Thursday, 25 July 2019

Letter sent to MHRD regarding Educational Policy

            Ref.No. Policy/Edn/MHRD/2019-001                                           Date: 25-July-2019

The Minister
Human Resource Development
Ministry of Human Resource Development
Govt. of India

Sub: comments and suggestions regarding the Draft National Education Policy

Dear Sir

We, members of the Society for Systems Biology & Translational Research (SSBTR), url: have gone through Draft National Education Policy in our general meeting held in our society on 14th July 2019 and happy to respond to your call for public opinion.

We appreciate the committee’s initiative of introducing the concept of developing multi-disciplinary liberal arts education system (pg 29), amalgamation between general and professional education (pg 203, 213), giving freedom to the educational institutions in developing courses and teacher recruitment policy (pg 210), emphasis to research in higher education (pg 31) and also appreciate the outlook of giving importance to the philanthropic initiative (pg 206, 334, 405). Several of these are also indicated by our research on educational policy.

In this connection we would like to point out the following points:
1. Our observation with respect to biomedical research are as follows [Annals of Systems Biology, 2016 1(1): 1-12]:
a. India produced 90.5% of total biomedical publications generated by the SAARC countries.
b. The World share of biomedical research output is gradually growing from India along with China and Brazil.
c. As per NSF 2010 report, India’s priorities for research (on the basis of journal publication) in different disciplines are 28% in biomedical research, 67.7% in Physics and Engineering and rest in Social and Agricultural Sciences.
d. As per 2013 report, 5% of global shares of clinical trials is India’s share estimation.
These data suggest that research activities in India with respect to publication is not poor, but emphasis on biomedical research and most importantly translational aspect of research is seriously lacking in Indian context. In the draft policy research activities are encouraged but we have not seen a single word on translational research. From the practical stand-point followings are our observations –
Conglomeration of biomedical research with biology and translational research with product based laboratory research or epidemiology based field research seriously hampering future health care. Our health care sector is devoid of getting the fruits (outputs) of basic science, as in Indian education system is unable to adapt the translational aspect of research [Journal of Translational Research, 2017, 1(1): 1-4; Advances in Pharmacology and Clinical Trials, 2016, 1(1): APCT-MS-ID-00010]. It is needless to mention here that AYUSH, Yoga, Homeopathy etc. are mentioned to serve for health care for larger community (pg 305) which in turn, admits the poor health care facility at present moment. We therefore strongly suggest to emphasize the aspect of translational research in educational policy and for its proper implementation separate assessment components with concerned experts need to be included, as from our practical observation, we have seen neither mere science trained (in a single discipline) nor a single profession trained personnel have the expertise to appreciate its methods and procedures.

2. Several newly developed subjects like Operation Research, Cognitive Science, and Systems Biology are inherently multidisciplinary in nature and for those subjects mere knowledge of two or three subjects are insufficient. Hence, for those subjects major and minor concept of education may not be effective. So for the subjects which are inherently multidisciplinary in nature, broader choice of subjects and more flexibility and freedom of opting of subject papers need to be allowed.

3. We appreciate the concept of synergy between technical education with general education (pg 294) with the parallel entry of personnel with experience in hospital or industry for teaching position (pg 299). We suggest not to orient it only for professional education, but also for general education system as well, because inclusion of personnel with diversified field will foster the translational aspect in general education and may enhance the job opportunity of students from general education as well. From our practical observation we have noticed that -
a. most of teachers involved in general education do not have any exposure to real life problems and hence, real-life research experience is overlooked in Indian higher education.
b. counting of experience is based on class room teaching activities.
c. even in Master’s program undergraduate teaching experience is counted as experience and research experience is kept aside.
d. several institutional leaders and educational policy makers do not have adequate research experience in a multi-/ cross-disciplinary research experience as par publication record.
We, therefore, suggest the followings for teacher recruitment and selection of institutional leader especially in master’s program in higher education –
a. To revamp research culture in higher education, especially for master’s program research experience need to be emphasized, instead of class room teaching experience and merit should be on the basis of research potentiality.
b. To make education at par of national or international standard, priority should be imparted to the personnel who has experience of clearing different entrance examination of national or international repute.
c. To implement multidisciplinary liberal arts in Indian education system emphasis need to be imparted in selection of institutional leaders with a working research experience in a multidisciplinary areas.
SSBTR thinks that this is the most important aspect of this paradigm shift, as at present moment most of the institutional leaders do not have true multidisciplinary working research experience.

4. In the draft policy, importance of philanthropic bodies and not-for-profit (pg. 206, 334,405) is emphasized. In this connection we suggest to include the importance of different educational and scientific societies. It is needless to point out here that from pre-independence era scientific societies played an immense role in the new knowledge generation, for example, Indian Association for Cultivation of Science, Asiatic Society and Indian Statistical Society. In recent time Operation Research Society offered several educational programs/courses. Hence scientific societies need to be included in this venture. However, in contrast to corporate bodies, many of them do not have enough financial fund to start new programs like a university structure; however, ample expertise are available there; hence, they can start newer courses in miniature scales and may produce new body of knowledge. Hence without any pre-assigned financial stipulation, clause or conditions educational and scientific societal bodies need to include in this new venture.

If you need further clarification, we are eager to respond to your queries.

Thanking you.

With regards, 
Dibyendu Kumar Ray, M.S., M.Ch.                     Durjoy Majumder, Ph.D.
President                                                              Secretary