The dream of a Harvard on the Ganga’s banks (Livemint)
A new generation of private universities has begun to find its feet in different parts of India. These new universities are welcome in a country in which the lack of quality higher education means that students spend around $6 billion every year to study abroad. However, the new educational centres should not just be seen as ways to stem this outflow of foreign exchange. They have the potential to act as catalysts for the broken system of public universities as well.
The private universities could do what a bunch of educational institutions did during the years of the freedom struggle—when private Indian capital stepped in to fund colleges for a country that was changing rapidly. The story of Ahmedabad University is instructive because its roots lie in the educational enterprise of another generation. In 1935, business leaders in Ahmedabad set up the Ahmedabad Education Society under the guidance of Vallabhbhai Patel, to establish colleges in the city. A new university that is taking shape in Ahmedabad under the same umbrella already has schools for management studies, liberal arts, computer science, engineering, heritage management, environmental studies—and has ambitious plans to roll out several other centres.