The Tribune Chandigarh, Opinion page, 4 November 2012
THIS year’s rankings of world universities spring no surprises as far as India is concerned. India as before is placed very low. In a list prepared by a London-based educational advice company, Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd (QS), the highest ranking entry from India is the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, which is placed at number 212. Next comes IIT Bombay at 227, followed by IIT Kanpur at 278. India’s dismal performance stands in sharp contrast to that of China which has seven entries among the top 200, with Peking University placed at 44.
India and China live in two different worlds. India notices a problem and whines; China notices a problem and acts. China can plan for the next 500 years while India cannot see beyond the current fiscal year or at best the remaining portion of the top man’s tenure. Most importantly, India wishes to be patronised by the West whereas China wishes to compete with and eventually dethrone it.
It is no doubt good to win international recognition, but this recognition should be a natural corollary of national efforts and not an end in itself. In the years after Independence, more and more educational and research institutions have been made part of political patronage. In the name of globalisation, the Indian state has abdicated its responsibility in the vital area of education, neglected its own institutions, and permitted commercial interests to degrade the whole system. Salvation for India lies not in creating a handful of gold-plated elitist institutions which will be noticed abroad, but in raising the standards of an average school, college and university.