Four policemen including two sub-inspectors were suspended on Thursday after an eight-year-old nursery student Madhav Bhardwaj was shot dead in an encounter with robbers at Mohanpura village, in Mathura on Wednesday. The suspensions came after a probe was conducted into the death of the child with the villagers alleging that the child was hit by police bullet. ₹5 lakh compensationInspector General of Police, Agra range, Raja Shrivastava suspended the sub-inspectors Virendra Singh and Saurabbh Sharma and two policemen Udham Singh and Subhash for their prime facie failure to attend to the boy immediately after he was hit by the bullet while playing in the nearby park. Mr. Shrivastava also announced a magisterial probe into the incident and announced a compensation of ₹5 lakh to the boy’s family. According to Vinay Chauhan, Circle Officer Mathura, a team of policemen had reached Mohanpura village after getting information that Manoj, an accused in a recent loot case, was seen in the village.“Manoj and his group fired at the police. The police retaliated. In the crossfire, a bullet which was fired from the gang’s side, hit Madhav on his head. Though he was rushed to the local hospital, he succumbed to the injuries,” said Mr. Chauhan who also denied police shooting in the episode.An FIR was being registered on the basis of a complaint filed by the villagers, the police said. Shiv Shankar, Madhav’s grandfather told The Hindu: “The tragedy happened in no time. The last time I saw Madhav, he was playing in the park. After that I saw some policemen who started firing. Madhav, who was playing in the park, got hit.”
The Tripura government on Saturday announced that a museum to showcase the work of celebrated music composer R.D. Burman would be built. Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb conveyed the decision to singing icon Asha Bhosle, wife of the maestro.He requested her to inaugurate the museum after its completion. “I have also invited her to Tripura, land of Pancham da (as late R.D. Buram was popularly known) on behalf of the 37 lakhs people of the State,” Mr. Deb said.“Ashaji accepted the invitation.”Commitment to artsThe Chief Minister said his government was committed to promote the art and culture in every possible way.Members of the Tripura royal family, R.D. Burman and his celebrated music composer father S.D. Burman paid only a few visits to the State in their lifetime owing to the busy engagements in Bollywood.
One of the major challenges on the higher education landscape in India will be to create infrastructure capabilities and a suitable environment to ensure that the huge gap between supply and demand is filled, or at least reduced considerably. But rough estimates of the number of young aspirants for higher education (post school) will almost double by 2016-30. Needless to say, this will be a complex and difficult job; the sheer scale of it is daunting.Mindless and unplanned growth will not only spoil the existing fabric of higher education, but might start off something which will be difficult to rectify and control later. Given the scale of the needs and urgency, it is quite clear that private players, and public-private partnership, along with massive efforts of the government, will be required. Already, in recent times a large number of private institutions have sprung up and although some of these have created reasonable infra-structure, their focus has remained limited to what they perceive as the needs of the “market”.NeedMany of these institutions also proudly display their association with educational institutions abroad. On their part, given their more recent perceptions about its economic growth and huge demand for higher education, the foreign educators are more than tempted to bring their expertise to India. On the other hand, there is no question that higher education in India can benefit enormously from those who have proven credentials, abilities and the desire to come to India, independently or in collaboration with existing universities/institutions in India, both public and private.advertisementMore so, in several areas where we have not been able to create facilities and trained manpower including those which may be considered non-traditional, but are in great demand in present times, for example, film making, media, animation, product design, automobile engineering and design, subject related to the hospitality industry, clinical studies, hospital management, conflict resolution, diplomacy, town planning, food processing and so on.I know this because of my own association with a number of scholarship schemes for studies abroad where one often finds that there are none at all, or very meagre facilities at present in the country. Many of these areas are not only relevant, they are now established subjects of teaching and research. However, whether foreign educators in these areas will come and establish facilities or they will all opt for softer options like business management, law, engineering etc. remains to be seen.As of now, the role, scope and guidelines for foreign universities wanting to come to India remain unclear, particularly to students aspiring for quality higher education. In this context, the Foreign Institutions Entry Bill, which is due to be presented to Parliament, is timely and much needed. The bill is essentially regulatory in nature and seeks to set conditions, boundaries and guidelines for the entry of foreign educators.LegislationWhile most guidelines are straightforward, two mandatory conditions that will make any highly reputed foreign institution frown are: (a) “The foreign university has to maintain a corpus fund of a minimum of Rs 50 crore. Maximum of 75 per cent of any income generated from the fund shall be utilised for developing the institution in India and the rest should be reinvested in the fund and (b) Any surplus in revenue generated in India by the foreign university has to be invested in the development of the educational institution established by it in India.”Why would any decent foreign educator like to come to India, at least independently? More so in present times when most well known foreign universities are finding it difficult to run their “business” of providing quality education in their own countries. The costs of higher education, for example in UK and USA, have increased alarmingly, and these universities have increasingly resorted to shorter duration courses for higher studies, largely diluting the whole idea of quality education within a university set up. But getting back to the bill, the question remains: why will a highly ranked foreign educator, which cannot make, and take, money out of India, come here in the first place?As a regulatory bill, this is a good one, particularly for the benefit of eager students and parents. It tries to ensure that incoming foreign educators have appropriate credentials, and that all relevant information regarding the nature of courses, faculty, fees, infrastructure, nature of collaboration, entry process etc. is transparently and easily available to all; for the first time, it will also be clear to the foreign educators as to what is required on their part, and what they can expect. The bill should be welcomed by all stakeholders involved in the pursuit of higher education.advertisementHowever, the sheer scale of the demand should be a scary thought for all. The regulators are only as good as they choose to be. There are several regulatory bodies, existing for a long time, whose job is to ensure the quality and transparency of higher education and how well they have performed is not hidden from anyone, particularly in the case of private Indian institutions. While the present bill is aimed at foreign educators coming to India, there is an urgent need for making it mandatory and ensuring that all private institutions in India provide adequate infrastructure and the details that are being asked from the incoming foreign educator.QualityWhat about the quality of higher education? The bill is largely silent on the issue, and rather vaguely mentions that “quality” should be maintained. This however is an important issue, equally valid for the foreign educator as well as Indian institutions, public or private. It is often said that studying at world class institutions such as Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale, Cornell, to name a few, is an experience in itself. In fact, it is. It is not only the environment, quality of teaching, quality of coherent students, robust research culture etc but also several other facilities and structures like organised sports, music, theatre, debates, university clubs and entertainment facilities that make for essential ingredients of quality education.Good quality education is expected to provide the recipient with knowledge, analytical skills, ability to think independently, an appetite for deeper inquiry in the subject and equip one with tools and methodology to address different questions. In addition, while quality education readies one for taking up a variety of jobs, it is also expected to inculcate flexibility in thoughts and the ability to appreciate opinions different from one’s own.What is the quality of higher education in Indian teaching institutions, public or private? While some of the well known universities (a generous estimate of thirty or so) can claim a reasonable standard of education, these standards decline rapidly. Higher education in the university has suffered from continuous criminal neglect for a long time, and that simply cannot be addressed in a short period of time; such repairs are necessarily long drawn processes.Can quality in education be transplanted? In principle the answer has to be yes. But in practice, it would require persistent and careful attention. My own hunch is that we will see the presence of foreign educators in areas like engineering (B.Tech, M.Tech), law, pharmacy, biotechnology, management studies, areas already invaded with missionary zeal by private education providers in India. Will their collaboration with foreign players produce better quality? It is the Indian government which will have to invest heavily and continuously in higher education in areas like the humanities, fine arts, basic science and it is good that after decades of neglect higher education is on the radar as far as human resource development is concerned.advertisementThe writer is Director, International Centre for Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology, New Delhi