... first, from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh:
... The deteriorating health of our universities in the past two decades has hobbled our scientific research base ... [The reconstruction of the university system] must be a top priority and the issue has to be addressed comprehensively, not in a piecemeal fashion. ... We will promote public-private partnerships to increase funding for frontier areas of scientific and technological research, de-bureaucratise science and technology institutions and ensure their academic autonomy.
We cannot have pretensions about being a leading `knowledge power' if we do not substantially upgrade our scientific and technological expertise — both in quality and quantity.
... and, from the Oversight Committee (entrusted with the job of charting the roadmap for implementing 27% OBC reservation from 2007):
... [The Committee] wants to do away with the prevalent practise of recruiting alumni as teachers. Describing this trend as "academic incest," the Committee — in its theme paper for consultations — noted that this "is leading to a stultifying atmosphere of limited intellectual interaction and undermining fresh thinking, new ideas and innovative research."
Advocating "cross-fertilisation of ideas" in institutions of higher learning, the Committee pointed out that all great universities of the world have an inflexible policy of recruiting only alumni of other universities into the faculty. Noting that this was the pattern in India, too, in the earlier decades, the Committee notes with concern that over the last three decades, "increasingly faculty is drawn largely from among the alumni of the same university." As part of the effort to rejuvenate Indian universities in the larger exercise to build a knowledge society, "we need to adopt the global best practices in recruitment."
These refreshingly candid statements are all nice for us to hear; will they be followed up with firm action on the ground?