Main problems of Indian higher education are: lack of research support, ignorance of national character, lack of integrity to common cause, indifference towards accountability, status-quo mind-set of stake-holders, stagnancy of prospects, lack coordinated efforts, and under-utilised resources. These problems are cognitive and intellectual in nature and their solution lies in enlightening national character among the stake-holders as this could be a primary source of spirit and inspirations among stake-holders. The spirit of national character is inevitable for creating vibrancy and vigour in the Institutions of higher education in India. This research article is the theoretical exploration of need of coordinated efforts and collective leadership; realisation of national character in the institutions of higher education in India.
Key words: Institutions, higher education, basic problem, stagnancy, national character.
Institutions of higher education are the cradle of research and the system of research is the guardian of these institutions. Here the term ‘Institutions’ of higher education represents universities, colleges and other stand alone, self-sustained and autonomous institutions imparting education at tertiary level. Presently these Institutions are in transition stage and facing the problems of the static mind-set and status-quo perspectives of the stakeholders and stagnancy of prospects. In fact, this is not a problem of funding or physical resources, but it is a problem of attitude and approach of human factor in the Institutions and its solution lies in igniting spirit and inspirations among stake-holders of these Institutions. This process starts with establishing and strengthening research system and realising the relevance of national character in the operations of these Institutions. The term ‘national character’ refers to “doing everything as a part of nation, on behalf of nation and for the sake of nation with the realisation that every action and inaction has national implications.” It is evident from the history of Indian freedom struggle that, the spirit of national character and common cause works as the prime source of energy, passion, dedication and determination with integrity, ethics and commitment. A well-established system of research will help the stakeholders to create these cognitive qualities and also to enlighten themselves with the spirit and relevance of national character in the Institutions of higher education.
However, the UGC and Ministry of HRD of India have not yet recognised the relevance and significance of national character in the operations of the institution of higher education. The function and utility of national character is overlooked by these central monitoring and controlling authorities. The UGC of India recently introduced STRIDE (2019). It is mentioned in the Scope of STRIDE that, “the research is an essential component of higher education which helps in search of truth, gain insights of for creating new knowledge, and imparts excitements and dynamism in educational process and facilitates intellectual growth”.
It is now realised that ‘research’ is a medicine (Sanjivani Booti)to strengthen the Institutions of higher education (HEIs) in India. The National Education Policy (2020 : 45) of India also highlighted that, “research and innovation at institutions of higher education is critical. It is evident that, the best teaching and learning processes at the higher education level occur in environments where there is also a strong culture of research and knowledge creation”. The NEP (2020 : 45) further states that, “the higher education system must be restructured to promote holistic education and research in universities including research and internships in the undergraduate curriculum, creation of faculty career management systems with due weightage to research. To focus on research and promote research culture in all the institutions of higher education, there shall be a National Research Foundation (NRF) which would bring a quantum jump in funding and support for research”.
It is evident from the result of STRIDE (Approved Proposals, 2019),that the UGC has finally short-listed 35 Institutions as research capacity building centres in component-1 and only 11 high impact research projects in component-3 and no research project in component-2. This would not be enough to create vibrant institutions of higher education in the whole country. In reality the STRIDE has a very limited scope as this widely propagated scheme of research ended with approval of 35 Institutions and 11 projects across the country. Though theoretically, research is considered as essential for creating the world-class institutions of higher education. But, lack of national character has not yet become an issue of prime concern for the said authorities or stakeholders and even an area of interest for the researchers. This research article is attempted to emphasise the significance of national character in the institutions of higher education in India.
The STRIDE (2019) approved proposals of 35 Institutions in component-1 for research capacity building centres and only 11 high impact research projects in component-3 across the country and no research project in component-2. This scheme of research ended with 35 research capacity building centre and 11 projects which is not enough to create any change in higher education. Lack of national character is the basic problem in the institutions of higher education and national character is inevitable for creating vibrancy and vigour in these Institutions. However, the relevance of this factor is not recognised as the primary concern by the Institutions of higher education. While delivering ‘UGC golden jubilee lecture’ Prof. Ram Takwale (2003) referred the major problems before higher education in India as: commodification of education, global competition, concerns of weaker institutions, developmental disparities, weak linkages with developmental processes, high cost of higher education and so on and he did not mention this factor throughout his lecture. On the same line, the Deloitte team (2012), in their SWOT analysis listed weaknesses of Indian Higher Education as: lack of infrastructure, shortage of trained faculty, complex and unclear regulations, regional imbalances and tag of “not for profit.” It is clear that, ‘lack of national character’ are not included in this list of weaknesses also. Such an approach of ignorance or indifference about ‘national character’ highlights the need of research in this area.
- To study the basic problems and situation of stagnancy in the institutions of higher education in India
- To highlight the significance of national character to overcome these problems of institutions of higher education in India.
- To emphasise the relevance of coordinated efforts and collective leadership for the common cause of the institutions of higher education in India.
This research article is based on previous studies, field experience in academic and socio-economic research, personal observations and review of related literature. The ideas, knowledge and information in this article are author’s original ideas created through the study and practice of research in trans-disciplinary social sciences.
Classes of Institutions
According to All India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE 2018-19) there are five types of institutions of Higher Education in India classified on the basis of funding and nature of management. The field of Indian higher education is divided on the basis of statutory control, nature and structure of management as: government aided or public funded institutions, colleges and universities; high class public funded institutions; autonomous/stand- alone institutions, high cost private institutions and general private institutions.
The Indian Higher Education is caught between the public educational institutions at one end and the large scale private institutions at the other end. Problems of these two ends are different upto some extent, however, the impact and long-term implications are same ultimately. The problems and challenges are generated through faulty public policy, insufficient funding, excessive privatisation, lack of research system, lack of national character, lack of coordinated efforts, lack of conviction and integrity to common cause, lack of accountability and self-discipline, lack of educational environment, lack of professionalism and professional ethics and lack of dynamic governance and visionary leadership. The overall result of the situation is stagnant, ineffective and inefficient educational system in higher education of the country.
The main problem of Indian higher education is that, all the Institutions are operating as a separate unit and there is no educational or functional relationship among these institutions. The successful and well-functioning IITs, IIMs, IISc, NIITs, IISERs and other such Institutions are funded by government through public money. However, do they have any role or responsibility towards the general public funded Institutions of higher education? There is no well-built system to connect all the Institutions with each other in order to share guidance, qualities, expertise, unutilised resources among themselves. It is evident that, the government and their administration could not create a united organisation of all the Institutions of higher education with national character and solidarity. There is need that the existing Institutions should come together and initiate a process of coordination and collective leadership at the earliest for the sake of national cause.
Peculiar Characteristics Indian Institutions
The peculiar characteristics and basic problems of institutions of higher education in India are: (i) management by orders and instructions – only follow the procedures and instructions as formality; (ii) purpose of work is formal duties and earning livelihood income; (iii) lack of progressive approach; (iv) teaching as formality, lack of improvements, involvement and innovations – passive and indifferent approach; (v) students are degree seekers, no quest for knowledge and learning attitude; (vi) lack of dynamic governance; (vii) lack of professionalism in operations; (viii) lack of professional ethics; (ix) Indifferent students, teachers, administration and the heads of institutions; (x) inefficiency at all levels; (xi) lack of change , innovation and creativity; (xii) lack of self-discipline in students, teachers, staff and academic heads; (xiii) lack of values; (xiv) lack of work-culture; (xv) lack of educational environment; (xvi) lack cleanliness, hygiene, peaceful atmosphere; (xvii) lack of green premises; (xviii) administration is bound by formal duties and habits; (xix) lack of participative administration; (xx) lack of well-established research system; (xxi) lack of accountability; (xxii) pleasure of stability; (xxiii) static mind-set of human resources; (xxiv) “no problem zone and we are doing our duty” approach of human resources; (xxv) resistance for change; (xxvi) stagnation of prospects; (xxvii) lack of ambition in the stakeholders and (xxviii) unutilised resources because of low aim of operations; (xxix) influential appointments as heads, faculty and personnel and (xxx) compromise with quality.
Relevance of National Character
The leadership context is synchronised around the politics and elections and all other institutions in national life have forgotten their key role of collective leadership in nation building endeavour. The Institutions of higher education and their ingredients are also sailing in the same boat. In second volume of 12th Plan, the Planning Commission of India has rightly stated that, “higher education is critical for developing a modern economy, a just society and a vibrant polity. It equips young people with skills, relevant for the labour market and the opportunity for social mobility. It prepares all to be responsible citizens who value a democratic and pluralistic society. Thus, the nation creates an intellectual repository of human capital to meet the country’s needs and shape its future” (2013 : 89). However, the Institutions of higher education are quite ignorant and indifferent to their key role in nation building activities due to lack of national character.
Definition of National Character
National Character means “doing everything as a part of nation, on behalf of nation and for the sake of nation with the realisation that every action and inaction has national implications.” The cognitive and intellectual aspects of human personality are the foundation of national character. The national character is built through enlightenment spirit, inspirations and patriotism among the stakeholders of the institutions of higher education. The values of self-discipline, common cause, integrity, ethics and commitment are the supporting factors to national character.
The Institutions of higher education are accountable to the nation and answerable to the society and their policies, decisions, actions and all the endeavours are governed by social cause and national interest. The role and responsibilities of these Institutions include: (i) creation and delivery of knowledge; (ii) develop human resources for enhancing productivity, entrepreneurship and employment opportunities; (iii) to build national character and provide collective leadership to the nation and (iv) to achieve the educational goals through a well-established system of research. In fact, all the members of intelligentsia in the country are the group of alumni of these Institutions of higher education. All the top authorities and personnel in administration, judiciary, economic system, intellectuals, social activities, politics, and education are the products of these Institutions. These Institutions also have a role of creating leaders and the responsibility of building national character among these leaders.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT-USA) displays the following information on their website.
“The MIT community is driven by a shared purpose: to make a better world through education, research, and innovation”.
“Founded to accelerate the nation’s industrial revolution, MIT is profoundly American. With ingenuity and drive, our graduates have invented fundamental technologies, launched new industries, and created millions of American jobs”.
In fact, a number of renowned personalities came from all over the world have contributed to the success of MIT, however, the Institution is committed to its national cause. Indian Institutions have to learn a lesson from this example of national character.
“MIT’s motto is “mens et manus,” or “mind and hand,” signifying the fusion of academic knowledge with practical purpose”.
The term “mens et manus”seems to be “man iti manus” in Sanskrit language. The Indian word ‘manav’ is a form of ‘man’ meaning as mind. ‘mens’ in MIT’s motto denotes plural of man or men, and its basic form is ‘man’ meaning as ‘mind’. Another word is “manus”. It is a general Indian term in singular meaning as human being. Thus, MIT’s logo has Indian dialect as “manus” or human being who has mind and hands i.e. creativity and physical capacity of its application, which is also a basic function of research.
“MIT is dedicated to providing its students with an education that combines rigorous academic study and the excitement of discovery with the support and intellectual stimulation of a diverse campus community”.
“For MIT’s faculty – just over 1,000 in number – cutting-edge research and education are inseparable. Each feeds the other. When they’re not busy pioneering the frontiers of their fields, MIT faculty members play a vital role in shaping the Institute’s vibrant campus community — as advisors, coaches, heads of houses, mentors, committee members, and much more”.
At MIT “student-faculty ratio” is 3:1 (for undergraduates) and despite that, the Faculty are busy with knowledge sharing, knowledge creation or engaged in some contributory activities at the campus of the Institution and no one says “it is not my job!”. Faculty play a vital role in shaping the life of the students and of the Institution too. How could MIT become an ideal Institution in the world? A simple answer is: national character, integrity and commitment to the cause, professional ethics, educational and innovative environment, the best quality of education, ideal curricula, best quality of faculty and effective system of research. Only quality, creativity, competence and contribution are the criteria for entry in the Institute. At MIT research is a companion of every student, faculty, administrator and leader of the Institute where research is established as a system and it is also inculcated in the whole system of the institution. Here research means thinking, creativity, innovative ideas and their practical utility and applications. This is the relationship between a world class Institution of higher education and its system of research and innovation.
A high time to move
The high-funded and well-established group of Institutions in the country should play a prime role as educational leaders and should start with a plan and effective strategies of leading the whole field of higher education in the country. The other government funded Institutions will implement and spread those plans and strategies in the field of higher education throughout the country. The only difficulty and obstacle in this process is the statutory limitations, bureaucratic approach of public offices, administration and heads of these Institutions. However, if this process is in the interest of all the Institutions of higher education, then it ought to be followed. Once the government funded Institutions come together and form a system of coordination with the spirit of national character, the dynamic environment would be created and gradually, the rest of the private Institutions would also participate in this process for the sake of their own interests.
Every Institution and every person in the Institution must introspect and initiate the process of overcoming the present situation of status-quo mind-set, notion of stability and stagnancy of prospects. These Institutions and their ingredients should determine to utilise their existing qualities, means, resources and energies to the best possible level by creating awareness, inspirations and realisation within institution and among institutions through proper communication system, discussions, workshops, seminars and conferences. These institutions and their stakeholders must enlighten themselves that; this is a high time to start a national mission which has to be carried out with the sense of unity and solidarity to achieve the goal of Institutional transformation on behalf of the nation. History has witnessed that, many successful socio-political revolutions took place only because of small initiatives with a thought, determination and the inspiration of common cause. In this mission, the personal goals of individual stake-holders should be complementary to the Institutional goals and Institutional goals should match with the national goals. The qualities, energy, competence, efficiency and strengths of an individual should be utilised for the Institution upto the optimum levels; and in the same way the Institutional endeavour should be dedicated to the common cause and national character.
- The Institutions of Indian higher education are facing various problems including lack of research support, ignorance of national character, lack of integrity to common cause, indifference towards accountability, status-quo mind-set of stake-holders, stagnancy of prospects, lack coordinated efforts, and under-utilised resources.
- The universities, colleges and institutions in India are lagging behind in terms of world-class quality of knowledge, infrastructure, management, curricula, Faculty and students. These Institutions could not realise their role and responsibilities in the context of global competition, changing needs of world-wide job market and growing unemployment.
- The Institutions of higher education failed in delivering/sharing quality knowledge, establishing systemic research, realising national character, and creating values of integrity, ethics, and commitment due to lack of vibrant policies, dynamic governance, educational environment, need-based curriculum and world-class knowledge, Faculty and infrastructure.
- The problems in the institutions of higher education are not of funding or physical resources, but, pertain to cognitive and intellectual aspects and therefore, their solution lies in human spirit and inspirations to enlighten national character among stake-holders through coordinated efforts and collective leadership for common cause.
- The STRIDE (2019) ended with approval of 35 Institutions for research capacity building centres and 11 high impact research projects across the country which is not enough to create any change in higher education.
- The spirit of national character nurtures the approach, attitude and perspectives of stake-holders and inculcates good habits among them which finally result in building character, vibrancy and vigour in the Institutions.
- The spirit of national character is inevitable for creating vibrancy and vigour in the Institutions of higher education. However, the role and relevance of this factor are not recognised as the primary concern in the Institutions of higher education in India.
The Central Monitoring Government Agency should understand the situation of stagnancy in the institutions of higher education in India and recognise the significance of national character. The national character could be built up through a system of inter-institutional coordination, communication and facilitate sharing of knowledge, expertise and unutilised resources among the Institutions of higher education. All the Institutions of higher education should understand the relevance of national character, common cause and collective leadership and implement them in practice.
- Scheme for Trans-disciplinary Research for India’s Developing Economy (STRIDE, July 2019), Operational Guidelines, University Grants Commission of India. Website: www.stride.bhu.ac.in
- National Education Policy (2020), Ministry of HRD, Government of India. (Website: www.mhrd.gov.in).
- Approved Proposals, Scheme for Trans-disciplinary Research for India’s Developing Economy (STRIDE, 2019). Website: www.stride.bhu.ac.in
- Prof. Ram Takwale (2003), Challenges and opportunities of Globalisation of Higher Education in India, UGC Golden Jubilee Lecture, Website: www.ugc.ac.in
- Deloitte Team (2012), Indian Higher Education Sector- Opportunities aplenty, growth unlimited, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India Pvt. Ltd., Website: www.deloitte.com/in
- All India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE 2018-19), Ministry of HRD, Government of India, New Delhi. (website: www.aishe.gov.in)
- 12th Five Year Plan,Vol.2 (2013), Planning Commission of India. Website: www.niti.planningcommission.gov.in
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States of America, Website: www.mit.edu.