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Home arrow News arrow Education and training arrow National Knowledge Commission calls for new knowledge paradigm at CII meet
National Knowledge Commission calls for new knowledge paradigm at CII meet Print E-mail
Written by Anand   
Friday, 20 March 2009
New Delhi : There is a need for a generational change in the country’s educational system, if the country is to reap what is today being termed as its ‘demographic dividend’, which could otherwise become a ‘demographic nightmare’, according to the National Knowledge Commission (NKC).

Addressing newsmen after an interactive session on ‘Roadmap for Reform: NKC Recommendations’, Commission Chairman Sam Pitroda called for structural reforms in the five core areas of access to knowledge, concepts, creation, applications and services.

According to Mr Pitroda, today education had become indispensable to the country’s ambitions in the knowledge economy and therefore there was a need to develop a new knowledge paradigm, simultaneously addressing concerns of disparity and inclusion.

The session was jointly organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry and NKC as part of the Commission’s outreach programme. On the occasion, Mr Pitroda released NKC’s ‘Report to the Nation’, which is a compilation of the over 300 recommendations it has made to the government with the objective of tapping into the country’s enormous reservoir of knowledge, mobilising national talent and creating an empowered generation, with access to opportunities.

Mr Pitroda gave a bird’s eyeview of the reforms recommended by the NKC, whose three-year term is coming to an end, and said that “the speed of implementation, however, remains a challenge.” Citing the example of the telecom revolution in the country, which he fathered, Mr Pitroda said “15-20 years is a short period in a country’s march to progress, but we have to begin the journey towards building a truly inclusive and qualitatively significant knowledge society.”

On his part, Mr Ashok Ganguly, NKC member and a doyen of Indian industry and scientific research, said that “knowledge was the central theme of the 21st century and it must become an integral part of our development strategy. We have to shift from seeing knowledge only as reverse engineering and make innovation a part of our knowledge systems.”

Mr Ganguly said that the NKC had observed a structural shift taking place in the employment scenario of the country, with entrepreneurship finding acceptance among an increasing number of people. “If we are to successfully tap this spirit, it is essential that shift from an education system that relies on learning to one that depends on thinking.”

Pointing to the challenges in the school education system, Dr Sujatha Ramdorai of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) said that “today the demand for education existed among all sections and it was for both the public and the private sector to develop a suitable learning model that ensures school education is available to all.”

Dr Ramdorai, who is a member of the NKC, said that while developments in all other sectors have become an acceptable part of Indian life, our education system, especially the school education system, remains in the 19th Century. “As the ecology of education differs from region to region, we must put in place a system that encourages local autonomy.”

Stating that the higher education system was in a state of crisis, Prof Deepak Nayyar of Jawaharlal Nehru University said, notwithstanding some islands of excellence, what was needed was expansion and creation of quality institutions. “Today what we have is not enough and even what we have is not good enough.”

Prof Nayyar noted that any expansion of the system of higher education would not be possible without enhanced levels of financing, both from public and private sources. “This is even as the government reworks the entire system of undergraduate colleges, which today is out-of-date and inappropriate.”

Prof P Balaram, Director, Indian Institute of Science, concluded the interactive session by pointing to the inadequacies in the country’s research systems and said that there was a need to reinvigorate the research systems. He said that today research activities were largely funded by the government, “with philanthropic support for such activities being almost non-existent”. The time, he said, was right for industry to step in and fill this vital gap.

In his welcome address, Mr Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII, highlighted how NKC’s recommendations were a blueprint for reforms of knowledge-related institutions and infrastructure in the country. Mr. Banerjee also mentioned various initiatives of CII like Knowledge Mission, Global Innovation & Technology Alliance, Innovation Mission, University –Industry Council, Intellectual Property Owners Committee etc. Similarly, Mr Salil Singhal, Immediate Past President, CII Northern Region, disclosed the various initiatives that the industry had begun taking to ensure that skills-based education got the prominence it deserved.

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