Friday, 31 March 2023
Vikram Singh
INDIA is one of the youngest nations in the world with more than 54 percent of its total population below 25 years of age. An effective education system with proper balance between the three basic parameters of accessibility, equality and quality is essential for utilisation of this young human resource towards the task of nation building.  
Today India has the largest number of youth and adult illiterates in the world with the youth literacy rate (15-24 years) and adult literacy rate (15 years and above) at 86.1 percent and 69.3 percent respectively. India is also known for higher level of gender gap (8.2 percentage points) in youth literacy rate. Youth literacy rates for male and female population is 90 percent and 81.8 per cent respectively.
This is the sorry state of the foundations over which the higher education system in our country is based. There is no doubt that we need to strengthen our higher education system. The present government has not done anything in this direction. The only explanation government has is that they are in the process of formulation of new education policy, which will decide the direction of future of education in India including higher education. For last two years, we are listening about the NEP. We are not going into the debate about the process followed by MHRD and their false claims. After two years, there is a draft policy on the website of UGC namely ‘Some Inputs for Draft National Education Policy 2016’ that explains the framework of the future education system of India.
This draft identifies low gross enrolment ratio (GER) in higher education as one of the major challenges, which we are facing in India. The enrolment ratio in higher education was 23.6 percent in 2014-15 and it sets a target to increase GER to 25.2 percent in 2017-18 and further to 30 percent in 2020-21. While identifying low GER as major challenge and defining its objective, the draft says, “Reform higher education system in order to ensure equitable access to tertiary education, including technical and professional education, narrow group inequalities in access to higher education.”
However, in this same draft, it proposes that government will not open new institutions due to lack of funds. There is a clear contradiction between the objectives of the proposed policy and the methods to achieve these objectives. The draft says, “Instead of setting up new institutions, which require huge investments, priority of the government will be to expand the capacity of existing institutions.” There cannot be any expansion of education and reach of education cannot be expanded without opening new institutions of higher education. This explains the future course of action of this government regarding higher education. This draft policy indicates that in future there will be no new institutions; meaning if GER of 30 percent has to be achieved; it will be done through private education institutions only. It will further privatise Indian higher education system, which is already massively privatised with accounting to 62 percent of the total enrolment.
After analysing the above proposal, it becomes clear that the government is not worried about the question of equity in the higher education. Presently in India, there is a gross disparity in GER in higher education with respect to region, social groups and gender. For example in 2011-12, GER in higher education ranged between 8.4 percent in Jharkhand and 53 percent in Chandigarh, which speaks about the regional disparities in GER.
Similarly, the variations among the social groups too are considerable. If we analyse overall GER of 23.6 percent for participation of gender and social groups we will find that it is 24.5 percent for boys, 22.7 percent for girls; 18.5 percent for SCs and 13.3 percent for STs in 2014-15. This is one of the major challenges in higher education of India, but the draft policy on higher education fails to address it. Merely raising concerns in the draft will not serve the purpose (as is done in the draft). To overcome this regional and social disparity, we need more new institutions of higher education in areas, which have low GER. Presently we are creating educational hubs around metro cities and state capitals, which are further widening the gap. Most of these institutes are under private sector, which demands huge amount of fees from students. Only those students from well-off families come to these hubs. This is also leading to the migration of students from their home state.
To address the educational needs of the socially marginalised sections and to overcome social disparity existing in GER of the society, we need new education institutions in the public sector as there are no provisions of reservation in private institutions. As discussed above due to high fees structure private institutions are hardly of any use for socially backward sections. Present draft does not have any special proposal to overcome these questions of equity in higher education.
It seems a compulsion for every committee and commission to recommend 6 percent of GDP on education as it was proposed by earlier national policies on education of 1968 and 1986/92.  The government cannot back step from this landmark recommendation (which was never implemented). It is proposed in this document “The government will take steps for reaching the long pending goal of raising the investment in the education sector to at least 6 percent of GDP as a priority.” It looks good but in the next point, the real intention of the draft policy became apparent as it put emphasis to encourage investment by private providers through philanthropy and corporate sector responsibility.  It proposes various steps for incentivising private sector investment in education, such as tax benefits and inclusion of education within the definition of infrastructure. Private funding and FDI is proposed as an important strategy for mobilising financial resources for R&D and other quality enhancement activities in education institutions.
This means in the coming days there will be more privatisation of higher education in India. This draft on new education policy clearly indicates the intention of the government to facilitate private houses in the name of mobilisation of funds and resources, their old strategy. Along with this mentioning private funding and FDI as an important tool for R&D is a serious threat to already fund starved, research in higher education. We need more and more fellowships to encourage research for which more allocation is required from the central budget but government seems to be in a mood to further reduce budget on higher education and leave higher education at the mercy of private houses. In fact, these proposals, if implemented, will further help private houses for plundering loot of the aspirant of higher education in India.
Draft policy proposes various administrative changes regarding governance and regulation of higher education. It proposes to set up an ‘Education Commission’ comprising of academic experts, every five years to assist MHRD. There is a proposal for the creation of an Indian Education Service (IES), which will be an all India service with HRD as the cadre controlling authority. Draft policy also recommends the establishment of education tribunals at the centre and in the states headed by a retired High Court judge. Along with these proposals, it also recommends a mechanism for administering the National Higher Education Fellowship Programme and a Central Educational Statistics Agency.
Since some of these proposals look good but the long term aim is to completely replace the UGC with various new agencies with different functioning. There will be no role for UGC, means very silently government is planning to destroy UGC, which is an important institution to keep watch on education institutions. UGC is always seen as a hurdle in the path of private institutions. This is a long pending will of private players and government to destroy UGC to make it easy for them to operate in India. Indian higher education system is already having too many issues regarding their regulation, governance, administration and redressal system, now with these proposals, which will divide each function into a different compartment through a separate agency, will make coordination more difficult and less effective.
For the furtherance of neo-liberal agenda in the field of education, there is an emphasis on promoting foreign universities in India. There is a continuous effort to invite foreign capital in the field of education. During the time of UPA also various bills were introduced in the parliament to pave a way for this capital in the form of foreign universities, but due to the resistance from broader sections of society, none of these was passed.  Presently there are fresh efforts in this direction, which is reflected in the draft policy, which quotes “If required, steps will be taken to put in place an enabling legislation. Rules/ regulations will be framed so that it is possible for a foreign university to offer its own degree to the Indian students studying in India”. Not only this, even foreign faculty will also be encouraged to work in India.
For foreign universities to work in India there is a need to reform over-all higher education system. One of these requirements is to have a uniform system of higher education in India. Draft identifies this need: “Steps will be taken to gradually move from years-based recognition of qualifications to credit-based recognition” Government has already implemented CBCS and RUSA, which is working in this direction. It is evident that these so-called ‘academic reforms’ (CBCS, semesterisation, RUSA) are not a need of Indian students but of foreign education players to have common playground for them.
Ensuring quality in higher education is one of the major challenges in India. Various reports tell us about the low standard of institutions catering degrees to students. Most of the public, as well as private sector institutes, are facing the issues of inadequate infrastructure and facilities, large vacancies of faculty positions, poor quality of faculty, outdated teaching methods, declining research standards, etc. It is impossible to ensure quality education without addressing these issues.
The issue of teacher’s recruitment is dealt in a separate section. There are various proposals to attract youth for teaching professions in India. It is reflected as the youth in India is not interested in higher education ignoring the fact that there is a big number of aspirants who want to make their career in teaching but never get a chance due to policies of the government not to fill the vacant posts. Draft policy is also silent on thousands of the ad hoc/contact/guest lecturers teaching in higher education institutions. If we want to really improve the quality of education in India, we need good teachers in large numbers (India is one of the countries having worst student-teacher ratio), all the sanctioned posts in education institutions should be filled immediately following the proper procedure and maintain transparency. One cannot imagine ensuring the quality of education with temporary (ad hoc, guest, contract etc.) faculty. There should be concrete proposals to overcome these hurdles.
Draft policy indicates about these issues but is silent on the remedies. The only remedy it suggests for ensuring quality in higher education is the mandatory accreditation of education institutions by National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) and National Board of Accreditation (NAB). It looks like, for quality improvement, national and global ranking is the only solution. While acknowledging the importance of ranking and accreditation, one has to ask the question that these mechanisms can only check the quality but to improve quality more emphasis has to be laid on competent faculty, infrastructure, research facility etc. It is also important to check the widespread corrupt practices when it comes to accreditation and assessment of private sector. Draft policy fails to address these issues.
In fact, there is no proposed mechanism to monitor and check the private institutions. The student community is demanding for long to bring a central legislation to monitor the admission process and fee structure of private institutions but there is no mention of such provision in the draft.
There are high hopes from this new education policy, people are hoping that this policy will address problems and issues of higher education and will rejuvenate the education system. One of the reasons for this high hope is the kind of hype created by the government, but after analysing the draft, academic community and students will be disappointed. This policy will further strengthen the trends of privatisation and fund cuts in higher education, which is the root cause of all the problems related to accessibility, equity and quality.
Dr. V Sivadasan 
SIKAR, a city whose art, architecture and culture bear the mark of a rich history of confluence and diversity, will host the 15th All India Conference of SFI from January 22 to 25. The rich legacy of spirited peasant agitations makes the choice of the city even more appropriate, as in a historic first, the All India Conference of SFI is taking place in the Northwest India. The conference is taking place at a time when the whole nation is witnessing an assault on the very idea of India as a secular and democratic republic. The air is vitiated by the attempts to spread hatred among the people with the aim to consolidate public support for the anti-people, neo-liberal socio-economic policies, by putting the real issues that affect the life of the people into oblivion.
The ruling elites are trying to advance their agenda of assisting the aggrandizement initiatives of the corporate class. Every single policy initiative undertaken by the present regime is designed to achieve this. It is the historic duty of Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and the Left and democratic forces to fight till the very end such anti-people measures. The strength and courage to stand up and fight such draconian forces emerge from the rich legacy of struggles which SFI has fought throughout the years of its existence. The past four years since the last All India Conference have seen a spate of arduous yet successful struggles fought over various issues that affect the life of the Indian student community.
As many as 46 comrades are in jail and more than a hundred are hospitalised. In Sikar, the workers of SFI are facing brutal attacks from RSS hooligans and the state administration. They are trying to disturb the conference. The hoardings and banners of the conference were destroyed. Leaders including the state committee members of SFI were attacked. Subash Jakar, the secretary of SFI Sikar district committee, was grievously injured and he was arrested from the hospital on false charges! But the student community in Rajasthan is fighting against them upholding the white flag and revolutionary ideas.
The memory of the brave comrades who sacrificed their lives for the cause of the student movement should inspire us to move ahead, braving all obstacles. In these four years, several comrades laid down their lives fighting for the student movement. Comrade Rohit, Saifuddin Mollah, Sajin Shahul, Comrade Faziland and Ajeet Sing Beniwal made the supreme sacrifice in the struggles, holding aloft the banner of SFI. Comrade Sudipta Gupta, a member of SFI West Bengal State Committee, was killed in a brutal police attack, while leading a ‘law-breaking’ programme to protest the draconian decision of the Trinamool Congress government banning all students’ union elections in the state.
In the state of Himachal Pradesh, the student community under the leadership of SFI has launched a historic struggle, demanding increased budgetary allocation, roll back of fee hike, students’ union elections and roll back of the disastrous measures like Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) and Choice Based Credit System (CBCS). Fifty-four students were injured in the brutal police lathicharge, while the entire leadership was put behind the bars. Policemen in plain clothes attacked the state office of SFI, ransacked the office and arrested all those who were present there, including a 65-year-old man. Al those who were arrested had to go through brutal physical torture inside the police station. But the attempts to suppress the movement were fought back with the solidarity and support of the student activists from all over the country. Campuses across India protested against the attempt to oppress the voice of the students in Himachal Pradesh.
Pondicherry University was witness to a heroic struggle fought by the comrades for a gender sensitive and democratic campus. The movement started with the refusal of our brave activists not to succumb to the undemocratic practice of ragging and subsequent harassing following the refusal on the campus. When they approached the authorities with a complaint, instead of assisting them to fight such regressive tendencies, the university administration tried to cover up the whole issue. In the course of the struggle, the students who fought the administration were suspended and they had to take the matter to court. In a historic judgement, the judiciary granted a judgement in favour of the victimised students and this marked a successful turning point in the course of the struggle. The agitation in Pondicherry University was the one that reasserted the right of the students to have a gender sensitive and democratic campus.
The SFI Maharashtra State Committee led a month-long protest of students in Industrial Technical Institutes (ITIs) with the main demand to scrap the negative marking system which was newly introduced leading to thousands of students failing in their examinations. More than 25,000 students successfully participated in these SFI-led protests in 20 districts of Maharashtra. It must be remembered that ITI students form part of the future working class of our country. The stir culminated on December 30, 2014 – which is also the Foundation Day of the SFI – with an impressive state-wide demonstration of over 3,000 ITI students in Mumbai and fruitful discussions with the state’s technical education minister. The main demands of this stir were the scrapping of the negative marking system, increase in the paltry stipend of Rs 40 per month, question papers in the mother tongue, hostels for every ITI, filling vacant posts of teachers and employees, and provision of all necessary infrastructures in all the institutes. The struggle forced the government to rethink about the negative marking system. The Directorate General of Employment & Training (DGE&T) had to issue a circular where it had finally agreed to give the question papers in the mother tongue from August, 2015. The struggle had given an added momentum to the student movement of Maharashtra.
The comrades of Calicut University fought a valiant struggle which started as a voice of resistance against the vicious attempts by the Congress-led UDF government of Kerala to destroy the democratic atmosphere of universities ever since it came to power in 2011. One of the first initiatives, the government took was to dissolve the democratically elected syndicate and senate in different universities and set up new bodies with the members nominated by Congress and its allies. The vice-chancellor has been playing the role of a lackey of the incumbent UDF government to perfection. Banning protests and demonstrations in the university, introducing punching system for research scholars who will have to go for field work and other research purposes out of the campus, stopping the scholarship money from being distributed, cutting down a huge number of trees on the campus and damaging the rich ecological diversity, selling the university land to private authorities were some of the regressive moves which evoked the protest. The struggle was one of the longest and most arduous ones put up by the students of Kerala.
SFI has taken a proactive role in supporting progressive student movement all over the country. Be it the struggle of the FTII Pune against attempts of saffronisation or the struggle of the students of Madras IIT against the ban on Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle, SFI has tried to be part of such struggles strengthening the values of secularism and democracy.
The Indian student community has positively responded to such an effort is evident in the enthusing victories that SFI has achieved in this period. Out of the seven Central Universities where student union elections had taken place, SFI emerged successful in four of them. Central University of Hyderabad, Central University of Kerala, the English and Foreign Languages University and Pondicherry University have elected SFI alliances to lead the student unions.
SFI is marching into the All India Conference, with this enthusing support offered by the student community. The conference is an occasion to discuss and deliberate upon the functioning of the movement in the last four years. It is also an important occasion to chalk out the future action plan. In these days, when neo-liberalism combined with semi-fascism is trying to push the country back into the dark ages, an intense and serious effort should be undertaken by the comrades all across the country to make the All India Conference a huge success. 

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Nitheesh Narayanan

Campuses are the citadels of progressive ideals which sing the songs of the dark time in India. The political support extended by the student community of the English and Foreign Languages University, (EFLU) and Pondicherry University, has once again demonstrated this. The victory of students’ federation of India, SFI in EFLU and Pondicherry University in last week is not merely a result in a campus poll but a strong political statement which the students of this nation are eager to send to the public. This inspiring triumph has to be seen as a continuation of the thumping victory of SFI in Hyderabad Central University and Kerala Central University this year. With these results, SFI has emerged as the leading force in students’ unions in four of the seven central universities where democratic elections are being held in India. Even though the democratic platforms are suppressed and banned in the majority of the central universities, the students choose democratic and progressive forces as their representatives wherever they have an option. It is also a strong rebuttal to the entirely false and fabricated notion ofa Modi wave among the youth and students and is a befitting reply tothe saffron brigade’s campaign of the ‘Gujarat model of development’as what the future generation of India is waiting for.The democratic sections in the country are looking at campuses with much more hope and expectations than ever before in the recent past. Students’ Federation of India, SFI moves to its 15thAll Indiaconference after winning the confidence of the student community at large through the conclusive victories one after another in a raw.

Both the varsity poll results reflect the long struggles waged in the campuses over the question of campus democracy and student rights. It was Allied Students' Action for Democracy-EFLU; ASAD-E backed by SFI that swept all seats in the EFLU. ASAD-E is a larger platform of democratic sections in the campus which questioned the attack on democratic rights of the students in the campus. Tony Sebastian is elected to the post of president and Ajay Mathew (SFI unit president in EFLU) is elected as general secretary. Tania Kar (Vice President), Noble Antony (Joint. Secretary),AnasRahman(cultural secretary) and Ashish Krishna (Sports secretary) are the other members in the union. Tania Kar, AnasRahman and Ashish Krishna are unit executive committee members of SFI. It is a rejection of the regressive view thatUniversities is the spaces to silently listen the lectures and mug up information. The administration was forced to hold the election after a gap of one year without any elected students’ body in the campus.

The way students had to tread till they reached the day of elections had never been smooth. It was only one week before the election that disciplinary actions were taken against 11 students including many SFI activists over their participation in a peaceful protest demanding students’ body elections in university. Ina deliberate attempt to curb the strengthening of the movement all those 11 students were barred from contesting students’ union elections when it was achieved after continuous struggles and interventions by the students including them. One another student was also served with a show cause notice few days before for his Facebook post criticising the 'SwachhEflu' programme sponsored by the administration. These incidents are not isolated ones in the campus. It has been for a long time that the developments in EFLU have become a matter of shame to any democratic polity. The questions were being replied with a brutal repression of democracy. The demands for the space for debates were met with authoritarian diktats and autocratic orders to keep mute. Campuses must be upholding the high values of democracy and promoting democratic platforms. It has been a scene of inspiration that instead of taking out a victory rally the students decided to wage a struggle under the leadership of newly elected union against the unjust disciplinary actions on students in EFLU.

SFI was awarded with a decisive victory by the student community of Pondicherry University.All the regressive and caustic agendas of ABVP, who won the student body election last year, allying with the anti-student administration, have been utterly rejected by the vibrant student community of the Pondicherry University. SFI had emerged as the single largest organization in the students’ council election held on 23rd November. SFI-ASA alliance won all 11 seats in the University union to which election was held three days after. Elenkeswaran and Jishnu EN (Unit President of SFI) are elected to the posts of President and General Secretary respectively. SFI Unit committee member Com. Anjali S won unopposed to the post of vice president. Com. Theyventhiran is elected as joint secretary. Regon, Medha Ramesh, MedhaSurendranath, Harsha, Vinoth, ThamizhKalayarasi are the newly elected executive members of the students’ union.

It is the first time in the history of the campus, that the white flag occupies the sky of triumph in student body elections in Pondicherry University. This should be seen as the continuation of a series of struggles that were fought in PU over the last few years. Since its formation few years back, SFI has been in the forefront in raising the issues of students and questioning the irregularities in the university. The yearlong fearless movement which started in 2013 against Ragging and Sexual harassment is what brought PU to the notice of the democratic circles in the country. Many SFI activists were served with disciplinary actions over their active engagement in the struggle against ragging and sexual harassment. They were also brutally beaten up by the goondas backed by administration. Two brave girl comrades, Vidya and Kavya, were suspended from the campus for complaining against such atrocities and for deciding to protest. It was only after an yearlong political and legal battle, with a favourable verdict from Madras high court those comrades could complete their course. The judge while appreciating the two girl students, said they ‘stood to their ground and refused to tender unconditional apology’ as per the order of vice-chancellor Chandra Krishnamurthy and pointed out that their action ‘showed their courage of conviction and a refusal to comprise at the cost of honour’. He lauded them for overcoming the normal tendency and temptation of lesser mortals especially girl students, whose whole career as well as life may be at stake, to surrender to the power of authority.

It was only a few months after the court criticized the PU authorities over their highhandness over the student's rights that anotherstrong agitation was launched in the campus demanding the removal of Vice Chancellor, Chandra Krishnamurthy who has submitted fake bio-data to gain the post. Citing the indefensible irregularities in the university after her appointment as VC, the students intensified the protest day by day and it received immense support from various corners of the country. Threats one after another, police lathi-charge, arrests and all other efforts could not stop the advent of the students raising the slogans of democracy. The central government was forced to send the VC on a compulsory leave. ABVP, the union office holders of last year was hiding under the caves of deep silence all the while students came to streets to protest on genuine issues.

Central Universities are more plural and diverse space due to presence of students from various parts of India and the world. Students belonging to different nationalities are an active presence in such campuses. The choice of the students in Central Universities should also be read in relation to their valiant assertion against the Sangh Parivar initiated attacks on the cultural diversity of the nation and as a strong voice rejecting the vulgar attempts to divide the society on the lines of beliefs, cultures, languages, regions and religions. Yes, campuses are speaking out loud and they are definitely taking sides. They do write, on the walls and on the banners of their wars, ‘when politics decides your life, decide what your politics must be.’

Vikram Singh

‘All the day, all the night-occupy UGC’has become a popular slogan these days and is reverberating in the university centres across the country. This slogan emerged out of students’ anger against the decision of UGC under the direction of MHRD to discontinue the non-NET scholarship. Though there is an immediate economic demand of the students community which triggered this movement, the scope and scale of the movement has become much large than the immediate concern. The struggle now is not merely against the particular decision. Rather the agenda now is to save the research in Indian universities and research institutions from the clutches of finance capital and its diktats. What is at stake hence is the very idea of ‘research’ and the ‘research scholar’.
For growth of any nation and equal development of all sections of society,country should know its problems and possible solution. It is equally true for problems of society as well as problems of science and technology. To serve this purpose basic research in humanities and sciences plays an important role.Through basic research in humanities and science we can address our problems of hunger, poverty, social evils, health etc. This basic research is the mandate of our research institutions and universities. Universities play a greater role and are very important in progress of any nation. They are not merely the degree awarding centres but the centre of developing the national builders. According to the Dr. SarvepalliRadhakrishnan ‘universities are known for the creation of knowledge.’ Universities by definition are centres of critique, and questioning hierarchies and the status quo is central to that process.
In these research institutes and universities there are thousands of research scholars who are involved in research under M.Phil. and Ph.D. courses. It is the duty of government to support these research scholars financially as research work is a long term process and needs immense patience and concentration. These students are at such juncture of life where they are concerned about their livelihood as they cannot ask for it from their family. And the hard reality is that most of their families are not in a condition to support them in this working age. They are involved in social research which is aimed at social welfare so state is required to support them only then they can whole heartily give hundred percent in an honest and genuine research.
For this support in university there is a provision of fellowship offered by UGC and CSIR which constitute major portion of all the available scholarships. To avail this scholarship students have to qualify examination conducted by CSIR and UGC twice a year for JRF/SRF. But reality is that this examination ‘eliminates’ more people than it ‘selects’, this process is also questionable and its main aim seems to eliminate students out of the channel of research rather to provide them opportunity. This examination is based on multiple choice questions and students have to choose one right answer out of given options. Various studies have indicated that success depends upon the cheap guides available for clearing the exam have shown that not all students showing research aptitude or skills qualify the exam. Those who can afford coaching with a high cost have a better chance to qualify the exams. It does not mean that all who have qualified JRF are not capable. But this is also true that success in these exams depends more upon such quickfix skills to choose an option. Those who are unable to qualify these exams and make a way to so called ‘Merit’ are unable to pursue research and for them doors of research are closed forever.
For all those students these non-NET fellowships provide a welcome breather. They get a monthly grant of 5000 and 8000 rupees for M.Phil. and Ph.D.respectively. This amount is given to Ph. D students for a period of four years and to M.Phil.Students for 18 months.In addition to this they also get annual contingency fund to purchase books, journals, for printing and photocopy purpose. This is a very small amount but is very crucial and serves as life line for research scholars whose research careers are saved.
In this scenario this decision of UGC will adversely impact the research scholar as well as research of India. Researchers from deprived backgrounds will be the most hit by the new decision as should be obvious. Especially in the case of women researchers, the lack of financial independence makes them susceptible to familial pressures to leave research. The overall result would be the weakening of research in the country, undermining its knowledge base and intellectual self-reliance even as it makes research degrees inaccessible to the deprived sections of society.According to the UGC’s figure more than 35, 000 scholars are pursuing research under this non- NET fellowship. It means after decision of UGC India will lose these potential scholars of future.
It looks like that these steps of government are the part of a broader economic policy followed by the NDA government to leave all things under the control of market, which include research and education also. Now they are targeting research also. Government is directing research institutions and universities to generate funds for research at their own. At the time when UGC is facing resistance of students against this infamous decision during this time news came about the direction of the Ministry of Science and Technology to Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to generate half of the funds for its labs themselves. Labs are directed to collaborate with industries and market for joint research ventures. Ministry has directed in so called ‘Dehradun Declaration’ to emphasise on ‘Research for profit’ for next two years and had signed up to “develop a revenue model in a businesslike manner with a clear cost benefit analysis. In this meeting of officials of ministry and scientists of CSIR, an organisation of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was present in the meeting on June, 6. What is more worrisome that they were not only present there but actively participated in the discussions to ensure the idea of ‘indigenous science’.
These directions mean that research in universities and research institutions is left on the mercy of market. They have to take up projects funded by private funding agencies and private companies. Universities also have to follow the same route to support their research scholars and research. When funding will be coming from this route then priority of research will be decided by these funding agencies. Priorities of state and general public interests will not be in focus of research in future. This raises basic question on the very aim of the research.
State of research is in a pathetic condition in India. Innovation and creation of new knowledge are the major areas in which universities in the developed countries have an edge over their Indian counterparts. At its present stage of growth, India and other developing nations require knowledge based development of areas like pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, Nano Sciences, healthcare, genetics, IT etc along with studies in humanities. An alarming trend is the decline in India’s share of world’s research, which stood at 2.2% in 2007, a reduction from 2.3% in 2002. A study on India’s research output by Thomson Reuters in 2010 has estimated India’s global share of scientific publication to be about 3.5% for 2010. On the other hand, China’s share has increased from 14% to 21.1% during the period under study.The number of PhDs produced by India is less than half of those in USA. China’s steady increase in PhDs is worth noting; in 2002 India and China were not too far apart in the number of PhDs. However, by 2007 China had surged rapidly ahead in terms of its research output and is now almost rivallingUSA. Comparison of Indian performance with respect to SCI publications compares favourably with many other emerging economies but not China. Countries like Korea and Brazil are growing their research outputs at higher rates. Therefore, it is important for India to scale up its R&D effort engagement if it has to have a relative advantage over other emerging economies.
This is the need of hour to Intensify and expandthe research oriented higher education in the university system. Such intensification and expansion would be possible through the infusion of massive public investments that would ensure quality and help larger number of aspiring universities to excel instead of remaining limited to relatively small and specialized research oriented institutions.However, both the above-mentioned decisions are contrary to this. This can be seen as nothing but India’s preparation for WTO-GATS meeting to be held in Nairobi in December 2015.
However, the good thing is that these anti-student efforts of central government will not be successful. After the decision of UGC, students from all over Indian universities came to protest against this decision. Protesters included not only research and PG students but students from all courses and classes. Along with central universities, students from state universities are also raising their voice against this decision. Delhi became the centre of the agitation and ‘Occupy UGC’ has emerged as a symbol of protest. Student organisations across the political and ideological lines, came together to wage a decisive struggle. Though absence of ABVP is understandable who first tried to disrupt the agitation, but after seeing full support of students for this struggle, planned to dilute the movement through a fixed meeting with the HRD minister. They were propagating about some promise of minister but agitated students decided to carry forward under the banner of JNUSU, SFI, AISA, AISF and AIDSO. They were thrashed by police twice but were not frightened by the terror of police. During this lathi-charge Delhi state secretary of SFI Sunand, State committee member Prashant Mukherjee, Najeeb, Suresh and Deepanjan Krishnan were severely injured. At the time of writing these lines students were occupying UGC for few days. Students from various universities are spontaneously and voluntarily coming and joining protest. Teachers unions, academicians, social workers and politicians are also coming to venue for solidarity. At a time when society is being dividedbased on caste, religion, dress, food etc. these agitators are presenting a unique example of unity and struggle with full conviction of victory. It is the responsibility of all progressive and democratic people to extend their support for this struggle.