Eminent scientist Professor Yash Pal who authored UPA’s education reform blueprint has slammed the concept of Innovation Universities, arguing that the plan in its current form can “destroy” Indian higher education.
In an internal note submitted at a closed door meeting of experts called by the human resource development ministry, the former University Grants Commission chairman detailed his objections. A copy of that note has been accessed by HT.
“I must register that I am not in favour of the proposal, as outlined in the concept note, for the so-called Innovation Universities to be set up as a separate class of universities,” says the note from Pal, who was picked by the PM to head a panel to propose a reform blueprint.
The Innovation Universities — first announced ironically by PM Manmohan Singh himself — are envisaged as centres of excellence that will focus on interdisciplinary research on select subjects, unencumbered by rules binding other varsities.
Under the ministry’s current plan both existing institutions — like the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research — and new institutions can earn the tag of Innovation Universities. Ministry sources countered Yash Pal’s argument of a separate “class” of varsities by suggesting that any existing varsity could also aspire for the tag.
Yash Pal has also argued that the concept of the varsities drafted by the ministry can be misused. The draft for these Innovation varsities exempts them from Comptroller and Auditor General scrutiny and grants them freedom in academic and administrative matters.
“I worry that it might destroy our education completely,” he has said, arguing that “second rate” institutions attracted by the possibility that no one would dictate what they teach, could consider the plan a “good business proposition.”