Competition, Choice and Higher Education

Indian higher education is in deep crisis.

Growing Agrarian Crisis

As the Finance Minister gets ready to present the budget for next year, the sector which causes him the greatest anxiety must be agriculture. The past year has been relatively good in terms of rain fall and the Rabi yields should be encouraging. But in general, for over a decade now agricultural growth has been sluggish, stuck at about 2%. And there are four good reasons to be concerned about low agricultural growth rates.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward!

One of the disquieting features of Indian politics and public policy is the colossal damage done to the rural and agricultural sector by successive governments, all in the name of the people. If the explicit objective is to undermine the rural agriculture-dependent population, our governments could not have done a more thorough and effective job!

Outcomes in School Education – Testing Boards

The Compiling and release of the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), 2005 is a landmark event in the evolution of school education in India. Pratham, a reputed civil society organization conducted a nation-wide survey of school-going children in 485 rural districts. 776 small and big groups along with about 10,000 volunteers participated in this massive exercise, and assessed the elementary education outcomes on a large, randomly selected sample of nearly 400,000 children in 9521 villages.

Wrong Diagnosis; Inadequate Treatment

The recent sting operations exposing sleaze of MPs certainly stirred the nation. These exposés pose a formidable challenge to the legitimacy of our political system. But the Government’s frenetic efforts to provide state funding for elections, is a classic prescription of placebos for a deep-rooted political malaise.  Public funding in itself, like placebos or vitamins, is harmless, even desirable. But this knee-jerk response does not address the underlying crisis. Two issues need elaboration.

Politics of Arbitrage

The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines arbitrage as ‘the buying and selling of stocks or bills of exchange to take advantage of varying prices in different markets’.  Politics, among other things, are the ‘activities concerned with the acquisition or exercise of authority or government’.

Primordial Loyalties Vs Politics of Individuation

The scope and nature of Bihar verdict are stunning. Once again, the illiterate, long-suffering people rose above caste and religion in search of a better future, and proved the psephologists and pundits wrong. This capacity to transcend narrow loyalties and express the collective will with calm grandeur has been the saving grace of our otherwise flawed democracy. Clearly, our democracy is vibrant, and there is hope, if only we harness these opportunities for a greater cause, and not squander them in personal aggrandizement.

Perils of Autocentricity

Our urban population is growing dramatically. According to 2001 census, 285 million Indians lived in cities and towns, more than the American population. The residents of large metropolitan areas of Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi now exceed 10 million each; Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad exceed 5 million each. And 35 other metropolitan areas have more than a million residents – almost twice as many as in 1991. Projections show that our urban population would grow to about 473 million in 2021, and 820 million by 2051.

Urban Chaos and Cultivated Status quoism

The last ten months have witnessed unusually severe natural calamities affecting the sub-continent. The tsunami of December 2004, the Mumbai floods of July this year, and the recent Muzaffarabad earthquake have caused great devastation. But these disasters have a silver lining for India. Our administration did respond with some vigour and alacrity compared with the littoral states of the Indian ocean, US authorities in the wake of hurricane Katrina, and Pakistan officials now.

Bio-fuels – The Wave of the Future

The devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina has once again brought into sharp focus the world’s energy vulnerability. Global over dependence on oil is now possibly the single biggest risk to economies everywhere.