Market economy killing academic profession: Pitroda to PM

November 19th, 2008 - 12:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Nov 19 (IANS) Shortage of research scholars will hinder India’s progress as a knowledge economy, with the market economy devaluing the academic profession, National Knowledge Commission (NKC) chairman Sam Pitroda has said in a communication to the prime minister.”There is already a severe shortage of well-trained young doctorates to fill existing posts in research institutes and universities. This problem is likely to be even more acute in the envisaged elite new universities,” Pitroda has written to Manmohan Singh.

“One of the casualties of the expanding market economy has been the devaluation of the academic profession and this is now seriously affecting the desirability of this profession,” he wrote in the letter dated Nov 6.

He was hinting at how more and more students are opting for professional degrees like Masters in Business Administration (MBA), IT and other such courses.

Pitroda, who is credited with bringing the telecom revolution to India, has written that research and development needs to improve dramatically to transform the country into a knowledge economy.

But he has doubts.

“There is ample evidence that India is not well placed for this future transformation.”

The letter, a copy of which was obtained by IANS, said the “growth in the number of doctorates has only been 20 percent in India in the period 1991-2001 compared to 85 percent in China”.

“Not more than one percent of those completing undergraduate degrees currently opt for doctoral studies in India, and a substantial number of students prefer to go abroad.

“To address these problems, there is a pressing need for urgent government policy interventions, including high priority initiatives to attract, nurture and retain the country’s best young minds in academia and research.”

The NKC has suggested that besides giving better remuneration to the teachers, there is need for using technology to bridge the language gap in knowledge dissemination.

NKC was set up by the central government in 2005 to advise the prime minister on improving the educational scenario in the country. Its primary target is to devise a road map for transforming India’s education system.

Pitroda too has suggested that “increased coverage in the media of the different facets of teaching, research, and academic achievements, both nationally and internationally” is desirable.

The letter says that academic reforms are a must.

“Throughout the world, universities are the natural homes for the interface between teaching and research. But this is far from reality in the vast majority of Indian universities.

“In fact, the overall current situation in Indian universities is dismal largely due to the lack of quality infrastructure and the inability to recruit good young faculty and gifted students,” Pitroda’s letter reads.

He has suggested increasing funding to university departments to recruit talented youngsters and periodic peer reviews of these departments.

Pitroda has also recommended increasing the industry-institution interface and funding of research and development activities.

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