The question of accessibility
WHAT MATTERS TO PUBLIC AT LARGE IS WHERE THE UNIVERSITY IS PLACED, WRITES DR FAROOQ AHMAD PEER
GLOBALIZATION has transformed the dynamics of polity and society. The world is going through the phase of a fast development and enhancement of knowledge economy in both the developed and developing countries of the world. And hence, establishing of educational institutions of quality has become the priority of these countries. India is also striving hard for establishing such institutions which provide quality education to its people. While the National Knowledge Commission has been making a number of significant recommendations that deserve serious and immediate attention, there is still a vast distance between the rhetoric of reform and reality of governance. The Universities worldwide are preparing themselves to face the challenges of globalization and some of the most reputable universities, especially Cambridge, Harvard, New York, Oxford, Stanford and Yale, are gearing themselves up to make efforts to promote internationalization in education. The idea of internationalization has transcended geographical barriers and has become an important priority for the universities all over the world to devote attention and to create such resources and standards which make the dream of a global university come true. In the Indian context, there is much to be done to develop the concept of global university and making the existing universities to promote internationalization in higher education and this aspiration may consume a lot of time. But at present, it is important that the functioning of the existing regulatory bodies is carefully examined so that the country and society is better prepared to encourage the establishment of many standard and academically sound universities.
One cannot ignore the fact that India is making every effort to promote its higher education qualitatively and at the same time make it bouncy. The case in point can be seen in the creation of twelve new central universities adding to the existing eighteen. This is a colossal undertaking for which a mammoth amount of money has been allocated from the budget. The country has also made it public that it would create thirty world-class universities, eight new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and seven institutes of Management (IIMs) in the coming five years. On the recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission, the Centre is planning massive investment to upgrade and expand higher education.
Out of the twelve newly created universities, J&K is fortunate enough to bag two. One to be established at Jammu and the second to be set in Kashmir. The prospect and vision is welcome step because the State particularly the Valley has been in dearth of class institutions of higher learning which could be accommodative and productive in nature. The Valley has not been able to compete in educational venture with the other States of the country and a slight notion to compare its educational standard with the world standard is to blow one’s own horn. The students of Kashmir suffer, for the present two Universities are not able to admit them in a huge number and consequently, they have to roam to the other States for admission in various streams and courses. Moreover, they are victims of climatic conditions and geographical barriers, poor political scenario and are not able to make themselves available to a better rendering academically. While as their counterparts at Jammu have no such problems and are easily connected to the rest of the county’s academic facilities. The Valley is really short of top academic institutions and it exhibits a special problem at the top of its higher education system. It has no IIT AND IIM institution, no outstanding university, no research and better training institutions and even in school education top-notch schools are rare. The University of Kashmir and the Islamic University at Awantipora are not also able to cope up with the rush of the aspirants of higher education. Our students are not able to compete with the students of the other states and the share of IAS, IPS, AIMS, and other top national services has been a mirage for us. But we can boast of the fact that our students are not short of talent and their milestones in various fields and at different places have proved that better academic facilities and proper environment and encouragement would make them sharper and determined to achieve their goal.
Now, the Central University has come as a gift to our Valley of Kashmir and we are with a chance to push our academic record to newer heights. But however, if the Government invests huge amount of money and human capital in its academic improvement and establishment without undertaking strategies to ensure that the investment yields results, resources spent on this will be wasted and failure assured. Even though a lot of money will be spent on this university to make it on American model or at least on the best national University model, without proper strategy, neither the funding nor the ideas, discussions and debates will be seen adequate. It shall be a blunder to pump money and resources into a University without proper strategy and planning. In order to have an innovative and successful central University, there is need of proper and reasonable planning, strategy and decision based on prudence and vision and not on obstinate and shortsighted reasons. There is really an urgent need to take into consideration all the problems for the sake of common people before resources are spent on establishing the Central University.
Great and successful Universities need to be located on friendly soil, or at suitable places. It is seen that the best universities worldwide are in or near major urban centre’s or in places with intellectual traditions and potential or these are located at the places where majority of the population can be benefited by virtue of development, road connectivity, and centre location. While, it is appropriate to have a university in each district, but the idea of a truly successful and innovative Central University in the district of Ganderbal is simply unrealistic and unreasonable. The place is very near to Srinagar; in fact only ten kilometers away and on the east- north side of Srinagar are already two Universities, one SKAUST and the other the University of Kashmir. To establish the Central University at Ganderbal means to have three Universities within the radius of ten kilometers, which seems unreasonable. To locate the Central University at Ganderbal is not going to attract students with merit and even teachers may be reluctant, for the place is far away from the other districts and has no better road connectivity with the other districts. The place is not developed too much and it may take another twenty years to create such extraordinary facilities which could become a source of attraction for this Central University.
The place is not at the centre point of Kashmir and is far away from the reach of the people of other districts. It may not also attract top Professors or even the best students. No amount of money will guarantee the establishment of an innovative and successful University at such a place. The responsible establishment managing the central university ought to choose such a location for the university which would be within the reach of the people of all the districts of the Valley and Ladakh division. All the districts need to be connected to the location of the new university through a well developed road and train and accessible to Airport. The location needs to be also connected through an easy reach so that scholars, intellectuals of national and international repute find it easy to visit the university. It is important that the location is of an ideal nature as the sanction of this University has provided us a chance to raise our graph of educational pursuit. The establishment of the Central University at such a place may yield results as it will attract students from all the districts and even from the other States. The establishment of the Central University at a suitable place is important for the benefit of the people and we need to be above any vested interest in this venture.
(Feedback at: Farooq_peer@yahoo.com and firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lastupdate on : Sun, 14 Mar 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 14 Mar 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 15 Mar 2010 00:00:00 IST
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