Higher education quality turning poor because Modi govt "undermining" existing institutes: IIT-B students

By Our Representative
Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay's (IIT-B's) 56th convocation ceremony, admitted  that India's engineering institutes were incapable of providing quality education of the type provided by IIT, insisting that many of the 700,000 students engineering graduates “are not equipped with the skills for solving real problems”, a scathing statement by IIT-B students has wondered what were the contributions of his government towards providing quality education.
Written anonymously and sent to India's media outfits with the clarification that it was not handed over to either Modi or the IIT-B administration, the statement, pointing towards “poor public expenditure in higher education”, said, “Expenditure of the Indian government in education is abysmally low, and it is almost negligible in higher education, compared to many other countries.”
Even as providing data from the "Economic and Political Weekly", quoting top academic Prof Amitabh Kundu, it added, “Budgetary expenditure in higher education is in a steep decline for the last few years as more and more private universities are coming up and public universities are compelled to hike their fees, leading a large number of students to difficulties and forcing many out of higher education.”
“This ever declining public expenditure in education is making us question the higher education policy of the ruling government”, the statement said, adding, it makes one wonder, whether the Modi government “wants higher education for all, or whether he is promoting the Brahmanical idea of education only for a few people, belonging to upper caste and upper class backgrounds.”
Indirectly answering Modi, who announced a Rs 1,000 crore grant to IITs, the statement noted why technical institutes' quality of education of education is poor, saying, “Out of this limited education budget, the share of the IITs alone is more than half.” At the same, it sharply criticized the Modi government for scrapping fellowships given by Central universities, especially to SC, ST and OBC students.
The statement further said, with the Government of India about to implement the General Financial Rules (GFR) of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and the Universities Grants Commission (UGC) for Central universities, “a substantial expenditure of the central universities has to be raised from the fees paid by the students.”
Noting that this will automatically lead to fee hike, the statement, telling Modi that he had no right to address the IIT-B convocation, asked, “Is it wrong for us to question, what happens to the state universities? Is it wrong to think this to be an attack on the entire academic community of the country in general?”
Pointing out that the IIT-B has already complied with GFR and recently a massive fee hike was announced, the statement said, “This is true in every other institutions despite how privileged they are. Shouldn’t we ask here what happens to the students who are not able to meet this increased financial burden of higher education without economic assistance from the state? Why shouldn’t we ask that this abysmally low budget in public education be raised immediately, and education be made inclusive?”
Further pointing towards the Higher Education Committee of India (HECI) Bill, which is proposed to replace the UGC, the statement said, “Since the power to control funds will remain with the MHRD under the new act and HECI will have the power to punish or even shut down any institution which will not meet its guidelines,as researchers and students we suspect this to be an attack on the autonomy of the universities.”