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Credentials Without Learning: The IIPM Chapter

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By Dr.Aditya Dev Sood:

For several days now, there has been a huge brouhaha in the Indian media around court orders blocking websites supposed to be defamatory towards the Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM) and its head, Arindam Chaudhuri. Much of the controversy fixates on freedom of expression and anti-defamation laws. The larger background to this controversy, however, is the wide consensus among opinion-shapers and decision-makers that there is something amiss with the IIPM and its approach to education. This view is at the heart of many of the longform journalistic pieces against which Mr. Chaudhuri has gone to court.


Over the weekend Mr. Chaudhuri issued a statement where he spoke not in terms of the social or public good or harm to his current, former or future students, but rather about defending the ‘business interests’ of his IIPM. Many of us who feel that education is a somewhat honourable calling, a social good, and an area of human activity, like medicine, where great care must be taken not to do harm are viscerally disaffected by Mr. Chaudhuri’s cavalier and businesslike approach to the sector. On Facebook I have been targeted by the IIPM to receive a small ad suggesting I become a franchisee, assuring me of 25% to 40% return on investment. This is cringe-worthy, and yet Mr. Chaudhuri and his IIPM is simply the most public and visible face of an otherwise dark sector that is habituated to think and speak in precisely these crass terms.

So many young people from small towns apply to the IIPM, spend a couple of years and more than 10 lacs there, and graduate with a diploma of some kind which is expected to unlock more rewarding professional career opportunities to them. This magic works for a small number of students, perhaps, who already had it in them to succeed. For the larger majority of candidates, however, nothing of the kind results. They receive Mr. Chaudhuri’s imprimatur but do not really acquire the core skills they need to succeed in India’s increasingly globalized industry.

Now why is this scandalous? Shekhar Kapur tweeted just yesterday that it is not just IIPM, but that “India is full of politically funded scams in ‘education’ which are criminally cheating an aspirational youth of their future.” Mr. Kapur is referring to the many other private colleges and even some universities in India which are charging exorbitant fees while showing limited learning outcomes and indifferent placements.

But perhaps the even greater scandal is how completely habituated our entire polity and society has become to dysfunctional educational environments. Just because the fees in government institutions are lower does not mean that their educational standards are any better. The standards imposed by UGC, by AICTE and every other accreditation and regulation body in fact straitjacket educational innovation and guarantee mediocrity. All students everywhere in India spend all their time preparing for exams to get into colleges where they spend their time in classrooms taking notes and preparing for more exams. This is not learning. This is exam-fuelled obsessive-compulsive behaviour and a sad waste of the nation’s youth.

Can the horrid state of higher education change in India? This would require many things to happen simultaneously: new players would have to enter the market, new technologies and platforms would have to disrupt the sector dramatically, new forms of quality assessment which are more subtle and dynamic than existing university affiliation or accreditation would have to emerge, and most crucially, new government regulation should not prevent all this dynamic change from occurring by privileging either state-run institutions or large existing players.

(This entry was posted in Design!publiC)

[box bg=”#fdf78c” color=”#000″]About the author:Dr. Aditya Dev Sood is Founder and CEO of Center for Knowledge Societies (CKS) who, through his consulting work, his writings and public presentations, offers a compelling vision of the central role of design and innovation for emerging economies such as India. He is also the Chairman of the Adianta School for Leadership and Innovation.[/box]

Photo Credit: lumaxart via Compfight cc

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  1. a proud mariner

    totally agreed and Indians are 99% idiots as honorable ex-CJI has rightly said…..our youth are obsessed with running behind reasonless education and value less degrees…god save the art of engineering from the hand of monkeys!

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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