Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year Wishes and Thoughts 2012

I have always tried to write a personal message to family and friends on the eve of the New Year even in the old days when it was fashionable to send printed cards. Now that it is all electronic, greetings have become even more impersonal as, at the touch of a button, you can greet all contacts. I think it will be a bit more meaningful to share some news and thoughts with friends and relatives, particularly with whom one is not in regular touch.

Many of you have sent greetings and good wishes to Lekha and me on the occasion of Christmas and New Year. Please accept this note as personal acknowledgement of your kind thoughts. We also wish you the very best for 2012. We look forward to hearing good news from you and your family all  through next year.

The year 2011 was fairly peaceful and pleasant for us. Sree, Roopa, Durga and Krishna in New York reported personal successes. Shree and Sharu moved from Delhi to Dubai and began enjoying their new home. I continued with my reading, writing and speaking in India and abroad. A second term on the National Security Advisory Board turned out to be rewarding throughout the year. I was also invited to the India-UK Round Table and I enjoyed the first meeting in Surajkund.
A totally unexpected offer to serve as the Executive Vice-Chairman of the Kerala Higher Education Council came in October, marking a change in routine. Working for the Kerala Government for the first time has its own challenges. I was pleasantly surprised that political parties on both sides in Kerala supported my appointment. Life has become hectic with numerous meetings with a multitude of stake holders and many invitations to speak at conferences and seminars. I am also trying to maintain my reading and writing on foreign affairs. The Kerala International Centre and my weekly television programme on foreign affairs continue as before.

The year began with a happy note as Lekha's brother's daughter, Prarthana got married. The year ended with an addition to the family when Radhika, Lekha's sister's daughter and Hari decided to bring home a baby, Rukmini, to be their daughter.

We had a major loss this year when our close friend since 1980, Dr Mathew Illickal, passed away in New York. He and his wife, Lilykutty took care of us each time we went to New York, having been friends with us during our postings to the US. I happened to be in the US when Dr.Illickal died after a short illness and I was able to attend his funeral and pay my tribute to him.

My book on the Shashi Tharoor campaign was published this year and it was released in Thiruvananthapuram by the Kerala Chief Minister. The book was well received and sold throughout the country and it also received good reviews.

Another project that started this year was the NSS Institute for Civil Services in Thiruvananthapuram. The NSS leadership gave me a free hand to plan and execute the project and it is going well.
Lekha has been busy running a Karuna Short Stay Home for cancer patients and their care givers near the Medical College Hospital. She and her associates have manged to run it and also feed the hungry every week in the Medical College during the year 2011 and expect to do so in the new year also.
In Kerala, the major event was the change of Government. Though the new Government has only a narrow majority, the Government under the immensely popular Shri. Oommen Chandy has been working with vigour. The opposition is also very active. The treasure found at the Padmanabhaswamy Temple and the dispute over the Mullaperiyar dam attracted world attention. Both the issues need to be tackled with utmost care.
Corruption issues and the Anna Hazare movement engaged national attention throughout the year. The setback to the Hazare movement at the end of the year showed that the general public has reached another level of tolerance of corruption.
In foreign policy, India developed the art of hedging to such an extent that it is difficult to see the direction it is taking. But skilful management of day to day issues is quite visible.
The world is gearing itself for another recession in the wake of the Euro crisis, but Barack Obama seems to be recovering from his loss of approval at the end of the year. Protesters have replaced the terrorists as the news makers this year, but we do not know yet what the protesters will accomplish. The Egyptian and Libyan springs are turning into nightmares already and this may slow down democracy movements elsewhere. Stability may appear more desirable than a chaotic quest for democracy.
2011 was a horrible year for nuclear power. I was personally alarmed by the Fukushima accident as I watched the developments with bated breath. Any such accident can set the clock back on nuclear power for years. It is no point saying that nobody died in Fukushima of radiation or swearing that all other plants are safe. Such arguments carry  no conviction. The world must think how it can move away from dependence on nuclear power one day, however distant that day may be.
All said and done, 2011 was not only a year of fear, but also of hope. Let us sustain the hope in the New Year and build a beautiful 2012.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Inaugural Address at the Colloquium on China at the Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam. Dec 23, 2011

I am grateful that the Mahatma Gandhi University has invited me to inaugurate this colloquium on China. I welcome this opportunity to return to foreign affairs in the midst of my preoccupations with the issues of higher education in Kerala since the last two months. 

I am glad that this colloquium is under the auspices of the KPS Menon Chair. Though Shri. KPS Menon was identified with Indo-Soviet ties by the time I came to know him in Moscow, he had a pioneering role in Sino-Indian relations. We know his contribution through his books and the legends about him, but I know personally how charming and gracious he was. I congratulate Prof. TV Paul on assuming the Chair established in the name of one of our greatest diplomats.

I am no expert on China, but I have followed Sino-Indian relations and I have occasionally expressed my views on them. The last time I wrote about China in December 2010 soon after the visit of the Chinese Prime Minister to India provoked a response from the Global Times, the voice of China. I said then: “ We have assurances from those who know China well that that 1962 will not happen again. They contend that China is no more an isolated dragon… As it has grown large and powerful, it has become domesticated and would like to tango with the elephant. The elephant can relax in the thought that the dragon will not step on its toes or its fiery breath will not incinerate it.”

I went on to say, however, that there was clear evidence to show that there were more contentious issues between the two countries in 2010 than in 1962. I made a list of the issues that provoked a war in 1962 and a list of issues that plagued the relationship in 2010 and drew the obvious conclusion that the second list was longer. In addition to the land occupied by China in Ladakh and Kashmir, their claim of Arunachal Pradesh, the stapled visa, more nuclear stations for Pakistan, and the disappearance of 1600 km of the border between India and China in Chinese maps. The only silver lining was that India and China were cooperating at the international fora. “Otherwise, those who know China would not be complacent enough to think that the Chinese threat is an illusion”, I concluded.

In a sharp reaction to my article, The Global Times, the official voice of China said, “Some people in India continue to make provocative statements with regard to China-India relations. A few days ago, former Indian Ambassador, Mr.T.P.Sreenivasan made an irresponsible assertion that the future of China-India relations is bound to result in conflict. He also said that “the current state of China-India relations is even worse than 1962.” The Global Times did not deny the points raised by me, but quoted the then Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and our President to the effect that the friendly relations between the two peoples would last for generations.

In my article, I had commented positively on India-China cooperation in the multilateral arena. I would like to examine today whether this cooperation is entirely benign or dictated by selfish considerations on the part of China.

The most recent occasion when India and China worked together was at the Durbin conference on climate change. The Chinese delegate was the first to support our Environment Minister when she said that India would not surrender the principle of burden sharing between rich and poor. “We should maintain the principle of common, but differentiated responsibility”, said the Chinese delegate. But a close examination of the Chinese position since the Rio summit of 1992 will show that China has been hiding behind India in the climate talks, while increasing its CO2 emissions, reaching a higher level of emissions than the US. China’s share in emissions is 23%, while the US has 18.11% and India’s share is only 5.78%. Our argument of per capita emissions suited China and it argued for equity, but it worked closely with the developed countries before and during the Copenhagen conference for a new consensus on climate, which eventually resulted in the virtual rejection of the Kyoto Protocol. Faced with the possibility of being subjected to mandatory cuts in emissions, China decided to let the US off the hook. It was the shift in the Chinese position that resulted in a Copenhagen package, which was rejected by most developing countries. China hides behind India in the environment debate, but works with the developed world to protect its own interests.

The situation is not very dissimilar in the case of trade, another area in which India and China cooperate in the multilateral system. Both India and China are committed to an open, fair, equitable, transparent and rule based multilateral trading system, in cooperation with other developing countries. We demand measures to eliminate trade distortions and to open their markets. At the same time, China has itself imposed trade restrictions on certain items in India and built up a trade imbalance with us. Even while professing solidarity with the developing countries, China has been making deals with the developed countries to develop its own trade.

In fact, the fundamental posture that China adopts in the UN is that it is uncompromisingly on the side of the developing countries. The joke is that a Chinese representative said that “China is a developing country and it shall always remain one.” China sees itself as a developing country and identifies itself with the G-77 without becoming a member. Even when it is vying for the position of world number one with the US and hobnobbing with the other permanent members, it finds it convenient to have the developing country image. The celebrated Chinese veto against Waldheim over and over again when he sought a third term as the UN Secretary General endeared China to the developing world. There are other examples of this kind. But China rarely confronts the western P-3 and has developed the practice of abstention, which, in effect, is a positive vote. The Charter prescribes that the concurring votes of the five permanent members are necessary to adopt a resolution, but many crucial resolutions, including the last one on Libya, which were adopted with Chinese abstentions. The double face of china in the UN needs no further elaboration.

As members of the Asian Group, India and China often come face to face for posts in which both are interested and in the name of cooperation, we make adjustments and let China retain positions for years together. This year, however, India decided to challenge China’s effort to retain a position on the Joint Inspection Unit after serving on it for ten years continuously. India had not served on it since 1977 and was fully entitled to it on the basis of rotation. Even though the Chinese candidate happened to be the Chinese Ambassador to India, we decided to contest and won it with a clear majority. I am sure that China must have played its solidarity card to persuade India to withdraw. Our victory in the first ever direct contest between India and China was indeed a landmark for us in the UN. The presumption that a permanent member can win any election was proved wrong several times in the case of the US because the US often took positions against developing countries, but this is the first time that another developing country confronts China and defeats it. This shows that the world at large has begun to question China’s profession of being a champion of the developing world.

China’s position on the expansion of the Security Council is a classic case of double talk. China professes that it supports the interests of the developing countries, most of whom wish to see an expansion. In the case of India, China maintains that it wants India to play a bigger role in the Security Council. But China has not even gone as far as the US in support of the Indian aspiration. China hides behind the US in its opposition to the expansion of the Security Council and it will not hesitate to use the veto if the situation warrants it. China is firm in its position as a permanent member and acts in that spirit even when giving lip service to G-77 solidarity.

India-China cooperation is the first casualty when India-Pakistan differences come to surface. We are aware as to how China argued in favour of a nuclear deal for Pakistan. When it failed to block the US-India deal, China supplied two reactors to Pakistan in open violation of the NSG guidelines. Pakistan’s objection to the expansion of the Security Council is also a factor in the Chinese position.

In conclusion, I would suggest that we should be cautious about China not only on our border, but also at the UN and other multilateral fora. China will not hesitate to be adversarial even there if it feels challenged by us.

Thank you.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Quality in Higher Education and Research: Par with International Standards

By T.P.Sreenivasan.

(Remarks at the Conference of Vice-Chancellors, Kochi. Dec 16, 2012)

I am grateful to the Vice Chancellor of Cochin University and the AIU for inviting me to participate in this conference of the top educationists of India. I was delighted also to hear an inspiring address by the Chairman of the University Grants Commission.

Diplomacy, they say, is so important that it cannot be left to the diplomats alone. Similarly, education too is too important to be left to educationists alone. Perhaps, it is for this reason that I have been asked to head the Kerala State Higher education Council, which I represent at this conference.What encourages me is the fact that some good educationists have become good ambassadors and some good ambassadors have become good educationists in the past.

The theme of today's discussion on quality of higher education in India with reference to international standards will itself raise controversies. World class education and international standards have been rejected by some sections of the Indian intelligentsia. When I said at the Kannur University the other day that I was sad to know that none of our universities or IITs had figured in a list of world class universities, I was told by an economist that he was not bothered about such lists, which made odious comparisons.He would prefer to have our own system of education, focusing on our culture and traditions. My observation that my endeavour is to make our graduates competitive nationally and internationally, he said that the purpose of education was to create " organic intellectuals". I would not go into that debate now. I would merely examine whether some of the methods used in other countries can be helpful to us in improving our own standards.

If the objective of giving world class education to our students is accepted, international standards and systems of education must be studied and an effort should be made adopt the best practices, wherever they are found. I would bring some of these to your attention and discuss how we can adopt them for our own needs.

We claim that we have succeeded in enhancing quantity, if not quality, in education. but the fact of the matter is that our gross enrollment ratio is only 15% and we are planning to increase it to 30% by 2020.This would mean 30 million students more, 1000 universities more, 50,000 colleges more and one million teachers more, as pointed out by our HRD Minister at the recent Washington summit. The Foreign Education Bill, when enacted, will facilitate entry of foreign universities, but such universities  will not be able to repatriate profits. They would, however, benefit from their exposure to Indian academic life, it was stated. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton  pointed out that there was a wide gap between India's needs and what the US can do. But we can certainly benefit from some of the reforms introduced in other countries.

Developing countries are generally resistant to western concepts for fear that they will impose cultural, political and economic priorities of imperialism. Ideological crystallization has led to reaffirmation of the sovereignty of states and the belief that quality has been colonised by consumerism and commoditisation of education.

Quality evaluation and assessment are fairly new features of education in Europe and the United States.Till 1990, it was believed that quality was implicit in university education, but gradually, the concept of external evaluation came to be accepted. As a result, external examination system was introduced in the UK, the US adopted a system of accreditation and Ministerial control of education became fashionable in much of Europe. With massification, internationalisation and marketisation of education, it became necessary to evaluate higher education despite calls for autonomy of universities. India adopted the assessment and accreditation system in recent years and NAAC has been a success in aiming at excellence and equity driven growth in higher education. Following this example, the Kerala State Higher education Council has decided to explore the possibility of setting up a state assessment machinery to continuously assess institutions and teachers, with a view to providing them incentives for better performance.

Professionalization of education is another feature that we can emulate from the western world. Students are diverted to professions early in life. The community colleges in the US provide models for training and retraining the work force and creating employment opportunities.

Academic freedom, autonomy and accountability are well defined in western education. Academic freedom is universal and absolute, while autonomy is parochial and relative. Universities are accountable to a variety of clients, in addition to the Governments. They are accountable to the students, the parents and the business community. We must remove intellectual fetters from the universities, but hold them accountable to the society. Autonomy should not be used to undermine accountability.

Emphasis on research even at the undergraduate level is another feature of western education we should emulate. Research can play a central role in promoting informed deliberations. Research remains abysmally low in India even at the graduate level and this needs to be changed in accordance with international standards.

Frequent changes in curriculum to reflect the changes in society is a feature of western education. In fact, changes in curriculum become forces for social change in certain circumstances. In the US, the curriculum swings from tradition and conservatism to experimentation and growth as social movements become the key motivator for curricular change. In our system, curricular changes are few and far between. A dynamic curriculum should be the hallmark of any vibrant education system.

Education in many countries need to cope with increasing diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, class, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability. Higher education has a role in achieving the promise of democracy and a pluralistic society. In India, diversity is a reality that has been taken into account in educational reform. Some of the experiments in other countries to cope with diversity by prescribing different methodologies may be relevant to our own higher education.

My point is not that our quest for quality in higher education should be guided only by international practices and standards. We should suit our own genius and circumstances in fashioning a system of our own. My effort was just to point out certain features of external experiences, which may be relevant  to our reform efforts.

Thank you.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Kanthari, the chilli that makes a difference By T.P.Sreenivasan I was at an unusual convocation at what was till recently called the International Institute for Social Entrepreneurs on the Vellayani lake in the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram. As the graduates walked up to me to receive a sash and a diploma each, it became evident that each one was physically challenged in one way or another. Each one needed help, either of another person or a cane. They were all of different complexions and different sizes and ages, ranging from 18 to 60. But each one was smiling and each one had a plan for the future. One wanted to open an internet cafe in Palestine, another wanted to open a school in Kenya, yet another one wanted to set up a home for AIDS patients in Zimbwabwe. They were brimming with hope and confidence and determined to make a difference to the world. Sensing the mood of the graduates and knowing each one of them closely, the promoters of the institution on behalf of the "Braille without Borders Foundation", Sabriye and Paul announced a change of name, "Kanthari". The Malayali audience was surprised and amused that an institution is named after the smallest and the most potent chilli in the world. Sabriye and her team had indeed studied the Kanthari well. She said it grew wild in the backyards of homes with no tender care, it produced colourful and potent chillies that would make a big difference to the palate, when eaten cooked or uncooked and no one will forget the Kanthari once it has been tasted. These graduates, she said. were like Kanthari in every respect. Sabriye, blind herself and determined, is indeed a Kanthari, which has already made a difference to many people in different parts of the world. The name 'Kanthari' also resonated, by chance, with Gandhari, the legendary wife of Dhritarashtra, who voluntarily blindfolded herself in empathy with her blind husband. Sabriye and Paul, two Germans, who spent twelve years in Tibet, helping the blind there, won the approbation not only of Tibetans, but also the Beijing authorities, who awarded them an honour given earlier to Marx and Engels. They found their way to Kerala in 2009 to find a beautiful spot, which, ironically, Sabriye herself and most participants would not see. They had immense success with volunteers, donors and bewildered well- wishers who helped them set up a home for about forty participants from around the globe. Social projects that improve the quality of blind, visually impaired people and marginalized target groups were devised and invitations went around the world. It made no segregation between the able and disabled, educated and uneducated, young and old. Those who were admitted in the last three years were people who had overcome significant life challenges ranging from vision impairment, dsability, poverty, war, discrimination and exploitation. Having experienced or witnessed atrocities of various kinds. they had a passion to make the world a better place and the strength to be forces of good rather than victims of circumstance. The graduates will return to their homes with the necessary skills to succeed as social entrepreneurs such as management, public speaking, communication, leadership, fund raising, budgeting, book keeping and others. The course has been curtailed from eleven months to seven to have two groups per year. Some are self supporting, while others have scholarships. The graduation this year celebrated "One World, Many Flavours" and I shared my experience of living in different cultures. The flavours differed so much in different countries in food, drinks and manners, but human beings were the same, I said. To take just one example, the national drink in different countries differed so much that it alone would pose a challenge to outsiders. The participants appeared to have lost all barriers during their stay at the Kanthari. They seemed fully equipped to face the challenges of their life ahead with no inhibition about their disabilities. They had turned themselves into kantharis, with enough spice in them to change the world -

Friday, December 02, 2011

Prof .K.A.Isaac Commemoration Lecture 2011
Education for a Changing World
Dec 2, 2011

I am delighted to be back in the precincts of the Kerala University Library, where I spent the best part of my best years as a student of the UniversityCollege. I was invited here on an earlier occasion in connection with the acquisition of UN documentation by the Library, but today I am here as the Executive Vice-Chairman of the Kerala Higher Education Council to pay my tribute to the legendary librarian of Kerala, Prof.K.A.Isaac, by delivering his Commemoration Lecture, 2011. Even during my days here as a young student between 1961 and 1966, Prof.Isaac was well known for his scholarship and administrative skill. If I remember right, the University Library moved here at that time and I was among the first batch of students who benefited from the change of venue. In my view, Prof.Isaac was not just a great librarian and a great teacher; he transformed library science and the profession of librarians into a noble and sought after vocation. Till his time, nobody had thought that there was not only science, but also art in taking care of books and making knowledge available to those who seek it. Long before the advent of the computers, he made it possible for students like us to find the right books at the right time. The librarian was as important as the teacher. His contribution will be remembered for long by those of us who were fortunate enough to use this library.

If you had asked me to deliver this lecture two months ago, I would have chosen a different topic, but still connected to the dramatic changes in the world.. I would have spoken of, say, Indian diplomacy in the new world context. Today, my thoughts are focused on higher education in Kerala in the context of the changing world. Like diplomacy, education must also change to suit the needs of the new world, which is changing at a bewildering pace. No other time in history has mankind been subjected to so many changes in a single lifetime. If we look back at the world of just twenty years ago, we would realize the speed and extent of the changes that have overtaken us. Today, we have begun to look upon a person without a cell phone or an email address as though he came from the Neolithic age. But none of us had even heard about such things even twenty years ago. We have no clue what we will be writing with or what we will be speaking into in the next ten, or even five years.

In such a situation, our education today is aimed at a generation which will run this state, this country and this world in the next thirty, forty or fifty years. The question to be asked is whether the education we provide to our children will be beneficial to them in the years 2030 or 2050, about which we know very little. Unless we can comprehend the changes in the offing and try to devise a dynamic education system, we shall be doing a disservice to the future generations. The case for critically examining the curriculum, overhauling, updating and injecting life into it needs no further elaboration.

We have to assess the content of our curricula to identify what to keep, what to cut, and what to create, and where portfolios and other new kinds of assessment fit into the picture. We have to examine programme structures to see how to improve our use of time and space and grouping of teachers and students. We have to see how technology is transforming teaching and how to take advantage of the natural facility of students with technology. We have to identify the best resources for helping students become informed users of multiple forms of media. The challenges of globalization are no less important. At the same time, we have to instill in them enduring values and beliefs that will lead to healthier local, national and global communities. Above all, we have to find the thinking habits that students, teachers, and administrators need to develop and practice to succeed in school, work and life. In other words, our educational institutions should be transformed into learning organizations that match the times we live in and the world in which our children and grandchildren are likely to face.

This bewildering catalogue of reforms required in education have been identified by educationists in other countries too, but the challenges are more acute in India and particularly Kerala, where our graduates have to seek employment in countries, where life is changing even at a faster pace. If we cannot cope with the changes in our own backyard, it is even harder to anticipate the needs of other parts of the world. Needless to say, the changing world has made changes imperative in our education system. Changes have been made in the past and sometimes parents and students have lamented frequent changes with no apparent purpose. There has been no dearth of Commissions and Committees, recommendations or exhortations. Education remains like a patient, whose illness has been diagnosed and medicines prescribed, but no treatment administered.

One can also argue against major changes, as some do even today. Our graduates have done reasonably well in different countries and have competed successfully against the graduates of the best universities in the world. We have even instances of self made men, with little or formal education, rising to become millionaires. When we have to educate the masses with scarce resources, we have to focus on quantity rather than quality. Huge investments are not necessary for Kerala model development, which has registered indicators that can match those in the developed world. If the system has largely met our needs, do we need to make massive investments on innovation and reform?

None of us has ready answers to the need for educational reform, but from the diagnosis made by experts, one can at least identify the direction in which we should go. Since increasing educated unemployment is a pressing issue, the obvious answer is to set up courses that will increase the employability of our graduates. We need to anticipate new avenues of employment and design courses that will equip our graduates for these jobs. Weakening of student motivation can be dealt with only by incentives and disincentives. Increasing unrest and indiscipline in campuses should be handled with tact and firmness. Deterioration of standards demands better teachers and better methods of teaching.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh identified politicization of university education as a curse. This is not to be confused with student politics. University campuses have thrown up some competent politicians and more people with talents and skills will enter politics only if they have early training and experience in politics. What ails the system is the tendency to politicize appointments in education at all levels.

Our university system is particularly resistant to change. When experiments and innovations are attempted, they are resisted and if they are enforced, they are implemented half-heartedly. Such innovations as the merit promotion scheme, faculty improvement programme, vocationalisation of courses, and semesterization of courses, annual self appraisal report, college development council, academic staff colleges and refresher and orientation courses have faced different degrees of resistance.

Privatization of higher education has helped in many ways to fill the gap between our needs and the paucity of state resources. The globalization and liberalization have demanded such infusion of private initiative, innovation and entrepreneurship. But private institutions sometimes find it difficult to resist profiteering and further, they accentuate the social divide. Kerala can be legitimately proud of several private institutions, which constantly strive to reach excellence. In fact, some of them have the potential to become world class institutions. Combined with greater participation of the industry at the planning level and increased investment, the private institutions should be able to make a major contribution to educational reform in the state.
The need for reform in education for a changing world is beyond question. The magnitude of the problem and its complexity are such that changes can become only gradually and slowly. But an important and immediate need is to give all institutions a level playing field and give them an equal opportunity to achieve excellence. The world had committed itself to expend nine percent of its GDP to education and health at the dawn of the millennium. Many countries, including India, have not reached that target as yet and a movement has started, in which children demanded, "Nine is Mine". Additional resources and imaginative and innovative changes are needed to have an educational system for the changing world.

Against the backdrop of the need for reform and innovation, the role of the Kerala Higher Education Council is modest. It is less than five years old and its impact on higher education is yet to be felt. But it has already made a beginning and the new Council, less than two months old, has formed its Agenda 2012, consisting of implementation of some of the decisions of the previous Council and some new proposals. The Agenda 2012 is neither comprehensive, nor exclusive. We are open to suggestions and proposals from the academic community and experts. A consultative process has already begun and our doors remain open. As it stands today, Agenda 2012 reads as follows:

Existing Agenda

1. Programme of Scholarships
2. Restructuring Undergraduate Education
3. Erudite Programme
4. Journal
5. Review of University Acts
6. Restructuring of Postgraduate education
7. State policy on Higher Education
8. Anti-ragging Campaign

New Agenda
2. Institutions -Industry Linkages
3. Building of Institutions of Excellence
4. Training Programmes for Teachers
5. Students and Teachers Exchange Programmes
6. Seminars and conferences
7. Assist the Government in setting up an IIT and Malayalam University
8. Vision 2030 (Education)
9. Right to Education Act- Special Course for Teachers

An additional thought that the Council has is to seek collaboration with some of the world class universities. A Kerala delegation was in London last week to attend an important meeting of the UK-Kerala Forum organized by a British Member of Parliament, Mr.Virendra Sharma, who has developed extraordinary interest in British investments in Kerala after a recent visit to Kerala. He is being characterized as Kerala's Member in the British Parliament. He not only chaired the meeting, but also involved his friends in the British Parliament and major British agencies and companies in the consultations. Our Minister, Mr. Shibu Baby John, our MP, Mr. Anto Antony, our MLAs, Mr.Mons Joseph, Mr. T.U.Kuruvilla and Mr. Randathani participated in the consultations. An enthusiastic group of private entrepreneurs in the UK and in Kerala facilitated this important event, which was held in the British Parliament building itself. I have had detailed consultations with universities and other institutions in the meeting itself and outside. Similar consultations will be held with institutions in other countries. I have no doubt that fruitful collaboration can be established within the guidelines for such cooperation established by the Government.

India has a long tradition of running world class institutions, which have attracted scholars from other countries of the world. Some aspects of the ancient system of Gurukulam education are being rediscovered today. But the influence of the colonial system and the educational system devised to meet its needs have been largely responsible for the deterioration of our standards and distortion of our objectives. Today, even our best universities do not figure on the list of the best world class universities. The time has come for us to build institutions of excellence once again, rooted in our traditions, but capable to meet the challenges of change.

Thank you.