This note was sent to a very senior and influential person, on
request to YSR, regarding out-of-box ideas for Indian S&T
and education in mid-2004.They are still validâ€¦â€¦..
This note only covers the issues of R&D and related activities in the Universities in physical, life sciences/technologies and allied disciplines and those relating MBA types of professional courses. Does not address humanities even those subjects such as psychology, sociology, linguistics etc. Some of the humanities aspects looked at from NBA point of view may get embedded in MBA researches just as business economics & economics â€“ technology interaction would get added in Technology & Science & Society types of researches. This is done to maintain a focus on one major sector. In India there is a major need to orient humanities to make them relevant to Indian context and also to make them path breathing. But it is ridden with more passions and also mostly they are govt. funded.
Now straight to the paper.
There are about 300 recognised universities in India including about sixty (60) deemed universities. Not all of them are same size. About two hundred of these are conventional universities. Arts/Science/Commerce etc departments in their university and also affiliating large number of colleges. The other 100 would be as under with speciality disciplines :
40 Universities Specialise Agriculture
40 Universities Specialise Engg & Technology
1 University Specialise Journalism
4 Universities Specialise Law
16 Universities Specialise Health (Medical etc)
10 Universities Specialise Open University (against mostly same subjects as Conventional University)
About 30 are Central Universities in addition to IITâ€™s, IISc ( Bangalore) & few National Institute of Technologies (about 20).
These receive Central Government grants fully. Most others are State Government funded or private.
Except for IITâ€™s and IISc, most of the Central Universities (except for those who have old traditional funding) are struggling for funds.
Ministry of HRD by itself or UGC (University Grants Commission) or AICTE (All India Council of Technical Education) have very little money to disburse. They spread thin. Even large budgets available with DST, DBT for grants-in-aid to Universities are mostly â€œgrabbedâ€ by CSIR laboratories, TIFR (and such elite basic research laboratories including Astronomy ones) IITâ€™s and IISc. Very little is left for even Central Universities. State Universities & others â€“ large in number.
To summarise, Educational Institutes/Universities which teach to train 85% students in higher education in science/technology/professional courses get only 15% of total funds even for their regular operations and â€œeliteâ€ institutions which train/teach 15% get 85% of total funds. It is not correct to assume that the other 85% students are of poor in quality. A simple arithmetic will show that large bulk of 2 million professionals in USA, Canada are from â€œordinaryâ€ Indian colleges/universities (elite ones being only about 100,000 as their number per year is low). Also most Indian industries including ISRO, BARC, DRDO depend on the products of these ordinary Universities/Colleges.
Hence a need to orient them towards major societal/economy/technology/industry oriented research so that the 85% of our students annually have challenging tasks to do. This will produce many entrepreneurs/innovators as well.
Today national laboratories like CSIR are competing with Universities for research funds in addition direct funding. They get from Govt. through their departments. IPR product per unit money of investment is still better in Universities. We need to increase the funding available to all Universities.
Thereafter the policy to make CSIR and other national labs like CMTI, CPRI lab to doa few select major projects (like ISRO, DAE/BARC do) from the direct money they get.
All basic research institutions to be made autonomous from Minsitries/Departments. Let them do world class (such a selection to be done carefully) and limited in number (about 20% of govt budget). Let them not compete with any other fund except foreign funded in addition to the good money from Central govt.
Applied labs like CSIR/CMTI/ICAR/ICMR to concentrate on concrete product/process/services oriented commercial research to be funded by Govt. & partly they have to get even survival fund from industry. Make them autonomous or attached to group of industry as JVâ€™s. No need for huge CSIR, ICAR HQs.
Even DRDO can shed life sciences labs in this way in order to work closely with industries.
These applied labs should be funded by Govt. (Central/State) directly â€“ they should not compete for any other govt. funds except from private sector or industries (even PSUâ€™s).
If these measures are done, funds of DST.DBT etc. for extramural research can be entirely focussed for Universities/Colleges (even IITâ€™s have to be dealt with like CSIR labs and let Ministry of HRD fund as they do and they should be barred from getting from DST etc (other govt. departments). There could be uproar from the elite bodies but 85% of university system will receive a short-in-them-arm without trying for additional budget.
Most of the Universities (except IITâ€™s, IISc) even Central/State/Deemed suffer under plethora of regulations sent by UGC, AICTE, local departments of education etc. They should be freed from these and management professionals. Some Acts of certain Universities will require changes.
Industries (preferably in local areas) may be encouraged to put their QA/testing/R&D labs/consultancy seeking calls/even pilot plants in nearby colleges/Universities.
15% for R&D labs
125% for other industrial/society oriented projects
(even rural development, rural market development activities)
This will build synergies.
In addition Central Govt. can establish a Mission to build within the universities, competitiveness, capability, creativity & innovation. (The word university includes affiliated/autonomous colleges in Universities â€“ not just university department â€“ we need to remove this â€œcasteâ€ system). This Mission will have about 100 professionals from multiple fields â€“ who visit institutions, talk to faculty, staff, students & industries with new solutions â€“ all these processes will challenge the teachers also.
This Mission should be for 5 years and subsequently wind down.
For entrepreneurship by educated youth, B.Tech, M.Scâ€™s, B. Pharmaâ€™s, MBBSâ€™s, MBAâ€™s (including those from IITâ€™s) should be supported special fast moving seed funds and facilitated to work with industries (including small/medium/big industries) which are ready in incubate new students â€“ entrepreneurs can be given tax concessions. The incubating host industry also can be given some tax benefits.
Govt. may outsource some percentage of their jobs (in manufacturing, IT, services sectors etc.) to new qualified students â€“ entrepreneurs. This will also reduce pressure on direct jobs â€“ encourage self-employment.
Note: The students throughput from all the Universities will be about 5 million per year for S&T, professional etc. Of this about 1 â€“ 2 million could be oriented for entrepreneurship research etc., others will be simple graduates. They have to do jobs with others as per the norms of other employees.
The term R&D is being used here in the context as doing something new or adopting something new in the local context, some innovation etc. but all ending in deliverables (not open ended basic research for which we are having them above with 20% fund). It is not always necessary to have breakthrough technologies), some basic research may, some day, emerge a world class or breakthrough. To begin with, let most of the Universities learn to do something useful with their teachers and students so that they develop self-confidence instead of scrounging for crumbs left over by CSIR, TIFR, IIT etc. That will be a major social revolution of immense economic value.
As regards shortage of good teachers etc. in colleges/universities, the solution is to amend rules to allow :
Persons from IITs, CSIR, DRDO, ISRO, IIMâ€™s go on part time basis to teach/reach in ordinary colleges.
Allow industry experienced person (instead of insisting on Ph.Dâ€™s) to teach/research part or full time in these colleges.
Use technologies of e-learning.
Allow tie up with foreign institutions/industries in an easy way.
IN SUM, THE MISSION IN THE UNIVERSITIES FOR COMPETITIVENESS, CAPABILITY, CREATIVITY, INNOVATION WILL TARGET A TENFOLD GROWTH IN THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY WEALTH CREATED BY THEMSELVES AND IN COLLABORATION WITH OTHER R&D GROUPS DURING THE PERIOD 2004-2009.
After this period, the Universities/Colleges have to learn to do of their own and face competition from everywhere. THIS WILL RESULT IN MORE OF INDIAN PRODUCTS DESIGNED FOR INDIAN CONDITIONS THEREBY KICKSTARTING ENOURMOUS EMPLOYMENT AND SUSTAINABLE TECHNOLOGY LED ECONOMIC GROWTH.