Talk • Policymaking in Education in India

September 20, 2023 @ 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
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Abstract: Critical thinking and criticality in thinking are necessary tools to master skills to analyse social realities to guide collective efforts to make policies and effect social changes. Democratic regimes believe in promoting diverse views and consider that the right not to tolerate the intolerant is a necessary condition to promote diversity in thoughts and actions. Following from this premise, policy formulation in democratic countries such as India revolves around three concerns which define the policy boundaries – democracy, equity and growth/development. The policymaking process, at times, follows a problem-solving approach, and it stems mostly from a bureaucratic perspective of incremental changes in the system.  In such instances, the debate is more often between design capacity and implementation capacity than on alternative strategies for development and change.

Who makes the policy and what is the locus of policymaking are important questions influencing the policymaking process. At times, the political realm becomes more active, and the parliament plays an important role in identifying and debates on issues of concern. At times, the parliament is not active, if not ignored, in the process.  Generally, policymaking becomes an act played by the central and state governments, experts and Committee members. The policies very often rely on information provided by Committees and Commissions, expertise within the government (mostly bureaucratic), expert advice from sources external to the government (academics), advocacy groups (NGOs and unions), existing research evidence (research institutions) and commissioned research specifically undertaken for policy.

Independent India formulated three national policies on education in 1968, 1986, and 2020.  In India, education Commissions and Committees play an important role in formulating education policies and shaping higher education. The Radhakrishnan Commission Report of 1948, the Kothari Commission Report of 1964, the Challenges of Education document of 1985, the invited comments on 33 selected educational themes in 2016, the T S Subrahmaniam Committee Report of 2016 and the Draft NEP 2019 as a prelude to NEP 2020 were important documents to provide an empirical basis and wider consultations to the education policymaking process.  

Policy choices, very often, are based on: a) desirability reflecting the ideological orientation; b) feasibility reflecting the economic, social and political implications of the policy proposals; c) acceptability by the public and those in power; d) affordability reflecting the financial implications of implementation; e) legitimacy through social acceptability and legislative measures; and f) sustainability.

Based on these considerations, the presentation will closely examine the processes followed and the proposals put forward by the National Education Policies of 1968, 1986 and 2020.

Speaker: Prof. N. V. Varghese is currently a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Indian Institute of  Technology  Bombay and a former Vice Chancellor of the National University of Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi (2017-022). He holds a doctoral degree in Economics with a specialisation in educational planning. He is the founding Director of the Centre for Policy Research in Higher Education (CPRHE/NIEPA), New Delhi (2013-2019); Head of Governance and Management in Education at the International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP/UNESCO), Paris (2006- 2013); Head of its Training and Education Programmes at IIEP, Paris (2001- 2006) and Head of higher education and specialized training, at IIEP, Paris (1999-2001). He was responsible for designing and introducing the IIEP Master’s programme in educational planning and management. While at IIEP, he was the Secretary-General and responsible for the Secretariat of the International Working Group on Education (IWGE), a network of funding agencies in education.


September 20, 2023
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
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ADCPS Conference Room
Old CSE Building, IIT Bombay
Mumbai, Maharashtra 400076 India
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