English Vocab

World-Class Campus
The Prime Minister’s recent announcement that Rs 10,000 crore would be allocated to the country’s top 20 universities for their upgrade to global standards may be described as a step forward towards achieving the commitment made by the previous government to set up 20 “world class universities”. It is presumed that 10 private and 10 public institutions of higher learning will be designated “world class institutions deemed to be universities”. It must be conceded, however, that there are uncertainties and misgivings (a feeling of doubt or apprehension about the outcome or consequences of
something.) in our Prime Minister’s vision Plans for such upgradation are marked more by political expediency (advantage) and zeal (verve); they do not reflect the vindication of the people’s will.
There must be some substance in what the Planning Commission’s then Deputy Chairman, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, had said a decade ago at a meeting on higher education ~ “It will take 15-20 years for a new university to achieve world class standards. And world class universities require resources that are way beyond the scope of the government”.
India has of late slipped in world university rankings, falling from 31 to 30 in the global list of 1000 campuses, as per the latest data published in the Times Higher Education supplement. It is cause for concern that no Higher Education Institution in India finds a slot in the top 20. The excellence of an institution, going by global standards, is measured by the parameters of QS accreditation, namely, academic reputation, employer reputation, student-teacher ratio, citation per faculty, international faculty ratio and the international student ratio. Apart from international rankings, other parameters of judging quality of an HEI are employability and employer satisfaction. A recent survey conducted by World Bank and FICCI revealed that about 64 per cent of Indian employers are not satisfied with the quality of engineering graduates passing out from Indian HEIs.
In view of the fact that Indian universities have drawn a blank in the ratings of the world’s top 100 educational institutions, it is time to consider that if we aim at dominating the global discourse, we need universities that not only create skilled human resources but also encourage indigenous (originating or occurring naturally in a particular place) research and development and instil scientific thinking among the people.
The Ministry of Human Resource Development has also identified the quality deficit in our higher education system which has paid more attention to access and equity than to quality and excellence. This may well be exemplified by the number of HEIs in our country, constituting the third largest system in the world and comprising 759 universities, which include 47 central universities, 350 state universities, 123 deemed universities and 239 private universities. As of July 2016 enumeration, these institutions produce five million graduates and postgraduates every year. However, the fact remains that even after this exhaustive data, the Gross Enrolment Ratio is only around 20 per cent.
The government had planned to set up 14 central government-run world class universities with the motto of competing with the best higher education institutions across the world. On the contrary, in order to raise enrolment levels in higher education and ensure academic standards, the National Knowledge Commission suggested the restructuring of large universities into smaller ones and allowing autonomous colleges to expand to universities.
Things appear shabbier (in poor condition through long use or lack of care.) still if one cares to look at the present educational scenario, unmistakably characterised by laxity and financial constraints. Does the government have the required funds and the will to implement the envisaged plans, the required vision and perspective to give meaning and relevance to them? Experience does suggest that the so-called “inflation” of the establishment in the field of higher education without a clear perspective of its role in terms of growth, has turned out to be hazardous both for the health of education and the development of society. The drive for literacy as an absolute measure of welfare, the universalisation of primary and secondary education undertaken as a welfare measure is to be welcomed. But expansion of higher education without ensuring the desirable quantum, quality and the kind of output to be received by society, is questionable. The society of course requires philosophers and scientists oriented towards the inculcation of values.
But for that we have enough universities in India. What we need today is the acceptance of the modern perception of the university’s role which ought to be focused onutilitarian (designed to be useful or practical rather than attractive.) interpretation tempered by social idealism. After Independence, the department of education, set up in 1945, was converted to a ministry of education. The University Education Commission (1948-49) recommended rapid expansion of higher education “on a priority basis” and the period from 1947 to 1950 saw the establishment of seven new universities. Since then, there has been a phenomenal growth of higher education. But sadly, in the garb of quantitative expansion, there has been a total qualitative failure.
This is evident from the huge pool of educated persons who are unemployable. This, in turn, points to a low standard of education. There is admittedly a state of near anarchy even in the administration of existing facilities leading to social tensions andmediocrity (ordinariness) of output. Much of this is traceable to ethical, moral and social values being divorced from the educational process.
This can have far-reaching consequences on the quality of manpower which holds the key to our country’s progress, In fact, the expansion of higher education has been the most important post-war trend, regardless of the political system, the level of economic development, or educational ideology. It had expanded dramatically first in the USA, then in Europe and currently the main focus of expansion is the Third World.
The higher education scenario in India today can be compared to the post-war situation in the UK, when new universities were set up to meet the genuine demand which Oxford and Cambridge would not supply. It was marked by lack of financial resources and circumscribed by a dearth of intelligent students. In general, these universities came into being in a haphazard manner in response to certain societal needs.
It appears that educational institutions in India have been plagued by the perquisites (a benefit which one enjoys or is entitled to on account of one's job or position.) of the Nehruvian state that guaranteed an endless flow of taxpayers’ money without any accountability in terms of quality of teaching and research. But the yardstick of efficiency, productivity and utilisation of resources, the mushroom expansion of the education system has broken down completely. Insensitive to the changing context of contemporary life and unresponsive to the changes of today and tomorrow, higher education may be referred to as an immobile colossus. It is so absorbed in trying to preserve its structural form that it does now have the time to consider its own larger objectives.
Further, due to the absence of a single machinery to look after the planning of higher education and centre-state relations on the basis of cooperative federalism in higher education, there is no viable alternative. A vicious cycle of mediocrity has come to prevail which puts the entire education system beyond redemption (retrieval).
It may be politically expedient to increase the number of colleges and universities in order to make them accessible to all. This expansion would not have marred education had it been accompanied by sincere measures of consolidation and standardisation, as also by a perspective plan of linking universities with production units for ensuring growth targets.
When the Centre unveiled its New Education Policy, beneficiaries of higher education were sceptical about the prospect of privatisation. However, the subject remained a debating topic until cuts in government grants began to take effect.
Many states started encouraging privatisation of higher learning, particularly professional education, and several universities were inclined to generate funds through distance education. vocational courses. Higher fees were introduced for these centres and the hitherto astonishingly low fees for general education were also increased. But it was observed that such initiatives were actually cosmetic attempts to cope with reality, indeed the fact that the system itself had become dysfunctional.
Students of the higher education centres form a rather privileged group on whom the state spends a lot and expects a suitable return. Opening the doors of higher education to students who are not serious, while the masses remain illiterate, is a luxury the state can ill afford. The only justification for state funding of higher education can be the promotion of excellence in society’s pursuit of knowledge. Enough facilities are available for those who want to make it to the higher levels of learning.
Correspondence courses, open universities and online learning show the way.
More often than not, higher education delays the days of fruitful endeavour for the average learner. Like Eliza Doolittle in Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, who was transformed from a self-sufficient flower girl to a useless society lady, these young men actually become less self-reliant as a result of their wasteful study. Also, the unwarranted expansion bestows a false sense of righteousness on the political, bureaucratic and educational leadership, preventing them from shouldering the responsibility of discharging their duty.
There is a popular misconception that students are the beneficiaries of higher education. A nation like ours, which stipulates no higher education for its President, for its ministers, and for its chief of industry, is able to get all the clerks it needs without waiting for them to be graduates and postgraduates. Considering that there is so little available for elementary education, is it fair to demand subsidised higher education even if there is no economic or professional need for it?
Because of the unplanned growth of higher education, there is a shortage of qualified people in certain disciplines particularly in the frontier areas of knowledge and technology. The system is thus unable to fulfil its primary objective of providing manpower to a knowledge-intensive economy. The Kothari Commission pointed out that the average standard of higher education has been falling and that rapid expansion has resulted in the lowering of quality. If the CAG reports are any indication, there is little doubt that the major problem of our university education system is its unplanned growth. The shameful (ignoble) performance of our postgraduates in NET etc raises questions about the credibility of degrees awarded by our highest institutions of learning.
Restructuring the University Grants Commission, autonomy for major institutes, emphasis on “outcome-based learning”, and formation of a national testing agency might be radical steps towards enhancing quality without putting a sizeable burden on the government exchequer (a royal or national treasury.). While about 6 per cent of the GDP is allocated to the education sector almost on a regular basis to lend animpetus (something that makes a process or activity happen or happen more quickly.) to quality education, a revised system of fund allocation would be welcome to improve India’s prospects as a nation that is keen on building its human capital. With an eye on world-class infrastructure, some premier institutes could have been supported in addition to the previous allocations.
Higher education suffers from a massive faculty crunch, and it is certain that hiring quality teachers for world class universities will prove a challenge before the HRD ministry. It is encouraging to aim at excellence, but unlike the proliferation of business schools, a world class institute cannot be established in haste. A high-level committee of the HRD ministry has criticised the chaotic expansion in higher education and has suggested the formation of a single apex body instead of other regulatory bodies like UGC, AICTE and MCI. It has also recommended that the government should interfere less in academic and administrative matters.
Unfortunately, the Centre is yet to venture in the right direction. The government must wake up to the failure of its Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and midday meal schemes and learn from its mistakes prior to venturing towards upgradation of world class universities. Envisaging world class universities without a proper vision would be delusory; it is like asking for the moon. Let us hope that the most ennobling(distinguished) legacy that our Prime Minister can bequeath to the country is pursuit of excellence in higher education, lest we should forget that Modi’s “vibrant Gujarat’ had registered a consistent decline in most of the learning indicators a decade ago, often falling below the national average in both literacy and numbers.

1. Misgiving (noun): A feeling of doubt or apprehension about the outcome or consequences of something. (संदेह/अविश्वास/आशंका)   
Synonyms: Anxiety, Angst, Alarm, Worry, Unease
Antonyms: Belief, Calmness, Certainty, Confidence, Faith.
Example: When Ryan learned his daughter’s fiancé had just been released from prison, his misgiving about him became stronger.

2. Verve (noun): Vigour and spirit or enthusiasm. (जोश/उत्साह)
Synonyms: Enthusiasm, Vigour, Energy, Dynamism, Vivacity, Sprightliness, Zest
Antonyms: Apathy, Dullness, Inactivity, Indifference, Laziness, Lethargy
Example: Johnny Depp is known for eccentric performances that burst with verve and energy.
Origin: From French “verve” means ‘vigour’.

3. Indigenous (adjective): Originating or occurring naturally in a particular place. (स्वदेशीय/देशज)
Synonyms: Native, Aboriginal, Endemic, Homegrown
Antonyms: Alien, Foreign
Example: The marine scientists were confused when they found a species of fish that was not indigenous to the ocean water.
Origin:  from Latin indigena ‘a native’

4. Shabby (adjective): (In poor condition through long use or lack of care.) (जर्जर/जीर्ण)
Synonyms: Run down, Down at heel, Scruffy, Dilapidated, Ramshackle, Tumbledown.
Antonyms: Good, Healthy,
Example: His shabby boots should have been thrown out years ago, but the farmer insisted that they brought him luck.

5. Utilitarian (adjective): (Designed to be useful or practical rather than attractive.)   (उपयोगवादी)
Synonyms: Practical, Functional, Serviceable, Useful, Sensible, Effective, Purposeful
Antonyms: Decorative, Un-Useful
Example: Because Ann sees her car only as a utilitarian asset that transports her, she is not concerned about its appearance.
Related words:
Utilitarianism (noun) – उपयोगितावाद

6. Mediocrity (noun): (The quality or state of being ordinary or common.)   मध्यमता/सामान्यता
Synonyms: Ordinariness, Commonness, Normality, Averageness.
Antonyms: Excellence, Distinction, Superiority, Brilliance.
Example: You will never get promoted to best if you keeps doing mediocre work.
Related words:
Mediocre (adjective) - Average; not great or extraordinary
Origin: from Latin medius ‘middle’ + ocris ‘rugged mountain’.

7. Perquisite (noun): A benefit which one enjoys or is entitled to on account of one's job or position/ a privilege, gain, or a special benefit.  (अनुलाभ/अतिरिक्त सुवधाएँ)
Synonyms: Perk, Advantage, special benefit, plus.
Antonyms: Disadvantage, Loss.
Example: Over-sized mansions and exquisite banquets are the perquisites of the riches.

8. Ignoble (adjective): (Not honorable in character or purpose.) (अधम/अप्रतिष्ठित)
Synonyms: Dishonorable, Unworthy, Shameful, Contemptible, Abject.
Antonyms: Honorable, Noble, Reputable, Dignified.
Example: As punishment for vandalizing one of the school bathrooms, George received the ignoble task of cleaning all the bathrooms for one week.
Related words:
Ignobility (noun) – अधमता
Origin:  from Latin in- ‘not’ +  nobilis ‘noble’.

9. Impetus (noun): (Something that makes a process or activity happen or happen more quickly/   Something that makes a process or activity happen (प्रोत्साहन)
Synonyms: Catalyst, Impulse, Motivation, Stimulant, Push
Antonyms: Block, Check, Discouragement, Hindrance
Example: The abundance of donations is the impetus causing many non-profit agencies to increase services offered to the public.
 

10. Ennoble (verb): Lend greater dignity or nobility of character to. (अभिजात वर्ग का सदस्य बनाना)
Synonyms: Dignify, Honour, Bestow Honour On, Exalt, Elevate, Add Distinction To
Antonyms: Condemn, Denounce, Humiliate
Example: Skill and talent ennoble a man.
Verb forms: Ennoble, Ennobled, Ennobled
Origin: from French ennoblir, from en- (expressing a change of state) + noble ‘noble’.
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