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December 3, 2007

A crisis profound

Harsh V Pant

Knowledge is the key variable that will define the global distribution of power in the 21st century and India has also embarked on a path of economic success relying on its high-tech industries. But given the fragile state of India’s higher education system, it is not clear if India will be able to sustain its present growth trajectory. While India’s nearest competitor, China is re-orienting and investing in its higher education sector to meet the challenges of the future, India continues to ignore the problem as if the absence of world-class research in Indian universities is something that will rectify itself on its own.

While India may be producing well-trained engineers and managers from its flagship IITs and IIMs, it is not doing so in sufficient numbers. There is also a growing concern that while private engineering and management institutions are flourishing due to their rising demand, their products are not of the quality that can help India compete effectively in the global marketplace.

India has the third largest higher education system in the world, behind only the United States and China, that produces around 2.5 million graduates every year. Not only is this catering to only around 10 percent of India’s youth but the quality of this output is mixed.


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