Delegates from Jain University take part in a two day conference organized by FICCI
Taking pride as home to one of the world’s youngest population, almost 50 percent of which comprise the youth, India finds itself at a stage where its population, if given proper attention, could prove to be crucial in taking the country to its goal of being the world’s hub of trained manpower. The government has since ceded ground for the private sector to play a larger role. But while there has been expansion in higher education, a host of challenges – quality, faculty, employability issues, industry-academia linkages and the creation and sustenance of research intensive institutions beg for attention. These and much more formed the basis for deliberations at the recently concluded global conference in the capital, New Delhi.
The two – day global conference, Strategies for Expansion in Higher Education in India, under the aegis of the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Ministry of Human Resource Development and Planning Commission, Government of India, witnessed key policy makers, educationists and corporate sector seeking collaborations and identification of policy and practice imperatives.
The theme of the conference revolved around but was not limited to reforms in the higher education sector. Setting the tone for the deliberations, Mr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission – Government of India reiterated the Government’s commitment to expansion in the higher education sector. Speaking at the inaugural session, Mr. Ahluwalia said higher education is an extremely important part of the government’s agenda and summits such as the one organized by FICCI served to provide perspectives that help the government focus on issues which do not necessarily come out in the public domain. “The broad objective of the Government is Equality, Expansion and Excellence and while access and quality are difficult to attain, they are not impossible if there is adequate funding and philanthropy. The efforts of the Government can be seen in primary and secondary education where we have done remarkably well,” he told the delegates. “It is only in higher education where the enrollment stands at a meager 15 percent.”
According to the policy strategist, the government is aware of the gap and is determined to push it to 30 percent but to attain the same, additional funding and solutions to perennial problems such as faculty shortages will have to be found if quality programmes have to be introduced. Further, he said, the Government is not averse to hiring foreign faculty to meet the demand.
In attendance at the inaugural session were Mr. Harsh Mariwala, President, FICCI, Mr. Michael Russel, Member of Scottish Parliament and Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Mr. Lin Tsong-ming, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Education, Taiwan, and Dr. Daniel C Levy, a Distinguished Professor, University of Albany (SUNY) and Director, PROPHE, to mention but a few. Speeches by Dr. S S Mantha, Acting Chairman, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE); Prof. Pritam Singh, Director General, IMI; Mr. Pawan Agarwal, Advisor-Higher Education, Planning Commission; Prof. M Anandakrishnan, Chairman, FICCI Higher Education Committee; Dr. Narendra Jadhav, Member (HRD), Planning Commission and eminent educationists and policy makers offered valuable insights. The keynote address at the summit was delivered by Mr. Sam Sisodia, Adviser to the Prime Minister of India on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations. Jain University was represented at the Summit by the Joint Registrar, Mr. M S Santhosh. There were several parallel sessions at the Summit. Master Classes, a novel component at the Summit, focused on discussions with the concerned stakeholders on issues which required information dissemination and handholding. The first of such sessions, Developing National Knowledge Functional Hubs witnessed Dr. Barun Charabarti, Joint Manager & Head (R&D), Larsen and Toubro Ltd and Dr. Rajan Saxenda, Co Chair FICCI Higher Education Committee making their submissions to be followed by others equally relevant.
FICCI, the delegates were informed, is working towards setting up national knowledge hubs in partnership with industry at various locations across the country with the objective of facilitating a sustainable mechanism for Industry institute interaction. At the conference, B2B meetings witnessed joint collaborations between Indian and foreign institutions being inked while the exhibition was another attraction for participants to showcase their institutions. Over to FICCI 2012!