Higher Ed in India - Incremental Improvement versus Paradigm Shift
The discussion I love to hate is indeed the question, rhetorically repeated by the presenter during the show, regarding where the Indian Oxfords and Harvards are. I face that a lot in my work, not just in India but many other countries, particularly in Africa. For a start, this is based on startling historical ignorance - not just these institutions are hundreds of years old (someone in the Indian show imply that some of them may be thousand years old, but none of the Western institutions may fall in that category), they have indeed evolved. One does not just set up an Oxford, it happens over a period of time. Just as one can not create heritage, it is a meaningless discussion. Worse, it overshadows the more meaningful and productive discussions about the right values and objectives of a modern education system, and obscures the need for any paradigm shift.
For example, India is a vast country where 12 million students are seeking to enter university education every year, and that still is a fraction of the number that potentially could. Add to that millions of mid-career people seeking lifelong education, and one quickly gets an enormous scale. Now, transpose these figures against the scarcity of competent teachers, let alone classrooms and seats, and one knows that India needs to seriously think how to make available legitimate and high quality online Higher Education, and yet this would never feature in any discussion. Yes, indeed, we know that there is a complete system failure in Online Education in India - this bit is the most corrupt and mostly ineffective - but this is exactly where the rest of the world is galloping ahead.
America went ahead of the pack in Higher Education because the pioneers in American Higher Education created an American model. Part of the ideas were borrowed from mother country, but also from Scotland and Germany, and the Research Universities were created. But, at the same time, in an act of extraordinary imagination, the studies of Useful Arts were encouraged by Morill Act of 1862 and the creation of the land grant institutions. India also needs such acts of imagination at this unique point of history of its development. That would need a wholesale abandonment of the search of incremental improvement within the existing frameworks and copying other models, and embracing a whole new future informed by a whole new imagination.