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Almost everyone in faculty is promoted in Indian universities. DU started the damage in 1970

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27.07.2020

Indian universities have suffered immensely due to the combined impact of rotating headships and near automatic promotions for all. It started in 1970 in the University of Delhi. Now, almost everybody gets promoted regardless of merit and heads of departments are appointed by rotation so all promoters get to be HOD without being qualified or suitable.

But not too long ago, the University of Delhi would have easily secured a very high rank in any global ranking system. During the 1950s and the 1960s, it had reached a pinnacle in terms of its academic standing. The roll call from those years boasted of distinguished names such as D.S. Kothari and A.N. Mitra (Department of Physics), P. Maheshwari and B.M. Johri (Botany), B.R. Seshachar and M.R.N. Prasad (Zoology), M.N. Srinivas (Sociology), V.K.R.V. Rao, K.N. Raj, Amartya Sen, A.L. Nagar, S. Chakravarty, and J.N. Bhagwati (Economics), T.R. Seshadri (Chemistry), S.R. Ranganathan (Library Science), U.N. Singh (Mathematics) and Nagendra (Hindi). And this list is by no means exhaustive.

Unfortunately, as things stand today, Delhi University has been relegated to the backwaters of all global rankings. However, such a rise and subsequent decline is not peculiar to just Delhi University. Almost every university in India has a similar story.

Also read: One look at Allahabad University will tell you how inbreeding is ruining India’s academics

There are several factors that have contributed to this universal decline. One of them has its roots in an action that was unwittingly initiated at the University of Delhi in 1970, and which was readily and unthinkingly adopted by universities around the country over that decade.

Until 1970, all academic departments of Delhi University were headed in similar fashion by professors of great eminence. It helped greatly that they were at the helm for a significant number of years, which enabled them to provide sustained momentum and direction to their departments.

Of course, there was a downside to this arrangement. Sometimes, personal prejudices and even........

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