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Next entry: What to do about the supply of and demand for hot college classes
Previous entry: A little dinner party gossip
Thursday February 14 2008

imageAmit Varma notes that Cambridge University is establishing a Jawaharlal Nehru Professorship of Indian Business and Enterprise.  Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge.

Varma also links also to what R Vaidyanathan says about this:

All the same, the use of government money ...

... by which he means Indian government money ...

… to facilitate the fund-raising activity of Cambridge or other UK institutions raises several questions.

It is common knowledge that post-Thatcher era, educational institutions in the UK have been forced to raise the fees, particularly for foreign students. Even so, the fees do not cover even 25% of the cost of running these institutions. Hence most of these institutions are going around the world with a begging bowl camouflaged as road shows for their graduate and undergraduate course. They are desperate for funds and their endowments/ corpus is much lesser than that of US universities.

Cambridge, each with around $5 billion as endowments, are far behind Harvard and Yale, which are flush with funds to the tune of $50 billion and $30 billion, respectively. Even comparable US universities like the Texas System or Michigan have much higher endowments than them.

Now, why should a developing country like India fund the declining institutions of the West, and more so, those of the UK?

If Cambridge was so fascinated about Nehru entering it as a student or about the India Story, it should have approached a private financier or company in the UK to fund this endowment.

Varma singled out this:

It is also ironical that the professorship is for business studies, while Nehru was the architect of the licence permit quota Raj in India. It is like the butchers’ association of Texas providing a chair to study Gandhian thought in some US university.

At that LA dinner I attended last night, there was talk of the Oxford and Cambridge “brands”, and of how strong they are.  This piece by Vaidyanathan suggests to me that maybe these brands aren’t so strong after all.

The picture of Nehru that I have used, which I found here, shows him as a Harrow schoolboy.  Here, there is a picture of the young Nehru as an officer cadet at Harrow.  After Cambridge, Nehru became a barrister at the Inner Temple, so Nehru had the whole posh English education treatment.  (This must have been where he got the idea of regulating the life out of the Indian economy.) These two pictures were taken over a hundred years ago.