ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The University and the Development Agenda

This article argues that a knowledge and practice deficit, and the inability of higher education institutions to professionalise development are key lacunae which need to be overcome. However, this will need the university to reinvent itself and for elite institutions to develop a more accessible notion of knowledge and rigour.

Some of the study was done while the author was visiting the Zakir Hussain Centre for Higher Education, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

The people of India must add a hot summer, a deficient monsoon, and a bone-chilling winter to the usual list of hardships in making ends meet, along with a host of macroeconomic factors such as poor employment opportunities, poor returns on education, and underperforming developmental services such as bijli (electricity), sadak (roads), paani (water), and health. Government after government has focused on the provisioning of such services through various missions and programmes, the latest being the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. However, the outcomes of many of these missions remain poor.

Take for example, cooking energy and drinking water. As per the 66th round of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) survey, three in four rural households still use firewood and chips as their primary source of cooking energy, and they burn this in smoky chulhas (stoves) of doubtful efficiency. Moreover, this number has not changed in the preceding 25 years. For drinking water (see NSSO’s 69th round), about one in seven rural households and one in 10 urban households do not have year-round access to drinking water. These numbers are worse than what NSSO’s earlier round found.

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