The various demands of governments and society are often contradictory and strike at the heart of the idea of a university. Universities deal with the universality of knowledge and the concern about human beings in all their manifestations. They seek to discover and understand what is hidden from us. They are foundations upon which society develops. Chaining them to specific objectives due to enhanced government control reduces them in their impact, he said speaking at the University of Mysore.
Delivering the Foundation day lecture, he said: “As the idea of a university has thus swung from a temple of ecumenical understanding to an institution focused on specific objectives, there is a need to shift the balance again to much larger objective and free it from the constraints that bind it today.” Tracking the evolution of the university system of education, Pai spoke at length on the idea of a university and its relevance in the globalised economy. Pointing at global movements that aim to democratize the delivery of education by freeing it from the supply constraints, he argued that open and distance education is allowing universities to revert back to their earlier diffused state with knowledge available freely to those who seek it and not just to those who can afford it. “The once insuperable boundaries of geography have been traversed as millions across the world now have unparalleled access to the best professors and teachers the world over. The advent of the global classroom shall herald in a new era in the inexorable march of the global university.”
For the record, the University of Mysore was set up on July 27, 1916 by the maharaja Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar and his dewan Sir M Visvesvaraya. The varsity celebrated the 98th anniversary on Monday saying that July 27 was a public holiday.
Pai, who was the chief financial officer of Infosys for 12 years from 1994 and demitted the office to focus on education and research, tracked the growth of the university system globally and in India. Speaking about its use now, he said that the universities have now become central to governmental agenda for social transformation, leading to massive investments in universities. Many countries including India, China and Japan see a university as having a critical impact on their societies. They have descended upon universities the duty and the burden of fostering social change and mobility and of imparting ok skills to a large number of students for employment. “This myopic need of equipping our children for jobs rather than endowing them with the skills to tackle the world will compromise the vitality of a university education for the better of mankind,” he rued. He also spoke about deteriorating quality of higher education and blamed it on the governmental control.
VC K S Rangappa and registrar C Basavaraju were present.
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