Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission has stressed the need for the removal of ‘dysfunctional regulation’ in India’s higher education and called for ‘flexible regulation’ to raise the standards of higher education in India. Sam Pitroda, adviser to the Prime Minister on public information infrastructure and innovations, has made a strong pitch for displaying a concern for public good, calling for tabling and passing the 12-odd Bills in Parliament for reform of higher education. He has also revealed details of a US$5 billion National Knowledge Network (NKN), expected to be ready in about nine months.
Speaking at the inaugurating the Higher Education Summit 2011: Strategies for Expansion in Higher Education in India, organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Ahluwalia said the challenge before planners, policy makers and educationists, both in the public and private sector, was of producing world class Indian universities that could be counted in the top 200 rating list. “In the next 20 years we must see a significant number of educational institutions in that category,” he declared.
In his speech on the second day of the summit, Pitroda revealed details of the US$ 5billion National Knowledge Network (NKN) which was being created by the government and was expected to be ready in about nine months. The network would be a state-of-the-art multi-gigabit pan-India network for providing a unified high speed network backbone for all knowledge related institutions in the country. It would facilitate the building of quality institutions with requisite research facilities and creating a pool of highly trained professionals. The NKN will enable scientists, researchers and students from different backgrounds and diverse geographies to work closely for advancing human development in critical and emerging areas.
The NKN would be a platform for delivering effective distance education where teachers and students can interact in real time. This is significant in India, where access to education is limited by factors such as geography, lack of infrastructure facilities etc.