An emphasis on research, technological development

After extensive deliberation with a large number of people from different sectors, teachers, educators, policy makers, institutions and voluntary organizations, the Indian government has approved the National Education Policy 2020, drafted by a committee headed by Dr Kasturirangan. The NEP-2020 is a milestone in the history of Indian education. The NEP is comprehensive, comprehensive and visionary and plays a vital role in shaping India’s future.

The National Education Policy (NEP) laid the groundwork for a 21st century ‘new India’, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said during his inaugural conclave address on ‘Transformational Higher Education Reforms within the framework of the NEP ”.

The new education policy emphasizes a holistic, student-centered and flexible system that aims to transform India into a vibrant society based on knowledge and science and technology. The NEP is an appropriate balance between Indian ethics, Indian culture, pride and acceptance of the best learning ideas and practices from around the world. The vision of NEP-2020 is truly global and at the same time Indian.

The policy gives a boost to holistic education by envisioning the long-awaited and long-awaited convergence of science and art fields. The NEP emphasizes research, multidisciplinary approaches and the use of technology, and the professional improvement of teacher skills to transform the Indian education landscape. Without a doubt, the NEP is poised to produce outstanding results in the fields of higher education, research and innovations, scientific and technological development in the country.

Many of you know that there has been no change in the educational system for many years which has resulted in the promotion of a ‘herd mentality’ in Indian society instead of the values ​​of curiosity. and imagination.

Higher education is an essential contributor to the sustainable livelihoods and economic development of the nation. Higher education also plays an important and equally important role in the development of India. Higher education aims to serve as a hub for the development of ideas and innovations that enlighten individuals and help propel the country forward socially, scientifically, technologically and economically.

It is a fact that science and technology are the established currency in the geopolitical world. Any country that has made progress in prosperity has invariably depended on science and technology. England has become a world power; it was because of the industrial revolution. The United States became a superpower, it was mainly because of its technology, whether in transportation, agriculture, high-tech industry, medicine, etc.

Higher education must form the basis of knowledge creation and innovation in the nation and thus make a profound contribution to a growing national economy. NEP aims to provide students with a broad multidisciplinary education and 21st century skills, while developing specialist knowledge with genuine disciplinary rigor. We must recognize that a student’s knowledge base must be flexible enough to cope with a 21st century employment scenario.

It should be emphasized that higher education must develop the expertise that society will need over the next 25 years and beyond. Simply, adapting people to jobs that exist today, but which are likely to change or disappear after a few years, is suboptimal and even counterproductive.

Indian higher education has developed rigid boundaries between disciplines and fields, as well as a narrow view of what constitutes education. Rigid borders and silos violate the basic requirement of good higher education.

Many members of the academic community in India are not conducting academic research, this is a huge lost opportunity for research and innovation in the country. On the education side, it is difficult to have higher education and quality education in an environment where knowledge creation does not take place; indeed, how to teach students to innovate where innovation is not the order of the day?

Very little funding is available for innovative research in most higher education institutions, especially for research in important multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary fields.

The needs of the 21st century demand that broad-based liberal multidisciplinary education becomes the foundation of higher education.

This will help develop well-rounded individuals who possess essential 21st century abilities in the arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences and professional, technical and professional occupations, and of course, a rigorous specialization in a or several selected areas.

The liberal arts courses offered by Ivy League universities have played a major role in the development of the United States for a number of years, and Tsinghua has played a major role in the development of China in recent years. In the past, Nalanda has produced the highest quality scholars for many centuries, many of which have changed the history of the world.

While preparing our students to participate in global affairs by providing them with learning experiences that transcend countries and cultures, we must also attract students from other countries to participate in our higher education programs. India has had an illustrious history in the internationalization of higher education.

Two-thirds of Europe’s economic growth from 1995 to 2007 came from research and innovation. It also accounted for 15% of all productivity gains in Europe between 2000 and 2013.

Other countries around the world, including the United States, have come to similar conclusions about the criticality of R&D investments for their economic growth. Indeed, there is a clear correlation between the R&D investment rates of developing / developed countries and various measures of their prosperity such as GDP per capita.

Unfortunately, levels of R&D investment in India have not increased, but rather have fallen steadily over the past decade, from 0.84% ​​of GDP in 2008 to around 0.69% in 2014, where it remains today.

The tiny proportion of GDP that India currently invests in R&D is naturally reflected in the figures of its research results. The number of researchers per lakh of population is shockingly only 15 in India, compared to 111 in China, 423 in the United States, and 825 in Israel. As a direct consequence, India lags considerably behind in the number of patents and publications produced.

Research and innovation at institutions in India, especially those engaged in higher education, is essential. It is also extremely important to note that only government can have the prospect of conducting the research that will result in innovations that will facilitate economic growth.

There are currently a number of barriers to conducting research in India. As a result, many talented Indians eager to innovate often leave the country. Reducing these barriers to research and innovation will be the key to increasing local research, retaining talent in the country and once again achieving a vibrant research ecosystem through which India can solve some of its most pressing problems. more urgent and develop its economy, and material prosperity.

The lack of funding sources, both public and private, to support exceptional research and innovation initiatives remains a major problem. All companies in the public and private sectors could contribute a small percentage; say at least 0.1 percent of their annual profits to research (in the form of donations).

This could be done inside or outside of CSR funds, and these contributions could be matched with appropriate tax incentives.

Learning from the postwar successes of Japan, countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong made tremendous technological and industrial advancements in the 1970s and 1980s. Unfortunately, India may – being missed the bus in many of these technologies in which the United States, Europe and China have established perhaps insurmountable advances.

Yet the autonomous capabilities of electric and fuel cell vehicles, energy storage systems, solar cells and modules, drones, AI, robotics and automation, additive manufacturing ( 3D printing), biotechnology / pharma, healthcare and others are within reach of the country. .

How long can we be an exporter of raw materials? India must be a hub for quality goods and products. Large-scale concerted efforts would be needed, however, as self-reliance will not happen on its own.

State-funded R&D, including basic research conducted by public sector enterprises (PSUs) and research institutes and universities, needs to be significantly increased well beyond the dismal 1% of GDP today.

India’s main public spending on education needs to be significantly increased, including skills development. It should be understood that no country has achieved self-sufficiency without a high quality education.

I am very optimistic and convinced that the implementation of the National Education Policy – 2020 definitely contributes to technological development and quality education and will lay the foundations for the “New India” of the 21st century.

(The author is Pro Vice-Chancellor, SRM University-AP, Amaravati)