“ a compromise formula which includes a proposal to take top 20% students based on percentile ranking of respective boards for preparing the merit list”

How meaningless is this solution ?. Higher education in India will become the domain of the school toppers and Children of affluent parents and we wonder why half a million students leave India to study undergraduate courses overseas. Children who will never return to a country that shunned them.

Is this is what we call inclusive in RTE ?.

God Save India

Inclusive education does not mean that everyone must enter, or pass out from, an IIT. It only means that if you wanted to, you could have a shot at it. The child labourer is excluded because she can never dream of entering an IIT; she may absolutely hate IIT, but not trying to join an IIT should be her decision. Even if there is only one IIT train, every child must have access to the platform where the train comes. Of course, not everyone will get on to the train but everyone knows what to do to have a shot at the train. This is called inclusion in education. Everyone must go to school till class 12; those who work hard, and are willing to work harder still, will join an IIT. Others will, by choice, decide not to work that hard and become economists.

Shubhashis Gangopadhyay

All children are born equal and mindless politicians are trying to grade the children and youth of the nation and create a new Brahamanical Caste system in Education, which is pandering to the neo rich who can afford to send their children to elite private schools and Coaching schools.

"HRD Ministry of India wants to build castles of higher education on the bamboo scaffoldings of its schools" ~ Satish Jha

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

102 - The Last JEE and Autonomy of IIT Senates by Prof Dheeraj Sanghi

Monday, April 9, 2012

Yesterday, IITs conducted the Joint Entrance Examination 2012, and many newspapers have reported the event as the last JEE, as we knew it. I really hope that they are wrong, and the Directors, along with the ministry, will reconsider its imposition of a new admission process.

While we have debated a lot the pros and cons of the change, there has been less focus on other issues around it. To me personally, a very important issue is autonomy of the Institutes. In an earlier blog, I had pointed out that the Act gave powers to Senates regarding admissions. Now, the ministry has come out with a document whereby they point out that Senates can play a role in the admissions only if IIT Council wants them to. It essentially says that even in academic matters, if IIT Council wants to take a decision, Senates have absolutely no say in the same. (Prof. Acharya, Director of IIT Kharagpur, read parts of it out during an interaction at IIT Kanpur last week.)

Stupid me. All these years, I was under the impression that Senate draws its authority and autonomy from an Act of Parliament, and hence we are largely immune from political and bureaucratic interference at least in academic matters. But now I am being told that Senate draws its autonomy only from a happy coincidence that most Directors in the past have allowed it to express itself. Directors could get together and decide to take up an issue in the IIT Council, even academic matters, and just take a decision. Senates do not even have to be consulted. This is shocking. In the earlier years, the opposite used to happen. Even in matters where the IIT Council clearly has been given powers to decide, if there was an academic angle to it, they will first seek the views of Senates. They may still do things that Senates did not like, but at least they consulted. From seeking views of Senate on everything, to declaring Senate as an unnecessary evil, we have indeed come a long way.

And what is the motivation for this assault on Senates. Apparently some of the Directors feel that their political bosses may not want any change in 2014, an election year, and a majority of Directors would have changed by 2015. So what if the new set of Directors do not believe in this change as passionately as the current Directors do. Of course, the current set of Directors know everything, what is good for all of us, and the new set of Directors would obviously be wrong. Hence you can't leave this important agenda to the next set of Directors. The problem is that there are not enough guts to ask the Minister if he is politically ok with a change in 2014, and there is not enough time to seek views from Senates for the implementation in 2013.  So tell the Senates that they are powerless.

The implications of this strategy are far reaching. Today, when the ministry wants to bring about a change, it takes Directors into confidence on most things, if not every thing. They know that Directors have to sell the idea internally, and it is not obvious that Senates will buy every suggestion from the top. But once it is established that Senates have no powers, then Directors too become powerless. They no longer can withstand pressures from the ministry. The delicate balance of power where everyone respect everyone else breaks down. The impact would not be visible immediately. In India, things happen due to relationships, and the current set of Directors and current set of administrators in MHRD already have an ongoing relationship. But slowly the power structure will change. The next set of administrators may not be as nice. The next set of Directors would have a much more difficult time.

But there is hope. There is a meeting in MHRD on 11th where they have invited several faculty members from all 7 IITs to hear their views. The hope is that we will be able to convince the ministry to follow a consultative process for such an important change.