I am deeply interested in the developments in the Indian Higher Education system, simply because this is the world's greatest opportunity and greatest challenge in Higher Ed today. It is not simply the number of students, which is massive, but also the sheer complexity of it, linguistic, political and economic, is equally fascinating. The comment I used to make in jest - that India is education's El Dorado, because everyone wants to go there and no one knows how - had indeed more than just a grain of truth.
This has now become a full time occupation for me to study and talk about Indian education. I cherish the opportunities of talking to people who are already working in Indian Education, and usually end up pontificating about the billion dollar opportunity they have in front of them. Some, if not most, of these conversations are usually frustrating. They prove another of my lighthearted observations: That demand corrupts, and huge demand corrupts hugely. Despite the fascinating opportunity and complexity in the Indian Higher Ed, most of the players are usually satisfied to play 'low ball': Their offerings are low quality and they are obsessed with making the short term money than going for the big opportunity. None of the Indian players seems to be wanting to take the opportunity of the huge domestic market and come to the global stage to compete with the likes of Laureate; they are quite content to live with lower ambitions just as their counterparts in IT are quite happy to their position in the global value chain.
However, to be fair to Indian providers, one of the biggest issues they had to deal with is crippling regulation. It is not just that the Indian regulators are intrusive; they are also incompetent, inconsistent and corrupt. The fact that Indian education industry is afflicted with low quality providers is indeed primarily due to its regulators. However, there is hope that this is going to change.
The new government in Delhi promises 'minimum government' and this may imply change in the way education is regulated. Indeed, a free-for-all system isn't desirable, given where the Indian Higher Ed is today. But surely the government's advisors will make the case for a more streamlined and efficient regulator to encourage private investment. Indian IT industry may not be ready to produce a Google or a Facebook, but riding on the domestic demand, Indian education may produce the equivalent of one. And, if that company could master India, they would garner the strengths of being one of the world's best.
Indeed, there are lots of discussions in India about creating 'world class' universities, but that won't create the world-beating formula that could potentially emerge within the Indian Higher Ed. The discussion about world class education is not about any innovation - it is about a mad attempt to copy the American University, as if Harvard could be built within a generation.
In fact, the conversation about creating a Harvard-like Liberal Arts University in India is symptomatic that the Indian education entrepreneurs still have to come of age. They are still pursuing a model where they have no strengths and indeed many handicaps, and which does not leverage the biggest strength they are sitting on - abundant demand! The Indian education paradigm, which Phil Altbach calls 'Tiny at the Top', has proven to have failed, but yet, it refuses to die. No one seems to be ready for Googlesque ambition for the Indian education market.
This is perhaps because India is the ultimate disruption territory for Higher Ed. The margin-driven Western thinking (which centers around the vacuous claim of educational quality) can not just handle India: Its rough-and-ready students who can't pay much isn't interesting enough even for Laureate. This is the classic non-use territory, and one knows clearly that if someone can break the circle of doom of low price and low quality, something wonderful could happen. And, if the regulators are put on a leash, something of that nature may now just happen.
I see this disruption coming from a smart combination of learning technology, distributed campuses, employer interfaces and innovative curriculum, which is offered without the vanity prices of the Western institutions. All the elements are already present in India, but the services mindset, the obsession with somehow getting some teacher to teach some students without thinking through the 'graduate attributes', the values, or even the proposition, dominates all. So, instead of seeing the building blocks of a world-beating enterprise, visiting an Indian school is like visiting a museum of Jugaad, a display of the inadequate and the irrelevant.
Indeed, I see this as an opportunity and I know that this is going to happen. This is just too inviting an opportunity for the requisite ideas, capital and people not to come together. Education gets crowded out by other opportunities in India, the returning migrants usually do shopping malls, restaurants or IT companies, rather than touching educational enterprises, fearing the complexity. But the reduction of the complications, a general optimism about India's economy and a friendly state government may quickly facilitate a tipping point.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was,
Introduction Erna Petri née Kürbs, a farmer’s daughter from Herressen in Thuringia, arrived in Ukraine with her three year old son to join her husband Horst in June 1942. Horst, an SS leader inspired by Nazi ideologue Dr Richard Walter Darré, settled in the plantation of Grzenda, just outside today’s Lviv, to become a German Gentleman-Farmer. Erna saw Horst beating and abusing the workers in the plantation within two days of arriving there, which was, as Horst explained, necessary for establishing authority. Erna joined in enthusiastically, settling into a combination of roles of ‘plantation mistress, prairie Madonna in apron-covered dress lording over slave labourers, infant-carrying, gun-wielding Hausfrau.’  However, there were clear rules in the plantation, and Erna was very much expected to play the woman’s role of being a Cake-and-Coffee hostess. When four Jews were caught in the estate while trying to escape from a transport to a death camp, Horst told Erna and her female
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
I wrote a note on Kolkata, the city I come from and would always belong to, in July 2010. Since then, the post attracted many visitors and comments, mostly critical, as most people, including those from Kolkata, couldn't see any future for the city. My current effort, some 18 months down the line, is also prompted by a recent article in The Economist, The City That Got Left Behind , which echo the pessimism somewhat. I, at least emotionally, disagree to all the pessimism: After all Kolkata is home and I live in the hope of an eventual return. Indeed, some change has happened since I wrote my earlier post: The geriatric Leftist government that ruled the state for more than 30 years was summarily dispatched, and was replaced by a lumpen-capitalist populist government. Kolkata looked without a future with the clueless leftists at the helm; it now looks without hope. However, apart from bad governance, there is no reason why Kolkata had to be poor and hopeless. It sits right
There is no other city like Kolkata for me: It is Home. The only city where I don't have to find a reason to go to, or to love. It is one city hardwired into my identity, and despite being away for a decade, that refuses to go away. People stay away from their homeland for a variety of reasons. But, as I have come to feel, no one can be completely happy to be away. One may find fame or fortune, love and learning, in another land, but they always live an incomplete life. They bring home broken bits of their homeland into their awkward daily existence, a cushion somewhere, a broken conversation in mother tongue some other time, always rediscovering the land they left behind for that brief moment of wanting to be themselves. The cruelest punishment, therefore, for a man who lives abroad is when his love for his land is denied. It is indeed often denied, because the pursuit of work, knowledge or love seemed to have gotten priority over the attraction of the land. This is particularly
The ‘Why’ Question? Adolf Hitler was appointed the German Chancellor by President Von Hindenburg on 30th January 1933. This was an extraordinary turn of events. Previously, President Von Hindenburg consistently refused to appoint Hitler the Chancellor, despite the impressive electoral performance of NSDAP in July 1932, Hitler’s uncompromising demand of the Chancellor’s post and a repeat election in November 1932 which failed to break the deadlock. Explaining his refusal, Hindenburg wrote in a letter on 24th November, “a presidential cabinet led by you would develop necessarily into a party dictatorship with all its consequences for an extraordinary accentuation of the conflicts in the German people.” The question ‘why’ Hitler was appointed Chancellor, despite the President being acutely aware of what might follow, is therefore a significant one. The NSDAP had election successes throughout 1932, and was already the biggest single party in the Reichstag and various Landtags acros
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.