K. Kasturirangan. Image Source: IANS News

Chennai, Oct 31 : Multidisciplinary education will be the central and crucial point to lead India into the 21st century and the fourth industrial revolution, said K. Kasturirangan, Chairman, Drafting Committee, National Education Policy 2020.

Kasturirangan, the former Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), is currently serving as the Chancellor of the Central University of Rajasthan, and as the Chairperson of NIIT University.

He was speaking at the virtual convocation address of the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Design & Manufacturing (IIITDM), in Kancheerpuam.

"As a crucial step to lead India into the 21st century and the fourth industrial revolution, multidisciplinary education is central. Engineering schools, such as the IITs and even your institution, will move towards more holistic multidisciplinary education with more arts and humanities, while arts and humanities students will aim to learn more science. All will make an effort to incorporate more vocational subjects and soft skills," Kasturirangan said.

He said IIITDM with its plans for bringing multidisciplinarity and holisticity to its various courses could be in the forefront of creating world-class innovators and producing seminal ideas coming out of a thinking process that cuts across disciplines by marrying science education with arts and humanities and other fields.

Kasturirangan said the vision of India's new education system has been crafted to ensure that it touches the life of each and every citizen, consistent with their needs and necessities, besides creating a just and equitable society.

"The approach is to realise a new system aligned with the aspirational goals of 21st century education while remaining rooted to India's value systems and ethos. The policy provides an integrated, yet flexible approach to education," he said.

According to him, the new education policy has kept the interconnectedness of the various phases of education in mind and how the same will enable continuity, coherence and processes to ultimately realise an end-to-end educational roadmap for the country.

"Major emphasis is given in the policy to the aspect of holistic, multidisciplinary education as a foundational component at all levels of education," he added.

Delving on the higher educational system in the new education policy, Kasturirangan said the holistic nature of education, also called liberal education in contemporary discussions, traces its origin to the age-old idea of liberal arts discussed almost 1400 years ago in the classical Indian texts on education like Banabhatta's 'Kadambari', wherein a truly educated person is described as one who had mastered all the 64 kalas - a composite of a number of multidisciplinary subjects.

The former ISRO Chairman advised the fresh graduates to have conviction in whatever they do and cited his experience at the space agency.

"I still remember the events in ISRO related to the failures of the first two Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicles (ASLV). Even though a sense of despondency overtook us initially, we did not allow the setback to override our resolve to succeed," he said.

According to him, the critical analysis and the in-depth assessment of the problems and the technology and quality issues that were addressed really paved the way for the success of the present generation of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles (PSLVs) and the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicles (GSLVs).

"In analysing the failures, we got an insight into the inadequacies and the marginal nature of our initial design. Further, our courage of conviction made us work with renewed vigour to succeed, which we did. I have often felt that life can teach you more from a failure than through success," Kasturirangan said.

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