Recently, the Cabinet Secretary gave directions to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to
transfer four schemes related to polytechnics to the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE)
has more serious implications.
This must be seen in conjunction with the earlier decision to transfer architecture institutions from the MHRD to
the Ministry of Urban Development (MUD).
These happenings could very well be the beginning of the process of dismantling of the higher education system.
What‟s implication of such move?
A university, as the very name suggests, stands for a universe of knowledge wherein all disciplines are seen as
Human experience shows that all path-breaking innovations take placeon the fringes of disciplines.
By erecting walls around disciplines, we are going further away from the idea of a university as the world sees and
Even from the narrow point of view of world ranking of universities, this is a bad idea as all the major
systems lay enormous stress on research and interdisciplinary studies.
This could not only seriously affect the learning-teaching process in our institutions of higher learning but
also lower the stature of the country as a serious player in the knowledge economy.
.Till now, the better polytechnics had an opportunity to grow and evolve into engineering colleges for which there
was a specific scheme in the MHRD.
The Government‘s decision means that 3,500 polytechnics in the country have cut their umbilical cord with the
higher education system.
Instead of boxing these institutions into narrower spaces we need to provide them with opportunities to grow.
Another trend that has adversely affected higher education and the idea of a university is the mushrooming of
single subject universities.
Ex. Scores of private engineering and dental collages have become universities through the deemed university or
state government route.
Both the UGC and AICTE require serious overhauling.
What is the need for single over-arching body?
Take the case of architecture. It is not a stand-alone discipline but leans on the knowledge of art, science,
technology, social sciences and pedagogy and therefore is best anchored within the education system.
The Kothari Commission (1964-66) stressed that ―all higher education should be regarded as an integrated
whole, that professional education cannot be completely divorced from general education, and that it is essential
to bring together all higher education‖.
The same sentiment was repeated by the National Education Policy (1986) which states that ―in the interest
of greater co-ordination and developing inter-disciplinary research, a national body covering higher education in
general will be set up‖.
Later, the National Knowledge Commission and the Yashpal Committee (2008) also recommended the
creation of a single over-arching body.
With the above vision in mind, the MHRD worked towards the creation of a National Commission for Higher
Education and Research (NCHER), which unfortunately could not fructify as there was stiff resistance from
the professional-education regulators