The gay abundance with which university professors at the JNU in Delhi had indulged in making patently ill-informed statements on issues of serious national concern have highlighted the need for auditing academic standards, performance and requirements in our universities. As on date, the university professors enjoy maximum autonomy and freedom. They are not answerable to anybody. It is up to them if they take classes or not. Even if a professor does not take even a single class in two years’ PG programme, nobody can question him or her. If the students suffer, it is none of professor’s headache. If he fails to produce even one research paper in ten years or more, he can’t be questioned. If he does not guide a single Ph D scholar under him, he has no qualms of conscience. For such professors it is more important to indulge in student politics and party politics than performing their duties as professor.
It is more remunerative for such a professor to engage in private tuitions or run some business under cover of an NGO. While running the NGO, such a professor compromises even national interests when he gets foreign funds for the NGO. He might not understand the true objective behind all the allurements like International Awards and become unwittingly an agent of the foreign intelligence agencies. Foreign visits in the name of seminars or conferences cast an irresistible spell on bureaucrats and professors equally. As members/chairpersons of government committees/commissions, professors wield great influence on government and its policies and, thus, easy targets for predatory foreign agencies. They might commit indiscretions like others and act against public interest.
In order to provide high quality, uninterrupted, highly useful professional academic services to the students, there is an urgent need to fix academic and research workload, performance appraisal, accountability and improvement mechanisms for all universities. Professors without adequate academic work rust and indulge in unproductive activities unconnected to their sphere of work. They are paid huge salaries and they have to justify such payments by rendering quality professional services. They must properly guide their students but never misguide them.
The limited time of the students at the university can’t cover the study of the syllabus comprehensively and gain mastery in even one topic. Hence it is absolutely necessary for the professors to come to the aid of the students and assist them by teaching them properly. The professors have experience of several years and study in-depth the subject and thus can act as an “extractor” of the relevant information from various books and research journals. Such distilled information, if communicated to the students in a language understandable by them, can prove genuinely beneficial rather than taking long notes in long hand by spending several days in the university library. The poor students at best have only 9000 hours for study at their disposal during the two years of PG. During this period they have to read, study, understand and analyze the various topics in a comprehensive manner. It may demand every effort to assimilate and absorb information contained in more than 900000 pages in subjects like law, philosophy, literature, history, political science, sociology, economics, environment studies, international affairs and others in science and technology.
Can they afford to waste even a minute of their extremely tight schedule? Even selecting the right book or article in a magazine is as challenging as consulting our friendly Google Pundit ji. There is a device of extractor to help users to find the appropriate information on the internet without wasting time in perusing hundreds of pages of little relevance. The role of a University Professor should be akin to that extractor device.
Should the professors use the students for their ugly political activities, abusing the trust of a student in his teacher? These professors are expected to have read all these pages during the course of their career, because they have risen to the position of the Professor after years of academic work. It is their bounden duty to share this learning with the students.
If they have no mind for the ethical aspects of their profession, there is need to prescribe it under the law. An institution like National Higher Education Audit Authority of India can fill the gap.
They are doing no charity. They are paid public money for doing this duty. They have to do their duty to earn their salaries and allowances.
Selection to public services is rather tough. Various personality aspects are assessed in addition to physical and mental fitness. Aptitude is also assessed. Public servants are given training prior to actual posting. This mechanism needs to be extended to university teaching appointments. Then alone they will acquire the necessary perspective and widen their horizons. Such teachers will make invaluable contribution to nation building.