India is Higher Education's El Dorado: Every university seem to want to get there, and no one knows how. The British Council's report on Transnational Higher Education puts things in perspective. India is firmly in amber territory in terms of friendliness to Transnational Education, it scores High in market attractiveness but low otherwise, because of the policy and regulatory confusion. It is one of those countries which everyone loves to talk about, but never does anything with. The Indian Government loves to play the game - it has been discussing a bill to allow Foreign Providers into the country for more than a decade now, but never got to the point of putting it forward to the Parliament.
For the outside observers, this is just the way India works. The lethargy in governance is just too well known. The various International Directors at various western universities love this, as it always allows them a talking point in the meetings, a topic about which one can appear knowledgeable without having to do anything about it. What gets missed, however, is that the Indian government can be remarkably decisive and even authoritarian on the issues it wants to act on. It can ram through much more difficult reforms and can even pass laws reducing petrol subsidies or getting foreign retail companies into the country. For some reason, it never felt the same kind of urgency to do anything with foreign universities. However, no one seems to ask why this may be so.
It is an interesting difference in perspective. For most foreign observers, India needs foreign universities. Period. It sends out more than 150,000 students every year who seem to spend US $10 billion - US $17 Billion (there has been different estimates) in educating themselves outside India. This is taken as a clear evidence that the country needs foreign education. Any interaction with the academic leaders (and education businessmen) from India establish that they are over-eager to get a foreign partnership. And Indian employers routinely complain that they are not getting the graduates they need.
Yet the question may evoke a different response in India. Most Indian academics believe they are doing a fine job, under the circumstances. While students may prefer a 'foreign stamp', they seem to want a locally recognised award. While the employers may complain about the Indian graduates, they are not eager to employ foreign trained graduates either. And, while Indian companies may be going global, most jobs in the recent years have been created in the sectors servicing the 'inside market', retail, insurance, banking, education, where knowing the ground realities are more important than knowing English.
This is the context, therefore, of Indian Government's flip-flops on the Foreign Education Providers' Bill: It can't make up its mind whether the country needs foreign education providers, because it has never fully clarified why it may need them. The reason why India wants to allow foreign universities to set up campuses in India isn't because the country needs their expertise in research, or even their money to boost the investment in the sector, but to stop the outflow of foreign exchange.
This rationale should be seen as the starting point for judging the Indian government's intent to get the Foreign Universities in India. It is not investment (with a market like that, there is no dearth of private investment that can be found) nor expertise, because Indian policy-makers still think that the the expertise must be developed endogenously (more on this argument in a later post) but preservation of Foreign Exchange prompts the bill. Indeed, this is out of line with India's overall, rather liberal, approach to capital movements, and this is why the bill may never have been a legislative priority.
Once this is understood, the most befuddling aspects of this bill becomes easier to understand. Why is India trying to make repatriation of surpluses so hard? Or is trying to restrict this to only the top universities, and not opening up to global For-Profit chains which may bring investment? Or thinking only about branch campuses despite India's different regions and priorities may be better served by recognition of partnerships entered with different universities, rather than setting up campuses? All the answers seem to lie in the fact that this is about discouraging Indian students from going abroad and keeping the money in the country.
Are the Indian policy-makers deluding themselves? No university in the world, and much less the top ones, will ever agree to such restrictive conditions anyway and no one will ever come to India, the commentators opine. However, this may precisely be the intention. Under the terms of the bill, the only thing that will be possible perhaps is that an Indian business group sets up the campus and the foreign universities bless this with their name and expertise, holding the Indian students there. That way, Indian policy-makers can do what Mahathir Mohamad achieved for Malaysia - a self-sustaining education infrastructure in the space of a couple of decades - without having to lose control over what gets taught and who gets the money.
This post isn't an endorsement of such aims, but a commentary on the discourse. India can be confusing, but it can be understood once we seek to understand it on its own terms. Whether such 'protectionism' in education is necessarily bad, can be debated: However, any argument against the same is severely undermined once the interlocutors themselves indulge in protectionism of different kinds, including restricting foreign students from coming to their universities. Besides, if the economic development of a country is the central purpose of education, the whole debate needs to framed in economic terms, and policy priorities must be defined within its context. There may be many educational reasons why Indian education needs to have greater intercourse with ideas generated elsewhere, but this needs to be seen against India's colonial experience.
In summary, the politics of Foreign Education in India is complex, and deserves considered discussion beyond the usual rhetoric, for and against. A good place to start is to delve deeper into the need for Foreign Education, which I intend to do as a part of a project on this blog.
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
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
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.
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
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,
Nations are ideas. We try to fashion them as territories. But how can a river, a mountain ridge or sometimes an imaginary line in the middle of a field can explain the wide division in the lives, thoughts and futures of the people who live on different sides? Nations are not the people too. Indeed, people build nations and become its body. But the soul of the nation is an idea: People come together on an idea to build a nation. While that's what a modern nation is - an idea - and that way exceptionalism is not an American exception, very few nations are as completely defined by an idea as Pakistan. There was hardly any political, geographic or military rationale of Pakistan other than the idea of an Islamic homeland in South Asia. [In that way, the ideological brother of Pakistan in the family of nations is Israel] This, abated by the short term political calculations of some backroom colonialists, created a modern state which must be solely sustained on that singular idea. Reli
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
India's employment data is sobering ( see here ). The pandemic has wrecked havoc and the structural problems of the economy - service sector dependence, uneven regional development and health and education challenges - are more evident than ever. Something needs to happen, and fast. To its credit, the government acknowledges the education challenge. Belatedly - it took more than 30 years - India has come up with a new National Education Policy. It is a comprehensive policy, which covers the whole spectrum of education and perhaps overcompensates the previous neglect by advocating radical change. As I commented elsewhere on this blog, it shows a curious mixture of aspirations, cultural revival and global competitiveness put under the same hood. However, despite its radical aspirations, the policy document often betrays same-old thinking. One of these is India's approach to foreign universities. The NEP makes the case for allowing foreign universities to set up operations in Ind
Italy recently apologised to Libya for its occupation of the country between 1911 and the Second Word War and offered an investment deal of $5 Billion over next 25 years towards reparation. This is largely symbolic, and investment deals could have been done without adding this moral halo . But the apology itself is an important step. The key question is one of principle, indeed. It is about whether the occupying countries do accept that their colonial exploits did enormous harm to the occupied, and whether they are ready to accept the responsibility. As the world becomes more sensitive towards the wrongness of occupation [even George Bush was heard saying that occupation of Georgia by Russia is unthinkable in the 21st century!!], and the world justice system gears up to try the leaders causing genocide and violence, paying for past crimes - including occupation - becomes ever more relevant and important. There are several issues which are still hotly debated - slavery, for example,
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.