A casualty of the expanding market economy has been the devaluation of the academic profession. Comment.
Today, when we stand in front of our shopping malls, multiplexes and other exhibits of money and market power, we find to our dismay that the real and regretful casualty of the expanding market economy has been the devaluation of the academic profession.
Although comparisons are odious yet they are inevitable in the globalised village that we inhabit. Both competition and competence are the buzzwords. If by design or default academic excellence is allowed to suffer at the altar of economic forces, the consequences in the years to come could be quite unpleasant and unwanted. One of the fallouts of the shortage of research scholars will mean hindering India’s progress as a knowledge economy. There is already a severe shortage of well-trained young doctorates to fill existing posts in research institutes and universities. This problem is likely to be even more acute in the envisaged élite new universities of the international standards. There is ample evidence that India is not well-placed and prepared for the future transformation since the growth in the number of doctorates has only been 20 per cent in the period 1991-2001, compared to 80 per cent in China. In the opinion of prof M.G.K. Menon, eminent scientist, there is a crying need to provide better incentives to encourage youngsters to take up science and research as a career. For this to happen it would also be necessary to get the best amongst the young to come into science, and take up research. There has to be a sustained campaign to point to the excitement of science and the discoveries that come through it.
Besides offering lucrative incentives to those who wish to go in for academic career as faculty members and research scholars, there is a pressing need for urgent government policy interventions, including high priority initiatives, to attract, nurture and retain the country’s best young minds in academia and research. Under no circumstances should the market economy be allowed to undermine academic profession-cum-research. Those at the helm of affairs should know that increased coverage in the media of different facets of teaching, research and academic achievements, both nationally and internationally, can turn the tide in favour of academia.