Thursday, May 28, 2015

'Make in India' in sync with 'Think in India' will lead to real progress!

Diagram by Jessica Hagy URL:

Jessica Hagy has made an interesting diagram showing the relationship between making and thinking. When we spend a lot of effort in making but little effort in thinking then we create the usual ‘stuff’.  When we spend a lot of effort in thinking and relatively little in making then we create ‘art’ objects. Progress of human society requires both – the usual stuff and the art objects. Making and thinking goes hand in hand. We make what we could think about and we should constantly think about what we are making. Balancing between making and thinking takes us to the progress.

The government of India has launched the mission of ‘Make in India’ which has captured the imagination of many. But how are we progressing in the area of ‘Think in India’? Like business houses taking lead in ‘Make in India’, the higher education institutions will have to take lead in ‘Think in India’. Do we have an ‘enabling environment’ in the country to pursue higher education system which promotes critical thinking rather than curtailing it? Do we have enough ‘investments’ in original research and is our young generation ready to take up career paths of being researchers? Do we have any vision of having a world class university or ‘smart’ university system yet?

Traditionally we have believed in ‘Education That Liberates’ (sa vidhyaha ya vimuktaye).  In 1947, many newly established modern institutions vouched to be progressive, liberal and innovative. But unfortunately, there are only few institutions in India which continue these traditions. Most universities spend their time dealing with government regulations and managing to work within their meagre budgets. When are they going to ‘invest’ in critical thinking, original research or innovative pedagogy? For example, most universities in India do not have access to international journals, then how are they going to publish anything in them and get a ranking amongst the top universities in the world? Our students need to be given more choices in their curriculums and they should be allowed choose their own multi-disciplinary pathways. The teachers needs to be more accountable, approachable and rigourous in their approach to teaching. Our universities need to embrace diversities, new ideas and new technologies. Sending an SMS to parents when their adult daughter or son does not attend a class is not the best use of technology and neither is it the right approach to education.

We are in a strange situation now. The government has pulled out of higher education more or less but it still wants to dictate what to teach, whom to admit, whom to hire, what to pay them and how much fees to charge. The big business houses start their own universities (probably to diversify their business) rather than supporting the well-established universities. And then there many individuals which would donate their money to religious charities rather than investing in higher education institutes. Probably, we haven't we realized the need of making good, stable institutions in this country yet.

In short, 'Think in India' will need some attention, some policy support, and some money with more autonomy! We will have to work towards supporting innovative thinking in this country. Otherwise, we will flood the job market with 'stuff' without substance. 

(25th May, 2015: DNA Ahmedabad edition, Cities Supplement, Page 5)

1 comment:

  1. Our thinking over goes back to government's intervention (or otherwise) even when we talk of more governance, less government'.

    Government should play the role of catalyst only. It is for the entrepreneur to Think of ways to overcome road blocks, rather than thinking over whether the roadblocks ought to have been moved away.

    Ease of doing business precisely means as less regulatory intervention as possible. That would put tremendous responsibility on the shoulders of those who do business.
    As much as Government needs to mature in devising less interventionist governance model, the business also needs to mature to a socially responsive and compliant models of doing the business.