Is globalisation limited to Apple making sure that they get the most promising sales figures from India? Must we remain content with using soaps, detergents, technology, fashion accessories, and even homes that are conceived and made in other countries? Isn’t it time for us make sure that Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton get up and start their day by brushing their teeth with Kantidant from Patanjali? There are sectors where the concept of ‘Make in India’ has caught on and companies like Samsung are going out of their way to inform us how they have embraced it. Globalisation must now be globalisation the way India visualises it… and so there is no reason why education must lag behind. The Modinomics of ‘Make in India’ needs to become an integral part of the think-tank in our own institutes and universities of higher learning.

Empowering India must not be left to everyone else to strive for while education sleeps and whimpers about brain drain. We need to really move away from notions that surround ‘several alleged instances of ‘saffronisation’ of the education system’. India has a massive treasure of a past where Nalanda and other places of learning attracted students who came here to learn. Our history and our heritage tells us that we have never shied away from experimenting, researching, and advancing knowledge… and we are just not the sort who will be unwilling to share all that we know. The efforts that the government is now making to bring the world at our doorstep must not remain limited to just a few sectors. The concept of ‘Make in India’ needs to be adopted by education in India. Some time back Sangeeth Sebastian published an article where he mentioned that the ‘Australia-based Deakin University, one of the oldest to set up an India office, was the first to show a keen interest in being a part of the campaign. Its vice-chancellor Jane den Hollander announced over $A10 million in research initiatives in crucial areas, along with various academic, corporate and research partners in India.’ That article also mentioned that Japan and France are eager for Indian talent to study in their campuses. Education anyway is one of the 25 sectors that have been identified for the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

Just as medical tourism to India is all about the world recognising our medical prowess at a lesser cost… isn’t it time for India to let students from all over the world make a beeline for institutes of higher learning in India? For us this will be an apt definition of globalisation of education as students from other countries will go back to their countries with not just an adequate learning of the subjects of their choice but will also understand Indian culture and the way we look at things that matter. This will be the truest form of education that is made in India.

The other interpretations of globalisation in education is all about foreign universities investing in the institutes and universities here, adding India-specific concerns in their own curriculum that they teach in their home country, faculty exchanges where learning takes on a new paradigm, collaborations where the faculty from universities abroad come here to teach, investment opportunities for foreign universities to level the playing field so far as infrastructure is concerned, and the opportunity for Indian institutes of learning to set-up bases in distant shores. These are all ways in which globalisation and ‘Make in India’ seamlessly merge and converge. We don’t necessarily need to just keep whimpering about getting the foreign-educated Indian graduates back to find the right jobs here. An article in the IIM Calcutta website talks about ‘Make in India’ being ‘a major new national programme designed to facilitate investment, foster innovation, enhance skill-development, protect intellectual property and build best-in-class manufacturing infrastructure.’

Skill and formal learning are intricately linked and the way things are taught and done here must not remain mere case-studies in foreign universities. The stage is already set for the multiple set of collaborations that I have mentioned and the focus of the government is certainly on the ‘Make in India’ concept for education as well. It isn’t as if the path to globalisation of education the Indian way is going to be easy. There are flaws and pitfalls that need speedy and sustainable solutions. In another article, Mridula Mukherjee, professor of history at JNU writes, ‘There seems to be a lack of policy in HRD. The tendency to centralise is detrimental. Autonomy is essential for universities. More is good and not less. The new Central Universities Act is a clear evidence of this centralisation.’ There are multiple systems operating in the same college or university and cohesion of operation ideas is a necessity in such cases.

I am inclined to think that even foreign countries and foreign universities have their own set of problems and issues which they recognise and are constantly upgrading facets to remain a name to reckon with. They are all good but so are we. They are working hard to be better and so are we. Why then must we feel disinclined to let education in India walk hand-in-hand when it comes to a global platform for attracting students? We do have our own AIIMS, the IITs, the IIMs, and a whole range of other colleges that the world is aware of. It is time for even the smaller and the lesser known places of learning in India to increase their pace of upgradation and add to the education force that we already are.

We need to set up industry-led research centres synchronised with our academic prowess. Our academicians need to take time out of just teaching and get into research as well or at least assist the researchers with their experience. Our universities need to grow out of being just places for classroom teaching and work towards integration with the industry to understand their needs and be their best consultants. An academician doesn’t necessarily need to leave the campus forever and join organisations like the Boston Consultancy group to turn back and advice a viable implementation to the university he left. We have talent inside the campus, if I may say so, and these people need to rally all our strong points and help our educational institutes become a global force.

What stops us from ensuring that the brains from our institutes of higher learning, and I don’t mean only the IITs and the IIMs here, come together and brain-storm to add value to every aspect of business strategy and technology management? After all, the competitive environment is no longer limited to our States or exists within the nation’s boundary… and if the competition is global, we need to have a competitive edge that creates global forces out of us for sure.

The path isn’t easy but we need to understand that globalisation of education isn’t about foreign universities opening their doors to more and more students from India… and ‘Make in India’ isn’t just about multi-nationals setting up manufacturing bases here. There is much more to these three seemingly innocuous words: ‘Make in India’… and our universities and institutes need to jump in the globalisation pool and tell the world that we can swim just as well. Our education system needs to rise as one cohesive brand ready to have patrons in the shape of collaborators and buyers in the form of students from the global arena.

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Article published in Marketing Buzzar:

2016_07_29_Make in India vs globalisation in education

2016_07_29_Make in India vs globalisation in education

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Arvind Passey
29 July 2016