‘Need to own the National Education Policy by Each Stakeholder’
| Onkareshwar Pandey - Editor in Chief - CEO, IOP - 16 Feb 2022



Enough awareness about the policy has already been created amongst the stakeholders and many of the low hanging fruits type recommendations have been implemented by many universities. However, in view of the Constitutional and Legal provisions governing our country in the areas of Education and Educational institutions, besides the regional, linguistic and cultural diversities that are deep-rooted in our nation, there is a primary need for creating an implementation ecosystem in all the States of Indian Republic.

Exclusive Interview of Dr (Mrs) Pankaj Mittal, Secy Gen, Association of Indian Universities (AIU)

By Onkareshwar Pandey

“The country has got a very innovative and ambitious policy well-grounded in the roots of Indian Ancient Knowledge system after a long wait of 34 years. The NEP focuses on holistic development of students and has the potential of making India a knowledge leader once again. There is a need to own the National Education Policy by each stakeholder for its implementation in letter and spirit. They need to put in their 100% to ensure that the policy is implemented in letter and spirit leading India towards regaining its status of ‘Vishwa Guru’,” says Dr (Mrs) Pankaj Mittal, Secretary General of the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) in an exclusive Interview with Indian Observer Post. A Fulbright Scholar and a topper in MSc and PhD in Agricultural Statistics from IARI, New Delhi, Dr Mittal is the second women Secretary General of the Association in its 96 years of existence. She has a wide ranging experience of more than three decades in Higher Education in Policy Planning and Management of Higher Education. Prior to joining AIU, she served at the apex regulator of higher education, the University Grants Commission of India. She is also National Commissioner for Rangers of Bharat Scouts and Guides. Her contributions in Institution Building coupled with blending of traditional and modern education is an exemplary contribution towards promotion of rural women folk in a unique manner. (Profile- https://bit.ly/3LB7LZl). 

Here are the exerpts of her exclusive Interview by IOP Team  https://bit.ly/2LxOU2I) led by our Editor in Chief Onkareshwar Pandey (https://bit.ly/3furcE9) in which we talked about the challenges in implementing the NEP2020 and how to turn this ambitious project into a workable plan ensuring maximum efficiency and Enhancing Global Competitiveness of Academic Institutions’ in Indian Higher Education.

Q. We have completed one and half year of NEP 2020.  While moving further with the NEP implementation, how do you see the progress at country level?

- The National Education Policy (NEP) gives a forward-looking vision for India’s higher education system by focusing on re-energization of the higher education system synergising the ancient Indian system of education with those of expectation of 21st century global sustainable development goals, to enable it to deliver high quality higher education with equity and inclusion.

The policy emphasizes that our education system must be able to develop among students a deep sense of respect towards the fundamental duties and constitutional values, share of bonding with one’s country and conscious awareness of one’s role and responsibility in a changing world. The policy envisages a quality education for all the students irrespective of their place of residence, origin, caste etc. The policy will particularly focus on betterment of historically marginalized, disadvantaged and underrepresented groups. The NEP will empower teachers, at all levels of education, and help them to teach effectively while making use of technology and will help in recruiting and retaining the best teaching professionals to aid in shaping the citizens for next generation.

The implementation of this policy will require sustained efforts from all stakeholders including Centre Government, State Governments, Regulatory Authorities, Universities, Colleges and Faculty Members.  Enough awareness about the policy has already been created amongst the stakeholders and many of the low hanging fruits type recommendations have been implemented by many universities. However, in view of the Constitutional and Legal provisions governing our country in the areas of Education and Educational institutions, besides the regional, linguistic and cultural diversities that are deep-rooted in our country, there is a primary need for creating implementation ecosystem in all the States of Indian Republic.

Q. India has different categories of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).  In your opinion what should be the main focus areas for the different types of HEIs while implementing NEP 2020?  

The Higher Education system of India comprises of multiple types of institutions including Institutions of National Importance, Central Universities, State Universities, Deemed to be Universities, Autonomous Colleges, Constituent Colleges and Affiliated Colleges.  About 38 million students are studying in these institutions.  The enormity and diversified nature of higher education institutions needs a tailor-made solution for each type of institution as one size fits all approach will not work.

The policy has recommended that higher education institutions shall be transformed into large multidisciplinary universities, colleges, HEI clusters each of which should have at least 3000 students.  The aim will be to increase Gross Enrolment Ratio in the higher education from 26.3% to 50% by 2035.  However, it may be appreciated that at present, the completion rate of students for 12th standard in higher secondary education in India is 42 i.e. only 42% of the persons in the relevant age group have passed 12th standard.  To increase the GER to 50%, schemes have to be evolved to ensure that the school pass outs increase to the level of at least 70% by minimizing drop-outs across the states so that we can achieve GER of more than 50% by 2035.  The national-level funded schemes are to be developed to enhance girls /women enrolment in schools and higher education institutions across all states. Measures under these schemes have to be evolved to reduce the women dropout rates from schools/HEIs due to domestic/regional/religious restrictions/compulsions to pursue higher education.  The efforts may be made towards developing Public Private Partnership models of HEIs especially in rural/tribal and hilly regions to increase overall enrolment with special focus on women.

The NEP suggests abolishing the affiliation system imposed on our country by the British legacy in the next 15 years. This will be achieved by giving graded autonomy to around 40,000 colleges and converting them into independent, autonomous degree awarding colleges.  This will require a lot of mentoring and hand holding of these colleges by the affiliating universities, who have to act as their mentors and empower them to work independently. A lot of capacity building of teaching and other staff would be required for this.

Further, the NEP policy has classified Universities into following three categories;Research Intensive Universities, Teaching Intensive Universities and Autonomous Degree Awarding Colleges.The Research-Intensive Universities will give equal emphasis to research and teaching. On the other hand, the Teaching Intensive Universities will also conduct both research and teaching but their main focus will be on teaching. The last category i.e. Autonomous Degree Awarding Colleges may also conduct minimal research activities but their primary focus will be on teaching of UG/PG courses. Thus, the NEP will result in re-alignment of the University structure. The policy suggests that all the Universities will be multi-disciplinary in nature i.e. there will be no programme specific or single faculty University like Law University, Medical University, Technology University, Agriculture University etc. All these universities over the time would be required to add disciplines and academic programmes over time to become multi-faculty.This will ensure holistic development of students with some basic knowledge of all the fields and give them the freedom of choice, should they wish to study any other subject.

Q. Would you like to share important specific measures at central level, which will be helpful in accelerating the NEP implementation in the country?

The following are major specific measures to be taken at the level of Central Government for the NEP implementation.

  • The Government has to bring out a Bill on HECI and its 4 verticals i.e. NHERC, NEC, HEGC and GEC.  The Bill shall clearly define the role and purpose of each organisation to ensure that there is no over lapping.  HECI should evolve as a federal body incorporating the present State Higher Education Councils with powers to coordinate with HECI and to act as the State level implementation Council in accordance with the norms of HECI.
  • National Virtual University (NVU) or National e-University (NeU) may be established for online programmes at all the levels (PG, UG, Advanced Diploma, Diploma, Certificate including PhDs) as multidisciplinary university to enhance access and equity.  This university can also offer degrees to the students who register under Academic Bank of Credit.
  • To establish National Research Foundation (NRF) to completely oversee and monitor funding of research grant to universities with the primary activity of funding, competitive/peer reviewed grant proposals, seed grow and facilitate research at academic institutions, act as a liaison between researchers and relevant branches of Government and Industry and recognise outstanding research and progress.
  • To make regulations to convert existing institutions into large multidisciplinary universities with at least 3000 students, to abolish affiliation system, establishment of campuses of foreign universities in India etc.
  • To establish Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation.  

Q. NEP 2020 Document highlights the linkage of this policy to UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  In your views, how NEP 2020 implementation can be helpful in realizing SDGs?

The NEP very emphatically highlights the linkages of the higher education with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and opines that the higher education institutions can contribute immensely in the realization of Sustainable Development Goals.  As far as the present status of implementation of SDGs in India is concerned, India is placed at 120th rank in Sustainable Development Report—2021. This calls for an urgent action from all sectors of the country.  Due to their unique position in the society, the HEIs have immense scope and potential to contribute towards achieving all the 17 SDGs and thereby accomplishing 2030 agenda. Rather, realizing the SDGs without the involvement of higher education sector is quite an impossible task.  In India, there is a lot of tacit contribution of HEIs towards realizing SDGs but there is no data on classified efforts of HEIs on the same. In the impact ranking of Times Higher Education which assess universities with reference to their contribution in realizing UN SDGs, only 2 public universities and 9 private universities could find place. This compels us to think whether the Indian Higher Education Institutions are responsible enough in their approach towards sustainability in delivering education. Most importantly, it makes us ponder why we are not able to tap the potential of HEIs in achieving SDGs. To apprise the Indian HEIs about their role, and to reinforce them to take up the task of accomplishing SDGs as their prime responsibility, AIU as a representative body of HEIs in India, has set-out to organize all the  Zonal and National Vice Chancellors Conferences in 2021-22 on the theme ‘Realising Sustainable Development Goals through Higher Education Institutions’.

The representatives from United Nations, NITI Aayog, Line Ministries and Academicians are giving their thoughts in these conferences and I am sure that in next three months we would be able to bring out a report from Association of Indian Universities indicating how higher education institutions can contribute in releasing the Sustainable Development Goals.

HEIs in India have displayed their potential during the COVID-19 crisis and demonstrated why their expertise and involvement matters in solving the crucial challenges.  We are left with one decade only to accomplish 2030 Agenda. It is therefore, a crucial step at an apt time, to gear the HEIs to dedicate themselves to contribute significantly in achieving those goals.

Q. What are the major challenges, which, in your opinion, may hinder the effective implementation of NEP 2020 at institutional level?  How these challenges could be addressed?

The country has got a very innovative and ambitious policy well-grounded in the roots of Indian Ancient Knowledge system after a long wait of 34 years. The NEP focuses on holistic development of students and has the potential of making India a Vishwa Guru once again. The essence lies in its implementation in letter and spirit in a time bound manner. For this all stakeholders i.e., the central government, state governments, statutory professional councils, state councils of higher education, universities, collegesalong with the Educational Leaders, Faculty and students have to work hard with passion to ensure that the vision set in the policy actually sees the light of the day.

In order to instil confidence among the States on one hand and to integrate accountability, quality and other mandates of National Educational Policy 2020 with its implementation in letter and spirit and in view of the federal system of Governance of the higher education system, we need to take the State Governments along in implementing the policy.

Q. Howe NEP can be helpful in Enhancing Global Competitiveness of Academic Institutions?

The policy emphasizes on promoting India as a global study destination providing premium education at affordable cost to restore its status as ‘Vishwa Guru’.The policy has laid path for opening of campuses of high performing Indian universities abroad in order to promote our cultural heritage, ancient knowledge system, Indian system of Medicine like Ayurveda, naturopathy, yoga etc. Apart from this, top 100 universities of the world will be allowed to open their campuses in India. A legislative frame work for such entry needs to be put in place while giving these universities an “ease of operation in India”.To promote research collaboration and student exchanges between Indian and foreign universities, the credits acquired in foreign universities may be considered for the award of a degree by the Indian universities.This is going to be a revolutionary step in view of the fact that around 7-8 lakhs students from India go abroad for their higher education and only about forty-six thousand students come to India to pursue their higher education from neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The primary focus of the policy is to increase the number of inbound students from other countries to India and to take measures to reduce the number of outbound students from India.Admission of Indian students in campuses of foreign universities in India will result in saving of large amount of foreign exchange for our country and also reduce the cost of education, since the cost of living in India is comparatively lesser as compared to other developed countries.The students from neighbouring countries who wish to study in foreign universities may also be attracted towards India rather than going too far off places, thereby further increasing our inbound students. Also, opening of campuses of foreign universities in India will result in easy collaboration, exchange of faculty between Indian and foreign students and will induce a competitive spirit in Indian universities which may help in improving the quality of higher education. To attract the foreign students in India, the universities need to establish dedicated international offices to take good and professional care of the foreign students in Indian universities who will eventually become our brand ambassadors.

Q. As the head of a large institution, how you are playing role for effective implementation of NEP to Enhancing Global Competitiveness of Academic Institution?

Association of Indian Universities (AIU), is one of the premier higher education institutions in India established in 1925. It plays a vital role in shaping Indian higher education by being a research-based policy advice institution to the Government of India in the field of Higher Education, Sports and Culture.One of the key activities of the AIU is to convene the Vice Chancellors’ Meets at Zonal and National level to discuss various issues related to higher education. India being a country with large geographical area, for ease of reaching out, AIU has grouped the member HEIs into 5 zones—East, West, North, South and Central.Each zone is constituted of HEIs located in 5-6 States grouped in that Zone. Thus annually, 5 zonal Meets and one national Vice chancellors’ meets are organized. These Meets are important platforms not only to discuss the significant issues of higher education but they also play a catalytic role in finding solutions for different problems of higher education through collective wisdom.

After the launch of the policy in July 2020, the AIU took it upon itself to align all the six conferences held in 2020-2021 towards finding strategies for NEP.Accordingly, five zonal conferences as detailed below were held at various places:After the end of all the five conferences, one National Conference was held on the theme: Implementing NEP 2020 to Transform Higher Education in India.AIU also brought out a report giving proposals and suggestions for implementation of NEP 2020 which is available on its website and was very well received by the Government and the Regulatory Authorities.The report very clearly indicates for each of the recommendation of the NEP, the action to be taken, actor responsible, time lines and the performance indicators to know the status of implementation.


Host University


 Sub Themes 

East Zone

(18-19 Jan 2021)

JIS University, Agarpara, Kolkata

Implementation Strategy for NEP 2020: Equity and Access in Higher Education including Promotion of Indian Languages, Art & Culture

  • Promoting Equity and Inclusion in Higher Education: Challenges & Solutions
  • Adult Education and Life Long Learning
  • Promotion of Indian Languages, Arts and Culture

West Zone

(28-29 Jan, 2021)

Jaipur National University, Jaipur, Rajasthan

Implementation Strategy for NEP 2020:Reimagining Teacher Education, Vocational Education and Professional Education

  • A New Approach to Teacher Education
  • Skilling, Upskilling and Reskilling India
  • Revamping Professional Education

Central Zone

(8-9 Feb, 2021)

Sri Sri University, Cuttack, Odisha

Implementation Strategy for NEP 2020: Promoting Quality, Research and Internationalization in Higher Education

  • A New and Forward-looking Vision Towards Teaching Learning
  • Catalysing Quality Academic Research
  • Promoting Internationalisation

North Zone

(15-16 Feb, 2021)

Guru Govind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi

Implementation Strategy for NEP 2020: Holistic and Multidisciplinary Education with Technology Integration


  • Towards a More Holistic and Multidisciplinary Education & Creating Optimal Learning Environment
  • Faculty Development and Student Engagement
  • Technology Integration Including Online and Digital Education

South Zone

(24-25 Feb, 2021)

GITAM (Deemed to be University), Visakhapatnam, A.P

  • ;

Implementation Strategy for NEP 2020: Governance Reforms and Financing of Higher Education

  • Transforming the Regulatory System of Higher Education
  • Institutional Restructuring, Effective Governance and Leadership
  • Financing of Higher Education

Q. How Technology can play role in implementing NEP 2020 and make Indian Education world class in quality?

The NEP emphasizes on extensive use of technology and its integration in teaching-learning, research and collaborations.The policy has advocated for development of a rich variety of education software in all Indian languages, development of teaching-learning e-content both in forms of open education resources and massive open online courses.The Government is taking a lot of initiative in this direction and the existing India MOOCs platform like SWAYAM, Diksha, ePGPathshala, NDLI andeGyankosh are being expanded to a large extent.The Government is also creating digital learning materials by converting the existing learning materials to multi device portable digital learning materials (Mobile, Tab, Computer etc.).The efforts are also being made to convert learning materials into audio books for disadvantage group of learners.Integration of open education resources with the digital learning materials that emphasizes on conceptual understanding and extensive use of technology along with creativity and critical thinking, increased access, equity, reforming of curriculum, pedagogy, assessment and student support for enhanced student experience would be most important step towards technology use and integration.

Q. Your message/suggestions of Higher Education sector stakeholders for smooth and effective implementation of NEP 2020.

There is a need to own the National Education Policy by each stakeholder for its implementation in letter and spirit.All the stakeholders need to put in their 100% to ensure that the policy is implemented in letter and spirit leading India towards regaining its status of ‘Vishwa Guru’

Exclusive Interview with Jim Varghese AM, Chancellor, Torrens University, Australia by Onkareshwar Pandey - https://bit.ly/3KdITGg

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