A positive development in higher education which has brightened the new millennium for millions of the country’s neglected but eager-to-learn, upwardly mobile youth is the establishment of several private liberal arts and humanities universities across the country. The promotion of the O.P. Jindal Global, Ashoka, Bennett, Shiv Nadar among other universities inspired by America’s blue-chip Ivy League universities to provide high quality, multi-disciplinary liberal arts and humanities education and combinations of these subjects with economics, law, business management, architecture, is overdue and welcome.
Regrettably in the quest for developing science and technology institutions and a scientific temper within the populace, liberal arts education fell out of fashion in post-independence India and became the default option of youth who couldn’t make the cut for admission into the country’s IITs, and premier science and engineering higher education institutions. Since then, the country has paid a dear price for the neglect of liberal arts and humanities. Narrowly educated engineers and technicians have risen to positions of power and authority within the bureaucracy and public services resulting in formulation and/or adoption of inorganic imported socio-economic development policies and frameworks which have failed to strike strong roots in sub-continental soil. Nurturance of strong roots requires development policies and processes designed by individuals with deep knowledge and comprehension of the history, culture, politics and character of nation states provided by well-grounded liberal arts education — “the table manners, customs and frames of justice of a democratic society”.
Acquisition of new insights into the value and importance of liberal arts education, and examination of the processes of institution and capacity building in the era of irrevocable globalisation, were benefits derived from writing the new year’s first cover story on the O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU), Sonipat (Delhi NCR). Within a decade since it admitted its first batch of 100 students into the Jindal Global Law School, it has flowered into a full-fledged, wholly residential liberal arts and humanities university comprising eight schools with an aggregate enrolment of 4,320 students mentored by 432 faculty. Moreover within this short span of time, JGU has received a rain of excellent notices and encomiums in India and abroad. Our new year cover feature recounts an inspiring story of institution and capacity building which one hopes will enthuse others from among post-liberalisation India’s multiplying tribe of billionaire business tycoons to endow and establish globally competitive education institutions in their own, and the national interest.
And as per our usual custom, in the special report feature of this information and ideas packed first issue of 2019, we present a review of the major events of an uneventful 2018 for Indian education.
Happy new year!