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The free University: Break the Governments monopoly on education

With all the furore that Mandal II is creating across the country, it is surprising how everyone assumes that we are restricted to opposing quotas and reservations in institutions running under Government sanctioned Universities. Of course its not entirely our fault. We have lived too long under a semi socialist system wherein the !mai "aap sar#ar$ was involved in every aspect of our lives. %rom manufacturing cars to "a#ing "read, from running railways to running educational institutions, the meddlesome Government was everywhere, and we have never opposed it. &ut is it necessary that education must "e limited "y the Governments sanction' Of course not( )fter all, education is simply a service industry *ust li#e any other, e+cept that the raw material is students, and the product is professionals with the s#ills required "y industry. It is that last which is most important. ,he accepta"le level of s#ill is determined "y the mar#et, and not "y the ar"itrary whim of some "a"u in the education ministry. -o why stop there' Why not let the mar#et determine the value of the degree awarded "y the University' Universities in India today run on the Governments sanction. Instead, I propose that a %ree University "e set up, which will not see# any sanction from the Government, and not see# any affiliation with or accreditation from any Government University. It will set its own curriculum, run its own colleges, and award its own degrees. It will "e up to industry and the *o" mar#et whether or not to accept these degrees, and what value to assign to them as compared to degrees from Government Universities.

Reasons for setting up a Free University

,he Government today has a total stranglehold on education. Grants and su"sidies are given to colleges, recognition is awarded to Universities, and free education is provided to all children up to some "asic level. .rofessional education, e.g. engineering and medical education, is heavily su"sidised. )ll this is made to loo# li#e largesse scattered "y a paternal Government. /owever, it is scarcely necessary to remind the reader that all this largesse comes directly from our own ta+es. )nd if today the Government proposes that nearly half the capacity of the premier institutions of this country shall "e filled not on the "asis of merit, "ut on the "asis of caste, then we are faced with the o"scene vision of people wor#ing and paying ta+es so that others children may "e educated in institutions that their own children can never hope to enter0 that men and women shall "e enslaved to enrich others children and to ena"le the latter eventually to surpass their own children. ,he immensity of this travesty of *ustice demands action of the most decisive #ind. ,o root out the evil, it is necessary to upset the very foundations of the educational system. Merely "oycotting the Government Universities will have no effect, and will only endanger the careers of many "right young students. -etting up a parallel educational system, on the other hand, will allow us to fight the evil entrenched in the system while also securing our own future.

Is it legal?
While I am no legal e+pert, it seems that there ought to "e no legal hurdle for the %ree University. ,he University see#s no recognition, funds or help of any #ind from the Government. It see#s no affiliation with or accreditation from any Government run University. )s far as the Government is concerned, the courses run "y the %ree University should then "e no different from the many coaching classes which are currently running across the country, e+cept that the students are not registered with any Government University. ,he degrees awarded "y the University are worthless as far as the Government is concerned. ,hats fine with us. Were not training our students to "ecome "a"us anyway. ,he only sanction and recognition we see# is from Industry, and to satisfy it we shall have to provide education of a level at least equal to, if not "etter, than that offered in any state run University. 1ow, does that sound difficult'

Will it work?
While the principle of the %ree University is very simple and clear, there are some difficulties which could arise in practice2 3. ,here is really nothing to prevent unscrupulous characters from setting up more and more non accredited colleges and Universities and running su" standard courses or giving out degrees without real education, undermining the credi"ility of the entire private education system. 4. It could prove to "e very difficult to gain acceptance among students and parents, who would have to "e willing to ta#e the ris# of ones entire career to get a quality education, which may or may not "e accepted "y industry. 5. )cceptance "y industry2 ,his is where I foresee the fewest pro"lems. )s an employer see#ing the "est employee you can afford, whom would you prefer' One who has ta#en the route of merit through a %ree University or one from an University where the 6hief Ministers daughter !naturally$ has to stand first' &rea#ing the Governments stranglehold on education can have far reaching effects. -tarting from education, we can end Government interference in all aspects of our lives where Governments ought not to meddle. We only have to ma#e this wor#. I appeal to all educators, parents, students and employers2 *oin in to "uild the %ree University. &rea# free from the tyranny of mediocrity.