Daily Editorial Analysis for 14th March 2020

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  5. Daily Editorial Analysis for 14th March 2020

Rethinking, Restructuring Indian academic institutions

Paper: II

For Prelims: The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC).

For Mains: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Context of News:

  • In the recent subject-wise ranking of world universities by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), Indian institutions improved with 26 departments or schools placed in the top 100 of their respective disciplines. Science, technology and business studies were the fields in which our universities showed their mettle.
  • Indian academic institutions are hurtling towards the deep end of irrelevance. On the one hand, India faces new challenges that range from corruption in its political economy and pressure on public resources to a future of work that requires new competencies and newer models of employment. On the other, universities in India continue with business as usual – credentialing through rote learning and standardised examinations, uninspiring classrooms with extremely low engagement, and a student experience that is violent and intolerant both on the body and the mind.

About National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC):

  • The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) is an organization that assesses and accredits higher education Institutions (HEIs) in India. It is an autonomous body funded by University Grants Commission of Government of India headquartered in Bangalore.
  • NAAC vs. UGC:
  • UGC is University Grants Commission whereas NAAC is National Assessment and Accreditation Council. UGC approves a College or University whereas NAAC accredits the programs offered in the University or institute. NAAC is an accreditation body, which comes under the University Grants Commission of India.
  • Benefits of Accreditation:
  • Institution to know its strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities through an informed review process.
  • Identification of internal areas of planning and resource allocation.
  • Collegiality on the campus.
  • Funding agencies look for objective data for performance funding.
  • New sense of direction and identity for institutions
  • The society look for reliable information on quality education offered
  • Employers look for reliable information on the quality of education offered to the prospective recruits.

Steps /policies of Government for overhauling Academic Institution Performance:

  • The government has implemented policy to identify 20 Institutes of Eminence (IOEs) which will get maximum autonomy from bureaucracy in order to climb up the world rankings.
  • In one of the biggest move towards reforming higher education in India, the present government announced a complete overhaul of the apex higher education regulator- University Grants Commission, repeal of the UGC Act, 1951 and a fresh legislation to set up the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI).
  • Teacher training in India set for a regulatory overhaul; National Council for Teacher Education promises drastic action against teacher training colleges.

Challenges for Indian Universities:

  • Lack of infrastructure and autonomy :
  • Lack of infrastructure and autonomy is seen to be an impediment to bolster innovation in campuses, which can be easily solved by increasing student intake. Most universities are primarily funded by the government and hence subjected to government regulation and audit. For instance, in case of IITs, about 82% of all operational and capital expenditure comes from the government, with the fee component amounting to small percent of total expenses.
  • A larger student intake can increase the fee component, which can decrease dependence on government to meet their needs of capacity building and infrastructure that can be shared by students.
  • One common factor behind the success of the topmost universities is the freedom with which they operate. They have been major centres of innovation in teaching and research thanks to independence from bureaucratic or corporate meddling and political intervention by parties of the day.
  • Research sets a university apart:
  • Research is what sets a university apart. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings published by British magazine Times Higher Education (THE) gives weightage of :
  1. 55% to research indicators while the
  2. Teaching environment is given weightage of 30%; of this,
  3. Teaching reputation comprises 15%, which depends on faculty and not students.
  • It should not come as a surprise that not a single Indian university features among the world’s top 100 universities ranked by Times Higher Education.
  • Financing and issue of privatization:
  • Financing is also an issue with higher education in India. Yes India is already spending very much on higher education and it can’t spend more. However if the quality of higher education has to be improved then more financing is needed.
  • Along with financing issue Privatization is also a big problem that higher education faces.
  • Privatization of higher education is the way to go. However just privatization is not going to solve the problem. You need to foster the culture of creativity, imagination and learning new skills in young students.

Way Forward:

  • Avoiding politicisation, ideological rigidity and nepotism, and freeing our universities from excessive interference and over-regulation, are prerequisites for success. Most importantly, our universities must have the drive to excel and compete with Chinese or Western universities.
  • The most crucial change is required in the governance of our institutions. The fundamental question is around who makes choices concerning the institutions. Regulations and regulators that control create rigidity and uncertainty in institutions and make them incapable of renewing from within. Governments and their bureaucracies will have to free up institutions to allow them to make their own choices on whom they admit, how they admit, what comprises education, details of a degree, and how institutions are run from within.
  • Another change that is required is to build the ability of institutions to attract a very different kind of faculty – one that has the preparation of deep scholarship, is entrepreneurial, that cares for its students, and one that has traits to build the profession. Indian higher education will not survive if it does not become a congregation of the meritorious.

Counting on diaspora diplomacy

Paper: II

For Mains: Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

Context of News:

  • In recent years, consular and diaspora diplomacy have both emerged as important areas in diplomatic studies; governments are becoming more citizen-centric.
  • Consular diplomacy has gained prominence in many foreign ministries, a dramatic turnaround from its earlier status as a routine activity. This is directly connected with the enhanced role of publics in foreign affairs.

Who all are included in Diaspora?

  • Over time, the term ‘Diaspora’ has evolved, and now loosely refers to any person/s belonging to a particular country with a common origin or culture, but residing outside their homeland for various reasons.
  • The Government of India does not follow a specific definition, although it attempted to define the term in 2004 as “a generic term to describe the people who migrated from territories that are currently within the borders of the Republic of India. It also refers to their descendants.
  • Today, ‘diaspora’ is commonly understood to include Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI), of which PIO and OCI card holders were merged under one category — OCI — in 2015. Broadly speaking, for the Indian government, the diaspora encompasses a group of people who can either trace their origins to India or who are Indian citizens living abroad, either temporarily or permanently.

Recent Diaspora Policies of India:

The government’s initiatives towards the diaspora are two-pronged:

  1. One, they cater to the needs of NRIs and OCIs by providing them with consular services, protection and conduct outreach activities to engage with them.
  2. At the same time, they create policies to encourage the diaspora to contribute to India’s growth through philanthropy, knowledge transfers, and investments in innovation and assistance in other development projects.
  • With this in mind, the present government has launched a string of initiatives and repackaged old schemes such as the ‘Know India Program’ (KIP). The last three years saw the launch of Head Post Offices as passport centers enabling thousands more to apply for a passport.
  • In 2015, the Ministry of External Affairs launched the e-migrate system that requires all foreign employers to register in the database.

Benefits of Diaspora Diplomacy:

  • Source of Revenue:
  • Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of engaging with the 30-million-strong Indian diaspora has been in terms of remittances. India is the world’s largest recipient of remittances in last few years. However, the importance of Diasporas does not end with remittances alone but extends to knowledge transfer, the sharing of resources, acting as unofficial Indian ambassadors and pushing for India’s interests abroad.
  • These remittances have played a role in poverty reduction while changing consumption behavior in rural areas.
  • Thriving technological sector:
  • Another tangible long-term advantage in nurturing ties with an active diaspora is an accelerated technological sector and increased socio-economic development. Some examples to illustrate this phenomenon are Bengaluru, Guru gram and Hyderabad as thriving Information Technology hubs that not only house multinational companies (MNCs) like Amazon, Google, Facebook and Uber, but also multiple Indian start-ups like Flipkart, Ola, Swiggy and Zoho.

Challenges Associated with Diaspora Diplomacy in present context:

  • Support of the diaspora is neither automatic nor continuous, and their interests need not be India’s priorities. For example, the Indian community in the US was not vocal enough in criticising President Donald Trump’s proposal to restrict the H-1B visa programme that has benefited many Indians.
  • Another challenge is that remittances may not always be used for beneficial purposes. For instance, India faced problems due to foreign funding for extremist movements like the Khalistan movement. Moreover, the diaspora is unfair in expecting India to stand by them at all times of need. This contradictory attitude of the diaspora and the Indian government will need to be worked out.

Way Forward:

  • If the government continues to focus on this aspect of the diaspora-homeland relationship, they are bound to benefit from its synergistic advantages. They act as important intermediaries linking traditional development actors and local communities. Diaspora’s motives to invest in India are in contrast to non-diaspora FDI. Their investment decisions are not entirely profit-driven as many of them wish to establish a long-term base in India.
  • India is a rising power and a key stakeholder in the security dynamics of South Asia and Southeast Asia. Its role in East Asia is taking shape and although not yet an economic power, its military capabilities, common interests and willingness to go beyond rhetoric have raised expectations of its capabilities and the role it can play in the region. The large populations of Indian expatriates in countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore present an opportunity to nurture a growing, mutual relationship.
  • It must be remembered that having a strong diaspora does not always translate to benefits for the home country. India has had problems with negative campaigning and foreign funding, coming from abroad, for separatist movements like the Khalistan movement.so, what is most important is utilizing this diaspora for their own benefits.

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