

We are not a proud country. We do not value our achievements. We are not interested in contributing to the development of the world in different areas. We are very happy that outsiders are doing research and coming out with innovative products which w are happy to purchase and enjoy. Therefore the aim of an average Indian is to try and gain a education degree which will give him sufficient earning capability with which he or she can buy material goods. Status in society is still judged by the amount of physical possessions and not by amount of knowledge and capability one has.In the marriage market a groom with large material possessions is valued much higher than some one with knowledge and high capabilities. 

 Thus when society does not value knowledge and innovation why should the market produce them. The universities have become increasingly the play ground for recruitment of youth into politics. Elections are fought in universities with far more vigour than acquiring of education. The syndicates of many universities are battleground of political parties. Decisions are delayed because of politics. University VC's are chosen from a very narrow pool of one's state only and that too on political considerations.

It therefore is not surprising to find increasing number of brilliant students leave the country to join universities abroad to pursue their future dreams. The academic freedom and high standards there keep these students motivated to do and deliver their best. Not at all surprising that very few of them come back. It is a shame on our system that brilliant students have to desert their country to do good in their chosen fields and lives. Yet our politicians are busy promoting more reservations at the cost of merit. Merit is secondary and which caste one is born in is primary. Strange but true.

Incidentally in the top 200 universities in the top 10 six are US and four are from UK. Not surprising. There are nineteen US universities in the top fifty. it is credit to the tiny state of Singapore that its National University finds entry at number twenty four. Tiny Hong Kong has five universities at  number twenty six, thirty four,  thirty nine, hundred and four and hundred and sixty one. The University of Tokyo is at number thirty two. The Chinese University of Tsinghua is at number forty eight. Even South Africa has its University of Cape Town at the 145th position. Even Malaysia has its University of Malaya at number 167. 

Unless merit is the sole basis for entry and quality education is imparted by dedicated teachers and research is extensively promoted no Indian University is ever going to find place in the top 200 universities of the World for a long time to come. Is any one listening ?


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