India’s higher-education increasingly closed

Citing duties-to-imports and imports-to-GDP ratios as a measure of economic openness, Sanjaya Baru counters Zoellick-speak suggesting that India is amongst the world’s most closed economies. While acknowledging that India does have some way to go before it achieves “ASEAN level” of tariffs, he contends that tariffs in India are comparable with other countries in India’s league of development.

But Baru raises an interesting point – India’s educational system is getting increasingly closed. Now that’s a real cause for concern as higher-education and R&D will form the bedrock of the next stage of economic development.

Those who allege India is a “closed economy”, must also consider our openness on a wider front. India is remarkably open in the area of services imports, especially in the import of entertainment and information software, and in the in-migration of labour. As an “open society” it has pursued an open skies policy in satellite television and allowed foreign media to enter this country.

If there is an area where we have become needlessly defensive and increasingly closed it is the area of research and higher education. And no prizes for naming the villain! Once again it is that “Stalinist control freak”, the Union minister for human resources development Murli Manohar Joshi. All the goodwill India has gained abroad for becoming economically more open is being dissipated by our becoming academically more closed to outsiders. [Financial Express]

If it comes to power (or indeed, to come to power) the BJP/NDA must jettison Murli Manohar Joshi and his creed. The man is a disgrace.