Is Educating Business or Mission?

November 14, 2020

In the business world, everyone is paid in two coins: cash and experience. Take the experience first; the cash will come later.” - Harold S. Geneen (1910-1997), American businessman most known for serving as President of ITT Corporation.

A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” – Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), considered Father of the Nation, as he successfully campaigned for India’s independence from the British.

In the fourth quarter of 18th century European priests and nuns came to India and founded educational institutions. Taking the case of Mangaluru, we have today St Aloysius College, St Agnes College, Fr Muller Hospital and Medical College – all past their centuries and growing in age and numbers of students they are hosting. The founders of these came with a vision of a mission. Today they have expanded to host thousands of students. Have they grown beyond their original mission and become businesses?

Beyond these institutions having their roots before a century, new educational institution are established on a grand scale with corporate type of operations with sophisticated names with suffix and prefix “International”/ “Oxford”/ “Cambrige” incorporated in their names . Are they missions or oversized businesses? This question is likely to be answered shortly by the Supreme Court of India in a tangential manner. But, first the facts as reported by PTI (21/10/20) and carried widely in the media.

Representational image

According to the New Delhi-datelined report, the Supreme Court has agreed to examine the question as to whether an educational institution or university can be sued under the consumer protection law for deficiency in services, saying there have been "divergent views" of the top court itself on the issue.

A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee has admitted an appeal filed by Manu Solanki and other students of a medical course against Vinayaka Mission University at Salem in Tamil Nadu, alleging deficiency in services.

"Since there are divergent views of this Court bearing on the subject as to whether an educational institution or University would be subject to the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act 1986, the appeal would require admission. Admit," the top court said in its order of October 15, 2020.

It asked lawyer Soumyajit, appearing on behalf of Caveator University, to file the response within six weeks to the appeal filed against a decision of the National Consumer disputes Redressal Commission. 

The university has relied upon the apex court judgments in the Maharshi Dayanand University and in the PT Koshy cases to say that these verdicts have held that the education is not a commodity and educational institutions are not providing any kind of service. Hence, in matter of admission and fees, there cannot be a kind of service and therefore, there cannot be a question of deficiency of service to be adjudicated upon in consumer forum or commissions.

The students, however, cited other judgments in which it has been held that educational institutions would come within the purview of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Solanki and eight other students of a medical course of the university had sought a compensation of Rs 1.4 crore each alleging deficiency in service and on account of "loss of social standing, academic years, career opportunities, mental and physical agony". They alleged the university induced them to take admission in the course on a false assurance that it had all the requisite approvals from the authorities.

The students were admitted in the offshore programme in 2005-2006 comprising two year study in Thailand and two-and-a half year study in the university here (India), the plea said. The students were assured that they would be getting their MBBS final degree conferred by the university and recognized by the Indian Government and the Medical Council of India.

However, after two years of study in Thailand, the students were informed that they should continue their course in Thailand and would be conferred a Foreign Medical Degree and should subsequently appear for screening test in India, the plea alleged.

The students said they suffered loss of career opportunities as the National Board of Examination said that their qualification was "not a primary medical qualification” since the Degree is not recognized by the Medical Council of India.

The University has agreed to file a reply on the plea within six weeks and we will wait for a while for the final judgment. For, it is likely to give an answer, directly or indirectly, if education providing is a mission or business. Stand by.

The subject is open to many views. What are yours? Your response is invited in the format given below (pl scroll down -2000 words maximum at a stretch). Welcome and good luck!


I will remember the COVID-19 pandemic as the biggest government cock-up ever!” ? Steven Magee, British-born chartered electrical engineer and author of many books.

The word cock, often compounded and conjoined, is used in many contexts. For instance, Cocktail - an alcoholic mixed drink - and as in cock and bull story – meaning an implausible story as an explanation or excuse.

My fortnightly column in Daijiworld (bless Daiji for giving me a window) is generally on a serious note. From now on I wish to end it on a lighter note under the sub-head “Cock-tale”. That is also subject to reader-reaction and response.

Husband’s Name Taboo

In the recent by-election in Karnataka the Congress selected a lady to contest thinking that she might garner sympathy votes because her husband, a high government official, had died untimely and of un-natural cause.

Sensing the hidden motive, a lady MP of BJP publicly advised her not to use her husband’s name during her election campaign. I do not know if she brought in her late husband’s name during her campaign. She ended up losing badly. I remember of a time when wives in the villages were prohibited.

I remember of a time when wives in the villages were prohibited from uttering the name of their husbands. This resulted in funny situations like when teachers went for revision of electoral rolls or for decennial census. Normally the husband being outdoors, the visiting census staff would start by asking the name of the male householder to the lady of the household. The women would clap-up. Sensing that the wives were not supposed to utter the name of their husbands, the visitors would point to framed picture of Hindu male deities and would ask which of them bear the husband’s name. Then the visitors would also recite the names from the male Hindu pantheon – until they had the name right.

Does this still happen?



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By John B Monteiro
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Comment on this article

  • Vincent D'sa, Dubai/Shankerpura/Pangala parish

    Tue, Nov 17 2020

    Parents are reason for this. Hence they have to rectify this. We cent blame business owners.

    Parents don’t even do a simple analysis of whether whatever action they are taking is supporting their children or not. Almost all students attend coaching classes/tuitions that includes children attending premium schools. Either they don’t trust the quality of the premium schools or even after that coaching is necessary. If you don’t do something differently than usual action result is not going to be different. This is what happens at tuition centers. Repetitive action. Due to this repetitive action ‘Problem look easy’. This is not the actual learning, but a pseudo learning. If any parent has the ‘courage’ to ask these centers how they are teaching differently than at the regular classes and how they achieve it in one hour in the evening (which wasn’t possible in the 6 hour regular time) the truth will be revealed. Children don’t have the maturity to understand this. Parents either skip their responsibility or don’t make an effort to understand this. At the end children (quality in education) and parents (money) are at the losing end. Understand that the teachers at the coaching center are regular teachers somewhere in day time.
    A simple analysis of every action we take can make a huge difference in our life. On this simple lacking in the analysis, the entire education / coaching business is built.

  • John B. Monteiro, Bondel Mangalore

    Tue, Nov 17 2020

    Will a time come when the "business" owners will realise that enough is enough and switch over to the "mission" mode? Or, it could be nationalisation which is unlikely because many politicians have their hands deep into the till.
    Thank you Dr Urban for your insightful response.

  • Dr Urban DSouza, Udyavar/Malaysia

    Mon, Nov 16 2020

    Educating the Society is basically a great mission.
    Because education has raised the global standard and has contributed to the economy and prosperity.
    Sacrificial contribution of our Rev Priests and nuns could realize the basic education in the Society at large as many villages could have a School immediately at the post Independent India. Basic Primary & High Schooling was fulfilling the need at that time as many of our High School educated seniors could fetch the bread travelling widely to other states (Ex. Maharashtra; Bombay). As time pass by many Professional Educational institutes were budding in the region and Country, though it is a service and mission, largely it became a big business. Professional educational seats may be only met by the best students ( a minute percent) but because of the hefty management fees it became the choice only for the Wealthy parent's children!!!
    Only in India a Clinical post graduate seat in Medical education claims more than a crore rupee, whereas in the West and also in other Asian countries, post graduate seat is free and also a Salary/Scholarship is provided. In the name of educating the society, we see lot many families owning these institutions have become stingingly rich. It is for everyone to accept whether educating is a mission or business!!!

  • John B. Monteiro, Bondel Mangalore

    Mon, Nov 16 2020

    Thank you Vincent. You have made my week. The points you make are very incisive. Pl. be with the column.

  • Vincent D'sa, Dubai/Shankerpura/Pangala parish

    Mon, Nov 16 2020

    The reason why the young students and youth ‘on the way to their academic institutions get addicted’ to smoking, alcoholism and drugs is a proof to say that education is a business. It has lost its real meaning. Otherwise this tragic deviation would not have happened at this stage. The reason why parents go after the wrong social models is the reason why the education has become a business and their children victims. The reason why there are only a few successful and mostly average youth around us is the result of this commercialization. It touches the peripherals only leaving the soul to its fate resulting in longtime harm to individuals. This the reason why depression, anxiety, suicides and communal mentality is on the rise among the youth. Education is no more a mission and service.

    Why people do not read and appreciate good write up like this one is also a side effect of this commercialization!!

  • John B. Monteiro, Bondel Mangalore

    Mon, Nov 16 2020

    Thank you Rohan for being the sole responder to my Welcome to Reason Topic Essay. My consolation is that my grand-niece, Lauren, the daughter of my only married sister, has had her first website bony and was featured next to my fortnightly column though our articles were sent to Daiji at different times. This is a rare coincidence and I am happy that she has garnered 7 appreciative and encouraging responses. Way to go Lauren!

  • Rohan, Mangalore

    Sat, Nov 14 2020

    Education is surely a mission and service than business. The high aspiring parents have been the gullible ones and are equally responsible for it to be a business...
    Also the ones in service are now moving with crowd and treating it as a business
    Now a days cock and bull stories are regarded truth rather than the reality
    Your add on is much appreciated

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