Dissecting the Yash Pal Committee Report - Part III

The United States of America: a case study

America is a land of immigrants. The people on whose sufferance the US has been built, i.e., the Native Americans – for example the Huron, Apache, Cherokee, Sioux, Delaware, Algonquin, Choctaw, Mohegan, Iroquois, Oneida, Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Tuscarora, and the Inuit people – have all been long racially vanquished, eliminated by use of force. After the Native Americans were wiped out, migrant white Europeans have come to be considered as the default natives because of sheer number and power. All this happened in about 300 years.

Because of all this, US institutions are not built for and by natives (there aren’t any), but for and by immigrants. It’s in the culture of that country to prefer immigrants over natives, to talk only about immigrants.

Therefore, the US doesn’t care who studies or who teaches in its Universities as long as they are qualified enough. US Universities have tended to downplay the “people-angle” and welcomed anybody and everybody from anywhere and everywhere with the right academic background. As long as the territory of the USA gets the benefits of the academic output from the Universities, the US doesn’t “give a damn” about who actually produces that academic output.

The Yash Pal Committee’s definition of a University applies pretty much verbatim to the US (and not to India, as we shall presently see). After all, both the Yash Pal Committee’s report and the US believe that it’s the academic output which matters. Not who produces it. This thinking is illustrated by the Yash Pal Committee which goes to the extent of lamenting that India doesn’t import sufficient number of students from the “southern hemisphere” (called “clientele” by the report):
India is in a unique position to serve as a destination for affordable higher education for a vast number of students from countries in the southern hemisphere. At present, our system manages to attract only a small fraction of this potential clientele.
It is disappointing how the Committee is so blindly thinking of building a University system tailor made for “potential clientele” from outside India when most of India is excluded from the system. We will come to how most of India is excluded presently. But before that, a case study of other developed countries [in the next part].

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Vishnu Mathur said...

I have read your dissection of the Yash Pal Committee Report, all three of them. I have a few observations to make.

1. I agree that it was none of the Committee's business to suggest something like it has on the Secondary School Education because it didn't have the mandate for this. However, I believe it was made in good faith. However, having one national school education board in a country like India is a mad man's pipedream that can never materialize.

2. I completely disagree with your definition of University as opposed to the Yash Pal Committee Report's definition. You have completely missed the woods for the trees because the 'people angle' is associated with an organization and not with the general idea of what a University is.

3. Your take on the Yash Pal Committee Report's suggestion on building a University system for 'potential clientele' is misplaced. And, why on earth a country 'give a damn' about who actually produces that academic output.

There must be a standard for everything. Of course, you cannot go on as we are on our higher education system at present. Reforms are must, and that too radical reforms. We can always have our 'parallel systems of education' but not in the current format. Else, we shall continue to lag behind Western system of education in terms of fundamental research, development and acquiring knowledge.

I won't hesitate to say here that you could have done a better and more comprehensive 'dissection' and done away with some tones that hints at regional parochialism.


editor, KARNATIQUE said...

@ Vishnu Mathur

Thank you for your viewpoint. It's okay to disagree. I encourage you to read on. There are more parts coming up.

Jockey said...

@ Mathur

Dude, a university is an organization beyond doubt. Think about it. Here's what Wikipedia defines an organization as:

a social arrangement which pursues collective goals, which controls its own performance, and which has a boundary separating it from its environment.

And you've exhibited the very exact sentiment which the article calls wrong - that a country should not worry about who produces academic output in the universities.

Your allegation that there's "regional parochialism" in the article is absolute crap. What you call as "regional parochialism" is what I call as the right to self-governance - better known as democracy. Why should Kannadigas let anybody decide what is taught in their universities or schools? This is a fundamental right of all linguisitc and ethnic groups. India is no exception to this rule.

If you call Kannadigas deciding about their education systems as "regional parochialism", I'd call India deciding about its education system as "regional parochialism" too - at a global level. In reality, people at all levels should have the right to govern and educate themselves.

Anonymous said...

"country should not worry about who produces academic output in the universities"

Jockey, we already have one example. IITs n IIMs, no matter where are they located, the fact that there is an central autonomous body to manage these institutes of execellence, they are doing so well. Think of a situation when IIT Kanpur is being managed by UP Govt or IIT Kharagpur by WB govt, can they maintain the same level of excellene. Tell me any example where state college are preferred over central college.

Clangorous said...

Well said Jockey,

@ Vishnu Mathur,
We are lagging behind Western system of education in terms of fundamental research, development and acquiring knowledge because we are not acquiring these things in our mother tongue. Westerners have their education in their mothertongue which is English and accordingly other regions like Germany, Japan, Israel etc have their education, research in their mother tongue. This is the basic reform which needs to happen in India at state level based on their own languages. If Centre makes the decision for all the states, then it would surely put all its energy in promoting Hindi alone along with English which would eventually wipe out rest of the languages. If you call having education in their own mothertongue as regional parochialism then what should you call this forced Hindi Imperialism which centre always has as their hidden agenda ?

Vishnu Mathur said...

@Clangorous: I don't understand what you are saying. English is the most desired language for higher education in India. You cannot have a Hindi engineering college in UP and a Kannadiga engineering college in Karnataka. It is not possible and it is not feasible either.

Besides, English being a widely spoken foreign language in India, eliminates the possible regionalism. Not only that, English medium education gives the students best exposure to go global - be it in the professional sphere or be it to gain knowledge or be it to impart knowledge.

Clangorous said...

@ Vishnu Mathur,

I never said we should eliminate English completely, Yes its needed for global exposure. But who has made the decision that only English is the most desired language for higher education in India ?. What I try to convey is basics needs to be taught in mother tongue. In an ideal India even higher education should be in mother tongue to encourage innovation and lateral thinking. Whatever you might feel about English, Indians can never be as good as a Britisher/American when thinking/innovating in English. And who said its not feasible to have higher education in any other language than English ?, Refer the link below :


Hebrew was almost extinct before this university was setup by the Israelis, still with their sheer will power and belief in their own language, they could come up with this top class institute of technology from scratch. Atleast until now whatever Indian Languages which are there are not in that bad state how Hebrew was. Since the Israelis could learn in the language which they understood the best, today Technion is one of the best institute of technology in the world. It is this basic understanding every Indian should know and be aware of. If we keep slaving around to English, we shall always be working for Americans/Britishers in technology without much innovation from our end. If countries like Germany, Japan, China, Israel and n number of other developed countries could manage without English then even India can, provided decision makers and educated class like you and me understand the basics that we learn the best in out mother tongue.

Even great scientists like Albert Einstein, Galileo learnt in their mother tongues. If you know, Galileo even refused to succumb to Italians to record technical details in Italian. He was proud to use his mothertongue "Latin" to do his research and record the findings. (Havent these guys gone global without English ?)

Our very own Sir M Vishveshwariah had his education till 10th in Mothertongue. So Education has to be reformed in India right from the basics so that one day even India can have its own innovations, products with global reach and can truly be less dependant on western countries to sustain its economy and progress.

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