These initiatives will definitely provide a boost to our nation’s inclusive education vision as part of implementing the NEP2020 and provide major thrust for technology-enhanced learning and start-ups, rural development, enhancing the agriculture sector output and providing support to students’ mental health during this pandemic. Some of the highlights that are likely to make a major impact include the following:
One class, one TV channel’ program of PM eVIDYA will be expanded from 12 to 200 TV channels.
Due to the pandemic-induced frequent closure of schools, students, particularly in the rural areas, especially those from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and other weaker sections, have lost almost 2 years of formal education and mostly, these are children in government schools. Thus to impart supplementary teaching and to build a resilient mechanism for education delivery, the Finance Minister informed that ‘one class-one TV channel’ programme of PM eVIDYA will be expanded from 12 to 200 TV channels and this will enable all states to provide supplementary education in regional languages for classes 1-12.
Digital University will be established to provide access to World-class quality education
The announcement to set up a Digital University will provide access to students across the country for world-class quality universal education with a personalised learning experience at their doorsteps. This will be made available in different Indian languages and ICT formats again an initiative listed as part of NEP2020. The University will be built on a networked hub-spoke model, with the hub building cutting-edge ICT expertise. The best public universities and institutions in the country will collaborate as a network of hub spokes, thereby bringing in the best knowledge sharing ability through this initiative.
Five Academic institutions to be set as the center for excellence for urban planning.
The other major announcement by the Finance Minister for developing India-specific knowledge in urban planning and design, and to deliver certified training in these areas, up to five existing academic institutions in different regions will be designated as centres of excellence. These centres will be provided endowment funds of Rs 250 crore each. This is an important initiative, keeping in mind the major urbanization happening across the country, technology integrated modern societal living while being sustainable will have to be considered and incorporated as part of urban development component. The north-east region being one of the major regions where urbanization is occurring rapidly, setting up such an Urban Planning Center for excellence at IIT Guwahati as part of its curriculum will bring about a major fillip to this initiative in the region.
Defence R&D will be opened up for Industry, Start-ups and Academia with 25% of Defence R&D earmarked
On the Defence front, the Government reiterates its committment to reducing imports and promoting AtmaNirbharta in equipment for the Armed Forces. 68 per cent of the capital procurement budget will be earmarked for domestic industry in 2022-23, up from 58 per cent in 2021-22. Defence R&D will be opened up for industry, startups and academia with 25 per cent of defence R&D budget earmarked. Academic institutes must join hands with defence organizations and industry and contribute intensely to these efforts to realize the dream of self-reliance.
Special Mobility Zones for Electric Vehicles to Promote Clean Tech In Public Transport
This is another area where every aspect related to electric vehicles, clean and renewable energy generation and storage with improved battery life needs to be intensified. A major effort to promote and encourage to shift to use of public transport in urban areas is necessary and needs to be complemented by clean tech and governance solutions, special mobility zones with zero fossil-fuel policy, and EV vehicles. The institute has been encouraging research in all aspects of renewable energy generation and storage as well as SDG knowledge dissemination.
Incentives for Startups
Institutes such as IIT Guwahati have been promoting Start-ups and technology incubation even during the pandemic and have emerged as drivers of growth for our economy. Over the past few years, the country has seen a manifold increase in successful start-ups. Eligible start-ups established before 31.3.2022 had been provided a tax incentive for three consecutive years out of ten years from incorporation. In view of the Covid pandemic, the proposal to extend the period of incorporation of the eligible start-up by one more year, that is, up to 31.03.2023 for providing such tax incentive will definitely help in promoting start-ups.
Digital and hi-tech services to farmers
The institute has set-up a school for agro and rural technology and a Center for drone technology to help farmers with modern technological tools to widen their productivity and output. Some of the initiatives as listed below will provide boost to the existing efforts by the institute. These include,
- For delivery of digital and hi-tech services to farmers with involvement of public sector research and extension, institutions along with private agri-tech players and stakeholders of agri-value chain, a scheme in PPP mode will be launched.
- Use of ‘Kisan Drones’ will be promoted for crop assessment, digitization of land records, spraying of insecticides, and nutrients. IITG has set-up a drone center that will facilitate such activity efficiently across the state.
- States will be encouraged to revise syllabi of agricultural universities to meet the needs of natural, zero-budget and organic farming, modern-day agriculture, value addition and management and IIT Guwahati will play a constructive role to help revise the curriculum.
- A fund with blended capital, raised under the co-investment model, will be facilitated through NABARD. This is to finance startups for agriculture & rural enterprise, relevant for farm produce value chain. The activities for these startups will include, inter alia, support for FPOs, machinery for farmers on rental basis at farm level, and technology including IT-based support. Aligning with the start-up initiatives, IIT Guwahati will help in supporting the start-ups for this purpose.
Startups will be promoted to facilitate ‘Drone Shakti’ through varied applications and drone as a Service
Startups will be promoted to facilitate ‘Drone Shakti’ through varied applications and for Drone-As-A-Service (DrAAS). In select ITIs, in all states, the required courses for skilling will be started. In vocational courses, to promote crucial critical thinking skills, to give space for 11 creativity, 750 virtual labs in science and mathematics, and 75 skilling e-labs for simulated learning environment, will be set-up in 2022-23. With the established center for drone technology at IIT Guwahati, this initiative will be taken forward immediately working closely with various state government authorities in multiple sectors.
National Tele Mental Health Programme
IIT Guwahati has been at the forefront in delivering various health programs related to the well-being of its students and has been maximizing its efforts recently. The pandemic has accentuated mental health problems in people of all ages. To better the access to quality mental health counselling and care services, a ‘National Tele Mental Health Programme’ will be launched. This will include a network of 23 tele-mental health centres of excellence, with NIMHANS being the nodal centre and International Institute of Information Technology-Bangalore (IIITB) providing technology support.