It is a belief that great universities make a nation great. And why not? Great education is way to empower oneself. In the list of top 100 universities in the world, the names of many universities from across the world have found a position, especially the United States, which has 41 universities on the list, deeming them the best for an excellent education.
Xi Jinping’s has an ambitious goal which is to bring 42 of China’s great institutions to a world-class level.
It might not come as surprise to us Indians that our universities made it to this list very late. Though the Modi government ‘s goals are less ambitious, it has made some welcoming progress. Ten public and ten private universities will gain utmost support to compete with the best in the world. In another first, the HRD ministry’s National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) has introduced a much-needed competitive spirit among public institutions of higher education.
To make India shine on the education map, obviously, every major city in every major state must join forces. However, as ironic as this sounds, there is one major city in one major state that seems be very apathetic about this goal – Mumbai, Maharashtra. I know, it’s unbelievable to hold Mumbai accountable for being unambitious towards making a difference in the Indian education system, a city or rather, ‘the’ city in India brimming with opportunities.
Mumbai University was once among the best in India and Asia. A university that was among the top 10 colleges of India, now nosedived into the 150-200 range. As of 2018, not a single Mumbai college made to the top 10 colleges in India. Delhi has 5 and Chennai has 3.
How did the graph become so bad for Mumbai in terms of education, you must be wondering. Late Dr. Aroon Tikekar in his book, Mumbai De-Intellectualised, explained how the quality of the ideas in the city and in its university are deteriorating, and how in the past there existed more distinguished alumni than any other Indian university.
How did Mumbai become a back-bencher in higher education? The answer can be found in the title of a book Mumbai De-Intellectualised authored by one of its thought leaders, the late Dr. Aroon Tikekar, a decade ago. The book bemoans the steady enfeeblement of the life of ideas in the city and its university, which in the distant past produced more distinguished alumni than any other Indian university — Mahatma Gandhi, Lokamanya Tilak, B R Ambedkar, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Jamsetji Tata, Homi Bhabha, M F Hussein, Nani Palkhiwala, Charles Correa and scores of others.
Mumbai was once India’s media and book publishing capital. Well, it no longer is. It has not bothered to build prestigious intellectual spaces like the India International Centre and India Habitat Centre in Delhi.
The growing deficiency in Mumbai University is due to the larger crisis of quality affecting most of the universities in the state. Needless to say, India needs new private universities. But if the government-run institutions are going to die, along with it many ambitions and dreams will end up unfulfilled of students who rely on such institutions for higher education.