“It is most unfortunate that even after 65 years of independence; we have not focussed on education” Said Mr Narendra Modi, the Prime Ministerial candidate of BJP, in Chennai on 9th Feb 2014. The observation in question is very apt and relevant to-day. A little research will reveal that the Government could have done much more, to really focus and upgrade the quality of education. Few bills presented before parliament are pending for a long time and both the houses have no time to deliberate and pass/reject them. Parliament and State legislatures have certainly failed; they have no time to deeply go into this nation building responsibility. Therefore at least the next Government should take more positive steps to spread and encourage quality education in general and more particularly in the sphere of technical education in particular. This sad state of affair is certainly disturbing every right minded people.

We are a great country of more than 1.21 billion people with a very rich cultural and social heritage. There was a time when we were proud to have the greatest universities in the world like Nalanda, Taxshila and Vikramsila. Can we boast off such universities now? The answer is in the negative. As on today, we do not have a single institution or university in the top hundred in the world, though even today we are third in the world (after US and China ) in the number of students enrolled for higher education. We have to introspect and find reasons for such situation.

Let us look at the role of Government on this critical issue. On 13 Dec 1963,the then Union Minister for Education Mr MC Chagla stated in the Lok Sabha that, he proposed to take up with the State Governments the desirability of making ‘education’ being put in the ‘concurrent list’ subjects to achieve a ‘Uniform Education Policy’ for the country and thereby promote ‘National Integration’. And, after 50 years, on 1 Dec 2013, the present Union Minister for HRD (?) Dr M M Pallam Raju has said that a new act is being formulated to ensure that the Regulators of the education in India function in a ‘co-ordinated’ manner; and that, the Union HRD Minister himself will preside over the meetings of the Regulators once in a quarter or so to resolve ‘conflicts’, if any, amongst the Regulators .Means, even now coordination is lacking at the highest level of Regulators of the country, Government and Stake holders of education.

Let us note that these Regulators are created by the Parliament – their role and responsibilities are laid down by the respective Acts. That being so why should a need be there for the minister to resolve the conflicts? If he can, what is the legal frame work? Do the Acts which establish the Regulator cater for such interventions? Can we call such ‘intervention’ as ‘interference’ in the affairs of Regulators? Can we attribute vested interests behind the ‘conflicts’ or the ‘interventions’? Does the Standing Parliamentary Committee play any role – are they consulted? Why should so many cases be pending before various High Courts and Supreme Courts against the Govt. or Regulators? Is it due to the failure of the law makers in making dynamic and whether proof Acts?

All the Regulations are supposed to be placed on the table of the parliament – means, thorough scrutiny by the law makers is called for. But do our law makers have time to sincerely examine, seriously debate, thoughtfully discuss and genuinely consult the stake holders on these critical issues before arriving at a decision? When the Government has literally disowned funding the higher technical education by not giving any kind of grant to NGO run private unaided institutions how do they dictate unwanted and undesirable terms and conditions to those institutions. This is despite a judgement by the Supreme Court which says that, ‘the State which ‘gives aid’ to an educational institution can impose such conditions as are necessary for the proper maintenance of the high standards of education as the financial burden is shared by the State’. Such basic questions are daunting the biggest democracy of the world which is concerned about building the ‘human capital’ and needs to be resolved. All that we can say at this juncture is, “Take positive steps to encourage those who are doing what the Government is supposed to do.” And let us remember what Thomas Jefferson once said – ’When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty ‘.So, let the policy matters be taken quickly after due consultations with the stake holders.

The other critical issue is related to faculties. Even heavily supported Central Universities/Institutions are facing acute shortage of faculties. Despite all the rules and regulations get the best faculties is a big problem and whatever is happening everywhere is a compromise. That is why one estimate says that only 5% of college graduates in India are employable. So, on the one hand it is a problem of PhDs; on the other hand there is the problem of quality. What is more, the need and dynamics of industry is such that these faculties can merely teach the theory but not the practical aspects of industry. Therefore, despite employing the ‘numbers’ the quality conscious institutions are to incur the additional cost of inviting those veterans from vast industrial experience. Overall, teaching is not in the list of ‘priority’ compared to other professions.

That situation can never change until some revolutionary steps are initiated by the Govt. of India. There are many reasons for this but the prime reason is lack of resources as well as conditions laid down by Regulators for employment of teaching staff. Can we expect an MBA to teach at par with those who have actually have the experience of working in the industry for at least a decade? Our expenditure on education is roughly 3% of GDP when it should have been at least 6% of GDP. That too is going to primary and secondary education as well as to the Central Institutions. It can safely say that the Govt. has other priorities too and hence cannot do much. That is why they encourage public charitable Trusts to enter the field of education by waiving liability of tax for such Trusts. The Govt. needs to take more positive steps to address the burning issue of quantity as well as quality.

Lack of really qualified trainers in business schools is a major concern for all of us. If we want to attract quality faculty, the Government of India has to take benevolent and encouraging measures. One such step would be to ensure that the salaries of the teachers and faculties are exempted from tax. Many states have declared free education up to graduation level. If the Government can beat this expenditure why cant the professors and teachers be exempted from the liability of Income Tax? It should be noted that the people whom they train are national assets. The foreign exchange reserves can also be attributed to some extend coming from those trained by these faculties and deployed globally by our IT and other companies. The MPs and MLAs who are increasing their pay and perks should think about these teachers and professors.

The B Schools can never compete until they get the trainers as professors. No PhD can be a substitute to the real corporate experience. But, why should the people come to academics leaving their career? Periodic engagements and guest lectures cannot solve the problem of quality. What is it that a B School can offer compared to industry on long term basis? The corporate sector provides steady growth, status and good compensation/ remuneration; therefore, the B-Schools have to match this demand at least the midway if they want to employ industry trained- faculties.

Here is where the Govt. should step very effectively. The current system of taxation would cause the faculty to pay out 30 percent of their meagre salary as tax. The educator is also required to pay the education cess. This is a substantial amount as they do pay various central/state taxes. What is left for them to be happy and to lead an inspiring life? How many of them can do teaching as a social service and why should they do that? Is it not the basic responsibility of the Govt. to provide quality education? And when the incomes of the trusts are exempted from tax why should tax be there for the salaries paid from the funds of the trust? This concession, if granted, will not cost much to exchequer. After all, millions of rupees go into drainage on account of ‘this’ and ‘that’ form of subsidies in this great country. If Shri Rahul Gandhi says, additional gas cylinders are ordered promptly by the Govt. And this subsidy of exception of income tax can also be examined if the politicians are interested to promote education in the country.

The other requirement, for the industry trained trainers, to join B-Schools is their appointment should be based on their experience rather than depending on outdated or irrelevant PhDs. Management science should not be treated as pure academics. If only doctors can teach medicine, lawyers can teach law only management professionals from corporate sectors should teach core management subjects in B Schools. This is what is happening in good B School in developed economy. Quite a lot of corporate leaders are keen to join the academic world provided they are compensated appropriately. Even those who have sought retirement are hale and hearty in their sixties and seventies may effectively contribute to constructive education. Their age limits should be left to the discretion of Management. But, the conditions prescribed for a Professor or Associate professor disable them from joining the B Schools.

These critical and well trained corporate resources can be attracted if the profession of teaching is given the status of ‘Noble Profession’ which would mean exemption of taxes on income earned by teachers and faculties?

Can this too be in the agenda of intelligentsia and political parties debating to capture power in the impending national election? (The Author can be contacted on E Mail ID : dr.bala@balajisociety.org)

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Dr.(Col) Bala Sir
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Dr. (Col.) A. Balasubramanian is a classic example of courage, commitment and intimate relationship with the corporate world. His love for Knowledge and perfection is unimaginable he has created more than 30000 successful MBA's all throughout this Lifetime.
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