This universe is having an innate and fundamental unity as its basic characteristic, in spite of the external variety and diversity that is seen, heard, smelled, tasted and touched. The etymology of the word makes clear this fact.
The Latin words ‘Uni’ which means one, and ‘versus’ which means ‘turned’ were combined to form ‘Universus’, which means ‘combined into one, whole’. In later Middle English, it became Universe. Universe means the totality of existing things – the Cosmos – all things as a whole. As per logic, the whole/ totality, cannot be two, it is One.
The word University is also derived originally from the Latin word Universitas, which means the whole. Later, the old French and the old English words Universite and Universe also respectively contributed to form the word University. The etymological essence of the word is the unity of the whole, and the place/institution where this unity is sought is a university. Hence, the university is a place where Truth of the Universe (Oneness/Unity) is searched together by scholars from the manifested diversity.
The Indian Tradition
The Gurukula system and the ancient Indian Universities like Nalanda and Takshashila disseminated not only information and knowledge but also wisdom. Education, at the sensory level, is Information, at the intellectual, logical and practical level is knowledge and at the intuition level is wisdom. It is this traditional Wisdom of India, that helps individuals highlight ‘The Unity in Diversity’. This wisdom also helps individuals to see and feel the whole world as one, from where the ethical, moral, and modern constitutional values arise. This is also the abode of universal values like Truth (Satya), Righteous Conduct (Dharma), Peace (Shanthi), Love (Prem), Non-violence (Ahimsa), scientific temper, citizenship values and also life skills. Hence the NEP 2020 frames a policy for making one new world, not by breaking the world into pieces. It is here the ‘ deep-rooted pride in being an Indian’ is highlighted. ( NEP 2020, The Vision)
While searching for the unity, the diversity is not relegated to a secondary position. Unity is aimed through the Holistic vision and diversity is realized through the Multidisciplinary studies. ‘A Holistic and Multidisciplinary Education (HMDE) would aim to develop all capacities of human beings …’ - physical, emotional, intellectual, aesthetic, moral, spiritual and social in an integrated manner. (NEP, 11.3)
The above aspects of holistic individual development covers from the primary education to the research level and successful implementation of the same will help individuals develop simultaneously into ‘Global citizens’ and local denizens with national pride.
Multidisciplinary studies also project the interrelationship existing among the diverse subjects of study. With the emergence of Environmental sciences, the interrelationship between the living and the nonliving became more clear. Ecology clearly states the necessity as well as the influence of the abiotic or non-living factors on life forms. Physical environment (the air, water, soil, temperature, sunlight etc) is having a significant influence on the origin, growth and sustenance of life.
Various forms of economic, social, religious and spiritual activities are directly or indirectly related to the external environment. Human health – both mental and physical – is dependent on the quality of the physical environment. Therefore, Physical sciences, Life sciences and Social sciences are interrelated areas of study. The corona pandemic and its economic, social, political and health impacts is the best example. Therefore, modern R&D efforts focus more on Multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary studies. This has been accepted as the most meaningful way of discovering the natural Truth and in the NEP 2020, this integrated approach has been recognized and incorporated in higher education.
The NEP 2020 frames policy for making one new world, not by breaking the world into pieces. It is here the ‘deep-rooted pride in being an Indian’ is highlighted
NEP 17.8 says about transforming the quality and quantity of education in India. “For that, the play and discovery style of school education with scientific temper and critical thinking, promoting research in universities, the multidisciplinary nature of all Higher Education Institutions(HEIs) and the emphasis on holistic education; inclusion of research and internship in U G Curriculum, faculty career management system that gives due weightage to research” etc, are planned in the Policy document along with including, “recognition of outstanding research as a co-requisite for outstanding education and development” (NEP 2020, Fundamental Principles).
Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERU) is an attempt to raise Indian education and research to International standards (NEP 2020,11.11)
‘Glocal’ Glory of NEP 2020
Global + Local is ‘Glocal’. This is also part of the holistic vision and integrated approach. The education visualised here is a blending of local empowerment and global enrichment. Through developing the skills of students, self-reliance is attained at the individual level. When one individual becomes self-reliant, one family is saved from poverty and illiteracy. This is the basis of local empowerment.
‘For the purpose of developing holistic individuals, it is essential that an identified set of skills and values will be incorporated at each stage of learning from preschool to Higher education’.(NEP 9.1.2.). This will help satisfy the ‘local and global needs’ of the country with the great demographic dividend peculiar to India. Moreover, the vision proposes a ‘ global well being, sustainable living and reflecting truly a global citizen’.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has been approved by 193 countries of the world. Through this Agenda, they have pledged to ensure sustained and inclusive growth, environmental protection, All round economic development, and fostering peace and a just society, through global participation. In the vision of the NEP 2020, Sustainable development is projected as an important aspect for national progress and global well being.
The new policy has opened the doors for Individual development, local growth, national progress and Global well being.. Theoretically, this policy is a firm step towards making India a superpower. But practically, the spirit and content of implementation determine the success of being and becoming a superpower.
(The Writer is Director, Centre for Inclusive and Sustainable Development, Marian College, Kuttikkanam, Kerala)