Monday, June 06, 2016

Trump Universities

You are obviously better informed on world affairs than I am, and your eyebrows went up when you read the title, “Trump Universities”. You ask, “There is only one, The One of The Donald – ‘Trump University’. Whence the plural?”
Hold your horses for just a little bit.
What is the grudge against Trump University? In the name of showing the way to untold riches in the field of real estate, it pauperized many. It was ruthless and devious in promoting itself. Its boss may not be politically connected quite so strongly, but to make up for it, is trying to become POLITICS itself. For the uninitiated, The Donlald is the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party for President of the US.
If only you re-focused to another part of the world, India, and also shifted your time frame by about a couple of decades, you would find the answer to, “Whence Trump Universities?”
Then and there - in India about a few decades ago - sprouted these “Deemed Universities”, under the auspices of some government outfit/regulatory body or the other. The details need not concern us. Suddenly, we found among ourselves a host of, “Education Entrepreneurs”.
Following the tenets of the much discredited Social Darwinism, these entrepreneurs scoured the wastelands of India, spotted niches for survival (making money) and found numerous Tier-umpteen cities that lacked institutions of higher education. The floodgates opened, the political powers operating the winches, for, of course, a consideration. You know what that means. Every Tier-umpteen city that had a name came to have a university, or at least an engineering college. It is so bad in Tamil Nadu that these urban units are now more readily identified by the colleges they host!
But, these considerations begat reverse considerations. These were to the entrepreneurs, in return for the original considerations. It was all about land and regulation, or more accurately the regulators turning a blind eye to the regulations if indeed there were some such things. Leave alone grant of land for a pittance.
The result? You have private universities (most of them) dotting the Indian landscape-resembling NASA’s “Earth at Night”-that I do not deem worthy of being called a university. They are mere specks, from the long term (there he goes again; doesn't he know business is least worried about the long term?) perspective of what education should aim to do.

See how many Deemed Universities are there in India!
Teachers therein match the students in being ignorant of the subjects they teach, learn, respectively. If you asked them to name The Book, it would not be the Gita or The Bible, but the Text Book for the course they are teaching/learning. “If it is not in the Syllabus/Text Book, it does not exist.” Reminded you of management and measurability? I thought so.
India is a land of suckers – P T Barnum did not know enough to set up shop here! The “deemed un-universities” sell themselves to gullible people that they would place students in profitable employment – profits to the companies through low pay and long hours, of course! But, parents think of it as profitable to themselves and their wards! This is a ruse that only The Donald caught on to, and used it to pump money into Trump University by luring the unwary.
What do these private universities do? They are diploma factories, but that would be an insult to legitimate institutions that offer vocational training and diplomas. The “universities” confer degrees on people who are not capable of carrying even a diploma with dignity. Each advertises itself through the sole metric of how many of its graduates got “placed”, no details. That is OK, because those details cannot but be a thick book of lies! Or, perhaps the “deemed un-universities” left The Donald to complete the job!
The graduates, those who are lucky, are almost exclusively absorbed by the so-called IT industry, IT services providers, to toil away writing computer codes. If you ever saw a dead end this is it. Enough is written about the attrition rates in these IT outfits, with the implication of poaching by the others. That may not be completely wrong, but attrition is also due to the disillusionment with the job these graduates are doing, are asked to do. We hear about graduates pulling rickshaws – that comparison may not be inapt to describe the situation.
But, the parents visiting the campus for entrusting their wards to the un-university are taken in by the glitz.
Well, Trump knows a pile of ready cash when he sees one. Took the model of Deemed Un-universities, modified it in the way only he can, and ahem … created the Trump University.
Class action suit in India, where each is for himself or herself? Don’t dream of it.
Raghuram Ekambaram

No comments: