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Blending the best of global education

Is this the watershed moment in Indian education history? A peep into the education system the world over will help throw better light on the new National Education Policy.

Subramanian Krishnamoorthy

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Education is a national building tool that is historically linked to the progress of all nations. With high levels of youth unemployment, rising inequality, a significant gender gap and an urgent need to boost inclusive growth in many countries, India has no time to lose in providing the best education possible for all students. The announcements made in NEP-2020 are a signal to the world that India is setting the stage for conquering 2020-2030. NEP-2020 is a harbinger of hope, progress and a potluck of great practices from across the globe.

National Research Foundation

The race to the top of the world often begins with the prowess of research and intellectual property that it holds in the form of patents and innovations. NRF that will be set up through an Act of Parliament to fund, mentor, incentivise and build capacity for quality research across the country in all disciplines will allow India to compete with the US and China. The amount of wealth and opportunities R&D can create is humongous and let me take you through some numbers. Between September 2018 and August 2019 Stanford received $49.3 million in gross royalty revenue from 875 technologies for subjects as varied as antibody therapies, data analytics, digital music, recombinant DNA, etc. Forty-nine of the inventions generated $100,000 or more in royalties and five inventions generated $1 million or more. The race for research and patents was dominated by the US and Japan until 2000 and in the last decade, China has upped its ante and is among the top three in the world. NEP’s clear vision to promote research will yield dividends in the long run when we will start seeing India in an annual report published by the World Intellectual Property Organisation alongside or ahead of China.

Teacher Education

 Schools with outstanding performance are schools where teachers learn — not only students.

Though Finland is often quoted as an exemplar model of education, The Finnish story was the result of a long, slow and steady process, not the result of a single policy, programme or administration. Most observers have come to believe that, if there is a key to the success of the Finnish system, it is the quality of their teachers which is an outcome of restructuring teacher education, with the responsibility for teacher training moving to Finland’s universities.

Similarly, NEP aims to ensure that teachers are given the highest quality training in content, pedagogy and practice by moving the teacher education system into multidisciplinary colleges and universities. NEP brings focus on universal high-quality teacher education, typically one to four years in duration, featuring extensive clinical training as well as coursework. Apart from mentoring for all beginners, a reduced teaching load and shared planning time would add impetus to the initiative.

Curriculum Revamp: Integration

The boldest of the decisions in NEP come in the curriculum. Kudos to the new Ministry of Education for breaking the barrier of subjects and giving birth to an integrated curriculum that will allow children to pursue learning holistically without the restrictions often imposed by subject boundaries. The important 21st-century skills such as critical thinking, creative thinking, citizenship, character development and communication transcend the disciplines. Thus, it makes sense that curriculum integration offers an effective way to teach and maintain these 21stcentury capabilities and possibly boost academic achievement. The US has successfully demonstrated the working of STEM where science, technology, engineering and mathematics were integrated. The evolution of STEAM from STEM to include arts is remarkable and NEP has a similar vision.

Reduction of syllabus

 The proposed reduction in the syllabus could be a double-edged sword and we have a lesson to learn from the yutori (relaxation) education reform of Japan. The yutori education policy is a set of school reforms that were aimed at depressurising school life which had been gradually introduced since the late 1970s and faded out in the 2000s. It is primarily known for large cutbacks in subject contents and school hours. The yutori reforms did not lessen the pressure on students to do well in school nor did they reduce the competition in the educational race significantly. Instead, new demands were created over the last two decades, which are likely to be filled by the Japanese juku-industry (Local tutoring/coaching). There are many other interesting developments including support for gifted students, mental and physical health and well-being of all students, books with local content and multilingualism that are commendable.

 The need to draw parallels between the proposed educational reforms and developments across the globe arose as we are witnessing a new India emerging in the world map which is happy to share the gift of yoga and willing to imbibe the best practices from everywhere. Rising India gives equal importance to its roots as much as it does to its wings. This new India and the people driving such policies are making unprecedented efforts to give birth to a pulsating and dynamic country. An India that aims to be among the top three economies in the world and that dares to make bold decisions to get there. Will the NEP act as the compass while India sets its sail to conquer the world? Only time will tell.

The author is a well-known educationist and CEO of Meccademia Education Group with its presence in UAE, Netherlands and US.

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Netizens divided over Deepti Sharma ‘Mankading’ England’s Charlotte Dean

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Netizens divided over Deepti Sharma ‘Mankading’ England’s Charlotte Dean

Indian all-rounder Deepti Sharma’s act of’mankading’ England’s Charlotte Dean at the non-striker’s end has generated a lot of polarising reactions on social media, leaving the cricketing fraternity divided.
This was first done by Indian cricket legend Vinoo Mankad during 1947-48 during India’s tour of Australia by running out Australia’s Bill Brown at non-striker’s end, which earned it the name ‘Mankading’. Though many cricketers argue that it is against the spirit of the game, it is totally legal as per the laws of the sport.
The Indian cricketers were extremely quick in coming to the defence of Deepti.
Ravichandran Ashwin, who had run out Rajasthan Royals’ Jos Buttler during IPL 2019 in a similar manner while playing for Punjab Kings, quipped on him trending after Deepti’s act, saying that “tonight is about another bowling hero, Deepti Sharma.”
“Why the hell are you trending Ashwin? “Tonight is about another bowling hero @Deepti_Sharma06,” tweeted Ashwin.
Former Indian opener Virender Sehwag also defended the all-rounder, posting a meme and sharing the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) law as per which mankading is completely legal.
“It’s funny to see so many English guys being poor losers. #Runout” tweeted Sehwag.
Former Indian opener Wasim Jaffer also defended Deepti, saying that the ball comes into play when the bowler starts his run up and as a non-striker, one must have his eye on the ball.
“It’s actually quite simple. Ball comes into play when bowler activates run up. From that moment on, as a batter or non-striker, you have to keep your eyes on the ball. If you are a bit careless, the opposition will get you out. And you can get out at either end,” tweeted Jaffer.
Deepti found support from international players from other countries as well.
South African bowler Tabraiz Shamsi seemed to voice his support for Deepti, saying that batters can also learn to stay behind the line just like bowlers are forced to stay behind the line while bowling.
“I’m on no one’s side here but my opinion is that if bowlers are forced to stay behind the line while bowling due to the laws in place…. batters can learn to stay behind the line too while backing up due to the laws in place. Seems fair to me if we all just follow the laws,” tweeted Shamsi.
Former English spinner also said that though it will be questioned, but mankading is under the laws of the sport. “It would be questioned for a long time but it’s in the law of the games. You can be run out by #mankading. Bear in mind it’s in the laws of the game. #ENGvsIND,” tweeted Panesar.

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By fulfilling over 650 wishes, John Sena emerges as real-life genie

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By fulfilling over 650 wishes, John Sena emerges as real-life genie

Wrestler-turned-actor John Cena has officially broken the Guinness World Record for the most Make-A-Wish Foundation wishes granted with a 650 count, Guinness announced. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he is the most requested Make-A-Wish celebrity, with no other star even coming close to granting as many wishes as Cena has in the foundation’s decades-long history.
Back in 2015, when he was honoured for granting 500 wishes, the ‘Peacemaker’ actor opened up about the foundation and how much he enjoys doing what he does. “I just drop everything. If I can offer a fantastic experience, I’ll be first in line to do my part, “ Cena said at the time.
Cena has been granting wishes since 2002, a few years after he began his career as a professional wrestler. As his popularity as a 16-time world champion soared, so did children’s requests for him to grant their wishes.
Of why he continues granting kids’ wishes, Cena said, “I want them to have an experience that will stay with them forever. I don’t ever want the children or their families to be treated in a way where they feel as if they’re up against anything at all,” reported The Hollywood Reporter.
A champion WWE wrestler, Cena has made huge strides into acting, tackling profane comedies (‘Blockers’, ‘Vacation Friends’) and family comedies (‘Playing With Fire’) in equal measure, as well as adventure and action movies.
Last year, he starred in both ‘F9: The Fast Saga’ and ‘The Suicide Squad’, the latter a Warner’s DC movie that spun off his character, Peacemaker, into his own series for HBO Max. 

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Modern Kashmir on display: Aalaav food fest celebrates traditional dishes

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Modern Kashmir on display: Aalaav food fest celebrates traditional dishes

A food festival named Aalaav was organised in Srinagar to celebrate traditional food and encourage more women to set up food businesses. The festival was organised by the Department of Rural Livelihood Mission of Jammu and Kashmir to celebrate traditional food and novel nutritional formulations.
Many women from the self-help groups took part in the festival. The department had invited all the women groups that earn their livelihood and give employment to other young women.
All the participants in the festival prepared and displayed famous vegetarian dishes of Jammu and Kashmir on the stalls in order to promote the self-help groups. The aim was to encourage young girls and women toward the food business and also to raise awareness for more women to set up business units in rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir.
The festival also aimed to make them aware of the schemes of the government under which they get financial assistance to set up these units to earn and provide employment.
Indu Kanwal, the Mission Director of Jammu and Kashmir Rural Livelihoods Mission, said that the festival was organised with the motive of promoting vegetarian food in Kashmir and also creating awareness among women.
Rumina, another participant, stated that having food stalls at the festival is a very profitable venture for the young girls and that more such initiatives should be implemented. 
“This provides a great platform for the young girls to set up their businesses. At this festival, we are able to earn around Rs 3000–4000 from each stall, so it’s really profitable. We would want more of such festivals to be organised,” Rumina said.
Asha, the festival coordinator, talked about the food presented at the festival.

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Three Rhino statues made from burnt horns stand tall at Kaziranga park

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Three Rhino statues made from burnt horns stand tall at Kaziranga park

In a one-of-its-kind move, three rhino statues at the Kaziranga National Park have been created using the ashes collected from burning rhino horns. These statues were unveiled by Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma along with spiritual leader Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev on Saturday during the inauguration of a three-day Chintan Shivir at Kaziranga.
On September 22, last year, the Assam government made history by igniting a stockpile of 2,479 rhino horns to send a clear message to poachers and illegal horn traders that rhino horns have no medicinal value.
The rhino statues thus created are an attempt to immortalise the efforts and dedication of those who selflessly protect Assam’s pride, the great one-horned rhinoceros.
The Assam Chief Minister, along with Sadhguru, also opened the Kaziranga National Park for tourists for this season.
The Shivir was inaugurated with the aim of drawing a roadmap for the holistic development of the state and creating a blueprint for expediting its growth as a model for all sectors.
The Chintan Shivir over three days will have elaborate discussions and deliberations involving the Chief Minister, other Cabinet ministers, senior bureaucrats of the state, bureaucrats from other states, and functionaries from the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council.
Speaking on the occasion, Assam Chief Minister Sarma said that Assam was once a very flourishing state and its state GDP growth was more than the national average.
“The per capita income of the state was also more than the national average. Though the state is contributing greatly to the growth of the nation, in the last 75 years the growth of the state has not been as encouraging as it should have been,” Sarma said.
Referring to the devastation caused by the great earthquake and subsequent floods and other developments, the Chief Minister said that all these had a negative effect on the common psychology of the people. However, making a turnaround, the present state government, with the able guidance of the central government, has unleashed a series of activities which have given new momentum to the development of the state.
The government has already embarked on a journey to steer the state to a robust growth trajectory, the Chief Minister said, adding that the state government is encouraging a vision which has emerged from that sense of responsibility.
The Assam Chief Minister thanked Sadhguru for coming all the way to Kaziranga to address the Chintan Shivir.
He said Sadguru’s wisdom and his idea would really help the government to build and promote a socio-cultural-economic and academic empowerment narrative in the state to spread the fruits of development to all sections of the state.
Sadhguru also addressed the congregation at the Chintan Shivir. The Chief Minister also signed an MoU on behalf of the state government with Sadhguru, who represented Isha Foundation. The MoU signed on the ‘Save Soil Movement’ will essentially guide the state on the sustainable use of soil for agricultural practices.
The Assam Chief Minister and Sadhguru also opened the Kaziranga National Park for tourists for this season.
On this occasion, Sadhguru led a jeep safari from Mihimukh when he drove a jeep with the Chief Minister sitting alongside.
Assam Tourism Minister Jayanta Malla Baruah was also present.

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Typhoon Talas smashes Japan, leaving thousands without water, electricity, two killed

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Thousands of people in central Japan were without running water and electricity on Sunday after Typhoon Talas dumped record rainfall on the area, causing floods and landslides and leaving at least two people dead.

According to the AFP’s published report, the body of a man in Kakegawa city, Shizuoka region, was pulled from what remained of his house on Saturday after a landslide destroyed it.

“Another male (in neighbouring Fukuroi city) was driving to his home (Saturday) when the water level rose and his vehicle apparently stopped. While the individual tried to walk home, he was believed to have died,” a regional disaster management official said.

He stated that another man was still unaccounted for in Kawanehoncho town, Shizuoka, after his car slid into a gap that appeared in the road. He also mentioned that three other people received minor wounds.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, Typhoon Talas battered central Japan on Friday and Saturday as it passed by close off the Pacific coast, pouring more than 40 centimetres (16 inches) of rain in Shizuoka villages in a single day.

Before heading back out to the Pacific on Saturday morning, it was downgraded to a depression.

Up to 120,000 homes may have lost power on Saturday as a result of the storm’s heavy rains causing landslides, including in the isolated mountains of Shizuoka. This is because several electricity pylons fell and broke as a result.

According to the local firm Chubu Electric Power, 2,910 homes in Shizuoka and the neighbouring Gifu region were still without electricity as of Sunday afternoon.

“As for those areas where restoration crews are not able to reach due to blocked roads after landslides, we will make progress while analysing the conditions of the landslides,” the utility said.

Debris choked a water inlet in Shizuoka, leaving almost 55,000 homes without running water.

“Currently, we are working to remove debris from a water inlet. But for now we are unable to give any estimate as to when it can be restored,” the regional government said in a statement Sunday morning.

Typhoons regularly cause significant damage to Japan in the summer and fall.

Typhoon Nanmadol struck southwestern Japan this weekend, leaving 147 people injured and four dead.

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Top opposition leaders gather at INLD rally to challenge ‘Delhi Sultanate’

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Sharad Pawar, the head of the NCP, Nitish Kumar, the chief minister of Bihar, Sitaram Yechury, and Sukhbir Singh Badal, the leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal, were among the prominent opposition figures that attended the INLD’s large gathering on Sunday in Fatehabad, Haryana.

JDU leader KC Tyagi addressed the crowd and claimed that the Bihar CM has come from Patna to challenge the Delhi Sultanate at a time when eight former Congress CMs had switched to the BJP. He claimed that Kumar has no fear of the ED, the income tax, or any other organisations.

To commemorate the birth anniversary of Devi Lal, the founder of the INLD and a former deputy prime minister, a rally is being conducted.

Tejashwi Yadav, the deputy chief minister of Bihar and the head of the RJD, as well as Arvind Sawant of the Shiv Sena, also showed up at the gathering to demonstrate the unity of the opposition.

The coming together of so many regional satraps is seen as part of efforts to forge opposition unity. Kumar and RJD president Lalu Prasad are likely to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi after the rally to take the process forward.

Veteran socialist leader Tyagi had already declared that the gathering would be historic because it would unite like-minded forces against the BJP in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

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