Aug 26, 2010

Privatising higher education is the only way to 'educate' the stupid brats

Professor Dinesh Mohan of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) New Delhi was right on the mark. Speaking in New Delhi last week, his understanding of the socio-economic reasons behind the so-called neo-liberal assault on higher education made me think. He is so right.

He said if you look around your circle of friends and extended families you will find that most people who are even less than mediocre are doing so well. They have been 'educated' in foreign universities or have degrees from some private education institutes in India and yet we know they fall in the category of stupid. They are there because they could afford to be 'educated', even if they didn't deserve it.

Well, I immediately let my mind wander, and gosh he was so right. Many of my close friends and relatives certainly do not deserve to be where they are. They wouldn't have gone beyond the graduation level if higher education was not available for a price. Because they got those degrees, they managed to meet the essential qualification that landed them with plush jobs. These jobs should have actually gone to more aspiring and deserving candidates who were left behind because they could not 'afford' higher education.

Estimating the middle class to be around 250 million, Prof Dinesh Mohan said this means we have roughly 40 million families which fall in that category. They have children, some of them of course are bright, but a majority are stupid. Every parent makes the best of efforts to see that his children, howsoever stupid they may be, acquire the best of education (read degrees). Now, this wouldn't be possible unless he/she overcomes the competition from youngsters who come from the poor strata of life.

Since this stupid generation is unable to compete on merit, the next best option is to remove merit. Therefore, while the middle class talks of merit and talent, it actually hates competition based on merit. Private schools, colleges and universities have come in handy to rescue this stupid generation, and ofcourse generations after generation.

I found this argument very appealing, and of course true. 

If money couldn't buy education, and deprive the poor but bright students from higher education, we wouldn't have a majority of the politicians, and scions of the business families, coming back with degrees from Harvard, Cambridge and even some obscure university hidden in a street corner somewhere in Liverpool or Melbourne. Just think. Anil and Mukesh Ambani wouldn't have been heading the Empire if they were not the children of Dhirubhai? They certainly couldn't have managed higher education in the US since they were not meritorius enough. At best, they would have been upper division clerks somewhere if they were born to lesser mortals.

If you look around, you will find the same story everywhere. Your neighbour's son/daughter would have found it difficult to strike a better deal in matrimony since even there education qualification counts.

No wonder, more than 300 members of Parliament own colleges/universities. They are catering to a class of society that can only 'buy' education.

To hasten this process, the government is planning to introduce in Parliament the following four bills:

1. The Foreign Educational Institutional Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill, 2010.

2. The Educational Tribunals Bill, 2010.

3. The Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Technical Educational Institutions, Medical Educational Institutions and Universities Bill, 20101.

4. The National Accreditation Regulatory Authority for Higher Educational Institutions Bill, 2010.

At least, two more Bills in the same vein, including one on establishing the much-hyped National Commission for Higher Education and Research for facilitating single-window clearance for private/foreign universities, are reportedly in the offing, says Anil Sadgopal. And let us not forget the Indo-US Knowledge Initiative in Agricultural Research, Education and Marketing (KIA) that UPA-I had introduced.

This is a subject which needs a lot of debate and discussion, which unfortunately is not happening. Although the Prime Minister says that he is not working for the US, the fact remains that his government is in a tearing hurry to corporatise all sectors of the Indian economy, including education. And as James Petras, author of Globalisation Unmasked, had said: "The inevitability of globalisation and the adjustment or submission of people all over the world to free market capitalism depend upon the capacity of dominant and ruling classes to bend people to their own will and make them see the interest of capital as their own."

[If you want to know more about what the government is doing to destroy education,  suggest you try to get hold of a small publication: "Neo-liberal assault on Higher Education" edited by Anil Sadgopal. His email is:]


Anonymous said...

Dear Sir

Problem is still the same rather more peculiar as we know much about it, but still proper solution is not been suggested or worked upon. Im really pleased to know that MPs own universities & colleges. Y cant we, the revolutionaries (?????). If we cant afford, lets become MPs, may be then we can. Spreading knowledge is good for any society as it will help it to moive & grow up. But when one sees some danger he/she left with only two choices - run away or face it.

Its really hurting to say that somehow we are on some other part i.e. neither of these two. We still see some Gandhi or Baghat Singh to come by.

Ashok Kumar

Jayadeep(JDP) said...

While I find your articles very valuable usually, this has some flawed logic. It is questionable what "merit" really is - for an IIT professor, it may be the JEE qualification rank, but as we know that is just one part of life skills. I would even argue that creating IITs itself was an elite move in the name of merit and technology. Instead the Govt's prioirity should have been to educate the masses, not just create a elite educational institutions like IITs which caters mostly to the western countries. What innovation or technology has helped the Indian masses from IITs ? Precious little. So the Govt. should have left the elite organizations to the private sector IMO and focused on primary education in the country. Another case point is the secondary treatment given to Ayurveda education when compared to the western allopathic education which is blindly followed. There was no effort from the Govt. to research on indigenous medical practices and mix it with the good things of western medical education.

Anonymous said...

sir, i dont completely agree to the fact that only those students go for private eduction who can "buy it" but rather the facts remain that in country like India where majority of population falls in youth category have only limitted number of government university to get admission in.

i would also like to mention about the plight of those middle class students who inspite of all the hard work loose their seats to those so called poor or backward class people of society because of quota system. basis of eligiblity should be education, liberty should be givin on basis of economic or fee. what will be future of the country where doctors or engineers or mba's are people who got degree because of their caste/ class rather than ability.

rather than critizing and categorizing the private institute students in stupid category we should appreciate the fact that may be its money who enable these students to get admission in private institute but atleast they are getting higher education & experience to professional life.

private schools may provide a platform to capture the best possible job oppertunities but its still the talent of individual who help him or her to sustain in competitive environment.

ambani brothers might have gone to harved or other elite foreign institutes because they can afford it but in return they are contribution to indian economy & taking india to competitive global levels.

in shorts rather than criticizing private institute we should apprecitate the fact that may be we are getting education at some price but finally we are getting world class education in india.

Anonymous said...


I am not sure how you came to the conclusion that Ambani brothers would have been only UDC clerks at best had they not been born to Dhirubai Ambani? Are you saying that they are able to run and grow Reliance just on the basis of their US education??? Quite fallacious logic there, dear sir.

The really stupid are the ones who, despite getting a paid US education, still at best are not able to grow their business or steer their own destiny, but end up becoming socialites or politicians.


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Vaman Desai said...

What about a severe deficit in the number of govt educational institutions in almost every field, the huge chunk of already few seats going in the form of quota and an absolutely pathetic quality of education in most of these govt institutions. You have a point but most of the problems are not due to privatizing educational institutions but due to systemic problems in the existing system