Monday, November 22, 2010

SRM University and Its Curious Relationship with the UPA Government

An update appears at the end of this post.

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On the one hand, the UPA government's HRD Ministry is fighting hard in the Supreme Court to establish the legitimacy and authority of its 2009 review of deemed universities [1]. Among other things, this review placed the SRM (Deemed) University in the "deficient" category -- a category that includes institutions,

... which on an aggregate we find to be deficient in some aspects which need to be rectified over a three year period for them to ... [continue] as "deemed universities" [Source (18MB, PDF), Pages 21-26]

On the other hand, the government's own law minister graces the occasion, and delivers an address at SRM University's convocation this year.

And the Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister receives an honorary doctorate from that "deficient" university at the same ceremony.


What are we going to get next -- the commerce minister at the IIPM convocation giving away MBA degrees [issued by IMI, Europe]?

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Update: Wow! Note the contrast [Hat tip to Dr. Katte]:

The varsity [Bharati Vidyapeeth, a deemed university in Pune, Maharashtra] was found deficient in standards by a human resource development ministry panel last year. “Bharati Vidyapeeth has been found lacking in standards by the P.N. Tandon committee. I want to keep a distance from such a controversial conference,” a vice-chancellor of a central university said.

The conference he/she is referring to is actually a conference of vice-chancellors of Indian universities, supported by very generous funding from the UGC itself.

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[1]: See, for example, this, this, and this.


  1. Vijay said...

    Abi, maybe you are wrong about SRM. Maybe the MHRD slipped in its assessment ;-))
    The SRM University must be an awesome place. It is hosting the Science Congress.

  2. Subrahmanya said...

    @Abi: The punch-line is nice!
    @Vijay: SRM might be an awesome place, I do not dispute. Bharati Vidhyapeeth, Pune too might be an awesome place. However, your argument seems to be questionable. Bharati Vidhyapeeth, Pune too has been placed by the Tandon committee in the second category (same as SRM). Just because Barati Vidhyapeeth recently hosted UGC-AIU "All India" Vice Chancellor's Conference, it need not be an awesome place. I have used quotes to All India owing to this

  3. Vijay said...

    In calling SRM awesome, of course, tongue was very much in cheek!

  4. L said...
    Here is a crib from SASTRA.
    However, SRM and SASTRA are definitely better than many state universities . AP has 27 Universities, most of them without staff or even buildings.
    Many state universities have no incentives to function-- I don't mean function well, but just function.

  5. Abi said...

    @L: This post is not about whether SRM is a "good" university; it may very well be one, and it may even be better than a whole bunch of state universities.

    The problem I'm pointing out is how the actions of a minister and the SAC-PM chairman have the effect of undermining those of their own colleague. What kind of sanctity would MHRD's actions have if another arm of the same government participates in, and lends legitimacy to, a university that has been brown-listed?

  6. L said...

    I agree with you about the embarassment to the MHRD, but as SASTRA says, the NAAC/NBA's assessments are not the same as that of the Tandon committee. Until (and if) the MHRD decides to scrap the NAAC/NBA, its assessments are official. So we have two official bodies giving different judgements on SASTRA and 2 other deemed universities. Is not this a greater if less visible embarassment?

  7. Abi said...

    @L: The deemed universities may be using certificates from NAAC, etc., but MHRD's argument in the Supreme Court is that the report of the Tandon Committee (which is MHRD's creation, whereas NAAC is a statutory body) is supreme! In other words, MHRD, by claiming a superior status for the Tandon Committee, is not even acknowledging that "greater if less visible embarrassment." This is what I meant when I said at the beginning of the post that "HRD Ministry is fighting hard in the Supreme Court to establish the legitimacy and authority of its 2009 review ..."

    And that is why I felt that the participation of a minister and chairman SAC-PM at SRM convocation was noteworthy.