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Current State: Published
The Future of Higher Education in India

When What
Starts on 20 February 2006 10:00
Ends on 21 February 2006 17:00
The Future of Higher Education in India

Feb 20-21, 2006

In association with Bangalore University

Supported by the Sir Ratan Tata Trust

Seminar Hall, Canara Bank School of Management Studies, Bangalore University Central College Campus, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Veedhi, Bangalore- 560 001




20th February 2006

10-10.30 AM: Inaugural Session
Ms. Shobha Nambisan (Principal Secretary, Dept. of Higher Education, Govt. of Karnataka) (to be confirmed)
Prof. Thimmappa, Vice-Chancellor, Bangalore University
Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana, Director, CSCS, Bangalore

10.30- 11.30 AM: Panel I: Higher Education Today - Institutions, Policies and Judgements:
Chair: Dr. Sitharamam Kakarala (CSCS)
Speakers: Prof. V.K. Natraj (Former Director, MIDS, Chennai)
Prof. K. Sudha Rao (Vice Chancellor, Karnataka Open University)
Mr. B.K. Bhattacharya (Former Chief Secretary, Karnataka and Senior Fellow, IIM, Bangalore)
Mr. Sudhir Krishnaswamy, (National Law School of India University, Bangalore)

11.30 -11.45 AM: Tea Break

11.45 - 12.45 PM: Discussion on Panel I

12.45 -1.45 PM: Lunch Break

1.45 - 2.45 PM: Panel II: Financing Higher Education:
Chair: Dr. Haseen Taj (Bangalore University)
Speakers: Prof. J.B.G. Tilak (Educational Finance Unit, NIEPA)
Dr. Ambrose Pinto (Principal, St. Joseph's College, Bangalore)
Prof. D.Jawahar (Director, PES Group of Institutions, Bangalore) (to be confirmed)
Prof. Rishikesha Krishnan (IIM, Bangalore)

2.45 - 3.30 PM: Discussion on Panel II

3.30- 3.45 PM: Tea Break

3.45- 4.45: Panel III: Perspectives on Autonomy:
Chair: Prof. J.S. Sadanand (Kuvempu University)
Speakers: Fr. Ronnie Prabhu (Coordinator, Higher Education, Karnataka Jesuit Educational Society)
Mr. B.N. Betkerur (Executive Secretary, JSS Mahavidyapeetha, Mysore)
Dr. H. Vinod Bhat (Registrar, MAHE, Manipal)
Dr. Thomas C. Mathew ( Principal, Christ College, Bangalore)

4.45- 5.45: Discussion on Panel III


21st Feb 2006

10.00 - 11. 15 AM: Panel IV: New Institutional Sites:
Chair: Prof. Jeevan Kumar (Bangalore University)
Speakers: Mr. Ashish Rajadhyaksha (CSCS)
Ms. Geetha Narayanan (Director, Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore)
Dr. Sandeep Shastri (Director, iACT, Bangalore)
Prof. A.S. Seetharamu (Education Unit, ISEC, Bangalore)

11.15 - 11.30 AM: Tea Break

11.30 - 12.45 PM: Discussion on Panel IV

12.45 - 1.45 PM: Lunch Break

1.45 - 3.15 PM: Panel V: Interdisciplinarity and Innovation in Curriculum:
Chair: Prof. V.K. Natraj (Former Director, MIDS)
Speakers: Prof. Susie Tharu ( formerly CIEFL, Hyderabad)
Prof. Dhruv Raina, (JNU, New Delhi)
Prof. Raghavendra Gadagkar (Centre for Ecological Sciences, IISc, Bangalore)
Dr. Padma Sarangapani (NIAS, Bangalore)
Mr. Anirudh Paul (Director, KRV Institute for Architecture and Environmental Studies, Mumbai)

3.15 - 3.30 PM: Tea Break

3.30 - 4.30 PM: Discussion on Panel V

4.30 - 5.15 PM: Panel VI: Future of Higher Education:
Chair: Dr. Supriya Roy Chowdhury (ISEC, Bangalore)
Speakers: Prof. Valerian Rodrigues (JNU, New Delhi)
Mr. Praveen Chandra Pandey (Registrar, Kuvempu University)
Prof. Peter Ronald deSouza (Lokniti, CSDS, Delhi)

5.15 - 6.00 PM: Discussion on Panel VI

Conference Organiser: Dr. Mrinalini Sebastian, CSCS

For further information contact


The Debate Thus Far

If recent trends in thinking about higher education in India are any indication, the Indian academic system is about to undergo a radical transformation.

Till very recently, higher education was spoken of as the 'other' of primary education. While the demand for universal elementary education has brought the state, global financial institutions, non-governmental organizations and the corporate world together in unprecedented forms of collaboration and intervention, the changes in higher education have not received the same kind of focussed attention. Yet the perception of a 'crisis' in the field of higher education is more pronounced now than before, and the obvious cause of the problems besetting the field seems to be the moves towards the privatization of higher education.

What gets lost in the debates around the question of 'privatization' is a clear sense of education as a system meant for imparting knowledge. While the move to consider education as 'service' under the new global economy will bring about drastic changes in the system itself, little thought has been given to what its implications might be in terms of the concepts of knowledge that have shaped the Indian education system and the disciplines taught at the tertiary level. Even a cursory glance at the various reports and analyses of education reflect a confusion between idealistic definitions of education as the all-round training of an individual and education as an investment in human capital.

If, for the early philosophers of education such as S. Radhakrishnan, university education was an important stage in the training of good citizens, and therefore the responsibility of the state, for the new stakeholders in education such as the World Bank and the global market, investment in human capital is a crucial step in advancing the growth of the knowledge-based economy. This move has serious implications for our understanding of knowledge as concept, as well as our prioritization of disciplines.

The internal debates that take pro- and anti-positions in matters related to the 'privatization' of higher education have so far not taken into account the new registers of the 'knowledge economy' and the conceptual underpinnings of the radical transformation demanded of our educational systems. The anxieties articulated in the debates in education reflect a moral apprehension about the state's abdication of its responsibility rather than a critical understanding of, and reflection on, the nature of change and its implications for the future of higher education in India.

The confusions and flux in the field of education are reflected in the spate of Supreme Court judgments that interpret and determine the meanings of articles and clauses defining education in the Constitution, as well as other related acts and statutes.

Since education is a subject in the Concurrent List, promoting it is the combined responsibility of Central and State governments. In recent times, this has resulted in peculiar conflict situations between private educational institutions and state governments, especially around the issue of affirmative action in private unaided educational institutions. The state of affairs in the field of higher education in Karnataka is a case in point. With a large number of professional colleges it has been at the forefront of the privatization of professional education and has periodically also been at the centre of legal conflicts around the issue of the role of the state in ensuring social equity in unaided private institutions at the tertiary level. Considerations such as these make the present a crucial moment for critical reflection on the theme of higher education in India.

As an institution involved in advanced research in the field of culture and society, the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society, Bangalore, is collaborating with Bangalore University to bring together a group of teachers, academics, policy makers and administrators in the field of education for a two-day workshop on the 20th and 21st February 2006. The aim will be to take stock of the changes in the field of education in concrete terms by looking at global pressures, inherited legacies and projected futures. Though it may be somewhat premature to speak in terms of a coherent response to these changes, setting up a platform for critical thinking in the field of education will help us grasp more clearly where we are headed.

More specifically, the workshop will have the following objectives:
- to seek clarity on the nature of transformations taking place in the field of higher education, including the functioning of institutions, the formulation of policies, the hierarchization of disciplines, and the modes of financing and revenue;
- to understand the conceptual underpinnings of the national system of education and the globalized system of the knowledge industry;
- to investigate the implications of these changes for the pure sciences and applied sciences as well as the humanities and social sciences;
- to suggest ways in which disciplines can be reconceptualized to meet the challenges posed by our changing society without compromising their commitment to comprehensiveness and critical rigour;
- to think of ways of fostering innovative and creative thinking through curricular interventions;
- to imagine new models of institutions of higher education, and craft innovative forms of collaboration between older and newer institutions.

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