Devise enabling regulatory mechanism to improve quality
The higher education sector demands meticulous planning and implementation by those who are not only devoted to the cause but also have a grasp of the system and its processes
R. S. Grewal
HE challenge before resurgent India is to create and sustain a higher education system that would meet the aspirations of our academic fraternity and also be responsive to the role that higher education is expected to play to help India emerge as a knowledge power.


  • Develop alternative sources of energy: Polish Prof

  • Workshop on social sciences

  • Varsity calendar released

  • Summit on services sector


Devise enabling regulatory mechanism to improve quality
The higher education sector demands meticulous planning and implementation by those who are not only devoted to the cause but also have a grasp of the system and its processes
R. S. Grewal

Students aspire for higher education to enhance their employability skills
Students aspire for higher education to enhance their employability skills. — Thinkstockphotos

THE challenge before resurgent India is to create and sustain a higher education system that would meet the aspirations of our academic fraternity and also be responsive to the role that higher education is expected to play to help India emerge as a knowledge power.

The country is passing through turbulent times. Massive expansion of the higher education sector demands meticulous planning and implementation by those who are not only devoted to the cause but also have a grasp of the system and its processes. Instead, total apathy and casual approach have engulfed the entire higher education sector, which is a cause for concern.

Three decades ago China was in a similar state but dynamic, down-to-earth policies implemented with tremendous vigour have catapulted it in to a league, where a number of Chinese universities regularly appear high in world rankings. Even smaller countries like South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Taiwan have surged ahead. On the other hand, we are still debating on the course of action to be adopted.

The reasons for the sorry state of affairs are obvious. Today, students aspire for higher education to enhance their employability skills that could equip them for exalted positions in life. Parents display a penchant to do all they can to meet the aspirations of their wards. But they are deprived of the opportunities that could be theirs due to the quality and relevance of education being provided in our institutions of higher learning.

A lot has been written and said about the poor calibre of the faculty, motivations of private education providers, outdated infrastructure and absence of research culture in our higher education system. While all that is true, there is another factor that has not been addressed — the higher education sector is being managed by academicians who have so far failed the system and civil service bureaucrats who lack commitment to the task at hand. Thus, we need to infuse new blood and devoted people in the top hierarchy of the higher education sector.

Till the mid-20th century, governments in Europe were busy in micro-managing their higher education institutions. Consequently, the sector stagnated. Most Nobel prizes moved across the Atlantic and were won by universities in the US, where they enjoyed far greater autonomy. European universities started flourishing once they were freed from the day-to-day interference of the government. Unfortunately, bureaucrats in India are averse to give up the power they wield and are perpetuating a ‘License Raj’ that is hardly conducive to the healthy growth of the sector.

The ‘know-alls’

India is a country with continental dimensions, and our vast population poses certain challenges that require pragmatic checks and balances. Thus, bureaucratic controls at certain levels are a necessary evil. But there has to be a mechanism, where our bureaucrats could learn the nuances of the higher education system that has got its own peculiarities. For example, the concepts like ‘deemed-to-be university’ and ‘affiliated colleges’ are not to be found in the Western countries that are visited by our bureaucrats for study visits. Thus, the concepts borrowed from abroad have to be pragmatically tampered to suit Indian conditions. But, do our bureaucrats show that commitment to learn? There has been an instance in a state in northern India, where a private university set up under Section 2(f) of the UGC Act was shown as a deemed-to-be university on the website of the state government. The same website also stipulated that a state private university can start its operations only if it gets affiliated to a public university in that state and also if it gets recognition from the AICTE! Obviously, the bureaucrat concerned was from a category that learns on the job at the cost of the system. There has also been a case where a bureaucrat who had never engaged in research sat on judgment on the research activities of universities. To expect such bureaucrats to formulate policies and implement those for the benefit of the higher education sector is like asking for the impossible.

Regulatory mechanism

It is a fact that our numbers are large and that there are many unscrupulous elements that are there in the system for monetary gains. Thus, we need to institute measures to ensure that students and their parents are not exploited. The need of the hour is to have an enabling regulatory mechanism. This implies that our regulators must realise that regulation is not merely fault finding. It involves empowering the higher education providers by sharing information, rewards, and power so that they can take initiative, make decisions to solve problems and improve service performance while at the same time keeping the unscrupulous elements on a leash through self-regulation. Shortage of faculty is a case in point. Though regulators are aware of this problem, they have done nothing positive to help the higher education institutions. Perhaps resorting to measures like incorporation of ICT could help. Despite being aware of the problem, regulators insist on higher education providers to have 100 per cent faculty members, resulting in malpractices creeping into the system. There have also been instances where regulators have retrospectively imposed mandatory conditions like appearing in a national-level entrance test after the due date for applying for the same has passed, or imposing arbitrary cut-off percentages of marks in qualifying examinations for admission to professional courses. Thus, a large number of students have been debarred for no fault of theirs. A good regulatory mechanism would never succumb to such arbitrary pressures.

Quality assurance

Assuring and improving quality are fundamental to the strength and effectiveness of any regulatory mechanism. However, due care has to be taken to pay heed to factors like the local environment, social inequities and geographic diversity while formulating a regulatory process. What may have worked in the West may not work in India. Our conditions and environment are different. A debate involving all stakeholders and transparency in decision-making processes are vital, if we have to arrive at workable solutions.

Recently, the National Board of Accreditation (NBA) evolved a mechanism for accreditation of technical education institutions in India. The whole process is a mirror image of the system being followed by ABET in the US. However, decision makers did not take into account the fact that in the US there are three important pillars for the whole process — academia, industry and professional associations, with each one of these providing strong inputs and playing an important role. Professional associations in India are defunct and, thus, there is also no point in blindly copying the system from ABET that is fraught with problems. Further, we do not have trained assessors. Thus, the assessors deputed by NBA frame their own standards, making the whole process subjective and dependent on the whims of individuals. To compound the matters further, NBA has laid down a very tight time schedule for completion of accreditation of technical institutions. Such an approach can be detrimental to the purported objective. Instead of improving and sustaining quality, the approach is likely to focus on perpetuating bureaucratic control over educational institutions.

The real and the largest challenge that Indian higher education system is facing is a dearth of devoted bureaucrats who guide its destiny. However, they need to develop a penchant for learning and grasp the nuances of the higher education sector. Their willingness to comprehend the requirements and their capability to frame and implement pragmatic policies can help India emerge as a knowledge power.


Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak
Develop alternative sources of energy: Polish Prof

THERE is need for developing alternative sources of energy as fossil fuels are depleting day by day. India has a very small reserve of coal, petroleum and natural gases. Therefore, it is essential to harness solar energy which is a never-ending source. This was stated by M. Igalson, Professor of Physics in Warsaw University of Technology, Poland, while delivering an extension lecture on “Photovoltaic Cells: The Energy from the Sun”. The lecture was organised at the Seminar Hall of All-India Jat Heroes’ Memorial College, Rohtak, recently. Professor Igalson was on a visit to India in connection with her ongoing international research project, “Nano-CIGS”, funded by the European Union. This project is being carried out in collaboration with Spain, Poland, Mexico, Chile, Portugal and India. While sharing her view with students, Professor Igalson said India must reduce its dependence on conventional sources of energy and explore solar energy instead. Dr Bal Raj Deshwal of Jat College, Rohtak, who visited Spain under this project in 2012, said India being the tropical country has tremendous potential if the technologies for harnessing solar energy and improving the efficiency of photovoltaic cells are explored. Dr. S K Malik, Principal of Jat College, Rohtak, thanked Professor Igalson for her visit and the extension lecture. Dr Amita Khokhar, Dr R. S. Bansal, Dr Renu Malik, Dr Ravidev, Dr Dilbag Kadian, Dr Sangeeta Dalal and other faculty members were also present on the occasion.

Workshop on social sciences

A “Capacity-Building Programme and Workshop on Research Methods in Social Sciences” was organised by the university recently. In his keynote address, Dr Vinay Srivastava, eminent sociologist and Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Delhi, urged upon social scientists and researcher to focus on contemporary social issues and problems. He asked the participating teachers and research scholars to utilise the knowledge generated from research work for the social uplift of people. Professor Srivastava laid emphasis on honing writing skills for research and also talked about the latest trends in social sciences research. Vice-Chancellor H.S. Chahal said research and innovation are the hallmarks of good universities and research scholars must focus on burning social issues and find solutions to various social problems. He also advocated introduction of value education in universities. About 60 delegates from all over the country participated in the event.

Varsity calendar released

Vice-Chancellor H.S. Chahal released the calendar of events of cultural and literary activities as well as camps/ courses/ adventure activities of the university for the session 2013-2014 at a ceremony held on the campus recently. The ceremony was held under the aegis of the Students’ and Youth Welfare Office of the university. The Vice-Chancellor also released “Bulletin of Information” and “Rule Book for Youth Festivals” on the occasion. He said youth festivals are the right platform to showcase cultural talent of students as well as an apt platform to spread relevant social message. Earlier, Professor Rajbir Singh, Dean, Students’ Welfare, highlighted the various literary and cultural activities to be organised by his office.

Indian Institute of Management, Rohtak
Summit on services sector

A one-day HR summit focusing on the services sector was organised by the Indian Institute of Management, Rohtak, (IIM-R) on its campus recently. The theme for the Summit 2013 was “HR Challenges of Managing New-Generation Employees in Services Industry”. The summit concluded that the services industry today accounts for 60 per cent of the total GDP, and its growth is faster as compared to agriculture and manufacturing sectors. According to speakers, the economic survey pegs it as a prominent sector in terms of its contribution to state and national incomes, trade flows, FDI inflows and employment. As the workforce in this sector largely comprises new generation, i.e., Gen-Y employees, there is a growing need to identify techniques to manage them. Delivering the welcome address, Professor P.Rameshan, Director, IIM-R, said: “New generation employees are characterised by attributes like being tech savvy, energetic and goal-oriented. Though this provides scope for increasing productivity for organisations, Gen-Y employees are usually low on patience, more aggressive, seek quick career progression and also value work-life balance highly.”

— Contributed by Bijendra Ahlawat