India has scored considerably low in the international Academic Freedom Index (AFI).
- The index proposes a score for each country to help determine the level of academic freedom its universities and academic centres really enjoy.
- It tries to quantify the freedom of university scholars to debate politically and culturally controversial topics without fearing for their safety or studies.
- The authors, affiliated with the Global Public Policy Institute, the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität (FAU) Erlangen-Nürnberg, the Scholars At Risk Network and the V-Dem Project at the University of Gothenburg, have prepared the (AFI).
- The index has a maximum value of 1.
The AFI has eight components. Three are based on factual data and the remaining five are ‘expert-coded’. The components are:
- Freedom to research and teach
- Freedom of academic exchange and dissemination
- Institutional autonomy
- Campus integrity
- Freedom of academic and cultural expression
- Constitutional protection of academic freedom
- International legal commitment to academic freedom under the the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- Existence of universities
- India has an AFI of 0.352, comparable to the scores of Saudi Arabia and Libya.
- It is in 5th position in South Asia.
- It has not fared well in components like institutional autonomy, campus integrity, freedom of academic and cultural expression and constitutional protection of academic freedom.
- Most universities in the country are subjected to unsolicited interference from governments in both academic and nonacademic issues.
- A majority of appointments, to top ranking posts like that of vice chancellors, registrars, have been highly politicised.
- Such political appointments not only choke academic and creative freedom, but also lead to corrupt practices.
- This promotes unhealthy favouritism and nepotism in staff appointments and student admissions.
- This reflects a ‘rent seeking culture’ within the academic community.