India has since 1947 moved forward from literacy rate of 18.3 to 75%. The gap between male and female literacy rates is also reduced from 52% (in 1951) to 11.5% (in 2011). Universal primary education was introduced by a parliamentary Act in 1968. The educational policy introduced in 1968 on the basis of Kothari Commission was further improved in 1986 with features like universalization of primary education, vocationalization of secondary education, and specialization of higher education. The government instituted in 2017 a new committee under K Kasturirangan to prepare a Draft for the new policy.
The government of India appointed a new committee under K. Kasturirangan to prepare a Draft for the new National Education Policy in 2017. India entered in the league of 135 nations in the world when it enacted the Right to Education Act in 2009 on the basis broadly of the provisions in the Constitution but more specifically to the inclusion in it of article 21A in the year 2002 by a Constitution Amendment Act. The Act makes education a fundamental right of every child between the ages of 6 and 14 and specifies minimum norms in elementary schools. It requires all private schools (except the minority institutions) to reserve 25% of seats for the poor and other categories of children (to be reimbursed by the state as part of the public-private partnership plan).
Standing on this brief report so far on the development of education in the last 70 years, coinciding with post- independence period in Indian history, suggests that there has been a remarkable growth in the grand educational mission of India to become a highly educated nation at the fundamental level of literacy. This growth is witnessed further in the sector of higher education and research too. In 1948 the Government instituted University Grants Commission that has since worked as a regulatory body for higher education. Along with the UGC, various other regulatory bodies at various times, like AICTE, NCERT and NAAC and recently, the NIRF- National Institute of Ranking Framework for the universities, and colleges, were instituted to provide a powerful ambience of quality-check and competitive spirit among various institutions of higher education. As per the numbers, the nation had a total of twenty universities and 496 colleges with only about 2.5 lakh students enrolled in them. Today, the country has 800 universities including 44 central-, 540 state-, 122 deemed- and about 100 private universities; and 80 + institutions of National Importance. The first management institute (IIM Calcutta) ion was established in Kolkota in 1961. Today there is a formidable spread of 20 across the nation. There are a total of about 40,000 colleges in the country against 20 universities and 496 colleges in 1948. Similar strides have been made in other areas of education like Agriculture, Space technology, Aeronautics, Weaponry research, Bio Engineering and Agricultural Informatics.
Shobhit University, the lonely star in this field, has established first ever department of Agricultural Informatics in its campus at Meerut. Expansion in IT education and training has been an unstoppable and breathtaking phenomenon in the Indian sector of education. Our IT-educated students have earned kudos and top-level achievements all over the world- not only working as cyber sherpas but also as experts of the highest order in this field.
With this growth in the education sector, the country shows certain advantages that go beyond numbers. India has the largest population in the world in the age bracket of 5-24 years. This demographic advantage makes the country also a huge market of education not only of its own educational institutions but also for various foreign universities. Secondly, India has a huge English speaking population which makes delivery of educational products easy. In the English proficiency Index 2017, India was ranked 27 in the group of 80 English speaking and reading countries.
Thirdly, India facilitates 100 percent FDI by automatic route in the educational sector. This could be possible after the government took initiatives like the National Accreditation Regulatory Authority Bill for Higher Education and the Foreign Educational institutions Bill. Between the year 2000 and 2018, an inflow of US$ 1.75 billion has been witnessed as FDI in the educational sector.
However, the title of this note is the Evolution of the Indian Education Sector in 70 years. The term evolution is tricky in this context. Evolution, as against growth, is a process of accumulating change, that is, a progression of change, often branching and diversifying in the process. Evolution is the kind of change that is not merely growth. Evolution leads not necessarily to growth but to a more advanced or complex form. It has a lot to evolve in an ecological setting to expand not only in physical terms but also in creating space for many other growths and directions.
Has Indian education evolved since 1948? That is the second question after its growth points are settled. Yes, to a large extent. Probably as much as the Indian society has evolved or humanity in general.
The first point of growth of institutions, legislations for improvement and inclusiveness, and regulatory environment for education to grow in a quality-assuring setting, has been dealt with above.
The second aspect of the evolution of Indian education is the universalization of education among the children and youth of India by way of the legislation of laws and policy. Never ever before in the Indian society; that is, in history; the processes of education in India were so inclusive and available as in the last 70 years. This is one sector, more than health or industry or agriculture where children of the poor and deprived could take full advantage of the help of the state and make remarkable strides in social mobility. Thanks to free primary, secondary and higher education in the institutions under direct government control, a formidable number of the best of brainy and diligent children born in poor huts, have through the capital of education touched the sky of glory for themselves and the nation. And also, thanks to the political ancestors of our most beloved and educated Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji and thanks to the continuous pressure over the ruling dispensation always, by his party and mentor- the most erudite institution, the RSS; the country has since 1948 made long strides of progress in establishing truth of education and communication.
The third aspect of the evolutionary nature of education in India relates to its contribution to universal growth of knowledge, research and technological development in the world by way of preparing its citizens’ competency to work anywhere in the world and contribute in the growth of science, technology and knowledge.
Stark evidence of the process of evolution anywhere in any field is that the evolved entity or looking different from before. So does education in India today. Not only in contents and course but also in method, delivery and outcomes. Our education is evolved from being a rare inaccessible good once fit for the rich and some castes to a huge capital of knowledge, progress and driver of social mobility that anyone and everyone can take free in the government institutions and with some finance at a private institution. There is a certain divine aura about the Indian education that leads to the learner of any science or branch of knowledge to a sense of immense gratitude and humility to chant the words that remain basic to all the times of education and Indian learning:-
ॐ सह नाववतु ।
सह नौ भुनक्तु ।
सह वीर्यं करवावहै ।
तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु मा विद्विषावहै ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
Om, May God Protect us Both (the Teacher and the Student), May God Nourish us Both, May we Work Together with Energy and Vigour, May our Study be Enlightening and not give rise to Hostility. Om, Peace, Peace, Peace.