India ranks low in Academic Freedom  


India is placed with a low score for educational freedom, according to Academic Freedom Index, which is a new time series and near-global dataset on several dimensions of academic freedom.

The authors of Academic Freedom Index are affiliated with the Global Public Policy Institute. The index calls on decision makers in the education sector and foreign policy, research funding organizations, university administrations, advocacy groups and parliamentarians to promote academic freedom.

India has an Academic Freedom Index of 0.352 and stands along with that of Saudi Arabia and Libya. It has to be noted that Pakistan with AFi of 0.554 flared better than India. Brazil has an AFi of 0.466, Ukraine 0.422, Somalia 0.436 and Malaysia 0.582 Academic Freedom Index, the authors said.

The academic index fell in India with educational institutions witnessing many protests and even incidents of physical violence against students and academics in the last six years. The Narendra Modi government saw the first protest in 2015 when the students at the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, protested against attempts to interfere with the institute’s management, curricula and other activities. Afterwards, various protests were witnessed across educational institutions. The protest at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in the national capital was another instance when freedom was curbed.

The AFI score is prepared using eight components. Three of these are based on factual data and the other five are ‘expert-coded’. They are based on assessment by 1,810 scholars, integrated in a Bayesian measurement model.

The eight components are

  1. Freedom to research and teach
    2. Freedom of academic exchange and dissemination
    3. Institutional autonomy
    4. Campus integrity
    5. Freedom of academic and cultural expression
    6. Constitutional protection of academic freedom
    7. International legal commitment to academic freedom under the the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
    8. Existence of universities

The researchers said that the new data could help in the development of monitoring mechanisms set up by governments or international organizations to better protect academic freedom.

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