Congratulations to Mint on the editorial “A costly fraud”, 28 December, and Padmaparna Ghosh on her 27 December story “Are the govt’s green clearances a farce?” regarding environmental impact assessment (EIA) in India. While the article focused on just one project in Ratnagiri, the environmental clearance process for most projects in India is deeply flawed. This subject requires wide attention. The clearances should not become a reason for not pursuing projects, but it is a responsibility of all to ensure that the EIA is followed in spirit, and necessary mitigation measures are undertaken at the time of project planning and execution. Really, all that needs to happen is that the existing (weak) law is enforced.
—Anup P. Bandivadekar
It is with great interest that I read Mint—I clearly see continuity in news stories, boldness, respect for multiple views, lack of pretence and a positive, free-market orientation without being rabid (perhaps, even, ideological) about capitalism.
As a management academic, I am particularly interested in news about the state of regulation of technical higher education in the country; to figure out whether there is hope in the Fourth Estate contributing to make regulation of this sector saner.
There is, of course, the question of integrity that your paper has been questioning. Lack of integrity in the knowledge space is about the most vicious of all lack of integrities.
But there is also the issue of changing with the times; and competencies needed for this. Regulation of teaching at institutes of higher education is an extremely hazardous activity. The more you try to have rules and bounds, the less effective true teaching/learning processes would become. This doesn’t mean there is no need for rules. But the regulator needs to have new consciousness of what regulation can and cannot do and be smart enough to partner a development process with the regulated.
One allegation against the current regulatory regime is the use of grossly quantitative measures. A regime that merely measures the number of classrooms and unit area per student may be quite out of sync with the times. In fact, a new paradigm is called for.
A regulatory regime that flexibly examines the plans and strategic goals of educational organizations, documentation, transparency with stakeholders, institution of policies to safeguard excesses, the extent to which regulated institutions have achieved previously set goals, the quality of measurement systems followed, distinctiveness, innovativeness and contribution of faculty to standards development are some of the factors that merit consideration. Each institution will have to be looked at afresh in order to avoid promotion of mediocrity.
The regulators will have to network with other standard setters, independent assessors and educational auditors. They will have a big learning agenda. They will have to facilitate knowledge dissemination and networking among institutions they regulate, do more research and ensure that more importance is given to process aspects of educational administration. These are no easy tasks.
Can our regulators measure up to the challenge?
There may also be opportunities to look for alternative models with self-regulation and scaled assessment by independent agencies. This will be a departure from the current “either-or” recognition that amounts to some form of “licence” mechanism.
When will higher technical education (whose bureaucratized control may have maximum long-term adverse social impact) also be free of stifling government control?
— K. Sankaran, Professor and Dean (Student Welfare),International Management Institute, New Delhi
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