Manipal : “Inspiration for modernity needs to come from evolving traditions. There is a need to liberate the knowledge systems from the mono-cultural dominance of the West. However, at the same time, we should not be dogmatic and avoid past glory syndrome”, said Dr Bhushan Patwardhan, former Vice Chairman of University Grants Commission (UGC), on Thursday. Globally, universities need to break out of the stranglehold of a single cultural and intellectual tradition that has dominated knowledge institutions since the 19th century and move towards becoming multicultural. They need to urgently engage in critical review and discovery of contemporary roots in their own indigenous cultures in various fields. They need to adopt transdisciplinary approaches respecting both indigenous and western scholarship for bringing innovation, academic excellence, flexibility, professionalism, and self-reliance.
He was speaking at the inaugural program of an ‘International Conference on India-EU Higher Education Meet: Reimagining border in cross-border education’, jointly organised by the Manipal Centre for European Studies (MCES) and Association of European Studies in Asia (AESI) from 7-8 October 2021 at Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), at Manipal, Karnataka. Speaking at the same conference, Mr Manish Joshi, TVET and Higher Education Specialist, UNESCO New Delhi Cluster office, discussed the two major education disruptors in the last two years across the globe: COVID-19 pandemic and migration. He stressed the need to place teachers at the heart of any recovery strategy. He also elaborated on the normative instruments developed like UNESCO qualification passport.
Highlighting the importance of regionalization in higher education, Dr Vinod Bhat, Executive Vice President, MAHE, stressed the need to learn from Bologna process of Europe, one of the pioneers of higher education policy harmonization initiative. “Today, the Bologna process has expanded from a specific region to 49 countries in the world and we need to acquire strategies from this process to enhance the mobility, employability and competitiveness of our education system”, said Dr Bhat. He also stressed the need to reform Higher education in India that has become “over-regulated and under governed.”
While, Lt. Gen (Dr) MD Venkatesh, Vice Chancellor, Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), stressed that “cross-border education is no longer a luxury. It is a necessity for Higher Education Institutions (HEI). It can add value to HEI and is a strong component of their sustainability strategy.” He also emphasized the need to establish India study centres (Gandhian and Tagore centres) in foreign universities to boost India’s soft power. At the same time, Dr Venkatesh suggested the need to deregulate the international collaboration in Indian universities, give more autonomy to universities while deciding remuneration for foreign faculty, and need to undertake harmonization of higher education system within the country.
Speaking about the need to a diagnose the imbalances that exist in the flow of knowledge and mobility of scholars across different borders (epistemic, systemic, cultural, political), the Head, Manipal Centre for European Studies (MCES), MAHE, Dr Neeta Inamdar highlighted how globalization which opened borders has created inequalities and imbalances in knowledge systems. “Today, if we look at the flow of knowledge or movement of scholars from one part of the world to another, there are visible imbalances. These imbalances are also seen within these regions, between cultures and communities, one claiming superiority over the other. These realities call for a reassessment of not only what constitutes knowledge, but also what encompasses the idea of borders to ensure that the flow of knowledge and knowledge seekers be made even and multidirectional”, said Dr Inamdar.