ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Proposal for a Tagore University in the Liberal Arts

In 2010, the then minister for human resource development (HRD), Kapil Sibal, announced that the Government proposed to set up 14 “innovation universities”. In March 2011, the writers of the present note were asked by the HRD ministry to serve on a committee for one of these proposed universities, to be concerned with the liberal arts, and to be named after Rabindranath Tagore. Supriya Chaudhuri was appointed chairperson of the committee. Over the course of the next year, the committee had several meetings in New Delhi, and also had many productive exchanges by email. A concept note drafted by Supriya Chaudhuri was then revised in the light of comments by Ramachandra Guha and Sunil Khilnani. The final proposal was presented to Sibal by the committee’s chairperson on 26 July 2012. The minister and his secretary endorsed the proposal in general as well as the specific suggestion that the university be located in Pune, where it could draw upon other fine centres of humanistic and scientific learning located in that city. The minister said he and his officials would have a Bill enacted in Parliament and land acquired in Pune for the proposed university. The members of the committee were asked to send suitable names to be considered to serve as the Tagore University’s inaugural vice-chancellor.

In subsequent months, many letters were sent by us to the ministry suggesting possible names and procedures. No answer was received. This may have been because there was now a new HRD minister, and the officials who were previously so enthusiastic about our report were now unsure as to how the new minister would react. After waiting nine months, we thus decided to have this note published in EPW. We believe that the ideas it contains may be useful in thinking through the revival and renewal of existing universities, as well as for the creation of new universities, whether by the state or in the private sector.

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