In these pressing times of the COVID 19 outbreak and the pandemic that has followed it with side effects like the lock down, we have seen a disruption of many things in our lives. Education is one of these things. As we grapple with the cancellation of the CBSE board exams and the delay of many competitive exams, we have also seen measures to make us more self reliant or Atmanirbhar when it comes to education. Online classes, the possibility of online exams, and the general mental and physical well being of students is being stressed upon. Now, CBSE has even mandated psychological counselling as a necessity and it is up to us to understand how we can deal with all these pressing changes in our lives. In fact, board like CBSE have even tied up with Google for India, Facebook and IBM to arm us with many resources and tools so that we may show Atmanirbharta in Indian education. PM Modi even stressed on this in his speech on the state of education in India.
Atmanirbharta in Indian education is not an inward looking economy detached from the globe. It is not about disassociating yourself from all the good things that one can learn from the world. It is about working and engaging with the world from a position of strength. The hypothesis holds true for the Indian education system as well, where students who abide by the rules are rewarded leaving little scope for thinking out of the box. The high importance attested to good grades, in India, gives rise to the idea that memorization and rote-learning are more rewarding.
Atmanirbhar Bharat (Self-reliant India) has always been a dream of many of our eminent social workers, freedom fighters, policymakers and ruling regimes till date. Taking evidence from way back in the early twentieth century to the contemporary scenario, education has always been a strong tool for achieving ‘Self Reliance’ in our country. Tenali Raman (Ramakrishna) in the early sixteenth century, talked about providing education for becoming ‘self-dependent’, education for change and not just mere livelihood. Mahatma Gandhi in his book ‘Towards New Education’ clearly mentioned a strong linkage between self-reliance and imparting profound education in the society. Nelson Mandela also stated, “Destiny of the nation is being designed in the classrooms”. In the 21st century, the dissemination of education has taken several forms. It is part and parcel of not only the rigid classroom structures but also of online modes of conduction of various programs. The teaching learning process is no longer confined to conventional modes of lecture only but has spread its branches and taken various other forms. This calls for Atmanirbharta in Indian education.
‘Atma Nirbhar’ is the mantra to “propel Indian education system” to achieve global standards and thus catapult India into a sought after destination, said Coal and Mines Minister, Pralhad Joshi on Thursday.
A virus that has connected the world like no other is also responsible for increasingly inward-looking policies. Over the coming months, India, as is the case with many other countries, will be confronted with crucial policy choices in achieving Atmanirbharta in Indian education, or self-resilience and self-reliance, while at the same time not giving in to protectionism. In doing so, while some rules of trade may inevitably have to be rewritten, it is also important to uphold existing rights and obligations. As an original multilateralist and a founding member of the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) and the WTO (World Trade Organisation), India has a crucial role to play in ensuring that Covid-19 does not render the WTO and its framework of rules redundant.
Also, the Government of India has taken many recent initiatives during this COVID 19 pandemic. The Finance Minister of India, Nirmala Sitaraman’s announcement on 17th May 2020 marked the beginning of a new era in the 21st Century during the novel CORONAvirus pandemic COVID-19 in which a robust and remarkable decision was made. This decision on the continuation and strengthening of ICT and Digital Education during and post-CORONA pandemic is an epic example of pursuing development even at the time of crisis. ‘PM eVIDYA programme’ was announced under which top 100 universities would be permitted to start online courses by 30th May 2020 respectively.
The major focus of this programme is to foster more technology-driven education in our country and to ultimately lead to self-sufficient India. This particular programme would consist of ‘Diksha’ (Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing) that would be involving various e-content as well as QR Coded textbooks for all the classes and this platform would be called ‘ One Nation, One Digital Platform. Apart from using textbooks and e-books, there will be provision for learning via radio, community radio, podcasts and special e-content for the visually and hearing-impaired students. Recent data and statistics also reveal that more than 600 million hits have been on ‘Diksha’ portal since 24 March 2020 till date. This also propagates Atmanirbharta in India education.
COVID 19 crisis seems like a major driving force for revamping the Indian economy and the rest of the world. This situation arose unexpectedly but yes, it spawned many expectations in the hearts of the common man. Atmanirbharta in Indian education is not only for the ‘have’s’ but also for the ‘have nots’. As an academician or any other stakeholder, it is the responsibility of the government to look into the matter seriously and to work for all those who are striving for education, those young minds that can build the new India.
One of the key words in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech was ‘Atmanirbharta in Indian education. During the speech that lasted 33 minutes, PM Modi put a great deal of emphasis on self-reliance or ‘Atmanirbharta’. The PM also said that the idea was to achieve the goal of “Atmanirbhar Bharat or a self-reliant India. The Prime Minister observed that the package will also focus on land, labour, liquidity and laws. It will cater to various sections including cottage industry, MSMEs, labourers, middle class, industries, among others. These reforms include supply chain reforms for agriculture, rational tax system, simple and clear laws, capable human resources and a strong financial system. These reforms will promote business, attract investment, and further strengthen Make in India. Highlighting their contribution to the country, the Prime Minister said that the package will also focus on empowering the poor, labourers, migrants, etc., both from organised and unorganised sectors.