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Are these "traveling salesman" good for education? Or India?
NEW DELHI — In the last few years India has played host to delegations of top officials from Columbia, Cornell, Duke and Stanford universities, among others, who came courting to explore the lucrative market here for higher education where demand far outstrips supply.
"Traveling Salesmen," is what India's main Communist party sniffily likens those delegations to. "We don't want them here," Nilotpal Basu, of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), said last year, before the party withdrew its support for India's ruling federal coalition.
Allowing foreign players into India's higher education system would only exacerbate inequalities, left-leaning parties believe. And as long as the communists were supporting the government, observers thought, a bill framing rules to allow foreign universities in would never be introduced in Parliament.
But it isn't just the communists who are against allowing foreign higher education institutions into India.
There is a deep and growing divide even within the leading party of the federal coalition and the academic community. It is no wonder then that the bill on this issue, originally scheduled to be introduced in Parliament in early 2007, hasn't seen the light of day despite the communists' withdrawal from the coalition last July.
“There was no consensus on the bill," one government official told a local daily last month. "It is on the backburner.”