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July 15, 2009

Yash Pal Committee report and its impact

— Satya Ranjan Doley Higher education plays a pivotal role in building the nation. No one can imagine the progress of a country without having a good system of higher education. Higher education is the key that shows the nation which direction it should proceed. A nation is progressive and enlightened when the people of that country are highly qualified in the diverse field. Thoughts of the people are directed towards the path which would lead to invention of new things. Invention and innovation are result of research and only fruitful and effective higher education alone can give the research right direction and enrich the country scientifically, socially, economically, politically etc. In the present context, it is imperative that there is need of reform in higher education.

The Government of India constituted a committee under the chairmanship of Prof Yash Pal to review and offer recommendation on the existing system of higher education. The committee after consultation with many academicians had prepared the report and submitted it to the Ministry of HRD for follow up action. The HRD Ministry accepted the report submitted by the committee and also agreed to execute the recommendations made by it on the renovation and rejuvenation of higher education.

The report outlines that, first, there is necessity for greater autonomy for colleges and universities. For that, the UGC should give some powers to these organisations for smooth functioning Besides, the entry of new colleges and universities should not be prevented from entering and coming into existence. The priority of the UGC is to maintain standard of quality. The reformed UGC and AICTE should give up on the licensing of higher education. But the big question arises here is existence of the institutes/colleges in the market. Poorly performing colleges and educational institutions will be completed out of existence by the pressures of the market. For this reason, the UGC should rate the universities and institutes of higher education and publicise ratings which is detailed, annual exercise and prominently available on a website.

Second, the report spells out that it is not possible for any government to run over 300 universities with equal generosity. It follows from this that the necessity is the differential treatment of institutions and universities and also of individuals. This has to be based on transparent system of objective evaluation so that every individual and every university has the same opportunity. Here question arises is salary and research supports. The old system in which the pay package of every professor was put at the same level, nowadays, is not feasible. Thus, special pay package be paid for star researchers and professors like the country the US in which began this system. The exact modality of this will entail discussion and debate. The average salary of all professors all over India can be held constant and this achieved by simply creating a graded salary system. It is expected that this would transform the quality of India’s higher education.

Third, the report mentions that private sector money be allowed to come into higher education. The purely private colleges should of course not be subsidised by the State. They should be allowed to set college fees as high as they choose. Then only rich student can afford to enroll in such institutions. There is no harm in this and some advantages, since the State will now be able to allocate more money to the colleges and universities under its charge and provide good education to the remainder at a lower cost. But there is a common presumption that private institution wants to make money at the cost of quality. In fact, it is not logical and if private party is intended to establish institution, it is a welcome step.

Fourth, it is outlined in the report that it is the time to make India into the world’s major hub for higher education. The advantage in higher education in India is our strength in English language and low cost of living. For this reason, India positions itself to attract the students not only of underdeveloped countries but also of the developed countries. In the US, the annual cost of education is approximately in terms of Indian currency Rs 25 lakh. If India can build some good universities with high quality residences for students and advertise globally, foreign students will be attracted to study in India because of low cost and this would help bring in large infusion of money which can make it possible for the Indian government to subsidise Indian students pursuing higher education.

In the context of Assam, the existing higher education of Assam is horrible and is not catering to the needs and requirements of the present day. The people of Assam are witnessing the deteriorating condition of higher education. This is matter of serious concern and needs to pay immediate attention so that appropriate step can be taken early to reform the whole system of higher education which is related to quality and transparency. So far as Yash Pal committee report is concerned it will have some impacts on the higher education in Assam. The advantages may be pointed out that differential pay package as mentioned in the committee report is likely to give incentive to the faculty member to work harder and contribute to enhancement of professional skill which would result in improvement of quality and rating system of the institution would give scope to upgrade the institution as every institution of higher education will be seeking to be rated in top position. The report speaks about entry of private institution in the higher education without any prevention from the regulatory authority. This may be drawback because there is every possibility that talented and meritorious students prefer these institution for the reason of infrastructure and other benefits. Non availability of meritorious and talented students in government run institutes in Assam may pose problems to stay in the market and solution of this problem is major question mark. Nevertheless, it is to be noted that most of the advantages of Yash Pal committee main report outweigh the disadvantages if it is executed in true letter and spirit.
(The writer teaches in DHSK Commerce College, Dibrugarh). SOURCE: ASSAM TRIBUNE

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