The real problem does not lie in choosing a syllabus or in deciding upon the period of study. The real problem lies in choosing personnel. Who are the persons to whom we would entrust the responsibility of postgraduate teaching?Do we have an adequate number of well-equipped teachers to feed so many universities ?
There are no less than forty-five universities in our country today.1 Considering the number of university-going population, the number surely is not too large. Yet, when account is taken of the fact that a number of our more competent economists are attracted away from the university to Government and private firms, I am sure that the number of economists in the country competent to teach Economics at the postgraduate level falls far short of what we need. Assuming that there are eight papers to be taught in MA taking optional groups, usually the total comes to more than eight papers we require at least four teachers for each postgraduate department.
Altogether, therefore, there is need for well nigh 200 teachers, preferably at the level of Professors and Readers. Do we have them? The answer is clearly in the negative. The position is made more hopeless by the fact that universities have often a knack of choosing the wrong kind of men as teachers partly, no doubt, on account of wrong judgement, but partly also on account of parochialism and favouritism. So economics of a country is important.
Now this is a vicious circle. Incompetence breeds incompetence, and the result is a cumulative tendency to depression of standards. This, I suggest, is what is happening in some of our universities, in spite of (or, shall I say, because of) our Economics Faculties turning out so many Ph.D.’s and D.Lit.’s every year. In fact I shall not be surprised if one discovers a correlation between the rate of growth of doctorates in our Economics Faculties and the fall in the standard of understanding of Economics among the general body of our students. Soeconomics of a country is important.
I feel convinced that it is a dangerous policy to let things alone. The University Grants Commission has a responsibility in this business, and the sooner it wakes up to the absurdities of the situation the better for the future of Economics teaching, probably teaching in general, in our country. I am inclined to suggest that every university centre should not be permitted in the present circumstances to maintain postgraduate teaching in Economics. We may have just about half a dozen centres for the purpose, and let the other centres limit their teaching responsibilities to the BA standard.
The number of scholars to be permitted to take up postgraduate studies will have accordingly to be restricted. And where promising students find it difficult to come to these chosen centres, subsidies should be granted to them; payment of subsidy to deserving students may turn out to be a cheaper proposition than maintaining a postgraduate department in each university centre. So economics of a country is important.
Once this course is decided upon, it should not be difficult to choose our centres.
The choice may be based upon two considerations; the tradition that a centre has already created and the attraction that it has for such competent economists as would be available for university teaching.
This surely is a drastic suggestion to offer. And yet I do not know how we can escape thinking along this line. So economics of a country is most important.