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Challenges before the new education policy

Unless civil society acts as a vanguard in the implementation of a policy, vested interests will prevail, twist it to serve their interests, and make it ineffective.

Surinder Kumar & Kulwant Singh Nehra

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Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Minister for Education, called on President Ram Nath Kovind and presented him the new National Education Policy 2020, in New Delhi.

The National Education Policy 2020, prepared by the HRD Ministry for the consideration and approval of the Union cabinet and Parliament is a profound document as most of the ailments eating into the vitalities of the education system have been correctly diagnosed and prescriptions provided for. Now whether the country can muster the required political will and bureaucratic commitment and commit adequate financial resources to implement the policy in its true spirit or whether it will also meet the fate of the past two policies of half-hearted implementation is the real challenge. After all, lofty ideals and good-intentioned statements do not go beyond a point.

 The HRD Ministry, now the Ministry of Education, has visualised a complete restructuring of the school as well as higher education institutional architecture, including policymaking, academic management, regulation and accreditation. School curriculum and pedagogy will be transformed to promote the development of creative and analytical thinking rather than rote learning. The policy document visualises “Four Stages of School Education”: the Foundation Stage, Preparatory Stage, Middle Stage and Secondary School Education. All stages of education have clearly defined objectives, which is appreciable. The commitment to quality Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) has been re-emphasised, but the commitment to a nutritious breakfast along with mid-day meals in primary schools has been diluted, though appreciated in principle. To check early dropouts and learning deficits, one-on-one tutoring has been stressed upon. The need for filling up vacancies and appointment of adequate trained staff has been re-emphasised to improve the quality of education. For effective administration and optimal use of teaching staff and infrastructural facilities, the concept of school complexes will be operationalised. But no firm commitment has been made to extend the RTE Act-2009 from Pre-school to Class 12 covering all the school education, though the idea has been appreciated. The commitment to publicly funded neighbourhood schools has also been given a decent burial by a conspiracy of silence. Meanwhile, the threelanguage formula will be continued.

Teachers’ training will be accorded the highest priority to improve the quality of school teaching, for which it will consist primarily of a 4-year integrated B.Ed. programme, located only in multi-faculty HEIs. By 2030, dysfunctional independent teachers training institutions will be phased out. Appointment of teachers will be only on merit-basis. The harmful practice of excessive teacher transfers will be halted and local teachers having the commitment and knowledge of local languages and ethos will be preferred. Teachers will not be engaged for non-teaching duties and will be provided with opportunities for continuous professional development and career advancement.

Higher education will also be completely restructured, revamped and re-energised to provide quality education. As future employment opportunities will consist of skilled jobs of a creative and multidisciplinary nature, the education system needs to be responsive to these requirements accordingly. All Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) will be multidisciplinary institutions. The overall higher education sector will be integrated into a single higher education system, including professional and vocational education. Undergraduate education will emphasise on liberal arts education for which humanities and arts will be integrated with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Imaginative and flexible curriculum structures will enable students to opt for creative combinations of disciplines for study. Universities will offer high-quality undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. There will be three types of HEIs. Premier universities will be researchintensive, and other universities will put greater emphasis on teaching with a significant research component, and all colleges will focus on undergraduate teaching and will be autonomous degree-granting institutions. Single-stream HEIs and affiliated colleges will be phased out. Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education will be raised to 50% over the next ten years. Reservation policy in admissions will continue. The growth of both public and private institutions, with a strong emphasis on developing a large number of outstanding public institutions, will be facilitated. Access to high-quality institutions in disadvantaged geographical areas will be a priority.

HEIs and faculty will have the autonomy to innovate in matters of curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment, taking local conditions into consideration. Motivated, energized and capable faculties will be appointed and nurtured. Excellence will be incentivized through merit-based recruitment, promotion and salary increases. In-service continuous professional development for college and university teachers will continue in Academic Staff Colleges. Professional education will be integrated into the overall higher education system and the practice of setting up standalone technical institutions/deemed universities will be discontinued. A National Research Foundation will be established to nurture, promote and liaison for quality research in the country.

 For effective governance and leadership, which will create a culture of excellence and innovation, high-quality leadership will be developed, and appointments will overlap during transition periods to ensure continuity and smooth functioning of institutions. The common feature of all world-class institutions globally has indeed been the existence of strong self-governance and outstanding merit-based appointments of institutional leaders. It has been acknowledged that institutions in India are constantly plagued by excessive external interference. Leadership appointments in HEIs are mostly used as a mechanism to distribute favours. Unfortunately, self-governance and merit-based appointment of leadership have not been the norm in the majority of institutions of higher education in India. External influence has severely diluted the independence of institutions and brought in non-meritbased practices, demotivating their faculty from innovating in their curricula, pedagogical practices, research, and service initiatives. Institutions have also been severely disempowered by the rigid regulatory system of higher education. Decisions related to many fundamental local issues, which should naturally be within the purview of local governance and leadership, have been centralised at the level of the University Grants Commission or other bodies of the Centre and States. All this deeply undermines the principle of local governance and the local pursuit of innovation and excellence. HEIs in India should become independent self-governing institutions. Local and empowered Board of Governors consisting of highly qualified, competent and dedicated members will be constituted for governance. The board should be free from political or other interference, unbiased and public-spirited. The appointment of ViceChancellors who have high academic accomplishments and a proven ability to provide academic leadership has been the biggest challenge in the past.

To ensure hassle-free and effective implementation, an advisory institution, Rashtriya Shiksa Ayog (RSA) has been visualised. It is good that the role of the RSA under the chairmanship of the Union Minister of Education has been changed from regulatory to advisory to ensure the effective implementation of the NEP without delays. For financing education, the policy ‘unequivocally’ commits significant increase in funding of education by increasing budgetary support from central and state governments from 10% of the annual Budget to 20%, over a period of 10 years. However, the previous national commitment of 6% of the GDP has been given a decent burial. Private philanthropy will also be tapped for investment in education but it should not be allowed to become a pretext for the backdoor entry of private sector exploitation and commercialisation, as in the past.

But how can we operationalise these recommendations which appear utopian in the current Indian milieu? To ensure the availability of adequate financial resources for the implementation of the prescriptions which require a massive reorientation and upgrading of teaching competence and skills of the faculty, a conducive academic environment and culture of open and fearless intellectual discourse conducive to grappling with emerging intellectual, social and economic challenges to transform India into a knowledge society to meet the challenges of the 21st century is the moot question.

 Our past experience informs us that, howsoever well-intentioned and well-meaning a public policy may be formulated, accepted and adopted by even enactment of a statute by the government, unless civil society acts as a watchdog and vanguard in the process of its implementation, vested interests will prevail, twist it to serve their interests, and make it ineffective.

Prof Surinder Kumar and Dr Kulwant Singh Nehra are associated with the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development, Chandigarh.

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Opinion

PRIYANKA DECLARES WOMEN QUOTA IN U.P. UNILATERALLY

Pankaj Vohra

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Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Congress general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh took party circles by surprise when she unilaterally declared that 40 percent of tickets in the forthcoming Assembly elections would be given to women. Although, the announcement appears to be a progressive step in the right direction, yet it would have been better had the party thought through the ramifications of this decision before making it public. It is also inconsistent with what the Interim president, Sonia Gandhi had said at the Working Committee meeting last Saturday that the party leaders should directly communicate with her instead of conveying matters through the media. In this instance, it is possible that Priyanka may have discussed the issue at length with her mother and brother, Rahul but if any declaration had to be made, it should have been done by Sonia. How can a decision as crucial as this be specific to a single state. What about Punjab, Uttrakhand, Goa and other states going to polls along with Uttar Pradesh. Why should there not be ticket distribution at par with what the party has apparently decided. This is a policy matter and should have been debated at length in the Working Committee itself instead of leaving it to just one individual or the family.

It is also not known as yet whether to give shape to this concept of 40 percent tickets to women, would Priyanka be projected as the Chief Ministerial face of the party. If not, the entire exercise may prove to be futile. The impression which one gets by this lofty pronouncement is that the Congress would be contesting the UP polls on its own since other parties such as Samajwadi party and the Bahujan Samaj Party may have their own opinion on this important matter and may not necessarily concur with Priyanka’s views. In the past, the SP like so many other regional parties have opposed giving such a large proportion of seats to women without studying the fallout at the grass roots level. The BSP has provided a woman chief minister in Mayawati, who had a very successful tenure, but has yet to take a call on reservations for women in Assembly polls.

In fact, before Mayawati, Sucheta Kripalani had served as a Congress UP CM in the early 1960s. The reason why the views of the SP and BSP are important is because if the Congress has to enter into any kind of alliance, there should be some agreement on issues. There is no doubt that Priyanka has been active in the state and has tried to infuse life into the party cadres, even though the number has dwindled over the years. The Congress on its own steam is not capable of being in the fight in more than 30 to 40 seats at present, so it is a difficult task ahead for the party general secretary. There are some who believe that the Priyanka show so far is only for optics and is helping in diluting the challenge from both Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati. In any case, every party has a right to evolve its own strategy and this is true for the Congress as well. However, what is going to be difficult is on how the Congress would explain this UP specific decision to other states. Parties opposed to the Congress shall certainly make this an issue in the polls. The Congress can always claim that Indira Gandhi, the only woman Prime Minister of the country was from the party as so many Chief Ministers of several states. To carry the Priyanka thesis forward, a lot of spadework would have to be done, for which there is hardly any time left. The Congress has to hit the ground running in the forthcoming polls.

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Opinion

Modi 2.0: India’s journey to a billion doses

India’s response to Covid-19 under the outstanding leadership of ‘Global Goalkeeper’ Modi, is a textbook case in how great leaders do not escape—rather, they take the bull by its horns.

Sanju Verma

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In an unprecedented achievement, the cumulative Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the country surpassed the mammoth 100 crore milestone on 21st October 2021. In a tweet, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi congratulated the countrymen and expressed gratitude to the country’s scientific community and health professionals for working towards achieving this stupendous feat,in his typical characteristic style,completely being modest about his own superior leadership,which eventually delivered,when it mattered the most.India’s recovery rate currently stands at 98.15%. Recovery rate is currently at its highest peak since March 2020.The active caseload is only 1.79 lakh cases,the lowest in the last 221 days.Active cases presently constitute 0.52% of the country’s total positive cases, which is again,the lowest since March 2020. India has so far conducted over 59.57 crore cumulative tests.

Weekly positivity rate at 1.34% remains less than 3% for the last 118 days in a row. The Daily positivity rate at 1.48% has remained below 3% for last 52 days and below 5% for 135 consecutive days in a row, now.India is only the second country globally after China to reach the 100 crore milestone. But the basic difference between the two nations is accessibility to related data.China claims to have vaccinated over 2.23 billion individuals. It even claimed last month of fully vaccinating over 100 crore people but there is no open-source data accessible to validate it. China even asserts that it has produced more than half of the world’s Covid vaccines so far,which is absolutely false and nothing but a frivolous claim by the CPC to reclaim lost ground,after reports have emerged that the Wuhan virus was engineered and incubated in a laboratory in China.

On January 3rd this year, India gave emergency-use approval to Covishield and Covaxin. Covishield is a two-shot Covid vaccine developed by AstraZeneca-Oxford University. Pune-based Serum Institute of India is its major producer. On the other hand, Covaxin, also a two-shot vaccine, is completely an indigenous achievement. It is developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech,in collaboration with ICMR.Covishield is a viral vector vaccine using an adenovirus or common cold virus found in chimpanzees. The vaccine has an efficacy rate of 70% but, when both doses are given 8 to 12 weeks apart, it can go up to 91%. Covaxin also uses an inactive viral strain (killed coronaviruses) and has a 77.8% efficacy rate.India,under Prime Minister Modi, started its vaccination drive on January 16,2021, targetting healthcare workers. Other frontline workers were added as intended beneficiaries in February.In April 2021,India approved the third vaccine made by Russia’s Sputnik V and opened the vaccination drive to everyone above 45 years.

On May 1,2021, India opened its vaccination drive for all adults. On June 12,2021, the country crossed the mark of administering 25 crore doses,in 148 days from January 16th,when the vaccination drive had begun. From June 21,2021,the Modi government announced free vaccines for everyone in the 18-44 age group,in a landmark decision.

World’s first DNA-based Covid vaccine by the Indian pharmaceutical company Zydus Cadila was approved on August 20,2021. It is a three-shot vaccine and the population base above 12 years of age can be innoculated with it. It is expected to hit the markets soon.

On August 26,2021,the country reached the mark of giving at least one jab to half of its 94 crore adult population.September 13,2021, saw the country crossing the 75 crore total vaccination mark. On September 17, the country, for the first time, crossed the ‘two crore doses a day’ mark and in fact became only the second country after China to achieve it. Over 2.15 crore jabs were given that day.On September 18, 2021,India achieved the mark of fully vaccinating 20 crore adult individuals.

The vaccination drive under PM Narendra Modi has been outstanding in more ways than one. For instance,to connect remote areas of the country, the health ministry started drone delivery of Covid vaccines on October 4,2021,a first in Southeast Asia. The vaccines, through drones, were delivered to a government health centre on a Manipur island in the Northeast and, currently, remote areas of Manipur and Nagaland and the union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands are being covered under this ‘supply through drones’ initiative,which is exemplary.

In effect,India’s vaccine roll-out is not only the largest in the world,but also the most affordable,with no compromises whatsoever,on any standard operating procedures (SoPs).The PM-Cares fund will shouldered the entire cost of the 1st phase aimed at innoculating 30 million or 3 crore frontline Covid workers.Earlier,in June 2020,over Rs 2000 crore was allocated from the PM-Cares fund,for supply of 50000 ‘Made-in-India’ ventilators to government run Covid hospitals in all States and UTs.Out of the 50000 ventilators, 30000 ventilators were manufactured by Bharat Electronics Limited,yet again showcasing India’s indigenous manufacturing prowess. While a jaded,directionless and clueless Rahul Gandhi keeps taking needless jibes at the Modi government,the fact of the matter is that,for over six decades,India just had 47000 ventilators,whereas in one go,in June 2020,the Modi government made available 50000 ventilators,to ensure no life is lost,for want of life saving equipment.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s food security scheme for the needy,called the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKAY), provided free ration to 81 crore,as in 810 million people,every single month for nine months in a row,during the pandemic,both last year and this year,too.Effectively speaking,this means,a population 2.5 times the size of America,was being fed every single month,for months together, showcasing the Modi government’s generous,welfarist and people centric approach.

The essence of Modi government’s management of the pandemic is that, PM Modi has been continuously communicating with the people by addressing the nation at regular intervals. He meaningfully coordinated with the Chief ministers of the State governments. When Modi asked countrymen to applaud the doctors and para-medical staff for their commitment to handling the Covid-19 crisis by clapping for a few minutes, everyone responded with great enthusiasm. The same response was seen when he asked everyone to switch off the lights and light candles.Moreover, when Modi wanted people to wear masks and observe social distancing, there was no protest from the people, like in other countries like the USA. It is quite true that some people did not follow guidelines but that was more due to indiscipline by few, rather than any broad opposition to the guidelines.In most democracies,often people do not hesitate to conduct protest marches even for trivial reasons.It is extraordinary therefore,that Prime Minister Modi could manage the pandemic,without giving room for unrest and turmoil,despite a complete lockdown,during the second wave and the months preceding that.

India is a vast country of 1.38 billion people that shares a 3488 kilometre long border with China. India’s response to Covid-19 under the outstanding leadership of ‘Global Goalkeeper’ Modi, is a textbook case in how great leaders do not escape— rather, they take the bull by its horns. Modi took the lead in hosting a video conference of SAARC nations,where India pledged to share disease surveillance software,work towards a common research platform and provide all help required, including assistance from the Indian Council of Medical Research,(ICMR) to its SAARC partners.India also took the lead in setting up a Covid-19 emergency fund,with a voluntary contribution of $10 million.Taking a cue from Modi’s intiative, the G-7 group decided to host it’s summit via video conferencing,in June 2020.And then ofcourse,virtual meetings became the norm,thereafter.

Now,contrast the policy of obfuscation and apathy followed by China,with the probity and transparency shown by India,in taking Covid,head-on.Be it building over 116 million toilets under the “Clean India” or “Swachh Bharat” mission,making India’s 5.5 lakh villages open defecation free (ODF),giving free health insurance to 50 crore Indians under the “Ayushman Bharat” scheme, producing over 60 million PPE kits and 150 million N95 masks in between April and October 2020,bringing home over 3.9 million stranded Indians from different parts of the globe,via the “Vande Bharat Mission”,or extending medical and humanitarian assistance to over 150 countries in the fight against the pandemic, the Modi government’s fight against the Wuhan virus was made easier by the fact that,a humungous amount of effort went into ramping up India’s health infrastructure and making cleanliness a way of life,in the last 7 years.What is worth mentioning here is that,during the initial days of Covid outbreak,there was only one lab in the country that could undertake testing for the infection,but today there are over 2000 testing laboratories.

A key concern is vaccine wastage.What is vaccine wastage?While wastage cannot be fully eradicated,it has to be within recommended limits.In general,high vaccine wastage inflates vaccine demand and increases unnecessary vaccine procurement and supply chain costs.Vaccine wastage is directly linked to vaccine usage, which is the proportion of vaccines administered against vaccines issued to a vaccination site. What is causing the wastage? For instance,each Covishield vial has 10 doses in total, while a Covaxin vial contains 20 doses — each dose being 0.5 ml (for one person). Once opened, all doses have to be administered within four hours, otherwise, it goes to waste and the remaining doses have to be destroyed. The vaccine wastage in India can be largely be attributed to low turnoutof beneficiaries turning up to get vaccinated,due to inadequate planning of sessions by a few States. For instance, if the vial contains doses for 10 people and only six turn up, four doses would go waste. In few opposition ruled States,opening vials,despite inability to mobilise critical mass of people led to huge vaccine wastage in the initial phases, particularly in States like Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Punjab, with wastage rate being as high as 18% and 12% in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh,during the second wave.Despite the Opposition ruled States completely abdicating their responsibility,the sheer will power to deliver,showcased by the Modi government,eventually resulted in the epoch making 100 crore number,possible,on October 21,2021.From Taali,Thaali,Janata Curfew to Jan Bhagidaari,Prime Minister Narendra Modi ran the world’s largest vaccination drive by putting his political and personal credibility to test and needless to say,he emerged unscathed and stronger than ever before.

The Modi government’s CoWIN (Covid Vaccine Intelligence Network) app, is owned by the Ministry of Health and Family welfare and was earlier the platform used for conducting Pulse Polio and other crucial and highly successful immunisation programmes across the country. The same platform was expanded for doling out Covid-19 vaccines and the ministry of Electronics and IT along with the National Informatics Center are now handling the backend and the tech infrastructure for it.CoWIN,is again an example of how the Modi government has seamlessly embraced technology,to ensure last mile delivery.Needless to add,in the final analysis, Modi’s “Make in India” model runs high on both the growth and humanitarian quotients whereas Xi’s “Make in China”, lacks the emotional quotient that separates a robotic,authoritarian regime,from an aspirational India, helmed by a “karmayogi” like Modi,who leads by example,never playing on the backfoot and always keeping the nation first,above everything else.Covid-19,which is still unfolding in many parts of the globe,will also be remembered for the global outreach by the Indian political diaspora,which has shown to the world,how a responsive and nimble footed government can tackle any emergency,with the right mindset.

In the final analysis,it can be said with no “ifs” and “buts” whatsoever, that the Indian response to the Coronavirus pandemic has been awe inspiring at various levels. While the US and Europe are dealing with endless queues of people lining up at malls and stores that have run out of toilet paper and hand sanitizers, India’s calibrated approach by the government,without causing panic, has had a salubrious impact. Also,don’t forget,while India reported its first case only on 30th January 2020,it had started screening incoming passengers from affected countries, via infra red thermometers,from 7th January 2020,itself.

“Good governance is not fire-fighting or crisis-management. Instead of opting for ad-hoc solutions, the need of the hour is to tackle the root cause of the problems”,is a famous quote by PM Modi.Better words have not been said. Undoubtedly,India’s outstanding and successful war againt Covid will go down in history as a textbook case of what a sensitive and nimble footed leadership can accomplish. It would be apt to conclude with a quote by John F. Kennedy,who said–”When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity”. Undoubtedly, while a reckless China foisted the Wuhan virus on an unsuspecting mankind,a visionary leader like Prime Minister,Narendra Modi,utilised this unprecedented global crisis as an opportunity,to reach out to and heal millions, both in India and outside,showcasing India’s true spirit of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”, which means,”the world is one family”.

Writer is an Economist, National Spokesperson of the BJP and the Bestselling Author of ‘Truth & Dare-The Modi Dynamic’.

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Opinion

SELF-RELIANCE THROUGH THE USE OF INDIAN LANGUAGES ​​IN AI

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Indian knowledge tradition is a broad concept. It helps in developing a broader dimension and approach. Artificial intelligence, which is prevalent in today’s time, if defined by understanding it in the real sense, is the cloning of the human brain. The machine itself is non-living, but the resultant output of the input that the human brain provides to it through software and programming is visible to us in the form of applications of artificial intelligence. It is, as much as its creator, intelligent. If the scientists of this field understand the functioning of the brain via emotional manifestations, then the robot made by them can also be emotional. The artificial intelligence that is being talked about nowadays has some limitations, such as a robot can do as much work as its program or software will command it to do.

Generally, these programs are built based on many facts, applications, and examples. If the conditions are changed, then these machines or robots will work to the extent that the situations have been programmed in them. It is to be noted here that the ideas come to us originally in our languages. There may be any other language, but in the abstract or latent state, the conceptual process is relative to the native language of the person. It is to be noted here that while moving from one linguistic level to another in the form of expression of ideas, they gradually become less in terms of their intensity and originality. More linguistic transfer destroys their original feeling. From this point of view, it will be possible to make more efficient machines using artificial intelligence using the original language of thoughts. People learn from their experiences, the wider their experiences, the more will be their thinking power.

There are three main components of artificial intelligence— thinking power, software, hardware. Wherever work is going on, on this subject all over the world, all three components work separately. The main component of this work is to clone the thinking power or mental emotions.

The work of software can be done by any skilled software engineer, and the work of hardware can be done by any company. Therefore, its core lies in cloning mental impulses. The data of a person’s thoughts or thinking acts as a raw material or main component in it. There is no match of countries like India, China, Japan all over the world in the efficiency of behavior and quick diagnosis of situations. China is famous to copy a product immediately. Thinking power and inclination to the knowledge of India and the technological brains of Japan is also noteworthy. Therefore, the main component of artificial intelligence is most available in countries like India, China, Japan.

India is not able to use it fully, because it is not aware of the importance of its knowledge in an integrated way, and unorganized Indian talent. With the desire to earn more money through migration, that knowledge is continuously being given to the country which is very advanced in terms of software. It can be explained to a nonprofessional through an example as if food is the need of every person, but the process till the food is made is a complex set of components. The farmer does the farming, the agent buys it from the market, the agent retails it, sells in the market, the customer buys it from the retailer and prepares food. The agent has the system, which is necessary for the management between the customer and the farmer. Therefore, neither the farmer earns the profit equal to his hard work, nor the customer. The middleman, the highest-earning agent, and the customer suffer the impact of inflation. The same tendency is with any technology in the world, technology is lobbying for the one who benefits the most. Therefore, by developing a system through our languages, by stopping the drain of the brain, a speedy pace can be made towards self-reliance.

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Opinion

Revealed: Secret US government psychic research programmes

In order not to rock the foundations of contemporary civilization, and also to hold fast to any applicable uses of the transcendent discoveries of military intelligence, the concerned authorities in the USA kept their investigations and insights secret and at times formally denied their existence or validity.

COME CARPENTIER DE GOURDON

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When I first entered the United States in June 1983, for a long sojourn I have recounted in my book of a few years ago, A Shining City on a Hill, I did obviously not know that on that same day a 29-page classified technical report was submitted to the US Army Intelligence and Security Command (USAISC) at Fort Mead, (Army Operational Group Commander DET 0) on the secret CIA research programme codenamed Gateway and dedicated to investigations about consciousness and their potential scientific and military applications.

McDonnell’s report (CIA-RDP96—00788R001700210016-5) confirmed the validity of the research into para-psychological and sophrological phenomena and their reality, generally deemed as inexistent and related to “magical mind tricks” or misleading erroneous impressions. The report, integrating the experiments of Israeli-American inventor and yoga/TM practitioner Itzhak Bentov (who had died in a plane crash in 1979), was not made accessible to the public as it contained challenging claims which partly overturned many current scientific theories and observations about the nature of reality and life. It was only released under FOIA on the 10th of September 2003, with the exception of page 25 which was withheld for reasons that will be alluded to in this article.

Much of the research done under the GATEWAY/STARGATE protocols was related to the work of Robert Monroe, the founder and director of the Monroe Institute in Virginia whose discoveries I discovered back in the eighties and describe summarily in my aforementioned book. The findings of Monroe and the CIA-sponsored teams are more or less the same as they collaborated in their research. Several members of the US Armed Forces were sent to the Monroe Institute’s secluded facilities to undergo the tests and experimental processes designed to achieve paranormal insights by raising the level of consciousness according to methods derived from Carl Jung’s psycho-analytical therapies and more broadly from yoga, TM and other “eastern” meditational techniques.

The Italian website Omega Click has commented on some of the vast amount of documentary material created under the auspices of the GATEWAY/STARGATE programmes. Omega Click interviewed Professor Raffaele Renna, a psychologist, astronomer and expert on the subject. Renna highlights that, among the major conclusions drawn from that research, the mapping of cerebral functions has uncovered the virtually infinite powers of the mind to visualize all things beyond space and time and shown that the “brain capital” (which is actually outside the brain) survives death as it is located in non-local, entangled space-timelessness whereas “everything is omnipresent” and time is only a measurement for the motion of energy. In that light the brain is a receptor that decodes and interprets signals or algorithms originating in universal consciousness and produces the appearances that our senses make us regard as Reality,

All this may be regarded as a mere reiteration in contemporary scientific vocabulary of the “mystical’ teachings of ancient sages in many parts of the world. However, the salience of the GATEWAY report lies in the fact that it does not simply enunciate theories. It documents a scientifically tested method to reach elevated states of out-of-body “non-local consciousness” (more than twenty years before quantic interpretations of consciousness were first publicly ventured). Instead of psychedelic drugs or “spiritual” exercises the means used under the GATEWAY programme were specific sounds beamed to human subjects in isolation chambers through earphones at a different frequency for each ear, which leads the brain to syntonize them to produce Delta waves (4 Hertz), denoting deep meditational states. At a specific vibrational wavelength the brain exits “our” spacetime to access other dimensions or other worlds, so to speak. Physiologically this state amplifies fourfold the resonance of the heartbeat and generates a recurring sinusoidal wave ranging between 6.8 and 7.8 Hz. which echoes the earth’s own vibrational frequency.

The resulting condition is called “syntony” of the individual with the planet at wavelengths of 40,000 kilometers amplitude (corresponding to the earth’s diameter) and confers extraordinary powers (clairvoyance, remote viewing, telekinesis, time travel, ecstatic bliss) which ancient traditions called Union with the Divine, Moksha, Sunya, Satori, Tao, Illumination, Salvation and many other such names. This mapping of supramental ascent, described by Sri Aurobindo was experientially arrived at by Itzhak Bentov who described the phenomenon in his 1977 book Stalking The Wild Pendulum. On the Mechanics of Consciousness as summed up by Marc Seifer in Transcending the Speed of Light: Consciousness, Quantum Physics, and the Fifth Dimension. Inner Traditions – Bear & Company 2008. p. 49: “During normal breathing, the reverberations in the aorta are out of phase with the heartbeat and the system is inharmonious. However, during meditation and when the breath is held, the echo of the bifurcation of the aorta (where the aorta forks at the pelvis to go into each leg) is in resonance with the heartbeat and the system becomes synchronized, thus utilizing a minimum amount of energy. This resonant beat is approximately seven cycles per minute, which corresponds not only to the alpha rhythm of the brain but also to the low-level magnetic pulsations of the Earth.”

Monroe claimed that between the “normal” state of human awareness (comparatively the lowest) and the highest or “absolute” one there are innumerable degrees of consciousness inhabited by beings who are not perceptible through our physical senses but who can be interacted with at higher levels.

This last revelation concerns the “Aliens” of many types reported by millions of witnesses for centuries and now generally known as ETs and their “astral vehicles” classified as UAPs or “Alien Visitation Craft” in military parlance. Many of them at least appear to operate in other dimensions from which they enter our “universe” and to which they return at will.

The GATEWAY study seems to have corroborated Monroe’s contention that about 5% of all people are able to reach the highest state of realization by means of repeated use, over more or less lengthy periods of training, of the audio-sensorial process described above.

It was stated earlier that page 25 of the McDonnell report was missing until last April when it was released by the Monroe Institute to an investigator from the Canadian Vice magazine. The contents of that page are indeed of critical importance because it lays out the “cosmic design” behind reality. It talks about a “cosmic egg” as a hologram, of which everything is a projection and which is itself a reflection of the undefinable Absolute “one step removed from it”. That hologram is also called in the text the Torus or spiral of Creation and identified as the “Holy Spirit” of the Christian Esoteric Trinity, The Adam Kadmon or Tree of Life of Kabbalah. In Vedic terminology we may equate it with the Viraj or Hiranyagarbha (from which the report under review here apparently borrowed the image of the “cosmic egg”) or the Vedantic Paramatman. For the Saktas and Shaivaites it is Mahadevi while the Greek Ephesians worshipped it as Artemis-Diana (Magna Mater) and the Middle Eastern Gnostics alluded to it as Sophia.

Another striking inference reached by the report is that western science is so far unable to attain this realization because of its left-brain controlled approach which ignores and rejects the right-brain’s influence guiding the so-called “spiritualists” since thousands of years of philosophical quest, at the root of the religions followed in most parts of the world. The “Gateway Experience” as it is called in the report, “releases the subject from the prism (and prison) of subjective perception and analysis. It is “a portal through which the individual may pass in his search to find himself”, an echo of the mantra Tat twam asi and of the universal sophic commandment: “know thyself” as our Self is indeed the mirror or hologram of the Whole.

The conclusion in a few lines is that Intelligence and military sponsored research led, four decades ago to the confirmation of the ageless teachings of Indian psycho-physical Knowledge (paravidya), shared with many other more or less esoteric or occult traditions all over the world. Presumably in order not to rock the foundations of contemporary civilization and also to hold fast to any applicable uses of this transcendent discovery military Intelligence, the concerned authorities in the USA kept their investigations and insights secret and at times formally denied their existence or validity. However it may well be that many scientific and technological breakthroughs that are transforming our lives and conditions like never before are outcomes of this accession by a few “initiates” to the higher reaches of the mind on the trail blazed by Bentov, Monroe, Puharich and others. The very Internet created in the last thirty some years is an electronic clone of the cosmic web of energy and life that binds all things and makes up the universe.

Apart from well supported rumors about the existence of hitherto undisclosed technologies for unlimited “free energy” generation from the “zero point” quantic field and for biological age reversal, instant healing and other “miraculous” uses, there are several reports about secret space missions conducted to other planets of the solar system and perhaps beyond it, made possible by the technologies developed in that “transcendental” frame of reference. One of the latest credible sources on this score is no other than General Haim Eshed, the veteran astrophysicist who was for thirty years the chairman of the space committee of the Israeli Council for Research and Development and the Director of the Space Programme of the Defence Ministry. He made these “extraordinary claims” in his 2020 book: Universe beyond The Horizon: Conversations with Professor Haim Eshed.

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Opinion

STAY OUT OF KASHMIR, SUPERMAN AND WONDER WOMAN

Renowned Justice League icon Superman apparently destroying Indian Air Force F/A-18D Hornets over Kashmir. India does not have any such aircraft. (Screengrab from Injustice)

Joyeeta Basu

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Something bizarre has happened in the DC Universe—for the uninitiated, DC Comic Universe where fictional characters such as Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and Aquaman dwell. Suddenly, out of the blue, in an animated movie by DC, Injustice, Superman and Wonder Woman are seen to be fighting the Indian military in Kashmir and disabling their aircraft and missiles to make the place an “arms free zone”. Moreover, Kashmir is mentioned as a “disputed region” in the film. Curiously, while the animated movie shows the superheroes fighting for peace in different fictional places, a real name has been inserted in between, that of Kashmir. In another clip, an Israeli flag has been used to show an Israeli leader signing a peace deal with someone behind whom there is a green flag. If the film has to be believed, the Indian military bombs civilians in Kashmir—an outrageous fiction. In fact, it is Pakistan, which regularly bombs its own people in the name of countering insurgents. Since we do not know how geopolitical experts such as Superman and Wonder Woman have come to the conclusion that Kashmir is a “disputed” area and the Indian military bombs its own civilians, we can only speculate about the invisible hands at work here. It could be a case of a direct Pakistani or Chinese intervention, or both, and/or could be the handiwork of some very woke pseudo-liberal-types who derive their knowledge about India from the very-woke Western legacy media, which takes a rather Orientalist view of this country. While some will say it’s better to ignore such drivel, the problem is, some very malign forces seem to have been able to introduce an anti India element in a medium that is highly popular and thus also influential. The matter cannot be ignored, for it may get bigger in future.

However, when it comes to China, Hollywood takes a problematic stand. It whitewashes all PRC crimes, including turning a blind eye to the oppressive and authoritarian rule of the Communists in Tibet and Xinjiang. Not too long ago, one of the big studios faced immense international anger after filming certain parts of Mulan—an ancient China story—almost next door to the concentration camps that PRC has built for the Uyghur population in Xinjiang. The studio also actively engaged with the publicity department of the Communist Party during the filming. China is a big market for Hollywood. Much Chinese money is floating in Hollywood, with the Chinese funding films, buying up theatre chains, and with Chinese production companies teaming up with their Hollywood counterparts. As a result, concerns are being raised about Chinese propaganda and censorship making their way even into Hollywood blockbusters. US soft power adds to its superpower status, and it is this soft power that the Chinese are using to their own benefit as they conduct their political warfare at a very subliminal level. Amid this, it is but natural that in the DC Comic case, the finger of suspicion will be raised at China and its “iron brother” Pakistan.

The Kashmir insertion in the DC film is insidious and dangerous because anti-India propaganda is thus sought to be normalized and influence young minds. Around three years ago, a Hollywood series, Quantico, starring Priyanka Chopra had shown Hindu nationalists planning to carry out a nuclear attack in Manhattan and frame Pakistan for it, to scuttle US-Pakistan talks. The plotline was so outrageous that it led to a huge hue and cry, forcing the television studio ABC to apologise to Indian viewers. All this has to be seen in the context of the huge campaign going on in the West by the left-pseudo-liberal section to paint India as an electoral autocracy, an authoritarian country, because it is headed by a right of centre government. As a result, people unaware of the ground reality in India are falling for this fake narrative. This has to be countered. Public pressure needs to build up on DC Comics to remove the mention of Kashmir from the film. India has a lot of economic muscle and a market, which Pakistan does not. If a campaign builds up, Superman and Wonder Woman will lose many more fans and business here than in a broken and bankrupt country such as Pakistan. Hence, DC needs to drop the offending reference and let superheroes do their super-jobs, without meddling in world affairs about which they do not have any clue.

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Opinion

What ails Uttarakhand’s governance?

Uttarakhand region had never been well governed. Till 2000 it was part of Uttar Pradesh where the predatory leadership sucked its wealth and labour. After being carved as a separate state it was expected to progress and many things improved such as schools, colleges, universities, technical institutions, roads and hospitals.

Amita Singh

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It is a known fact that quality of governance indicates capacity to be resilient against disasters. The hurricane Katrina of USA that caused over 2000 deaths and US$ 125 billion in damage in late August 2005 exposed the pathetic governance of Louisiana. People had bad health, houses were weak, high rate of drug addiction, unsterilized city animals, uninsured citizens, unemployed youth and all this because of a highly corrupt leadership and unresponsive state administration. Uttarakhand’s unstoppable exposure to some of the most heart-rending disasters every year from floods to earthquakes to glacial lake outbursts and to landslides bring provoking questions about its governance. As data reveals decisions have been taken in defiance of limits that nature sets in the form of carrying capacity of any terrain. As causes of disasters, Corruption comes first and climate change later.

Uttarakhand region had never been well governed. Till 2000 it was part of Uttar Pradesh where the predatory leadership sucked its wealth and labour. After being carved as a separate state it was expected to progress and many things improved such as schools, colleges, universities, technical institutions, roads and hospitals. The villagers basked in the new found Panchayat power after the 73rd Amendment in 1992 which brought many silent communities into focus as repositories of power. It brought power but not the right to govern. From Sundarlal Bahuguna and Chandi Prasad Bhatt the early Gandhian environmentalists till late Prof. G.D.Agarwal and woman seer of Haridwar Padmavati the Ganga crusaders have only asked for a share in governance. While the memory of Uttarakhand’s disaster victims begging for food and clothes in big cities of Uttar Pradesh like Lucknow and Bareilly still remains, it is not yet a thing of past. Local village communities are still seen begging with unattended medical conditions and little hope for sustainable livelihood. As per Census of India (2011) Uttarakhand has a population of 101 million with a pathetic sex ratio of 886 women per thousand men and a much higher infant mortality rate (IMR) at 38 in 2020 which is higher than the India average IMR of 29.07. With female literacy at 70 and the male literacy at 88 the state has nothing to rejoice about. What ails Uttarakhand’s governance?

The Uttarakhand government could rarely defend itself after Dhauliganga disaster that washed away the Rishi Ganga hydropower project at Raini village after a glacier broke off in Joshimath. The massive floods caused by glacial outburst in the Dhauli Ganga river in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand washed away houses and many people. The village Panchayats of this area had been an alert group against environmental injuries as the legendary Gaura Devi, leader of Chipko Movement hails from here and had kickstarted action in March 1973 from this village. These villagers had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Uttarakhand High Court in summer 2019 which issued directions to the state government to check what was going on in Raini village of Chamoli concerning the construction of the hydel project. The government was not concerned till the dam broke off. Similarly, Naveen Chandra Pant and many others residents of village Ganwa Sirmoli, District Bageshwar raised voice through a PIL against illegal mining in village Panchayats of Ganwa Sirmoli, Tehsil kanda in District Bageshwar, the court issued directives to the state government but instead of introspection to protect mountain topograpgy for survival of people’s habitat, many decisions were taken in contravention of the judicial directives. Some of them are as discussed here.

In Feb 2020, the district magistrate was authorized to issue permits for commercial mining on private land and permission for River Bed Mineral (RBM) Mining. This brought havoc to the terrain as gravels, boulders and sand excavation for construction work started in full speed. In a Cabinet meeting headed by the Chief Minister in the same year, more than 10 such projects were approved which not only deepened mining into river bed but also changed boundaries of eco-sensitive zones around national parks. To deepen this process of mining the Uttarakhand Minor Mineral Concession Rules 2001 were changed to allow digging as deep as 3 meters. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change only participated to facilitate this process. None of the political executives found anything wrong into it despite the Judicials warnings from the Nainital Court and the National Green Tribunal. Same year, the state government brought in a new Stone crushing policy which endangered a large part of pristine national reserves. If this was not enough, the state government also attempted to remove Radio Frequency Identification Chips (RFID) on vehicles engaged in regulated mining as per court orders so that this could become a free for any vehicle coming to mining area. The brutal breaking down of hills which balance each other and the felling of trees that are water recharge-shed for land has already disturbed the equilibrium beyond repair. The greed for land and minerals has devastated rivers of Uttarakhand and made them flood prone. The increasing temperatures are related to the activities being promoted by government over the hills.

Is the state government prepared for managing disasters? The Policy and the Plan for disaster management has not been updated since 2016. The Policy and the Plan document repeatedly refer to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, need for an evacuation plan, organizational structure of disaster management(only posts not names),hazards and vulnerabilities of India and the state per se but nothing in particular to offer to an administrator who has to look back and take action in a calamitous situation. Interestingly, these documents look like a student’s examination answer sheet where he fills up as many sheets writing the same irrelevant answers with the hope that more pages would earn him better marks. The key points that enable pre-emptive action for an administrator, key collaborators and friends or partners in need and with rural population being thrice the urban there is an intensive need to identify trained and willing panchayats to come on call for disaster prevention. Uttarakhand loses roughly 20 thousand crores to disasters every year. Does it invest this amount in development that gets washed away due to disasters? Therefore the argument of refining quality of governance led by educated and sensitive people who are grassroot connected and speak the language of their land, is the only alternative to the current chaos and sorrow.

The author is president, NDRG, and former Professor of Administrative Reforms and Emergency Governance at JNU. The views expressed are personal.

In Feb 2020, the district magistrate was authorized to issue permits for commercial mining on private land and permission for River Bed Mineral (RBM) Mining. This brought havoc to the terrain as gravels, boulders and sand excavation for construction work started in full speed.

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