No inspiration

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While education gives hope to our youth, of late it has become excessively bureaucratic and overly intrusive. This denies learners the transformative effects of quality education. Our higher education sector has focused on the expansion of the educational opportunities to a large number of aspirants. Even though a safeguard of one’s fundamental rights, it has been achieved at the cost of quality and excellence. The fig leaf of establishing new campuses, opening new colleges, etc has enabled the government to effectively conceal the rotten state of higher education. Truth be told, these institutions are without necessary infrastructure to kick-start the stipulated courses, both in terms of quality and quantity. To cater to the needs of an ever-growing population while the establishment of new institutions is not a bad move, the overhauling of the old ones should together be undertaken. Many academics and students complain about the lack of an efficient mechanism in the State universities and institutions. The environment in our universities is anything but research-friendly. Often students have to wait a long time for the research board meetings to have their synopses approved. Problems do not stop here. While theoretically researchers are supposed to report their progress, there is no system in place that could ensure that the supervisors are taking their jobs seriously. Even after the submission of thesis, the evaluation process takes several months or more than a year in some cases. All this must be stopped as early as possible. Then there is the issue of the number of students pursuing doctorate degrees from within the state and outside, not to mention those studying in foreign universities. It is bound to swell up enormously in the next decade. Question is where does our research stand at this point and what direction will it go in the coming decade? Where does the government intend to accommodate such degree holders? Is there a roadmap to utilize their knowledge and expertise for the greater good of the state? While every aspect of our society is reminiscent of the horrible consequences of the decades-long conflict, the education sector as a victim has received less attention. Youth, constituting the major portion of our population, is the most valuable resource at our disposal. Their skill could be used to enhance our state’s economic growth, political conditions, and other sectors of the society. But the failure of the state governments from time to time in developing higher education in accordance with the needs and requirements of the society is a serious stumbling block. The greatest culprit in this is the recruitment policy. Why is it that every time vacancies or selection lists are announced, a good number of aspirants feel compelled to run to courtrooms? The politicization of recruitment agencies is an eyesore. It has led to a deep resentment among the educated class against them. The universities in the state, on the other hand, stink deeply of nepotism and murder of talent. It is no secret that many researchers stay on in their respective departments knowing that sooner or later they will be appointed. This mars the open competition that is supposed to be the hallmark of recruitment in higher education. In this globalized world, we could take cues from the leading institutes of the world and emulate their research schemes. Improved teaching standards and use of modern technology can assist us in streamlining the educational system. We could transform our universities into institutions of excellence by encouraging innovation and creativity. In doing that, what is to stop students from the state in competing with the foremost institutions outside the state like JNU or Indian Institutes of Technology? Towards achieving this end, the university education should be incentivized. Dedicated and meritorious students must be encouraged to take up serious research. The government should establish a research funding agency that will provide scholarships to students. Surely, the lack of adequate finance is a major bottleneck in producing quality research. Better budgeting and full transparency in the recruitment process based on the modern merit-based system, in consonance with the UGC guidelines, must be introduced. Attracting enthusiastic and competent young persons to faculty positions in universities and doing away with the ‘dead wood’ would ensure that generations of students do not have to suffer from the lack of inspiring teachers. It is ironical that the good work done by dedicated and honest teachers gets buried under that deadwood.