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

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Scrapping the UGC

Corporate Agenda under Knowledge Economy

This article argues that none of the reasons and objectives stated by way of justification for the replacement of the University Grants Commission by the National Higher Education Authority are genuine. There is no compatibility between the nature of problems identified and the functional capability of the institutional solution proposed. This proposal exhibits a lack of comprehension and analysis of the fundamental problems of higher education. It is a poorly disguised cover to turn this sector into a handmaiden of the corporate sector.

Reports about a Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) committee’s recommendation for scraping the University Grants Commission (UGC) have excited varied responses. Though officials dismiss the reports as incorrect, saying that the ministry has only constituted a committee of “experienced and credible academicians” to recommend restructuring and strengthening of the UGC for attaining its avowed goals, we cannot accept all this without being apprehensive. Presumably, the committee has submitted its report, so tailored as to be in perfect alignment with the bureaucratic agenda that hardly makes any difference between the previous and the current governments.

This is only the latest in the series of incarnations along the ongoing process of structural adjustments since the 1990s, with an added aggressiveness after the nation’s surrender to General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) in 2005 requiring legislative reforms (apparently) to gain from trade in services (in effect to benefit developed countries). In fact, its groundwork was over way back in 1985 itself by changing the name of the ministry of education into that of human resource development. Accordingly several reform bills, generally known as neo-liberal initiatives for “improving” the country’s higher education sector, have been proposed and the Private University’s Act of 1995 was the first to get legislated among the lot. Foreign Education Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operations) Bill 2010, Prevention of Malpractices Bill and the Education Tribunal Bill 2010, National Accreditation Regulatory Authority Bill 2010 and Higher Education and Research Bill 2011 (HE&R) are examples.

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