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The University Space

I have always cherished being a part of the University. It has shaped my career and ambitions to an extent that no other institution has. Next year will be my tenth year of association with this institution that symbolizes the spirit of higher education. Almost any student will vouch for this fact - that being a part of the campus gives some of the most memorable moments of one's life. Life on the campus is so much more easier than real life; where one has to face the harsh and competitive world. My thoughts ponder to how an ideal University should be like? What should its characteristics be? Ideally a University can provide the best ground for research and intellectual training of students. Universities inspire ideas and innovation because it is a place bubbling with youth - young people just entering the threshold of their careers, full of idealism and eager to do something for the country. What could be better? Sadly, the state of Indian Universities today leaves much to be desired. Instead of inspiring scores of students, Indian campuses have become too much politicized and lack even some of the very basis amenities. It would be unfair to generalize, but this is the truth. Earlier the university space was characterized by freedom of thought and speech, the freedom to hold diverse views and to enrich the public space. No doubt teachers and professors of yesteryear are still remembered. Today, universities are venues where second rung politicians are groomed and nurtured to play a role in future politics. As a result, the atmosphere on the campus stands vitiated. All that stood for excellence and merit, now stands for approach, bureaucracy and politics of the worst kind. So, we have places where students struggle to get basic amenities like water and sanitation facilities, we have researchers working in the most ill-equipped of infrastructures, we have libraries which are assumed to be open space but which have turned out to be the most restrictive and unfriendly to readers, we have claims of AC and Wi-Fi in campus, but no signs of proper drinking and sanitation facilities, we have a paper bureaucracy which will make you run from one table to the other to get what you deserve - be it a travel grant or your research fellowship. However, the final and the most fatal characteristic of universities is the presence of efficient and mediocre employees who happily draw heft salaries while it is the ad-hoc staff that does most of the work. The attitude of suspicion, intolerance and a lack of empathy is what can be disastrous for university professionals ... but alas this is the bitter truth. The university is increasingly becoming like the society - divisive and intolerant. The university was supposed to be a space for intellectual growth but today it is ruled by elitism, mediocrity and inefficient administration apart from the vice of student politics which I believe should have no space on the campus. Universities were built as public spaces where academics would flourish - hilariously it is academics which is on the decline today in these very castles that once stood for brilliance and intellect. This decline is fatal for our country - because universities ought to be the hub of education - instead today they are churned out as centers for commercial gain and profit. So with every Vice-Chancellor come promises of making the campus posh and beautiful with all the facilities that students require, however these remain mere promises. One of the most famous teachers of India  Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan said, "The end-product of education should be a free creative man, who can battle against historical circumstances and adversities of nature."

The present day university system is certainly betraying his vision because universities neither make man/woman free or creative, they instead turn him into a hostage of the education system!


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