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Thoughts of an Educational Manager


N. Jayaram

HIGHER EDUCATION IN CHANGING SCENARIOS
By C.R. Mitra
Samskriti, New Delhi, 2005, pp. xv 409, Rs. 850.00

VOLUME XXIX NUMBER 10 October 2005

If you expect to get a cogent articulation of the theory and practice of higher education in India from this volume, you will be disappointed, just as I was. What this volume contains is an assortment of C.R. Mitra’s thoughts on the problems and prospects of higher education. They have been reproduced here from many of his previous publications, working/discussion papers, and lecture notes and transparencies and have been put together as Mitra acknowledges by his colleagues Parimal Mandke and P. Ravi.   Since the volume has been conceived more as an assemblage of previous publications and write-ups, than as an articulation of an axial thesis de novo, it neither makes for interesting reading nor subjects itself to a meaningful review. In fact, Mitra only has a few paragraphs on the ‘Structure of the Book’, but no introduction. I can, therefore, do no more than write a ‘book notice’ and highlight a few important issues touched upon by Mitra, so that those who are interested in the contents of this volume can pursue it further.   In all 56 items have been put together in this volume, excluding a brief laudatory ‘Foreword’ by R.A. Mashelkar and a three-page ‘Conclusion’. These items are organized under nine thematic headings: ‘Higher Education: A Contemplative View’, ‘Higher Education in the Market Economy’, ‘New Players in Higher Education’, ‘Cross-sectional View of Higher Education’, ‘Management Related Issues’, ‘Liberalization and Internationalization’, ‘Higher Education, Government and Law’, ‘University-Industry Interaction’, and ‘Educational Consultancy: Which Way Now?’. The section headings being self-explanatory, it is easy to guess the contents of the items in each section. The items are of uneven size; some are as short as two or three pages. Some lecture-notes and reproductions of transparencies are fragmented and telegraphic in style, and, honestly, I had often to struggle to make sense of the points made. Obviously, in any such compilation, repetition of ideas and narrations is inevitable; it is jarring, all the same.   Surprisingly, the book carries no biographical sketch of the author. The reader has to gather that Mitra has rich experience as teacher and education manager in three different educational set-ups: an engineering college, BITS Pilani, and NIIT Ltd. The way he handles the various dimensions of the higher education conundrum carries the stamp of his acumen and experience. Perhaps, Mitra is at his best when he writes about the experience of BITS Pilani and NIIT ...


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