... There is a lot of philanthropic interest in higher education of India. I hope Parliament will open the market up to those philanthropists to build universities. They can give some money to Yale, but that will not have the impact.
India is very brand conscious and it seems it wants foreign universities to set up shop here. That will help, but that is not the answer. The answer is great Indian universities and Indian brands. You have done it with companies—you got Tata, Reliance (Reliance Industries Ltd and Reliance-Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group), Infosys (Technologies Ltd), you got Wipro (Ltd). These are great global brands now. You can do the same with Indian universities rather than co-branding like Yale-India Campus or Harvard-India Campus.
The headline -- Allow Private Sector to Have a Big Role in Higher Education -- gives us the impression that Levin doesn't realize the extent of private sector participation in Indian higher ed. Here's a quick reality check from a paper by Devesh Kapur and Pratap Bhanu Mehta -- Mortgaging the Future? Indian Higher Education (Brookings-NCAER India Policy Forum 2007-08, Volume 4, 2008, p. 101-157; pdf):
In the case of engineering colleges, the private sector, which accounted for just 15 percent of the seats in 1960, accounted for 86.4 percent of seats and 84 percent of all engineering colleges by 2003. In the case of medical colleges, the private sector dominance is less stark, but the trend is unambiguous: the proportion of private seats has risen from 6.8 percent in 1960 to 40.9 percent in 2003. While we do not have precise data, the situation in more than 1000 business schools suggests that 90 percent are private. Even in general education, there is now a mushrooming of private, self-financing colleges. In Kanpur University (in UP), the number of such colleges outnumber state assisted colleges 3 to 1, while in Tamil Nadu, self financing colleges comprise 56 percent of general colleges and 96 percent of engineering colleges (Srivastava, 2007). ... Even as political parties rail against de jure privatization, de facto privatization continues unabated. [page 23]
The problem, therefore, is not about the level of private sector participation. It's about the kind of private sector participation: real philanthropy as opposed to fake "trusts" set up by businesspeople, politicians, crooks, thugs and muttheads.
Seen this way, the question about private sector in India's higher ed (which Levin also alludes to) is this: what is it in our legal-regulatory regime that allows all these bad elements in, but keeps real philanthropists out?
I'm yet to figure out an answer to this question.