And, of course, the lecture is about Commercialization and Autonomy. The two concepts, can they go together ? First of all, it is important to define commercialization. What is Commercialization ? If you contact an architect and say, look, I want you to design a university. should the architect say no, I won’t take profit on it. If you want to buy capital goods for use of research and development within a National Institution of Science, does the vendor say no no, I will sell it to you at the cost price ? I think, very few people understand the meaning of what commercialization is. When goods and services are being supplied to the universities does the supplier of goods and services say, I won’t take profit, on what I have supplied ? Then, I think, very few people have given thought to what is commercialization. If you go to the United States of America or for that matter if you go to Europe, there are different forms and different sort of models of university system. Take for example YALE. If you look at the overall expenditure of YALE University, not more than 15% expenditure of that University comes from fees. If you go to Harvard the fees component of the earnings of the University is less than 20%. If you go to Boston University which is also a very fine university, the fees component is 15%. If you go to one of the States University in the West Coast 75% of all expenditure is funded by the State. If you go to Germany, no part of the university system is paid by an individual, everything is free. So, it is difficult to say what Commercialization means. But what I mean by Commercialisation is the following.
We should not allow a private corporation with share holders to invest in the university system or in the education system, and from the profits earned from that institution, dividend should not go to share holders because if you allow a private corporations to invest in the education sector, and those very private corporations are also investing in the stock market and if there is a burst in the stock market you can imagine what can happen to the education sector. So, we can’t allow educational institutions and their fate to be determined by the vicissitudes of the stock market. That does not mean that you don’t allow compensation, for investment in the education sector. So there is a difference between compensation and profiteering, between compensation and commercialization. No investor would ever invest in education (unless, of course, the state invests which should be free) if the end product is no compensation. Because if the investor has to keep on putting capital in the institution, at a certain point in time that capital will dry up and he will not further invest. So, even the Supreme Court of India says there should be sufficient compensation, for those investing in education, reasonable compensation which is to be ploughed back into the education system, and I think, that is very good definition. So, let us be clear that all those private sector institutions which want to set up educational institutions should have the liberty to garner resources, not necessarily from fees. Fees is not the only source of earnings which can be ploughed back into the education system, and I think, that is the law of the land today as declared by the Supreme Court, and I think that it is a good law. Once you have that clear, I think, lots of people will invest in education sector because lots of people who want to invest in education sector are not looking for commercial profits. But what happens is, if somebody wants to invest in education system and invests money to set up a school and the State Government passes a law that you can’t charge this fees and that fees and that doesn’t mean the capital expenditure, then that investor will say, I am not interested. Because he is not going to get interest from his capital. Yet, the fact of the matter is, if you look at the genesis of institution all over the world, for example, let us talk of Stanford, Mr. Stanford was a businessman in rail-road business but Mr. Stanford is not known for his business activity. He is known for setting up of the Stanford University which was a philanthropic act. So it is with YALE University, so it is with Harvard. Most of the universities in the United States of America have been set up on the foundation of philanthropy and that’s because at that particular point in time that was the brave new world. They had made a lot of profits and when they made profits, they said ultimately we want to pay back to society. But unfortunately, in India of today, the business community has never reacted in that fashion. Our business community has never paid back to society in the field of education as the philanthropists around the world have done and this is, I think, very unfortunate. We expect the business community. those who are, you know, part of the ‘Fortune 500’ companies, those who hold perhaps the largest wealth, most wealthy people in the world, must now come forward and invest in the education sector because that’s how our nation is going to be built.
Now, let’s talk about school education for a moment. In school education in a hundred percent, about 7 per-cent of private enterprise is involved in school education, 93 percent is public. And this has to be so because you don’t expect private enterprise to invest in school education, and especially in the remote areas of India because they do not see any profit opportunity in the remote areas of India. In 1993 the Supreme Court passed a judgement in the Unnikrishnan case. They talked about the right to education of children, between the ages of 6 to 14 being a fundamental right. And it is not till 2010 that we have realized the dream of Unnikrishnan. It took 17 years for Parliament actually to pass that law which we did in the first session of Parliament in UPA-2 when I introduced and moved the bill. It took 16 long years and part of the reason is that we were not able to garner enough resources to put that into effect. I was heading the Cape Committee to look into the finance aspect of it and the first estimates that we have was that if we really want to implement this with a kind of standards you want, you require something like 4 lakh 36 thousand crores. Our total budget at that point of time was less than 7 lakh crores. So, if you were to implement this only for children between 6 to 14 it would take two thirds of the budget. No country can afford that. Then we reworked the finances, and ultimately we came to the conclusion that it would require anything between a 150 & 171 thousand crores. But even that is a huge amount of money. And so, part of the problem in India is that if you want education to be given by the public sector you need those kind of resources which we don’t have. If you have a budget over 800 thousand crores you can’t possibly spend 400 thousand crores in education. I am only talking about a scheme or about giving free education to children between the age of 6 to 14 years. What about the children below the age of 6 ? Between 3 to 6, and what about the children beyond 14, into higher secondary education, and what about the university system ? So, let’s be clear that it is not possible for any Government, any Central Government to garner the kind of resources that are expected to finance the education sector to provide free education to the people of this country, especially to the people you are talking about. There are about 546 million people who are less than 25 years of age. 546 million is twice the entire population of the United States of America and the entire population of Europe which is 480 million and the US Population is 280 million. 546 million people! how do you provide education ? So, let us be clear, it is not possible for Government to do it.
So, we have to invite the private sector. Now what are the terms on which you invite the private sector. Present situation is that there is no balance between demand and supply. If the demand is enormous and the supply is minimal, you are going to get the kind of aberration that you get in the education system. I will give you very interesting fact. This year, for example, in the engineering sector there was no demand because there has been a melt down. Because of the financial crisis, the job opportunities are minimal and the seats are going a begging. So there is no complaint of capitation fee in the engineering sector in 2010 because the demand is less than the supply. So wherever the demand will be more than the supply there is going to be aberration. So, therefore, from the policy stand point, what we need to do is expansion. So first pillar of any efficient education structure must be expansion. You must expand the education sector and how do we expand it ? By allowing a policy framework and by environment, in which people can invest. If you want expansion, for example, if you want to have more medical colleges, more medical institutions, then you must allow the private sector to come in. As it is in the engineering world about more than 80 per cent of investment is by the private enterprise and more than 40 per cent in medical institutions is private enterprise. Because the State doesn’t have the wherewithal to set up hundreds of medical institutions…and just let me tell you the numbers. At the moment about 26 million children go to college out of a total of 220 million children who go to schools which is about, for every hundred children about 12 reach college, 88 do not. Now you need to increase that number to a critical mark of at least 30 out of a hundred, and if you want to reach that critical mark of 30 out of a 100 then you need to have more institutions to accommodate the extra number of children who will go to college. So, 30 out of a 100 in the context of 220 million would be about 70 million people instead of 26 million people going to college. So, you have to create opportunities for 44 million people. Now, you know, in all we have 480 universities in India and 22 thousand colleges in India. So, if you want to increase the number which is a critical mark of 30 per cent, then you need an extra 7 to 8 hundred universities and you need extra 40 thousand colleges. Who is going to build 7 to 8 hundred universities and 40 thousand colleges ? Not the State. It is not possible. State doesn’t have the finances. So, the answer is expansion and expansion is in collaboration with private sector, with the private sector understanding that there is a social responsibility that they do have to perform if you want to take this country forward.
The next, of course, is excellence. The next pillar of education is excellence. You can expand but make sure that you do not destroy quality . because without quality education the country will reach nowhere, because you are now in the 21st century facing entirely new challenges, challenges that you never faced in the 20th century. Challenges of global warming, challenges of new kind of knowledge, to cross new frontiers of knowledge, concept of advance material. Can we have a break and mortar economy ? Can we afford a break and mortar economy any more ? Should we not have new kinds of materials which do not absorb heat, which are light, which consume less energy, Issues of energy efficiency, issues of not relying on fossil fuel for your energy new forms of energy, alternative forms of energy, solar energy, photo volltax ? That requires investments, huge investments in research, R & D and investments are not going to come from the private sector for new frontiers of knowledge, they will have to come from public sector. So we need to increase our investment in budget for R & D to something like 3 percent. The Prime Minister said that at the end of the 11th Plan it should be at least 2 percent of GDP. It hasn’t happened. We need to move forward in that direction because these areas which will be crossing the new frontiers of knowledge, will have to be created through the public sector, not from the private sector. The private sector will translate knowledge into goods, translate knowledge into products, will be able to sell that product at a profit. But the private sector is not going to create knowledge. It has never created knowledge. Knowledge is created by the university system. And we need to strengthen our university system and we can only strengthen it if we embrace excellence within universities. And I will come to autonomy in a minute.
So, what you need to do is to expand but at the same time, you must ensure that you don’t dilute quality. Expansion and excellence must go together. Most Important of all, you need to carry all sections of the society with you and the third pillar, therefore, for the education sector is inclusion. Expansion, inclusion and excellence. Why do I say inclusion ? Because a large majority of those people who do not have access to education come from the disadvantaged groups, schedule castes, schedule tribes, backward community, minority, people who had no access to schools, people who had no access to colleges, people who are not literate, and unless you give them opportunity to become literate their output will be minimal as the honourable citizens of the country and I don’t think that any country can afford a situation where citizens have no access to education and, therefore, we need to give special emphasis to those who have been deprived of education for centuries. So, when people ask me as to why there should be reservation ? And I say to them, then how else will you move ? If in a family you have five children and one of them is differently abled. What does the mother do ? The mother does’nt discard the child who is differently abled. The mother takes special care of that child. The mother keeps separate food for the child. She takes special measures for giving energy to that child, ensures that that child gets special attention. And if a mother does that in her own family to a differently abled child why should the nation not do that for millions who are not able to go to school or college ? I think, in a socialistic society where we need to carry everybody with us, it is the need of the hour to ensure that the disadvantaged groups in this country have equal opportunities with the rest of India, to be part of the mainstream which will take this country forward. These are the three pillars on which the education structure must be based.
Now, what is autonomy ? And this is a very important question.
If you test me for brains and guile
don’t have to look at percentiles.
Marks encourage one up-manship
a free ride on an ego trip.
With textbooks I should start to surf
inquiringly look for new turf.
Walk away from the trodden path
and not invite my teachers wrath.
Solving a sum will not help find
real answers to a questioning mind.
Create the space for me to run
let learning be a lot of fun”
This is my meaning of autonomy. When you think in terms of autonomy who are you thinking of ? We in India are not clear about autonomy. What do we mean by autonomy ? Are you thinking about the teacher ? Are you thinking about the institution ? Are you thinking about the management committee ? No, we are thinking only about the student. So if you think about the student and interpret the concept of autonomy you will always be right, never go wrong, what does a student want ? Take a school, what does a child want in school ? The child wants to know what he is interested in, not what is forced on him. In school we see… if you go to any school in this country you will see that the teacher talks for 90 per cent of the time and the child listens. It should be the other way round. It must be the child who must talk for 90 per cent of the time and the teacher should listen, because the teacher should know what the child wants and that is the autonomy of the child. The child is inquisitive, the child wants to know what is beyond the classroom door. The child wants to know what nature is ? and the child has many questions in his mind which he dares not ask because he thinks that if he asks, somebody will berate him and make him feel small and, therefore, he doesn’t ask questions and, therefore, if he doesn’t ask questions he will never get answers. The child should be able to be inquisitive enough to ask questions and to be bold enough to seek answers. The child should be on a trajectory, in which the world before him is open. It never happens in a class room in India, because we never think about the autonomy of the child. We always think about principals and teachers and establishment and how we must have discipline. The child is essentially undisciplined. His mind is completely open and what he has to do is to discover his own genius and the teacher’s task is to enable him or her to discover his or her genius because every child has a genius. Somebody will be a painter, somebody will be a mathematician, somebody will be a physicist, somebody will be a poet. Some child wants to dance, she is not interested in all this. Somebody wants to be a chef. And the educational system must cater to the child and his autonomy and that is the true meaning of autonomy.
So also in the university system. How do you make the university system autonomous ? What do you mean by autonomy ? First of all, at the heart of autonomy is choice, choice of syllabi-curricula, choice of subjects, choice of discipline, choice of vocations. Unless you give that choice to child, where you will have autonomy ? If you tell the child you either go to the Commerce Stream or you go to the science stream or you go to the Humanist stream and that’s it. There is no world beyond these streams. There is a world beyond, there is an ocean beyond these three streams. Think about that ocean and the child is part of that ocean. We never think like that. When you talk of universities, you have Governments appointing Vice Chancellors What has Governments got to do with Vice Chancellors ? I am changing that system. We want to set up a Council for higher Education in which we are going to set up a collegium, collegium of experts, experts in bio-technology, experts in physics, in mathematics, in chemistry, in sciences, in advanced materials and if you have to appoint somebody in a university then those experts in these fields will decide who those candidates will be and they will send a panel of names to the Government and the Government cannot go beyond that panel of names. We are not into academics. So the minister has nothing to do with academics. It is the experts in the academic field who must decide who the vice chancellor should be, to give that Vice Chancellor autonomy, autonomy from Government and in turn the Vice Chancellor should give autonomy to his teachers. I went to a school the other day, in a different jurisdiction, and I asked the teacher, is there something called the national curriculum in your country ? And she said yes, we have a national curriculum but I teach the way I want to teach. I decide the books that the children should read because I want them to reach that level so that they can sit for exam of class Xll but how they reach the level is my job, not the job of the Government. So each school will decide how to teach. The teacher will decide the manner of how to teach. That is autonomy.
The other day, I went to a class room and one child wanted to know about lions and the next day the entire class learnt about lions. It was not written in the text books. The text books didn’t say so. But what you have to do is to open the frontiers of knowledge for young students and allow them to pursue what they want to pursue. And the system should have enough flexibility in order to allow those children to do what they want to pursue. If I want to change from Bio-science to Engineering, I should have the ability to do so. And, therefore, you need in the context of autonomy, you need a semester system. You need a credit system by which you can get credit in one subject, transfer them in your degree if you want to go to another subject. There should be enough flexibility in the system to do that. If I want to go to a particular discipline I want to go to a particular discipline. I don’t want to do Accountancy I want to do law, there should be enough flexibility for me to move from Accountancy to law and to get a Law degree.
You have so much talk about infrastructure in India. Lots of investment is going to take place. Billions of dollars are going to be invested in infrastructure sector and, therefore, there are going to be hosts of disputes in the infrastructure, hosts of disputes in construction sector. So, why can’t an engineer be also a lawyer ? Because if you are going to get a lot of disputes and you want to appoint retired judges or lawyers to be part of arbitration panel, it is no good, they know no engineering. So, we need to have a course in the ITI system which is Engineering and Law, you get a degree both in Engineering and law so that they can also be part of the panels. Because this is going to be the future. And this is just one example I am giving. I can give a host of examples. Medicine and Law, Engineering and Law. Where is the legal system that caters to that ? And where is the engineering system that caters to them ? We are on to a new world, new challenges. In the new world we need to be part of that challenge. We need to be part of the solution not part of the problem. So, autonomy is a concept which relates to the student and not to anybody else. In Law for example, there are courses, and there is one thing I want to share with you is, I mean, when I was at the Harvard Law School my teacher who taught me Constitutional Law was arguing at the Supreme Court of United States and the case that he argued at the supreme court of United States became the test case in the class room. What is that I tell you that you can, in fact create a syllabus and you don’t have to tell your teacher, look, you only can teach and you can do nothing else because, I think, that is also destructive of autonomy. If the teacher is able to consult or if my academician of the university is also able to consult industry who comes to him with problem that very subject matter will become a test case in the class room and he can actually teach the class room, teach the children, the problems outside the class room which will be an enormous learning experience. That’s the autonomy for the university system. Autonomy of syllabus, autonomy of the way you teach. The teacher should be allowed to teach the way he wants to teach. Text books are the beginning, are the first step in the acquisition of knowledge. They should not be the end in itself. In India, text books are an end in themselves. You learn the text books, you sit for the exam, you come out with the result and you become an engineer. This is no education. When I had to sit for the Bar Exam in the United States of America or of my Harvard Law Exam I could take as many text books I wanted into the exam but I could not answer a single question from any of those text books. So, we never took them because they were of no use. Here all your questions come from text books. Why because the text books are an end in themselves. We need to change all that. And for that we need the parents of this country to think differently. Not to decide the fortunes of their children. In our country parents decide, if you have got good marks in Science become an Engineer, got good marks in Medicine, become a doctor. It has nothing to do with the volition of the child. So the dreams of the parents have to be realized by the child. And what about the dreams of the child ? Does he have none ? It is that what’s important. Children must dream and must have the capacity and the wherewithal environment to realize those dreams. That is what the education system is all about.
But the debate on Commercialization and Autonomy will be a debate that will continue and the reason is simple. In my Constituency, and I belong to Chandni Chowk, Delhi, I have a hundred requests every day from my constituents, telling me Sir, get me into the Sanskriti, get me into Vasant Valley, if not that get me into Modern School, if not that get me into DPS or they say get me into Saint Columbus. It is not in that order, lest those school administration may be unhappy. So, these four or five schools everybody wants admission in. I can’t do that, I have no control over them and I can’t do it. I cannot ring up a principal and say look get….. But they say, no no no, you are the Minister and you can always do it. I don’t do it, I can’t do it. I can’t destroy their autonomy and force my will on them because I don’t know… They have to decide.
And this culture of percentages must also go. Competitions amongst parents, my neighbour’s son has got 97 and you got 96. What is this all going on ? What kind of education is this ? You want a child to be the honourable citizen of the country. A child who must contribute to the society. A child who must take India forward. That’s what we need. A child who is concerned about his neighbour. Schools have moved away from giving lectures by teachers to community teaching. Now teachers sit in the class with the children. They are not givers of knowledge. They are all absorbers of knowledge, children and the teachers. The teacher learns from the child and the child learns from the teachers, and they learn from each other. If we have salmond’s school what do they do is they put them into different sections, different sections where there are round tables, they will be five around a table, they will have six tables in a class of 30 and each table will be solving the same sum. I asked one of them, did you solve the sum of your own ? He said no. What happens in that process is that if the child doesn’t know something, he learns from his peers as to what is wrong. He doesn’t lower his self-esteem. In India, they say tune ye sum solve nahi kiya, ke beta tune ye kaise solve kiya? and the whole class learns about it. The child feels bad, his self esteem is lowered. So they will be moving away from this system into a community teaching system, so that the child learns from the other. Vocational training… I gave an example yesterday. I will give another example. I went to a Vocational Training school in England the other day. I went to a hair dresser’s saloon and all the students in that vocational training school were making the customer’s guinea pigs because they were experimenting. There was a teacher around and there were students around. They were teaching them hair dressing as a part of vocational training. Now why in India, for example, why can’t the 10 + 2 system have vocational training as a part of it ? You have got so many factories in India. The automobile sector is perhaps one of the biggest sectors in India today. But there are no Automobile Engineers in India. You do not have Automobile Engineering Course except in a higher level. So, why can’t the 10 + 2 system, those who don’t want to be doctors and scientists and the stuff like that, why can’t they have the Diploma or CBSE Certificate in Automobile Engineering, or Refrigeration Engineering ? You have got Air Conditioning Engineering. You have a lot of doctors but you have not lab assistants in this country. Where are the courses for lab assistants ? You need lab assistants, para-medics, para-legals. I am sure, lawyers need a lot of para-legals. Those who will do a bit of research for them. Those who will keep their files for them properly, Those who will do basic manual tasks which are not required for arguing a case but are required for preparing a case. You have a whole para-legal industry in the United States and U.K. Why can’t you have a Para-Legal Course in India which is a Diploma Course ? Because not everybody out of the 220 million children who go to school, will be lawyers, doctors or engineers, lots of people will be absorbed in the economy having knowledge of different disciplines like restaurant managers.
Very interesting story I can tell you. There are lots of people who are investing in India without a policy frame work. When the world economy moves forward the industry that benefits the most is the hospitality industry because tourism increases. People who have more money in their pocket they want to go all over the world, the neighbouning countries. So, tourism industry, two-star hotels, three-star hotels, four-star hotels, they suddenly mushroom up, restaurants mushroom up, right ? There are not enough people to manage restaurants, not enough people to manage hospitality centres. And so a lot of investment is taking place in India, as I talk, in the hospitality industry. And the reason is simple, and the reason is the following. That, if you were to hire somebody in the hospitality industry in the United states of America he will charge you 70,000 dollars and that makes the whole industry non-comparative. So they want to invest in India, give Diploma or one year’s course, hire them and take them abroad. Now we don’t have our own Diploma. We should have a system by which we have our own Diploma. You must cater, the education system must cater to knowledge for the sake of knowledge, it must cater to knowledge for the purpose of employment and it must cater to knowledge for self employment. Remember, this is very very important. And the whole education sector can’t have a jaundiced view that the only thing you are catering for are doctors, engineers, chartered accountants and lawyers. After all, you know, how many doctors, engineers, chartered accountants and lawyers do we have in this country in the context of the number of people who go to educational institutions ? A very small percentage. A large percentage will have to be absorbed in the economy as the economy moves forward at double digit growth. And the economy will only move forward at double digit growth if once you invest in the university system and to invest in the university you first have to create those universities and so it is a collaborate exercise. It is an exercise which involves civil society, it requires a national commitment, it involves the private sector, it involves the NGOs, it involves parents, it involves teachers and one of the things we are trying to do in the Right to Education Act is to involve the civil society in the education. We have now mandated under the Law that the managing committee of every school in this country will consist 75 per cent… from the civil society from that area and 50 percent of them will have to be women because if mothers are involved in the education we have some real hope in education. What we need to do is give enough freedom, give enough autonomy with the concept that ultimately what you are doing is you are looking after the future of the child who is future of India. Once you do that you will never go wrong and in that context civil society must discharge its responsibility. Industry must discharge its responsibility and industry must come forward with philanthropy and set up institutions of higher learning and in this context we need foreign education providers as well because we need foreign education to come to India to compete. We say that the IIMs are the great institutions, well, if they are great institutions they must compete with the rest of the world. If IITs are great institutions, they too must compete with the rest of the world. IITs should have a global brand. Why should IIT only be limited to India ? If IIT is a globally recognized system, therefore, we must have competition. And nowadays with the I. C. T. Revolution you do not need teachers to fly thousands of miles. We have today, for example, we have a ICT Programme in the Ministry of Human Resource Development by which we are connecting all IITs but we have a programme by which we will connect 22 thousand colleges in India. There are 22 thousand in all but we will connect all of them in the years to come so that one teacher in one collage can actually give a lecture to a student studying somewhere else and he should have the ability to do that. If I find that I want a lecture from a faculty member who is very good in the subject in another university, I should be able to take that lecture sitting at home. And so the problem about faculty will also be solved to some extent. So, we need to use modern technologies to take messages forward, to reduce the pressure. We need open source development. We need courses to be floated which anybody can take, for example, now the ITI’s course material is available to anybody. They can access that course material and can learn on their own. You need the distance education in a big way because sometimes you can’t build infrastructure, it is very difficult to build infrastructure, very difficult to take faculty. We need emphasis on distance learning allowing children to learn hundreds of miles away. So, when the world is moving you must move not just along with the world but ahead of the world, and we can only move ahead of the world if we have the courage to do so. And what better place to be in than Gujarat which has always shown courage.
Thank you very much.