NEP is aimed mainly at young adults, to ensure the culture of research and innovative thinking is solidly entrenched in them Credit: Twitter

New Delhi: When Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave his Independence Day address on August 15, a number of issues were expected to make front burner. However, his passionate utterances regarding the importance of education to the development of India and the part innovation plays in the journey to self-reliance for the entire nation, was what caught the most attention.

Modi’s speech on education being the key to sustaining India’s modernization and prosperity coincided with the launch of the new National Education Policy (NEP). The NEP is totally focused on creative innovation as a crucial path to facilitating the overall progress of the country.

One way in which this policy can ultimately achieve this is with the National Research Foundation (NRF). As PM Modi stated, “The new and improved education policy specifically emphasizes the NRF. It does so because the place of innovation and research in the country’s progress cannot be overemphasized. When we as a nation give more attention to innovation and research, our development and progress becomes inevitable,” he said emphatically.

According to the NEP, the proposed NRF is targeted at encouraging a research oriented mindset in higher institutions of education. NEP plans to cultivate the mindset by increasing the amount and frequency of funding to the various disciplines including the Sciences, Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities.

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This NEP is aimed mainly at young adults, to ensure the culture of research and innovative thinking is solidly entrenched in them. The youths, as is popularly said, are the leaders of tomorrow. That is why, targeting this policy to address the current lack of progressive innovation seems like a good strategy.

PM Modi also highlighted the rare and seizable opportunity the pandemic has presented Indians. During this pandemic, there has been an over exposure to technology through online classes. Now, students have the opportunity to carry out research and fill their minds with knowledge that enhances innovative thinking.

The insufficiency of researchers in India can be largely credited to lack of funding or low funding available for researchers, as several experts have averred. Fortunately, the NRF aims to put an end to that. One of the major reasons the NRF was created is to provide finance to researchers to aid their work.

The funds that were previously allocated to research have declined significantly from 0.84% of the GDP in 2008 to 0.69% in 2014, as presented by NEP. The new NEP includes statistics comparing the percentage of GDP allocated to research in India to that of some other countries. This statistics show a significantly lesser percentage of financial allocation to R&D in India.

Furthermore, another serious problem has been identified as mitigating against the growth of research in India. Presently, the number of students pursuing research has become very low. Most students do not go into research as a lifelong course of study mostly due to the lack of encouragement.

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To bolster participation in research and development, the NRF is suggesting several measures to be strictly enforced to facilitate a rapid transformation. One of those measures includes introducing career counseling in several schools to pick out students with specific interests and affinity for research. These measures also include the promotion of university research, addition of internship and research to the curriculum of undergraduates, and introduction of faculty career management systems that validate research.

In addition, resources to aid accurate research is being advocated for students in schools so as to pick their interest in pursuing research-oriented courses and, thereby, facilitating innovation. Without the provision of these resources, students may lose interest and venture into a different path, leaving the path of research and innovation lacking.

The new NEP includes a portion that states that funding for merit based research is to be provided by the NRF. It also includes a portion that states that the NRF will ensure to adhere to major proposed initiatives to ensure the growth and progress of research at public institutions where research ability is presently limited.

To ensure the constant development of the nation as a whole, education and youth empowerment towards research is paramount. It is important to carry out all the necessary adjustments to the Educational system to ensure an increase in the number of students going into research programs. The NRF will also seek to always prioritize funding the work of researchers so as to enable them break new grounds and work towards global recognition, bringing glory to the research community in India.

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