The government has announced the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. The new vision of the government has redefined the trajectory of education by bringing about momentous structural changes in the Education System of India. It has sought to consolidate the foundation of Indian education by revamping both the conceptual and practical aspects of school education. The new policy brings the student at the focus by laying emphasis on recognizing, identifying and fostering the specific capabilities of each student, by sensitizing teachers as well as parents to be instrumental in promoting the holistic development in both academic and non-academic spheres.
It is surely an attempt to initiate the process of cultivating a sound mind at the early stage of learning. However, the maturing of a good mind is reflected in quality research and innovation. This article attempts to have a look at the relevance and prospect of research and innovation reflected in the new vision document.
In today’s world, research and innovation constitute the neo-quantum of the academic strength of a nation, which translates into both its soft and hard power. A country cannot find a place amongst the leading nations unless it impacts global academia by making remarkable contributions in expanding the frontiers of human intellect. It is not surprising that all the leading nations are the ones who engage and lead in research and innovation. For example, if the United States studies International Relations more, it is primarily because it intends to influence these nations in the direction of fulfilling its own national interests. The same is true about other fields as well. The history teaches us that a nation achieves greatness by incessantly grappling with new challenges, making new scientific advances and opening new paradigms. Francis Bacon’s observation has proved to be true that knowledge is power. Hence, it is imperative to develop a robust system that fosters research and innovation in the ever-evolving landscape of education.
It is certainly not a new realization of the pressing need to restructure the ‘Indian Education System.’ However, it surely is an awakening that sets in motion the idea for realizing the goal of making India a leading nation in imparting new visions to the world. It is heartening to see that the Government has taken due cognizance and rose to the occasion by formulating the ‘New Education Policy.’ One of the most important features of the new NEP (National Education Policy) is its focus on widening the gamut, structure and quality of research in various fields.
The new policy proposes to establish ‘New Research Foundation’ to lay emphasis on catalyzing and energizing research and innovation across the country in all academic disciplines. It would be an independent body, set up through an Act of Parliament, to meet the indispensable requirements to pursue the research effectively. It has attempted to remove the unnecessary clutter, which has hitherto been an impediment to efficacious research. It will look into the relevance and quality of the research, financial concerns and build beneficial linkages between researchers, government and industries.
The funding of research in all disciplines will be based on peer-reviewed recommendations and competitiveness. The Foundation will have four divisions, namely Sciences, Technology, Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities in the beginning. It paves the path for building research capacity at academic institutions across the country. Under the aegis of the new Policy, the institutions will enjoy a greater degree of autonomy and academic freedom in order to do away with bureaucratic rigmarole, which often proved to be an irritant in smooth conduction of research.
The policy envisions a holistic education by bringing an integration of sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities and sports to actualize multidisciplinary culture in academia. Conceptual understanding, creativity and critical thinking will be the foundation of research and innovation in the new vision. It is aimed at producing revolutionary research and preventing the reproduction of similar works lacking pioneering prospects. The policy also envisions the transformation of India into an equitable and vibrant knowledge society by providing high-quality education to all. The ‘demographic dividend’ of India can be fully utilized by inspiring and encouraging a considerable number of committed scholars to quality research in various fields. The policy also aims to build a holistic approach to the preparation of professionals by ensuring broad-based competencies, understanding of the social-human context, a strong ethical compass, in addition to the highest quality professional capacities.
It is evident that the policymakers have made great efforts to keep all the stages of education relevant in its own right. From the ethical point of view, it has sought to fulfil both the utilitarian and deontological purposes of education. Utilitarian because education needs to propel the material wellbeing of the nation and thereby making the lives of people increasingly comfortable. It also serves a deontological purpose because education imparts significance to human life. Though education is important at all stages its final aim is to provide meaning to human existence. Achieving such a fine balance for any policy is an accomplishment in itself.
The new policy also provides the premise for integrating the individual aspiration and national interest. The alienation of the education from the national objectives can be counterproductive for the future of a nation. It highlights the importance of an eclectic approach but stresses the need to respect the rich and diverse knowledge system and intellectual traditions of India. The new vision includes the role of education to instil a deep sense of pride in Indian values and commitment towards constructive contribution to society. These values are well reflected in constitutional ideals, which are largely considered to be the expression of the ‘general will’ or collective aspiration of Indian peoples.
Innumerable challenges are staring in the eye of our nation and it needs a force of capable and spirited individuals in order to tide over these barriers. The issues of health, national security and violence in its varying visible and invisible forms should be addressed with a sense of urgency and promptness in order to safeguard the national social health. It is possible only with gradual fruition and capacity building with the help of groundbreaking research and development. India needs to unleash its genius in the service of the nation as well as the world at large. The New Education Policy has laid the ground for the same.
However, no policy should grow into a monolithic structure and the room for improvement remains an integral part to it. The necessary details of the aspects of research and innovation will be discussed at length and the new ideas will emerge as time progresses. Hence, it is imperative to provide space for incorporating fresh ideas to further improve the utility and efficacy of the new National Education Policy (NEP).
The New Education Policy approved by the government is a much-awaited vision document, which will touch the lives of every Indian. The government has put the first foot forward in the direction of redefining the ‘Indian Education System’ and now it is incumbent on various stakeholders to make it work and progress in the direction of achieving the national goal of India to emerge at the global stage as “Vishwaguru.”