Published: 26th March 2021
Ramesh Pokhriyal at ThinkEdu: 2020 will also be remembered as the year India launched the NEP
In his address, Pokhriyal reflected on India's rich past and how NEP aims to restore some of the lost glory through its "groundbreaking" reforms
The world may remember 2020 as the year that brought about COVID and a pandemic that rocked our lives but India will remember the year for another reason, said Ramesh Pokhriyal, Union Education Minister. "While 2020 will be known as the year of COVID-19, it will also be known as the year when India launched NEP amid a pandemic," Pokhriyal said. He was delivering the inaugural address at the ninth edition of the ThinkEdu Conclave 2021, which was streamed virtually this year.
Prior to Pokhriyal's address, TNIE Editorial Director Prabhu Chawla spoke about how far ThinkEdu had come over the last nine years. He said, "We step into our ninth edition with mixed emotions — happiness for hosting eight epic editions and sorrow for being coerced into hosting this edition virtually only due to COVID. We have had conversations around academic excellence, indigenous research and the future of storytelling. We have sparked debates and even generated controversies. This year, we have brought illuminating discussions and conversations about new ideas from India's finest thinkers — scientists, businessmen and storytellers. And all of it to discuss lessons for a new world — a world where education will set us apart."
In his address, Pokhriyal reflected on India's rich past and how the NEP aims to restore some of the lost glory. "We had institutes like Nalanda, Takshashila and Vikramshila where people from all over the world would come to study various subjects and engage in scientific research. Colonisers over the centuries have tried to steal India's vast wealth of knowledge. But under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we have initiated the new National Education Policy. Among the various things that the NEP is set to transform, it will aim to make India more self-reliant, unite the citizens and also help make India a global knowledge superpower. We want to ensure students at the grassroots and also at the higher echelons of academia are exposed to quality education," Pokhriyal said.
Speaking about Indian universities making it to the Top 100 of the QS Rankings, Pokhriyal added, "Students usually prioritise higher salary packages as an estimate of their potential. But after the NEP is implemented, we will have more patents by tapping into our capacity for academic probe and research. This year, 12 Indian institutions have made it to the Top 100 in QS Rankings and in the future more Indian research institutes will be represented internationally. For this purpose, academic research will receive funding of Rs 50,000 crore over five years."
Elaborating on his vision for the NEP, Pokhriyal explained, "Through NEP, we will not only find and develop talent but help produce top-notch content. Without quality content, talent doesn't have much worth. When content and talent will unite, it will lead to new patents. That is the day when India will become truly self-reliant. NEP is the foundation on which India's future development, as envisioned by the Prime Minister, is based. NEP is national as well as international. It is impactful, interactive, innovative and inclusive."
The education minister also highlighted how the country dealt with online classes and exams amid the pandemic. "Even when the rest of the world had foregone a year, India ensured that its students didn't waste their year. Around 33 crore students were given education online. Provisions were made for those who couldn't come online through mediums like radio. We even successfully conducted JEE and NEET amid the pandemic, which are the country's largest competitive exam," said Pokhriyal.