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Irrational move

Irrational move
Highlights

The Osmania University which was the cynosure of Telangana movement is ironically fuming against the Telangana Rashtra Samiti government.

KCR is right when he said that engineering colleges are like poultry farms. Should we reduce universities to such a pathetic state?

The Osmania University which was the cynosure of Telangana movement is ironically fuming against the Telangana Rashtra Samiti government. The controversy seems to be snowballing as K Chandrashekar Rao is firm on taking the university land for housing programme for poor. Reports indicate that this would not stop here. The State government is contemplating a similar plan to alienate lands in other universities, too.

Quite unfortunately, the question is wrongly posed as if the choice is between the needs of universities and the housing requirements of the poor. No one can underplay the need for decent housing for the poor. But, should the lands of the varsities be alienated for this purpose?

In fact, these public owned universities primarily cater to the needs of the poor students. Commercialisation of higher education is already taking away higher education from the ambit of the poor and low income groups. Depriving these universities of basic infrastructure like land will make them much more incapacitated to serve the growing needs of the marginalised. According to the All India Survey on Higher Education, Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in Higher education in India is 20.4 per cent.

Telangana is no exception. In fact, if it has to achieve GER on a par with even some of the developing societies, the land available with Osmania or any other university would not be sufficient. Is it therefore right to juxtapose the educational and the housing needs of the poor? Economies in the knowledge-based societies are increasingly built upon human resources. As Amartya Sen stated, educational inequality would lead to income inequality.

Impoverishing institutions of higher learning in public domain would only lead to pauperisation of the poor in a knowledge economy. The government could take back thousands of acres of government land under illegal occupation of land grabbers to meet the housing needs of the poor. The CM is right when he said that engineering colleges are like poultry farms. Should we reduce universities to such a pathetic state?

The Supreme Court of India in Prof Yashpal & Anr. Vs. State of Chhattisgarh & Ors, 2005 observed: “A University having no infrastructure or teaching facility of any kind would still be in a position to confer degrees and thereby create a complete chaos in the matter of co-ordination and maintenance of standards in higher studies which would be highly detrimental for the whole nation.”

Should we allow our varsities to be deprived of basic infrastructure like land to do such disservice to the nation?The University Education Commission headed by Dr S Radhakrishnan said, “Universities as the Organs of Civilization... he indeed must be blind who does not see that…” Let the government leaders read these words of wisdom before embarking upon any move to alienate university land.

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