Universities cannot be govt departments: Amartya Sen

President Pranab Mukherjee reflected back on India’s ancient history and said it had a “dominant role in higher learning” which had eroded over the years

Written by Aranya Shankar | New Delhi | Published:July 18, 2017 2:15 am
 Amartya Sen, President Pranab Mukherjee, Universities, Indian higher education, Education News, Latest Education News, Indian Express, Indian Express News Nobel laureate and renowned economist Amartya Sen

President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said the goal of Indian higher education should be to produce “argumentative, pragmatic Indians”, not “intolerant, dogmatic citizens”. He was speaking at the release of a book on higher education at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Mukherjee was joined by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, who stressed the importance of autonomy in higher education, and said universities cannot be run like “government departments”. Mukherjee was presented the first copy of the book The Future of Indian Universities: Comparative and International Perspectives, published by Oxford University Press.

Speaking at the event, Mukherjee reflected back on India’s ancient history and said it had a “dominant role in higher learning” which had eroded over the years. Sen said that during the colonial times, universities weren’t given autonomy by the colonisers due to fear (of revolt or dissent) and that has remained as the university system has developed over the years. “This is the time for change. We wouldn’t have any great university in the world if it was run like a government department. The pursuit of independence and autonomy is central to the cause of a university,” Sen said. He said one way to introduce autonomy was to introduce more private universities and give endowments.

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  1. M
    Jul 19, 2017 at 4:40 pm
    In my sincere opinion, JNU has been playing the "ideological second fiddle" to Congress governments for decades. May be Amartya Sen did not notice this fact earlier. Pseudo-secoolars like Sen will forgive anything done by their fellow Pseudo-secoolars. Incidentally, did not Sen say he would leave India if Narendra Modi become Premier of India.??? Where is the INTEGRITY of his words in this man ?? He should have stood by his words. That is the mark of a Gentleman.
  2. S
    Jul 19, 2017 at 1:01 pm
    The President is right: the importance of Ancient Indian History has eroded over a long period of time. Anyone can understand why Islamic rulers and British colonial rulers did not give importance to ancient Indian history - they wanted to propagate a different imported culture and for that, whatever good existing here has to be erased and whatever bad existing here has to be highlighted so that an alternative seems attractive and necessary. But what happened after independence? Why Indian rulers did not want to give thrust to Ancient Indian history? What is the role of experts like Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib or Amartya Sen in such obscurantism? Also, why autonomy of universities had never been a significant issue till now? Why most public funded Universities were working like government departments during the last 70 years after independence? Who all gained from such corrosion of values in Universities? Why some people were reigning apex intellectual bodies for so many decades?
  3. P
    Jul 19, 2017 at 11:11 am
    How can a responsible media talk of higher educational ins utions that get subsidy out of tax collected by govt (which in trun run by elected representatives and hence answerable to electors) be run with zero accountability for the tax payers? Already higher educational ins utions in India swallow more than 50,000 crores each year for the past 70 years and yet not contributed patents, innovations, new products , new services or research papers or added an iota of value to public who give there blood and sweat as tax.
  4. P
    Jul 19, 2017 at 11:05 am
    PART 3 or 3 . IT IS A SHAME THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO THINK THAT ACADEMIC INS UTIONS WHO GET SUBSIDY FROM TAX PAYERS BLOOD AND SWEAT HAVE FREEDOM TO PURSUE POLITICAL AGENDA AND NON-ACADEMIC ACTIVITIES MASQUERADED AS CULTURE. If someone (individual, media, political party or whoever) feels so strongly on this issue THEN they must fund these ins utions and relieve tax payers lakhs of crores money wasted. Who cares whether accountability exists or not . END of comments in 3 parts
  5. P
    Jul 19, 2017 at 11:04 am
    ----PART 2 ---- OR will these people opt for some nonsense called collegiums? And if it is Government formed by elected representatives who has to subsidise these ins utions, are they not answerable to the tax payers and people? (3) AUTONOMY GOES WITH ACCOUNTABILITY. Just because a 92 year old senile guy had his contract not-renewed to charge his frequent trips to us on to Indian tax payers, rules can’t be changed IT IS ACTUALLY INJUSTICE TO HAVE ANY THING OTHER ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES RUNNING INS UTIONS WITH ZERO ACCOUNTABILITY IN A DEMOCRACY. Actually, all NGOs who solicit public funds must also be forced to close down. Why pay tax to Government formed by elected representatives and also money to these vested interest group. Government must remove all section such 80G that allows set-off from taxable income. If one is interested in charity, they must do with their own physical, mental, intellectual, emotional strengths . ----CONTD. PART 3---
  6. P
    Jul 19, 2017 at 11:03 am
    Irresponsible and ic statement by Amartya Sen. Counter questions to him. (1) Why should universities be funded by tax payers? Why 50,000 crores or more of subsidy each year out of the BLOOD AND SWEAT of hard workers? Why universities can't attract endowments funds and earn money through research and consultancy projects? Why should university be faculty be paid without returning commensurate value to those who give money. Even after swallowing 2000 crore each year for past 60 years, IITs and IIMs have failed to innovate, patent, bring out new technology, increase the welfare orbit of 130 crore people. Who should be held responsible and punished? (2) Suppose TAX PAYERS blood and sweat has to be paid as subsidy to universities, who / which organisation / en y would do that other than government? Will universities run a parallel government to tax people and be held answerable to them? Who will elect office bearers? Will they a run parallel stream of elections ? _CONTD IN PART 2-
  7. C
    Jul 19, 2017 at 4:54 am
    India does not need the services or suggestions of criminals like Pra()nab Mukhe()rji, Amartya Sen, M.S. Swaminathan etc. These are all traitors who looted their own mother land or acted as agents of US helping them in their LOOT INDIA agenda.
  8. G
    George Cruz
    Jul 19, 2017 at 4:07 am
    The President Pranab Mukherjee is 100 per cent correct in saying that India’s ancient history and said it had a “dominant role in higher learning” which had eroded over the years.". The truth is that the prominent education ins utions like the IITs, NITs, and the Ins utes of Management, etc used to admit only the qualified candidates unlike today these ins utions admit the unqualified SC/ST/Dalits based on the quotas/reservations. These unqualified SC/ST/Dalits are not interested in studies other than collecting freebies, , get involved in riots/protests claiming democracy/freedom, and spend decades at the university, and in essence waste the valuable resources.
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