Editorial 1 : Action and authority


  • Governors should not give scope for criticism they challenge elected regimes.


  • That two States have approached the Supreme Court of India against the conduct of their Governors once again flags the problem of political appointees in Raj Bhavan using their authority to delay the implementation of decisions by elected regimes, if not undermine them.

The question

  • Tamil Nadu and Kerala have questioned the delay in the granting assent to Bills passed by the legislature.
  • Tamil Nadu is also aggrieved that proposals related to grant of remission to some convicts, sanction for prosecution of some former Ministers and appointments to the State Public Service Commissions have not been acted upon.
  • Governors need not rubber stamp any decision, but one can question the practice of Governors, especially in States not governed by the ruling party at the Centre, blocking decisions and Bills.
  • For instance, some Governors appear to be hostile to the very idea of amendments to university laws if they seek to leave out Chancellors, invariably the Governors themselves, from the process of appointing vice-chancellors, or establishing new universities in which Governors are not chancellors.
  • The idea of having Governors as ex-officio vice-chancellor of most universities is only a practice and is actualised through their founding statutes.
  • However, Governors seem to be labouring under the misconception that they have a right to be chancellors and tend to delay assent to any Bill that clips or removes their power.
  •  It is time to have a national prohibition on Governors being burdened with the role of chancellor of any university, as recommended by the Justice M.M. Punchhi Commission on Centre-State relations.

The glitches

  • It is unfortunate that absence of a time-frame for giving assent is used by some Governors to stymie laws passed by the legislature.
  • One would have thought the Supreme Court’s observations, arising out of the Telangana government’s petition, reminding constitutional authorities that the phrase “as soon as possible” appearing in Article 200 of the Constitution contains significant “constitutional content” would have driven into them a sense of immediacy in considering Bills.
  • What the Court meant was that it would be constitutionally impermissible for Governors to indefinitely hold on to Bills without conveying a decision.
  • The States, too, ought to be prudent in their decision-making without leaving scope for questions on the merit of their decisions.


  • The absence of any laid-down process to seek applications and assess the relative merits of applicants before appointing the chairperson and the members of the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission is a case in point. The larger point that none should forget is that Governors are explicitly restricted in their functioning by the ‘aid and advice’ clause in the Constitution and ought not to misuse the discretionary space available to them.

Editorial 2 : The IITs are overcommitted, in crisis


  • The Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) are globally recognised as the crown jewels in India’s higher education system. Indeed, they are often the only Indian higher education institutions known internationally at all. They have produced leaders in high tech and related fields in India and abroad. The IITs may be the most difficult higher education institutions to gain entry in the world. Yet, the IIT system is in serious trouble at the same time that some of them are building campuses abroad as part of India’s soft power efforts. It is worth taking a careful look at current realities to understand a looming crisis.

Foreign adventures

  • A branch campus of IIT-Madras has just opened in Zanzibar and IIT Delhi will be launching programmes from its Abu Dhabi campus in 2024.
  • Some of the screening test centres offered to potential applicants were located not only in Tanzania but also in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and the United Arab Emirates (which has a strong presence of the Indian diaspora).
  • Initially the Zanzibar campus is offering only two programmes: a Bachelor’s Degree (BS) in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence and M. Tech in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence. They are open to students from across the globe.

Overexpansion at home

  • The first IIT was established in 1950 at Kharagpur in West Bengal, with four more following in a decade.
  • Most of these partnered with top foreign technological universities in the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and Germany to get started, and they quickly achieved both excellence and top reputations.
  • They hired Indians trained at the best foreign universities who were eager to contribute to national development.
  • After 2015, the government expanded the IIT system, adding seven institutions in the following decade, most located away from major metropolitan centres.
  • These new IITs have struggled to meet the high standards of the traditional institutes.

Faculty challenges, future prospects

  • At the heart of any academic institution are the professors. Attracting the best and the brightest is increasingly difficult.
  • Salaries are dramatically below international standards.
  • Foreign trained Indians are generally reluctant to return to uncompetitive salaries, often inferior work environments, and more academic bureaucracy.
  • Top Indian talent is increasingly attracted to the burgeoning IT sector, emerging biotech, and related fields — and not to academe — both within India and abroad.
  • It would not be an exaggeration to say that the IITs are in crisis.
  • Building quality in the new IITs is a significant challenge, and in the long run if this is not done, the prestige of the entire system will suffer.
  • Maintaining faculty quality and attracting young professors committed to the IIT idea and to India’s development are both serious tasks.

Way forward

  • Expanding the system domestically may not have been a wise idea — and building overseas branch campuses is highly problematical. One might question if overseas expansion is a good idea under any circumstances, but in the context of the domestic challenges facing the system, such expansion seems particularly ill-considered.