Globalization, Role of Education and Professional Education: A Layman’s Labor

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With the advent of globalisation on Indian shores, thankfully due to the efforts of the Shri P.V. Narsimha Rao’s government in general and Dr. Manmohan Singh as Finance Minister in particular, it is quite evident that the people in India now have more “choices”. These choices are gradually made available through the process of liberalization and privatization in India post-1991 Era. Initially, it was well received by all. Though, it is similarly well received by many that form a particular class in India. This class, as can be seen and substantiated, is the greatest and the largest beneficiary of the process of globalization. Be it the choices available in markets in terms of products, or be it a case of employment opportunities and subsidiary economic benefits, this class, other than the High Class of capitalists, the Middle Class in general, and Middle Middle Class and Upper Middle Class in particular, got highly and mostly benefitted out of the run of the globalization process in India. So,one may ask, what is wrong in that? What else was expected and ought to be expected from globalization, if not this, and another may enquire in a sublime manner! Why we in India are so rigid and archaic while opposing the new realities around? Is it not through globalization that we are better equipped to establish global and universal standards of governance? At last, one may also observe that it is globalization that has considerably contributed in raising the standards of education in India in general, and of professional education in particular!

I am interested in this last observation here. Being into the academic profession and professional academics, I consider reflecting over the inter-relationship amongst three variables i.e., Globalization, Role of Education and Professional Education in India in present times. How do these three variables interact with one-another, and how do these three in its independent capacity impact the other two variables in the subject-matter of my write-up here. Hope that the readers are relatively accommodative of my academic fervours in this write-up, and subsequently would forgive me for such interventions.

Coming to proposition one, i.e., how does the globalization impact Professional Education in India? It is a tedious task to respond to this query until you are all comfortable with the fact that everything that globalization brings is good and sacrosanct. There is a particular section of Indian society that truly and for all reasons sui generis would agree to this proposition. If a process raises the per-capita income; creates better conditions for education through creating choices in the education sector through privatization; maximises the educational resources; increases the number of colleges and universities, etc.; then what is wrong in it? In response, one seems to be left with no other choice but to submit that there is nothing wrong with it. Privatization of professional education has certainly opened up new vistas for many to access the professional education in India. Now, even the government is being seen to encourage professional education through private sector initiatives, considering the cost it involves. Parents and their wards are now better promised to have the access of this kind of professional education which was not the case earlier due to its being limited to certain premium government-run institutions and few others run by the corporate sector or some social organisations committed towards reforms through education. IITs, TIFR, TISS, BITS Pilani, Thaper, DAV Group of Educational Institutes are all examples of such category. But choices in professional education were quite limited. With the opening up of the economy to private players in the post-1991 era, India could experience not only the quantitative rise in professional educational institutions, but it simultaneously witnessed the rising level of professional education dissemination as well, as the consequence of ‘competition’ based on ‘quality of education, infrastructure and curriculum set up in these modern institutions’. This has been a phenomenal experience in professional educational arena.

These two factors, the qualitative and quantitative surge in the professional education (especially in the fields of Engineering, Management and Medical Sciences, and, of late, in Legal Education) have been well received by a majority of the Indian society. In the last decade or so, Institutions like Nirma University in Western India, VIT University in South India, Amity University in North India, Shiv Nadar University, Azeem Premji University and many others were found doing remarkably well in their respective areas of professional education. The divide between the government university and the private university is seen to be eroding gradually, thanks to the well-grounded reasons of the quality of education. The mind-set towards professional education seems to be changing rapidly. But, but, there is a flip side to this modern development in educational sector as well.

Generally it is seen, that, due to the much emphasis on skill-based education, the modern educational institutions were found struggling to locate the standards of value-based education, hard to instil amongst students through knowledge-dissemination. This has led to reflect over the debate regarding the role values in the process of skill-based education. Due to the ‘ontological praxis’ that education is a man-making exercise, it is conceived that professional education or technical education is also required to deal with certain subjects of humanities and social science, apart from language(s). So, the institutional set-up accommodated the subjects which can orient a wannabe engineer, manager, doctor and a lawyer towards the socio-politico-economic conditions around which they would have to deliver. Other than this, few courses on (professional) ethics also seem to gain legitimacy in such professional course curriculum.

Perhaps this seems enough to guarantee an over-all development of a student. However, if we carefully evaluate the functioning of this course curriculum in many technical universities, we find that the students’ response to these courses could not receive the desired attention. Some universities, like the Nirma University, have been an avante garde in setting the standards of integrated education. But many universities were found struggling in the recent past to cope up with the students’ response to technical as well as non-technical / foundational subjects. Here, it is evident that the very purpose of education as the man-making exercise seems to be taking a back seat.

The ground objective behind professional education has acquired a specific but narrow meaning of merely ‘getting jobs’ in the modern era of capitalism. There is no harm in considering ‘education’ as a ‘utility’ to achieve economic well-being. Rather, economic well-being through education was well defended by Gandhi in his reformative scheme of ‘nai taleem’. He affirmed the need of self-reliance through educational empowerment. He confirmed the need of vocational education as well. So, there is nothing wrong in aiming for the economic upliftment and individualistic approach towards education initially. But, education, and especially professional education, has a bigger and greater role to play in national development through social change. It is felt that engineers, managers, doctors, educationists and lawyers have a great role to suggest in the nation-building. If these professionals are well oriented about the socio-economic conditions around and well versed in the ethical responsibilities of their respective professions, their role can have a greater impact in making this nation a better place.

Today, the world is more haunted by the value-deficit rather than by skill-deficit. Skills are well placed, but values are misplaced rather, not properly placed. It is to be understood that an educated person without values upright can bring more harm than the uneducated person. Improper use of knowledge is lethal. History has been a witness to such experiences. The modern times are surrounded by globalizing principles, and it seems imperative to settle the discourse of values through professional educational set-ups. Universities have already felt the need and importance of value-based subjects to be imbibed in technical educational dissemination. Now it rests on the call of the other stake-holders of professional education to respond to / accommodate it, to promise a world with just-order and equal prospects of sustainable development. As Aurobindo would reiterate for an integrative education, where the skills and values are complimentary to each other, not seen in contradiction to one another!

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