Atmanirbhar Bharat and National Education Policy
When everyone is swimming with the flow, the one who stands in front of the flow like a mountain and changes the course of the flow is remembered in history for his/her greatness. While the world is busy appreciating globalization and overrating it as a global village irrespective of its flaws, speaking of localization and advocating self-reliance though treated as maniac is to me certainly a sign of greatness. The recent initiative of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ taken up by the Government of India led by the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi is one such kind which envisions to make India ‘Self-Reliant’and great again. This big bang systemic reform is intended to bring in a holistic transformation in India through two means: by ensuring social justice through interim liquidity infusion and direct cash transfer to the poor and distressed as shock observers, and to help long term reforms in critical sectors of growth to make them globally competitive and attractive. This has been envisioned by the highest leadership to transform India from a receiver to a performer. With this perspective in mind, the Modi government during the COVID-19 lockdown period has announced a massive economic stimulus package of Rs. 20 lakh crore intended to revive the Indian economy stagnated due to the Covid-19 pandemic and create new opportunities for growth in primary, secondary and tertiary sectors to make a resilient and self-reliant India. In the primary sector, transformative measures were taken to reform the agriculture and allied sectors by amending Essential Commodities Act (ECA) -1955, Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) and contract farming. A stimulus package of Rs. 1 lakh crore was allocated for agriculture infrastructure projects while Rs. 500 crore is assigned towards ‘Operation Green’ to extend the production of TOP (Tomatoes, Onion and Potatoes) to ALL fruits and vegetables (TOTAL). This was done to give impetus to create a market for the firm products to end the monopoly of ‘mandi.’ But in spite of all the risk management measures taken by the government to save the farmers including crop insurance, e-NAM (e-National Agricultural Market), GRAMs (Gramin rural agricultural Markets) and Start-Ups in agricultural technology sporadic incidence of protests and ideological unrests are staged by forces inimical to governmental policy decisions. This culture of ideological bigotism and the spread of misinformation among the farmers is a cause of concern.
Similarly, for the secondary sectors a fund of Rs. 3 lakh crore was allocated in the form of collateral-free loan facilities for the promotion and advancement of MSMEs. It is to be noted here that MSMEs are the second biggest employment generating sector in India. Boosting this labour-intensive sector and encouraging Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) would not just make India self-reliant by reducing its import bills but also resilient by empowering its weaker sections through industrial income generations. Finally, a huge sum of money was assigned to the tertiary sector for rejuvenating health and education which are considered to be the key pillars for an Atmanirbhar Bharat. The boost to the health sector has helped India to produce the COVID Vaccine which has enabled the country to provide the much-needed vaccines to the countries in distress worldwide through its humanitarian health mission called ‘Vaccine Miatri.’
But all these interim measures initiated to make India self-reliant would fall flat if a proper and educative methodology is not adopted to make India skilful. It is with this intention the government of India has announced the National Education Policy – 2020 to Indianise the hitherto western made English dominated education system fit for meeting the local needs through local education (vocal for local) to transform Make in India to Make for World to serve the humanity in a greater way in resonance with the ethos of Hindu philosophy of ‘Vasudheiva Kutumbakam’.
The idea of transforming India through its education system to bring a holistic change in a systematic process is undoubtedly a daunting task. Since the colonial, western-oriented education system in India produced nothing more than ideologues, just fine-tuning the education structure wouldn’t be sufficient. In fact, what is the need for time is the definite change in the totality. For that reason, NEP has been envisioned to transform India into a self-sufficient global knowledge economy through a holistic, flexible and multidisciplinary education system that suits its challenging needs of the 21st century.
In 2019, a committee was set up to draft the National Education Policy and appointed Dr. K. Kasturirangan as its chairman. On 29th July 2020, the Union Government has approved the NEP – 2020 for ‘transformational reforms’ in the schools and higher education sectors and promises for access, equity, quality, affordability and accountability in education in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals – 2030. The NEP as a key pillar of Atma Nirbhara Bharat envisions transforming India and making it self-reliant through a holistic education system. The NEP to be sure underlines the ethos of critical thinking, skill development, problem-solving and multidisciplinary approach among the students in their curriculum with an intention to vocational education for enabling the students to adapt to the changes taking place around them. The benefits underpinned by the National Education Policy can be succinctly put forth as below.
- Universalization of Access – from Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) to Secondary through infrastructure support, innovative education centres, open schooling, and vocational courses among others.
- Students acquire more practical knowledge than the mere rote learning.
- The student will have increased flexibility in the choice of subjects to study.
- Reduction of curriculum content and to promote essential learning and critical thinking
- Students nurture a scientific temper even during young age
- With rich and quality education, by the time students complete their higher secondary education, they will become at par with the global standards
- More global exposure with foreign colleges being set up in our home country
- India to attract more foreign students for education
- Added importance is given to practical assignments and skill development
- Exposure to music, arts, and literature to students
- Students gain greater exposure to vocational skills and Coding being taught from Class 6
- The way for a new wave of learning with critical thinking along with discovery, discussions, and analysis
- A specific and action-oriented policy that is outcome-driven
- Emphasizes quality in higher education
- Stresses on research and funding to private institutions
- Joint and Collaborative research, publication and guidance of scholars
- Regionalization of research and promotion of mother tongue in research and publication
- Improved Quality and achievement of learning outcomes – Foundational Literacy & Numeracy (FLN)
- Focus on 21st-century skills in teaching, learning, and assessment
- Students overcome the language barrier in learning
In a nutshell, the NEP in its policy emphasizes interactive and practical classroom as a policy mandate with an aim to making Indian education a global standard and inculcating efficiency among the pupils enabling them to have a livelihood of their own. This policy envisions a job oriented trans-disciplinary curriculum with a shared focus on arts, science, management and humanities with the single aim to make every individual self-reliant so that goal towards a self-reliant (Atmanirbhar Bharat) can be materialized. Indeed, NEP is a truly meticulous, methodological, futuristic and sustainable policy if implemented effectively will certainly give way for Atma Nirbhar Bharat.
(The writer is Asst. Professor, Dept. of Social Sciences, Fakir Mohan University, Balasore, Odisha)