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Welcome changes that testify to Jayalalithaa’s return to health Medical costs hit the roof... Poor quality of university VCs He continues the focus on social amelioration IPL type auction for VCs? TIAM turns a full cycle Why land prices zoom in TN? Funding the un-funded Building loyalty through the stomach Adapt Vajpayee dinner diplomacy Welcome GST The ‘Ayyo-yes’ is no more Muffled voices for merit… This scant respect for Law F C Kohli - his concerns all embracing Excel Generators provide the vital back-up Vibrant Gujarat Focus on quality of power - its only around 170-180V Godspeed, Chief Minister JJ Breaththrough in malaria control The sea- saw battle continues... Paytm karo... The brown list of Venkitaramanan More Shakti to resource mobilisation... The why of tax incentives CII projects higher growth… Should we change the official year? Convulsions in The Hindu Tatas moving out of urea production... Tihar, Puzhal not different from Parappana Agrahara B H Kothari - a tribute Russi Mody – a tribute The star of Spencers is no more L&T: focus on infrastructure and more infrastructure… China invests in India IPL - no surprise this scam TELANGANA at last…BUT An informal presentation - analytical, forward locking... Tough task taking states together Tribute – Manikam Ramaswami CIPET hqrs to stay at Guindy – for the present? Delhi is distant… GM Technology at last! Revving up the manufacturing sector Cleaning Ganga – relocate tanneries and install electric crematoria Tax agriculture Contrarian cousins Tribute – M V Murugappan Things happen by accident and not by design... Editor's Says The Ports’ Pasha expands into Tamil Nadu Alexa – Talking Wikipedia Tribute – UCAL Selvan… Multi-faceted Venkat Shanti and Sadhana through Music Adharma of opposition politics London, London Narayan Maximising the micro pricing … EEC at the National Media Centre Delhi is distant Robber barons everywhere Airlines in India: cost and space Which side are you, Montek? A friendly business group For whom the bell tolls? Gay abandon in pricing The ‘Jayanthi Tax.’ Music happens Varuna (rain) in 2015; Vaayu (air) in 2016. Chennai devastated S Ramanathan – a versatile musician, musicologist Marketing expert Balagopal is no more More heat than light Banning booze... 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No Maha Koottani in TN... Diamond jubilee of Egmore Samskrt School Whistle-Stop Tour of Raghuram Rajan …and of a popular trade leader When small is no larger beautiful.. Padma Bhushan for A Ramakrishna A yen for wastage… MHC should not return to its old indisciplined ways Odisha: spectacular win by Naveen Patnaik When online building permits work…. When TN politicians can emulate Kerala's Land reclamation from sea appears cheaper! Where is Rajaji? Align crops to agro climate endowments… Delhi returns to BJP Towards speedy justice TN accounts for the largest recruits by the IT sector Cement prices continue to rise… Liberal imports idling indigenous capacities Online not in line with brick and mortar businesses... The nuclear option Wanted: a second airport for Chennai Put expensive assets created to use... Noble nonagenarians... SoA @ 80 New IT products of Ramco in the pipeline… Gas is the way forward A glass full of corruption Secularism and anti-Hinduism Another Indian music maestro at the UN EVM is tamper-proof Shipping woes of Chennai companies PPP mode for upgrading Corporation Hospitals Boy, can you beat these? S V Raju – a ‘good’ true liberal No engine for this car Lesson from Chandrababu Naidu For whom the MIDS bell tolls? Cutting the nose to spite the face Small units prefers to remain small... Valli, they are more marginalised A more liberated TN… Welcome thrust on trade in Modi’s foreign visits... The balancing act Tribute Increasing non co-operation of state leaders Roaring Ro-Ro facility CSR and CMI: promise of another Srinivasan Ramanujan... Rahman at CIC Demise of a media baron... Strengthen the base... Lalu’s envy, India’s pride Return to king coal for urea... Delhi Chalo... Moily’s bold thrust A proud Madrasi Infrastructure funding – lessons learnt Bihar elections - the Rajaji formula worked How Air-India loses customs... A Grand Finale for SN’s MS centenary at the US… Making ‘my Amaravati’... When nations steal growth from one another… Make standards certification mandatory... Polls and promises An inexplicable neglect Solar thermal shines… Scientists urged to take up farmer-oriented research Quality silica from Neyveli Not just in-laws (and outlaws); they’ve renowned academics at the helm! Bihar – Nitish Kumar adopts the Lalu model A Grand Finale for SN’s MS centenary at the US… A professional at the helm of IRDA... Recognition to role of NBFCs.... Waning interest in public discussions… Poor representation for Kerala and TN in Cabinet GNS - 100: our first subscriber He saved millions from starvation... Haul over the coal Colour-Chem’s colourful KRVS Like Hinduism: many paths to reach God... Pharma – overdose of copying Kulandai was a giant Auto components surge… West Bengal: mindless malignancy Five star activism stalls development activity Computation of GDP – conundrums continue Dr C Rangarajan returns to Chennai Telangana in top gear… The Jan Dhan bonanza Don’t seem to feel the pulse… All eyes on Sankara Nethralaya L&T- the specialty of special purpose vehicles Limit foreign borrowings to hi-tech, export potential projects... When the President was rendered homeless… IAS invades NDDB... Preserving for the future Rs.1600 crore paper board plant of TNPL An enemy’s enemy is a friend Intellectual of rare qualities TGS- The king storyteller Mersal magnified Why this malaise in medical education? Fall in crude prices help in oil sector reform Sweet news for TN sugar mills Revive development banks... Come elections, come advertisements... Fortune 500 review More Shakthi to Das’ elbow Where a state respects its litterateurs… The rise and fall of Annamalai University There was flood of milk. Reason: no milk commissioner! Insurance companies bleeding, yet no decision on increasing FDI limit! Road development slows down CRS, a jewel among managers, is no more. Sweeter prospects for sugar Naidu’s return augurs well for Seemandhra Quality education through the PPP mode Tatas moving out of urea production...
 
The rise and fall of Annamalai University

It required munificence and foresight to conceive and set up a University, at a time when higher education institutions were driven by altruism, and not profit. Annamalai Chettiar did just that when he established the Annamalai University in 1929. And he left it to stalwarts such as V S Srinivasa Sastri, Dr C P Ramaswamy Iyer, T P Meenakshisundaram Pillai, R P Sethu Pillai, S Somasundara Bharathiar, Kathirasan Chettiar, M M Dhandapani Desikar... to take the institution to greater heights. The university earned the reputation for imparting quality education and produced outstanding graduates. The university made a mark in scientific research as also in commerce and economics. Renowned population expert  Dr. S Chandrasekhar was associated with the university.

Sadly, Chettiar’s successors shifted focus. It began with the university liberally awarding honorary doctorates to the members of the promoters’ family and to politicians. The award of such an honorary degree to M Karunanidhi soon after he assumed power led to protests, which claimed the life of one student. The decline was more rapid after the university tasted money from its engineering and medical colleges. It pioneered the introduction of capitation fees for higher education. This was also a very powerful tool; the rare privilege of a seat in medical or engineering college could be utilised to curry favour with politicians, senior civil servants, leading businessmen and professionals like doctors.

Understandably, when admissions were offered for a price, a system had to be introduced for taking care of the progression of such a ‘donor’ student through the year-end exams. The system of proxy writers and manipulation of answer papers all followed. In this, unfortunately, academics also had to collaborate. In such a system, discipline, character, academic pursuit and excellence were the casualties. The deterioration was rapid. The promoter family did not bother much about the essential purpose of running the university – providing quality education. Finances were in bad shape, expenditure uncontrolled and administration rotten.

The government, which has been funding the university, had to intervene and set matters right. Shivdas Meena, IAS appointed through an ordinance has been administering the university. Good luck to Shivdas in restoring this temple of learning to good health in quick time at the temple town of Chidambaram. Surprisingly, Finance Minister P Chidambaram, a scion of the Annamalai Chettiar family, is a mute witness to this steep fall of the once-famous university.


Universities galore; but of poor quality

Sadly,  Annamalai University  has been adopted as a model by a slew of institutions of higher learning set up in the state for wrong ends. There are over 540 engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu and scores of medical, arts and science colleges. Several of these are flourishing business enterprises run by businessmen and politicians. In most such private institutions, the management is in the hands of the promoter families. The huge demand for engineering and medical education has enabled several of these to collect humungous capitation fees (in black). Only a handful of institutions like the SSN College of Engineering and SASTRA University strictly abide by the fee structure and merit-based admissions.

The situation in state-owned institutions is different. Admissions to these follow the norms of reservations and merit. These have a fee structure, which is ridiculously low for medical education. The administration of these, unfortunately, is politicised.  The tenure of a vice-chancellor is limited to three years. Though eligible for re-appointment, it is a rarity. One can imagine the consequence. Almost his first year is spent on understanding and getting into the nuts and bolts of the administration. The second and third years are needed to curry favour with the powers-that-be to get a second term.  The mode of selection is also subject to political influence. A search committee of three members is appointed and the political leadership decides this. Such a committee should recommend three names and the Governor of the state selects one of these. He can also reject all the three and order a fresh search committee acceptable to the Chief Minister.

In such a system, understandably, there is not much prospect for continuity of policies or major reforms and innovation. Look at the reputation earned by the Madras University under A Lakshmanaswamy Mudaliar or Malcolm Adiseshaiah; or Anna University under V C Kulandaiswamy, M Anandakrishnan or E Balagurusami. One doesn’t remember the dozens of others who succeeded. Pursuit of academic excellence with a view to building world  class institutions is not possible in the current system. Powerful politicians such as Jayalalithaa, in the long-term health of the state, should free education from the current system of breeding mediocrity and poor quality.

 

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