Thursday, April 1, 2010

Passing thoughts on Fool's Day

Any form of representation can at best be partial. Its determinants are space, time, personalities, quality, ideology, opportunism and many others. How is higher academia in Bihar represented in the public domain to the people of Bihar and to those outside? Despite the onerous responsibilities and the remarkable work of those academics that still prop up a failing system, infrastructure and quality, recruitment and appointments have left a great deal to be desired in the last couple of decades. Sadly, these metaphors of failure represent higher academia.
The universities are represented by the Vice Chancellors, the teachers and employees by their respective associations and students through their public conduct and achievements. Changes for the better must include decision making that needs to transcend irrational choices so that in the years to come, representability may be respectable and credible. Credibility is the most substantive component of public trust. We have reason to believe that we are living in an era of hope, of resurgence. Development of any kind must necessarily include education because, at the end of the day, education is an agency of hope, emancipation and change. For a start, let us respect education and those connected with it and in return, let the institutions be accountable to the people. Education needs the best minds and the best minds can be drawn by attractive remunerations, respectable housing and other benefits at par with peer professionals. The best in education hinges on the balance of autonomy and accountability.
The other side of the picture, if we fail, is very gloomy. If the problems of university education are not addressed, institutions will continue to produce unemployable young people; unfit to occupy positions commensurate with their qualifications and because of their qualifications, unable to take up menial jobs. The cascading effect of poor higher education where degree holders are compromised individuals in terms of knowledge, communication and ethics means that the schools are likely to be affected adversely. When the current crop of excellent teachers retire their places will be taken up by those that are hardly qualified to teach. The result will be disastrous for the state. Parents of children in Bihar who are willing to sacrifice all for the sake of education (and education is valued very highly in the state) will then be forced to their children out much earlier than the current prevalent practice.
Lets get together and make a beginning. We owe it to our state.


  1. Higher education has been deliberately marginalized by successive governments in Bihar. The very fact that school teachers in Bihar carry heavier pay packets than the lecturers in colleges is so demoralizing that the best minds would dread to turn towards higher education as a career option. The society is witness to the falling standard of teachers appointed in colleges and universities specially during the last fifteen years, both in terms of academic competence as well as accountability.The mere thought of the retirement of 'the current crop of excellent teachers' is a nightmare to me. The entire system needs cleansing, for which serious attention of the government is a prerequisite. At the same time, the teachers should urgently act to mend the dent their image has suffered. The best must initiate the process of reclaiming the lost glory otherwise the worst will be full of passionate intensity, as they have been for so long.
    Lets begin and do our best.
    Sahar Rahman

  2. The passionate intensity of the worst cannot be matched by well-intentioned blog-responses. Perhaps, like Yeats, the only way we can respond to the crisis is through words. At least it is a response. It means we are still alive.

  3. The decline in education in Bihar is because of utter im practicality of the people who have the good of the state at heart. How many of us protested when private medical colleges nationalised in the 70's in the name of socialism? There were five of them: at Patna, Gaya, Muzaffarpur, Dhanbad and Jamshedpur when Karnataka barely hd two or three. Many good people actually celebrated this as triumph of meritocracy over money. Look where Karnataka education is with its plethora of private colleges and where Bihar is with our misplaced "meritocracy". And let us imagine for a moment what would have happened if those private colleges were allowed to flourish. Quite conceivably, aspiring doctors would be coming to Bihar for their education rather than the other way round and I am sure engineerng and medical and management and economics institutions would have followed. Alas!