Thursday, November 30, 2006

FDI in higher education needs vision

Before we begin celebrating the opening up of higher education to foreign direct investment as we should --- the Foreign Education Providers (Regulation) Bill is likely to be tabled in the coming budget session of Parliament --- let’s pause. The assumption that universities across the world, from Harvard and MIT to Cambridge and Oxford, are just waiting for the clearance of this Bill to enter India with all their intellectual and financial infrastructure may not quite be realised. What we do see today are liaison offices of two-bit, unknown universities making a pitch that’s part education, part ‘come share the good life’.
That private investment --- Indian or foreign --- in education (primary, secondary or higher) is an aching need is a rhetoric that has been bled to death. Of course, it is needed. It should have happened decades ago. The cost of not doing that is a mediocre teaching infrastructure, where status and financial incentives to a teacher are based on how long s/he has worked for rather than the foremost quality: Quality.

Opinion in The Indian Express, November 30, 2006

Friday, November 10, 2006

Who is a stock? How is a bond? Wrong questions

Every time I think of wealth creation --- defined in my book as turning our sweat into financial comfort, security, independence and finally freedom without sweating further --- I realise just how far we are from it collectively. Talking about the mass affluent, a fast growing category of young, urban professionals carrying money and attitude in their wallets, and houses and cars in their EMIs, this quest to be wealthy has just one hurdle: financial literacy.
There are two aversions that most middle class citizens carry. One, a fear of finance --- when the numbers begin to flow, things as basic as compound interest turn into monsters that blank out understanding. Two, a pride in not knowing --- I wonder where that comes from; probably a corrupted DNA of a pretentious intellectual elite of India (both the rich and the poor are very careful with their money).

Opinion in The Indian Express, November 10, 2006