It is often lamented that no Indian University or Institution figuers in the list of top 100 universities ranked by the three leading agencies namely The Times Higher education; Shanghai Ranking and QS Ranking. It is further pointed out that this is due to the low level of research activity (both quantitavely as well as qualitatively) in Indian universities. During the past 10 year or so, the statutory bodies (UGC, AICTE, MHRD, NAAC NBA etc) are trying to increase the research output of Indian Universities and institutions. The carrot & stick approach is being followed. The incentives offered include four/three advance increments for getting Ph.D degree, extended study leave, post doctoral leave, sabbatical and liberal grant for field study, allending conferences, seminars etc. The stick includes the following:
- A Ph.D degree is a must for being promoted to the level of Associate professor and beyond.
- A minimum numbers of publications a must in refereed,journal before submitting the Ph.D thesis;
- Course work is compulsory for all at the time of getting enrolled in Ph.D (except those having M.Phil degree) and that too must be done on a full time basis.
- The career advancement scheme (CAS) has an elaborate academic performance indicators(API) which are quantified. In order to be promoted to the next level, the applicant must have a certain minimum API score. The API too has a lot of marks for research output.
- In case the latest UGC regulations on minimum qualifications for appontment of teachers. ( 18th July 2018) come into force in 2021, it will not be possible to enter the teaching profession in higher education without a Ph.D degree.
- The post of principal (which is partly academic but mainly administrative) has also been linked to
- All accrediation agencies, like NBA and NAAC, lay heavy emphasis on research output . The expert teams probe the claims made by the insitutions in details and threadbare. The recently launched NIRF (National Institutional Ranking Framework) of the MHRD too has very heavy weight assigned to research.
What has been the outcome of this two-pronged strategy? Let’s have a look. Well, no guesses required. It was an unprecendented surge in sub standard and spurious research work. Those who were in senior scale (Associate professor,Professor) without Ph.D rushed to grab a Ph.D degree;four advance increments meant a whoping 12% annual increment in salary under the 6th pay commission. Those who feared stagnation at assistant professor level too rushed in to get- themselves enroted in Ph.D programs. Many private universities made a fast buck. Intresteingly , the situation in our neighbouring country (and our archival) was no different.I found that in a private sector university in Lahore, there were 100 students enrolled in its management departmant alone in 2016, and everyone paying an anual fee of Rs 5 lakh (equivalent to Rs 3 lakh of Indian currency)! We all are aware of the recent newspaper report of rampaging plagirism in Indian institutions involving as high as person a holding the post of Vice Chancellors.