Dear AG Krishna Menon, thank you for explaining the TVB School point of
view. As you might realise, others are not so close to the power-centres in
the country, and may not want to stay so close to this "license, permit and
authorise" regime of the "alternate" kind that seems to suggest itself.
----- Original Message -----
From: "AGK Menon" <[email protected]>
To: "Concerned about habitat and the professions."
Sent: Sunday, December 28, 2003 8:00 PM
Subject: Re: [in-enaction] Reassessing regulation (white paper)
A few (random)thoughts on the mechanics of peer review and then a few more
on the white paper.
1. What is its objective? It should look beyond the review of minimum
standards sought by the statutory authorities such as CoA and AICTE.
Establishing minimum standards is actually the job of the respective
universities under whom architectural education is being imparted, and so
the statutory authorities should be examining the proces by which
universities are discharging this responsibility. In the present system
statutory authorities inspect each School, thus overlooking/marginalising
the role of the Universities, many of whom have several Schools attached
their programme. So, first, let us advocate the role of Universities in
process of establishing minimum standards, and that the Universities
be subjected to the overview function of the statutory authorities.
I think there isn't much discussion about the minimal standards by CoA and
othres, this discussion has already said this much. The CoA and others'
"minimal" programmes do not take cognisance of the many forms of
Architectural Practice and teaching that are evident (or were evident when
these minimal standards were written); and at the same time, to give
universities charge over the standards is dangerous. Architecture is a
specialized, even 'unique' subject, most universities don't have the
competence or experts on call to evaluate it. It will be difficult to make
mechanisms to do so.
One just has to look at the 'minimal' programme proposed at GGSIPU, in spite
of the many obvious defects in it (one can argue it is quite authorative,
doesn't give the teachers enough lattitude to explore possibilities, removes
newer and emerging fields within the discipline -- it for instance
subjugates computation to 'arts and graphics') the university finds it
difficult to take a stand.
I think Prem and others are proposing an indipendent research and propose
system, hoping to save us from such disasters.
2. The objective of the Peer Review would therefore be largely to evaluate
the contents of curriculum and pedagogy. The fact is that the University
the authority to define the syllabus they want. It would be the staturory
authority's purpose of inspection to see if this meets with their minimum
requirements. In fact, the CoA's guidelines permit an institution to
25% of its syllabus on its own. At present few seek to look beyond the
minimum syllabus defined by CoA, so this actual lack of heterogeneity
the various Schools in the country is not really of the CoA's making, but
the result of the lack of initiative on the part of the
Why do you say this? There is heterogeneity, it has always been evident. I,
for one, cannnot accept a "there is lack of heterogeneity amongst the
various schools" straw-man. We have said things are concentrating on a few
issues in _practice_, and this has to do with the monolithic referents at
the CoA; not in education.
So, the Peer Review could make this factor an issue,
and encourage Schools/Universities to define the nature of at least the
of the syllabus that they are expected to define. Those who do this and
should be ranked higher than those who don't, and those who do it better
more productively, obviously should be ranked still higher. This would be
the primary objective of the Peer Review. It does not become mandatory,
would be voluntary to enable Schools to benchmark themselves with others
they want to do so.
I think this is a mis-representation of the facts. Schools are allowed to
define 1/4th the curriculum ("Teach what you want in this space") and as for
the rest, there is just a broad outline, schools can interpret the other
3/4th curriculum the way they want ("This you must teach, in whatever way
you want"). CoA doesn't insist on a detailed curriculum, it says "teach
structures, design, practice, theory etc., in this proportion".
3. To evaluate the contents of the course, the pedagogy and the output of
the students should be the primary focus of the Peer Review examination.
a subjective field, the question of who is to condust such a review
naturally surfaces. Both practitioners and academics should be in this
commitee; also some one from the local region and one from outside the
region, and could even be from outside the country. This does not appear
foolproof, but in a subjective field we can only aspire to incorporate
sufficient checks and balances in the process of evaluation. This would be
an antidote to the highly centralised protocol of the CoA, where the
of the so-called Moderation Commitee are merely acting as lower divisional
clerks interpretting rules and regulations, and applying them even more
stringent conditions than their own Inspection Commitee. We need to
celebrate subjectivity in the evaluation process of the Peer review. In
of gross misunderstangings in this process, the School could always ask
a review by another Commitee.
The moderation comittee doesn't look at just the contents of the course,
pedagogy and the output of the students. They rely on secondary reports,
hardly ever (I don't think even once) visit the colleges, interview teachers
etc. I don't see what role the Moderation Comittee plays in evaluating the
contents of the course.
4. The professional and academic output of the faculty should also be
evaluated. Each faculty member should present a portfolio of their recent
works - this could be examples of institutional or private practice,
research undertaken, papers published, conferences and QIP attended, etc.
I agree, each Visiting Faculty member should present a portfolio of their
work, examples of private practice etc., each Permanent Staff should present
a portfolio of their academic work, students works (for which they are
responsible by Indian Copyright laws) and so on... Prem is arguing for some
version of a publish or perish regime, I think some insistance on this, yes.
Colleges must be asked to link the salaries of teachers to their academic
worth (many ways of measuring this). I am sick of people arguing "I am
permanent faculty here, but can't afford to live on the salary, so I spend
most my time doing private practice; so I don't conference, I don't publish,
PAY ME MORE", quite forgetting that most of them are 45 year old fossils
doing the job (and getting salaries of) young professionals they seem to
have displaced. This is our equivalent of the US Tenure system, I think.
Education it seems is in trouble from both ends, the CoA and NAB, on the one
hand reading the letter of the law; the naukri-dhanda wallahs on the other
hand defending the least minimal they can do. How often have we heard
spirited defense of "Government Curriculum" at Delhi?
5. The vision of the School should be articulated and also evaluated in
Peer Review. What are their plans for the next year? for the next five
years? What is their strategy to achieve these goals?
...and what was the previous five years' output, how did they fare by the
goals they set for themselves. Prem has already suggested this: "You will be
evaluated by your own claim", I think this is a matter for the Moderation
Comittee -- the inspectors can report on the present, but the moderation
comittee should look at the past of the college, previous claims and
inspection reports and ask "Are they really as good as they have been
Note. I realise that all this is technically in the CoA inspection
but the important point to be reitterated is that these factors never
significant in their scheme of things. The objective of the Peer Review
would be to establish the importance of this as a benchmark for academic
development. Of greater interest is to define how this Peer review would
different to the objectives of the National Accreditation Board (NAB) of
AICTE. The NAB approvals opens up access to considerable AICTE funds, and
becomes a powerful agency. Can the Peer Review we are discussing dialogue
with the NAB to set up an appropraite mechanism to evaluate architectural
The CoA also opens the same routes, in both cases they ask for the same
documents, also there are UGC and the Min. of Higher Education monies. The
NAB doesn't have direct access to these. There are also monies from Govt.
departments, banks, corporations (the latter will actually ask for a
1.The legal wars between CoA and AICTE is hotting up. In this process, as
pointed out earlier, the objectives of why the two statutory authorities
fighting over the right to "control" architectural education is being
sidelined : only legal issues and the question of "izzat" are coming to
fore. The White paper is needed to bring the focus back on to
2. Inter alia, it can examine, legal issues aside, how and who should
"control" architectural education. Is there a benefit to separating the
licensing and overseeing education function of CoA? Where does AICTE fit
into the old or new scene? Personally I find that the "arts" and
"engineering" arguments used to decide this issue is inadequate because it
fails to take cognizance of the new forces mediating the development of
the practice and teaching of architecture. We will have to get off the "we
are unique" high horse, and come to terms with the interdisciplinary
of architecture and its interdependence with other professions when we
structure the control mechanisms. Perhaps, the CoA Act should be amended,
the objectives of AICTE should be tailored to repond to the new forces
acting on architecture. Both are open fields for the White Paper to
Where is this interdependence with other professions? And why isn't
architecture unique? -- if it isn't than it is no longer a profession. Have
we not, in India, destroyed the bases of architectural practice by insisting
on the "interdisciplinary"?
3. Perhaps, one person should draft it and put it up for public comments.
Anand has suggested that Prem should write the first version. Or Akhtar.
Both have a command of the issues and so either/both should go ahead and
begin the public dialogue instead of agonising any further over the issue
who should write.
I don't think there is agonising. People need time, and something else we
don't really understand in Delhi: space enough so as not to step on others'
4. There was another idea that Anand had mooted - that the IASA should be
formally registered and assume as its mandate the publishing of the White
Paper and the process of Peer Review. According to me that sounds good, so
lets discuss it.
just a correction, it is not my idea, CSI and some IIA people in the South
suggested this at the IASA meeting. IASA members also thought it was
important. But on the other hand, as Akhtar correctly points out, one
doesn't have to be registered to be an association in India, any known
grouping of individuals working on a certain issue together is an
association, they can even pay membership fees. Registration comes into
picture if one needs to get donations etc.
the law is quite liberal, in many cases, should one care to read it that
way. i'd say many of the bogies are of our own making.
AG Krishna Menon
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