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India, academically, is considered to be a very strong and intelligent nation where people from different backgrounds have different talents. Recognised as the hub of intellectual genius, we have since time immemorial been the hosts of academic excellence. Every Indian kid breeds in him the dream of doing something big in his life, and in the formative stages, most of it is shaped by the education system’s overpowering influence.

Shattering of a thousands of dreams with just one decision—such a mass virtual genocide occurred when the IIMs increased their fees, almost tripling it. The highest has been reported at 11 lakh by IIM-A for the two year post-graduation Business Management Program offered by the college, with immediate effect for the incoming batch of 2008-2010.

This sudden rise in the fees must have shattered so many candidates who do not have the resources to perhaps pay so much. An amount of eleven lakhs is not even the per capita income of a majority of Indians, a fact which even the authorities of the prestigious institution are acquainted with. As a corresponding gesture of understanding the otherwise harsh connotation of their policy of sudden fee hike, the IIM-A has escalated the margin for giving the Needy Students’ Scholarship to students whose family income is below 6 lakh from the earlier 2 lakh; thereby increasing the margin also proportionately. Now, the implicit understanding of the management schools towards the unprivileged families has also escalated. An earning of 6 lakh also seems unsustainable enough to be considered. But, considering the exorbitant cost that higher education (which is a mandatory requirement in the competitive world of today) demands, it is somewhere human to raise the level of sustainable family income also.

India has been investing millions of rupees in actually building up strong artillery tools, buying fighter planes and channelizing the much needed funds into things that might just be the fancy artifacts at the end.And yet, it has been turning a deaf ear and a blind eye very smartly to such raging issues. It is just incredulous to come to terms to the fact that these educational institutions have actually realised their self-worth so strongly that they went on to increase their prices almost exponentially. Till a few days back, every Indian dreamt of getting into the IIMs not only for the fact that it secured a strong future for them but also because the class and the excellence of the institution came at affordable prices. That would have given an opportunity to every eye to dream and every individual to strive and stretch their boundaries because something promising was in the reach.

Now, even the probabilities of getting an education loan from the banks would seem to be a distant probability or to be proper, an impossibility for students hailing from families that might not just have such strong and valuable assets to actually mortgage them at the banks. It is an open fact that the naggings and the intricacies which the otherwise transparent bank processes spelled by RBI are not actually followed in many of the Nationalised Banks.

A very safe argument given perpetually by the authorities who try to justify themselves is the fact that money is required for maintaining the infrastructural needs of the institutions and maintaining the class and the excellence at such subsidised rates is impractical and infeasible for them. Also, considering the fact that the money that the students will invest in taking the course will easily be raked in by them within just a year or two of their fat work experience and promising job profiles with fat cheques, it seems conducive and obvious to raise the fees. But, it perhaps does not come that straight and that easily. For getting the resources to actually pay back the invested sum of money, it is a pre-requisite to actually be able to get into the institute. But, by making the most basic of the reason a constraint in itself, how do the people hope to actually get the students into the system?

When the issue of reservations flared up a few years ago, they were heavily discounted and argued upon because they seemingly abetted ‘elitism’ in all the subtle indirect means. Even the IIMs refused to take in candidates who had been favoured on otherwise unnecessary grounds. But today, the move has somewhere very strongly backfired their initial standing. With such strong initial requirement to meet, the institutions are actually scraping out a lot of ingenuous talents who deserve to get the best. The Indian society, where the children pay off the debts of the father and where the rural India still considers the kids to be the support system to their infirmed parents in every possible way, the system of higher education inevitably remained an important means of materialising the needs. But, today it seems paralysing.

It is perhaps no more true today – “The best of the things in the world are NOT free!”

Arpita Chakraborty

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