Ad Here  
The power-full Hindujas Lesson from Chandrababu Naidu Tatas moving out of urea production... Like Hinduism: many paths to reach God... Dr C Rangarajan returns to Chennai Chennai and Kolkata miss opportunity to grow as Delhi and Mumbai Multi-faceted Venkat Kinetic Karnataka More Shakti to resource mobilisation... The brown list of Venkitaramanan A Grand Finale for SN’s MS centenary at the US… Which side are you, Montek? EVM is tamper-proof Alexa – Talking Wikipedia Shaming of Tamils by Tamil farmers at Delhi There was flood of milk. Reason: no milk commissioner! No Maha Koottani in TN... Cutting the nose to spite the face Poor quality of university VCs TN – agglomerate land holdings without alienating ownership Banning booze... Eternal support for capitalisation of PS banks Tribute – M V Murugappan No mega rail project for Tamil Nadu Focus on quality of power - its only around 170-180V Road development slows down Making ‘my Amaravati’... Tribute Put expensive assets created to use... Padma Bhushan for A Ramakrishna Delhi Chalo... Rs.1600 crore paper board plant of TNPL Bihar – Nitish Kumar adopts the Lalu model Mu Sigma – is no more Tribute – Manikam Ramaswami Strengthen the base... All eyes on Sankara Nethralaya When TN politicians can emulate Kerala's An enemy’s enemy is a friend Solar, solar everywhere … Editor's Says The Ports’ Pasha expands into Tamil Nadu When the President was rendered homeless… Sweet news for TN sugar mills ONGC at KG Basin Parliament in paralysis... Funding the un-funded TELANGANA at last…BUT Readers' Mail Recognition to role of NBFCs.... Building loyalty through the stomach Fall in crude prices help in oil sector reform Roaring Ro-Ro facility A welcome initiative by the judiciary No engine for this car Airlines in India: cost and space Build close rapport with business leaders Engineering seats go abegging Inflation: are we emulating Argentina and Brazil? Paytm karo... A more liberated TN… Things happen by accident and not by design... Sri Lanka votes for change IAS invades NDDB... F C Kohli - his concerns all embracing B H Kothari - a tribute Infrastructure funding – lessons learnt Tribute – UCAL Selvan… China invests in India Welcome thrust on trade in Modi’s foreign visits... A friendly business group Streamlining mandatory third party cover Russi Mody – a tribute For whom the MIDS bell tolls? Medical costs hit the roof... Moily’s bold thrust Waning interest in public discussions… A proud Madrasi Insurance companies bleeding, yet no decision on increasing FDI limit! Godspeed, Chief Minister JJ Adharma of opposition politics Revving up the manufacturing sector Silver Years of Madras Musings Return to king coal for urea... A glass full of corruption Reliance’s TV – 18 ready to launch Tamil News Channel When online building permits work…. CII projects higher growth… Sweeter prospects for sugar When small is no larger beautiful.. An informal presentation - analytical, forward locking... Air Asia India will set new benchmarks for budget travel Cement prices continue to rise… Scientists urged to take up farmer-oriented research Align crops to agro climate endowments… Towards speedy justice Protest masters... A rich pool of talent not utilised…. Fuel for thought Shanti and Sadhana through Music Not just in-laws (and outlaws); they’ve renowned academics at the helm! GM Technology at last! EEC at the National Media Centre IPL - no surprise this scam TGS- The king storyteller Delhi returns to BJP Revive development banks... Shale gas and its shallow future Online not in line with brick and mortar businesses... This scant respect for Law Varuna (rain) in 2015; Vaayu (air) in 2016. Chennai devastated The ‘Ayyo-yes’ is no more Boy, can you beat these? New IT products of Ramco in the pipeline… Delhi is distant He saved millions from starvation... Valli, they are more marginalised Land reclamation from sea appears cheaper! R Sridhar steps down as CEO of Shriram Capital L&T: focus on infrastructure and more infrastructure… Intellectual of rare qualities Another Indian music maestro at the UN The rise and fall of Annamalai University CSR and CMI: promise of another Srinivasan Ramanujan... Of course, Gujarat is vibrant Don’t seem to feel the pulse… CIPET hqrs to stay at Guindy – for the present? Preserving for the future WTO Meet: resolved to meet again Pharma – overdose of copying Vibrant Gujarat GNS - 100: our first subscriber Shipping woes of Chennai companies TN-leverage strength of BHEL, NLC... Solar thermal shines… Tax agriculture Measuring roof tops in terms of KW/MW Gay abandon in pricing More heat than light The sea- saw battle continues... A professional at the helm of IRDA... Tatas moving out of urea production... An inexplicable neglect IPL type auction for VCs? The star of Spencers is no more MHC should not return to its old indisciplined ways Delhi is distant… Secularism and anti-Hinduism London, London Narayan Liberal imports idling indigenous capacities Discoms deserve better… Muffled voices for merit… Naidu will soon build a new Hyderabad Where a state respects its litterateurs… The few handicaps... Quality education through the PPP mode More tributes to GR For whom the bell tolls? Maximising the micro pricing … Adapt Vajpayee dinner diplomacy Small units prefers to remain small... Modi storms Silicon Valley Make standards certification mandatory... CRS, a jewel among managers, is no more. Quality silica from Neyveli Diamond jubilee of Egmore Samskrt School Plummeting profits of PSBs Nuclear power at the nucleus The nuclear option …and of a popular trade leader Polls and promises Whistle-Stop Tour of Raghuram Rajan Kudos to NDTV... Welcome changes that testify to Jayalalithaa’s return to health Rahman at CIC Excel Generators provide the vital back-up Marketing expert Balagopal is no more The rise and rise of KCP When nations steal growth from one another… Wise Presidents A yen for wastage… S V Raju – a ‘good’ true liberal Mersal magnified The Jan Dhan bonanza Why land prices zoom in TN? The Gulf aviation boom Haul over the coal Naidu’s return augurs well for Seemandhra Why this malaise in medical education? Poor representation for Kerala and TN in Cabinet When Ratan Tata visited SRM He continues the focus on social amelioration Increasing non co-operation of state leaders Contrarian cousins L&T- the specialty of special purpose vehicles Auto components surge… Bihar elections - the Rajaji formula worked Welcome focus on core competence Breaththrough in malaria control SoA @ 80 The why of tax incentives A think tank for Chennai Editor's Notes How Air-India loses customs... Welcome GST Computation of GDP – conundrums continue Lalu’s envy, India’s pride West Bengal: mindless malignancy Colour-Chem’s colourful KRVS TN accounts for the largest recruits by the IT sector Five star activism stalls development activity Come elections, come advertisements... PC’s preference for professionals Tihar, Puzhal not different from Parappana Agrahara Should we change the official year? Tough task taking states together Remembering Indira Sivasailam... The Swadeshi Trump Demise of a media baron... The ‘Jayanthi Tax.’ S Ramanathan – a versatile musician, musicologist Cleaning Ganga – relocate tanneries and install electric crematoria PPP mode for upgrading Corporation Hospitals More Shakthi to Das’ elbow Wanted: a second airport for Chennai Kulandai was a giant Robber barons everywhere TIAM turns a full cycle Gas is the way forward The balancing act Noble nonagenarians... Telangana in top gear… A Grand Finale for SN’s MS centenary at the US… Convulsions in The Hindu Modi and the lady to the lack of interest on the part of these to focus on original research. This despite the much lower costs of such research in India. The industry which thrived on the protection of a closed economy and the advantage of a vast domestic market, has failed to organise its evolution on healthy lines Odisha: spectacular win by Naveen Patnaik Limit foreign borrowings to hi-tech, export potential projects... Music happens Permanent secretariat for TN GIM Where is Rajaji? Fortune 500 review Fortune for Indian Airlines A C Muthiah – his munificent bequeaths to science
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.


Author :
Reported On :
Sector :
Shoulder :
IE, the business magazine from south was launched in 1968 and pioneered business journalism in south. Through the 45 years IE has been focusing on well-presented and well-researched articles. When giants in the industry stumbled to keep pace with the digital revolution, IE stayed affixed embracing technology.
Read more
Economist Communications Ltd is committed to ensuring that your privacy is protected.
Read more
You agree that your use of this Website and the purchase of the magazine will be governed by these terms and conditions.
Read more
S-15, Industrial Estate,
Chennai - 600 032.
PHONE: +91 44 22501236