Dr. Radhakrishnan Commission Report on Higher Education

Dr. Radhakrishnan, philosopher-scholar, produced the first Report on Higher Education in free India in 1948. The Report is deliberative as it is expansive. The Report remains relevant even today as a matter of public policy and deliberations.

Accordingly, in this University Day Special Edition of Economic and Public Policy Journal, we present abstracts from the Report. The entire Report can be accessed here.


  1. The Impact of Political Change – Great as were the changes that had taken place in the political and economic conditions of Indian society in the years that preceded the transfer of power on August 15, 1947, considerable as was the progress in education during that period, they are less great than the changes that have been crowded into these few months of freedom. The academic problem has assumed new shapes. We have now a wider conception of the duties and responsibilities of They have to provide leadership in politics and administration, the professions, industry and commerce. They have to meet the increasing demand for every type of higher education, literary and scientific, technical and professional. They must enable the country to attain, in as short a time as possible, freedom from want, disease and ignorance, by the application and development of scientific and technical knowledge. India is rich in natural resources and her people have intelligence and energy and are throbbing with renewed He and vigour. It is for the universities to create knowledge and train minds who would bring together the two, material resources and human energies. If our living standards are to be raised, a radical change of spirit is essential.
  1. Universities as the Organs of Civilisation – He indeed must be blind who does not see that, mighty as are the political changes, far deeper are the fundamental questions which will be decided by what happens in the Everything is being brought to the test of reason, venerable theologies, ancient political institutions, time-honoured social arrangements, a thousand things which a generation ago looked as fixed as the hills. If India is to confront the confusion of our time, she must turn for guidance, not to those who are lost in the mere exigencies of the passing hour, but to her men of letters, and men of science, to her poets and artists, to her discoverers and inventors. These intellectual pioneers of civilization are to be found and trained in the universities, which are the sanctuaries of the inner life of the nation.

In simpler conditions of life, in primitive societies, the leader can follow the urge of his instinct and take us to the scene of his vision. In the complex organisation of modern life, any reform requires careful thought and planning. Our leaders must be capable of intellectual analysis and imaginative insight.

  1. Intellectual Adventure – We must give up the fatal obsession of the perfection of the past, that greatness is not to be attained in the present, that everything is already worked out and all that remains for the future ages of the world is pedantic imitation of the When we are hypnotised by our own past achievements, when all our effort is to repeat a past success, we become fetish worshippers. If our cultural life is to retain its dynamism, it must give up idolatry of the past and strive to realise new dreams.

We should think with the young men in the Latin poem that nothing is done while anything remains to do. All that man has yet done is very little compared to what he is destined to achieve. The present which moves backwards and forwards, which is a summary of the past and a prophecy of the future, is hallowed ground and we who tread on it should face it with the quality of reverence and the spirit of adventure. Universities are the homes of intellectual adventure.

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