India has seen to have overtaken India not just in agriculture but in doctoral degrees (PhDs) too. Even as the debate rages over Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal's reforms in school and university education, the National Knowledge Commission has asked the HRD ministry to go in for an immediate revamp in the way universities go about awarding PhDs. Their fear is not unfounded. The growth in the number of doctorates in India is a mere 20% as compared to 85% in China! Worse, not more than 1% of students who complete their under-graduate degrees opt for doctoral studies in India. The NKC's survey across India has thrown up these facts at a time when our research laboratories are crying for well-trained young doctorates.
Though the exhaustive survey was completed early 2009, it was revised recently to take into account the new changes in the higher education sector. As a first step, NKC has recommended introduction of well-planned four-year courses to enable direct entry into PhD programmes. This apart, to provide flexibility for those with a bent of research, there must be multiple pathways for entry into PhD. At present most of the universities or elite institutions in the country are involved in training for the Masters or PhD degrees. To put India on the global map in research, NKC has recommended that NRI/PIO scientists conduct cutting edge research in India and create joint PhD programmes between universities both within and outside the country.