Archive for the ‘Harvard University’ Category

By Mohan Guruswamy

My proposed talk in Singapore at the Lew Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the “Asia Competitiveness Institute (ACI) Review Seminar on Competitiveness Ranking, Simulation Analysis and Development Strategies for 35 States and Federal Territories of India”

The question that bothers us Indians from time to time is “who are we?” Modern anthropologists classify us Indians as belonging to one of four ethno-racial groups, Caucasoid, Australoid, Mongoloid and Negrito. Geneticists say that the modern Indian population derived from two ancestral populations – ancestral north Indians (ANI’s) and ancestral south Indians (ASI’s). ANI’s are related to the West Eurasians and the ASi’s are distinctly related to the indigenous groups like the Andaman Islanders. We are now an admixture of these two groups. Modern India now has over two thousand ethnic groups.

Modern Indian languages have evolved from all the world’s four language families. Indo-European, Dravidian, Austro-Asiatic and Tibeto-Burman. We also have a language that belongs to neither of them – Nihali, spoken in parts of Maharashtra. India has 1652 individual mother tongues. The 2001 Census tells us that 30 languages are spoken by over a million each, and 122 by over 10,000 each.

India has almost 1.2 billion people, and the Union of India consists of 31 States and Union Territories, with some more being currently midwifed. The biggest of these is Uttar Pradesh with a population of 199.6 million or 16.49% of India’s. It is as big as Brazil. The smallest political unit is Lakshadweep which has just 64,000 (0.01%). Quite clearly the omnibus term India, incidentally derived from the name of a river that hardly flows through it, masks a diversity of nations.

In late 2012 India became the world’s third largest economy in PPP terms and has grown at an average rate of over 7% since 2000. Between 208-11 it grew at more than 9%. In consonance with global trends India’s growth also has tapered off these past two years. Nevertheless overall the trends have never been like this before and there is optimism about the long term, despite recent troubles. In a country where many state GDP’s are bigger than many large countries. For instance the biggest regional economy in India, Maharashtra at $233 billion is bigger than South Korea and would rank number nine in the world. The next biggest, Andhra Pradesh is as big as Switzerland in GDP terms. Many Indian cities too have large economies. Last year Mumbai’s GDP in PPP terms was $209 billion and it would rank ahead of Denmark.

This overall performance however masks a diversity of performances. The HDI of Kerala is India’s highest 0.790 while the other end of the spectrum is Chhattisgarh with 0.358, which would place it just alongside Chad, one of the world’s poorest and most backward countries. At 0.790 Kerala would find a place in the high HDI list of nations.

While in 2011-12 India grew at 6.88%, large states like Uttar Pradesh (6.23%) and Andhra Pradesh (6.44%) grew at less than the national rate. States like Gujarat excelled with 20.79%, while India’s most prosperous state, Punjab, languished with 5.79%.

The incidence of poverty is always a contentious matter in India. While the government tries to downplay the numbers by having a somewhat self serving index (now 22%), other measures such as the UNDP’s $1.25 a day suggest that almost 37.5% of Indians live in dire poverty. Others have a very different tale. India’s abysmal track record at ensuring basic levels of nutrition is the greatest contributor to its poverty as measured by the new international Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI). About 645 million people or 55% of India’s population is poor as measured by this composite indicator made up of ten markers of education, health and standard of living achievement levels.

The new data also shows that even in states generally perceived as prosperous such as Haryana, Gujarat and Karnataka, more than 40% of the population is poor by the new composite measure, while Kerala is the only state in which the poor constitute less than 20%. The MPI measures both the incidence of poverty and its intensity. A person is defined as poor if he or she is deprived on at least 3 of the 10 indicators. By this definition, 55% of India was poor, close to double India’s much-criticized official poverty figure. Almost 20% of Indians are deprived on 6 of the 10 indicators.

But even more a matter of concern is the growth regional disparities. Eastern India has been languishing and has the densest concentration of poverty. While the northern and southern states have showed very good performances on this front. India’s west has its main industrial centers and naturally overall figures tend to be good here. But if the big cities are removed, here also we get a bit of a dismal picture. Clearly the southern and northern states seem to be doing better. I will not get into more details. I am sure the studies we will see presented here today will cover this and much more.

But I would like to leave this seminar with a question? In a global system having almost two hundred independent states at various states and stages of development, we can have a wide disparity, as each one of these economies represents a sovereign entity, bounded by a border. But in a system that in bound by its constitution, its history and its civilization as one, as is India, can we afford to risk too much diversity in economic well- being? One immediate problem is a feeling of deprivation to the benefit of others. The credit /deposit ratios only fuel this. The southern states have an average C/D ratio of 92.25, with Andhra Pradesh leading with 105.14. The northeast lags well behind with 34.42, while eastern India has 50.30. The big state of Bihar just has 28.61 in comparison Tamil Nadu has the highest with 112.65. Clearly something is going on here. And there will be consequences.

Some of these are in evidence already. The population growths are very varied now. While southern India will stop growing before this decade ends, the major northern states of Bihar, UP, Rajasthan and MP will keep growing till well past 2060. It also means the South will age faster, and already we see noticeable migrations. What frictions this will cause are a matter for discussion, as is the composition of India’s Parliament where the constituencies are related to population.

Finally, it is clear that there can be no growth without pain, often to others. But without growth there will be all round pain. The challenge for India is to spread the growth more equitably and share the pain more evenly. I look forward to your deliberations and hope to gain much from them.

Mohan Guruswamy studied Public Policy and Management at Harvard University, is Advisor at Ministry of Finance India, Non-Resident Senior Fellow at Atlantic Council of the United States and Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation, and, is a friend.

Remember Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, my good friend, that old gadfly of Sabah politics? Well, after spending several years on the margins of mainstream politics, the maverick at long last might be on his way back to the Parti Bersatu Sabah. The return of the prodigal son, as it were, has the blessings of the PBS supremo, Pairin Kitingan.

Even though a couple of second rung leaders are rather apprehensive of their own place in the party should Dr Jeffrey be allowed to stage a comeback, Dr Maximus Ongkili is still opposed to his return, known to keep his own counsel in these matters, however, cannot be too pleased at the prospect of one of his more trenchant critics a more capable leader than him being allowed admittance in the PBS.

On his part, Dr Jeffrey has been wooing the PBS leadership for sometime now, clearly with an eye on making himself relevant yet again in the state polity. Having come a cropper as the head of his own one-man United Borneo Front (UBF), this highly positive, former Harvard scholar has taken up causes dear to the pro- Sabah outfit, now pro-Borneo outfit or the Borneo Agenda. Along with some strong supporters from PBS days, Jeffrey alone, among all well-known pro-Sabah protagonists, defended the 20 Points, when the then Mahathir government had locked up the latter in Kamunting Detention Center under the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) for 3 years in connection with the taking “out”  Sabah from the Malaysian Federation.

Now read this report Daily Express dated 13 June, 2011

Pairin stepping aside?

Kuala Lumpur: For the past two weeks there has been speculations that Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) may see some changes in its leadership as its top leader is said to be preparing a transition plan.

The talk became intense after PBS Deputy President Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili was reported to be shifting his political base to his Tambunan hometown where his family is said to be building a big house on ancestral land, just a stone throw from the house of his uncle and PBS President Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan.

Pairin is currently Tambunan assemblyman and also Member of Parliament for Keningau. Pairin 71, is said to be contemplating winding down his public role as he has been an assemblyman for Tambunan for the past 35 years, uninterrupted since 1976 when he was still with Berjaya.

He also is the “huguan siou” or paramont leader of the Kadazandusun, a Deputy Chief Minister-cum-State Minister of Rural Development, president of the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) and sits in many committees, including the Asean Eminent Persons Committee.


Harvard University

Harvard has been ranked as the top university in the world for the sixth consecutive year, while none of the Malaysian universities figure in the latest edition of The Times Higher Education, world reputation ranking report. The United States dominates the rankings of 200 world class universities.

National University of Singapore is 27 in the world ranking. Even Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University made it in the top 100.

It is no surprise Malaysia is sliding real fast as it is not able to cling on to a placing in the world list and it looks like it has disappeared into competitive oblivion. What happen to the Primier Najib’s call for an “education revolution”? What happen to the call for higher education in Malaysia to achieve world class status and establish the country as a regional centre of excellence in education? Is it just “cakap ta serupa bikin”? As long as UMNO government does not liberate our universities from the culture of mediocrity and our students are not given academic freedom and student idealism, we are not going to see any improvement in the rankings. Maybe we are just “jaguh kampong” and we are pretty satisified with that.

Between 2004 and 2009, Universiti of Malaya figured in the global list of 200 institutes but have slipped out in the new scoring system.

However, University of Malaya (UM) and Universiti Putra Malaysia do figure in the top 100 Asian Universities. But our Apex University, University Sains Malaysia (USM) is no where in the list. Shame on you USM, so much money has been spent and nothing out of it.

Now I know why even our own Minister of Education and also many other Ministers sent their children to foreign universities, obviously, they themselves don’t have confidence in our education system.

Anyway, Cambridge has been named as the most highly regarded universities in the world, while Oxford among the United Kingdom’s came third in a table that ranked universities exclusively on the basis of “academics” worldwide.

Seven of the United States universities figured in the top 10, followed by the United Kingdom making Japan the only country whose university found a place in the rankings as Tokyo University was placed eighth.

Overall, the U.S. had 45 universities in the top 100, while the U.K. had 12 and Japan had five. These three nations were the best represented in the rankings. Canada, Australia, Germany and the Netherlands had four universities each in the top 100.

According to Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2010-2011, Harvard University ranking at the top had an overall score of 96.1, California Institute of Technology that occupied the second slot had 96 points followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Stanford University was adjudged the fourth best institution and Princeton University, the fifth.

Although this is the seventh year that the global rankings have been announced, but the exercise undertaken for 2010-2011 adopted a methodology which included 13 criteria for judging. This was done to avoid the criticism that the ranking was primarily based on perception.

The ranking was done based on the points scored for teaching, research, citation, innovation and international mix of students and teachers.

None of the Malaysian universities figures among the world’s top 100 universities, with the U.S. and the U.K. dominating the scene.

Harvard University has retained its top position in 2009, while Cambridge University, U.K has moved up from third to second position. Yale University of the U.S. has slipped one position to third.

According to the QS/Times Higher Education rankings, the University College London (UCL) leapfrogged Oxford University as the latter slipped from fourth to joint fifth position along with Imperial College, London.

Overall, the U.K. still punches above its weight, second only to the US. It has four out of the top 10 slots and 18 in the top 100.

Tokyo is highest ranked Asian university.

The number of Asian universities in the list of top 100 has increased from 14 to 16. The University of Tokyo, at 22, is the highest ranked Asian university, ahead of the University of Hong Kong that stands at 24 and National University of Singapore (NUS) is at 30.

However, Malaysia’s top university, University of Malaya (UM), is back in the world’s Top 200 varsities at no 180. This is 50 places better than last year. Wow what a showing!

It is really a pity that none of the Malaysian Universities could figure among the Top 100 universities in the world. From this, one gets a clear picture of where we stand in the global education scenario.

It is high time the matter is looked into seriously, and fruitful measures taken at the earliest before we slide even lower. Why we are sliding down so badly is very obvious. The quota system is screwing up everything. Besides, our education system in Malaysia doesn’t allow our students flexibility and the opportunity to explore a subject in depth and worst still meritocracy is not favored at all by our political masters.

Politicians should stop experimenting with our education system. UMNO and BN is responsible for our sorry state of affair. Wonder what happened to our great APEX University, the University Sains Malaysia (USM)? Habuk pun tadak ini USM. This goes to prove that we are just JAGUH KAMPONG lah. Our University of Malaya used to be on par with National University of Singapore during the 60’s and 70’s, where are we now? Why have we fallen so badly? Is it not because our education system and civil administration here is politicised?

Our education must be liberated from racism and capitalism then only will we be able to see some change in our international ratings.

Anyway, the top 10 Universities are: Harvard (U.S.), Cambridge (U.K.), Yale(U.S.), UCL, London (U.K.), Imperial College, London and Oxford (both U.K., joint 5), Chicago (U.S.), Princeton (U.S.), MIT, Massachusetts (U.S.) and California Institute of Technology (U.S.). See the full ranking here

Harry Potter star Emma Watson, who played the brainy Hermione in the film, has reportedly decided to move to the United States to study at Harvard University.

The fees will be about £30,000 a year but the 18-year-old actor will have no problem paying up after earning millions for the fantasy franchise, the News of the World reported.

“Emma has always been a very dedicated student and made sure she could schedule her acting around her studies. She loves America and has loads of friends out there. She’s really excited about following some of the great thinkers in attending one of their great universities,” said a close friend of the star.

Watson is currently shooting the final Potter film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows but is ready to take a break from her acting career to concentrate on her studies.