With India's new government in power, the outlook for foreign investment is optimistic. Whatever effect this new government has on India's domestic polity, economic revival is their key agenda, and foreign investment has been the incumbent Prime Minister's favourite talking point in his previous stint as the Chief Minister of the Indian state of Gujrat. It is, therefore, logical to expect a foreign investor-friendly investment. This is more so because the economic nationalists in the Administration believes China is past its prime and India's moment has truly arrived: They would be looking to take advantage of the clear mandate the government has got and open doors everywhere.
Accordingly, there is nothing to be surprised about the government's proposal to open up Railways and Defence industries to Foreign Investment. These announcements show that the government is unafraid of controversy and taking full advantage of its mandate: Railways is indeed India's biggest employer (the second largest employer in the world after the Chinese Red Army) and opening up Defense is always problematic.
However, if anyone was expecting that this openness, and the legislative activism, promised by the new government will also extend to foreign education providers' bill, which is languishing in the parliament in one form or the other, for over a decade, they are likely to be disappointed. I am reminded by the India observers that it is not in the manifesto of BJP (nor it was on Congress') and though Mr Modi made references to keeping Indian students' money in India on the campaign trail, he is unlikely to spend any political capital on this any time soon.
It is, however, important to have a sense of the new government's approach to education and hypothesize the fate of this bill, given that this is actually much talked about among the young electorate, the ones that voted the new government into power. Education is billed to be one of the priority areas, and the state of Indian Education, particularly Higher Ed, is expected to receive a lot of attention. The Foreign Education Providers' Bill may not have been on the manifesto, but the issue of foreign education and economic competitiveness through education are unlikely to be forgotten in the conversations.
Among the many moves of the new government that attracted attention, the most notable was its choice of the Minister of HRD: Ms Smriti Irani, a television actress and comparative political lightweight. The fact that she had no college education attracted attention, but this is indeed a non-issue: Of far greater import was the approach this signifies - there is an education agenda to sell to India's youth who may connect easily with Ms Irani, a well-spoken forty-something with a successful television career! Follow this up with the two significant scraps of news we have seen from MHRD - the first that Ms Irani wants to reform the school curricula to give it a more 'Hindu' perspective (see here) and that the MHRD will set up 8 new IITs (see here).
Based on these signals, one could possibly guess the direction of India's education policy in the coming years: One consistent not just with economic nationalism but also revivalism that underlie the ideology of the ruling party. Mr Modi may indeed like to follow the lead of Mahatir Mohammed, who vowed not to send Malaysian students for education to the UK in the 1980s and successfully achieved the target within a decade, but he may want to do more: Unlike Mahatir, his strategy may not be one of attracting foreign institutions to India to award their degrees, but to create an Indian education sector on the strong footing.
Indeed, there are significant challenges that any government will face. To start with, education is mostly under the control of Indian states, who wield far more regulatory power than the central government. However, this may be one of the first areas of legislative action that we are going to see: The government in Delhi would want to seize the initiative in education as this is crucial to its social message (and part of their political strategy to change the conversation in India). While the first battleground will perhaps be the school curriculum, with Ms Irani as the strategy's principal salesperson, Higher Education strategy has to move lockstep with it. It is unlikely, therefore, that the government will start promoting an open door to Foreign providers, which will fragment its control further.
However, one would expect many other things in Higher Education which may be conducive to foreign investors of a different kind. To achieve its agenda of strong indigenous Higher Education, the government will need to encourage private investment in education. One way of doing so is to control India's corrupt, inconsistent and inefficient regulators from interfering overtly in educational institutions. This is consistent with the government's 'minimum governance' agenda and therefore likely to happen. One would be unsure whether they would allow For Profit operations in Higher Ed, but the attractiveness of the sector should pull enough private money anyway in the form of Not-for-Profit ventures or social enterprises (Section 25 companies, as they are called in India). This will open the space up for Foreign Investors bringing in money, know-how or linkages. We have already seen operations with Indian money and foreign institutional knowhow (Mahindra Ecole Centrale or BML Munjal University), where Indian business groups hosted foreign institutions: We are likely to see foreign investment now promoting Indian curriculum in some form.
Returning to the subject of the Foreign Education Providers' Bill, then, it may be time for us to stop talking about it. Like many other projects of the previous government, this may be a stillborn one. Once the conversation moves beyond this, we may have some meaningful global engagements in India. Whichever shape it takes, exciting times are ahead for Indian Education!
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
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
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
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,
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
In our age, the only way to be politically correct is to be democratic. This is a post-70s affair - those days, still, some people had alternative ideologies in mind. Those alternate ideas are dead and gone, long discredited, and it seems that we have only one system which can make people happy, free and live longer. So, we have this huge export industry of democracy, and democracy's warriors, which the American security establishment has lately become. The democracy's businessmen, the bond traders, the media barons and the Hollywood types, are feted everywhere. The consensus is deafening and dumbing. It is indeed awkward to ask now - whether democracy is the right system for every society. It indeed should be. Collective wisdom is better than individual autocracy. In societies where democratic elections have been few and far between, the popular vote has demonstrated the extra-ordinary political savvy of the usually disinterested masses. Democracy has proved to be an excell
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
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.