Academia has been `wallowing in the past`: Sibal

Coming down heavily on Vice Chancellors being appointed by political establishments, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal on Saturday said the educational system in the country would thrive only if such practices are brought to an end.

Updated: Mar 25, 2011, 20:09 PM IST

New Delhi: Coming down heavily on Vice
Chancellors being appointed by political establishments, HRD
Minister Kapil Sibal on Saturday said the educational system in the
country would thrive only if such practices are brought to an
end.

Sibal also said he suspected that the academia in
India has been "wallowing in the past" and asked them to come
out of that to create a future for the students.

"Vice Chancellors are appointed at the instance of
political establishment. This must end. If we really want our
system to thrive, then academic world should be left free to
its own devices in the hope that you create a future for the
country," Sibal told Vice Chancellors of Universities across
the country.

He was addressing them after inaugurating a Vice
Chancellors conference here.

The HRD Minister, who has been pushing for reforms in
the Higher Education sector, batted for transparency and
accountability in the system where students should also be
allowed to assess teachers.

"My suspicion is our academia has been wallowing in
the past. That may not be under you control...but you need to
get out of that to create a future.This is a biggest
challenge you face," he said.

Sibal said universities need to be more effervescent,
energetic and creative to contribute to the future.

"Germination of ideas take place through the
university system. If the university system is not
effervescent, energetic, creative, then you would be relegated
to the knowledge of the past. There will be nothing for you to
contribute to the creation of the future," he said.

Making a critical analysis of the present higher
education system, he said vice chancellors have the onerous
responsibility of nurturing the students and building
"societal leadership.

Stressing for a fundamental shift in the higher
education set up, Sibal envisioned an atmosphere that allows
greater student mobility and an academic world that has the
freedom to chart its own future.

Sam Pitroda, advisor to Prime Minister on Public
Information Infrastructure and Innovation, stressed that the
Government must "act now" in carrying forward the reforms
process in the higher education sector "as there has been no
progress in this regard since the last five years".

Pitroda raised doubts over the efficacy of conducting
the proposed higher education survey, apparently indicating
that such a move would further delay reforms in higher
education.

The survey proposes creating a database to suitably
plan for the growth and development of the sector.

Pitroda distributed questionnaires to vice
chancellors for their views and observations about the sector,
utilising the presence of large number of VCs at the function
and their knowledge.

Suggesting radical changes in the sphere of higher
education, he favoured creation of a `board of undergraduate
eduction at the state level`, credit transfer for enhanced
student mobility and removal of restrictions which impede
students from pursuing their dreams.

He said the system should be flexible enough "in
allowing a technician be a mathematician."

The vice chancellors conference, being held after
three years, would seek to identify development issues,
challenges and reform agenda in higher education for the 12th
Five Year Plan Period.

It would also provide inputs for policy planning and
carry forward the reforms process into the 12th Plan Period.

PTI