In this series on the performance of various ministers in the Modi government, let’s take a look at the Human Resources Ministry.
Prakash Javadekar also started as a member of ABVP, the student union affiliated to RSS. During the Emergency, Javadekar participated in student movements against the government. During this period, he led several protests and was under arrest for several months.
From 1984-1990, he first served as secretary, and then the general secretary in the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of BJP. In 1989, he was appointed state secretary and campaign chief of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Maharashtra, a position he held till 1995. Javadekar was elected to the Maharashtra Legislative Council between 1990 and 2002. He also was the executive president of the state planning board and then chairman of the task force on IT in the Government of Maharashtra.
In 2008, he was elected to the Rajya Sabha as a Member of Parliament from Maharashtra. He was re-elected from Madhya Pradesh in 2014. After 2014 elections, he was first appointed as Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment, Forests and Climate Change. Later in 2016, he was elevated as Cabinet Minister and given charge of HRD Ministry. Some of the achievements mentioned of MHRD are prior to Javadekar taking charge, during Smriti Irani’s tenure, however for the sake of compilation they are mentioned in Javadekar’s profile.
Swachch Vidayalaya under Swachch Bharat – Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his first speech as PM from Red Fort said, “all schools in India need to have separate toilets for girls, so that girls aren’t forced to leave school midway, and this should happen within next one year, and by next Independence Day we should be able to announce, that no school in India is without separate toilets for girls”. Prime Minister Modi is known to set ambitious target for himself, as well as his colleagues, and also known to achieve them. When he announced this target, MHRD rolled out ambitious Swachch Vidyalaya Scheme, with an aim to construct toilets in the schools, mostly government, which either lacked toilets completely, or lacked separate toilets for girls. When the scheme was started, it was seen that around 2.63 lakh government schools didn’t have adequate toilet facilities, and over 4.1 lakh toilets needs to be constructed to achieve 100% sanitation in schools. MHRD started work on war footing, and achieved the target in one year, as per target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Further MHRD launched Swachch Vidyalaya Puraskar to recognize, inspire, and celebrate excellence in sanitation and hygiene practice in schools. The awards have been started to honour schools that have undertaken significant steps towards fulfilling the mandate of the Swachh Vidyalaya Campaign. Dashboard of toilet status in schools can be seen here.
UDAAN – Udaan scheme was launched in November 2014, CBSE to address the low enrolment of girl students in prestigious engineering institutions and the teaching gap between school education and engineering entrance examinations. This project supports about 1000 selected meritorious girls from the economically weaker section, to prepare for the engineering examination. Objectives of Udaan and details about the scheme can be seen here.
National Academic Depository (NAD) – NAD was launched in September 2016, to develop a digital depository for school learning certificates, degrees and other academic awards of higher education institutions, on the pattern of a securities depository in line with the vision of Digital India. NAD is an initiative to provide an online 24X7 store-house of all academic awards, to help in safe storage, easy retrieval and validating the authenticity of academic awards. As on latest data, around 3.36 crore academic awards have been stored into NAD. More than 1,000 academic institutions including School Boards have on-boarded NAD and more than 5 lakh students have already registered on NAD.
New IITs – As per the BJP’s manifesto to have an IIT, IIM and AIIMS in every state, 6 New IITs at Jammu, Bhilai, Goa, Dharwad, Tirupati and Palakkad have been established and ISM Dhanbad was converted into an IIT.
New IIMs – In 2014-15, six new IIMs were announced for the states of Punjab, Bihar, Maharashtra, Odisha, Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. Accordingly, IIMs were started functioning from 2015 – 16 session from temporary campuses at Amritsar, Bodh Gaya, Nagpur, Sambalpur, Sirmaur and Vishakhapatnam. In the next budget, an IIM was approved for Jammu and Kashmir and it has also started functioning in Jammu.
Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) in Higher Education was launched in November, 2015. This program seeks to invite distinguished academicians, entrepreneurs, scientists, experts from premier institutions from across the world, to teach in the higher educational institutions in India. More information on GIAN can be found here.
SWAYAM (Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds) – The Ministry of HRD has embarked on a major and new initiative called ‘Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds’ (SWAYAM), which will provide one integrated platform and portal for online courses, using information and communication technology (ICT) and covering all higher education subjects and skill sector courses. Till date, more than 28 Lakhs learners have been enrolled in 1000+ MOOCs courses that have been run through SWAYAM. More information about SWAYAM can be found here.
National Digital Library (NDL) – MHRD, under its National Mission on Education, through Information and Communication Technology, initiated the National Digital Library of India (NDL India) project, to develop a framework of virtual repository of learning resources, with a single-window search facility. In this digital library, more than 1.5 Crore e-books and documents are available. Over 30 lakh students are already taking benefit of this. NDL can be accessed here.
National Rankings for Higher Education Institutions – National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) launched in 2015 to help Indian Educational Institutions to participate in the world rankings with greater confidence. More information about NIRF can be seen here.
Smart India Hackathon – A unique IT Initiative under which students are encouraged to apply knowledge to real life situations, and to find innovative solutions to the day to day problems. Details about Smart India can be found here.
IMPRINT – IMPRINT was launched in November, 2015 to channelize the research in premier institutions into areas, that can have the largest social and economic good for the country. Under this initiative, research projects under 10 selected domains are jointly funded by MHRD, and other participating Ministries/Departments. These domains are Healthcare, Energy, Sustainable Habitat, Nano Technology Hardware, Water Resources and River Systems, Advanced Materials, Information and Communication Technology, Manufacturing, Security and Defence, and Environmental Science and Climate Change. 142 research projects with an outlay of Rs. 323.16 crore for 3 years with joint funding from MHRD, and participating Ministries in the ratio of 50:50 have been approved and currently under execution. More details about IMPRINT can be found here.
Uchhatar Avishkar Yojana (UAY) – UAY was launched in October 2015, with an annual investment of Rs 250 crore, to promote innovation of a higher order as per the needs of the industry, and thereby improving the competitive edge of Indian manufacturing. The project envisages collaboration between the academia and industry – within or outside India. 87 projects at a cost of Rs. 265 crore with joint funding from MHRD, participating Ministries, and industry in the ratio of 50:25:25 have been approved, and currently under execution. Under UAY Phase-II, 65 projects with a total cost of Rs.139 crore for a period of 3 years has been approved. In an interview HRD minister Prakash Javadekar spoke about it.
National Testing Agency (NTA) – NTA has been created as an autonomous, and self-sustained premier testing organization, to conduct all entrance examinations for higher education institutions in the country, to reduce the workload of CBSE and other organizations. In 2019, NTA would be conducting entrance tests like NET, NEET and JEE for the first time.
NEET – National Entrance Eligibility Test (NEET) is being implemented in the country for admissions to medical colleges, and all admissions to medical colleges are done on the scores of NEET, saving students, hassles of registering, travelling and appearing for multiple entrance exams of different universities, saving time, money and efforts. It is also proposed to have a similar single entrance exam for engineering courses as well. Earlier NEET was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013. Centre and Medical Council of India approached Supreme Court once again, to review the original judgment, and in April 2016, SC overturned its previous decision, and ordered that the admissions to the medical colleges would be done only on the basis of NEET exams.
More autonomy to IIMs – Modi government passed the IIM bill in 2017, to give more autonomy to premier Indian Institutes of Management, which are located all over India. This autonomy completely removes government control over IIMs, and their functioning would be controlled by their respective boards. This bill also gives power to IIMs to award postgraduate degrees instead of postgraduate diplomas as they do currently.
Institutes of Eminence – Institute of Eminence (IoE) scheme was first announced in budget 2016. Later Prime Minister Narendra Modi while speaking at centenary celebrations of the University of Patna said, ‘no Indian institution is ranked in top 500 institutes of the world. “Isn’t it a slur on us? Shouldn’t the situation change in a country that has had an unmatched legacy in the field of education, with institutions like Nalanda, Vikramshila and many more? Modi had said. This scheme is follow up of budget announcement, as well as Prime Ministers announcement and is aimed at developing world-class institutions which would put India on the global education map. 20 Institutions (10 public and 10 private) will be offered greater autonomy, and freedom to decide fees, course durations and structures. The 10 selected public institutions would also receive a grant of Rs 1000 crore over 5 years, while the 10 private institutions would not receive any financial assistance.
Under this scheme, it is expected that the selected institutions will come up in the top 500 of the world ranking in 10 years, and in top 100 of the world ranking eventually over time. To achieve the top world ranking, these Institutions shall be provided with greater autonomy to admit foreign students up to 30% of admitted students; to recruit foreign faculty upto 25% of faculty strength; to offer online courses upto 20% of its programs; to enter into academic collaboration with top 500 in the world ranking Institutions without permission of UGC; free to fix and charge fees from foreign students without restriction; flexibility of course structure in terms of number of credit hours and years to take a degree; complete flexibility in fixing of curriculum and syllabus.
Till now the government has granted IoE tags to total 6 (3 public and 3 private) institutions. Public institutes include Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, IIT Delhi and IIT Mumbai while private institutions include Jio Institute (Greenfield Category), BITS, Pilani and Manipal University.
More autonomy to universities and institutions – Prime Minister Modi had pitched for reducing government (UGC) role in universities and granting them more academic freedom and autonomy in as early as January 2015, 8 months in his tenure as Prime Minister while inaugurating 102nd Indian Science Congress at Mumbai. Accordingly MHRD has started granting more autonomy to universities and institutions. Experts have welcomed this move. As of now 60 universities and institutions have been granted autonomy.
UGC to be replaced by the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) – Modi government has proposed to replace the age-old Universities Grant Commission (UGC) with HECI to keep up with the time. Accordingly, the government has placed a draft of the bill in the public domain and invited stakeholders’ comments on it. This bill would be brought in parliament, and when parliament clears it, UGC will be replaced by HECI. How different HECI would be in functioning from UGC can be read here and here. One of the piquant features of HECI is it would be fully digital without any physical file movement. Existing UGC staff would be absorbed in HECI and would be trained for functioning in digital mode.
National Education Policy (NEP) – Modi government decided to bring in new National Education Policy (NEP) which was last formulated in 1986, and updated in 1992. A panel of experts was formed with senior scientist K Kasturiranjan appointed as chairman to prepare a new NEP. This panel has now submitted draft NEP to the government. Government has said that it would soon make draft policy public and invite comments on it.
Vedic Education Board – HRD ministry has decided to set up a new Vedic Education Board, by the name of Bhartiya Shiksha Board (BSB). BSB will standardize Vedic Education across the country, and will have the power of drafting syllabus, conducting exams, issuing certificates, like any other board. This is big move in the direction of recognizing ancient Indian texts like Vedas and other scriptures, which was always held in contempt by the previous Congress governments.
Atal Tinkering Labs – Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL) are dedicated works spaces where students from class 6th to class 12th, learn innovation skills and develop ideas that will go on to transform India. The labs are powered to acquaint students with state-of-the-art equipment such as 3D printers, robotics & electronics development tools, sensors etc. The lab activities are designed to spur the spark of creativity, and go beyond regular curriculum, and textbook learning. The labs will let students explore skills of future such as design, and computational thinking, adaptive learning and artificial intelligence. ATLs will be hubs of innovation, where young minds will accelerate their ideas to solve unique local problems. ATLs are part of Atal Innovation Mission. This is for the first time that any government is talking about innovation and adaption of new technologies for school children. As of now 5,441 schools have established ATLs. ATLs functions under Atal Innovation Mission which has been started by NITI Aayog.
First University in Ladakh – Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently announced that the government will establish the first university in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir. Despite being the largest geographical area in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, owing to appeasement based politics of valley based political parties, Ladakh was always ignored on many developmental issues. Not having a single university, in such large area, made Ladakhis dependent on valley even more. Now Narendra Modi government has started correcting these anomalies.
The author is journalism pass out from Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi. After dangerously flirting with the idea of left during his IIMC days, due to the proximity of the IIMC with JNU, a den of radical leftists, he became firmly aligned to right after realizing the futility of the left. He tweets at @kpophale.