My takeaways from the Webinar with Dr. K Kasturirangan
We had School owners, trustees, policy makers, teachers, parents, politicians and various Government Officers, all pontificating on the NEP with varied and decidedly mixed competence and pompousness. (Disclosure: I am one among them)
The students, a small matter of 320 million of them, were hardly represented in any of the conversations on NEP 2020; COVID 19 driven School and College closures made for a convenient excuse not to involve them.
Thus, when ABEA quickly agreed to a student led discussion on NEP 2020, I was elated. But, to get to Dr Kasturirangan, and then squeeze out time from his hyper busy schedule, was, to put it mildly, a challenge. The ABEA team, along with Mr Ramesh of ISRO somehow milked out 40 minutes of Dr Kasturirangan's time...and what a fabulous session it was...
Moderating this session, I marvelled at the sustained energy levels of Dr Kasturirangan; at the age of 80, his enthusiasm levels can easily put a 20-year-old to shame. I learnt from him, the immense value of sustained hard work. He had specifically prepared for this session, treated every question with respect, and answered them with candour, sincerity, and most of all, deep humility. An outstanding leadership lesson in communication and matured understanding of context.
The students, as expected, were the stars of the show. They truly represented the scholastic student community and had researched extensively for the session. The students had collaborated well, and the cohort of questions were thought provoking, and relevant. The school closures have had its impact; the students were more deliberate and reflective. The questions clearly indicated huge unhappiness over the present state of affairs of education in India today, and the almost insane focus on marks, with little regard for ground realities. They also revealed concerns about the future; the nervousness due to the extended VUCA life were apparent.
It was fascinating, to observe the ease with which a legendary scientific intellectual and leader reached out to India's best and brightest of future citizens; it was even more thrilling to see these young students learn the lessons of learning, responsibility and leadership at the feet of a master with a sense of comfort and peace.
The future of India looks, just that bit brighter.