Pipe dreams of Vedanta
A recent Orissa High court ruling quashed the land acquisition procedures of Vedanta University and hopes of Anil Agarwal, billionaire founder of Vedanta Industries, to setup a Stanford model dream university in the resource rich state of Orissa. The ruling was mainly based on irregularities in the land acquisition process which violated various land acts and the status of the Anil Agarwal Foundation that was changed to a ‘public company' from a ‘private company' called Vedanta Foundation in June, 2006 for the very purpose of acquiring land. Apart from this blatant land act violation which has become characteristic of almost all capital ventures in India, this project also received criticism based on its impact on bio-diversity, ecology and even religious angle of using Puri Jagarnath temple land. The usual private v/s public education debate and sustainability of such a "not-for-profit" projects made its rounds.
At best, similar projects of Vedanta corporation can be bracketed as reaction to CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) wake up call or Tata-model image building exercise and at worst it is long term war of free enterprise to change the public opinion by influencing the respectable elements of society like intellectuals, scientists and academicians. Similar enterprises already have questionable influence on policy makers of the state making the majority of education sector an assembly line of engineers and business administrators that industry need. And by direct foray into academics and research these enterprises have proverbial strings to the "idea creation" of society by instructing several hundreds of students each year to accept ideas what they otherwise might criticize.