The market has taken over education

Updated: Jan 1 2005, 07:40am hrs
My generation knows Indias Emergency era nightmare only through media clippings. But, I fear, we are again heading for an Emergency-like situation, where the very pillars of democracy are on fire. It scares me to think that in the campuses in south India, I am among a shrinking minority of elected student chairmen amidst nominated chairmen. In an era where youth is denied free choices, one wonders if it is a free country any more. Not that things are any better in campuses under the five universities in Kerala, because elections are yet to go extinct, as in the Tamil Nadu campus. Private college managements are dictating to universities that campus elections should be in parliamentary form. Student unions of five Kerala universities have gone to court to bring back the presidential form of elections. All student outfits from KSU to ABVP are with us (SFI) in this issue. It hits democracy where it hurts the most.

Reason Distortions in the approach of policymakers to higher education, no doubt. The country-wide pattern makes it clear that it is the unmonitored private enterprise in education that is sowing the seeds of discontent in youth when they should actually be harnessed for constructive nation-building. We are not against private capital. What we are against is private capital dictating terms in the education sector. The government should have the final say. There should be a public body, a watchtower over self-financing colleges. Otherwise, social justice will go haywire and the quality of education will suffer.

As a student leader, I dream of an India thats seen beyond metro cities. The headlights of mainstream Indian media are too focussed on celebrity doings in New Delhi or Mumbai to see feudalism rearing its head in Bihar or sati still happening in the post-Raja Rammohan Roy century. Long exorcised spirits of communalism are returning in gory forms too often.

Its not just the media thats getting hijacked by the market. Market has taken over education. Worse, it has taken over young minds. We plan to run an awareness campaign on the growing consumer culture in 2005.

As told to Sarita Varma in Thiruvananthapuram