It is heartening to note that National Education Policy has not only recognized the glorious past of ancient India in terms of the contribution of our world-class Indian Universities like Nalanda and Takshshila but picked up the right elements and incorporated the building blocks into the framing of New Education Policy both, at school and University levels. About 15% of entire policy document is devoted to this cause.
There was a need to recognize and draw upon from the seminal works of stalwarts like Aryabhatta, Banbhatta, Bhaskaracharya, Chanakya, Chakrapani, Charaka, Panini, Patanjali, Pingala, Susruta, Sankardev, , Thiruvalluvar, and Varahamihira, among others, in various disciplines like architecture, astronomy, civil engineering, chess, fine arts, mathematics, metallurgy, medical science and surgery, navigation and yoga etc. which appears to have been addressed.
World-class institutions of ancient India such as Nalanda,Takshashila, Vikramshila, and Vallabhi, set the highest standards of multidisciplinary teaching and research and hosted scholars and students from across varying backgrounds and countries. It states that the very idea that all branches of creative human endeavor, including mathematics, science, vocational subjects, professional subjects, and soft skills should be considered ‘arts’, has distinctly Indian origins. This notion of a ‘knowledge of many arts’ or what in modern times is often called the ‘liberal arts’ must be brought back to Indian education, as it is exactly the kind of education that will be required for the 21st century. Further, it states, India has a long historical tradition of research and knowledge creation, in disciplines ranging from science and mathematics to art and literature to phonetics and languages to medicine and agriculture. This needs to be further strengthened to make India lead research and innovation in the 21st century, as a strong and enlightened knowledge society. Moving to large multi-disciplinary universities is the highest recommendation of this new National Education Policy.
India is a treasure trove of culture, developed over thousands of years and manifested in the form of arts, works of literature, customs, traditions, linguistic expressions, artefacts, heritage sites, and more. Millions of people from around the world partake in, enjoy, and benefit from this cultural wealth in the form of visiting India for tourism, experiencing Indian hospitality, purchasing India’s handicrafts and handmade textiles, reading the classical literature of India, practicing yoga and meditation, being inspired by Indian philosophy, participating in India’s unique festivals, appreciating India’s diverse music and art, and watching Indian films, amongst many other aspects. The preservation and promotion of India’s cultural wealth must be considered a high priority for the country, as it is truly important for the nation’s identity as well as for its economy.
This is mentioned in the policy document and is addressed through the following;
All curriculum and pedagogy, from the foundational stage onwards, will be redesigned to be strongly rooted in the Indian and local context and ethos in terms of culture, traditions, heritage, customs, language, philosophy, geography, ancient and contemporary knowledge, societal and scientific needs, indigenous and traditional ways of learning etc. – in order to ensure that education is maximally relatable, relevant, interesting, and effective for our students. Stories, arts, games, sports, examples, problems, etc. will be chosen as much as possible to be rooted in the Indian and local geographic context. Ideas, abstractions, and creativity will indeed best flourish when learning is thus rooted.
At school level students will be taught at a young age the importance of “doing what’s right”, and will be given a logical framework for making ethical decisions. In later years, this would then be expanded along themes of cheating, violence, plagiarism, littering, tolerance, equality, empathy, etc., with a view to enabling children to embrace moral/ethical values in conducting one’s life, formulate a position/argument about an ethical issue from multiple perspectives, and use ethical practices in all work. Children will have the opportunity to read and learn from the original stories of the Panchatantra, Jataka, Hitopadesh, and other fun fables and inspiring tales from the Indian tradition and learn about their influences on global literature.
For higher education, departments in Languages, Literature, Music, Philosophy, Indology, Art, Dance, Theatre, Education, Mathematics, Statistics, Pure and Applied Sciences, Sociology, Economics, Sports, Translation and Interpretation, and other such subjects needed for a multidisciplinary, stimulating Indian education and environment will be established and strengthened at all Higher Education Institutions. Value-based education will include the development of humanistic, ethical, Constitutional, and universal human values of truth, righteous conduct, peace, love, nonviolence, scientific temper, citizenship values, and also life-skills; lessons in service and participation in community service programs will be considered an integral part of a holistic education.
Language is linked to art and culture. Different languages ‘see’ the world differently. Languages influence the way people of a given culture speak with others. Culture is, thus, encased in our languages. Art, in the form of literature, plays, music, film, etc. cannot be fully appreciated without language. In order to preserve and promote culture, one must preserve and promote a culture’s languages.
For purposes of cultural enrichment as well as national integration, all young Indians should be aware of the rich and vast array of languages of their country, and the treasures that they and their literatures contain.
The issue of language, both as a medium of instruction, as well as an independent discipline has been dealt with in great detail both at school and higher education level in the new policy.
All languages will be taught in an enjoyable and interactive style, with plenty of interactive conversation, and with early reading and subsequently writing in the mother tongue in the early years, and with skills developed for reading and writing in other languages in Grade 3 and beyond. The three-language formula will continue to be implemented while keeping in mind the Constitutional provisions, aspirations of the people, regions, and the Union, and the need to promote multilingualism as well as promote national unity. Every student in the country will participate in a fun project/activity on ‘The Languages of India’, sometime in Grades 6-8, such as, under the ‘Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’ initiative.
Sanskrit possesses a classical literature containing vast treasures of mathematics, philosophy, grammar, music, politics, medicine, architecture, metallurgy, drama, poetry, storytelling, and more and will thus be offered at all levels of school and higher education as an important, enriching option for students. Sanskrit will be mainstreamed with strong offerings in school – including as one of the language options in the three-language formula – as well as in higher education.
In addition to Sanskrit, other classical languages and literatures of India, including Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Pali, Persian, and Prakrit, will also be widely available in schools as options for students. Similar efforts will be made for all Indian languages having rich oral and written literatures, cultural traditions, and knowledge.
Efforts to preserve and promote all Indian languages including classical, tribal and endangered languages will be taken on with new vigour.
For the enrichment of the children, and for the preservation of these rich languages and their artistic treasures, all students in all schools, public or private, will have the option of learning at least two years of a classical language of India and its associated literature, through experiential and innovative approaches, including the integration of technology, in Grades 6-12, with the option to continue from the middle stage through the secondary stage and beyond.
All languages in India, and their associated arts and culture will be documented through a web-based platform/portal/wiki, in order to preserve endangered and all Indian languages and their associated rich local arts and culture. The platform will contain videos, dictionaries, recordings, and more, of people (especially elders) speaking the language, telling stories, reciting poetry, and performing plays, folk songs and dances, and more. These preservation efforts, and the associated research projects, e.g., in history, archaeology, linguistics, etc., will be funded by the National Research Foundation.
The Policy recognizes that the knowledge of the rich diversity of India should be imbibed first hand by learners. This would mean including simple activities, like touring by students to different parts of the country, which will not only give a boost to tourism but will also lead to an understanding and appreciation of diversity, culture, traditions and knowledge of different parts of India. Towards this direction under ‘Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’, 100 tourist destinations in the country will be identified where educational institutions will send students to study these destinations and their history, scientific contributions, traditions, indigenous literature and knowledge, etc., as a part of augmenting their knowledge about these areas.
In addition to high quality offerings in Indian languages and English, foreign languages, such as Korean, Japanese, Thai, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian, will also be offered at the secondary level, for students to learn about the cultures of the world and to enrich their global knowledge and mobility according to their own interests and aspirations.
More Higher Education Institutions, and more programs in higher education, will use the mother tongue/local language as a medium of instruction, and/or offer programs bilingually.
High-quality programs and degrees in Translation and Interpretation, Art and Museum Administration, Archaeology, Artefact Conservation, Graphic Design, and Web Design within the higher education system will also be created. In order to preserve and promote its art and culture, develop high-quality materials in various Indian languages, conserve artefacts, develop highly qualified individuals to curate and run museums and heritage or tourist sites, thereby also vastly strengthening the tourism industry.
Scholarships for people of all ages to study Indian Languages, Arts, and Culture with local masters and/or within the higher education system will be established.
India will also urgently expand its translation and interpretation efforts in order to make high quality learning materials and other important written and spoken material available to the public in various Indian and foreign languages. For this, an Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI) will be established. Such an institute shall employ numerous multilingual language and subject experts, and experts in translation and interpretation, which will help to promote all Indian languages. The IITI shall also make extensive use of technology to aid in its translation and interpretation efforts.
Courses and programs in subjects, such as Indology, Indian languages, AYUSH systems of medicine, yoga, arts, music, history, culture, and modern India, internationally relevant curricula in the sciences, social sciences, and beyond, meaningful opportunities for social engagement, quality residential facilities and on-campus support, etc. will be fostered to attain the goal of global quality standards, attract greater numbers of international students, and achieve the goal of ‘internationalization at home’. India will be promoted as a global study destination providing premium education at affordable costs.
To sum up, recognizing the glorious past in terms of Indian Ethos and Culture and contribution of luminaries in various branches of knowledge, the policy document systematically weaves in relevant components of language- mother tongue, regional languages, Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrat to setting up Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation, multi and inter-disciplinarily of various disciplines, use of interactive, entertaining and experiential learning as pedagogical methods, use of technology and internationalization of Indian art, culture and ethos through Indian Education System.