Saturday, January 06, 2007

A letter to the Chairman of the National Knowledge Commission

Dear Mr. Pitroda,

My name is Abi (T.A. Abinandanan) and I am on the faculty of the Department of Materials Engineering at the Indian Institute of Science. I also write a personal blog [which has] higher education in India as a major theme.

This mail is to strongly urge you to ensure that the National Knowledge Commission makes available all its reports and notes on that important knowledge resource -- [the] internet. It would also be wonderful if NKC [shares] with the public the proceedings of [its] conferences and Commission hearings.

This will give the public -- and in particular, that part of the public that wishes to engage with the Commission -- direct access to the Commission's thinking, reasoning, and finally, policy recommendations. In the absence of such free access to NKC's reports, news reports (which are often poorly written and / or ideologically coloured) are the only means by which the we in the public get to know about NKC's views.

For example, there has been a flurry of news reports about the National Knowledge Commission's recent 'note' to the Prime Minister with a set of (presumably interim) recommendations on re-imagining our higher ed system. However, reporters and newspapers tend to colour their news reports using their preferred ideology and politics. Also, by their very nature, short news reports focus on just one or two ideas in your reports, without bothering to go into the reasoning behind them or to present a broader perspective on your recommendations. I am sure you would agree that this is not the best way of communicating with the people the Commission is meant to serve.

As it stands right now, the information on the NKC website is so outdated as to be almost useless. I strongly urge the Commission to revamp its website to re-establish a direct and meaningful conversation with the public. This gesture will go a long way in renewing the Commission's commitment to knowledge, modernity and democracy.

I thank you for your patient hearing. In the interest of openness, I will also post this mail on my blog.

T. A. Abinandanan

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This is a slightly edited version of the e-mail I sent this morning to Mr. Sam Pitroda, Chairman, National Knowledge Commission; I also cc-ed it to the other Commissioners. The NKC website is here. You can contact the Commissioers directly using their e-mail addresses listed on this page.