SAMVAAD

Transformation of Indian Education with Dr. Kamlesh Misra

Quotes:

“Students have an important role in implementing and transforming the education system”

“If you want to change the nation you have to change the narrative”

Dr. Kamlesh Misra in this Samvaad virtual discussion talks about the essence of the New Education policy (NEP) 2020. The New Education Policy, according to Dr. Misra is a complete shift from the existing education system. He believes that the policy has a much wider scope but a Centre driven policy might jeopardise the work or the implementation policy of the States and educational institutions and makes it no different from the previous regimented education policies. Earlier the regulator or policy-maker dictated every aspect of the curriculum including the recruitment of teachers and the examination date. With the new policy, it gives a wider scope for innovation and experiment to transform the education system. Dr. Misra mentions that the NEP 2020 is similar to the American education system and elaborates by giving the example of the tenure system that exists in American universities. The previous education system was solely dependent on a textbook based relationship, instead he believes that curriculums of institutions should be taught holistically and that is exactly what the new education policy is doing. He had full confidence and favored the New Education Policy, but he also mentions that its implementation would not be easy because of the diverse interest groups involved.

He is in favor of the international universities opening branches in India as it will increase the level of competition in students. However, it is not going to be as easy as it is stated in the policy due to the following reasons. Firstly, it is important to understand that international universities run commercially and need local funders. Second, the international universities will not accept the terms of the government like reservation, as it would jeopardise their selection procedures and invite more criticism. Until the country doesn’t become a market-driven economy, it would be tough to bring international universities.

Dr. Misra believes that over the years the education system has evolved even though it is heavily dependent on memorization. Students are not taught to think outside the box. He states that the education system should now shift from dependent memory to independent thinking and problem-solving. The new policy gives universities the liberty to restructure their ways of teaching. Teaching should not be in a lecture format, it is important for students and professors to have friendly and open dialogue, as it builds the student’s creativity. The new system should consist of debate, dialogue, and discussion.

Dr. Misra expresses that inequality exists in every country, be it in the developed or developing nation, and further elaborates on the concept of the welfare state. He believes that when one brings in religion, caste, or class into education, it defeats the whole purpose of a welfare state. 


Understanding the Political Economy of a ‘New’ India

Quotes:

“In a democracy, politics shape policy, which shapes the economic performance”.

Introduction: Roshan Kishore is a journalist with Hindustan Times in New Delhi. He focuses on political economy issues with a data-driven approach.

Mr. Roshan Kishore starts his presentation by stating that India was never globalized enough to trigger a backlash. He believes that in a democratic country, politics, policy, and economic performance are interrelated. He analyses the GDP growth from 1997 and firmly states that India cannot have a V-shaped recovery, as it is not possible. Since the 2008 financial shock, India’s GDP was unable to stabilize, the pandemic was not the only reason for the downfall of the GDP.  According to his analysis, India has had a sharp slowdown since 2016. For a modern financial economy to grow, it is important to have a strong financial sector, however, he believes that it is not a sufficient condition for India. Mr. Kishore states that due to the fall in the tax projections, there is a rise in the fiscal deficit. Reforms introduced by the government such as demonetization have done the opposite of what it promised, and brought about fewer taxes. The lockdown, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has delivered a massive economic shock. Mr. Kishore provided a broader overview of the impact stating that the employment-intensive sectors such as manufacturing, hotel, trade, and construction have taken the biggest hit. The pandemic led to a sharp fall in jobs, income, and consumer confidence. The government took out several measures such as the 20-lakh crore economic package, but the package was not helpful as it did not provide benefits stated to the people in need. The basic political-economic challenge that remains is providing a source of employment for people engaged in the agricultural sector.

Quotes:

“Vishwas as a model of politics is remarkable”

Introduction: Neelanjan Sircar is a Senior Visiting Fellow at CPR and Assistant Professor at Ashoka University. His research interests include Indian political economy and comparative political behavior with an eye to Bayesian statistics, causal inference, social network analysis, and game theory.

Professor Neelanjan Sircar builds his presentation on a paper he wrote on the 2014 and 2019 national elections. In the paper, he analyzes Prime Minister Modi’s statement during the 2019 elections. The term ‘Vishwas’ or belief used by Modi can help to distinguish the politics seen today and the ideal version of democratic politics. Professor Sircar believes that the standard model for political behavior in a democracy includes political accountability and political mobilization. According to his analysis, the ‘political elites’ and the media dictate the political narrative of the country.

According to data collected by Professor Sircar, BJP had an advantage over the Congress party, as the number of protests against the latter were high in 2014, and further increased in 2019. He states that ‘Vishwas’ as a principle of politics gives a role for communication through social media or mobilization between the leader and voter and that academicians and media reporters disproportionately assign political behavior to issues. According to a survey conducted by Professor Sircar, the importance of religion in two aspects- personal life and raising children, in the Vishwas model is highlighted. Frustration with secular thought and compromising with identities can lead to the centralization of polity groups. The Vishwas model of politics also looks at the underlying desire for centralization which leads to the need for a strong leader. He states that the idea of Vishwas as a model and the centralization of power emerges from the ability of an individual to constantly invent and reinvent itself, implying the individual need to directly control the means of communication between the leader and the voter. The empirical evidence provided by Professor Sircar states that the change in turner vote out is due to frustration which leads to a rise in votes for the opposition. He concluded by stating that the nation is currently facing extreme political centralization and intimidation of political opponents.

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