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Higher Education in India – Visiting Scholars July 12, 2008

Posted by simarprit in Education.
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My many posts are influenced by my co-passengers, and today I had a celebrity sitting next to me. The gentleman in reference is an IIT Delhi Alumni and  Professor with one of the Big Universities with several Patents to his name in the field of Electronics and more specifically in the field of chip designing in the US. 

As we got talkng, the Professor touched a point I had not covered in my earlier post on Education in India: – https://simarprit.wordpress.com/2008/05/10/education-in-india-a-nation-is-built/ – having established these institutions are we attracting the finest professors from all over the world to share their knowledge, even if it is at a cost. The answer (as my brief research showed up) is between insignificant to none. The professor mentioned that China and Thailand among many other countries had consciously started walking on this path. This path is all about accepting the concept of “The World is Flat”, and finding out a USP in this flatness, working up a differentiator in this flat world can be a challenging task in itself.

I agree with the Professor that getting session long or topic long Visiting Scholars can be the slow game changer for these countries.  To quote Wikipedia on the point the Professor was making is “A visiting scholar, in the world of academia, is a scholar from an institution who visits a receiving university that hosts him where he or she is projected to teach (visiting professor), lecture (visiting lecturer), or perform research (visiting researcher or visiting research associate) on a topic the visitor is valued for.” – ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visiting_scholar ). A casual look at the IIT Delhi website brought out this running coment – “At all Alumni meetings, Prof. Sirohi urged the alumni in US to set up an 1 million dollar endowment fund to enable IIT Delhi invite 5 to 10 Visiting Professors from overseas every year for short assignments (few months) to various departments at IIT Delhi.” – http://indest.iitd.ac.in/alumni/News/Alumni%20at%20USA%20and%20Canada%20Meets.htm 

– So the effort is on, but where is the fruit. The time is running out as it may slow down the flow of fundamental research capable students and may eventually dry up the talent pool on one end and, on the other end may give the much needed differentiator to the nations like China and Thailand at the cost of India. Institutes like Indian School of Business – ISB would have an edge as they have been structured around this model (Established in partnership with Kellogg and Wharton). ISB is following exactly the same path, I have recently noticed that ISB has started ranking in as number one in management colleges reviews.

To give an extension to this thought some of the “Non Government Funded” Private universities can take this process forward, the flip side however is, that these private colleges and universities don’t attract brightest and finest students, at least as yet. Several years ago there was a news that India must have two Eduction Ministers, one should be committed for higher education. I don’t know how far two ministers would help but a dedicated fund for this purpose can help. A few Billion Dollars taken out from the reserves for this purpose would surely be very rewarding in the long run. 

Thank you Professor for enlightening me to this thought, I agree we may loose or edge and just become  pool for cheap workers sans investments in research and development.

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