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October 2020

Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 oct 2020

India's newly released National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 recommends internationalization of higher education sector. NEP has developed a vision to make India global study destination by 2030. Top universities of the world will be allowed to operate in India and a legislative framework will be created to facilitate this. Moreover, the Ministry of Education is preparing the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) bill to pave way for foreign universities to open their branches in India and Indian universities will be allowed to open campuses abroad and collaborate with foreign institutions. Reasons for this internationalization focus by NEP is due to current dismal standards of higher education - (1) Despite being second largest higher education system India, with its 990 universities and 40000 colleges, none figure in World University Rankings. (2) India ranks as low as 72 among 132 countries in the latest Global Talent Competitive Index which gauges country's current ability to grow and attract talents. (3) Top foreign universities would bring in capital, latest education technology, innovative pedagogy and facilitate institution mobility that is missing in India. (4) Higher education brain drain is a common phenomena in India. In 2019 alone, some 750000 students went for abroad to pursue higher studies. On an average, students spend US$ 15 billion per year to earn these degrees. Historically the policy of internationalization of education has been debated continuously since the inception of economic reforms and liberalization in 1991. There has always been some voices of opposition to such educational reforms. Moreover, there are also other challenges - Many Anglo-American universities are already struggling with financial issues and budget cuts along with drop in enrolments; Indian educational systems's bureaucratic hurdles that contrasts with operational freedom and academic autonomy that foreign institutions often expect. There can't be total guarantee that the legal framework and regulatory environment that NEP desires to create will provide these institutions such freedoms; Academic human resources will see heightened competition and local institutions will be on the receiving end as reputed foreign universities with more benefits will be attractive; Public universities in India work with a social and welfare agenda and emphasize on inclusion. Entry of foreign universities may impact this inclusion aspect. Also, neither NEP nor the HECI bill elaborate how India's public universities opening branches/campuses in other countries will help out the education system at home and at what cost. Indian government's budgetary allocation for education has already been witnessing a decline in recent years. Read on...

Observer Research Foundation: Why internationalisation of higher education can be a game changer for India
Authors: Niranjan Sahoo, Jibran Khan


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 oct 2020

Small women-run farm collectives became a success story of self-sufficiency during COVID-19 lockdown in Tamil Nadu (India). These informal groups have been facilitated by a grassroots nonprofit 'Women's Collective' that encourages poor women, who neither own land nor are able to lease land on their own, to come together and lease land collectively to grow food. In the IndiaSpend article dated 09 sep 2019, author Shreya Raman states, 'In a country (India) where 73.2% of rural women workers are engaged in agriculture, women own only 12.8% of land holdings.' Sheelu Francis, co-founder of Women's Collective, says, 'We began with five collective farms in 2010, with the intention of helping landless single or widowed women achieve food security. With collective farming, we ensure nutrition and food security for landless women at the household level.' There are now 89 collective farms with a total of 695 members spread across Tamil Nadu. Each collective has 5-10 members. Women's Collective is responsible for training and providing agricultural know-how. Farmers utilize organic farm methods and avoid chemical fertilizers. The size of the plot determines the choice of crops the women farmers will grow. Landlord usually gets 1/3 of the harvest as rent while the members distribute the rest among themselves. Read on...

The Guardian: Fruits of shared labour: The Indian women joining forces for food security
Author: Anne Pinto-Rodrigues



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