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Higher Education & Independent University Commission

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By Dr Dhirendra Sharma

Prof BK Joshi, Social Scientist and former Vice Chancellor in “Against the Grain: On Convocations & the Pathology of Higher Education’, Garhwal Post, 7 December, presented his critical observations on our Higher Education. Supporting Dr Joshi’s reasoning, another senior academic, Prof Satish C Aikant, former Head of the Department of English, HNB Garhwal Central University, on 15 December, expressed deep concern at the ever eroding academic autonomy of the universities.
“Political interference and excessive bureaucratisation” are largely to blame, but as Prof Aikant rightly says, the academics cannot be free from ‘complicity’in subordination to the politicians’ interests that undermine the academic freedom.
Scientific Social studies on remote areas cover agriculture, health, education, disaster management, hydro-power and river-water management. With the Vision 2020, The “Uttarakhand State of the Environment, ( 2012), Scientific Report had confirmed that there are more than 110 Post Degree colleges and 8 State and 4 Central Universities with 5 Private and 5 Deemed Universities. We have 3 Medical Universities.
Notwithstanding frequent political agitations and protests marches to the Assembly, we do not remember if ever the State Assembly has discussed the Higher Education and University affairs while we need to have an estimated 120,000 Doctors, 100,000 Veterinarians, 300,000 Nurses and more than 80,000 IT professionals to serve the Health and Educational centres in all districts of our Himalayan state.
Evidently, the most serious problem of yuva-palayan, of qualified youth who do not serve (work) in the remote hill regions, impacts thousands of essential services, and educational postings remain without qualified personnel. The most challenging problem, therefore, that we face is the qualified youth migration.
Management of tens of thousands of students, and faculty, and hundreds of Colleges and Universities requires effective and efficient academic governance and proper functioning of Higher Education and Universities.
The State Higher Education Policy had rightly emphasised on Structural Engineering, Life Sciences, Forestry, Bio-Medical and Veterinary professions. Evidently, there is a very high demand for qualified professionals in all techno-science sectors. But no political party has focused on the problems of Higher Education.
It is, therefore, proposed to have an independent Higher Education and University Commission.There can also be a Special Session of the Assembly to discuss the University Commission reports.