Monday Motivation: Indian Education at 77

The past 77 years have given us several reasons to be proud of being an Indian and it is India’s growth in the field of education that makes me particularly proud to be an Indian.

The journey has not been easy for India as the country has undergone multiple changes in every possible field which has impacted our education system. We had to accept numerous transitions such as from being called the Vishwaguru 1500 years ago, to being overtaken by the British system of education when all our earlier systems were changed to create a labour force which was suited to the needs of the British. Subsequently, post-independence the government took steps to educate the large population of India. Even as early as 1948, the government initiated the University Education Commission under the Chairmanship of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, to gauge the need for improvement of Universities in India. The first National Education Policy was aimed at creating equal educational opportunities in order to achieve national integration. Since then several policies such as the National Policy on Education (1986), Mid-Day Meal scheme (1995), Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (2001) and the Right to Education Act (2009) which sealed India’s intent to provide education to all its citizens.

While I have been a part of the realm of education for more than 25 years, I had mostly been watching from the sidelines and been among the ones who had no say in the formulation of policies. However, in 2006 when I was appointed as a member of the University Grants Commission Govt of India, I was a part of the policy formulation for various aspects of Higher education. I took up research on the topic of Internationalization of Higher Education in India, as I was most intrigued by the prospects of it and also the existing lacunae which were proving to be an impediment. My passion for this field led me author a book which was published by SAGE Publication, on the topic of Internationalization of Higher Education in India and it is one of the most referred to books for those who indulge in further research on this topic. Subsequently, as Chair of FICCI Higher Education Committee, I became part of the committee that organised round table discussions and submitted reports to the Chairman of the committee that framed the National Education policy (2020).  I was happy that the views of the FICCI higher education committee were taken into consideration while framing the Education policy.

Many educationists would agree with me when I say that the NEP 2020 is one of the most progressive education policies that the nation has seen in several years. It has brought in changes in so many fields such as Implementing 5+3+3+4 structure in school education, Framing Mother Tongue / Regional Language as a means of instructions, moving from a 3 years to a 4 years undergraduate programme with Liberal education at its core with various  options for the students at the Undergraduate level , more focus on practical and experiential learning rather than theoretical learning, different learning techniques, pedagogies and experiments used by the teachers, students getting the freedom  of choosing any subjects/streams with no boundaries due to the multidisciplinary focus on curriculum, among many others. The Government’s efforts at internationalization of higher education are also commendable. In 2018 the Government launched the Study in India project to attract foreign students to India, which is also in sync with NEP 2020.

I am sure that such progressive steps taken by the Government will propel India towards a stronger and robust future. As Mahatma Gandhi said “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever,” it is the knowledge that we gain throughout our lifetime that helps us give shape to our ideas and thus remain alive forever.