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Research no longer a compulsory requirement for college teachers seeking promotions: HRD ministry

After a two-day national conference on higher education perspective in India, HRD minister Prakash Javadekar has announced that research will now not be mandatory for promotion of teachers teaching undergraduate courses. They, however, have to be engaged more in community activities with students. He has gone on to say that this will stop the “jhooth mooth ka research”.

“We are going to do away with the mandatory clause of research for college teachers to get their promotions. An official announcement in this regard will follow soon. Instead of that, I want teachers to be engaged in student activity. We will make one community activity or student activity mandatory and teachers will be given their scores on basis of that,” Javadekar said.

By making changes to the Academic Performance Index (API), a measure on which teachers get their promotions, the HRD ministry is working on a plan to make research optional for college teachers.

“Currently college teachers are also required to do research activity to get their promotions, just like university professors. But we must understand that both of them belong to completely different category of teachers. A college teacher should be mainly engaged in teaching. When we made research compulsory, research stopped completely. Conducting research just for the sake (of it) is taking down the quality of research,” Javadekar said.

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University teachers who are supposed to teach the post graduate students or guide M Phil and PhD scholars will be required to engage in research, he said.

Javadekar is spot on about the “jhooth mooth” part of research. A lot of research in India is bogus and is carried out because it is mandated. There are several factors that are to blame for it, beginning from a lack of culture of asking the right questions to inadequate and uneven grants to gross lack of infrastructure to politics in higher education. In such an environment, doing away with the “mandatory” part in research requirement is welcome.

Since research is the biggest pillar on which all ranking systems are based, will such a proposal really work on ground, or will it just become another UGC guideline which will be meaningless needs to be seen.

While prima facie the new proposal made by the MHRD appears to have identified a very valid point in Indian higher education, that of substandard research output owing to mandated research at all levels, the problem is more complex than this apparent fix.

Teaching quality, scholarship, new knowledge generation, meaningful and high quality research, are various issues which needs addressing and thus sound complementary provisions need to be ushered along with this desirable removal of mandated research at UG level.

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