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Timely Meditations: Are India and China destined for war?

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[This blog, a labour of love, gives meaning to me more ways than I realised. Unlike the blogs I am 'required' to write - to promote products or to project expertise - these unplanned, momentary, messy posts are really conversations with myself. They are also more, pages of a scrapbook of ideas, digital footprints of a search for meaning, chronicles of loneliness and journals of being intellectually exiled. Timely meditations are my latest - there were others before - effort to write about contemporary issues and subjects, imposing some order on chaos and giving me a focus to write about.]



I have been following the Sri Lankan politics with some concern over several weeks. Democratic institutions have had some bad time lately. It does indeed seem, after Franklin, that when you wish to give up a little liberty for the sake of a little security, you get neither liberty nor security. Sri Lankans have endured long years of Civil War, which was eventually ended, rather brutally, by a…

India & Global Higher Ed: The time is NOW!

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Higher Education in India is one of the world's most exciting opportunity, and one of the most frustrating problems.
The maths are obvious. India has hit upon a massive demographic opportunity, with more than 2 million people on average reaching college-going age every month. Its young population is expected to form a quarter of worlds working age people in a decades time, and its economy, driven by the power of domestic consumption, is expected to become the world's third largest. Despite the recent poor showing of India's rupee and near-death experience of some of its banks, India's economy is also one of the most resilient, given its relatively low exposure to external debt, frugal habits of its people and the strong internal markets. It is expected to wither any global economic storms better than any of its peers. Yet, despite the massive expansion of the Higher Education sector - 10 colleges opened a day on average between 2006 and 2014 - the Gross Enrollment Rat…

India and its Diaspora

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Every year, governments of various Indian states roll out the red carpet for its diaspora. The shining, the leading, the welcoming and the emerging compete to attract the attention of prodigal sons (and some daughters), putting up ever better shows and ever sweeter promises. Hundreds of MoUs get signed and Ministers get their headlines for bringing jobs and prosperity. And, then, carpets are rolled up, everyone goes home and mostly nothing happens. It is tempting to think that this is typical of government jamborees, but this also reflects how India treats its diaspora.

Despite all the new-found love, India never had a Deng Xiao Ping moment of wanting to learn from the diaspora. While it is country with a large English-educated young population, which is expected to be footloose, it has treated its diaspora with a mix of indifference - these are the people who left - and greed - whose remittances home kept the exchange rate in check. But while it wanted its money, its opinions and pa…

Comment: What's a university for?

Perhaps this is a distinctly unfashionable question, particularly when so many new universities are being built all over the world and more people than ever before are going to the university. However, unless one belongs to that rare group of people who think that the government - governments, in this case - knows better, this is a question worth asking, as public money is being poured in, either to build greenfield universities or to pay for students attending private, profit-making, ones. 
The university leaders usually treat the purpose of universities as self-evident truth and exempt, conveniently, their own institutions from the critical examination they claim every aspect of life should be subject to. However, given the importance of universities in the contemporary cultural life - they are deemed to be the creators of individual worth as well as its judge - some questions are worth asking. To do so, it's important to start at the very beginning, and ask - what are these in…

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