NDA govt’s priority must be quality of education, not patriotic rock music | editorials

The ministry of human resource development has a treat-with-a-twist in store for students of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and other central universities. According to a recent report, the ministry has asked these institutions to host music bands who would be performing patriotic numbers in campuses.

The ministry, reports say, has identified a private firm for the task, under the programme called Yeh India Ka Time Hai (This is India’s time). The programme aims to celebrate 70 years of Independence and 75 years of the Quit India Movement.

The music shows planned in the campuses are the latest in a series of measures undertaken by the ministry to “induce” patriotism among students: In the run up to the Independence Day, educational institutions were asked to take students to memorials of freedom fighters; take a pledge to make India a “terrorism-free, caste-free, corruption-free, uncleanness-free and poverty-free society”; and, in May, the ministry announced erecting in all campuses walls with the images of 21 soldiers who have been awarded the Param Vir Chakra. One must not forget the controversy around the Army tank in Jawaharlal Nehru University.

We have said this several times but it is worth repeating: Patriotism cannot be forcefully or artificially instilled in a citizen. While patriotism is so high on agenda, the government seems oblivious to the needs of these higher educational institutions.

Here are some worrying pointers: Hindustan Times in July reported that of the 17 IITs (which shared data), only 66% of the students got jobs during campus placement as against to 79% the previous year. Another report highlighted that 121 seats remained vacant after seven rounds of counselling. The number was three in 2014. Add to these the disturbing number of suicides at higher educational institutions across India, and the various reports highlighting the poor quality of education in our universities. If our premium educational institutions face these crises, what is the state of other institutions?

Instead of focusing on patriotism, the HRD ministry must try to improve the quality of education, improve research capabilities of these organisations and raise their standards to match international universities. But, as things stand now, all these seem to be a tall order for the HRD ministry

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