NEP 2020: PM Modi’s marathon miscellany

As the nation and the world celebrate the third anniversary of NEP 2020 today, let us trace its evolution so far and the interesting times ahead.
Picture credits: Express Photo
Picture credits: Express Photo

Swami Vivekananda, one of India’s tallest spiritual leaders, said, “Education is not filling the mind with a lot of facts. Perfecting the instrument and getting complete mastery of my own mind is ideal education.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visionary NEP 2020, in many ways, aligns with this noble ideal of education as a human-making mission and not just a certificate-generating machine. NEP 2020 sends a clear message that certificates issued in any form of education are not to exit campus but to enter life. Life is continuous education, and NEP 2020 is not a 100-metre sprint race but an intellectual marathon with many a miscellany. Let us see how NEP 2020 crosses the third year of its long marathon.

“NEP 2020 is an Edu-POKHRAN with a MIDAS golden touch” is how I described NEP during its launch on July 29, 2020. The explosive disruption that it has started so as to bring about transformational Modularity, Interdisciplinarity, Diversity, Accessibility and Sustainability (MIDAS) is a reinforcement of my original words.

When policies rest on terminological populism, NEP 2020 runs on methodological realism, sweepingly impacting school and higher education, skilling and entrepreneurship, and research and innovation. Such a ‘trio riot’ is a first in the history of edu-policymaking. Not only is the Ministry of Education working overtime to achieve the NEP 2020 outcomes in a progressive mode, but various ministries are also running alongside to ensure that India’s edu-marathon reaches the finish line without losing steam. As the nation and the world celebrate the third anniversary of NEP 2020 today, let us trace its evolution so far and the interesting times ahead.

NEP 2020 is India’s third national educational policy, with the first being in 1968 when education was in the Union list, and the second in 1986 (PoA 1992) when it was moved to the concurrent list. Three-year-old baby NEP 2020—the third after a long gap of 34 years—is shaping up to be a well-nourished social being that is beginning to develop a strong body, mind and soul. The increasing pace at which the growth trajectory is moving upwards is symptomatic of the Ministry of Education’s accelerated response system to Prime Minister Modi’s prophetic vision of making the Indian education empire strike back with renewed vigour to regain its lost glory.

In the ‘striking back’ mode, preparatory work for the implementation of NEP 2020 has ensured that its comprehensive coverage leaves no stone unturned—from pre-elementary schooling to post-doctoral research, basic skilling to advanced vocationalisation, wealth acquisition to wealth creation, brick and mortar to bits and bytes delivery, focused expertise to holistic multidisciplinarity, and knowledge consumption to knowledge creation. Such a six-pack body supported by a polished mind and an Indian knowledge system-centric soul is undoubtedly entering unchartered territories, providing limitless opportunities to all stakeholders in this human-making education, a ‘mahayagya of national development’ (PM Modi, 2021, on NEP 2020).

There are many striking features in NEP, together bringing all possible stakeholders for a marathon journey. These features are: The National Curriculum Framework for schools and National Credit Framework for higher education reinforcing teachers and students as the centrepieces, the push towards mother tongue/Indian language-based education, outcome-based approach in the learning deliverables, the blended approach of online-offline teaching-learning methodologies with room for creativity, globalisation of Indian education through a reforms approach cutting across conventional boundaries and also regaining Indian roots, the innovation-driven hackathons and incubators involving edu-campuses, comprehensive tools for assessment and multilingual translation, the almost-ready National Research Foundation, and a holistic-multidisciplinary approach to education at all levels. These make a ‘navarasa’ feast for ‘learner-epicureans’. With the policy menu ready to be cooked by academic leaders, the upcoming years of NEP will provide an academic fiesta with choice and ease.

One of the transorbital features of NEP’s implementation is the active involvement of other ministries, strengthening the arms of the Ministry of Education to make NEP 2020 a grand reality. The schemes of almost all ministries like Finance, Defence, Road Transport and Highways, Communications, Electronics and Information Technology, Heavy Industries, AYUSH, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Food Processing Industries, Science and Technology, Health and Family Welfare, Law and Justice, etc., mutually reinforce the larger framework of not only transforming Bharat during its Amrit Kaal but also aligning with the key objectives of NEP 2020.

This level of inter-ministerial patronage to a national policy is unprecedented, and that education has received such overwhelming support enriches India’s social infrastructure through its youthful demography. This is an asset that no country can boast of having if NEP’s implementation gathers full steam in the years to come.

As the nation celebrates a cerebral policy today, I recall the legendary jurist Nani Palkhivala’s words (I twist a little): “Five-year governments have a four-year life to chart three-year plans with two-year bureaucrats preparing a one-year report with quarterly reviews forgetting the problems of the common man which gets solved by him on a day-to-day basis.”

NEP 2020 is undoubtedly an exceptional and positive departure from this statement, and I am sure Nani Palkhivala will cheer NEP from his grave. It requires synergistic coherence involving all stakeholders to convert the dreams of a visionary policy into a working reality.

The time has come to rise to the occasion and join hands to nurture the three-year-old baby into a fully grown adult without forgetting that NEP’s implementation is not an overnight journey but a marathon miscellany. Let us join the marathon. Jai Bharat.

(Views are personal)

Dr S Vaidhyasubramaniam

Vice-chancellor & TATA Sons Chair Professor of Management, SASTRA deemed University

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