Should the premier institutes like IITs/IIMs be allowed to retain premier status, allowed more academic independence in designing courses and also decide mode/criteria of selection of students. Discuss in light of the growing challenges.

Published: January 22, 2015

Though the IITs/IIMs are considered premier institutes in India, they still rank just average when compared to international educational institutions. A major reason cited for these excellent institutions being unable to compete at the global level is the lack of independence and interference from governmental bodies/authorities in all matters relating to the functioning of the afore-mentioned premier institutes. In today’s time, the syllabus for any course needs to be regularly evaluated and modified so that it reflects recent developments and future trends. Educational Institutions have evolved to an extent where they function as efficient service providers catering to a paying audience (students in this context). Procurement of different materials/objects/machinery/technology for research purposes, upgradation of infrastructure, provision of salaries to professors that is comparable to other international institutions so that good talent is attracted, transparent admission process that takes in only the best students, collaboration between industry and educational institution etc are areas in which IITs/IIMs lack. These disadvantages are faced mainly due to bureaucratic hassles and lack of a transparent and quick decision-making mechanism. If greater independence was given to address these issues, India could also compete in the global arena.

However, unlike other international institutes, IITs/IIMs are heavily subsidized by the State with the taxpayers’ money. This allows the state to impose certain requirements on these institutions with respect to admission, reservations, fees etc and also brings with it certain rigidity. Most of the conditions imposed by the State are done in public interest for the betterment of society or to address social/economic/cultural inequities. Thus, a middle path allowing a measure of independence to the IITs/IIMs while allowing the interests of the state and the people to reflect in the functioning of the institute is required.

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