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'Language at the heart of crisis of Indian higher education'

IANS  |  New Delhi 

Standardisation of all the norms and practices in academia in English language is a source of resentment among the public and it can only be addressed through a "creative solution", Vice Chancellor of Ashoka University Pratap Bhanu Mehta said.

Speaking at the launch of the book 'Building Universities That Matter' written by Pankaj Chandra, Vice Chancellor of Ahmedabad University, Mehta said: "We know nationalism arises out of the tissue of resentment... But deep down if you scratch, the underlying source of resentment is how can you have a system whose standards, norms... defining models are articulated in English.

"Linguistic apartheid is the biggest marker of a culture being relegated to second class status," he said.

"....That congealed resentment is at the heart of the crisis in higher education," he added.

Mehta said that India was not alone in facing such a crisis, but "general crisis of credibility" in public institutions is being seen globally.

Nirja Gopal Jayal, a Jawaharlal Nehru University professor raised several other issues ailing the academia including a governmental attempt at giving more autonomy to the public universities.

She alleged the term autonomy was "an euphemism" to cut loose the necessary governmental funding.

She also said that the emphasis upon would-be teachers to also have published research papers may result in losing some "gifted teachers" who otherwise may not be inclined in research.

Furqan Qamar, an educationist and Secretary General of the Association of Indian Universities, argued that the situation in academics was not "degenerating" - - a word, he said he found being used to describe several aspects of higher in the book.

"It may be said to have degenerated only to the extent that we were not able to exploit our full potential... Millions still have benefitted from the same system. If this was bad, what could we have done if it was good," Qamar said.

It would be impractical to compare even the best of Indian universities with the best of the world, he said, when here we spend only 4.5 per cent of what they do on each student, moneywise.

The overall responsibility to shoulder the infrastructure still lay with the government heavily, because even overseas the student's contribution is merely two-three per cent of the total expenditure on in Europe, while in North America, it was somewhere between 10 and 20 per cent, he reasoned.

Delhi University Hindi department professor Apoorvanand and Shyam B. Menon, the Vice Chancellor of Ambedkar University, also participated in the Friday evening event.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, November 11 2017. 18:36 IST