Indian Computer Science (CS) & Information Technology (IT) Academic Reform Activism Consolidated Blog Document

Dr. Ramani's blogpost about students not formally complaining about illegal fees and Dr. Joseph's Hindu article (mainly) on R&D in Indian software service companies

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Dr. Ramani's blogpost about students not formally complaining about illegal fees and Dr. Joseph's Hindu article (mainly) on R&D in Indian software service companies

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Here's a frank and interesting article by Dr S. Ramani titled, "Why no student complains that he has been compelled to pay an “illegal fee”!",

I posted a two-part comment on the blogpost and have copy-pasted them below (slightly edited to fix a grammatical error):

"The students and their families feel that the denial of educational opportunity of the type or quality they desire is the worst form of cruelty." Terrific takeaway for me from your article. I think you may have got it spot-on for many Indian families and students.

About why students & parents don't blow the whistle on illegal fees: Most students and parents have tremendous fear of Indian academic administrators. And I think it is sensible that they have this fear as ruthless administrators get away with almost any unethical and even cruel action on students, so long as it is not illegal, in Indian academia. The administrator fears only the reaction from the parents and relatives of the student (or maybe the students' union - I don't know much about students' union as the deemed university that I was in, did not have any students' union). If these (parents ...) are powerful people the administrator will back off from strong action but if they are ordinary people, the administrator knows that he can get away with almost anything (so long as it is not illegal). Even after the student passes out, there may be requests to confirm his academic records - any student that blows the whistle on an educational institution will know that these administrators will be looking for a chance to take revenge. I think these are the ground realities of Indian academia today.

Besides corruption and unethical practices are widespread in almost all walks of Indian life (barring some parts of the private sector), so why should students and parents take on the onus of whistle-blowing about the corrupt practice of capitation fee in private professional Indian higher education sector? It is already a well-known secret with so many people even writing about it in the mainstream media. But the govt. regulatory authorities seem to be completely powerless to do anything about it.

Government guaranteeing repayment of educational loans seems to be very risky, if not managed carefully. A more liberal approach was adopted by the Andhra Pradesh state government in recent years which seems to have resulted in a professional higher education bubble being formed and then bursting causing a lot of pain to students, faculty and higher education institution managment/owners. Some info. about it follows:

The fee reimbursement scheme is meant for "students belonging to economically weaker sections in the state", Practically, this April 2014 Hindu article, states, "Till now, students just had to submit the income certificate of less than one lakh per annum to secure admission." ... "Government pays Rs 35,000 per annum for engineering courses, Rs 27,000 for MBA & MCA courses and Rs 31,000 for the B. Pharm course if parents’ income is less than Rs. One lakh per annum."

Regarding the bubble-burst aspect, one cause of it seems to be the govt. not reimbursing fees properly and/or promptly (another cause may be poor teaching quality perhaps).Here is a related April 2014 Times of India article, which mentions that at least 80 AP colleges will be asking AICTE permission to close down and hundreds of engg. colleges may ask permission to reduce seats. Degree programmes most affected include MCA, IT and MBA degrees.


Deccan Chronicle of a few days back carries an article about money owed to engg. colleges by Andhra Pradesh state. The first sentence in the article states, "The state government has not paid fees amounting to Rs. 3000 crore, of 27 lakh students from socially and economically backward classes under the fee reimbursement and scholarship scheme for professional courses." While this may be not surprising given how governments in India routinely delay payments, the next statement shows the pitiable state of students who are dependent on this state government scheme support, "With the deadline of June 2 for the bifurcation of the state drawing near, these students are nervous about their future, especially as there is no clarity about how these arrears will be shared by the new governments that take charge in Telangana and AP after June 2."

I am now wondering about what happens to students enrolled in engg. colleges which want to close down! Are they left high and dry? Probably not - there may be consolidation of students into few colleges. But this will be the case only if the student can pay the fees. If the student is using this govt. fee reimbursement scheme then other colleges will shy away from accepting him/her, I think. Hmm. What a mess that will be, if that's how it is going to play out/is already playing out.

Govt. fee reimbursement offered on a blanket scale like what Andhra Pradesh did - all students whose parents earn less than Rs. 1 Lakh p.a. - is just way too risky and imprudent from a financial perspective. And the worst sufferers when such a scheme fails due to it being financially unsustainable are the poor students whom the scheme intended to help! They would have been far better off if they had not enrolled into engineering and had instead pursued some other skill set/job which was more achievable for them given their economic status. I am not being an economic class snob - I am just being realistic. I myself had to drop out from my M.Sc. (Physics-Electronics) in Bombay University in 1984 due to financial problems, and look for a decent job instead - that decision was one of the best decisions of my life as, within a few months, I got a break into the sunrise software development industry as a trainee programmer (under 3 year bond; 6 months training and 2.5 years service to company under stipend-type salary with stipend rising periodically over the bond period).

--- end comment ---

Today's The Hindu had an interesting article from Dr. Mathai Joseph titled, "Why is there no Indian equivalent of Microsoft or Google?", I added the following comment to it, which is under moderation right now:

Interesting article. I think the analysis about Indian software service companies is good including the analysis of the few product offerings they have (that they have been born out of their service efforts, and are a sort-of customized service offering in specialized areas).

However I must also say that the title of the article led me to expect a somewhat different article.

--- end comment ---

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

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