Regulation, Higher Education and Transformation

Published date01 December 2018
Date01 December 2018
Subject MatterArticles
Indian Journal of Public
64(4) 543–564
© 2018 IIPA
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/0019556118783049
Regulation, Higher
Education and
Dhananjay Rai1
This article examines recent ongoing churning around independent regulatory
authorities in higher education in India in the context of the changing relationship
between polity and policy in the emergent neoliberal state discourse. The discon-
nect between polity and policy needs to be examined concerning people’s power
in liberal democratic theory. People’s power and higher education are intertwined
since the former has legitimate claim over the latter. Hence, this article, at the
outset, examines the anatomy of regulation vis-à-vis people’s power. Thereafter,
regulation and knowledge are examined congruently. Regulation and higher edu-
cation in India are explained by way of clarifying the constitutional provisions and
analysing emerging policy proposals regarding centralisation, commercialisation
and regulations. This article highlights the importance of higher education for
transformation. In this regard, ten challenges are outlined in the end.
Neoliberalism, regulatory state, democratic state, neoliberal self, neoliberal
knowledge, foundational knowledge
Implications of independent regulatory authorities have been understood and
postulated primarily in the domain of production, market, consumer and prices.
In classical political economy, a ‘non-productive sphere’ like higher education
has evaded the required attention. Precisely, this is the unexplored domain where
neoliberalism is making a significant inroad by way of independent regulatory
authorities. This article explicates the ongoing churning and implication of
1 Assistant Professor, Centre for Gandhian Thought and Peace Studies, Central University of Gujarat,
Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India.
Corresponding author:
Dhananjay Rai, Room No. 13, Block A, Central University of Gujarat, Sector 29, Gandhinagar,
Gujarat 382030, India.
544 Indian Journal of Public Administration 64(4)
independent regulatory authorities concerning higher education in India. The first
section of the article unravels the anatomy of regulation. The second section
discusses regulation and knowledge. The third section focuses on regulation and
higher education in India. The fourth section of the article focuses on higher
education and transformation. The fifth section points out ten specific challenges
concerning higher education and transformation.
Anatomy of Regulation
Conceptually, the article uses ‘people’s power’ for democratic and constitutional
control of a polity by the people for inclusive politics and governance. As desirous
normatively, the polity controls policy. In other words, people’s power uses polity
for inclusive policies. The dichotomous relation between ‘polity’ and ‘policy’ is an
oxymoron. The neoliberal state causes ‘resurfacing’ of dichotomous relationship
between polity and policy. The decline of the liberal state and the emergence of
the neoliberal state disassociate itself from ‘people’s power’ by way of creating
‘new authorities’. People’s power is disassociated through dichotomy between
polity and policy. The neoliberal state delinks polity from the economy, and policy
turns the economy into consumer questions. In the present article, independent
regulatory authorities entail the institutions which have become inalienable needs
of neoliberalism.
These developments are perceived positively as ‘government in miniature’
(Prosser, 1999), ‘regulatory governance’ (Levy & Spiller, 1994), ‘a regulatory
state inside the state’ (Hood, Scott, James, Jones, & Travers, 1999), ‘regulation
for economic efficiency and risk management’ (Braithwaite, 1989, pp. 69–83),
‘responsive regulation’ (Ayres & Braithwaite, 1992), ‘the rise of cost-benefit
state’ (Sunstein, 2002), ‘no-democratic deficit’ (Majone, 1996, 1997; Moravcsik,
2002, 2004) and ‘regulatory society’ (Clarke, 2000). Tony Prosser draws atten-
tion to a pluralist approach and democratic legitimacy concerning regulators.
For him, since utility regulators can be reduced to a single logic or task, a plural-
ist approach to regulation is required. ‘[T]he regulators’ practice, and indeed the
legal duties which apply to them, reflect a variety of different rationales. As a
result, they have come to resemble “government in miniature” … ’ (Prosser, 1999,
p. 199). Regarding democratic legitimacy of the regulators, incorporation of
various viewpoints and wider participation in decision-making is important
(ibid., p. 200). He avers that ‘…regulation is an essentially open process and
cannot, and indeed should not, be reduced to any particular logic, economic or
otherwise’ (ibid., p. 217); bilateral approach, capture theory, public choice theory
and stakeholder theory ignore this complexity (ibid.).
For a successful regulatory policy, Brian Levy and Pablo Spiller underline
regulatory governance and regulatory incentives. The regulatory governance
structure is crucial for countering arbitrary administrative decisions while induc-
ing private investment. Regulatory incentive includes ‘rules concerning pricing,
entry and interconnection’ (Levy & Spiller, 1994, p. 241). ‘Regulation inside
government’ entails ‘arm’s-length oversight involving the setting or monitoring
of standards, and based on some element of authority’ (Hood et al., 1999, p. 21).

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