The Government of India Act, 1935, to a large extent administers the supremacy of the Constitution of India with the Supreme Court, in the words of Justice Patanjali Sastri, doing its job as “a sentinel on the qui vive” as the constitutional safeguard. Rule-making in the form of guidelines, regulations or Central or State Acts in that order traces its enforcement power. There is a catena of judgments that establishes the supremacy of constitutionally valid Central or State Acts.
Subordinate legislations like regulations or guidelines cannot exercise any power or travel beyond the scope of the Act or the law of the land interpreted by the Supreme Court. In any policy making or statutory enactment process, this fundamental cannulation of power needs to find its natural flow without any exception. Education is no exception.
The aviation rules for commercial aircraft travel laid down by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) are uniform in so far as the safety of the passengers inside the aircraft during flying is concerned. Whether a passenger is travelling business or economy they are subjected to the standard set of five non-negotiable safety conditions during take-off and landing—straight seat, seatbelt, food tray, window shutters and ban on use of electronic equipment. No business class passenger can claim special rights on these five as the safety of the aircraft during flight is supreme. No subordinate regulations or rules can change this basic aviation safety rules.
Likewise, all types of educational institutions are subject to certain basic norms and standards, the contours of which are either statutorily or judicially framed without any scope for watering it down. The reasonability and enforceability of subordinate legislations must pass this simple statutory or judicial test. The Union Government as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 2.0 is reported to have shortlisted 167 transformative ideas as part of the first 100-day agenda-action plan.
There is no doubt that education will have its share in the 167 ideas and more importantly, higher education. The recent Union Budget has certain provisions for education. However, being in the concurrent list, education is not a Union Budget exclusive but also includes various states’ budgets.
Nevertheless, budgetary allocations don’t make right or wrong educational policies. It’s the spirit behind pushing Education 4.0 into the orbit of World (Industry) 4.0 under Modi 2.0 that makes the difference. A slew of progressive policies announced during PM Modi’s first government is ready for launch during this second term. Caution is required to ensure that such policies pass the simple test of judicial and/or statutory compliance to avoid any major embarrassments.
The need for a three-phased approach cannot come at a time more appropriate than this. The three phases of growing India’s educational tree are—plant a seed (NEP), water and fertilise the plants (Acts & Regulations) and pluck the low-hanging fruits (timely and ripened decisions).In short: As Modi’s 2.0 educational heart beats towards Bharat’s progress, the heart of education lies in the art of implementation.