It is well known that the economic progress of any country depends on its natural resources, intellectual resources and financial capital. It is the goal of every country to create wealth and prosperity for its citizens by configuring, combining, developing and leveraging these resources appropriately. The quality of these resources can improve only with education, in general, and higher education, in particular, by playing a crucial role in the country’s war against poverty and obscurantism. In today’s globalized world, no country can remain isolated but to compete in the world market. The concept of world ranking (three established and influential global rankings are from ShanghaiRanking Consultancy: Academic Ranking of World Universities – ARWU, Times Higher Education – THE and Quacquarelli Symonds – QS) has been introduced in order to measure the quality prevalent in a higher education institution. The number of higher education institutions within top 100 / 500 is used as a parameter to assess the economic progress of the country. In line with this philosophy, Government of India has taken a step of recognizing and supporting TWENTY higher education institutions (TEN from Government and TEN from Private sector) in the country as “Institutions of Eminence”.
It is a rare coincidence that Prof. Pankaj Chandra (Vice-Chancellor of Ahmedabad University, former Director of IIM- Bengaluru and a member of the Yashpal Committee for Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education formed by Government of India) has authored a book titled “Building Universities that matter – Where are Indian institutions going wrong?”, published by Orient BlackSwan Private Limited in 2017, stressing the need for eradicating issues in Indian higher education system such as heavy handed regulation and control, low infrastructure investment, poor quality teaching, corruption, nepotism and student violence. The book provides the right kind of organizational processes and procedures for building effective higher education institutions by providing a reference frame. This book is a “Must Read” for all who are concerned about the future of higher education in India. A detailed analysis of the neglected issues of governance in higher education, the processes that weaken governance systems in universities and how they impact learning on campuses has been well presented. Prof. Pankaj Chandra emphasizes that the universities (or higher education institutions) must be recognized as social organizations for carrying new experiments, generating new ideas and creating new voices. He also argues that the universities are different and have to be administered, managed and steered differently from managing bureaucratic or commercial organizations. When Indian Universities are criticized for under achievement, the book builds a case for redesigning of the university as an organization adopting new models of governance to rejuvenate itself.
I am very hopeful that the inputs from experts like Prof. Pankaj Chandra will help the policymakers as well as regulators, institutional trusts as well as boards, scholars as well as practitioners, and university leadership to come up with right framework for bringing in needed changes to transform the existing institutions as well as shaping these world-class higher education institutions in the country in order to improve the economic progress which is an essential priority. Let us recapitulate this great country which had a well flourished Nalanda and Taxila models of university systems.