India's edu-independence moment has come

The bubbling confidence of India was tellingly visible when she offered India’s 5G to any other country. India’s standalone 5G now stands taller in the global wireless infrastructure capabilities.

Published: 23rd October 2022 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st October 2022 09:24 PM   |  A+A-

At the stroke of 10 am on October 1, 2022, when the world woke up to the aroma of coffee on International Coffee Day, India woke up to a new life of digital freedom that shapes its rising contours in the global comity of nations. The strategic indigenisation of India's 5G infrastructure that was delivered to the nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 1 is rising India's winning response to the whining voices. This true Atmanirbhar moment has the potential to be globalised as explained by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during her recent US visit. The bubbling confidence of India was tellingly visible when she offered India's 5G to any other country. India’s standalone 5G now stands taller in the global wireless infrastructure capabilities.

India’s 5G is to be rolled out across the country in the next two to three years. The digital traffic will get beyond fathomable imagination for a nation that is one-sixth of global humanity. Digital India is understood as a new scheme, but the deeper undercurrents that make it a grand reality is the quintessence of India's silent success story.

Low data process, high mobile penetration, mobile importer to exporter status, etc., are some foundational digital blocks that unlock the next-generation technology capabilities. From a mere 1G/2G voice connectivity to 3G internet to 4G data-streaming, today's 5G is a world of limitless opportunities ushering India to take pole position in 6G and 7G moving forward. The sweeping impact of 5G across all sectors -- agriculture, rural development, infrastructure utilities, healthcare, education, large and small enterprise growth, etc. -- makes it a game-changer. The gain is multi-dimensional for all sectors and undoubtedly education will be a significant one, as India retraces its lost glory through NEP 2020.

The NEP 2020, in Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan's words, is not just a document, but a philosophy that aims at putting India at the top. Global impact intelligence firm Holon IQ predicts five possible scenarios for Global Education by 2030 -- education as usual, regional rising, global giants, peer to peer and robot learning. There are common aspects that drive the five scenarios -- balance of power, economics of education, learning model and role of technology. Each aspect and scenario shall undoubtedly be touched by 5G, and the extent of India's 5G capacity-building shall determine the country's educational rise.

The higher education policy response has been significant with the contours of India's digital university getting polished, emerging concepts of virtual labs, virtual teachers and learning platforms also getting triggered for appropriate launches using 5G as launch fuel. The existing slant towards outside platform and content (edX, Coursera, etc.) will get straightened with more of indigenous platforms (SWAYAM, iON, Veranda, etc.) and also content through one-of-its-kind crowdsourcing initiative. Besides platform and content, the rate at which universities and EdTech companies are generating creative solutions to handle the infrastructure and resource handicap of the ailing education value chain, gives a thumbs-up feeling to India's Atmanirbhar response in the field of education. Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, IoT, AI and robotics, Haptics, STEM lab in schools and ATAL Tinkering Labs, among others, are all working in synergy to reimagine Indian education, higher education in particular, taking it into a blue ocean of unchartered territories, making India an edu-contributor than edu-consumer.

The need for a multi-stakeholder approach towards nation-building needs no emphasis. India's freedom movement was multi-stakeholder through an autogenous crowdsourcing instrument of patriotism. The indigenous 5G success was also triggered through multi-stakeholder nationalism, involving policymakers, public and private enterprises and higher educational institutions. While the first saw India's political independence, the second mid-wifed India's technological independence. With both forms of independence driven by a collective spirit, India's educational independence needs to be driven by another form of multi-stakeholder participation.

The NEP 2020 provides a pathway through autonomy and freedom for higher educational institutions to creatively and progressively engage as India prepares itself to regain its Vishwaguru status. Indian higher education's 'eureka' moment has come with the launch of 5G and use of Industry 4.0 catalysed by NEP 3.0 during Modi 2.0 to make Indian Education Number One.

S Vaidhyasubramaniam is Vice-Chancellor, SASTRA Deemed University. He can be reached at


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