History is full of stories when students from all parts of the world used to come to Bharat to study Sanskrit, Ayurveda, Mathematics, Philosophy, etc., and understand the religion and spiritual discourses which were available to all interested people. There were centres all over the country like Kashi (Varanasi), Ujjain, Nasik, Kanchipuram and so on, where people from all parts of the world used to come, discuss life philosophies and search for the real self.
There were more than 20 universities in ancient Bharat between 400 to 1200 BC such as Nalanda (Bihar), Takshila (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, now in Pakistan), Vikramshila (Bihar), Valabhi (Gujrat), Somapura (Bengal), Jgaddla (Bengal, now in Bangladesh), Odantapuri, (Bihar) and Pushpagiri (Odisha). Invaders destroyed all the major universities. However, no effort has been made to revive them in the past 70 years.
By introducing the draft New Education Policy 2020, the Government of Bharat plans to make an effort in the direction of making Bharat a preferred destination for higher education. Following are some of the suggestion which may be suitably customised for implementation to make the project successful:
- Identify and prioritise the subjects which are in demand globally. Some of the suggested subjects are Sanskrit, Ayurveda, Astrology, Astronomy, Vedic Mathematics, etc. We need to establish the centre of excellence and teach theory along with the application of theories. This will essentially require us to honour these knowledge areas in our country.
- Bharat has the advantage of having more than 900 universities and close to 4000 engineering colleges. If we can create a cluster of colleges with leading engineering branches for each cluster serving nearby industries.The quality of education imparted by the college will improve with the active participation of the industries this may come in the form of labs and libraries established in the cluster through funds from CSR. It will help industries, too, in getting qualified manpower at a competitive price.
- Collaboration with industries to establish centres of excellence for training of the workforce in the skills which companies require to run their business may be planned. For example, hundreds of companies are willing to start manufacturing facilities in the Defence Corridor of Uttar Pradesh. The companies will come to Bharat and bring modern technologies in which Bharatiya and international students may be trained and work in Bharat. International students may go back to their countries with expert knowledge.
- Making Bharat a place for training the workforce in niche skills like technologies being used by the Railway, Defense, smart transport, etc.. It will attract global students to acquire these specific technical skills.
The concept of making Bharat a destination for higher education and its implementation will require the support of the government for improvement of the infrastructure to serve the foreign national students. Changing the mindset of the common man will also be needed to accommodate people who are coming from different backgrounds and have different food habits and living standards. Language problem also needs to be taken care of by giving 2-3 weeks training to foreign students about Indian culture and customs, etc.
Collaboration with industries to establish centres of excellence in imparting skills which companies require to run their business may be planned
Establishing brand Bharat for higher education also needs to be tackled strategically not only by publicity but also by successful case studies created in the past and convincing the prospective students that it shall help to make their dream come true. Red-tapism in the issuance of visas, work permits after studies are over are some of the factors which if handled carefully will help to create the brand Bharat. Making life easy with strict law and order will also be an important factor in convincing students and their parents to send them for study in Bharat.
Bharat has the advantage of the low value of currency that helps attract international students, especially from developing countries because as compared to developing countries like the USA and UK the cost in Bharat will be half or even less. Now we need to take it as a mission with time-bound goals to achieve. This is very much doable and will help Bharat to achieve the glory of the past and fruits of economic advantage too will be available in terms of new job opportunities for Indians and increased foreign exchange remittances paid for fee and living expenses by the foreign nationals will increase the foreign reserve of the country.
(The writer is a software professional and social entrepreneur)